Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cooking African Style

So I've gotten quite behind in my blogging as of late. Apologies, July has been very, very busy!! Alex and I went to Boston over the fourth, posting soon to come!, then Alex's dad was in town, then Emily, then Megan and Laura. Sheesh, more visitors in two weeks then we had in two years in Minneapolis! I guess that's what we get for moving to the Big Apple.

Lots of fun, just lots of busy!

Anyhow, when Emily was in town, I knew I wanted to cook up some African. (Emily and I travelled in Senegal and Morocco and Emily spent oodles of time in Senegal among other fun African countries for those unacquainted with her fabulousness) I have this beautiful cookbook, seriously I could just gaze at the pictures all day and plan travelling excursions, that I received from a dinner I was at for my old job.


I've looked at it lots, but never actually used it. It has recipes from across the continent, and I figured who better to share them with then my fellow travel lover Em!

Thus, for no other reasons then they looked tasty, kind of easy, and would require a relatively short shopping list... (I did not plan ahead and had to make a grocery run at like 7pm that night) I selected Grilled Fish-Avocado Soup and Vegetable Samosas.

Also, thanks to Alex for being the photographer of the night! My hands were much too messy to be working with the camera. All photos here are courtesy of him!

Grilled Fish-Avocado Soup
Adapted from The Soul of A New Cuisine By Marcus Samuelsson

This recipe hails from the region around Lake Victoria in the East.

Olive Oil
Juice of 3 Limes
1 TBS Chopped Cilantro
Garlic Cloves (4-6)
2 tsp green curry paste
The recipe calls for eight 4 oz Tilapia fillets, we subbed in Mahi-mahi, as that's what was in the freezer. I would actually say I preferred the taste of Mahi mahi to tilapia, but then it's probably not authentic, oh well.
2 avocados
1-2 jalapeƱos seeded and chopped (Technically, it calls for Scotch Bonnet chilies, I have no idea what those are, nor did my grocery store.)
1 medium to large red onion
4 C chicken broth
2 C dry white wine
4 tomatoes chopped (I think we may have had only 3)
1 C cooked black beans

Combine 2 TBS of olive oil, juice of one lime, chopped cilantro, garlic cloves (2-3), and 1 tsp of curry paste in a food processor and blend until smooth. Brush the puree over the fish and sliced avocado.


Heat 2 TBS of olive oil in dutch oven or large pot. Add some chopped garlic, onions and jalapeƱo, saute about 5 minutes.

Add the chicken broth and wine, bring to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, the rest of the lime juice, cilantro, a dash of salt, and black beans. Simmer gently another 10 minutes.




Meanwhile, add some olive oil to a saute pan and cook the avocados and fish. After the fish is cooked through, cut it into small pieces along with the avocado. Add the avocado and grilled fish to the soup mixture. Simmer a few more minutes, and serve!

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Vegetable Samosas

Cape Town, South Africa

(I made a half batch)
4 tsp ground tumeric
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1.5 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt (I nixed this)
2 tsp oil
1 C water
Juice of 2 lemons

Mix together the flour and spices in a large bowl. Pour the oil, water, and lemon juice into the center. Slower stir the flour into the liquids until all the liquid has been absorbed.

Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic and begins to form into a ball. About 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let rest in a warm, draft-free place for 20 minutes.

This dough was SUPER sticky!

2 TBS olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 small yukon gold potatoes
1 TBS green curry paste
1 carrot peeled and cut
2 garlic cloves
1/2 head cauliflower (we subbed broccoli as the store had no cauliflower)
1/2 C coconut milk
1/2 C water
Juice of 1 lime


Heat oil in a saute pan. Add the onion and potatoes and saute about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add the curry paste, carrot, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally about 10 minutes.



Add the cauliflower, coconut milk, and water, bring to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the lime juice, transfer to a bowl to cool. Mash the filling with a fork.

Divide the dough into equal pieces. ONe at a time, roll out each piece into a 6 inch circle. Place a TBS of filling into the center and fold over. Let rest for 30 minutes. (This last step got skipped.)


Heat enough oil in a deep pan to fry the samosas. Fry for about 10 minutes.



Both items were very tasty. I especially liked the soup quite a bit. The samosas, well, didn't really turn out like samosas. There was no light pastry feel to these at all. In fact, the dough was very sticky, and then quite heavy when rolled out and when I was stuffing them. They ended up looking pretty funky, but, the flavor was good. Just pretend they look pretty! It's all about the taste anyhow right??

Monday, July 6, 2009


A few weeks ago, Alex and I were wandering around the Hell's Kitchen area in search of something to eat. We were looking for a place that looked tasty, cute, and not expensive. Our 3 general requirements for a good find.

Luckily, after a few blocks we came upon Hummus Kitchen, and it fit the bill exactly! This place was super tiny, but very cute on the inside. Upon looking over the menu, I immediately noticed a dish I had never heard before, Shakshooka. What in the world is that?

Alex decided to be brave and ordered it up. A short while later his dinner came out sizzling in a skillet and looking mighty tasty. I quickly became pretty jealous I hadn't ordered the same! It was delicious! It turns out Shakshooka is a middle eastern dish, Israeli by most website accounts... though some will disagree and say it's Pakastani or Syrian.

After we got home, I googled a bunch of recipes, and discovered this Shakshooka stuff wasn't hard to make and that I would definitely give it a shot! Mostly, I was just looking for any excuse to say Shakshooka as many times as possible, because, for real, how fun is it to say!


I had bought some eggs fresh from the farmers market last week, so decided this would be a good meal to showcase them. I started with this recipe I'd found online, as it sounded the closest to what we'd had in the restaurant, and went from there!

I followed the cooking directions pretty much exactly but my ingredient list was as follows:

1 red pepper and 1 green pepper
A bit of olive oil
1 medium yellow onion
3 cloves of garlic
6 ripe tomatoes (I used smallish medium ones)
5 eggs
1 jalepeno chili, seeded
2 tbs (about) of tomato paste
1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
1 tsp. of sweet paprika
Salt and pepper (according to taste)
A bit of garlic powder


Overall this was a fairly simple and extremely healthy meal. The flavors are delicious and it made just the right amount to fill Alex and I both up. I had wanted to make my own pita bread as well, but that would have been too time consuming. Just make sure you have some sort of bread to go along with it!