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Old 05-12-2012, 05:44 PM
Johnny Angel Johnny Angel is offline
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Hummus, The Making Of

I have posted in other threads, where I benefited from some Doper commentary, but I thought I'd solicit some more input on this subject, because I'm now making hummus at least twice a week these days.

When I cook, I'm attracted to principles rather than recipes. Recipes are something you build up from techniques. My recipe is based on gleaning the common underlying principles from multiple recipes I read online. In a discussion of technique it seems practical to give a recipe and then discuss the role of each ingredient.

1 Can garbanzo beans, drained (usually about 454 g listed)
70 g garbanzo beans brine
60 g Tahini
30 ml Lemon Juice
5 g salt
2 ml red pepper
10 ml Chipotle Hot Sauce
40 g Garlic (roasted)
5 g Garlic (raw)
60 ml Olive Oil

Garbanzo Beans: generally these come in 15 oz cans. The weight given includes the weight of the water they're suspended in. But generally, one can per recipe. You could skin these. The core slips out of the skin with some pinching, but I've tried it a few times, and I don't think it's worth the extra trouble. Hell, the bean itself is an enjoyable and you might enjoy combining it with whatever other fats and spices you like.

Garbanzo Beans Brine: The water in the can of garbanzo beans is not that briney, but otherwise it's a useful name for it. I preserve it to fill out the volume and mass of the final dip. Is it really better than the same volume of water? Only on the principle that something with some taste is better than no taste. Or, as Alton Brown puts it, "Does it bring any flavor to the party?" Well, sort of. So, why not?

Tahini: It's ground sesame seed. It's a lot like peanut butter, but more thinner, more bitter, and more trouble to work with because of a tendency for the heavier parts to float back to the bottom of the container. I use the most available brand Joya, and when I first open it I just dump and scrape it into a bowl and work it with a hand mixer into relative smoothness and scoop it back into the can. Subsequently, I always scrap the bottom and mix before using. It's a flavor that adds a nutty but bitter counter to your other flavors.

Lemon Juice: The exact role of this ingredient is probably important. I haven't tried leaving it out. I've only accidentally added to much, which I found highlighted its value -- I thought, wow, this would have been great in slightly less concentration. Too much called attention to what just right contributed.

Salt - I use Kosher Salt, as I generally do for cooking. I don't have any grand notion that it's better than iodized salt, but I've come to think of Iodized Salt as something for adjustment while eating rather for cooking. Possibly the distinction is an artifact of culture than of whatever its taste would be independent of culture.

Red Pepper - People sprinkle this on pizza, which I've never noticed making a huge difference myself. The Sabra brand of Hummus has Red Pepper in every recipe, even if that isn't the name of the flavor. Until I started working with Hummus, I couldn't have told you what part of the flavor was Red Pepper. Now I see it as a kind of dial for spiciness. It's hard to measure its impact by gram, but a 5 ml spoon will give a pretty good kick, and 10 ml is good for your friends who like it spicey.

Chipotle Hot Sauce - Now that I understand the role red pepper plays, I'm not sure I even need this, but generally I add Tobasco brand Chipotle sauce until it weighs out to 10 grams. This might be superfluous.

Roasted Garlic - For my tastes, I have yet to find a level of roasted garlic I find excessive. Roasting removes the sharpness and leaves behind a toasted taste that I like. A poster on The Straight Dope recommended this technique to me, but like other sources suggested putting garlic and olive oil in aluminum foil to bake at 350 F for 45 minutes. But if you're trying to keep track of how many calories are going into the recipe, then you want to maximize how much of that oil you scrape into the final product. I used to use just a small pyrex bowl to roast the garlic with all the oil that I would then use for the hummus, with aluminum foil to cover. In light of Alton Brown's advice that you are here creating an emulsion, I now use instead my pyrex measuring cup, which makes pouring easier. More about that below.

Raw Garlic - Roasted garlic is a lot more mellow than raw garlic. I think the two flavors stack nicely. I'll use a whole bulb (about 40 grams) of garlic to roast except for three cloves which I keep raw. Alton Brown says to pre-chop or something-something. I don't know what he's talking about. But generally I do remove green sprouts in the middle of the garlic because I saw something once that said to do so. Wanna comment on whether this makes a difference? Anyway, the combo of roasted and raw garlic is fantastic, but most people seem to like less raw garlic than I do. We're looking at 5 or so grams here, but you may prefer less.

Olive Oil
- A third of the calories of hummus come from the olive oil. I don't recommend skimping on it, but how terrible would a paste of pureed garbanzo and spices be? I do think, on the other hand, that the contribution of olive oil is significant. It seems to make the garlic more garlic-y and the red pepper more red-pepper-y. I don't find it very flavorful in itself, but I have it in my head that it delivers other flavors to the palate. Can I get a witness? Also, it adds texture and makes it easier to whip up the mixture into a homogeneous mixture. According to Alton Brown, Hummus is an emulsion, and with that in mind I now pour this oil slowly into my food processor, after already removing the roasted pieces of garlic, but I don't know if the creaminess that results is definitely the fact that I've made an olive oil version of mayonnaise, or if it's just because I've just let the food processor whip the shit out of the beans.

In any case, I've broken the whole process down to the kind of component parts that I like to look at when I study a technique, and I invite further analysis.
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  #2  
Old 05-12-2012, 06:07 PM
Sattua Sattua is offline
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I'm against putting the garbanzo bean brine into the hummus because it smells manky to me--stale, of can, however you want to put it. One of my main complaints about canned pre-made hummus is that it smells and tastes the same way. I drain and rinse my garbanzos.

I fill out the volume with yogurt. Adds creaminess and tang, with no mank.
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Old 05-12-2012, 06:19 PM
VOW VOW is offline
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For a super creamy hummus, use chickpea flour instead of canned garbanzos. Look for it at a health food store or Middle Eastern market.

1/4 cup flour to one cup of water, blend and simmer over low heat until thickened. The texture is beautiful.

The tahini IMHO, is to give a plasticity to the hummus, as well as a nutty flavor. Don't have tahini? Use any other nut butter you have on hand. Almond, cashew...even the ubiquitous peanut butter.

Many folks don't like the experience of biting into a bit of raw garlic. I personally would stay with the roasted stuff. Mainly because roasted garlic is OUTSTANDING. Roasted flavor improves almost everything, and garlic becomes so sweet and nutty when roasted.

As for the flavors, what you have suggested are nice. But you can put almost anything in hummus! Try the chipotles in adobo instead of Tabasco. Or Italian seasoning. Or dill and lemon zest. Or barbecue. Think of hummus as "bean dip" and go crazy!

Lemon juice adds the zip or the pop to the flavors in hummus. But if you promise not to tell on me, I'll let you know my secret: if I don't have any lemons or lemon juice, I'll put a splash of vinegar. Balsamic--herb--malt--wine...there are a lot of good vinegars out there!

Once you get this buffet of different hummuses (hummi?), then start the hunt for dippables! Jicama! Daikon slices! Cucumbers! Dehydrated zucchini slices!

I need to make some hummus now...


~VOW
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Old 05-12-2012, 08:06 PM
emacknight emacknight is offline
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And once you've tired of garbanzo beans take a look at the other beans in the isle. Nearly all of them make a great hummus-like-substance.

Also not a bad idea to throw some fresh herbs in there like parsley or celantro. Smoked paprika and a pinch of cumin are also a nice touch.

Oh, and use the lemon zest as well as the juice, no point wasting it.
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Old 05-12-2012, 08:25 PM
zombywoof zombywoof is offline
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Next time I make it I'm going to try using (cooked) dried chickpeas rather than canned, which I suspect will give superior results.
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Old 05-12-2012, 09:03 PM
Kimstu Kimstu is offline
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Yes, I always make hummus with freshly cooked dried garbanzos because I think they taste nicer than canned ones.

I've said this before in hummus threads and I'll say it again: I think hummus is tastier with the tahini left out and sesame oil used in place of part of the olive oil.

If you think hummus wouldn't be quite the same without that tahini bitter edge, you're right, but you might be surprised at how much you enjoy the pure savory-tangy flavor of the tahini-less version.
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Old 05-12-2012, 09:35 PM
Saint Cad Saint Cad is online now
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I also avoid the chickpea mungjuice in my hummus and instead of lemo n juice I use white wine vinegar.
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Old 05-12-2012, 10:27 PM
Baker Baker is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VOW View Post
For a super creamy hummus, use chickpea flour instead of canned garbanzos. Look for it at a health food store or Middle Eastern market.

1/4 cup flour to one cup of water, blend and simmer over low heat until thickened. The texture is beautiful.

~VOW
Oh, that's an interesting idea! I think I can get the flour at the natural food's coop I shop at sometimes.
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Old 05-12-2012, 10:54 PM
maggenpye maggenpye is offline
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I swap out the tahini for sesame oil, too.

I use the tinned chick peas, drained and rinsed. I wouldn't know where to look for garbanzo beans. I have used fourbean mix with good results, but I called that a bean dip rather than hummus.

I do prefer lemon to any of the vinegars, but that's personal preference. Usually it's the store bought stuff. f my lemon tree was in fruit, I'd use the zest as well.

My best compliments came from the chilli-ginger combo. Have to admit it was my favourite as well.

I use the crushed garlic, ginger and chilli that come in jars preserved with oil.

And, thinking about it, I have all the neccesaries in the pantry/fridge. And crackers,too.

Yum.
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Old 05-12-2012, 11:52 PM
zombywoof zombywoof is offline
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Originally Posted by maggenpye View Post
I use the tinned chick peas, drained and rinsed. I wouldn't know where to look for garbanzo beans.
They're just two different names for the same thing.
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Old 05-13-2012, 12:25 AM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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And for an ancient twist, White Sals !

White Sals (Walnut Dip)

(A Collection of Medieval and Renaissance Cookbooks, Vol. 2, pg. Misc-3. It is one of the three recipes translated from Kitab al-Tabikh (The Book of Dishes): Oriental 5000 (British Library) pp.70b, 71a, 74b.)
  • Redaction by Maredudd White sals. Walnut meats, garlic, pepper, cinnamon, white mustard, Tahini and lemon juice.
    1 c. walnuts
    2 (or 1 very large) cloves garlic
    1/8 tsp. black pepper -- ground
    ½ tsp. cinnamon -- ground
    1/8 tsp. ground mustard
    3 Tbsp. tahini
    2-3 Tbsp. lemon juice
    In a food processor combine walnuts and garlic until they form a smooth paste. Add spices and the tahini. Process until the mixture is uniform. Add lemon juice until mixture forms a thick paste.
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Old 05-13-2012, 01:24 AM
maggenpye maggenpye is offline
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Originally Posted by zombywoof View Post
They're just two different names for the same thing.
Good to know, thanks.
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Old 05-13-2012, 06:28 PM
Alias Alias is offline
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I use black beans instead of chickpeas. I like the flavor better.
1. 2 cans drained black beans
2. 1-2 tbsp tahini
3. 1-2 cloves garlic
4. Glug of olive oil
5. A few shakes of red pepper flakes
6. A pinch (or 2) of smoked sea salt
7. Purée the whole thing until smooth.
8. Enjoy with pita or tortilla chips.
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Old 05-13-2012, 08:57 PM
Johnny Angel Johnny Angel is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sattua View Post
I fill out the volume with yogurt. Adds creaminess and tang, with no mank.
Definitely worth trying, though one of the things I like about the recipe I've been using is that it doesn't require anything that doesn't have a long shelf life. But I don't object to the brine myself. I just don't think it adds much.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VOW View Post
For a super creamy hummus, use chickpea flour instead of canned garbanzos. Look for it at a health food store or Middle Eastern market.
I have been meaning to get around to trying this, though one advantage to the use of the canned beans is that they can also be put into rice or curries, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VOW View Post
As for the flavors, what you have suggested are nice. But you can put almost anything in hummus! Try the chipotles in adobo instead of Tabasco.
My wife suggested this, but I have no idea what proportions would work out. I think the cans of the stuff at my local grocery store has way more than I'm likely to need in a batch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by emacknight View Post
And once you've tired of garbanzo beans take a look at the other beans in the isle. Nearly all of them make a great hummus-like-substance.
The only other bean-based dip I have any experience with is Refried Beans, but it struck me that this is a similar kind of deal -- you puree beans and add fat and spices. Could you just whir, say, pinto beans and peanut butter? But if it was any good, surely somebody else would have done it already. Now in this thread, I see that people have in fact broadened the concept.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alias View Post
I use black beans instead of chickpeas. I like the flavor better.
Hmmm. Well, black beans are one of my favorites. By God, it just might work.

In a previous thread, there was some discussion of what people eat with hummus. An actual middle easterner seemed surprised at the variety of uses people were putting the stuff to, but it actually seems pretty natural to dip nearly anything you've got in the stuff -- it's fairly versatile in what things it will blend well with. But since then I've started experimenting with making bread, which turns out to be a less arcane process than I always imagined. Furthermore, once you have that concept down pita becomes relatively easy to make.

Basically, above basic breadmaking two techniques seem to make pita happen: letting the dough relax so you can roll it out thin and then putting the things onto a cooking sheet that's already hot. In three minutes the stuff puffs out, making the pockets the bread is known for. I usually give it another three minutes to continue cooking. And even when one doesn't puff out, or does so only partially, it still tastes exactly like pita. Why the hell didn't anybody tell me it was that easy?
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Old 05-14-2012, 02:43 AM
Shalmanese Shalmanese is offline
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I also like using dried chickpeas rather than canned. I soak them overnight, then simmer for an hour or so until soft.

Also, traditionally, hummus is served with olive oil and sumac drizzled over the top. I think it adds a nice extra touch.
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Old 05-14-2012, 05:46 AM
Bozuit Bozuit is offline
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I make hummus a lot. May I suggest adding fresh coriander (cilantro)? It's really good, especially if you add a lot of lemon (as I tend to do). You don't even have to chop it, just put it in the food processor with everything else. I also tend to add a lot of black pepper.

I'm interested in the yogurt idea. I eat yogurt almost every day so that might work.

The idea of making smooth hummus using flour isn't very appetizing to me. Hummus needs a bit of texture to it from little pieces of chickpeas, in my opinion.

The red pepper and hot sauce are not "standard" ingredients so I'd say their role is just to make an interesting variant.

Oh and roasting garlic is what I do too, since the raw flavour in there doesn't work so well in my opinion. Well actually I rarely roast it properly, I just put the unpeeled cloves in a frying pan on a low heat (no oil) for a while.

I've made hummus with peas and broad beans before, it works well.


Does anyone have any low fat/calorie alternatives to tahini? I love hummus and I love tahini, but I'm trying to avoid unnecessary calories right now.
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Old 05-14-2012, 07:37 AM
Johnny Angel Johnny Angel is offline
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I haven't tried it without tahini, but I have left off the olive oil, which nearly halves the caloric content all by itself. It came out coarser, but still carried the spices nicely. Hell, I think you probably could just whiz up some beans in your food processor with your choice of spices and no fat and not be sorry you did it. The use of yogurt to provide moisture and texture might help, though.
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Old 05-14-2012, 11:44 AM
Bozuit Bozuit is offline
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I like the bitterness that tahini adds, that's the problem. Yogurt seems to be the alternative of choice when I search online though, so maybe that's enough.
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Old 05-14-2012, 02:59 PM
Snickers Snickers is offline
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My tahini comes in a tall, thin jar, and separates in my cabinet. I used to try to stir it all up, but that was messy and didn't work all that well. What does work, however, is making sure that the lid is on securely, and then shaking shaking shaking shaking. Shake the hell out of that thing. Mixes it up a treat, from which it's easy then to spoon or pour out what you need.

I've also heard that storing it upside down on the lid keeps it from separating, but I'm pretty dubious about that.

Love love love hummus. The more lemon juice and garlic, the better.
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Old 05-14-2012, 03:51 PM
VOW VOW is offline
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I once made hummus from Christmas lima beans and PB. Didn't have any leftovers.

With chipotles in adobo sauce: the adobo sauce is vinegar-based. Dump the can into a small dish with a tight cover, and you an refrigerate the leftovers until you make your next batch of hummus.

Playing with your food is part of the fun of cooking! Fish out a chipotle pepper from the adobo sauce, chop it finely and start with adding a tablespoon of the chopped pepper to the hummus. Use some of the adobo sauce as part of the vinegar/lemon juice of the recipe.

Blend-blend-blend...then taste. Maybe needs a bit more zip? Add some more chopped pepper. Like the zing of the adobo? Maybe add another spoonful of that. Blend-blend-blend....then taste again.

You can have so much fun with trial and error, you've got to make a new batch of hummus!


~VOW
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Old 05-14-2012, 04:38 PM
maggenpye maggenpye is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Angel View Post
I haven't tried it without tahini, but I have left off the olive oil, which nearly halves the caloric content all by itself. It came out coarser, but still carried the spices nicely. Hell, I think you probably could just whiz up some beans in your food processor with your choice of spices and no fat and not be sorry you did it. The use of yogurt to provide moisture and texture might help, though.
(Bolding mine)

Yes. I've done this - with a bit of tinned or fresh tomato, it needs a little paste to boost the flavour, but the tomatos prvide all the required juice.
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Old 05-14-2012, 05:52 PM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snickers View Post
My tahini comes in a tall, thin jar, and separates in my cabinet. I used to try to stir it all up, but that was messy and didn't work all that well. What does work, however, is making sure that the lid is on securely, and then shaking shaking shaking shaking. Shake the hell out of that thing. Mixes it up a treat, from which it's easy then to spoon or pour out what you need.

I've also heard that storing it upside down on the lid keeps it from separating, but I'm pretty dubious about that.

Love love love hummus. The more lemon juice and garlic, the better.
Or you could get an aluminum ice cube tray, blorp the tahini in, freeze it. Get it good and frozen, then run the base of the tray under scorchingly hot water for a few seconds, pop out the tahini cubes and store in a zippy bag in the freezer. Take a cube out in the morning that you want to make hummuss, or nuke until melted. No separation issues. You can do this with pretty much anything that isn't destroyed by freezing.
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Old 05-14-2012, 06:05 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is online now
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My hummus-making anecdote: Threw the chickpeas and garlic cloves into the food processor, blended the hell out of it. Did all the other things, got pretty good hummus. Enjoyed a big dab on a bagel, found a chickpea that somehow escaped the food processor intact in that particular dollop. Thought "what the hell, no biggie" and bit down.

It wasn't a chickpea, it was an intact raw garlic clove.

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Old 05-14-2012, 06:32 PM
Jeep's Phoenix Jeep's Phoenix is offline
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I use the juice of a whole lemon (preferably a Meyer). I also thoroughly drain the garbanzo beans. Due to a few incidents similar to Qadgop's, the raw garlic is always chopped a bit first.
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Old 05-15-2012, 02:09 PM
Johnny Angel Johnny Angel is offline
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With the tahini, I find that I have to scrape the whole thing into my mixer bowl and blend it smooth. Then once I return it to the can, it only needs to be rescraped from the bottom once in a while to keep it relatively homogeneous. Of course, if sesame oil delivered the same flavor, it would be worth considering. I saw some in the store the other day, and it looked like it would stay homogeneous.

I have started to cut out the green sprout from garlic, because of something I saw that suggested you do so, but is it really a problem?
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Old 05-15-2012, 04:36 PM
needscoffee needscoffee is offline
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To reduce the amount of oil and calories in the hummus, I pour off the oil from the separated tahini and save it for other uses, and use the solidified sesame paste in the hummus, adding other liquid to replace the oil content. This makes it an expensive proposition, though, as the price of a jar of tahini is $8 or $9 now. I see I can order it from Amazon more cheaply, which I may start to do since I go through a lot of it.

I like adding sun-dried tomatoes which I've reconstituted with a little boiling water to the ingredients before processing them. I worked at a place that added artichoke hearts before processing, which was also very good.
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Old 05-16-2012, 06:57 AM
Bozuit Bozuit is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Angel View Post
With the tahini, I find that I have to scrape the whole thing into my mixer bowl and blend it smooth. Then once I return it to the can, it only needs to be rescraped from the bottom once in a while to keep it relatively homogeneous. Of course, if sesame oil delivered the same flavor, it would be worth considering. I saw some in the store the other day, and it looked like it would stay homogeneous.
I don't think sesame oil really has the same bitterness which is important in "traditional" hummus I think. But some people must prefer it that way. Sesame oil is good in Chinese food by the way.

As for the tahini, I used to just give it a shake and a stir. It wasn't perfectly mixed when I used it, but I just tried to get a rough balance of the liquids and solids knowing it would be blended soon anyway.


Quote:
Originally Posted by needscoffee View Post
To reduce the amount of oil and calories in the hummus, I pour off the oil from the separated tahini and save it for other uses, and use the solidified sesame paste in the hummus, adding other liquid to replace the oil content. This makes it an expensive proposition, though, as the price of a jar of tahini is $8 or $9 now. I see I can order it from Amazon more cheaply, which I may start to do since I go through a lot of it.
Maybe I can pour a lot of the oil off like you said. Maybe I should get a centrifuge...
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Old 05-16-2012, 07:15 AM
DoctorJ DoctorJ is online now
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I actually prefer the texture of hummus from canned beans over dried and cooked. It seems I can never get the dried and cooked beans quite as soft and mashy as the canned ones.

If you want the flavor of fresh garlic without quite the "bite", boil some water, run a skewer through your cloves, and dunk them for about 45 seconds.

I think cumin is essential to hummus, and especially so if you toast the cumin seeds a little before you grind them.

My favorite add-in is a handful of kalamata olives. Looks dreadful, but very tasty. More often I'll just eat the olives alongside the hummus.
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Old 05-16-2012, 12:01 PM
VOW VOW is offline
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I made a batch of hummus yesterday, with the garbanzo flour.

No tahini, so I used peanut butter.

I had some garlic paste in the refrigerator (find that at an Indian/Pakistani market). I added a splash of seasoned rice vinegar.

I seasoned it with a little bit of this and that, and it wasn't what I was looking for. So I stirred in a glug of sriracha.

What a GOOD BATCH!


~VOW
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Old 05-16-2012, 12:56 PM
BigT BigT is online now
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I like to keep it simple. Garbanzo beans, oil, garlic, with maybe a binder (probably peanut butter, as I never have tahini.) I hate when it gets sour, like most commercial preparations.
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Old 05-16-2012, 05:47 PM
Jeep's Phoenix Jeep's Phoenix is offline
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I'm not a fan of grocery store hummus; it's always too bland and too finely blended. I did enjoy it when the local Whole Foods started making hummus pizzas one Saturday though. It was surprisingly good, especially since the cooking process didn't dry out the hummus too much.
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Old 05-16-2012, 05:58 PM
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How exactly, did they make it before they had food processors?

Just curious.
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Old 05-16-2012, 05:59 PM
Jeep's Phoenix Jeep's Phoenix is offline
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Mortar and pestle, maybe? Just bashing the ingredients between two rocks would probably get the job done too.
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  #34  
Old 05-16-2012, 06:36 PM
Bozuit Bozuit is offline
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Quote:
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I like to keep it simple. Garbanzo beans, oil, garlic, with maybe a binder (probably peanut butter, as I never have tahini.) I hate when it gets sour, like most commercial preparations.
Lemon, man, lemon!
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Old 05-17-2012, 11:48 AM
Quercus Quercus is offline
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How exactly, did they make it before they had food processors?

Just curious.
Well, I don't know about them, but I used a metal potato masher. Worked fine.

I also find -- thanks to Moosewood, I think -- that a dash of soy sauce really brings everything together better than plain salt.
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Old 05-17-2012, 02:28 PM
Johnny Angel Johnny Angel is offline
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Now I've tried the recipe with everything the same except that I used black beans. It's nice, though I think something else in the profile should be shifted. For one thing, it has much more of a 'beany' taste than the garbanzo beans. Also, the beans seem to add their own texture, which I need to explore further.

Often I make hummus for social gatherings. I make a white-and-wheat checked pull-apart bread bowl to hold the dip and top it off with a fine coating of chilli powder and parsley flakes for color. The grey sludge you get with black beans is delicious, but wouldn't look right in the bread bowl. And how would you decorate it except with maybe diced white onion?
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  #37  
Old 05-17-2012, 07:04 PM
Jeep's Phoenix Jeep's Phoenix is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quercus View Post
I also find -- thanks to Moosewood, I think -- that a dash of soy sauce really brings everything together better than plain salt.
Awesome cookbook, isn't it!
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  #38  
Old 05-17-2012, 09:39 PM
VOW VOW is offline
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The hummus I referenced in Post #29 is GONE.

I better get out the chickpea flour!


~VOW
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