Edamame Hummus

About seven years ago, Handsome Greg flew to New York for a terribly important marketing guy conference, and I got to tag along.

One sunny Manhattan afternoon while Greg was busy learning how to get people to buy stuff, I met up with my former roommate and current fancy friend, Jenna, for lunch in our old upper west side neighborhood. On that day, she introduced me to my new BFF, sushi.

At that point, I definitely had reservations about eating raw fish. I was afraid it would be cold and slimy and fishy (I prefer fish to taste like chicken). So my plan was to fill up on the appetizer before the sushi arrived. Jenna had ordered a bowl of tender, salty edamame, and as soon as I figured out how in the world to eat it, I was in love.

In the years following, I’d only ever eaten edamame steamed in their shells with a dusting of sea salt, just the way it was served at my fancy New York lunch – a bowl of salty edamame in front of a movie makes a great substitute for popcorn if you need a protein boost – but I was curious to try it other ways, and an edamame hummus seemed a perfect vehicle for the delicately-flavored young soy beans.

This took forEVer.

I’m not going to lie – this recipe is a huge pain in the ass to make. I spent nearly an hour peeling off all those little edamame skins. You could probably skip that step, but if you’ve got the time, and you can tolerate the tedium and potential carpal tunnel, the resulting hummus is super creamy with no lumps. I first made it for a production meeting for Those Were the Days; the team scarfed it up, but a couple folks suggested it could use a little more garlic. I tend to think it’s perfect as is, and extra garlic would overpower the delicate flavor of the edamame. So there.

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Sweet and Spicy Almonds and Pecans

I’m a big fan of consumable gifts – they feel special, personal. Particularly this Christmas, as I enter my sixth month of unemployment, my gift list features treats like homemade baked goods, evenings out, dinners in – pleasures that can be used up or eaten. (Except for Mom and Handsome Greg, who will each receive a Lexus with a big, red bow. Shh! Don’t tell!)

Tied with a considerably smaller red bow, a jar of sweet and spicy nuts makes a lovely holiday gift. Or bake up a batch to start off a Christmas party, and your guests will be greeted at the door with a sweet, warm, cinnamon-y aroma sure to make their hearts grow three sizes that day.

I first spotted this recipe on my very favorite food blog, Smitten Kitchen, and I made a couple of teensy changes from her preparation. They are positively addictive, with a flawless balance of sweetness, salt, and heat. I’ve made them for countless occasions and they’re devoured in no time. They also add a flavorful crunch atop salads.

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Crab and Artichoke Dip

On a Saturday evening every other month, Mom and Handsome Greg come to my place for a leisurely, candlelit dinner. I spend weeks preparing the menu, and developing and testing recipes. But despite my careful, down-to-the-minute scheduling of the shopping, cleaning, and food prep, when Mom and Greg arrive at Chez Galley Kitchen, I am generally rushing around in a mad panic to get the food done on time. Handsome Greg (who incidentally towers over me at nearly 6’4”) kindly offers to help, and is subsequently banished from my wee kitchen to open the wine and set the table.

One day I will learn my lesson. I will plan menus that aren’t needlessly complicated with too many dishes that require last-minute, pre-dinner devotion. I will have food on the table when my guests arrive, and I will feel like a grown-up or a superhero or Katie Couric. And when that day comes, the meal will begin with an easy, make-ahead appetizer, like a hearty, palette-pleasing spread.

This creamy, crabby, cheesy dip gets the party started with a nostalgic nod to 70s swank. I’d never had canned crab before and wasn’t sure what to expect (foodies talk some serious smack about canned crab), but it was delicious! It didn’t taste “canned” at all. With all the creamy, cheesy, mayo-y ingredients, I was a little nervous the dip would come out of the oven with an oil slick on top, so I used the light versions of the dairy and mayo, and the consistency was plenty decadent without being greasy.

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