Posts Tagged ‘garlic’

Who would have ever thought some simple mashed up beans could taste soooo good?  Hummus is my friend.  My buddy.  We met years ago in Chicago, at Reza’s, the best Persian restaurant in town.  God, I (sigh) miss that place.  When I moved to San Francisco, there was really nothing that compared to Reza’s – not even close.  So I started buying those little plastic tubs of hummus from the supermarket whenever I had a hankering for it, which basically meant I was buying a whole lot of hummus.  But something never felt quite right.  I missed my old buddy.

One day, I finally decided to make my own and discovered what a fool I had been.  Not only could I whip up a batch of hummus in 2.5 minutes flat, but I realized I’d spent a small fortune on those little tubs.  For the cost of a single tub, I could produce at least 5 humongous – more delicious – batches in the comfort of my own home.  Now, I normally buy beans dried, and in bulk, but for some reason, canned chickpeas work fabulously for hummus.


Speaking of chickpeas, did you know ground roasted chickpeas are sometimes brewed instead of coffee in parts of Germany?  I can’t decide if I find that fascinating or disgusting.  I digress.  In addition to the smokiness of the cumin, I add a tiny bit of tumeric to my hummus for an extra kick.  I also happen to love the color.  And like most things involving garlic and lemon – the more garlicky and lemony, the better for me.  I must say, though, the best part about this recipe is that it doesn’t require you to buy a $10 jar of tahini – a good thing when you’re trying to recoup years of wasted cash spent on mediocre hummus.  My old buddy is back – and here to stay.


Heavenly Hummus
Tweaked from The Best Recipes in the World by Mark Bittman

If you don’t happen to have my penchant for garlic and lemon, start off with 1 clove and 1/2 of a lemon before you commit to the dark side.


  • 1 cup drained organic canned chickpeas, liquid reserved
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus oil for drizzling
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp ground tumeric
  • Juice of 1 lemon, plus more as needed
  • Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish
  • Paprika for sprinkling and garnish


Put everything except the parsley in a food processor and begin to process; add the 2-3 tbsp chickpea liquid (or more as needed) to allow the machine to produce a smooth puree.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.  Serve, drizzled with the olive oil and sprinkled with a bit of paprika and some parsley.


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Walnut Pesto

You know how it’s nearly impossible to ever have just one potato chip, or just one M&M? The term slippery slope must have been coined from this very dilemma. One turns awfully quick to two, three, and then whooops, that once full bag is suspiciously empty. At this point, I’m usually quietly looking around to see how swiftly and inconspicuously I can bury the evidence.

The other night this precise scenario took place, not with a bag of chips or M&M’s, but with a batch of homemade walnut pesto.  I had my first bite of walnut pesto at a local Island restaurant where its served alongside a heavenly antipasto plate.  Walnut pesto is the more laid back, country cousin of the traditional pesto. Walnuts are not as fancy (or pricey) as pine nuts, and they leave their own distinctive crunchy mark behind.

Being such a long time pesto fanatic, I am happy to report I may never have to buy another bag of pine nuts again. This walnut pesto is dangerously addictive and my new favorite.  Perfect in sandwiches or with pasta, though I love it best on its own – smeared on thin slivers of a toasted baguette.  Lethal stuff, I tell ya.  And it’s a little harder to bury the evidence when there’s an empty glass jar involved.


Kiss My Spatula’s version of the walnut pesto from the Four Swallows

Walnuts can be stored up to 6 months in a sealed air tight container in the refrigerator. They can go rancid very quickly when left in warm conditions.

Music Pairing: Selfish Jean, Travis


  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 4 tbsp freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
  • 1/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • big squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste


Pulse together basil and walnuts in a food processor (I used my mini one for this batch – easy clean up – but feel free to double the recipe if you’re in need of a bigger batch). Add garlic and olive oil. Pulse again. Add cheese, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Pulse until just blended. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula and pulse a few more times. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator. Add more olive oil before serving, if taken straight from the fridge.

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I love garlic. Disguised within such a small, unassuming nub sits medicinal and culinary benefits dating back 4000 years. No other herb has more folklore and scientific research attached to it than garlic. The Egyptians revered garlic so much that they used it as currency. In Ancient Greece, it was left out as offerings to the gods. Their military and Olympians ate garlic before battle and races to improve performance. The healing powers of this natural wonder drug range from preventing cancer, to boosting the immune system, to acting as a powerful aphrodisiac, to repelling vampires.

Growing up in a household with Chinese and Vietnamese heritage meant many meals involving garlic and it’s faithful sidekick, ginger. Not until I was an adult did I begin to understand that garlic could stand on its own. And in such a magnificent way! Forget the healing powers, when an entire head of garlic is slowly roasted, it transforms itself into such buttery, nutty sweet goodness that even ardent garlic naysayers will be converted. Perfect to spread on crostinis, stir into mashed potatoes, soups or pasta. Though, for me, the most simple and delicious way to serve this special treat is with a fresh baguette and your favorite French brie.


Whole Roasted Garlic
Tweaked from Simply Recipes and Wolfgang Puck

Roasted garlic will keep for up to three days, covered, in the refrigerator.

Music Pairing: Burn Out, Cinematic Orchestra, Everyday


  • 2 heads of garlic
  • olive oil


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Peel away the outer layers of the garlic bulb skin, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact. Using a sharp knife, cut off 1/4 to a 1/2 inch of the top of cloves, exposing the individual cloves.

Place the garlic heads in a small baking pan. Drizzle a couple teaspoons of olive oil over each head, using your fingers to make sure the garlic head is well coated. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the cloves are very tender but not overly brown. Test by carefully giving a bulb a gentle squeeze while protecting your hand with a folded kitchen towel or an oven glove.

Remove from oven and allow to cool. Scoop out each clove with a small knife or spoon. Serve with fresh crusty bread, your favorite French brie and good olives.


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