First of all, I don’t know if Allison’s hummus is famous. Probably not… until NOW! (I wish I had the power to make things famous… I’m no Oprah, here.) But I like the assonance of famous hummus, so chew on THAT.
Allison and I were schoolmates from middle school through USC. We met in beginning band, at the exact same level of wind instrument-playing ignorance. Cut to today– Allison is a professional French horn player living in SWITZERLAND, while I can barely remember how to play a scale on the flute. That’s why you should practice, kids.
Last weekend Allison and I both happened to be not only on the same continent but also in our mutual hometown, so I hung out with her and watched as she whipped up a bunch of stuff from scratch (or at least from my definition of scratch– and without recipes!), like a true Renaissance person. My contribution to the hangout was introducing her to some of the pop music she might have missed while she was in Switzerland– namely Ke$ha.
Hope you enjoyed your visit to America, Allison! Before you leave, brush your teeth with a bottle of Jack.
Anyway, here are some pictures from her kitchen… and the hummus recipe (roasted red pepper hummus, at that), which she MADE UP IN HER BRAIN.
Can you tell I’m impressed with Allison? I kinda want to be her apprentice.
First of all, I think the key to impressing me is owning a food processor. (Lauren has one, too!)
I was also very impressed by what I’m calling the lemon macerator. Remember that clip of Oprah on “The Soup” where she bit the lime to make more juice come out? This is like that, without using your mouth (or Oprah’s).
Also impressive: Allison’s knowledge of spices. I read a piece in The New Yorker that mentioned that most cinnamon in America isn’t even real cinnamon– it’s fake, crappy cinnamon. (Or another spice entirely? I think Allison knew the name of it.) And Allison agreed, a lot of our spices are whack here. Blah, sucks to be us. (Eh… we’re used to it.)
The sumac was her answer to paprika. She said it gave the hummus its Middle Eastern feel.
The only sumac I know of is poison sumac, the itchy plant. Hopefully they’re not related.
This seems like a good time to give you the recipe, which Allison approximated for me.
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed
half lemon, squeezed
2 tbsps tahini sauce (Trader Joe’s)
2 tbsps each, chopped parsley & green onion
1 roasted red pepper, chopped
sprinkle of cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp kosher salt or 1/4 tsp regular salt
Process all of the above in your food processor. While it’s blending, add a drizzle of water or olive oil to desired consistency, salt & pepper to taste. Top with a sprinkle of sumac or paprika.
Allison proceeded to impress me by whipping up a tabouleh salad and raita (an Indian yogurt sauce). I realize now that part of my problem is that I am terrified of knives/getting cut by knives– therefore anything that needs to be finely chopped is outside of my scope. (I don’t even like to WATCH people use knives.) (For cutting food, I mean… or otherwise. Ew.)
Allison said something about watching enough cooking shows that she really gets a sense for which spices need to be added, etc. It’s like… a sixth sense, except it probably involves taste or smell, which are… already part of the five senses. So… yeah.
Perhaps the most delightful discovery of my visit was a German… grain?… called amaranth. Allison bought it puffed, and it tasted like it would add a delicious little crunch to any snack. I think Allison mentioned dipping bananas in it.
When I say “little crunch,” I mean it. This stuff was TINY. Allison stuck a ruler into the bowl, so you could get an idea. I had to turn it around, because she put the metric side face-up. Silly Allison, nobody understands the metric system here!
It’s pretty eye-opening to realize that so many of my comfort foods (and favorite ethnic foods) might not be readily available if I lived in small-town Europe. (If I were Allison–living on the Swiss-Italian border– I think it would be pizza and pasta all the time! And sometimes chocolate.)
(It’s also eye-opening to realize that all of my friends are cooler than me– and better at cooking.) (I know how to pick ’em!)
Kudos to Allison for knowing how to make her favorites in her very own kitchen! If anybody should be keeping a blog– or at least sending me pictures of food– it’s her. The world needs as many blogs as possible– am I right?
Anyway– enjoy your Saturday nights. And if you hit up a farmers’ market tomorrow– now you have a recipe to try.