An Ethiopian feast (doro wat, misir wat, gomen wat, and injera)

Berbere spices before mixingI used to love Ethiopian food. At one time it was one of my go-to cuisines when I ate out, which I used to do much more regularly. Sadly, until last weekend, it had been a long time since I’d had it. To my knowledge there’s no Ethiopian restaurant in the English city I’m currently living in and even where I used to live in Canada, none of the Ethiopian restaurants made their injera with 100 percent tef – they all used a mix of tef and wheat, meaning I haven’t been able to eat it for the last few years. I tried making injera once but it didn’t turn out well so I was scared to do it again. Also, my kids won’t eat more than very mildly spicy food, so I didn’t think I would be able to make food that tasted reasonably Ethiopian without having to make them a separate meal.

Finally, though, the craving got to me. I had to make Ethiopian food. Thanks to some shortcuts, it was easier and quicker than I expected (though still not a speedy meal considering the doro wat is a slow-simmered stew). Continue reading

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Gluten-free lime curd tarts

Lime curd tartsI was originally going to make lime curd tarts for St. Patrick’s Day, on the reasoning they’re (kind of) green. I didn’t end up getting around to it by St. Paddy’s Day but it didn’t matter, since it was really just an excuse to make lime curd.

I’d never even heard of lime or lemon curd until I moved to England last summer. Since then, I’ve seen lemon curd in all sorts of places – in jars on supermarket shelves beside the jam and peanut butter, in cakes, even in the form of lemon curd yogurt. This last is the only one I’ve actually tried. The cakes are always full of gluten and I wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to a whole jar of lemon curd spread, especially since the commercial ones looked pretty full of chemicals. But my tiny tastes of lemon curd yogurt (only tiny tastes since I’m lactose intolerant) made me want more. More! MORE!!

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Boxty dumplings with tomato sauce

Boxty dumplings with tomato sauceHaving made boxty crepes and boxty blinis during my Irish week, I wanted to turn the basic mixture of grated potato, mashed potato and flour to a different use. I therefore decided to make boxty dumplings, AKA boiled boxty.

The recipes I saw made me think of gnocci, but sounded a little… well… boring. I gather the traditional way, as detailed by Radio Ulster, involves simply frying the dumplings in butter. Another recipe I saw on CatholicCulture.org calls for a “sweet sauce,” which to me sounds unpleasant. So I decided to do an Irish-Italian fusion dish and serve my boiled boxty with tomato sauce. It turned out to be a good decision. My dumplings turned out chewy and indeed gnocci-like, and my kids loved them with the tomato sauce. Continue reading

Boxty blinis with smoked salmon and parsley sauce

Boxty blini with smoked salmon and parsley sauceUntil this weekend, I didn’t know what boxty was. When I learned how many different variations there were of what used to be an Irish peasant food but which can now, depending on how you dress it up, turn gourmet, I couldn’t decide what I most wanted to make. So I made three different versions: boxty pancakes, boxty blinis, and boiled boxty. I liked them all but this one, with the addition of non-traditional Parmesan and chives, might be my personal favourite. We had it for Sunday lunch and I can hardly imagine a more perfect lunch/brunch food, though I would happily eat it for supper too. Continue reading

Boxty pancakes with cabbage and bacon

Boxty pancake with cabbage and bacon and parsley sauceI didn’t wear green, but in honour of St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to designate this week Ireland week. In a fit of over-enthusiasm, I made far too many mashed potatoes the other day. So to use them up, I decided to make three different versions of boxty over the course of three days.

As far as I can tell, there are as many different versions of boxty as there are Irish mammies. You can make boxty pancakes, boxty dumplings, baked boxty cut into slices, even grilled boxty patties. The common ingredients appear to be mashed potatoes, grated potatoes and flour. Beyond that, anything goes. Which is just how I like my recipes.

On Saturday, I made boxty pancakes, just slightly thicker than a crepe, and used them as wraps for – what else? – cabbage and bacon. This is the recipe in this post. On Sunday, I made thicker boxty blinis, almost patty-like in thickness, and served them with smoked salmon and parsley sauce. Today I made boxty dumplings, reminiscent of gnocci, and served them with non-traditional tomato sauce and salad. All were delicious, full of spuddy goodness. Continue reading

Gluten-free stuffed Brazilian cheese bread (pao de queijo)

Cheese-stuffed cheese breadI have a new addiction. I was first introduced to Brazilian cheese bread several months ago when I ran across the Bolitas stall in the Oxford covered market. These were delicious. Then a Brazilian friend of mine brought some homemade ones to a little party at our house. These were even better. But when I made my own and had the results straight out of the oven, they were sublime. My whole family attacked them, even the picky little girls. Still steaming, crisp on the outside, gooey on the inside, most of them stuffed with little surprises, they were the most delicious thing I’ve had in I don’t know how long. The only problem was that we ate way too many of them.

These little cheese puffs are surprisingly easy to make, especially with a stand mixer. It would definitely be harder without, as the recipe calls for a lot of mixing of hot, stiff dough. I saw a lot of recipes online but the one from theKitchn looked most like what I was after: gooey, puffy, no mini muffin tins involved. However, I wanted mine to be stuffed, and I wanted them to be cheddary, since my family and I love cheddar. So I tweaked the recipe slightly. This is what I ended up with. Continue reading

Moqueca de peixe: Brazilian fish stew

Bowl of fish stew with peppers

When I decided to designate this week Brazil week, I didn’t know I would end up making something surprisingly akin to Thai curry, only without the burn-your-tongue spiciness or the fish sauce. When I tasted my moqueca de peixe (fish stew), however, it made me realize how much of our world cuisine is interconnected, whether directly, the way Japanese curry probably evolved from curries originating further west in Asia, or indirectly, the way similar ingredients (fish, coconut milk, vegetables) produced similar results in different parts of the world such as Brazil and Thailand.

I should say that real Brazilian moqueca may be a bit different, primarily because I didn’t use any dende (red palm oil). Nor did I search it out, as it’s high in saturated fat, my cupboard space is limited, and I don’t foresee many other uses for it. I used olive oil instead. There is actually another type of Brazilian moqueca, moqueca capixaba, from the state of Espirito Santo, that uses olive oil instead of dende. That dish, however, doesn’t use coconut milk, so mine is a bit of a hybrid. That’s OK with me. My life and family are about hybridization, and as any gardener knows, hybrids are often the hardiest.

As I was researching moqueca de peixe, I found a huge range of recipes online, some very similar and some a bit different. I ended up not following any particular recipe but using what I thought would be tasty, based on the most common themes in moqueca recipes. Here’s my version. It’s easy, quick and gets even better after having sat for a day. Continue reading