Sunday, October 11, 2009

I TOLD you I'd Do It!!

I meant it when I said I will make anything someone suggests and that's exactly what I did tonight! While the Congo isn't a place I can imagine wanting to visit, I wouldn't mind trying some local cuisine native to that crazy part of the world. So I'm doing some research on Congolese recipes and unfortunately many of them had Okra as an ingredient... Now, I love me some veggies but Okra for SURE is not something I ever want in my mouth... That slimy texture mixed with a generally bad taste is enough to produce a slight projectile of vomit... Luckily I was able to find a nice chicken dish that is wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. Sounds interesting and healthy... LET'S DO IT!

There are some Vietnamese dishes I make requiring banana leaves so I good thing I already had some in stock. Only problem is I hate and will never be good at wrapping the damn things! None the less, I always put up a good fight so those banana leaves can suck it!

  • 8 banana leaves soaked in hot water for 30 minutes
  • 1/2 cup yellow mung beans soaked in hot water for 1 hour
  • 1/2 lbs chicken cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 onion chopped (size is up to your preference)
  • 1/2 peanuts
  • paprika, salt, pepper, red chili pepper flakes
  1. boil the peanuts in water for 15 minutes
  2. reduce to simmer and smash peanuts using a potato masher
  3. add chicken and mung bean to peanut mixture and simmer for 10 minutes
  4. take two banana leaves and slightly overlap the leaves
  5. sprinkle the leaves with salt and pepper
  6. spoon 1/4 of meat/peanut mixture on leaves
  7. sprinkle paprika and pepper flakes
  8. wrap the leave much like you would a burrito and tie with string to keep closed
  9. steam for 1 hour
This wrapping and tying business is no easy feat! The banana leaves can tear and trying to hold it together while you tie is no fun! But I got it done, steamed those mofos, and the result...

It was just aaiiiiiight... nothing to recommend... If you look at the ingredients you know it's going to be bland. I was very tempted but was able to resist the urge to use more spices. The good thing was that the onions were super soft and the beans and chicken did have the banana leaf flavor which made it better.... but just .. meh...

But wait!! It didn't just stop there! Since I had to wait a full hour for it to steam, I decided to make a dessert which I picked out of the Omaha World Herald a couple of weeks ago. It sounded so good and I haven't had a chance to make it yet... so I thought this would be a perfect time. This dish turned out even better than the picture in the paper and I will have to post the recipe because it was BO------- OMB! Just to give you a looky looky at it, here's a picture I took after I took the crust out of the oven. The crust is
topped with a honey cream cheese sauce, then a white wine fig caramel sauce, topped with freshly cut figs! Normally I would tell you to enjoy, but the enjoyment is all mine this time!!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

From Waleed to Habibi

Two Questions...

1. What one thing can put you in a good mood?
I think everyone has a pretty good idea of what can instantly turn a frown upside down. Personally if I'm stressed at work or just ran out of Diet Sunkist, I turn to a good old home cooked meal to calm my A down!

2. How can you show your support without actually being there?
While I'm not the best person to talk to about things on your mind, I for sure will see what I can do in the kitchen for you!

Today's blog entry is a little special in that normally, my recipes are inspired by something random like a weird holiday or child labor... you know... But today I'm making a classic recipe in my own cookbook simply in support of la meilleur amie! Weiso nicht!? You know how good friends have "their song" or "their dance"... well this recipe is considered "our recipe". It is the one thing we ALWAYS make when we get together and is always a crowd pleaser! Of course since it's a homemade recipe, I can't give accurate measurements but I'll do my best with this legendary recipe we like to call Beef Bread!!

INGREDIENTS: (makes 8)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • yeast (placed in 1/2 cup warm water for 5 minutes)
  • 1 tbsp ricotta cheese
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp chopped basil
  • 1 cup chopped spinach
  • 1/4 lb ground beef or veal
  • 1/4 cup of split mung bean (already soaked in water)
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seed
  • 6 cardamon seeds
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 3 tsp mirador (I have a hard time finding substitutes for this)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek powder
  • 1/2 tsp cardamon powder
  • freshly ground cracked pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped parsley
To make the dough, mix all ingredients above in brown. Add flour if necessary to make sure you get the right dough consistency. Place the dough in a warm place (like the microwave) for 30 minutes to allow it to rise to around double the original size. While that doughy mess is doing it's thing, it's time to make the meat mixture! Soooooo meaty.... (for you Talk Soup fans out there) All the ingredients for the meat are above in purple. Below are the steps to prepare the meat.

1. heat up olive oil in frying pan
2. add cardamon seeds and cumin seeds (this gives the oil flavor)
3. once the seeds are brown, add the chopped onion and cook until transparent
4. Add meat, split mung beans, and spices. (hold off on the parsley for now)
5. Cook and mix until the meat is fully cooked and plac
e in separate bowl when done

By now the dough should be ready. Take the dough and split it up into balls the size of eggs. Using a rolling pin, make circular thin discs with each ball of dough. Spoon a good portion of the meat mixture on half of the circle. Finally fold the dough in half over the meat mixture and pinch the edges to close. It will look like an empanada (but will taste waaaay better! Trust me!) Oh and try not to go all crazy with the meat stuffage, as I'm sure many of you like to do, because you will just end up ripping the dough... Why do all my instructions sound so sexual??? ANYWAY.... While you are doing this for the rest of the dough heat your oven to 550 degrees. Seems super hot but you need the heat to get that darn yeast to rise even more! Once all the beef bread is done, place it on a greased pan, brush egg over the bread, and bake for 10 minutes. It should be a nice Egyptian-Pyramid-Hidden-Treasure-Golden brown. Let it cool for a bit and enjoy!!!DPM

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Keeping Warm Amidst a Cold Omaha Afternoon

As is a norm with Omaha weather, it seems as if we have migrated over to Winter skipping Fall completely. I don't even think the trees in my yard have had time to change color... As I sit in my cold house thinking of way to warm up I try a couple of things:

Go to the gym and get my body warmed up
Take a hot shower
Wear baggy oversized lounge clothes

Despite accomplishing all of the above, I think
what my body was really in need of was a warm meal! Normally for purposes of this blog, I find strange and exotic recipes to try to make. But more often than not, I have an arsenal of recipes under my belt as well. Normally I'm not a fan of salads, especially on a cold day, but I do have warm salad I like to prepare that is derived from Mediterranean style salads using cracked wheat. Not only is the salad easy to prepare, it's nutritious and FAR from being a boring salad.

  • 1/4 cup of cracked wheat (cooked in boiling water or stock until soft)
  • 1/2 yellow squash
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 2 radishes
  • chopped cilantro
  • chopped spinach
  • ginger/garlic paste
  • ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chick peas
Since I had my Oktoberfest meal a couple of days ago, I decided to chop some of my Weisswurst and place it in the salad. Basically I cook the yellow squash, chick peas and Weisswurst in a frying pan using the ginger/garlic paste and black pepper as seasoning. While it is cooking I chop the carrots, radishes, cilantro and spinach. Once everything is done, on a large plate I first place the cracked wheat, then the warm contents from the pan, then finally topped everything off with a mixture of my chopped veggies. This is definitely a recipe I recommend trying as it is easy to modify with your own spices and veggies of your choice. The warm moist cracked wheat mixed with the warm veggies and cold crisp veggies make a PERFECT combination. Don't believe me?? Look at this beauty! I have to hold back from stuffing my face. Like I said... FAR from boring. Enjoy!!


Friday, October 2, 2009

Gut, gut, super gut! Alles super gut!

What better way to bring in October than a good o
l' Oktoberfest meal! If anyone has ever been to an Oktoberfest celebration, you'll know that there are many yummy German dishes to be eaten. But really, what comes to your mind when you hear Oktoberfest? Unless you have an unusual fetish for fat middle-aged men playing a tuba wearing lederhosen, you're probably thinking BEER AND BRATWURST! Honestly I'm not a big fan of bratwurst, but I figured maybe I'll make them from scratch, pork casing and all, and see how they turn out. Doing some analysis and requirements gathering, I came across a Bavarian sausage recipe traditionally prepared for Oktoberfest called Münchner Weißwurst. This Munich-style White Sausage is made of veal, pork, and an interesting combination of spices and is often served with German-style cole slaw and pretzels. For sure I do not like cole slaw but I love me a buttery piece of knotted bread so I decided to also make some homemade pretzels to compliment my white wiener friends. For dessert I chose something called rnchen which is a strange derivation of a croissant that can be filled with sweet ooze such as jam. Of course I'm not cooking for Oktoberfest without Bavarian bier so I grabbed a bottle while gathering ingredients... sooooo let's see how things turned out!!!

INGREDIENTS (for six links)
  • 300 g lean veal meat
  • 150 g lean pork meat
  • 200g bacon
  • 18 g salt (It seems like a lot, but don't be scurrred)
  • 2 g fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 g dried lemon peel
  • pinch of dried ginger
  • pinch of ground cardamon
  • pinch of ground mace
  • 1 medium onion
  • 20g chopped parsley
  • yucky slimy pork casing (you'll need around a half a meter)
As you can tell, the origins of this recipe are not that of America by the use of the metric system. All I know is, I'm glad my measuring tools also use the metric system... otherwise I would have made some interesting wieners. Basically the directions are simple. Grind all the meat, add spices, and throw in the chopped onions and parsley. I happen to have a baby-sized food processor so this actually took several steps. After the sausage mixture is complete, the fun begins - taking the slimy, used-condom material called pork casing and stuff it with wiener meat!! As I am a virgin to stuffing sausage, I don't own a devise that will stuff the meat in the casing. I was able to find something online briefly explaining how to stuff by hand. I figured that so far I've made everything from scratch, so why not do this on my own!

I'm not going
to point fingers or anything... but that website is complete BS!! There is seriously no way to stuff those gross intestines with meat by hand!! If using my already greasy hands to hold the casing wasn't bad enough, forcing meat into the casing little by little can be compared to red bloods cells trying to get through a clogged artery that's been exposed to a little too much Long John Silvers... Frustrated and defeated I gave up and stared at the mess I made... As I'm drinking my Bavarian Bier, I asked myself...

"What would MacGyver do??"

Granted I don't have a soft and fluffy mullet, but there's got to be something around my house that I could use to stuff that GD casing!! As I scan through the kitchen, there were some candidates...

funnel - nah... too narrow
bubble tea straw - better.. but still too narrow
St. Bernard - as I'm scannin
g the room for items my dog was scanning the kitchen for food

Then, like a ray of light, my miracle stuffing tool was waiting to assist me in my quest to finish an Oktoberfest meal. A 1-liter pet bottle that was previously filled with strawberry flavored sparkling water. I cut that thing in half before it had a chance for a final prayer, put the end of the casing around the opening, and stuffed stuffed STUFFED! By now I've finished around 63% of my bier so the actual stuffing process seemed amusing at the time and I started giggling to myself like Hansel when Gretel got candy stuck in her hair... Here is a picture of my beautiful contraption that saved the meal!! It did take a while to get the meat through but it was worth it!! And the results....

Look at these wieners! Don't you just want to shove one down your mouth?!??

After the casing incident, I placed the lucky links into a pot of 175 degree water and added some largely chopped onions for flavor. While this was cooking I made the pretzels and Hörnchen and before I knew it....


Even though the water fully cooked the Weißwurst, I decided to pan fry the plump meat rods with some asparagus and onions. The end result? I LOVED LOVED LOVED the Weißwurst!! WAY better than anything you'll buy at the store! Not only was it less greasy, the flavor was out of this world and definitely worth the manual pork case stuffing!! This just goes to show that any German food with an Eszett AND Umlaut in the name equates to pure yumminess!
For those of you celebrating Oktoberfest, try something new this year and bring a little piece of Germany into your own kitchen! And with that, I leave you with one of the most provocative and emotion inducing music videos from Germany... enjoy!!