Now my husband is the kind of man who eats because it's food. He appreciates fine food but he isn't likely to mmmmmm and aaaaaaa and smile from ear to ear with a glint in his eye when tasting some something delightful (guess who does?).‡ So knowing his favourite food is a big thing. when he asks for something by name it's even bigger.
Luckily on Sunday he mentioned wanting honey poached pairs, he said it like he didn't think I could do it...hahaha. That coupled with knowing he loved a popular middle eastern dish made his birthday menu easy:
‡ I have no idea if there grammar here is right, please don't kill me
Hummus im Basar
followed by honey poached pears
Hummus Im Basar:
By now you are probably dying to know what that means (or not, but I will tell you anyway), it translates to "Hummus with Meat" but what it means when you order it at a restaurant in Israel is A plate full of hummus, topped with fragrant minced, or finely chopped, lamb garnished with paprika, olive oil, whole chickpeas and roasted pine nuts. Add to that some warm pita breads, pickles and salad and you have a hearty, healthy and very very filling meal.
The trick to a good Hummus im Basar is the spices. Loads of cummin and paprika, a bit of a cayene pepper kick (in hebrew we call it "hot paprika") salt and pepper. Obviously you need to find the right balance, too much cummin and it will be sour, too little and well it won't really taste right.
|This is why I love my mom's Kenwood chef|
You can learn more about the process of putting food together in a pleasing way by attending California culinary schools.
MAKE YOUR OWN!!!
I admit, there are a lot of really good premade hummus and tahina options, we love to get those done by Salad Valley and Picante but for this dish, make your own. The only shortcut I will allow you to take (because I did) is using tinned chickpeas but trust me if you have (we discovered on sunday night that we had ½ a cup left) dried chickpeas, soak them and boil them yourself, you CAN taste the difference.
To make hummus:
Blend chickpeas with some tahini paste, water to loosen, salt and pepper to taste and garlic to your heart's desire.
To make tahina:
You don't even need a food processor for this one, so no excuses. Mix together tahini paste with some water, a little bit at a time till the colour changes and it becomes runny, add some lemon juice and garlic to taste and then some salt to finish it off
Don't skimp, every flavour in this dish is important, use a GOOD olive oil, something peppery, both when cooking your meat (high heat, fast cooking, don't boil the lamb) and when serving the dish. The olive oil that comes out of the Arab villages in Israel is something special, cloudy and peppery but fresh at the same time. One day I will learn the secret and then bring it home to make all your lives that much richer.
Tip: to warm your pita breads without drying them up, first heat up your oven till it's nice an hot then turn it off. Pop the pita breads in till warmed through.
Now the pears were something new so I googled. Most of the recipes had white wine and I knew that method already, however my husband doesn't drink, he doesn't like the taste of alcohol so I searched a little deeper and found this recipe
Really easy recipe, fresh and tasty, although very very sweet. May just drop the amount of sugar we add next time (or taste the pears first and add accordingly)