Wednesday, September 29, 2010


truffle explosion. wow.
 I knew my purchase of a hemispheric mold would come in handy some day....and last night happened to be the right time! I happened to stumble across a BEAUTIFUL black truffle, so of course I had to make something outrageous with it.  Fortunately, I also happened to have truffle juice (brilliant), gelatin sheets (you never know when you'll need them), and the Alinea cookbook.  Obvious, commonplace, regular things to have in one's own kitchen! 

heaven in the palm of my hand
Grant Achatz - one of Thomas Keller's proteges - made this famous.  Imagine the delicious chinese soup dumplings, then turn them into truffle. This is a soup dumpling at its finest.  Per Alinea, "tasting Black Truffle Explosion is like experienced a water-balloon fight in your mouth. A truffle tea teems against the supple skin of a ravioli, the tension released only when your teeth pierce the pasta and unleash a cascade of earthy juice. as it explodes, you experience a quickening of the spirit followed by a funky, palate-coating burst", and it "was a dish that would weed cooks out." 
i could drink this juice for breakfast.
When reading or talking about Alinea, all anyone would hear about was the truffle explosion, which at one point was taken off the menu - Grant wondered which was worse: is keeping it "an injustice to creativity, or was not keeping it around an injustice to the guests who have never had it?"

Well, after tasting this, I can tell you that it's the latter.  This was the most delicious morsel of anything I've ever had.  The previous description of it was spot on - textures, flavors, heat, liquid, solid, everything in one little bite. Of course I had to make it.  And it was SIMPLE.

The main component of the dish are the truffle spheres...not only are they ridiculous tasting, but let's be honest, making anything spherical is amazing because it is, quite frankly, unnatural for the most part. 

For the spheres, you have to start with the gelatin sheets - you can get this from any bake store.  I soaked 4 sheets of gelatin in ice water until they became pliable, about five minutes.  While they're soaking, just simmer 1/2 can (7 oz) - I halved the recipe- of truffle juice with a big pinch of sea salt.  Grant suggests to add entirely too much butter, which I think is unnecessary and masks the taste of the truffle, so I opted out.  Add in about a half ounce of truffle oil, and whisk together.  Squeeze the excess water from the gelatin sheets and whisk into the truffle mixture - once the gelatin has dissolved completely, pour it into hemispherical molds. Also, if my apartment could have the aroma given off by this mixture at all times, I would probably dream of unicorns, rainbows, frolicking through poppy fields, sugar, and spice all night every night. And truffles.
gelatin sheets

Let the mixture set for a few hours, or overnight - these can be made ahead!  By the way, on a sidenote, the silicone hemisphere molds are amazing - it was so easy to remove the mixture from them! I was so concerned they would bust, or rip, or something unfortunate, but they came out perfect!  To complete the explosions, you have to make a little pasta party for yourself (check out my pasta post!!) - you can buy fresh pasta if you need, or even use wonton skins - it's just not as fun!  If you do make your own pasta, make sure to roll it out as thin as possible in your pasta machine.  Remove your half-spheres from the fridge and make them into FULL spheres. Just dab a bit of water on one half and sandwich them together. Replace in the fridge until you're ready to use them.

When you're ready to start making these insane explosions, bring a large pot of water to boil with a few large pinches of sea salt - you can add some truffle slices if you please, but I'd rather just eat them them have them boil away!  While the water is boiling, it's time to start the finishing touches! Saute/wilt some greens - Grant uses romaine, I used beet greens. A little olive oil, salt and water - cook little slices until tender, remove and reserve.  Shave one slice per ravioli of the best parmesan you can find, and thinly slice your truffle. Do not give into temptation and eat the truffle!!!

When you're ready to make the ravioli, place spheres a few inches apart on one sheet of pasta.  Brush around the truffle sphere with an egg wash or water to help seal the pasta together.  GENTLY lay your second sheet of pasta over each sphere, pressed the pasta together around each individual sphere one at a time.  Once the pasta is sealed, use a circular cookie cutter or anything circular that can cut really to finish off your ravs.  Pinch together the edges just in case - you don't want to lose that truffle juice deliciousness in your pasta water!
they look like hamburger sea beans...really

Gently place each ravioli into the boiling water and cook for approximately three minutes.  When they are through and just al dente, remove, and top each with a piece of wilted greenery (shrubbery?), a slice of truffle, and a slice of parmesan. Pure heaven.  Take in one bite, or a few to savor the flavor of this.  The truffle gel melts while the pasta is cooking, creating the most delicious broth inside the pasta. Epically delicious. 

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. There is no other name for this other than truffle explosion, because that's exactly was it was. Truffle juice soup, plus the toothiness of the fresh pasta, with a little crunch from the fresh truffle skin, and a nice subtle saltiness from the parmesan.  The epitomy of umami!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

memories of big sur

Big Sur - home of rocky cliffs, beautiful blue ocean, eerie fog.....muse to Kerouac, Miller, and Thompson, to name a few.....and, one of the most amazing places I've ever been to.  It's like a wonderland that appears out of nowhere - seemingly innocent and plain, but once you get to speak to the locals and really see what it's all about, you can't get enough.

Read Kerouac's Big Sur.  It's brilliant - pure JK with no inhibitions, but almost terrifying in the sense that it's basically an autobiography, and you see him lose himself in the comfort of Big Sur. Beyond that though, it really gives you a feel of Big Sur. It's nothing - some people, a bridge, and some beauty down below the bridge on a nerve-wracking trail down below.

The point behind this post is important nonetheless.  One of my favorite snacks to eat is an adaptation of a recipe from Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant.  When I moved to Los Angeles, I took a road trip up the PCH to San Francisco (a road trip I recommend everyone take once in their lifetime).  I stayed in a hole in the wall cabin that was serving some random meat (odd game?) burger - some other kind of hippie stuff - it was the most janky hotel/motel I've stayed in (I'm not being pretentious either, this is true). But it was amazing! You're out in nature, no pop static to distract you - and THEN you stumble upon one of the greatest restaurants in the country. In the middle of nowhere. Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant.  I took this trip with my mom, and I remember, after being concerned that we would not get anything halfway decent, that I say something interesting looking a bit down the road, and that it may have been a gas station (?).

Unbeknownst to me, some of the greatest chefs work here.  Let's say they were ex-pats of culinary greatness, working towards what they love as opposed to working towards strict business and monetary success...they love what they do. And you can TASTE it! Wood burning ovens, check. Delicious coffee and pastries in the morning, check. Fresh SPEARED fish? Check. Honey from .2 miles away? Check. I have no reason to go on.

But I do. Only for the reason of telling you about the most delicious beet recipe ever. If you claim you don't like beets, I dare you to try this, because it will make you love everything about it.  Fresh beets, beet greens, onions, chevre cheese, and tasty, crusty bread. Period.  And, this is the perfect time to get GREAT beets. Golden, Chioggia, White, Red, whatever. Get them! I bought some red and white beets at the market today, no Chioggia in sight!

Be sure to buy the beets with greens attached - these are almost the best part, especially in this recipe. And here it goes:

Sauteed Beet Green Crostini with Roasted Beets
Adapted from Big Sur Bakery

For the beets
2-4 Small/medium beets of various colors if you can 
Aluminum Foil

Preheat the oven to 400F - wrap each beet root in foil with a bit of water (tightly so it doesn't spill!) and place in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until fork tender. When they are ready, take them out, let them cool, then peel off the skin and let them hang out for a bit.

For the greens:
Approximately 2 cups beet greens, various - use stems as well.
1/2 to 3/4 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
2-3 cloves garlic, minced (mirepoix size)
Crushed Red Pepper (to taste)
1/4 cup or so vinegar - I use persimmon vinegar
Olive oil
Sea salt and Pepper

Coarsely chop the greens.  Heat up a large pan over medium heat with olive oil until it shimmers - cook the garlic, onions, stems, and crushed pepper for a few minutes until the onions are translucent and the stems are soft, being careful not to burn anything.  Throw in the beet greens, stirring occasionally until they have wilted down a bit.  Pour a tad bit of vinegar over top and stir together - taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.  Put this in another bowl and keep cool.

When everything is set and ready, all you need is some delicious crusty bread and goat cheese.  I am obsessed with Ardith Mae. I'll explain later.  Cut your bread/baguette on the bias, place a bit of the green mixture on top, and crumble some chevre/goat cheese on top.  Place this under the broiler until the cheese has browned a bit.  Add the crostini onto a plate along with the roasted these with sea salt, pepper, and olive oil, and ENJOY. This. will. blow. your. mind. Beet greens are the new love of my life.

Friday, September 24, 2010

spelunking in the city

The mamacita is in town, and of course, all we have been doing is going to markets galore, food shopping, reading recipes, having small bites, and cooking! Since living in New York I've discovered (for myself) some amazing places that I had to share.  For our first evening, we had a few cocktails at Upstairs at the Kimberly Hotel - it really has an amazing view of the city, with the Chrysler building front and center - and it isn't too insanely "hip" like Mad45, 230 Fifth, etc.  It has great design, great food, and great cocktails! It'll even be a great bar for wintertime, with a retractable glass roof and heated floors. 

really, i just like the lights.
 Beyond that, we popped into Pampano to have some ceviche - legitimately, some of the best ceviche I've ever had (minus the aguachile from Yelapa, Mexico!) - it's as fresh as can be, and outrageously flavorful, with the ceviches changing seasonally.  

Of course, I have to take her to Kalustyan's, NY Cake and Bake Supply, and....Eataly.  We both went NUTS at Kalustyan's! Purchasing everything left and right, from green bamboo rice to black forbidden rice, nigella seeds to borage flowers, fennel pollen to...well, you get the idea.  If there is ever ANY type of spice (everything!!), flour, bean, grain, or frankly anything nonperishable that is high-quality, this is your place. 
I mean, these are only half of the curries they have.
Following Kalustyan's, we spent an entirely absurd amount of time at Eataly. We contemplated buying truffles, because yes, they had them FRESH for sale.  We also contemplated buying sea urchin and cracking it open outside of the market, but that just seemed like it may be a bit odd (to some, not me).  This was the first time I actually ATE at Eataly, and the quality of their product is outstanding. We tried a Grande Piatto Misto di Salumi e Formaggi. Why I failed to take a picture of this, I do not know! Beautiful cheeses and cured meats - divine prosciutto de Parma and San Daniele, mortadella, and speck, along with Fontina, Taleggio, a 35 month aged Parmesan, a creamy Gorgonzola, and a fresh Ricotta. During this time, I was able to chat with Joe Bastianich! Not only is he a brilliant businessman, but he really loves what he does.  We kept running into him in every part of the store (seriously not on purpose) and finally I decided to just start talking to him - about Eataly and how great it is, the original store in Torino, food, ingredients, and of course cooking.  How can you not talk cooking with someone who's mother is one of the queen's of Italian cooking?! He told me about a dish he made with fresh linguine, langoustine, fish stock (made with the langoustine shells) and finished with fresh sea urchin to make it creamy....I will be making this as soon as possible! He gave us a few tastes of different parmesans and aged balsamics, as well as a fig stuffed with gorgonzola, topped with La Mozza olive oil. Delicious!

Mamacita Mare Bear and my friend showed up to have some treats with us - we wanted to try some pasta and pizza inside the market.  The pasta was cooked perfectly - on the menu they had both dried and fresh pastas, specifying which is which.  We tried two fresh pastas, one tagliatelle with pesto Genovese, and one lasagna al forno. The color of the pesto was absolutely striking - almost a kelly green - which signified the use of super fresh basil from Genoa, and a properly made product.  It was delicious, and perfectly cooked - and reminded me of this video. The lasagna was as such as well.  The sheets of lasagna were thin, allowing the flavor of the ingredients to come through, utilizing the lasagna to give a sort of toothiness to the dish.

tagliatelle - look how green!
lasagna al forno
Next came our little pizza just a San Marzano with (obviously) San Marzano tomato sauce, basil, and mozzarella.  The crust was thin, and perfectly crispy, the sauce has the proper amount of sweetness, and there was a great ratio of sauce-crust-cheese.  Of course, being the obnoxious people that we are, we sprinkled some fennel pollen on the pizza. I know, get over it, it was worth it.

 Finally, after a billion hours of being in this store, we decided to leave on yet another adventure to the NY Cake and Bake store to buy god knows what.  Sprinkles, colored dusting powder, Valrhona cocoa powder - pretty much everything unnecessary, yet necessary that you could think of. I did get a rolling pin and cooling rack! 

After toting all of our goodies home, and after taking a breather, we were ready for a bite to eat (seriously, this was quite a few hours later, as much as it may seem otherwise).  We needed something not heavy at this point, so we decided on Esca.  Fortunately, Chef Dave Pasternak was working this evening so I could introduce him to MB.  Dave is an amazing seafood chef and really knows how to work with his ingredients, and he sources GREAT product from all over.  Not to mention he LOVES what he does, which is so important in this business.  At Esca, we tried a couple crudos and a couple antipastis to share - I love that crudo is becoming more popular all over - it's Italian sashimiBianchetti, or as he calls them "french fries of the sea" - fresh whitebait fried in a light batter, whole - and you eat it, whole.  Absolutely delicious.  

For our courses, our first taste was the sea urchin with olive oil, sea salt, and a bit of balsamic.  I absolutely LOVE sea urchin.  I used to be absolutely terrified of it, because the first time I had it, it was hideous.  But once you try a fresh sea urchin, its like eating the ocean. Seriously.  The olive oil on the urchin really helped bring the flavors together - although I must admit, I like West Coast urchin better than East Coast.

Our next crudo was Branzino with it's own cracklings - I'm not sure if you can legitimately call them cracklings, but I am absolutely okay with it! Since it was the branzino skin, it added a little more "fishiness" to it if you will, but you can only expect that from skin with all the oil in it.  This was a great play on textures and flavors, with big chunks of sea salt as well.

For our last two tastes, we had grilled octopus with giant corona beans and preserved sorrento lemons. I seriously have an obsession for octopus as of late - I can't get enough of it! I don't know if it's because I have more access to it, or more people know how to cook it well, or what the deal is. I could eat octopus, grilled, roasted, or pan-seared every day of my life. This was a delicious take on grilled octopus - the preserved lemon really livened up the dish.

And the sardines! Little butterflied fillets atop roasted peperonata with green olives and olive oil.  This was perfect.

The evening ended with some delicious Moscato d'Asti and biscotti.  You can't get much better than that! I would say it was a successful start to the MB visit to the city. More to come!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

we're jammin

To think that jammin' was a thing of the past. I'm pretty sure Bob Marley was speaking about canning and preserves when he sang these lyrics! People do think that jammin' and canning is a thing of the past - but how can you help but make preserves at the end of summer with all the gorgeous fruit at the market?! Wild strawberries, fresh lychees, golden raspberries, Reine-Claude (green gage) plums...I couldn't resist.  Making preserves is also so easy - granted, you do have to sterilize the jars (more on that later!), but it's not too much of a tedious task.
fresh wild strawberries
Reine-Claude Plums
golden raspberries
For the first jam, I simply made a strawberry preserve, with a bit of lemon peel in it - an adaptation of James Beard's Sunshine Strawberry Preserves - you'll see where the sunshine comes in later!  If you can't find wild strawberries, you can always use regular strawberries and cut them into smaller pieces.  First, hull the strawberries, and place in a large saucepan.  Peel one lemon, being sure to cut off the pith - the white part is really bitter so you won't want that in your preserves. Just go at it with a sharp paring knife and you should be good to go.

squeaky clean!
Mix about equal amounts strawberry with sugar, or less - I'm not the biggest sweet fan, so I use a little less - especially considering these little strawberries have so much natural sweet flavor all packed into their little selves - and add in slices of lemon peel.  Squeeze the entire lemon over the mixture and stir to combine.  Let this sit for at least an hour - you could even let it sit overnight, covered, to macerate.

After the strawberries and sugar have rested, stir to mix and pop it on the stove.  At this point, you're going to melt the sugar - bring the mixture to a boil, stirring carefully to ensure that all of the sugar crystals aren't stuck to the bottom of the pan - lower the heat, and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Once all of the sugar is dissolved, pour the mixture into a sheet pan and place in a sunny spot during the daytime (sunshine strawberry preserves!) - you can put plastic wrap or anything clear over it.  I did this for a while, but I'm clearly impatient, so I let it sit in the sun for as long as possible, then placed it in a warm oven (about 150-200F) until the syrup got thick.  That's it! Once the syrup is to your desired consistency, pour it into sterilized jars, and you are all set!
sunbathing strawberries

These preserves were epically delicious - just sweet enough, and the taste of the wild strawberries was super intense - so intense that it was almost as if I added strawberry flavoring to the mixture.  Even BETTER is that I now have a delicious strawberry syrup to make cocktails with! Maybe even with Champagne - it would add a great color and flavor.  Bubbles here I come!

For jam #2, I made a Reine-Claude Vanilla Bean preserves.  The process is just as simple as before - cut up the plums into quarters or so, remove the pit, and mix in a saucepan with about just as much sugar, and the juice of one lemon. Let this macerate for a couple of hours, or overnight, and you're ready to jam! Before cooking down the fruit mixture, cut a vanilla bean in half and scrape out all of the seeds - put the seeds and pods into the mixture, stir, and cook it up! Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the mixture has reduced to a nice syrup.  Once it reaches this stage, remove the vanilla pods and transfer to a sterilized jar.
The resulting preserves for this has a gorgeous yellow-green hue with the vanilla beans dispersed throughout.  It's a great combination as well - something I would probably serve over ice cream or with a nice fresh ricotta on a slice of baguette. The vanilla is pretty strong in this but there is still a slightly acidic taste to counterbalance it from the plums.

For my third and final preserve (for the time being), I made a Lychee, Golden Raspberry, and Rose Preserve.  First, the lychees need to be peeled and pitted - I love the look of lychee peels! They have the most beautiful hue to them - a rosy, orange, magenta - and the scent of fresh lychees is just divine.  It's subtle, sweet, and floral - similar to the taste. 
don't forget the pit!
i obviously have a love for the lychee peel
Again, peel and pit the lychees and cut them into a big chop (in halves or quarters).  Add the raspberries, mix in an equal or bit less amount of sugar, and squeeze in the juice of one lemon.  Stir it up and let this sit for an hour or two, or overnight, and go at it like the previous preserves!  Bring it to a boil, stir - but this time, add a splash of rose water - and simmer until it becomes nice and syrupy.
rose water - you can get this it any middle eastern market or specialty food store

The combination of flavors in this was fantastic - the golden raspberries are a bit more delicate than they're more colorful cousins, so mixing it with lychees and rose water seemed to be a great combination.   The rose water is just enough to taste it, but not enough that you really realize WHAT that exact taste is.  This may be perfect for a panna cotta topping!

Altogether this was a really fun project - I'm not too used to canning or preserving, but the process is obviously quite simple.  Just pick any fruits you wish, make some odd combinations, add some sugar and let it hang out!  If you aren't going to use it immediately, you MUST sterilize some jars - and they have to be Bell jars or similar, with the two part screw-on cap - this will allow a vacuum seal to be created so the preserves can keep for a long time.
delicious breakfast!
That being said, start jammin.  Fall is upon us (sadly) and why not preserve what's best to eat in the winter time! 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Os pementos de Padrón, uns pican e outros non

Ah yes - the beautiful Padron pepper.  So often mistaken for - or replaced, unfortunately by - the shishito - but so much better!! These little peppers are from Padron, Spain, in the region of Galicia, and have to be picked at the perfect moment - right before they lose their "sweetness" and gain the overt spiciness of a regular chile.  That in and of itself makes the game of eating Padrons even better - you MAY get a spicy one, let's say every one in ten, but the rest just have the perfect chile pepper flavoring.

fresh padrons
For the longest time, these peppers weren't available stateside - that was up until about five or so years ago. Fortunately, someone decided it would be a fabulous idea to bring them on over, and even a few farmers are growing them (THANK GOD!) in the Bay area.  The result of offering these delicious little bites gives us one of the most amazing tapas ever - simple, refreshing, delicious, and exciting! Eating them, you'll feel like your right in Galicia, ready to swill down a cold one and bite right in.  There's really nothing much to it! That being said, if you see Padron peppers, you absolutely have to try these.  You can whip them up in a flash, and they'll probably even get eaten in a shorter amount of time that it took to make them!

Seriously, no recipe needed.  All you need is a bit of olive oil to coat your pan, some good sea salt, and I like to add a bit of fresh lemon juice.  Heat your pan over medium-high heat, and swirl in enough olive oil to cover the base of the pan.  When it starts to shimmer, add in your Padrons and let them sizzle! Cook until they are fully blistered.

You want to get these good and charred, but not overcooked! Make sure that the pan is super hot and you don't cook them any longer than a few minutes - otherwise, they'll become overly mushy, and the oil will all soak up in them. 

One their nice and crispy, immediately place them in a serving bowl or dish and toss them with an AMPLE amount of sea salt - Maldon, or a good crystally sea salt is good - it adds a nice crunch and flavor burst every time you bite into the crystal.  Squeeze about a half of a lemon over the peppers, and VOILA. Easiest, most delicious appetizer ever. Have friends that showed up out of nowhere? Hopefully you have Padrons on hand, because these can be made in a flash.

action shot!
Grab yourself a cold one, and pretend you're in Padron. There's nothing better than a simple Galician tapa!

Friday, September 17, 2010

injera b'waht b'law-ho

Doro Wot with Injera
 One of my friendly co-workers at the Waldorf if Ethiopian - I finally asked her if there were any good Ethiopian restaurants to try around the area, and her first response was not an actual answer, but instead, "You like Ethiopian food?!" Why, yes! I'd venture to say that there are little to no cuisines that I dislike in the world - Ethiopian food is relatively simple, but extremely flavorful in that they use a ton of spices, leading to a great complexity (and great heat) in their dishes.  A typical Ethiopian meal consists of wot and injera - some type of spicy stew, whether made with beef, chicken, goat, fish, or just vegetables, and a giant flatbread/pancake that acts as a plate, utensils, napkin, you name it.  Fortunately, my coworker also proceeded to tell me that she would be getting a delivery or fresh, delicious, homemade injera the very next day from a friend! There was no way I could pass that offer up, and that ultimately resulted in an authentic Ethiopian feast in store for myself.

fresh injera
First, let's talk a little about the injera.  It's different than any bread around the world - it's made with a fermented sourdough batter (out of teff flour), and it comes out sometimes two feet in diameter! It has a unique spongy, and slightly sticky feel to it, and it is perfect for sopping up all of the delicious stews.  Injera also has a slighy tanginess to it due to the fermentation - this flavor component is the perfect complement to all of the wots and spicy dishes in Ethiopian cuisine.  Injera is also more than just bread - it's the center of a whole ritual of eating in Ethiopian culture. As I stated before, it has more uses than being just a "bread", but also acts as the centerpiece to dining, and family and friends coming together.   Everyone gathers around a giant injera topped with various wots and side dishes, and digs right in with their hands (right hand only!) - when the tablecloth is gone, the meal is complete, and it's time for some delicious Ethiopian coffee.  There is even a friendship ritual, goorsha, where one rips a piece of injera, rolls it up and feeds it to a friend as a sign of their relationship. I swear, only in America do we find people who are terrified of bread because they're too concerned about their figure - in so many other cultures, bread is such a focal point of family and community, it would be unheard of to shun it!

For my personal Ethiopian party, I decided to stick with doro wot - a SPICY stewed chicken.  The majority of dishes are made with berbere paste as a base - this is made with many different spices (recipe to follow), creating an extremely complex, spicy, savory, warming flavor component for the dishes.

just a couple of spices
The doro wot is generally made with chicken legs and thighs, stewed with the berbere, onions, garlic, ginger, and red wine or chicken stock.  I decided to stick with an entire chick from my friends John and Michael from Fazio Farms.  (PS: check out this great video from Food Curated of John showing his duck farm - I'm hoping to take a trip up with him in the coming weeks to check it out myself!) They have amazing rabbit and duck (probably some of the best I've had, especially the rabbit - plus their facilities are beautiful, and animals humanely raised), so I figured their chicken would be right up there as well!  Plus, when you get a full chicken, you can use the carcass to make a delicious stock, so you get more bang for your buck either way!

8-piece break down. 2 wings, 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 breasts - it can be broken down even more by splitting the tender from the breast, and splitting each wing in two.
Speaking of the chicken, it turned out just as good (as expected) as John's other products - pre-cooking the meat had great color to it (even the breasts, which should be pink) - and there was a great layer of fat, showing that this was a happy chick (before getting to me, clearly).  For the doro wot, I took the skin off each piece as well.  

To start your Ethiopian meal off right, make the Berbere paste first - you can make it a day ahead of you like and just refrigerate it.  This makes about 3/4 c - 1 c of paste.  Depending on your sensitivity to spice you can either tone it down or amp it up with the amount of crushed red pepper, cayenne, and paprika you use.  I like heat, so the more the better! Also, if you don't have any of these spices whole, you can use the same amount ground, just skip the first step.

Berbere Paste
1 t cumin seeds
1-2 t crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 t cardamom seeds (you have to smash the pods to get the seeds out)
1/2 t Fenugreek seeds
4 whole peppercorns (I like tellicherry)
3 allspice berries
2 whole cloves
1 T hot paprika
1/2 T salt
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t turmeric
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t nutmeg
2 New Mexico dried chiles, charred and blistered over an open flame
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 cup olive oil
3-4 T water

Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat to toast your whole spices.  When the pan is up to temp, toss in the spices and toast for about two minutes.  The spices are done when a fabulous aroma rises out of the pan - be sure to take them out of the pan immediately when you start to smell this, or your spices may burn.  While you're waiting for the spices to toast (or after, it doesn't take long!), blister the the skin of the chiles over an open flame, let cool and roughly chop them (discarding the stems).

If you've used whole spices, put them all into a coffee/spice grinder and grind away until it has become a fine powder. Finally, place all of your solid ingredients and ground spices into a food processor or blender to start making the paste.  As soon as they have started coming together, slowly stream the oil into the processor while it's running. Add the water, one tablespoon at a time, until a thick paste has formed - if you need some more water, feel free to add it in.  Scrape this all out into a container and set aside for later, or refrigerate if you won't be using it immediately.  As you can probably tell, this paste is pretty serious - it has a delicious combination of spices, flavor and heat wise, none of which overpower the others - the raw onions and garlic add a tinge of pungency to the mix as well.

caution: hot!
With your berbere in hand, now it's time to start cooking away the main attraction!

Doro Wot
1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces -or- 2 lbs. chicken pieces, whichever you prefer
I lemon, juiced
2 T salt
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 T ginger, peeled and finely minced
3-4 tablespoons olive oil or butter (Ethiopians use niter kibbeh, butter spiced with ginger, garlic and cinnamon)
1 dash of cinnamon (to make up for the above!)
1-2 T paprika
1/4 to 1/2 cup berbere paste
1 cup water or stock
Cayenne pepper to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste

To start, toss the chicken pieces with the fresh-squeezed lemon juice and salt, and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  While the chicken is marinating, you can start prepping your vegetables. Generally, for the various wots, the pungent ingredients (onion, garlic, etc) are pureed themselves - for this recipe, I let them cook down whole a bit to add a better texture and look to the dish.  

Heat a saucepot big enough to hold all your chicken and then some over medium-low heat.  Swirl in your olive oil (or butter), as well as the cinnamon and paprika.  Let these come together for a couple minutes, and dump in your onions, garlic, and ginger.  Stir until they are all coated with oil, turn the heat down to low, and let them cook down for 15-20 minutes, or until the onions are tender.  You'll be getting some great smells inside your kitchen with this!  Next, scoop in the berbere paste and coat the onions - let this cook for a couple of minutes while stirring.  Finally, add in the water or stock, the chicken pieces (and the juice it's in), cayenne, a bit of salt and pepper, and stir to combine.  Bring this mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for approximately 30-40 minutes.  Check the chicken after about 30 minutes to see where it's at - depending on the chicken it could only take this long.  The meat should be tender and almost falling off of the bone.

If the chicken is through cooking, remove it from the sauce and set aside.  Reduce the remaining liquid in the pot for about ten minutes until its a bit thicket - more like a stew than a broth.  Taste for seasoning, and add anymore salt and pepper if you think it's necessary.  Plate whichever chicken pieces you'd like, and pour some of the reduced liquid and onions over it.  Serve with or over injera if you have it, and enjoy!

tender to the bone
Holy Mackerel! This was absolutely delicious.  The spices from the berbere paste with the slow cooked onions created a delicious broth.  The chicken was ultra tender, flavorful and juicy from the broth it was cooked in - the different spices used also gave the dish beautiful color.  Finally, eating this with the injera was the icing on the cake.  The tangy, yeastiness of the bread was the perfect foil for the deep, spicy flavors of the doro wot.  I wanted to eat all of it, but figured eating an entire chicken to myself wouldn't be the best idea (besides, not having any leftovers). I topped it off with a little chervil for color, but it's not necessary in the long run.  Give this recipe a try - it'll warm you up all over and leave you craving for more! So, go throw on some Addis Ababa, dance around, and start cooking!