21/02/2015

Plain houmous using dried chick peas

I bought a bag of dried chick peas ages ago, meaning to use them for something, and promptly forgot about them once I’d put them in the cupboard. That happens a lot in my house. Out of sight, out of mind and all that.

I found them yesterday, so decided to actually remember to soak some overnight, and give houmous a try using them. Just to see what difference it makes to the texture and the taste.

Now, I know you can buy this anywhere, but shop bought houmous has become a disappointment to me, if I’m honest. It’s now too pungent, and I find that I cannot get the taste to go away for ages. The only brand that doesn’t do that to me is Sabra, usually to be found in the Kosher section. That is consistently lovely.

The rest of them taste quite artificial to me, so when I found that my carrot houmous lasted nearly a week without spoiling, I thought I’d make more. Not quite such a volume of it this time though. Even I can get tired of houmous.

The joy of this is that you can adjust everything to the way you like it. Leave out the salt (though I’m not sure I would like it that way), add more tahini, more lemon, whatever you think makes it taste how you want it.

200g (pre-soaked weight) dried chick peas

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2-4 tbs tahini

juice of 1 – 2 lemons

1/2 - 1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic salt (you can use fresh if you want, but this makes it more work lunch friendly)

Cover the chick peas with water in a large pan. Leave overnight.

Soaking chickpeas

The next day, once you have drained the chickpeas, put them back into the pan and cover with cold water to at least double their depth. DO NOT ADD SALT.

Add the 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda into the water and stir.

Bring to the boil, then simmer for 1 hour. You might get some foam on the top, I just skimmed that off. It’s nothing to worry about. Top up with boiling water if the water looks to be too low.

Test one to see if it’s soft.

If they are tender, then drain them, saving the simmering liquid, and leave them to cool. I found that the cooking liquid started to gel, which took me by surprise.

Soaked and simmered chickpeas

Put the peas into a food processor. Add in 2 tbs tahini and the juice of half a lemon to start, plus 1/2 tsp garlic salt, and 1/2 tsp salt.

Give it a whizz, and add some of the cooking liquid if it’s too thick.

Taste, adjust the tahini/lemon/salt/garlic salt.

I ended up with 4 tbs tahini, the juice of 1 1/2 lemons and 1 tsp salt. I could probably have added more lemon.

Tub full

Served with extra virgin olive oil, and topped with an Essex olive from my own tree!

Served with an olive

It has a much creamier flavour than using tinned chick peas. I think that if I’d kept on blending and added more tahini, it would have gone to an even more silky paste, but I like it with a little bit of bite.

It might last until Monday. If I run out of breadsticks. (It should keep in the fridge for 5-7 days.)

13/02/2015

Roasted Carrot and Sesame Houmous

I found myself with yet another glut of carrots. That always seems to happen, and then they go from firm things to rubbery and damp almost overnight. I know that I have said before that I think carrots are the pear of the vegetable world.

So. This glut. What to do with them. I cooked some cut into rounds, simmered until just cooked, then glazed with brown sugar and cinnamon.

I still had loads.

Of course. Houmous! Roasting the carrots is actually a very nice way of using up veggies that are past their best. It brings out the sweetness that may have faded while they were being ignored at the bottom of the fridge.

Here we go.

I made a version of this a couple of years ago, and wanted to tweak it, plus I like playing with my new food processor and had just read the Hummus Brothers cookbook. This makes about 3 cups of houmous.

1 pound carrots, chopped into 1-inch chunks

2 tbs sesame seeds

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided (I used orange flavoured, but any olive oil will do.)

1 400g tin cooked chickpeas, drained but liquid reserved

1/4 cup tahini

Juice of half a lemon

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 tsp garlic salt (I didn’t have any fresh in)

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Coat the carrots with 2 tbs of the olive oil, and toss with sesame seeds.

Roast in a hot oven (170C fan) for a good half hour, 45 minutes, until soft.

When cooled, place into the bowl of a food processor.

Add everything else, and blitz.

Taste, then adjust all the seasonings and flavours. Mine needed more salt, and more lemon, as the carrots were very sweet. And I added more tahini because I love it. Adjust it to how you like it. It’s your dinner.

Perfect for lunch with some crackers. It should keep in the fridge for about 5 –7 days. 

Peeled carrots

Carrots with orange oil and sesame

Carrots with tahini, chick peas and sea salt

Finished dish

03/02/2015

Fig Molasses & Orange Madeleines

It’s Thane Prince’s Cookbook Club this week, and the theme is Paris. I’ve only ever been to Paris once, and even then it was only the outskirts, and only for an overnight stay, so I didn’t get to explore the food shops. We were on our way to Chalon-sur-SaĆ“ne, and had a long drive ahead of us, so we just didn’t have time.

If we had had the time, I’d have been sure to hunt down some Madeleines. I love these little sponge cakes and, truth be told, I am death to a bag of the Bon Maman ones.

I wanted to make some to take to Cookbook Club, so set about baking.

The plain vanilla ones were first and then, inspired mainly by London Bakes post here, some Fig and Orange ones.

Nice and easy recipe here, which I used just with lemon zest. They are nice, but need more vanilla I think.

The next lot up were the fig ones. I wanted to use up a jar of Fig Molasses that I’d bought from the Turkish Deli in Borough Market. I used it for making a green bean, fig and almond salad from my friend Sabrina Ghayour’s Persiana, and I had quite a lot left.

I added grated orange rind too, because fig and orange goes very well together, and then used wholewheat flour, to make them slightly more toothsome. For once, I didn’t add cinnamon, the fig molasses needed to shine through a bit.

The smell as they were baking felt like Christmas had invaded my house again. Trudged its way through the snow, and climbed in through the window.

I can highly recommend these! (I’ve put them in a box now, so I don’t eat them all.)

3 medium to large eggs

2/3 cup sugar OR 2/3 cup fig molasses plus 1 tbs golden caster sugar)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tsp orange flower water

1 cup flour (I used stone ground wholemeal)

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

2 teaspoons grated orange zest 

1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled

Beat the sugar/molasses together with the eggs until it’s well mixed and slightly creamy. This takes around 3-5 minutes. (It does separate a bit, just whisk it back in.)

Whisk in the flour, bicarb, extracts and then whisk in the melted butter.

Leave to stand for an hour.

Heat the oven to 400° F /200° C.

I sprayed my moulds with baking spray, but you can butter and flour them if you prefer. I had one metal tin, and one silicone, so I could alternate them for faster baking.

Fill each little mould 2/3 full. I used a teaspoon, as my mix was quite thick. You can pipe it if you want, but I couldn’t be bothered, if I’m honest!

I baked each set for 10 minutes, and made sure I set a timer. They came free of the moulds very nicely indeed. I think next time I will add a bit more sugar, and use half white half wholemeal flour.

Fig and Orange Madeleines