Thursday, September 17, 2015

Lemon-Garlic Edamame “Hummus”

Day 118

My daughter— My Very Favorite Person—is in the hospital. I’m here with her and couldn’t be moved with a stick of dynamite, so I’ve had some time to think about lots of things. Mostly food. And prayers to make Tate better. And then food again. She hasn’t been truly hungry in days, so when she woke up this morning and said “If I go home today, can you make me a chocolate chess pie? (YES!) And what’s for dinner? (ANYTHING YOU WANT!),” I was elated. Overjoyed. We decided on homemade reubens with real corned beef, but reaching that decision made me reflect on our favorite sandwiches in general. Tate and I essentially agree on most foods other than sweets. She doesn’t really have a sweet tooth. It has made me question whether I’m her mother, but all signs point to yes. She is just choosy about her desserts, I suppose.
She’s one of those people who, when I ask her if she’d like some of my coveted Ritter Sport Chocolate Butter Biscuit Bar (offering a bite= true love), she says sure and takes a bite no larger than a hamster might make.  No second bite. Nothing. She’s had her fill after a portion that Barbie could hold in her hands. I don’t get it, but I do admire it. I eat the WHOLE bar so fast I look like a threshing machine. Then, I want another. 

So, tonight, because she has been so sick and because she never asks for sweets,  she’s getting the best doggone chocolate chess pie I’ve ever made and homemade reubens. This is all contingent on getting discharged from the hospital, of course, so pray for her and wish us luck, if you’re so inclined.

Okay. I’m ready to get to the point of this recipe post. Just please bear with me; I haven’t slept much in a few days. 

Much healthier than reubens, one of our favorite sandwich toppings is a generous layer of hummus. It’s delicious with rich cheeses and tons of veggies on a baguette. Hummus really is a staple in our kitchen; we love it as a spread for naan bread, or even with cucumbers and olives as a dip.  To boot, it’s so easy to make! 

Recently, while brainstorming a recipe idea for my friends at Hedonist Shedonist (, I was researching edamame as a pureed bean. Many recipes support using it in similar ways to chickpeas for an interesting flavor variation.

There is a great deal of debate about the health benefits of soy, for sure, but I figured that organic edamame couldn’t be that bad for us, so I gave a new recipe a shot. I tried it twice, changing one aspect to increase creaminess and to improve texture. I think you’ll agree that the thickness and texture are just right. I even tried it without the extra 1/8 cup of olive oil and it was still very nice, just a bit thicker if you’re craving a hearty dip instead of a smooth spread. It’s totally up to you. 

Lemon Garlic Edamame “Hummus”
1 large garlic bulb
1 tbs. olive oil plus 1/8  cup  (Olea)
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup ricotta cheese
4 tbs. chopped FRESH basil
2 tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
2 cups cooked and shelled edamame beans 
salt and pepper to taste

Cut off pointed end of garlic bulb, brush with 1 tbs. olive oil and place in foil. Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Remove from foil and squeeze cloves into food processor. Add edamame and pulse until a smooth paste forms, scraping down sides of processor as needed. Add lemon juice and zest, basil, sour cream, and ricotta cheese. Process until smooth. Add rest of olive oil slowly into food processor chute while running until entire mixture is smooth and creamy. Taste to salt and pepper properly. Serve with raw veggies or bread. 

Adapted from Southern Living recipe at this link:

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Blackeyed Pea Salad

Day 117

Happy Labor Day weekend! You’ll want to try this for your summer send-off picnic this weekend. My daughter, Tate, discovered a very similar recipe on a Pinterest link, adapted it to suit our tastes, and made it this morning. I’m really glad she did; I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s that good, and so quick and easy! Thanks Tate!

Photo by Taylor Fowler
 Blackeyed Pea Salad

For the salad-
3 cans of black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 large jalapeno, deveined and chopped finely
¼ large red onion, diced
6 medium green onions, sliced with greens
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium red or yellow bell pepper, diced
2 medium or 1 very large tomato, diced
1 bunch cilantro, rinsed well and chopped finely (we used a food processor)

For the vinaigrette-
½ cup really good extra virgin olive oil (I STRONGLY recommend Olea Estates olive oil)*
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
½ tsp. sugar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

In the bottom of a large, glass serving bowl, mix vinegar, garlic, mustard, some salt and pepper, and sugar. Stir until blended. Add olive oil. Mix well. Add all bean salad ingredients to vinaigrette and stir gently until fully incorporated and mixed. Taste, then salt and pepper to your seasoning preference. Refrigerate for at least one hour to allow flavors to combine properly. Allow to rest outside of refrigerator for 30 minutes prior to serving.

*Olea Estates is amazing. You’ll never want to purchase your olives or olive oil elsewhere after trying theirs.

I had the chance recently to enjoy an informal email chat with Demos Chronis, one of the owners of Olea Estates about his family’s traditions and products. Here’s just a sample of what he had to say. I’ve never been more impressed with a family business, and I’m sure you’ll agree.

About Olea olives:
We hand pick them one by one, when the olives are ready. So we go through our fields multiple times a day, during the harvest season, to catch them at the right stage. The brine is made from spring water, sea salt and organic vinegar. Also the containers we use are all BPA free (and we have the certifications on our website). We prefer these BPA free plastic containers, cause in that way our olives are lacto-fermented and preserve the probiotics that are found on the surface of the olives. All the glass jars that contain olives must be boiled with the olives in them in order to be out in the market (a sterilization law of EU and US). But that kills the probiotics, alters the nutritional value of the olives and the taste. That is the reason for our containers. So the moment we pick the olives we put them in salt water to remove most of the bitterness and then transfer them to the brine and pack them.”

About Olea olive oil:

“We hand pick the olives, transport them straight to the mill, wash them thoroughly and cold press them. Only olive oil from the first press makes it to the glass and tin containers of Olea, where the rich, full flavor of the oil remains sealed for you to enjoy. There are no preservatives, additives, colors or any kind of foreign oil added to Olea. We do not further refine byproducts of the first press to produce more oil. The difference is the stage of the olives that we use to produce the olive oil.

The Olea Estates olive oil is produced when the olives are mature and ready to be harvested. Here is an important aspect of our process. Even 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil like this will be cloudy right off the press. This is because it contains tiny particles of olive flesh and skin that remain in the oil during the pressing process. These particles have to be removed, to ensure a uniform clarity and no cloudiness. To get rid of these particles all mass produced olive oil goes through a filtering process that separates these particles from the oil or eliminates them using chemical treatment. Along with the particles goes some of the olive flavor and nutrients. At Olea we patiently use a natural process to retain the full olive oil flavor but still guarantee the clarity of filtered olive oil. We seal the olive oil in stainless steel tanks and let it sit idle for 60 days in special and monitored temperature and humidity conditions. During this time the particulate matter naturally settles to the bottom of the tank. After two months we extract the olive oil from the top of the tank and ship directly to the USA. Of course, this is not possible for mass produced olive oil as the overhead of two months, the tanks required to do this job and the work involved (including cleaning the tanks at the end of the season) would prohibitively increase the cost in a competitive market. However, we use this olive oil to feed ourselves and we do not like feeding on chemicals (even though they are obviously safe for consumption); we also sure appreciate the full flavor of unfiltered olive oil.”

-Demosthenis Chronis, Ph.D, Olea Estates