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The variety of hummus in the stores these days has exploded—along with the price of this simple spread. Dry legumes are extremely affordable, and when you see how easy this is to make, and how delicious when eaten fresh, you might reconsider paying for store-bought.

To cook the beans, combine the following, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 3 hours, or until the beans are quite soft. Save the liquid.

  • 1 pound dried garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas)
  • 8 c. water
  • 1 tbs. salt

Combine the following in a food processor. Process until smooth.

  • cooked garbanzo beans
  • 3/4 c. of the reserved cooking liquid—or just enough to achieve desired consistency*
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 c. tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 2  tsp. salt (to taste)
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil

When very smooth, pulse in

  • 3 Tbs. chopped parsley

*Room-temperature tahini will be thin, but will thicken when refrigerated. Keep this in mind when adding liquid


What’s on your matzo pizza?

For favorite Passover recipes from my kitchen, please get the book Essential Passover from Scratch: Recipes and Stories from My Mother’s Kitchen

I used last night’s left overs and created this gourmet lunch of a matzo pizza topped with lemon asparagus and matzo meal baked chicken.

Gourmet Matzo Pizza

  • 1 sheet matzo
  • 2 Tbs. (approx) tomato or pizza sauce
  • 2 stalks asparagus (of other vegetable), cut into pieces
  • 1 baked chicken thigh, sliced
  • 1/4 c. shredded cheese

Spread the sauce evenly over the matzo, then top with asparagus and chicken. Sprinkle on the cheese. Microwave on high for 1 minute.

Valentine’s Day: Heart-shaped bread from challah

This is a peanut butter and apple sandwich. Also try a classic cream cheese and jelly, being sure to use a red-colored jam.

This is a terrific trick that will wow your kids. Let them watch as you cut off a slice of your challah, then cut it in half to make a heart. It’s a little bit of slicing magic that little kids love. Don’t worry if your slices don’t result in perfect cookie-cutter hearts; the kids won’t care. If you want you can do a little extra trimming to fine-tune the edges. I like that the top and side crusts are still there.

Use this bread for sandwiches or for a special French toast Valentine’s Day breakfast.

It’s very easy to make a double-braided challah:

Make up a batch of Blue Ribbon Challah.

Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Braid 3 and place on the greased cookie sheet. Divide the remaining portion into 3 equal portions, braid those and place on top of the first braid.

Here's where to slice it. You can do some additional trimming if you like.



Lunch: a Mélange of leftovers

Try it—you'll like it!

My daughter Molly requested that I write a post about this “recipe,” which is one of our favorite ways to create a bowl of lunch. It calls to mind stories I’ve heard about my husband’s grandfather, Lloyd, who used to take leftovers for lunch, made from the previous night’s dinner foods, all poured together inside a mason jar. Lloyd worked in a bakery and he’d set the big mason jar—heaped full of leftover mashed potatoes, meat, green bean casserole, and whatnot—on top of the bakery oven to warm. Apparently it drove Mrs. Lloyd a little crazy watching all of her lovingly prepared dishes spooned all together into one lump.

Along those lines, today for lunch I took the little bit of left-over mixed vegetables from last night, topped them with a dab of leftover spaghetti from last Wednesday’s pasta night along with the remains of the baked chicken that we had from Yom Kippur. Delicious. This would be at least $12.50 at a fancy restaurant, and they’d have a fancy name for it, too.

Molly’s favorite is leftover rice, mixed with vegetables and just a bit of chopped up meat. We call that one “not-fried rice.”

Honoring old friends with a beautiful lunch.

Your oldest friend is stopping by for lunch, and she’s bringing along her 90 year-old mother. You make a chicken salad with thinly sliced apple and pecans that you toasted yourself in the oven. You ran out to the bakery to fetch a fresh baguette and heated it crisp in the oven. Throw in some large table grapes and some sliced cucumbers and you have a terrific menu. Set the table with your favorite stoneware dishes, put everything out on the table, and you’ve made a meal fit for your honored guests, right? The only problem is that after they take your well-prepared food and fill up their plate, they are staring at this:

This is a dull looking plate of food. Don't do this to your nice friends!

Why would you want to subject good friends to this most ordinary experience with your well-prepared food?!

My oldest friend, Lauren, and her mother, Ethel, stopped by for lunch today. It wasn’t a mere cross-town drive for them to come and visit, but rather a 100+ mile drive, which in my book merited special treatment. Lauren’s parents and my parents were once close friends, playing bridge and socializing together. Ethel, who is 90, shares a birthday with my dad. He is 91. At their ages they don’t have too many old friends with whom they might share a meal, and so it was quite the event to have them come for a visit.

It was through our parents that Lauren and I met, back when we were twelve. Lauren and I spent every available day together during the next couple of years, oblivious to the evils of junior high, safe from the ups and downs that befell the typical pre-teen. We took turns making school lunches for each other, she making lunches one week, and I the next. This was around the same year, so long ago, that microwaves were invented, and we gleefully indulged in canned ravioli, spagetti-o’s and other re-heatable, canned  delicacies while those around us were content with cold sandwiches.

This is the type of event that merits my finest china. I took out the rarely used Civil War era china, and artistically fussed over plating the food in the kitchen. Being presented with a nicely arranged plate of food, I hope, showed my guests how much of a special occasion this was for both me and my dad. Why wait for Thanksgiving to dust off your best china? Good friends merit royal treatment.

Wouldn’t you rather eat chicken salad off of this plate?

Lauren (left), at Dori's 12th birthday party.

Happy Meal

“You’re kidding, right?” was the response from Max when I yelled upstairs for him to come down for his happy meal. We’re not that kind of McFamily, so this is my version of a happy meal.

Make a roast beef and provolone on toasted whole wheat, easy on the mayo. Then throw in a handful of mixed salad for crunch, and arrange a happy pattern of their favorite vegies and fruits. The bonus today was a leftover citrus bar on each plate. It sure made them happy that it was lunch time.