Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Angola

Angola is a country that neither I nor Amy know much about. The only thing about Angola that I've always appreciated is the fact that the national flag is my favorite redesign of the classic communist hammer and sickle. That and the Cubans were involved in their 1980's civil war.

After perusing Angolan recipes, we were pleased to find that Angolan food is similar to many Caribbean and Latin American foods that both of us love. It should come as no surprise that the foods of Angola and much of West Africa came to play a dominant role in the cuisine of much of the New World. Many ingredients of the new world such as squash, beans, and especially chiles have also come to play a strong role in Angolan food. This is sadly the result of a vicious slave trade as well as years of violent Portuguese colonialism that did not end for Angola until the middle of the 1970's. What survives all of this is a cuisine that can be loved by anyone who appreciates the glorious standard of rice, beans, and stew.

Calulu de Bacalhau: Salt Cod Calulu

Many, many, countries throughout Africa and the Caribbean claim calulu as a national dish. There is actually an extensive debate on whether or not it originated in Africa or the Americas. Every country has a unique standard of preparing this dish, but all the recipes are stews that include a sauce composed of blanched greens. We chose to include salt fish from our nearby Puerto Rican market in the recipe. Unlike Caribbean versions of the dish, the Angolan gets much of its flavor from palm oil that can be purchased from most Afro/Caribbean grocers.

1 lb bacalao or other salt fish (soaked 24 hours in the fridge with the water changed 3 times)
1 lb catfish fillet
1 lb zucchini chopped
2 large onions chopped
4 tomatoes chopped
1/2 cup palm oil
5 cups water
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 habanero chile seeded and chopped
2 tsp fresh thyme
Juice of 1 lemon
1 lb spinach
1 lb chard leaves only
1 can coconut milk
Salt to taste

1. Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the palm oil. Saute the onions and zucchini for five minutes until the onions become translucent.
2. Add the tomatoes, chile, garlic, and thyme and cook for a further 2 minutes until fragrant.
3. Add the water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 40 minutes.
4. Blend the soup and add the coconut milk, fish, and lemon and cook for a further 20 minutes.
5. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.
6. Garnish with cream and palm oil.

Squash and Cornmeal Mash

There was plenty of time to throw this dish together while we waited for the calulu to cook.

1 cup cornmeal
4 cups water
1 butternut squash cubed and boiled til tender
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup cream
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt to taste

1. Combine the cornmeal and water, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes.
2. Add the boiled squash and mash with remaining ingredients.
3. Allow 15 minutes to cool before serving.

Black Beans and Palm Oil

We first attempted to use dry beans, but due to a lack of water in the pressure cooker we ended up with a nasty mess and ended up buying a can o' beans. Whoops!

1 32 oz can black beans
1/2 cup water
Sprig of thyme
1/3 cup of palm oil

1. Open the can, drain it, and put the beans in a pot over medium heat with 1/2 cup water
2. Add remaining ingredients and boil down to desired thickness.
3. Serve it up!

Baked Bananas in their Skins

We baked these bananas while we ate the dinner. Like everything else they involved very little work.

1 banana per person
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
2 tbsps sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 lemon
Honey for drizzlin'

1. Preheat oven to 350 and bake the bananas in their skins for 20 minutes.
2. Remove the now brown bananas and cut the top portions of the skin to expose the bananas.
3. Mix lemon, sugar, and cream and place on the hot bananas.
4. Top with peanuts and honey and serve.

Conclusions

Sadly, Amy was a sick lady today and, due to seasonal allergies, she lost her sense of smell and taste and struggled through the dinner like a champ. Adding insult to injury I accidentally served her dessert with the same spoon I used to scrape out the habanero seeds and gave her dulled taste buds a bit of a shock. Sorry, darlin! But we did have our good friends Marco and Drew over as guests and received good reviews of the food. Thanks for coming over, guys! The portions we used could probably have fed eight comfortably and everybody walked away with full bellies. So we'll be eating green soup for the next four days. Antigua is up next, and we promise a great feast will be had!

Sa├║de!

2 comments:

  1. I've always wanted to try calalu ever since it was on the Cosby Show during Cliff and Claire's anniversary. How did it turn out?

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  2. That's fantastic it was on the Cosby show! Amy and I have always been jealous of the pimped out Huxtable kitchen. It turned out really well and the flavors reminded me of a lot of Cajun food I've eaten before. Also it's ridiculously simple to make.

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