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By Catharine L. Kaufman—a.k.a. The Kitchen Shrink

For centuries, hummus—a seasoned and herbed combination of cooked and puréed chickpeas, sesame seed-based tahini sauce, garlic, olive oil, fresh

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 11.46.08 AMlemon juice, herbs and spices—has been a nourishing and versatile staple throughout the Middle East, where it was served as an appetizer, dip, side-dish or snack. Pride and fierce regional competition have helped to refine hummus preparation skills and the artful shadings of its flavors.

Politics often entered the competition, in recent years when the Association of Lebanese Industrialists (ALI) petitioned the European Commission to grant protective status for hummus as a uniquely Lebanese food. Possibly prompted by Israel’s growing export market for its Sabra brand hummus products, the ALI claimed that its political rival has now usurped the national dish of Lebanon. Luckily the conflict’s non-violent resolution had a decided element of fun, when the two countries decided to compete for the title by preparing the biggest bowl of hummus ever made. Lebanon’s 14,000 pound ‘crate’ of hummus (now a Guinness Record) easily trumped Israel’s (puny by comparison) 9,000 pound bowl of the dish.

Such regional arguments and even occasional boycotts aimed at winning hummus authenticity contests eventually became obsolete, when the dish made its breakout debut as an international favorite and ubiquitous addition to restaurants and buffet tables everywhere. Media fame came with the release of a documentary film, “Make Hummus Not War,” followed by spinoffs, TV series and food blogs, all of which added spice to the controversy and inducted the dish into American pop culture.

We’re Talking Millennial History Here…

Some of the earliest are Biblical references to a simple, cooked (probably unseasoned) version of the chickpea legume (also called garbanzo bean, Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 11.47.32 AMgram or Egyptian pea), as well as writings elsewhere about thousands of years of its cultivation throughout the Mediterranean basin, Middle East and India. Food historians found mention of such crops in ancient Babylon and Mesopotamia, as well as of various preparations being consumed as street food in regions ruled by the Roman and Greek Empires. It is interesting to note that even then, the Greek philosophers Plato and Socrates described those early version of hummus in their writings as highly nutritious—a conclusion likely based on personal experience and observation, since it was reached long before modern science confirmed it.

Versatile “Chameleon” Dish Adapts To Any Meal

As later scientific analyses of its components revealed, the creamy and spreadable hummus we enjoy for its bursts of savory flavors, is also packed with fiber, folate, immune-boosting Vitamin C, energy-balancing potassium, blood-enriching iron and enough B- Vitamins to defuse stress and dial up brain power. Turbo-charged with the mighty sesame seed, the tahini sauce adds a rich and piquant flavor to the mix, as well as an abundance of the amino acid methionine to complement the chickpea’s proteins—which combine with bulgur wheat and other whole grain pita or crackers to complete a mighty whole-protein source.

While omnivores also count hummus among their favorite dishes, it is considered a culinary Rock Star by vegetarians and vegans, as well as filling and nutrition-packed lifesaver for Celiac- and gluten-sensitive sufferers.

The dish has achieved universal appeal as a main course when accompanied by salad, bread or other grain product and olives; as a sandwich enriched Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 11.46.49 AMwith a topping of roasted peppers or eggplant; as a buffet banquet with sliced hardboiled eggs garnish, or mixed with avocado for a more exotic and unexpected dip for scooping with pita chips or crackers. Hummus goes well with toasted whole wheat bagels, flat breads layered with braised kale and a poached egg; or when expanded to a mouthwatering lunch, prepared Asian-style as a ‘sushi’ wrap with edamame and seaweed; or as a sampler of meze platter with assorted hummus flavors, soft Mediterranean cheeses, roasted and mashed eggplant babaganoush and pickled vegetables.

Creative cooks may slather hummus on chicken or wild-caught salmon and roast to a crispy crunch; or blend into a favorite pasta dish or mashed potatoes. Dessert lovers will be glad to hear that Israeli ice cream makers have come up with some quite delicious hummus-flavored gelatos.

Here is a homemade hummus recipe I cadged from Chef Jonathan Sudar of the Four Seasons Residence Club, who graciously agreed to share it with you.

Roasted Garlic Hummus

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of chickpeas—canned (drained, skins removed), or raw (soaked overnight, then covered with spring water and with a teaspoon of baking Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 11.45.59 AMsoda added; then boiled up briefly and simmered on low heat until tender—about 90 minutes—drained, skins removed)
  • 1 and ½ cups tahini paste
  • juice from one lemon
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

Place garlic in ovenproof dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake in oven set to moderate heat until tender. Set aside.

Place canned or cooked chickpeas (still warm) into food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add garlic, tahini, lemon juice and seasonings. Pulse until smooth. Drizzle in olive oil and gently blend.

If hummus is too thick, add ice water to desired consistency.

Transfer to a decorative bowl and garnish with roasted chickpeas, olives, chopped parsley, Persian cucumber slices or paprika.

(From FRC Editor: Since I like to improvise while cooking, my riff on this recipe includes all organic ingredients, 5-6 cloves of raw (not roasted) garlic, cayenne instead of black pepper and adding almond milk instead of water when the hummus turns out too thick in the food processor.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients (Preferably all organic)

(Includes basic proportions—and suggested seasoning can be adjusted to taste)

1 can cooked chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans)

4-6 cloves of raw garlic

1/3 cup (sesame seed) Tahini (in glass jar)

Juice of 1 lemon

1 cup olive oil

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon sweet red paprika

¼ teaspoon powdered ginger

½ cup fresh, chopped basil

½ cup fresh, chopped parsley

2-6 sprigs of uncut parsley leaves (for garnish)

1/8 teaspoon coriander

1/3 teaspoon turmeric

1/3 teaspoon salt

6-8 Kalamata olives (for garnish)

Directions

  • Open can of chickpeas and drain
  • Pour chickpeas into food processor
  • Chop garlic and add to above
  • PULSE contents and stop, intermittently, to drizzle olive oil on chickpea mass, to prevent clumping
  • Add Tahini and lemon juice and purée mixture until it becomes creamy
  • Pour into mixing bowl, add the herbs and spices and (if needed for softening or creaminess) drizzle more olive oil—mix well, until all ingredients are distributed evenly throughout the Hummus
  • Cut olives off their pits and into halves
  • Spoon Hummus into serving bowl and
  • decorate with a sprinkling of red paprika, olive halves arranged in a pleasant design and top with parsley sprigs.

 

Voilá! You’ve got your very own, original Home-Made Hummus.

 

05 Jun, 2015

Baked, Ground Turkey Loaf

Posted by: Dina Eliash Robinson In: Entrées|Entrées That Nourish & Satisfy|Healthy Eating

Ingredients (all organic recommended):

1 and a ½ pound fresh-ground turkey breast

1 small (or medium sized if you prefer more) red (or yellow) onion

5 cloves of garlic (more if you prefer stronger garlic flavor)

¾ cup of extra virgin olive oil (divided)

1 slice of bread

3 whole eggs

1/3-teaspoon sweet red paprika

¼ teaspoon turmeric powder

1 or 2 pinches of cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1/3 tablespoon dried basil

½ tablespoon dried tarragon—or chopped fresh tarragon

a pinch of rosemary powder

a pinch of coriander

¼ teaspoon powdered ginger

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

½ cup breadcrumbs

Directions:

  • Chop onion and garlic to pea-size or smaller pieces
  • Soak slice of bread in a little water or almond milk, then squeeze out excess liquid
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees
  • In a big bowl, mix well—with spoon and-or hand—the ground turkey with the chopped onion and garlic, 1/3 cup of olive oil, bread slice, all the listed herbs and spices, the 3 eggs and Worcestershire sauce
  • Select appropriate size Pyrex or stainless steel baking dish
  • Coat well with the rest of the olive oil
  • Spoon or pour ground turkey mixture into baking dish; distribute evenly throughout the dish and smooth the top
  • Sprinkle the bread crumbs to cover top of the loaf
  • Put the baking dish containing the loaf into the oven and bake until done (45 or more minutes, depending on the oven and thickness of the turkey loaf)—at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes, then lower the heat to 375 until loaf begins to brown. Drizzle more olive oil on top of the loaf if it appears dry. Cut into thickest part to check if it is done—best indication is color (NOT pink at all) and visible onion pieces looking thoroughly cooked.
  • Slice and serve—hot, reheated or cold. Some like it with fresh lemon juice squeezed on it before eating; or with Dijon mustard or a light mayonnaise coating on top (especially tasty when loaf is eaten cold); or in a sandwich, either hot or cold. When served with mashed potatoes, pasta or other carb, liven up the flavor with pickles, sauerkraut or other condiment.
  • Turkey loaf keeps fresh in the refrigerator for up to 10 days—in fact, its flavors deepen with time.

 

 

 

 

22 May, 2015

SHORT TAKE

Posted by: Dina Eliash Robinson In: Expose|Food Labeling|Food Safety|Genetically Engineered Food|GMO's|Short Takes

Short TakesCongress Votes To Repeal Mandated Labeling Of Meat Products, Blocking Consumers’ Ability To Make Healthy Food Choices

May 2015— It took more than a decade to pass and include in the 2008 Farm Bill the mandate to label all foods with Country of Origin (COOL) information. Yet this month, the World Trade Organization (WTO) began to chip away at one of COOL’s most important parts—the one pertaining to the labeling of meat products (beef, pork and poultry)—when that organization ruled against letting health-minded consumers protect themselves by making safe choices based on these farm animals’ places and conditions of birth, their feed and the environment in which they were raised.

It is unconscionable that instead of protecting the nation’s health, Congress seems to have caved to pressure from what (many suspect) are some legislators’ corporate constituents and various moneyed interests in this matter. How else could one interpret the introduction of bill HR 2393 by K. Michael Conaway (R-TX), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, aimed at repealing mandatory Country of Origin Labeling for the above-mentioned meat products—and the Committee’s even more egregious vote to approve the bill by an overwhelming margin?

All is not lost, however, if enough well-informed consumers push back by using arguments based on solid, factual data (such as provided, for example by The Center for Food Safety’s link: http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/1881/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=16819), the original, hard-fought Country of Origin labeling mandate might survive.

The days are gone, alas, when merely paying attention, being well-informed, ‘vetting’ candidates and voting in every election were enough to support our more or less democratic system of checks and balances. Now we must adopt a more proactive stance and use additional weapons in the fight to have our voices heard when we speak truth to power. To argue successfully for consumers’ right to protect their health when grocery shopping, we must build credibility by doing our homework, sticking to facts and ‘keep punching.’

To acquire real clout and visibility, we need to sign petitions, stay in touch with elected officials, fight secrecy (such as the one currently shrouding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations, which also puts public health and the environment on the line), and standing up in the press and elsewhere for our right to have a safe and healthy food supply.

The good news is that participating hands-on in our welfare is quite empowering—especially these days when technology, media and money are competing with our ability to stay in control of our lives.

DER

12 May, 2015

Refreshing String-bean Soup

Posted by: Dina Eliash Robinson In: Healthy Eating|organic food|Recipés|Soups (Hot & Cold)

P1020125Inspired by Hungarian cuisine, this cold, savory, high-fiber, nutrition-packed soup is a summer delight with probiotic and antioxidant qualities. The soup stays fresh in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks and its flavor becomes richer every day—especially when all organic ingredients are used. The original Hungarian recipe calls for sour cream, not yogurt. But we made the substitution because yogurt is lighter on cholesterol and goat dairy is easier to digest than cow products.

Ingredients:

  • One and a half pounds of string beans (**economically priced organic string beans are usually available at Costco, in frozen, easy to reseal bulk packaging);
  • Half of a medium size red or yellow onion;
  • 2 large or 3 medium size cloves of fresh garlic;
  • 1-2 tablespoons of chopped fresh or dry parsley;
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh or dry basil;
  • One pinch of thyme;
  • ¼ teaspoon of ginger powder;
  • Small pinch of cayenne pepper;
  • One teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce;
  • ¼ cup extra virgin, organic olive oil;
  • One cup organic vegetable broth;
  • One teaspoon fresh lemon juice;
  • 1 whole egg;
  • ½ cup egg whites;
  • One-and-a-half cup plain goat yogurt;
  • ¼ teaspoon Pink Salt—or to taste;
  • Water.

Directions:

  • Wash & rinse string beans, pinch off tops & bottoms & pull off strings connecting them, then cut each piece in half & set aside in a bowl.
  • In big soup pot, pour olive oil.
  • Peel & chop onions into small pieces, add to oil & mix well, then turn stove burner to low heat.
  • While onion is sautéing, peel & chop garlic & add & mix with onions when the onions turn translucent (glassy).
  • Add & stir in string beans; add & stir in parsley, basil, thyme, ginger, cayenne, salt, Worcestershire Sauce.
  • Add vegetable broth & enough bottled water to more than cover everything.
  • Turn heat up to Medium, cover pot & boil until string beans are cooked al dente—i.e. still crunchy, not soft.
  • In a bowl, beat eggs & egg whites into foam, add lemon, then fold in yogurt & whip until it is fully blended & bubbly.
  • After string beans are cooked (see 7), take pot off the burner & let soup cool for 5 minutes.
  • While stirring soup, start drizzling very slowly the egg-and-yogurt mixture into the soup; continue stirring while you pour & for 2 more minutes afterward.
  • Let soup cool. Refrigerate. Eat as a cold snack, starter or main course with crackers or croutons. Bon Appetit!

 

Catharine’s Book

Jolene loves junk food. She loves it so much she wears red licorice in her hair—and pink taffy underwear! The Munch Bunch calls her "The Junk Food Queen." Then, one night in her dreams, she meets a bunch of cool characters who take her on an incredible, edible journey into a world of juicy fruits, super salads and yummy smoothies.
Book acclaimed by The Diabetes Research Institute Foundation - which uses it in its fundraising drives.

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Catharine Kaufman, the Kitchen Shrink, appears in a series of five videos. In the first video she is seen interviewing Dr. Lisa Loegering, MD, a pediatrician, concerning children's eating habits. The other four videos take place in Catharine's kitchen, as she instructs her two daughters, and two of their friends, in the preparation of various dishes.

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