Open Sesame: The local magic behind the FPR’s from scratch Hummus - Allison Radecki

Open Sesame: The local magic behind the FPR’s from scratch Hummus – Allison Radecki

Everyone is talking about the exciting energy in the Feathered Pipe kitchen this summer and Sam Wieland, the FPR’s new culinary director, is its creative font.

If you dine with us this season, you’ll taste this new spark in the imaginative meals that Sam is crafting: make-your-own Poke bowls featuring steamed and marinated Montanan-grown Chioggia beets, Bibimbap made with local herbs and oyster mushrooms, baked fish that swam in nearby waters up until it arrived in the Feathered Pipe Ranch kitchen to be elevated to crispy-skinned glory.

After deeply reflecting on the role it played in its own community, the Feathered Pipe emerged from its fallow season with a redoubled commitment to obtain the raw materials for its meals from organic Montanan farmers.  With this pledge, the ranch could nourish human bodies and the earth at the same time, which is at the core of its foundational principles.

Hummus - Feathered Pipe KitchenThis renewed commitment allows Sam to cook from the mindset of a “from scratch kitchen,” where menus are based on what is local, ripe, and available.  One dish that illuminates the “from scratch” difference is the FPR’s homemade Hummus, made from Montanan-grown chickpeas, sourced from Timeless Natural Food.

The fact that this company was founded, in part, by Jim Barngrover— who discovered his own connection to the earth while gardening at the Feathered Pipe in its earliest days— feels as if it is another turn of the wheel that brings the Ranch back to its organic origins.  To hear more of Jim’s fascinating life and alternative agricultural journey, listen to his interview on the Feathered Pipe Ranch’s own podcast,  The Dandelion Effect.

And now, back to those Montanan chickpeas.

Sure, it would be faster and easier to use canned organic chickpeas to create the creamy dip with the whirling blades of a food processor, but, as your tastebuds will reveal, easy does not always lead to the most delicious creations.  With a little bit of planning and an overnight soak, you too will see how Sam’s kitchen capitalizes on the flavors of fresher, locally sourced ingredients to make a final dish that speaks for itself.

Hummus is one of the most iconic Middle Eastern dishes and can make a hearty meal or a light snack— depending on with what you choose to pair it.  The word, hummus, comes from the Egyptian work for chickpeas, the usual primary hummus ingredient, though hummuses can also made from other bean varieties.

In Palestine, hummus is a traditional breakfast food, perfect on a hot morning.  It is often served topped with chili-and-lemon-dressed chickpeas and accompanied with thick slices of tomatoes, pita bread, and crunchy slices of cucumber.  Pickles also work as a fine hummus delivery system.  It is also served as part of an appetizer, or mezze, tray alongside falafel, roasted eggplant, marinated olives, and tahini sauce.

Tahini, a mildly and savory butter, is made from roasted and pressed sesame seeds.  Once an obscure and exotic ingredient, it is now readily available in most stores and found in recipes from salad dressings to chocolate chip cookies.

Hummus - Feathered Pipe KitchenA good tahini has the silky consistency of a loose nut butter and begs to be eaten with a spoon. Often, because of the separation of oil and sesame solids, a good stir is all you’ll need to transform it back into a creamy, drippable form that is ready to use.  If your tahini is dry and chalky or tastes bitter or acidic, seek out another producer.

Soom Foods makes one of the best Premium Tahini on the market and can easily be ordered online.  Whole Foods’ 365 brand also makes a delicious tahini. Those with nut allergies may also be allergic to sesame seeds, so take care when eating (and serving) foods with tahini.  Black tahini, which is made from roasted and pressed black sesame seeds, has a stronger flavor and is not the tahini that is typically used when making hummus.

With the recipe below, you too can try your hand at making hummus in your own “from scratch kitchen.”  Dried chickpeas are usually found in the ‘bulk food’ section of your local market.  Briefly cooking the overnight-soaked chickpeas directly with baking soda scruffs up the skins and allows them to cook much faster and puree into a smoother paste.

This particular recipe is adapted from the cookbook Jerusalem (Ten Speed Press, 2013) by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sam Tamimi

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Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi’s Hummus
Makes 6 servings

Hummus - Feathered Pipe KitchenActive time: 1 hour   Total Time: 12 hours ( mainly from or soaking chickpeas overnight)

Ingredients:

1/2 cups of dried chickpeas
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 1/2 cups water
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons light tahini paste (made from white sesame seeds)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
6 1/2 tablespoons ice-cold water
1 pinch of salt to taste
1 splash of good quality olive oil (optional)

Recipe:

The night before you plan to make the hummus, put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover them with cold water at least twice their volume. Leave to soak overnight.

The next day, drain the chickpeas. Place a medium saucepan over high heat and add the drained chickpeas and baking soda. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the 6 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cook, skimming off any foam and any skins that float to the surface. The chickpeas will need to cook between 20 and 40 minutes, depending on their type and freshness, sometimes even longer. Once done, they should be very tender, breaking up easily when pressed between your thumb and finger, almost but not quite mushy.

Drain the chickpeas. You should have roughly 3 2/3 cups now. Place the chickpeas in a food processor and process until you get a stiff paste. Processing the chickpeas while they are still warm will help you achieve the lightest, creamiest result.

Then, with the machine still running, add the tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Finally, slowly drizzle in the 6 1/2 Tablespoons of ice water and allow it to mix for about 5 minutes, until you get a very smooth and silky paste.  Since the level of lemon and garlic is a matter of personal taste, feel free to play with the quantities you add.  You’ll know when you reach the right flavor level for your palate.

Hummus - Feathered Pipe KitchenTransfer the hummus to a bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. If not using straightaway, refrigerate until needed.  Make sure to take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving.

To serve, spread the hummus in a shallow bowl.  Use the back of a spoon to make a well in the hummus and drizzle generously with a good quality extra-virgin olive oil.  Dust with a pinch of paprika, za’atar, ground cumin or parsley and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

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Note:  Homemade pita bread, made from organic flour sourced from Montana Flour and Grains, is now also a part of Sam’s “from scratch kitchen” at the Feathered Pipe and accompanies his hummus and falafel meals.  The pita recipe he uses is adapted from the website The Mediterranean Dish.  Using local grains to make pita from scratch has added new levels of deliciousness to the eagerly anticipated FPR Mediterranean Night dinners. Come and taste for yourself or be your own “from scratch” pita chef in your home kitchen and see what your local diners have to say.