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Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

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Dan and I are always looking for things that we would usually spend a lot of money at the store on that we could make at home for a lot less money (soon I’ll share the  Irish Cream recipe).  Things like pesto, spiced and flavored olive oil, and as of today, hummus.  Last weekend Food Network aired two back to back episodes of Unwrapped  about dips, and after an hour of watching giant machines make hummus, I decided I could do it at home.

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I spent a few days looking at recipe books and blogs, trying to get a good idea of the approximate proportions ratio- how much tahini to use with a certain amount of chickpeas, etc.  I decided to start with roasted red pepper hummus, because, frankly, that’s my favorite flavor to buy.  The only tricky part in the recipe was locating tahini, the grocery store didn’t have it, so I ended up going to the local co-op.  There I had the option to buy it in a can or scoop out my desired amount from big vats.  The scoop-your-own-nut-butters area was very crowded (Sunday afternoon food shopping hazard), so I bought it in a jar.

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Roasting vegetables, for those who have never done it, is very easy.  Just drizzle some olive oil over the pepper and throw it in a 400* oven for twenty to thirty minutes.  The benefit is that the olive oil is flavored after the vegetables are roasted, and you can use that in your hummus.  When roasting tomatoes and peppers, the way to tell that it is done is if the skin starts to bubble off the core of the vegetable.  Also, it smells heavenly.

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My only other advice for hummus making is that after you’ve finished blending it, you let it cool in the refrigerator for a few hours.  This not only brings the temperature down, it also allows it to flatten down a little.  The blending really fluffs it up, so settling in the fridge makes it better dipping.

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Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

15 ounces of canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 red pepper, roasted

2 tbsp tahini

6 tbsp olive oil

Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes

Core your red pepper.  Place in a baking pan and drizzle with 4 tbsps of oil.  Roast in a 400* oven for thirty minutes, or until the skin has bubbled off the pulp of the pepper.

Dice your garlic and combine it in a food processor with garbanzo beans, tahini, spices, and the remaining olive oil.  When the peppers are done, dice them and add them to the processor, along with the oil left over in the pan.

Grind  in the processor for about three minutes, or until it’s smooth.  Taste it to make sure you have enough pepper, and then cover and refrigerate for an hour.  Serve with pita chips.

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Roasted Pork Rib with Garlic Tomato Sauce

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A craving for saffron rice this week led to a quest to find the perfect meal to accompany it.  While I was thinking and brainstorming about what relatively healthy, adequately flavored accompaniment I could make, I started thinking about one of my father’s favorite dishes to cook.  And whether or not I could remember it well enough to adapt it without him correcting me.  It’s bad enough when he takes over for me when I’m cooking something “wrong” (like frying an egg), I didn’t want to get corrected publicly on my food blog.

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The dish he always made is a pork chop simmered in tomatoes and garlic.  But, over Christmas, the conversation with my future sister-in-law turned a few times to how bad for you pork chops are, so I opted for boneless pork tenderloin short ribs.  Plus, they looked a lot more appealing in the grocery store.

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I decided to sear them, roast them, and then simmer them in my sauce.  I wanted the crispy edge of searing the pork, plus it set up a flavor profile with my garlic and oil that I could bring the tomatoes into.  I also wanted them to be roasted, so after I seared them, I roasted them for about half an hour.  That left me plenty of time to simmer my tomatoes and by the time I added the pork and its drippings back into the sauce, the flavors were all there, and delicious.

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Saffron rice is great with this dish because the flavors are really complimentary.  And the sauce is liquid enough that you want a bread or rice to soak it up, and the rice does a wonderful job.  Usually I hate it when my food touches, but there are certain exceptions (like drippy eggs), and this is definitely one of them.

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Roasted Pork Rib with Garlic Tomato Sauce

1 lb pork tenderloin boneless short rib

4 cloves garlic

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp fresh rosemary

1 tsp herbs from provence

Salt and pepper

1 can diced tomatoes (fire roasted if you can find them)

1 can whole peeled tomatoes

1 cup saffron rice

The night before you plan on  making this, rub your pork with fresh rosemary, salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Place in a bag and marinate overnight.

When you’re ready to cook, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet.  Sautee your pork for about a minute on each side, it should still be uncooked in the middle.  Transfer the pork and it’s juices into a roasting pan.  Top with the canned diced tomatoes, and roast for 30  minutes at 400*F.

While your meat is roasting, heat an additional 2 tbsp of olive oil in the skillet.  Add garlic and rosemary.  Saute for a few minutes.  Strain your whole peeled tomatoes, but keep the juice because you’re going to use some of it with the rice.  Add the tomatoes to the pan, and quarter them- in the pan so the juices get mixed in with the rest.  Simmer while the pork is roasting.

In a separate pot, bring 1 1/2 cups of water, 1 tsp butter, and 1/4 cup of the tomato juices to a boil.  As soon as it boils, add in your rice.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for twenty minutes.

When the pork is done roasting, add the pork, the tomatoes, and the juices to your skillet.  Simmer while your rice is cooking.

When the rice has absorbed all the liquid, plate it, topping it with tomatoes and pork.

Serves 2-4.

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Fresh Turkey Burger

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Making these burgers today was a comedy of errors.  In the morning, we walked to the co-op near our apartment to get some things, and as soon as we got back the “doh” moments of things I had forgotten for the burgers began.  I forgot fresh ginger, pepperjack cheese, new limes, and new cilantro.  And that’s like… most of the recipe.

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So, I had to make due.  I mean, logically, I could have gone out again.  But I was already in my pajamas and didn’t remember I had forgotten half of the things until I had already starting the patties, so I opted to make due.  Instead of fresh grated ginger, I used dried ground ginger.  This worked in a pinch, but really, I don’t recommend it.  The grated ginger in these burgers really pops, and it’s an intense flavor.

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The other ingredient I completely forgot was the pepperjack cheese.  I like pepperjack on this burger because the spice of the cheese plays off the other flavors.  But since I didn’t have any, I had to go with what I had, which was gruyere.  So, I toasted the buns, brushed them with oil, and sprinkled them with grated gruyere and ground ginger.  And it was perfect.  The toasting was a good idea anyway because it balanced with the juiciness of the burger nicely.  The gruyere was more subtle, and didn’t compete with the flavors, just intensified.  It was perfection.

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Not that he’s biased, but Dan thinks that this is my best original dish.  It’s a great burger because it’s turkey so it’s better for you, but it’s not dry because the jalapeno and the cilantro keep the meat moist.  It’s spicy and sweet at the same time, and there is so much flavor packed into each bite.  I served it with a mixed green and pears salad and a mojito.  Mmmmmm.

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Fresh Turkey Burgers

1/2 pound lean ground turkey (makes 2 burgers)

1 jalapeno, diced

1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

1 tbsp fresh chopped ginger

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 cup gruyere cheese, plus some for sprinkling

1 garlic clove, chopped

Mixed greens

Buns

2 tsp olive oil

1/2 lime

Chop your jalapeno, cilantro, garlic, and ginger and add to ground turkey.  Use your hands to knead it all together.  Form into patties, about 4 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick.

Heat 1 tsp of olive oil in your pan.  Place the patties in the pan, over medium heat.  Turkey takes a little longer to cook without drying it out, about twenty minutes over medium heat.  Flip them every five minutes or so, and make sure they don’t get burned.

Brush your buns with olive oil and sprinkle ground ginger and gruyere.  Bake at 300* for about five minutes.

Once your toast has gotten nice and crispy, top with mixed greens and sprinkle a little more grated gruyere on the greens.  When your burger is fully cooked, place it on top of the mixed greens and drizzle with lime juice.

Serves 2.

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