Tag Archives: MidLaw Way

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.

 

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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 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 Hoummos: as International Year of Pulses approaches, MidLaw urges restraint

PULSE LOGO_IYP_en_print-squareWord has come – from New York, Rome and capitals around the world: 2016 is to be the International Year of Pulses. (That is: 2016 is to be the International Year of Pulses!)

The Year has been declared by the United Nations and its Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). And, about time.

MidLaw knows that pulses are annual leguminous crops yielding between one and 12 grains or seeds of variable size, shape and colour within a pod. They are used both for food and for feed. And, MidLaw knows that the term “pulses” is limited to crops harvested solely for dry grain. Oh, and pulses use soil bacteria to draw nitrogen from the air, reducing the need for fertilizers, so they promote environmental sustainability, as well.

First among the nutritious, sustainable pulses stands the chickpea: sturdy foundation of hummus, core ingredient of the ancient bean dip.

Of course, pulses also include lentils, beans and peas. And all of them “have been an essential part of the human diet for centuries,” even though, as the FAO laments, “their nutritional value is not generally recognized and is frequently under-appreciated.”

Friends, that deficit is about to be corrected. In the Year of Pulses, look for the heretofore lowly pulses to be celebrated, as “not merely cheap and delicious,” but “also highly nutritious sources of protein and vital micronutrients that can greatly benefit people’s health and livelihoods, particularly in developing countries.”

So, 2016 looks to be quite a year.

But, in all the excitement, MidLaw feels compelled to sound a note of caution. MidLaw detects amidst the entirely justified enthusiasm for pulses generally, an incipient encouragement to those who would advocate making hummus out of any pulse that comes their way. (Not just pulses, beets as well.)

While MidLaw is second to none in enthusiasm for pulses, there are fundamental principles. So, yes, it is good to celebrate the culinary and other merits of under-appreciated beans and peas. MidLaw agrees. But, we must recur to fundamental principles. And, such a principle is that hummus is made only from the chickpea.

The peoples of the Levant have been making hummus for 5,000 years. And surely by the waters of Babylon in all that time, temptations must have come to render hummus from chickpea alternatives. Yet, the Levant has stood firm. Over the centuries; over the millennia. There is no voice there for beet hummus, none for the black bean. These are doings of Californians.

Now, MidLaw gladly embraces change. Truth is eternal, but our understanding of it must progress. Revelation is continuing. MidLaw knows this. Yet, neither should the settled wisdom of the ages lightly be cast to the side when buffeted by the latest wind of doctrine.

So, MidLaw has readily embraced the whirring blades of the food processor and absorbed the burning heat of the microwave — in the name of change. But MidLaw has also recurred frequently to fundamental principles. And MidLaw stands firm for the timeless principle that hummus be of chickpeas made.

This is the MidLaw Way. As it shall remain — even in the International Year of Pulses, which itself is much to be welcomed and indeed celebrated.

Pulse Symbol_High

Cahiers de Hoummos: the cauliflower hummus conundrum

humA recent note in MidLaw’s Cahiers de Hoummos (prompted by North Carolina business law authority, blogger and hummus connoisseur Mack Sperling) mused that cauliflower hummus might mark a step forward in hummus thinking. Well, we’ve taken that concept to the MidLaw Test Kitchen. The results may surprise you.

Roasted cauliflower? With garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and salt. And hummus.

A great concept, we thought. So, we followed those recipes that instruct you to mash up a bunch of cauliflower with a bunch of chickpeas and tahini. Well, we found that the cauliflower and the chickpeas combined to create a lower common denominator. Rather than leveraging separate strengths, each diminished the other.

But wait! The Test Kitchen devised a means of capitalizing on the separate and ultimately complementary strengths of both cauliflower and chickpeas.

First we thought: make the mash sharper. So, we added salt. Then we added lemon juice. And, we tried Sriracha. But each of them always led away from the center. Beneath the surface there was still an insipid mash. Then, we hit upon a disruptive solution.

The MidLaw Cauliflower Hummus Recipe:roasted cauliflower

First, prepare MidLaw Straight Ahead Hummus. Roll your own.

Next, separate cauliflower into florets, coat with oil, garlic, lemon juice and salt, and roast.

Then – and this is the key – set the roasted cauliflower to one side and set the hummus to the other side. Do not mash them up together. Keep them separate.

Serve with pita, chips, crackers or raw vegetables as you prefer; or serve the cauliflower and hummus tout seule.

Roasted cauliflower, oiled and salted: superb. MidLaw Straight Ahead Hummus: extraordinary. Respect each for what it is. Resist the processor mentality.

Respecting each one for its strengths, not diluting. That is the MidLaw Way.