March 13, 2008

Some cooks bake gingerbread just for the smell! SAM

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan on the bottom only and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the flour, spices, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the sugar, butter, water, molasses, and egg. Stir just to blend and pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes.
Makes 9 servings.

Adapted from Emily’s cookbook All-American Comfort Food.


Turkish Wedding Soup with Spiced Sauce

February 23, 2008

Image: Kadir’s Treehouses in Olympos, Turkey

I hope you were lucky enough to have a treehouse when you were little. If Sam and Harry were looking for an unusual place to spend their honeymoon, they may have discovered a number of treehouse hotels scattered around the world in interesting places. There’s also a wonderful (and enormous!) treehouse restaurant in England’s Alnwick Garden, but we need a place where Sam and Harry can also spend the night. We’ve already imagined them on a safari so I ruled out this treehouse in a Costa Rican Jungle; and while I enjoyed the very punny website for these treehouses in Oregon , I thought these treehouses in Turkey sounded like the most fun!  There are such good things to eat in Turkey, too, including this variation of the traditional “Turkish Wedding Soup.”  Appropriate, or what?? -Almostgotit

Turkish Wedding Soup with Spiced Sauce

Serves 8

2 onions
7 carrots
4 pounds lamb neck bones
10 cups beef broth
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 pound butter (2 sticks, divided)
1 cup flour
6 egg yolks
2 tablespoons lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 1/2 teaspoons paprika

Peel the onions and carrots, cut into quarters, and put into a soup pot with the lamb bones, broth, and salt. Simmer, covered, for 1 hour, or until the meat is soft. Strain the broth into a bowl. Remove the meat from the bones and cut into thin strips or dice.  Return meat and broth to soup pot.

Melt 12 tablespoons butter and work in the flour. Slowly add 1 cup of the warm broth while mixing well. Gradually stir this butter-flour mixture into the rest of the soup, then bring soup to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and cook for about 10 minutes. Keep the soup warm.

Beat the egg yolks with a fork and mix in the lemon juice. Add 4 tablespoons of hot soup. Stir this mixture briskly into the rest of the soup: egg yolks will “cook” immediately. Reheat over a very low flame, or you may even turn off flame and cover pot to keep it hot. Do not boil or soup will “break” and become watery.

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter, remove from heat and add cayenne pepper and paprika. Pour the soup into serving bowl or individual soup bowls. Swirl spoonfuls of spiced butter over the top of each.  

Adapted from New York Times Bread & Soup Cookbook by Yvonne Young

Bobotie Casserole

February 21, 2008

Image: Impala African Safaris

First stop is a lodge in the Madikwe Game Reserve , a home base from which our two lovers may spend several days venturing out to see an enormous range of exotic wild game.  Later, if feeling luxurious, they must spend an additional night or two at The Palace of the Lost City, a five-star hotel set in the middle of its own tropical jungle and featuring a fine restaurant, where they can enjoy the multi-cultural riches of South African cuisine before flying home out of Johannesburg.

Bobotie is long-time favorite South African dish, and there are many variations of this minced meat and egg casserole which is traditionally flavored with spices, fruit, and almonds. –Almostgotit

1 slice bread
3 cups milk
1 lb very lean ground beef
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon curry paste or powder
½ cup chopped almonds or unsweetened coconut
Juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon apricot jam
3 eggs
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Dash each of salt, pepper,

Soak bread in half the milk, squeeze out excess milk WITHOUT DISCARDING IT and mash the bread with a fork.  Set bread aside. Pour the reserved milk back into remaining milk, and set milk aside.

Cook the ground beef.  Add salt, pepper, tomato paste and a little parsley. Set aside.

Fry the onions in butter and add curry – allow to darken slightly. Beat the eggs and milk together. Add lemon juice to onion mixture, then add apricot jam, almonds, bread & vinegar.  Stir in the beef, then add one third of the milk & egg mixture. Pour into a casserole dish and bake for ten minutes at 325° F.   Carefully pour the remaining milk & egg mixure over the casserole and continue baking until brown, approximately 30 minutes.  Serve with steamed rice (traditionally seasoned with yellow saffron) and chutney.

  • Don’t miss this recipe for Elephant Stew  included on the South African website FunkyMunky (it “takes 2 months to prepare” and calls for “1 heaping wheelbarrow of onions.” But it’s for reading pleasure only: we don’t REALLY want Sam & Harry to kill any elephants!)