Recipes from Angola



Recipes from Angola
I really needed another week off, but I managed to limp my way into the kitchen this week anyway. By the way these antibiotics make me loopy (the other day I caught myself trying to put the flour in the refrigerator, and when making chicken and buttermilk dumplings I put the cream in the dumplings and the buttermilk in the sauce) so please forgive me if I write any non-nonsensical sentences and then don't bother to correct them.

Fortunately, Angola was pretty easy on me, and the food both tasted and looked pretty good:

But first a little background. The Republic of Angola is a pretty good sized country in south central Africa. Here it is on the map:



From about the 16th century Angola was occupied to some extent by the Portuguese, who left their mark on the cuisine that is still popular there today. Angola has been independent since 1975, but it is a troubled place, with appallingly high rates of infant mortality, a very poor record of human rights and an average life expectancy for its citizens of less than 48 years.

Angolan cuisine depends greatly on imports from Portugal, as well as on non-western ingredients such as palm oil, banana leaves, cassava flour and a number of other things I couldn't find locally or even on igourmet.com. So I did have to pass up a number of otherwise perfectly good recipes just based on my failed pursuit of ingredients.

I also passed up many other recipes, including Cabidela, which is traditionally cooked in blood, Catatos, which is caterpillar fried in garlic (and I had a few juicy looking ones on my tomato plants this year too, darn it), Gafanhotos de palmeria (toasted grasshopper), Jinguinga (goat tripe and blood), and Mafuma, which is made out of frog's meat. I know, I know, they all sound delicious. What was I thinking.

Here are the dishes I did settle on:

Camarões Piri-Piri (Shrimp in red pepper sauce)
(from Recipes2Share)
  • 2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup Molho de Piri-Piri
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced

Arroz de Coco e Papaia (Rice with coconut and papaya)
(from Celtnet) 
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 papaya, peeled, de-seeded, and finely diced

Salada limão (Lemon salad)
(from Celtnet
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 2 ounces finely grated parmesan cheese

60ml lemon juice 4 tsp olive oil 1/2 tsp salt 2 fennel bulbs 50g grated parmesan cheese

Read more at Celtnet: http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/miscellaneous/fetch-recipe.php?rid=misc-lemon-salad
Copyright © celtnet

60ml lemon juice 4 tsp olive oil 1/2 tsp salt 2 fennel bulbs 50g grated parmesan cheese

Read more at Celtnet: http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/miscellaneous/fetch-recipe.php?rid=misc-lemon-salad
Copyright © celtnet
60ml lemon juice 4 tsp olive oil 1/2 tsp salt 2 fennel bulbs 50g grated parmesan cheese

Read more at Celtnet: http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/miscellaneous/fetch-recipe.php?rid=misc-lemon-salad
Copyright © celtnet
60ml lemon juice 4 tsp olive oil 1/2 tsp salt 2 fennel bulbs 50g grated parmesan cheese

Read more at Celtnet: http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/miscellaneous/fetch-recipe.php?rid=misc-lemon-salad
Copyright © celtn1/4 cup lemon juice
Let's start with the shrimp, since that has to marinade at least 30 minutes (mine was marinading for a couple of hours).

You are, of course, wondering how to make "Molho de Piri-Piri," which is the key ingredient in Camarões Piri-Piri. Here's the recipe:
  1. Go to www.igourmet.com
  2. Search for "peri-peri" (an alternate spelling of the same thing)
  3. Click "Add to Cart"
  4. Check out

Is the a cop out? Not really. Well, kind of. Piri-piri is the Portuguese spelling for the African bird's eye chili pepper, which is native to Southern Africa. Now you can, with some effort, get piri-piri seeds and grow them here in the US, but I thought my chances of doing that in less than a week weren't very good, so that's not a route I chose. You can also buy pickled piri-piri peppers, but I thought that would change the flavor too much. A third alternative is to substitute habanero peppers, but that didn't seem particularly authentic either. So I chose to buy the ready-made sauce in the hope that it would provide for a finished product that was a little closer to what they might eat in Angola. Of course, I was disappointed to find that the peri-peri sauce sent to me by igourmet.com is actually bottled in Georgia, but I guess you can't have it all.

DiChickO's "Peri-Peri" sauce


In case you'd rather make your own psuedo-piri-piri, here is the recipe:

  • 3 to 5 habanero peppers
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil

Put the first four ingredients into a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. With the blender running, slowly add the olive oil. Add salt to taste.


Now peel and devein your shrimp. I'm sure you love deveining as much as I do. Then add the piri-piri sauce and the crushed garlic to the shrimp. Mix well and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

The shrimp, peeled, deveined and marinading. Oh how I love deveining shrimp.


Now on to the rice. I've made Jamaican peas and rice plenty of times, but have always had a hard time getting the rice to absorb the coconut milk, so lately I've been boiling the rice and then just adding it to the milk after the fact. This recipe gave me that "aha" moment (or maybe it was a "duh" moment) by instructing me to thin the coconut milk with 1/4 cup of water. Oh wow, that seems so obvious.


Now add the rice, salt and cinnamon.

Coconut milk, water and cinnamon


 Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the rice is done (mine took quite a bit longer). Also it says to "fluff" the rice and let stand covered for 10 minutes. Mine was distinctly unfluffy. In fact, it was almost the opposite of fluffy, kind of risotto-like.

While you're doing all this, you can get the shrimp ready for grilling. Traditionally this dish would be cooked over an open flame, but in our house Martin does all the outdoor grilling. I usually broil anything that would otherwise be grilled.

Thread the shrimp onto skewers and cook for about five minutes, turning once, until the shrimp is pink (note this can be a little hard to figure with this recipe, since the marinade is red. You can also tell shrimp is done when it starts to curl and develop a firm texture).

The shrimp are skewered and ready for the broiler.



Back to the rice: while the rice is standing (presumably undergoing fluffification, if you did it right), cut and seed the papaya, then finely dice it. Mash half of the dice and keep the other half as-is.

Dice half the papaya and mash the other half.

Put both the mashed papaya and the diced papaya into the rice and mix, warming over the stove. Easy huh?

My finished rice looked a bit like risotto with papaya.



Finally the salad, which was my least favorite part of the meal. Normally I like fennel as a garnish or as a minor ingredient, but as the focus of a salad it was a little overwhelming. Easy, though. Here's the directions:

Trim the fennel bulbs, reserving about two tablespoons of the fronds. Finely chop the fronds and whisk them together with the first three ingredients.

Lemon juice with fennel fronds, salt and olive oil.



Thinly slice the fennel bulbs and toss with the dressing. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve.

The finished salad was OK. A little too fennely for me.



Now I didn't make my kids eat any of this, mainly because it was really spicy, and also because it was shrimp (I have a hard time even getting my husband to eat shrimp). Martin did give the meal kudos though, which is nice from a guy who doesn't like shrimp. "If I have to eat shrimp," he said, "This is probably one of the better ways to have it." So that's a high compliment. Sort of. He did also go back for seconds of the rice, though by popular vote the leftover salad went in the trash. Shame about all that wasted parmesan cheese.

Next week: Anguilla


Taking a week off ...


Last week I was complaining (again) about being sick, and this week I'm upping the anti. Evidently my unpleasant but routine bout of influenza has turned into pneumonia, so this week I'm bowing out.

I've got my antibiotics in the medicine cabinet, and so far they haven't killed me so unless that changes I'll do Angola next week. I also have a do-over coming up for Andorra (provided I can find some trout). So see you then, I'm going to go make some lemon tea.


Recipes from Andorra


I am sick. Yes, I know I was crying sick only a couple of weeks ago, but this time it's knock-down, drag-out, 100+ temperature, coughing, sore muscles influenza. So although I wouldn't say I half-assed this week's meal, I did not go in the elaborate direction I was planning to.

Of course it wasn't entirely my fault. Mostly it was Safeway's fault. And also Raley's, Savemart and the co-op. And also the fact that recipes from Andorra are just not that easy to find.

Here's why. With a 2009 population total of 84,082 and a square mileage of 181 Andorra is not a big country. In fact, on a map it's practically microscopic:



Yes, that tiny little spec between France and Spain is Andorra.

Of course, many of the other countries I've cooked from aren't huge, either. So I guess I don't really know why it's so hard to find Andorran recipes. In any case, I wasn't able to find a whole lot on the internet. Maybe they just aren't that into computers there.

Or maybe they're just too busy with their economic mainstay: tourism. The Andorrans are apparently very busy people indeed; in fact for every one person in the country there are roughly 121 tourists who visit the country every single year. Why? Two words: "duty-free." And one more word: "resorts." Even so they apparently don't have very famous cuisine.

I found a few Andorran recipes on the Andorra Tourism website, most of which were either side dishes, appetizers or recipes containing ingredients you just can't find in California: "kid goat" (nope), "wild boar" (uh-uh), "quinces" (no and no), "duck gizzards" (well, probably with some effort, but ew). There were a few that seemed doable but too labor intensive for someone with the flu and four children (I wasn't up to cooking a whole duck) and a few that just didn't sound very good.

After venturing away from the site I happened on a recipe for poached river trout, which sounded nice and easy and palatable. I decided to do this with "Trinxat," one of the more popular Andorran side dishes (from what I can tell anyway), which sounded a little heavy but I thought would probably go down well with the trout. So I made my shopping list and off I hauled my poor pathetic exhausted self to the grocery store. Don't worry, I was careful not to cough on anything.

Well, as it turns out, there is a trout shortage in our little foothills town. Apparently. Just last week I saw trout at both Safeway and at the co-op (two different kinds!) but this week it was no where to be seen. So I had to abandon my plans, go home and start over.

So the other single option I had was the so-called "National Dish of Andorra:" Escudella. Which loosely translated means "more cholesterol than most people consume in an entire year." Now, given that the Andorran people have the fourth highest life-expectancy in the world, I have a hard time believing that this is really the national dish. But at any rate, I figured I could make this in my weakened state. It's a one-pot dish, and I wouldn't really need to do the trinxat with it since trinxat is also very rich and uses many of the same ingredients. So this week I am going with just one recipe, though I will include the two I was *going* to do in a separate entry.

If I feel better, I might also try making an Andorran dessert later in the week. If I do, I'll post that recipe too.

So here is the recipe for the Escudella (from EZineArticles):


Escudella



Escudella, Andorra's National Dish

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dry white beans (I used a 16 oz package of the small white ones)
  • 1 ham bone
  • 1 marrow bone
  • 3 chicken thighs (the recipe called for 1/4 of a chicken, but boneless-skinless is so much easier)
  • 14 oz raw pork sausage, rolled into balls
  • 1 thick ham steak, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 head of green cabbage
  • 1 large white potato, cut into large chunks
  • 1/4 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 cup of pasta shells
  • 1 cup canned garbanzo beans
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Roll the raw sausage into one- or two-bite sized balls.
  2. Rinse the dry beans in cold water.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the sausage balls over medium heat.
  4. Dice the ham.
  5. Put the beans, sausage, ham, chicken and bones into the pot with 8 cups of water.
  6. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer, covered for two hours. The chicken should be very tender, almost falling apart.
  7. Remove the bones and bring the remaining stock and meat back up to a boil (if there isn't a lot of liquid you can add more water).
  8. Add the cabbage, potato, rice, pasta shells, garbanzo beans and salt and pepper.
  9. Cook for another 30 minutes, or until the potatoes and rice are tender.
Approximate time: . Serves 8.


    Yes, I know what you're thinking: "Marrow bone?????" I don't have any experience with marrow bones myself. So I asked the butcher at Safeway. He took me to the frozen meat section and showed me a package labeled "soup bones." So, it turns out I do have experience with marrow bones, because I use them every time I make a Vietnamese Pho. But I can see why they are called marrow bones, and here's why:

    See the marrow?


    A marrow bone is just what it sounds like, a bone that has marrow in its center. All you need to do with this bone is put it in the pot to make the stock, you don't need to actually use the marrow (though evidently some people do).

    Onward: this is a one-pot meal, and it's actually pretty easy (which is exactly what I needed). Start by rolling the raw sausage into balls. Mine were two-bite sized, you could also do smaller ones.

    Raw sausage all over my hands. Awesome.


    Next, rinse the dry beans in cold water.

    Just a short wash in your colander.

    Meanwhile, cook the sausage balls over medium heat. The original recipe said to cook them in vegetable oil, but why? There is already enough grease in sausage without adding even more to it.

    Cooking the sausage. Mine were just a little overdone.


    Now dice the ham:

    I just used a packaged ham steak. This week was all about simple.


    Now put the beans, sausage, ham, chicken and bones into the pot with 8 cups of water. A couple of notes, the recipe says to tie the bones up in cheesecloth, which I didn't have--so I just put them in the pot loose. The recipe also says to add salt to the water. I figured with all that bacon and ham I wasn't going to need the extra salt (and I was right).

    Now bring the pot to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer, covered for two hours. The chicken should be very tender, almost falling apart.

    Simmering beans, meat and bones.



    Now the recipe says to remove the bones. Here's the crazy part, it then says "If you like eating marrow, and most people do, you can save it for later." Wait, "most people do?" Seriously? Do you like eating bone marrow?

    Now bring the remaining stock and meat back up to a boil (if there isn't a lot of liquid you can add more water) and stir all the rest of the stuff in. Here's where the recipe gets a bit weird.

    I've never cooked rice with pasta, or pasta with potatoes, or rice with potatoes (except for this uninspired cream soup thing I used to do in college). There's a lot of starch in this recipe, in addition to a lot of different kind of meats. I'm guessing this recipe probably had its roots in a peasant tradition, where hungry people just throw together whatever they have and cook it over a hot fire.

    Ingredient-o-rama.


    Cook for another 30 minutes, or until the potatoes and rice are tender.




    Now I think most people will probably like the results of this recipe, and if I'd been feeling better I probably would have been one of them. But it was way too oily and rich for me, given the state of my health. I predicted that Martin wouldn't like it at all, and he did not disappoint me. He usually dislikes anything that tastes fatty, except maybe hamburgers. My kids were also predictably unimpressed. Dylan ate the sausage, but the rest of their dinners went in the trash.

    Sadly, I didn't even save the leftovers, and there were a ton of them. The pasta, rice and potatoes meant I'd get poor results if I tried freezing them, and I couldn't see eating this for lunch. It was too rich and heavy and I really am trying to eat light during the day.

    So there you have it ... probably my most disappointing experience with International cuisine thus far. If you've cooked Andorra and had a different experience, please send me some recipes. This one will probably be good for a do-over.

    Next week: Angola.





    Recipes from American Samoa


    
    Recipes from American Samoa
    The night I cooked a meal from American Samoa, my kids ate everything on their plates. That's because I gave them mac and cheese and put them to bed early.

    It's not that there aren't any recipes from American Samoa that are American-kid-friendly, it's just that there was one in particular I wanted to make, and there was no way I was going to ask my poor kids to eat it.

    American Samoa is located in the South Pacific. It is an unincorporated territory of the United States, not to be confused with Samoa (formerly called Western Samoa), which is a sovereign nation. Both American Samoa and its sovereign counterpart are located in the Samoan Island chains, west of the Cook Islands and north of Tonga. In case that doesn't ring a bell, here it is on a map:




    Yes, it's tiny. In fact as of 2000 the number of people living in American Samoa was just over 57,000 people, which means that the entire population could settle in quite comfortably to watch a football game at Kenan Memorial Stadium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. American Samoa encompasses just 76.1 square miles, and the customs and traditions are pretty much the same as they are elsewhere in the Samoan Islands. The climate is tropical and the food reflects this, with staples including bananas, coconut, mangoes, papayas, taro and breadfruit. Meats include seafood, pork, canned corned beef and some chicken.

    Now when researching this week's meal, I unfortunately had to exclude a rather large number of potential meals, just based on the unfortunate shortage of taro, breadfruit and banana leaves in my local supermarket (Safeway had better get on that). I did, however hit on one recipe that was both doable and way too intriguing to pass up: 'Oka popo. Or as I like to call it, Samoan sushi. Yes, this is the dish that made me decide to put my kids to bed early.


    'Oka popo. I did not dare try to give this to my kids.


    I lived in the San Francisco Bay area for 10 years so I've eaten a lot of great sushi, and have even prepared it at home a few times. So raw fish doesn't scare me, although I did find the idea of very large quantities of 1-inch chunks of raw fish a little off-putting. So I did alter the recipe a little, and I served it as a small appetizer instead of a main meal. I can't really vouch for the authenticity of this approach.

    Anyway, here is the recipe:

    'Oka popo
    (from Associated Content) 
    • 1 pound raw fish, cut into bite-sized pieces (This recipe calls for marlin or swordfish, others call for red snapper. I used tuna, which was the only sushi-grade fish I could find.)
    • 1/2 cup cubed cucumber, seeds removed
    • 1 tomato, chopped
    • 1/2 one onion, finely diced
    • 1 cup canned coconut milk
    • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
    • Juice of one lime
    • Salt and pepper to taste


    My next two recipes came from the Samoan blog Panipopo's Kitchen. I don't know if I've spent much time on the subject of how I find most of my recipes, but when the information is available I prefer to source websites written by and for nationals, rather than big recipe sites that repost recipes from many different countries. A lot of the recipes on those sites probably are authentic, but there's no real way of knowing which ones have been altered and which ones are traditional. I figure the best way to make sure I get close to an authentic experience is to find a recipe posted by someone who comes from that country. So Panipopo's Kitchen was like a small goldmine.

    Here is the second recipe:

    Keke pua’a

    For the filling:
    • 2 small pork chops, minced
    • 1/2 one onion
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 tbsp soy sauce

    For the dough:

    • 1 tbsp yeast
    • 2 tbsp warm water
    • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
    • 1/4 cup milk
    • 2 tbsp melted butter
    • 2 tbsp sugar
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 large eggs, room temperature
    • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour


    And for dessert: 

    Paifala (Half-Moon Pies)

    For the filling:
    • 2 cups drained crushed pineapple
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 1/3 cup cornstarch
    • 1/3 cup reserved juice from crushed pineapple

    For the piecrust:

    • 3 cups flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/3 cup butter
    • 1 cup coconut milk
    • pinch salt


    The 'oka popo is easy, so let's start there. First I want to clarify something important, though. If you are going to make this dish, it is very important for you to use a sushi-grade fish. If you are in a metropolitan area the best place to go for this is a Japanese market. You could also go to a fishmonger, but make sure whatever you buy is "sushi-grade." you can't use anything previously frozen or even a little less than fresh. If you can't find sushi-grade fish, don't make 'oka popo.

    As you can see, the original recipe called for a firm, white-flesh fish like marlin or swordfish. We do have a fishmonger here but for inexplicable reasons, they are closed on Mondays (just like everything else in this town) and this fish really needed to be bought same-day. So I had to go down to our co-op instead, where they do carry a sushi-grade tuna. Not exactly on-recipe, but safe to eat.

    Since there is no cooking involved in this recipe, it's pretty simple to prepare. The first thing you need to do is make a brine with salt and pepper. Brines are typically made with one part salt to 16 parts water (because it was only me and Martin eating this dish I used just eight ounces of fish, so I did a brine with one tbsp salt and one cup of water, with a few twists from my pepper mill). I cut the fish into very small pieces (probably half an inch instead of the called-for 1-inch cubes) and soaked them in the brine for 30 minutes. You could do as much as 45 but go over that and your fish may be too salty.

    Put your fish in a simple salt and pepper brine for 30 minutes.



    While the fish is in the brine, chop the vegetables.

    Vegetables, ready to go.


    At the end of the brining, drain the fish and add the coconut milk and the chopped vegetables. You could also add half a finely chopped jalapeño, if you like it spicy. Add the cilantro and the lime juice. Now put it back in the fridge--it's traditionally served cold.

    Yes, that's right. You put the lime in the coconut.


    I can't really say this with authority but Samoan food seems to have some measure of Chinese influence, at least that's what I'm getting from this next recipe (as well as a few others I saw during my research). Keke pua'a is a Samoan style bao, which I have eaten a few times in one of our local Chinese places. It's made with a yeast dough and baked in a steamer.

    Now if you've been following this blog you know that I never make any bread by hand if I can use my bread machine instead. I have way too many kids for kneading. So I proofed the yeast with the water and first measure of sugar, as instructed, then I dumped it and the rest of the ingredients into my bread machine.

    To proof the yeast, just add it to warm water with the first measure of sugar.


    For entirely uneducated reasons I set the machine to "pizza," then let the dough rise a extra 30 minutes after the end of the cycle. It was huge and sank quite a bit when I took it out. It was also really, really sticky so when you are ready to handle it be sure and use a floured surface.

    This dough stuck to my cutting board. Be sure to use a floured surface.
     Meanwhile, make the filling. According to Panipopo, a traditional Samoan filling is typically made with pork, onions and garlic, and seasoned with soy sauce. Without exact measurements I just had to wing it, but I do think what I did worked, though it may have been a little dry. If you trust me, do as I did:

    Mince the pork and sauté in a little olive oil with the onions. Add the garlic and soy sauce towards the end of cooking. Set aside and let cool.

    Mine seemed a little too dry, though I don't know what the traditional filling looks like.



    Back to the dough: punch down, or if  you have my problem, just watch the dough fall as you take it out of the bread machine. Now divide the dough into eight pieces and press each one down with the palm of your hand.

    They flatten easily with the palm of your hand.


    Spoon a little bit of the filling into the center of each circle, then pull up the edges of the dough and twist to seal. Make sure the filling is completely contained by the dough. Repeat until you have eight little packets.

    Aren't they pretty?


    At this point, Panipopo says to let the dough rise for another 45 minutes, but it was almost 9pm and my husband was starving. So I only let them sit for another 15 or so.

    You can bake these keke pau'a in the oven, but that's not the traditional way to do it. Traditionally, you put them in a three tiered bamboo steamer. Now I don't have one of those any more than I have a tagine (ala Armenia), but I do have my trusty, old-fashioned electric vegetable steamer, so I thought I'd give that a try. I guess I could have gone with the oven, but I was really intrigued by the idea that bread can be baked in a steamer.  So in they went, and 15 minutes later this is what they looked like:

    I did not expect them to get this puffy.


    They puffed up a tad more than I was expecting. In fact they were all so fused together that I ended up not taking any of the ubiquitous "finished meal on the plate" photos, because they looked pretty sorry by the time I pried them all apart.

    Now on to the dessert. I was smart and did most of it while my kids were at school (and for some reason it still took ages to finish making the whole meal). The recipe is a lot like making a calzone, if you have ever done that.

    First make the filling, so it will have plenty of time to cool. To do that, just empty the pineapple, sugar and milk into a saucepan and heat until simmering. Be careful not to boil or the milk will curdle.

    Now mix the cornstarch with the reserved pineapple juice until it is smooth, and add to the pineapple. Stir until the mixture thickens, then remove from the heat.

    Pineapple filling, made with milk, sugar and cornstarch.



    Now put all of the dough ingredients into a bowl and blend until a dough forms. Divide the dough into five parts, then roll each part into an 8-inch circle.


    Divide dough into five parts, then roll each ball out flat.



    If the filling has cooled, spread some onto one half of each circle. Fold the other half over the top, stopping about a quarter inch from the edge. Fold the bottom quarter inch over the top edge, then crimp with a fork. Repeat until you've finished all of your pies. Prick a couple of holes in the top and put into a 375 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes. The recipe didn't call for an egg wash, but you could do that if you want a more golden color on your finished pies.

    Spread the filling over one half of the circle ...



    ... then fold over, leaving an edge on the bottom.



    Fold the edge over to make a tight seal.


     Now, I had a lot of filling left over. I don't know if this was because I rolled the dough too thick or if I was way too conservative with the filling, but the pies came out pretty close to perfect, at least I thought so.
    Finished pies, yum!


    Here's how dinner went:

    As a mentioned earlier, I started this meal with the 'oka popo. I served it chilled in small bowls, and Martin and I each got about 4 oz of tuna. The first few bites were delicious, heavenly even. But I have to admit--and I am someone who has tried all manner of sushi, from octopus to head-on-shrimp to smelly mackerel--that even with the small pieces and the conservative portions it was a little too much raw fish. Sushi is easy to eat because it has a lot of filler in it (rice), in addition to the fish, but this was basically just raw fish and vegetables. Very flavorful, but overwhelming. I'm glad I served it as an appetizer, and if I had it to do again I might actually do even smaller portions. (Note: the leftovers were really good the next day heated up in the microwave).

    The keke pua'a were our second course, and they were really good. The bread was amazingly fluffy--I did not expect those kinds of results from steamed bread. The filling could have been a little more flavorful--I wish I'd added another spice to it, or something to make it a little less dry, though I don't really know what. But the whole dish had a really wonderful texture that Martin and I both enjoyed.

    We ate the half-moon pies for dessert. Martin complained that there wasn't enough coconut flavor, and thought maybe a little coconut extract would have helped. I pointed out that I was going for traditional Samoa, not traditional Samoa altered to please Martin's British palette. But this recipe was good enough that I will probably make it again off-blog, so I hope the Samoans will forgive me for adding a little extra coconut.

    We had plenty of leftovers, too, which I decided to hide from the kids. Haha!

    Next week: Andorra.




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