Tag Archives: bean dip

Cahiers de Hoummous: Lessons of public affairs for making your own hummus

Make and consume hummus (as usual).
Make contemporaneous memorandum.
Read Marcel Proust, À la Recherche du Temps Perdue.
Read Michel de Montaigne, Of Sadness.

Read Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Revise memorandum.
Repeat if desired.

I do not know which to prefer, the hummus, or just after.

 

 

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Cahiers de Hoummous: Hummus Day’s a-comin’

We are once more in the annual run down to International Hummus Day.

The approach of the day has brought forward more of the encyclopedic hummus social media posts (well, collections of hummus links really) that we have become accustomed to.

BuzzFeed:  Signs you’re in a relationship with hummus

Huffington Post: Health benefits of hummus

Following these links requires assiduity – real assiduity, the kind that drives the truly committed to peel the skins off chickpeas pea by pea.

In this cascade of points and authorities has come yet another nuance in hummus technique. Now comes the suggestion that, after soaking your dried chickpeas overnight, and, just before you commit them to the cauldron for their hour-long boil-and-simmer, you might sautè them with the baking soda for three or four minutes in olive oil.

Observing this mounting enthusiasm, growing volume of commentary, and advancing granularity of detail, MidLaw is called to counsel:

First, temper obsession with dignity. As it is, you will be smearing a mess of semi-fluid, oil-drenched bean paste onto a shred of pita bread, then seeking to get it into your mouth without dripping anything on anything. Bear in mind that you are an exemplar of the species that produced the Code of Hammurabi, the Magna Carta and the State Toast of North Carolina.

Second, never in the pursuit of hummus, exalt occult technique over the immediacy of the moment. What is the MidLaw Way if not to stop, breathe, then consume radically?  And always, to ROLL YOUR OWN.

 

It’s the season for MidLaw’s somewhat famous MidWinter Supper

It’s time once more to republish the MidLaw MidWinter Supper.Supper

Last year the MidWinter Supper was supplemented with an enhanced fish feature, “Helen’s Famous Smoked Fish Dip” (the provenance is at the link). Some dip.

We’ll let this year’s embellishment be MidLaw’s recent inquiry into the skinning of chickpeas, which may, after all, be contra-indicated for the hummus américaine. You decide.

The Supper’s the thing. That hummus, that fish, that dip. And the beverage.

Cahiers de Hoummous: to skin a pea

skinsRemoving the skins from chickpeas when you make your hummus is something you just don’t hear enough about. And there are multiple schools of thought on the subject.

Maureen Abood, Yotam Ottolenghi, Sami Tamimi and others counsel soaking then cooking dried peas a long time with baking soda, straining them, adding cold water, and then rubbing the skins off with your fingers. (Same method can be adopted for canned chickpeas, where you microwave instead of simmering for a long time.)

Others suggest rubbing your peas with a towel. See the Steamy Kitchen, rub-them-with-a-paper-towel method.

But traditionalist Amy Riolo, the author of Nile Style, says that she skins her peas one by one. She says

To peel chickpeas, hold them in between your thumb and index finger over a bowl and squeeze. The chickpea will come through and you will be left with the skin in your hand. I like to peel them while I’m watching television or talking on the phone, and leave them ready in the refrigerator, so that later on I can make this dish.

She handles each chickpea, one at the time. Well, there you go. If you remove each skin from each pea, one by one, you will have some creamy hummus.

Perfectly acceptable hummus, however, can be fashioned from skin-on peas. Partially skinned peas are fine, too. (Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.) You might want to give your food processor a few more turns for skin-on peas than for the naked ones, then you’ll be good to go.

It’s your hummus, you choose.

A word about the television, though. We cannot condone watching television while you skin your peas. In some jurisdictions, watching cable TV news in particular while skinning chickpeas may be regarded as chickpea abuse.

[Broader MidLaw hummus wisdom was recapped at year end.]

Cahiers de Hoummous: the onset of winter

pumpkin_spice_grandeThey speak to me at Christmas time of pumpkin hummus.

It is the get of the multi-culture. Some at this season reprise even the beet fallacy.

Look it up. There is no plural of hummus.

Hummus is of chickpeas.

Rightly, we contest dried versus canned chickpeas. And then we conclude that either can do. And avidly, we pour into our food processors other pulses, other beans, and other vegetables to mash them up. But those are not hummus. They are dips and pastes and sauces. That must find their own names.

Anything else is the theft of a word that is the property of the chickpea. Chickpeas, garbanzo beans, ceci nuts, sometimes also known as Egyptian peas, Bengal grams, and Kabuli chana: they own hummus.

You may flavor your hummus as you will. After all, you are not choosing a plastic cup on a supermarket shelf. This is MidLaw. You are rolling your own. Radical self-determination is the essence of MidLaw Mind.

So, roasted red peppers are fine. A soupcon of vinegar from time to time perhaps. Frankly, pumpkin spice sounds a bit effete, but OK. For flavor. That’s up to you.

But do not take a simple and sturdy word that has stood for millennia. It does not belong to you. “Hummus” comes from the Arabic word meaning “chickpeas.” It does not mean pumpkins.

Pumpkus?

CHRISTMAS NOTE: The single question that MidLaw receives most often is, “What is your recipe for hummus?” Longtime MidLaw readers know that hummus culture is a journey, not a destination. Lifelong learning is at the core of MidLaw Mind. Revelation is continuing. Still, in recognition of the season and feeling the onset of winter, MidLaw will bring back key hummus-recipe-and-tips links for an upcoming holiday special. You must return to MidLaw for the holidays.

Cahiers de Hoummous — “Cooks without Borders,” hummus insight bordering on wisdom

Cooks without Borders is a blog worth examining, if only for this one post:

Ottolenghi meets Zahav: Introducing the ultimate hummus recipe

She is asking the right questions of the right people.

And, she has also found two key secrets that MidLaw readers have seen before: (i) use canned chickpeas when you need to, and, when you do, (ii) you need to cook’em just a bit.

Cooks without Borders ihummusday-1431534933s a very good blog, even though it goes far afield from hummus. But, as good as that blog is, there is little or no commentary there about mid-size law firms, or about Tarboro or Edgecombe County, or about  North Carolina lawyers — and, there is nothing about the virtues of Guilford College, lifelong learning, or the liberal arts.

So, I’m not exactly sure why you’d read it. You need that stuff to go with your hummus.

Maybe you’d read it for the food commentary. Anyway, she’s got the hummus nuances about right.

Cahiers de Hoummous — notice of temporary supply imbalance affecting hummus & tomatoes markets

NOTICE: Current conditions in marketplace may require prompt action

MidLaw has observed a temporary supply imbalance in the market for fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes in farmers markets across relevant regions. Arbitrage opportunities may obtain.

Accordingly, MidLaw is led to reprise the following item which was originally posted at MidLaw & Divers Items on July 2017, 2013. Readers should gauge their responses based upon their own assessments of market conditions in their particular regions.

___________________________________________

BLTSeasonal recipe — hummus and tomatoes

Prepare hummus.

Then, obtain fresh, local, vine-ripened tomatoes. Tomatoes grown in Edgecombe County, North Carolina tend to be best for this purpose. But Guilford County tomatoes are very good.

Wash tomatoes. Slice them according to your usual practice. This will yield a number of tomato-shaped slices or coins. Further slice them into halves or quarters, depending on size. Salt and pepper to taste. You may wish to anoint the tomatoes lightly with oil, vinegar or both. This is optional. (If you elect this option, you might want to add the oil and vinegar first, then salt and pepper.)

Serve halved or quartered tomato slices either in the dish with your hummus or on a separate plate.               

Take a moment to appreciate natives of the Andes for first cultivating tomatoes; peoples of the eastern and southern Mediterranean for chic peas and sesame paste; and eastern and northern Mediterranean peoples for the olive oil. Good people.

Note: This seasonal suggestion has been found to work well as an accompaniment to eggs, and also with mayonnaise, bread, bacon, and lettuce.

Cahiers de Hoummous: hummus wars re-kindled in provocative WUNC article

Is hummus a casus belli, or the path to peace?hummus large

This is old territory for MidLaw.

As MidLaw has patiently outlined, there is great potential for contention between Arabs and Jews about who owns hummus and whose is best. There is no shortage of those who would take up the cudgels. But there has also been a movement towards peace and reconciliation.

At this delicate moment, WUNC, the public radio station, has stepped in with a provocative article demarking differences and provoking antagonists.

MidLaw is a longtime witness and sometime casualty of North Carolina’s divisive and destructive BBQ wars (also regularly roiled by WUNC coverage), And MidLaw has constantly counseled hummus peoples that war is not the answer. For those who are drawn to bean dips, MidLaw’s message is: roll your own with MidLaw Mind. Do not be seduced by external measures of quality or value — and certainly, do not be drawn into backward-looking controversies over who started it all. The debates that matter are: How much lemon juice? When is the olive oil added? What’s this about not peeling the garlic? And, of course, whether it’s OK to use canned chickpeas, and whether and how long to microwave canned peas? And MidLaw can respect each person’s answer.

If however, you cannot resist wading into the controversy, recall MidLaw’s early observation that, although there are surely those who disagree, many signs suggest that hummus may have originated in Greensboro about fifteen years ago. And, remember also that when MidLaw made a recent hummus trip to the Levant, the best hummus in the region was found to be precisely on the boundary, on the Green Line, between the West Bank and Israel.

War is not the answer.

[A MidLaw Dip in the direction of Bill Ross and Mack Sperling who were quick off the mark calling attention to the WUNC piece.]

Cahiers de Hoummous: the sin of pride and the way of the masters

zahavThis is a confession. A confession of the sin of pride.

MidLaw was becoming prideful about hummus. As more “best hummus recipes” came forward, MidLaw began to resist. Why read another one? Surely by now MidLaw knows what’s worth knowing about hummus. MidLaw is an expert.

So, there it is in all its ugliness: PRIDE. The original and most deadly sin. The most insidious.

Pride obstructs new learning and impedes change.

When Zahav’s hummus genius, and the new cookbook (Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking) were urged upon him, MidLaw reacted badly.

Zahav is the celebrated Israeli restaurant in Philadelphia and now also the cookbook, created by Chef Michael Solomonov. Zahav’s hummus recipe both confirms MidLaw’s longtime methods and brings new insights. Zahav deserves the celebration that is raining down on it.

So, as a penance and to purge the contamination of pride, MidLaw has gathered key hummus-craft insights, both from Chef Solomonov and also from others.

Hummus techniques of the masters

  • Soak dried chickpeas in water for 8 to 12 hours with baking soda (say, a teaspoon of baking soda to a cup of chickpeas). Never put salt in there. Salt toughens the skins, and you are trying to soften and ultimately remove the skins, not toughen them.
  • Cook (bring to boil, then simmer) soaked chickpeas in new water with a new baking soda treatment. Cook them for a long time (at least an hour, but even more). Keep them immersed in water. It may not be possible to overcook them. No one knows for sure. What you want to get is really soft chickpeas, falling apart, with the skins separating out.
  • To the extent that you can, remove the skins (remove the skins, that is, if your vision is the creamiest hummus, but bring MidLaw Mind). Maybe the best way to remove the skins is to sift the cooked (then cooled) chickpeas through your fingers.
  • Err on the side of too much tahini.
  • Err on the side of too much olive oil.
  • Err on the side of either too much or too little lemon juice. You must find your own way here.
  • Get enough salt. Add more if you need it.
  • Conventional recipes counsel blending olive oil directly into the chickpeas. But Solomonov, Maureen Abood and many another in Israel and Palestine advocate withholding the olive oil until the end, then drizzling it (very liberally) on top of the processed chickpeas and tahini just before serving. Some do both.
  • When you add water, add cold water (ice-cold water, Solomonov says, with the water to be added into a running food processor a teaspoon at the time; Maureen Abood agrees).
  • Solomonov may be unique for advising that garlic, lemon juice and salt should be combined in a food processor separately. He advises using more garlic than others (4 cloves) but adding the cloves while still unpeeled. Purée coarsely, he says, then allow that mixture to sit for 10 minutes while the garlic “mellows.” Finally, strain the mixture through a sieve into a separate bowl, seeking to remove the solids. Tahini is combined with that in a food processor, and after that, ice water. Finally, the chickpeas are added in.
  • And then, run the processor a long time. 4 minutes? You decide.

Tenets of MidLaw Diet

Even more important though than master techniques, are the core tenets of the MidLaw Diet:

Roll your own.

Never hesitate to use canned chickpeas as the circumstances require. Remember the microwave hack.

Never submit to the dominion of an external standard of taste or texture. Bring MidLaw Mind.

hummx

Between pride and submission there is a middle way: the path of radical humility, the way of the masters.

Cahiers de Hoummous: The Return of MidLaw from the Levant

Version 2MidLaw is back. Back from the Middle East. Israel and Palestine.

MidLaw traveled with a group of 18 students and 5 teachers from Westtown School. We came from China, Korea, Nigeria, Kenya, England and many parts of the United States. (MidLaw’s hummus studies proceeded parallel to the students’ work.)

We visited a broad range of communities, groups, families and a settlement in Israel and Palestine. Our meals were served “family style.” During the first week, we were served hummus at literally every meal (but one). Hummus at breakfast, lunch and dinner. After the first week, the pattern was the same. ALWAYS, we had hummus at breakfast.

And so, MidLaw has eaten hummus at

  • hotels and restaurants
  • the home of an Israeli businessman and military officer (where I learned that he is CEO of the largest supplier of chickpea seeds in the region)
  • the home of a Palestinian author, religious leader and peace activist
  • a kibbutz
  • a Palestinian refugee camp
  • a Palestinian family farm
  • a Bedouin encampment
  • a Druze village
  • an Israeli youth hostel
  • a Christian guest house in Bethlehem
  • The Friends School in Ramallah (in the company of the leader of Palestine’s largest telecommunications company).

In East Jerusalem, we had hummus from famed hummus bar Abu Shukri. In Jaffa, to MidLaw’s dismay we were not able to get to Abu Hassan, although we had hummus at another place nearby.

In Nazareth, we had a meal that was presented as typical of what Jesus would commonly have eaten. Turns out Jesus was a big fan of hummus.

2016IsraelPalestine - 102 of 776-L

At the center of Barta’a

The best hummus for MidLaw’s money was at a café in the center of the village of Barta’a. Uniquely, Barta’a sits directly on “the Green Line.” The Green Line is the line drawn on maps to demark Israeli territory at the end of the 1948 War. At Barta’a, the map was misread. What looked on the map like a river, was in fact a drainage ditch – and so, the Green Line was drawn right through the middle of the village, down the ditch. That created a bizarrely split village, with different laws and different taxes depending on what side of the ditch you’re on.

Anyway, there’s a café in Barta’a that sits just on the Palestinian side of the ditch. The hummus there is fantastic.

Lunch at Barta'a

Lunch at Barta’a

So, MidLaw has seen a lot of hummus. And eaten it all with enthusiasm. Three times a day. And after careful study, MidLaw has concluded that the hummus in the Levant is fully the equal of MidLaw hummus. I mean it! It’s very good.

Still, the Lesson of the Levant is that the key to great hummus is roll your own – with MidLaw Mind.

YOU are Abu Shukri.