Dinner Plate Travails

Our culinary adventures!

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Doro Wot

I used this recipe as a guide: http://www.ethiopianspices.com/html/recipes.asp

This is relatively easy to make if you have some Berbere spice paste. I didn’t really bother with the “finishing” spices (I just added ground [green] cardamon and some more Berbere paste [about 1.5 t] 10-15 mins before I served it).

It ended up tasting quite similar to the Doro Wot that our regular Ethiopian restaurant serves.


Cook the onions until they are a bit brown, then add the garlic and ginger. The onions, garlic, and ginger should not burn. Either chop the onions (especially), garlic, and ginger finely before adding. or mash with your cooking utensil when it is soft.

The idea  is to simmer the chicken in the onion and spice mash until the chicken is soft, then liven up the mix before serving with some fragrant spices.

** Mai’s review **

This is the first African meal Jeff has ever made, and it was very very good! We have two excellent Ethiopian restaurants in our neighbourhood where we go to eat regularly. We’ve also eaten at Ethiopian restaurants on Bloor Street in Toronto and in Manhattan (near Washington Park). I think this makes us somewhat experienced in the flavours of good Ethiopian food. We just love it!

Jeff also made collard greens and beet salad to accompany the doro wat. Each one added flavours that complimented and balanced out the others. The sweet and tarty beets cleansed the palate following forkfuls of the intense savoury spiciness of doro wat. He cooked it to the right level–not too over-cooked where the crunchy and fresh taste is cooked out, and not undercooked where you still get the earthy taste (though I kinda like that). The collard greens contributed a refreshing blend of fragrant spices to the meal and had a creaminess to it, without feeling fatty. He used a LOT of butter!

Jeff’s venture into Africa was set back only by my failure to source out good injera bread on my way home from work…  I did spend the next 3 days trying to clear the house of the lingering smells of roasted, oily spices. The upside is that we now have a small batch of berbere paste to use for next time! Next time, Jeff is going outside to make his spice paste… 😛


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Berbere Spice Paste

Many of the recipes online seemed far too westernized. I’m going to check this against the Ethiopian cookbook we have (somewhere in the house–who knows where) before I make it again.

I am nearly certain this is responsible for oily, curry-like smell that is still detectable in our house 3 days after I made an Ethiopian dinner (part of it may have come from the Doro Wot I made right after). Wow! When you cook these spices–be careful–keep windows open and your stove fan running at full blast (oh, and use the back burner)!

Here is my adaptation.. Makes slightly more than 1/2 cup:

16 cardamom pods
1 T cumin seed
1 t black peppercorns
1 t fenugreek seeds
1.5 t allspice berries
6 whole cloves

3 T peanut oil
4 minced shallots
2 minced garlic cloves
2 T grated fresh ginger
2 fresh red chilies

1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons paprika (hot and or sweet–preferably hot)
1 tablespoon cayenne
1 teaspoon turmeric

  1. Toast all the whole spices in a dry pan over medium heat until they are fragrant. This will produce a very strong smell.
  2. In the same pan, heat the oil and sweat the shallots, garlic, and chilies over medium heat. Do not let them color. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  3. Grind the toasted whole spices and the red pepper flakes in a spice grinder, then mix them with the powdered spices.
  4. In a mortar and pestle, pound the shallots, garlic, and peppers until soft and blended.
  5. Add the ground spice mix to the wet mixture and pound in batches.
  6. Heat back up the pan and lightly fry the mixture.
  7. Put into a container to store.

This recipe was helpful: http://honest-food.net/wild-game/sauces-for-wild-game/ethiopian-berbere-paste/

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German Potato Salad

I still don’t get why some Germans want to add mayo to cooked potatoes (in other traditional recipes, mostly from southern Germany). This side dish should be savory, tangy, and starchy–mayo, and even mayo and Dijon does not accomplish this as well! The pieces of bacon and bacon grease are the key to the whole dish since they act as the savory anchor to the starchy and tangy flavors. The parsley and capers add depth to the vinegar zest… You may also want to add some lemon juice.


2.5 lbs cups small potatoes OR large sliced potatoes. Leave the skins on to add keep texture and minerals.
3-4 slices bacon
1  sliced white onion
1/5 to 1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 t sugar
salt and pepper to taste
2 T chopped fresh parsley or 1 T(?) capers
Few dashes of celery seed


1. Boil the Potatoes in a medium large pot. Drain and set aside.
2. Fry the Bacon, adding a small amount of oil (in the same pot), until it is crispy. Avoid burning the bacon.
3. Remove the bacon and discard any small burnt bits.
4. Cook the onion until slightly soft in the bacon grease.
5. Add the potatoes back in along with the vinegar, sugar, and a bit of salt and pepper.
6. Stir. About 10-15 min before serving add the parsley or capers. Don’t be afraid to mash the potatoes a bit.

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Crockpot Pulled Pork

I used this recipe as a rough guide: http://www.crumblycookie.net/2008/05/30/crockpot-pulled-pork/

It was a success on the first try and required relatively little effort for a great meal! The extra meat kept well in the fridge… If you start it when you get up in the morning, it will be ready for dinner.

I particularly liked the flexibility of  this dish–all you most likely need is the pork shoulder (that is readily available at most supermarkets)–the spice mixture can easily be tweaked to fit what you have on hand, and a complete meal can be pieced together with whatever starch and veg. you have around.

Some notes:

I just made the spice rub to taste, using this recipe as a general guide, then added a sliced onion, a few sliced carrots, and some whole garlic cloves to the crockpot before adding meat. I didn’t bother to wrap the meat and refrigerate as the above recipe mentions (I don’t doubt that this can improve the flavor, but it is not worth the planning). When applying the spice rub be sure to work it into the fatty marbling so that more of the meat is exposed to the spices.

I flipped the meat and added more spices to the meat partway through. I don’t know if this helped, but I wanted to keep the meat covered with the rub as it cooked so that as much flavor as possible would be absorbed.

After the meat was cooked I removed the onions, carrots, and garlic and pureed them with some of the meat juice and BBQ sauce before adding it back to the pork. I discarded some of the fatty meat juice. This made the meat extra creamy… I might not use all of the vegs. next time as the final sauce was a bit too creamy. A bit of the pureed mixture will add to the texture, but too much makes it taste odd.

We had the pulled pork with crispy, toasted slices of bread–an open faced sandwich–and slow-cooked collard greens. I added some hot sauce to the pork (I really have started to like the Grace brand hot sauce: http://www.gracefoods.ca/drupal/special-product/266). Maybe Mai will comment on the Collard greens she made the same night. They were awesome.