Well, it’s getting closer to Christmas, and I’m almost done with my shopping. I’ve just got a couple of other things to grab, then I’ll be done. I’m not a huge fan of Christmas, but seeing other people happy with the things I got them makes me happy. But that also means this is my last meal of 2017, and my last R country, so we’ll start 2018 off with a whole new letter: S. Actually, the S countries will pretty much take up most of the year.
|This was so wonderful. And look how smooth it looks on top!|
So, today I’m starting out with Rwandan Honey Bread. The first thing I did was proof my yeast by mixing my yeast into warm water for about 5 minutes or so. Typically, it should be pretty frothy, but mine didn’t really proof that well (I used it anyway). In a separate bowl, I mixed together an egg, ½ c of honey (I’m using a vanilla bean honey), 1 Tbsp of ground coriander, ½ tsp ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp of ground cloves, and 1 ½ tsp of salt. Then I added in my yeast mixture, 1 c of lukewarm milk, 4 Tbsp of melted butter, stirring until everything is mixed well. Then I slowly added about 4 ½ c of flour until it became a soft ball of dough. Turning it out onto my floured pastry mat, I kneaded it for another 5 minutes, but trying not to use any extra flour as necessary, but it was so sticky that I had to. When it was finally ready, I melted 2 Tbsp of butter, I brushed the outside of it and then brushed the bowl with it a bit, covered the bowl and let it rise for about an hour. At the end of the first hour, I punched it down and kneaded for a minute or two. I decided to make this in my round silicon baking pan, so I sprayed the pan (not really sure if that’s necessary, but I did it anyway) and placed it in the pan, formed it with my hands to fit. I let it rest for another hour before putting it into a 300ºF oven for 55-60 minutes. The top should be lightly golden in color and kind of crusty. I thought this bread was wonderful, especially when it’s still warm. The inside was soft, and the flavors were blended quite nicely.
|This right here was fabulous.|
The main dish today is Rwandan Beef Stew. In a skillet, I browned my stew beef (that I cut into smaller pieces) along with the onions. Then I took my plantain pieces that I tossed in lemon juice and browned them with the meat and onions. I added 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil, a can of diced tomatoes, a little salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning (I just used a little bit of thyme, sage, nutmeg, marjoram, garlic powder). After pouring in enough water to cover everything, I let it cook on low heat for a little more than an hour, checking my water levels so it wouldn’t burn. Although I should’ve made some rice to put this on, I thought it was still good by itself. The plantains and the beef strangely enough meshed well together. I thought it was delicious.
|Oh... my... I loved this so much.|
To go along with that, I also made Isombe, or greens in peanut sauce. The recipe originally calls for cassava leaves, but I ended up using turnip greens instead (there must’ve been a run on collard greens—my store was completely out!). I chopped my greens up and boiled them in salted water until they were tender. I didn’t boil them for long, though. I was afraid they’d get to the point of being slimy. Then I added in my chopped green onions, diced eggplant, baby spinach, and green bell peppers and let it cook down for 10 more minutes. After this, I mixed a little vegetable oil and some peanut butter in a ramekin and stirred. I actually drained off a lot of the water from the pot, leaving just a little bit in the bottom. I poured the peanut mix into the pot with the greens, letting it simmer for another 10 minutes until the sauce thickened. I was a little worried how the turnip greens would taste with the peanut sauce, but it turned out quite well. It certainly smelled good. I really liked this.
|Of all salads, this one quickly rose to my Top 5 (assuming the mangoes are ripe).|
This next recipe may not be wholly authentic, but it sounded good: spinach, avocado, and mango salad. The first thing I did was make the dressing, a kind of orange juice vinaigrette. In a glass soy sauce dispenser, I mixed together 1/3 c orange juice, 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar, 3 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp of chili powder, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ ground pepper and shook it to mix it all together. For the salad, I mixed together some baby spinach, chopped radicchio, sliced radishes, and diced mango. Then I added the dressing just before I served it and garnished it with diced avocado. First of all, the dressing was fire. I totally loved this and will make this dressing again. I’ve never used radicchio before, but it was pretty good. It’s like a small red and white cabbage. My mango wasn’t nearly as ripe as it should’ve been, but it was still good. Overall, I thought this salad was wonderful. It would be awesome to bring to a get together in the summer.
|Overall, I loved all of it. All. Of. It. It was fire for sure.|
I thought this was a good meal. I was actually kind of surprised at how good it was. My son would hardly touch anything on his plate, but my daughter and I thought it was excellent. I know I’m going to have some good leftovers for lunch tomorrow. And this meal wraps it up for 2017. I’ll post my traditional end-of-year stats on the evening of 12/31, but then I’m taking another break. I was supposed to be cooking the next country on New Year’s Eve, but my kids missed my tradition of making Brazilian feijoada on NYE, and really, who can blame them? Feijoada is the perfect way to bring in the new year. Anyway, I can’t wait to see what new things I come across in 2018. And hopefully the world won’t burn away.
Up next: Saint Kitts & Nevis