Thursday Night Menu: Ethiopian Edition

This may not be to everyone’s liking, but I thought we needed to shake things up a bit. A friend used to take me to an Ethiopian restaurant occasionally and I enjoyed it. When it came time to create one of the International Menus I do weekly, Ethiopian came to mind. I tried to look for a recipe that would translate well to a family dinner situation (i.e. the kids’ first words wouldn’t be “I don’t like this”). This is what I came up with. The original recipe was 5-alarm, I toned it down quite a bit. But if spicy foods don’t scare you, start with the original amount of spices and then add more in the same proportions (if you add ¼ tsp extra of cardamom, you’ll want to double all the other spices as well – start small and work your way up).

Next up, I’m hoping you can help me. I’m looking for a recipe – for a tomato, pine nut sauce – I guess it is probably a pesto, but I always think of those as basil-based and this one was tomato-based. Served with toasted ravioli. I’m sure it had basil in it, but not as much as in a basil pesto. I could spend time experimenting in the kitchen, but honestly I’m not in the mood; I’d rather try one that you have already made and deemed delicious. So thanks in advance for any ideas.

On the board tonight:

  1. Sik Sik Wat
  2. Egg Noodles
  3. Green Beans w/yellow pepper butter
  4. Melon slices

Sik Sik Wat (Spicy beef stew)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp paprika*
  • 2 tsp to 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup dry red wine (non-alcoholic ok)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 lb round steak, thin cut


Stir together all ingredients, except beef, in Slow-Cooker, add beef and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours (follow manufacturer’s directions), until beef is tender and falls apart.  Serve over egg noodles.

*a word about paprika. There is your basic McCormick’s paprika in a can and then there is really good paprika, usually packaged in small amounts. It has a deep smoky flavor that will make you wonder why you ever used anything else. Try and find that kind of paprika.

Green Beans w/ Yellow Pepper Butter

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ½ yellow sweet pepper, seeded & shredded
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 oz chopped cashews
  • 16 oz fresh green beans, trimmed & cut
  • ½ yellow pepper, seeded, cut into thin strips
  • salt & pepper to taste

saucepan and steamer

Melt butter in saucepan, add shredded pepper and cook for 5 minutes, add lemon juice & cashews, stir for 1 minute, remove & set aside. Add steamer to saucepan, add beans & just enough water to reach bottom of the steamer. Steam beans for 5 minutes, add strips of pepper and cook until beans are tender-crisp, additional 5-7 minutes. Remove steamer and drain water from saucepan. Add all ingredients into saucepan and heat 1 minute, tossing to coat with butter mixture. Serve immediately.

The menu serves 4

Shopping List:

  • 10-12 oz wide egg noodles
  • 1 or 2 favorite melons
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp paprika*
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 lb round steak, thin cut
  • 1 yellow sweet pepper
  • 4 oz chopped cashews
  • 16 oz fresh green beans

Also: olive oil, crushed garlic, butter, red wine, salt, pepper, lemon juice

Armenian Lamb Stew

What to do with leftover roast lamb and veggies is a real no brainer:  Lamb stew!  Mentioned lamb stew to Iasa this morning in a chat and she quickly shot back:  Armenian lamb stew!  OK, off to teh Google.  Ah yes, many recipes for it.  Since my lamb and veggies were already cooked, I skipped over the methods listed and looked at the ingredient list for signature spices.  Seems cinnamon, allspice, and paprika were all mentioned, along with red wine and garlic.  Had all of that so I just chopped and added and simmered everything for a while.  One recipe I looked at mentioned fresh basil so in went some fresh basil.  The aromas from the stew as it simmered sure would have had me patting Iasa on the back were she present.  Yay Iasa!

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Growing Up Trixie: Chocolate Cake and Spiced Grape Juice

Every time I read this book in the Trixie Belden series, when Mrs. Smith serves up any of her delicious food, it made me hungry.  But when she serves the girls her chocolate cake and spiced grape juice, I thought  it sounded like the best dessert ever.

From Trixie Belden and the Red Trailer Mystery.  Mrs. Smith speaking to Trixie:

“I must get to my baking before it gets any hotter.  You and your honey-haired friend come back for tea.  Grape juice and chocolate layer cake.  Spiced juice from my own grapes and I bottled it myself last year.  You must help us drink it up.”


“It’s not the best cake I’ve ever baked,” she apologized, although Trixie and Honey had never tasted anything like it.  “Somehow my baking reflects my moods.  I was so depressed this morning all four layers fell and I couldn’t do a thing with the icing.  But this is grape juice is the best in the county, if I do say so myself.”

I must confess I’ve never been able to bake a decent layer cake.  I’d blame it on living at high altitude, as I do now,  but I’ve lived from coast to coast and altitude is the least of my cake baking problems.  But Spiced Grape Juice, that I can handle:

Spiced Grape Juice

  • 64 oz unsweetened concord grape juice
  • 4 sticks cinnamon
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 2 tbsp whole allspice berries
  • 1/2 cup sugar – most recipes call for this, I’ve never added it myself. 

large sauce pan

Add all ingredients and heat over low heat for 3 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally.  Strain spices from juice before serving.  Or if you like, you can put the spices in cheesecloth, tied with string and let steep that way.  I’ve also used a tea infuser for steeping.

Can be served hot or cold, though I prefer mine over ice.  You can serve with lemon slices.  Chocolate layer cake is optional.

Refrigerate any leftover.