Saturday, November 17, 2012

Almost Ethiopian Food -- Recipes for a Kinda Doro Wat (Chicken and Egg Stew) and Kale and Mushroom Saute

Kay's vintage cookbook.
I find my friends Welch and Kay Warren very inspiring in so many ways, but their recent visit to Ethiopia really had a major impact on me. They brought back stories about people, places and food that were vivid and involving. Their connection with Ethiopia goes back decades, since Kay had been among the first Peace Corps volunteers there in the 1960s. She generously shared an Ethiopian-American cookbook she brought back from that experience with me that really added insight into traditional ingredients and techniques.

I've made some adaptations in those traditional ways, however. Berebere, a basic spice mixture, can be hard to find, although more and more markets are carrying it and it is available online from a variety of resources.  Just in case you are like my friend Sam and live far from a specialty market, you can't wait for the spice to be delivered by UPS or you get the urge to cook this when the stores aren't open, I've given an alternative based on chili seasoning.  

An important component of any Ethiopian meal is injera, the teff-based, fermented flat bread used as a platter as well as a way to scoop up the food and eat it.  (Traditionally, Ethopian food  is eaten with one's hands.)  It is available in some specialty stores and can be bought to-go from Ethiopian restaurants, but these dishes taste just as good served with crusty bread, ladled over rice or millet and eaten with a fork.

My local resource for Ethiopian products also has a thriving mail order business for spices and other ingredients and I recommend Brundo very highly.  If you are in the Oakland, CA, area, try Brundo's affiliated restaurant, Cafe Colucci and consider attending one of the organization's excellent Ethiopian cooking classes.  The Brundo website also has many Ethiopian recipes.   I buy my injera from them as well.  I have noticed that local Whole Foods and other specialty supermarkets have started carrying a packaged brand of injera (sometimes spelled enjera) from Sheba Foods of Oakland (watch for the opening of Sheba's online store).

The recipes below were adapted to celebrate the Ethiopian Jewish holiday of Sigd (celebrated earlier this week) which commemorates the acceptance of the Torah.  Accordingly the recipes have been adapted to not mix meat with dairy products.  The chicken recipe is my verison of a wat (also spelled wot), or stew.  The kale dish is based partly on some the the vegetable dishes I've eaten at Cafe Colucci and elsewhere and Welch's description of a dish he ate with gusto during their recent trip to the country.
Chicken and Egg Stew
(Kinda Doro Wat)
Serves 4-6

Although a more authentic recipe would use spiced clarified butter and not offer a substitute for the berbere, this very satisfying dish is firmly rooted in Ethiopian seasonings and cooking technique. 

3 lbs. chicken thighs, bone-in
Juice of 1 lemon
6 cups chopped red onion
1/2 cup water
2-3 Tbs. spice mix (see recipe below) or berbere
2 tsp. minced fresh garlic
1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup spice oil (see recipe below) or canola oil
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. plus 1 Tbs. tomato paste
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled

Place chicken in bowl, add lemon juice and cover with water.  Let sit 1 hour.  Place onion in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Cook, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes until onions are softened and beginning to color. (Yes, you cook the onions without oil at first.) Add 1/2 cup water, spice mix, garlic, ginger, spice oil, pepper, salt and 1 Tbs. tomato paste. Mix and add drained chicken (discard lemon water) and stock.  Stir.  Raise heat to high, bring to a simmer, cover and adjust heat.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.  Uncover and keep at simmer.  Mix in 1 Tbs. tomato paste.  Prick eggs with fork, add to stew.  Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is done. (If necessary, remove chicken and eggs. Boil down sauce, stirring frequently, until it is thick but still a bit soupy.)  Remove chicken skin before serving if desired.
Kale and Mushroom Sauté
Serves 2-3 as main course, 4-6 as a side dish

Beef this vegan dish up by adding 2 cups of cooked lentils when you add the water and tomato paste, adding additional tomato paste and water to taste. 

2 cups chopped red onion
1/2 cup plus 1 cup water
2 Tbs. spice mix (see recipe below) or berbere
1/4 cup spice oil (see recipe below) or canola oil
1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
2 tsp. minced fresh garlic
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 lb. small brown or white mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
1 Tbs. tomato paste
1 bunch (1/2 lb.) kale, chopped
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes

In a large skillet, cook onions until softened and beginning to color, stirring often.  Add 1/2 cup water, spice mix, spice oil, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Add mushrooms and sauté until just softened.  Add 1 cup water and tomato paste.  Stir. Add kale.  Sauté until cooked through.  Remove from heat and stir in tomatoes.  
Spice mix --  Mix together the following ground spices:  4Tbs. chili seasoning powder, 2 Tbs. paprika, 2 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. each cardamom, dried ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, cloves, black pepper and allspice.  Store in airtight container.
Spice oil -- Heat 1/2 cup canola oil until hot.  Turn off heat.  Add 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger, 1 tsp. chopped fresh garlic, 2 Tbs. chopped onion and the following ground spices: 1/4 tsp. turmeric, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/8 tsp. cardamom.  Once cool, strain, discarding solids.  Store in airtight container.
Adapted from my column which originally appeared in j. weekly.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

World Diabetes Day Awareness -- Plus an Easy (and Healthy) Foil-Baked Steamed Fish Recipe

Today is World Diabetes Day, devoted to bringing awareness to diabetes and its impact on individuals and society.

All well and good, but why am I writing about this on a food blog?

Well, what we eat can be key to preventing and controlling this disease that affects an estimated 346 million people worldwide.

Carolyn Ketchum of the blog All Day I Dream About Food organized this food blog response to the day  and you can view her round up (and information on two giveaways, including a blue Kitchen Aid mixer), here.  You can also view the participating blogs and their posts by logging into Twitter and checking the hashtag #worlddiabetes.

She gave food bloggers the challenge of coming up with low carb, low sugar healthy foods to feature to bring awareness to disease which diet plays such an important role in prevention and or control.

For more about WDD, please check out this World Health Organization site on the day.  The WHO expects the number of diabetics worldwide to double by 2030. 

Type 2 diabetes, once called adult onset, is rising in youths perhaps because of sedentary ways and overly processed, simple carb and sugary carb-laden diets.  This is a true tragedy because with proper diet and exercise, this disease can be avoided or its impact lessened. A proper diet can also help some Type 2 diabetes sufferers avoid using insulin or other drugs to manage their disease. The disease is caused by the body's inability to effectively use the insulin it produces.

Type 1 diabetes, once called juvenile brittle, childhood-onset or insulin-dependent, is usually first seen at a young age and is "characterized by a lack of insulin production" by the pancreas, according the the WHO site.

The third type is gestational diabetes which occurs during pregnancy.

While I'm writing this blog post in an more or less informational, reportorial way, please know that while I do not have diabetes myself, my life has been touched in significant ways by family and friends whose lives have been changed forever by this disease.

As my contribution to the World Diabetes Day food blog round up, I've adapted a recipe for tasty fish fillets baked in individual foil packets.  The dish is very flexible, uses no added fat, is easy to clean, leaves no fishy cooking orders and very delicious.  Plus, when the packets are opened by the diners it creates quite an impact.

I've made many variations of this over the years, including other seasonings and ingredients (adding chopped orange segments works really well), but this is the basic approach.  Serve with sauteed greens (I like chard or spinach best with this dish), mashed or pureed steamed or roasted cauliflower or even quiona or a whole grain (such as brown rice).

Continue reading for my basic foil-baked steamed fish recipe.