Homemade Hummus (STILL!) Hits the Spot

 I will go on record and say that I adore hummus. I love it as a dip, and I love it as a spread for sandwiches. I even love all the individual ingredients in hummus and often add extra garbanzo beans to salads or soups for added protein and texture. And who doesn’t love tahina?

I always make my own garbanzo beans from dried beans.  After an afternoon soaking in water, you can go from dried beans to fully cooked beans in a little more than thirty minutes with a pressure cooker.  If you want to try making your own beans, find a recipe on the internet and give it a go, stovetop, pressure cooker, or Instapot – they all work just fine.   I always make a pound of beans, which is way too much for me. But I put little containers of cooked beans in their liquid in the freezer when I decide I need hummus.

The original recipe I posted is still what I use, although I exclusively use Soom tahina now.  I like the flavor and texture, and most stores carry it here in Seattle as does Amazon.

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Originally published October 17, 2012

Click here to view recipe.

A plate of fresh hummus (in Acco at an Arab market)

“I’m in Israel!” These are the words that happily ran through my mind as our plane touched down in

Tel Aviv last month. I kept pinching myself and telling myself that it was true … I was in Israel. This was my fourth journey to this beautiful country. My first trip was in 1974; ten years later I attended my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah; I returned with Sister Susan for a group tour in 2000; and now I was finally back. For such an ancient country, I felt surprised to see how much things had changed in the decade since my previous visit. I noticed way more shops and a lot more technology – basically everything seemed more modern. Thankfully – one thing seems to remain the same…hummus. One of my favorite things to eat, it remains a ubiquitous food in Israel. And it is goooooood.

Spices at a Tel Aviv market

Call me  a bean lover and a huge hummus fan. Chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) serve as a kitchen staple in my global kitchen. These beans are used throughout the Mediterranean areas of the world and I’ve learned to include them in all kinds of ways. I cook them fresh and have some frozen in small quantities for added protein in salads, soups, and even main dishes.

While I typically don’t like to boast, I’ll pit my version of hummus against almost anyone else’s. My recipe is adopted from Cooks Illustrated magazine – though I changed quantities and added my own twist. I begin with dried garbanzo beans, although canned beans are OK if you aren’t into cooking beans. After I soak and simmer the garbanzos, I combine them with freshly squeezed lime juice. Most recipes list lemon juice as an ingredient  but I have to be different, and I always have a bag of limes in my refrigerator. My little “twist”, or signature, involves the addition of smoked paprika – a spice I simply adore. It adds another dimension to hummus – not readily identifiable to most – but it infuses a complexity to the final dish.

I use the savory spread to build a vegetable sandwich where I layer slivers of colorful peppers, thinly sliced cucumber, some pickled onions, shredded carrot, arugula … just typing this makes my mouth water. Or I serve hummus as a dip with blanched or raw vegetables, snow peas, carrot slices, and pita bread or even my seeded crackers. Hummus freezes for up to six months so when my mission is to prepare hummus, I do it in a big way and freeze a few pint containers. Yes, I know you can buy hummus at Costco, Trader Joes or most grocery stores in the US, but try making it just once. You might discover, as I did, that it is easy to prepare and way better than anything you can buy.

B’tayavon! (Hebrew for Bon Appétit)

Homemade Hummus

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Ingredients:
  • ¼ cup juice from the garbanzo beans (if you make your own) OR ¼ cup water if from a can
  • ⅓ cup fresh lime juice
  • ⅓ cup tahini, stirred well (I use Joyva brand)
  • 2 Tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil PLUS some to drizzle on top and garnish
  • 14 oz can of drained, rinsed garbanzo beans OR 2 cups freshly cooked beans
  • 1 clove garlic, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • pinch cayenne pepper
Instructions:

Combine lime juice and water (or bean juice if using homemade beans) in small bowl.

Whisk together tahini and the olive oil in second small bowl. It takes a bit of elbow grease to combine.

In a food processor, pulse beans, garlic, salt, smoked paprika, and cayenne. After it is chopped a bit whirl them together for about 15 more seconds. Scrape the sides of the work bowl with a rubber spatula. With the food processor running, add lime juice-water mixture in a steady stream through the feed tube. Scrape down the work bowl and keep processing for another 60 seconds.

With the machine running, add oil-tahini mixture in steady stream through feed tube; continue to whirl until the hummus is smooth and creamy, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.

Taste the mixture and add more lime juice or salt as needed. Personally, I always add a lot more lime juice and a little more salt too. Put the hummus into a storage container and seal it, and store it in the refrigerator for at least an hour. I like to serve this at room temperature so take it out of the fridge in plenty of time. Drizzle generously with olive oil and serve.

This keeps really well in the freezer for up to 2 months and in the refrigerator for at least a week well covered.

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My Crazy Condiment

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My Crazy Condiment

It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that I dream about food. One of my favorite parts of this obsession is devising and revising recipes to suit my taste buds.  I love hot sauce, sriracha, mustards and the like, but the other day I was roasting a chicken and the condiments in my refrigerator just weren’t fitting the bill. So, I concocted a sauce that I knew would work for chicken and fish as well. 

Crazy Condiment Ingredients

I basically used every fruit, vegetable, and seed that needed a home so I wouldn’t need to throw them out and waste food. I had lemons (I always have lemons), a quarter of a purple Bermuda onion, lots of fresh dill, good olive oil (always on hand), apples galore and a few toasted pumpkin seeds. I took out my Ninja bullet and pulsed all of these random items and was thrilled with the result:  a slightly sweet, slightly textured, bright sauce that was everything I dreamed of. A bonus is that because of the lemon, the color doesn’t turn brown over time, so you can make this earlier in the day and even store it in the refrigerator for a couple of days. 

My Crazy Condiment

Makes approximately one cup


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Ingredients
  • ¼ lemon, cut into 1-inch pieces (remove the seeds but leave on the peel)
  • ¼ purple onion, peel and cut into ½ inch pieces
  • ¼ red-skinned apple, unpeeled but seeded and cut into ½ inch pieces
  • ⅓ cup dill weed, cut into 1 inch long pieces (the stems don’t need to be removed)
  • 2 Tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Instructions

Put everything except the olive oil into a Nutribullet and pulse to coarsely chop, stopping and moving the ingredients around so everything gets chopped but don’t puree too much. Remove everything to a small bowl and add the olive oil to the chopped mixture.  Stir together, season with salt and pepper (or even a little hot sauce) to taste.

Enjoy with fish, chicken, even rice and beans. 

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Baby Bok Choy My Way

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Baby Bok Choy My Way

When I am home in Seattle, I make a trip across town to the Ballard Market every Sunday. This farmers market runs year-round and is a great place to see produce, dogs, and people of every type. I love the street musicians, the stores lining the streets, the ready-made pizza, curry, ice cream, donuts, and so many other types of food being sold and eaten on the spot.

Lately I have been taking one or two of my grandkids with me.  I find farmers markets are amazing places for kids to learn about where food comes from.  My 8-year-old granddaughter knows the names of most breeds of dogs we see, and my 5-year-old grandson knows what kiwi berries and honey sticks are!  

Come mid-February, I try to purchase locally grown vegetables and fruits. I spotted baby bok choy and purchased a pound of the cute little bulbs to make for dinner with the petrale sole fish and farmers market sweet potatoes I bought the same day.  

Baby Bok Choy My Way

Serves 2


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Ingredients
  • 3  baby bok choy, cut in half the long way
  • 2 tsp avocado oil to fry
  • Toasted sesame seeds to garnish
Sauce Ingredients
  • 1 ½ tsp tamari sauce
  • 1 ½ tsp water
  • Little less than a tsp of rice vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon of honey
  • ⅛ tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • ¼ tsp chili crisp (use sriracha if you don’t have chili crisp in your pantry)
Instructions

In a small container, combine tamari, water, rice vinegar, honey, sesame oil, garlic, and chili crisp and set aside. 

Heat a large skillet and then add the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the halved bok choy, cut side down, and sear until it browns.  Carefully turn it over and cook for another minute.  Pour in the sauce and then cover the pan for two minutes until the bok choy is tender.  I turn the bok choy over again so it is coated with sauce.  Remove to a serving dish and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  

Enjoy!



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Curried Sweet Potato & Spinach Stew

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Curried Sweet Potato & Spinach Stew

My son “Jakey Boy” and I share the same palette, more or less.  We save the same recipes and are attracted to easy but fresh concoctions, making the same substitutions or changes without knowing that the other person has done so too. 

Recently, Jake’s oldest son, Elan, was with me en route to the farmer’s market, and he raved about a dinner his parents made the night before.  “I ate three bowls!” he told me.  I asked him what was in his bowl, and he said, “Rice with lots of sweet potatoes and spinach and curry.”  After we shopped, I dropped Elan off at his home, and Jakey Boy gave me a taste of the dish.  It was wonderful! He told me which changes he made from the original New York Times recipe by Lidey Heuck. 

Soon after, I made a full recipe, and we ate it for dinner, then we ate it for lunch, and I gave a small amount away to a neighbor.   I even froze a small dinner sized portion. !  This combination of flavors tasted incredible to me. I hope you enjoy this as well.

Curried Sweet Potato & Spinach Stew

Yield: 4 to 6 servings


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Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes (about 2 medium sweet potatoes), peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped ½ inch
  • 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1(1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated (about 1 tablespoon)
  • Squirt of sriracha if you want some spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable stock (I used Better than Bouillon chicken stock reconstituted)
  • Salt to taste (I add this at the end since my chicken stock is salty)
  • 1(13-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1(4- to 5-ounce) bag fresh baby spinach
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving if desired
Instructions

In a heavy 6 quart pot, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high. Add the sweet potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned all over, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the browned sweet potatoes to a plate and set aside.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pot and set the heat to medium-low. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent.   Add the curry paste, garlic, ginger, chile, and turmeric, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the lentils, stock, salt and browned sweet potatoes to the pot and bring to a boil over high. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are just tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Add the coconut milk and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced and the lentils are creamy and falling apart, 15 to 20 minutes.

Add the spinach and stir until just wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the lime juice and season with salt to taste.

Divide among shallow bowls and top with cilantro, if using.  I always drizzle a little Italian olive oil too!



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Easy Cheese Fondue

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Jakey Boy with his twins enjoying cheese fondue at night on our porch.

My youngest son, Jakey Boy, had a birthday in February, so I bought him an electric fondue pot and invited his family for dinner.  The fondue was meant to be our appetizer, but it should have been the main attraction.   I wasn’t sure he would like or use the fondue pot, but it was a huge hit with the kids and adults!  His kids all said they wanted fondue for their birthday dinners, and the baby got her wish last week when they used the pot to make chocolate fondue!  

Chocolate Fondue!

Circling around the fondue pot until it was empty reminded me of my days during the 70’s and brought back many fond memories!  

A few pro tips: be sure to get an extension cord if you have an electric fondue pot, and break down some cardboard boxes to line your table, inside or outside to avoid a lot of cleanup.

All gone.

Basic Cheese Fondue

Yield:  6 servings 

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Ingredients
  • 1 small garlic clove, halved
  • ¾ cup dry vermouth, which I always keep on hand. Otherwise, use white wine.
  • ½ pound good quality Gruyère cheese, grated
  • ½ pound Emmentaler, raclette or Appenzeller cheese, grated (note I used two kinds of Gruyere since I couldn’t easily find Emmentaler)
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp brandy (optional
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • Juice of half a lemon if desired at the end.  For me, not optional
  • Crusty bread cubes, steamed broccoli or cauliflower, carrot, celery or fennel sticks, cubed apple, seedless grapes, clementine sections and/or dried apricots (for serving)
Instructions

Have everything measured and out on the table when you make the fondue!

Rub the cut side of garlic on the inside of the fondue pot, rubbing the bottom and halfway up the sides. Turn on the pot and add vermouth, then bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. If you have an electric pot, put it on #7 to simmer the vermouth.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss the cheeses with cornstarch. (I did this the night before, grated the cheese in the Cuisinart, added the cornstarch, tossed it well then put it in a sealed container). Add a handful at a time to the simmering wine, stirring until the first handful melts before adding the next. It took very little time for the cheese to melt, but you must rapidly stir constantly with a rubber spatula.  Reduce heat to medium (#3) and stir constantly until the cheese is completely melted. Add brandy if using, and heat until bubbling, about 1 to 2 minutes. Season with pepper and nutmeg, if desired. Squirt in a little lemon juice at the end.  

Serve with cubed crusty bread (I got a baguette so every piece had crust to hold it together)  and other accompaniments listed above.   Red grapes were a hit. 

To clean the pot, let it cool.  Fill the pot with hot water and Oxiclean and let is sit for 10 minutes.  Don’t submerge the pot because of the outlet!  Use a plastic bench scraper to remove any baked-on cheese, then use paper towels.  If you have to use a rag, get an old one you can throw away because it is impossible to get the cheese out.  I would not use a sponge for the same reason other than for the outside of the pot.



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Amish Bread

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Amazing Amish Bread

I love baking bread, particularly in the cold winter months.  During February this year, I wanted to make an easy loaf of bread and was happy that I remembered a recipe I clipped from the back of a bread flour bag way back when.  It is called “Amish” bread; I am  not sure what makes it Amish other than no electric tools are needed and the ingredients are simple things I always have on hand:  flour, salt, yeast, oil, sugar, and water.  Bada bing, bada boom.

This is one of those recipes that comes together so quickly!  The bread rises the first time for an hour, a second time for a half hour and then bakes in just under a half hour.  Start to finish, it is the quickest yeast bread I make, and it keeps well in a covered container or zip lock for up to three days.  

I ended up taking the original cup measures and then weighing all my ingredients as this always yields a more uniform loaf and is easier to clean up.  

Amish Bread

Makes One Loaf

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Ingredients
  • 215 grams water (about a cup) 
  • 7 grams yeast
  • 28 grams granulated sugar
  • 23 grams neutral oil (I use avocado oil but sunflower oil works too)
  • 332 grams of bread flour, about 3 cups
  • 5 grams of sea salt 
Instructions

Stir together water, yeast, and sugar and let it sit for 5 minutes.

Add oil to the mixture.

Put all but about a cup of the bread flour into a bowl large enough to knead the bread. Add sea salt and make sure it is combined with the flour. 

Pour the liquid ingredients into the flour and combine, adding the last cup of flour a little at a time.  You’ll use all the flour.

Using a spatula then your hands, knead the dough until smooth, about 5 minutes.  Place dough in an oiled large bowl, cover with saran and let it rise for an hour until doubled in bulk.

After an hour, remove the dough and punch it down.  Knead again for 3 minutes, then shape into a loaf and place into an oiled 9” by 5” bread pan.  Cover with oiled saran and let it rise for a half hour.

Just Before Baking

Meanwhile, preheat the oven at 350”.  After the half hour is up for the bread rising, take scissors and make little slips over the top of the bread or use a very sharp knife to slash it 3-4 times on top.  Bake for 28 minutes mid oven until it is golden brown and a thermometer registers at least 190 degrees.  Remove from the pan and let it cool on a rack at least an hour before slicing.  

This bread slices so easily and makes great sandwiches or toast–or have it fresh spread with butter.

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It’s Matzo Ball Meat Stew Time Again!

I first published this recipe in April of 2012. That’s almost TWELVE YEARS AGO, people! I can’t believe it.

I cooked this recently for my daughter’s family, and I could not believe how much her boys (and girl) ate. Thank goodness I baked extra challah and served everything with a huge salad.

Hearty Matzo Ball Meat Stew

 

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Originally posted on April 4, 2012

Click here to view recipe.

Meatball Matzo Ball Stew

Passover is almost upon us, and I’m looking forward to traveling to the Midwest to be with my family for the first Seder Saturday night. Since today is the first Wednesday of the month, I am featuring a simple recipe that I make year round but always during Passover, when wheat and leavening is not to be consumed.

Everyone who has ever sampled this one pot dish raves about the flavors. It is a warm, comforting meal-in-one, and I include a lot of vegetables in the pot along with the meat and matzo balls. In our house we call this “old man food” because we’ve found that older men love the familiar flavors and textures of the stew – it reminds them of food they ate in their youth!

You don’t have to be Jewish or observe Passover to make this stew. It is super easy and you’ll have dinner for several nights!

Hearty Meatball Matzo Ball Stew

Serves 8 or more

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Ingredients
  • 2 lb very lean ground chuck (I always use grass fed organic meat)
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ c matzo meal ( or ½ c breadcrumbs if it is not Passover)
  • 1 ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/3 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ c zucchini, cut into ¾ inch cubes
  • 5 carrots, peeled and sliced (2 cups)
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled and sliced (1 cup) or you can use all carrots and eliminate parsnips
  • ½ yellow bell pepper, seeds removed cut into ½ inch dice
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced ½ inch (3/4-1 cup)
  • 1 large chopped onion, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch dice (2 cups)
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 recipe matzo balls
Instructions:

Mix first 5 ingredients, and gently divide the meat mixture evenly to make 12-14 meatballs, about 2 inches in diameter. Place these on a waxed paper-lined, flat tray while you prepare the stew.

Prep and place all the cut veggies in a 6 quart soup pot then add the tomato sauce, tomato juice, water and sugar (I add sugar or honey whenever I used canned tomatoes to cut down on the acidity and find it makes a big difference). Stir well to combine.

Top the veggie/liquid mix with formed raw meatballs. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover to let it slowly simmer for 35 minutes. Baste the meatballs every 10 minutes with juice, being careful not to break them apart.

Meanwhile, make one recipe of matzo balls (from a package or from scratch, depending on your time frame and how industrious you’re feeling). A package of Manischewitz matzo ball mix needs to have 2 eggs and 2 tablespoons of oil added, then formed into about 10 1-inch diameter balls. Handle the mixture gently with wet hands – do not over handle. After the raw dough has been refrigerated for 25 minutes, place the uncooked matzo balls into an 8-quart pot of rapidly boiling water. Make sure the pot is very large as the matzo balls tend to expand. Immediately cover the pot, turn down the heat but be sure the water continues to boil. Do not lift the lid until 25 minutes have passed.

Matzo Ball

After 25 minutes, remove the lid of the matzo ball pot and gently remove the cooked matzo balls and place them on top of the cooked meat ball/veggie stew. Cover the pot containing everything now and cook 10 minutes longer, basting at least once so the balls do not become dry. It thickens so be careful not to burn it!

When serving, be sure to top with some chopped parsley for color and consider serving along with a nice, simple green salad.

Note: once the meat balls and matzo balls are gone, I often repurpose the hearty liquid broth by adding more vegetables and even a scoop of cooked quinoa (also allowed during Passover since quinoa is not a grain). At times other than Passover, this is marvelous with fresh sliced challah dunked into the liquid stew. Steamed potatoes also make a good addition. YUM!!

 

PS: I added cubes of zucchini just because!

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Orange & Maple Glazed Nuts

You know me. You know I love to travel. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I always bring my own snacks. One of my favorites is glazed nuts.  They travel well, even when it’s hot outside. The only problem? They don’t last long!

I originally published this recipe back in August of 2011 if you can believe it! Here’s a link to that post, in case you’re interested, and I updated the recipe since I now make this a little more interesting.  I included a few other of my best travel tips – all of which hold true to this day.

Glazed nuts

Glazed Nuts

Ingredients
  • 3 Tbsp real maple syrup
  • 2 tsp orange zest (I have used lemon or lime or grapefruit too)
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • grated rind of 1 orange
  • 2 pinches of table salt
  • 2 1/2  cups mixed nuts (almonds, walnuts or pecans)
Instructions

Preheat toaster oven or regular oven to 375 degrees. Cover the flat baking sheet for the toaster or for your oven with aluminum foil and rub a little oil on the foil to prevent the nuts from sticking..

Mix maple syrup with orange zest, cinnamon, cayenne and salt. (I recommend using a microplane grater for grating the citrus zest. Feel free to add more or less.)

Add the nuts to the bowl and mix all ingredients together until everything is coated.

Transfer to the flat pan that goes into a toaster oven (or to a regular cookie sheet for the oven). Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes or so.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the nuts to a bowl. They are sticky and might be hard to remove and they take a while to cool thoroughly, so keep breaking the pieces apart.

I always keep a cup of these on my kitchen counter and I freeze the rest for up to two months. They are great in salads too.

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Butternut Squash Risotto – Take Two

I’m posting this one again. It’s been three years since the original post! This is such a delicious meal for these cold, blustery days. I hope you enjoy!

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Click here to view recipe.

Beautiful Butternut Squash Risotto

Years ago, so many many years ago that now it seems like a lifetime, my sister Susan and I went to Tuscany together. Our kids were all still young and living at home, but we managed to spend a little over a glorious week there.  On four of the days, we toured around in the morning and then returned to a villa at 4pm for a cooking class.

Most of the food we prepared at Tutti a Tavola was not fancy or difficult to make.  We made lasagne using dried noodles, pepperonata, tiramisu, limoncello, bollito misto and risotto.

The risotto recipe contained fresh pumpkin and required at least a half hour of standing at the stovetop stirring constantly.  For me, that is a non-starter and so I took the basic recipe and adapted it for my stovetop pressure cooker, subbing peeled and diced butternut squash for the pumpkin. This is a seven minute preparation that requires no stirring and comes out better than ever!

One thing I learned in Italy was to use liberal amounts of good olive oil when cooking.  Do not hold back – this imparts a marvelous flavor and a glorious silky smooth texture.  

I still order a case of Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Italy and use it for most everything and then give a few bottles to relatives who cook and who appreciate the gift. Mine is from my teacher Mimma’s vineyard – the Muricciaglia winery in Tuscany. It is so beautifully green and really earthy tasting – Olio d’Oliva delizioso!

The BEST EVOO

This January, I made this on a Sunday night for my husband and me.  Because we always dine at home, I try to create a nice atmosphere with flowers, napkins, beautiful food and theme music-here. For this dinner I found “Romantic Italian” on a playlist.  Somehow it makes eating a lot more fun and elevates whatever I make to restaurant quality.

Risotto con la Zucca (AKA Risotto with Pumpkin)

Serves 6-8

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Ingredients
  • ½ – ¾ of a large butternut squash, peeled and seeded, dice into ⅓-inch cubes
  • 3 Tbsp good olive oil for the squash
  • 2 cups of Arborio Rice (can be substituted with “Short Grain White Pearl” rice)
  • Another 2 Tbsp good olive oil for sauteing onion/rice
  • 4 cups (or 1L) of chicken or vegetable broth (lazy me, I use Better than Bouillon and boiling water)
  • 1 onion (or 1 cup, diced) or ¾ cup diced shallots 
  • 1 swig of white wine or dry vermouth (about 1 ½ Tbsp)
  • ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese to finish
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions 

First, mix the diced squash and 3 tablespoons olive oil with some salt and pepper, and bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes – until softened but not overly done.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Meanwhile, in the pre-heated pressure cooker on medium heat add the two tablespoons oil and onion or shallot. Sauté the onion or shallot on low until it becomes translucent (about 5-10 minutes).

Add the rice and lightly toast it to release the starch. When you add the Arborio rice to the onions/shallots, the rice will turn from solid white to translucent as it absorbs the oil and onion juice, then in about a minute back to white. Wait until just a couple of grains look golden and your rice is toasted! 

Add a swig of white wine and un-stick any grains from the bottom of the cooker and stir the rice until the wine has fully evaporated.

Add the broth to the onions/shallots, mix and close the top immediately.

Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker.  For stove top pressure cookers: Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker indicates it has reached high pressure, lower the heat to maintain it and begin counting seven minutes pressure cooking time.

When time is up, open the cooker by releasing the pressure

The risotto should appear just slightly too wet. Stir, and the rice will continue to absorb the extra liquid in about 30 seconds. If the rice is still very wet, put the open pressure cooker back on a medium flame, without the lid, and finish cooking it this way – stirring often – until it reaches the right consistency. For a classic finish, melt two tablespoons of butter and grated cheese and stir in right before serving. Adjust for salt and pepper 

I add the cooked tiny cubed cooked butternut squash right at the end too.  By the way, this works with diced broccoli as well or a combo of broccoli and squash.

Leftovers reheat beautifully or you could add some egg and breadcrumbs, coat with panko and saute for a different meal.

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Whole Wheat Apricot Scones

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Whole Wheat Apricot Scone

Something happened to the Apricot Scone recipe I posted here a while back.  No matter where I searched, it did not show up. Poof! Ah, technology …

Sooooooo, I hunted through my “regular” recipe files and found two recipes for whole wheat apricot scones.  I selected the easiest one with the least amount of sugar, played around with it twice, and voila.  So easy and so good.  The scones are incredible in part due to the fancy shmancy dried apricots I always order from Traina Foods in California, a minimum of two pounds of Sun Dried Ruby Royal Jumbo Apricots.  They are soft, flavorful, and have a really nice color.  

The Best Whole Wheat Apricot Scones (version 2.0)

Yield: 8 small scones

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Ingredients
  • 1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  •  2 tsp. baking powder
  •  Little less than ½ tsp. table salt
  • Grated zest of ½ lemon or ½ orange
  •  4 Tbsp. (½ stick) cold salted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
  •  ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup + a little extra diced dried apricots (I cut with scissors and toss with the flour/butter/sugar mix to distribute)
  •  ½ cup half-and-half (or use half cream and half whole milk. I’ve even used just whole milk – still delish)
  •  1 large egg
  • 1 tsp sparkly white sugar (for the top)
Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt. Add sugar and make sure everything is well combined.

With a hand-wire pastry cutter, cut butter into the flour mixture and whisk to incorporate. Stir in lemon or orange zest, then add apricot pieces and be sure they are evenly distributed. 

Measure the half-and-half or milk into a 2-cup measuring cup, and add the egg. Beat with a whisk to mix well. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture (leave a tiny bit in the measuring cup to put on top of the scones as a glaze) and stir with a rubber spatula to just combine; there may be some flour at the bottom of the bowl. 

Quickly use your hands,   turn the dough and any excess flour out onto a board or countertop, press, gather, and knead it until it just comes together. Ideally, do not knead more than 12 times. As soon as the dough holds together, pat it into a rough, 8-inch circle in the middle of the parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. I use a rolling pin so it is even.  Cut the circle into 8 even pie-shaped wedges. Use the remaining egg/liquid in the cup and spread on top of the scones with your hands, then sprinkle the top with about one teaspoon of sparkly sugar.  Lightly press the sparkly sugar in the scones.  

Separate the pie shaped wedges on the cookie sheet, and bake for about 15 minutes, or until pale golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm or reheat lightly.

Note: If you plan to eat them soon, store the scones in an airtight container at room temperature. For more than two days,  seal them in a heavy plastic bag or container, and freeze them. Before serving, bring them to room temperature. Either way, reheat them briefly in a 300°F oven. They’re best served warm.



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