Party Dish: Kalamata Hummus

Kalamata Olive Hummus

Sometimes I go to Whole Foods just for the samples. Admit it. You do the same thing. Or at the very least there’s a silent “YES! when you find samples just waiting to be tasted. Usually I’m happy enough with a few cubes of cheese but when there’s an actual product to try–even better. A few weeks ago, a lovely woman was standing by with a basket of pita chips and variety of hummuses to try. From spicy to feta to garlic roasted, they all looked fantastic. But what stopped me dead in my tracks was the kalamata olive hummus. I’ve eaten plenty of olive tapanade in my day, but addition of chickpeas and tahini intrigued me. I sampled, celebrated and brought some home to share with my husband. It was gone in hours.

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DIY Gifts: Infused Sugars

Vanilla Sugar

I know it’s after Christmas, and perhaps much of your gift giving is complete. However, homemade gifts are not for holidays alone. They make fantastic birthday, housewarming, shower or just because I care gifts. I waited a while to post this recipe (along with the soon to come infused brandy recipe) because I wasn’t about to give away gift ideas to my Christmas recipients. I don’t know if they’re reading right now, but when it comes to surprises, you can never be too cautious.

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Tacos Fresco –Sans the Box


Who doesn’t love tacos. If you tell me you don’t I already know you’re lying. And we don’t want to start this relationship based on lies do we? So, I’ll just move forward with the assumption that you’re as big a taco lover as I am.

For most of a life, my tacos came out of an Orega or El Paso box—there was a Taco Bell branded kit period, but I don’t think it lasted. Of course, the actual tacos didn’t come out of the box, but the magical sauces and powders to make them did. Brown the beef (or chicken), add some water, powder and cook it up. The first taco shack I went to in Philly was truly a college student’s dream. Cheap, with raw walls and tables made of old Pac-Man games (still playable for a quarter!). These tacos were magic. Sadly it closed a few months before I left Philly. I think it was in mourning that I was leaving. I’ve encountered many imposters and replicas ever since, some okay, some outstanding. But my boxed taco mix could never match any of these tacos and I never really thought about why that was.

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Deep Fried Squash Blossoms

Squash Blossoms

Every year I tell myself I’m going to do something with those beautiful pale yellow squash blossoms and every year I fail. When they sat right in front of me at a recent Bay Ridge Food Co-op distribution, I no longer had a way to ignore them. I went home with a dozen of the light puffs in hand, still no idea what to do with them. When posed to my twitter friends what to do, an overwhelming cry of “fry them!” came back. I’ve never really deep-fried anything. Beignets once when I was a child, but after the labor of making the dough, cutting, waiting for them to rise before I even got to the hot oil stage, I promised myself never again. But how much trouble could squash blossoms be? There’s not much dough involved and no yeast or rising. I picked up a bottle of canola oil on my way home and was ready for something new.

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Jacked up Olive Oil

OliveOil (1)

After my experiment with gourmet sea salt, and past experiences with infusing alcohols, olive oil was the next logical step. At least to me. I love when Italian restaurants line their shelves with huge bottles of olive oil filled with floating peppers, sun dried tomatoes, herbs and spices. Without fail you can walk into some of the most illogical stores–Marshalls, Century 21, Home Goods, and find bottles of gourmet alcohol. I figured if gourmet sea salt was so easy to recreate, why not fancy olive oils?

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