Tag Archives: hummus

Dubai Pt.1


Last week, I travelled to Dubai for an International Honor Choir Festival. My first visit to the middle east, the trip was full of new sights, sounds, and tastes.


We arrived in the city at 5 am on a sleepy red-eye flight. When the sun came up, we went exploring. It was another world out there! Different language, culture, landscape. Between buildings, in sidewalk cracks, there was nothing but sand. No weeds, no dirts, no grass, no nothing. It floored me. Dubai was really a cluster of constructions plopped down in the middle of the desert.


This Emirate is famous for its extravagant malls. We even managed to find a Japanese food vendor. (Needless to say, no sampling took place.)


The metro stations were sleek and modern.


The hummus with dinner that night was smooth and flavorful, the pita puffed and perfectly fluffy.

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The next morning, we set out for the older section of the city.


The gold markets were a sight to behold!


As were the spice souks.

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The dry, bright weather of Dubai was a breath of fresh air. Who doesn’t love summer?

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Cicada Sisters’ Date

Cicada is one of the few restaurants that comes to mind where every course is sensational: the appetizers, the mains, and, of course, the desserts. Located in Omotesando, it serves exceptional mediterranean-inspired cuisine.


Cicada used to be a fairly regular weekend haunt for my family, but since it relocated a few months, we had had difficultly getting a reservation. A couple weekends ago, we finally got a table. Nothing had changed. The food was absolutely perfect and just as we had remembered it. The same night, my sister and I reserved a table for the dinner the next week.


Every time we go to Cicada, we order exactly the same thing. Why? It’s so extraordinary that we couldn’t possibly forfeit a chance to taste it.


To start, we ordered Cicada Sangrias, delicious concoctions of red wine, orange juice, and ginger ale. I rarely opt for any cocktail other than a kir royale, but this one is to die for.

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As for appetizers, there is only one way to go. If you’ve been keeping up with my posts, by this point you’ve probably realized that I am a major hummus enthusiast. Well, Cicada’s recipe may be the best I’ve ever tried. It’s a strong statement, I know. But trust me, the combination of flavors, the slight sourness of the lemon, the nuttiness of the chickpeas and tahini, and the perfectly smooth consistency is unmatched.


A carefully crafted bite of crispy pita, a kalamata olive, and a spoonful of hummus is utterly heavenly.


Here, you have our main dish: snapper with rosemary, potatoes, and black olives. There are no words.


In preparation for dessert, my sister and I shared one appetizer and one main. Our waitress kept asking us if we were hungry and if we wanted more food. She was clearly oblivious to our meticulously designed eating strategy.

As we poured over the menu, just to be sure that our regular choices were the right ones, we came very close to stepping outside the box. We toyed with the idea of Torta della Nonna with Pistachio Gelato and debated the pros and cons of Rice Pudding with Glazed Apples. But, in the end, our old favorites prevailed. We were far from disappointed.


Pistachio Crème Brûlée. This pudding is wonderfully nutty and is served in a thin layer so that every bite has a touch of burnt sugary goodness.


Super Rich Warm Valrhona 70% Cacao Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ice Cream. The melding of textures, temperatures, and tastes is sensational. No further comment necessary.


Like every meal I’ve had here, this one was memorable. Good food, great company.

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Macaron Party

Macaron Party

Macarons have always been on my radar screen. Recently, they have been a recurring topic of conversation and food lust. Naturally, I found an excuse to experiment with crafting these mouthwatering French cookies. A couple nights ago, a good part of the debate team came over to cook and consume macarons, and dinner, too, of course.

The first order of business was basic vanilla macaron batter in pink and white, followed by chocolate.


With these treats safely in the oven, we started on the filling: bittersweet chocolate, caramel, and raspberry.


Here is the caramel sauce. Unfortunately, the chocolate and raspberry disappeared so quickly that the following record is all that’s left.

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But dessert wasn’t the only memorable culinary experience of the evening.


My signature sun-dried tomato hummus got rave reviews.


The truffle risotto was rich, flavorful, and oh so decadent.


Finally, we assembled the macarons.


The consensus was that the caramel was the best. That being said, the plates were empty within minutes.


As if we hadn’t eat enough already, a second dessert course followed the macarons: red velvet cupcakes kindly provided by a friend.



Basic Macaron Cookies

Adapted from Macarons: 30 Recettes Faciles by Daniel Patzelt

  • 125 g almond powder
  • 205 g icing sugar
  • 100 g egg whites
  • a pinch of salt
  • 65 g white sugar
  • a splash of vanilla extract
  • a few drops of food coloring
  1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC (300ºF).
  2. Mix the almond powder and icing sugar. Pulse through a food processor to remove clumps and refine the mixture.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff. When they are about halfway done, gradually add half the granulated sugar. When they are done, add the rest of the sugar and the vanilla.
  4. Gently fold the dry mixture, one third to one half at a time, and food coloring of choice into the beaten egg whites. (The French verb for folding in this context is actually macaronner. It’s sort of perfect!) The mixture is done when it is “lisse et brillante” or smooth and shiny.
  5. Cover two cookie sheets with oven paper and using a pastry bag, or a zip lock bag with one corner cut off, in my case, pipe out small rounds, separating them by a few centimeters.
  6. Leave the cookie sheets alone for 30 minutes before putting them into the oven and allowing them to cook for 12-15 minutes. The cookies are done if they feel hard when tapped in the center and can be peeled off the paper easily.

For the chocolate macarons and ganache, I used David Leibovitz’s recipe. His instructions are always clear, his ratios well-vetted. Here are the recipes for the Caramel Fleur de Sel and Raspberry Fillings. We lessened the amount of butter in the caramel by about 1/2 to 2/3, as 140 g seemed a little excessive. For the raspberry, we started with all of the amounts given but had to add a little extra cornstarch to bring it to the proper consistency. All of the fillings should be chilled before assembly. Trust me, this makes life so much easier.


Truffle Risotto to serve 4

Inspired by Bevan Smith’s recipe for Broad Bean Risotto
From Riverstone Kitchen: Recipes from a Chef’s Garden,
(A book acquired in New Zealand with lots of delicious, albeit rich, recipes)

  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 1 stick celery
  • 15 g unsalted butter
  • 30 mL olive oil
  • 300 g (a scant cup and a half) carnaroli risotto rice
  • 120 mL Noilly Prat dry vermouth
  • 700 mL vegetable stock (I used hot water and vegan bouillon cubes.)
  • roughly 1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
  • juice of half a lemon
  • another 15 g unsalted butter
  • 40 g grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • however many truffles you want, finely chopped
  1. Finely chop the onion and celery. No big chunks, please. Think about what would taste good in a bit of smooth, creamy risotto.
  2. Sauté the mushrooms with a touch of extra butter until soft. Set aside.
  3. Sweat the onion and celery with the olive oil and first dose of butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat.
  4. Add the rice and continue to sweat for another 2 minutes, or so.
  5. Add the vermouth and reduce the mixture until there is almost no liquid left. Then, begin to add the stock, stirring constantly and pouring in a little bit at a time. You may need more than 700 mL to cook the rice properly. Taste it when you think it’s getting close and add more water if it’s still too al dente.
  6. When the rice is cooked, add the mushrooms, then the cheese, extra butter, lemon juice, and parsley. Next toss in your truffles, salt, and pepper.


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They may not look quite as good as the real deal, but I’d say not bad for a first attempt.



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Sun-dried Tomato Hummus

Creamy, classic, and crave-worthy, hummus is practically a staple at my house.

Naturally, I simply can’t think of a better recipe to start my box with. A recipe box seems like the definitive way to keep track of favorite foods. I like to have hard copies of my recipes and now I’ll have the perfect place to store them!

Here it is!

Here it is!

Now back to the matter at hand: hummus.

HummusThis recipe is inspired by the formula in Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty.

(Keep in mind, this is hummus. I’ve listed the proportions that I use, but everything can and should be adjusted to taste.)

  • 3 cans of chickpeas
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • about 3/4 cup tahini
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • (almost) 1 jar of sun-dried tomatoes in oil (drain before adding)
  • water
  • optional: a couple chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes, or some smoked or standard paprika to garnish

I make my hummus in a food processor. It’s quick, clean, easy, and oh so satisfying. This recipe makes quite a large quantity of hummus but it keeps for a week in the fridge, and likely won’t last that long, anyways!

1. Completely pulverize the garlic. (Finding a chuck of raw garlic in a bite of smooth, scrumptious hummus is a nasty surprise – I speak from personal experience, unfortunately.)

2. Throw in the chickpeas and sun-dried tomatoes, followed by the tahini.

3. Add lemon to taste. (I add lots of lemon to cut the amount of salt I need. For some reason, the sharp tang of lemon juice renders salt unnecessary.)

4. Now it’s texture time. Adding a little water at time (no more than 1/4 cup), pulse the food processor and adjust the texture to taste.

Hummus Again

Served with warm pita, I guarantee it will be a hit.


Hummus at Hand

Hummus gets eaten

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