Friday, March 11, 2011

Weekend Recipes: Company Coming? Pull out your dog eared copy of

When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece. 
– John Ruskin

So it’s Friday again. Hopefully you have plans to meet with friends, share a few laughs and enjoy some good food. It’s always a challenge to decide what to have while dinner is finishing being cooked. Guests come before the main is ready (hopefully) and you want them to relax and to enjoy their company while the finishing touches are going on in the kitchen.

The best kind of nibbles are those you can make ahead (way ahead if possible) and just set out. Here’s three recipes that you can make and forget until the doorbell rings. All three recipes come from You may notice I reference that site quite a bit. Here is is:

Screen shot of THE food clearinghouse web site. is a “clearinghouse” of recipes that you can surf without having to join. It’s totally free and unbelievably extensive. Just go to, and type in the name of what you want. It’s also searchable by a multitude of categories such as ingredient, cuisine, diet, etc. You can really narrow your searching for exactly what you want. Recipes even list nutrition facts.

Recipes are also rated, and with comments by other members about how they found or altered it, so if you find a recipe with one hundred 5 star ratings, you can pretty much trust it’s a winner. It’s like having a cooking club right in front of you whenever you want.

So what are the benefits of joining? You can post your own recipes on the database, make cookbooks of favorites and many other things. I am a member under the post name “gourmand”. Being a member is free as well. 

So back to the company knocking at the door. Why not set out bowls of Roasted Garlic Hummus, the World’s Best Baba Ghanoush and a basket of your own homemade Pitas? All three of the following recipes come from Click on the links  with each recipe to go to their pages. is THE best recipe site on the web, in my humble opinion. And that's not because I'm a member. What's that saying? "I'd never join a club that would have me as a member"...

Creamy Roasted Garlic Hummus
By What's Cooking? on December 29, 2006

Photo: The Purple Foodie, Flickr ccl
2 cups canned chick-peas or 2 cups cooked chickpeas
2 tablespoons tahini
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup warm water
1 large heads of garlic
1 lemons, juice of
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 375°F Cut off the very top of the garlic clove (about 1/4") so that the tops of most of the cloves are exposed slightly. Coat with a little olive oil and wrap securely in tin foil. Roast garlic in oven for 1 hour. Remove and allow to cool.

Using your fingers, squeeze the soft, roasted garlic out of each clove into food processor. Rinse and drain cooked or canned chickpeas. Add them, and all other ingredients, to the food processor and blend until completely smooth.

Scrape ingredients off sides of food processor to make sure it blends evenly. If you find that the hummus is too thick, you can add additional olive oil at this time. Add it very slowly, allowing the mixture to combine fully before adding more liquid.

Baba Ghanoush - the Best in the World!
By Mimi Bobeck on July 26, 2003
From Williams Sonoma's Small Plates by Joanne Wier, published 1998.

Photo: tofutti break, Flickr ccl
1 large eggplant
1/4 cup tahini, plus more as needed
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
1 pinch ground cumin
salt, to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup brine-cured black olives, such as kalamata

Docaitta note: the eggplant can be blackened under a broiler and then baked if you don’t want to bother with a grill.

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill. Preheat an oven to 375°F. 

Prick the eggplant with a fork in several places and place on the grill rack 4 to 5 inches from the fire. Grill, turning frequently, until the skin blackens and blisters and the flesh just begins to feel soft, 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the eggplant to a baking sheet and bake until very soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, and peel off and discard the skin.

Place the eggplant flesh in a bowl. Using a fork, mash the eggplant to a paste.

Add the 1/4 cup tahini, the garlic, the 1/4 cup lemon juice and the cumin and mix well. Season with salt, then taste and add more tahini and/or lemon juice, if needed.

Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and spread with the back of a spoon to form a shallow
well. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the parsley. Place the olives around the sides.

Photo: Kristine Leuze, Flickr ccl
Arabian Pita Bread
By najwa on January 24, 2002

1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 1/2 cups water
1 -2 teaspoon sugar
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons oil

Mix yeast, water and sugar. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, dried milk and salt.

Pour in the oil and yeast/water mixture and stir well. You might need to add more flour or water, depending on the absorbency of the flour. Knead dough briefly, divide into 18 egg sized balls.

Place on a floured surface, cover and let rest for 15-30 minutes. Roll one ball out and cook in a skillet until large "bubbles" form.

Flip pita over and cook the other side for a few more minutes. I flatten it out with a spatula.

Keep bread warm (wrap in a towel or place in a ziplock bag) while cooking the rest of the bread. These freeze well.


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1 comment:

  1. Very nice information you have given here. and thanks for the source. I am gonna try this on next sunday.
    -Food Processor