26 July 2005

apricot cherry sauce (for lamb, pork, etc.)

8 fresh apricots, blanched, peeled, pitted, halved
20-30 fresh cherries, pitted
1-2 T butter
2 T turbinado or demerara sugar
2 T balsamic vinegar, preferably white*
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/8 t. ground coriander
1 t almond extract
fresh rosemary
dash salt

Melt butter slowly in heavy bottomed pan over low heat. Cut the apricot halves into quarters. Add apricots and cherries to pan and cook for a couple minutes until fruit starts to soften noticably. If your fruit is not juicy, you may want to add just a little water to help it get started. Add a tablespoon of the vinegar and the almond extract, the cloves, coriander and stir. Cook until the alcohol from the almond extract has burned off and taste. Add a dash of salt and the sugar and cook a few more minutes. Taste again, adjust the sugar/vinegar and add some fresh rosemary. I used the torn leaves of most of a five inch stalk. Cook a few more minutes and taste. The rosemary adds a fair amount of depth, but a lot depends on the flavor/quality of your fruit. Cook until it reaches desired thickness and fruit-broken-down-ness, stirring occasionally.

Made this as an accompaniment for the rosemary lamb for tomorrow's dinner. Would probably be awesome with pork. You could substitute peaches or nectarines for the apricots. We just made this up tonight, so it may get adjusted/refined for dinners to come.

*I prefer white balsamic for this recipe as it doesn't darken the fruit, but I had better quality regular balsamic so I compromised with 1.5 T white, and .5 T regular balsamic, which still darkened it quite a bit.

24 July 2005

superior hummus

Ingredients (my proportions in parentheses):
  • 1 large can (19 oz) garbanzo beans, drained, liquid reserved
  • 1 can (14 oz) cannellini (Italian white beans)
  • juice of a large lemon (around half)
  • garlic cloves, peeled (2-4)
  • olive oil (1 T)
  • lowfat plain yogurt (4 T)
  • sesame seed oil, preferably toasted sesame seed oil (2 T)
  • kosher salt (1/2 T)
  • fresh ground black pepper (1 t)
  • cumin (1 t)

Combine all in food processor, until desired consistency.

For me, good hummus is a balance between all the flavors and it's easy to get carried away, so taste often and adjust seasonings a little at a time. Usually hummus has tahini, a sesame seed paste, in it. Since tahini is high fat, this recipe leaves it out, achieving a very similar taste with the sesame seed oil. Start with at least a tablespoon, and adjust to your taste. If too thick, thin with liquid from beans, extra lemon juice (carefully, as this can quickly overwhelm the other flavors), a little more oil, or more yogurt.

Probably this will not keep as long as traditional hummus (because of the yogurt), but it's so good that won't be a problem. Serve with whatever you like, but we think it's good with red bell pepper strips, cucumbers, toasted pita bread triangles.

Note on sesame oil: It's easy to find at any Asian market, or even the Asian section of most grocery stores. You may have to go to a specialty market to find toasted sesame seed oil, but it's worth it. The flavor is much richer and deeper, and when using oil for a flavoring, that lets you use less oil to better effect.