Tag Archives: hummous

“Sixteen Candles”

6 Nov

Violin girl celebrated her “sweet sixteen” birthday yesterday. Actually, as I was writing this, she was in the living room with some of her girl pals, watching what was left of the “naked men” movie, i.e., “A Room With A View.” She and one of her pals had dubbed it such after violin girl had described to her the one scene in which a few “gentlemen” had frolicked about the pasture, after bathing in the nearby pond.  Gotta love those British period movies.

For her party, violin girl had requested that we create a Middle Eastern feast, set mostly in the Old Testament times. Doesn’t every modern girl want one of these? Actually, it came about after violin girl had overheard some pals mentioning something about the Bible verse, John 3:16 and rather than hearing the “3:16” part, she had heard, “sweet 16,” thus her “John Sweet Sixteen” biblically-themed party. Got that?

Sweet Sixteeners


For the feast, we started with a platter of dates, grapes, and pommegranates, plus hummous with an Indian flatbread that I grilled over the gas flame. Then, gyros with yogurt/cucumber/garlic/mint sauce, tomatoes and green onions, and leaf lettuce.  Basmati rice, cooked with a bit of tumeric, accompanied them.

For dessert, there were cupcakes and these:

Almost like Kaukab's


I think these were comparable to her’s, except she’d tell you they weren’t buttery enough and that honey was used to sweeten them rather than making a simple syrup with part rose water. If they had even used orange blossom water, she might had been willing to forfeit the criticism. As Kaukab so often remarks, “Ah, whad you gonna do?”

What did I care?  I didn’t make ’em. *Zwing!* (Sorry. Too much espresso.)

The girls didn’t seem to mind, either.

Sorry, Kaukab.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Violin Girl.
Love, Kaukab’s Daughter

Recipes From My Mother’s Table (with some daughterly tweaking)

20 Jun

So, what of the recipes?  Well, for starters, Kaukab never learned to use them. She comes from a long list of women from the ‘old country,’ which means…there’s no safe, neat list of items–like measurements. No pantry list. No words of encouragement, like “Don’t worry, I’m sure your family will still love you, even if the hummus tastes nothing, nor looks, like the one that we’ve made for generations, harking back to the Phonecians.”

With that in mind, I give you the first of many.  I wanted to make this first one especially special, so I decided to start with the ubiquitous chickpea spread, universally known (and spelled) as “hummous,” “hummus,” or “humous.”  Personally, I go with the middle one. I’ll do us all a favor and not comment on the various pronounciations.

So, the main question I get from my non-Lebanese, hummus-making friends, is: “Why doesn’t mine taste like yours?”  Except for Kaukab.  If you flip the third and sixth words in that lovely question, you’ll have a good idea the relationship for which the perennial ‘mother-daughter’ one refers.

Here’s the secret to “authentic” (i.e., Kaukab’s hummus) hummus-making.  Reserved cooked chickpea water. Now, you may ask, “Where am I gonna find chickpea water?!”

The secret to a flavorful hummus is to cook the canned chickpeas (for the more adventurous cooks with plenty of hand-time, who start with the dried ones, you’ll already have the cooked “pea” water).  This will achieve two important things. One, it will provide you with the sacred pea water, and; two, it will soften the pea skins enough for you to remove them so that your hummus will be nice and smooth. Let’s get started!

For a party of up to 15

3 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 lemon

garlic, 3-4 lg. cloves (peeled, of course)

3-4 T. tahini (Mediterranean equivalent of American peanut butter)

1C. reserved, cooled pea water

salt to taste (I prefer sea salt, although Kaukab used regular, old Morton’s)

Olive oil (Xtra Virgin, preferrably)

In medium pot, put in chickpeas and cover with cold water. Cook chickpeas on med. to medium high, lid partially tilted. Cook to boil, then turn down to medium and cook another 15 minutes.  Remove from stove and pour 1C of liquid into measuring cup and let cool. Drain the cooked peas. Rinse with cold water, until cooled. Pick off any thin, clear pea skins and discard.

Into food processor, put chickpeas, 2-3 garlic cloves, 1/4 tsp. salt, 2-3 T. tahini, 1/4 C. reserved, cooled pea water and pulse until fairly mashed. Pause, and scrape down. Add rest of garlic, 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. more salt, tahini, 1/4C. cooled pea water, 1/2 lemon, and pulse enough to make smooth, loose paste. Add more lemon, tahini, garlic to correct taste. You should taste the tahini in it. Use more pea water, if needs loosened. Kaukab’s hummus isn’t thick, like peanut butter. Pour finished hummus onto platter, or in bowl, and add finely-chopped parsley, a sprinkling of paprika, and a few whole chickpeas–barely inserted. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve with pita bread, cut into small triangles.

 A word about adding spices, like cumin. I tend to avoid any discussion about this with Kaukab, since her usual response goes something like this: “We don’t do this. Only Americans do this. We don’t do it!” Personally, I like cumin. But, not in my hummus. In black bean or mango salsas? For sure.

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