Monday, March 12, 2012

Review: Kittee Berns' "Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food" Cookzine

    'Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food' was my first official cookzine purchase and let me tell you, I did NOT regret it! As well as tons of awesome recipes this zine includes articles on 'Cooking for a crowd' and advice on how to plan a menu. I think one could easily and successfully host an Ethiopian dinner party with this cookzine as your only resource - which I plan on doing!

     Another major plus is Kittee's guide to making Ethiopia style/inspired dishes. I made a pretty successful Jackfruit W'et following her guide. If you are a total Ethiopian noob, Kittee even tells you how to eat it authentically. I think eating food in the authentic way is an important sign of respect for the food and the culture so I love that this is included in the cookzine.
     I purchased injera for my Ethiopian feast mainly because I was in a rush and did not prep the injera fake-outs from the zine. I would recommend making either the fake-outs or a more traditional injerna recipe (which is available on Kittee's blog). I would NOT recommend purchasing injera. I assumed that because injera is not a mainstream food that the purchased ones would be tasty and authentic. They aren't. The industrialization and commodifcation of food as a result of the food industry is pretty complete. Any more than wonderbread is good bread, purchased injerna is not good injerna!

Recipes I have made:
Niber Kibbeh (clarified "butter")
Berbere Paste (hot spice blend)
Ye'abesha Gomen (mild collard greens)
Ingudai T'ibs (sauteed mushrooms)
Keysir Allecha (Ethiopian style beets)
Ye'miser W'et Version I (red lentils in a spicy gravy)

    The best advice I have for anyone cooking from this zine is this Don't be afraid of the berbere. I used a very light hand with the berbere and the resulting food was lackluster - which is an odd thing for Ethiopian food to be. The next day I kicked up the berebere and it was divine. The flavor of these dishes comes from the spices. It does not have to be hot, it just needs to be tasty! I made the berebere because I could not find any to purchase, but Kittee's advice to vary up the berebere recipes seems like good advice.
  My first foray into Ethiopian cost me quite a bit but that's because I really had to stock up on my spices. However, now that I have them, my next meals will actually be very cheap (cost of veggies, lentils and beans).
  I have only a few criticisms of this zine. I wish the pronunciation guide was either located at one end of the cookzine or directly after each time the word is used. The guide is currently located on page 18 and is halfway down the page and is under the header 'Make your own!' which makes it difficult to search for. My second critic is a bit more benign as I would have liked a dessert or drinks section.

This cookzine is definitely worth it. I would rate it 4/5.
I lifted the picture from Kittee's blog check it out here and get your own copy of this awesome zine!

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