Monday, April 28, 2014

Hummus with Maiitake & Oyster Mushrooms

Hummus with Maiitake & Oyster Mushrooms
Serves 6 
Hummus with Maiitake & Oyster Mushrooms
This basic hummus recipe is super smooth and rich in tahini augmented with cumin and a lot of lemon. But, it should be regarded as a sublime base – use as is – or enhance with toppings of your choice. I chose Hummus with Maiitake and Oyster Mushrooms for this recipe. The silky, cumin-laced hummus gets a contrasting texture and a savory boost from the tangle of mushrooms on top. But, you could certainly serve the hummus alone with a drizzle of olive oil, or turn it into a very substantial meal with the addition kawarma (lamb) & lemon (for a future blog!)

Political and nationalistic discussions about hummus – where it started and how; who first added sesame paste, crushed chickpeas – are endless. Many feel that it was the Egyptian Arabs who first made hummus, though celebrated Jewish author Meir Shalev feels there is clear evidence that Jews ate hummus in biblical times. Regardless of origin, one is still left with who makes the best hummus now. Top quality tahini is a key ingredient. This paste is made from ground, hulled sesame seeds. It is creamy, oily and smooth with a nut butter consistency and rich in calcium. Look for tahini in a glass jar or can, in the ethnic food aisle of your grocer or in health food stores. You can also find fresh tahini in the refrigerator section next to the prepared hummus in larger well-stocked grocers.

This recipe is a good springboard to begin your quest of the best hummus. You will be amazed how truly simple it is to make – to the point of wondering why you would ever opt for grocery store hummus of questionable age and ingredients.
Key ingredients
For Hummus:
  • ¼ C dried chickpeas
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 6½ C water
  • 1 C plus 2 Tb tahini paste
  • Juice from 2-3 large lemons
  • 1 preserved lemon, rinsed and finely chopped  (optional; see or can purchase at the grocery store)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 6½ Tb ice-cold water
  • Salt

For Mushroom topping:
  • 1 C pine nuts
  • 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • 1 lb thinly sliced mushrooms, oyster and maiitake mix
  • Kosher salt
  • Parsley, chopped for garnish (garnish)
  • Sweet paprika, for garnish
  • Olive oil for garnish

To make hummus: The night before, put the dried chickpeas in a large bowl and cover them with cold water at least twice their volume. Leave to soak overnight.
Soak the chickpeas overnight
The next day, drain the chickpeas. Place a medium saucepan over high heat and add the drained chickpeas and baking soda. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the water, optional ¼ of the chopped preserved lemon and bring to a boil. Watch carefully so it does not boil over. Cook, skimming off any foam and any skins that float to the surface. The chickpeas will need to cook between 20 and 40 minutes, depending on type and freshness. Once done, they should be very tender, breaking up easily when pressed between your fingers, almost but not quite mushy.

Drain the chickpeas. You should have roughly 3½ C now. Place the cooked chickpeas in a food processor and process until you get a stiff paste. With the machine running, add the tahini paste, fresh lemon juice, and remainder of the preserved lemon, cumin, garlic and 2 tsp salt. Finally, slowly drizzle in the iced water and allow it to mix for about 5 minutes, until you get a very smooth and creamy paste.

Chopped preserved lemons....these are homemade, but now can be purchased
In the food processor and ready to blend
Smooth consistency after processing

Transfer the hummus to a bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. If refrigerating, make sure to take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving.

To make Mushrooms:
Heat oven to 300 degree F. Toss pine nuts and olive oil in a bowl until evenly coated. Transfer to a baking sheet; bake, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
Toasted pine nuts
Pour canola oil to a depth of 2 inches in a 6 qt Dutch oven; heat over medium-high heat until a deep fry thermometer reads 350 degree F. Working in batches, add mushrooms, and fry until crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season immediately with kosher salt.
Sliced oyster mushrooms
Frying the mushrooms

Spread hummus on bottom of a serving dish, forming a shallow well in the center; fill well with fried mushrooms and pine nuts. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and paprika and drizzle with olive oil.  Serve with pita or flat bread to accolades.

Hummus can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days or frozen for future use. It can be eaten as described here or simply spread on a plate, drizzled with your favorite high quality finishing olive oil, and eaten with a pita or bread.


This recipe was adapted from “Jerusalem: A Cookbook” by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi

Monday, April 21, 2014

Wild Mushroom & Blue Cheese Galette

Wild Mushroom & Blue Cheese Galette 
Serves: 6

This is special – rustic AND elegant at the same time.  Also a great time to grab those fresh mushrooms you have been meaning to try. Now, about the funk, or should I say, fungi: with over a pound of wild mushrooms and five ounces of blue cheese, this is not a recipe for feeble palated. That I managed to find a blend with an especially pungent bouquet — a gigantic fresh porcini, a few ounces of bunapi champignon (a new discovery, and possible favorite), oyster and shiitake — didn’t reduce the overall olfactory impact, either.

While the recipe is on the fussy side — freezing flour, rolling out sticky dough and then pushing back the finish time even further by cooling the filling first — not a one of these steps does anything but improve the outcome. I think of this like a great side dish for a dinner party; it’s rustic enough that it won’t upstage any rack of lamb or Thanksgiving turkey, but intense enough that it will get the affection it deserves.

Galette is a French term that refers to a variety of flat round cakes, usually made with flaky pastry dough of some kind that can be sweet or savory. I love them. These “tarts” are not molded in tart pans. Instead, filling is placed directly on top of a sheet of rolled out pastry and the edges of that pastry are folded up and around the filling. The tart becomes crisp during baking and the galette, as a whole, manages to be both rustic and elegant at the same time. There are no galette rules or galette police – so feel free to shape them however you want.

For the pastry:
  • 1¼ C all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 8 Tb (1 cube) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • ¼ C sour cream
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ C ice water 

For the filling:
  • ¼ ounce dried wild mushrooms, such as chanterelle, porcini or shiitakes
  • 1 C boiling water
  • 2 Tb unsalted butter
  • ¾ C sliced green onions
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • ½ tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • ½ lb assorted fresh wild mushrooms, such as chanterelles, porcini, shiitake or bunapi, brushed clean and large mushrooms thinly sliced.
  • ½ lb fresh button mushrooms, brushed clean and thinly sliced
  • 5 ounces Stilton or other good-quality blue cheese
  • Glaze: 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tsp water
  • Coarse finishing salt

(For photos on how to make the pastry, see my December posting on a vegetable galette. The method is identical:

To make the pastry, in a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Place the butter in another bowl. Place both bowls in the freezer for one hour. Remove the bowls from the freezer and make a well in the center of the flour. Add the butter to the well and, using a pastry fork or blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Make another well in the center. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add half of this mixture to the well. With your fingertips, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Remove the large lumps and repeat with the remaining liquid and flour-butter mixture. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the filling: Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and add the boiling water. Let stand for 30 minutes until softened. Drain the mushrooms and mince finely.
Three types of mushrooms
Preheat oven to 400 degree F.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the green onions and sauté, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, rosemary and thyme and continue to cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Increase the heat to high; add the fresh and rehydrated mushrooms, and sauté until the mushrooms are tender and the liquid they released has completely evaporated, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
Sauteeing the mushrooms
On a floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 12-inch round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Crumble the blue cheese into a bowl, add the cooled mushrooms and stir well.  Spread the mixture over the dough, leaving a 1½ -inch border. Fold the border over the mushrooms and cheese, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open. Brush crust with egg yolk glaze. Sprinkle glaze with a small amount of coarse finishing salt.
Ready for the oven!
Bake until golden brown, 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven, let stand for 5 minutes, and then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature. I loved it with a full fruity red wine such as a Syrah or Zinfandel.
Ready to eat
Bon Appetit


Monday, April 14, 2014

Olive Oil Braised Veggies

Olive Oil Braised Veggies
Serves 4-6
Olive Oil Braised Veggies
Slow-braising vegetables has intrigued me for some time. I previously posted an interesting approach to braising asparagus ( Today was the day to try it. It changes everything. Braising isn’t just for meat.  The gentle cooking method, which calls for a small amount of liquid, low heat and a covered pot, can be used for a variety of veggies, as well. You can also reduce the flavorful cooking liquid and use it as an accompanying sauce. This is only one take on braising vegetables.  Others could certainly be added or substituted such as leeks, celery or fennel.
Stars of the show!
  • 1 C extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tb anchovy paste
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with side of a knife
  • 6 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 lemon, ends trimmed, thinly sliced crosswise, seeds removed
  • 1 large zucchini, cut diagonally into 1½” long pieces
  • 1 lb baby Yukon Gold or new potatoes
  • 1 medium head broccoli, cut into florets, stalk cut into large pieces
  • ½ medium head cauliflower, cut into florets, stalk cut into large pieces
  • 2 Tb finely chopped parsley
  • 2 sprigs marjoram, stems removed
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

Put olive oil, anchovy paste, chile flakes, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, rosemary, and lemon slices in 6 qt Dutch oven. Place over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and the garlic and the lemon slices are lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
Veggies in the pot

Slow cooked with the lemon slides

Add the zucchini in a single layer and cook, without stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Flip the zucchini, and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the potatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower to the pot and stir once or twice to coat in oil.  Cook, covered, without stirring, until the vegetables begin to brown and soften, about 30 minutes.
Now add in the zucchini slices
Remove the vegetables from the heat, and stir in parsley and marjoram. Season to taste with salt and pepper. It's a great side dish and addition to any meal.

Bon Appetit!


Monday, April 7, 2014

Back from Hiatus! Black (Forbidden) & Wild Rice Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash

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Back from Hiatus! Black (Forbidden) & Wild Rice Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash 
Serves: 8

OK, I have been gone for a little while…still cooking but not writing. Instead, have been busy getting our new place in the desert ready. Not a big a kitchen, but that’s why they invented husbands and barbeques!!  Anyway, it is good to be back.
Have you ever made a recipe expecting it to be quite good – I mean, why else would you make it? – only to exceed your expectations? This is that kind of recipe. Look at the ingredients, great mix of flavors, much can be done earlier in the day and it’s even healthy. All good. And then, when done, you taste – it is absolutely wonderful. I made it three times shortly after the first serving, testing on different friends, all to acclaim. So make it today. You will love it. Oh – and it is vegetarian, gluten free and dairy free…just sayin. What a perfect dish for meatless Monday.

The name forbidden rice alone is enough to pull you into making this dish. Last September I included a recipe with Forbidden Rice and Red Quinoa. ( Now you have two reasons to give it a try. According to ancient Chinese legend, black rice was so rare, tasty, and nutritious that only the emperors were allowed to eat it. The rice was fabled to enrich health and ensure longevity. The black color of the uncooked forbidden rice is due to its outer coating of black bran. It is also prized for its fragrant aroma, nutty taste and nutritional value. Like brown rice, black rice is full of antioxidant-rich bran, which is found in the outer layer that gets removed during the milling process to make white rice. But only black-rice bran contains the antioxidants known as anthocyanins, which are purple and reddish pigments -- also found in blueberries, grapes, and acai -- that have been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease and cancer, improvements in memory, and other health benefits.

The contrast between the sweetness of the roasted butternut squash and the nutty flavor in the rice makes for a distinctive flavor. Both the pomegranate seeds and the pistachios add a crunchy layer to keep your palate wondering what might come next!
  • 1½ C black forbidden rice
  • ½ C wild rice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 med-large butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, cut into pieces
  • ½ C olive oil (divided)
  • 2 Tb maple syrup
  • ¼ C red wine vinegar (divided)
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • ½ - ¾ C pomegranate seeds
  • 1 C micro greens or ¾ C pee shoots or mixture of cilantro & parsley or baby spinach
  • ½ C roasted pistachios, chopped
  • Other optional garnishes/additions: chevre, cooked lentils 

Preheat oven to 450 degree F. Cook black rice and wild rice in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, 35-40 minutes; drain and rinse, shaking off as much water as possible. Mix 1 Tb red wine vinegar into hot cooked rice. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet and let cool.
Forbidden rice and wild rice cooling on a cooking sheet
Meanwhile toss squash with ¼ olive oil and the maple syrup on another baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven, tossing once, until golden brown and tender, 20-25 minutes; let cool.
Cut butternut squash with maple syrup
Butternut squash after roasting...sweet!
For the pistachios, you can either buy them pre-roasted. Alternatively, you can buy raw pistachios and place in a dry frying pan over medium heat. Watch them carefully until they are browned (see photo below).

Roasted pistachios
Whisk remainder of vinegar, honey and remaining olive oil in a large bowl.  Add black rice and wild rice, squash, scallions and pomegranate seeds. Mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. This can now sit for several hours. Cover and chill.  Add micro greens and pistachios shortly before serving.  Substitute for micro greens include pea shoots, mix of parsley & cilantro or baby spinach.  To boost protein, you might want to add ¼- ½ C cooked lentils. To add another dimension or increase creaminess, sprinkle final dish with crumbled chevre. Simply divine. Try it today!