Tag Archives: Maureen Abood

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.]

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Cahiers de Hoummous: Garnish your hummus with a sprig of holly

holly-days-market-kfeanl-clipartMore than any other, the question MidLaw gets is “What is your recipe for hummus?”

It’s not, “Based on your experience and success, what is your advice about the management of midsize law firms?”  It’s never, “As a prominent and distinguished North Carolina lawyer, what are your views on the state of things?” (As needed, we can supply other questions that MidLaw consistently does not receive.) No.

Always, it is  “What is your recipe for making hummus?”

And MidLaw has always sought to show that great hummus is a path, not a destination — and the path best traveled is the MidLaw Way.

But this is Christmas. So, MidLaw brings (below) these simple gifts from the path (i) origins of the MidLaw Way and a recipe, (ii) the conundrum: dried vs. canned, (iii) techniques of the masters, and (iv) MidLaw Mind.

Origins of the MidLaw Way and a recipe

MidLaw’s entry upon hummus questing had its beginnings in a simple discovery. Canned chickpeas are perfectly fine for making your own hummus, but microwave them for 5 or 6 minutes before you process them. Posting this insight caught the attention of the local newspaper, which published a recipe for MidLaw’s “Straight Ahead Hummus.” Start with that.

The canned vs. dried conundrum

From those early days, the journey proceeded.

Almost immediately, the conundrum arose: canned chickpeas will do, but what of the dried ones? MidLaw leaped to the challenge. It took up the nuances of preparing dried chickpeas and forthrightly concluded:

Here’s where I am. You start with your dried product. You soak overnight with baking soda. You boil your beans for an hour [or two]. … And, you know what? The hummus from the dried beans is better than canned. It ought to be.

Or – you can start with canned chickpeas that you microwave – and you’ve got hummus in 15 minutes. And that is perfectly good hummus, too.

Techniques of the masters

The journey has continued. Bit by bit, the wisdom of masters has been sought. Their techniques have been gathered and compiled. MidLaw’s observations are proffered with them:

  • 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 SolomonovMaureen 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.

MidLaw Way

But always, the path has been The MidLaw Way and the guide has been MidLaw Mind.

  • Stop. Breathe
  • Roll your own. Let it breathe.
  • Consume radically — with no preconceptions. Submit to no external standard of taste, flavor or texture. Give no way to any dip from any container off any shelf.
  • It’s got to be yours.

Yuletide hummus

In the spirit of the season, garnish your hummus with a sprig of holly. The dark green leaf, the bright red berry: they rest so well on a rich bed of beige.

But do not eat that holly. Remember: holly is toxic and can cause death to small animals and little children.

Merry Christmas to all!

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 Hoummos: a champion of classic hummus speaks

aboo11An authoritative hummus voice has sounded. Maureen Abood.

Like MidLaw, Abood’s fundamental message is “roll your own.” And, her focus is on hewing to the few, classic ingredients and perfecting fundamental methods. None of those trendy alternatives or add-ins for her.

But, some Abood methods challenge long-time MidLaw habits. The keys are: (1) go to great lengths to remove the chickpea skins, (2) don’t mix the olive oil into the puree, instead pour it on top at the end, (3) emphasize the lemon juice to adjust flavor, (4) save and chill the chickpea cooking liquid before adding it back.

MidLaw’s ways are questioned, so the MidLaw Test Kitchen is on the case.

For now though, Abood is a voice to be reckoned with. She goes deeper into methodology than anything MidLaw has seen before. She advocates using dried chickpeas when possible and taking days in the soaking and simmering if you have the time, but she wastes no scruples on this: if what you have is canned chickpeas and limited time, don’t let that stop you. You will still get great hummus. She is committed to the integrity of simple, classic ingredients: chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, tahini. Olive oil at the end. No beets. And she is a champion of rolling your own.

Discipline. Stick to the basics. Perfect your methods. Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Integrity. Do it yourself; do not rely on others. In what matters, Abood’s way is also the MidLaw Way.

A great hummus champion.

Thanks to Washington lawyer, lead guitarist of DC band Blue Book Value, novelist, and author of The Shining Rock Grand, Bill Winslow for calling attention to Maureen Abood.