Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Ok, here's the injera I promised yesterday. It sat overnight and fermented (although it could have used another day I think) and I made the crepes this morning. For those of you wondering what the heck it is, it's basically a form of bread/crepe made in Ethiopia and parts of Africa. It is made with teff, a grain that is naturally gluten free. It can be found in Ethiopian restaurants and has a wonderful taste and texture.
If anyone is going to attempt this, I suggest heading over to Youtube and watching a few demonstrations. It's just like making a crepe-thin batter, spread it out, let it cook, slide it out-except for two very important differences. 1) do not flip the crepe, once it is done you simply slide it out of the pan. 2) once you pour the batter into the pan and spread it around, cover it for about 30 seconds. I figured it wasn't that important and did not cover it for one of the crepes and it promptly cracked and looked awful. So cover, Dear Chef.
Here is the recipe I used, which was modified from what I found online in a few places. In order to make these gluten free, it was important to use the teff flour only. In many restaurants, the teff is mixed with self-rising flour to make the injera more fluffly. Be careful if you're ordering it. Unfortunately, my favorite Ethiopian restaurant adds flour and I can't eat it there-I bring my own corn tortillas normally-but now I can bring my own injera! For my purposes and to make it lighter, I added a little sweet rice flour I had on hand. If you don't have that, don't worry.
1 cup teff flour
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
1 tsp salt
2 cups water
1. Mix flour and water together. Cover with a tea towel and let sit for 24 hours or more. The mixture will ferment and should have bubbles in it. Mine didn't have too many, but that wasn't a problem.
2. When you're read to cook, add the salt and mix the batter with a whisk.
3. Heat a non-stick skillet. For each crepe, spray a small amount of non-stick olive oil spray on the pan.
4. Take about 2/3 cup of the batter and pour into the pan, tilting pan to spread it around into a circle. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need a little more or less batter.
5. Immediately cover the pan and let it sit over medium heat for about 25 seconds.
6. Lift the lid and check the crepe. The edges should be just starting to curl. Take a think spatula and ease the crepe away from the pan and shake the pan to make sure it's loose.
7. Let the crepe cook for about 40-50 more seconds until all the edges are curled.
8. Slide the crepe onto a towel and let it dry completely. Don't stack or they will all stick together.
Viola! Not that hard, is it? Roll them up when they are cool and you're good to go! The bread is usually used to scoop up food that is placed on top of it. I've rolled them for ease but you could put your food right on top. I thought it would be more difficult. The injera has a wonderful nutty whole-wheat flavor, thanks to the teff, somewhat like a heartier crepe. As you can see in the photo, it has lots of bubbles like a pancake. Daughter had fun cooking them and we had a geography lesson as well as a cooking lesson.
Have fun and let me know how it goes if you try it.
Monday, January 18, 2010
It's time to study Africa during our World Geography class. I've been having a blast researching and teaching the class, and this week we're in Africa. I decided to try and cook something for class tomorrow and this is what I came up with after research on the Internet. Of course, I've been making something like this for years, but I'm trying to be authentic and use the spices and ingredients that are most prevalent in Africa. Of course, Africa is a huge place and there are many cultures and dishes. It's not easy trying to find something to represent a continent-sort of like trying to find a food to represent Asia. Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Indian....you get the point.
But I decided to go with the Moroccan Chickpea Stew I found, and believe it or not I'm trying to make injera, which is the answer to bread using teff flour (which happens to be gluten free, but we'll get into that later.) I'll tell you all about that tomorrow (it has to ferment overnight). First-the stew.
Rather than cook slowly most of the day on the stove, I opted for the crockpot, although I know that is probably not an ancient cooking process for Morrocans. But let's assume it is now, OK? Ingredients are all optional, add or replace anything you are not fond of. It tastes great and I'm not sure I can wait until tomorrow to eat it. I hope the kids like it...
Moroccan Chickpea Stew
3 cans chickpeas
3 cans diced tomatoes
1 medium potato, diced
1 large sweet potato, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chopped garlic
1. Saute onion for a few minutes with a little olive oil to soften.
2. Pour all ingredients into the crockpot and cook on high for 5 hours (6-8 on medium).
3. Test for doneness of the potatoes and then make sure you don't need more salt. Done.
4. Since peanuts are popular and often-used, I've garnished mine with a few warm peanuts.
It's that simple. The crunchiness of the garbanzos gives it so much depth, yet the sweetness of the yams is just heavenly. Go easy on the spices until you know for sure how much you like (and since I'm making this for the class, I want to be sure not to blow away the kids with too much spice.) I prefer to let the vegetables take over, rather than the spices anyway. I love the tartness of the tomatoes and the firmness of the white potatoes (which were not in the original recipe, but I had one around).
I don't drain the beans and that, along with the tomatoes, should be enough liquid. You should have enough to cover all ingredients, but if you don't-use a little veggie broth or water.
I'm making the injera tomorrow and that is typically used to scoop up the stew and soak in the food, instead of using a spoon. That's why you want the stew to be thick, not soupy. But if you like yours soupy, by all means add more broth. The best part of all this is that the entire stew is gluten free. And much of the food that I found for this lesson was gluten free. Wheat is not common on the continent, as far as I can see (we'll talk about htat tomorrow). And luckily, there are many vegetarian dishes to make.
Variations-add chopped kale, spinach or chard for color and texture. I've also heard that okra is a common veggie used so give that a try if you can find it. You can also add some cayenne pepper to give it a little kick, or add more of the spices to make it stronger. It's all up to you, Dear Chef.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Hungry for a snack but don’t know what you want? I had that very feeling around lunchtime today. I knew I wanted to eat something but didn’t want to make a huge meal. I wanted something substantial but easy.
I looked around the kitchen and saw the eggplant I bought yesterday, not knowing what I would do with it. It just looked too good to pass up. And I knew I’d think of something, and I just did. Baba ghanoush, or better know as eggplant dip, came to mind as I stood there. Luckily, I had everything at hand.
This didn’t take long, the most time needed is just for roasting the eggplant. Stick it in the oven, then get everything else ready. Follow these directions and you’ll be dipping in no time.
Eggplant dip (Baba ghanoush)
1 medium eggplant
1 tsp tahini
Juice from ½ lemon (mine was huge. If you have a small one, juice the whole thing)
Pinch of salt
¼ tsp garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp paprika
2 tsp olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cut eggplant in half longways. Lightly brush cut side with olive oil and place cut side down on a baking sheet.
3. Roast eggplant for 30 minutes or until soft. Depending on the size of your eggplant you may need more or less time. Mine was of medium size. Remove eggplant from the oven when it's soft. Scrape inside guts of eggplant into a small mixer or blender.
4. Add remaining ingredients except ¼ tsp paprika. Blend.
5. Taste and make sure you don’t need more lemon or salt. Add whatever you need to make you say out loud, “Yum, this is good.” Then you’re done.
5. Pour into a bowl and garnish with last ¼ tsp of paprika. (I also like to sprinkle a little dried parsley for color, but that's optional.)
You can chill this in the fridge if you want, but I had to eat a little first, I couldn’t resist. It’s wonderful warm or cold. The roasted eggplant gives it a warm, rustic taste and the aroma is heaven.Serve with just a few GF crackers and it's heaven. I think I need to buy another eggplant for tomorrow.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
I realized that when I my daughter is not home, I forget the responsibility to feed her and sometimes I don't realize I'm hungry until I'm starving! Today, I realized I hadn't eaten in many hours and my body was complaining. My first thought- what's in the fridge? I want pizza, but I want more than pizza. I want a salad, but I want more than salad. Why not put them together?
I split a pizza crust from glutenfreecreations.com in half. Using just half, which is about one slice of regular pizza, I sprinkled it lightly with garlic powder and basil. Then added just a little mozzarella cheese (use just a tiny bit, if you're nondairy you can leave it out or use your favorite kind). That went into a 350-degree oven for about 5 minutes.
While it was cooking, I made a small salad of greens and dressing (anything you like-mine was a favorite olive oil/balsmic/oregano mix). I mixed the greens well with just a little dressing (don't overdue it).
Finally, I pulled out the pizza, piled the greens on top, then topped with shaved Parmesan. (OK- you can see in the photo that I piled on a little too much. But I love Parmesan. You can go a little easy if you want!) Wow! The crunchiness of the crust with the garlic and cheese gave it a pizza feel, yet the greens are cold and crispy and the dressing give a wonderful tangy bite to the dish. It's a fabulous and quick treat. Why didn't I think of this before?
Husband suggested adding tomatoes and sliced pepperoncini, but I prefer to keep it clean, simple, and yummy. Add whatever you want, Dear Chef, it's totally up to you-but do this. You won't regret it. If you don't have a pre-made pizza crust in your freezer (I always do), try to make a small crust on your own. It's worth the effort-and best of all it's not that high in calories. Perfect with a glass of wine.
Oh, and there is a fork in the photo, but it wasn't needed. Just pick it up and dig in!