Saturday, June 20, 2015

East Meets West...Africa!

West African Peanut Curry and Grilled Sweet Corn at Spork
After a nice relaxing vacation and some other big life events, I decided it's time to start cooking and blogging again!  Our vacation also inspired me to want to go on more vacations, but since we can't always be traveling around the globe I decided I could still cook dishes from all over the world.  So I walked over to our local library and picked up three globally inspired cookbooks - Jamie Oliver's Food EscapesCooking Light Global Kitchen, and Mark Bittman's The Best Recipes in the World.  I was in the mood to travel to Africa this weekend after eating some West African Peanut Curry we had in our travels to Bend, OR at a cool little place called Spork (although to our disappointment we did not see any sporks there to eat with).

I decided to begin my journey by checking out one of my favorite cookbooks - Cook's Illustrated's The Best International Recipe.  Flipping through the "Africa and the Middle East" section, I found exactly what I was looking for!

West African Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup

While it wasn't quite the same as the curry, it was pretty tasty.  I went against the advice of the book which says to stick to orange-fleshed varieties of sweet potatoes, otherwise the soup can have an unappealing color.  I bought white ones and I can see what they mean, it was very....drab looking.  But it didn't hurt the flavor at all!

We also needed a little meat in our meal and for that we had to travel all the way to the other coast of the continent.  I flipped through Cooking Light Global Kitchen's "The Middle East and Africa" section and found the perfect pairing to the soup.  That's the only section I've browsed, but so far I'm LOVING the beautiful pictures in it.  While I really like Cook's Illustrated writing style and advice from the Test Kitchen, I really do wish they had more pictures.  That's also the reason I refuse to get Kindle versions of cookbooks because drooling over all the delicious food is my favorite part of cookbooks.  It helps with the experience of wanting to travel to the different parts of the world as well.

East African Braised Chicken

This one I changed up a little bit.  Instead of doing the different chicken pieces, I only did thighs.  Also, instead of opening a bottle of wine just to use 1/2 a cup, I decided to dump in a bottle of beer....because, why not?  While it was braising, I checked online to see if anyone had reviewed it and sure enough, it gets rave reviews! As of today there are 13 5-star reviews which is pretty darn good.  We liked it a lot too.  The sweetness of the raisins and dates were a great combination with the slight spiciness and other Indian inspired flavors. I was a little afraid I'd ruin it with the beer, but I couldn't tell the difference!  Sometime I'd like to do a braising test with water, chicken broth, wine and beer and see if the liquid makes a difference at all.  Maybe I just have a poor palate though, who knows.

All in all it's been a successful journey so far.  Tomorrow night we plan on traveling across the ocean to Brazil so stay tuned!

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