Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mom's Night Out - Blown Glass, Hummus and Pita Crisps

My MOMS Club has a Mom's Night Out every month. Some months I can't make it, some months I plan to go but completely forget, and some just don't interest me. But I've been waiting all year for this one to come around again! Last year it was the same night as Bob and Jessica's Halloween party, and I always go to that. Always. This month we get to go to a glass blowing class! And make something to take home! Last year I guess they made pumpkins, but since many of these ladies have been doing this once a year, they didn't want any more pumpkins, so this year we requested different options. I could choose to make a small concave bowl or a ball ornament. I really want an ornament, since it's less likely to get broken, as it will be packed away at least 10 months out of the year!
Since there's a lot of hanging around waiting in between learning and getting your turn, we're having a potluck dinner as well. I decided to bring hummus and toasted pitas. I got the idea from a new cookbook Gramma Barp sent to Z. Just out of the blue! And it arrived just the other day, in time for me to remember I'm supposed to bring something! It's a kiddie cookbook called Little Monsters Cookbook by Zac Williams. Z was so excited, she put it on her bookshelf with her story books and refused to let me flip through it until the next day.
I debated even posting about this, since Z is off with her dad having a playdate with one of his friends' daughters, who's around 5 months older. So the only involvement she had in this project was being adorable so Gramma Barp would send us this book, and behaving herself while I bought supplies in the grocery store so she earned a $3 cupcake.
I gave her a spoon, since I knew she'd just eat the frosting.
It was much less messy this way.
But it's a fun and easy(ish) idea, so I'm posting about it.

Coffin Crunchers 
6 round pitas (not pocket pitas) [I only used 5 originally]
3 tbsp olive oil [I didn't need that much]
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 c fresh grated Parmesan cheese [the picture shows shredded rather than finely grated. I did what it said, rather than what it showed.]
2 c prepared hummus or marinara sauce

1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line two baking sheets with foil
2. Using a knife or kitchen scissors [I used cookie cutters,] cut various size coffin shapes from the pita flatbread. Discard leftover bread. [I saved some of the larger chunks to cook and eat myself.] Place the pita shapes on the baking sheets.
3. Lightly brush each shape with olive oil. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 10-12 minutes until cheese melts.[WAAAAAAYYYYY too long. Try 5 minutes.] Remove from oven and let cool until crunchy

Here's how it went down:
Since I was also making hummus, I knew I could let the oven heat up and the pitas cook while I opened and combined ingredients, and mixed the hummus, I did all the shape cutting and ingredient-brushing/sprinkling before pre-heating.
I had planned on doing tombstone shapes, since I knew I had cutters in my Halloween set, but while digging through to see if there was anything interesting, I found both a coffin just like in the pictures, but also a bat! I was worried that they might not work on the pitas, but they did fine!
My hand started getting a little raw from all the pushing, and I had to really grind the cutters in to get them all the way through, but they turned out great. I saved the larger scraps to season and snack on. My pita packs were only 5 pitas each, and since they had cost $4 [!!!!] each, I decided I'd try and return the other pack, so I didn't use it. Plus the 2 cookie sheets were pretty full, with the scraps and all. Without the scraps I probably could have fit another pita's worth of shapes on. [I got around 4 coffins and 4 bats per pita; or 3 coffins and 6 bats.]
Bats, coffins, and in the lower left corner, scraps.
I poured just a little olive oil into a bowl and wiped it around with my silicone basting brush. I was able to do 3 bats or 2 coffins per dip of the brush into the oil. [I just dipped the ends of the 'bristles' since it said to brush lightly. I didn't want to make them too oily.] I saved the excess oil to use in my hummus. I just took pinches of the Italian seasoning and sprinkled them around until I was pleased with how it looked. I was really tempted to do some salt too, but was worried it might be too salty with the hummus. But I love salt! They would have been fine with a little salt, and a salty version would have been tasty without dip as well. I used my 4-sided grater and used the finest side for the parmesan. I used waaaaay less than a cup. My whole wedge of cheese was around a cup total (8oz - and yes, I know 8oz weight doesn't equal 8oz volume, but it usually does with most heavy solids around the weight of water.)
There was maybe 1/4th cup grated before I quit. And lots of chunks.
I used less than 1/5th of the wedge, and just the skinny end, at that. And much of THAT crumbled off and was too small for me to grate anyway. And I still had lots left over, enough to do another half-batch, as it turns out.
I just eyeballed the seasoning and cheese. Enough so that it looked right.
The cheese started to get clumpier as the kitchen got warmer from the oven, and as the cheese got warmer from being out of the fridge. At first I was able to dust parmesan around. About halfway through I was dropping little parmesan balls.

I baked the first tray for 10 minutes. I almost put both pans in, but (luckily) decided since it was so fast and I was going to be in the kitchen anyway, to do them separately. My oven runs hot, so when the recipe asked for 425, I set my oven at 375, since we're usually around 50 degrees hotter. And I use the lowest cook times, and often check it 10% earlier. So at 9 minutes I gave a peek. EEEEEK! Well. At least my bats were a realistic color. >.<

I did the next tray at 5 minutes. Brown and crisp. Perfect. Stupid lying recipe.
Theirs. Note the cheese shreds, versus grated. Maybe they think grated like other
cheeses is the same for parmesan. But the lady at the deli told me grated was the
powdery stuff and shredded was the long skinny ones.
(Photo in book by the author)
I had to open up the other package of pitabread and I cut up 3 more pitas. Since the coffins had been easier to cut, oil and season, I went mostly with coffins this time (plus they stayed chewier in the middle.)

Really this recipe would work for any cookie cutter shape. I recommend a larger shape without too many skinny bits, since my bats and scraps were a little crunchier than I'd like, because they were so skinny.

Braaaaaaains! (Hummus)

2 15-oz cans of chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil [I use a smidge less]
1/2 lemon, juiced [1 lemon is approx. 2-3 tbsp, so I used 1 tbsp juice]
3 to 4 cloves garlic, crushed
3/4 to 1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dark sesame oil [use a little more for light]
1/2 to 1 tsp ground cumin [I used a heaping 1/2 tsp]
12 to 15 grinds black pepper [I used maybe 1/4 tsp shaker pepper]
1/4 c water - add slowly until right consistency, may not need it all

Combine all in food processor [or blender, but I don't know how that affects the consistency.]

I got the recipe from my sister, since several visits ago she had some hummus and freshly pan-heated oiled pita bread. Omnomnom! So 2 visits ago she asked if I'd need her to get anything for my visit, and I asked her to help me make hummus. She laid out all the ingredients and the recipe with notes for her alterations [my recipe here reflects the changes/notes] before going to school, and I made it while babysitting. The recipe called for a blender, but all she had was a Cuisinart (food processor?) I couldn't find a container to put it in, and I didn't know if it was all for me, or if I should take a smaller amount, so I just put the whole Cuisinart bowl into the fridge until she came home. Turns out I made a genius discovery! 
She had always been displeased that her hummus wasn't as fluffy or creamy (or something) as she'd like, but didn't know how to fix it. But I had done such a crap job of mixing the hummus that it still had chunks in it, so she took it out of the fridge and blended it again, and was thrilled that it was looking the way she'd been trying to get hers to look. So apparently refrigerating it and then blending again is key! Really cold water for the 1/4 c water part might work too, but no promises.

So my second attempt went much like the first. I opened the cans, sloshed bean juice all over my counter, drained and rinsed the garbanzo beans (I used S&W brand, if that matters.) Dumped them into our new Cuisinart (my husband got it to make a fancy cake. Plus, you know, to process foods, in general. It's our first one!)
I used a little less than 1/2 c olive oil. I just used whatever comes in the big double jugs at Costco, which is virgin, but might not be extra virgin [insert virgin jokes here.] I dumped in the remains of the oil used to brush the pitas and added more to measure it to just below the line, rather than at the line.
Since I didn't have a lemon this time (my sister had half a lemon,) I looked online for a lemon-juice conversion. The consensus was that a lemon can contain 2-4 tbsp juice, depending on size and whether the lemon is warm or cold (cold ones are harder to juice, so you get less.) But most contain around 3. But I read that lemon juice from a bottle is often a stronger flavor, so to use less, so I opted for 1 tbsp instead of 1.5 tbsp. It's easy to add more. Not so easy to cancel it out after adding too much!
I used 4 cloves of garlic, since I loooooove garlic. Maybe a little more. I had one big honkin' clove, which was the size of 2, plus a regular one, plus 3 teeny tiny ones. I flattened them with my knife blade [flat of the blade on the garlic, and press down with the palm of your hand. Be careful not to cut yourself!] and chopped them finely, since I don't have a garlic press, and I wasn't sure if "crushed" just meant flattened, or if it meant through a garlic press. I figured making it unnecessarily smaller would be better than having to fish out big hunks and cutting them later.
The original recipe called for 1.5 tsp salt, but my sister said it was way too salty, so she recommended 3/4 to 1 tsp. I did 3/4 tsp, but in 1/4 tsp increments, and let some extra spill over.
Same for the sesame oil. I used the 1/4 teaspoon twice, and let some extra spill over.
Again for the cumin. At my sister's, I was conservative and only used 1/2 tsp, but she added more later, so this time I did 4 quick-and-dirty 1/4 tsp measurements [Quick-and-dirty means I didn't worry about filling the spoon fully each time, as long as it was close.]
In case you hadn't noticed, I could only find my 1/4 tsp and 1 tbsp spoons!
Since our pepper grinder was completely empty, and I don't know if we have any peppercorns, or where they are if we did, I used regular black pepper. I didn't really measure. I just did a bunch of shakes. I don't like pepper much, and so had only done 10 grinds at my sister's house, and she added more later, telling me that her grinder was pathetic and you really have to grind it to get any out. So I shook a little more freely than I was comfortable with this time. For a while I was actually worried that I'd added too much, since I could see soooo many black flakes, which was unlike at my sister's. 
I ended up adding most of the 1/4 c water. I added half of it, mixed, then put the bowl in the fridge to chill. I added more later when I re-blended.

At some point during the hummus-assembly [about 9 minutes in!] I checked on the first tray of pitas to find them too crisped. Yargh. 
I forgot to take a picture of my hummus and pita crisps in the Tupperware party tray my mom handed down to me before it was picked through, so here's what was left.
All glass-blowing pictures below (and the one at the top) were taken by Kristen.
[Insert childish suggestive 'Blow' jokes here]
We got to choose up to 2 colors each. I chose the reddish pink in the lower left corner (which was a translucent mix) and a little bit of opaque pink (not pictured.)
As you can see, I slaved away, working hard to perfect my art.
She had been taking pics of everyone and I kept egging them on to pose for the camera.
I jokingly hammed it up and she snapped it just at the right moment!
This one isn't mine, but it shows him finishing the ball
ornament off and making a glass loop for hanging.


  1. LOVE it! :) Great post, thanks for sharing the recipe.

  2. Thanks for posting the pics so fast, so I could blatantly steal them! :)

  3. Sweet! I wish I could have gone to the glass blowing. Nice job with the hummus, it's almost like we're published. Rob was nagging me to get off the computer and I told him I was reading my favorite column. He said " " well never mind that, I won't tell you what he said. Another great article sis!


  4. The hummus sounds delicious. I might just have to try making a batch this weekend! How long do you think it would last in the fridge, with no preservatives?

  5. Rachel - Hmm... No idea. At least a few weeks, since I tend to forget I have it in there.


Go ahead! Tell me how awesome I am. Or ask a question. Whatever.

(Please note that I had to disable Anonymous comments. Too many spam comments coming through the filters.)