Hummus

Hummus: more serious than peanut butter, less fickle than baba ganoush.  Heartier than mayonnaise, less startling than mustard.

Let’s make some hummus.  Since I learned how to make it myself, I have stopped buying it from stores.  Ok, except that one time, but that was only because I was about to move and I needed my hummus fix but I’d already packed away my cooking utensils, look, it wasn’t my fault, and the stuff I bought was so mediocre that if anything it was a good thing, because now I know never to buy it from the store again, ok?

Another recipe that is neither original nor representative of a complete meal (unless you just eat hummus for a meal, which, I mean, I guess I can’t blame you), but good to have and easy to incorporate elsewhere.

For about one and a half cups of hummus, you’ll need:

  • A can of chickpeas
  • Tahini
  • Olive oil
  • A few cloves of garlic
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Other spices (I like to use cumin, coriander, cayenne, and a little smoked paprika)

A note on equipment: a blender or food processor is, I think, the typical way to go, but I don’t own a blender or a food processor.  I do, however, have a stick blender (aka an immersion blender, aka a handheld blender) and a tall cup made to fit it, so that’s what I use for making hummus.  Use whatever you’ve got.  Sorry, a fork and a never-give-up attitude probably won’t be enough.

  1. Drain and rinse your chickpeas, reserving the liquid from the can.
  2. Combine a quarter cup of tahini, a quarter cup of olive oil, the garlic, the lemon juice, a large pinch of salt, a healthy sprinkling of pepper, and the chickpeas in whatever blending vessel you’re using.
  3. Blend.  If you’re using a stick blender, you may need to stop a few times to scrape the thick goop off the sides of the blade.
  4. Keep blending until it looks like it’s all mixed evenly.
  5. It’s probably a little thicker than you want it to be.  Add about a tablespoon of the reserved chickpea liquid (you didn’t throw it away, did you?) and blend until mixed.  If it’s still thicker than you want, add a little more liquid and blend again; repeat until it’s the consistency you want.
  6. Taste and add salt as needed.  Add your other spices and stir around to mix those in.  I like to go heavy on the cumin and coriander, lighter on the smoked paprika (a little goes a long way here), and as always just a dash or two of cayenne.

Go nuts!  Spread it on things, dip things in it, eat it by the spoonful, etc.  Just don’t put it on mushrooms.  They don’t deserve it.

LEFTOVER TIPS

Tupperware works, or if you’re like me and you made it in a tall cup with a stick blender, you can leave it in the cup and cover it with plastic wrap.  It’ll keep for several days, but why would you let it last that long?

Damn Good Tacos

As promised: tacos!

Now that you’ve made a fleet of corn tortillas, it’s time to put something in them, fold them up halfway-ish, and shove them into your face.

This is a pretty basic recipe, nothing special, but it’s satisfying, dammit.  I’ll get to the fancy fillings and sauces and shit later on.  For now, we’re gonna just have simple tacos.

What goes in a simple taco?

  • Beans
  • Avocado
  • Cheese

Let’s do it.

For the beans, you’ll need:

  • 2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 yellow onion
  • A few cloves of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • A can of vegetable broth (or water, if you’re bland)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Spices (I use cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, cayenne, and chili powder)

For the avocado topping (I wouldn’t call it guacamole), you’ll need:

  • 4 avocados, ready for mashing
  • 1 lime
  • A clove of garlic
  • A few scallions
  • Salt and pepper and a dash of cayenne

For the cheese, you’ll need:

  • A bag of shredded cheese.  What, did you think I make my own cheese?  I like to think I’m an ambitious home cook, but I’m not about to store sour milk in sheep intestines or whatever the fuck you have to do to make cheese.

These amounts will make enough fixings for 16-20 tacos, depending on how hefty you like your tacos.

First, the beans:

  1. Mince your garlic and slice your onion (for the onion, I just leave it in long thin strips, rather than dicing or mincing).
  2. Set a pan to medium-high heat and put in a couple tablespoons of olive oil.
  3. When the oil’s hot, throw in the garlic and onion.  Season with salt and pepper and let them cook until translucent and starting to soften, about 5 minutes.
  4. Throw in the beans and season again with salt and pepper.  Stir it all around, and don’t be gentle with the beans.  Ideally you’ll want to smash them as you stir, but don’t worry about being too thorough.
  5. Pour in some of the vegetable broth and stir everything around.  At this point you may want to turn the heat down to medium.
  6. Stir the beans periodically, smashing them with your spoon as you stir (again, don’t worry about being thorough; it’s nice if it doesn’t have a completely uniform texture).  Keep an eye out for the broth — as the liquid evaporates and runs low, pour in some more broth.  Keep doing that until the can of broth is gone.
  7. Towards the end, the broth may start puddling due to saturation and/or spite; if need be, skim the excess liquid as it continues cooking (this is what culinary school students call depouillage, and it is fancy as fuck).
  8. The beans are done when you’re out of broth and the mixture is neither wet nor dry.  If you’re worried that putting a scoop of the beans onto a tortilla will make the tortilla soggy, then let them keep cooking until a little more moisture has evaporated.

Next, the avocado topping:

  1. Cut all your avocados in half, scooping their innards into a bowl.  Include the pits.
  2. Add the juice of one lime.
  3. Chop up a few scallions and add.
  4. Mince the garlic and add.  I like to grate my garlic through a microplane zester for this, since it pretty much liquefies the garlic, but a garlic press or fancy knifework will suffice.
  5. Throw in as much salt and pepper as you want, and throw in a dash of cayenne.
  6. Using a fork or spoon, mash everything up until it’s mixed and the avocado is broken up into a chunky spreadable goop.

Now the cheese:

  1. Open the bag of cheese.

Now, the assembly!  Beans first, then avocado, then cheese.  If you deviate at all from this order, a man in a black suit and a fedora will come to your house to deliver the bad news you’ve been dreading this whole time.  You know exactly the news I’m talking about.  About Martha.

But you forgot the sour cream!  And what about lettuce!  And what about tomatoes!

Sure, add them if you want, I don’t care.  Do you need a recipe to tell you to do that?

Well, no, but… I mean, you included storebought shredded cheese in your recipe…

Shut up.  Eat your damn tacos.

LEFTOVER TIPS

Tupperware, fridge.  Reheat the beans on the stove — should only take a couple minutes in a pan on medium-high heat — or in the microwave, if you’re a coward.  Reopen the bag of cheese.