Friday, August 31, 2018

Avocado Hummus, a classic dish at Momed Restaurant, Beverly Hills, CA

The back yard of our second house in south Florida was a small garden of Eden. We had a prolific mango tree, 2 abundant avocado trees, grapefruit and orange trees, and a small Meyer lemon tree. We loved that yard and all that it provided.

Back then the only recipe I made with the avocados was guacamole. The avocado has become more sophisticated in its recipe applications, and I’ve tried to branch-out in my use of them, too.

Today you’ll find avocados used in omelets (I love a crab-avocado omelet!), pastas, salads, salad dressings, soups, desserts – such as mousse and ice cream, cocktails (margaritas), of course, the very popular, often expensive menu item - avocado toast, and naturally, hummus.

There’s a restaurant in Beverly Hills, CA called Momed, short for modern Mediterranean. The owner, Alex Sarkissian, has been serving avocado hummus at his establishment ever since it opened almost ten years ago. He calls this particular hummus one of his ‘classic dishes’, in fact, a ‘superstar’- on the menu.  
Image result for avocado hummus momed
California Cookbook - LA Times: Momed's Avocado Hummus
Their recipe is a simple blend of pureed avocados with garlic, lime and lemon juice, tahini, cumin and a touch of salt – no chick peas required. Mr. Sarkissian notes that the recipe does not taste like guacamole due to the addition of tahini.

Dana Slatkin, chef, Culinary Institute of America grad and cookbook author interviewed Mr. Sarkissian when his restaurant first opened. He shared the avocado hummus recipe with her, and I’m passing it on to you.

(See my quickie version below!)

Momed’s Avocado Hummus
Makes about 1 cup

2 medium ripe avocados
1/4 cup tahini (ground sesame) paste
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons ground cumin (preferably toasted until fragrant)
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (optional)
Sea salt, to taste

In a food processor, blend all the ingredients except the oil. Through the top of the machine, slowly pour in the oil (You may not need to use it all.). Season to taste with salt and transfer to a serving bowl.

Notes: If you’re not serving this immediately, place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the hummus to prevent discoloration. Can be made 1 day ahead.

If you prefer a heartier hummus, Dana suggests blending-in ½ cup or more of canned, drained, chick peas.

Serve with pita bread triangles, pita chips, crackers, and/or vegetable sticks

FYI: avocado hummus tastes really good on toast!

My quickie version of Avocado Hummus:
My super-quick version of Avocado Hummus

I had one small, ripe Hass avocado waiting to be used. After peeling and de-seeding it, I added about a teaspoon or 2 of tahini, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and a sprinkling of salt, cumin and garlic powder. Mashed it with a fork until smooth and served it on thin crunchy crackers. 

Friday, August 24, 2018

Mama Ghanoush - a great name for a tasty appetizer!

The Armenian Kitchen's Mama Ghanoush garnished with toasted pine nuts.
Doug likes to browse through Middle Eastern restaurant menus online. One day he showed me an amazing menu, each dish sounding more incredible than the next.

The one that caught my eye was 'Mama Ghanoush'. I don't know how it got it's name, but it's the zucchini version of the eggplant-based dish, Baba Ghanoush

Mama Ghanoush isn’t a new recipe, but I’d never seen it on a restaurant menu before now.

Hoping the restaurant was nearby, I enthusiastically asked Doug its name and how soon could we go.

In a soft voice, he reluctantly stated, "The restaurant is called Batchig and it’s in, um, Lebanon."

Lebanon?? Thanks a lot, Doug!! Right away I knew we wouldn’t be dining there anytime soon.

Special Note: Batchig means ‘kiss’, in Armenian. 

Coincidentally, a few days later, I saw a recipe on Face Book for ‘Mama Ghanouj’ – from Oh My Veggies website. 

I took this as a sign that it was time for me to prepare it.

Here is my adapted version of Mama Ghanoush … 
(Note: recipe name spellings often vary.)

Mama Ghanoush
Yields about 1 to 1-1/2  cups


2 medium to large zucchini (about 1-1/2 to 2 lbs.), washed, unpeeled (Note: Zucchini may be left whole or sliced in half lengthwise, depending on size.)
1/4 c. tahini, well-stirred
1/2 tsp. ground cumin, optional
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt, or to taste
Juice from 1 large lemon
1 or 2 medium cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling on top

Garnishing options: toasted pine nuts, ground cumin, chopped parsley, za'atar, olive oil.


Wash each zucchini and pat dry. Slice in half lengthwise, or, leave whole. Lightly oil the zucchini's surface.
Oiled zucchini halves in a lightly oiled stove top grill pan. 
Grilled zucchini halves 
Place zucchini directly on the heated grill grates. Grill, turning from time to time, until softened and lightly charred. Grilling can be done on the stove top using a grill pan, or broiled in the oven, but, turn every so often so they cook evenly.
(I used a stove top grill pan.)
Grilled zuchini chunks
Remove from heat and allow to cool. Slice off the top and the bottom off each zucchini and cut them into large chunks.

In a small mixing bowl combine tahini, cumin, salt, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil until well-blended.

Place grilled zucchini chunks and tahini mixture in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Adjust seasonings, if necessary.

Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle additional olive oil on the top.

Garnish with toasted pine nuts, additional ground cumin, chopped parsley, or za'atar, if desired.

Serve with an assortment of fresh vegetable sticks, pita bread triangles, pita chips, or crackers.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Roasted Grape Tomatoes with Pomegranate Molasses Drizzle

I can’t help myself. Whenever I see a grocery store item that’s boasting ‘Buy-One-Get-One-Free’, aka BOGO, I’m going to cave-in and buy it.

Such was the case with one-pint containers of grape tomatoes. I use them mostly in salads, but I snack on them, too. 

Something happened this time around. I didn’t use the tomatoes in a timely manner, so number of them began to shrivel. I heard my mother’s voice from up above saying in my ear, ‘Those tomatoes are perfectly fine. Don’t you dare throw them away; that would be a sin!
Roasted Grape Tomatoes with Pomegranate Molasses Drizzle
I would NEVER do that; my mother taught me too well. So, here’s what I did to salvage the poor little tomatoes:

After I rinsed the tomatoes and patted them with a paper towel, I sliced them in half (they can be left whole).
Placed the tomato halves in a mixing bowl and tossed them with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano to taste.
The tomatoes were placed in a single layer in a  baking dish,  and roasted in a preheated 425°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

Note: To make clean-up easier, line the baking pan with parchment paper or foil.

Once done, I arranged the tomatoes on a serving plate, drizzled them with pomegranate molasses**, and garnished the top with crumbled Feta cheese. Deeelicious!

This can be served hot out of the oven or at room temperature. 

** Pomegranate molasses is sold in Middle Eastern stores and in some supermarkets, or, try making your own - it's easy!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Roasted Sweet Potato Spirals

I’ve been on a spiralizing frenzy ever since I received my new ‘toy’ last week. So far, I’ve experimented with zucchini, carrots, and now, sweet potatoes.
My OXO Spiralizer and sweet potato experiment
The sweet potatoes were a big hit as a side dish with roasted turkey breast and gravy, cranberry sauce, and peas. Sounds like a Thanksgiving meal, doesn’t it? But, this was a mid-week, early August dinner for two!
Roasted Sweet Potato Spirals - ready to serve 
Here’s the simple recipe I used for the Roasted Sweet Potato Spirals:

I scrubbed 2 medium-sized sweet potatoes under cool running water, patted them dry, then peeled. 
Freshly spiralized sweet potatoes
Spiralized the potatoes with my new gadget and placed them in a large mixing bowl. Added a splash of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and a tsp. or so of Herbes de’ Provence, a French blend. (Note: an Italian seasoning blend would work well, too.) Tossed to coat.

Preheated oven to 425°F.

Lightly oiled a large baking pan with one-inch sides. Spread the sweet potatoes in a single layer. Placed tray on a rack set in the center of the oven and roasted for 15 to 20 minutes.

Before serving, a garnish of chopped parsley can be added.

It was that easy; now, come on, you try!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Poached Salmon with Zucchini 'Noodles'

Years ago I purchased a small hand-held vegetable spiral cutter. After using it a couple of times, I decided it was more trouble than it was worth, so into the back of the cupboard it went. Eventually, it was donated.
My new OXO Spiralizer
All of a sudden, ‘spiralizing’ vegetables has become the RAGE! Recipes for spiralized you-name-it, are popping up all over social media, in blogs, cookbooks, and so on. Heck, even our local Italian restaurant offers spiralized zucchini in place of spaghetti! The last time we dined there, I substituted the spahghetti with the zucchini 'noodles' with my meal and enjoyed it immensely.

I thought long-and-hard about ordering another spiralizer, and decided, why not. One click on Amazon, and 2 days later my tabletop gadget arrived. This time, I got a spiffy model (hey, I deserve it!). It adheres to my counter top beautifully, cranks easily, and produces a mountain of curly, verrrrry long strands of goodness.
Poached Salmon with Zucchini 'Noodles'
When it came time to prepare dinner the other night I didn’t have a particular recipe in mind, but here’s what I made - poached salmon with a side of sautéed zucchini ‘noodles’.

I made spirals out of 2 medium-sized zucchini and quickly sautéed them in a large-enough skillet with just a splash of olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper. For added flavor, I sprinkled on a bit of Parmesan cheese.

The skinless salmon filet was seasoned with salt and pepper and poached in white wine with a squeeze of lemon juice. Dried dill was sprinkled on top just before serving. In no time, we had a quick, satisfying, and delicious meal!

What’s next with the spiralizer? I’ll be experimenting with sweet potatoes!