Archive for the ‘Appetizers’ Category

Hummus amongus?

January 10, 2009

Hummus

I was originally going to make a pun about Hummus firing rockets from Gaza or something, but I don’t want to be too topical, you know? Topical jokes are one of the lowest forms of humor in my mind, it’s too easy with not enough payoff in the end. I am one of few people who have stuck with SNL, watching it any time I’m home on Saturday night from the time that I first started watching it in high school. It seems that every time the show goes through a cast change, whichever age cohort that is the show’s key demographic decries the show as “sucking now.” It happened with fans of the show’s golden age in the early nineties, it happened with my age group when the show started featuring Kenan and Seth Meyer and Andy Samberg more prominently, and of course when your major players get shaken up, there has to be a transitional period. The thing is, though, the show is still funny during these periods if you know where to look: in the sketches that come after Weekend Update. This is where the weird, often improvised, and usually questionable sketches are thrown, after people get their fake news and turn the show off. One of the most hilarious Will Ferrell-era sketches was one where he played a doctor who had lost Chris Parnell and Molly Shannon’s baby. Tim Meadows played Dr. Stephen Poop who can do nothing for their baby, but can do the robot for $50,000.

Nowadays, SNL has had a rennaissance with their topical political humor; even going so far as to add an extra Thursday night political edition during election season. These efforts, while appealing to the masses I guess, leave me bemused at best. How easy is it to do a charicature of a public figure? No, give me the bizarre stuff remniscent of Kids in the Hall and Upright Citizens Brigade and The State (Lamps: the Musical anyone?). While I am glad that the light stuff has brought people back to the SNL fold, it has also lead to the show rehashing several sketches that were really funny before in an attempt to show them off to their new wider audience. Things that were hilarious, but should have been one-offs like Virgania Horsen’s Hot Air Balloon Rides (a sketch that played to Kristen Wiig’s strength of creating a full-fleshed and funny character perfectly) and Justin Timberlake’s Omeletteville got recycled, the same thing with the guys listening to an old song and reminiscing about increasingly bizarre moments in their lives, or even mediocre-at-best gags like Bill Hader’s Vinny Vedecci.

The online popularity of the Lonely Island-produced digital shorts has also been a huge (and hilarious) boon to the show, though I’m pretty sure they used to air in the third act as well. I am not against topical jokes and recalls to previously successful sketches, they both have their place (topical humor being a staple of SNL’s repertoire for years, especially during the cold open), I just wish that they weren’t the bulk of the show. I understand that you have to cater to your audience and give them what they want, but the producers would be well-served to let some of the more subversive sketches get more prominent time-slots.

I’m certainly not trying to be a hater, SNL has a ton to offer if people are willing to give it a chance.  Next time that you stay in on a Saturday night, try staying up for the stuff that comes after Weekend Update, maybe with a bowl of this delicious hummus that I’m posting as a MacGuffin to allow me to rant about the state of Saturday Night Live.

Hummus

Ingredients:

1/2 can of garbonzo beans (chickpeas, cecci beans, etc.) drained, saving the liquid

1 1/2 tablespoons tahini

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 clove garlic

lemon juice

cumin (optional)

paprika (optional)

Hummus

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree.  Add in bean liquid or more olive oil or even some sesame oil and keep pureeing until it is the consistancy you desire.  That’s it.  You can also add anything you want to flavor the hummus from mushrooms to pesto to sundried tomatoes to roasted red peppers.  Whatever you want.  I decided to keep it pretty simple, but did add some amazing paprika that my friend brought me from Romania.

Garnish with some whole chickpeas and some more olive oil or tahini if you want to if you want to make it a dip. Enjoy with some pita or on a sandwich or however you want! I just had some on rye with avocado slices and some bacon. Daaaammmnnnn.

Makes with about a cup and a half(?)

Hummus

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This is not one of THOSE blogs

January 2, 2009

Savory Palmiers

You’re never going to see anything here whose name has to be included in quotes, you’re never going to see any foams or carefully constructed asparagus teepees.  You’re not going to see caramels with fleur de sel on top.  While not a conscious effort to buck any particular trend or trends in cooking, I (or I hope anyways) to not just do the same thing that you see on every cooking blog on Foodgawker and Taste Spotting.  That being said, for New Year’s Eve I made savory palmiers to bring to my friend’s house.  These were ridiculously easy to make, tasted really good, and had the potential to look nice too if you were neater about it than I was.  The idea is that they look like elephant ears or something.  I’m sure you’ve seen sweet palmier cookies before, they’re kind of heart-shaped and spirally.  Mine looked like that too, except the pesto and caramelized onion filling kind of seeped out.  They were a big hit though, so you know, no remorse.

Palmiers

Pesto and Caramelized Onion Palmiers

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 an onion, sliced into thin rings

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup pesto

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1 tablespoon romano cheese

1 sheet puff pastry

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

crushed red pepper (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your over to 375.

Melt the butter with the olive oil in a pan over medium heat and then throw in the onions once it’s good and hot.  Toss the onions around until they’re all coated with butter and olive oil and season them with salt and pepper.  Let the onions go until they’re slightly brown, and then add the vinegar and stir it up.  Reduce the heat to low and braise the onions in the vinegar for maybe 15 minutes until they’re totally soft and the vinegar is thick and syrupy.

In a food processor, add the pesto (I had some frozen from a while ago, you can easily make your own or buy it), the onions, the cheese, the nuts, and some crushed red pepper if you want it spicy and just process it until you have a horrible-looking green-brown paste that just the hell smells delicious.

Just spread that right onto the puff pastry sheet going all the way out to the edges even.  Now you want to fold it up from the right and left in a manner than is sort of hard to explain.  Basically on each side you are going to fold it 1/4 of the way in, and then 1/4 of the way again.  It is now about half the original width.  Then carefully fold it in half again.  When you’re done it should look like this, only better:

Palmiers

Then, with a bread knife slice the roll into 1/2″ slices and put them on a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.  Whisk the egg and water together and brush the palmiers with it.  Bake them for about 8 minutes on each side, brushing with the egg was when you flip them, until they’re golden and puffy.

Makes about fifteen

Palmiers

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