ETHIOPIAN FOOD IN OTTAWA
Met a friend (Susan Korah of travel blog fame) for lunch today and we opted for a little Ethiopian restaurant on Rideau Street. The staple of Ethiopian cooking is “injeera,” a sponge-like flat bread with a slightly sour taste. The injeera is placed on a big round tray and various small portions of food are placed around on the injeera. These portions include spiced chicken, various types of been, vegetables and legumes, all spiced with traditional Ethiopian spices. The food was excellent and the restaurant was very moderately priced.
The restaurant bathroom could have been cleaner, but it was acceptable. I’d give it a coat of pain and put tile on the floor, or something. Looks pretty shabby and the paper towel wasn’t in the holder sitting right there for it.
Service was excellent and the food was all freshly prepared. Parking is free behind the building on Friel Street.
CREAMY TOMATO SPINACH PASTA
I pinned this recipe in my Pinterest site months ago and have had several hits a day on this one recipe every day since then. I cannot account for its popularity, but since it’s inexpensive to make and seems so popular, up it goes on my own site.
Got the yen to begin starter dough two weeks ago. It’s taken off a treat and makes bread making so cheap and easy. I’ve made biscuits and bread, and today made this very easy bread. It takes longer without yeast, but where are you going anyway? Read a book while you’re waiting.
So take a cup of your nicely fermenting starter dough and dump it in a mixing bowl. Don’t forget to feed the starter again after taking some out.
Now add 3 1/2 cups of flour, and a cupe and a half of lukewarm water and mix in. Leave it to rise and get spongy for a couple of hours. You could even leave it in the fridge all day, more or less. When it’s risen as much as it’s going to (look for creases in the top when it’s used up all it energy) that’s when you add more flour, a tsp or so of salt, and mix it all together. Keep adding flour until you can’t move the mixture with a wooden spoon and need to use your hands. For more detailed instructions, e-mail the chef (me). Next time I’ll take pictures.
Knead it until it’s elasticy and firm but not stiff and leave to rise for 10 minutes. Then knead it for 3 minutes more and put in a lightly oiled bowl (say that quickly 10 times), turning it round so that all of the ball of dough is lightly oiled, cover, and leave to rise for a few hours. Again, you could even leave this in the fridge if you have to go out.
When it’s risen to twice its bulk, punch it down and put it in the cooking receptacle of our choice. I’ve used a ceramic casserole dish with good results. When it’s doubled up again, put it in a 450 deg oven with a pan of hot water. Mist the bread first and slash to tops. Bake for about half an hour or 40 minutes. You can turn the oven down to 375 after the first 10 minutes.
My Hippy Bowl Experiences
Since I don’t know how to move items from one page to another on this site, readers will have to do some split-level reading. On my Home page is a recipe from a newspaper for a salad called The Hippy Bowl. It’s a vegan recipe using tofu. Well it looked so nice and so healthy, that I decided to have a go. These are my impressions.
1. Do NOT try to make this recipe in one day! It took hours of preparation and left the kitchen looking like Martha Stewart’s nightmare.
a) The tofu has to be pressed and drained, then marinated for several hours. Then is has to be roasted in the marinade liquid at 475! for about 30-40 minutes. Then cooled, of course.
b) The sunflower seeds have to be roasted and seasoned–and watched VERY CAREFULLY (or you’ll be throwing your first batch out and filling your kitchen with burned seasoning smells.
c) The sprouts have to be started 3 or 4 days before and carefully rinsed and cared for to make sure they don’t go mouldy! (I make my own instead of buying sprouts because of the salmonella scare). They’re easy to make, you just have to do your due diligence and care.
d) Avocados have to be bought long enough beforehand to ripen, but not long enough to go rotten.
e) The millet has to be cooked and cooled.
The end result The finished salad is awesome! And I do not use that word lightly, or at all, if I can help it. But this is truly a delicious vegan crowd pleaser. Great for diets, and scrumptious enough that you won’t believe it’s a diet. Here’s the picture again in case you’ve already forgotten what’s on the Home page.
All these recipes should be cheap and easy to make, and the ingredients should always be available.
New Post Just In from Australia, the Land of Sun and, well, Sun
My Australian cousin is a great chef and often sends me delicious recipes. He sent this one as a fitting entry for an economical meals web site. I think almost everything, except the pasta, came from his garden as well–a double whammy for economy! You’ll notice that Aussies measure ingredients by weight.
Pasta Sciue Sciue
In Neapolitan dialect, “sciue sciue” means “hurry, hurry”, relating to something done on the run. In summer pasta sciue sciue (say it quickly, as “shoo-eh, shoo-eh”) pops up on menus to celebrate the spontaneity and sensuality of fresh, sun-ripened tomatoes. Use the best small, ripe tomatoes you can find, and any pasta you like: spaghetti, linguine, tagliatelle, casareccia, penne or fusilli.
350g spaghetti or casareccia
500g vine-ripened cherry tomatoes
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced or grated
Good pinch of dried chilli flakes
½ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sea salt
Parmesan for serving
[PJ Says: add black olives and/or anchovies]
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiled salted water until al dente.
Cut the tomatoes in halves or quarters. Finely chop the basil leaves.
To make the sauce, combine the olive oil, garlic, chilli and oregano in a medium-sized pan over low heat and gently warm through until the garlic “flutters” in the oil. Turn the heat to high, and immediately add the tomatoes and sea salt.
Cover the pan and cook for two to three minutes, giving everything a quick toss once or twice, until the tomatoes are soft and juicy. Drain the pasta and add to the pan.
Add remaining basil leaves, quickly toss and serve on warm plates, with an extra swirl of olive oil, and parmesan for grating.
Turkish Rice Pudding
Easy to make–delicious–low calorie if you use xylitol sugar (from trees) rather than sugar from cane of beet) An added benefit of xylitol is that is supposed to have many health benefits as well. http://www.xylitolcanada.com/xylitol-landing-page/consumer-home/what-is-xylitol/
- 4 ¼ cups water
- ½ cup uncooked rice
- ¾ cup sugar
- pinch of saffron
- ¼ tsp. tumeric
- 3 tbsp. rose water
- 2 rounded tbsp. cornstarch
- 2 tbsp. dried currants
- ¼ cup pine nuts (nuts are not cheap, so leave out if you’re on a strict budget. Slivered almonds might be cheaper than pine nuts)
- more currants and pine nuts for garnish
- Begin by washing the rice in wire strainer under cold, running water for several minutes until the water runs clear. Once it’s washed and drained, put the rice in a large saucepan. Add water to the pan to cover the rice about ½ inch. Bring the water to a boil, cover the pan, turn the heat to low and cook the rice for about 20 minutes.
- Put the 4 ½ cups water in a separate saucepan. Add the saffron and let it soak for about 15 minutes. After it softens, use the edge of a wooden spoon to crush the saffron and release the yellow color.
- Add the cooked rice, sugar and tumeric to the saffron and water and bring it to a boil. Add the rose water and cornstarch and cook, stirring continuously for about 20 minutes until the pudding thickens and becomes a clear yellow color.
- Turn off the heat and leave the pudding to cool in the pan about 10 minutes.
- Fill your dessert cups or a large serving bowl with the pudding. Let it cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for several hours.
- Serve your ‘zerde’ cold. Garnish it with more pine nuts, and dried currants that have been soaked for a few minutes in hot water. You can also use other toppings like ground coconut, crushed pistachio nuts and fresh pomegranate seeds.
Incredibly Cheap Meal
Baked beans are an old favourite (with some people). They can be served on toast, eaten with wieners for wieners and beans; or, as in England, they can be served as a side for everything except spaghetti! I was raised on Heinz baked beans, which accounts for my smooth complexion and curly hair today. Since a can of Heinz baked beans has now gone up to $2 and more (HORRORS!), here’s a recipe to laugh in the face of the corporate giants grasping pennies from the hands of the poor struggling seniors like me. We’re too busy saving our money for a business class trip to Australia. So here goes:
- 3 cups of dried navy beans (or great northern beans)
- water to cover for overnight soaking (allow three inches above the level of the beans, at least)
- onions (optional)
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1 small can of tomato paste
- full large can of tomatoes
- Worcestershire sauce, maybe a tablespoon
- H.P. sauce, to taste, I usually put in about 3 good shakes
- dried mustard, about a teaspoon or two
- apple cider vinegar–about 2 tsps.
Soak beans overnight, then pick out bad looking ones and discard. Drain beans and rinse off, checking for more baddies or stones. Put in a cooking pot and cover with fresh water. Boil for an hour (well, simmer, or they’ll boil over and make a hell of a mess). You can skim off the foam if you’re keen. I never bother.
At the end of an hour, pour the lot into a big oven-going pot and add all the other ingredients, stirring well after each addition. Sometimes I add a few shakes of hot Hungarian paprika if I feel like a bit of a zing to my beans.
Stir the whole lot, cover, and put in a 300F oven for about 4 or 5 hours. In other words go out shopping. It is a good thing to give them a stir after an hour, though, but not essential. They’ll definitely need stirring at some point. You might have to add extra water, depending on the types of beans, how old they are, etc.
About the onions. You can chop an onion and boil it up with the first boiling (gassy), or you can pan-fry them separately and add just before going in the oven. I left them out once by accident, and the beans tasted just as good. Since they add to the gassiness that some people get when eating beans, try leaving them out.
French Canadian traditionalists, also put belly pork or fatty bacon in the bottom of the oven pot before putting in the beans, but I eat vegetarian beans so don’t do that.
These beans will last you for a full week of dinners! Cheap, eh?
New Discovery (new to me, anyway)
In the middle of baking cinnamon rolls, I discovered I had no ground cinnamon, only cinnamon bark chips. No problem, I thought, I’ll just whizz the bark in my nut grinder. So I finished up with tiny little bits of cinnamon bark which would crack down on your teeth every time you bit into a cinnamon roll. Not good. As I was trying to grind and re-grind, sift, and re-grind again, I accidentally put a batch I’d already mixed with sugar into the grinder. Presto! Instant (well, nearly) powdered cinnamon sugar! So mix with sugar and your nut grinder will grind cinnamon to a fine powder. How come?
Truly Delicious (Cheap and Easy) Cloverleaf Dinner Rolls–Recipe makes 9 rolls
- Peel, cube and boil a sweet potato that’s big enough to make half a cup of mashed.
- Save 1/4 of a cup of the water you boiled it in
- 1 tsp of baker’s yeast
- When cool, add a tsp of baker’s yeast to the water to soften
- 1/4 cup non-fat powdered milk
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons of soft butter (if you use salted, don’t add salt to the recipe)
- 3/4 tsp of salt, if you used unsalted butter earlier
- 2 cups bread flour
Method: Mash sweet potato and measure out 1/2 a cup. Put in a bowl and add dried milk powder, brown sugar, butter, salt (if using) bread flour and add sweet potato water/yeast mixture. Mix and beat with a wooden spoon until all together, and then start kneading. When dough seems stretchy and elastic and is no longer sticky, put to rise in a greased bowl in a warm place and cover with a cloth to prevent draughts.
When doubled in bulk, take out and deflate any way you like, and divide dough into three parts. Roll each one into a longer roll and divide each roll into three. You should now have 9 small pieces. Roll each small piece of dough into a ball. Into a greased muffin tin, place three small rolls into a sort of triangle and place in a muffin cup. Do 8 more cups the same way.
Cover with grease-proof paper and let rise until the oven temperature gets up to 375 deg F.
Rolls should have risen a bit before you put them in the oven. Brush them with a bit of milk, and pop in the oven for about 25 minutes. Check after 20. If a roll sounds hollow when you knock on it, they’re done.
Note: dough doubles in bulk in about one hour at 20 deg. C, but it’s flexible.
Another note: Any left over mashed sweet potato and potato water can go in the lentil soup which you no doubt have cooking to serve the rolls with later.
- A few slices of stale bread (number of slices depends on how much you want to make)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons of rolled oat (depends on amount of bread used as it stops sogginess)
- Dried sage
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon of suet/margarine/butter (your choice, but the traditional fat was suet)
- salt and pepper
Put bread in a bowl and add water to cover. Squeeze out until you’ve got as much water out as possible. Mix in the sage, salt and pepper, slightly beaten egg, and suet, or other fat. Mix thoroughly and pat into a greased basin or oven-proof dish. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about half an hour, or until browned.
Serve as accompaniment to a slice of beef or chicken, mashed potatoes, a green veg. and gravy. Yum!
This a cheap and easy way to begin an entertaining evening with friends. If you can find the small, dark, heirloom chick peas, so much the better. Use the regular large, pale yellow ones (beige?) for a cheaper recipe. You can used canned, but I always buy the dried chick peas and boil them up myself. It’s much less expensive.
The quantities are approximate. so Just fuss around with it a little bit until it “looks right.”
- 2 cups chickpeas (black or “kala chana” if you can find them—otherwise Goya will do the trick)
- 4-5 cloves garlic (whole, skins removed)
- 4-5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
- 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 sprigs fresh mint
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 3/4 teaspoon salt
Put chick peas and garlic in a food processor and whiz around until well chopped. Add the rest of the ingredients and puree until smooth. Sprinkle some olive oil and a little paprika or cayenne for garnish.