Saturday, January 8, 2011

Hoorah for Hummus

In light of my quest to encourage creativity and culinary experimentation, I decided to make some hummus...without following a recipe. Not ultra creative as I have made hummus before so I know the key ingredients but I've got to start somewhere!
First I started by roasting a bulb of garlic for 45 mins at 350. I find that the roasted garlic flavour v's raw garlic is far superior and smoother in hummus. I usually drizzle the bulb with a bit of olive oil and then wrap the whole thing loosely in foil and bake. 45 mins should be sufficient but beware when you open up the foil as the temperature change can lead to an unexpected explosion of hot garlic that sticks to you like glue when caramelised. It BURNS! Let the bulb cool and then cut the head off and squeeze out the gooey goodness. This is also a great topping for toasted crostini or french bread. You could add a nice goat cheese on top.

The rest of the ingredients for my spicy version are as follows:

1 can chickpeas, drained (liquid reserved)
2-3 tbsp EVOO
3-4 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)
1 roasted garlic bulb, squeezed
juice of 1 lemon
2-3 tbsp hot spice mix (optional) I used a Duqqa Spice mix
salt and fresh crushed black pepper to taste (add after any other spice mix added)

In a food processor, blend the chickpeas until fairly smooth. Add the tahihi and mix again. Some recipes for hummus do not call for tahini. I think it's essential for texture and flavour, it provides a smooth nuttiness and also a kick of calcium.
So what I'm saying is...don't skimp out on the tahini. And if you are wondering what to do with the remains of the jar, I suggest spreading it on toast with some honey drizzled on of my favourite snacks.
Keep the food processor on and 1 tbsp at a time, pour the EVOO through the spout. Stop and check for texture. I like my hummus med-smooth, quite thick and not super oily. There is oil in the tahini also so just take it slow and find the texture you like. You can always add the reserved chick pea liquid to thin out the hummus if you don't want to add more oil.
Finally add the fresh lemon juice and the seasonings. Salt and pepper are the bare minimum here and after that, it's free reign with the spice cupboard. I really love the duqqa spice mix I picked up at a gourmet fair. It's from the Hot Chick Spice Company who are a local Vancouver Island company. Here are some suggested variations:

Peppercorn Hummus: grind up 1-2 tbsp black or mixed peppercorns to desired consistency. I like it when I get a big chunk of peppercorn from time to time so I get a spicy crunchy kick but you may prefer a more subtle hit.

Cajun spice-you can buy pre-made mixes but check ingredients and look for salt level. If one of the first few ingredients is salt, omit adding your own salt until after you've tasted it with the spice added. Also check for MSG, I avoid this stuff like the plague and it is in a lot of pre-made/packaged things, especially soups. Bad stuff. Stay far far away from it.

Curried Hummus-you could add simply a basic curry powder or a dry mix such as Garam Masala, Channa Masala mix or make your own blend

You can also add something like roasted red peppers, olives, capers, artichoke hearts, pesto, fresh spinach, edamame, sun dried tomatoes etc....experiment away! I suggest making a base hummus mix and then splitting it into 2-4 portions and then trying different additions. That way, if it's not to your liking, you're not wasting a huge batch.

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