Côte d’Ivoire

June 27, 2010 at 8:16 am | Posted in Western & Southern Africa | Leave a comment

The Ivory coast sounds like an exotic place.   However, as it turns out, fairly ordinary food.

The Plan

Pete suggested we’d find inspiration across Africa to be difficult.  He’s been proven right.   Looking for inspiration in African cuisine seems a bit like the search for stable government.

I decided on a Halibut Ivory Coast.   And really, really wish I hadn’t.  It pains me to consider ever again reproducing this vile abomination, even in print.  In fact, while you can go search for this on the net, I implore you not to make this.   This was described by the potential consumers as “urgh”, “looks and tastes like prison food”, and “look, the dog won’t even eat it!”

To mitigate the risk of anyone else eating this, I will instead produce the backup recipe:  if not from Côte d’Ivoire, inspired by.

Cauliflower & Spinach soup

Ingredients

  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 3 onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • a thumb of ginger
  • 1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 potato, diced
  • 1 litre of chicken stock
  • 2 chicken stock cubes
  • water
  • nutmeg
  • Coriander powder
  • Salt, Pepper
  • Big bunch of English spinach

1.  Melt the butter & oil in the pan and fry the onions for two minutes on moderate heat.  Add the garlic and ginger and fry for two more.

2.  Add the cauliflower florets, carrot, potato.

3.  Pour in stock, add the stock cubes and enough water to just lip the top of the vegetables.

4.  Add the garam masala and nutmeg.  Simmer for 30 minutes.

5.  Add the spinach.  It’ll wilt very quickly.  Add the coriander and stew for 5 more minutes.

6.  Blend.   It’ll go the most vibrant kid-repelling green you could imagine.

The Outcome

Liam: “Awesome!”

Jacqueline:  ”It’s green, I won’t try it, I won’t try it, I want toast, I can’t try it, yuck, ok one taste….ok, that’s yum. ”

Chris:  ”This looks terrible – but it’s excellent

Me: Fantastic.   Shame it’s not technically from Côte d’Ivoire, but I’m sure they have plants roughly this colour green.

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South Africa

June 26, 2010 at 9:30 am | Posted in Western & Southern Africa | Leave a comment

Ah, South Africa.  A country that’s had a very busy and interesting history.   A rich archealogical source of the oldest fossilised humans.   Vast mineral wealth, with nearly half the worlds diamonds originating from The Diamond Fields.   The rise of the Zulu people and their epic battles with the British.  The weird development of the Afrikaans language (take 12,000 Dutchmen, leave them in the desert for 60 years, stir). The somewhat unusual choice to develop nuclear weapons (for war with who exactly?).   South Africa also founded & governed over one of  ugliest socio-political structures ever forged, giving rise to the incredible story of Nelson Mandela, his long term incarceration and eventual ascendancy to president.

But now, for the average Gen-Y, South Africa is now best known as home of the soothing, peculiarly seductive tone of the vuvuzela.  Yours now to own on CD.

The Plan

Given the country’s huge game history, lots of meat dishs are up for grabs in South Africa, but as the local Woolworth’s doesn’t stock antelope, giraffe or elephant, I went with Bobotie followed by Soetkoekies:  mostly on name alone.

Bobotie

Ingredients

  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 apple, peeled, diced
  • 1kg beef mince
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbs mild curry powder
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 tbs toasted slivered almonds
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) milk
  • 6 bay leaves

1.  Pre heat oven to 170C.

2.  Heat oil and butter in a pan over medium heat, add onion and cook for 2-3 minutes or until soft. Add apple and cook for 2 minutes. Add mince and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes until meat is browned. Stir in 1 egg, breadcrumbs, curry powder, raisins, almonds and lemon juice. Season, pour into a 20 x 30cm baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.

3. Beat together remaining egg, turmeric and milk. Remove dish from oven, discard foil, and pour egg mixture over top. Lay bay leaves down centre and bake for a further 15 minutes or until golden.

Soetkoekies

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 ounces chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup port or sherry
  • 1 egg white, beaten

Combine the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, ground cloves, brown sugar, and almonds in a large bowl. Add the butter and cut into the flour mixture. Add the beaten eggs and red wine and mix dough together vigorously until it can be formed into a ball.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a rough circle about 1/4″ thick. With a cookie cutter, cut the dough into 2″ rounds. Arrange the rounds about 1″ apart on a buttered cookie sheet. Continue cutting cookies, then brush each gently with the egg white. Bake for 15 minutes – until golden brown. Remove to a rack to cool completely.

The Event

Meh.  This basically turned out to be sweetish meat loaf with an interesting crust.

Biscuits were…well, big chunky biscuits.

The Outcome

Liam: “Nah, not good”

Jacqueline:  ”Nah”

Chris:  “meh”

Me: “Meh”.

Not a winner.

Nigeria

June 13, 2010 at 8:04 am | Posted in Western & Southern Africa | 1 Comment

Nigeria’s our third stop in Africa, and there’s a few non-culinery points of interest.   Firstly, unlike some of the stops, it’s typified by abundance.   It’s a rich source of people, oil, scams and coups (and oddly, twins).   Nigeria is the most populous nations in Africa, and the 8th most populous country on earth with 150m people.   It’s also wealthy-ish:  it  has the 11th largest  oil reserve in the world, and supplies the US with a 5th of it’s oil.    But of course, it’s most famous for it’s 419 scams, pulling hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

(They’re my favourite type of scam, particularly when they pull several millions dollars from a wealthy university professor  a) because if you’ve already got many millions why are you reaching out for more, b)  the story generally involves participating in 3rd world corruption, so scammies is typically have no moral fibre, and c) university professors really ought to know better.)

Searching for other trivia, I found the following Nigeria proverbs:

  • The frog does not jump in the daytime without reason.
  • A tiger does not have to proclaim its tigritude.

I so hope these are true.

The Plan

While I was sorely tempted to try FuFu on it’s name alone, I couldn’t source cassava.   So, instead we went for Jollof Rice.  The Congo Cookbook was again my friend

Ingredients

  • cooking oil
  • 2-3 cups of beef stock
  • 2-3 cups of water
  • 800 g of blade steak
  • two  onions, chopped
  • cayenne pepper
  • two cloves garlic, minced
  • bay leaf
  • chopped capsicum
  • chopped tomato
  • handful of green beans, chopped
  • can of roma tomatos
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 2-3 cups of rice

1.  Cube  the meat and brown in a large frying pan.   Once done, transfer to a large pot, add the stock and bring to a gentle boil

2.  In the same frying pan, fry the onions, garlic and bay leaf.  Once the onions are translucent, add to the main pot

3.  In the same pan, fry the capsicum, tomatoes and beans.   Transfer to the main pot

4.  In the same pan, add the rice and the tomato paste.   Fry and stir until the rice has gone a reddish colour.

5.  Add the rice to the main pot, and a little bit more water.  Cook on low heat for half an hour or so, adding water as required as the rice absorbes it.   It should have the consistency of risotto by the end.

The Event

This is an easy dish:  fry in one pan, drop into another.  The tomato paste really didn’t mix easily with the rice without adding a bit of water.

The Outcome

Liam: “Good!  I think it’s pretty good”

Jacqueline:  ”I liked it, but there was just a little too much spice”

Christina: “Yeah, good.”

Me:  This was just plain old more-ish bowl food.   Heartier than a risotto, lighter than a casserole.   All round good.

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