Thursday, 21 May 2015

Ethiopian Eritrean Spaghetti Zigni

I've had Ethiopian - Eritrean cuisine twice in my life.  The first time ever was in 2000, when I went to see my dearest and best friend Leah in America.  She picked me from San Francisco Airport and took me to an Ethiopian restaurant.  I enjoyed and ate everything.  The second time was when I lived in Scotland and I cooked the entire Ethiopian-Eritrean Menu that was featured in Celia Brooks World Vegetarian Classics cookbook.  I was inspired to make everything from scratch, the Berbere Ethiopian Hot Spice Blend, the Nitteh Kibbeh - Spiced Clarified Butter and the Injera - Sourdough Flatbread,  following the whole fermenting process that took a days.  On the menu was Ye'atakilt W'et - Spicy Mixed Vegetable stew, Yedifin Miser Alicha We't - Mild Lentil Stew with Basil and Yeshiro We't - Stew of Spiced Powdered Chickpeas.  For a cuisine that was both new to me and took an effort to make, I decided to invite some colleagues over.  It made for an interesting meal, as it was different.  I just wish I had blogged about it, but it was a couple of years before I got the blogging bug. 

Well I share with you this story, as it was in this very same cookbook that I stumbled upon Spaghetti Zigni - Noodles with Hot Sauce.  I wasn't quite sure about it assuming it was more of a recent fusion recipe, but a few years later when I was hiking through Glen Etive with some participants from Ethiopia and Eritrea it had been confirmed to me that this pasta dish actually existed.  I have to admit, I had completely forgotten about the Zigni until recently when a volunteer in my workplace who is of Ethiopian origin reminded me of it and I was inspired to make it, I just wish I had been making it back all those years when I first flicked through the Celia Brooks cookbook.  
Spaghetti Zigni hails back to the 1930s when the Italians tried and failed to colonise Ethiopia, however they did  leave behind culinary influences.  Zigni Spaghetti is one of those.  Zigni is essentially pasta coated in a deep rich tomato sauce enhanced with the highly spiced Berbere blend.  I know it don't look like much, but it packs a proper fiery, hot and spicy punch.  Go on swivel you fork in it and give it a try. 
Well these days along side Arriabiata, vegan Puttanesca and pesto coated Spaghetti, I have begun to make Zigni.  It is now part of my fast food repertoire.  I tend to have everything at home to make it for speedy meals .   If you like Mexican and Indian cuisine, then I have no doubt you will like this.  Recipe can be found in Celia BrookWorld Vegetarian Classics , but in a nutshell it is Spaghetti  in a Berbere spiced tomato sauce.  Awesome!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Wild Stinging Nettle Hummus

I've declared in the past that nettles are my favourite weed to eat and I mean it.

In the past I've made Nettle Risotto, Nettle Gnocchi, Nettle Tortilla and many others, but this time round as my harvest was very small (from the garden), I made a small bowl of Nettle Hummus.  
I actually made it this rather green  Nettle Hummus at the weekend as an evening nibble to be enjoyed with a glass of red wine.  Normally I would serve hummus with home-made pitta chips or crispy chunky bread, but this time round it was with some rather posh crackers that had quinoa, spelt and poppy seeds.
Even though we enjoyed the green nettle hummus with these crackers, we still had some hummus left over and were able to use it as a spread in our sandwiches in place of butter. Other than having a bit of a garlic breath, the sandwich was good.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Lapsang Scented Chestnut Mushroom Stroganoff

There are some recipes that I make often, like African Vegetable Curry, Thai Green Curry and Russian Mushroom Tofu Strogonoff, but sometimes I do like to try other variations.  So when I won Mildreds Cookbook a couple of weeks ago, I knew exactly what I wanted to make first - the Lapsang Scented Mushroom Stroganoff and it was bookmarked.  I must mention though that I do not like drinking Lapsang Souchang.  I find its smokiness overwhelming, but I was curious to try it in a vegetarian main meal as I could see how the smokiness could lend itself to a dish like Strogonoff.

I have never been to Mildred's Restaurant in Soho, London.  The plan is of course to dine there one-day, as I have both heard and read some positive reviews.  However, I don't venture out of South Wales that often, the furthest we travel at weekends is just over the border - sometimes into Bristol and sometimes Bath.  So I am pleased to now have the opportunity to have a little Mildred's inspiration in my home through the cookbook.
Well yesterday when I got home from work, glad to be indoors as the weather had suddenly turned to streaky chilly rain and this gave me the perfect excuse to make a deep warming dish.

The original recipe for Lapsang Mushroom Stroganoff  is for 8 people, but I halved the quantity.  The paprika stained Lapsang Souchong creamy sauce was thickened with cornflour and lusciously rich.  Although I only used chestnut mushrooms, roasting them in the oven for 15 minutes or so, did somewhat make them seem more 'meatier'.  I will so, so be making this again and it made a welcome change from my usual Mushroom Tofu Strogonoff.   
If the authors of Mildred The Cookbook grant me permission to publish the recipe here on my blog, then I will up-date this post, otherwise you will have to get your mitts on the cookbook. Here is a link to a review of Mildreds The Cookbook.  I am sharing this with for Bookmarked Recipes hosted by Tinned Tomatoes.