Category Archives: Salads and Spreads

How to Make Hummus and More Grilling Tips

It is not every day that I get this excited about sharing a recipe. There is so much that I want to share but most of it gets put aside in my mind while I change another exploding diaper or save a restless child from trying to put a sharp shiny object in its mouth.

Life is just like that right now. And then there are barbecues. The kind of barbecues that remind you that dinner can be easy and quick and you don’t have to plan too much.

I am well aware that barbecue for you is not barbecue for me. When I say barbecue, you might think of ribs or steak or chicken wings. When I think of barbecue, it all ends and begins in the same place, around a plate of hummus.

Yes, hummus! I can not eat food on the grill without hummus somewhere on the table.

It has to be on a round plate and have layers of flavors and colors. I can’t do it any other way. Hummus is like the round table of legumes. You need to use your bread to wipe the plate. You need to sit around the plate with a friend or your spouse and keep talking and eating until it is gone. And keep swiping your bread in a circular motion. I can’t have it any other way.
Every meat tastes better with hummus. Bread tastes better with hummus. Heck even lettuce tastes better with hummus. I could eat a whole head of lettuce wrapped in hummus.

The recipe is on the bottom but first let me tell you some more about what I like to grill.

Grilling for me has to be easy and fast. Applegate Farms hotdogs are a quick and tasty way to get food on the table. They are not the hotdogs that you get that are full of the icky bits of meat that nobody wants. Applegate farms meats don’t have antibiotics, their livestock eat a complete vegetarian diet, they are grass-fed and made with natural and organic ingredients. They are popping up all over Seattle and Portland lately and I have come to love this easy alternative for dinner.

This post is part of the Applegate blogging program (full disclosure below) but I have absolutely no problem telling you that I am very picky about my hotdogs, especially since I know my little boy is going to eat them. The products are made from whole muscle meat and no mystery ingredients. I also love that the company says that if you are not familiar with an ingredient, you can email them and they will tell you all about it. Plain and simple, I don’t do well eating fake stuff so I feel good knowing what goes into the hotdogs I serve my kids.

A weeknight barbecue dinner in my house includes hotdogs, hummus, corn on the cob and at least one salad.

There is always a large salad. I will put every vegetable I find in it. And my secret ingredient is pickles. They add just the right amount of crunch and I don’t need to add salt to the salad.

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And now for the hummus. It is not a recipe but more of a ritual. Here is how you can do it at home.

Hummus

Ingredients:

2 Cans of chickpeas (or use dried chickpeas soaked over night and cooked).
1-2 cloves of garlic (optional)
Juice of half a lemon- one lemon (depends on preference)
salt
2-4 tablespoons of tahini
olive oil
*Za’atar Spice
Cumin
Paprika
Salt of choice
parsley

*Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend made up of dried herbs, sesame, sumac and other spices. You can find it at any specialty spice shop such as World Spice Merchants, Market Spice or any Middle Eastern Specialty store.

Start by draining the chickpeas (you can save some liquids to thin out the hummus later) and then putting them in the food processor. Add the tahini, I use between 2-4 tablespoons (start with 2) and process until you get a paste. Now taste. Add more tahini if you like it that way. Add the lemon juice. Keep tasting. Add cumin to taste, start with one teaspoon and then add another if you like. Add Salt. You can always add a few drops of the leftover liquids if it is too thick.

Now take a small round plate. Use the back of a spoon or a spatula to swirl it around the plate in large circular swirls, making the rounds around the plate. Cover the whole plate.

Drizzle oil between the lines of the circles. This is not the time to be stingy. Be generous.
Now get some of the za’atar spice if you have some. Sprinkle away generously again. Add paprika and sprinkle away.

Now top it with parsley.

Sometimes I also like to fry mushrooms and onions and put those on top.

That’s it! Use your bread to dip into the hummus in kind of a wiping motion (kind of like wiping the counters down). If you have pita, even better. We like to use tortillas that have been heated in the oven until crispy. And lettuce, particularly iceberg lettuce is great for dipping.
This is easy for the kids too. My son loves it with crackers or baby carrots. M Even my babies love it. Hummus on a spoon without all the spices in it is a perfect snack for teaching babies how to hold a spoon. They just hold it and lick it.

If you don’t feel like going “the whole nine yards”, you can buy hummus but find the time to layer the rest of the stuff on top of it. It will make a world of difference.

Who needs spoonfuls of peanut butter when you can snack on spoonfuls of hummus?

Do you want to know more about Applegate Farms, follow them on Facebook.

Disclosure:
I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Applegate blogging program, to earn My SocialMoms Rewards Points. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own. To read more posts on this topic, click here.

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Best Salad Bar in Downtown Seattle

Finally, we get a few nice days of summer weather, just a sign that light food is the way to go. One of my favorite places in Downtown Seattle for a quick bite in the midst of a shopping spree is the Il Fornaio Salad Bar located in Pacific Place. Who knew something as simple as a salad bar could be the best lunch route to go?
Right outside of the Il Fornaio restaurant, inside the mall, you will find the Il Fournaio Bakery Cafe with a fresh, choose- your- own- toppings- salad bar. Choose the type of lettuce and then choose your proteins from tuna, chicken, eggs or tofu and add your toppings of choice with items like roasted beets, bacon, cheese and more. They will mix the salad with the dressing for you and you are set for a speedy yet healthy lunch. Along with that, you will find other items like pasta salads, pizza, baked goods and Il Fornaio’s freshly baked breads. Another advantage, a constant line that moves fast, reassuring you that the food is always fresh and replenished. The salad prices start at $6.79.
For more suggestions on places to eat in Seattle, pick up a copy of my new book, The Food Lovers’ Guide to Seattle.

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Wonderful Salad with Feta, Pears and Walnuts in Baguette Cups


I feel very lucky to know a few languages. I speak English, French and Hebrew. I know a lot of phrases in other languages but I would not say I come close to knowing them.
Knowing how to count up to 50 in Vietnamese just gets the Vietnamese ladies to crack up.
Reading cookbooks in other languages is a lot of fun. I always get introduced to new ingredients and unique food combinations. There is also a downside to using a foreign recipe; many times the temperatures are different and sometimes the ingredients vary widely in taste, especially milk products.
I got this recipe from a Hebrew Cookbook Called “The Treasure of Al Ha Shulchan” which means “The Treasure of On the Table”. “On the Table” is a Hebrew food Magazine filled with recipes and ideas. The treasure is a book with all the most popular recipes from
the series.

Wonderful Sweet Salad with Feta, Pears and Walnuts in Baguette Cups

I adjusted the recipe quite a bit. Here is my version.

6 pears (peeled)
1/2 a cup of vinegar
1/2 a cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of salt
1/2 a cup of water
1 stick of cinnamon
A pinch of cardamom
6 slices of baguette.
1 endive (broken into pieces)
A few handfuls of lettuce (I used a regular mixed greens)
1 carrot (cut into strips)
120 grams of feta cheese
1/2 a cup of walnuts

1. Bring pears with vinegar, sugar, salt, water, cardamom and cinnamon to a boil.
Cook for about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool. Cut pears into sticks.
Keep sweet dressing for later.

2. Heat oven to 400 degrees.

3. Pull out the insides of baguette slices (the soft part) Toast in oven for 5 minutes.

4. Mix all the rest of the ingredients (including pears) except for the nuts and cheese. Pour 1/4 of a cup of dressing on top and mix.
5. Fill baguette cups with salad and top with feta and walnuts.

The recipe calls for pomegranate seeds as well. You can use some if you find them.
I didn’t use them.

Note: I usually have extra salad left over and I just eat it with the leftover dressing.

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Rhubarb Jam


Life has been hectic. I recently moved to a new place, my in-laws stayed with me for 3 weeks and I have been running around a lot. It took a little while to get settled in my new kitchen but I have finally started cooking again. The recipe here is for rhubarb jam, I made this with many other brunch items when I had my family over.
I have to say that I made it as simple as I can. I didn’t peel the rhubarb nor did I add anything fancy.
As simple as life gets……….

Rhubarb Jam

2 cups of rhubarb, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup of honey
1/4 cup of orange juice ( I used Tropicana)

1) In a small saucepan, bring ingredients to boil.
2) Cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes.
3) Puree in food processor and let cool.

The consistency is a bit like apple sauce. It is so tasty! I made warm rolls to go with it which I will post about soon. I want to make them one more time so I can make sure that my recipe is exact.
The next day I ate the jam on Ritz crackers, not the best choice but definitely hit the spot.

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Quinoa and Corn Summer Salad


The corn at the market was yelling “Keren, rescue me! Take me Home!” I couldn’t look away. I took it home and experimented with some flavors.
This is the salad that saved the corn.
I just couldn’t stop eating it!

Quinoa and Corn Summer Salad

2 cups of cooked quinoa (just cook according to package directions)
2 ears of corn
1 onion (diced)
1 jalapeno chili, seeded and thinly sliced
Juice from 1 lemon
Juice from 1 lime
1 tablespoon or more fresh sage
Salt

1. Shave the corn of the cob (just cut off with your knife)
2. Heat some oil in a pan and saute corn for about 5 minutes
3. Add onion and continue to sauté until corn is cooked. Add salt.
4. Take of the stove and mix with quinoa. Add all other ingredients and
taste. Add more salt if needed.

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Spinach Strawberry Salad


love munching on spinach.
My husband needs a little convincing when it comes to leafy greens. I make this salad for him all the time. Then we end up fighting over who gets more.

Ingredients:

Spinach
Mizithra (a light salty Greek cheese) grated finely
any salty cheese tastes great such as ricotta salata or feta
Sliced Strawberries
Sliced pecans or other nuts (This time I used Sahale Snacks Valdosta Pecans with sweet cranberries , black pepper and orange zest)

1. Drizzle with olive oil and enjoy!

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Avocado Salad with a Tomatillo

Last night I got a ripe avocado and decided to make an avocado salad. It was full of flavor with a an interesting spicy kick.
The tomatillo adds a slight sweetness. I didn’t think of this myself. A while ago I had lunch at Austin Cantina and after being especially impressed with the guacamole I asked the waitress what gave it a hint of cherry flavor. She said it was the tomatillo. Now, mine doesn’t taste anything like cherry but the combination of flavors is delicious.

Avocado Salad

1 avocado
1 hard boiled egg
1 hard boiled egg white
1  diced tomatillo  (bake in oven for a few minutes  and it makes it even better)
Juice of half a lime
Chili powder to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
A small bunch of chopped cilantro (about one tablespoon or more).

1. Mash all ingredients.

Don’t forget to enter the Greek Gods Recipe Contest.

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Cranberry-Cornmeal Quick Bread and other Thankgiving Stuff




I attended a potluck yesterday and this is what I brought.
Tomato with pine nuts salad
Sweet potato pancakes(actually yam pancakes)* Yam should be used instead of sweet potato. This was the success of the evening, not one pancake was left!
Cranberry-Cornmeal Quick bread.( This came out amazing!)
Wild Rice Dressing with Roasted Grapes and Walnuts. This turned out okay Not as great as I expected but I would make it again. I forgot to chop the walnuts!

What did you make?

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Softest Salmon Ever

I am trying to eat more salmon. I need to get some omega 3. All this hype about omega 3 is scaring me. It’s some guilt thing. The media makes me feel like I will croak if I don’t eat omega 3. My hair will fall out, my teeth will drop like the coins on a Vegas slot machine and I will be an old woman in a rocking chair in the next 5 years. Okay, okay I am sucked in. I will eat some fish!

In a cooking class I attended at The Art Institute, we made poached salmon with a royal glacage sauce (a creamy sauce that took quite a long time to make) but tasted heavenly. We poached the salmon in Ziploc bags.
We stirred up a hot mix of liquids and then poured it into a bag with the fish. The fish was ready in 10 minutes.
Shocked at the simplicity of this, I bombarded the chef with questions. Are you sure it’s okay to eat? What about salmonella? Don’t you think we should leave it in longer? The chef calmed me down. No, there is no salmonella in salmon (how ironic!).

I decided to try the salmon in a bag technique at home. I thought I would try a different recipe, one that I found in an old issue of Food and Wine magazine. The salad was mediocre, but the salmon was unbelievable. It was flaky, tender and moist.

Poached Salmon Salad with Lettuce and Asparagus

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Perfect Salad Dressing Recipe

My cousin Maya, who is actually my cousin Roy’s wife but I call her my cousin since we look more alike then Roy and I do, makes this dressing at every family meal. When the salad is placed on the table, it is only minutes before it disappears.
There is always the polite person who asks if anyone wants any before he/she finishes it, hoping deep down inside that everyone will say no so he/she could engulph the last lettuce leaf.
No need for anything except for lettuce and croutons(see previous post).
So here it is:

Maya’s Magnificent Dressing

2 tablespoons of balsamic vingegar
1 teaspoon of mustard
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 lemon
2 garlic cloves
Half a cup of olive oil

I mix all ingredients except the oil. Then I drop the oil in, tablespoon at a time for an extra smooth consistency.
If you want, you can just mix all the ingredients in a container and shake.

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