Wednesday, August 27, 2008

African Dinner Date

Abby and I hosted dinner this week, and the theme was African cuisine!

Bourek and Yellow Rice with Raisins

Bourek (beef packets from Algeria)
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Bake time: 15 minutes
2 Toddler Smiles!

1/2 lb lean ground beef
1 egg
onion powder
garlic powder
6 sheets of phyllo dough, thawed
1/2 Tbsp butter

In a small skillet, brown the ground beef over medium heat, breaking it up into very small chunks. Drain it in a colander and then place it in a bowl. Add to it the egg and a dash each of the onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper; mix well.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Lay one sheet of phyllo out on your work surface. Fold it in half lengthwise. Spoon 2 tablespoonfuls of the beef mixture onto the corner of one end. Fold the beef inside the phyllo in a triangular fashion (see the pictures):

Set each triangle on a lightly greased (or sprayed with non-stick spray) cookie sheet. (The triangles can be refrigerated until ready to bake at this point). Melt the 1/2 Tbsp of butter in a small bowl in the microwave and lightly brush it over the top of each triangle. Bake the triangles at 400F for 5 minutes; then reduce the heat to 325F and continue to bake for 10-15 additional minutes, until the phyllo is golden and the beef is cooked through (you may want to cut one open to check).

Yellow Rice with Raisins (South Africa)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes
2 Toddler Smiles!

1/2 cup white rice
1 tsp white sugar
1/8 tsp turmeric
3/4 tsp salt
1 inch cinnamon stick
1 strip (approx. 1 inch long, 1/2 inch wide) lemon rind
1 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup raisins

Add all of the ingredients except for the raisins to a medium pot. Stir well, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low; simmer for 10 minutes. Add the raisins, stir, and continue to simmer for 5-10 more minutes, until the rice is tender. Remove the cinnamon stick and lemon rind before serving.

Benne Cakes (West Africa)
Prep time: 10 minutes, plus 1 hour for dough to chill
Bake time: 10-15 minutes
2 Toddler Smiles!

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds (check your grocery store's Japanese food section)

Cream the butter and brown sugar together in a mixing bowl. Stir in the egg, vanilla extract, and lemon juice until well combined. Add the flours, baking powder, salt, and sesame seeds. If the dough seems too wet/moist, add another tablespoon (or two) of all-purpose flour. It should have roughly the consistency of a typical chocolate chip cookie dough.

Put the dough in the refrigerator to chill for about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 325F. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto a lightly greased (or sprayed with non-stick spray) cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-15 mintues or until the edges are browned. Let cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes, and then move the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling.


The whole dinner was a success! The girls liked everything, and I had a lot of fun poking around looking for ideas and crafting recipes. The bourek were very tasty, and I could eat mounds of the rice - yum! The benne cakes came out too flat the first time around, which I blame on me not noticing that the dough was too moist - there was definitely some extra flour needed. The taste was to die for, if you are a fan of salty-sweet combinations.


Liz said...

I made this meal for my family, using Boca crumblers in place of the hambuerger, and added peas and carrots--it was a huge hit for the 2- and 6-year olds! Mom and dad loved it too. I wonder what would be a good dipping sauce for the pastries, though? Ketchup was ok, but not quite right. Tganks for another great recipe!

Kara said...

Liz - in my looking around for African recipes, a flavor combination that I saw a lot was spicy tomato-peanut sauces. I'm toying with a sauce like that to go with some sweet potato gnocchi, and I bet a tomato-peanut combo would make a great dipping sauce for the pastries, too. I'm hoping to get to this today or tomorrow, so hopefully I'll have a great sauce soon! :-)