Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Hummus Recipe

Posted in Uncategorized on December 18, 2011 by debord

And now, for the first time in a very long while, I post to my personal blog. Where I mostly talk about cooking.

Well made hummus is a favorite of mine, and always sort of resent paying a premium for it in stores. A couple of years ago, Cooks Illustrated printed a great recipe for the stuff, and I’ve made some tweaks and adapted it over time. What follows is my version.

Heed the warning of the recipe – either rinse the canned garbanzo beans thoroughly or cook ’em fresh yourself from dried beans. I wondered for a long time why my hummus tasted like dog food and it was because I was making the stuff with un-rinsed canned beans.

By the way, I use al-wadi brand tahini, which is delicious and really cheap when you buy it in bulk from Amazon.

Enjoy!

———————

Hummus
(adapted over time from Cooks’ Illustrated magazine)

2 15 oz. cans chickpeas
2 (or more) smashed garlic cloves
½ tsp ground cumin
pinch cayenne
1 tsp kosher salt
½ cup lemon juice, preferably fresh
½ cup water
½ cup tahini
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Thoroughly rinse the canned chickpeas. Do not skip this step.

Combine lemon juice and bean cooking water in small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk together tahini and 2 tablespoons oil in second small bowl or measuring cup.

Process chickpeas, garlic, kosher salt, cumin, and cayenne in food processor until almost fully ground, about 15 seconds. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula. With machine running, add lemon juice-water mixture in steady stream through feed tube. Scrape down bowl and continue to process for 1 minute. With machine running, add oil-tahini mixture in steady stream through feed tube; continue to process until hummus is smooth and creamy, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.*

*Note – following a friend’s advice, I leave the hummus on the processor to whip for at least a full minute – maybe 2. It seems to beat air into it and break down the ingredients to a truly silky consistency.

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Morning Coffee.

Posted in coffee, cooking, food, Uncategorized on January 29, 2010 by debord

I love coffee. I stopped smoking years ago, but my caffeine addiction remains in full force, and my preferred delivery method is a cup of fresh-ground drip coffee. I’m relatively finicky about how I make it, and what I brew, though my standards are probably bourgeois by many coffee aficionados’ standards. Here’s my daily coffee liturgy.

Beans

I use good, fresh ones, but am a complete cheap skate; that’s why I order them from Coffee Bean Direct. They roast and pack your beans immediately before shipment – and are a local business to me, so I get fresh-roasted beans delivered within 24 hours.  The difference is palpable. I buy my whole beans by the 5 pound bag, and pay about $6/lb., including shipping, for a wonderful city roast Columbian. You’ve got to keep the beans air tight after you open them; I have one counter-top canister that is airtight, and put the rest in a ziploc in the freezer.

Grinder

A burr grinder is de rigueur. I use the Baratza Virtuoso and have zero complaints. It’s not the fastest grinder in the world, but that prevents the burrs from getting too hot and screwing up the flavor of your grind. Regardless of which burr grinder you use, always ‘brush the teeth’ of the burrs with a small wire brush (usually included) every few pound of beans you grind; the oils from the coffee buildup become bitter over time.

Coffee Maker

I use a Cuisinart 12-cup Brew Central. Yes, in an ideal world, I’d love to get a Technivorm, but I haven’t got an extra $275 sitting around at the moment. The Cuisinart gets the water hot enough, and is the best mass-market machine I’ve used. I do turn off the maker shortly after the brew has finished, as the warmer gets waaay too hot and cooks (and therefore bitters) the coffee. I still need to get a thermal carafe to keep the joe hot.

Misc.

  • Yes, those gold filters do produce a better flavor than paper filters. I recently switched back to them and truly notice a difference in the depth of my brew. Paper filters, no matter how well made, don’t brew as flavorful of a cup. (Note: my brother mentioned to me after reading this that there are compounds in French Press/Gold filtered coffee that raise cholesterol by up to 20%, and are removed by the use of a paper filter. I’m defering to the paper filter.)
  • Wash, wash, wash your coffee equipment after every use. Thoroughly. I put my carafes and filter baskets (I have two) as well as the gold filters through the dishwasher. If you don’t have one, use hot water and plenty of Dawn detergent (cuts oils better than other brands) to thoroughly clean your gear. Years ago, an innkeeper told me the secret of his great coffee was the cleanliness of the equipment that allowed him to make a delicious brew with even cheap beans.
  • Though I’m pretty thoughtful about how I make it at home, I still can deal with the down-and-dirty “we are happy to serve you” bilge from an NYC deli when necessary. It’s like being into home brewing but still liking the occasional PBR.
  • I love espresso, but it ain’t the same as good ol’ drip.
  • French press doesn’t do it for me. I don’t know why, I just don’t like it as much. It’s probably psychosomatic.
  • People rail on message boards about how you much grind within minutes of brewing. They’re right, the flavor is better; but if I have to get up at some unholy hour (i.e. before 8am), nothing helps to lure me out of bed than the smell of the coffee brewing. So, sorry folks, I’m grinding the night before, setting the timer and not missing my train.

Charter for Compassion

Posted in Uncategorized on March 2, 2009 by debord

My good friend Michael Minarik turned me on to the Charter for Compassion, a group that is drafting a manifesto for the worlds’ religions stating that everyone can sign on to the concept of the Golden Rule. It’s a movement that rejects fundamentalism, regardless of its stripe. Check it out.

Meanwhile – it’s snowing here in Mercer County, big time. The sky is white at midnight from the falling snow. Beautiful.

ash wednesday.

Posted in Uncategorized on February 25, 2009 by debord

I wish everyone a meaningful lenten season – whatever that might translate to for you. I’m still figuring out what it means to me – it’s the part of the liturgical calendar I still struggle with the most, and probably get the most out of.

Unrelated: Great website that Bittman tweeted about today: Not Eating Out In New York

Refreshing summer goodness

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 29, 2008 by debord

Cucumber juice

Watermelon Juice

Vodka

Dash of simple syrup

Combine contents in cocktail shaker with ice; shake. Pour into martini glass. Chill out and enjoy.

Popcorn Update

Posted in Uncategorized on April 23, 2008 by debord

My brother got me an *aweseome* popcorn popper called the Whirley Pop. I had read about it before, but had no idea how well it worked; it’s all I use now! A batch of corn with a tablespoon of coconut oil, and you’re set. The pan has been retired.

Damned good popcorn.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2008 by debord

Now that my gut has been fixed via surgery (two times, thank you very much), I can enjoy two of my favorite foods again – nuts and popcorn. Yes, I’ll say it one more time, POPCORN.

It only took a short visit with Orville Redenbacher’s microwave brand to awaken my distate for microwave popcorn. So, on our bi-weekly trip to Wegman’s,  I picked up a house brand bag of popcorn for under $2.

All I did was follow the instructions on the back of the bag for the stovetop method, make some adjustments according to my taste and cooking equipment,  and inhale. Here are some cliffs’ notes:

* Use about 1/8 to 1/4 cup canola or peanut oil – better to err on the side of using too much. You’ll learn with experimentation. Add 3 kernels of popcorn, and crank your stove’s heat; when you hear those three kernels pop, add only enough popcorn to cover the bottom of the pan; no more!

* My cheap-ass grocery store saucepan worked better (and faster) for making popcorn than my big Calphalon saucepan; I suspect it has to do with the thinner bottom which allows the oil to heat up faster.

* You HAVE TO KEEP SHAKING THE PAN as soon as you add the popcorn to the pan. Try the pattern of 5 seconds on the heat, 5 seconds off, shaking the whole time. It will be short order before the popcorn starts popping full-bore; when it slows to what you’re familiar with as the ‘turn the microwave off’ point (about one pop every three seconds), turn the heat off and take the saucepan off the burner.

* Melted butter always makes a great topping, but go easy on it. Cooking the popcorn in the oil and adding butter can make it overbearing quickly. Another great topping is tamari sauce applied from a spray bottle. You can also put the popped popcorn in  a brown paper bag with whatever seasonings you’d like. Suggestions: ground cumin, curry powder, Parmigiano Reggiano,  chili powder w/salt – you get the idea.

Enjoy. There is no comparison between real popped corn and microwave. The best analogy I can come up with for you is brewed coffee vs. instant coffee.