Fungee

June: National Okra Month

We had a few pods of okra left over and did not want to waste them. So we chopped them up and incorporated the little green bits into cute cornmeal balls called fungee (funjie). This simple side dish is from Antigua and Barbuda but many other Caribbean countries have a similar version. The recipe is easy, and it is often served with stews like pepperpot and fish dishes. We ate ours with grilled pork chops and bacon wrapped bananas. Savor the flavor of a year-round summer like in the Caribbean and during National Okra Month with a fun food from Antigua and Barbuda: fungee.

Recipe

(Adapted from National Foods)

Ingredients

  • 6 okra
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cup cornmeal
  • butter

Directions

Chop the okra pods into small rings. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add salt. Then cook the okra in the salted water for about 5 minutes or until softened. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon.

In the same pot, add the remaining 2 cups of water and cornmeal and keep stirring until it becomes like a thick paste consistency (5-10 minutes). Fold in the okra.

Add a little more water if the paste is too dry. Generously butter a small deep bowl. Scoop a handful size of paste and form a rough ball shape. Place in the buttered bowl and swirl it around quickly to keep the round shape. Place each on a flat surface. Serve warm.

Firni

(Afghani Milk Pudding)

June 1: World Milk Day

When we dine(d) at Afghani restaurants in Houston, Texas, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Chicago, Illinois, we always finished our meal with dessert (as we do at all other restaurants we visit!). Because we are full after eating kabobs and rice, a lighter milk pudding balances out our filling dinner. Islander must take her lactase enzyme to be able to eat firni. So when we make this Afghani milk pudding at home, we use lactose-free milk and she is able to enjoy it without painful digestive issues afterwards. Firni is flavored with rosewater, cardamom and nuts. The milk is thickened with cornstarch to give it a pudding consistency. This sweet and simple Afghani milk pudding is perfect for World Milk Day!

Recipe

(Adapted from Afghan Kitchen Recipes)

Ingredients

  • 4 cups milk (we used lactose-free milk), divided use
  • 1 cup sugar (we reduced it to ¾ cup)
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 1-2 teaspoons rosewater
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ cup slivered almonds
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron threads
  • ¼ cup pistachios, chopped finely (optional garnish)

Directions

In a large saucepan or pot, dissolve the sugar in 3 ½ cups of milk and cook over low heat to avoid burning the bottom of the pot. In a small mixing bowl, combine the remaining ½ cup of milk with ½ cup of cornstarch. Stir until smooth and slowly pour into the pot. Mix well with a whisk until the pudding has thickened. Add the rosewater.

Stir in the ground cardamom, saffron threads and silvered almonds. Cook for another minute or two. Transfer the pudding to a larger bowl, cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Ladle into dessert dishes or serving bowls. Garnish with chopped pistachios.

Notes

  • Although we have not tried substituting cow’s milk for nut milk in this recipe, almond milk would be suitable alternative to enhance the slivered almonds.
  • Search our blog for other recipes containing milk.

Chimichurri Steak

June: National Steak Month

We only indulge in a steak dinner very few times during the year because it is quite pricey. But with June being National Steak Month, we had a great excuse to buy beef on sale and try a new recipe. We made chimichurri steak, an Argentinian specialty, because of the unique sauce. Almost like a pesto (perhaps because of the country’s Italian influences), chimichurri gets its vibrant green color from herbs (parsley, cilantro, oregano and scallions) and its flavor from spices (garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper). It is a popular condiment for any grilled meat in Argentina and neighboring South American countries.

While steak is still the star in this recipe, the chimichurri marinade and sauce elevate this dish to another level and make our dining experience even more special. Try chimichurri on steak during National Steak Month.

Recipe

(Adapted from Diabetes Forecast)

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup parsley leaves (flat leaf Italian)
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves
  • 3-4 stems of oregano, leaves removed
  • 1 stalk scallion (green onion)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 – 2 pounds steak (skirt, flank, sirloin, strip or ribeye)

Directions

Chop up the parsley, cilantro, oregano and scallions into smaller pieces. Place in a food processor.

Peel the garlic cloves and place in the food processor with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Add the red wine vinegar and olive oil.

Turn on the food processor and mix until it becomes a paste-like consistency. Use 2-3 tablespoons to rub on the front and back of the steak. Marinate in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight. Before cooking, let the steak come to room temperature.

Fire up the grill. Lightly oil the grates. Cook the steak to desired doneness. Remove from the grill and transfer to a cutting board to rest for 10-15 minutes. Slice diagonally across the grain. Arrange the steak pieces on a platter. Pour the chimichurri on top. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Since we prefer cilantro over parsley, we switched the amount in this recipe. Feel free to adjust the ingredients to your preferred tastes like we did. Cover and refrigerate any leftover chimichurri. Let it come to room temperature before using.

  • Cheap date night! We bought one steak on sale and split a big baked potato for our portion and budget conscious but delicious dinner.