Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Beautiful plum cake and heinous injera

Orangette/Nigel Slater plum cake
 I'm starting with the pretty because that seems more polite.

I read about this beautiful plum cake on Orangette and it was one of those recipes that was going to haunt me until I tried it. So I tried it. Very easy, very rewarding! It was delicious warm last night, but it was even better this morning, cold.  Read Molly Wizenberg's description. You're going to want to try it, too.

Would be good with whipped cream, though it's great plain.

Okay, now for the not pretty.

injera batter

A few days ago I mixed injera batter (teff flour, water, yeast) using the recipe from Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford's Flatbreads and Flavors. I let the batter bubble and sour and separate for 48 hours and I watched a little swarm of fruit flies form over the (covered) bowl. I had hopes. This seemed like the way injera should be made.

Something went wrong, or the recipe is wrong, I don't know. Hopes were dashed. My injera cooking skills are lacking, so the pancakes broke, as you will see below. But even had I been able to make the injera look like injera, it didn't taste like injera. It was only moderately sour and lacked that wonderful spongy texture. I served this nasty pancake with a dry, bland Ethiopian ground beef dish (also from Flatbreads) and it had to be one of the most heinous dinners I've ever put on the table. Which is odd, because those Duguid-Alford books are usually excellent. What is also odd is that my family ate it without complaint. I have beaten them into complete culinary submission. Not sure how I feel about that. 

sorry excuse for injera
I don't know what to do about my injera quest. I have a copy of Exotic Ethiopian Cooking by Daniel Jote Mesfin, but his recipe looks almost identical to the Duguid-Alford formula. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

On another subject, credit for my beautiful new blog design goes to my sister, Justine. Credit for the chicken picture -- and the impetus to upgrade -- goes to my publisher. I'm a little freaked out every time I open the page. It's like I've been living in a cozy basement with a bunch of rescue cats and posters thumbtacked to the walls and now I'm in a loft with framed Audubon prints and glass coffee tables. I love it, and I'm sure it will feel like home soon enough.

16 comments:

  1. I totally love the new blog design, especially the about section. However, the injera looks like a giant scab, so sorry it didn't turn out especially after all that waiting :(

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  2. and BTW...your tweet about blog envy of pretty blogs...I have always loved your blog for its substance and writing. anyone can take a pretty picture of a cupcake, your blog really tells a great story.

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  3. Blog upgrade by Justine is fine. Substance is not lost. Personality trumps all. Onward & thanks.

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  4. I have a thought about the injera. I sometimes make dosa, a spongy South Indian pancake made from ground rice and dhal that ferments naturally. I wonder if the batter was okay, but the cooking of the injera was where it went wrong: that's what happens with the dosa and me when it doesn't turn out. Maybe cooking it at a lower temperature and not quite as long may help. Just guessing, though.

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  5. Pretty! I like it.

    Injera is mystifying.

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  6. I'm with SSW above. It looks great. Good luck with the injera...

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  7. I have not had good luck with injera or any Ethiopian food made at home. I figure that is one cuisine I will leave to eating out (of course, I've lived about 15 minutes away from great Ethiopian/Eritrean food for the past 15 years).

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  8. Ginny, SWW, Layne, MemeGRL, thank-you!

    Denise, Anonymous -- I found a web site with a recipe for injera that takes several weeks and I'm going to start today. (All I have to do is mix and cover.) It's quite possible that Ethiopian food is better eaten out, like Vietnamese sandwiches and burritos and Peking duck. Guess I'll find out.

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  9. I love her cookbooks, especially that one. But I tried that recipe and found it impossible/disgusting too. Of course, I have never had actual injera or been to an Ethiopian restaurant, so I had nothing to compare it to. I just wanted to make something authentic for my book club meeting about CUTTING FOR STONE :)

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  10. So, did you have golden syrup, or did you use honey?

    And I laughed at the asparagus ketchup comment. Fear not, no actual ketchup is involved in that condiment. It's a way to sell it to the kids, not that it works on mine. Alas, I got distracted and just ate the cooked & cooled asparagus. I haven't had it since it went out of season (cheapness, not snobbery--after paying $1.50 a bunch all spring, I balked at $4) and it was just so good.

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  11. I have made really great injera! I adopted it from a recipe from Wikipedia, of all places. I served it at a Somalian-themed fundraising dinner, and everybody asked for seconds.

    They call it canjeero in Somalia. Here it is:

    110 g (4 oz) millet grits
    250 g (2 oz) plain flour
    1 teaspoon dried active yeast

    Buzz the millet in the food processor until very fine (my food processor did not get the millet that fine, but the bread had crunchy bits. not a problem, still tasty). Mix everything together with enough lukewarm water to produce a pourable batter. Cover with a damp cloth and leave in warm place to ferment. I left mine for about 24 hours. It will expand to unbelievable heights and you wait till it collapses to start the next step.
    Fry in a cast-iron skillet with a bit of oil, giving the pan a shake to thin out the pancakes, sort of like you do with crepes. Some of mine were really nice, round, and pretty, others a little demented, but they were all SO good. The original recipe said not to flip them, but I did. I think that's why they were slightly more crispy than the restaurant-made type.

    Let me know how it goes if you decide to try it! I tweeted you a picture.

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  12. MemeGRL -- golden!
    Genna -- I'm making that, asap.

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  13. I forgot-you also have to salt the injera to taste!

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  14. Jennifer I have a suggestion about old family recipes. The daughter of a friend of mine who was learning to cook was failing terribly. New cookbook recipes usually came out ok but her gr.gr. grandmothers personal handwritten cookbook recipes were dismal failures.In the middle of one of those failures she told me (at least grandmama had a sense of humor". When I asked her why she thought that she said "she puts a teaspoon of bull sh*t in everything!" I thought she was kidding but she wasn't. When I asked her to read the recipes to me, she didn't know little t's meant tspoon and cap T's meant tblespoon! She went with what she thought! I thought maybe you could do a little blog on our shorthand for ingredients in recipes especially our grandparent's. Thanks

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  15. "What is also odd is that my family ate it without complaint. I have beaten them into complete culinary submission. Not sure how I feel about that."

    This is one of the funniest passages that I've seen on the internet, and perfectly describes my puzzlement when my husband occasionally consumes something that is terrible.

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