This rustic hummus is made completely from scratch, including the tahini sesame paste. Totally worth the effort!
As I was led back to the VIP green room, behind the imposing black curtains that kept the riff raff out, the first person I saw immediately made eye contact with me. He glanced down to my hands, which tightly clutched the gold gilded black folder that housed my award certificate, smiled gently and nodded his head at me. “Congratulations!” he murmured, as I faintly nodded my head back to him and replied back with a muted thank you. Though I’m sure Chef Thomas Keller of French Laundry said it to all who passed the curtain, the evening didn’t seem to get any more surreal as I walked past him to have some champagne handed to me and my picture taken for posterity. I had just won the IACP photography contest award for Best in Show and I had homemade hummus to thank for it.
I’m not comfortable with praise, never have been. Time and again people tell me that I need to just say a simple “Thank you” when someone compliments me, but I don’t know how to do that. Instead I start apologizing or explaining away the praise, which is never graceful. And even when I know that I should just say a simple “Thank you” for an important award, on a brightly lit stage, in front of the foodinistas of the culinary world, right after Alice Waters had won a Lifetime Achievement award, I say something like “Thank you. Please hire me. I’m a freelancer.” instead. Yes, that is what I blurted out, as I ran off the stage and behind the black curtain where I met Thomas Keller.
And run away I did. After taking my photo for IACP, I lingered for only two minutes in the VIP room (which, incidentally, is not painted green) before turning around and walking back out to the audience, sitting in my seat next to my friends, slightly numb at what just happened, as they all whispered their congratulations me. I immediately texted my partner AJ about how I just won the IACP photo contest and it freaked me out so much that I had to leave the VIP room. He texted back that I need to go back there and meet people. So with a deep breathe, I did.
Alice Waters was sitting against the wall as I walked back in chatting away with someone and though I wanted to go up and say hi to her, I started talking to my friend Judy who lives in Italy and who I adore. I talked to Igancio Urquiza, a brilliant Mexican food photographer who said that we should work together (“yes, please” was my obvious response) as well as Mark Boughton the winner of the people’s choice award for the photograph contest. Mark and I schemed on pitching a photo workshop for the next IACP conference, and I thought to myself, how did I get here? How did this happen?
And then I remember my winning photograph and how that was the reason I was now in the non-green green room. The theme of the photo contest, open to any IACP member, was “Real Food in a Virtual World” and I remember sorting through all my photos on my hard drive, trying to find just the right photo to capture that theme. In the end, I realized that I needed to take a new one if I had any chance of winning. And just as I turned to AJ to tell him that I need to take a photo for the contest, I saw him reaching into fridge and pulling out our hummus. The hummus that I make from scratch in huge batches because AJ loves it so much. And, along with the hummus, he pulled out the rainbow carrots that I buy five bundles at a time, which is what we eat our hummus with. We call the carrots our “gay carrots” for reasons obvious to anyone that has been to a gay pride parade. Our little inside joke, those gay carrots were exactly what I need to photograph for my entry into the competition. Right then and there, I knew exactly how to take the perfect photo for that contest theme.
I never did get a chance to talk to Alice Waters, as she left before I could say hello, though it wasn’t because I was too scared. Perhaps it was the champagne or the fact that everyone was so nice to me, but any fear I had slowly slipped away. The reception afterwards had a slew of people coming up and congratulating me, including luminary pastry folks like Alice Medrich, Emily Luchetti and Nancy Baggett. I shook hands with person after person, as they all told me that they liked my acceptance speech. The best speech of the night, said several people to me, laughing as they grabbed my hand to shake it. One IACP board member repeatedly gave me a high five every time I saw him. I love that man.
While it’s true that I may be uncomfortable with praise, I hope never to truly become comfortable with it. I want to be taken off guard, surprised at life turns and have my heart race as I hear someone single me out because of something I did or achieve. I want to get excited when I land that awesome freelance job and get slightly nervous when I have to do a project that pushes me outside my comfort zone. If it wasn’t for that tightening of the gut and the nervous energy of walking up to that stage, I might never have had told everyone in the audience that I was available for hire as a freelancer. I may never have given the best acceptance speech of the night.
Of course, I still haven’t gotten a single job offer since the award ceremony.
Rustic Homemade Hummus from Scratch
By Irvin Lin
Most hummus recipes call for canned garbanzo beans and tahini from a jar. I find the best hummus is made from dried chickpea (which is also cheaper) and brown sesame seeds (tahini is ground sesame seed paste). My recipe is radically adapted from Jerusalem, which happens to have won the IACP cookbook of the year award at the same time I won an award. Yotam Ottolenghi’s book is gorgeous and his hummus recipe uses dried chickpeas but he uses tahini in his recipe. I find brown sesame seeds more economical as I buy it in bulk (and apparently it’s healthier too), but keep in mind that the final hummus won’t be as silky smooth as one made with tahini. I like my hummus a little more rustic and homemade but if you really want a super smooth hummus, use 1 cup of tahini and leave out the sesame seeds, sesame oil and olive oil.
Because soaking and cooking the chickpeas is the most time consuming part of the recipe, I usually double the beans, water and baking soda and then use half the cooked beans for my hummus and freeze the other half afterwards in a quart ziplock bag. Defrosting the beans in the fridge the night before means I can whip up a batch of hummus super fast without having to soak or cook them. You’ll also note that I use a lot of spices in my hummus. Feel free to experiment with your own spices, or spice blends like Duqqa, Baharat or Ras el hanout. Hummus is a pretty blank slate and you can customize it however you like.
Radically adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi
1 1/4 cups (250 g) dried chickpeas
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 1/2 cups tap water
2 cups (310 g) whole brown sesame seeds
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
6 peeled cloves garlic
1/2 – 3/4 cup cold water
2 teaspoon kosher salt
2-4 teaspoons of various spices (I most frequently use cumin, cayenne, coriander, cardamom, ground ginger, cinnamon, and/or tumeric but experiment with what you like)
1. Place the dried chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with at least twice as much water as beans. Leave for 8 to 12 hours (overnight). Drain the beans and place in a large stockpot. Sprinkle with the baking soda and cook on medium heat for three minutes, stirring constantly. Add the tap water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 20-30 minutes, skimming the top of the water to remove foam. Cook until the beans are soft and squish between your fingers but aren’t totally soggy. Drain. You should have about 2 2/3 cup (600 g) of beans.
2. Once the beans are cooked, place the sesame seeds in a large food processor. Turn the processor on and drizzle the sesame oil, olive oil and lemon juice into the processor slowly. Turn off the processor and scrape the sides down between oil and juice additions. Add the garlic cloves into the processor and pulse until garlic is blended. Add 1/2 cup of water to the processor, while on, until the sesame seeds are processed to a paste.
3. Add the drained beans, salt and seasonings and continue to process until a paste forms, making to sure to occasionally scrape down the sides if you need to. Add more water if you need to thin the hummus down (keep in mind that the hummus will firm up a bit in the fridge as it chills and the spices will dull down if the hummus is served cold).
4. Scoop the hummus out of the processor, into a large container of your choice and either cover with plastic wrap on the surface of the hummus to keep it from drying out or drizzle with olive oil over the top. Take out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you serve to company. Serve with gay carrots or any other non-homophobic vegetables of your choice.
Makes about a one quart of hummus.
Gorgeous carrots and a delightful hummus! Like you, I never know what to answer when someone gives me a compliment and I always tend to apologize or start putting myself down when it happens…
Thanks Rosa! I’m slowly learning to just say thank you. But it’s a hard habit to break…
Christina @ The Hungry Australian says
Hurrah!!!!! Well done, Irvin. I have to say, the timing is oh so surreal given your recent posting about the green-eye monster 😉 If this isn’t a reminder that you just have to have faith and keep plugging away I don’t know what is!
Awww…Thanks Christina! It’s funny because my friend Kristen actually mentioned my jealousy post as well, and how I must have jinxed myself – in a good way! I’ll take whatever I can get!
The Suzzzz says
Congratulations!!! And Thomas Keller, holy crap, you had more presence of mind than I would have if I’d met him.
It was one of those blink and you miss it kind of moments. I sort of walked by him before I could even register that he said “congratulations” to me. Then I tracked him down at the reception after the ceremony and made him take a photo with me. 😉
Well deserved! So happy for your success and the recognition that comes with it.
Thanks Amy! So great to see you and hang out with you at IACP!
Not surprised one bit you’d win this honor since your images are consistently outstanding. Your pictures make me drool, your writing always makes me laugh, and your blog inspires me to just lighten up and live a little. A very well deserved win. Congratulations Irvin!
Thanks Stacie! I’m glad you find my blog inspirational. I love yours as well!
Arthur in the Garden! says
Yosef - This American Bite says
Congrats. That photo is certainly a winner… I love it! I’ve never used baking soda in my hummus recipe and I am always looking to tweak it as I make a batch almost every week. I recently heard that peeling the chickpeas will also create a smoother texture. Does yours freeze well?
Thanks Yosef! I think the baking soda is a holdover sort of thing. It’s suppose to help the beans cook faster and also prevent the person eating the beans from getting to bloated. Juries still out on whether it works or not but I use it because it was in the original recipe by Yotam.
As for peeling the chickpeas, I can see it making a smoother hummus, but that’s WAY too much work. I mean 1 1/4 cups of chickpeas is a lot of chickpeas. Plus my hummus isn’t super smooth because I use the sesame seeds. I’m not really looking for that silk smooth hummus texture.
Pat Fusco says
Loved your recap — love your recipe, and — of course — the photo! As for responding to praise, my very etiquette-conscious Southern grandmother told me, “Say thank you, and then be quiet.” She’s right: it’s a lot easier!
Ha! Well, as you grandmother would say then – “Thank you.” 😉
Aimee @ Simple Bites says
Big congratulations!! And I love your speech. Brilliant!
Thanks Aimee! I’m still waiting for someone to offer to hire me!
The Healthy Apple says
This looks amazing, Irvin! I love hummus and this is a great combo of yummy ingredients. Congrats to you; well deserved!
Hope you are well.
Thanks Amie! Totally miss you too.
Miss Kim @ behgopa says
Congrats, Irvin. You rock! You are multi-talented. You cook, you bake, you photograph, you design, you write, and you inspire. And you do all these things divinely. BTW I mentioned you in my blog! http://www.behgopa.com/2013/04/after-month-of-blogging.html (in the first paragraph)
Thanks Miss Kim! I’m honored to be included in your first paragraph with such awesomeness like White on Rice, I am Baker and Pinch of Yum. Such great company to be associated with!
Miss Kim @ behgopa says
You are also mentioned in my recent post, “Top Fav Food Blogs”.
Sarvani (baker in disguise) says
Oh.. I’m horrible at accepting compliments.. I will pass a self-deprecating remark or act its no big deal… and I thought as I grow up.. I will learn to be more gracious.. so far.. its not happening!!! Oh well.. we keep trying… having said that.. Congratulations!! well deserved!!
Right? I thought as I became an adult, I’d be all gentile and Southern Belle with my “Oh thank you so much…” but instead I ended up just blabbering and asking people to hire me.
But hopefully I’ll get better at it. Or people will just find it charming. I’m hoping more for the later.
Nancy A. says
Congratulations on your award!! You deserve it, you take beautiful pictures! I love the ones of your trip to Yosemite! I love hummus, too, and am going to make your recipe. I always make mine with those canned beans and have a bag of dry on hand! Sounds delicious, as do all your recipes. Good luck with the job search!!
Thanks Nancy! I have nothing against canned beans, but I do think the dry ones taste better. But the canned ones are super convenient so I totally understand. If you make my recipe, let me know what you think!
Wendy Read says
Oh Irvin! So proud of you 🙂 If I had any money I would hire you immediately!!! XXOO Wendy
Thanks Wendy! If I lived closer and was independently wealthy, I’d totally shoot your stuff in exchange for jam & preserves. Ha!
Congratulations, and well-deserved! Your photos are so beautiful. They make me jealous and hungry in their composition and detail. And this is, perhaps, the most trivial of comments, but I just love that you call them “gay carrots.” That will make me giggle every time I eat them (and I’m going to be roasting up a batch tonight!).
Thanks Chelsea! I have to admit, I sort of giggle every time I refer to them that way too. I’m a bit juvenile that way…
Stacy | Wicked Good Kitchen says
Congratulations, Irvin! I love that you were inspired to shoot your “gay carrots” and that you had made the hummus out of love because your partner loves it so much. Your photo entry was kismet! (Wish I could have been there to hear your acceptance speech. I am a fellow IACPer.)Wow, had to go back and read the “green-eyed” post. I missed it because I was ill the same time you were and got behind on blog love as well as my own posts. So, yes! Look where you are now…just 1 month later! Always remember that you are talented and an inspiration to many–including me. xoxo
Awwww. Thanks Stacy! Yeah it’s so funny I wrote that jealousy post and a month later this happens. I need to write more heart wrenching, difficult pieces apparently! Glad you’re feeling better. IACP was super fun. My first time going! I may not be able to go again, because I don’t know if anything will top this conference. 😉
sally cameron says
Congratulations Irvin! Well deserved! That photo is simply gorgeous. I too am totally crazy about those multi-colored “gay” carrots, especially the red ones. Nice to see you again at the IACP conference. Thanks for the terrific suggestions in the Pinterest class. You are so talented. Thanks for the inspiration!
I’m actually super partial to the yellow and the purple ones. But the red one are great too. Actually, I’m pretty much a fan of ALL carrots now that I think of it. They are super awesome to snack on.
Great seeing you at IACP. Glad the Pinterest session was useful!
Betty Ann @Mango_Queen says
Congratulations, Irvin! What a great story of the awards night, gorgeous photos and very good recipe. I am so honored to have met you at food events and look forward to sharing/hearing more of your stories. I’m so happy for you! Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy! All the best and here’s to many more awards for you!
Thanks Betty Ann! I love hanging out with you at the food events and such. I hope to see you soon!
Bravo – so well-deserved. I love the honesty in your posts. Your writing style is terrific and rivals your photos.
Thanks so much Liz! It’s funny, writing is way more laborious for me than photography but I’m glad you think my writing style is up to snuff. I’ve been working hard on it and it pleases me immensely that you like it!
Susan @ SGCC says
Congrats, Irvin! The award is well deserved! The photo is truly stunning! I can so relate to your resistance to praise. I don’t take compliments well, either. – but, I’m working on it. Sometimes, it’s hard to see our talented and capable selves as others do. But, it’s worth the effort. 🙂
Thanks Susan! I’m glad I’m not alone in this resistance to praise. But it’s something I’m trying to work on. I agree, it’s totally worth the effort…
Nicole @ Daily Dish Recipes says
Beautiful carrots! Wonderful hummus – and a big huge congratulations Irvin! It was awesome being able to read your story “behind the scenes”. 🙂
Thanks Nicole! The behind the scenes are usually where the best stories are. 😉
I am a big fan and follower of yours and find your Rustic Hummus to be way too much work. I really don’t get the dried chickpeas v. canned. With the many flavors going on, it’s really okay to used canned. I also think the dried sesame, again, is just a bit much work for hummus; Tahini is fine. Also try cilantro, chili powder and jalapeno for a Mexican twist. As always, looking forward to your next pin!!
It’s definitely more work, I completely agree. And I don’t have any issues with using canned chickpeas, but I just prefer the taste and texture of the cooked dried ones, plus I make so much hummus that it’s WAY more cost effective for me to buy the dried beans in bulk! Same goes with the sesame seeds. Tahini really adds up, and since I’ve already got the food processor out, I figure processing the seeds is only an extra step. Plus I like the taste of brown sesame seeds. But I think everyone makes their hummus differently. I just wanted to share the way I make it, without any jarred or canned ingredients.
That said, I love the idea of cilantro, chili powder and jalapeno in the hummus! I think hummus is one of those blank slate dips that you can totally add whatever sort of flavors you want.
Nimisha Ambati says
Irvin, I am ecstatic for you! Your work is wonderful and what makes your writing wonderful is that every word is you. I just wish I could have heard your acceptance speech; it must have been hilarious. CONGRATULATIONS!
I can’t stand canned beans and use a pressure cooker to cook soaked beans. Pressure cookers are a time saver; 20 minutes and they are perfectly cooked. No stirring, skimming, or baking soda. I can’t wait to try your recipe. xoxo
Thanks Nimisha! I’m with you, I don’t really care for canned beans, but I don’t have a pressure cooker. I should really get one though, as they seemed to be all the rage!
kelly @ sass & veracity says
Hearty congrats to you — and well deserved. I love those carrots, too, and snap them up when I see them trying to find new things to put them in. Much agreed on using the dried chickpeas. There is a total difference in flavor to me and although canned beans do come in handy, making a big batch of dried beans always makes sense and takes little effort. Loved your recount of this experience — made me grin.
Thanks Kelly! I’m definitely a fan of the cooked dried beans and you’re right, mostly it’s walk away time so it’s not too difficult.
Ahhh, uber jealous of the TK encounter!! Congrats on the win. Much deserved…your photography is gorgeous! I’m sure those gigs will be pouring in in no time 🙂 Fun running into you at IACP.
Ha! I hope the gigs come pouring in. I’m waiting… 😉 And yes, meeting Thomas Keller was pretty awesome, though he’s actually a bit aloof. I wish I had gotten a chance to meet Alice Waters though. She seemed very personable and warm!
“Thank you. Please hire me. I’m a freelancer.” Brilliant. Congratulations!
Thank you! I just wish my speech had worked. Ha! 😉
Beautiful photos for a gorgeous recipe! I agree with you that tahini from the jar just won’t do, though I’ll admit to doing that when I’m pressed for time. 🙂
I definitely do shortcuts when I am in a hurry or if I want super smooth hummus. But since I make so much hummus, that tahini really adds up! But I usually do have a small jar of it in the back of the fridge in case of emergencies…
I’m happy for your success!!
Me and Aj have the same taste: Your granola, Hummus and carrots! I also really enjoy Hummus with endive. Only that MY boyfriend does the eating, not the cooking! Oh well he is a boss in cleaning the kitchen(and the rest of the house, but don’t tell my family they think I seriously improved) like no other. And god knows I need that more than concurrence on the stove! A pity we have no mixer or food processor of any kind, so I buy my Hummus on the market.
I love hummus and eat it with carrots sometimes too, but I just buy it, lazy me. I don’t like to keep it around all the time cuz i tend to eat waaaay too much of it. 🙂
Looove the rainbow carrots and I love that the photograph is beautiful and simple!
P.S. I would totally take a food photography workshop with you! Maybe at workshop sf or 18 reasons?
Well deserved Irvin, obviously Mark liked what you said be cause he just said “ditto” to what you said! Tomorrow I’ll be posting my recap of the conference if you want to stop by.
Your photos are gorgeous and I love the rustic quality of your hummus. My Armenian family is originally from Egypt, so I grew up eating a LOT of hummus…this is a beautiful recipe. I’m looking forward to trying it with the brown sesame seeds instead of tahini.
I really like all the recipes you are sharing with us! I have only one question here – why are you using backing soda for Hummus (do you use it because it is easier to “clean” the beans with it?)
Madrid Stew says
That rich everything that takes chickpeas hehe: the same hummus as a good stew