I looked up to see a friendly smile and a name tag on his supermarket-issued apron that might have indicated an Armenian background. Or Hispanic. Or sixth-generation Bostonian, born and bred. You can never tell in Los Angeles, where folks change their names, their hair color, and their noses like some people change their socks.
"Uhhh, yeah," I said. "I guess so...."
The checker with the glossy black ponytail and multiple piercings chimed in. "Oh, yeah, I make this..."
"In the food processor, right?," he asked.
"Nah, I just use the blender!," she answered.
And they were off, discussing the pros and cons of hummus with roasted red bell peppers, garlic vs. no garlic, olive oil in or just drizzled over.
I listened and made a mental note: This is my last tub of purchased hummus, ever. If two twenty-somethings who work all day long on their feet can go home and make hummus from scratch, then so can I, a self-professed from-scratch cook. And then I promptly forgot about my resolution.
A few days back, Deb Perelman published her recipe for "Ethereally Smooth Hummus" on her beautiful blog, "Smitten Kitchen." (She also has a first cookbook out by the same name.) Since I had all the ingredients to make hummus, and--more important--a lovely late afternoon to make it in--I did.
Make the hummus, that is.
Please read her website, because her description is amusing and her photos gorgeous. Or if you're in a rush, trust me that the main difference between Deb's hummus and every other one I've seen out there is you peel the garbanzo beans first.
I sat in the late afternoon sunshine and relished the mindless task. It took me back to when I was a little girl and would help my grandmother shell green peas. A soothing, repetitive motion, and at the end, a bowlful of beautifully skinned garbanzo beans, ready to render into silky wonderfulness.
So, again, please go to her website for the instructions and the recipe. Kudos to Deb Perelman for posting this.
And a tiny Yay, Me. For finally getting around to finding out how easy it was to honor my resolution.
Buzzing the skinned garbanzo beans in the food processor
Adding tahini (Warning: It's messy, like a jar of the hippie-est kind of peanut butter, with the constantly oily outside you can't ever get completely clean.)
A little lemon juice
Some coarsely chopped fresh garlic and table (not kosher) salt
Buzz all the ingredients up in the food processor
Check it on a cracker to make sure you like the consistency and try not to make fun of your funny-looking thumbs (thanks, Dad!)
Piled into a bowl, the hummus improves by sitting for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to "bloom"
A light drizzle of olive oil, a dusting of paprika, and the first carrot stick is in and ready to go!