Hum. Hum. Black bean green chile dip.

 

Black bean green chile hummus spread on a toasted bun and paired with homegrown tomatoes, spinach and blue corn chips.

Black bean green chile hummus spread on a toasted bun and paired with homegrown tomatoes, spinach and blue corn chips.

Chickpeas. Tahini. Kosher salt. Hummus.
The foodies in my family dig on any recipe with the name hummus in it. The other half’s eyes glaze over with all that Middle Eastern talk.

Hummus?

Why don’t I just show up at the table wearing a Barack Obama Tshirt and greet them with As-salamu Alaykum instead of the traditional “howdy”?

Like changing any culture, mindset or palate, it’s about small steps, accessibility and tapping into what is familiar.

Hence, we have black bean and green chile dip/spread – referred to (with a wink and a whisper) by family members in the know as black bean, green chile hummus.

Black beans (familiar but somewhat exotic in a region that exists on pintos).
Green chiles (gotta tap into that southwestern need for heat).
Tahini (I had to keep it. I just don’t tell certain people about it, though one friend did suggest subbing Jif and really trashing things up. Yeah baby, spread this spread on Wonderbread with a smear of Miracle Whip. I don’t think so).

Ingredients:

  • 30 oz. of black beans (2 cans drained. I use the low salt version)
  • .5 cup of frozen, hot green chiles (I guess you could use the canned)
  • 3-4 soup spoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice from one small lemon
  • 1 large garlic cloves (check twang at end and add second if needed)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • .5 tsp black pepper

Now comes the hard part of this recipe. Put it all in a blender and mix it up. Pause every 10 seconds or so and mix things up with a tamper or a spoon or you will likely burn your blender’s motor up. You could also try blending the ingredients in stages.

Chill and enjoy.

Observation:
I don’t think you get the full flavor if you eat it straight out of the fridge. I let it sit for a few minutes and allow the temperature to drop.

Now that we’ve made hummus more accessible, how do we do something similar with baba ghanoush? Muhammara? Tabouleh? Dolmas?

In the meantime, tell me what you think of the black bean version of hummus, the adjustments you made and any dishes you would like to learn in the future. I’ll be your test kitchen guinea pig and relay everything I learn via this blog.

If you enjoyed this recipe (or the post), please hit “like” below. It helps more people see not only this post but the blog as well.

As a dip, black bean green chile hummus pairs brilliantly with tomatoes, cilantro and blue corn chips.

As a dip, black bean green chile hummus pairs brilliantly with tomatoes, cilantro and blue corn chips.

Black bean green chile hummus atop homegrown tomatoes with a little cilantro thrown in for brightness.

Black bean green chile hummus atop homegrown tomatoes with a little cilantro thrown in for brightness.

Cold comfort. Salmorejo.

Salmorejo, a rustic mixture of tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and bread,  will make you wonder why you haven't been eating chilled soups (at least this one) all your life.

Salmorejo, a rustic mixture of tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and bread, will make you wonder why you haven’t been eating chilled soups (at least this one) all your life.

Cold soups. You mention them in West Texas and you just might get the stink-eye that says, “You must be some kind of commie.” Soup is warm weather food. Savory broths. Hot liquids. Sunshine in a bowl that is meant to warm heart, hands and body.

We need to get over ourselves. We iced tea. Now we won’t drink it any other way. And I’ve seen West Texans galore sneaking iced/chilled coffee for their caffeine fix. (Nobody tells them they are all hat and no cattle just because they sneak off to Starbucks – at least not to their faces).

Chilled soup should be your next frontier. And we’ll start out with one that hopefully doesn’t lead to someone saying, “get a rope.”

Salmorejo. That’s right. It sounds like a dish off a Mexican food restaurant’s menu. We know that isn’t for commies seeing as you can’t chunk a rock in this part of the world without hitting a Mexican restaurant or a barbecue joint. (FYI, it’s Spanish, not Mexican.)

It’s a rustic chilled soup that is a staple in southern Spain, hailing from Cordoba. Rich, creamy (no dairy though) and delectable. I got hooked eating it almost every day from a lunch counter in Sevilla during the summer and convinced some of my language teachers who said they made it on an almost-daily basis to show me how to prepare it. I don’t say cook because all you really need are the ingredients and a blender for the soup itself.

There are four, must have ingredients – tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, vinegar and bread.

Here’s a starting point for one of the quickest, most delicious anytime lunches or light dinners you can make.

  • 3 pounds ripe tomatoes (chopped roughly. I don’t core, seed, half or anything else because I have a good blender that is going to make everything really creamy and what rustic dish requires that much refinement? I do cut off the tops.).
  • 2 oz. of stale bread crust removed (I do prefer using an old artisan loaf, french bread or bolillo – five for $1 like you get at HEB – and not some sliced sandwich loaf). Put the bread in a glass of water and let it soak.
  • 2 medium smashed garlic cloves (You could start with one large and work your way all the way up to as many as three. Garlic is the hardest ingredient to judge in this recipe. Baby steps until you get it right. What you don’t want is a really sharp garlic burn or a garlic taste that overwhelms everything else).
  • 1 teaspoon Sherry Vinegar (red wine vinegar if you don’t have it)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (not the cheapest you can find but not the most expensive either. Something that you like its taste)
  • salt to taste
  • serrano ham/prosciutto in 1/4 inch cubes
  • chopped or sliced hard-boiled egg
  1. Put the tomatoes and smashed garlic in the blender. Puree.
  2. Squeeze the water out of your bread. Add to tomatoes and garlic
  3. Add sherry vinegar.
  4. Puree some more.
  5. Slowly drizzle the olive oil into the soup while it is blending. Keep going until it is well-emulsified/creamy and, perhaps, a bit frothy on top.
  6. Add salt to taste and adjust vinegar for the amount of tang you like.
  7. Refrigerate for a couple of hours.

A few tips/observations:

I like Salmorejo cool but not ice cold. Think about this before service and judge when you need to remove it from the refrigerator.

Traditionally, Salmorejo is topped with hard-boiled egg (chopped, sliced, grated) and serrano ham (I like it cubed).

Serrano ham is impossible to find in these parts. I have the deli counter cut me a quarter inch slice of prosciutto and then I cube that when I get home. Regular cubed ham could give you that salt and textural change if you had to go that route, but I’d probably opt for crumbled bacon before I did that. Everything is better with bacon.

To me, salmorejo is about like a pesto in that it’s only your own fault if you don’t get the flavor you like. Like a gun with fixed sites, you walk it into the target. Translation for those who don’t shoot guns: Tweak it. More tanginess=More vinegar. More garlic=more garlic. More creaminess=more soaked bread and olive oil.

I’m fortunate enough to have a Vitamix, and I sometimes skip the bread altogether.

It’s unlikely that you will go too far in one direction to save the dish, but it’s not like we’re dealing with high-dollar, high-falutin’ ingredients here like foie gras.

Try it. If you have half a lick of sense about you (and you don’t hate tomatoes), you are going to like it.

Maybe next time we can talk about Salmorejo’s Andalusian cousin, Gazpacho – not to be confused with the Gestapo, although that’s probably the only way you could have forced my grandfather to eat it.

In the meantime, tell me how you liked it, the adjustments you made and any dishes you would like to learn in the future. I’ll be your test kitchen guinea pig and relay everything I learn via this blog.

If you enjoyed this recipe (or the post), please hit “like” below. It helps more people see not only this post but the blog as well.

Somewhere between life and death

Entre el sol y la sombra. A bull passes between shade and sun, June 19, 2014, at the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza in Sevilla, Spain.

Entre el sol y la sombra. A bull passes between shade and sun, June 19, 2014, at the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza in Sevilla, Spain.

There is little doubt how this will end, but in this moment captured by ones and zeros there is fleeting hope – some time left on the clock, some sun remaining into which the bull may escape before the cape and sword end all pursuits in a final eclipse.

There is fodder here for those who decry the barbarity of the sport and its traditions, and there is a nod to the art that its proponents defend.

It isn’t my favorite peak action shot from my Summer 2014 trip with my sister or an image that romanticizes the event, but it is my favorite image from La Corrida.

For me, it is an image of contrast with little discernible middle ground – a razor thin, tenuous line between humanity and my adoration of art, culture and tradition that I find myself straddling every time I attend these events.

Has anyone else attended the bullfights or encierro? Thoughts? Observations?

Matador Pepe Moral, June 19, 2014, at the Plaza de Toros de La Maestranza in Sevilla, Spain.

Matador Pepe Moral, June 19, 2014, at the Plaza de Toros de La Maestranza in Sevilla, Spain.

Matador Pepe Moral, June 19, 2014, at the Plaza de Toros de La Maestranza in Sevilla, Spain.

Matador Pepe Moral, June 19, 2014, at the Plaza de Toros de La Maestranza in Sevilla, Spain.

Why I leave and why I come back

Children jump into the ocean near the Castillo de Santa Catalina in Cadiz, Spain, July 2014.

Children jump into the ocean near the Castillo de Santa Catalina in Cadiz, Spain, July 2014.

Anyone who has ever spent any time in Abilene (or any other small city or town), knows what it’s like to have a love/hate relationship.

There are certain things that one may only experience if they get Out of Abilene. Those things drive you away – even if it’s only temporarily.
There are other things that could only come Out of Abilene. Those things may bring folks back or keep them here – not to mention provide fodder for Texas-sized braggadocio by our expatriates.
These pages contain meanderings (and maybe even some news) about things that have pushed me Out of Abilene as well as the things that come Out of Abilene and keep me here.
Expect lots of culinary/foodie pursuits peppered with some travel writing and photography (often related to the culinary world), current events and what it’s like to live with nine neurotic bird dogs (another reason I stay here).