A week ago, I turned 27. 27 was my lucky number as a kid. I guess it still is, but after the age of 13, I don’t think you can admit to believing in a lucky number. Forgive me, but it’s just not rational. Nonetheless, this year I am 27, and am eager to believe again. The previous year has been a bit crazy, filled with highs and lows that transitioned with abandon—kind of like watching a drunken bumblebee zig-zaggedly navigate the garden of his dreams while being chased with a stream of Raid. So I tell you, I just don’t care—lucky number 27 means this is going to be a lucky year—darn it. Lucky in the sense that I accomplish something tangible, sprinting forward with passion rather than slogging through uncertainty and snapping to attention at incoming curve balls. Oh, lucky 27. I can FEEL it.
Other than the number itself, there was another sign that this year promises to be serendipitous indeed, and that was the arrival on my doorstep of a food processor–the most magical of all kitchen appliances. I did a little happy dance, fists pumping in the air, and the only thing that kept me from hugging the box was its 2X2 girth and 42 pounds of culinary power, no doubt mostly contained in its mighty little 700 watt motor. I nudged it over the threshold, sliced through the tape, and tugged strenuously until I, along with the Styrofoam shell, thumped onto the floor.
My first encounter with a food processor was in my aunt’s kitchen when I was about 12 or 13 (yes, about the same time I ceased believing in lucky numbers). My aunt touted it as a brilliantly handy appliance, but I was thoroughly unimpressed. ‘It’s just a glorified blender, and a stout one at that,’ I thought. I know, I know, heresy! Blasphemy! Naïveté! Little did I know that a food processor can make velvety smooth puree of chickpeas, where a blender would render them a lumpy, messy, glob stubbornly clinging to the bottom of the bowl. My frustrated attempts to get any globule going, frantically jabbing the pulse button, only yielded the mechanical smell of an overworked motor. During my early culinary efforts, every now and again, the same scenario played out: (1) come across a recipe requiring a food processor (2) substitute a blender (3) end up with an unwieldy blob and a burnt motor aroma. Yes, I quickly realized that a food processor is vastly superior to a blender, save for perhaps smoothie-making. And for me to love an appliance despite its inability to bring together frozen fruit drinks, you know it has to be good.
Although I often watch food processors in action on t.v., operating one myself for the first time really was magical. Of course, I chose hummus as the inaugural dish. As I watched the slightly squishy chickpeas dissolve into a creamy, rich spread, I felt less like a cook and more like an alchemist, turning lead into gold. And that, friends, is how year number 27 is going to go—lead to gold, rough bumps to smooth spreads. Thus, I declare it ‘The Year of the Food Processor’.
Traditional Mediterranean Hummus
I reviewed quite a few recipes before settling on this one, called “Hummus III”, from www.allrecipes.com. “Secret combination straight from a Boston restaurant” sold me, along with 816 reviews. Although I plan to experiment with abandon until I perfect my own, this first attempt was satisfying and I recommend it to all of you proud food processor owners out there! I’ve adapted the instructions slightly, adding a few clarifying tidbits.
2 cups canned garbanzo beans, aka as chickpeas (drain and reserve liquid)
1/3 cup tahini (you can usually find this near peanut butter at the store)
1/4 cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed, of course!)
1 teaspoon salt
2 cloves of garlic, halved
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pinch paprika
1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
1) Place the garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, salt, and garlic in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Give it a taste and adjust ingredients to your liking.
2) Gradually add the reserved chickpea juice until the hummus reaches the consistency you like.
3) Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of paprika, and a pinch of parsley.
4) Serve with pita wedges, carrot and celery sticks, or whatever else you have on hand that can scoop up this delicious spread! If we don’t have pita on hand, Jonathan just spreads it on white bread 😀