Hummus

Hummus is a divisive subject in my family. Some of us like it creamy, some like it a little chunky (I’m with you; I think the chunky hummus lovers are crazy too). Some adore store brand hummus such as Sabra, while others scoff at its pasty texture (yeah, this is the chunky hummus lover).

Personally, I’m fine with store bought or homemade, but I recently had a hummus awakening that drove me to make some myself and to try a couple new seasonings. “What could this revelation have been?”, you wonder. Answer: I went to a restaurant on the west side a few months ago called Hummus Kitchen. And. Their. Hummus. Was. Phenomenal. Like, can’t stop talking about it phenomenal. Like, told my coworkers that they have no option but to go there phenomenal. It was warm, covered in chicken shwarma, and drizzled with olive oil. The addition of olive oil to the top of hummus is probably completely normal but my family has never made it that way, so it was a lightbulb moment for me.

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The restaurant itself was frigid because of its petite size and my table’s proximity to the street, but the food and friendly waitstaff completely made up for it. Oh, and did I mention their freshly made lemon-mint lemonade? I’m a sucker for flavored lemonades. Lavender, mint, whatever… I’m there.

This recipe is ever so slightly adapted from Bon Appetit.

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INGREDIENTS:

1 15½-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed, drained

½ cup tahini, well mixed — this will take a couple minutes but don’t despair, it will become smooth!

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove, finely grated (I used a garlic press)

¾ teaspoon (or more) kosher salt

10 cranks freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

1 pinch dried oregano

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DIRECTIONS:

Combine the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, black pepper, cumin, and water in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth, about 1 minute. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil as you continue to process the mixture for about a minute more.

Put the hummus in a shallow bowl or a plate with raised edges. Drizzle a tad more olive oil over the hummus and sprinkle on the sesame seeds and oregano.

Enjoy with veggies, pita, or on a spoon!

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Chrissy Teigen’s Cheesy Guac

I know it’s been a while since I posted– I was moving, and then Christmas happened (our dinner was French-themed so I made bacon fat mashed potatoes with cantal cheese and it was fist pumping good). I don’t know what my excuse for January is, but I’m gonna blame it on Donald Trump and the family of hamsters masquerading as his hair.

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I especially enjoy cooking when it’s holiday specific, so I figured I’d make something for Superbowl Sunday (go Beardogs!). I’ve been eyeing Chrissy Teigen’s cheesy guacamole recipe for a couple of weeks now, and this seemed like a good excuse to make it. I get that adding cheese to an otherwise healthy dip seems like overkill, but it takes it from being just an inexplicably delicious pile of green goop to being an inexplicably delicious pile of green goop with cheese mixed in. Plus, who’s really trying to be healthy on Superbowl Sunday?

 

INGREDIENTS:

3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded, and peeled

Juice of 1/2 a lime

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 medium onion, diced

1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely minced (jarred is fine)

1 tbsp chopped cilantro

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Tortilla chips (NOT “hint of lime”, unless you are a “hint of lime” eating monster)

*If you’d like to add tomatoes, Chrissy says to add 2 romas, seeded and diced. I have acid reflux so raw tomatoes are my worst nightmare. But if you can eat them, they add beautiful color and sweetness to an otherwise salty and tangy dish.

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DIRECTIONS:

Put the avocados in a medium bowl. Cover with the lime juice. Mash with a potato masher. Mash. Mash. Mash away, until there are only a few delightful little chunks left.

Mash in the spices and salt.

Gently fold in the remaining ingredients. Cover the guac in saran wrap for an hour to let those flavors dance together.

Wash your hands really well so you don’t touch your eye later and get jalapeño juice in it.

Dip your chip and enjoy.

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Brie En Croute

Halloween is over, so that means Thanksgiving and Christmas are in full swing. At least according to mall decorations and Galleries Lafayette in Paris, which already boasts a giant Christmas tree that looks like a beautiful upside down ice cream cone. With the exception of a harvest-decorated townhouse on the upper west side, I haven’t seen any indications of the imminent holiday season here in New York.

The brie and the cranberries look SO BEAUTIFUL together!!

Obviously if you’re asking me, one of the best things about the holiday season is the food. UGH. THE FOOD. The box stuffing, the turnips with butter and mounds of salt, the canned cranberry sauce, the fresh haricots verts, the buche de Noel, the parker house rolls, the pumpkin pie, the butterscotch oatmeal cookies, and not last and also not least, the brie en croute. Or as my family calls it, baked brie.

My high school was near a Whole Foods, so my mom started shopping there sometimes while waiting to pick me up after rehearsal or whatnot. One fateful day, she purchased a pre-made baked brie. And my family went NUTS. Ever since, it’s been a must-have appetizer on Thanksgiving and Christmas. And just like, casual Tuesdays.

Brie En Croute is perfect for holiday celebrations.

This past year I decided to make it from scratch, since I figured that would be cheaper and dare I say, even more delicious than the store bought version. I used the framework of Paula Deen’s recipe; the changes I made were basically omitting the nut topping and replacing it with a tart yet sweet cranberry-apple mixture, as well as cutting the amount of brown sugar added to about half, though that alteration can be left up to your palate.

You might find that you don’t need the kitchen string, which both the original and my adapted recipes call for. Sometimes the brie you find will be slightly wider, and will therefore not leave enough excess dough to tie. If this happens, it’s totally fine. Just press the dough down onto the cheese firmly so that it doesn’t open up while baking.

Before baking, tie any excess puff pastry with kitchen string.

INGREDIENTS:

1 sheet pre-packaged frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 cup diced and peeled granny smith apple

1/4 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1, 8 oz. wheel of brie

1/8-1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 egg, beaten

Special tools:

*Kitchen string*

Ingredients for Brie En Croute

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 375 F. Take out a baking sheet and set aside. You do NOT need to spray it.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the apples and cranberries and let cook for 6-8 minutes, or until the apples are slightly translucent and the cranberries are no longer hard. Add the cinnamon and stir until the fruit is evenly coated. Set aside.

Place the puff pastry onto the baking sheet. Place the brie in the center. Gently pour the  fruit mixture on top of the brie. If some falls off onto the puff pastry, that’s fine! Sprinkle the brown sugar over the fruit topping.

Fruit topping on Brie En Croute

Starting with a corner, roll up the puff pastry onto the brie, working in a circle. Using a pastry brush (TBH you can use your fingers if you don’t have one), lightly coat the puff pastry in the egg wash. Tie up any excess pastry with a piece of kitchen string.

Place in the oven for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.

Finally done! Ooey gooey delicious Brie En Croute.

Enjoy!

Leslie