Monday, March 05, 2012

L.A. Times - An Avocado Hummus Recipe

 L.A. Times relaunched it's magazine today. A recipe by Jeff Cerciello for Avocado Hummus from the Farmshop restaurant in Santa Monica is included. The article is called "Nigella Seed".

Avocado Hummus
Garlic confit
Juice of 2 lemons, separated
2 tbsps Dijon mustard
2 cups drained chickpeas
6 tbsps tahini
1 1/2 cup olive oil (cups?)
1/2 cup ice
3 ripe avocados (seed and peel? Why not California avocados?)
Salt to taste
Pomegranate seeds

Place confit, mustard and juice of 1 lemon in processor. Season with salt and pulse until smooth. Add chickpeas and puree, drizzling in the tahini. Add ice and 1 cup of oil. Taste, then move to a bowl. 
Without cleaning processor, add avocado and remaining lemon juice. Puree, drizzling in remaining 1/2 cup oil and salt to taste. Fold avocado puree into chickpea puree and stir. Garnish with pomegranate seeds, oil, salt and nigella seeds. 

Garlic Confit
4 cloves peeled garlic
1/2 cup canola oil
Add garlic and oil to a small pot and simmer gently until tender.
Jeff is no doubt a fabulous chef - his credentials are impeccable. In my experience, chefs are not usually writers - the recipe writing task goes to a minion who should attend to the p's and q's. Chef's think certain steps in the creation of a recipe are simply common sense and therefore don't mention them...or they use techniques that may be practical in a restaurant kitchen but not in the average consumer kitchen.

In this case, Jeff has been poorly served in my opinion. The recipe could be improved. First of all, the ingredients are not listed in the order used which is a basic rule in the recipe writing world. The article is called "Nigella Seed" but they don't even list this item in the ingredient list, only as a garnish in the instructions. Why call the garlic/oil a confit and scare away the average home cook? How much does it make? Why do they use ice in this recipe? If it's served and consumed immediately, the ice would serve to chill everything and might be OK in a restaurant, but if you make it ahead of time as a consumer would, or it sits for any length of time my guess is that the ice will melt and separate out. Why do you have to use canola oil with the garlic when the rest of the recipe calls for olive oil. You must tell people to seed and peel avocados even though it's so obvious to those of us who eat them regularly. If you state that one mixture should be folded into another, you generally are trying to preserved aeration and integrity of each mixture, yet combine them. That's enough - stirring afterwards would negate the gentle action of folding. Can you keep this overnight refrigerated?
How about the nutrition info which is required all almost everything now. The L.A. Times could give a nod to California avocados unless they don't want to scare away another potential advertiser.

Why not name it after the restaurant? Should it be reduced in size to make it consumer friendly?

As to Nigella seed - I'm not familiar with it, but researching a little I find it variously described as tasting like oregano, onions, pepper, cardamom, cumin, sesame and with a bitter note. I do know that if you can find it in a spice section it will cost about $8.99. Would you want to use it? or substitute something else? Perhpas the article shouldn't have been titled Nigella Seed...maybe hummus? or better yet, avocados?  

Here's a possible re-write before testing. You may think it's better or worse - there's a lot of variations in style out there.

Farmshop Avocado Hummus
Makes (?) 5 cups

4 cloves peeled garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons, separated
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon (?) salt
2 cups drained chickpeas
6 Tablespoons tahini
1 1/2 cups olive oil
3 ripe fresh California avocados, peeled and seeded
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1 Tablespoon (?) nigella seeds*

Add garlic and oil to small pot and simmer gently until tender. Cool. Place in processor with juice of  1 lemon, mustard and salt. Pulse. Add chickpeas and puree, drizzling in the tahini followed by 1 cup of oil. Taste and add salt if necessary. Move to bowl. To processor, add avocado, remaining lemon juice and puree, drizzling in remaining 1/2 cup oil. Fold avocado puree into chickpea puree to combine. Garnish with pomegranate seeds, a sprinkle of salt and nigella* seeds. Refrigerate. Serve with flatbread, crackers or chips.
* Optional: A few twists of freshly ground black pepper or a sprinkle of black sesame seeds (for appearance)

I'll try it out on the book club on Wednesday - the big test.

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