Adventures in Ethiopian Cooking

Over the holidays, I got a vegan Ethiopian cookbook, Teff Love, by Kittee Berns, for a present.

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I have loved Ethiopian cuisine since I lived in the Boston area, where I used to go to a restaurant in Cambridge, MA called Addi’s Red Sea. It is a very vegan friendly cuisine. Vegnews recently shared a story that has more about Ethiopian culture and their food and why it’s so vegan-friendly. Check it out here.

At first I only had the time and energy to try the Ethiopian style tofu scramble recipe. I’m pretty sure I could eat that almost every day for the rest of my life and not get sick of it. What really makes it is the berbere spice, the signature spice mix for the cuisine…although I’m a baby when it comes to spice and so I reduce it by quite a bit.

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You can get it in the international section of Whole Foods, among other places, I am sure.

One of the best parts of the food is the Injera, the spongy, crepe-like sourdough bread that you eat everything with. It can be used instead of utensils. It’s naturally gluten free (made from teff flour–which inspired the name of Bern’s cookbook). However, it takes up to a week to fully make, which is a bit complicated…but worth it if you can figure it out. If you are pressed for time though, the book has a teff crepe recipe which is really awesome as well.

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Another great aspect of Ethiopian food is that it makes a lot of food, and it lends itself to making multiple dishes and feeding lots of people.

For example, the first time I made it, I gave some to my friend who had just had a baby as part of a meal train.

Here’s a picture she took of her plate:

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And here is one of my favorite pictures of my own plate (one of many):

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Also, my dad happens to work with someone from Ethiopia, who ended up giving me a huge jar of Teff flour! It was very exciting as it’s like hitting the teff jackpot!

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After making a large batch of food for myself and my friend and her family, I made a dish by itself. It is called ye’zelbo gomen be’karot, which is kale with carrots, onions and mild spices. It’s seriously the best kale dish I’ve ever eaten, and that is saying a lot (I love kale) and my whole family loves it.

Speaking of which: yesterday (Wednesday April 7), after spending the weekend in my kitchen making a big feast for Monday, only to have snow (!!!) cancel the class, I served the small college program, College Unbound, who helped me get my bachelor’s degree, the feast as well! I kept raving about the kale dish to everyone, and one student said she doesn’t like kale, but I got her to try it anyways, and she really liked it! Her cousin who was also there, was claiming she might need to contact the local news channel because I had her trying foods she’d never tried before, and she’s usually so picky…which was a big compliment for myself and the author of the cookbook! Here are a few pictures of some of the other students posing with their plates:

Also, the majority of the students had never had Ethiopian food before when we asked. Most people who tried it were not put off by the fact that there wasn’t meat in the dishes, which can happen sometimes when I am feeding large groups (or at least they didn’t say it to my face! haha). I had one person comment to me that the split peas in mild sauce (called ye’ater kik alicha in the book) had a meatlike texture. My friend Domingo, who is pictured in the first picture above, was excited also that I made the vegan Ethiopian style mac and cheesie, because he’s lactose intolerant.

It was a really positive experience for myself and all involved. Especially because I could effortlessly share my love of another culture’s food and share that vegan food doesn’t have to be bland, boring, or leave you craving protein (in fact, the red lentils in spicy sauce, in a dish called ye’misser wot, have 15g of protein per serving, according to Teff Love!). I hope to do it again soon.

And I can’t recommend the cookbook Teff Love, enough!

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Vegan Poutine Recipe

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Hi!

I am slowly making my way through the backlog of stuff I’ve been meaning to post! Soon you’ll also get to hear about a delicious raspberry cake batter smoothie I made and adventures in vegan Ethiopian cooking (a cookbook review).

Not too long ago I really wanted some comfort food, and I had been contemplating using the block of Daiya cheddar cheese I had in my fridge for poutine for awhile. So, I finally did it.

The gravy was spot on, but next time I will melt the cheese a little bit more on top of the fries in the oven so that when I pour the gravy on it all it will melt even better.

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 6 tbsp Earth Balance or refined coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup gluten free or regular flour (I used brown rice flour)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups No Beef Broth (from the Happy Herbivore cookbook if you have it, or from here)
  • 1 cup vegan unchick’n broth, or vegetable broth–It’s fairly easy to find vegan unchick’n broth powder–several companies make it and I’ve even found variations of it in dollar type/discount stores near me! Just mix 1 tbsp broth powder with one cup water or veggie broth! Happy Herbivore also has a recipe for making your own broth powder
  • 2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 1/2 tbsp water
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • About half a package of your favorite frozen french fries, or homemade if you want to get fancy. I used Alexia brand Straight Cut Fries
  • 1/2-a whole block Daiya Cheddar, cut into 1 inch cubes

Directions:

  1. Start by preheating the oven to the temperature the fries are baked at.
  2. Make the no beef and unchick’n broths, allow to cool slightly
  3. Prepare fries according to package…in the meantime prepare the gravy.
  4. Melt the butter or coconut oil in a large saucepan. Add the flour and stir constantly until a roux is formed. This is when it turns into a golden brown color. It takes about 5 minutes.
  5. Add in the garlic and cook for about 30 more seconds.
  6. Stir in the broth with a whisk.
  7. Bring to a boil.
  8. Whisk in the cornstarch and water, stir constantly and let simmer until thickened, about 3-5 minutes…it’s possible you might need slightly more or less cornstarch. I started with 2 tbsp water/cornstarch and then added the extra 1/2 tbsp later when it would not thicken to my liking.
  9. Keep gravy warm (this can be done by turning off the heat and covering, leaving on the stovetop that you cooked it on.
  10. In the last few minutes of cooking the fries, gather them up into the middle of the tray, and randomly drop the Daiya cheddar blocks on top. I’d say only do this for 5 minutes at maximum but do it however you like really.
  11. Take the fries and cheese out, place in a large bowl, and put as much gravy as you like, I probably put close to 4 cups on top. You will have extra gravy that you can use for more poutine or something equally delicious.
  12. Maintenant, nous mangeons! (That’s French for now, we eat!) Enjoy!

 

Asparagus and Saffron and Garlic Aioli

When I was younger, my mom used to make a non vegan version of this that I loved. Every time she’d make it, she would say “Saffron and Garlic Aioliiiiii” all long and drawn out in a funny voice and it made me have fonder memories of it. It leaves you with horrible garlic breath, but is worth it.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus
  • Olive oil or spray oil
  • 1 cup Just Mayo (vegan mayo brand…I do not recommend trying this with other brands of veganaise, they will get too thin and the taste won’t be the same)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon agave
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 pinch saffron threads

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Trim the ends of the asparagus off. Place in a baking pan with oil spread or sprayed on the bottom. Spray the tops of the asparagus with oil as well or use a couple teaspoons of oil if you don’t spray.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes.
  4. To prepare the aioli, place the vinegar, agave, and saffron in a saucepan and bring it to a boil on medium heat.
  5. Allow the vinegar to cool in the refrigerator.
  6. Stir the garlic together with the Just Mayo.
  7. When the vinegar mixture is cool, mix together with the mayo and garlic.
  8. Dollop the aioli over the asparagus. Enjoy! It also makes a yummy dip for other veggies and such.

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Vegan MoFo day #13 Post #10: Kitchen tour time and recipe for yellow rice

Hey,

Today’s Vegan MoFo post prompt is: It’s kitchen tour time!

Technically “my” kitchen is actually my mom’s kitchen. I am very lucky to live with my parents right now because they have a really awesome kitchen. I’ll miss it when I move out.

The pictures I will post at the end will show that the kitchen a bit messy, and that’s because I took them right after I made an elaborate dinner. My mom is always complaining about the messes I make. I really can be a bit of a hurricane when I cook.

Tonight’s dinner was from the cookbook Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats From Around the World by Allyson Kramer. It was the Peanut Mole soy curls, although I’m not sure why it’s called that, since there are no peanuts in it. In addition to that, I decided to make a yellow rice recipe, which wasn’t in the book, but somehow came out looking almost exactly like the rice that was pictured in the recipe.

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The mole may not be exactly attractive, but let me tell you, anything that has a whole bar of melted chocolate in it is worth making!

Here is the recipe for the rice I made:

Yellow Rice Makes about 4 cups cooked

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 4 cups veggie broth
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dried minced onion
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or more to taste
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup defrosted frozen peas

Directions:

  1. I recommend using a rice cooker for this as it’s easier and I love rice cookers! Place all the ingredients except the peas and tomatoes into the pot of the rice cooker and stir before turning on.
  2. If using a rice cooker, set to cook and leave it alone until it switches to warming. If you prefer not to use a rice cooker, cook on the stove as you would any other rice (you probably know better how to do that than me at this point, since I’ve grown reliant on rice cookers.)
  3. Once cooked, transfer into a large bowl and fold in the tomatoes and peas.
  4. Serve as a delicious side.

And now, what you’ve been waiting for: the kitchen tour!

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This is the area where the stove, oven, fruit basket, utensils, and blender reside. You can also see my rice cooker and the mole I just made when this was taken.

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This is the corner where my new juicer resides that I am loving and endlessly intrigued by.

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This is the sink area. You can also see on the left hand side (sorta, it isn’t clear) some pencils, pens, and paper that we keep there along with my parents’ actual landline phone. It is a mess of dirty dishes in this picture AHHHH! I cleaned them up right after eating.

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This is where a lot of the cups and glasses are stored above and where I often prepare food but am not really supposed to because my mom likes it as clean as possible. My hot water heater is currently on the top of the counter top. My cat Neko often jumps up onto this counter to get his food (since we prepare it on there), which we’ve tried to discourage him from because it’s gross, but we haven’t been consistent enough with correcting the behavior so he’s still doing it. In the background you can see the eating area where my brother is eating the Mole dish as well (he’s not a vegan but likes the food I make and eats it happily).

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The pantry area, spice rack, microwave, toaster oven, Mrs. Pots Cookie jar, etc. You can also see the cupcakes left over from the bbq I told you about that I made for Saturday, my Vega One shake, some random ingredients such as gluten free vegan breadcrumbs and buckwheat flour, and other cluttery stuff. Check out my mom’s alphabetized spice rack…we have a bit of an overgrowth of spices, as the overflow is housed in the cabinet above.

That’s all for tonight, it was fun showing you the kitchen!