Hatch Pepper Hummus: Hatch Fever Continues

Hatch Chile HummusI always associate Hatch chile season with our move to Austin. The week we were here looking for a place to live before the big move coincided with the Hatch chile festival at Central Market, and thus my obsession began. I’ve rarely bought anything besides the chiles themselves, but this year I tried the roasted Hatch chile hummus and fell in love. I bought three tubs to prolong the festival feeling, but those were gone in short order. With my freezer stocked with 20 pounds of roasted chiles (hot, if you must know) I decided to give it a try and make my own. I adapted my recipe from this great base on Confections of a Foodie Bride. To make a super smooth hummus I use Alton Brown’s slow cooker chickpeas recipe. The trick is 1/2 tsp baking soda added to the cooking water–it dissolves the chickpea skins for smoother blending.

 

 

 

Hatch Pepper Hummus: Hatch Fever Continues
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: Approx. 2 cups of hummus
Ingredients
  • 3 cups chickpeas, drained and rinsed (roughly 1.5 cans)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 Hatch chiles, roasted, seeded, and chopped
  • Juice of 1.5 limes
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • 3 Tbsp tahini
Instructions
  1. Place the chickpeas and garlic in the food processor and process until smooth, occasionally scraping down the bowl.
  2. Add the hatch chiles, lime juice, salt, and cumin and process again, scraping the bowl as needed.
  3. Add tahini and process until completely smooth.
  4. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve, topped with additional chopped chiles as desired.

 

Breakfast at Home

Figs and Goat CheeseI’m pretty inconsistent when it comes to breakfast at home. Some days I want a full meal deal, and others I just want a cafe au lait and a the morning news updates. Once upon a time I had a stable of three or four breakfast options I’d rotate through during the week, but I’ve gotten a bit lazy and some mornings I’m doing well to put the coffee and water in the correct sections of the coffee pot!

Quick assemble breakfasts make me happy, but most of my old standards were assembled on Central Market‘s Nine Grain and Honey bread. Since adopting gluten-free eating I’ve missed that bread, but not as much as I thought I might. On the recommendations of several friends I tried Udi’s gluten-free breads. I’ve tried four varieties and all have been good (the Omega Flax and Fiber is my favorite), but the slices are small and the loaves are expensive. I’ve been treating my Udi’s as a special treat, rather than as a regular daily standby.

Back in August ago I made preserved figs and on a recent morning decided that they needed to become breakfast. A couple of slices of that flax and fiber bread made a nice base for a luscious spread of goat cheese and juicy slices of cardamom-spiced figs alongside my cafe au lait. What an east, special breakfast at home.

Foodie Find: Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli rabe v baby broccoli

Left: my photo of the produce section, right: the recipe photo at Food 52

I am really into autumn greens this year, and despite the surfeit of kale and collards in my fridge at the moment, I volunteered to test a recipe in a Food52 recipe contest for Your Most Impressive Dinner Party Side featuring broccoli rabe. In the process of shopping for ingredients I learned a few things about broccoli, broccolini, and broccoli rabe. I thought I’d share, since I can’t really post my thoughts on the recipe until after I send them off to the Food52 editors.

As I’ve already established, Central Market is my favorite grocery store on the planet. I love shopping there and discovering new things, and to be honest I tend to ignore the whole broccoli/cauliflower/cabbage part of the produce section. Largely this is because they aren’t my favorite vegetables, and I find myself stonewalling when faced with the whole procedure of chopping a large head down to useable pieces.

Today I went looking for broccoli rabe and found myself totally confused, looking at the leafy greens that I thought were broccoli rabe which were displayed under a sign for organic sweet baby broccoli. Then I went to verify the ingredients on the recipe’s site, and that photo added to my confusion, since it seems to be baby broccoli, not broccoli rabe!

I did a quick spot of research and learned the following:

  • Broccoli rabe is part of the same genus as broccoli, but it’s more closely related to the turnip family
  • Baby broccoli, also known by the trademarked name broccolini, is not young broccoli, but is a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale
  • The “sweet baby broccoli” sign above refers to a different hybrid of baby broccoli, so it’s just another version of broccolini, but it’s definitely not young broccoli

I went ahead and made the recipe as written, using broccoli rabe rather than the baby broccoli pictured in the photo. I’ve had broccoli rabe at restaurants before, but this was my first time making it at home. I learned a few things, might not repeat some of them, and ended up with an overall pleasing dish.

If you’re looking to try broccoli rabe, look for the leaves and not the little florets. Notably, broccoli rabe doesn’t give off the cabbage-y aroma that so many cruciferous vegetables have. It’s fairly mild, slightly bitter, and not as toothsome as collards or kale can be. I recommend removing the tough stems as they are quite stringy, but using the soft stems along with the leaves. All the reputable recipes I’ve found have recommended blanching the broccoli rabe before sauteeing. I would substitute it in any favorite autumn greens dish.

Do you have a well-loved preparation that might be amazing with broccoli rabe?

Foodie Find: Omission Beer

Omission beerThe last two batches of black beans I’ve made have been dry, by which I mean not drunken, and this makes me sad. For years I’ve been making my black beans with a healthy dose of Dos Equis, Negro Modelo, or Baltika and now I can’t. A friend mentioned gluten-free beers to me a couple weeks ago, and while I did a little looking online, I hadn’t yet made the step to finding any brews locally.

That all changed last night when I went on a shopping expedition to Central Market. We have houseguests coming and they are not at all gluten-challenged, so most of my shopping cart was filled with all the gluten. We have biscotti and cinnamon rolls and 47-grain bread and a raft of other things I can’t eat. But tucked in next to the gluten-full goodies was my six-pack of Omission lager.

Omission is apparently a gluten-free beer, but they seem very careful about tossing that term around. The beer is labelled as “crafted to remove gluten,” but like beers the world over, it starts with barley. Barley is one of the handful of grains that are kryptonite to those with celiac and gluten intolerance, so how can a beer made with barley be OK for us?

To be honest, I’m not 100% certain it is. The process Omission uses is guaranteed by independent testing to bring the gluten level in the beer down below 20 ppm, which has been the acceptable standard approved by the FDA. I’m new to all of this, and I’m not excited about the possibility of “glutening” an entire batch of beans. As a gluten-free or safe product, Omission seems to have more fans than detractors, based on online reviews. And the beer itself gets good marks for taste. I guess I could solve the mystery for myself and just kick back and drink a beer after work. But I’ll admit, I’m nervous about it.

Sometime in the next week I’ll make another pot of beans, I’ll add my beer and I’ll cross my fingers that Omission is the foodie find I hope it is.

Cookie Bites (Part 1)

Cookie CollageOver the next couple of days I’m going to share some awesome cookie recipes, starting with my all-time number one favorite cookie in the world.

In 1998 I moved to San Antonio and became addicted to Central Market‘s Chocolate Crispy Cookies. For nine months I bought one package of six cookies for $4.99 each week. I was working at the McNay Art Museum as a graduate intern and my tiny stipend meant that my splurges had to be modest and meaningful. Since I ate every meal at home and took my lunch to work most days, my chocolate crispy cookies were a guilty pleasure and indulgence.

After my internship ended I moved back to California and left the chocolate crispy cookies behind. I missed them terribly and every so often I would try to suss out the secrets of the gooey inside, the crispy outside, and the rich chocolate flavor. I usually ended up with some version of a chocolate-chocolate chip cookie or a brownie bite. The cookies were fine, but they weren’t my beloved Central Market sweetness.

In 2004 I bought the New York Times Jewish Cookbook in preparation for the upcoming Jewish new year, Rosh Hashana. As I sat on the sofa leafing through the book, admiring the depth and breadth of the recipes, my heart started pounding when I saw it: Chocolate Chewies. The recipe was contributed by Joan Nathan, one of the grand dames of Jewish cuisine, and adapted from the cookbook Gottlieb’s Bakery–100 Years of Recipes. I knew immediately that this was the recipe. With only 4 (or 5, depending on if you use the flour) ingredients, it remains a mystery how they can be so tremendously delicious.

You can double this recipe, but since these cookies are very susceptible to drying out so I prefer to make the small batch unless I know I’m baking for a crowd.

Chocolate Chewies (or Chocolate Crispy Cookies)

3 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. good quality unsweetened cocoa
2 Tbsp. flour
3 egg whites
2 c. chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350 degrees, and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Place sugar, cocoa and flour in bowl of an electric mixer, and beat until well blended. Beat in egg whites one at a time, scraping bowl as necessary. Beat at high speed for 1 minute. Stir in pecans.

Drop heaping tablespoons onto cookie sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. Bake 15 minutes on center rack, turning sheet halfway through baking time. Remove from oven. Cool, then peel cookies off parchment.

Store in airtight container or freeze.

Yield: approximately 10-12 cookies

As printed in the New York Times Jewish Cookbook