Saturday, April 17, 2010

Brazil - Fruit, Cheese, & Ham Tray

We were unable to find a cookbook that focused exclusively on Brazil. Fortunately we ran into a friend Fred Meinberg who is a native of Brazil in Harvard Square and asked him. He simply said fresh fruit, some ham, a type of farmers cheese, a french bread and some very black coffee. So we bought some fruit and already had some ham leftover from Easter.

1/2 of a papaya
1/4 of a pineapple sliced
1 mango sliced
1 loaf of french bread sliced
homemade butter
Queso fresco
Cooked ham

Cut up fruit into desired sizes.
Slice ham.
Cut up bread.
Slice the cheese.
Brew coffee using the instruction on the packaging.

Results and Discussion
This breakfast was the simplest one so far. The papaya is a slightly sweeter melon but it is much more bitter towards the skin. The seeds have a somewhat peppery flavor and it is worthing eating a couple. The queso fresco is very similar in texture to mozzarella. Fred told us that it is absolutely amazing fresh but that it is very hard to find it in the states. The homemade butter was very nice on the bread and should be made the night before as it does not keep as well.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Indonesia - Tinutuan


This recipe is adapted from the book Indonesian Regional Cooking by Sri Owen. The recipe is from the city of Manado which is on the north east tip of Sulawesi. We had to vary to recipe at several points. The original recipe called for water spinach instead of kale and fresh lemongrass instead of dried. We omitted the turmeric leaf. The effect of these substitutions on the final product are discussed in the results section.

1/4 cup white rice
3/4 cup of frozen sweet corn
10 oz of peeled and cubed butternut squash
2/3 cups bamboo shoots
1 tsp salt
2 cups of boiled frozen yuca, cubed.
1 tbsp of dried lemon grass
8 oz of fresh spinach
8 oz of fresh kale
20 fresh basil leaves
1 turmeric leaf (optional)

Soak rice in cold water for 30 minutes
Bring 5 cups of water to a boil and add rice.
Add corn, squash, bamboo, and salt. Simmer for 20-25 minutes.
Add yuca and simmer for a few minutes.
Refrigerate the soup over night
Reheat soup until hot
Soak lemon grass in 1/4 cup hot water for a few minutes and add to soup.
Add spinach and kale and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add basil leaves, season, and serve hot.

Results and Discussion

The preparation was very straight forward and can be easily done the night before which is what we did. We made several poor choices in our substitutions. Kale was a poor choice for young spinach as it is very chewy and tough. I have not chewed this much at breakfast ever, but I have met my daily fiber requirement. The dried lemongrass was also not a good substitution for fresh. As a result the basil taste of the soup was very strong and lacked a counterpoint. I believe the turmeric leaf would also help with this problem. The texture of the broth was very nice and had subtle sweetness. I would like to try this recipe again with better lemon grass and a green softer than kale.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

India - Uttappam


This recipe was adapted from Julie Sahni's Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking. Uttappam was developed using batter left over from making Indian crepes. The author credits her sister for this simplified variation.

Ingredients (5 pancakes)
1/2 cup garam flour
1 cup plus 2 tbsp rice flour
1.75 cups water
1 tbsp cream of wheat
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1/8 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp salt
1 large onion
3 plum tomtatoes
vegetable oil

Start preparing the batter at lunch time the day before. Whisk together garam flour, rice flour, and water until the batter is smooth. Cover and set in a warm place until evening. If no warm place is available use your oven. Heat the oven to 200F, turn it off, and then place bowl inside. Check the oven periodically and re-warm as needed.
Before going to bed add cream of wheat and all purpose flour. Mix thoroughly and leave covered at room temperature overnight. The batter will develop a yogurt-like smell.
Chop onions and tomatoes and combine.
Stir in baking powder and salt. The batter should resemble pancake batter.
Heat frying pan to a temperature appropriate for cooking pancakes. Add 1 tsp of oil to the pan and coat the bottom.
Pour 1/2 cup of batter in the pan. Immediately add 2/3 cup of the tomato and onion mix pressing the mix into the batter. Once the bottom is golden sprinkle 1 tsp of oil over the vegetables and flip. Cook until batter is done. Place in warm oven until you are ready to eat. Repeat until you run out of batter.

Results and Discussion
This recipe is a nice variation on pancakes. The texture is less spongy and the onions and tomatoes add some sweetness and bite. We made a simple chutney as a topping and it was a nice addition. Clearly the lead time in preparing the batter requires you to plan ahead so they are not as casual an endeavor as pancakes. As with pancakes it is a good idea to make a small test pancake when starting to ensure the pan is the right temperature. An illustration of what happens when do not test the pan is the center image.