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Pumpkin White Bean Dip

I always love to create new dips with seasonal ingredients. Once you learn the base behind making pestos, bean dips and salsas, you are really set to turn almost anything into a dip. This white bean dip uses almost the exact same logic behind making a traditional chickpea hummus. I start with a cooked bean, something to make it smooth (oil), something acidic to cut the fat (lemon juice) something to give it an edge (garlic), something to make it creamy (pumpkin; in hummus/tahini would be used) and lots of fresh herbs and spices. I used a food processor for this recipe many times and it does make for a very smooth and delicious dip, but lately I have much preferred this more rustic version. Some of the beans get mashed, some stay whole and I really enjoy being able to identify all the different ingredients that make this dip so intensely flavourful.

This is what you will need to make this delicious dip:

  • 3 cups navy beans (or other white beans) pre-soaked and cooked with salt until very soft.
  • 2 cups cooked, Japanese pumpkin aka kabocha squash (or other winter squash.)
  • 1 head garlic, wrapped up in foil and roasted until soft.
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • A few grinds of fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes

All or some of the herbs listed below:

  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • ¼ sliced scallions
  • 4-6 sprigs of thyme, leaves pulled off stems.
  • 1 fresh sage leaf or 1 sprig of fresh oregano finely chopped.

Directions: place the soft beans, peeled garlic and cooked squash into a large mixing bowl. Mash with a potato masher or fork. Focus on the cloves of garlic, as the rest will figure itself out. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix. Serve on a plate, make a little well in the center of the dip with the back of a spoon and put some more olive oil and red pepper flakes.

Chef’s tip: I usually cut the squash in half and bake it flat on a tray until soft, about 30-40 minutes on 350F/180C. When it cools enough, I either peel it or spoon out the flesh. I also throw the garlic wrapped up on the same tray with the pumpkin and take it out when soft, for about 25 minutes. Peeling the roasted garlic can be messy. I usually put gloves on, slice off the top of one end and squeeze the base. Most of the cloves will ooze out, but some will need serious intervention.

You can serve this with pita chips, celery sticks, radish wedges, or on the Shabbos table with Challah. Enjoy!

Photograph by Itta Roth

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Apple Thyme Tart!

This apple tart is divine! Here is what you will need:

For the Pastry:

  • 1 ¼ cup whole grain pastry flour
  • 2  teaspoon sugar
  • 1 salt pinch
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into about 10 pieces and put in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
  • Approximately 4 tablespoons ice water (or vodka!) – or as much as you need for the dough to come together.
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme

For the Filling:

  • 4 apples (to fill the pie plate, adjust amount as needed), cored and thinly sliced.
  • 2 tablespoons butter, chopped or melted.
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1salt pinch
  • Grated parmesan or similar sharp cheese (about ¼ cup)

Simply like this: the dry ingredients (sugar, salt and flour) for the pastry go in the food processor with the cold cold butter. Pulse pulse pulse. A few more times. You want everything to look very choppy. If you over-pulse, your crust will not be flaky. When the flour has the look and consistency of breadcrumbs, tip the flour/butter mixture into a bowl and using a spatula, add just enough ice water (or vodka) for the dough to come together. Knead into a ball, wrap with plastic and put it in the fridge to get it nice and cold. About an hour or less if you’re short on time.

Butter a tart or pie pan (or you can use parchment paper). Make sure the room (and your hands, if you have any control over that) are both on the cool side, and then quickly roll out the dough into a roundish circle. Put flour on the rolling pin and on the top of the pastry so it doesn’t stick. Flip it once before it gets too large to easily flip and then transfer it straight into your chosen dish. Later, you can fold any excess dough back over the apples or cut it off using the back of a knife and crimp the edges. Refrigerate while you slice the apples.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Toss the apples with the sugar, salt, thyme and butter. Take the crust out of the fridge, pierce it a few times with a fork. Arrange the apples really neatly so it looks just perfect or chuck them all in and call it rustic. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is firm and the apples start to turn brown. Serve warm or room temperature. Possibly with a scoop of ice cream.