Old friends have moved to Greenwich and we are delighted to have them here. They now live at the far end of the village, a perfect walking distance with just enough of a hill to make a visit to them an aerobic exercise. Their plans for the 3-acre plot include planting a small orchard and developing of both parterre and potage gardens. Come spring we’ll go for some wild walks on the property to see how good the foraging is.
Both are eating very low fat diets, emphasizing whole grains while deemphasizing animal products. As a host I love the challenge to design a menu that meets the needs of my guests of honor, while being completely (and surprisingly) satisfying to the rest of the guests. It tests my creativity and gets me to try some recipes I might not otherwise explore.
I just had an amazing tapas platter at New World Bistro Bar that featured their pumpkin hummus. It was a eureka moment – I came home and tried to duplicate it. Hummus is versatile; you can make it garlicky and bright with lemon, or make it sweet with the addition of honey or maple syrup. Mine had both one clove of garlic plus the maple. All my guests loved it as it was – I would prefer to go all-sweet or add extra garlic – not both.
Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of olive oil.
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame-seed paste)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin*
½ t each cinnamon, allspice
¼ t nutmeg
2 T maple or honey (optional – to taste)
1 teaspoon olive oil (optional)
1 garlic clove, chopped (opt – leave this out for a sweeter presentation)
To serve: 1t top quality extra virgin olive oil, 3 – 4 grates of nutmeg, ¼ c toasted pumpkin seeds
* I use my own roasted pumpkin, pureed then wrapped in cheesecloth to drain overnight. The longer you can leave it, the denser it will be. If you can find good organic canned pumpkin you can make this hummus in a matter of minutes.
Place ingredients (except for garnishes) in a food processor, and process until smooth. Spoon hummus into a serving bowl; sprinkle with pumpkin seed kernels, a couple shaves of nutmeg and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired. Serve with pita wedges or home baked chickpea crackers.
This is a gluten free/vegan dough that comes together easily; you can make it in a bowl with a good spoon just as easily as a mixer or processor.
1/2 cup chickpea or garbanzo flour, sifted before measuring (can be made with half whole wheat or completely gluten free)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (I used black kilauea)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon turmeric (for color)
1 t cracked black pepper
2-4 tablespoons water
The rest are options – but I really like the extra crunch and fiber:
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast or wheat germ
2 t flax seed
1/2 teaspoon canola oil (optional)
Possible garnishes: Poppy seeds, sesame, toasted pepita
For dusting: gluten-free baking flour (or flour of your choice)
Heat the oven to 350. Prepare 2 cookie sheets with parchment or silpat.
Combine the dry ingredients. Stir in the optional oil and begin stirring in water one tablespoon at a time. When the dough can be formed into a ball it’s ready.
Lightly dust a rolling surface and knead the dough several times to make a smooth ball. Flatten the ball and wrap it in plastic wrap, let rest for ten minutes. Prepare your garnishes: you can use cracked black peppercorns, poppy seeds, sea salt, toasted sesame seeds and/or toasted pumpkin seeds. What do you have on hand? You can use any one, or combination or all of them.
Dust the rolling surface again and rolling pin with the gluten-free flour. Divide the dough in half, and sprinkle the top with flour. Roll it out as thin as possible, as long as it holds together, about 1/8 inch thick. You can cut it into any size you like – I did some 1×2 and some 2 x 4”. You can also use cookie cutters (re-roll scraps). Cut into your chosen size. Sprinkle with garnishes and use a little rolling pressure to push the seeds into the surface.
Place crackers on a non-stick cookie sheet (or lined) and repeat with other half of dough. Use a fork to prick each cracker once or twice (this keeps them from puffing up too much).
Bake for 15-20 minutes (avoid under or over baking.) Remove from oven and allow them to cool and become crispy. If the finished cracker is not crisp enough you can return it to the oven for a few more minutes. You can also recrisp before serving.
Store in an airtight container.