Posts Tagged ‘simple recipe’

Simple Recipes: Roasted Garlic Hummus

April 7, 2020 6 comments

Do you like hummus? Well, I can tell you about myself – yes and no.

No questions that everyone’s palate is different, so I can only speak for my perception. I absolutely LOVE well-made hummus – I can eat it by the bowlful. The problem is that it is almost impossible to find well-made hummus here in the US (if you are in Israel, it is an entirely different story). You can occasionally find something decent at an appropriate restaurant (typically Mediterranean or Middle Eastern), but it is practically impossible to find anything decent in the store – I encountered some exceptions, but they are really, really rare (for about 3 months, Costco was offering a hummus brand called Shamir – it was delicious. Then it disappeared, and I simply stopped buying any hummus from Costco).

It is hard to describe “well-made” hummus – it is a combination of taste and texture, and it shouldn’t have the annoying flattening acidity which makes everything taste so dull. So if you like hummus as much as I do, I have a recipe for you which I’m happy to share.

All you need to make a tasty hummus

Making a great hummus is simple – basically, you only need three ingredients to start – chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, salt, and olive oil. I’m sure you can make a nice hummus with only these three ingredients, but I like a bit more flavor in mine, so I add another 3 ingredients – garlic, tahini, and lemon. Here is the full list:


  • Dry chickpeas – 1 lb
  • Olive oil – 2.5 cups (approx)
  • Kosher salt – 2 tablespoons
  • Tahini – 1 cup
  • Garlic – 1 head plus 3-4 cloves
  • Lemon – 1 large or 2 small

There are a few steps involved here. First, you will need roasted garlic-infused olive oil – you can prepare that in advance at any time (store it in a tight container and enjoy for weeks with a slice of bread or use in any cooking which might benefit from the garlic flavor). Roasted garlic-infused oil is very easy to make. Peel and clean a whole head of garlic, then mince it all finely (don’t use a garlic press, I don’t believe it will work well). Pour two cups of the olive oil in a large skillet, and put it on the lowest heat possible. Add minced garlic and let it slowly simmer until garlic will become lightly golden. It is important that you will use the lowest heat setting – even on the medium heat, minced garlic will roast in no time, and oil will not absorb the delicious sweet flavor of roasted garlic. Ideally, it will take you about 15 minutes to get to the lightly golden roasted garlic (don’t let it become dark/brown – at this point, it might become bitter) – you need to lightly stir it occasionally. Once you are done, remove from heat and let it cool off before pouring it off to a container with a tight lid (I use a large glass jar for this purpose).

Minced garlic

Roasted garlic in progress

Now, let’s start with chickpeas. We are using dry chickpeas here. Yes, you can use the chickpeas from the can, but I don’t believe you will end up with the quality hummus, so it is up to you if you want to cut the corners here. When using dry chickpeas, first you need to soak them. Take large (8 qt) pot, put in dry chickpeas, add about 6 qt of cold (!) water, cover, and let stand overnight. Try not to exceed 12 hours of soaking time – I happened to do so once, and when I opened the pot I found that the water was not clear with some foam on top as some process started with chickpeas – had to throw out the whole batch as I was afraid to cook with them. In the morning, put the pot on the high heat, wait until the water will start boiling. While the pot is starting to boil, you will see foam forming, same as with any broth – I prefer to remove that foam – it might boil over it, true – but again, I prefer to remove it. Once the water is boiling, add 2 tablespoons of the kosher salt, reduce heat and let it simmer until chickpeas are cooked through – will take you about two hours. Once chickpeas are ready, just remove the pot from the hit and put aside – don’t discard water as you will need it later.

Chickpeas before soaking

Chickpeas after soaking

Now, for a difficult part. To make hummus smooth and creamy, you need to remove the outer shell from the chickpeas, usually called the skin. This is not a simple task, as you mainly have to do it by hand, once chickpeas are cooked through and cooled off enough that you can handle them. What I’m trying to do it to remove the skins which will float in the pot while chickpeas are cooking, and then I work them one by one for as long as I have enough patience. I read about different methods such as using baking soda to help with the removal of the skin but it doesn’t sound appealing to me, so I never tried that. At the end of the day, if you will not remove all the skins, you will end up with a bit grainier hummus than you might want it to be, but it will be unquestionably tasty.

Chickpeas cooking is done

Now, your prep is done, and it is the time to make hummus. You will need a blender at this step. I’m sure you can use an immersion blender, but I’m using the standalone pitcher canister, so all the instructions and illustrations are for this method.

One quick word on tahini before we continue. Tahini is a sesame seed paste, which was always used in Mediterranean/Middle East cooking, and now it became popular in the USA. You can get it online, at many higher-end supermarkets (Whole Foods, Fairway) and even at Trader Joe’s. Once you open a jar, make sure to spend a few minutes to mix it well, as it usually clumps together – use the spoon or a fork to make sure the content of the jar is smooth and well mixed from the bottom to the top.

I prefer to process the chickpeas in two batches. For each batch, I do the following. First, peel 1-2 cloves of garlic and put it in the blender. Add 3-4 of tablespoons of water from the chickpeas pot with some occasional chickpeas. Squeeze juice of 1 lemon (or half of large one). Add two tablespoons of olive oil (garlic-infused or not, makes no difference at this point). Cover and blend until smooth -this will be our base to proceed with the chickpeas. Next, use a colander spoon to add half of the cooked chickpeas into the blender. Add half a cup of tahini and a cup of roasted garlic oil with garlic pieces. Cover and blend until smooth. Once done, move it from the blender to the container. I suggest you will taste it at this point for all the components – do you like what you taste? Need more lemon? Need more salt? Need more tahini? Is that smooth and creamy enough or is it a little tight? The reason you need to do it now because you can fix all the shortcomings with the second batch. Not enough lemon? Add extra. Not enough tahini? Add extra. Too dense? Add more chickpeas liquid or oil. With all the corrections in mind, make the second batch, then combine the two and mix them together. Voilà – your hummus is ready to be enjoyed. Well, make sure it is well chilled, and enjoy. When serving, you can smooth it out and put a drizzle of olive oil on top.

This recipe should give you a basic idea – from here on, you can make it yours by adding and removing any elements. But I would still suggest trying this recipe first and see how you want to change it. Also, keep in mind that the ingredients matter. At this point, I used chickpeas from three different sources – Goya (prepackaged), Fairway organic, and prepackaged ones from Lior (used it for the first time), and all three yielded different results. Fairway organic is my favorite. I’m okay with Goya, and I’m not buying Lior again (not very happy with the result). If you plan on making your own hummus all the time, find what works for you.

Hummus is served

That’s all I have for you, my friends. Not a word about wine in this post – but I promise to rectify it next time. Cheers!



Simple Recipe: A 20 Minute Pastry Appetizer

December 23, 2013 8 comments

This simple appetizer became one of our favorites as of late – it is simple, easy to make – and it is very versatile. I’m not sure how this should be called in the cooking terms – let’s call it a pastry appetizer for the lack of the better word.

The simplicity of this recipe starts from the fact that you don’t need to make the dough – you can use the dough which is ready to go. So far our favorite was Pillsbury Buttermilk Biscuits, but I’m sure you can use the other brands.

Pillsbury Buttermilk BiscuitsWe don’t need to worry about the dough, so the next step is the filling. What I really like about these pastries is that you are only limited by your imagination when it comes to what you want to put inside. Of course your filling shouldn’t be anything raw – the cooking time for the pastries is under 20 minutes. But other than that, everything goes – vegetables, chicken, salmon, pork, anything you can think of. The best is to make your filling into the salad-like consistency, fill the pastries, sprinkle some cheese on top, put in the oven and … voila!

For the pastries we made last week, we used roasted chicken breast, mixed with sauteed mushrooms and onions, a little bit of mayo, fresh dill and shredded cheese. Here is the recipe:

Baked Pastry Appetizer

Prep Time: 20 minutes (depending on what you are using, can be much faster), Cooking time: about 18 minutes.

5 tubes of small Pillsbury Buttermilk Biscuits, to make 48 pastries.

2 medium size roasted chicken breasts (can be replaced with any other meat), cut up in the small cubes

1 lb mushrooms, sliced

3 medium onions

1 tbsp mayo

1 cup shredded cheese

1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

oil spray

Preheat oven to 450F, or 425F if using the non-stick pan (follow instructions on your pastry can). Saute mushrooms and onions with olive oil over medium heat for about 15 minutes, until soft (onion should be translucent). Once ready, mix mushrooms and onions with chicken, mayo, dill and half a cup of cheese.

Take the muffin pan (we use the non-stick pan with 24 holes). Grease all the holes with oil spray. Open the package of dough. Place the dough pieces in the holes, slightly covering the edges. Put in the mixed filling. Finish filling of all the pastries, then use the remaining half a cup of cheese to sprinkle on top of the pastries (adjust the amount of cheese on top to your liking).

Pastry in the makingPut in the oven for 18 minutes. Of course your cooking time might vary, so you really need to watch for the pastries to reach right color.

Pastry appetizers

Get the pan out of the oven, let the pastries cool off and … enjoy! Have fun and get creative with your filling! Cheers!

Simple Recipes: Beer Braised Beef Stew

December 13, 2013 21 comments

What defines the simplicity of the recipe? For me, it is the limited number of ingredients, and ease of the cooking process. For instance, I would never designate my beloved traditional cassoulet as a simple recipe – it takes about 24 hours to make and the list of ingredients is a page long.

The recipe I would like to share today fit the simplicity bill quite well. It has only 3 ingredients (or four, if you would consider garlic as a separate ingredient), and the cooking process is quite simple (but you do spend a bit of the time prepping). As this is a beef stew, you can even reduce the list of ingredients down to two – the beef stew for me must have beef (huh, really?) and onions – everything else is a bonus.

Today’s dish is a beer braised beef stew, which includes onions, garlic and Sicilian eggplant. There is no any particular reason whatsoever to include the Sicilian eggplant into this dish, except that I was in the store, the eggplant looked very good and wanted to buy it, and then I had to actually do something with it.

Below is the recipe, and then I will give you step by step guide with pictures – for no other reason that I like to take food pictures. Here we go.

Beer Braised Beef Stew Recipe

Total time – about 3 hours. Prep time: 40-50 minutes, Cooking time: 2 hours

5 lb of beef – you can use any cut. If you will use a very lean cut, you might have to increase the cooking time until meat is tender

4 medium onions

half a cup of garlic (adjust to your liking)

1 Sicilian eggplant (replace with any other eggplant or skip altogether)

1 can/bottle of beer, 330 oz – you can use any beer, but I would suggest that it should have some intensity to it – lager is good, porter is good too.

Olive oil (any oil you use for frying)

1 teaspoon of Smoked Paprika

Salt, Pepper to taste

1 teaspoon of the Kosher Salt or any other large grain salt

You initial step includes a bit of slicing and dicing. You will need to peel and slice the onions:

onionsYep, crying is part of it:

sliced onionsWhile you are at it, you can also slice the Sicilian eggplant:

sicilian aggplantSlice it into the small cubes, put into a bowl, add the kosher salt, mix together and let it stand for 15-20 minutes. The salt will make the eggplant to lose some of the water, so it will be a bit faster at cooking.

sicilian eggplant

Prepare the garlic – you can use the whole cloves, only break them slightly with the knife:

garlicAdd olive oil to the pan, put it up at the medium heat, and start sauteing the onions with garlic, turning them periodically, for about 15-20 minutes, or until the onion gains color and becomes soft and translucent:

sauteed onion

In parallel, you should start searing the meat. I’m using here a beef stew cut from the store – of course you can cut the piece of beef on your own. We need to sear the meat to get rid of all the unnecessary liquid and to gain the nice color. From here on, I’m using my favorite cooking vessel, the enameled cast iron casserole. To sear the meat, you will need to add oil and then put on the high heat – how high the heat should be depends on your stove. I have an electric stove, and if I will heat up the cast iron on the highest setting, the food will burn before it will sear, so I have to adjust it accordingly – but you do need high heat for searing.

beefYou can add salt, pepper and smoked paprika, and continue searing for about 15-20 minutes, turning once:

seared beefAnd now, it is the beer time! Well, you can take a sip, if you want, but remember, you need this beer for cooking:

session beerAt this point ( we are at about 20 minutes into our cooking process), the onions should be ready the meat is seared, so you can first pour the beer into the casserole dish, and use it as a deglazing agent. Add onions to the meat, reduce heat to medium, cover casserole with the lid and let it be.

Add olive oil to the pan which is now freed up, put the eggplant and saute for about 15-20 minutes, or until it softens up and gains color:

roasted sicilian aggplantAdd the eggplant to the casserole, replace the lid and let it cook for about two hours or until the beef is tender, stirring periodically.

And you are done! Your dish should look similar to this:

beef stewBeef stew works well with lots of starch options. Serve over (or with) boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, rice, pasta, buckwheat – anything your heart desires.

That concludes our picture presentation of the recipe. I hope you will find this dish easy enough to make, and if you will end up making it or have done something similar before – let me know. Until the next time – cheers!

Simple Recipes: Roasted Chicken Breast

October 3, 2013 10 comments

I’m sure that a concept of a “simple” recipe is largely individual. For me, it means that you have a few ingredients, and the actual prep time is rather short. Actual cooking can be short, long or very long, like the beef brisket I shared with you a while ago – but the actual cooking time doesn’t affect the difficulty level of making the dish.

The dish I’m talking about today perfectly fits the bill – very few ingredients, very simple to make. Why am I talking here about something as banal as roasted chicken breast? I love the ultimate flexibility of this dish. Without changing the complexity for a bit, you are limited only by your imagination in the way the dish will taste, and also in the ways you  can use it.

It just happened to be that I’m mostly responsible for making the school lunch for my daughter (sometimes she would make it herself, but I was unable to solidify that tendency). One of the easiest and most convenient items to make is a wrap. And we were making the wraps for the long time with Costco’s pre-sliced roasted turkey breast. The Costco product tastes fine, but I always wondered, how much preservatives do you need to make something like pre-sliced turkey breast to last for at least two weeks after it is opened (try that with regular deli meat – but please don’t share the experience). At some point, we decided that we have to try something different. Almost a revelation, but we recalled that a few times we roasted chicken breast, and it would perfectly fit the purpose of the “sandwich meat”. From that moment on, this simple roasted chicken breast proven its versatility many times. Now, let me give you recipe first and then we can talk about a few possible uses.

Roasted Chicken Breast:

  • Prep time – 5 minutes, cooking time – about 50 minutes
  • 3 lb chicken breast (about 3 large pieces)
  • Dry herbs or any rub spices
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt, pepper – according to the individual taste
  • cooking time – about 50 minutes ( assume 15 minutes per pound) at 375F

Cooking instructions: Take chicken breast, put it the bowl, add herbs, spices, salt, pepper and olive oil. Mix together, cover with plastic, refrigerate for few hours if desired. Pre-heat oven at 375F. Arrange chicken breast on the roasting pan, put in the oven and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes per pound. When done – take out, let it cool down. Voila – your roasted chicken breast is ready to be used for many possible applications. Here is the same recipe in the form of pictures:

Chicken breats, ready to be prepared

Chicken breast, ready to be prepared

Herb de Provence, salt, pepper, olive oil - simple

Herbes de Provence, salt, pepper, olive oil – simple

Ready to marinate - or you can cook it right away

Spices applied – you can marinate, or cook right away

Ready to roast

Ready to roast


And we are done!

And we are done!

Again, my real point here is to give you an idea of the dish, which can be taken in many possible directions:

  • you can substitute the spices with anything your heart desires – BBQ rub, chipotle, spicy paprika, cajun – anything you can think of
  • instead of using dry spices and oil, you can use marinades – mayo with mustard, wine, yogurt and garlic, anything you like.

Once the chicken breast is cooked, you are looking at multiple uses as well:

  • as cold cuts – we usually make a few flavors for the parties
  • in sandwiches and wraps
  • top the salad
  • chop it into the tiny pieces and make filling/topping for tartlets, pies, etc.

The last (and almost unbeatable) important factor for me – where I live, it is still possible to buy boneless chicken breast for $1.99/lb – compare that with the price of deli meats…

Anyway, I’m done here. I wonder what you think about this simple dish, and if you have your “staple of simplicity” in your home cooking – comment away. And be assured (or scared) – I have more simple recipes to share with you. Until that time – cheers!







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