Hummus is an Arabic word meaning chickpea. The dish is made from cooked mashed chickpeas blended with tahini (sesame seed paste), olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and seasoning, and my version with beetroot provides a vibrant and extra healthy addition to the classic recipe.
Legend speaks of hummus as one of the oldest known prepared foods, even going back to the 12th century. In Israel and many other Middle Eastern countries, it is a key part of any mezze meal and eaten as a starter, snack or accompaniment.
- 150g cooked beetroot – drained
- 2 x 400g tin chickpeas – rinsed
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1 garlic clove – peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 100ml olive oil
- Salt and freshly-ground black pepper – to taste
- 6 large pitta breads
- 6 tablespoons black olives
- Sprigs of fresh basil – roughly chopped
- Dusting of freshly-ground black pepper
- Roughly chop the beetroot.
- Place the beetroot, chickpeas and tahini in the food processor with the garlic, lemon juice and olive oil.
- Whiz together until smooth and season to taste.
- Toast the pitta bread for five minutes or until just golden. Cut into wedges.
- Divide the black olives and pitta bread on to six plates.
To serve: Place a generous helping of hummus on the decorated plate and complete with a dusting of freshly-ground black pepper and some chopped basil.
Preparation 15 minutes – Cooking Time 5 minutes – Serves 6-10 people
Chocolate cinnamon babka
Although this is a traditional Ashkenazi recipe with Polish origins, it has now become one
of the most popular pastries in Israel. The word babka in Polish means grandmother – it refers to the layers and shape of the old type of pleated skirts that grandmothers used to wear. This sweet dough is like brioche and it is twisted and baked in a loaf tin and often enhanced with a streusel topping.
As with many classic recipes, there are lots of variations in both method and ingredients. Popular fillings include almond, cream cheese and chopped nuts, but I love the cinnamon and chocolate combination.
- 2 sachets dried yeast
- 200ml lukewarm milk
- 85g caster sugar
- 85g butter
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 425g strong white flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 100g dark chocolate –
- 55g butter – melted
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Streusel Topping:
- 2 tablespoons plain flour
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 20g butter
- 1 egg yolk – whisked
- 200g caster sugar
- 200ml water half an orange – juice and zest
- Whisk the yeast into the lukewarm milk and set aside for about five minutes.
- In a mixer, cream together the sugar and butter until smooth.
- Add the yolks to the bowl, one at a time, mixing constantly for 30 seconds between each addition. Add the vanilla and mix until light and fluffy.
- Add the flour and salt and continue to mix until it all comes together.
- Now add the milk and yeast mixture and let it mix until it forms a soft dough.
- Knead by hand for another two to three minutes until the dough is soft
- Let this rise for about two hours.
- Line and grease 2 x 1kg loaf tins with baking parchment.
- For the filling: mix the chocolate, butter and cinnamon together in a bowl.
- Once the dough has risen, cut it in half. Roll each half out on to a floured surface into a long rectangle of about 40cm with a thickness of 1-2cm. Spread the chocolate mixture on to each.
- Pinch the seams to seal it, then roll it up like a swiss roll.
- For the gorgeous twisty shape, cut the log down the middle lengthwise, making sure to keep the top end attached. Twist over each other to get the braided look.
- Combine the streusel topping in the food processor until you have a breadcrumb mixture. Glaze the babka with egg yolk.
- Add the streusel topping to the top of the twisted babka. Cover and prove for 45 minutes or until double in size. Transfer to a lined loaf tin.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F and bake for 30-35 minutes.
- Make the sugar syrup by bringing all the ingredients to the boil and simmering for about five minutes.
- When the babka comes out of the oven, pour some syrup over it to give it
a beautiful shine.
- Cool on a rack before slicing.
The bread stays good for two to three days in an airtight box.
Preparation 30 minutes, plus 2 hours 45 minutes rising time – Cooking Time 25 minutes – Makes 2 medium sized loaves