Sunday, December 19, 2010

Houston Press Blog

Food Fight: Battle Hummus
June 3, 2010
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No, this isn't your average Food Fight. Plenty of great restaurants in town have excellent hummus. This is grocery store Food Fight, if you will. This is a pressed-for-time, oh-my-word-people-are-coming-over-in-half-an-hour, what-the-hell-am-I-going-serve-them Food Fight.

And that's where grocery store hummus comes in.

If you're like most of America, you don't have have stuff sitting around in your refrigerator on the off chance that people are coming to visit. You might have some basics, though, that you can supplement in a hurry: crackers, baby carrots, maybe even some white wine.

You can put together a great spread of appetizers in a hurry with just those things and a couple of extras you can pick up in five minutes flat at the grocery store: olives from the olive bar, some tangy feta or goat cheese, a few pears to slice up and maybe even some berries if you want a dessert item. But don't forget the hummus.

Hummus has replaced unhealthier items -- like sour cream and onion or spinach-artichoke dips, which taste delicious but are entirely too heavy and artery-clogging -- as the go-to dip of choice these days. It isn't too unfamiliar for your guests yet still retains that slight tinge of the exotic that makes it fun to eat.

But which brands are the best?


Sabra is more expensive than Athenos, but only by a dollar. And it's worth it. If you're truly interested in being frugal, you'll buy your Sabra in bulk at Costco like we do. Of course, a tub never lasts long and we inevitably never have any when guests decide to randomly drop by.

The texture of the finely pureeed Sabra hummus was airy, soft and light yet thick at the same time. There was a citrusy tang to the hummus that played nicely off the nuttiness of the chickpeas, and topped with a little paprika and olive oil you could happily pass this off as homemade. It's clear a lot more effort goes into making Sabra than Athenos.

The Winner

Sabra. Absolutely no contest.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Butterscotch Sundae

Now we're cooking with hummus
December 17, 2010
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Last night we had a few people over for a hummus party sponsored by Sabra. It was the second event I’ve done with HouseParty, and it was fun. We didn’t really party like it was 1999 — no confetti or paranoia about Y2K — but we did have hummus-stuffed chicken. I’d never made any sort of stuffed chicken, and I’d never cooked with hummus before. It was surprisingly good.
Monday: Leftover hummus-stuffed chicken
I made a lot of chicken yesterday, and I’m pleased to have enough left for dinner tonight. I am not often pleased to have leftovers, because I don’t always like to eat them. And then they sit in the fridge making me feel guilty for days, until I ignore them long enough for them to turn into a science experiment and then Rockford throws them away. But this was a really tasty dish, and I’m looking forward to having it again tonight. Here’s the recipe:
Hummus-Stuffed Chicken
Recipe from Sabra
1/2 cup Sabra hummus — I used the “Luscious Lemon” variety, and it gave the chicken a great lemony flavor
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 5-6 ounces each, tenderloins removed
1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, egg whites only
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 cups Panko bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup olive oil

Place trimmed chicken breast in a large zippered plastic bag. Pound with a meat pounder or a rolling pin until 1/4-inch thick. Repeat with all chicken breasts; each breast should be about 8 inches long and 6 inches wide.
Lay the chicken breasts smooth-side down on work surface and season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly about 2 tablespoons hummus on the chicken breasts leaving about 1/2-inch border all around. Roll each chicken breast and wrap each rolled breast in a sheet of aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Twist the ends like a candy wrapper and chill in the refrigerator about 45 minutes.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Using 3 pie plates or shallow dishes, pour the flour in one, lightly whisk the egg whites and water in the other and place the breadcrumbs in the other. Unwrap the chicken breasts roll in the flour (shake off excess), then submerge in the egg whites (let the excess drip off) and then place in the breadcrumbs, use your fingers to press the breadcrumbs so that they stick.

Heat 1/4-cup olive oil in a large non-stick skillet until shimmering, about 4 minutes. Place the rolled chicken breasts in the oil, seam side down. Cook until golden, about 2 minutes on all sides. Put the chicken breasts (seam side down) in a baking dish and cook about 25 minutes or until thermometer registers 175 degrees. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Using a sharp knife, slice on a bias into 4 or 5 pieces.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cooking Vegan

Sabra Spinach and Artichoke Hummus
December 13, 2010
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Sabra Spinach and Artichoke Hummus and Ritz crackers.

We always love finding stuff in the supermarket that just happens to be vegan, and my husband has a knack for finding winners. This hummus is amazing, and as far as I can tell contains no non-vegan ingredients. It’s just a perfect blend of flavors. And regular Ritz crackers happen to be vegan as well. (So is the Meijer brand Applause crackers.)