I’ve always loved the flavors of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. It’s probably because I love 99 percent of the ingredients of every recipe or dish I see. The fragrant spices, the meats, and fish, the vegetables – most of it grilled. Right up my alley.

Except for raw lamb. Gotta work up to that one, but I hear Suraya in Fishtown (the best restaurant in Philly right now) serves a mean Kibbeh.

Raw lamb aside, when most people think Middle Eastern food, they think of gooey, garlicky hummus. Served with the right bread (a lovely fresh grilled pita – do it, you’ll skip the carbs tomorrow) is heaven in a bowl.

Listen, I get it – it’s easy just to grab a container of that store-bought stuff. And there are so many flavors to choose from. But I’m here to give you a simple recipe that very well may change the course of your life. You’ll most likely get that promotion, and that guy is totally going to call you.

Trust me.

Ok, those things won’t happen (sorry) but you’ll at least have a tasty food recipe that will wow and amaze friends and family. And guess what – if you’ve got the hummus habit, this recipe might save you a few bucks.

You can thank me later after I change your life.


1 12 oz. can of chickpeas. Any brand – its just chickpeas.
2- 50 cloves of garlic (at least 2. Adjust to taste)
1 – Lemon, zested and juiced. (Google that, I have no time to explain!)
1 Tbsp Tahini (I like the Trader Joes Organic Tahini, there’s also the ubiquitous Joyva Tahini which is available pretty much anywhere)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3-4 tablespoons of water (or reserved chickpea water, if you fancy and weird)
Kosher salt to taste (if you’re a garlic lover, or need to watch salt, you don’t really need much)

Finely chopped Cilantro
Hungarian paprika (any paprika will do, but if you want quality, get Hungarian smoked paprika)
Olive oil

Step One

Drain and rinse chickpeas.
Add chickpeas, garlic, some of the lemon zest, 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, garlic cloves (at least one whole, work up from there), cumin, salt (if desired) and water to food processor or blender (I did mine in a Nutri-Bullet Mixer because I don’t own a proper mixer and it came out great)

Step Two

Scrape that gooey goodness into a bowl.
Using the back of the spoon, spread the hummus evenly (like you’re frosting a cake! Presentation counts).
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on the paprika.
Add chopped cilantro, roasted red peppers, or whatever floats your boat.
Dip that toasted pita right in there. Get a big gob.
Sit back and sigh.

Step Three

No step three. Go and enjoy the hummus. Your life has been forever changed.

The new year is a time for reflection. A time to take stock of your life and wonder what went wrong and what can be changed. I’ll agree: January 1 is just another day. It’s an arbitrary thing.

I also believe in measuring progress and failures.

I don’t do “resolutions”. Instead, I buy a spankin’ new sketchbook (a wire-bound, hardback book so it’ll lay flat). I write the year in the front with a paint marker. On the first page, I determine what my “theme” of the year might be. (This year’s theme is FOCUS). From there I do a free form sketch note of all things related to my “theme”.

I’ll also add some goals.

The important thing is to revisit this page and keep it close by. That’s’ why I keep it in my sketchbook since its always to my left on my desk.

The sketchnote serves as a reminder as to what I want to accomplish or do (or not do) during the year. If there are specific items on there (ex: “Buy that condo in Florida”), that goal goes on a separate page and is broken down into actionable chunks.

As for the new year celebration – I’ve done it all: I went to a house party in Manhattan then walked down to Times Square (pre-9/11, you could just come and go, no diapers required). I’ve done the “let’s all get rooms in a hotel and have a party” (Fun, and no mess to clean up). I’ve gone to countless house parties (“Why is your girlfriend making out with that guy?”). I was in Florida waiting for the world to end at the turn of the century (spoiler: it didn’t).

Our new year’s celebrations are decidedly more low-key these days. I make a nice dinner, we ring in the new year then its bedtime. We get up early in the morning and go to the Mummer’s Parade in the city.

One thing I like to make for new year’s dinner is a nice New York Strip steak. I love steak but I generally don’t eat it much during the year, so it’s a real treat.

Here’s how I prepare my New Year New York Strip Steak:

Cast Iron Seared Strip Steak with Herbs and Butter

  • Remove steak from the refrigerator. Rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Season steak generously with good salt (Kosher salt is best) and ground pepper.
  • In a cast-iron skillet, add oil. (Your choice, just use a low-smoke oil)
  • Heat skillet.
  • Add steaks to hot skillet and sear for 4 minutes.
  • As the steaks sear, add a knob or two of butter, a few cloves of garlic and a sprig of thyme and a spring of rosemary.
  • As the steaks sear, spoon the buttery garlicky herb mixture over the steaks (Tilt the pan if needed).
  • Flip, sear the other side for 4 minutes.
  • Immediately remove the skillet and place it in a 400-degree oven for about 8 minutes.
  • Remove from skillet, rest on cutting board for 5 minutes.
  • Serve with veggies of choice.

If your partner goes for the steak sauce, slap it out of their hands and throw them out of your house.