Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Hummus with Broad Bean & Garden Herb Topping


Well, we love hummus. And different seasonal toppings are not only delicious but you can have a lot of fun with them as well. Basically, there are no limits to your imagination. Roam your garden for ingredients or pay a visit to any market where you live and let the season and your taste buds be your guide.

At this time of year I like to prepare a topping of scallions, garlic, and, most importantly, double podded broad beans and tons of soft herbs and herb blossoms. Broad beans are pretty hardy and adaptable and are at their peak from the end of June to mid September. 

Fresh broad beans are sweet and delicious with a smooth creamy texture. And I really love the taste that herb blossoms add to the topping, in particular red and white bush basil and sage. You can also add a little additional drizzle of your favorite olive oil, sea salt, may be chilli flakes for a bit of heat.

Nearly everyone I know has their own favorite recipe for hummus. Just prepare the recipe you like the most, probably very similar to the Basic Hummus recipe below. Now that summer is here, my Hummus with Broad Bean & Garden Herb Topping is great with rustic fresh or grilled bread/pita and a salad as a light dinner on a warm evening. Or serve as part of a mezze spread.






Hummus  with Broad Bean & Garden Herb Topping

Ingredients for the Hummus
  • 250g cooked chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained - either use dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked the following day (simmer them with baking soda for about an hour) OR use canned chickpeas (add them to a pot along with some cold water, bring to a boil, simmer for about 20 minutes, drain the chickpeas and finally add them to the food processor along with the other ingredients and proceed with the same recipe) NOTE: if you would like to add some chickpeas as part of the topping, remember to cook more than 250g and set aside until needed
  • 3 tbsps good quality tahini (sesame paste)
  • freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed (optional)
  • sea salt
  • some of the cooking liquid from the chickpeas or use water instead 

Preparation of the Hummus
  1. Place the chickpeas in a food processor and process until you get a stiff paste. 
  2. Then, with the machine sill running, add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic (if using), and a bit of salt. 
  3. Finally, slowly drizzle in some of the cooking liquid OR water and then process on high speed for 5 minutes or longer until the hummus is extra-smooth
  4. Transfer the hummus to a bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. If not using straightaway, refrigerate until needed. Make sure to take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving.
  5. Add Broad Bean Topping and garnish as you please, for example with fresh soft herbs and herb blossoms, good quality olive oil and some extra cooked chickpeas.

Ingredients for the Broad Bean Topping
  • about 300g podded broad beans (aka fava beans)
  • about 2 or more tbsp mild olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1 or 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • soft herbs, washed, dried and finely minced

Preparation of the Broad Bean Topping
  1. Pod the fresh beans.
  2. Cook the broad beans in boiling water for 2 minutes.
  3. Drain, refresh under cold water, drain again, then peel from their skins. Discard the skins.
  4. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil on medium heat.
  5. Add the sliced scallions and garlic and heat through until translucent.
  6. Add the braod beans, season with pepper and salt (to taste).
  7. Take off the heat.
  8. Add finely chopped fresh soft herbs to the broad beans and stir through.
  9. Serve as a topping tot he Hummus.
  10. Add fresh herb blossoms as a garnish.







This is a really easy recipe and the results are delicious. If you are looking to make a delicious crowd-pleaser/dip/lunch/dinner at short notice, the Hummus can be produced with the most basic items in the store cupboard.



Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Impressions from my Visit to the Garden and Plant Fair "Jrön und Jedön" in Lindlar (Germany)


Following are a few impressions from my visit to the Garden and Plant Fair ("Jrön and Jedön") at my favorite open-air museum in Lindlar, North-Rhine-Westphalia (Germany).

The museum itself is a large and hilly site, in an area with beautiful countryside, containing many reconstructed historical buildings and artefacts depicting rural life of the past. Most of the interiors of the buildings are open to viewing and give a fascinating insight into the living conditions of the original occupants who lived their as well as providing examples of their skills and ingenuity.

The museum organizes different exhibitions throughout the year, my prefered one being the Garden and Plant Fair with vendors offering flowers and kitchen herbs and lots of helpful advice for novice and advanced gardeners.



























For more information about the museum, you can visit the Museum's site here (available only in German).





Sunday, June 17, 2018

Red Beet Top & Goat’s Cheese Bruschetta


Beets are widely available and delicious year round, but actually their peak season is June through October, when they are at their most tender and sweet. When buying fresh red beets, make sure to look for unblemished bulbs with unwilted greens. Whenever you buy beets (there a quite a few varieties out there),  it is always a good idea to buy them with their greens attached. That way, it's like getting two vegetables for the price of one. Around here I realized that there are two kinds of markets, either you can often get beet greens for free at the farmers' market because some people ask the vendors to chop off the tops when they buy their beets or it is almost impossible to find beets with their greens attached.

If you make this recipe, remember that it can be used for other types of greens as well. Also, the sautéed greens are fabulous on their own as a side dish, or you can toss the greens with couscous, , grains, your favorite pasta, or add them to a quiche, which I love to do quite often.






Red Beet Top & Goat’s Cheese Bruschetta

Ingredients
  • 1 or 2 bunches of  beet greens, use whole or chop coarsely if too large
  • some good olive oil
  • 1 scallions, washed, dried , thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced (optional, to taste)
  • ¼  teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (optional, to taste)
  •  freshly ground black pepper and sea salt
  • a few slices of your favorite country-style loaf or sourdough bread, toasted, cooled
  • your favorite soft fresh goat’s cheese (it is nice to use fresh cheese from a local cheese manufacturer, if at all possible 

Preparation
  1. Wash the leaves in 2 or 3 rinses of water.
  2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick skillet. 
  3. Add the scallion, garlic and red pepper flakes (if using) and cook, stirring, until the scallion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds.
  4. Add the beet greens to the pan (with the water still clinging to the leaves) in 1, 2 or more additions (depending on the size of your pan and the amount of greens you are using).
  5. Stir for a couple of minutes, until the leaves have wilted and are nicely seasoned/coated with garlic and oil.
  6. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, remove from the heat and let cool a bit.
  7. While the greens are cooling a bit, prepare your bread slices. Toast or grill them, then put them on a platter. Top with goat’s cheese.
  8. Pile the warm greens on top of the prepared bread slices and serve immedaitely.

When you serve greens, it is always a delicious idea to serve a plate with fresh lemon wedges alongside, as a lot of people, including my family,  enjoy a few drops of freshly squeezed  lemon juice with their cooked greens.



Sources:


  • goat's cheese from Milchziegenhof Minten (here)
  • beet greens from the farmers' market in Jülich, Germany (here)
  • pretty ceramic platter crafted by Monika Hilger from Keramik Design (here)



Sunday, June 10, 2018

Impressions from my Visit to the International Ceramics Market in Höhr-Grenzhausen (Germany)


Ceramics have a long tradition in the southern Westerwald region, thanks to the abundance of clay that is found there. The tradition is continued today by the numerous potteries in an area known as Kannenbäckerland. 

The Kannenbäckerland has evolved into the center for ceramic handicraft as well as vocational training, therefore you will find the ceramics educational and research center (Bildungs- und Forschungs-Zentrum Keramik (for more info, pls go here) as well as the largest museum of ceramics in Europe (Keramikmuseum Westerwald) (for more info pls go here) where the history of this amazing craft can be traced.

On one hand, potters and ceramic artists produce traditional household items such as jugs and dishes in the grey-blue colours typical of the regional style of pottery. On the other hand, artists create more contemporary pieces that attest to the way ceramics have developed in this region.

The international ceramics market in Höhr-Grenzhausen attracts thousands of visitors every year. Here are a few impressions from my visit there last week, hope you will enjoy them.