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Friday, November 6, 2020

Another Great Dinner with Chicken and Hummus

I started this blog yesterday, and somehow it vanished overnight, so here it goes again! 


I had decided to cook a pound of chickpeas with the intent of making hummus. It took about 2.5 to 3 hours to cook them. It seems it shouldn't have taken that long for them to get soft after being soaked overnight, but maybe they were older than they should have been. Who knows? Eventually they did get soft, and I made hummus with all but a cup of them. 

To Make Hummus with freshly cooked Chickpeas

Hummus (click for my original recipe)! Yum! With a whole pound of cooked chickpeas, it takes more of the other hummus ingredients than what is stated in my recipe, which uses just one can of chickpeas. While a whole pound of dried chickpeas cooks up to a lot more than two cans worth (double the original recipe), I have gotten by with using double the amount of the tahini, lime/lemon juice, garlic and olive oil from my recipe. I do not cook my chickpeas with any salt at all, as salt is said to toughen the beans, making them harder to get cooked through properly. More salt will be needed, but as an individual preference, it's best to add a teaspoon, taste and adjust as needed.

Hummus from Scratch

Makes a large amount, possibly 8 cups!

1 pound dried chickpeas, soaked overnight

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drained cooked chickpeas, cooking water reserved

4 cloves garlic, minced

6 tablespoons tahini

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice

1/2 to 2/3 cup good quality olive oil

1 teaspoon salt, more if needed

To cook the chickpeas: Drain off the soaking water, place the chickpeas in a large pot, cover with water by about 1 inch and bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook them until soft, anywhere from 2 to 3 hours, depending. This time they took a full three hours, possibly the chickpeas were old  Once cooked through, pour the chickpeas into a colander set over a bowl to catch the cooking water. Keep this water aside.

Pour the cooked, drained, cooled chickpeas into a food processor. Add in the tahini, lime juice, garlic and a cup of the cooking water and process until very smooth. Add in the olive oil in a thin stream, while processor is running, to incorporate. If the mixture seems soft, you may not need all the olive oil. If you've used all the olive oil and the mixture is too stiff, add more of the cooking water, until you have a good consistency. Check for salt, adding more if needed. Will keep in the fridge, well-covered, for a couple of weeks.

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Okay, I had the hummus made, and it was delicious! Then I started thinking about dinner, and had absolutely nothing planned. Nothing was coming to mind. I started thinking about chicken, mainly as it cooks quickly. And that was as far as I got. So I wondered if there was anything to do for dinner that would incorporate hummus and chicken? I went online.

parsnip, carrot, beet, marinade, roasted veg
Veggies to Roast
What came up that interested me was hummus bowls. The first site I came across was one from No Spoon Necessary, and the recipe is called Easy Chicken Hummus Bowls. I was enchanted by the photos, with everything arranged so prettily and all the things in there that I love: tomatoes, cucumber, Feta, olives. Mmmmm-mmmm! However, two problems: 1) I was at the tail end of my groceries. Almost no fresh anything left in the house, though by some fluke I still had some Feta!! 2) My husband wouldn't touch, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers or olives with a 10-foot pole anyway. 

Okay, so how to get around that issue? I thought I would oven roast some veggies that I did still have: yellow beet, shallots, green pepper, parsnip and carrot. Hubby's not keen on parsnips or carrots, and "hates" beets. This beet was yellow, so he didn't realize it was in there, and he does seem to eat mixtures like this if they are well flavored. Okay. Check.

That recipe idea in No Spoon Necessary called for cooked chicken and then a dressing is poured onto it for flavor. I was more of a mind to either pan saute or roast the chicken breasts I had gotten out. So, I went on searching to see what else was out there, so the next place I came to was called Plays Well with Butter, and her recipe is called Grilled Chicken Shawarma Hummus Bowls. I loved the idea of all the spices on the chicken marinade, and the chicken is grilled in that recipe. It was still in the high 90s outside and I just had no desire to stand out in that heat over the grill. I opted to roast the chicken and the veggies. 

chicken, hummus, Feta cheese, roasted vegetables
Shawarma Chicken and Vegetables with Hummus

All I can say is, tail end of groceries notwithstanding, this dinner was just fabulous! I did add olives to my bowl. My husband ate his without. But it was a dinner full of sighs and moans of pleasure. So, thanks to those out there with great ideas.

Shawarma Chicken & Vegetables with Hummus

Serves 4

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts

MARINADE:

chicken, roasted vegetables, Feta cheese, hummus
Shawarma Chicken & Vegetables with Hummus

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 - 4 cloves fresh garlic, minces

2 teaspoons honey, optional

1+ tablespoons lime juice

1/2 teaspoon crushed cumin seeds

1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crushed

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon sumac, optional

1 teaspoon zah'tar, optional

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

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VEGETABLES: (or substitute others - root vegetables are great)

1 medium yellow beet (or red if preferred), peeled, 1/2" cubes

2 large shallots, in 1/2" chunks

1 green pepper, cut in 1/2" pieces

1 large parsnip, peeled, cut in small cubes

1 large carrot, peeled, cut in small chunks

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For SERVING:

hummus, whatever kind preferred

Feta cheese

olives of choice, optional

Fresh tomato and cucumber, if desired

Shawarma Chicken and Vegetables

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Make the marinade by whisking together all the marinade ingredients. Set aside. Slice the chicken breasts in half across the width, so you have two, much thinner, filets. Slice across the thin pieces, making 1/2-inch-wide strips. Place the chicken strips in a bowl and pour on half the marinade mixture and mix well. Cover and let stand.

Set the prepared vegetables into the remaining marinade and toss well. Pour the vegetables into the prepared baking dish and bake the vegetables for 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through. At the end of 30 minutes, remove the baking dish from the oven, pour on the chicken pieces with the marinade, arranging the pieces into a single layer over top. Return to oven and bake for about 20 minutes more, until vegetables are tender and chicken is cooked through.

To serve - per bowl: Place a good-sized dollop of hummus into a bowl, smearing to one side. Spoon on 1/4 of the chicken and vegetables per bowl. Sprinkle on Feta cheese, crumbled. Optionally, add in olives, fresh chopped tomatoes, cucumber slices, to taste.


My passion is teaching people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and passing along my love and joy of food, both simple or exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me also at A Harmony of Flavors on Facebook, and Pinterest 

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Great Dinner for Any Night or Any Occasion

 A few months back, I was looking for something to do with white beans. I use white beans when I make my Mom & Dad's Bean Soup/Ham Bone Soup, yet I rarely use them otherwise. No particular reason for this, just that the Bean Soup recipe is the only one I had growing up that used white beans. 

white beans, bacon, thyme, onion, garlic
White Beans with Bacon & Thyme

Wandering around the internet in search of ideas, I came on one that sounded promising, called White Beans with Bacon and Herbs on "Jo Cooks." I printed it off, then started to plan what I would do differently. Not that there was anything wrong with how the recipe sounded, as is. Just that I always tinker. Even with my own recipes, I go back and just have to do something different. Maybe I don't have some ingredients and have to substitute. Maybe I just have a hankering for something different than the original flavor profile. Whatever it is, I just seem to have a need to change things.

For starters, I had started cooking a pound of beans from scratch earlier in the day. I tucked in a couple of bay leaves while the beans cooked. Once I found this recipe, I realized that it sounded splendid with the fresh herbs, but I didn't have any! I did, however, have some pesto in the fridge, from my latest batch, and opted to use some of that for flavors instead. I only buy thick-sliced bacon, so I lowered the amount of bacon to 4 slices. There were no onions in the original recipe, so I caramelized a chopped onion, then added in 4 fresh minced cloves of garlic to the mix. I needed more salt, since I was using fresh cooked beans. I always cook my beans or lentils with no salt at all so they cook a bit better. I add salt once they are already tender.  And that was my plan.

The beans came out so amazingly flavorful. Oh my! And I never once thought of taking photos.

pork, thyme, sage, garlic, rosemary, fennel
Pork Tenderloin with Italian Flavors

So a couple of weeks back, I wanted to repeat this recipe, since it was so very tasty. And then I wondered what to pair with them as a main course? If it was just me in the house, I would have had a salad alongside these scrumptious beans and called it a night. My husband, however, would not be so easily placated. I got out some pork tenderloin and started thinking about what to do with that. 

As it turned out, I created a mix of "Italian" flavors, rubbed the mixture all over the tenderloins and baked them. The mixture is somewhat akin to what I do for things like steaks or lamb chops; a green mixture of garlic, rosemary, olive oil, pepper, salt, and other things that may differ depending on the meat involved. Since this was pork, I used sage and fennel. My preference would have been fresh sage, but again, I had none on hand. Oh, how I do miss having my own herb garden! The whole thing came out so good we both spent the entire meal moaning in pleasure.

White Beans with Bacon and Thyme

Serves 10 or more

white beans, thyme, pesto, onion, garlic
White Beans with Bacon & Thyme

1 pound white dried beans, soaked overnight (OR - Pour boiling water over them and let set for one hour)

2 bay leaves

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4 slices thick-sliced bacon, cut in 1/4" bits

2 tablespoons reserved bacon fat from pan

1 large onion, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

4 fresh cloves garlic, minced finely

3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves (no stems)

1 - 3 tablespoons fresh basil pesto

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

If soaking beans overnight, in the morning, drain, then place beans in a large pot with tight fitting lid. Cover the beans with water by at least 1 inch above beans, add in the bay leaves, bring to boil, cover, reduce heat to a simmer and let cook for 2 to 3 hours, or until tender, but not mushy. 

ALTERNATELY: If, like me, you don't remember to soak overnight, in the morning place the beans in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak then 1 hour, drain, place beans in pot and cover with water by an inch, add the bay leaves and cook 2 to 3 hours, until tender but not mushy.

Once beans are nearly ready, remove lid and let the liquid cook down until there is only about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of liquid left. Leave on very low heat to keep warm.

In a skillet, fry the bacon to your desired doneness. Remove the bacon to paper toweling and reserve about 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings in the pan. Add in the onion with the salt and cook, stirring occasionally at first, then nearly constantly once they start to go golden. Continue cooking and stirring until they are deep golden brown and add in the garlic, cooking another 3 to 5 minutes, until the raw garlic smell is gone. Add in the thyme leaves, pesto and red wine vinegar and stir, then pour all this mixture into the beans and mix well. Cover and let flavors meld for at least 15 minutes before serving.

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For this next dish, use the pork tenderloins and not pork loin. Tenderloins are far thinner and will cook more quickly. Pork loins are a thicker cut and will be less tender.

Pork Tenderloin with Italian Flavors

Serves 4 to 6

pork tenderloins, garlic, fennel, rosemary
Pork Tenderloin with Italian Flavors

2 pork tenderloins, about 1.25 pounds each

4 cloves fresh garlic, smashed and minced

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, minced finely

2 teaspoons dried sage leaves, crumbled (or use fresh sage and mince, measuring out at least 1 tablespoon)

1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, minced, or use 2 - 3 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves, minced

1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

Trim the tenderloins of fat and silverskin. Set aside.

Mix all the remaining ingredients together and rub the mixture over the meat, coating all sides. Set the tenderloins in their coating into a zip top bag or into a container with lid and set aside for at least a half hour, though overnight in the fridge would be best.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and set the tenderloins on a rack in a foil lined rimmed baking sheet. Pour some water into the baking sheet, otherwise the drippings will cause a LOT of smoke. Roast the tenderloins for about 50 to 55 minutes, or to an internal temperature of at least 165. Remove from oven and tent with foil for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing - across the grain and on a diagonal.


My passion is teaching people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and passing along my love and joy of food, both simple or exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me also at A Harmony of Flavors on Facebook, and Pinterest and sign up for my Newsletter.


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