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Five Secret Cooking Oils of Sub-Saharan Africa

 

Nara Seeds

Thoughts of travel in Africa may conjure images of lions and elephants, or safaris seeking photographic trophies or even hidden treasures. True, this is all on offer, but for the culinary adventurer there are different kinds of quests to be had — especially when looking for ingredients to cook with. On a recent safari in Namibia, I “discovered” a rare oil derived from the endemic !nara plant (pronounced with a click sound followed by “na-ra”), which adds a unique, fruity and nutty flavor to meats and vegetables. It’s one of several “secret” oils found all around the continent if you look hard enough.

1. !Nara oil

!Nara is a peculiar-looking spiky melon that grows nowhere in the world but in the Kuiseb Delta, where the Kuiseb River meets the Atlantic in coastal Namibia. For decades it’s been harvested by the Topnaar tribe, who boil the insides to produce a tasty pulp, and eat its oil-rich seeds as snacks. But it wasn’t until 2008 that a German-expat chef realized their potential to be cold-pressed into oil for cooking and cosmetics. Now the chef, Volker Huemmer, and his wife press the unique seeds into small batches of oil, with permission from the Topnaar chiefs and the local government. With the consistency of olive oil, its original taste teeters between sweet and nutty. To accentuate its nutty flavor, it’s infused with coffee beans in one variety; to bring out its sweetness, it’s bottled with a vanilla bean in another variety.

2. Mongongo oil

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Fall Fest: 5 Reasons to Make Cauliflower Immediately

Always leftover on the crudité platter, cauliflower suffers a reputation as the vegetable kingdom’s bland, lifeless throwaway. But the cruciferous underdog is flexing its florets with its versatility and pleasant crispness. These five recipes are proof that cauliflower is more than broccoli’s pale cousin.

1. Adding cauliflower to classic mac ‘n’ cheese not only adds an earthy touch to the comfort food classic, it also lightens the recipe a bit. Try the three-cheese blend of Rachael’s version (pictured above).

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Burning Love: Char Your Vegetables

Del Campo's Dishes (photo: Greg Powers)

Del Campo's Charred Tomato Salad + Charred Ceviche (photo: Greg Powers)

Remember when burning your vegetables was considered a bad thing? These days, though, chefs are using high heat and chars to draw out the caramel flavors of fruits and vegetables without needing extra sauces and flavoring.

At Del Campo in Washington, DC, chef Victor Albisu serves South American barbecue with a focus on burnt items, so much so that the menu reads like a market stand of grilled items – tomatoes, scallions, artichokes, squash, onions. 

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An Indian Feast Inspired by The Hundred-Foot Journey

Manish Dayal and Helen Mirren from The Hundred-Foot Journey

 

Within minutes of the start of The Hundred-Foot Journey, regular buttered popcorn will cease to be enough. The film is a two-hour bonanza of spices, simmering curries, sauteed vegetables and roasted meats, so no ordinary concession can possibly stand a chance.

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11 Most Bizarre Food Foods in Sci-Fi

They often say truth is stranger than fiction. However, science fiction is much stranger than truth or everyday fiction. Throughout the history of the sci-fi genre, television shows and movies have often been called upon to show their characters eating — guess what? — really weird stuff. Here are some of the weirdest foods in the world of sci-fi.

Photos: Weird Food in Science Fiction

BBQ&A: Pitmaster Ed Mitchell’s Grilling Tips

When it comes to barbecue obsession, Ed Mitchell goes the whole hog — literally and figuratively.  The pitmaster of Raleigh-Durham’s The Pit and the new Ed Mitchell’s Que is revered for using farm-raised pigs and traditional cooking methods. We caught up with the legend at the Big Apple BBQ Block Party to dig into his BBQ secrets.

Cooking Channel: What’s the most common mistake people make when barbecuing at home and what is the one thing a home cook can do to take their barbecue to the next level?
Ed Mitchell: One of the mistakes people do at home is that they’re not experienced knowing how hot to get the grill. The temperature has to be right so the meat will come out perfect. It’s something that I can feel from years of doing it. To take the barbecue up a notch, you need the right selection of meat. If you’re a person who’s not knowledgeable about how to cook beef, then don’t try to cook beef. Cook what you’re very skillful at. It’s the selection of the product.

CC: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever barbecued?

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The Meatiest, Smokiest Father’s Day Gift Guide Ever

Smoking Gun

Your old man deserves some shiny new toys. With only a few days to spare before Father’s Day this Sunday, you have just enough time to snag the tools (and robots) Dad really wants.

1) The man who takes pride in his meat deserves to smoke his competition. Present him with the Smoking Gun™ ($99.95; pictured above), a high-tech way to infuse his food and drink recipes with notes of hickory and applewood. Maybe load him up with a few steaks while you’re at it.

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This Is the Final Week to Win a Sick Kitchen

Nadia G makes sure to add style to everything she does, from her recipes to her outfits to her kitchen. That’s because, in order, she likes great food, looking hot and cooking in a place that has as much flavor as the food she prepares in it. The latter is the subject of her new web series Sick Kitchen on our sister site Ulive. She travels around to people’s houses, tells them their kitchens are tacky and cluttered, and then revamps them with inspired decor and slamming new appliances.

Now through June 16, you can give your own kitchen a bit of Nadia G’s sick style by entering the Sick Kitchens sweepstakes. We’ve teamed up with Ulive to give away a sweet fridge and range (in the colors of your choice) from Elmira Stove Works to one lucky winner.  Check out Sick Kitchens and then enter to win now.

You can enter twice a day — once here and once on Ulive.

Enter the Sick Kitchens Giveaway now!

The Best Food Power-Ups in Video Games

If you’ve ever played a video game, you know that once in a while you gain an item that gives you a massive power-up. These power-ups are very often food related. After all, when you are critically injured, what you need is a plate of spaghetti. Here are some of the coolest and most-iconic food-based power-ups in video game history.

Gallery: Best Video Game Food Power-Ups

Review: Willy Wonka’s Peelable Ice Cream Pops

Willy Wonka’s candy inventions are as erroneously named as they are innovative. Nerds are actually quite popular, Everlasting Gobstoppers dissolve several millennia sooner than forever and Laffy Taffy, in all its uniform ruddiness, can be very austere. In all likelihood, the snozzberries on his lickable wallpaper taste more like kumquats.

Public deceit isn’t his worst offense. Oompa Loompas are basically slave labor. Sure Loompaland has its share of hornswogglers and whangdoodles, but that’s no justification to smuggle its natives into your vault of a factory and pay them in cacao pods. Maybe his political shortcomings shouldn’t negate his culinary genius. Even the clean-cut Beatles were fairly scurrilous in private life, and we still like Abbey Road. We digress.

The Willy Wonka Candy Company has recently released some frozen desserts called Peel-a-Pops. They legitimately look like bananas and are sheathed in an edible husk that can be stripped away in four segments to reveal a soft center of vanilla ice cream. The peel has the consistency and flavor of an actual banana peel, or at least how you’d imagine the texture and taste of a peel — somewhat gummy and tangy. It has the gelatinous give of the thick skin of some banana-flavored pudding. That sounds unpalatable, but it has a tantalizing je ne sais quoi. The ice cream at the core is everything a soft-serve aficionado could desire: creamy, soft but firm, and with that wonderful, albeit synthetic, vanilla essence. Overall, the spectacle of peeling open your ice cream like a tropical fruit more than rectifies however off putting the act of eating it may be for some people.

Well done, Wonka, you wily wizard.

The pops are available in banana or grape flavor at supermarkets nationally.

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