Shop for Tahini. International Hummus Day Is Coming.

Now you know. The 13th of May is the tenth International Hummus Day, when “millions of people around the world” will be “celebrating their love for hummus”—as millions of people would do anyway, because hummus is a staple throughout the Middle East and a mainstay in casual restaurants throughout Europe, and in many major cities worldwide.

Every day is hummus day but if we’re going to have some extra hummus conversation, OK. Let’s make some hummus this week.

Why make your own instead of simply buying the Sabra hummus in the stores? Because the Israel-based Strauss Group—which co-owns Sabra with PepsiCo—has been funding the Israel Defense Forces’ Golani Brigade. This year, Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine has rallied to stop serving Sabra hummus in Harvard’s dining halls, given Sabra’s financial links to the IDF.

What are Israel’s military forces doing at the moment?

As Jeffrey St. Clair writes on Twitter: “According the anodyne language of the Guardian, the forced mass evictions of more than 1000 Palestinians is so that their land can be `repurposed` for a military base…”

The court ruling that enables the expulsion of a thousand people in one of single biggest expulsion decisions since the 1967 occupation.

Veganism means opposing oppression wherever it thrives. That, of course, goes for opposing the oppressive projects of our own country, our own social group, and our own species. It’s about recognizing oppression, and learning about it, and conscientious objection.

Make It at Home: Hummus With Salad and Pita

First, here are the ingredients for the hummus. Don’t forget the pita bread to got with this. And scroll down past the hummus to get the salad recipe.

Ground cumin

3 garlic cloves

2 cups cooked chickpeas, either home-cooked (they’re the best) or canned. Keep the cooking liquid

6 tablespoons of tahini (sesame butter)

The juice of one fresh lemon

2 tablespoons organic olive oil (optional)

One bunch of parsley

Options: paprika and cayenne, salt and pepper to taste

In food processor, purée the drained chickpeas with tahini and blend in a teaspoon of cumin, the lemon juice and garlic, and, if desired, one tablespoon of the olive oil. As you’re puréeing, add a bit of the reserved cooking water to arrive at a smooth consistency.

When the mix is smooth, spoon it into a bowl and stir in the spices to taste. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon of olive oil if desired. Serve on a nest of fresh parsley.

To make the Medditerrenean salad, gather:

The torn leaves of a head of romaine lettuce, 3 diced tomatoes, 1 sliced cucumber, 1 sliced bell pepper (seeds removed), 1 small onion and 6 radishes, thinly sliced.

And for the salad dressing, whisk together, according to your preference:

Olive oil, parsely, fresh lemon juice, a minced garlic clove and minced mint leaves, and salt and pepper.

Toss the salad ingredients and serve dressing on the side. Enjoy it all with toasted pita bread. Especially on International Hummus Day.


Photo credit: Nataliya Vaitkevich

How to Make Potato Pancakes with Vegan Caviar

Demo by Trish Sebben-Krupka

Caviar is in the federal spotlight again, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now undertaking a review of ten sturgeon communities to decide whether to list them under the Endangered Species Act.

And that’s good news. Yet the federal government is only going to protect these wonderful fish as long as it determines their populations are at the verge of collapse. If no one ate caviar, sturgeon would be better off for good.

Their roe—defined by Google’s online dictionary as “the mass of eggs contained in the ovaries of a female fish or shellfish, typically including the ovaries themselves, esp. when ripe and used as food”—is coveted by the human ape, which eats it at fancy gatherings or when sitting in first-class aircraft seats. The damming of rivers is another terrible problem for sturgeon: dams obstruct the way to waters where sturgeon go to reproduce.

???????????????????????????????Shakespeare in Hamlet used the adjective “caviary” to describe something unappreciated by the general public—so evidently we’ve been purloining eggs from sturgeon for a long time. But for about $10 a jar, there’s a Danish seaweed-based caviar that’s a lot gentler than regular caviar on the wallet, and it worries no sturgeon.

The distributor, Plant Based Foods, Inc., offers an elegant website, easy ordering, and attentive customer service.

Put to the Test

Chef and cookbook author Trish Sebben-Krupka would know??????????????????????????????? how this could play out in the gourmet world. Curious to learn the answer, I got together with Trish. Out of that delightful meeting came the recipe for Potato Pancakes and Vegan Caviar.

Cavi·Art “is an accent, not something to be eaten on its own,” said Trish; and we first tried it out with a bit of vegan sour cream* on water crackers. Trish liked the texture authenticity. The fresh taste of the yellow ???????????????????????????????variety—similar to a nicely marinated, half-sour pickle—welcomed the sour cream as a perfect complement.

“In some ways,” Trish said, “this is reminiscent of caviar—briny, salty; in other ways, not so much. You don’t get the pop you’d get eating caviar.”

Trish added: “I’m glad it isn’t an exact replica.”

Now that we were familiar with the taste and texture, Trish got cooking.

Here’s how it’s done.  ???????????????????????????????

Take a modest little potato. Peel it.

Grate and pan-fry it with a bit of organic cooking oil* and sea salt.

caviar  pan

When it’s golden brown, your pancake is ready.

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Next, cut the pancake as you would cut a pie, into triangular slices.

Top them with vegan sour cream, and create your festive medley oCavi·Art and chives.

Try apple sauce with the potato pancake.

Add sour cream, and yellow or orange Cavi·Art, topped with a bit of the black variety if desired.

???????????????????????????????But when all is said and done, the answer to everything, Trish says, is hot sauce. Which leads, of course, to a bit of avocado, sour cream and bell pepper. 

The samples we tried proved Cavi·Art is both delectable and vivacious. (See? I promised the next blog entry would be vivacious.)

???????????????????????????????And while Trish didn’t find that much difference in taste when sampling the black, yellow and orange varieties—for indeed, the ginger and the wasabi are the most distinct—they were invariably beautiful when combined, and there are subtle differences.

I’ll certainly give Cavi·Art high praise – for the taste as well as the way it advances respect for the ocean’s bio-community. It’s a bit lighter than caviar, with a less oily feel. It’s showy, versatile, delightful and real in its own right.

Trish sums it up:

???????????????????????????????It’s a really fun ingredient, and I can’t wait to play with it some more. I love the ginger and wasabi… with avocado, tamari and bell pepper. Looking forward to making maki rolls. It’s nice with potato pancakes, and I LOVE IT with hot sauce and Mexican-type ingredients (who would have guessed?). I think this will appeal to people who liked caviar, and those who never tried it or are put off by the fishy, inky taste of actual caviar.

Trish Sebben-Krupka  is a professional chef, caterer, and cooking teacher. Trish is equally well known as a rescuer of New Jersey cats, fostering for the group Angels of Animals.

The cats declined to review Cavi·Art.

Update: On 31 October 2013, the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed listing five of the sturgeon species, inhabiting Asian and European waters, as “endangered” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act because of severe threats posed by human exploitation, dams and pollution. Said Taylor Jones, Endangered Species Advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “If we want to prevent these incredible creatures from going extinct, we must rein in the caviar trade.” 

*Sour Supreme is a vegan sour cream from Tofutti, but if you prefer to make your own, there are simple DIY recipes online. Trish used Spectrum Organics canola oil for the pancake.