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One of Miss Menu’s fave parts of the entertaining process – aside from the prep, planning and cooking – is the actual serving of the food.

That’s why my most recent culinary project provided a new and exciting obstacle. It sounded pretty straightforward at first: prepare a banquet of heavy hors d’oeuvres for a crowd of 40-50 at an open-house-style, late afternoon party in honor of a recent graduate. Easy peasy, right?

Well, almost. While the task was clear, the obstacle was that this would be one party that I wouldn’t be able to attend – a good pal’s wedding plans overlapped with the graduation party plans. So while I could prepare the food in advance, I wouldn’t be on site to plate the hors d’oeuvres, to restock the platters or – most importantly – to chart the degree of success (or failure) of this particular event!

Two friends in attendance were in charge of general set-up and agreed to take on the on-site food prep, as well, which certainly helped calm my nerves. Take a look and see how it went!

The Menu
Since this was an open house, I wanted a variety of dishes that could sit out at room temperature for several hours without too much fuss beyond some simple restocking. My old standby, the cheddar biscuit, came into play, this time with an easy spread of diced ham mixed with cream cheese. I thought some sweet and spicy meatballs would be a nice addition to the menu (more on this later). And to keep things well-rounded, I’d need some veggie-friendly options: homemade pimento cheese and a special savory torte. Brownies and lemon bars would add a sweet touch.

The Hits
The Fig and Pesto Torte was the runaway hit of this particular menu. I spotted the original recipe in my Gourmet cookbook absolutely ages ago, and have been itching to try my hand at it ever since. It sounded like the perfect mix of opposite pairings: sweet figs and savory pesto, a crispy crust with a creamy mascarpone filling. What could be better?

Fig Pesto Torte
Serves 15-30 as an hors d’oeuvres.

  For the Crust

  • 2 cups Wheat Thin crackers
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts
  • 2-3 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine nuts and crackers in a food processor and pulse to a semi-fine ground consistency. Add butter and pulse until mixture clumps together – start with 2 tablespoons and add the third if needed for satisfactory clumpage. Turn the mixture into a 9-inch springform pan and press to cover pan evenly. Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven. Crust can be made a day in advance.

Here's what the crust looks like when it starts to clump!

  For the Pesto

  • 1 large bunch (about 2 loosely packed cups) fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Pulse garlic and toasted walnuts in a food processor to combine. Add basil and continue to pulse. Start adding oil until you achieve the proper consistency – you’re looking for a finely ground paste, not a liquid. I typically end up adding somewhere between 1/4 and a 1/2 cup. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

  For the Torte

  • 1 crust
  • 1 batch pesto
  • 3/4 pound dried figs
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup fig preserves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Sliced baguette, for serving

Boil water and let dried figs sit in water for 30 minutes, until they plump up. Remove from water and slice thinly, about 1/8 inch slices.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Blend together cream cheese and mascarpone until smooth, adding in eggs and continuing to blend until well combined. Smooth half of the mixture over the pre-cooked crust. Cover with pesto and half of the sliced figs. Top with remaining half of mascarpone mixture. Bake for 70 minutes.

Allow torte to cool completely before serving. Remove torte from springform pan, carefully loosening the sides of the torte from the pan with a table knife, first. Decorate with remaining sliced figs (this will help to cover any cracks that might occur when you remove the pan).

In a small saucepan, combine preserves with white wine and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool before pouring over finished torte. Serve in small slices with a fresh or toasted baguette.

The Misses
I know that we’re supposed to learn from our failures and turn culinary lemons into lemonades. But that doesn’t mean I have to like every misstep I make in the kitchen! I have to admit, though, that this particular mistake was pretty comical. I decided to test out a new recipe for meatballs that called for boiling them in sauce (as opposed to baking them first, before adding the full cooked meatballs to the sauce). You can probably guess where this is going. No sooner had I added the newly formed meatballs to the tomato-based sauce then they immediately disintegrated. I was furiously trying to salvage meatballs with my trusty slotted spoon to no avail. What’s a girl to do with a pot full of sweet-and-spicy meatball sauce?

I turned to the pizza roll as my answer. A basic pizza dough crust, wrapped calzone-style around my meaty sauce and plenty of mozzarella, was a bit messy when served in diagonal slices – but tasty enough!

Despite my behind-the-scenes culinary catastrophe, the end report back seemed to be two thumbs up! Phew!

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Meals for Moms

This year we celebrated the mothers of our family with a casual dinner chez Menu. I was in the mood for a meal that was the opposite of stuffy. Simple. Light. Tasty. Unfussy, but special enough to pay tribute to the hardworking moms in our midst.

A health-conscious soup & salad combo – followed by a less-health-conscious dessert tart – came to the menu-making rescue. A mellow soup, a bold salad and a rich dessert made for a perfectly lovely Sunday evening with the fam.

I kept things consistent, for a change, and adapted all of my recipes from the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen. I’d add all three to the repeat file.

Flank Steak Salad with Miso Dressing
Serves 6.

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1- to 1 1/4 pound flank steak
  • 2 tablespoons white or yellow miso
  • 1 two-inch chunk ginger, peeled
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6-8 ounces baby mixed greens
  • 1 seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 large handful cilantro
  • 2-3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted
  • 1 small sourdough baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes

Place 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, soy sauce and brown sugar in a sealable plastic bag with the flank steak. Marinate steak for at least two hours, or overnight.

Puree remaining vegetable and olive oil in food processor with miso, ginger and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat a large nonstick skillet or grill pan over medium high heat. Remove steak from marinade and grill on each side for about 4 minutes per side. Set aside and tent with foil. Let steak rest for 10-15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lay cubed bread on a foil-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sesame oil, salt and pepper. Toast until crispy and lightly browned, about 12 minutes.

Mix greens, cucumber, red pepper, spring onion, cilantro, sesame seeds and toasted croutons in a large bowl. Slice steak diagonally on the bias and add to salad mixture. Toss the whole lot with plenty of miso dressing.

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Fennel Zucchini Soup
Serves 6.

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes

Lightly toast fennel seeds and grind in a spice grinder or coffee grinder reserved for spices. Set aside.

Thinly slice fennel bulbs, reserving fronts. Fennel is tricky to slice, but don’t worry about slices being slightly mishapen – it will cook down and meet its fate in a blender later, anyhoo. Dice zucchini and onion.

Heat oil over in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add fennel, zucchini, onion and fennel seed powder. Saute until vegetables are softened and the fennel is translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Allow to cool, then puree mixture in a blender or food processor, in batches if necessary. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a saute pan. Cut grape tomatoes in half and saute in oil for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and garnish with reserved fennel fronds. Serve a spoonful of tomatoes in each bowl of hot soup.

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Not one to worry too much about staying virtuous to any particular diet, I knew we had to round out the healthful offerings of the evening with something just a tad bit decadent. Mom and I are both huge fans of malted flavors, as witnessed when Mother Menu undertook the arduous task of creating the behemoth and glorious Chocolate Malt Cake for my birthday last year. I decided to return the favor with a tone-downed version that still featured the malt flavor, but in a cookie tart form. The resulting crust is the perfect mix of crispy and chewy, sweet and salty. And the method couldn’t be more simple.

Chocolate Malt Tart with Crispy Cookie Crust
Serves 8-10.

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup malted milk powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
  • 1/2 heaping cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup malted milk balls, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In food processor, plus flour, malted milk powder, sugar and salt to combine. Add butter and continue to pulse until small clumps form. Turn dough into a tart pan with removable bottom and press evenly along bottom and up edges – the crust will be pretty thick. Prick all over with a fork and tent lightly with foil. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil. Continue to bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.

Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with chocolate chips, and tent with foil. Let sit for five minutes while the chocolate melts. Remove the foil and spread the chocolate over the top of the cookie crust tart. Sprinkle the still-wet chocolate with malted milk balls and let cool completely before removing from pan. Serve wedges with loads of cold milk.

Lunchtime Roundup

After coming down from the high of completing a successful catering gig for 50, I’ve had a moment to breathe – and, most importantly, compile the recipes. Here’s a peek at my free-form sandwich combos: biscuits with ham salad and chapati with butternut squash & chickpea salad. I served the sandwiches alongside a vibrant spring minestrone and a why-haven’t-I-thought-of-this-before potato salad that melds green beans with pesto (which is as easy as it sounds, but for a recipe, do visit Smitten Kitchen).

Cheddar Angel Biscuits
I love love love to serve biscuits for parties – everybody loves them and they’re eminently adaptable. But the problem with traditional biscuits, in Miss Menu’s humble opinion, is that once you make the dough, you need to bake and serve them right away. Angel biscuit dough, on the other hand, can be made up to a week in advance and kept in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake. Heaping handfuls of supremely sharp cheddar can’t hurt, either. I adapted this recipe from Southern Living. Makes about 2 dozen.

  • 1/4 cup warm water, about 110 degrees
  • 2 cups warm buttermilk, about 110 degrees
  • 5 cups flour
  • Scant 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3/4 cup chilled shortening
  • 4 tablespoons chilled butter
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let sit.

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in shortening and butter, using either a pastry cutter or a few pulses in the food processor, until the mixture resembles pea-size pebbles. Stir in water with yeast and buttermilk and blend together. Add 2 cups shredded cheddar and continue to blend until well combined – do not over-mix.

At this point, you can place the dough in an airtight container and refrigerate for about a week. Make sure to leave some space at the top of the container – the dough will rise a bit.

Once you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pat out the dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with biscuit cutters to desired size and place on greased cookie sheet. Let rise for about 20-30 minutes. Brush tops with butter and sprinkle with cheddar. Bake for 15-20 minutes, watching carefully to make sure cheddar on top doesn’t burn.

Ham Salad
The beauty of this salad is that the flavors develop overnight – so it’s a great make-ahead dish. I must admit, I put together my particular version based purely on taste, so the quantities below are utterly arbitrary estimates. Get creative and change amounts or substitute ingredients to suit your taste – it’s a very forgiving recipe! Makes enough to serve 6-8.

  • 2 pounds ham (not deli sliced)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/2 jar cornichons or sweet gherkins, diced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • Salt to taste

Dice ham to a small cube. Add in remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed – since ham is so salty already, you might want to hold back a bit on the additional salt. If the flavor is too mild, feel free to add a splash of white wine vinegar.

Butternut Squash & Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing
Oh. My. Gosh. This just might be my most very favorite new recipe, and certainly the one that received the most rave reviews at the luncheon. It makes a stupendous vegetarian entrée; just serve it on top of some homemade chapati or store-bough pita bread to create your own free-form sandwich, or serve it alongside roasted meats as a super side. I tweaked a recipe conceived at Orangette and adapted at Smitten Kitchen. My version omits the red onion – and I recommend doing a quick pickle with a red onion on the side. Just let the thinly sliced onion sit overnight in healthy doses of olive oil, red wine vinegar, a bit of salt, plenty of sugar and a shake or several of celery seed. Crushed red pepper doesn’t hurt, either. Makes enough to serve 6-8.

For salad:

  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (Since I was making this for a group of 50, I tripled the recipe – and after butchering three huge squash, my hands turned a lovely, leathery orange, and my upper body ached with the fires of a P90X workout. Lesson learned: don’t feel like a wimp for splurging on the pre-chopped squash at Trader Joe’s or Cost Co!)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

For tahini dressing
(Note to self: use this constantly, as a veggie dip, a salad dressing, or thin it out with more water as a sauce for meats/roasted veggies):

  • 1 medium garlic clove, finely minced with a pinch of salt 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons well-stirred tahini
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to taste

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Line a rimmed cooking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Spread cut squash and chickpeas on tray and sprinkle with olive oil and salt. Stir to coat. Roast for 25 minute or so, until soft, stirring half-way through roasting.

In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic and lemon juice. Add the tahini, and whisk to blend. Add the water and olive oil and whisk well.

If making the salad a day or two ahead, stop here and package the salad and the dressing separately. Mix together with dressing and cilantro directly before serving.

 

Miss Menu Spring Minestrone
Minestrone is a soup typically reserved for the bounty of summer veggies, so I was happy to adapt it to the season. Like the ham salad, this is a recipe that I create as I cooked, so do taste frequently and season to your tastes as needed. Makes enough to serve 6-8.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced, fronds reserved for garnish
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 can white beans, rinsed and drained (feel free to add more to suit your tastes)
  • 2 quarts low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock (feel free to substitute water for a portion of the total amount if you’re really watching your sodium intake)
  • 1/2 pound orzo (just discovered a respectable whole wheat version!)
  • 1 large bunch asparagus, tough ends cut and discarded and stems chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large bunch kale, stems cut and discarded and roughly chopped
  • 1 bag frozen peas
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large handful basil, roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parmigiano Reggiano, grated or shaved into shards (reserve the rind for use in the soup, optional)

Heat butter and oil in a large stockpot. Add onions, fennel and garlic. Cook until starting to brown and caramelize.

Add white beans and cook for several minutes. Add most of stock and orzo. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Add kale, peas, asparagus and bay leaf – and throw in the Parmigiano rind, if you have one to spare!

Once orzo has fully cooked, about 12 minutes, taste and season liberally with salt and pepper. Add basil and remove rind and bay leaf at the last minute. You absolutely must serve with Parmigiano Reggiano on the side – and, like the other dishes on this menu, it tastes best when made the night before!

I promise not to forget about dessert! Stay tuned.

As a girl constantly on the hunt for the perfect sandwich, I was more than a little excited to recently discover in my possession the makings of a new-to me ‘wich that met all of my requirements for sandwicharific perfection.

This particular sandwich came together by pure serendipity. The bread, an airy miniature multigrain loaf from a bakery in Lexington, Va., was a donation from Mother Menu, who was generous enough to share with me after a recent trip. I just so happened to have a chunk of quatrella de bufala, an herbaceous buffalo milk cheese, leftover from some weekend entertaining. I had been recently inspired by a dish of squid, white beans and arugula at Edo’s Squid, and so had made my own rendition, minus the squid, and had plenty of extra reserved. And some walnut pesto made its way into my fridge after serving pesto potato & green bean salad to a crowd of 50.

So, what do you get when you combine white beans, arugula, buffalo cheese & pesto? A magic sandwich, that’s what.

It’s a super-simple sandwich to assemble. While a bit of olive oil heated in a small pan, I sliced the bread and spread it with the pesto, then layered on the buffalo milk cheese, a couple of heaping spoonfuls of white beans and arugula and a sprinkle of shredded mozzarella. The sandwich receives just enough time in the hot pan to produce hot and crispy goodness.

Now, when I’m not fortunate enough to just happen to have the makings of the perfect sandwich in my own fridge, there are a few Richmond stand-bys I turn to for my sandwich cravings. Here’s a quick top-three roundup!

Fresh Mozz, Arugula & Prosciutto Gyro, 8 1/2
This sandwich combines the most ethereal fresh mozzarella with salty proscuitto and peppery arugula on crusty bread with loads of olive oil. It’s the definition of swoon-worthy.

Cheese Columbo w/Eggplant, Coppola’s
You know when the cheese oozes out of a sandwich and forms a crispy crust of cheesy goodness on a hot grill? That’s what this sandwich is all about. Well, that and the hot peppers and marinated eggplant. The combo is addictive.

The Dagwood, Chiocca’s
This tribute to the original sandwich master lives up to its name: layers of turkey, roast beef, pastrami, provolone, swiss, Thousand Island and mustard, all piled high on toasted rye.

Feast for Fifty

Miss Menu’s most recent blogging hiatus can be attributed to a certain preoccupation with her biggest culinary “gig” to date.

The Challenge: Create a tasty lunch for 50 work clients, to be served during a business meeting.

The Obstacles: With this particular group, I didn’t know in advance how many, if any, were vegetarian or had special dietary needs. So this needed to be a menu to appeal to a variety of diets: something for the carnivores, something for the vegetarians, something for the vegans and something for the gluten-free. I wanted to prepare a filling and nutritious meal that provided just the right amount of indulgence for a mid-day business luncheon.

Since I do have a full-time job that occupies 40+ hours of my week, this had to be a meal that I could prepare in advance in the evenings and mornings prior to the big event. And even though  I’d have to transport all the food to the location an hour outside of Richmond, I did have the luxury of a well equipped kitchen.

The Menu: Taking my inspiration from the most traditional of lunch menus, I opted for a soup and sandwich spread – but with a twist. My sandwiches would be what I’ve come to refer to as “free-form” sandwiches: hearty fillings with substantial and spectacular bookends, either of which can be eaten on their own but achieve gustatory success when paired together. For this particular luncheon, that meant cheddar biscuits with ham salad and chapati flatbread with butternut squash & chickpea salad (and a heavenly tahini dressing).

For soup, I wanted to keep things simple and opted for a spring vegetable minestrone, heavy on the veggies and served with heaping spoonfulls of Parmigiana Reggiano.

Experimentation was the name of the game for the dessert course, with two new-to-me cakes that were as appealing for their relative simplicity – no layers, icing or other “fussy” preparations – as much as for their killer flavor combos: a lemon poppy seed bundt cake and a bittersweet chocolate pear cake, both served with a cloud of vanilla whipped cream. Keeping the time of day in mind (and the fact that my guests would need to continue conducting business instead of taking a post-meal snooze) I sliced modest portions.

The Mis-Steps: I made the rookie mistake of making my minestrone with chicken broth instead of veggie, an error born out of habit, but one that would prevent any vegetarians from partaking in the hearty soup. I also ran into a last-minute anxiety attack when I realized that two 9-inch cakes and one bundt cake might not be enough to feed 50, so had to return to the oven at the last minute to whip up a batch of butter cookies.

The Lessons Learned: I almost always over-prepare, quantity wise, when I’m entertaining at home. But for a crowd of 50, wanting to be safe rather than sorry, I prepared what I thought were astronomic quantities of ham salad, butternut squash & chickpea salad and minestrone. A whole half-ham and almost an entire jar of mayo went into the ham spread. Three whole butternut squash suffered tediously at my hands to make the squash & chickpea salad. And my stockpot was full-to-bursting with peas, beans, kale and every other spring veggie I could get my hands on, not to mention over a gallon of stock. But I came this close to running on empty with all three dishes. Thankfully, “this close” was just enough, and every diner seemed to go away fully sated!

Stay tuned for the recipe run-down!

Culinary Coincidence

My recent return trip to Tanzania (which only partially explains the recent dive in my blogging frequency) yielded a most pleasant culinary surprise: chapati, the delectable Indian flatbread that has worked its way into my recipe repertoire as of late, is universal! I was pleased as punch to see chapati on the menu in many of the villages we visited during this two-week trip. Hot tea and a piping hot bowl of goat were often on the morning menu, too. And while my gustatory adventurousness did not necessarily extend to goat intestines, I had my fill of chapati on this second trip to east Africa!

 

Plates full of chapati.
Chapati on the right, goat intestine on the left.
A gift of fresh eggs – not pictured is the gifted chicken who hatched said eggs.

Back to regular blogging soon!

Chapati Me Crazy!

Some foods are inherently satisfying to make: a lofty layer cake for its majesty; a succulent soup for its comfort and ease; a soufflé for its airy perfection. For Miss Menu, the Indian grilled flatbread called chapati falls into this same category. I discovered this savory treat thanks to the Food Network’s Aarti Sequira, whose specialty is demystifying the world of Indian cuisine.

My familiarity with Indian flatbreads thus far has only extended to the pillowy naan, so I was happy to come across its cousin chapati, whose beauty lies not only in the fact that it does not require leavening, but also in the rhythmic process of forming the bread itself. You start with a simple mix of whole wheat flour, water and salt, which receives a good 10-minutes’ worth of stress-reducing kneading. After a short rest to allow the gluten to form, the dough gets divided into a set of pucks that you roll out with a small pin, brush with oil, fold and pat closed and roll again into an oblong triangle. The rolling, patting, dunking in flour, brushing and rolling again yields perfectly smooth and lovely blankets of dough that receive a quick turn on the grill pan, puffing up just beautifully to yield pockets of bread with delectable char marks.

There’s no other way to describe the process other than satisfying. It’s a perfectly lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon, and a little effort yields a delicious return.

What to serve with your chewy chapati? Your options are endless – a nice curry, perhaps, or a beef vindaloo – but I propose for you a couple of super-easy and equally tasty variations on a traditional hummus. The base for this particular dip is a faux-tahini made by toasting sesame seeds and mixing with sesame oil (necessity is the mother of invention, right?) before adding either chickpeas or black beans, plus plenty of raw garlic, toasted fennel & cumin seeds and paprika. The result is a tasty spread that is excellent when scooped with chapati, but would also serve as a flavorful mayo-substitute on a veggie panini! I like to add a large handful of spinach for color and freshness, too.

A platter of chapati and black bean hummus with spinach.

I’m so enamored of this project that I’ve made the whole mess of it – chapati and hummus – two weekends in a row. I highly recommend that you follow suit!

For the chapati, I recommend following Aarti’s recipe to the letter, but here’s a pictorial lesson to help you out.

After kneading, the chapati dough receives a quick rest.
I use a small rolling pin to roll a puck of dough into a four-inch circle before brushing with oil.

 

After folding the dough twice into a triangle, I pinch the edges closed and give it a quick dusting of flour.

Rolling the ball of folded dough flat yields a slim, oblong triangle of chapati.

Grill time is short - a minute or two per side on the grill pan, just enough to allow time for the layers of dough to puff up.

The finished product in its chapatiful glory!

Variations on Hummus
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 can chickpeas, white beans or black beans
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (I used white balsamic)
  • 1 large handful spinach
  • Salt & pepper

Toast all seeds until fragrant – I do this in a dry pan over a medium flame for 2-4 minutes. Watch carefully for burning, and remove from the heat as soon as they become fragrant.

Use a spice grinder or coffee grinder to grind the toasted seeds into a powder. Place powdered seeds in the bowl of a food processor and add sesame oil. Pulse several times to combine. Add garlic and pulse several times until it’s finely chopped. Add beans, continuing to pulse, then vinegar, paprika and spinach. Taste and season with salt and pepper.