Lemony, garlicky hummus

 

This is my third food-related post in a row. This isn’t exclusively a food blog by the way. But I can’t help it. Lately, I’ve been reminiscing–thinking about old places we used to go. One of them was this little artisenal pasta place called, Stellina’s. It was weird because I wasn’t a huge fan of their pasta–they over cooked it a lot. Mushy. But I loved their hummus! Every time we went, we started our meal off with the hummus appetizer.

What set this hummus apart? It was simple, light, fresh, and just full of flavour. It wasn’t bogged down with heaps of cumin and spices–something I’ve noticed most places use. After our many visits, we finally asked Stellina’s what they put in their hummus. They kind of looked at us a bit boggled, like, “We just use regular stuff. Chickpeas, tahini….” and then it trailed off. Looking back, I don’t think they understood why we were obsessed with it.

Stellina’s closed a few years ago. I wasn’t going to miss their pasta, but I was sad the hummus was gone. I didn’t even get to say good-bye! How and where were we going to get our hummus? I realized I was going to have to learn how to make it. I had to count on my memory on how it tasted  and had to try to “recreate” it somehow.

I went on to do a web search and finally found Giada De Laurentiis’ and Ina Garten’s recipes came the closest. I made it a few times and tweaked it. In the end, instead of plopping raw garlic into the food processor, I added olive oil (with the garlic) to a small pan and let it sizzle a bit on low heat–until the oil became really fragrant. And I added lots of lemon juice to brighten it up.

The final recipe is far from perfect, but it’s close. Here it is (adapted from Giada De Laurentiis and Ina Garten):

Ingredients

1 tablespoon Tahini (sesame paste)
2-3 large cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 dashes (or more) of hot sauce
1-2 lemons
1 – 15.25oz can (432g) of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained, save the liquid from the can and set aside
Salt to taste

On low-medium heat, add the olive oil to a small pan. When the oil is warm-hot, add the garlic.  Cook for about 1-1.5 minutes until it gently sizzles and the oil is fragrant. Watch closely and stir frequently so the garlic doesn’t burn. Turn heat off and set aside.

In a small food processor, add garbanzo beans, tahini, hot sauce, a pinch of salt, about 1 tablespoon of the reserved garbanzo bean liquid, and the juice of half of a lemon. If you’re living on the edge, add the juice of the entire lemon! Pulse the processor to blend the ingredients. If the mixture looks too dry, add a little more of the reserved liquid. Next, slowly add half of the smashed garlic cloves and half of the olive oil. Blend ingredients again. Add more reserved liquid until you reach your desired consistency. Add more lemon juice and/or salt to suit or your taste.

Place finished hummus into a storage container. Let it sit for a few minutes or up to an hour so the flavours can play and marry. Use the remaining garlic and oil as a garnish when serving.

I enjoy eating this with olives, peppers, and naan. Yum!

A sweet treat for no reason

Look around and you’ll see and smell flowers in bloom, folks brightening up their wardrobe, people spending more time outdoors, and today, lots of folks getting ready to celebrate the Easter holiday.

It’s turned out to be one of those days. A “just because” day. Today, I felt like indulging in a sweet treat for no reason. I feel like being good to myself for no other reason than to be good to myself. No guilt, no regret, no shame, no “I’m gonna need to burn this off when I workout tomorrow”. None. Of. That.

A new, local bakery opened up near-ish me and with this Friday off, Toby and I decided to make our way there for coffee and a sandwich. Then I came across the most beautiful thing I’ve seen all week and it was too beautiful not to eat, which is weird, because it’s almost too beautiful to eat! Anyway, behold the macaron cake! It’s filled with cream, fresh raspberries, rhubarb “jelly” (that word does not do it justice but it’s the best way to describe it), infused with notes of elderflower.

Special occasions be damned. It’s Friday. I’m feeling good. What are your special treats? What do you like to indulge in?

Instagram post

 

 

 

My Favourite Kefir Smoothie

Maybe it’s because I’ve grown kind of bored with my daily yogurt routine lately, but the idea of incorporating Kefir (“kee-fer”) into my routine came up. I’ve passed these colourful plastic bottles in the specialty end cap at my grocery store a million times, but never gave it much thought until I had a conversation with an old friend about it. She, along with her kids, drink it everyday and really like it!

Let’s be real, the idea of drinking a fizzy, cultured and fermented milk drink sounds a bit wonky. Come on, when it’s described, as “champagne of milk”, it’s kind of hard to wrap your head around it. As it turns out, the fizziness is really subtle, it’s a little more liquidy than traditional yogurt, and it does taste sour, kind of like Greek yogurt.

After doing a little research on the taste, I went on to do more research about its health benefits. Turns out, it’s pretty impressive. Originating in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, Kefir is a fermented milk drink traditionally made from cow or goat’s milk and contains a wide variety of compounds including peptides and organic acids. It has large amounts of beneficial probiotics that promote intestinal health including digestion; and has antibacterial properties that can inhibit the growth of H. Pylori and E. Coli. In addition, it’s also lactose-free and promotes bone health! Enough said! I was sold!

I haven’t tried the flavoured Kefir smoothie drinks yet. I really enjoy the plain, unsweetened variety because I get to play with the fruity flavours and I get to control the sweetness. I admit though, I’m a bit of a Plain Jane and tend to go for easy, familiar fruit like strawberries. Well, berries mostly. Here’s my go-to Kefir smoothie recipe:

Ingredients

3-5 large strawberries, cut or quartered, frozen or fresh

¼ cup crushed ice (optional, if you’re not using frozen berries)

about 1 teaspoon of honey (local honey preferred)

a couple of dashes of ground turmeric

1 to 1 ½ cups of plain Kefir

1 teaspoon of ground flaxseed (optional, this tends to thicken the smoothie)

Place all ingredients in a container and blend — I use a hand mixer and the container provided to mix the ingredients in. Blend until smooth.Or, if you’re using a traditional blender, place all ingredients inside and blitz until smooth or at your desired consistency. Drink and enjoy! Makes 1 serving.

Like many smoothies, the best thing about this one is that you can change up the fruit flavours to suit your tastes! When I feel like “living on the edge”, I’ll add blueberries and pomegranate seeds. Or maybe some pineapple in the future. Hmmm. 🙂