Saturday, 30 May 2015

Sobolo/Zobo/Bissap/Hibiscus Drink
















INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 cups dried hibiscus leaves
  • 1 medium sized pineapple (the peel & core)
  • Thumb size fresh ginger
  • 2 litres water
  • Sweetener of your choice e.g. honey or maple syrup
METHOD:

1. Wash the hibiscus leaves to remove any dirt and pick out any wanted stems and leaves. Place in a deep cooking pot.
   

2. Wash the pineapple and cut the skin off the pineapple ensuring that there is a bit of the pineapple flesh on the skin. Remove the core of the pineapple and add this including the peel to the pot.


3. Peel the ginger and blend with a bit of water. Add this to the pot.


4. Add 2 litres of water to the pot and place the pot on the hob, turn on the heat and let the mixture boil for about 30 minutes.


5. Turn off the heat and let the drink steep to cool down.
6. Once cooled strain using a fine sieve.
7. Add sweetener of your choice to taste. In my case I added honey. You may also do without the sweetener for a very healthy option. Bottle and chill the Sobolo. Serve well chilled on ice and with slices of lemon.

Orange & Vanilla Pound Cake (Ghana Style)

I have such fond memories of baking this cake as a little child. Festive occasions were my favourite, the smell and aroma of this beautiful cake added to the festive mood for me. My mom loved giving edible gifts at Christmas time and guess who did the hardwork? My sister and I! We would bake pounds and pounds of this cake during Christmas but I didn't mind cause I loved the aroma as well as eating it. I remember my sister and I would experiment and make version in which we add fizzy drinks such as coke and fanta. Oh yes we did! and they always turned out really nice. So I am sharing with you today one of our versions made with orange juice and it's rind. Try it and let me have your feedback.

INGREDIENTS:

  • This makes a pound of cake
  • 500g butter (use butter for cakes and pastry)
  • 480g castor sugar (standard 500g, but for this version, I use 480g)
  • 525g self raising flour  (standard 500g but for this version, I use 525g)
  • 10 medium size eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp orange rind
  • 1/3 tsp lemon rind (optional)
  • 1 tsp nutmeg powder or better grated whole nutmeg
  • Juice of one orange
  • 2 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 3 loaf tins or cake tins of your choice, well buttered and lined with parchment paper

METHOD:

1. Pre heat the oven to 220oC. At least ensure the oven is preheated 30minutes before baking.
2. Using a fine sieve, sieve the flour and nutmeg. This helps to incorporate air into the flour. Set it aside.
3. Using a hand or stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until it has doubled in size, looks pale, light and fluffy. To test if it’s ready, use a spatula to lift a bit of the cream, gently shake the spatula. If the cream drops off easily then it’s ready. If not, continue creaming the cake butter.


4. Whisk eggs until it has doubled in size and light and fluffy.


5. Add the whisked eggs to the cake butter, a bit at a time. Creaming after every addition. Cream until the eggs are well incorporated into the cake butter.


6. The next step is to add the flour. I prefer to do this stage by hand, using a wooden spoon to mix, however you can continue using the mixer. In adding the flour, I do this in 3 parts. Add the first portion of flour and fold it into the cake butter. Using the flat side of the wooden spoon, mix the flour into the butter by using 3 or 4 folds. The cake butter should be well mixed before adding the next two batches of flour. Do not beat or over mix at this point. You want to maintain the air bubbles in the cake butter.
7. Once the cake butter is well mixed, add the orange juice, vanilla essence, orange and lemon rind and fold it into the mixture.
8. Now add the baking powder and fold it in the mixture. Make sure it is well incorporated without over mixing the butter. Once the baking powder has been added, work quickly to start baking.
9. Put the cake butter in the lined cake tins. Ensure that it is 1/3 less full to give is room to rise. Gently tap and shake the cake tins to evenly distribute the cake butter in the tin.
10. Put the cake tins in the oven, all at the same time and quickly. Leaving the oven door open for too long will let the temperature drop. You don’t want this to happen. Once the cakes are in the oven do not open the oven in the first 35 minutes. This is the time the cake starts to rise and it needs constant temperature for this action to be successful. Opening the oven will let the temperature drop.
11. Check the cake in 40-45 minutes into baking. To check that the cake is ready use these two testing tips:
a. The cake pulls slightly away from the sides of the cake tin.
b. A skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
12. If the cake passes the above tests then it is ready. Remove from the oven and let it cool down before turning the cake out of the tin.
13. Enjoy the cake!
 



Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Palava Sauce/Cocoyam leaves (Kontomire) Stew

Grilled Mackerel & Mushrooms Palava Sauce - Palava sauce is another delicious Ghanaian sauce enjoyed by all the tribes. It is mostly served with 'Ampesi' i.e. yam or both ripe & unripe plantain or cocoyam or cassava, though it's equally yummy with boiled rice or kenkey. As Akan's are associated with Ampesi, I can say Palava sauce originated with the Akan tribes. However, I stand to be corrected. This delicious sauce is normally made with palm oil which gives it an earthy flavour. The combination of smoked/grilled fish, koobi or mormorni (salted fish or meat) gives this dish a depth of flavour. Simple ingredients yet a full bodied African sauce. So what's the palava about this sauce??? It's all in the tasting!



INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 Medium size onion, chopped
  • 1 Handful of mushrooms, sliced
  • 7 small Kpakposhito (Pettie Belle Chilli) or any chilli of your choice and to your taste
  • 3 Medium sized fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 10-15 Medium size cocoyam leaves (Kontomire), sliced
  • 1 - 2 Grilled/smoked Mackerel
  • Piece of Koobi (salted dry tilapia)
  • 1 Large shrimp cube crushed into powder
  • 1 Maggie cube crushed into powder
  • 1 cup Agushie/Egusi/Akatowa
  • Salt
  • 2 ladles of Palm Oil
METHOD:

1. Soak the Agushie in a bowl of water and set it aside.


2. Now chop or dice the onions and set aside.
3. Chop up the tomatoes, no need to remove the seeds, and set aside. 
4. Slice the mushrooms and set it aside.
5. Remove the thick stalks from the Kontomire (Cocoyam leaves). Wash the leaves well with water. Layer the leaves on a chopping board with the green side up. Roll up the layers and thinly slice the Kontomire. Then chop it up a bit to create short lengths of the sliced Kontomire. Set this aside.
   

6. Place the chilli in an earthenware mortar and mash it with the pestle. If you don’t own a mortar and pestle, you can finely chop up the chilli.
  

7. Now wash the Agushie well using your finger tips to rub the seeds. Drain the water and remove any seed shells that may be present. Place the Agushie in a blender, add a pinch of salt and just a little bit of water to blend it into a paste. Ensure the seeds are all well blended. After blending, pour the paste into an earthenware mortar and using the pestle mash the paste further. Traditionally, the Agushie is grinded in the earthenware pot from scratch but I have cheated a bit and used the blender to quicken the process. I prefer to further mash it in the earthenware mortar because the mashing process helps to release the oils from the Agushie. This oil enhances the flavour of the Agushie. If you don’t have the earthenware mortar and pestle, no need the worry, the blended mixture is just fine.


8. Now to start the cooking, put the oil, koobi and onions in a pot and set the heat to high. Let the onions cook until it softens.
   

9. Now add the chilli paste and stir. Let it fry for some couple of minutes.  

10. Now add the chopped tomatoes and stir. Lower the heat to medium high and let it cook until the tomatoes are well cooked and stewed. It should look like in the photo. Add a bit of salt at this point to taste. But not too much as the Agushie also contains some salt already. 
11. Now turn up the heat and add the Agushie, give it a rough stir and let it fry for about 3 minutes. This is to help the Agushie clamp together to look like scrambled eggs. Too much stirring at this point will break up the clamps of Agushie. Let it fry for about 5 – 10minutes. Check the seasoning at this point.
    

12. Now add the mushrooms, let it cook for some couple of minutes. 

13. Now add the Kontomire, stir and add the Maggie and shrimp seasoning. Stir well and check if the seasoning is ok. You may not need any more salt at this point.

  
14. Remove the fish bones from the Mackerel and break up into big pieces. Add this to the Kontomire stew and stir.


15. Add a bit of water, about 1/3 cup to help the Kontomire to cook. Cover the pot with a lid, lower the heat and let the sauce simmer down.


16. When the sauce is cooked the oil will come up to the surface of the sauce.
17. Check your seasoning and add a pinch of salt if needed.
18. Serve this sauce with either boiled yams, ripe & unripe plantains, cocoyams or boiled rice.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Ebunu Ebunu / Cocoyam leaves (Kontomire) Soup



Ebunu Ebunu literally means green green. This soup is associated with the Akan tribe from Ghana. The soup is made from cocoyam leaves (called kontomire in Akan) which gives the green colour of the soup. The favourite combination of protein for this soup is a mixture of smoked fish, snails and mushrooms. This combination just gives this soup a soul. Ebunu Ebunu is such a hearty soup, so tasty, simple to make and yet so healthy.

Normally this soup will be eaten with fufu but it can be equally served with anything of your choice. I have always loved it with boiled ripe plantains and that's just how I enjoyed this soup today.


INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 medium sized snails
  • 1 medium sized mudfish (smoked mudfish)
  • 2 handfuls of mushrooms – preferably oyster mushrooms or similar
  • 1 grilled Mackerel
  • 2 dried herrings
  • Piece of Koobi (salted dry tilapia)
  • 10-15 medium size cocoyam leaves (Kontomire)
  • Handful of Kwansesaawa (similar to Pea Aubergines) - optional
  • 2 medium sized onions peeled
  • 4 garlic cloves peeled
  • Thumb sized ginger
  • Piece of scotch bonnet pepper (chilli to you preference)
  • 4 Kpakposhito (Pettie Belle Chilli) – optional
  • 4 fingers of Okra - optional
  • 4 medium sized fresh tomatoes
  • 1 large shrimp cube crushed into powder
  • Pinch of salt

METHOD:
  1.  Remove the snails from their shells and clean well. Wash the snails with lemon juice. Cut up a whole lemon and use half of it to rub the snail, squeezing the juice whilst cleaning the snail. 


  2.  Place the mushrooms, koobi, dried herrings, snails in a pot and add the shrimp cube and pinch of salt.
       
  3. Blend one of the onions with the ginger, scotch bonnet pepper and garlic. Add a bit of water to help with the blending. Pour the onion mixture into the pot.

  4. Place the pot on high heat. Now add the other whole onion and tomatoes. Cover the pot and let it steam until the onion and tomatoes are cooked and soft.
      
  5. Wash the cocoyam leaves well and remove the leaves from the stalk. Place in a separate pot, add the Kwansesaawa.
      
  6. First remove the stalks from the Kwansesaawa and wash well. Add enough water just and place on the hob. Turn on the heat and boil until the cocoyam leaves and Kwansesaawa are soft.

  7. Now take out the onion and tomatoes and blend together. Add this mixture back to the pot with the mushrooms et al. Let this boil for a further 15 minutes.

  8. Add the mudfish, okro and kapkposhito to the soup.
       


  9. Place the cocoyam leaves and kwansesaawa including any leftover water in a blender and blend all together until nice and smooth. 
  10. Add the blended leaves to the soup, add about a lower the heat and partly cover the pot. Let the soup simmer gently until you see that the soup has thickened.
      
  11. Taste and add bit more salt if required. Add the grilled Mackerel and let it simmer for a further 5 minutes. If the soup is too thick, add a bit more water and a bit more seasoning if required.
  12. Serve the soup with fufu or boiled rice or boiled ripe plantains.