Ethiopian Ful

I was cleaning out my cupboards the other day and found one of the few souvenirs I brought back from Ethiopia last summer: berbere, a deep crimson spice mix that flavors a lot of Ethiopian foods. It’s a bit spicy and really flavorful, and I’ve been using it on everything. Berbere vinaigrette. Berbere cheese sauce over roasted broccoli and romanesco. Berbere yogurt dip. And this, Ethiopian ful, which is basically a stew made with dried fava beans that is eaten for breakfast.

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I regret never having tried ful while in Ethiopia – though I filled up on nearly everything else – so I’ve been wanting to make this at home. And the verdict is… yum! It’s so, so easy, too. I added a bunch of toppings that I had laying around, but they’re all pretty much optional. I saw ful served with eggs and crusty bread in Ethiopia, but the avocado, yogurt, feta, roasted tomatoes all added something nice as well. Next time I’m thinking an aleppo pepper oil to drizzle.

Ethiopian Ful

Ethiopian Ful

The berbere here is essential. You can buy a mix online or at a local spice shop, or you can try making your own at home.

1 cup dried fava beans

1 teaspoon clarified butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon berbere
salt to taste

to top: sliced avocado, oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, crumbled feta, plain yogurt, soft-boiled egg, squeeze of lime, cilantro, sliced green onions, sliced chile peppers, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice

Combine the dried fava beans with 3 cups of water and cook on a low simmer until all the liquid is absorbed.

In a large pan, heat the clarified butter over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the berbere and cook another minute longer. Add the cooked fava beans and 3/4 cup water. Season with salt and let cook for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Break apart the beans a bit as they cook more.

To serve, top with any or all of the garnishes listed. Eat with a spoon or fork or as they do in Ethiopia – with bread as your utensil!

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Rice Bowl + Tofu + Saucy Sauce

It’s all about the saucy sauce.

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This is really a simple recipe. Barely a recipe, actually. Make some rice. Steam some veg. Buy some tofu. And mix it all together with a swanky, saucy sauce.

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I have a pretty well-stocked Asian pantry these days. Gochujang and miso are staples in my fridge, and I have both light and dark soy sauces in the cupboard. Usually, whipping up a little Asian-inspired sauce for things isn’t challenging. But if you don’t want to go through all the trouble of sourcing every single bottle available in the Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese grocery stores, my staples are a nice soy sauce, fish sauce, and sesame oil. I use a lot of rice wine vinegar, but other acids work well (lime, for instance). Mirin is another nice thing to have but I can easily do without. Fish sauce on the other hand… it’s hard to replicate that flavor. Just don’t smell it and you’ll be fine.

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This recipe has some specialty items from the Asian grocery store, but feel free to swap in any other mushroom for the buna shimeji or tarragon for the perilla leaves. We make rice bowls a lot and they’re pretty versatile – truly a kitchen-sink kind of dish if there ever was one.

Rice Bowl + Tofu + Saucy Sauce

The last note here is about the tofu. Get the good stuff or make your own. Sometimes I’ll use a super firm tofu in rice bowls, but this one uses a creamy, silken tofu. The custard-y texture is a nice contrast against crunchy vegetables.

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Rice Bowls + Tofu + Saucy Sauce

1 cup brown basmati rice, cooked according to package directions
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small bunch broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
1 avocado, sliced
buna shimeji or other mushrooms, roughly chopped if needed

1 package silken tofu

1 clove garlic, smashed in a mortar & pestle with a bit of salt
1 teaspoon white or black sesame seeds, smashed in a mortar & pestle
1 fresh red chile, finely minced
1-inch nob of ginger, finely minced
1 green onion, finely sliced on the bias
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp dark soy sauce (or tamari or Liquid Aminos)
1 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp rice wine vinegar (or other acid like lime juice)
2 tsp water

1 green onion, finely sliced on the bias
2 perilla leaves, rolled and finely sliced
a few extra slices of red chiles

Making the bowls is easy enough: prepare the rice according to the package. Chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces and steam or blanch them for 1-2 minutes. You want them still snappy. Combine the rice, veggies, and avocado in a big bowl. Dole out individual portions in smaller bowls or on plates.

For the mushrooms, I had a bit of this handy douban oil from this recipe on hand (except made with gochujang and coconut oil), so I quickly pan-fried them in that for about 2 minutes. If you don’t have chile oil on hand, just fry them in any other high-smoking-point oil. The key to mushrooms: fry them on high heat. Otherwise, they’ll release moisture and you’ll steam them. Top individual portions with mushrooms.

Slice the tofu into 1/2-inch long pieces – kind of like thin bricks. Place a slice on each individual portion.

For the sauce, toss everything into a jar or deep bowl and shake or whisk vigorously. Pour over individual servings to taste, and top each bowl with the green onions, perilla leaves, and red chiles.

Kale and Black Lentil Salad

I’m back in the US of A and enjoying every moment of it! I’ve been getting in lots of cuddle time with my kitties and Eric in between all the activities – Lollapalooza, pickling and canning (!), farmer’s markets, and workouts. Eric got my bike tuned up over the summer so we’ve been biking everywhere! Biking = freedom, and it’s been awesome.

I’m working on sorting the 2000+ photos and videos that I took over the past month. We spent two weeks in Ethiopia, one week in Uganda, and then one week on the Kenyan coast. Every part of the trip was different and incredible. What a blissful month.

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One thing I love about being home, though, is the ability to cook the way I like to cook. In the past week I’ve been to the farmer’s market twice and am so in love with the variety of veg we get here in the summer. I bought about 10lbs of heirloom tomatoes that I plan on making bloody mary’s with, and I pickled loads of different varieties of chiles today. The kale in this salad also comes from the market, and while I do enjoy the kale you find all over Kenya – sukuma wiki – I still prefer dino kale in my salads.

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Kale and Black Lentil Salad with Black Pepper + Avocado Dressing

The ripeness of the avocado for the dressing is important – if it’s not soft enough, it won’t mash nicely. You could alternatively use a food processor, but it’s much simpler to just make it in a mason jar. I like it still kind of chunky.

I actually bought the black lentils at a health food store in Nairobi. If you can’t find them, you can substitute with other sturdy lentils.

1 bunch dino kale
1/2 cup dried black lentils, rinsed and cooked 
1 cup cooked chickpeas
3 carrots, shredded on a grater
1 big heirloom tomato, diced

2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon kosher salt or flaky sea salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon dried coriander seeds
1/2 very ripe avocado, finely diced
2 lemons, juiced
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon olive oil

Remove kale from the stems and cut it into fine ribbons. Combine in a large bowl with the lentils, chickpeas, carrots, and tomato.

In a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic with salt to make a paste. Add the black peppercorns and coriander seeds and process until the seeds are crushed and everything is combined. Scoop the paste into a jar and add the avocado and liquid ingredients. Use a fork to mash up the avocado in the jar. Put the lid on the jar and shake vigorously.

Toss salad with dressing and add salt to taste.

 

Buckwheat Groat “Taco Salad”

I’ve been cooking so much and posting so little. It’s a serious shame – look at some of the amazing things coming out of my kitchen!

Yogurt and spelt flour biscuits…

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Avocado with seeds and cumin…

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Mango with sweet sticky rice…

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Broiled rainbow trout…

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Tomato and wheat germ soup…

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Blackened salmon with black bean salad…

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Also, look at my cute husband! This mural is splashed across a building near our house, so we pass it often. We call it our favorite mural.

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And finally, the title of this post… buckwheat groat “taco salad”! Like I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been loving buckwheat as of late. The groats are just as good as the flour and cook up super easy.

Buckwheat is actually not related to wheat at all. It has a really unique flavor unlike other grains or rice. It’s almost sweet. The “groat” part of the equation refers to the fact that the grain is whole and that it has not been stripped of the bran, endosperm, or germ. So basically, the grain contains all the great nutrition it was “born” with.

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Buckwheat Groat “Taco Salad”

1 cup uncooked buckwheat groats
assortment of veggies – I had a red pepper, onion, broccoli, and zucchini
1 avocado
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
dash of cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper, to taste
feta cheese
greek yogurt

Cook the buckwheat groats like you would rice; use 2 cups of water for 1 cup of groats.

Heat the oven to 400 and coat the veggies in olive oil and salt and pepper. I chose not to roast the zucchini and left it raw, but the pepper, broccoli, and onion were all roasted. Dice the avocado and set aside.

When all the components are ready, mix together with the olive oil, lemon juice, and seasonings. Top with feta cheese and a glob of greek yogurt.

Avocado Toast

This isn’t so much a recipe as an idea I picked up in Australia when I worked for a small coffee and sandwich shop. I have no idea why they hired me. I had no experience as a barista. I couldn’t answer the phone because I couldn’t understand Australians and they couldn’t understand me  (though in person, communication was fine). One time, someone ordered a “kiddie cappuccino” for their 5-year-old. Choosing not to be judgmental, I made what she asked, a pint-sized cappuccino – espresso topped with a touch of steamed milk and lots of foam. When the kid, however, spit it out and started crying, she informed me that a kids cappuccino was merely cold milk topped with foam. I think I cried harder than the kid. Needless to say, many lessons were learned at that coffee shop, but they paid me cash and let me eat free sandwiches, so it worked for me.

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Anyway, Saturday and Sunday mornings, we’d serve breakfast, and when my coworker and I came in early to start prepping for the day, we’d make ourselves some avocado toast. Each morning, we would have to run to the nearby bakery to pick up the day’s bread, which was always fresh, soft, and cut into inch-thick slices. We always had access to amazing ingredients, too – freshly sliced, quality meats, cheeses, and all kinds of delicious homemade spreads. Sadly, I learned the shop went out of business a few months after I was back in the States, but I still enjoy an avocado toast every now and then.

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Avocado Toast

1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup greek yogurt (I used 2% Fage)
handful of arugula
nice, crusty whole grain bread
salt and pepper

Scoop out the insides of the avocado and mix it in a mixing bowl with the greek yogurt. Use a fork to mash up the avocado pieces.

Toast your bread in a toaster or in the oven. Top it with the avocado spread, arugula, and a sprinkling of sea salt and black pepper.

Avocado with Proscuitto and Olive Tapenade

After nearly a month of eating on the cheap in Southeast Asia, Eric and I decided we’d treat ourselves to a nice dinner in Bali. Granted, eating on the cheap was often the best way to dine in the countries we visited – it’s hard to imagine a big bowl of pho tasting so good in any other setting besides a street corner – but Bali certainly had fine dining options, and we wanted to see what they were like. Actually, in Ubud, nearly every restaurant looked nice – that city is full of trendy street-side cafes and posh eateries. So when we set out on this fine-dining mission, we basically just walked into one random restaurant on the street, unsure of how good it actually would be.

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As it happened, we walked into Cafe Lotus. We walked back through an expansive restaurant, took off our shoes, then stepped up onto a long terrace that overlooked a lotus pond and Hindu temple. We sat cross-legged at the short tables while watching a traditional Balinese dance at the temple. Ambiance alone was worth the price of admission. The food, by the way, was great too.

Among other things, I ordered this dish:
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It was simple – avocados, proscuitto, and olive tapenade. I knew it would be something I could easily recreate at home, which is what I finally did this week. I modified it slightly by adding artichoke hearts to the tapenade, but otherwise it is pretty much what I ate in Bali. By the way, what does a splurge for dinner cost in Bali? A whopping $30USD plus the cost of wine (which, frankly, is not a steal). Not too bad.

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Avocado with Proscuitto and Olive Tapenade

2 ripe avocados
1/4 pound thinly sliced proscuitto
1 cup mixed olives – I used several random varieties from the olive bar at the grocery store
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 anchovy fillets packed in oil
1 can artichoke hearts

1 clove garlic

Make the tapenade by combining the olives, lemon juice, anchovies, garlic, and artichoke hearts in a food processor. Process until it is just slightly chunky.

Slice the avocado in half, scoop out the pit, then carefully scoop out each half of the avocado so it remains in tact. Cut into 1/4 inch strips. Wrap the slices in proscuitto and top with the olive tapenade.