My grown son is now in his own condo and this collection of recipes I called, Dearest Michael were written when he was younger as you will see by my references, as a gift to him for this very moment.
Whether you read them for the story or the recipe, know that they were written as a tribute to the many people who have influenced my kitchen, my cooking and my notion of family.
I had the pleasure of taking you to Israel 6 months before your Bar Mitzvah with the Andreozzi family back in 2010. I watched you and your friend, Chris try Hummus at every stop.
Hummus is served at Israeli restaurants the way we serve bread before meals here. I have tasted Hummus made in Iranian, Armenian, Lebanese and Syrian restaurants and I claim no favorites. But there is something about Israel probably more because I have taken you there. When we dip the pita, we are in Tel Aviv or in the Old City of Jerusalem. Travel, like cooking, is something that joins the two of us and for this I am so happy to have been your line leader.
Hummus is personal to many families who make it from scratch and don't buy it in one of those plastic containers that claim to be hummus. I am no expert hummus maker, I don't have a family recipe I grew up with or some look back at someone making it using a mortar and pestle in their kitchen.
If someone reading this has a Hummus recipe they use, this one is probably inferior. I could never even attempt to compete with the Middle Eastern traditional recipes that go back generations. The cookbook, Jerusalem, by Yottam Ottolenghi is one of my favorites and has 2 incredible Hummus recipes, traditional and the warm version. Warm hummus served as a meal with fresh pita bread can bring tears to your eyes, it is so delicious. As I write this for the blog today, I realize I must try the warm version recipe in Yottam's book (which I also sell because it is just one of those cookbooks that needs to be in all kitchens as a piece of art as much as a utility).
I recently went to my friend, Maria's house for brunch and she had a Hummus that was memorable. Her recipe on her blog should be coming out this week too. Her great website is here. I love to share and collaborate with other cool chicks.
There were times in my busy motherhood, I confess I bought store bought, but that was before I realized how damn easy it is to make, especially if you choose to look the other way and use canned chickpeas instead. Fresh of anything is always better, but sometimes I just wanted you to have some hummus after school and hadn't planned well enough in advance to prep the chickpeas.
I have always made my Hummus with olive oil until this past November. I was at a conference in Miami where I had hoped to sneak in some sunshine at the pool, but instead had a potential hurricane to face.
I headed to the bar at the hotel instead and struck up a conversation with someone sitting next to me who I noticed was reading Hebrew. I asked him if he was from Israel and we became fast friends.
He was a pilot for El Al Airlines and had found himself and his plane stranded because of the weather.
We ended up talking over a few glasses of wine and appetizers and this is where he enlightened me about the ingredients of Hummus.
"No olive oil." He stated this with force that is one of the traits I love about Israeli personalities. "The olive oil is drizzled over it in the center of the Hummus when it is ready to be served, not in the recipe."
Because I had essentially made up my Hummus recipe sort of following the pattern of pesto, it never occurred to me to use WATER. So this was shocking to me. I had been making Hummus from scratch since we returned from Israel in 2010!
Now that I have been looking at actual Hummus recipes from real chefs, no one seems to use olive oil as the liquid that seals all the ingredients together. Some recipes call for the water left over from the chickpeas after they are cooked. Some call for ice water.
So is olive oil wrong? I don't know, I love my Hummus recipe and so does everyone else I have made it for over the years. But the next time I make hummus, I will most certainly try the water instead.
I would say of all of my cooking, my favorite part is having discussions with who seem to be strangers until food brings us together as friends.
This is the miracle of food and recipes and saying hello to people.
Traditional Hummus calls for chickpeas. I have made it with white beans too, use this recipe as a guide and experiment. Often traditional recipes call for a mortar and pestle too.
Here is my note on the chickpea decision. If you can use fresh, please do. The great thing about fresh is once you cook them, they can be individually stored in containers or Ziploc baggies in the freezer, they keep for a few months easily and this will be your go to “can” for the next few batches. If you are in a pinch or craving Hummus, but don’t have time to make some fresh chickpeas, then a can will do, but always drain and rinse well before using.
As far as a mortar and pestle, have at it if you want, I am far too lazy, I love my food processor. A note on the Cuisinart- I have a clear memory of Grandma Ann buying her first one in the 70's and it was kitchen changing. I have had the same one since I was married and I hope that mine ends up in your kitchen eventually. Like a great knife, you must have a good food processor and in my opinion, the Cuisinart is the best.
I Love You. Love Mom
*Because I make some product recommendations in my blogs, I may get a small commission as an affiliate and or an Amazon affiliate. Anything I recommend I personally use. I want to make it easier to shop for items you may not have, need to replace-- or if you are a lover of all things kitchen like me, just want to add to your collection.
NOTE: I wrote this a few years after Michael and I went to Israel. It was fun to read the references to his kitchen especially the Cuisinart. Now I have a bigger brand new one thanks to him giving me one as a gift. And now, like the recipe hoped for, it is in fact in his kitchen.
HOW TO CREATE THE MAGIC
I am giving you a more precise direction here, my love, to get you started, but truth be told, I am so familiar with this mixture, I throw everything into the Cuisinart in one pile and pulse away.
Do the recipe as I list for your first run, then once you get used to it, follow my lead and trust that mixing everything together in one shot will be easier and just as delicious. This is also a great base. I have changed it up over time by adding artichokes, or roasted red peppers. There are so many possibilities and because your taste buds are trained well, trust your additions and your imagination.
- Put garlic in Cuisinart and mince well.
- Add fresh herbs and pulse in with the garlic.
- Add drained chickpeas, tahini, hot sauce and lemon and pulse until mixed.
- Add olive oil until you get to the consistency you like. Start with about ¼ cup and keep adding until just right. Like lots of life decisions, this is a personal decision, you will get a feel for this the more you make the recipe.
- Add Zahtar, salt and pepper and pulse a few times.
Now taste it and decide what it needs. More lemon? probably. More salt? Maybe. More hot sauce, be careful here, hot sauce in Hummus is for the background. Just play around with it until you get to the spot where you are transported back to Tel Aviv or our first meal in the Old City of Jerusalem. You’ll know.
I haven't tried a mortar and pestle for hummus, (likely blasphemy to some), however I do have one that I use for other things. I just wanted to add one here for tradition and this one looks promising.
I have made at least 15 recipes from this cookbook. My son and I have also had the pleasure of eating at OTTOLENGHI in London with my cousins too. Really special. I have also started selling other cookbooks that I love though they are not all up on the website yet, stop in for a cup of tea and browse my collection. They will warm your heart as much as the recipes do.