Roasted Garlic White Bean Hummus

Roasted Garlic and White Bean Hummus

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Fridays are my favorite day of the week. It has long been our date night and we rarely make plans to do anything because we are both ready to just relax at home by then. This is even more true lately, because life just seems more fraught and busier than ever these days.

The leisure of a Friday night, cooking together and catching up, is as welcome as a warm afghan on a cold day. We start texting each other by mid-afternoon with ideas for dinner. The Kitchen Genius’ ideas usually trump mine because he seems to be fussier on any given day than I am. Not that he’s actually fussy. Far from it. That man will eat just about anything.

But he has a fickler palate on a day to day basis. It’s not worth arguing about because we always eat very well. What difference does it make to me whether we eat linguini with white clam sauce or marinated lamb chops? I love it all.

Around 6 p.m. on Fridays, I turn off my laptop and he pulls into the driveway. I put Pandora “Dinner Party Radio” on my phone and turn on the speakers. Then I make cocktails while he unloads whatever groceries he picked up on his way home. His new favorite cocktail is a bourbon Negroni, which is equal parts bourbon, Campari and sweet vermouth, shaken and served straight up. I generally have an old-fashioned on the rocks because it’s perfect for slow sipping.

Friday is the only night we always make an appetizer to go along with our cocktails. Some weeks they are simple, like cheese stuffed mushroom caps or oysters with mignonette. We were so in love with oysters ceviche a while back that we ate it every week for a month. Stuffies are another favorite along with clams casino.

Our new favorite appetizer is a new recipe we tried on Easter. Our crowd of over 20 could not get enough of the crostini topped with roasted garlic and white bean hummus we made. It is one of the simplest recipes you can make, so this will certainly be on the menu at our next dinner party.

Foods come and go from favor all the time. Roasted garlic was the darling of most chefs a few years ago. Then it kind of got forgotten, although my son in law tells me the roasted black garlic is a current rage.

Roasting garlic is incredibly easy. You simply slice the top off of a whole bulb of garlic cloves, drizzle it with some olive oil and wrap in up in a little foil packet. Tuck it into a 300-degree oven for about 45 minutes. Slow cooking garlic in its skin transforms it from something with a lot of bite to something that is incredibly smooth and sweet.

Roasted Garlic

To remove the garlic from the skins, turn it upside down over a bowl and squeeze. Each tender garlic bulb will pop right out. At this point, no one would fault you if you smothered a few cloves of it onto a waiting slab on a nice crusty piece of bread, but patience offers a bigger reward. When the roasted garlic is pureed with cannellini beans, olive oil and fresh rosemary, the result will make you forget that butter exists as a condiment for bread.

To make crostini I start with a long baguette, cut into fairly thin slices, which I arrange on a baking sheet. First I take a peeled clove of garlic and slice it in half. Then I run the cut side of the garlic over the top of each crostini. I use a small pastry brush to spread a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil on each slice. A light sprinkling of salt adds flavor. Broil the crostini for about one minute until golden brown.

You want to make these at the last minute so they stay crisp, rather than becoming chewy. To serve, arrange the crostini on a platter and put the hummus in a small bowl. Place colorful toppings like Kalamata olives, marinated sweet red peppers and marinated mushrooms in other bowls so guests can create their own crostini.

Roasted Garlic White Bean Hummus
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Roasted Garlic White Bean Hummus
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Ingredients
  • 1 bulb garlic , roasted
  • 1 can white cannellini beans (15 ounce), drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary , minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 grinds fresh black pepper
Servings:
Instructions
Roast Garlic
  1. Slice the top off of a whole bulb of garlic cloves, drizzle it with some olive oil and wrap in up in a little foil packet. Tuck it into a 300-degree oven for about 45 minutes.
  2. To remove the garlic from the skins, turn it upside down over a bowl and squeeze. Each tender garlic bulb will pop right out.
    Roasted Garlic
Hummus
  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth, about one minute.
  2. Serve as topping for crostini or with white toasted pita wedges for dipping.
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Braised Carrots & Leeks

Braised Carrots and Leeks

Last Saturday, the Nauset Regional Middle School auditorium was filled with farmers, gardeners and people who are devoted to organics. The reason: organic farming pioneer Eliot Coleman was giving a talk, and his equally famous wife, Barbara Damrosch was also on hand to sign books and chat afterwards. The event was sponsored by Sustainable CAPE, the amazing group in Truro who have made celebrating local food and education its centerpiece with events like the Truro Agricultural Fair and Farmer-in-the-School Programs.

Coleman is a leader in the movement to grow food year round in Northern climates, and he and Damrosch do so on their 60-acre Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine. His talk was titled, “Nothing is Impossible,” and he listed all of the things that people told him were impossible over the years, beginning with the idea that it is possible to grow food without pesticides or chemicals.

His talk was as much about experimenting and ingenuity as it was about food. He explained how he came up with the idea of growing cold-hearty salad and root crops in unheated greenhouses during the winter months at first by accident and then by design.

“We weren’t so much gardening in the winter as harvesting in the winter,” he said. “All of the plants had to be planted earlier to have healthy root systems.”

His method of growing involves putting wheels on his 30 by 96 foot greenhouses. The mobile greenhouses serve two purposes. First they protect heat loving plants like tomatoes, eggplant and bell peppers through the fall. When the season for those plants end, the greenhouses are moved to protect the root vegetables and greens he planted in late summer.

One of their most popular winter crops is carrots, which just become sweeter in the colder earth.

“They are so tasty that kids call them candy carrots,” he said, prompting one farmer to ask what kind of carrots he plants. You can bet that Mokum carrots from Johnny’s Selected Seeds will be appearing in local gardens like mine this summer.

Coleman believes that farmers should share information with each other, and for over an hour he shared his best tips, best tools and best advice. With each step he has taken on his farm he learned something new and most of his tools are fashioned with things at hand. A cordless drill is the power behind his design for “the tilther,” a small rototiller that only works the top two inches of the soil.

The thinking behind this invention was that weeds rarely germinate from more than two inches deep in the soil. Shallow soil working avoids stirring up dormant weeds that are lying deeper. This bit of information made me appreciate the no till policy at the Brewster Community Garden. The town used to pay someone to rototill every spring, but stopped doing so a few years ago. Individual gardeners are allowed to rototill their plots, as we have always done.

Not anymore. I made huge strides with the weeds on my plot last year, and now I know how to keep them at bay this year.

I also learned why my leeks didn’t thrive last summer. I didn’t plant them deep enough. Coleman devised a leek planting tool from a 10-inch long piece of one-inch plumbing pipe with the end flattened. He then pokes a hole, places the leek seedling in and lets nature fill in around the small hole.

With Coleman’s book, “The Winter Harvest Handbook” in my hand and my head filled with visions of his gorgeous photos of carrots and leeks, I headed to the store to purchase both. This spring vegetable side dish would be lovely on your Easter table.

Braised Carrots and Leeks
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Braised Carrots and Leeks
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large leeks , white and light green parts only
  • 1 medium clove garlic , minced
  • 1 pound carrots , peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 grinds fresh black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon , chopped
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Cut leeks in half horizontally and then slice vertically. Wash them well and dry them for a few minutes before cooking.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet
  3. Add leeks and cook for two minutes.
  4. Add garlic and cook just until fragrance wafts up, about 20 seconds.
  5. Add carrots, chicken stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
  6. Turn heat down to medium low and simmer until carrots are just tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on size.
  7. Add tarragon and remove skillet from burner.
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