Tofu Benin

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The second half of dinner with Benin, a very easy and delicious dish, prevailed principally by the sauce and onions — in fact, known as the red sauce of Benin, and used in Ingame pilé.  As strong a flavor as the green olives have, they offer just a hint of brine, but complement well the slightly sweet, very slightly peanutty and creamy sauce.

Beyond marination, the fu was dehydrated to give it preferred texture, but also helping to concentrate the flavors which — too — were barely discernible.

A very delicious dish, adapted by Vegetarian Times – very much less spicy than typically Beninese, but consequently happily embraced by the crew.

Akkra funfun

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Black eyed peas, mashed with onion, a little salt and cayenne — a lauded Beninese favorite, and purported source of origination for the marvelous and oft eaten acaraje, though, sans shrimp powder.  The tiny, phallically shaped country is said to be known throughout Africa for its marvelous cuisine.

Google either akkra or acaraje and there are ample examples of fried failure for these delicious little bean balls:  The first time acaraje was put together it was one of the most monumental taste sensations ever experienced!  Unfortunately, the source of that composition was not noted, and ensuing attempt resulted in disintegrating goop in the fryer, which led to alterations of ingredients and preparation — neither particularly satisfying.

One fairly common solution to the dissolution, is addition of manioc flour.  That tends to leave the little orbs a bit gummy, and, instead, we’ve resorted to simply pan frying or baking — both sort of disappointing and satisfactory only for cururu.

This recipe adds an egg and flour proper, but still doubtful, a small test orb was plopped in the oil — and it held intact perfectly.  The original most certainly did not include egg, but egg will guarantee success.

Many of the recipes show a sauce served with the Akkra funfun balls, but none of those perused included instructions to brew.  They all appeared to have red pepper, and appeared to have onion, so we leaned on what we knew, from what worked well with cururu.  As always, make much more than you think you need:

  • Caramalized onion
  • diced red pepper
  • garlic
  • red pepper flakes
  • dende+coconut oil
  • ground cashew
  • salt

It should be a thick sauce, almost paste.  Any sort of addition from the sea would taste really good in the sauce as well — tiny shrimp, nori, hijiki, etc.

Nachos

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Everybody likes nachos, and everybody was tickled by the idea of making nacho bowls — what was accompliced by resting greased tortillals through the raised cups on the bottom of muffin tins.  This was problematic for several reasons:  First, crispness was best achieved once they were burnt.  Additionally, tortillas that fit amidst the cups on the bottom of a muffin tin turn out tiny bowls.  Also, it is not best to have bowls that are more tipsy than those that engorge them.

On the positive, everybody loves nachos, and with marvelous luck of a few crisped without dark carbon-ation, a single fork strike shattered the bowl into a nacho mess, but with perfectly sized chips:

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Verde enchilada

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Tamales and enchiladas are wonderfully versitile: Rojo, mole and verde — each giving the same old tamales a drastically different presence.

Pickup trucks are also versitile:  The other day, we were driving to pick up Ari from driver’s training, and were stopped behind a little S10 at a turn signal.  In the bed was a large dog crate with a sheet draped over it.  As the wind blew, the sheet began shifting off and we pondered what might be in there — nothing peeked out as you’d expect from a dog.

As the light changed and we began to proceed, the sheet fell completely from the cage and we were startled to see to beady eyes and a beak perched upon a long stem.  “A goose!”  We all cried.  “A goose?”  We all asked in consternation.

As my niece said through delighted chuckles, “Well that was unexpected!”

Goat cheese crostini with mole

IMG_0660Earlier this month, this was posted on VittleMonster, triggering an instant salivatory response, as it clicked on several well-established inclinations: Sourdough, mole, and cheese – in this case, that of goat. The only hindrance to reconstitution was the mole, which, somewhere back around tamales was mention of a trip to La Botana for the peppers – that they no longer sell. More recently we went to a Thai restaurant for a gift certificate that they no longer sell: Both times we walked away without what we came for but with a really good meal — a reasonable comprimise.

Like every mole ever made, this one did not turn out exactly right, but closed in with a little added agave and corrected what was obviously lacking there at Komi, namely mole: Clearly not enough.

The flavors do indeed meld superbly and exactly as was tasted in mind’s eye, mole and sourdough matching marvelously, the cool and creamy cheese a delightful contrast to the dark earthiness of the sauce: Slight tart, slight sour and all the directions that come from the mole – delicious.

My dog is making me crazy

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This is a garbage can – standing on a bar stool, next to the kitchen counter and blocked by a second barstool. When examined closely, several unique features can be noted, not common to the typical, kitchen can.

This is why:

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That creature is a Treeing Walker Coonhound named Ranger. We met him at the Humane Society, where we had gone to consider adopting a three-legged Chihuahua. As we regarded the little yipper, Jen implored us to come see the beast across the room – a gorgeous, doe-eyed hound, and it sang for us: A beautiful, full baritone song full of inflection and nuance, wide ranged and crescendo-ing, then decrescendo-ing piteously.

In The Thing on the Fourble Board, Porky couldn’t get the sad mewlings from his head, and that altered his life forever. Likewise, we brought home Ranger.

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