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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lebanese Hummus



The first time I tried hummus was three years ago during a little road-trip through Luxembourg's north. It was the end of a great training course held in the Grand-Duchy. People from all over the world came to my little country to discuss and think about intercultural communication and cooperation. This was my first experience within the European Youth in Action Program.  Some of the participants were staying a bit longer to discover Luxembourg a little bit more in detail. 
On a sunny day we went up north to the lake to relax after the busy days. At some point all of us were hungry and we drove to the nearest supermarket. Anne, my Luxembourgish friend, who just came back from a 2 months internship in the Middle East convinced us to buy hummus. Of course our Jordan friend agreed immediately and the two of us remaining were curious to discover this chickpea delight. From that very moment on I am a huge fan of hummus, knowing that the industrial one cannot compete with the original. So I decided that when I do already like the hummus from a Luxembourg supermarket that I need to try the original as well.


Once said, now done! Last year I travelled to Lebanon for a training course on human rights. I had one and a half day after my arrival to discover the little country before the training started. On the first day my friend Ghassan took me to an authentic Lebanese restaurant. I was happy because knowing him we could have totally gone to a Pizza place. My friend ordered 4-5 dishes we shared in order to have me try a maximum of mezze. This is how you call the different dishes which form one meal. After the training Ghassan took me to the south of Lebanon where we have delicious lunch just next to the sea. My choice was made in a second - hummus of course. I couldn't have enough of it and everywhere we went I took hummus. Before leaving my friend bought me a jar of original tahini which I used regularly back home.


I recently tried several times to prepare hummus with different recipes, and not later than two months ago, my Lebanese friend here in Luxembourg brought me an original Lebanese cookbook. I tried it once, twice adapting the recipe to my personal taste without changing it too much. I still want it to be as authentic as possible. I love the Lebanese kitchen and be sure to find another range of varied recipes in the upcoming months. I'd say it's one of my all time favorite kitchens. So if you're reading the post, thanks again dear friend! This definitely was a perfect gift for a globetrotter like me. My best travel memories are always in relation with food; friends & food juste simply work without one another.


This time, I tried a little extra. Several months ago I ate hummus with wasabi, which I adored because it gives the whole thing a little spicy something. As the portion you get with the recipe below is quite big, I took 1/3 and added some wasabi. 

For the classical hummus you need:

250g cooked or 105g dried chickpeas
1tsp baking powder (if using dried chickpeas)
150ml tahini
2 crushed garlic cloves
30ml lemon juice
1/2 tbsp salt
60ml water


Put the chickpeas and the baking powder into a mid-sized bowl. Add water and let them soak overnight.

The next day, drain and rinse them, then put the chickpeas into a saucepan full of water. Don't add any salt for cooking because this changes the texture of the chickpeas. Bring to the boil and let them simmer for 1h-1h30 until the chickpeas are very soft. Now you can drain them again.

Now, whether you chose dried chickpeas or cooked ones, peel them. You might think I am a bit crazy but experience shows that the hummus gets much creamier if you peel them. It's certainly not the most pleasant thing to do, but as the result is much better, it is worth it. Put one single chickpea between your thumb and your middle finger, push a little bit until it pops out.

Now mash the chickpeas with a blender. Add the tahini, the crushed garlic and the lemon juice. Blend again until you get a thick and dry mix. Add the salt and the water little by little while blending again until it gets smooth and creamy. 

If you would also like to prepare the wasabi hummus, separate one third into a small bowl and add a tsp of wasabi. Mix for 1 minute until the wasabi is evenly added. 

Spoon the two into two different serving plates. Garnish the classical version with a drizzle of good quality olive oil and paprika powder. You may also add chopped red pepper and parsley just like you prefer.

Enjoy!!!


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Tomato Balsamic Tarte Tatin


Even though the guys from the weather-forecast declared summer 2013 being gone for good, I'm still not done with preparing summer dishes. I only came back from the south last week inspired to prepare  new recipes. This week's recipe is one I already tried some years ago but which I modified a little bit. The first time I prepared the tomato tarte tatin I left out the balsamic and the olive paste. It was refreshing and light indeed, but this time I wanted to add some extra flavors. 


I was very happy to be back to the south of France again. All these beautiful markets with their beautiful food inspire passionate cooks to choose the right ingredients. I bought a lot of fresh olive pastes, fruits and sausages. On one hand you can find sausages with more traditional flavors like pepper, mushrooms or mixed herbs. On the other hand you do also find blueberry sausages. Once we had a roasted chicken as well with rosemary potatoes, a treat I am definitely putting on this blog as well.  If you love potatoes you will also love the rosemary variant. I guess that most of people know the French tarte tatin dessert but its savory version might be a novelty. The sweet and salted flavors in one tart make it very special.



For 6 portions you need:

For the filling

1kg Roma tomatoes
100g olive paste
2 tbs brown sugar
4 tsp mixed herbs 
4 tbs balsamic vinegar 
olive oil
salt
pepper

For the dough

280g flour
100ml olive oil
100ml water
1 ts salt
2 ts mixed herbs





























Preheat the oven to 180°

Wash the tomatoes and cut them lengthwise into two halves. Place them into your mold with the round side downwards. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper then add the sugar and the mixed herbs. Baste the tomatoes with olive oil and balsamic. Then put them into the oven for 90 minutes. 

When your tomatoes are ready spread the olive paste over them. 

Now you can prepare the dough:

In a large bowl whisk together all the ingredients with a wooden spatula until you get an even dough. Then kneed it quickly with your hands for a minute. Now you can roll it out and shape it depending your base.  Lay the dough over the tomatoes and fold outer edges over filling. 

Cut a 1/2 hole into the dough by way of an air outlet stack and bake for 20 minutes

Once the tart is ready flip it upside down on a plate and let it cool down for ten minutes.

Enjoy



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