West African Peanut Soup

from Jamey W. Bennett
to Daniel Larkin

Dude,

I’ve only just discovered African food in the last year or so, and I am a huge fan of what I’ve had. My exposure is still pretty much limited to Ethopian food and Harissa sauce. The nearby Whole Foods carries a couple of kinds of Harissa, and I’m in love with the one from a DC area company, Cava. Soon, I’m going to try my hand at making my own Harissa.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying a bowl of this delicious peanut soup. I got the idea from the Eating Well website, but I made a few modifications that I think made a big difference.

Here it is. I took two sizable sweet potatoes, poked a few holes in them with a fork, and microwaved them for 8-1/2 minutes. While that was happening, I sauteed the equivalent of a small red onion (diced) in my cast iron skillet with oil. As the onions were browning, I threw in two large garlic cloves, diced.

After everything looked and smelled the way I wanted, I added 1-1/2 cups of ketchup and 1-1/2 cups of water. The recipe actually called for tomato juice, but I didn’t have any, and I thought it might be reminiscent of barbecue sauce if I used ketchup. Not very West African, I know, but I think it was actually a good choice.

After a minute or so, I added a handful of jarred sliced jalapenos, 1 teaspoon of ginger powder, and 1 teaspoon of all spice.

While I let all that boil for about 10 minutes, I peeled the sweet potatoes, dicing one to small bite-sized pieces and putting the other in my food processor. I added 1/2 cup of all natural chunky peanut butter to the food processor, and 2 cups of broth. I didn’t have vegetable broth on hand, so I did the next best thing and used a tomato-chicken buillion cube, dissolved in two cups of hot water. Once blended, I put that mixture, and the chunky sweet potato into the skillet. Stirred. Lots of stirring.

Now, this is where things get a little less precise and a little more creative. I thought it was too thick, so I added another cup of water. I didn’t think it was spicy enough, so I added paprika, cayenne, and crushed red pepper to taste, along with a fairly generous amount of fresh ground black pepper.

Once everything tasted about right, I spooned it into a bowl, and garnished with cilantro.

Okay, now I’m going to go eat a second bowl.

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Delicioso Adobo Seasoning

from Jamey W. Bennett
to Daniel Larkin

Hey Dude,

It’s no surprise that I add a Mexican twist to most foods I prepare. Since discovering this adobo seasoning, I always keep this on hand. I got the basic idea from a cookbook, but I’m not even sure of the title, and I made a few tweaks myself. I’ve used this for several years. Makes a fantastic spice rub, great in soups, marinades, etc. I’ve put it on beef, chicken, and fish. I’m sure it’s great on other stuff too.

Delicioso Adobo Seasoning

  • 1 tbsp of each: lemon pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, parsley, achiote powder, salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp cumin

Instead of achiote (I don’t even know what that is), I substitue equal parts tumeric & paprika. Another shortcut you might take is picking up lemon pepper that has garlic and onion powder in it. In that case, use three tbsp of it, instead of one tbsp. of each.

Combine in a bottle or small tupperware container, shake it up, and wah-lah! I keep this in my spice rack.

If you try it, let me know what you think.

jamey

Sauerkraut at Home

from Jamey W. Bennett
to Daniel Larkin

Dude,
So my sauerkraut was a hit at my wedding this past weekend, even among the non-kraut-enthusiasts. I used a combination of my priest’s “50 lbs. every autumn” recipe with some techniques I found online. Basically, I used an empty sanitized brew bucket, a growler filled with water (for weight), a small plate, a knife, a kitchen scale, a rolling pin (to smash the cabbage), about 20 lbs. of cabbage, and lots of salt.

Simply put: I’d slice the cabbage (getting rid of the core) into pretty thin strips. Using my kitchen scale, I’d slice and slice until I had 3-1/2 lbs. I’d throw that into the bucket with 1 tbs. non-iodized salt. I kept this up until I chopped it all up. Every now and then, I’d stir the mix and smash it together. My arms were pretty tired by the end. I had some serious juice-age in the bucket, too.

I put the plate on top of the cabbage and pushed down until all of the cabbage was submerged in the brine, and I set the growler on top of the plate to hold it down. I dropped the bucket off in my basement and covered it with a towel. I checked it every day for a little over two weeks, and skimmed any film off the top that developed. Next time I do it, I’m going to give it another week.

The caterer cooked it, and served it up with pieces of kielbasa. It was awesome.

How’d you do your kraut? I saw you linked this about it, but I was wondering how closely you followed it.

jamey

from Daniel Larkin
to Jamey W. Bennett

I followed that recipe to a T, and it turned out amazing!  I undershot my cabbage weight a little, though, so my spices were a bit more than they were supposed to be.  But that was fine, since the caraway seed, mustard seed, and juniper are all spices that go well with kraut-esque food anyway.

The only thing I’ll do differently is that when I periodically top off the cans to replenish evaporated water, I won’t used salt water.  I realized that the water may be evaporating, but the salt was being left behind, so I was really just salting the hell out of an already salty foodstuff.

But again, the recipe was bangin!  I have to make a bunch this week for our Oktoberfest party in a few weeks.