Monday, August 10, 2009

Three Pre-dinner Dips: Beige, Green and Black

North African Hummus
This is the best hummus in the world. I swear.

1 14 or 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup tahini paste, well stirred
¼ cup lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
2 teaspoon North African Spice Mix
2 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil and sumac, optional

1. Place the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, North African Spice Mix, garlic, and olive oil in a food processor and purée until smooth. You may need to add a bit of water to make it a good spreading consistency.
2. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Can make ahead and chill. Return to room temperature for eating.
3. Place in a low bowl. Make a shallow indentation in the middle of the hummus. Pour in a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with sumac. Serve with Za’tar Spiced Pita.

6-8 servings as a dip before dinner

North African Spice Mix
This spice mix is a pain to make. But once it is done you have the fixings for multiple hummus mixtures in almost no time flat.

1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground*
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground*
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1½ teaspoons ground fenugreek, toast and grind if you’re using chunky fenugreek
Note: You can leave it out if you can’t find it.
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon smoky sweet paprika or regular paprika
½ teaspoon smoky hot paprika or a pinch of cayenne

1. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well.
2. Store in a glass jar (like an old spice jar), tightly covered. Label the jar with the contents or you’ll forget what it is. Or I should say, I would forget what it was.

*Note: You can use the previously ground kind as well.

Adapted from Andy Husbands’ and Joe Yonan’s The Fearless Chef

Za’tar Spiced Pita

1 tablespoon za’tar
Note: This is available at most Middle Eastern or Persian food stores. Go to Zand’s on Solano in Albany, CA if you are in the Bay Area.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sumac or lemon zest
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

4 rounds of pita bread

1. Turn oven on broil with a rack set 4 to 6 inches from the top element.
2. Combine the purchased za’tar with the olive oil.
Make the za’tar: in a small bowl, combine the sesame seeds, sumac, cumin, thyme, marjoram or oregano, and salt.
3. Measure out 1 tablespoon. Add the olive oil and blend well. Place the remaining za’tar in a glass spice jar and mark the contents for the next time.
4. Cut each round into 6-8 pieces. Arrange the pitas on a baking sheet and spread the za’tar and oil mixture evenly over each. You may not need all of your homemade za’tar mixture.
5. Broil until deep golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes, watching carefully and rotating the pan half way through to brown evenly. It can turn from toasted to burnt in an instant.
6. Serve with the hummus.

Adapted from Andy Husbands' and Joe Yonan’s The Fearless Chef

Green Olive Tapenade 

2 cups pitted green olives
½ cup slivered almonds
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro
2 tablespoons parsley
1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil, or less
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Look the olives over to see if any still has its pit. Remove and proceed. Combine olives, almonds, garlic, cilantro, parsley, and lemon zest in a food processor.
2. Pulse to combine. Add the olive oil with motor running. Process until the mixture is smooth.
3. Add lemon juice and mix. Add some pepper. Taste for salt but probably you won’t need much.
4. Serve with bread, corn chips, crackers or sliced cucumbers.

Makes about 1½ cups, 4-6 as a dip before dinner
Adapted from The Cakebread Cellers Napa Valley Cookbook

Fig and Black Olive Tapenade

1 cup stemmed and quartered (about 6 ounces) dried Black Mission figs
1½ cups water
2 cups (1/2 pound) pitted Kalamata or Nicoise olives
Juice of 1 lemon
1½ tablespoons whole grain or smooth mustard
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon drained capers
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil or more if necessary
Salt and pepper

1. In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the figs and water. Set over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Partially cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until the figs are very tender, about 30 minutes. Cool slightly, drain, reserving 2 tablespoons of the fig cooking liquid.
2. Look the olives over to see if any still has its pit. Remove and proceed. In a food processor, combine the figs, olives, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, capers, rosemary, and reserved 2 tablespoons of fig-cooking liquid. Pulse to create a thick paste. With the motor running, gradually add the oil. Season generously with pepper and add salt to taste, remembering the various salty ingredients.
Note: There is occasionally a pit in the pitted olives. Without having to check each olive before chucking it into the processor, pulse a couple of times at the beginning. You will hear the rattle of the pit. Stop immediately and retrieve it. Pulse another couple of times to make certain you have them all. Then full speed ahead.
3. Transfer to a storage container, cover, and refrigerate at least 24 hours to develop the flavors. But less time in the fridge is OK too.
4. Bring the tapenade to room temperature before serving. Serve with French bread, crackers, or pita chips.

Makes about 2½-3 cups, 8-10 as a dip before dinner
Adapted from Carrie Brown’s The Jimtown Store Cookbook

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I made the hummus and pita with za'tar for a house party I hosted last night. You are so right about the hummus!!! Everyone loved it.
I ground the spices for the No. African spice mix in my coffee grinder, which made it very simple.
I will definitely make this again. (I also served a cucumber yogurt dip, feta cheese, olives, raw veggies, sliced melon, and baklava)
Barbra Wiener