I wish I could start this post with Maureen’s drawing of the North Pole, which she made last night left-handed, blind-folded and probably a little tipsy. It looked like a shrimp wearing a cowboy hat (the hat was apparently an igloo). I laughed so hard I cried, but unfortunately, the dry-erase board has since been wiped clean and nothing remains of the drawing. So sad. But back to the food, I have been seriously enjoying Marcus Samuelsson’s The Soul of a New Cuisine lately. The book is crammed full of beautiful pictures of Africa and intriguing recipes from all over the continent, each one loaded with spices. I am a little sad that the book is not divided by region or country, or at least indexed so that if you want to make, say an Ethiopian meal, you can easily find Ethiopian recipes. I also wish that all of the photographs were clearly captioned. But when the food tastes this good, those are small complaints.
Last night, I did my best to pull together an Ethiopian meal. I made the Tibs Wett and the Injera from Samuellson’s book (he calls the Tibs Wett “Stir-fried Beef Stew,” but don’t let that fool you). The Tibs Wett was fabulous. We didn’t splurge on the tenderloin he recommended (and couldn’t find the hangar, which might have been less expensive). But it was quite good with sirloin steak, and we really want to try it with lamb. The sauce was amazing, full of flavor and nuance, though it could have possibly used a little more heat. Sammuelson suggests serving it with Awase, which is a very spicy condiment, and next time I might just do that.
The injera was okay, Sammelson provides a simplified recipe that saves the home cook from the three-day process of making and fermenting the batter. But, I think I want a more traditional recipe. This injera just didn’t have the sour tang that the real stuff has. I also had some difficulty making my injera as thin (or as big) as they should be. However, when smothered with stew, the injera was quite tasty. The pancakes did a good job absorbing the sauce, and complimented the stew, so I’ve decided to go ahead and share the recipe. Just don’t expect it to taste like the injera you’ve had at a restaurant.
Spiced Butter (makes 1 1/2 cups)
Clarifying butter takes a while, so if you have access to clarified butter, you might want to skip to the seasoning portion of this recipe. I made a half recipe, because I wasn’t sure where else I would use spiced butter. Strictly speaking, you could just use butter in the Tibs Wett, but the spiced butter does add nuance to the sauce.
1 pound unsalted butter
1/2 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
one 3 inch piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
8 basil leaves.
1. Clarify the butter: melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir frequently. As foam rises to the top, skim and discard it. Continue until no more foam rises to the top.
2 Add the spices and continue cooking for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Remove from heat and let stand until the spices settle. Strain before using.
Butter can be stored in the fridge, in an air-tight container, for up to 3 weeks.
Tibs Wett (Serves 6 to 8)
1/4 cup spiced butter (see above) or 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup thinly sliced red onions
1 1/2 pounds hangar steak or beef tenderloin (or sirloin), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons Berbere or chili powder (I used chili powder)
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, preferably freshly ground
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black peopper
3 garlic cloves, cut into quarters
3 tomatoes, chopped, or 1 1/2 cups roughly chopped canned tomatoes
2 jalapeno chilies, seeds and ribs removed, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1. Melt the spiced butter in a wok or large skillet over high heat.
2. Add the onions and cook stirring constantly, until they begin to color around the edges, about 2 minutes.
3. Add the meat and sprinkle with salt. Stir-fry until browned on all sides (about 3 minutes per side)
4. Stir in the spices and garlic.
5. Carefully add the tomatoes, jalapenos, and wine. (Tilt the pan away from you to avoid the steam.)
6. Simmer for 1 minute, season with salt if desired.
Mock Injera (makes 12 flatbreads)
2 cups teff flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 cups club soda
2 tabespoons clarified butter
1. Whisk together dry ingredients.
2. Whisk together yogurt and club soda, then stir into the dry ingredients.
3. Add club soda as needed to obtain a smooth thin batter (strain to remove lumps if necessary).
4. Grease a large skillet with clarified butter over medium-high heat. Pour 1/2 cup batter into pan by starting at the center and spiraling out. Cook for 20 seconds. Put a lid on the pan and cook for 30 more seconds. Trasnfer to a plate and keep warm while you cook the remaining injera.