Meet Reader Leah Schapiro + Homemade Chumus

fresh homemade chumusPlease welcome Leah Schapira for today’s reader interview. Leah’s story will inspire parents of picky eaters everywhere.

  1. Please introduce yourself. I live in the New York area. I write a food column for Ami magazine and I was the food editor at Mishpacha magazine for 3 years. I recently launched a kosher recipe sharing site.
  2. What do you remember about family meals and your mother’s cooking style when you were growing up? It was a constant battle. My mother made the most delicious food. Our main base was Hungarian but my mother put her American twist to it. She also added middle eastern and Chinese to her everyday supper repertoire. We never had bakery food in our house and till this day I prefer homemade cake to the bakeries. However I was one of the pickiest eaters and for years I wouldn’t touch anything but pizza. I was skinny and nervous and all day long I was hungry. My family claims I ate nothing but pizza and oranges for a few years straight. I clearly remember the day I tasted lettuce for the first time. And the day I tried chicken in a sandwich- that was a huge milestone. I would only eat chicken on one plate and bread on the other. My poor mother, I don’t know how she handled it.
  3. How is your cooking style different from your mother’s? I cook pretty much like my mother, but the difference is that most of my kids eat anything.
  4. What is your favorite gadget? Black pepper grinder. I recently added a salt grinder to my collection and I think it adds a tremendous amount of flavor to salads and food. I can’t imagine going back to black pepper out of spice bottle.
  5. Can you share a typical daily menu? Weekly menu? Once a week I must fry breaded chicken cutlets. It’s my 4 year old’s favorite and if I don’t make it he cries and cries. We’ve come to an agreement that I make it once a week, and only once a week.My basic menu:Sunday: Leftover

    Monday: Some sort of chicken

    Tuesday: Vegetarian or Dairy

    Wednesday: Chicken or meat

    Thursday: A quick dinner, it depends on what we’re in the mood for.

    I devote once a week to a new recipes (something I may feature in my column).

    Supper is always a protein, starch and vegetable. And I find that the more salads I cut and leave on the table the more my children eat it. So I’ve become really quick at putting a salad together and I’ve improved my knife skills. Practice really helps!

    How has your cooking style evolved over the years?When I cooked as girl I was extremely picky and I would cook only with food items I liked. The list was very basic- there was a limit to how many potato recipes you can come up with. Today I eat almost everything so my ingredient base has expanded :).

  6. Can you recommend any cookbooks, TV shows or websites that have inspired you? Cookbooks: I love all cookbooks. I read cookbooks like novels. I can’t say I make too many things from cookbooks, but I like to read the stories and techniques. I also enjoy community cookbooks. Although they usually have lots of mistakes, In those cookbooks you can find real gems. Websites: In 2004 I discovered food recipe sites and I was hooked. I loved all of the. After a couple of months I got tired of sifting through recipes to find recipes that were kosher. I dreamed of having a choice to pick a recipe that is pareve… or a recipe that would be suitable for a sheva brochos. That day I went and bought the domain. It took years (and a couple of kids later) launched.Today I like  But eat before you start looking. The site really makes you hungry.What posts on CM have you enjoyed? I like the interviews. Its fun to hear about new blogs.
  7. What is the most unusual dish you’ve ever made? I once made a Polish Chulent (Sabbath stew cooked overnight). You need to peel the potatoes, salt them and leave overnight. In the morning the potatoes are completely black and release murky black water. You add the water and potatoes to the chulent. It sounds terrible and i was scared to eat it. But the men folk claim its one of the best chulents out there. Rumors are that some men choose to pray in synagogues that serve this chulent.
  8. What is the oldest item in your kitchen? The cookbook I got when I was eight. Some silly cookbook that shows you how to make a sandwich into a face 🙂 The newest? A Cuisipro Scoop and Stack Ice Cream Scoop. I didn’t use it yet. I’ll let you know if it’s any good.
  9. What would you like to change about your cooking style in the coming year? I’m going to try to stop recreating fast food. There is a reason why fast food belongs in take-outs. I love recreating it at home but it’s terribly unhealthy and fattening.
  10. Please share a favorite recipe and cooking tips. I used to love creamy simple chumus. Then one day I tasted a chunky version and fell in love. I have a hard time eating the plain chumus out of the tub.

    Chunky Parsley Chumus

    This is the most addictive thing currently in my refrigerator. With some crackers or pretzels I can finish this entire container in a couple of minutes.  Parsley is optional, but adds a great flavor. You can make the hummus less runny by adding less water and make the hummus creamier by blending the chickpeas longer before adding the lemon juice, water…

    • 1 14 oz can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)1 handful parsley leaves

      1 clove garlic

      ½ tsp salt

      ¼ tsp ground cumin

      3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

      4 Tbsp water

      4 Tbsp tahini paste

      2 Tbsp olive oil

    Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans, setting aside a few chickpeas use as garnish. Place in a food processor with the parsley, garlic, salt, cumin. Blend until chunky. Add lemon juice, water, tahini and olive oil.

    Garnish with additional chickpeas and olive oil.

Photo by Dan Engongoro

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  1. I was just introduced to your blog through Yosefa Huber and I like what I see! Can’t wait to read more.
    I’m a big hummus fan, too, and I find that my kids will eat just about ANYTHING with chickpeas in it. Cooked, roasted, stewed, pureed… And I’m totally with you, Leah – chunky is MUCH better than smooth. You can really taste and feel the beans that way. Yum.

  2. I used to make chumus every week. One thing I LOVE in chumus (and many other things) is ground chipotle. I buy the chipotles in almost any international store and gring them in an electric grinder.

    It is smoky and spicy and seems to go very well with the flavor of chumus. I put it in baba ganoush also.

    Warning about grinding chipotles — this cannot be done in a food processor. You need a coffee grinder. They are very tough and hard. You must cover the grinder with a wet towel or the chipotle “smoke” will leak through the grinder cover. It irritates the lungs. Also send your kids out of the kitchen when you do this. It’s definitely worth doing!

  3. I agree with you about the cookbooks. Last Shabbat I reclined on the couch and read “Pressure Perfect” cover to cover, but I still haven’t used an actual recipe. I also have a cookbook I got when I was a kid. It came with colorful measuring spoons and now my kids ask me to read it to them.

    Last week I made chummus with overcooked chickpeas and peas. It was very creamy. But as you can imagine, it left a little wanting in the taste department.

    I am not surprised that men would choose a shul by it’s chulent. The way to a man’s heart IS through his stomach!

  4. I see I’m not the only chummus lover out there… I can eat it with anything 🙂


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