Aug. 17, 2016

Welcome back!

Sometimes I wonder why we, as a nation, do not strive to look at what other nations eat to expand our eating habits.  I say this because if we do really analyse the foods that we eat, we will see that we are not dynamic in researching other ways of using the same ingredients to diversify our dishes. We stick to what we know and have known.  We are just content with what was handed down to us and we will eat them the same way until we die!  

Let’s look at some of our staples like Cassava, Cocoyam, Yam and Beans.  If you ask one hundred Ghanaians what comes to mind when they hear words like “Cassava, “Cocoyam”, “Yam” and “Beans” what do you think they will say? Cassava is only for Fufu, Ampesi and Kokonte and that’s it.  Cocoyam and yam are not that much different either, except for frying them. Beans means “Yoo k3 Gari” (Gari and Beans), “Plantain and Beans”, “Beans stew” and that’s it!  I guess that is following tradition and that is great. However, do we ever worry about what our forefathers’ might think of us if they were to come back and see us stuck with the same old foods they introduced us to? What will they think of us?  Will they think we have been lazy, un-progressive, static and unambitious or will they pat us on the back and say ‘well done for just keeping it as we left it”?

I know India as a tropical country like Ghana does a thousand and one more things with coconuts in preparing their food than we ever care to.  They do the same with their rice dishes?  Have we missed something?  So here’s to Cassava Chips and Corned Beef Sauce with a Salsa Dip! Enjoy!

After all, “a journey of a thousand miles, begins with one step”!

To make this dish, here is what you have to do:

Difficulty and servings

Easy, serves 6

Preparation and Cooking times

Preparation time:  30 minutes: Cooking time:  40 minutes

To make the Cassava Chips

You will need:

2 or 3 large Cassava (@1kg)

Oil for deep frying

Salt

To make the Corned Beef Sauce

You will need:

1 Canned Corned Beef (340g)

100ml Oil

2 medium Onions, chopped

1 tsp White Pepper

1 large Beef Tomatoes, cut into two, scooped

50 ml Water, if needed

To make the Salsa

You will need:

2 fresh Peppers, chopped

1 medium Onion, chopped

1 fresh medium/large Tomato, chopped

Salt to taste

Method:

  1. To fry the chips, peel the skin off the Cassava.  If it is a large tuber, you may want to cut it into two or three pieces diagonally, then half each one horizontally. Remove the middle thread.  Place each piece of Cassava face down and depending on the size, carefully slice into long pieces with a sharp and thin knife. Repeat with all the Cassava, wash and deep fry in batches until golden brown. Drain and keep warm.
  2. Cut the large Beef Tomato into two and scoop out the flesh and the seeds.  Clean and place both on the serving plate.  To make the Corned beef sauce, heat the oil in the saucepan until hot.  Fry the corned beef until colour begins to change.  Add the onion, white pepper and tomatoes and the water to loosen sauce if necessary. Continue cooking until the vegetables are cooked and the sauce is reduced and set aside to cool. When cool, fill up one of the scooped tomatoes on the serving plate with the sauce.
  3. To make the Salsa, mix the chopped peppers, onions and tomatoes and add the salt to taste.  Adjust seasoning and fill up the other scooped tomatoes piece on the serving plate.

Monica’s Tips:  Please note that Cassava varies in taste.  If you are preparing for friends and family, please fry a small bit and make sure that it tastes alright first. Also, deep fry the cassava on medium heat so that it does not burn and it’s properly cooked as burnt cassava can be bitter. You may substitute yams or potatoes for the Cassava chips if you can’t get Cassava.

Let’s keep this debate going.  What do you think?  Please share your views (and photos of your dish) at africaonyourplate.simplesite.com

Aug. 8, 2016

Tuna & Peppers Home-made Pizza

Aug. 8, 2016

 

Welcome back!

My niece and her husband (and their CUTEST baby girl🙂) came to visit this week.  They live in the UK but are also here in Ghana on holidays.  My niece unsurprisingly longed for Waakye - a rice and beans dish - which is craved by many returnees.  I mentioned some of the dishes most longed for in previous blogs.  Unlike my previous friends who had just arrived, my niece and her family had been in Ghana for quite a while, so I wanted to cook them a popular UK dish that they may have missed by now in addition to the Waakye. The idea was for them to enjoy true Ghanaian home food and also have a taster of a popular dish they may be missing back in the UK – Pizza! Yum! Best of both worlds, right?  It was meant to be a surprise and I hope they enjoyed it.

To prepare the Home-made Tuna & Peppers Pizza, this is what you have to do:

Difficulty and servings

Moderately easy, serves 6

Preparation and Cooking times

Preparation time:  40 minutes: Cooking time:  30 minutes

Plus1hr proving time

To make the Pizza Dough

You will need:

1kg All-purpose flour

2 tbs granulated sugar (optional)

1 sachet (11g) Instant Yeast

1 tsp salt

1tbs margarine, at room temperature

2 tbs cooking oil

500 ml warm water (not boiling, hand hot)

For the Pizza-topping

You will need:

3 tbs oil

2 large sweet or bell peppers (of different colours if possible), sliced

2 medium onions, sliced into rings

4 cloves garlic, chopped

A sprinkle of White Pepper

200g Tomato Puree

2 canned Tuna Chunks in Oil

Seasoning to taste

400g Cheese of choice, grated

A handful of fresh Basil leaves, washed (optional)

Method:

  1. If you are using a bread-maker to prepare the dough, follow the instructions for bread or pizza making.  If preparing manually, sift the flour and pour into a large, deep bowl.  Add the sugar, (if using), instant yeast, salt, margarine and cooking oil and mix well together.
  2.  Add the warm water, a bit at a time and keep kneading the dough with your fingers and adding the water until the dough is soft and bound together well (not soggy).
  3. Cover and keep in a warm place until it rises about twice its original size.  Divide the dough into two and roll each one on a clean working surface.  Place each rolled dough on a floured tray and allow to continue proving.
  4. Meanwhile, make the pizza topping by pouring the oil into a frying pan.  When hot, stir fry the peppers for about 2 minutes, remove, divide into two and set aside. Stir-fry the ring onions the same way, remove half and divide the remaining half into two and set aside.  Add the garlic and white pepper to the rest of the onions in the frying pan and continue frying for about a minute.  Add the tomato puree and (the oil from the Tuna if using) continue cooking until the tuna liquid is reduced. Adjust the seasoning.  Keep the Tuna chunks for later.  Set your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and pre- bake the prepared pizza dough for about 3 minutes each to just harden and remove from oven.  (This sets the dough for the topping to go on without getting soggy). 
  5. To assemble the Pizzas, divide the topping sauce you just made into two.  Cover each pizza bases completely with the sauce.  Now arrange the stir-fry onions, then the sweet peppers, then the tuna chunks to cover the pizza tops as well.  Now divide the cheese into two portions and carefully spread all over the vegetables and the tuna.  Place the pizzas in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes or until the tops are set piping hot and pizza bases are golden brown.  Remove from oven, rest them for a few minutes and serve hot or cold, on their own or with other accompaniments. Enjoy!

Monica’s Tips:

If you don’t intend to use all the dough, bake them into pizza bases, cool and freeze for when you need them.  You can do the same for the Pizza sauce.  Saves a lot of time this way.

Please also note that you can divide the dough, sauce and cheese between as many people as you are baking for so that you make individual portions rather than slices. 

Please share your photos and views at africaonyourplate.simplesite.com

 

Jul. 31, 2016

Banana Fritters served with peanuts and Moroccan Mint Tea

Jul. 31, 2016

Welcome back!

I hope you are all enjoying your weekend? 

I was wondering what to blog about this week when I remembered that we brought down a huge banana last week from the garden.   We tucked it in a corner in the kitchen, covered to ripen and to our amazement, they were all ready at once within one week!  Panicking about what to do in order not to waste them, my boys mentioned that I had not made Banana Fritters for a while. So here we are!  Banana Fritters for Sunday morning breakfast!

Banana Fritters is a favourite in this house.  The reason is that:

  1. they are delicious and easy to make and are yummy hot or cold
  2. they are inexpensive to make  and versatile and can be enjoyed at different times of the day and during special events
  3. the smell of bananas and nutmeg fills up your home and makes you feel very hungry for the fritters
  4. Banana fritters can be fried and stored in the fridge for a couple of days and reheated in a hot frying pan when you are ready to serve them.
  5. they are a favourite of children and adults alike and are especially great for family gatherings at weekends and ‘school out’ and barbecue days when the smell is blown everywhere by the outdoor breeze.  Try this recipe which only uses one egg and some baking powder to make the fritters light and bouncy and pleasant to enjoy without that ‘EGGY’ taste.  Please don’t forget to include the children in making this.  Here is what you have to do:

Difficulty and servings

Easy, makes about 30 medium-sized fritters

Preparation and Cooking times

Preparation time:  20 minutes: Frying time: @ 40 minutes

To make the Fritters,

You will need:

6-7 large Bananas, mashed

120g -150g granulated Sugar (depending on your sweetness tolerance)

1tbs soft Margarine

1 large Egg, beaten

300ml fresh Milk

A pinch of Salt to taste

300g all-purpose Flour, sifted

1 tsp Baking Powder

1 small freshly grated Nutmeg (about 1 tbs)

Oil for frying

Method:

  1. Peel the skin off the bananas and roughly mash with a sturdy fork in a deep bowl. Add the sugar, margarine, beaten egg, milk and salt and mix all together well.
  2. Add the flour, a bit at a time and continue mixing until it’s all done and the batter looks smooth. Add the baking powder and the grated nutmeg.  Stir well and set aside.
  3. Heat a large frying pan on medium heat and add about 1 tbs of oil at a time, ensuring that the oil covers the base of the pan completely.
  4. When the oil is hot, lower the heat and use a ladle to collect and drop the batter in the pan, spaced out, 2 or 3 at a time.  Turn fritters when the batter sets and the bottom starts turning brown. Fry until golden brown and until the batter feels light.  Arrange on a large plate and keep warm  
  5. When the fritters are all done, serve hot with tea, coffee, a peanut sauce or any preferred accompaniment of your choice.

Monica’s Tips:

This is fun to make so get the help of the kids.

If using canned milk, pour about half into a measuring cup and top it up with water up to the 300ml mark, stir and use.  Please be aware that you do not need more than 1 large egg to make these fritters. 1 egg plus enough nutmeg will ensure that the fritters are pleasant to eat and not ‘eggy’.  Also note that the addition of the baking powder makes the batter light and bouncy and altogether pleasant to enjoy!

 I would like to know how you get on when you make these Banana Fritters.  Please drop me a line with your pictures, if possible, through www.africaonyourplate.simplesite.com

Happy entertaining!


Monica Serwah Busia