Thursday, March 31, 2011

Norbert Rice Salad

One day I was browsing through my computer files (mostly in order to delete and clean up a little), when I came across an old file called Norbert rice salad. I opened the file and at first I couldn't remember where I'd gotten the recipe. Then I had a vague recollection of being at a party in my mid-twenties...back in the day when I actually went to parties (ones without any clowns, magicians or giant inflatable bouncy things). There was a friend of a friend there named Norbert. He brought rice salad and gave me the recipe. I have no idea where he got it and I haven't seen Norbert in at least 15 years, but I thought it was only fair for his name to stay attached. I did tweak it a little (it needed more crunch and a little spice). Norbert, if you're out there, I hope you don't mind.


3 cups cooked brown rice, still warm
1 1/2 cups unsalted toasted cashews, coarsely chopped
1 cup unsalted roasted sunflower seeds
1 cup chopped onion or scallions (white and light green parts only)
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons mango chutney
2 tablespoons chili sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon green tabasco sauce, or more to taste
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon curry powder

1.      Combine rice, cashews, sunflower seeds, onions and peppers in a large bowl.
2.      In a separate bowl, mix together mayonnaise, ketchup, curry powder, mango chutney, chili sauce, soy sauce and tabasco.
3.      Pour dressing over the rice mixture and stir well to combine.  Let chill in the refrigerator.

assembling the ingredients
the not-so-secret sauce
ingredients mixed before sauce

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tekil Gomen (Cabbage, Potatoes & Carrots)

served with injera & kik alicha
I know, it's beginning to look a lot like Ethiopian week, but this is the last recipe (at least for a while). I just figured that if I was going to defrost the injera anyway, I might as well make at least two dishes to make it worth my while. So here is my other favorite Ethiopian recipe. You can make it without the niter kibbeh (spiced clarified butter), but I do recommend using it (it really adds a wonderful complexity and depth of flavor).

Yield: 6 servings

1/2 cup niter kibbeh or olive oil (if using olive oil, double the spices)
4 carrots, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 lb. shredded cabbage (about 1/2 head)
5 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

1.      Melt niter kibbeh in a large pot over medium heat. Add the carrots and onion and cook for 5 minutes.
2.      Stir in the salt, pepper, cumin, turmeric and cabbage; cook for another 15 to 20 minutes.
3.      Add potatoes and cover (do not add water, the vegetables release enough water on their own). Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until potatoes are soft, 20 to 30 minutes.

slightly adapted from "Ethiopian Cabbage Dish" from

melting the niter kibbeh
onions, carrots and cabbage
onions, carrots and cabbage after 20 minutes
potatoes added and cooked
scooping it up with injera

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Niter Kibbeh (spiced clarified butter)

The first time I made this, I was struck by two things: 1. the unbelievable smell permeating throughout my entire house (I wanted to drink some, but I knew that would be gross, so I didn't go there). And 2. the almost florescent yellow color of the finished product (I don't think the photo does it justice, this stuff practically glows in the dark).

Niter Kibbeh is spiced clarified butter used in Ethiopian cooking. It's a great secret weapon to have in your flavor arsenal. Next time you're not sure what to do with vegetables, fish or meat, try sauteing it in some of this. You'll thank me later.

Yield: 2 cups

1 lb. unsalted butter (good quality olive oil or other oil can be substituted to make vegan)
¼ cup chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
½ teaspoon turmeric
4 cardamom pods, crushed
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves, whole
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon roughly chopped fresh basil

1.      In a small saucepan, gradually melt the butter and bring it to bubbling. When the top is covered with foam, add the other ingredients and reduce the heat to a simmer. Gently simmer, uncovered, on low heat.
2.      After about 45 to 60 minutes, when the surface becomes transparent and the milk solids are on the bottom, pour the liquid through cheesecloth into a heat-resistant container. Discard the spices and solids.
Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator. Niter Kebbeh will keep for up to 2 months.

foam on top (ready to add spices)
spices added
after about 30 minutes
after 60 minutes (ready to strain)
straining into a bowl

Here's a great Ethiopian dish you can make using niter kibbeh: Tekil Gomen (cabbage, potatoes & carrots).

Monday, March 28, 2011

Kik Alicha (yellow split peas)

I love going out for Ethiopian food. The spices and variety of dishes are fantastic. But the most fun part for me is eating with your hands using the injera (a spongy, fermented bread made with teff flour) to scoop up the food. The fermenting gives it a slightly sour taste that I really enjoy. That combined with the texture, well, put it all together and it's just a great meal every time. 

Of course going out for Ethiopian food is not an option for everyone. So here is one of my favorites you can easily make at home. I ordered the injera..I did try to make it at home once, but let's just say it didn't go well and leave it at that (I'm just not ready to talk about it yet).

Yield:  8-10 servings

2 yellow onions, finely minced
3 tablespoons garlic, finely minced
3 tablespoons finely minced fresh ginger
3 tomatoes, minced (or 1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes w/juice)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cups water
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 lb. organic yellow split peas, soaked overnight and rinsed
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
salt to taste

1.      Wash split peas in hot water & drain.
2.      In a heavy enamel or iron stewpot, cook the onions over moderate heat for about 5 minutes or until translucent by adding water as needed. Then add tomatoes and garlic. Do not let brown or burn. Add the ginger; continue to sauté for 5 more minutes, adding some of the water as needed.
3.      Add olive oil and stir for another 5 minutes until well blended. Cook briskly, uncovered, for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally, adding water as needed. Add split peas, cardamom, black pepper and remaining water and cook, stirring frequently, for about 30 minutes (or until split peas are tender, but not falling apart). You can add more hot water if needed; sauce should be thick not watery. Add turmeric. Season with salt to taste. Serve with injera.

slightly adapted from Café Colucci, Oakland, CA

chopped onions
cooked onions
tomatoes, garlic and ginger added
adding yellow split peas (water already added)
almost done (it just needs to be a little bit thicker)
Injera is thin (slightly thicker than a crepe and much spongier).
injera up close (see, spongy!)
I ordered my injera from this site. It freezes well.
The best way to reheat the defrosted injera is in
the microwave (it keeps it soft).


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Raspberry-Lemon Thumbprint Cookies

These cookies are nice and light, but still full of flavor. The lemon is strong and the raspberry jam is the perfect accompaniment (although I'm sure you could fill the thumbprint with any flavor you want). You can see mine cracked a little. They do hold their shape while baking, so if you don't want the cracks, just take the extra time to smooth them while they're still raw.

Yield: 3 1/2 to 4 dozen

1/2 cup raspberry jam
1 tablespoon Chambord or kirsch (or any raspberry liquor)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.      Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Lightly grease 2 large baking sheets.
2.      In a small bowl, combine the jam and Chambord. Stir to combine.
3.      In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk to blend.
4.      In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Beat in the egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla. Add the flour mixture in 2 additions and beat just until moist clumps form. Gather the dough together into a ball.
5.      Pinch off the dough to form 1-inch balls. Place on the prepared baking sheets, spacing 1-inch apart. Use your floured index finger or 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon to create depressions in the center of each ball. Fill each indentation with nearly 1/2 teaspoon of the jam mixture. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
6.      Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

from Emeril Lagasse, 2003

lemon zest
mixing the dough
large dough ball
tiny dough ball (close up)
You can see that I was able to smooth the cracks
(I just didn't bother doing that for all of them).
This is my favorite jam. I love that it's seedless and the flavor is fantastic.
jam mixed with raspberry liquor (I used Framboise)
raw, filled with jam


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Salmon with Fennel and Pernod

You might think fennel, fennel fronds, fennel seeds and Pernod would be too overpowering, but it's not. It's just right. I really liked this dish. And unless you're a fennel hater, I think you will too (don't be a hater).
Makes 2 servings

1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 large fennel bulb with fronds (bulb quartered, then cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices)
2 tablespoons fennel fronds, chopped (divided)

2 (6- to 7-oz.) salmon fillets
2 tablespoons Pernod or other anise-flavored liqueur

1.      Stir fennel seeds in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer seeds to small bowl; cool. Mix in butter, shallots, and 1 tablespoon fennel fronds. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
2.      Melt 1 tablespoon butter mixture in same large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add sliced fennel bulb and 1/4 cup water to skillet; cover and cook until fennel is crisp-tender, about 8 minutes. Uncover skillet and sauté until fennel begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer fennel to plate.
3.      Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon butter mixture to same skillet and melt over medium heat. Add salmon; cover and cook 5 minutes. Turn salmon over; add 1/4 cup water to skillet. Cover and continue cooking until salmon is just opaque in center, about 5 minutes longer.
4.      Slide salmon to one side of skillet; return fennel to skillet. Add Pernod, 2 teaspoons butter mixture, and remaining 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds; stir to heat through.
5.      Divide fennel mixture between 2 plates. Top with salmon; spoon remaining butter mixture over salmon.

Bon Appétit, December 2007
crushing fennel seeds
(finally an excuse to break out my mortar and pestle)
fennel bulb with fronds
sliced fennel
chopped fronds
mixing fennel/shallot butter
(I used the mortar and pestle since it was already
dirty, but I think a fork would work better)
fennel/shallot butter
fennel cooked
salmon cooking
everything in the pan