Thursday, March 12, 2015

Southern Hummus

How do you change the direction of 100 years of family cooking while honoring the traditions? That’s what Alice Randall and her daughter Caroline Randall Williams set out to do. They chronicled their family history and their desire to change their eating habits for the better in their new book Soul Food Love, and I received a review copy. The book begins with stories about three generations and five different kitchens and the types of cooking in each. The goal for mother and daughter was to keep the flavors from the past while fine-tuning approaches to arrive at healthy dishes for celebrations and every day. They’ve written of the historical complexity of the kitchen for many African-American families. “(The kitchen) has been a place of servitude and scarcity, and sometimes violence, as well as a place of solace, shelter, creativity, commerce, and communion.” When excess appeared in the kitchen, foods began causing illness rather than nourishing families. The authors want to change that pattern by offering dishes that are easy to make part of your home-cooking routine and are free of guilt. The Soups chapter begins with a few homemade broths, and one of them is Sweet Potato Broth. It’s a puree of cooked sweet potatoes in water with onion, celery, and carrot, and it sounds like a delicious base for lots of soups. It’s used in the Sweet Potato, Kale, and Black-Eyed Pea Soup and the Peanut Chicken Stew. There are several fresh and light salads like Savory Avocado Salad with Corn, Peppers, and Cilantro and New-School “Fruit” Salad with watermelon, cherry tomatoes, avocados, and feta. There are also updates to dishes made with practical ingredients like canned fish. The story behind the Salmon Croquettes with Dill Sauce brought back memories of the mackerel cakes my Mom used to make that I loved. Likewise, there’s a story about how eating sardines used to be thought of as a hardship, but now we know that they’re a healthy and sustainable choice. The recipes nicely weave together the best of the past with a health-conscious look forward. 

I was intrigued by the Southern Hummus recipe because as many times as I’ve made hummus, I’d never thought of using peanut butter in place of the tahini. Since I usually have some natural peanut butter on hand but not always tahini, this means I can make hummus even more often. It’s an easy puree in the food processor of natural peanut butter, lemon juice, and chopped fresh garlic. Next, rinsed and drained canned chickpeas, warm water, ground cumin, salt and pepper, and olive oil were added and pureed. I suspect there’s a typo in the book. The ingredient quantities seem to be meant for two cans of chickpeas. So, if using one can, the other ingredients should be reduced by half. Later in the book, there’s a recipe for a Moorish Pizza which is pita topped with hummus, baba ghanoush, and chopped parsley. I couldn’t resist going that route with this hummus even though I didn't have any baba ghanoush on had. I warmed a fresh, whole wheat pita over the flame of a burner until toasted and crisp. Then, I spread some hummus on top and sprinkled on chopped parsley. I gave it a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and cut it into wedges. 

This is going to be my new way of making hummus. I liked the flavor of the peanut butter in it even more than the usual flavor of tahini. And, the pita pizza made my day. It would be perfect with cocktails too. This book got me thinking about family food traditions and how to preserve them to make sure they’re not forgotten and update them as needed. I’m sure there are lots of dishes just waiting for a fresh take. 

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21 comments:

  1. Mouthwatering! Hummus tastes ever so good. It is one of my fave dips.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. Sounds like a great book. And I love the idea of using peanut butter in hummus! One of those smack-your-head, why didn't I think of that moments. I'll definitely be doing that! Thanks.

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  3. this excites me, because back when i was too cheap to buy tahini, i would use peanut butter as its substitute in hummus! it IS good! i like the way you're eating it. :)

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  4. Home made hummus! Really love it :)

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  5. Awesome idea! I love home made hummus!

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  6. My grandmother was a really good cook who grew all her own produce. She was an intuitive cook who came up with recipes using whatever she had just gathered from the garden. I'm so sad that her recipes were never written down - I would love to honour her like this mother and daughter team. I do love the look of this hummus on pita bread xx

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  7. Hehe I've made Southern Hummus accidentally when I ran out of tahini. I am going to callit Southern hummus from now on ;)

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  8. What a great cookbook, and I love the philosophy that they've shared. Southern Hummus sounds great. Using peanut butter instead of tahini is such a fresh idea.

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  9. What a fantastic Mother daughter project, sounds very interesting.
    I love Hummus and the Southern version looks and sounds amazing.

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  10. Peanut butt is such a good idea because we all have that in the pantry, but we don't have tahini. I love how you served this too.

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  11. Love the premise of this book, Lisa. It sounds like one I may need to add to my library. And, the notion of peanut butter rather than tahini in hummus is like John said, "why didn't I think of that!" I can't wait to try it!

    Thanks so much for sharing, Lisa...

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  12. I so wish I had written down more of my grandmother's recipes...the problem was she had owned a bakery in her youth and everything was in her head. One would have had to stand right by her, writing everything. My mother did write some of her recipes, but not enough. I actually did stand by and write down some of Moms recipes!
    Sounds like an excellent book...the idea of making recipes healthier over the years seems to have been a success for the Randall family. Your hummus pizza looks wonderful!

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  13. Soul Food Love sounds like a keeper, love hummus and this recipe! Have a great week Lisa.

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  14. Soul Food Love sounds like a keeper, love hummus and this recipe! Have a great week Lisa.

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  15. Peanut butter in place of tahini? I love that idea and I'm going to try it. This sounds like a good book.

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  16. Oh, my, Lisa! Hummus topped pita pizzas need to be on my lunch menu ASAP!

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  17. Oooh, I love this idea. Like you, I don't always have tahini on hand, but we've always got peanut butter. It also makes me think that hummus would be so good with almond or cashew butter too!
    Thanks for the morning inspiration, Lisa. I hope you're well!
    xo
    E

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  18. So interesting the approach in this cookbook...and yes, I like the idea of peanut butter as I do not have tahini...thanks for the inspiration Lisa.
    Hope you are having a wonderful week :)

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  19. A great post, Lisa. I've never thought of subbing peanut butter for tahini either. Sounds lovely!

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  20. I normally shy away from books about southern cooking because they have so few veg options...but this sounds super inspirational! I definitely need to check out that sweet potato broth AND give this hummus a go!

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  21. At first I thought it was a pizza, I was wrong. This is a guilt-free eat all you can dish. :D Thanks so much for a great recipe!

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