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Hummus

A pint of hummus at Whole Foods costs $7. It barely cost them a buck to make it. I make my own not just to save money but I can control the fat calories.This is my reduced calorie hummus. If you want it to taste more decadent, double the amount of oil and tahini used and reduce the water accordingly.

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp tahini (See below to make it at home. It’s really easy)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp of water
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (about one lemon)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • OPTIONAL – 2-4 roasted garlic cloves. If you don’t want to roast the garlic, mince it, mix with with the olive oil, and microwave for a minute.
  • OPTIONAL – 1/2 tsp berbere spice. This is an ethiopian spice mix. If you put this in your hummus it won’t taste like the traditional hummus I ate with my mid-eastern family. I add it to my hummus for some next-level shit. It’s amazing.

Blend for several minutes in food processor until it is a smooth paste. Refridgerate. Smear on stuff. Rub it on your ass, I don’t care. Try to comsume it within a week. By week two it starts to smell like Yasser Arafat’s dirty gooch after a long flight to Oslo to negotiate with Shimon Perez.

I soak and pressure cook an entire 1 lb bag of dried chickpeas on a weekend, use what I need for hummus, and freeze the rest for other batches. It’s far cheaper than even the cheapest canned chickpeas. But go ahead and ignore me, especially if you love it in the can. (Ba doomp boomp TSSSS)

Tahini

What’s that? You don’t want to buy tahini? Good! Stores overcharge for tahini. Take one cup of sesame seeds, toast them in a pan for 5 min, and then run them in a food processor with 3 tbsp olive oil until it forms a gooey paste. Put it in an air-tight jar and it will keep for months in the fridge like peanutbutter.

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Assyrian Zazich and Tzatziki

Zazich

I’m half Assyrian. I grew up eating a dish called Zazich (prounounced jah-jek). It’s a cheese spread that we’d smear on everything and eat like it was going out of style. It’s a really great dish to eat if you think your LDL is too low. 

Here is the zazich recipe. I didn’t even know how it was spelled until I looked it up on Google recently! There are slight differences between recipes I’ve found online and what my family did, but the overall recipe is fairly consistant. 

  • 16-ounce package small curd cottage cheese 
  • 2 large packages (6- or 8-ounce cream
    cheese) 
  • 1 tablespoon butter, room temperature (optional, but yum)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro  (Use Italian parsley if you think cilantro tastes like dish soap. Some people hate it)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 2 hot yellow hungarian peppers / banana peppers, diced.  (omit if you are a sissy pansy)

Add all ingredients to mixing bowl and blend. I use a hand held blender to smooth out the cottage cheese curds. They’re kinda nasty lookin’ otherwise. When you are done blending, put it back in the fridge. It will be about 24 hours before all the herb flavors release into the dip. Add a little salt if you wish. Spread it on bread, toast, bagels, pita. Rub it on your assneck, I don’t give a shit.

If you want it to be lower fat you can use use half the cream cheese, as we did when I was a kid, but fat is what makes everything taste good. Growing up, we never measured anything. It was a pint container of cottage cheese, a standard stick of cream cheese, a “bunch” of cilantro, a “bunch” of dill, and that was it.  If you have cilantro or dill left over it won’t kill you to just throw it in. More flavor, ya know?  I never liked hot peppers as a child. Now I can’t get enough. Use them if you wish. 

Tzatziki

When I got older I discovered all the other middle eastern cuisines as well as world cuisine. I love Assyrian food because I grew up with it, but I think Lebanese food is far superior. (My grandmother is going to haunt me from the grave for admitting that). Learning to cook world cuisine has altered how I approach family recipes. 

I realized I could make a fantastic tzatziki while using the flavors of Assyrian zazich. We never made tzatziki when I was a kid, so I had to make up my own that still adhered to the flavors common in my family’s recipes. 

Here is what I came up with:

  • 1 pint full fat greek-style plain yogurt.
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill 
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro  (Use Italian parsley if you think cilantro tastes like dish soap. I said it before: Some people hate it)
  • 1 tsp smashed fresh garlic
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp salt (start with a half and add more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp mayo  (you can skip the mayo, but I think it rounds out the flavor. Use good mayo, not some Miracle Whip bullshit)
  • 1 medium cucumber (I leave on the skin)

I place the pepper, salt, and garlic in a mortar and smash the hell out of it with a pestle until it is a paste. Slice the cucumbers thin and then dice them. I use a truffle shaver, but I am a douchebag. Put the minced cucumber into a mixing bowl along with your garlic paste. 

Add in a pint of full fat plain greek yogurt. I prefer Straus Greek Yogurt. Greek yogurt is strained so it is rich and almost as creamy as cream cheese. Any yogurt will work but dairy fat makes it taste better and it should be tart enough to gag a Bulgarian plummer. 

Add in the remaining ingredients and mix well. Place it in the fridge and give it 24 hours for all the herbs to mingle with the dairy fat.  Put it on kabobs, rice, pita. Rub it on your pintits, I don’t give a shit!

Italian (Or Assyrian) Meatballs

  

1 cup Italian bread crumbs. (For Assyrian, use 1 cup cooked rice instead)
2 eggs
1 small onion, minced. (I use a food processor)
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese. (For Assyrian, either omit or use feta cheese)
½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves. (For Assyrian, use cilantro instead)
1 tablespoon tomato paste.  (For Assyrian, this is optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork. (For Assyrian, try ground lamb instead of pork. Or a combination of beef, pork, lamb)
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients and knead until thoroughly combined.

Roll into 1-2 inch balls and place on foil-covered baking sheet. Drizzle each meatball with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through. I check with a thermometer until the internal temperature of the meatballs reach 165°F.