Ajika Millet with Miner’s Lettuce

Georgian seasoning blend, Ajika, brings depth brightening the grains; fish provide the protein and seasonal Miner’s lettuce (purslane greens) top it off. A quick, easy, toothsome rounded meal. Enjoy!

SPECIAL TOOLS:

A kerai or wok.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup millet cooked as per packet instructions (simmered in 2 cups water, for 20 mins)
  • 1 Can fish (5 oz Albacore tuna OR wild sardines)
  • Sofrito: 1 tbsp oil + 1 small shallot diced + 2-3 garlic pods minced
  • Seasonings: 1 tbsp Georgian Ajika + 1/2 tsp black lime powder + 1/4 tsp urfa biber (Turkish) pepper + 1 tsp dried crushed mint greens + salt to taste
  • Topping: 1 1/2 cup Miner’s lettuce (purslane greens)

METHOD

In a wok, heat the sofrito ingredients till fragrant (3-4 mins). Add the seasoning ingredients and mix in till the spices bloom (2-3 mins). Add the canned fish and let mix well, breaking up the fish into smaller pieces. Mix in the cooked millet. Finally add the greens, cover and let wilt (2 mins).

Serve hot.

NOTES, HINTS, TIPS:

  1. You can use any seasoning of your choice (for example adobo or curry or Bayou seasonings). This is a very forgiving recipe.
  2. The black lime powder is a tangy flavorful agent worth experimenting with, if you have not already done so.
  3. The recipe is resilient enough for any other grain (rice, farro, spelt, barley, rye, … ) as well.

Kibbeh Casserole

A meat-n-wheat sumptuous casserole for Superbowl. A little unusual but mighty addictive. Also, with guilt-free mustard greens. Enjoy!!

SPECIAL TOOLS:

A food processor; oven; 5 qt casserole.

INGREDIENTS

Makes enough to feed a small party (8-10) of Superbowl revelers.

  • Stuffing:
    • 1 lb ground meat
    • 1/2 cup onion diced
    • Spices: 1 tsp ground allspice + 1 tsp cinnamon powder + 1 tsp cayenne pepper
    • Salt to taste
    • 3 tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • Bottom and Top Layers:
    • 3 cups bulgur wheat grains (cooked in 5 cups water for 10 mins till soft and fluffy — or follow package instruction)
    • 2 bunches (8 oz each) greens (mustard or spinach or any other green)
    • 1 lb ground meat
    • 1 cup diced onions
    • Flavoring: 1 tbsp dried marjoram + 1 tbsp dried mint + 1 tbsp dried basil + 1 tbsp allspice powder + 1 tbsp cinnamon powder + salt to taste

METHOD

Stuffing: In a saute pan brown the ground meat. Mix in the rest of the stuffing ingredients. Set aside.

Lightly oil the bottom of a large casserole dish.

Use the food processor to make the bottom and top layers. Given the volume, you may want to process the bottom and top layer separately. Halve the recipe for each layer. I use kitchen scissors to coarsely chop the greens right into the processor. Run the processor for a minute or so till the greens are coarsely and evenly chopped. Then add the rest of the ingredients and and process till homogenous. Dump this into the casserole dish and press for an even bottom layer.

Layer the stuffing on the bottom layer. Process the top layer as per the bottom layer. Carefully spread the processed mix, in about 1/2 cup chunks over the stuffing. Then gently press the top into an even layer.

Score with a wet, sharp steak knife as in picture. Brush with water. Tightly cover with aluminum foil.

Bake at 475 F for 40 to 50 mins [test doneness by piercing with knife]. Remove foil, broil for 10 mins.

NOTES, HINTS, TIPS:

  1. This meat in a meat-n-wheat casing (kibbeh) is adapted from The Lebanese Kitchen by Monique Bassila Zaarour.
  2. The ground meat can be lamb OR bison OR bison/beef mix. I have not tried with poultry or tofu- but that could be a good experiment.
  3. I added the greens to round out the nutrition profile.

Fermented Teff Crepe

An amazing minimalist one-ingredient crepe! If you don’t count water and the horde of wild yeast (from the natural environment). This is not quite the (white) injera I have had at many Ethiopian restaurants, but a fairly toothsome dark contender. After many laborious experimentation, here is my streamlined version –utilizing a Proofer– for a seven-day version. I.e., one Sunday to the next. Enjoy!

SPECIAL TOOLS:

A Proofer.

METHOD

  1. Sunday 1: Mix 2 cups dark teff flour in about 3 cups warm water in a glass bowl. Mix well with wire whisk and cover. Ferment at 86 F, in Proofer, for 5 days.
  2. Friday 1: – Pour out the entire top liquid (that may even look alarmingly funky).
    – Bring 1 cup water to boil in a small saucepan, add 1/2 cup of the fermented residue (which has the consistency of clay) and thicken while constantly stirring with wire whisk. In a few minutes, it thickens. Add this to the remainder of the fermented residue in the glass bowl. Mix with wire whisk till homogenous.
    – Add 2/3 to 1 cup water and mix well.
    – Cover and continue to ferment at 86 F, in Proofer, for 2 days.
  3. Sunday 2: Pour out some on the top liquid layer.
    – Heat a non-stick crepe pan. You may have to very lightly oil the pan before the very first one.
    – Pour 1/3 cup batter onto the crepe pan and swirl it around.
    – Cover and let cook undisturbed for 5 mins on medium heat.
    – Carefully peel off the pan with the help of a spatula.

NOTES, HINTS, TIPS:

  1. This has been inspired from from many sources: https://www.daringgourmet.com/authentic-injera-ethiopian-flatbread/ https://www.preservedgoods.com/post/ethiopian-injera .
  2. I have had tried various fermentation catalysts like yogurt, fenugreek seeds etc, but in this version II don’t use any.
  3. The fermented teff flour has a sweet nutty flavor, almost that of molasses. I was also reminded of a sweet aroma from my grandmother’s village kitchen, but couldn’t place my finger on quite what.

Kelp Larb

Spiced, minced meat salad, larb, is quintessentially Thai. Years ago, while I was gradually encountering world cuisines in graduate school (ahh, no pun intended), I was struck by larb. Not the red curry, …, nor the masaman, the mainstays of many a Thai menu in the USA. Some food historians/chefs say that the Portuguese brought curry from India to Thailand. But I think the India southeast Asia trades go way back– to the first millennium. In any case, back to larb. It has no signs of any overt Indian influence, but it impressed this Indian enough to make it one of my mainstays of minced meat (in the ranks of keema, seekh/shami kebabs, burger).

Kelp is a seaweed, but not a plant. Considered a superfood, this algae is being sustainably and regeneratively ocean-farmed. Kelp tops the guilt-free list! An intrinsic part of Japanese cooking, kelp is not a complete stranger to the food world.

I bring these two wonders together. I resort to Akua‘s kelp burger “meat” for this equally appealing, delicious larb. Enjoy!

SPECIAL TOOLS:

A chop-stir spatula (optional), thick-bottomed pan.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb kelp-burger “meat”
  • 1 tbsp chili infused EVOO
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • Larb sauce: 1/4 cup lime juice + 1 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc nam) + 1 tbsp honey/brown sugar
  • Garnish:
    • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves + 2 tbsp fresh mint (if not using dried mint)
    • 2 scallions fine chopped + 2 shallots thinly sliced
    • 1 tbsp rice powder (toast rice grains and grind, don’t substitute with rice flour)

METHOD

Heat the EVOO on medium in a thick-bottomed pan. Add the kelp burger meat and the dried mint, and chop-stir for five minutes or so until the “meat” is browned and has a coarse breadcrumb texture. Turn off the heat. Immediately, add the larb sauce and mix well. Then add all the garnish ingredients.

NOTES, HINTS, TIPS:

  1. The larb recipe is inspired by the chefs of omsom.com.
  2. The larb recipe works well with real meat as well- minced turkey, chicken or lamb.
  3. I use the the chop-stir, bought from a specialty store– but you could use just a wooden spatula. Usually, I am not a fan of hyper-specialized tools, but with this one I must make an exception.
  4. Serve with lettuce or radicchio leaves.

Mala Turkey: Similar recipe as above.
1. In a large wok, dry roast veggies – julienned turnip, daikon, and, sliced Napa cabbage and hydrated and sliced dried mushrooms.
2. Prepare the ground turkey using the chop-stir in a saute pan.
3. Mix the veggies, turkey and 2-3 tbsp Mala sauce.

Maitake Pot Roast

Delicately pleated, gigantic (rivaling a large cauliflower in size) maitake mushroom is certain to catch your attention. It had to be split in half –alas– to fit into the greengrocer’s brown paper bag. A simple overnight marinade, whole-cooked and voilà!! Enjoy.

SPECIAL TOOLS:

Large kerai/wok with lid.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb Maitake mushroom
  • Marinade overnight in ziplock bag: 3 tbsp EVOO + 2 tbsp Sriracha sauce + 3 tbsp garlic-miso spice (optional) + dash of salt

METHOD

The ziplock bag helps in getting the marinade all into the mushroom which absorbs the marinade line a sponge. Heat a wok to medium-high, place the maitake mushroom delicately and cover the wok. Let brown for 5 min. Flip over and brown other sides for 5 min. When it starts to ooze liquid, turn heat-down to slow-medium and let steam till all the liquid dries up.

Slice and serve.

NOTES, HINTS, TIPS:

  1. Of course, you can pull apart the maitake into smaller parts (the stems are delicious too). But cooking it whole is an interesting treatment. I am not a big fan of whole cooked cauliflower, but the whole maitake blew my mind!
  2. Note that since the marinade has oil, it does not need more oil and it also browns neatly.
  3. The miso-garlic spice was again from the farmer’s market, but you could used any other spice mix of your choice– or none at all. The less the distraction with spices, the more you appreciate the fungus!

Sourdough Rye-only Bread

I was introduced to this amazing Finnish Rye bread, Hapanleipä, by my good friend, Niina. Ever since I was exposed to this, I yearned to try my hands at it. After several failed attempts– it finally came together by using a “proofer” for the starter. I gleefully write this blog as I chomp on the fully homemade ruis bread. Just a word of caution: the process takes more than a week; yet, the only ingredient is rye. This also no doubt appeals to the minimalist in you. Enjoy!!

SPECIAL TOOLS:

Scale, processor with dough blade, parchment paper, silicone spatula, Proofer.

INGREDIENTS

  • approx 1 kg Rye flour (for the sour culture, sponge and bread)
  • salt, water

METHOD

Rye sour culture (7 days). Start with 30 gm rye flour + 30 ml water at 105 F and proof at 86 F in airtight jar overnight.
Repeat the following for the next six days (or more days):
Take 30 gm of culture the previous day (discard the remainder) + 30 gm rye flour + 30 ml water at 105 F and proof at 86 F overnight.

Rye sponge (proof covered overnight at 86 F):  55gm  rye flour + 140 gm lukewarm (105 F) water + 5 gm rye sour culture.

Rye bread dough (proofed for 3 hours at 86 F) : approx 200 gm rye sponge + 450 gm rye flour + 330 gm lukewarm (105 F) water + 1 tsp salt.
Make the dough in processor with bread blade. The dough is very very sticky, but not to be alarmed. It is resilient enough. Divide the dough into two, place them on parchment; flatten roughly and proof at 86F for 3 hrs.

After proofing the dough is a little easier to handle. Using the silicone spatula (you may have to dip it in cold water) shape the tow disks; make a hole in the center, use that dough in the remainder of the disk. Dock (or make holes) with a wooden chopstick. Place the two disks (each about 6 inches in diameter) along with the parchment on a baking tray.

Bake at 425 F for 25 mins. Cool on tray. Rest the bread for 2-3 days to bring out the deep flavor.

NOTES, HINTS, TIPS:

  1. The recipe was adapted from The Rye Baker: Classic Breads from Europe and America, by Stanley Ginsberg.
  2. The proofer is Brod & Taylor’s Folding Proofer.
  3. Perhaps a stand mixer is more appropriate to make the dough. But I don’t have one –nor do I plan to have one— I use the processor with the dough blade instead. I think I got a “starch attack” with the blade speed, but the dough was tamed by the time it proofed for 3 hours.
  4. Note that the very first step of making the sour culture consumes a lot of flour. Also, you discard a large portion of the culture everyday as you feed it with fresh rye flour. I worked out various algorithms in my mind, like doubling the feed every day instead of discarding- but if you know your arithmetic, you will realize the volume explodes in seven days (not to speak of the the culture’s natural increase in volume) 🙂 .
  5. I placed the two disks on a “dhokla” two tiered rack, lined with parchment and placed the rack in the proofer (for 3 hrs).
  6. In the pictures below, the rye sour culture is in the lidded jar and the sponge in the open-face bowl (that was covered while proofing)