Blog - Condiments, Sauces, Dips

Babaganoush in 30 Minutes

by Jack McNulty
January 9, 2015
Babaganoush in 30 Minutes

This is one of the great alternatives to a traditional hummus made with chickpeas and tahini. Like its cousin, babaganoush is a staple found throughout the Middle East.  Most traditional recipes call for cooking the eggplant in a hot oven, grill or in a hot pan. The eggplant is often left whole while cooking, then peeled once the flesh inside has softened and the entire eggplant collapses.

I’ve made it this way before and I was always quite disappointed with the yield as I thought there was simply too much of the flesh (and taste) left on the peel which is discarded. So, I began searching for alternatives in cooking the eggplant.

I came across one recipe which left the peel mostly intact. This procedure calls for slicing the eggplant, then sautéing part of it in oil until browned. The remainder of the eggplant is added to the cooked eggplant and the entire contents are cooked in a bit more oil.  It sounded a bit oily to me and I was suspicious.

Finally, I decided to simply eliminate precooking the eggplant altogether, although I preserved the partial peeling of the eggplant step.  The version I came up with uses a pressure cooker to lock in flavor and aroma…and only takes 8 minutes to cook.  It yields a very soft and velvety dip…especially if you use a high speed blender like a Vitamix to blend the eggplant, garlic, lemon juice and tahini.  This method also protects the integrity of the olive oil as it is not cooked. In practice, you can substitute other oils (like hemp or flax seed), or simply reduce the entire fat content altogether.  Let your taste buds guide you in your preparation.

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Byesar (Fava Bean Puree)

by Jack McNulty
December 15, 2013
Byesar (Fava Bean Puree)

Paula Wolfert’s wonderful book, Couscous and Other Good Food From Morocco, describes Byesar as the North African cousin to the Middle Eastern hummus made of chickpeas.  This is high praise indeed as hummus is one of the world’s greatest food contributions. So I was…well, slightly skeptical. But after tasting one spoonful of the freshly made warm fava bean puree, I was more than convinced. This recipe is one of the most exciting finds I have found this year!

I grew up eating many special foods from Morocco, but I never had the opportunity to taste this beloved dish. It is made with split fava beans (broad beans for those of you who are more familiar with this name), fruity olive oil, a hint of garlic, cumin and lemon. That’s it – just some humble ingredients put together in your food processor.

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Mountain Cranberry Relish

by Jack McNulty
September 14, 2008

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Fresh Mountain Cranberries Make Fantastic Preserves, Chutneys, Compotes, Sauces and Pies

One of the real special treats this time of year has to be the arrival of fresh Mountain Cranberries (Preiselbeeren). You have to be quick and persistent to find these seasonal treats as they are only available for about 2-3 weeks each year and only with a few vendors at fresh food markets – but your efforts will be rewarded.

Fresh mountain cranberries make fantastic preserves, chutneys, compotes, sauces and pies. They are a core autumn ingredient throughout central and northern Europe, often paired with a variety of game dishes.

As its name suggests, the mountain cranberry is closely related to the large American cranberry. Both fruits are extensions of the Ericaceae family tree, which also bring us the blueberry. Most of these fruits are quite tart and have high concentrations of vitamin C, dietary fiber and high levels of antioxidants.  read more