We're told our little guy will adjust best if we're able to feed him what he's been eating while in the orphanage, so one of the things Brad and I can do while we wait (wait, wait) for him to come home is learn to cook like an Ethiopian.
And if we can learn to cook like a James Beard award-winning Ethiopian, all the better.
So for Valentine's Day I bought Brad a Lefse grill, which I've read works great for making injera, and a copy of Marcus Samuelsson's cookbook, The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa.
Chef Marcus Samuelsson was born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden by adoptive parents, and is now one of NYC's best chefs. He won the James Beard award for "Best Chef: New York City" in 2003 and the cookbook I bought Brad was itself a James Beard award winner for "Best International Cookbook." Among his many accomplishments, he has hosted cooking shows on the Discovery Home channel and BET, makes frequent appearances on the Today show (including the day after we made this meal), was the winner of the 2010 season of Top Chef Masters, competed in the 2011 season of Iron Chef America, and served as the guest chef at the White House for the first state dinner hosted by President Obama. He's opened several restaurants, most recently the Red Rooster near his home in Harlem.
Samuelsson's cookbook is gorgeous and makes us really excited to travel to Ethiopia. Hopefully soon. In the meantime, we'll fuel our connection to Ethiopia--literally--with his food.
Our first stop was Merkato Market, an Ethiopian grocery here in Denver. The owner, a lovely older Ethiopian woman, helped us select teff flour, Berbere, shiro, lentils, and the mixture of spices used to make nit'r qibe (spiced butter).
Not sure what this was, the bin was empty. Maybe we'll try it next time.
And she urged us to buy her freshly made injera, warning us that making our own would be "very, very hard. Very hard." (Actually, I think she used a few more "verys" than that, even.)
Lamb stew, shiro with potatoes, mesir wat (red lentil puree), and Ye'abesha Gomen (collard greens) atop injera.
The lamb stew is based on Samuelsson's stir-fried beef stew, which he prepares with beef tenderloin or hangar steak. Since we were using lamb stew meat, Brad slow cooked it instead of stir frying to ensure it was tender.
The lamb was incredible; all of it was incredible. I think our little guy will be very happy with his dad's Ethiopian cooking.
I know I am.