Friday, July 15, 2011

8 July and 15 July Friday Lunches

Yikes, already mid-July.
Missed last week so I'll give you the menu and a recipe. I'm working on two chapters concurrently: Africa with Morocco, Ethiopia and Senegal and Latin America with Mexico and the Caribbean. So most lunches reflect that curve.
Big thanks to Martha Eldrige (SP?) and Mary Buschell for their help!!!!!!! They are indispensable.

8 July 2011

Moroccan Harira with Dates and Lemons
Harira soups are full of legumes (chickpeas, lentils and beans), herbs and spices with a little meat and vegetables for flavor. Ingredients and seasonings vary, but the addition of the tadawira, the tomatoes and paste and a flour and water or sourdough batter (for velvety texture) is universal. Eaten as a one-dish meal for dinner or breakfast, during Ramadan cooks serve harira with lemon wedges, dates and honey cakes.

Ethiopian Collards with Buttermilk Cheese and Spices
Simmer diced collards until very soft, drain and toss with clarified butter in which you've heated minced onion, chili powder, minced ginger, minced garlic and ground cardamom. Toss with buttermilk cheese (see recipe below).

Blackeyed Pea Fritters with Hot Sauce
These are Senegalese and surprisingly tasty. Soaked black-eyed peas, drained and ground with a little raw onion, ginger root, water, salt and pepper. Hauled out the Meijer Fry Daddy and Martha made almost 100 of the tasty buggers. Great dipped in the Harira.

Dal with Split Yellow Peas, Leeks, Onions and Herbs
Just an improv dish with lots of flavor.

Moroccan Harira
Harira soups are full of legumes (chickpeas, lentils and beans), herbs and spices with a little meat and vegetables for flavor. Ingredients and seasonings vary, but the addition of the tadawira, the tomatoes and paste and a flour and water or sourdough batter (for velvety texture) is universal. Eaten as a one-dish meal for dinner or breakfast, during Ramadan cooks serve harira with lemon wedges, dates and honey cakes.
Adapted from Arabesque by Claudia Roden
Yields 24 cups, 12 to 18 servings

6 ounces chickpeas, 1 cup
Optional: 2 marrowbones, blanched in boiling water
1 pound trimmed lamb or beef shoulder or neck, 2 cups diced into 1/2-inch cubes
16 ounces onions, 4 cups diced 1/2-inch
4-1/2 to 5 ounces brown lentils, 3/4 cup rinsed
16 ounces tomatoes, 3 cups peeled and diced
or 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
4 ounces celery, about large 4 stalks, 1-1/4 cups diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Two 3-inch cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon saffron
or 1 teaspoon turmeric
1 ounces all-purpose flour, 5 tablespoons
5 ounces orzo pasta or broken vermicelli, 3/4 cup
1 lemon, about 4 tablespoons juiced
1-1/2 ounces trimmed cilantro, 3/4 cup chopped
1/2 ounce trimmed Italian parsley, 1/2 cup chopped
For Serving: 3 lemons, quartered
Optional For Serving: 24 to 36 dates

1. Rinse chickpeas. Cover with cold water and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Quick soak or soak overnight. Drain and rinse. Place blanched bones, meat, onions and chickpeas into a heavy 8-quart pot. Cover with 13 cups cold water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove scum that rises. Cover pot partially and lower heat. Simmer 1 hour.

2. Remove bones and scoop out marrow back into soup, if using. Discard bones. Stir in lentils, tomatoes, celery, tomato paste, pepper, ginger, cinnamon sticks and saffron or turmeric. Bring to a boil and lower heat; simmer soup until lentils soften, 15 minutes. Season soup with salt.

3. Pour flour into small saucepan and whisk in 2 cups cold water; beat until smooth. Place on medium heat and stir constantly until mixture thickens. Lower heat and simmer flour-water mixture 10 minutes.

4. Slowly whisk flour mixture into simmering soup. Stir soup constantly and vigorously; simmer 2 to 3 minutes. At this point harira can be refrigerated up to two days.

5. Ten minutes before serving: Stir pasta into soup and simmer until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, cilantro and parsley. Serve soup with lemon wedges and dates.

Vary! Improvise!
*Vegetarian Harira: Omit meat and bones. Use vegetable broth or water and decrease liquid from 13 cups to 10 cups.
*Chicken Harira: Substitute 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs for meat and 2 quarts chicken stock and 6 cups water for the 13 cups water.

Ethiopian Buttermilk Cheese (Ayib or Iab)
Made from buttermilk, this lightly tangy soft white curd cheese (similar to Indian paneer) is often flavored with herbs and spices and served as a last course in lieu of dessert. High fat buttermilk with no additives from a local dairy makes the best cheese.
©2011 Nancy Krcek Allen
Yields 3 cups, 1-1/2 pounds

3 quarts buttermilk
Optional Spiced Cheese
2 ounces niter kibbe, 1/4 cup
1/4 to 1/2 ounce garlic, 1 clove peeled and halved
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

1. Heat buttermilk in 6-quart pan over very low heat and stir occasionally until an instant read thermometer measures 120 to 145 degrees F (but no higher the cheese will take on a cooked flavor). The whey will separate and large mass of curds will form float on top, 25 to 30 minutes.

2. If making spiced cheese: In a small pan on low heat, simmer niter kibbe with garlic 1 to 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and cool butter. Remove garlic and discard.

3. Set up a strainer lined with cheesecloth over bowl or saucepan. Pour buttermilk curds through and drain 1 hour without pressing. Discard whey or use to cook greens. The cheese is ready for use.

4. For Optional Spiced Cheese: Crumble cheese and mix with niter kibbe, salt, pepper and cardamom. Set aside at room temperature until ready to use, or refrigerate up to 1 week.

Vary! Improvise!
*Stir 4 tablespoons lemon juice into buttermilk before simmering for a tarter flavor.
*Herbed Ayib: Fold in a mixture of fresh and/or dried herbs like parsley and basil. Season with salt and pepper.

15 July

Today's lunch continues the theme of Africa. Jenny spent time traveling in West Africa so it was great that I made a classic West African stew. She said she ate a lot of palm oil and chilies in Senegal. It was fun to cook the stew and it made a lot. I also have been working working working on testing Ethiopian injera bread. I've got it pretty close to what I like in Ethiopian restaurants with teff and white flour and a sourdough starter. Yum. You'll see a photo. No recipe today. But two from last week.

Senegalese Peanut Chicken
Skinned chicken dipped in flour and browned then set aside. Onions and red bell pepper browned, garlic added then ground peanuts and water, cayenne and the chicken added and simmered 1 hour. Chicken removed and kept warm. Peeled diced sweet potatoes and turnips simmered until tender. Vegetables transferred to chicken and sauce reduced so it thickens. Just before serving, spinach (or chard in this case) or cabbage wilted in the hot sauce and it's poured over the chicken and vegetables. Nice technique: shows the French influence in Senegalese cooking.

Ethiopian Lentils
This dish was similar to Indian dal, with small pink lentils, Anaheim chilies (yes, they use a similar chili there), onion, ginger root, Berbere powder and garlic. I think it needed to be thicker and longer cooked for Ethiopia though. I kept thinking India.


Mediterranean New Onion and Garlic with Broccoli, Squash and Basil
The vegetables were so fresh and tasty that Mary, my cooking buddy, simply sautéed them with olive, salt and then added basil at the last minute.

Ethiopian Injera Bread
Like a spongy pancake and made with teff, an East African dark flour made from a sort of millet.
Africa is so full of "undiscovered" foods that we in our judging minds pass up. Many foods came from West Africa via the slaves, Caribbean and Mexico.

Friday, July 1, 2011

4th Friday, 1 July 2011

Didn't post last week. Too tired. Last week was Thai coconut curry and South Indian rice pilaf with curry leaves and roasted nuts, rice noodles with an Indonesian non-spicy sambal and coconut oil, and tempura garlic scapes. Alison and Conrad Heins' daughter Roo was here from Japan so she made the tempura. I had the bright inspiration to tempura the prolific snaky thing. I'll post the recipe below so you too can tempura your scapes, too. I bought a "Frydaddy" at Meijer just for tempura.

I'm still recipe testing so this week we made:

*Walnut and mint gremolada on shaved fresh fennel
*Persian beet boriani--a sort of side or "salad" made with whole milk yogurt strained through cheesecloth 2 to 3 hours and mixed with cooled, steamed diced beets, mint and lemon juice.
*Split pea dal with ponch phoran
*A huge hotel pan of chard-spinach and ricotta cannelloni covered with tomato sauce.

Recipe for gremolada, an Italian batuto in the same family as pesto follows. It's great on ripe tomatoes or tossed into a vinaigrette or on shaved or steamed vegetables.

Technique: Gremolada—Shameless Attention Grabber
Italian cooks stir gremolada, a chopped and dry or lightly moist raw mixture, into soup or stew at the last minute, sprinkle it over hot vegetables or hot pizza or stir it into olive oil. With the first bite, a gremolada wakes up the diner and gets her attention. Notice the balance of pungent herb, sparkling citrus, deep flavored garlic and fat or oily nuts. Choose a combination of herb leaves, citrus zest, garlic and even nuts. Classic gremolada goes over osso buco (braised veal) before serving. Both are great on sautéed vegetables or tomatoes—just before serving to preserve fresh flavor.

*Classic Gremolada
Yields about 1/4 cup
1/2 ounce trimmed Italian parsley, 1/4 cup minced
1/4 to 1/2 ounce garlic, 1 large clove, 1-1/2 teaspoons peeled and minced
1 large lemon, preferably organic, 2 to 3 teaspoons minced zest

*Mint and Walnut Gremolada
Yields about 1/2 cup
1/4 ounce mint leaves, 2 tablespoons chopped
1/4 ounce trimmed Italian parsley, 2 tablespoons minced
1/4 to 1/2 ounce garlic, 1 large clove, 1-1/2 teaspoons peeled and minced
1 ounce walnuts, 1/4 cup broken pieces
or 1 ounce toasted pine nuts, 1/4 cup
Zest of 1 medium lemon, preferable organic, 2 to 3 teaspoons chopped zest
Optional Additions
2 tablespoons olive oil
or 2 to 4 tablespoons cream
or 1 to 2 tablespoons walnut oil
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1. Finely chop each ingredient by hand and mix together, or pulse-grind ingredients in food processor until chunky-smooth.

2. Optionally, stir olive oil and lemon juice or cream or nut oil into gremolada before tossing on vegetables. Season with salt and ground pepper.

Vary! Improvise!
*Try making sage, fennel, celery leaf or wild leek gremolada.
*Toss gremolada with finely shaved fennel, sliced ripe tomatoes or stir into vinaigrette.

Signature Technique: Japanese Tempura
Low gluten flours like cake flour, rice flour, arrowroot or cornstarch will make a crisper batter than higher gluten all-purpose flour.
4 to 6 servings

*Fish Tempura
8 ounces skinned fish fillets, cut into 1/2- to 1-inch wide “fingers”
*Shrimp Tempura
8 ounces shrimp, shelled and de-veined—tail shell left on
*Vegetable Tempura
1/4 pound carrots, 1 cup matchstick slivered
1/4 pound green beans, 1 cup matchstick slivered
5 ounces sweet potato, 1 medium, about 1 cup peeled and sliced into 1/8-inch thick half moons
Dipping Sauce of choice
3 to 4 ounces daikon, peeled

*Batter One
Yields about 1 cup
3 ounces cake flour, about 3/4 cup
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 to 7 fluid ounces plain seltzer or soda water
*Batter Two
Yields about 1 cup
5 ounces cake flour, about 1 cup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda or baking powder
1 egg yolk
About 7 fluid ounces ice water
Oil for deep-frying

1. Cut fish, shrimp or vegetables uniformly and small or thin enough to cook through in a couple minutes. Make 2 or 3 shallow crosswise cuts on underside (NOT the back) of shrimp. Gently pull shrimp out flat. Arrange tempura ingredients on half sheet pan.

2. Prepare dipping sauce (page XX) and set aside. Grate daikon radish finely and set aside.

2. Assemble batter ingredients: mix dry ingredients together, but not wet.

3. Heat deep-fat fryer, or an empty wok over low heat before adding oil. Oil should be at least 3 inches deep. The oil will rush up when you add food. Use fresh oil every time for best-flavored, lightest tempura. Don’t use fishy oil for vegetables.

4. Using chopsticks, mix dry and wet batter ingredients as the oil heats, not before. Make a well and stir in 3/4 of the liquid. Liquid (water) should be ice-cold. You may actually add ice-cubes to batter as it sits to keep it cold. This helps keep batter light and crisp. Adding 50% to 100% carbonated water will make a lighter batter. Don't overmix. Check consistency and add more water if necessary. Batter should adhere lightly, but run off food. It should be the consistency of heavy cream.

5. When deep-frying avoid distractions and pay attention.

6. Heat oil a little higher than you need. When you add food the temperature will lower. Cook vegetables between 340F to 350F; shrimp 350F to 360F. If oil is too hot food browns, but doesn't cook. Too cool, oil seeps in and makes tempura soggy and greasy. Stable oil temperature is critical to successful tempura. Use a candy/deep fat thermometer to regulate. Don't overfill and crowd oil. This lowers oil temperature.

7. Dry food and dredge damp foods like shrimp or fish in flour before dipping in batter. Shake off excess. This will help batter to stick.
*Seafood Tempura: Dip prepared fish or shrimp in batter and let excess run off 2 to 3 seconds. Place in hot oil and fry until golden and fish is cooked through.

*Vegetable Tempura: Place carrots and green beans together into batter. With chopsticks, pull out a small batch, drain 1 to 2 seconds, and set into hot oil—hold onto them 30 seconds so they stay together. Flip and cook remaining side. Drain. Dip sweet potato into batter. Let it run off and fry until tender and cooked through.

8. As you cook food, remove all of one batch before adding fresh uncooked pieces to oil. Let oil come back up to temperature in between batches. Skim away burnt bits frequently. They contribute to off flavors. Salt breaks down oil so use none or very little in deep-fry recipes.

9. Drain hot tempura on rack set over pan or on paper towels—don't let pieces touch-and sprinkle with salt. Serve tempura immediately with dipping sauce and freshly grated or shredded daikon radish.

Texture Tip: save cooked bits of tempura batter for your next spicy tuna sushi. Add crunchy bits for a textural and taste temptation.

Vary! Improvise!
*Try making tempura herbs or fruit. What types would you choose and what combos would you arrange?