Sunday, September 25, 2011

Red Pepper Hummus and Window-Pane Potato Chips

 Hello, party people! I am here to fulfill your needs--that is, if your needs involve tending to vegan party guests. I totally respect vegans. It's an interesting and difficult choice to make, and I know that I love food in general too much to say "No more steak for breakfast." (Full disclosure: I had prime rib for breakfast. I called it brunch, because it was ten-thirty, but it still happened.) But when I have vegan friends coming to my parties--or vegan friends having birthdays--nothing delights me more than to provide. For my lovely friend Emily's birthday today, I made red pepper hummus and window-pane potato chips.

The hummus was fairly straight-forward, though it was a lot of fun to make. I doubled the original recipe and began by roasting two red peppers. I don't see the point in ever buying roasted red peppers, because it's so much more fun to roast your own. Just buy the peppers, halve them and remove the core, then pull out the seeds and membranes. So much easier than you could have ever imagined. Then wrap a baking sheet in foil, flatten your peppers down on the sheet, and roast them under the preheated broiler for 10 minutes. After this passes, seal the peppers up in a Ziploc bag for ten minutes to let them cool. If you just drop the hot peppers into the bag, the bag will break open and the pepper will fall to the ground. Just slide it in carefully and avoid strong heat and gravity issues.

After the peppers have cooled, peel them and put them into your food processor along with your chickpeas, lemon juice, cumin, salt, ground black pepper, tahini, and quartered garlic clove. Process this up until everything's fairly smooth and you can no longer spot any chickpeas. Then serve!

 For the windowpane potato slices, first you must preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Then you will need a mandoline slicer. If you don't own one, I highly recommend it. I've never been able to slice onions more beautifully, and I was even more delighted with it once I got to this recipe. I set the slicer to its thinnest setting and sliced up a couple of baking potatoes. I tossed the first few slices because they were too small or incomplete. Then I took twenty-or-so slices and set them in a single layer atop several paper towels. I covered this layer with more paper towels, pressed down lightly, and then let them rest for a few minutes to reduce the moisture.

After this period, I covered a baking sheet with cooking spray and placed as many potato slices as I could on top of it, yet again in a single layer. On these slices I placed sprigs of sage, tarragon, thyme, and rosemary. I covered them with yet another potato slice and pressed down to adhere.

I sprinkled the slices with salt and coated them in cooking spray, then covered the sheet with foil. I placed a baking sheet on top and put the sheets in the oven. I took my cast-iron skillet (though you can take any heavy oven-proof skillet) and put it on top of the baking sheets.

I originally followed the recipe and baked the slices for 25 minutes at 400 degrees, but this resulted in many burned potato chips. So I tried again for 15 minutes, then I turned the slices over and baked them for another 5-7 minutes.

Trial periods are definitely recommended, and ultimately you will end up with something fairly tasty but ultimately prettier than it is delicious. But if you are cooking for the aesthetic qualities, you're in luck!

(The hummus was terrific, though.)

Red Pepper Hummus (via Cooking Light)(This is the recipe before I doubled it)
1 red bell pepper
2 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp tahini 
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 19 oz. can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 garlic clove, quartered

Window-Pane Potato Chips (via Cooking Light) (doubled this one too)
2 medium baking potatoes
Cooking spray
Assorted fresh herb sprigs (I used sage, rosemary, thyme, and tarragon)
1/2 tsp salt


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