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  1. I'm not certain about other dishes which use coriander in this way, but I do know that ground coriander seed is common in Egyptian cuisine. If I'm not mistaken, caraway and cumin are also very common in Egypt. Roden grew up in Cairo, so it would make sense that she's putting an Egyptian twist on the recipe though she doesn't call out the region in which this is "authentic." rien
  2. One follow up to my previous post. I recently came across the Congo Cookbookwebsite and was quite impressed. rien
  3. Africa, other than the north, has been neglected in this discussion. In many ways I feel like African cuisine - again the north and, to a lesser degree, the west excepted - is fairly unknown. Perhaps a single dish is known here and there ... a peanut stew perhaps ... but whether this is hiding wonderful unknown treasures or is simply the cream rising to the top, I don't know. But I digress ... I recently came across a reference to "Sauce Cany" - a "Wolof Pepper Paste" - in the Senegalese section of Jeffrey Alford's "Seductions of Rice." He describes it explicitly as a relative of harissa. I cannot recall the ingredients or proportions of the top of my head but I do remember him calling for a scotch bonnet or habanero. I imagine these are replacing the kick of a different local pepper. In addition, the sauce contains additional peppers, shallots, spices that I cannot recall, and peanut oil. I have yet to make a batch, but perhaps this weekend. I've looked for other references but come up empty handed. In a Chicago area African grocery, I found a bottled pepper sauce from Ghana called Ghanian Spicy Shito. Shito being pepper in the local language. In addition to the normal peppers, spices, tomato, and oil, this contains ground fish and shrimp, giving it a me a vague sense memory of something Southeast Asian. Again, references are slim, though I have found comments that only the preserved variety has fish and shrimp. When made fresh in a mortar, it is peppers, spices, tomato, and oil only. Seems that Shito is served with pretty much everythin in Ghana - fufu (a thick, pounded mash of boiled starches such as cassava, plantains, and yams), fried plantains, Banku (cassava dumplings), kenkey (fermented corn dumplings), etc. I've seen some references that call for making this with black pepper ... which could be quite overpowering and interesting. Pili-Pili is a third variety. The differences here seem to be the inclusion of vinegar, sweet peppers or bell pepper, and sugar to temper the intense heat. In my experience, this is a looser sauce rather than a thick paste like the previous two and harissa. I'm no expert on African cuisine. In fact, I'm barely a journeyman. I'm sure I've made errors and omissions. Please fill in any blanks that you can. rien
  4. Rien

    Singha Beer

    I find Singha highly variable. Some bottles taste a lot worse than others. If you've only tried it once and strongly disliked it, perhaps try again. This may have to do with freshness ... and, perhaps, with the actual variables in the product. One thing to be said for Bud and other Macro-Brews, they have skilled enough brewers that they've got consistency down ... you could give them a bucket of raw sewage and stale wonderbread, and they'd turn it into Bud. Hell, that may be their secret. I also find Singha, like a lot of beers from countries hovering around the equator, benefits from an icy chill. In Thailand, in fact, it's common for people to drink their beer over ice. No kidding. I wouldn't say it's above average - what's the average? Are we talking quality divided by bottles consumed? If so, yeah, perhaps it is above average considering American macros and domestic product from most of Latin America and, I'm guessing, China. Cold, it'll do the trick ... though I'm with the concensus that it's not a particularly grand lager. rien
  5. This sounds great. Can you provide additional details? Do you cook the bulghur first, moisten it with hot water, or just use it dry? I suspect the second. And, as for the onions, to you cook/fry them first? Thanks, rien
  6. I have cooked new crop rice and I'm not really a fan. Here's the lowdown, heavily indebted to Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid's excellent book, The Seductions of Rice. First, brokens. Yes, it's considered a low grade. However, as with many ingredients (such as olive oil), lower grades are appropriate, even preferred, for some preparations. While brokens are undesirable for "eating" rice they are preferred for preparations where you want the starches to come out into the water, "binding" the grains and/or thickening the mixture; think rice puddings and various porridges, such as jook/congee/etc. Next, new crop. I don't know if taste is really at issue; though some of the eGullet classes have troubled the distinction between taste and texture, I still say the main issue here is texture. After rice is harvested (and perhaps parboiled) it is dried so that it contains no more than 14% moisture. Further drying happens as it ages. That's why basmati is aged; it's highly prized distinctness of grain is emphasized by additional drying. New crop rice has more moisture, closer to the 14%. Yes, this means it cooks more quickly in less water but it also means that it is more fragile. This lack of stability means that the grains are easily damaged in shipment. Chances are good that you'll have more broken/damaged grains in the mix. These broken grains "leak" starches. Combine this with the fact that new crop rice is, by it's nature, softer and often more clinging, you often get soft, clumpy rice with less distinct grains. This leads me to think, if not really perceive, that the rice is watery and has less grain flavor. But, if you like really soft rice, by all means, give it a shot. If you're inclined to use extra rice in soups or to fry it, stay away from new crop. Again, I highly recommend The Seductions of Rice. It offers a great overview of the topography/geography of rice, the variant strains, the myriad preparatory techniques from harvest to bowl/plate, and a number of nice travelogue moments. The subtle distinctions in preparation are priceless. For example, I never new that Japanese rice is best prepared with a 20 - 30 minute pre-soak, yet it improves the rice immensely. rien
  7. So, based on this article I'm inclined to believe that the olive tree came to Italy from Tunisia and that perhaps later, during the expansion of empire, the Romans returned to use the olive orchards as a form of "peaceful" conquest. The article did remind me that, along with North Africa, the Romans got a lot of olive oil from Spain. I remember coming across the phrase "porto food" in a cookbook, though the cookbook escapes me. The intention was to create a category of foods that circulated around Mediterranean ports via trade and travel, creating slightly different versions and, quite literally, feedback loops everywhere. Seems that these questions of who influenced whom often turn into chicken and egg problems; who influence whom first? Thanks for the article. rien
  8. If I'm not mistaken, the Romans turned Tunisia into their oil amphora as well as breadbasket. I can't say for sure that the olive was introduced to Tunisia by Romans but I believe the mass of orchards and the early olive oil "industry" in North Africa was part of the Roman Empire's attempt to keep itself fed and fueled. My reference for this is Toussaint-Samat's and Bell's (caveat: often inaccurate) book, The History of Food. rien
  9. Sounds like Baharat ... which has perhaps as many recipes as people making it. Recipes often include black pepper, clover, coriander, cumin, cardamom, paprika, ground dried lemon/lim, rose petals, etc. Any number of cookbooks have recipes. I also found a number of variations here. Version #3, "Syrian Style Baharat," sounds like what you're describing. It's also like Clifford Wright's version. rien
  10. I'm not sure this is the right thread on which to ask this question nor am I sure if the question has been asked before. But, here goes. How should one age beers? Seeing as there's often no cork to deal with, does orientation matter? It seems that capped bottles would be better stored vertically than horizontally. Should corked bottled be stored horizontally? Does anyone have general guidelines for years to age? Of course, I imagine that keeping them away from light is a good idea. It doesn't seem, however, that temperature is as important since the number of years the bottles will be aged is considerably less than one may age wine. I recently purchased a couple expensive four packs - Goose Island's Bourbon County Stout, Dogfish Heads's Burton's Baton Ale and Olde School, and North Coast's Old Stock - and I'd like to lay down a couple of bottles for years to come to see how they mellow. This got me thinking about laying down come other barley wines and barrel aged beers. Thanks for any advice. Sincerely, rien
  11. What? For real? I've seen Molokhiya (or one of the seemingly infinite variant spellings) referred to in many a cookbook as jew's mallow. Off the top of my head, I believe both Clifford Wright and Claudia Roden refer to it as such. Is this one of those pernicious mis-information memes? Seems like this can create a couple odd effects: 1) people are using mallow thinking it's Molokhiya; and the inverse, 2) Molokhiya is being labeled as mallow. I feel like I've seen frozen packages with both the words molokhiya and mallow on them. Interesting. rien
  12. Rien

    The Sidecar

    It definitely does change the nature of the drink. However, it's still a nice drink. I've passed Gran Gala "sidecars" off on some "experienced" drinkers and they've immediately noticed the difference but ackowledged it as a nice alteration ... though I'm sure it won't replace a true Sidecar in most people's pantheon of great cocktails. rien
  13. The Campari Group owns Cinzano, so why not use Cinzano vermouth? I actually use Cinzano sweet vermouth all the time ... with the perhaps dubious rationale that sweet vermouth was, to the best of my knowledge, originally an Italian thing. I believe dry vermouth on the other hand is French in origin. Might Noilly Prat be, more or less, the originator of dry vermouth as a mass produced product? The history on their site claims they're the original, since 1813. Anyway, for that also dubious reason I use Noilly Prat as my "house" dry vermouth. Ciao, rien
  14. Quality product is great. With French Press coffee, it pretty much gets you there. The only big variables left to work with being grind and water which are easy to "solve." Storage is a lesser concern. Espresso and espresso based drinks, however, are another story. Technique and equipment are far more crucial. How do you "solve" these in a dining environment where the turnover is very low in comparison to a cafe. Foaming milk to a perfect velvet consistency takes a lot of practice and pretty high turnover as does pulling perfect shots. Are you considering having a true barrista or at least someone with real training? I feel like this is something that many diners, even very "sophisticated" diners, do not have much experience with - perfect espresso. It could be a mind/palette opening taste phenomena on par with the cuisine. Ciao, rien
  15. Aren't "seville" oranges bitter oranges? I see them around at specialty markets. You may want to ask specifically for Seville Oranges from a grocer that you suspect might be ok with special orders. rien
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