Weeknight Meal

37. Central African Republic: Peanut and Sweet Potato Soup

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During my research for the Central African Republic I could find nothing but misery. So I started thinking what do I know about this misery in this miserable country. My answer: next to nothing. The only thing I know is that Kony has a lot of influence there. If you haven’t heard about Kony, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN THE FEW PAST YEARS?

Despite being full of natural resources like gold, diamonds and uranium it’s one of the poorest countries in the world. Frankly there was not much positive to be found in the Central African Republic, it is a country torn by war. The conflict is way to complicated to explain. So I will just give you the recipe

This recipe is so delicious and healthy! Perfect for a cold winter night! And yes I added a little leftover focaccia bread. Too completely different continents but strange enough it worked!

sweetpotato soup

Ingredients: 1½ tsp olive oil,  2 cloves garlic, minced, 1 yellow onion, diced, 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger, 4 cups vegetable broth, low-sodium, 4 cups diced tomatoes ( canned or boxed with juices), 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced, ½ cup natural peanut butter, 2 tsp ground cumin, 2 tsp ground coriander, ¼ tsp sea salt, ¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper¼ tsp cinnamon, chopped fresh cilantro

 Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion and ginger and stir frequently until the onions are softened (approx. 3 min.). Add 1 cup of water, vegetable broth, tomatoes, peanut butter, cumin, coriander, salt, cayenne and cinnamon. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cover the pot. Let simmer until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally (approx. 12 min.) To serve sprinkle over the chopped cilantro

33. Cameroon: Afrika Grilled Chicken in Tomato Sauce (Kati Kati)

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Cameroon is Africa’s beating heart, a beautifull country with active volcanoes, white sand beaches, thick rainforest and memorable parched landscapes broken up by the bizarre rock formations of the Sahel. So Cameroon has basically everything you expect Africa to have. There are both French and English regions in Cameroon, btw have I mentioned the rest of the 230 local languages they in Cameroon! In contrast with it’s neighbours Cameroon enjoys stability. The infrastrucuture is great, so traveling in Cameroon is safer and easier then in many other parts of Africa.

Cameroon

Here are some fun facts about Cameroon

  • Masks of people there carrying different messages are a very important part of their culture.
  • Cameroon is the first African country to reach the quarter-final in soccer world cup.
  • Cameroon is home to the second wettest place in the world, Debuncha at the foot of the Cameroon mountains records annual rainfalls of 400 inches (10,000mm), this is about 20 times the annual rainfall recorded in England. (and here I was thinking I lived in a rainy country)
  • The name Cameroon (also Cameroun in French) is derived from Rio de Camarões (the River of Prawns) the name given to River Wouri by Portuguese Explorers in the 15th century due to its abundance of prawns and crayfish.

So this week I made Kati Kati or African Grilled Chicken! It was a delicious weeknight meal and I served it with spinach.

Cameroon

Ingredients: 3-4 pounds of chicken, skin- on cut up into desired pieces, 1 ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 ½ tablespoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon white pepper, ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon bouillon powder (you may replace with salt),

Ingredients sauce: 2 fresh tomatoes, , ½ cup water or more as needed, chicken bouillon to taste

 Trim chicken of excess fat and pat dry with a cloth or paper napkin. In a small bowl combine the spices, onions, pepper, garlic, and Maggie. Season chicken with spice rub. Preheat a hot barbecue, grill, griddle or frying pan. Place chicken on the grill coated with cooking spray; grill for about 20~30 minutes, rotating sides or until browned and almost cooked. Blend tomatoes and set aside. Heat up a large saucepan over medium heat –add palm oil to the pan and tomatoes puree. Sauté for about 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally Transfer the chicken to the saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat, spooning the sauce over the chicken to coat. Add about ½-1cup of water cover and cook until the chicken is well flavored by the sauce 4 to 5 minutes and thoroughly cooked through. Adjust for seasonings and oil

Manu Dibango is one of Cameroon’s most renown musicians.

25. Bosnia and Herzegovina: Cevapi with Ajvar (Roasted Red Pepper Sauce)

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Bosnia Herzegovina a country plagued by so many wars, but still going strong. I remember when I was really small, seeing the horrifying images on television. I think it’s one of the first big new events that I remember.  It all seemed so far away back then, but now I realize it wasn’t that far at all. Only a 3 hour flight away! Bosnia & Herzegovina are to parts, the Bosnian region is mostly covered by thick dark forests and the Herzegovina part is flat farmland.

bosnia

So here we go fun stuff about Bosnia

  • It has the last remaining jungle in Europe at Perućica: It may not be huge being some 6 kilometres long and 1–3 kilometres wide, but with an area of 1,400 hectares, the Perućica forest has many trees that are 300 years old, and the forest’s vintage is stated to be 20,000 years. You don’t need to go to some far away exotic destination to have your own jungle expedition!
  • People drink hard liquor to start the day: brandy to be specific (well that’s what I call a breakfast of champions)
  • Bribing cops is the rule not the exeception
  • Births and Weddings are still celebrated with “celebratory gunfire”.
  • The Eurovision Songcontest is really big in Eastern Europe, also in Bosnia.

Here is the recipe for this week, it was a really really good one! Quick, easy and tasty!

cevapi

Cevapi

Ingredients Roasted Red Pepper Sauce:  1 jar roasted red bell peppers,  1 medium eggplant, 5 teaspoons freshly minced garlic (about 5 medium cloves), 1/4 cup sunflower or olive oil, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more to taste, Freshly ground black pepper to taste and a teaspoon of sugar.

Ingredients Cevapi: 350 gr ground beef, 350 gr ground lamb, 1 finely minced shallot, 3 cloves of garlic finely minced, 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda, salt to taste, pepper to taste

Several toppings I used garlic sauce, cucumber and cilantro

CEVAPI RECIPE

In a medium bowl, mix together beef, lamb, onion, garlic, paprika, salt, pepper, and baking soda by hand until thoroughly combined. Form meat mixture into finger-length sausages 3/4-inch in diameter. Bake the sausages on the BBQ or in a griddle pan.

AVJAR RECIPE

Place eggplant on cool side of grill. Cover and cook until skin darkens and wrinkles and eggplant is uniformly soft when pressed with tongs, about 30 minutes, turning halfway through for even cooking. Remove eggplant from grill and let sit until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Trim top off eggplant and split lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out flesh of eggplant; discard skin, Place roasted red peppers, eggplant pulp, and garlic in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse until roughly chopped. Add in oil, vinegar, and salt and pulse until incorporated and peppers are finely chopped.Transfer sauce to a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let cool to room temperature then use immediately or transfer to an airtight container and store in refrigerator for up to two weeks.

21. Benin: Mouton à l’Arachide (Lamb with Peanuts)

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Benin, a country with a dark history like no other, it’s last place the slaves saw when the were taken from their homes all around around Africa. Can you imagine them sitting on a boat not knowing where they are going, being so afraid of all the stuff around you that you have never seen before. Strange people yelling at you in a language you can’t understand. They must have been so scared! Luckily that’s history!

Elephants, lions and crocodiles can be seen in more animated form in the northern wildlife parks, notably Pendjari, one of the best in West Africa. Then there are the stilt villages, home to thousands in the southern lagoons. Not only is Benin a richly historical and cultural country, this politically stable nation is one of the easiest parts of West Africa to travel in. So here are some fun facts of Benin:

  • Benin is the birthplace of Voodoo: Benin is the only country that recognizes Voodoo as a religion, almost 2/3 of the population worships Voodoo Gods
  • Languages spoken in Benin: French, Fon, Haussa, Yoruba, Dendi, Bariba and Ge
  • Benin, formerly known as Dahomey, was one of the first countries in the 1990s to successfully effect the change from dictatorship to a pluralistic political system. Today, it is one of the most stable countries in Africa.

So here we go, the recipe! I really liked this one although I had my doubts when I started but it turned out really really well!

lamb stew with peanut sauce

Ingredients: 1.5kg lamb shoulder cubed ,6 tbsp peanut butter, 900ml water, 60ml groundnut oil, 2 onions, chopped 2 garlic cloves, 2 sprigs thyme, 1 tbsp powdered shrimp, 8  small carrots, cut into chunks 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed 1 small cabbage, shredded, salt and black pepper to taste, splash of soy sauce to taste

Add the water to a large pan and bring to a boil. Mix-in the peanut butter and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Cool and remove any fat from the surface. Meanwhile fry the lamb in the groundnut oil until browned then add the onions and cook until golden brown. Add the garlic, thyme and powdered shrimp and season with salt. Stir to mix then add the carrots and cabbage. Fry for a minute then add the peanut butter and water mix. Bring to a boil reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes before adding the sweet potato. Add the soy sauce and do not forget to season well, don’t be shy with the black pepper, you don’t want it to be blend! Cook for a further 40 minutes, until the vegetables are tender then serve with rice.

13. Azerbaijan: Lamb stew with chestnuts and dried fruit

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My last country that starts with an A! 1 letter done 25 to go! Azerbaijan also referred  to as “The Land of Fire” mostly because their old religion used to consider fire as a holy element and also because of The Burning Mountain a rare natural wonder in the Absheron peninsula. It burns all year round due to natural gas escaping from the ground. And with burn I mean flames! It should be spectacular sight!

  • There are 8,350 rivers in Azerbaijan, and all of them drain into the Caspian Sea
  • There main income is oils, they have a LOT of oil
  • SELFIE UTOPIA! Azeri people love taking pictures of themselves and love when you take pictures of them, especially men! But if you would like to take a picture of for instance an oilfield of a police officer of even his car that’s big NO GO!
  • Azerbaijan is a country of watermelons. But there is something very specific about they way  you eat watermelon there. Always with a white cheese and bread. And no this is not a typo

Over to the recipe. This week I made a lamb stew with chestnuts and dried fruit. It was really really good! Real comfort food. Tis recipe is for 4. The onions and the apricots make this dish really sweet. So best not to combine with a sweet wine to overcome it being too sweet.

Lamb stew with chestnuts and dried fruit
Lamb stew with chestnuts and dried fruit

Ingredients: 500g of lamb meat (lamb shoulder of the bone), 4 big white onions, 1 large tablespoon of all spice  a handful of canned chestnuts, a handful of dried apricots, a handful of raisins, a few threads of safran, 1 spoon of turmeric, salt/pepper/, juice of 1 lemon, butter or any cooking oil other than olive oil

Put a few threads of saffron in a cup and add boiling water. Cover and leave to infuse. Chop the lamb into bite-sized chunks. Place in a pan of water and bring to the boil. Remove the foam that forms on top, then add the all spice. When the meat is soft, remove from the water. Keep the water you cooked the meat in! Pour boiling water onto the dried fruit and let is soak for 3-4 minutes and drain. Brown the softened meat in melted butter of oil (anything but olive oil) Cut the the onions in rings and fry them in butter. Add the meat and stir. Add the chestnuts, dried fruit, turmeric, and salt and peper to the meat and fry  for 3-4. Add a ladle of the bouillon from the meat, the saffron infusion and the lemon juice. Let it simmer for about an hour. Serve with rice

12. Austria: Spaetzle with cheese and caramelized onion

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I was in Austria last summer, in Linz! Leading an amazing summer camp for 3 weeks! Austria in summer is often said to be boring or not interesting, but that is bullshit!  I know what your thinking, why would you want to go to Austria in summer when there is no snow! Exactly what I was thinking! But it was surprisingly hot, so hot that me and the kids had to look for shadow every time we went outside. Everytime we went outside to play soccer or play games everyone was advised to bring a water bottle. And yes the mountains are beautiful and the skiing is amazing in Austria and i’m not even mentioning the epic apres-skiparties with schlagermusic. But Austria also has some really cool cities. Salzburg for instance, picturesque with all the shops that still have their original sign board. I a real sucker for these details. Linz with it’s relaxed and layed-back atmosphere during the yearly international street art festival! I haven’t been to Vienna yet but only heard good stories about it! So here is some stuff you didn’t know about Austria:

  • The Austrian flag is one of the oldest national flag in the world. It dates from 1191, when Duke Leopold V fought in the Battle of Acre during the Third Crusade.
  • Vienna’s Central Cemetery (Zentralfriedhof) has over 2.5 million tombs (more than the city’s live population), including those of Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert and Strauss.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Hollywood actor and current governor of California, grew up as an Austrian citizen.
  • Over 60 % of Austria’s electricity is supplied by renewable sources.
  • Vienna is the only capital city to produce its own wine.  Vineyards within the city limits produce incredible wine.
  • The most famous movie about Austria is of course The sound of music but you knew that already, but did you also know that most Austrians have never seen it nor heard about it! I experienced this myself and I think it’s priceless that half the world knows the songs by hard they haven’t even seen it!

Here is a playlist with austrian music I hope you like it! I sure did! http://8tracks.com/resl/musical-gems-made-in-austria

Spaetzle with cheese and caramelized onion

And now for this weeks recipe I made Spaetzle with gruyere and caramelized onion. It’s the mac and cheese of Austria. It’s a very popular dish for after skiing.  But not as easy as I thought it would be making the Spaetzle is actually kind of hard even if you have a special pan for it! , I failed twice before I got it right so you really really really have to stick to the measurements I’m giving you. Because if you add to much milk and you think ooh well it was just a little too much that won’t matter, start over because you will mess up and it will and end up like a big fat burned ugly pancake at the bottom of your pan that it really hard to scrape off!

Ingredients: 2 eggs, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 Tbsp butter, 1 onion, sliced thinly,1 shredded Gruyère cheese (to taste, I added a lot because I loovvveee cheese!)

Preheat the oven to 180C or 350F.  In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Add flour a 1/2 cup at a time. Stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. But don’t over stir it because again you will mess up! Let rest 10-20 minutes. The dough should be like pancake batter. While the batter is resting your can sauté the onion in butter and set them aside. Fill a pan with simmering water. Now comes the tricky part if you messed up your gonna notice it right now!

So again here are your guidelines how to not mess it up:

  1. Do not over-mix the dough will be tough. Just combine ingredients with your hand or a spoon until just mixed.
  2. Let the dough rest for 10-20 minutes after mixing. This gives time for the dough to relax and become more tender.
  3. Never boil the dough. Simmering keeps the dough… you guessed it… more tender.
  4. And last but not least do not add to much milk!

I used a special pan because I was lucky my roommate apparently had one. But you can just use a colander. Pour your batter into the colander above the pan so drops of batter will fall through the colander and you will get perfect spaetzle! They are ready when they start floating. Which takes about a minute. Add the spaetzle to a oven dish and add the caramelized onion as well. Sprinkle over the grated gruyere cheese, and put in the oven for 20 minutes.

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