Sunday, March 31, 2013

Kenyan Comfort (Irio, Beef Stew and Tropical Bread Pudding)

                                                    


                                                                             

 
                                                      
Irio is a Kenyan dish comprised of potatoes, green peas, corn and pumpkin leaves or spinach. This dish is a specialty of the Kikuyu people of Central Kenya. The name of this dish is the Kikuyu word for food. Irio has such a central place in Kikuyu cuisine, that it defines the word food. Irio is similar to Southern Africa's Moroko . This recipe was taught to me by my best friend's mom (Mama Noni) and I will share it with you today.


SERVING SIZE: This recipe feeds 6-8 people sufficiently.

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT:
-Vegetable Peeler.
-Sharp Knife.
-Cutting board.
-Masher or a food mill.
-Large pan with lid.
-Medium pan with lid.
-Large mixing bowl.
                                           
INGREDIENTS FOR THE IRIO:
-6 large potatoes, peeled and washed.
-1 cup green peas (you can shell them or buy the bagged kind in the frozen vegetable section of the grocery store or the canned kind).
-1 cup sweet corn (I used 4 ears of fresh sweet corn, removed from the cob).
-1 tablespoon unsalted butter.
-11/2 tablespoon salt.
-1 teaspoon black pepper.
-1-2 cups spinach or pumpkin leaves (if you can find it) washed and finely chopped.

                                                




                                                    


INSTRUCTIONS FOR COOKING THE IRIO:
-In the medium pot, on medium heat, boil the peas and corn until tender (about 15-20 minutes). Cover the pot with a lid while cooking.
-In the large pot, on medium heat, cover the potatoes completely with water. Add the salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, but are not falling apart (about 15-25 mins).
-Drain most of the water out of the potatoes, but leave the potatoes in the pot. Add the chopped spinach to the pot with the potatoes and the little water at the bottom of the pot. Cover and let simmer on medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes.
-Once the spinach is cooked, transfer the potatoes, spinach, peas and corn to the large mixing bowl. Use the potato masher to mash the mixture to your desired consistency. I like mine with a little more texture so I do not mash it too fine. 
-Let the irio cool down uncovered for a few minutes before serving. To serve, plate the irio on a plate in a mound-like shape. Use the back of a ladle or serving spoon to create a well in the middle of the mound. Spoon your beef stew into the well and enjoy.

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT FOR THE BEEF STEW:
-Cutting board.
-Knife.
-Medium saute pan with a lid.
-Colander.

SERVING SIZE: Feeds 6-8 sufficiently.

INGREDIENTS FOR COOKING THE BEEF STEW:
-1 1/2 lbs finely cubed boneless beef ( I used beef for stewing).
-2-3 tablespoons of cooking oil (I use canola).
-1 medium onion, finely diced.
-1 tablespoon ginger/garlic paste.
-1/2 red bell pepper (capsicum), finely cubed.
-1/2 green bell pepper (capsicum), finely cubed.
-1/2 a bunch of finely chopped cilantro (coriander). I used about 1/2 cup.
-1 teaspoon curry powder.
-1 tablespoon dhana jeera (coriander/cumin mix). Alternatively, you can combine 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder with 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder.
-1/2 teaspoon mild red chili powder.
-1 teaspoon cinnamon powder.
-1 teaspoon salt.
-1/4 teaspoon  garam masala (you can find this in the International aisle in the grocery store, at an Indian grocery store or online)
-1 tablespoons of cornstarch (cornflour), whisked well with 2 tablespoons of tap water to form a paste (for thickening the stew). Make sure there are no lumps in this paste. Add it to the stew once the stew has come to a quick boil.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR COOKING THE STEW:
-In the covered saucepan, on medium heat, bring the cubed beef, and two cups of water to a boil. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the meat is no longer pink. Drain over a colander and reserve the liquid in a separate bowl.
-Return the meat to the saucepan, add the 2 tablespoons of oil.
-Add in the diced onions to the meat and cook, covered until the onions are transparent. Make sure to stir so that the onions do not burn.
-Add the ginger/garlic paste and stir.
-Add the red and green peppers and stir.
-Add the spices and stir each time you add a spice.
-Add the salt.
-Add the chopped cilantro and stir well.
-Add the reserved beef stew and stir.
-Taste for salt and adjust according to taste.
-If you'd like your sauce thicker, add the cornstarch paste once the sauce comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and let it simmer, covered for 20-25 mins. Check regularly to make sure your sauce does not all evaporate. Your stew is now ready to serve. Today, we will serve this dish with irio. However, this is also an excellent accompaniment to ugali, rice, spaghetti or chapati.

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT FOR TROPICAL BREAD PUDDING:
-3 mixing bowls.
-Whisk.
-A buttered baking dish (I used a 9x13 inch dish).
-Aluminium foil.
                                                 



SERVING SIZE: Can feed 8 sufficiently.

INGREDIENTS FOR TROPICAL BREAD PUDDING:
-1 loaf of stale French bread, cubed. I bought mine three days prior to using it and let it sit on the counter with the package opened on one end to allow it to get crusty. You want it stale, but not moldy. Challah or brioche bread can also work well with this recipe.
-1 large can of tropical fruit cocktail, drained (leave a little juice in the can to add some flavor to the pudding).
-2 cups granulated sugar.
-1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder.
-1/4 teaspoon salt.
-2 cups heavy whipping cream.
-1 cup heavy coconut milk.
-1 cup evaporated milk.
-1/2 cup Amarula cream liqueur.
-5-6 large eggs, lightly beaten in one of the mixing bowls (I used 6 eggs).
-1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract.
                                                 


                                                         



                                                    


                                                                             

INSTRUCTIONS FOR PREPARING THE TROPICAL BREAD PUDDING:
-In the prepared baking dish, combine the cubed bread and the fruit cocktail. make sure the fruits are evenly distributed in the dish.
-In one of the mixing bowls, combine the dry ingredients (sugar, cardamom and salt). Set aside.
-In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients (whipping cream, Amarula, evaporated milk & coconut milk). Whisk well.
-In the third mixing bowl, combine the eggs and vanilla extract and whisk well to break down the egg yolks.
-Pour the egg mixture into the bowl with the Amarula mixture. Whisk well to combine.
-Now add the dry ingredients (sugar, cardamom and salt) to the bowl with the wet ingredients. Whisk well to combine. You now have your custard.
-Pour the custard over the bread/fruit mixture in the baking dish. Make sure that the liquid covers every part of the dish. Use a spatula to press down the bread to ensure that the custard is well absorbed.
-Cover the baking dosh with aluminium foil and refrigerate for 45mins-1 hour. This will give the bread enough time to absorb the custard before you bake it.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR BAKING THE BREAD PUDDING:
-Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
-In the middle rack of your oven, transfer your uncooked bread pudding from the fridge, into the oven.
-Leave the pudding covered and let it bake for 45 minutes covered. 
-After 45 minutes, uncover the bread pudding and return it to the oven for another 15 minutes. Once the bread pudding does not look runny in the center and the sides have pulled away from the baking dish, your bread pudding is done. Let it cool for around 10 minutes before serving as it will be very hot. 

                                                   

As it cools, prepare the Amarula cream sauce.

INGREDIENTS FOR THE AMARULA CREAM SAUCE:
-1 can of table cream (is usually found in the baking aisle next to the condensed and evaporated milk. They sometimes put them in the International aisle (in the Hispanic food section). 
-2 tablespoons of Amarula cream liqueur.
-1 1/2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.
                                                  


INSTRUCTIONS FOR MAKING THE AMARULA CREAM SAUCE:
-In a small saucepan, combine the ingredients above and bring to a boil on medium heat. 
-As soon as it starts bubbling, remove from the heat. Your cream sauce is now ready to adorn your bread pudding :)
You might want to check with your local laws as this kind of deliciousness almost seems like a crime. Enjoy!