Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Keifer's Hummus

705 Poplar Boulevard
Jackson, Mississippi

Oddly enough, one of the best Greek restaurants in Jackson is owned and operated by a Swede. Rick Olson is a gregarious Swede who has forged a successful career from selling Greek food. His restaurant is one of Jackson's most popular lunch destinations.

Thirty years ago, Olson and his business partner, Paula Coe, quit their careers in Atlanta and, with a shoestring budget, opened and sandwich shop in a small house in Eudora Welty's neighborhood near downtown Jackson. Drawing from his Atlanta restaurant experience, Olson focused on gyros and other filled-pita specialties. The restaurant has been packed ever since.

One of the best indicators of a restaurant's quality is how much local business it does at lunch. Hint: Get to Keifer's early if you want a good parking spot.

The building looks much as it did on opening day, maybe a little worse for wear, and Keifer's menu has stayed basically the same for three decades. There are several standouts on the list, but go for the gyro and the Pita Mozz appetizer with Keifer's Feta Dressing, a condiment so popular it has inspired its own Facebook page.

Keifer's has a family atmosphere and a collection of employees who consider themselves part of the Olson-Coe restaurant family. The most telling statistic of all might be that 12 of the current employees have been with the restaurant since day one.

Keifer's has fed two generations of Jacksonians and will certainly be feeding many more in the future.

Keifer's Hummus

Yield 6-8 servings
Prep: 30 minutes
Chill: 4 hours

2 (15-oz) cans garbanzo beans (chick peas)
2/3 cup hot water
1/4 cup tahini (ground sesame paste) *
1/4 cup cold water
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
Hot pita bread, cut into triangles, or pita chips
Garnish: extra-virgin olive oil, chopped fresh parsley, paprika, and kalamata olives

Rinse beans and drain well. Pulse in food processor leaving beans a little coarse.
Transfer beans to a large bowl. Add hot tap water. Mash means with a rubber spatula; set aside.
In a small bowl, combine tahini and cold water. Whisk together with a small wire whisk until creamy and color changes to white. Add to beans, folding to combine.
Add lemon juice, garlic powder, and salt to bean mixture, folding to combine.
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 6 days before serving.
Serve with pita bread or pita chips.
Garnish with olive oil, parsley, paprika, and olives, if desired.

* Soon to be available at FoodieAffair.com

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