A Hymn to Hummous ***revised

Removing the Skins

Removing the Skins

A more authentic recipe:

cp=chick peas (a.k.a. garbanzos)

Soaking the chick peas overnight helps the cooking go faster the next day. (but not necessary. you can soak for an hour or two before boiling and that is fine.) When you dump the water from the overnight soaking, and you rinse chick peas well, make sure the water you pour in the pot more than covers all the c.p.’s. I suggest covering by about 4 inches. Put the cp on the stove to boil, and while bringing to a boil, and a good few pinches of baking soda. This was a trick I learned in Spain while living there for five years. This is to, shall we say, eliminate wind, or if not, lessen the gas creation in the gut. This is an important step, not to be overlooked! I can tell you that it really works, if you use enough.

Also worth noting:

The skins on the cp are hard to digest. The best, and easiest way to remove the skins is to cook cp just until skins begin floating to the surface. This usually happens when cp are 3/4 done. If you wait until the cp are very soft, then you will not be able separate the skins from the cp, and the cp will leave the pot as well. So, take the pot to the sink when you see the skins. Fill the pot with cold water. Use a big spoon to agitate the cp. Watch as even more skins come to the surface. Carefully dump excess water, along with the skins into the sink. Add lots of cold water, agitate with spoon, and repeat. Do this as many times as you have the patience for. I think we did it about five times. Then, refill the pot, covering cp 3 or four inches above them in water. Continue boiling until VERY very soft, drain.

Here is the lovely recipe:

4 cups soaked, cooked, strained and tender, mostly skinned, chick peas
3/4 cup tahini
3/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 head garlic
1 tsp salt

Combine the ingredients, in any order, in a blender and flip the switch,(low works better and doesn’t burn out the motor, if you have patience) stopping periodically to push the ingredients at the top toward the bottom, to get mixed in(make sure blade has come to a complete stop before sticking spoon in of course!):

**As usual always make sure you taste while you make, as only you can decide if you need to add a bit more of this, or a dash more of that. ;) )))))) Garnish with Greek golden peperoncini, or Salonika peppers on the side, and top with a sprinkle of paprika, a sprig of parsley and a small circular drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Healthy Vegan Non-Refined Flour Delicious Bread!

photo1-300x225

This bread is fantastic for anything from peanut butter and jelly to toasty bits for dipping in hummus. I use all or mostly organic ingredients, even though i have not written organic next to each ingredient. I recommend trying this recipe first, before making any changes. After trying it to see if you like it, you can tweak it in any way you like; for example changing poppy seeds to pumpkin, or something like that. Do NOT try to make this bread with only regular whole wheat. It will NOT rise. see below for details. ;)

Mix wet ingredients first.

in a pyrex measuring cup in the following order:

1 1/2 Cup + 2 Tablespoon filtered water

2 Tablespoon (Tbsp) canola oil

1 Tbsp molasses

mix all together and set aside.

DRY Ingredients

*********

(this part is important: you must have white whole wheat. it is not red hard whole wheat, but white whole wheat, which is only different by an amino acid. the nutritional value is the same as whole wheat, but it comes from wheat grown which is called white. it has nothing to do with the color of the flour. there are two types of wheat; white and red which are grown. usually the red is used to make whole wheat, but they realized that whole wheat made from the white grain was just as nutritious, has all the bran etc., but because it doesn’t have one amino acid, it rises better than red whole wheat. never use white flour, or enriched white flour, or organic white flour, or pastry flour etc. those are ALL refined. ) i have been using Bob’s Red Mill brand

In a big bowl mix the following ingredients:

2 Cups white whole wheat

3/4 + 1/3 Cup whole wheat (can be labeled “fine” or not; doesn’t matter.)

1/3 Cup spelt flour

1/3 Cup Kamut flour

3 teaspoons (tsp) salt

2 Tbsp brown sugar

2 Tbsp oat bran

1 tsp poppy seeds

3 Tbsp sunflower seeds

mix all these ingredients very very well.

IN BREAD MACHINE PAN

add wet ingredients from pyrex measuring cup

slowly pour the dry ingredients on top of the wet ingredients (careful NOT to let the wet ingredients come to the surface. the dry ingredients should cover the entire surface of the liquid. just pour slowly)

LAST ADDITION:

take your pointer finger and make a small well in the top of the dry ingredients. do this by touching with tip of finger, and slowly moving around in a circular fashion until it is about an inch deep and across.

add into the well:

3 Tbsp vital wheat gluten

4 tsp yeast (we use red star bread machine brand)

Lastly, insert pan into bread machine.

IMPORTANT!

ALL BREAD MACHINES ARE DIFFERENT, BUT YOU MUST CHOOSE SETTINGS THAT ARE EQUAL TO “BASIC” WHEN CHOOSING TYPE OF BREAD AND “LIGHT” WHEN CHOOSING COLOR.

YOU MAY USE A TIMER IF YOUR BREAD MACHINE ALLOWS AND HAVE IT MAKE IT IN THE MORNING FOR WHEN YOU WAKE UP, BUT WE HAVE FOUND IT COMES OUT BEST IF IT IS MADE IMMEDIATELY AFTER INSERTING PAN IN MACHINE AND TURNING ON.

MOST IMPORTANT PART:

WE ALWAYS TAKE BREAD OUT 30 MINUTES EARLY. WE SET A TIMER ON THE IPHONE TO LET US KNOW WHEN THAT IS, AS YOU CAN SEE ON THE MACHINE HOW MANY HOURS IT WILL TAKE. IT COMES OUT JUST SLIGHTLY CHEWIER. IT ISN’T DRY THAT WAY. IT HAS AN AMAZING TASTE AND TEXTURE. I RECOMMEND TAKING YOUR BREAD OUT EARLY AT 20-25 MINUTES TO START, UNTIL YOU FIGURE OUT WHAT BEST SUITS YOUR TASTE.

ENJOY!!!

LOTS OF LOVE TO YOU ALL.

A hymn to hummous

yummmmmmy

yummmmmmy

—————**********—————

This recipe has been revised and reposted HERE.

—————**********—————

Whether you spell it hummous, hummus, hommus, or hummos, it is all the same:  a tasty Middle Eastern spread with which the Western world has been fascinated for many years.   You can find the spread  anywhere from upscale markets and food coops, to Costco.  I worked at a health food restaurant years ago called the Sunset Cafe, while I was in college.  I worked there for about six years, on and off, and their specialty was their tahini sauce which they sold by the gallons, their home-made breads and dressings, and most importantly, their hummous.  It was very good hummous, and if around the stuff for long enough, one found that it became addictive.  It was such a popular restaurant, they even published their own cookbook.  Inside, one can find a recipe for their hummous.  I have a copy, and peeked inside recently, just to see how they made the stuff.  Only problem is, it isn’t really how they made it.

I don’t know why, but ever since my early twenties, I have been near obsessed with finding the perfect hummous.  In my hometown in North Carolina, I used to frequent a store at the far end of town which imported food from the Middle East.  Aside from grocery items such as orange flower water, cherry juice, and huge, amazing purple Spanish olives, the owner, who was from Egypt, also had a deli where one could find such delicacies as mouth watering baba ganoush, and of course, downright orgasmic hummous.  I remember lovely picnics at the gorgeous, Bur-Mil park, sunny days, on a small strip of land, surrounded on both sides by lakes, few people, devouring huge bowls of the stuff with amazingly soft pita bread.  It was my principle staple during college, and I often ate  it as a late night snack, or early morning before class, dipping a couple veggie sausages in it, or on a whole wheat bagel with some greek black olives. Those memories are precious.

Having worked at Sunset Cafe so long, I was able to do numerous jobs there, including but not limited to, food preparation.  Aside from making many wonderful foods, I was also a hummous maker there, and yet, I never learned how to do it at home.  I tried and tried over the years, but could never get it right.  I found that the consistency was either too smooth or too thick, or the flavor was not quite what I was looking for.  Finally, I joined the rest of the U.S., and I started buying containers of it now and again.

This year, Christopher and I took a trip to Astoria, Oregon.  It is a quaint, beautiful town worth visiting.  While there, we found the local coop grocery.  It was a good one, with lovely produce and the like, and inside one of the refrigerators, we saw hummous through the window, sporting an appealing garnish of chopped kalamata olives.  Our stomachs told us to buy some.  We were starving from our long walk up to the Astoria column that morning to get a view of the city from up high.  We were not disappointed.  After one bite, I was transported back to my hometown, warm and sunny days, and a full stomach.

After seeing the movie, Low Impact Man, we began thinking of more environmentally friendly ways of eating and living.  Aside from cloth napkins, buying local, trying to make less trash etc., we also talked about luxury food items.  Since hummous is one serious food indulgence I have, we thought it was a good idea to make it, as opposed to continually buying plastic containers; even if they are recyclable.  I wrote down on a shopping list the ingredients I wanted in my hummous, including greek black olives and their brine, and then I gave Christopher the list.  My hope was that he would be able to search online and find a recipe which would include those two items, and also to get a good idea of the proportions of all of the ingredients.  He found a few recipes, and using his very creative, and mathematical brain, he was able to produce what I think is a fabulous recipe for hummous, and one which I think you will all be glad you have at your disposal.

A few things you need to note:

cp=chick peas (a.k.a. garbanzos)

Soaking the chick peas overnight helps the cooking go faster the next day. When you dump the water from the overnight soaking, and you rinse chick peas well, make sure the water you pour in the pot more than covers all the c.p.’s. I suggest covering by about 4 inches. Put the cp on the stove to boil, and while bringing to a boil, and a good few pinches of baking soda. This was a trick I learned in Spain while living there for five years. This is to, shall we say, eliminate wind, or if not, lessen the gas creation in the gut. This is an important step, not to be overlooked! I can tell you that it really works, if you use enough.

Also worth noting:

The skins on the cp are hard to digest. The best, and easiest way to remove the skins is to cook cp just until skins begin floating to the surface. This usually happens when cp are 3/4 done. If you wait until the cp are very soft, then you will not be able separate the skins from the cp, and the cp will leave the pot as well. So, take the pot to the sink when you see the skins. Fill the pot with cold water. Use a big spoon to agitate the cp. Watch as even more skins come to the surface. Carefully dump excess water, along with the skins into the sink. Add lots of cold water, agitate with spoon, and repeat. Do this as many times as you have the patience for. I think we did it about five times. Then, refill the pot, covering cp 3 or four inches above them in water. Continue boiling until soft, drain.

Here is the lovely recipe my sweetie lumps made:

4 cups soaked, cooked, strained and tender, mostly skinned, chick peas
3/4 cup tahini
3/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 head garlic
10 olives, pitted
1/2 cup olive brine
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground pepper
couple pinches of baking soda

Combine the ingredients, in any order, in a blender and flip the switch,(low works better and doesn’t burn out the motor, if you have patience) stopping periodically to push the ingredients at the top toward the bottom, to get mixed in(make sure blade has come to a complete stop before sticking spoon in of course!):


**Garnish with Greek golden peperoncini, or Salonika peppers on the side, and top with a sprinkle of paprika, a sprig of parsley and a small circular drizzle of extra virgin olive oil


I hope you enjoy as much as we, our friends and neighbors have!

Happy New Year

For the Good Times: Lacto-fermented Peach Chutney

Some thoughts on when a good thing goes bad…

Juicy and Sweet

I’ve been working on a few projects lately. The art of cooking is a lot like the art of living. Sometimes it is a labor of love; mostly it is a love of labor, as Gary Danko told the SF Examiner recently.

And sometimes, no matter how much love and labor you invest, things don’t turn out the way you intended. So it was with the Lacto-fermented Peach Chutney I attempted to make.

It had great beginnings—beautiful fruit from Andy Mariani’s orchardPeak pickings, local whey from Straus dairy, fragrant spices. And there was the promise of more—the health benefits which fermented foods confer— “good bacteria” as found in kimchi, sauerkraut and yogurt. I adapted a recipe from Jessica Prentice’s book “Full Moon Feast”, a book I recommend if you are interested in the “cultural” history of favorites like rootbeer, pickles, poi and kombucha.

The process of lacto-fermentation is as Sally Fallon describes here from her book “Nourishing Traditions”:

“Lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits putrefying bacteria. Starches and sugars in vegetables and fruits are converted into lactic acid by the many species of lactic-acid-producing bacteria. These lactobacilli are ubiquitous, present on the surface of all living things and especially numerous on leaves and roots of plants growing in or near the ground”.

Put simply, the raw ingredient is flooded with a brine solution, and then kept, submerged, in a crock or covered container for a period of days or weeks at room temperature. The lactic bacteria fights “bad bacteria” that would typically grow in unrefrigerated conditions.

Benefits:

• Does not require sterilizing jars and equipment, only requires that equipment meets basic cleanliness standards.
• Does not require refrigeration
• Requires only basic daily maintenance (cleaning off the “scum” that gathers on the top—good times!)

I followed the instructions in the recipe. I covered the fenugreek seeds in boiling water and kept them overnight in the fridge. I strained the yogurt overnight to cull the whey.
I cut up the peaches, adding rehydrated fenugreek, lemon juice, toasted mustard, fennel and cardamom, grated ginger, turmeric, demerara sugar, salt, yogurt whey and cayenne. Then I transferred everything to a 2-quart jar and weighed the solids down using a smaller jar filled with water. I put the lid on the jar, but not very tightly.

I was concerned that escaping gas from the mixture would be trapped in a tightly sealed jar and there would be consequences. Dear readers, was that my first mistake? Or was it the addition of cardamom, a spice that can make food taste “soapy” if used in large quantities?

So for two days I watched my jar and cleaned “scum” off the top of the mixture. But there was something awry. A strange and unpleasant odor filled the kitchen, and even I, an adventurous eater, could not deny my “gut feeling”. I suspect that either the combination itself was just not compatible, or I did not effectively seal the jar, thus safeguarding the interaction while allowing some “flow” within? Was this a closed-system, or an open-system gone bad? I don’t know. And in the end, I did not eat or give away the chutney save to the compost.

But I will say this in remembering those perfect peaches: as Kris Kristofferson wrote and Al Green sang,

“Life goes on, and this old world will keep on turning.
Let’s just be glad we had some time to spend together”.

Orchard Tours and harvestP1010729

BBQ Baked Black-Eyed Peas

Classic Summer Jams: BBQ Black-Eyed Peas

What are your favorite summer foods? Corn, tomato and basil salad, grilled squashes, fruit pies and cobblers, frozen confections…all essential in my memory, and also that luminary of many a BBQ menu—baked beans.

Joke all you want about the magical fruit, but nowadays, the relatively low cost, high nutrient value and deep hunger satisfaction of beans make them very appealing. So, in thinking about new ways to prepare baked beans, I decided to try making them cheaply, healthfully and most of all tastily—and without any of the enriching pork products traditionally used in those recipes. Yet I was skeptical that I could produce a rich baked bean recipe without any ham, bacon or other smoky meat. I decided to turn to a vegan soul food cookbook for the alchemy of flavors that could titillate the tastebuds—Bryant Terry’s “Vegan Soul Kitchen” (Da Capo Press, 2008). His recipe is a variation of the traditional “Hoppin John” served with rice, so it includes sweet and spicy peppers.

The recipe itself was simple. Yet it was time-consuming, elaborate and not-so-cheap to prepare. If you factor in having to buy many of the elements– dried kombu, ($40/lb at my local co-op), tamari, agave nectar, chipotle in adobo (which is not so easy to find in some communities without a bodega)—I have to say it was more of an “experiment” than an instant-add to the recipe box.

I had to figure out WHY the kombu, chipotle and tamari were used (in other words, the purpose of these ingredients chemically and flavor-wise) if I planned to substitute them in the future. So here’s what I found out:

Kombu is used in the recipe as an addition to the black-eyed peas. The major benefits that kombu provides are flavor-enhancement (MSG is a natural element of kombu), amino acids and soluble minerals.

The chipotle in adobo (which you can approximate at home [http://becksposhnosh.blogspot.com/2006/03/chipotle-en-adobo.html]) is so delicious I can see why it would be a pantry staple. It’s the perfect combination of smoky, umami, fiery and sweet tastes. No need for ham here!

The tamari was an obvious player for its salty properties. Also, as it breaks down in the recipe over the hours in the oven, the sugar from the fermented soybeans contributes sweetness. Yet I’ve used tamarind pulp in a similar way in BBQ sauce. It also has salty, umami, sweet and sour tastes. Let the cook decide what works best.

Jess at work

So getting down to it, I followed the basic steps for working with dry beans: I picked through the black-eyed peas to discard any stones, shriveled bits, bugs or unidentifiable items, then I soaked them overnight in cold water. I drained them the next day, rinsed them and then threw them back in a pot with just enough cold water to cover them by two inches (you will need much of the cooking water in this recipe and it’s a nutrient-rich addition to the recipe). Black-eyed peas originate from Africa, and they are an excellent source of protein, B vitamins, fiber and magnesium. Soaked Black-Eyed peas

When combined with all of the peppers (Vitamin C) later in the process, ounce-for-ounce this recipe really delivers the nutritional goods.

I cooked the peas with the kombu for an hour, skimming off the foam after the first boil and then letting it simmer. During the hour of simmering I sautéed the veggies Vegetable Sauteand made the sauce of tamari, vinegar, tomatoes, agave, chipotle, lime juice and spices in my blender. When the peas were done, I added the reserved cooking liquid to the sauce and gave it a short blast to incorporate.

The key players

All in the casserole dish: peas, veggies, sauce.

BBQ Beans before the oven

I set the oven at 350F, then placed the uncovered casserole on the middle rack, and left it in for two hours. I stirred the mixture every half-hour or so, and while it was baking a wonderful tangy aroma filled the house.

I have to hand it to Mr. Terry—once I tasted the beans I was enthralled. Although I did not use tempeh as he directs in the original recipe, it was still chock-full of textures and flavors. If the diner adds rice, quinoa or another grain, a perfect protein combination is achieved without any meat.

By the way, in the book he recommends a musical pairing to this recipe: “Harlem” by Bill Withers”.  Stevie Wonder’s “Innervisions” was ‘just right’ for me.

BBQ BE Peas after baking

BBQ Baked Black-Eyed Peas (adapted from Bryant Terry)

1 1/2 cups dried black-eyed peas, sorted, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed

1 3-inch piece kombu

3 T. plus 2 t. extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 c. diced onions

1 c. diced bell pepper

2 cloves minced garlic

2 T. red wine vinegar

2 T. freshly-squeezed lime juice

1/2 c. tamari

1 c. canned tomato sauce

1 large chipotle chile in adobo sauce

1/4 c. agave nectar

1 T. cumin

Pinch of cayenne

1 t. dried thyme