Top 5 Favorite Kitchen Tools

Here are the top 5 kitchen tools I love, use and recommend.

This survey comes from my observations of my behavior. Not from a survey company or Family Feud.

[Insert drum roll here]

KitchenAid Mixer

My green workhorse; nearly 20 years old

5 K Bowl lift model-it is old but works like a charm.

Mine is British Racing Green. I also have an Artisan model, 5K, in Copper.

I don’t like the copper as much as the green ‘bowl lift’ model. The copper is prettier than it is useful. Although I have run it through its paces, the heavy-duty mixer just out performs the Artisan model. In my opinion, the tilt head on the Artisan is problematic due to the attachment pin that holds the head of the mixer to the machine stand. When kneading bread or whipping meringue, the pin wiggles loose. If that were to happen, the entire head can fall off the stand. Oops.

Unfortunately, the really fun colors are all Artisan models (tilt-head). Bowl lift models also have some fun colors, just not as trendy. I would like a pink one to use when I shoot my TV shows.

The pin that works loose on the Artisan is the main reason I prefer the bowl lift model. Another reason is the green machine was a gift to myself when I graduated culinary school. It has been like a sous chef to me throughout my career. I love that working monster!  We used the green mixer in my restaurant, and in my home for almost 20 years now.

This machine works wonders.

By the way, if purchasing, look for ‘gift with purchase’ offers. There are a lot of attachments you can buy to do all kinds of things.

Look for the:

  • Grinder/ shredder
  • Sausage stuffer
  • Ice Cream Maker (uh huh!)
  • Pasta Roller
  • by now a baby food maker too.

If you watch out for sales, you can get some great bargains on the attachments. Some require a mail in form so always save your UPC symbols (with the name of the product) and receipts.

Stainless All Clad Cookware

 Quality cookware lasts a lifetime. With less scorching and less burning, quality cookware let’s you cook better. It is a fact.

The most used pots and pans at home are a 10″ saute pan and various sauce pots.

Invest in high quality cookware, even if it is one pot at a time.

My all time favorite vote goes to the all stainless line from All Clad.

Forget the black line they make, while good, the black turns chalky white if you put them in a high temp dishwasher.

Waiting for polishing

Pots and pans should be washed by hand anyway, but it would be nice to have the pot come out of the dishwasher looking nice and new rather than having lost all the color.

 Once you invest in your pots and pans,  take care of them properly.

Unless you really like to polish stuff, do not buy copper pots. Pretty but not practical. Even pretty pots will need a polish every now and then.

I scrub my stainless pots and pans with Bon Ami or Bar Keepers Friend each time I use them. It keeps them looking like new.

Mircoplane Graters

Microplane Graters

Buy several with different blade styles. Make sure you get and use the covers so you don’t  grate your fingers while rummaging through a drawer.

Check out the entire line and choose your favorite. There are several styles. Buy one of each. Give them as gifts – each will cost less than $20.00.

Use them for grating chocolate, cheese, zesting citrus fruits, nutmeg, spices, vegetables, garlic, shallots – as you can see the various blades provide many different options-from fine to ribbons. Very nice.

Good Sharp Knives

Kitchen Knives

I like different brands of knives for different tasks. Buy a good 10″ chef knife, a couple of paring knives (don’t spend over $15.00 for a paring knife, it is not necessary)and a stiff boning knife, not a flexible one.

While I own what seems like hundreds of knives, these are the ones I use the most.

Buy what fits your hand best. “Try” them out at cutlery retailers, ask the sales rep about the make, fit, shape, balance etc. Research before you buy as you will discover, or already know, knives are expensive.

One tip for buying a good knife: Buy high carbon/stainless steel blades.

Here is the run down on blade materials:

  • High carbon on its own will rust and turn black when cutting an onion
    • On the pro side, it is very easy to sharpen and hone and it holds an edge.
  • Stainless on its own, is sharp initially and will stay sharp for a while.

When it gets older, the blade dulls and because the stainless steel is so hard; it is impossible to sharpen it.

    • Don’t buy used stainless steel knives as they are probably dull.
  • High Carbon/Stainless steel blade combine the pros of each – easy to sharpen and holds an edge well. It does not discolor when cutting onions.

I will do another post about buying and choosing knives soon.

You do not have to buy an entire set!

Start with one you can afford and build. You may find you prefer different brands for different styles of knives and different tasks. For instance, I prefer Global for the chef’s knife but prefer a Henckels

Photograph of a Henckels three-star boning kni...

Image via Wikipedia Henckels Boning knife

boning knife and always buy and use Victornox paring knives. The stainless/carbon chef knife in the photo, next to the Global, is Sabatier- this knife is fun, well-balanced and  forged from a single piece of steel.

It is a true pleasure to work with a really good knife. It is one of my favorite things.

Learn basic knife skills and learn how to keep your knife sharp. You should have them professionally sharpened once a year; hone them nearly every time you pick up the knife.

Honing does not actually sharpen the knife but re-aligns the edge so the edge stays sharp and centered. You should learn how to do this safely at your knife skills class.

You do know never catch a falling knife, right?

You can replace a $300 dollar knife but you cannot re-grow fingers. Jump out-of-the-way and be grateful that it gets you in the wallet.

Bowl or Bench Scrapers and Silicone Spatulas

Have you ever been cooking something, like scrambled eggs, and notice the end of your spatula has gone down to a nub? Hum.

Ever wonder what happened to it?

Well, it has melted into the food you have been cooking. Maybe it did not melt all at once, but over time it did. Yum, what a thought.

Various Scrapers

But no more! Now you can choose silicone spatulas and get rid of non-heat resistant spatulas once and for all.

These are inexpensive and are very handy. Use the scrapers to pick up cut items from your cutting board, scrape up dough or

Spatulas and Scrapers

flour, scrape a bowl clean. Keep your eyes out for them, pick one or two up when you see them.

The silicone spatulas are heat-resistant. Silicone spatulas are the only ones allowed in my kitchens. No more melted spatulas. You can use silicone spatulas both on and off the heat.

Silicone spatula’s come in great colors, some with designs in them and that also makes them quite fun.

Bowl scrapers have a never-ending list of things they are useful for. Pick some up and see how many times you reach for them.

There you have it; my top 5 kitchen things. Can I add tongs too?

What are yours?

Novice Blog Photography

I am well aware of being a total novice to photography.

Writing this blog has me realizing that unless I want to:

  • pay way too much money for photos or
  • see the images I use on other blogs or
  • have all images captioned “courtesy of Wikipedia”

then I had better learn something about how to take a picture.

There are many blogs out there with wonderful photos that are original and inspiring. Some bloggers are kind enough to share some of their processes for taking photos.

Here is my spin on photos for blogs:

  • There are many bloggers out there who would like to or already use photos to help tell their story.
  • Not everyone is going to go buy photo equipment so they can take a decent blog picture.
  • Just getting in close does not mean it is a good picture.
  • Good lighting helps.
  • Understand depth of field and focus as they relate to the story you want to tell.
  • You need to practice and be able to listen to feedback.

You can make an inexpensive photo studio with wrapping paper, bamboo garden stakes, straight pins and a science fair style tri-fold cardboard display and a folding table. Add a light and a reflector and you’ve got it.

I use my i-phone 4 as my camera and an older Nikon Cool Pix 4300. Until I really can justify spending $900+ on other camera equipment, this will do. Especially for a young blog.

Keep in mind, low light will produce grainy pictures. Sometime you want the grainy effect, sometimes you do not.

You need to learn how to use the light available to you.

Look at the difference between an overhead accent light on the counter and the photography light in the photos below.

  • Photo 1-low overhead accent lights; grainy picture, yellowish color
  • Photo 2-1 Lowell Ego Digital Imaging Light; silver paper backdrop
    lighting needs adjusting but you can see a clearer image, truer color
  • Photo 3- Overhead accent lights on high, no back lighting results in black background, true color

Roses with low overhead accent lights

Roses with photo light

Roses with bright overhead light

Notice how in the low light, photo 1, the roses are grainy.

Pay attention to what is in the background. Notice the difference between pictures 1 and 3.

In 3, no background light, the overhead accent lights have been turned up to high.You get the idea these roses are actually white.

The center photo shows the same roses highlighted by the photo light. I purchased a Lowell Ego Digital imaging Light and now realize 2 lights would be very handy.

You need to play with the set up and your camera angles to work out ‘hot spots’ and shadows. All of these shots need serious lighting work. The point here is to notice the difference in the kind of light you shoot and use it as a tool and skill.

Now all you photo professionals out there, give me a break. I know these are not professional quality and I take them with my i-phone 4. This bit of information is for those wanting to take a picture for their blogs without huge expense. So bear with me. I am just starting to learn.

Here is the set up:

Set up the tri-fold on the dining room table or a 6 ft fold out table (so it can be left up for a few days).

Create the “infinity” background by draping paper across the back and curving it on the table so there is no angle where the paper meets the table, just a nice soft curve. I went to the craft store and found great colors of wrapping paper in the wedding section: silver, Kraft brown, oatmeal, and white. You can use what colors you want, I want the backgrounds to be somewhat neutral.

Insert a bamboo garden stake (or a dowel)  through the wrapping paper tube, place it on top of the tri-fold and pull it down to drape. Place straight pins on either side of the dowel to hold it in place.

You can make the reflector of white corrugated plastic or foam core. If you don’t have a photo light, use as much natural light as you possibly can.

Hold dowels in place with straight pins

Table top set up with tri-fold and paper rolls

The shooting area

Apples

Notice the background, how the angle curves, everything clean. No smudges, dust or particles. While the apples are not a perfect shot, you can see how easy it is to set up your own work area and play.

You will certainly be able to improve the pictures for your blogs and tell your stories better.

I hope this home-grown approach to taking blog photos helps. I find it fun to play with photography. Who knows, someday the photos will justify that camera expense.

In the meantime, here is a book  to read for more professional advice. Helene Dujardin has written Plate to Pixel Digital Food Photography & Styling ISBN 978-0-470-93213-1. She has fantastic explanations of how photography works. Even with my i-phone 4 I am able to use some of the information. By the way,  the focus of Helene’s book is food photography.

Another book on food photography is “Food Styling The Art of Preparing Food for the Camera” by Delores Custer ISBN 978-0-470-08019-1.

Roses

Have fun, share your photography journey. This is all one big learning curve!

Thanks for reading this post on novice blog photography.

Does anyone have a used D SLR camera for sale? Nikon, Sony or Canon?

Hunger in America: How to Help – ABC News

Members of the United States Navy serve the ho...

Hunger in America: How to Help – ABC News.

Do you realize that 1 in 6 Americans is hungry?

If you have food on your table and in your refrigerator consider yourself lucky.

This holiday season I would like to ask that we all do something within our

communities to help those who are hungry, adults and children. Hunger knows no race or age. Hunger is something we CAN do something about.

What can you do?

  • Locate your local food bank- volunteer and contribute
  • Sponsor a food drive at your work. Collect non perishable foods for donation.
  • To be successful gathering food, it helps to offer suggestions as to what you want : canned vegetables, canned soup, dried soup mixes so you don’t end up with all one kind of item.
  • If you know of a family who could benefit from food donation, make a donation basket or box and leave it anonymously.
  • Make a whole bunch of cookies or bread and take it to a Ronald McDonald house or nursing home. Cookies and bread are feel good food and these people deserve to feel better.
  • Volunteer at a soup kitchen or place that is serving holiday meals to the hungry and homeless.
  • Deliver goodie boxes or baskets to women and children shelters.
  • Get involved with your church groups outreach programs.
  • Start your own community outreach-perhaps something that extends beyond the holidays. Hunger is year round.

The most important thing is to DO SOMETHING!

Please read the link from ABC News regarding Hunger in America. In the link there are ways to donate time, talent, money so we can all do something about hunger.

Please do something, anything at all.

Please take a look at this link from ABC News regarding Hunger in America here to help you identify ways you can make a difference.

No Knead Bread

As far as bread making goes this if fast, tasty, chewy bread with a crispy crust. This method creates a wonderful artisan loaf.

Best of all, this no-knead method does not require the use of a cast iron dutch oven or 18 hours of proofing time!

Use this tool or a razor blade to slash the dough

For best results it is highly recommended you have a pizza stone  for baking your bread on and a pizza peel for getting the bread in and out of the oven. Also, you will need a broiler pan (something sturdy that won’t warp in high heat) for adding water to create the steam that makes the crust crispy and a razor blade or bakers peel for slashing the dough. You can find both the pizza stone and the peel for less than $20.00 total, even less if you are a clever shopper. (Hint: check out Target.)

Are you ready? Grab the flour and let’s get cooking!

No Knead Bread

      • 3 cups water 100°F
      • 1 tablespoon yeast
      • 1/2 cup sour dough starter (or 1 additional tablespoon of yeast for a total of 2  tablespoons)
      • 4 1/2 cups King Arthur AP or bread flour (use any brand you like)
      • 2 cups whole wheat flour
      • 2 tablespoons non-iodized salt (kosher, sea, etc)

Mix the starter and yeast with the water. Allow this to sit and bubble while you measure the remaining ingredients.

Measure the flours and salt into a large bowl.

Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast, starter and water mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon to mix it all together.

Cover the bowl with an oiled piece of plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise for the next two hours. If your home is chilly, use the oven on a proof setting or set at 100°F. A gas oven with a pilot light is often enough warmth to proof the bread.

Risen Dough

The dough should double in size. Depending on how warm your proofing area is, this may take longer or shorter time than 2 hours.

Now here is where it gets tricky.

The dough is very wet and sticky. You do not want to handle it very much.

Heavily flour your working station and your hands.

Remove 1/2 of the dough from the proofing bowl and place on the flour.

Flour the work station

Shaped Boule

Shaped Loaf

Cover any sticky spots with flour so the surface feels smooth and not sticky. Using a well floured rolling-pin, work the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.

Fold the left edge over 2/3′s of the bread, fold the right edge over the folded left side. You should have three layers. Turn the bread 1/4 turn, roll and repeat 4 times.

Lastly, roll into a rectangle. Take the edge closest to you and begin rolling the dough into a cylinder.

Peel with a good layer of cornmeal

Place a good layer of corn meal on the surface of the pizza peel; place the loaf on the peel, near the edge so the dough does not have a long way to slide when placing into the oven.

Shape and cover with towel to rise

Cover with a clean towel and allow to rise for about an hour.

In the meantime, while the oven is cold, place the pizza stone on the middle rack of the oven. Place the broiler pan on the bottom shelf and remove the top shelf. You want the bread to have plenty of room to rise!

Pre-heat the oven to 450°F. The oven needs to heat for 30 minutes at 450°F before baking. This ensures the temp is good and hot which is necessary for great ‘oven spring’.

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in something it is easy to pour,  like a kettle.

Once the oven has heated for 30 minutes and the dough has been rising for an hour, and the water is boiling, it is time to bake the bread.

Now, you are going to look at it and say it is floppy and loose and not going to work. Trust me, just go through the process, be patient!

You have to work quickly here. Decide what you are going to do and do it!

Take the peel with the bread on it; remove the towel. Using a razor blade or bakers peel, make 3-4 deep slashes across the top of the bread. This prevents the bread from breaking while it expands in the oven.

Open the oven door and with a quick firm motion slide the bread to the baking stone from the peel. A quick forward back movement is all it takes as long as you have enough corn meal on the peel.

Hint: Once the bread hits the stone, don’t move it.

Quickly close the door.

Put oven mitts on your hands to prevent steam burns. Take the kettle of boiling water; open the oven door, pull the broiler pan out enough to easily pour the water into the pan. CAREFUL, it steams! Fill the bottom of the broiler pan by 1/2 inch. Quickly close the oven door so as not to let all the steam escape.

The steam is what creates the crispy crust. Commercial bread ovens have “with steam” options, home ovens do not.

There are several theories as to how to add steam in the home kitchen.

One will tell you to spray the bread with water while it is cooking.

Folks, if you spray cold or warm water on a 450°F light bulb in the oven, it will burst.
Same with your baking stone: CRACK! So this is not a good method.

Another is to brush the loaves with water just before putting them into the oven.

This dough is already wet. Additional moisture would hinder a smooth slide from the peel to the stone.
Besides the dough is so tender that brushing it at all would collapse whatever has risen.
Slashing is all it can take.

The broiler pan method is most useful.

It does not endanger the stone or bulb.
Just protect yourself from a nasty steam burn.

After you have added the water and started to create the steam, close the door quickly then set the timer for 15 minutes.

Make sure you have more boiling water at the 15 minute mark; open the door and add more water for more steam.

Note the color and the rise on the bread! The amount the bread rises once it hits the heat is referred to as “oven spring” and this bread formula has great oven spring. Yay!

In about 10 more minutes, remove the bread from the oven and take its temperature.  When the bread reaches 190°F the bread is done. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack until it is cool.

Slice and enjoy!

Loaves and Boules No Knead Bread

No Knead Loaf

Related articles

Crown Roast of Pork or Lamb

Instead of doing a turkey this year, why not try your hand at creating a beautiful crown roast or either pork or lamb?

Having your butcher do it is costly but you can do it yourself and really get all the “Oohs and Ahhs!” from everyone who comes to your table.

The procedure is simple; you can watch how it is done in the Charlotte Cooks episode of “Holiday Meals”.

Grab your bone in pork loin and cook along with the video.

Enjoy!

For a pork crown roast, ask your butcher for a “Frenched” bone in pork loin. You may need to order it so check before you just expect the cut of meat to be in the butchers window. This is a big piece of meat so you will only need 1.

For the lamb, you will need to purchase 2 lamb racks for each crown roast. When buying lamb, keep in mind that the gamier tastes typically come from New Zealand and Australian while American lamb has a milder taste.

I love lamb no matter where it comes from.

When serving lamb, please leave the mint jelly alone! There is a nice condiment you can make with mint that is much nicer.

Mint Sauce

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 ounces rice wine vinegar unseasoned
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

Place the sugar in the bottom of a saucepan and melt over medium heat. Do not stir while the sugar is melting, just let it melt.

The sugar will melt into a warm caramel. When it is golden brown, carefully pour in all of the vinegar at once.

Be careful as this will spit and spatter!

The sugar will sieze but as the vinegar warms and comes to a boil, the sugar will re-melt.

Add the chopped mint and salt and simmer for 5 minutes.

Spoon over your lamb as desired. This can be served warm or cold.

Store the sauce in the refrigerator, if there is any left.

In culinary terms what you have just made is a “mint gastrique“.

The flavor of the sauce is complex and fresh thanks to the gastrique.

A gastrique is part of an arsenal of skills to use in great sauce making.

This is worth learning.

I hope you all try your hand at a crown roast of pork or lamb sometime this season.

It will surely impress all your family and friends!

Please let me know if you have questions.

You can find all recipes from Charlotte Cooks TV shows by following the highlighted link.

Hoop Cheese

Red Wax Hoop Cheese

Hoop Cheese deep south favorite!

This cheese is a fresh farmers cheese. The curds are pressed into a mold (the hoop) to release moisture. Because the cheese has a high moisture content, it spoils quickly. Since the cheese was easy to make, in days gone by, the local grocer typically made the cheese in the back and cut wedges to sell to eagerly awaiting customers.

When the cheese is aged to develop some of its mild flavor, it is coated in either red or black wax.

The black wax is aged longer and is somewhat sharper than the red wax hoop cheese.

Once the waxed wheel had been cut, the cheese needed to be sold and consumed in a couple of weeks.

Here is an easy recipe for using hoop cheese with a classic American combination of apples and cheddar.

Apple Cheese Gratin

1 cup AP flour

1 cup sugar

1 sleeve of Ritz Crackers (33 crackers), crushed

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded hoop cheese, black or red rind

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup melted butter

6-9 granny smith apples, peeled and sliced

1 deep 2-quart casserole dish, buttered

(To butter a casserole dish, smear soft butter all over the inside, paying close attention to corners.)

Combine all the ingredients except the apples in a bowl. Add melted butter to bring the mixture to a streusel topping consistency. You may need more or less than 1/2 cup. Adjust accordingly.

Peel and slice the apples. Begin by layering the sliced apples in the buttered casserole dish. Alternating  layers with apples, then cheese mixture all the way to the top with the final topping being the cheese mixture.

Pat it all down into the pan.

Place the casserole on a baking sheet and place into a 350° F oven for 30-40 minutes. The apple cheese gratin is done when the topping is golden and the casserole is bubbling.

Remove from oven and cool before serving.

Just in case you are in the mood for a savory hoop cheese dish, here is one for a classic southern yellow squash casserole.

Classic Southern Yellow Squash Casserole

4 cups thickly sliced yellow squash

1 medium onion, sliced thin

1 tbsp olive oil

1 clove minced garlic

2/3 cup milk

2 eggs, beaten

33 Ritz crackers, crushed, not crumbled

1 pound shredded hoop cheese

6 ounces melted butter

Pre-heat oven to 350°F

Slice the squash and onions. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the oil. Add the onions and squash and saute 3-4 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften and the onions become translucent. Add the garlic and remove the pan from the heat.

In a separate bowl, mix the milk with the beaten eggs.

In another separate bowl, crush the crackers

In another separate bowl, have the cheese

Melt the butter in the microwave, set aside.

To assemble the casserole:

Butter the casserole dish, place a layer of squash and onion mixture on the bottom.

Cover the squash and onion layer with a layer of cheese and then crackers. Repeat layering to the top of the dish.

Before adding the top layers of cheese then crackers, pour the milk and egg mixture over the casserole, shaking gently to allow the mixture to penetrate the casserole.

Add the final cheese layer, top with the final cracker layer.

Pour melted butter over the top.

Place the casserole on a sheet pan and put it into an oven pre-heated to 350°F. Bake for 40 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the dish is bubbly. Remove and cool slightly before serving.

This squash casserole is very popular at holiday time and for pot luck dinners. Best of all, it can be made a day ahead of time.

Hoop cheese makes it all so creamy.

Making hoop cheese at home is actually simple as long as you have the right tools:

  • a cheese press
  • muslin cheese cloth
  • cheese wax
  • something to melt the cheese wax in like a stainless bowl or pot. (Please realize this container will only be able to be used for melting wax in the future so choose something you won’t miss using).

NOTE: Using cheese wax requires you to understand and practice safety procedures. No kids or pets or distractions around please. Wax fires are very dangerous. Read all precautions!

About the cheese press: Go to New England Cheese Making Supply and take a look at all they have to offer. You will find everything, including videos, for learning all about making lots of different kind of cheese.

If you know someone who is clever or resourceful, they may be able to make a cheese press for you. If not, have no fear, you can still make cheese. Just buy your press and supplies from New England Cheese Making Supply.

To make hoop cheese:

  • First make a fresh batch of homemade cottage cheese. Do not add cream or salt
  • Separate the curds from the whey and leave the curds plain
  • Dampen a piece of muslin cheesecloth and line the press
  • Then place the curds into the press and add pressure
  • Allow the curds to press for 4-6 hours or for a dryer cheese, overnight

Now you have hoop cheese. It can be eaten right away but it will not have a lot of flavor right away. Aging requires the cheese to be coated in wax and aged in the refrigerator. The color added comes from using annatto.

To make hoop cheese at home, consult New England Cheese Making Supply for instructions and supplies.

If you have a farmers market nearby, someone would have hoop cheese for sale. If you don’t see any, ask for it. If they don’t have any, I’m sure they can point you to someone who does.

Local grocers in the south often carry hoop cheese too. Just ask your grocer. Being located in the south, I am not sure of the availability on other areas.

Can you find Hoop Cheese in your area? Please share your recipes!

Right now I’m heading to the kitchen to fix a snack of Trisket Crackers, a slice of hoop cheese topped with a bread and butter pickle. . . one of my favorite snacks!

Hummus

The Hummus Show

Recipes

Basic Hummus
Ingredients:

  • 1 16 oz. can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans, rinsed
  • 3-5 tablespoons lemon juice (depending on your taste)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Up to ¼ cup water if mixture seems to be dry while processing
  • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Bushes brand is the best

Note:

Be sure to adjust salt and pepper after adding your mix-in flavors.
Sometimes you will need to adjust your salt and pepper, sometimes you won’t.
Always give it a taste to be sure.

Preparation:
Drain chickpeas and rinse.
Combine remaining ingredients in blender or food processor.
Blend for 3-5 minutes on low until thoroughly mixed and smooth.
Add 1/4 cup water as needed while processing.
Place in serving bowl, and create a shallow well in the center of the hummus.
Add a small amount (1-2 tablespoons) of olive oil in the well. Garnish with parsley (optional).
Serve immediately with fresh, warm or toasted pita bread, or cover and refrigerate.
For a spicier hummus, add a sliced red chili or a dash of cayenne pepper.

Storing Hummus
Hummus can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and can be kept in the freezer for up to one month. Add a little olive oil if it appears to be too dry

Mix-Ins and Flavor Enhancements

Using your imagination, you can create an amazing array of flavored hummus. All you need to do is figure your flavor profile and mix in your ingredients.

For one entire recipe of Basic Hummus, use ¼ to ½ cup of any of the following suggestions.

Favorite and classic combinations are:

  • Scallions, chopped fine
    • Use garlic flowers, chives and chive flowers for more flavor power.
    • Roasted red peppers
      • Either fresh roasted from your grill or oven, or from a jar; simple puree and mix in. You can leave some in small dice for accents. Enhance the color with a sprinkling of chives or parsley.
      • Roasted Garlic
        • Roast your garlic using your favorite method. Cool the garlic and squeeze the paste from the cloves, mash with a fork until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Mix into a basic hummus recipe and stir to combine.
        • Guacamole
          • Add 3 cups fresh cilantro to the basic processing, also add 1 clove fresh garlic, and 1 ripe avocado, ½ sweet onion, process until smooth
          • Chili lime
            • Fold in Chili powder, lime zest and lime juice. Start with 1 tsp. chili powder and adjust to your taste for level of heat.
            • Lemon Parsley
              • 2 cups Italian parsley leaves, zest and juice from 1 lemon, process with basic hummus until smooth
              • Pesto with Sun Dried Tomato
                • Fold in your favorite pesto and add some small diced sun dried tomatoes.

Use your imagination to create your own favorites.

Basic Hummus without Tahini

Ingredients:

  • 1  16 oz. can garbanzo beans/chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Up to ¼ cup water if necessary
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:
In a food processor, blend all ingredients together until smooth and creamy.

Serve immediately with pita bread, pita chips, or veggies.

Store the hummus in an airtight container for up to three days.

Pita Chips

  • 1 package pita bread, can be old but not moldy
  • Olive oil to brush the bread
  • Salt and pepper

Cut the pita breads into small bite sized wedges.

Lay the wedges flat on a sheet pan and brush with olive oil.
Season the wedges with salt and pepper.

Place a piece of parchment on top of the cut pita wedges and set another sheet pan right on top so the pita is between two sheet pans.

Place into a 400°F oven for about 10 minutes.

You will need to peek at the pitas to ensure they are not getting too brown. If the pita is not golden and crisp after 10 minutes, remove the top sheet pan and parchment.
If you want the bread wedges to be more golden, place them back in the oven until they are at the desired color.

Caution, don’t walk away as they will burn on you very quickly. Keep a close eye on them to prevent burning.

Enjoy making Hummus! Let me know what kind of “Mix-in’s” become your favorites.