Saturday, September 6, 2014

Honey Coconut Candy

Nigerians don't have a lot of dessert recipes, but this one right here is a favorite. It is probably more like a snack and mostly consumed by kids, but of course that doesn't stop me :-)

Typically the recipe is made with white sugar but I decided to experiment with honey (healthier) and also attempt to 'adultify' it a bit.

I actually made this about a year ago with intentions of posting it but I guess it skipped my mind.

Anyways, here it is.

Ingredients
Unsweetend coconut flakes/dried ground coconut (easily found in the baking aisles of most grocery stores)
Honey

Preparation
- Place coconut flakes and honey in a pan  and stir continuously until incorporated and it turns golden brown and sticky.
- Take off heat and allow to cool slightly
- Use a tablespoon to scoop about a spoonful of mixture
- Roll in wet palms into balls
- Allow to cool on the counter-top or refrigerator until it hardens a bit (to toffee/caramel candy like consistency)

It doesn't taste as sweet as the sugar based coconut candy I grew up with - I think it is actually better!

Spicy Turkey Meatballs

I was at the grocery store and as usual browsing the meat aisles for a good deal.

There was some ground turkey (85-15 - a little more fat than I like) at a great price.

I have a few recipes I've used ground turkey for before - chilli, lasagna, shepherd's pie; don't think I've done a meatball one yet.

Anyways, here we go. It's super easy and has just 5 ingredients.

Ingredients

1 family size pack of ground turkey, an egg, 1/2 a large red bell pepper, 1/4 of a large white onion (both finely chopped), Adobo seasonings (salt and black pepper optional)

What to do

Step 1: In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together with a wooden spoon

Step 2: Divide mixture into 12 equal parts. An easy way is to divide in four by running a line both horizontally and vertically and dividing each quarter into three. The mixture will be a tad sticky so wet fingers and palms lightly.

Step 3: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Then mold into rounds (meat balls) and place in a baking dish. 

Step 4: Bake in oven until brown and cooked all the way through (you can spray a little bit of cooking spray on the meatballs if you like). At about half way through, pour out the liquid and place back in the oven until done. It takes about 35 - 45 minutes.

Et Voila!


Serve with a little bit of ketchup and enjoy as a snack (like I did in the above picture) or serve along with pasta, rice or whatever you like.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Oven baked Moin-Moin (Black-eyes peas/Beans cake)

Moin-moin is a West-African staple. Oftentimes it is eaten for breakfast or as a side dish to rice dishes like jollof rice or fried rice.

The process involved in preparing this dish can be tedious as it involves removing the skin from the beans. This usually involves soaking the beans for the right amount of time for the skin to start separating and then repeatedly 'washing' the beans to remove the skin. In my younger days, as much as I loved eating moin-moin, I hated 'washing' the beans.

Once the beans are washed clean, they need to be ground to a smooth as possible paste and then other ingredients are added.

Today, international food exportation and the modern day cook, has brought about an 'easier-almost-same' variation to the process. In almost any store that sells ethnic foods, you can find beans flour. This eliminates the washing and grinding and is instead mixed with water to create the said paste.

Typically,  the added ingredients to the paste are :- water (to achieve a paste consistency of a light cake batter), ground scotch bonnet peppers, ground red bell peppers (tatashé), ground onions, oil (vegetable or palm), dry ground or small pieces of fish/sardines or hard boiled eggs (I have actually used canned corned beef) and salt to taste. Bouillion cubes such as maggi, curry and other spices can also be added.

I personally play around with the ingredients each time I make it - sometimes depending on what I have at home. Traditionally, moin-moin is cooked in banana leaves, or special aluminum ramekins and stemmed in a water bath sort of like a cheesecake, but instead of in the oven, on the stove top. These days, I make mine in the oven, it takes a lot less cooking time and tastes pretty darn good.

Here are the ingredients for my last moin-moin treat.

Ingredients
Beans flour
Green bell peppers
Onions
Water
Chopped red onions
1 can of sardines
Olive oil
Salt
Boullion cube (maggi)
Curry powder

Preparation
- Mix beans flour in water to cake batter-like consistency and leave to rest for about an hour (read instructions on the package, not all require resting time)
- Blend green peppers and onions in a blender with some water
- Once beans mixture is rested, add blended onions and peppers and mix
- Add chopped onions, can of sardines (mashed up a bit), olive oil, salt, maggi and curry powder (taste for salt) and mix to ensure even distribution of all ingredients
- Pour into an oven safe dish (glass or aluminum is fine)
- Place in a 350 degree oven until a toothpick or knife comes out clean when pierced (just like you would a cake). This should take about 30-45 minutes.

And voila! Enjoy on it's own or with oatmeal (or Akamu/Ogi Naija folks) for breakfast or as a side dish.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Bolé

Today's treat is a roadside favorite in Nigeria... Bolé, which to those who don't know, is roasted plantain.

If I am not mistaken, it originates from the Niger Delta area of Nigeria and in those areas there's variations on how best to eat it. Deltans may tell you it goes best with dry roasted groundnuts while Port Harcourt folk may say it has to be eaten with fish (and a palm oil based sauce).

The plantain is usually roasted on an open charcoal fired grill not that much different from a barbeque grill, but being out there and in an apartment without a balcony or a grill even :-), I've come up with a way to get the same effect using my oven broiler.

I'm not a big fan of bolé and groundnut; and that fish concoction they do (and I tried) in Port Harcourt gave me a stomach ache. So, in typical fashion, I came up with a gorgeous sauce - inspired by the fish sauce, to go along with it.

Bolé
Preparation
-Turn on your broiler
-Once ready, place peeled ripe (but still firm) plantain under the grill
-Pay close attention to the plantain and keep turning to prevent burning and to make sure cooked on all sides.

Sauce
Ingredients
1/2 a chopped red onion
2 chopped tomatoes
2 tbsps ground crayfish or shrimp
2 tbsps of palm oil
1 boullion cube (maggi, knorr, etc)
Salt and cayenne (optional) to taste

Preparation
-Place a small saucepan on medium heat
-Add palm oil
-Add chopped onions and cook until tender
-Add chopped tomatoes and cook until softened
-Add crayfish or shrimp, boullion cube and salt and cayenne pepper to taste

Serve while hot and enjoy!


Monday, August 18, 2014

A new found love for Hummus

I've developed a new found love for the old time party favorite - Hummus. Not only does it taste good, but it is good for you.

I spoke about the delicious edamame hummus I tasted at a grocery store in DC and was on the hunt for when I got back. I've been having so much fun creating recipes around it.

Today's feature is a flat bread hummus pizza. There are only 3 ingredients (flat bread, hummus and turkey bacon) and 3 steps to it.
1) Chop up two strips of turkey bacon into bite sizes
2) Spread 4 tbsps (or as much as you like) on flat bread, and scatter bacon around it
3) Place in a 425 degree F oven on a cookie sheet for about 10 minutes (or until crisp)

Cool for a few minutes then cut up into 6 slices (or as you like).

Enjoy on it's own or with a side salad for a light but delicious dinner (or lunch)!

Healthy Seafood Fried Rice

A trip to the grocery store for me is usually something like this - half the time spent finding the stuff on my list, and the other half browsing for items (meats especially) on sale. The other day, lobster tails were on sale at about 25% regular price. I picked up two and then I started thinking how best to use them.

Sitting on the couch a few days later, I had my eureka moment! There was some shrimp and squid at home, so... along with the lobster, I came up with a healthy brown rice seafood fried rice.



Ingredients
Brown rice (partway cooked)
Lobster tails (chopped to bite size)
Shrimp (I used pre-cooked)
Squid (ringlets chopped to bite size)
Red onions (diced)
Green bell pepper (diced)
Mixed vegetables
Olive oil (about 2 table spoons)
Garlic powder
Ground black pepper
Soy sauce
Shrimp or crayfish maggi seasoning (or any other brand you prefer)
Salt (optional)

Preparation
- Prepare all ingredients and then grab a wok and place on high heat
- Add oil to the pan, heat for about a minutes
- Add onions, brown and then add green peppers, until tender
- Add mixed vegetables and stir fry
- Add chopped up squid (since raw, it need a few minutes to cook)
- Add shrimp and chopped up lobster tails (doesn't need much time to cook), stir fry for a minute or two
- Add garlic powder, black pepper, crayfish seasoning, to taste and stir fry a couple minutes
- Add cooked brown rice, and soy sauce (as much as you like but be careful so that the rice doesn't get mushy), stir fry for about 2 -3 minutes
- Adjust seasoning to taste (optional salt can be added here)

Et... Voila! Home-made Chinese fried rice never tasted so good.







Friday, August 8, 2014

Flat breads, pitas and wraps

Hello y'all... it's been about 2 years since I last updated this I think.

I have been cooking, but I've been away in Lagos, Nigeria and it was a little harder finding fun inexpensive ingredients to work with so although not impossible, it did cramp my style.

I'm back in the states, back on my Weight Watchers diet, and back to fun times with foods.

Today, I want to discuss flat breads. Flat breads range from your pitas to wraps to naan bread to tortillas to whatever y'all call it or are used to.

I was in a whole foods type grocery store the other day and I stumbled on some pretty healthy flat bread. Being on the WW diet, I brought out my handy point calculator and seeing as one wrap was just 2 points, it came home with me. The flat bread is just 90 calories, whole wheat and high in fiber. And most importantly, it actually tasted good.



It's a little thicker than your average tortilla which makes it pretty perfect for a thin-crust pizza - which was all that was on my mind once I got home. Trying not to consume too many calories/points that evening, I set about finding ideas on how to make a cheese-less pizza. Being an avid food network, cooking channel, etc watcher I knew that pizzas don't necessarily have to have cheese to be good. In the end, here's what I came up with.

Chicken, red onions and green peppers cheese-less pizza

Ingredients
1 flatout flat bread
1/2 cup of shredded cooked chicken
1/4 of a red onion (or as much as you like) sliced thinly
1/4 of a green bell pepper (or as much as you like) sliced thinly
 2 - 3 tbsps tomato sauce (as much as you like)
1 tsp of olive oil (extra virgin if you prefer)
Garlic powder, salt, parsley, thyme, sage , black pepper (to taste)

Preparation
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F
Spray surface of baking sheet/pan with your favorite cooking spray
Lay flat bread on the pan and brush with olive oil
Spread tomato sauce with a spoon leaving about a 1/4 inch of space around the edges
Sprinkle seasonings all over bread
Randomly arrange the onions, peppers and chicken all around the flat bread
Sprinkle addition seasonings (optional)
Place in over for 12-15 minutes until toppings are as cooked as you like and crust is as crispy as you like
Make sure to check every few minutes to prevent from burning

Total WW points = 5 points

Yes, it was as delicious as it looks :-)

The next day, in the mood for a snack, I called upon my flat bread again. This time I made some pita chips to go along with some amazing edamame hummus I found at the store.

Preparation is pretty simple. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray, cut up 1 flat bread into sections. Place in pan, toss with a little olive oil and whatever seasonings you like. I just used salt as I was planning to eat with the already flavorful hummus. Place in a 425 degree F for about 5 mins. I ate with 2 tbsps of edamame hummus. Make sure to keep an eye on this cause it burns quickly.

Total WW points = 3 points

I'm totally loving this flatout flat bread. Try it out and you would too.

Bisou xxx