I first tasted hummus at a Middle Eastern restaurant in Minneapolis called Jerusalem's several decades ago. It was delightful; all buttery and lemony. So I decided it would be a good thing to have at home. I tried several versions of store bought hummus including a local variety made by Holy Land in northeast Minneapolis. It is quite good, but none of them really seemed to be the right flavor for me. Perhaps it is the Scandinavian boy from the prairie who grew up on blandness? Not! I think it really is that I wanted something smooth with a little tang that could be spread on bread as a sandwich or used as a dip for chips or pita. Something versatile and yummy. So, for years I made batches of hummus. Unfortunately, my kids really don't like hummus, so I've had to eat a lot of it on my quest for perfection. Today, I got it and I'm going to share it with you: My Perfect Hummus!
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 large lemon juiced (little less than 1/4 cup)
  • 1 15 oz can drained garbanzo beans
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 T olive oil

Preparation
  1. Put the tahini and lemon juice in a food processor and turn on for at 1-2 minutes until very smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides of the work bowl at the half way point.
  2. Add the drained garbanzo beans and the finely diced or crushed garlic. Blend another 1-2 minutes until smooth.
  3. While the food processor is on, slowly drizzling the olive oil into the mixture.
  4. Spoon out and garnish with a bit of olive oil and paprika. (Cumin and other spices can be added at the end if you wish.)

Nutrition
1 Tablespoon = 25 calories.
Notes
The two secrets to this hummus are:
  • The initial tahini lemon juice mixture.
  • The blending order of the ingredients. We are treating it like we are making mayonnaise or a dressing by emulsifying the olive oil slowly at the end into the acidic mixture.

Try it on our Honey Wheat Bread toasted. You will love it!
 
 
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Sochi! Olympics! Putin shirtless! O.k., well at least two out of three ain't bad. I cringe after every skater as NBC pans to a stoic Putin in the crowd. Honestly, NBC should just rename themselves the Putin Television Network. There has to be more about Russian than just Putin sitting in a crowd or hanging half naked in a hotel room - his portrait, I mean. That and the stories of uniquely unfinished hotel rooms and bathrooms drove me to think about how I could share more about the culture of Russian to my family instead of the mismanaged hype. 

The Russian people are known for many great things including unique food due in part to their climates and topography. In particular, they are known for pickling certain foods including cucumbers, tomatoes and cabbage. Their pickling brine is almost as holy as soy sauce to some Asian cultures. Almost as holy as vodka! So, I decided we'd celebrate a bit of the culture of Russian outside of the NBC/PTN mockumentary experience by having a bit of pickled foods and a few shots of vodka for the adults with a proper Russian toast of course.

Here are two great quick pickle recipes I developed for the occasion. One recipe is for tomatoes with pepperoncini and the other is for cooked Brussels sprouts. Vashe zrodovye! - To your health! Half naked or not.

Ingredients
TOMATOES
  • 10 medium small vine-ripened tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 6 small jarred pepperoncini
  • 1 clove garlic sliced thin
  • 4 small bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill

BRUSSELS SPROUTS
  • 18-20 Brussels sprouts halved
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1-2 cloves garlic sliced thin

BRINE
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar (you could use red wine vinegar for a different flavor)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Preparation
  1. Bring the brine ingredients of water, vinegar, salt and sugar to boil until dissolved.
  2. Steam the halved Brussels sprouts in a bit of water in the microwave for about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Fill a quart jar with the tomato ingredients.
  4. Fill a pint jar with the Brussels sprouts ingredients.
  5. Pour the brine into each jar. You will probably have a tiny bit of brine left.
  6. Seal jars, cool, and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Nutrition
Calories are pretty small, probably about 10 or so for each tomato and 10 for about a quarter of the Brussels sprouts.

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Tips
You can serve the Brussels Sprouts within an hour or so, but I'd wait a day at least for the tomatoes.

This is a refrigerator recipe. Please do not use for long term storage canning.
 
 
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We have some wonderful friends that we love to share time with at a great little restaurant called Black Sheep Pizza in Minneapolis. They have a dish of warm olives that is absolutely fabulous to munch on while you down a cold local brew or a lovely glass of wine. But be careful as the olives are hot and you could burn your tongue. So take your time, let the olives steep in the oil, mind your tongue and share them slowly just like you would a great friendship! Here is my version inspired by good friends and Black Sheep.
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Ingredients
  • 2 Cups Mixed Olives (Castelvetrano, Nicoise, Kalamata)
  • 1/8 Cup Good Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 To 4 Garlic Cloves
  • Rosemary Sprig
  • Pinch Of Salt

Preparation
  1. Combine all ingredients in pan and heat over medium until boiling.
  2. Serve warm in a dish that will retain heat.
  3. Enjoy with cheese and cold beer or wine.

Servings
Multiple 1 oz servings.

Nutrition
About 10 to 12 calories per olive.

Tips
  • You can use pitted or unpitted olives, but the olives with pits will take longer to cool which could be a plus if you want to savor them.
  • Other herbs work well too.
  • Alternatively, this recipe can be cooked in an oven. They will take about 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Longer at a lower temp.
  • Stuffing the olives with small rectangles of cheese after cooking is a superb addition. I used a light Gouda in this photo.
 
 
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Just stop with the craziness of standing over a stove stirring onions for over an hour or two on low while you wait for their golden brown decadence to develop. Seriously, I do not need any more time to contemplate weight loss. Plop them in a crock pot, a little olive oil, salt and 7 hours later on high with occasional stirring or 12 hours later on low with no stirring, you'll have the most delicious sweet onions ever. And I promise they'll help you lose weight. Wink.
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Ingredients
  • 4 Large Yellow Onions
  • 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt

Preparation
  1. Peel onions in half and slice. Place in crock pot.
  2. Drizzle olive oil over onions and toss while in crock pot.
  3. Salt and toss a bit more.
  4. From here you have two options. You can cook them on high for about 7 hours stirring every hour or so just a bit so they don't burn, or you can cook them on low for about 12 hours. Overnight is best.
  5. They will reduce to about 1/8 of what they were and will be dark brown and sweet to taste.

Servings
Multiple 1 oz servings.

Nutrition
20 calories per 1 oz.

Tips
  • You can refrigerate in a tight closed container up to 10 days or you can freeze them in smaller individual containers. We usually eat it too fast to freeze.
  • Try them in fish tacos. Yum.