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Archive for the ‘Foods’ Category

Our next eating local recipe is one of my own creation!  I am not a big fan of eggplant (too slimy!), so I wanted to come up with a creative way for me and T to enjoy these little gems.  We recently went to an Ethiopian restaurant in Bloomington after T had been to one out east on business, and were convinced we could duplicate the dishes we had in the restaurant at home.

We started out by fermenting our own injera!  It wasn’t a total disaster, but can definitely be improved upon. We discovered that we needed to make some niter kibbeh and berbere paste to make any and all Ethiopian recipes.  We made a lentil dish, and a beef dish (subbing local bison for the beef) and we had a lot of niter kibbeh and berbere paste left over.

IMG_0177

Baby oriental eggplants from the farmer's market!

Thus spawning the idea for the eggplant!  We had some leftover local pork sausage in the fridge, so not only was it superbly fresh and local, we didn’t let anything go to waste.  Oh, and the green onions were from my garden!

Ethiopian Spiced Baby Eggplant

Ethiopian Spiced Baby Eggplant

Ingredients:

12 baby oriental eggplants, roughly the same size, sliced symmetrically

½ pound ground pork

6 tablespoons berbere paste

4 tablespoons niter kibbeh, melted

¼ cup Greek yogurt

Thinly sliced green onions or chives for garnish

  1. After slicing the eggplants symmetrically, scoop out the seeded part in the globe of the eggplant. Discard scooping.
  2. Brush eggplant slices with niter kibbeh and place on grill to cook until lightly browned and softened. Remove from heat and set aside, tenting with foil to keep warm.
  3. While eggplant halves are cooking, brown ground pork with a tablespoon of niter kibbeh in a skillet.
  4. Add beriberi paste to cooked ground pork, stirring until incorporated and warmed.
  5. Stuff pork into spooned out eggplant and top with a dollop of Greek yogurt, a few drops of melted niter kibbeh, and a sprinkle of green onions or chives.
  6. Enjoy!

Niter kibbeh is an Ethiopian-spiced, clarified butter. For each pound of unsalted butter, add:

2 cloves garlic

2 teaspoons ginger root, finely chopped

½  teaspoon ground turmeric

½  teaspoon ground cardamom

1/8th teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8th teaspoon ground fenugreek

½-inch cinnamon stick (half inch)

1 whole clove

Let butter and spices simmer very gently (do not let the butter brown or burn) for 30 minutes. When cool enough to handle, strain butter through cheesecloth until clear, meaning no spices or butter solids remain. This will remain fresh for 3 months in the refrigerator in a sealed jar.

Berbere paste is a red pepper and spice paste indigenous to Ethiopia. It requires many ingredients, but is very easy to make. For a great recipe, visit PepperFool!

Before I scooped out any potential goopiness.

Before I scooped out any potential goopiness.

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The Great Gardens restaurant off of Georgetown Rd in Indianapolis is by far and away the best Asian food I’ve ever had!  We went for a late lunch on a Friday and were greeted with a warm, friendly entrance that exuded a lovely, welcoming ambiance.

An old wood fountain and stools

An old wood fountain and stools

Fortunately for us, the dim sum place that was recommended to us originally by friends was “Closed for Renovations” (read: health code violations?) and I happened to have the address of this restaurant as a backup.  A quick reference to Google Maps on T’s cell phone, and we were on our way to the best, BEST dim sum experience I could have ever hoped for!

We walked in and were instantly greeted and seated in the large, open dining area.  The tables and chairs were simple, clean, and well dressed with teacups, chopsticks, and napkins.  We didn’t get in for lunch until about 1:30, but there were several tables of customers finishing their meals.  The old adage “go where the line is the longest” or “where the locals eat” holds true here–even though there wasn’t a line, we were certainly the minority.

Our lovely hostess opened our chopsticks, broke them apart, and arranged the plates with great care.  She instructed us to indicate what we wanted to order on the full-color paper menus, each featuring a picture of what you were about to enjoy.  Reading the reviews from another blogger, I knew we had to try the seaweed roll, deep fried taro, and shrimp dumplings.  As we were deciding, the hostess returned and said, “You must try this, it is very good,” and helped round out our order to seven dim sum total.  As we were looking for more things to order, she stopped us and said, “Seven will be enough.”  She knew we were noobs, and took good care of us.

Our first two dim sum arrived in record speed—the seaweed roll and stuffed green peppers.  They were perfectly hot and crisp and the smell of fresh oil very quickly took over our senses.  The seaweed roll was filled with what we suspected was fresh shrimp, and the stuffed green peppers had a combination of ground pork deliciousness and a breaded topping.

Seaweed roll (4) $3.20

Seaweed roll (4) $3.20

Stuffed Green Peppers (Jalapenos) (3)  $2.80

Stuffed Green Peppers (Jalapenos) (3) $2.80

Our first bites of dim sum were unrivaled by any other Asian cuisine I’ve ever had.  Ever.  It was that good.  The freshest ingredients, prepared with expertise and a diligence to quality, was apparent in these two (and the other 5) dishes.  We ate these quickly (perhaps too quickly, as I burned my mouth on the seaweed roll, happily), and right as we finished, our next three plates arrived.

Shrimp Dumplings (4) $2.80

Shrimp Dumplings (4) $2.80

Our hostess advised us to start with the deep fried taro, as the shrimp dumplings and the chive pork dumplings were still steaming in their baskets.  I have always wanted to try taro, and I’m glad I did it this way.  The outside was delicate and crispy, and the inside was like the consistency of a mashed potato.  There was what I could only describe as “Chinese gravy” inside of the soft taro, and I began to wonder why no one had thought of making deep fried mashed potatoes and gravy (coming to a carnival near you, summer 2009).  The shrimp dumplings, and the chive pork dumplings, were simple and delicious; a few ingredients artfully prepared.

Deep fried taro. It's like mashed potatoes stuffed with Chinese gravy, and fried.  In other words, heaven.

Deep fried taro. It's like mashed potatoes stuffed with Chinese gravy, and fried. In other words, heaven.

Chive Pork Dumpling (3) $2.80

Chive Pork Dumpling (3) $2.80

Another blogger insisted that anyone visiting Great Gardens should order the rice in lotus leaf.  I’m always up for trying something new, so we asked for one order.  As we were reveling in the dumplings, and wondering how anything could be better than what we were experiencing, the rice in lotus leaves came.  Two globs of sticky rice, lightly covered in sauce, and wrapped in steamed lotus leaves arrived.  As the hostess walked away, she quickly came back with a spoon, and said, “Don’t eat the leaves, just the rice,” and she opened the first one for us.  What a livesaver she was!

This will sound weird, but the meat-based sauce smelled a bit like canned cat food…. but in a good way.  It was really earthy, as the lotus leaves steamed an indescribable flavor into the rice, and the meat sauce added and extra earthy saltiness that I had never tasted before.  Order it, try it, and see what you think.

Rice wrapped in lotus leaves (2) $3.20

Rice wrapped in lotus leaves (2) $3.20

The pot stickers came last, and our hostess clipped them in half with a pair of scissors to make them easier to eat.  I know this is repetitive, but they were just as delicious as everything else.  We had the option of dipping everything in a sweet pineapple-y sauce, hoisin, or a hot chili pepper oil.  I stuck with the hoisin for the most part, but nothing needed extra sauce!

Pork pot stickers

Pork pot stickers

Each of the plates comes in a pre-determined size, and the size determines the price.  These 7 plates filled us to the brim, all for $20.  We left a hefty tip because she was so nice and helpful, and the service in the restaurant was exceptional, fast, fresh…. I would have paid more money for this, but I am glad the price was so affordable.
I don’t care where you live.  Go there, now.  I can’t wait to go back any time I drive anywhere near Indy.  Five stars!

An open door leading to great food and atmosphere.

An open door leading to great food and atmosphere.

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My First Fondant-ing

Homemade marshmallow fondant, recipe courtesy of Peggy, over a pineapple cake.  Peggy’s Buttercream helped the fondant to stick to the sides marvelously!! Lots of work, but much less work than I thought it would be. More info to come soon.

Fondant went on easier than I could have ever hoped!

Fondant went on easier than I could have ever hoped!

Unsturdy hands makes you glad I'm not your surgeon.

Unsturdy hands makes you glad I'm not your surgeon.

My first fondant creation, besides the creation of the fondant itself. Amidst a snowy field of powdered sugar.

My first fondant creation, besides the creation of the fondant itself. Amidst a snowy field of powdered sugar.

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Rainbows are for SPRINGTIME!

I recently made a spring inspired cake (with Tyler’s help) to take to a special dinner.  It’s rather unassuming on the outside, but the inside is a different story!

Taste the rainbow!

Taste the rainbow!

The frosting is just a simple whipped cream with powdered sugar and vanilla to give it a bit of flavor.  Some coconut sprinkled on top to give it a bit more aesthetic appeal, as well as a bit more texture made the outside  unassuming!  As for the inside, going top to bottom:

  1. Raspberry puree from frozen organic raspberries, put through a fine strainer to remove seeds
  2. Blood orange zest, with a little blood orange juice
  3. Meyer lemon juice, and zest
  4. I thought I had limes at home, but was mistaken!  A sprinkling of green apple jello saved the day here.
  5. About 1/2 cup of frozen organic blueberries, same method as #1
  6. Same as #1 and 6, only blackberries were used!

Some of the colors weren’t as vibrant as we would have liked, so a very  minimal amount of food coloring was used just to make the colors more distinguishable.  Just a couple drops at most!

We didn’t taste any of the batter before baking, and just kind of hoped it would turn out, and did it ever!  Each layer was crisp and distinguishable, and didn’t compete with the other layers.  It was a nice, fruity and creamy cake!!!!!  I can’t wait to make it again with fresh fruit from the farmer’s market.   Oh, and I’ll need another pan.  I only  had one, so I had to cook each layer individually…. which took a long time.  But it was WELL worth it!

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Second Life Fashion Cake

Second Life is a Crazy Life

Second Life is a Crazy Life

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Snickerdoodle Blondies!

I saw this recipe on Tastespotting and just couldn’t resist!  You know how it is with Snickerdoodles, they always get dried out.  They don’t get dried out in bar cookie form, that’s for dang sure.  These are rot-your-teeth sweet with sugar and are NOT for the faint at heart!  Go here for the recipe from The Crepes of Wrath.

The fudgy-ness of a brownie with the spicy-ness of a Snickerdoodle!

The fudgy-ness of a brownie with the spicy-ness of a Snickerdoodle!

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Masa Harina Corn Cakes

I have an anthropology professor who has done most of his fieldwork in Belize, and he often shares stories from his times there.  Since he is interested in food studies, most of his stories revolve around indigenous foods and the introduction of non-indigenous foods and the influences this has on culture.  We’ve talked at length about corn and its global influences, and how cultures have adapted to having corn as a staple in the diet when corn was indeed not treated as such before colonization.  It still baffles me, to this day, how someone figured out that treating corn with lime makes niacin more nutritionally available and the corn easier to digest.  In honor of these thoughts, I made some corn cakes, although these are more Spanish in origin (so a nod to colonialization, too!), and then slathered them in local honey.  That’s not so traditional, but it was damn good.  Recipe follows.

Masa Corn Cakes with Honey

Masa Corn Cakes with Honey

1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill Golden Masa Harina Corn Flour
1/4 cup flour (I used whole wheat, but all purpose white works too!)
1/2 tsp
1/2 cup boiling water
Slathering of your favorite honey (I used a local clover honey)

Thoroughly combine corn flour, flour and salt in bowl.

Add boiling water to the dry ingredients and mix with a spoon until dough is formed.  Might need to add a bit more water if dough won’t come together.

You just poured boiling water into the dry ingredients.  It’s gonna be hot for a minute or so, so don’t go sticking your hands in the dough.  Be patient, you will have corn cakes soon enough.

Roll into balls; you’ll get about 8 balls/cakes out of this batch.   Flatten the balls until they fit in the palm of your hand, so about 1/2″ thick or so.

Heat olive oil in skillet. Add cakes and fry until  golden and cooked through. I cooked these on a grill pan to give them pretty marks, and to cut down on the fat.  Drain on paper towels.

If you want, you can top these with honey,  jam, goat cheese, bleu cheese, fresh tomatoes and basil—the sky is the limit!

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