Party Planning

I’m cooking for a crowd this week!  What with my recent belly-aching, I was a little nervous about this party… until I realized that most of the food is healthy and shouldn’t bother my stomach!  Here’s the menu:

Spring Rolls (not deep fried, filled with raw veg, served with peanut sauce)

Black Bean Sliders and Guacamole (to make the sliders, form them into small patties or balls and bake them on a parchment lined pan at 425 for about 20mins, until golden.  No need to flip them.)

Crackers topped with pesto spread and cucumbers

Hummus and veggies

Chocolate Chip Blondies

See?  Even the cookies are healthy!  All I have to do is steer clear of the potato chips and try not to drink too much, and my stomach will be fine.  Now, I’ve got to make all this food by Friday night, and still go to work in the mean time.  I learned from the best (thanks Mom!) to make lots of lists and plan around my work schedule when to make what.  Here’s my mission:

You must be wanting some recipes by now.  Since you know all about hummus and black bean burgers, how about that pesto?  More of thick spread than a sauce, it’s oil-free and has no cheese.  I substituted cashews for pine nuts because who can afford those things?  Plus, I stretched my basil by replacing some of it with kale or arugula.

Pesto Spread

Adapted from Chef AJ’s MVP Stuffed Mushrooms, found in the Forks Over Knives Cookbook

2 c pine nuts or cashews

1 c basil

1 c something else green, like arugula, spinach, or kale, or more basil

4 or more cloves garlic

2 Tbls light miso (I like shiro miso)

Juice of two lemons

1.  Puree all ingredients in a food processor fitted with the S blade, until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Try not to eat it all at once.

Test-Driving My New Baby

Yesterday, I took my jar of pennies to Manhattan and bought my very first grown-up appliance: The Cuisinart Custom 14 Food Processor.  Just about everything else I own has been bought second-hand or a gift, so I felt an immense amount of pride and pleasure handing over the cash I have been carefully saving for the past few months.  I grinned the whole way home on the subway, lugging this heavy box.

Upon arriving home, I immediately unpacked it, washed all the parts, and read the instructions, all the while plotting what to make first.  Burgers?  Hummus?  Cole slaw?  Then while surfing the net, I came across this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Dreena Burton’s Plant Powered Kitchen.  Sold!  A new kind of hummus, and I get to put my new toy to the test.  Since you can read the recipe on Dreena’s site, I’ll take you through the process briefly in pictures, and tell you about the minor adjustments I made.

I subbed apple cider vinegar for the lemon juice because I forgot to buy lemons, and used 2T of tahini instead of the cashew butter.

Getting started!

Next it was time to blend!  Here it is before I added the raisins.  I decided at this point that it wasn’t yellow enough for me and needed more turmeric.  The processor ran so quietly and smoothly!

Almost done!

 

 

Finally I added the raisins.  I used 3T, and I think next time I will use only 2.  It’s just slightly sweeter than I’d prefer.  All in all, completely delicious, and came together in less than 15 minutes!  I’m enjoying it now with fresh raw okra, and excitedly thinking about what to twirl around tomorrow.

Hummus

The heat is on in Brooklyn and all I feel like eating are raw veggies and watermelon.  Sounds like it’s time for some hummus!

The first few times I made it, I measured everything very carefully, following the recipe in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian to the letter. These days, I eyeball it, tweaking it to my taste that particular week.  I also completely cut out the olive oil from that recipe with great results. Therefore, feel free to take liberties with these guidelines.

Since the weather is hot this week and I just returned from a lengthy vacation, I used canned chickpeas, but normally I cook them myself. The results are better with home-cooked because you can use the flavorful cooking liquid to thin the hummus out to your desired consistency.

Hummus

2 cups drained well-cooked chickpeas, liquid reserved (or a can of rinsed, drained beans and some water)

1/4 – 1/2 cup tahini, or to taste (You can even leave this out if you don’t have it or are allergic)

2 or more cloves garlic, peeled

juice of one lemon and/or a few tablespoons apple cider vinegar (I like a little of both)

1 tablespoon cumin or more to taste

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Blend all ingredients until smooth in a food processor or blender, adding more bean-cooking liquid or water as necessary to keep things running smoothly.

2. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, tahini, garlic or lemon juice/vinegar as desired.

Ideas for Variations (all off which I have tried):  Add lemon zest if you really love lemon (I don’t, but my dad enjoys it).  Roasted garlic instead of raw.  Roasted red peppers (you’ll need a little less liquid).  Fresh herbs.  Sun-dried tomatoes and basil (yumyumyum).  The options are endless.

Tips:  Add liquid very slowly in small amounts so you don’t end up with hummus soup! Taste frequently to figure out what you like.  When in doubt, get a second opinion or let it rest over night to allow the flavors to marry.

A few times when I’ve been overzealous with a certain ingredient and gotten frustrated, I’ve put the result in the freezer for a few weeks until I feel like messing with it again.  It’ll get a little watery after thawing, but over all does pretty well, and allows you to start over.  No messed up hummus can’t be fixed!  You can also freeze it if you make too much hummus.