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A calm in the storm

Ok so I’ve had a bit of an issue with my macbook that stalled the production of any posting that I was going to to for April, May and June for that matter. The main issue was that the photos I took of my dishes were on my laptop hardrive and it crashed rather horribly. I was seeing if I could replace it before I started over but it appears I was plum out of luck on that front.

 

I’ve finally decided that I would post the recipes anyway and just not have the photos to go along with them.

Ethiopian Dinner

dorowat

Ethiopian dish served over Ethiopian flat bread

I’m back in business after a month hiatus due to moving into a new place.  Having boxes all over the place isn’t conducive to cooking!

In any case, I wanted to try an Ethiopian recipe this month.  After doing some research online I found a chicken recipe that seemed pretty good.  The nice thing about this recipe is that it’s a three in one.  So really it kinda makes up for my lack of cooking last month.  Having said that, today I will be blogging about three Ethiopian dishes : Doro Wat, Injera and Berberé.

To note : If you live somewhere like Gander, it might be a little difficult to get your hands on some of these ingredients.  I was able to find all of the important ones at least but it took a little extra work for some of them. Health food stores or international markets are likely your best friend for this dish.

Berberé : This is a spicy red pepper paste that is one of the ingredients for the main dish.  I strongly recommend that you start early in the day or make your Berberé the day before.  It’s also important to not that you need a coffee grinder and a food processor / blender for these recipes.

Ingredients :

  • 2 tps of whole cumin. I was unable to find them in whole form, so I had to settle with 2 tps of ground Cumin.
  • 1 to 2 tps of Red Pepper Flakes.
  • 1 tps of Cardamon seeds. This was something else I was only able to find the ground version of… honestly I doubt it makes that much of a difference.
  • 1 tps of Fenugreek seeds. I was able to find this in a small Pantry store in town.  Apparently its one of the most important spices for these types of recipes… so if you can’t find it you’re a not going to get the best results.
  • 8 to 10 whole peppercorns
  • 6 allspice berries – I was unable to find this in whole form… however I also messed up and thought I bought the ground stuff and actually forgot about it.  I was in mid production when I realized I forgot to buy it so I just proceeded without it.
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 3 to 4 dried chillies. I also had to find these in the small Pantry store.
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1.5 to 3 cloves of crushed garlic. If you don’t know how to crush garlic just look it up online.  I only used 1.5 for mine, as the Doro Wat recipe called for an equal amount of garlic, so I divided my 3 cloves between the two.  And honestly, 6 cloves would have been an awful lot of garlic.
  • 1 tbsp of Paprika
  • 1 tbsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of ground ginger
  • 1 tsp of turmeric
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup oil.  I used Safflower oil
  • 1/4 cup of Red Wine. If you don’t want to use wine water will also work.  I picked up some Barefoot Merlot from California.  It is labeled to go well with chicken / poultry.

Process :

  1. Lightly toast all your whole ingredients in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Be careful not to burn them, you need only heat them long enough to have their aroma come out.  Takes no longer than a 2 to 3 minutes. Stir them around constantly.
  2. Do the same for your dried chillies. These are really easy to burn so make sure you you flip them often. Toast these until they become soft.  Turn off your heat and chop each of them up into 3 or 4 pieces.  You can discard the seeds.
  3. Place all your toasted whole ingredients along with your chopped chillies into a coffee grinder and grind them up into a powder.
  4. Place the powder from the grinder into your food processor with the remaining ingredients and blend them into a paste.  When you are done, it should look like a nice orange paste.

You can store this in your fridge for about a week or you can also decide to freeze it in the freezer if you want.

The next thing you’ll want to make is the Injera.  This is probably the trickiest part of this recipe as it requires some special flour and if you don’t have an evenly heated surface it will make this very difficult.  Ideal would be to have a special made grill that can allow you to heat the whole surface at a specific temperature.  I was relying on the even heating of my cast iron frying pan.  I was also unable to get my hands on the required Teff flour (apparently this is pretty important to get the authentic taste and consistency).  So my recipe will be for the quick alternative method of making it.  The reviews on it seemed to be that this recipe will be good enough but not great. However, if you can get your hands on Teff flour, by all means look up the actual recipes online.  To note that some people commented that making the batter and letting it sit for a few days may yield better results.  I let it sit for a few hours, but not quite a few days.

Injera : Ehtiopian flat bread.

Ingregients :

  • 1 and 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 2 to 2 and 1/4 cups of Club Soda.
  • fresh squeeze lemon juice ( this is to add bitterness after they are done)

Process :

  1. Preheat your cast iron pan on low to medium heat.
  2. Mix your dry ingredients together and then mix in your club soda.  You should end up with something that looks like pancake batter.  You don’t want it too runny, nor do you want it too thick.  I’m not sure if I got this right or not to tell you the truth, but I was happy with the results.  You can add soda or flour accordingly to fix the consistency.
  3. Using a paper towel wipe down the surface of your pan with some oil then spread about 1/2 cup of batter onto the pan.  Be sure to flatten it out nicely and quickly with your spatula.
  4. Your injera will cook pretty quickly, 2-3 minutes tops.  When the bubbles on the top side begin to burst and dry out a bit, flip it over.  It shouldn’t take more than a minute on the second side to cook properly.
  5. Repeat this process until your batter is done. Make sure you wipe your pan with oil each time or you can make it difficult to flip.
  6. Brush each injrea with some lemon juice and then transfer them onto a pan and put into the oven on warm.

Note: I guess you could probably make the Injera while your Doro Wot is cooking… I however used that time to do the dishes.  These are pretty tricky to make them look authentic.  I found the approximate recipe to be pretty decent.  It was about 60% as stretchy as the real stuff.  I’m not sure about the flavour but I ate two of them while I was cooking the rest and I didn’t mind it at all.

 

Doro Wot : Ethiopian Chicken stew.

Ingredients :

  • Boneless skinless chicken. Recipe calls for 2 pounds.  I used 4  chicken breasts and cut them each into 3 equally square shaped pieces. It’s probably easier just to buy a pack of thicken thighs.  Recipe also says that drumsticks can be used.
  • Lemon juice – 1 to 2 lemons
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 1 to 2 chopped onions
  • 1.5 to 3 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp of peeled and chopped Gingerroot. I’m not sure how you are actually suppose to peel this stuff, but I just cut the skin off with a knife.  You lose a fair bit, but I bought way too much anyway.
  • 1/2 cup of Oil, butter or Niter Kibbeh. I used safflower oil again as 4 recipes were quite enough.  If you want to try the Niter Kibbeh you can look up a recipe. It is essentially a spicy clarified butter.
  • 2 tbsp of Paprika
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of Berberé
  • 3/4 cup of water or stock
  • 1/4 cup of red wine
  • 1 tsp of cayenne Pepper
  • *salt and pepper for flavour (this one depends on you… I grounded in a few dashes of peppercorn and left out extra salt.)

Process :

  1. Marinade your chicken pieces in a mixture of the salt and lemon juice for roughly 30 minutes.  If you do this first, if should be ready by the time you’re done the rest.
  2. Puree your onions, garlic and ginger in your food processor.  You may need to add a little water if necessary, my onion has plenty of juice in it.
  3. Heat your oil(or kibbeh) in a large pot on medium.  When its heated up add you paprika in and stir it to colour your oil.  This should take 1 to 2 minutes and you need to again be careful not to burn it.
  4. Add your Berberé into the pot and mix it together, letting it cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.  Again, stir it from time to time to make sure you don’t burn it
  5. Add in your onion-garlic-ginger puree and let it saute for about 5 to 10 minutes.  The goal is to reduce the moisture and nullify the raw onion aroma.  Again, stir this from time to time so you don’t burn it.
  6. Add in your stock/water, wine, Cayenne pepper and your chicken pieces (leave out the lemon marinade). Bring this to a bowl then drop the heat to low and cover the pot.
  7. Let it cook for 45 to 50 minutes. (you can check to make sure your chicken is cooked through, but after 45 minutes it should be)

I originally wanted to serve this with a little bit of rice on the side but it was pretty late so I just made due without the rice.  Serve up a few pieces onto one of your Injera and cover with sauce.

 

I was really impressed with this dish.  It was quite a bit of work, which I hadn’t really planned all that well but in the end it turned out quite delicious.  It turns out as a pretty spicy dish.  It is however a flavourful spicy and not an overly hot spicy. You can however, adjust the pepper intake of this if you wanted to make it very hot spicy.  Because I chose the wine to go well with with chicken I poured myself a glass to go along with the dish.  The flavour and aroma is pretty close to curry.  It is definitely a delicious, spicy chicken dish.

All my recipes were taken from www.whats4eats.com.  However I did cross reference them with a few other sites to make sure.

 

Get a loaf of that sweet christmas tree.

Get a loaf of that sweet christmas tree.

Alright, here is the first in my likely two part series of Banana Zucchini Loafs.  Why two parts you say?  Well because I still have 3 cups of frozen zucchini left that’s why.

So here goes, to start you will need the following :

  • 2 cups of self-rising flour
  • 3/4 cup of white sugar (I used organic sugar cane sugar)
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 of veg oil (I have been using Safflower oil)
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • 1/2 cup of chopped pecans
  • 1 cup of shredded zucchini (let the excess water drain out)
  • 1 cup of mashed banana
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of Vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 nine inch loaf pan (greased with butter)
  • 1 medium bowl and 1 large bowl.

Again, most of my ingredients are organic, but obviously it doesn’t make a difference if they are not.  I believe the Bananas, sour cream and nutmeg were all regular this time around.

Preparation :

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. If your zucchini is pre shredded and frozen like mine is you’ll want to place it in a strainer to let the excess water drain out. This could take 30 minutes to an hour if you don’t want a watery loaf.
  3. Since I was unable to find chopped pecans I just got a bag of pecans and chopped them up in a vegetable chopper, this took 2 minutes.
  4. Mash the bananas with a spoon, fork or anything else you can find that mashes.  1 cup was roughly 3 bananas.
  5. Whisk the flour, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt in the medium bowl. You can set this aside.
  6. In the large bowl you will want to mix the sugars, oil, sour cream, vanilla and bananas.
  7. Using a large wooden spoon, mix the medium bowl into the larger one.  By the time your done it should look a lot more doughy.
  8. Finally add in the zucchini and pecans (The recipe said “fold in”. I assume their dough was less runny than mine.  This is why I suggest letting your zucchini drain a little, I did not and the mixture was a little watery do to the extra water.  If yours does look watery don’t worry it will bake just fine )
  9. Pour your dough mix into the pan and place it in the oven.  The recipe called for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  I left it in for 1 hour and had to essentially bake it an extra 15 to 20 minutes because it wasn’t done yet (this may have something to do with the extra water from the Zucchini).  Like most other things if you can poke it with a toothpick and it comes out clean you are good to go.

Remember to allow your loaf to sit for roughly 20 minutes after its done.  I had zero trouble getting it out of the pan and we used very little butter to grease the sheet.

Verdict :

I have to admit it doesn’t really smell as pleasant as regular banana bread normally does.  It definitely is not a recipe that will knock you off your feet but I can assure you once you’re a few bites in you’ll be quite content.  I’m not sure if my bananas lost  a little flavour because I had to freeze them before hand,  but this loaf turned out with a very mild banana taste… which is pretty much the opposite of what I was expecting.  When you first bite into it you get a tangy flavour that I do believe is either from the zucchini or the sour cream.  However it only lasts a second or two before you get the sweeter hint of bananas followed by the cinnamon and nutmeg.  I should also note that the pecans are present as a background flavour as well.

 

I must admit, both my first bites last night and this morning were somewhat reluctant.  However, after the initial few seconds of tang goes away it goes down fast.  I can’t say yet if I prefer this over regular banana bread. It’s certainly a great way to get rid of your left over zucchini though.

 

Also, to be honest, I’d say it’s not a bad attempt at my first loaf period.  I look forward to seeing how the other recipe will stack to this one.

 

Out Of My Gourd?

Now That’s a Big ZucchiniNow that's a big Zucchini
ZUKE ANGRY! ZUKE SMASH!

 

I was talking to a friend about my chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes and her response was that I must really love Zucchinis since I kept baking all these zuke recipes.  Well I felt I should clear it up.  Although I do enjoy them, I have not gone bonkers for Zucchini.  I do, however, have something against wasting food.  So instead of using the zukes and then throwing away likely more than half, I was just shredding them and freezing them in the freezer.  I had some left over from the first batch and now I have some terrific news… we have more!  This was in our last delivery for the year and as you can see… they are pretty massive.  I was able to shred this guy down into 8 cups of mulchy zuke goodness today.  I am already researching a few recipes that should allow me to use it!

So just to clarify, I do not have any particular inclination towards zucchini… I just happen to have a lot of it to cook.
Ps. Zucchini.

Image

So the time had come to use up the rest of the shredded Zucchini that I had in the freezer from my last culinary endeavor.  I had also wanted to try out some cream cheese icing instead of peanut butter.  A friend of mine was nice enough to link me a recipe.

Good thing about this is that the recipe is exactly the same for the cupcakes as it is for the cake.  If you want to give it a try the recipe can be found here.  This time around I added one little tweak.  After the all the ingredients were added I added 1 cup of sour cream to moisten the cake.  It’s very simple, just do up the recipe like normal and beat in the sour cream just before you fill up your cupcake tin.  The other thing to note is that the cooking time is much shorter depending on the size of the cupcake tin.  Instead of 50 to 60 minutes let each batch for about 20 to 25 minutes.

The recipe for the cream cheese frosting is as follows :

Ingredients :

  1. 10 oz. cream cheese, chilled ( I used fat free )
  2. 6½ tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  3. 3¼ cups icing sugar
  4. 4 tsp. organic vanilla

Directions :

  1. Combine the cream cheese and the butter with an egg beater.  The cream cheese may stick into the middle of the beaters at first, but if you put it on high enough speed it will eventually all clear out. The mixture will fluff up nicely.
  2. Add your icing sugar gradually.  I was surprised how well it mixed if you did it in manageable portions.
  3. Add your vanilla and mix it well on med-high until you get a nice creamy frosting.

The recipe should give you more than enough for at least 24 cupcakes.  In fact I had some left over and actually doubled coated a few of them.

The recipe for the frosting was found at http://www.annies-eats.com

On a recent episode of Doc-Zone I learned that Moroccan food is known to be some of the least processed and freshest food in the world.  They often get their ingredients fresh from the market the same day that it’s cooked.  Wouldn’t that be something?

Either way, they are also known for their CousCous recipes.  Seemed like a great place to start my journey into cooking.  So here we go!

 

Ingredients :

  • 4 Boneless Skinless chicken Thighs (I used a whole package expecting left overs)
  • Half a cube of chicken stock / bouillon.
  • Half a red bell pepper
  • 1 tsp or 5ml ground cinnamon
  • A pinch of Saffron or 1 tsp of Turmeric if you don’t feel like paying a zillion dollars for the Saffron (I chose the expensive route)
  • 2 tbsp / 30ml olive oil
  • 1 small onion (I used an organic table onion, but any onion should do)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (I was lucky that we were given two cloves from the farm deliveries)
  • 2 tbsp or 30 ml honey
  • chilli powder – recipe calls for 1/2 a tsp but you add as much as your taste buds can handle
  • 100g of cous cous (I used roughly half of a 284g box, again expecting left overs)
  • juice from half a squeezed lemon
  • Salt and Pepper
  • I added in some Mushrooms just because we had them and they weren’t being put to good use.

Prep :

  1. Chop up your onion, mushrooms and bell peppers into small squares
  2. Garlic should be chopped into very fine pieces, as small as you can.
  3. Crumble the half cube of chicken stock and add in the pinch of saffron (or your tsp of turmeric)
  4. Bring 300 ml of to a boil and add in the stock and spice.  Set this aside and let it sit while you work on the rest.

Steps :

  1. Use the 30 ml of oil to oil up a large skillet or frying pan, One with a cover.  Once it’s heated throw in your chicken thighs.
  2. On medium to low heat you want to cook your chicken thighs through.  Should take roughly 5 to 10 minutes.  Be sure to flip them often to make sure the chicken is cooked through
  3. Add Onions, garlic, red pepper and mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes. Remember keep stirring it from time to time so you don’t over cook one side of the thighs.
  4. Add cinnamon, chilli power and honey and your chicken stock/spice mix
  5. Bring it to a simmer (barely boiling) and cover, letting it cook for 15 minutes.
  6. While the chicken cooks you can bring the amount of water indicated on your cous cous package to a boil, for me it was 2/3 cup of water.
  7. Once it’s boiling add in your cous cous and stirr for a few minutes.  Then cover your pot and let it sit.  If you’ve never made cous cous before it will quickly absorb the water… don’t panic it’s supposed to do that.
  8. Once your 15 minutes is up transfer your chicken thighs over to your pot with the cous cous.  This is just to keep them warm and get them out of your skillet for the time being.
  9. Turn up your heat and reduce the sauce down to 1/3 of its original level.  It should take roughly 5 minutes and you’ll notice the sauce will become a little thicker.
  10. Finally pour in the lemon juice and get ready to serve.  You can re transfer the chicken back to  your sauce if you want to get it out of the way to manage and fluff up your cous cous.

Cover roughly 1/3 of your plate with the cous cous, and two or three chickens thighs ( depending on how big they are) and then top with your sauce.  I was extremely rushed to get to a night shift when I made this so I didn’t actually have time to prepare some greens to put on the side but that is certainly possible.  I would likely have chopped up a bit of shard although I would have guessed that steamed asparagus would have also been a great choice.

Moroccan Chicken Cous Cous
Missing some green, but still very delicious.

 

The verdict on this dish is very good.  I was quite surprised at how the garlic, onions and cinnamon came together to create a caramel flavour.  The chicken was extremely juice and the cous cous added that extra substance.  I enjoyed every single bite… even the left overs were delicious.  This is a recipe that I will definitely make again.  I would guess a nice red wine would go very well with this dish, although I am no expert at matching wines with plates just yet.

Image

So after trying to figure out what to do with the massive organic Zucchini we had gotten from our farm delivery last month I decided I would try out a cake.  When I was younger my mom used to get me to eat zucchini cake by not telling me there was anything else in there.  I was only told I had eaten my first piece that it was a chocolate zucchini cake instead of just chocolate.  But at that point I didn’t care too much because it was clearly delicious.  I wanted to try it out for myself, except this time the real challenge was to make the cake entirely, or as close to entirely as possible, out of organic ingredients.  Lucky for me the Organic section out in Dominion had pretty much everything I was looking for.

If you want to make it yourself and you don’t want to spring the extra coin for organics you can certainly just scratch out the word “organic” and it should turn out just as good.

Ingredients.

1 3/4 cups organic sugar cane sugar
1/2 cup organic safflower oil
3 organic eggs
2 teaspoons organic vanilla
2 cups coarsely shredded organic zucchini
2 1/2 cups organic whole wheat flour
2/3 cup organic cocoa powder (more or less depending on how you like it)
2 1/2 teaspoons organic baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons organic baking soda
1 teaspoon salt (I couldn’t find any organic salt… but it’s friggin salt, who cares)
2 teaspoons organic ground cinnamon
1/2 organic milk (I used skim, I’m sure 1% or 2% would also work)

You’ll also need :

  1. A cheese grater to grate up the zucchnini
  2. 2 large bowls
  3. Any type of cake pan you want to use, I ended up using a round one.
  4. Strainer* (It’s not required, however from what I read it’s a good idea to let the zucchini shavings drain out some of it’s water for a little while before starting to cook this)
  1. First you want to shred the entire Zucchini using a cheese shredder (large holes, not the small ones) into your strainer and let it sit for a while to drain out most of the water. (You’ll be surprised how much water there is in a zucchini)
  2. Preheat your oven to 350F
  3. In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients EXCEPT the sugar.  It’s easier to do this first as you don’t want to do it after you have half the cake mix done and have to wait.
  4. In your other large bowl beat sugar, oil and eggs.  After that is mixed add the vanilla and zucchini.  It will look pretty mulchy after this part but trust me when you mix it all together and cook it you won’t even notice the zucchini anymore.
  5. Add the dry mixture alternately to the wet mixture using your half cup of milk.
  6. Blend well.
  7. Pour into a 10-inch tube or Bundt pan
  8. Bake in oven at 350F for 50 to 60 minutes. (I think I did roughly 55 and it turned out good.  Best to do 50 and then wait a little longer if needed.)
  9. Let it stand for 10 minutes or so after you take it out.

Now for the frosting I decided chocolate would go well with Peanut butter.

Ingredients :

  1. 1/2 cup organic peanut butter (try to get the stuff that isn’t mixed with the oil… it’s already pretty soft and thus you won’t need to microwave it to soften it first.  Just mix it together and poor it into your measuring cup.)1 tbsp organic milk (This is a ridiculous under estimate.  You will need a lot more than this.)

    1/2 tsp oragnic vanilla

    1 ½ cups of oragnic powdered sugar (if you can find it… I wasn’t able to)

The process is fairly easy.  However I would suggest you keep a wooden spoon handy for this part.

  1. Beat the vanilla, milk and peanut butter in a bowl for as long as it will allow you to.  It should be ok add this point.
  2. Add in your frosting 1/4 cup at the time.  When the frosting becomes too hard add in another tbsp of the milk. After my first quarter cup of sugar I had to ditch the beater and use a wooden spoon.  All the peanut butter just got stuck in the blades.
  3. Continue to add sugar and milk incrementally until you have no sugar left and the consistency is to your liking.  Remember it has to be soft enough to spread onto a cake, but not too soft that it will run off and not stick to it.

I was able to cover the entire cake with roughly 1/4 inch of peanut butter frosting.  To be safe I put the cake in the fridge when I wasn’t eating it to make sure peanut butter didn’t melt away and make a mess.

I was very pleased with this recipe.  Not only did it make a great use for the zucchini, but it was actually really good and surprisingly healthy tasting.  I could taste the very slight difference in the whole wheat flour from the regular flour but that was it.  I brought it into work and it was gone by Lunch time.

And the best part is, I still have 3 cups of shredded zucchini in my freezer waiting.  I believe I will try the recipe on some cupcakes with a cream cheese icing.

Mmmmmm

The frosting recipe was taken from Families.com.  They had their own version of the cake recipe there as well.
The recipe for the cake was taken from Riverglenfarm.ca. A website for Riverglen Biodynamic Farms, located in Ottawa’s greenbelt.