Mmmm… Home Made Hummus From Scratch (no cans)

I got a wild hair the other day after having seen a news report on the best commercially made hummus and decided to try making some of my own. I haven’t perfected my own recipe yet, so I’m not posting it here; there are a lot of them out there for folks to experiment with.

I had all of the ingredients on hand-well, except for the tahini which was easy to find at Fred Meyer; a neighbor even makes her own saying it’s “stupid easy”.

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You can used canned beans, but the taste, nutrition and food safety (due to BPA linings in cans) of dry beans is so much better; an added bonus is that dry beans are super cheap.

The night before (or in the morning if you’re going to make it in the evening) just rinse your beans and put them in a bowl of water to soak. If you’re buying bulk beans it’s always a good idea to check for small stones and remove them. Add a teaspoon or so of baking soda to the soaking water.

Once the beans are soaked, give them a good rinse.

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Just put them into a pot with a bit more baking soda, bring it to a hard rolling boil then turn the heat down and let them simmer for about an hour.

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A white foam will appear on top of the beans; scoop as much of this as you can off the top.

You will also notice skins floating around. It does not hurt to leave them in the final product, but if you like a very smooth hummus you can skim them off. I give my beans a final rinse before processing them which also takes off a few more skins.

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Garlic is a key ingredient in hummus; you can just chop it or process it in the food processor before adding your other ingredients. I find that roasting the garlic gives a richer flavor.

After you process your garlic, just add the warm cooked beans, salt to taste, lemon juice and tahini. You will find your own balance of bright and nutty by experimenting with the amounts of tahini and lemon.

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This is where traditions will differ a bit. Some people serve the final product with the olive oil sitting in a depression on top of the hummus for dipping; I add my olive oil to the processor (I just love that super smooth texture)

Process with or without the olive oil until well blended and to the consistency you prefer.

You can garnish your hummus with the olive oil you didn’t put into the food processor, extra roasted garlic, peppers, pine nuts or herbs.

I dusted this batch with a bit of paprika.

Viola! You have hummus that is way better (and cheaper) than what you can get in the store.

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A Tale of Two Soufflés

I got a wild hair this weekend and decided to create a chocolate soufflé (two individual ones actually; I can increase the recipe according to how many dinner guests I have) since I am lucky enough to have eggs so fresh they are still warm from being under a chicken’s fluffy butt, egg dishes are a natural thing for me to want to create.

I started getting items together and discovered that I didn’t have any cocoa.

Because I really didn’t feel like walking to the grocery store in the middle of a storm that included trashcans and lawn furniture flying down the street and horizontal hail, I searched and searched for recipes that used only bakers chocolate (straight substitutions are difficult because you need to adjust fat in the recipe when texture is important)

The recipes I found that only used bakers chocolate were listed as “beginner” recipes. I have never made a souffle before so I thought that might be a good thing.

The thing that both recipes call for is the standard preparation of the ramekin, rubbing it with butter and then coating with granulated sugar much like one flours a pan for cake.

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next was melting the bakers chocolate and butter

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I whipped two eggs and a bit of sugar until fluffy and added it to the chocloate

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The first (beginner/no fail) recipe called for the soufflés to be cooked in a water bath. I have seen it done both ways for soufflés and have used the water bath method for cheesecakes.

Just fill a shallow baking pan with boiling water, put the ramekins in and fill until the water level is about halfway up the side of the ramekin.

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This recipe was baked at a lower temperature than most others I have looked at; between that and the water bath, it took forever for these puppies to rise. A soufflé that rises too quickly will crack and rise very unevenly, so it makes sense that a beginner recipe would call for this.

They did rise, evenly if not spectacularly.

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It was tasty, very chocolaty, but it did not have the light fluffy melting texture that one expects from a good soufflé.

I knew I could do better.

I went to the store, got some cocoa, got my ingredients together and started over.

I cut the butter into the mixture of cocoa, sugar and a couple tablespoons of flour.

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In my saucepan, I melted the baking chocolate into milk brought almost to a boil and added one egg yolk. I cooked this gently until it began to thicken.

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I whipped two egg whites and a bit of sugar into a lovely meringue.

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Next, the cocoa, sugar, flour, butter mixture was added to the milk and melted bakers chocolate which make a truly lovely mixture.
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The next step was to add the meringue to that mixture and gently fold it in.

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This mixture looked quite a bit fluffier than the previous one as I poured it into the ramekins.

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There was no water bath, I just placed the ramekins on a baking sheet and pooped it into the oven at a higher temperature than the previous recipe called for.

They weren’t quite where I wanted them after 15 minutes, so I extended the time to 17 minutes and decided to pull them as I felt they’d hit maximum rise and I didn’t want them to get crunchy.

I got a better rise than with the first recipe/cooking method. I think I could add an extra egg white and get a truly spectacular result.

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They were dusted with a bit of confectioners sugar. (I should have sifted it, but was trying to work quickly before they fell so that I could get a picture)

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The taste and texture were amazing!

It was light, delicate, airy, filled with rich yet not overwhelming chocolate flavor and literallymelted in my mouth.

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Recipe #2 was a big success.

If any of you would like to bake one (or two) for your sweetheart on Valentine’s (or any other day) this is the recipe I thought was the best.

make with the clicky clicky here for the recipe


Mood: Accomplished


Chicken Soup From Scratch (easier than you think)

You can of course, roast/cook your own chicken.

I use a roast chicken from Fred Meyer. (I prefer the savory herb flavor) They are perfectly cooked and seasoned so you only need to add the chicken at the end so you never have rubbery, overcooked chicken.

A roast chicken at Fred Meyer is $5.99; one day a week they usually have them on sale for $4.99. I will buy one and stick it in the fridge for my next soup making adventure.

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I cut all the meat off of the roast chicken, saving 1 ½ – 2 cups of nicely diced meat to put into the soup. I can get a meal or two out of the rest. You can even make a tasty gravy out of the drippings in the bottom of the bag.

I cut up the chicken carcass, put it in a stock pot, cover in water and add onions, garlic, celery and pepper. The longer you let this simmer and cook down, the tastier your broth will be. This is a good project to start in the morning to let the broth cook for several hours (it makes the house smell wonderful). You can do it in a shorter period of time as well. (you can also use commercially prepared broth or bullion cubes, but YUCK! Too thin, flavorless, clear and salty. This is SO much better)

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After it cooks down, I usually end up with six cups, three for the soup and three to freeze in a bag for use another day when I want to make Jambalaya, some other soup, Mexican rice, or gravy.

Fresh veggies from your garden or the farmer’s market are best, but when you can’t find those, frozen is handy and more nutritious than canned (or even “fresh” that’s been warehoused in the off season) I always keep some sliced carrots and green beans in my freezer in the off season. Onions, Garlic and Mushrooms should be fresh, not powdered or dehydrated unless you have no other choice.

When the broth is done (or when you get around to it) sauté ½ cup each: onion, carrot and celery until just tender (don’t overdo, this will all cook longer)

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Mmmmm, fresh sliced mushrooms.

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Add a half cup of green beans and mushrooms to the sautéed veggies, then add 3 cups of your thick, rich, tasty (and low sodium) chicken broth (save the rest for future culinary endeavors)

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Bring this mix just to a boil.

Add pasta. Preferably, add fresh, home made, whole wheat pasta.

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Making pasta is not all that difficult; as a matter of fact, it’s super easy and way better than what you can buy in the store (or even get at most restaurants) I like to use half whole wheat flour. It’s tastier and much better for you.

Here are a couple of old posts showing my first and second attempt at making pasta.

Here’s how to mix home made pasta.

Here’s how to roll/cut home made pasta (note, I have since learned to roll the pasta out with a rolling pin before using the cutter to eliminate the thin areas/tearing, unlike the extruder where you put it in dry and lumpy)

Add Marjoram, Thyme and pepper to the noodles and soup and bring back to a boil.

If you’ve used fresh pasta, you don’t need to keep it boiling. If you’ve used dry/hard pasta, you’ll want to cook for the amount of time specified on the packaging (less some time so that it’s al dente and doesn’t get mushy)

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At the very end, add your already cooked, tender, perfectly seasoned chicken and a half cup of red wine just to warm it up.

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Once your added chicken is warm, enjoy your fabulous soup!

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I split mine up into small containers and freeze them to take to lunch during the week.

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When I take one to work, I leave it on my desk rather than put it back in the freezer, so it’s just thawed at lunch time.

Then all it needs is a gentle heating rather than a long hard nuking. This keeps the veggies and pasta from getting mushy and keeps the chicken tender.



Mood: Satisfied


Jambalaya !

I haven’t created a foodie post for a while…

I’ve been craving Jambalaya ever since a friend of mine in Everett posted a picture of some that she made the other night.

I am also still mourning the loss of our only Cajun restaurant, “From the Bayou” and their fabulous Shrimp and Dungeness Crab Jambalaya.

So I decided to do my best to recreate (and maybe even improve) it.

I found an Emeril Lagesse recipe and modified it to meet my needs.

The first change was to use brown rice. It has more nutritional value and will freeze/reheat without getting mushy like white rice (I cook a batch of food and freeze portions to take to work for lunch). I added more veggies, substituted crab for chicken, browned the sausage, precooked the shrimp, changed the type/amount of tomatoes and adjusted the rice to broth ratio.

I mixed up a batch of Emeril’s Creole seasoning (also known as Bayou Blast) The only deviation I made from the recipe was to half the amount of salt. Yes, you can use commercial seasonings, but a lot of them use MSG and all of them use way too much salt.

THIS is worth making (once again, I halved the salt with no reduction in flavor) Emeril’s Creole Seasoning (aka Bayou Blast) recipe

I forgot to leave the thyme out for the picture, but trust me, it’s in there.

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I didn’t have any dried oregeno as I prefer to use fresh herbs from my garden. Since I needed dried herb for the mix (wet stuff just molds) I dried some in my oven at low heat and ground it up in my mortar with my pestle.

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I used 12 oz of precooked shrimp. You can use any kind of shrimp you want, I chose regular old bay/salad shrimp (I like every bite to be filled with shrimpy goodness)

I combined that with a 6 oz can of fancy crab meat with leg pieces. In season, I’d use 4-6 ounces of fresh Dungeness Crab.

I added one tablespoon of the Creole Seasoning, mixed well an set it aside.

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Next, I sautéed (1/3 cup each) red onions, celery and green bell peppers in olive oil until almost translucent.

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To that, I added two tablespoons of chopped garlic, a 14 oz can of diced tomatoes with juice, 3 bay leaves from my Bay Laurel tree in the back yard, 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce and 1 teaspoon of hot sauce.

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I brought this nearly to a boil and added one cup of brown rice and 2 ¼ cups of chicken broth (I use home made, if you don’t have that available, try to find some good organic, low sodium stuff)

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I let this simmer for an hour or so to let the rice absorb the broth and for the flavors to meld.

I then added 5 oz of sausage. Andouille is recommended, but any hot sausage will do. I had Jimmy Dean on hand. The sausage, no matter what kind you use, should be well browned for flavor. If you or your guests don’t eat pork, this can be omitted, but it adds some great flavor.

I added the cooked shrimp and crab and simmered long enough for it to heat up and and for the flavors in the spice blend to mix and meld with the rest of the dish.

I’m tellin’ ya, I wouldn’t change a thing.

I had a Jambalayagasm.

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I served with cornbread and some nice wine.

My tummy is happy, tastebuds are tingling and my sinuses are open.

It doesn’t get much better than that.


Mood: Jambalayagasm