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God Bless a Chickpea & Home-Made Hummus March 15, 2010

Posted by Deniz Olcay in Middle Eastern.
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I had to reference one of my all time favorite TV shows “Friends” before starting this recipe. George Clooney said it best: “God BlessĀ  a Chickpea”. Versatile and incredibly flavorful, there is almost no limitation to what you can do with chickpeas. Especially in Turkish cuisine, numerous dishes include chickpeas as a central ingredient. I will call a few family friends, and borrow another delicious chickpea recipe in the near future. Stay Tuned!

Meanwhile, let’s get to the recipe at hand. In recent years, I have seen an explosion of hummus brands in the USA. Known as a healthy snack, companies have not missed the opportunity to capitalize on the healthy trends that are emerging in US cities. But why purchase something that it so easy to make at home? If you have a food processor, chickpeas and tahini paste, you can make your own version of hummus in a matter of minutes. Another reason to keep these ingredients handy at home.

To accompany the perfect home-made hummus, I will also show you how to make home made pita chips. Again, you can come up with sweet variations for this (cinnamon and sugar), but I will show you how to make plain ones, which we can use for dipping into the hummus. With this recipe, your parties will be a hit!

You will need

1 can of chickpeas (approximately 2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon of sumac
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1 clove of garlic (mashed)
1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of tahini
1/4 cup of water
1/6 teaspoon of salt (or to taste)
1 tablespoon of lemon juice (add more depending on your taste)
1/4 cup of parsley
Store bought pita bread

1. Wash the chickpeas in a strainer, and place them into the food processor

Wash chickpeas and place into food processor

2. Peel a garlic clove and use a garlic press to mash the 1 clove of garlic into the food processor. Use a garlic press, otherwise you might get chunks of garlic in your hummus!

Peel garlic and mash it into the food processor

3. Add 2 tablespoons of tahini, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 1/4 cup of water, 1/4 cup of parsley, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, salt to taste ( I add approximately 1/6th of a teaspoon), and 1/2 teaspoon of cumin. I also add 1/2 teaspoon of sumac, which is a red colored spice which adds a sour taste.

Add the rest of the ingredients into the food processor

4. Blend ingredients using the food processor!

Blend ingredients!

5. To make the pita chips, cut the pita bread into small triangles

Cut pita bread into small triangles

6.On a piece of foil, drizzle olive oil, black pepper and some oregano or parsley flakes on top of the pita triangles. Place in the oven for 10-12 minutes at 325 degrees.

Drizzle olive oil, black pepper and some oregano or parsley flakes

7. Serve with the hummus! Enjoy!

Garnish with pine nuts and some sumac. You can also drizzle some more olive oil.

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Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto March 12, 2010

Posted by Deniz Olcay in Italian Dishes.
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“There are people who strictly deprive themselves of each and every eatable, drinkable, and smokable which has in any way acquired a shady reputation. They pay this price for health. And health is all they get for it. How strange it is. It is like paying out your whole fortune for a cow that has gone dry.” – Mark Twain

This quote by Mark Twain really struck a chord with me, and really does explain my reason for loving food so much. On the short journey of life, food is unquestionably one of our primary pleasures. It would be a shame to let life slip by without learning how to master the art of cooking. Everyone can, and everyone should. So what if a dish has butter and it’s bad for your health? As long as it is in moderation, and makes it delicious, it’s fine in my book!

And what better place to start mastering cooking, than indulging in some good Risotto. It is one of those wonderful dishes that is interpreted by the chef in many ways. Simply by keeping some Arborio rice handy, you can cook Risotto on those days when you are not sure what to cook. Shrimp, mushrooms, leek, asparagus are all capable of making this dish shine. Today’s recipe comes from one of those days when I was trying to think of something to cook, and had some sun-dried tomatoes handy. The first time I cooked it, I unfortunately only had the low quality powder-style Parmesan cheese available. Believe me, once you try it with freshly grated Parmesan cheese… You’ll be close to heaven.

Before I start the recipe, I want to thank everyone who has checked out my blog. When I woke up this morning and observed last night’s statistics, I saw that I had a record 150 views in one day. The more views I get, the more motivated I feel to keep on writing new recipes. In short, you made my day. So feel free to send your recipes, ideas or things you would like to see, by using the comment function. I’d be happy to try them out for you!

I want to make a special shout out to my buddy Terje, who was longing for the recipe for this dish. Enjoy it my man!

You will need

1.5 cups of Arborio rice (with high starch content, used for risotto dishes)
32oz or 1 Liter Vegetable stock (The kind in a can or carton)
1 small chopped onion
1/4 cup of sun-dried tomatoes (In a jar, soaking in oil)
Fresh Parmesan cheese (Never the powdery stuff… ever)
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Freshly chopped parsley
1/2 cup of white wine (any semi-sweet type will do)
Black pepper

1. Bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a small pot. Turn off the heat and keep a “1/2 cup” measuring cup handy.

Boil the broth in a small pot

2. Pour 2 tablespoons of sun-dried tomato oil (the oil inside the jar) into a medium pot, and also add 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Turn up to medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add the chopped onion, and cook until translucent (make sure it doesn’t turn brown!)

Olive oil & sun-dried tomato

3. Add 1.5 cups of Arborio rice and 1/4 cup of sun-dried tomatoes. Use a wooden spoon to stir the rice until it is translucent in color (should take no longer than 3 minutes)

Add rice and sun-dried tomatoes

4. Add 1/2 cup of white wine, and continue to stir the rice until it absorbs the liquid

Add wine and stir until liquid is absorbed

5. Once the rice absorbs the liquid, add 1/2 cup of vegetable broth. Repeat this process until you run out of vegetable stock. The rice should be soft on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside (do the taste test around 20 minutes). This could take up to 25-30 minutes, and you should keep stirring the rice to avoid sticking to the pot. If you run out of stock, don’t panic, and just add some water. Remember that it will also rest for 5 minutes, which will give it some time to cook fully.

Grate parmesan cheese and cover for 5 minutes

6. Grate Parmesan cheese into the pot liberally, and add some fresh black pepper. If you agree with Mark Twain’s quote, you can add a tablespoon of butter for some more deliciousness. Give it a nice mix, and let it rest covered for 5 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley. Enjoy!

Serve with wine, enjoy!

A different angle