Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fresh Garbanzos (Chickpeas)

One of the reasons I love our local Asian market - they carry items like this! Fresh garbanzos are crunchy and sweet, sort of like a fresh pea.

Monday, September 17, 2007

California Pizza Kitchen's Tuscan Hummus

Oh, how I love CPK's hummus! Creamy, smooth, rich - I couldn't figure out why I liked their hummus so much more than others. After I happily purchased California Pizza Kitchen Pasta, Salads, Soups, And Sides, I discovered their secret: they use cannellini beans, not garbanzos! Eureka!

I tweaked the recipe just a bit. This makes a generous amount of hummus - I would say more than enough as an appetizer for six to eight people.

Hummus Ingredients

5 medium garlic cloves
30 ounces drained and rinsed canned cannellini beans
1/2 cup sesame paste (tahini)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup cold water, if needed
2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley

California Pizza Kitchen Checca Ingredients

3 or 4 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/2" dice
1 tablespoon minced garlic (don't crush the garlic, as it will make this too bitter)
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
kosher salt, to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


In a food processor, process the beans and pulse the machine a few times to chop them coarsely. Add the garlic clove and process them until finely minced. With the machine running, puree the mixture slowly pouring the sesame paste through the feed tube. Still with the motor running, pour the olive oil, lemon juice, and soy sauce through the feed tube, stopping the processor occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Stop the processor, open the lid, and add the salt, cumin, coriander, and cayenne. Process until thoroughly blended. If the puree seems too thick, pulse in the 1/4 cup cold water (or more, if needed, to reach the consistency that you are looking for). Transfer the puree to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate to chill well before serving.


In a bowl, combine the Checca ingredients, mixing them thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

About thirty minutes before you plan to serve it, place the chilled hummus in a bowl and arrange the tomato Checca on top. Garnish with the chopped parsley and surround with pita triangles or crackers.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Braised Leeks and Bacon in a Tart

Another tasty bite from what has turned out to be one of my favorite cookbooks, Molly Stevens' All About Braising. I had one more commercial pie crust to use up, and I've had such success with recipes from this book, that I decided to give this one a try. I was not disappointed, and
(gasp!) I am not really a fan of gruyere. Master Chow enjoyed both the goat cheese tart and this one, but preferred the bite and depth of flavor that the gruyere and leeks gave the latter.

I did not alter this recipe, and as I've blogged about several dishes in Molly Stevens' book, I won't do so again. I urge folks to check it out from the library or buy it for yourselves. (Disclaimer: if you click on Amazon through this website, I get a small percentage of the sale. And I get paid in gift certificates, which I promptly apply to more cookbooks. It is a vicious cycle.).

To summarize, though: I braised the leeks with butter, salt and pepper, garlic, nutmeg, fresh thyme, stock, lemon and thick-cut bacon. I then chopped and combined the leek-bacon mixture with Gruyere, eggs, creme fraiche, half-and-half, fresh thyme, more nutmeg, and salt and pepper. I spread the leaks on the bottom of the pie crust, and poured the egg mixture over it. Popped it in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes, and then devoured it.

Yum. Next time, though, I might try this with Emmental instead of Gruyere.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Cherries, Cherries, Cherries!

Well, I'm back. It has been a busy summer on so many levels, and my blogging has suffered for it. For those of you who read my humble blog, I've been working on so many projects (including me), that something had to give, and it turned out to be this blog, not to mention my favorite hobby - cooking.

I decided that my body was starting to creak a bit too much, so I did something about it. I started exercising more vigorously, and finally had some injuries looked at; it it appears that I may need some knee and wrist surgery, not to mention physical therapy on a shoulder. On a brighter note, in the past month I adopted a low-sodium, high fruit and veggie approach to eating known as the DASH "diet." It's purpose? To lower blood pressure. I must say, mine has plummeted. Diet and exercise never did much for my blood pressure before, but this "diet" has - on medication, my BP was 150/100 a month ago. Now, it is 106/68. I am stunned, and so is my doctor. For an easy-to-read yet thorough explanation of this approach, check out this link (pdf file, so you'll need Adobe).

But before my summer heated up, I managed to bake a fresh sour cherry pie. I adapted this recipe from one I found in Rose Levy Beranbaum's Pie and Pastry Bible. I added 1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to the filling, because the sour cherries I had were a bit on the sweet side. And, for a change, I followed Rose's recipe exactly when I made my favorite crust, her Perfect Flaky & Tender Cream Cheese Pie Crust. The result was the best sour cherry pie I have ever made, and one I plan to repeat this winter because I froze several pounds of berries! If you can find frozen sour cherries, or have some on hand, I encourage you to try this recipe.