Thursday, February 17, 2011

Valentine's Day African Ground Nut Stew

This is how much I love my Charlie. I researched lots of African Ground Nut Soups and came up with a recipe that would be perfect for us on Valentine's Day. I was inspired by Carla Hall's win at the US Open Top Chef "match". I skipped her bay leaves, parsley, lime and bean things but think a little lime at the end would be awesome too.

African Ground Nut Soup
  • 2 Tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 3 large fingers of Ginger, about two inches each, peeled and minced
  • 8 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 3 pounds of sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into one inch chunks
  • 1 1/2 15 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 1 cup fresh peanut butter, no sugar (I got ours from Whole Foods)
  • 1 Tablespoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and black pepper 
  • fresh cilantro, garnish
  • roasted peanuts, garnish

I truly think the ingredients made all the difference in this soup. Start with roasting raw peanuts. I got these in the bulk section of Whole Foods. This is about two cups. I used the whole nut as a garnish. The homemade peanut butter sans sugar at Whole Foods is also perfect for this dish.

The peanuts will burn in a second if you aren't careful. I took a silicone spatula and pressed down on the cooked nuts to remove the skins. Set aside to cool.

We love a ton of ginger here at Stone Hill. It simply is the star of this recipe. Use a teaspoon to peel ginger. It is easier than the peeler and you don't loose the nibs and knuckles of this delightful root.

I love a good mise en place and always try to get my non-crying items chopped before I dive into the onion and garlic chopping.

Saute the onion and garlic in the peanut oil. Add the ginger once the onion is translucent. Use your Valentine's Day spatula to stir. See the little hearts? I've had this baby so long and I can't remember if it was McCall or Kristen who gave it to me when I was a singleton. They probably both gave it to me. Kristen gave me the best heart shaped cupcake pan one year. And these California divas even gave me lingerie another year! God bless the best friends who love you enough to give you lingerie when you are alone and single. Thank you sweet girls. 

Add the chopped and peeled sweet potatoes and the vegetable stock. One box of the Kitchen Basics green box worked perfectly.

Use one full can of diced or crushed tomatoes. I used a half can extra and stored my remaining tomatoes in this awesome Ball Jar with fridge lid. These lids are so useful for leftovers. I have to give credit for the find to Darby over at Fly Through Our Window. We gave our family left over gravy in these babies at Thanksgiving.

Add a cup of peanut butter. This was thick as all get out. Mix it well.

Add your spices.

Simmer for 60 minutes on the stove covered. 

Empty your dishwasher during your hour and think of Darby who made this beautiful dish mat for the counter. It's for the wet stuff that never dries all the way. I seriously felt like I won the lottery buying this at o'dark thirty on New Year's Eve after a glass of wine and E. fast asleep on the sofa. I love how joyful it is and wish I had a fabric store in Baltimore with way cool patterns. Baltimore friends, can you help me find an awesome fabric store up in these parts? The one on Falls is no bueno.

Check the soup after suggested cooking time and make sure the sweet potatoes are tender. I contemplated pureeing the soup. I think either way it would be good but I think the texture was better unpureed. 

E. said it was the best meal I've ever made him. That was worth ever bit of chopping for this excellent, spicy, romantic, adventurous soup. Maybe next year I'll add a few beets to make it bright red. 

I hopped over to Hampden to find a treat for my sweet man earlier that evening. Ma Petite Shoe was packed on Valentine's Day with men, women and children all sporting pink and red. It was a scene to behold in this tiny little shop on The Avenue. I even ran into a Stone Hiller.

Charlie got my favorite Mouth Party Salted Caramels.

He also got the deepest, darkest chocolate bars with sea salt and coffee, cayenne pepper and almonds.

He devoured the Salazon bar with sea salt and crushed coffee nibs.

He even shared his caramels with me. Such a sweet man!

To all my vegan pals out there, cheers! Please tell me how you like the recipe and if you would do anything differently. E. Lover, I'm sorry you've been so slammed sideways to Saturday at work. One of these days we'll get to enjoy that firewood and snuggle soon. I love you more than Sea Salted Caramels.

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