Let’s be frank with one another, eating chips, also known as “French fries” (never mind that the French have nothing to do with this….) is enjoyable! I remember as a child eating potato chips with my fingers dunking them in thick gooey mayonnaise and just wishing the plate would never empty…..FYI, I hate ketchup a my chips but Iwon’t  judge you if you swing that way πŸ˜€

With my ever slowing metabolism and acute awareness for the need to make healthier food choices, it’s gladdenimg to know that I can still enjoy chips without the high risk of suffering a coronary shortly afterwards!! #Hallelujahchorus

This recipe is easy peasy; you require no special skill sets, or tools. Just a good appetite and an oven; c’est tout!

Ingredients:

To serve 4

2 medium sized sweet potatoes (I used the orange species purely for the vibrant colour)

3 medium sized purple potatoes (you could use regular potatoes but how could I resist the purple colour?!)

2 medium sized plantains (just barely ripe – they should be a very pale yellow and still quite firm)

2 teaspoons black pepper

4 sprigs fresh rosemary

3 cloves of garlic

3 tablespoons vegetable oil (corn oil is a great choice or olive oil)

Pinch of salt

The “How To”

Pre heat your oven to 230 degrees Celcius and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Wash your potatoes and plantains and peel them. Then carefully cut them lengthways till you have evenly sized chips from all of them. You want to ensure that all chips are approximately the same size so that they cook through evenly in the oven. Also, peel the garlic and smash the cloves on a chopping board with the flat side of your knife. Alternatively, you could halve them with their skin on and use them like that.

Pat the chips dry with a clean kitchen towel then place them on on the prepared oven tray along with the garlic. Sprinkle with black pepper, drizzle with oil and scatter the springs of rosemary on the tray. Give everything a good mix to ensure they are all coated with oil.

  

Pop the tray in the preheated oven for 30 – 35 minutes. Check it at the 28 minute mark. Once it has a nice golden brown exterior and the inside is cooked it’s ok to stop cooking it. Of course if you want an extra crunch you may leave it in for an extra minute but be careful not to burn it!

  

Season with salt, plate it up and enjoy it with your favourite sauce! As I mentioned earlier, mayonnaise is so delicious with chips but there are so many other options. Here, I served it with super spicy meatballs. You can try my meatball recipe here.

   

 

If you can’t find purple potatoes or orange sweet potatoes or you just simple are not keen on such a colourful fare. This cooking method is just as amazing with regular potatoes and even yams too! Sprinkle chopped chives on the potatoes when they are out of the oven and be transported to a gastronomy galaxy of chipsy happiness! For the yam recipe check this post.

   

 

FFF Tip of The Day

Instead of peeling your potatoes, give the skins a good scrub with a brush or sponge, rinse thoroughly and cook them in their skins. This gives an added crunch as well as higher nutritional value.

It’s not a typographical error, I did call a part of my post Plean SoufflΓ©; so now that I have cleared that up, I suppose it’s only fair to explain what a “Plean” really is or how it came about……..no it’s not an alien food item from planet ZΓΆrg……nice try though πŸ˜€πŸ˜‚

It all started when February 14 rolled round; after I groped my way from beneath tonnes of cake batter, whipped cream and moulded chocolate it dawned on me, tragically, that I had made no culinary plans ……or errrrrmmmmm any plans for that matter for this (in my opinion exaggerated) occassion.

Essentially I had to get creative and FAST!! There was a growling Papa bear wandering around in my house and my baby cubs were at risk!! Eeeeeeekkk!!

Ok drama over, a quick rummage through my fridge reveled that I had; whipped cream, tonnes of left over chocolate cake shavings, fresh strawberries and strawberry yoghurt. This was a no- brainer! Strawberry chocolate parfait!! I just layered the different ingredients and voila! And I didn’t even have to light an oven! So that was breakfast sorted.

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By the time lunch hour rolled round, I was in pseudo panic mode! As I cast my gaze around my kitchen my eyes fell on the following ingredients,

3 extremely ripe plantains
1/4 cup beans flour
3 ata rodo aka scotch bonnet peppers
1 tbs ground Cameroon pepper
1 medium onion
4 cloves garlic
1 tbs cray fish
1 tbs paprika
1 tbs powdered ginger
4 tbs vegetable oil (I used sunflower oil)
2 eggs
1/3 warm water (optional)
1 thinly sliced cucumber (garnish)

A light bulb went off in my head and I gathered them all up and this is what I did with them. I was completely winging this recipe and didn’t know what to expect……I was literally making it up as I went along.

I did know however that I wanted to achieve a beautiful union between moin-moin and Ukpo ogede: you read all about these here. And on what better day that February 14 to attempt such a pairing? Even food has a place in romantic entanglements, non?

The “How To”
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celcius. Carefully oil an oven proof rectangular Pyrex baking dish or any mould of your choice to be frank.
Wash and peel the plantains and chop them into medium chunks. Peel the onion and garlic and cut them up, set aside. You may opt to seed the peppers or leave the seeds in, it depends on if you can take the heat. Now this is where things get interesting; you’re probably braced for a laborious cooking process but not today – remember that I was tired. I pulled out my food processor with the blade attachment and tossed everything in except the eggs and water.

Blitz the ingredients until you have an even, lump free mixture then add the two eggs and blitz again until evenly mixed through (about 1 minute). Check the consistency, if it appears quite viscous and dense then you may want to thin it down a it with the warm water otherwise, carefully empty the contreras into your oiled receptacle (in my case my rectangular dish). And then place the dish in a Bain Marie (a water bath that can fit in your oven; it should just have about 1 inch of hot water in it). Cover your dish with foil, place it in the oven for about 35 minutes. Check for “doneness” by inserting a tooth pick in it if it comes out clean then it is ready, if it not give it a few more minutes (a lot will depend on the dimensions of your dish).

VoilΓ ! You just made your very first Plean SouffleΓ©! By now you must have figured that I invented that word by pairing Plantain + Bean…..The end result should be a fluffy sweet yet savory and very spicy “pudding”. To temper the spiciness, I added slices of cucumber on the plate to cool the palette and to anchor all the flavours I also incorporated pesto (this time from a jar not freshly made). All these elements came together magically and paired with the stuffed chicken it was magic on a plate!

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Here’s the recipe for the stuffed chicken.

Ingredients

2 medium sized chicken breasts
1 clove of garlic
150 grams of cheddar cheese
1 tsp ground black pepper
Salt to taste
1 tbs butter

The How To
Pre heat your oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
Trim away any sinew or silver skin on your chicken breasts, rinse and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel. Lay them on a clean, dry chopping board and carefully cover them with cling film. Now with a meat mallet or with a rolling pin beat the breasts until you have an even thickness across the surface and they are about 3/4 of an inch thick; set aside. Chop the garlic and slice up the cheese. Divide them unto the chicken; placing them carefully along one short end of the chicken, then carefully roll the chicken tightly and secure with a butcher’s string tied around it or use tooth picks to keep the seams closed.

Now place a thick bottomed pan (with an oven proof handle) on medium high heat an add the butter, once the butter starts to sizzle place both rolled up chicken pieces in the pan and sear on all sides until you get a lovely brown colour. Transfer the entire pan and it’s contents into the oven for 22 – 25 minutes. Press on it carefully to check if it’s cooked, the chicken flesh should be firm when you press it with your index finger and the juices in the pan should be clear. Cover with foil to rest for another 10 minutes or so. Remove strings or tooth picks, cut up and serve warm.

For dessert we had the infamous triple chocolate mousse cake. The recipe is right here. I didn’t make it on that day. I had prepped it a few days earlier when prepping client’s order.

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I hope you enjoyed my culinary journey of discovery and indeed invention. πŸ˜€

Show me an average Nigerian and I will show you a person that ranks “rice and stew” as a favourite meal or at the very least a meal reserved for special occasions like family Sunday lunch. Don’t get me wrong, Jollof rice ranks up there too but today, the focus is on it’s less colourful and less controversial relative πŸ™‚

In Nigeria, stew is not stew if it isn’t a blend of red peppers (locally called tatashe, shombo and ata rodo in Yoruba language) and tomatoes. Now the balance of each ingredient varies from tribe to tribe…..no really it does. Some people might include onions in this blend as well.

Stew is a very personal sauce in Nigeria and in some tribes it is beyond personal. Take the Yorubas for example; their lips will remain clamped shut if you serve ANY meal you expect them to ingest (and eventually digest) without stew; in fact it is considered to be an affront.

I am married to a Yoruba man so TRUST me I know what I am talking about; recall my ordeal from an earlier post? If you haven’t read about it please do so here.

Loosely speaking the sauce is prepared by blitzing a combo of the above mentioned vegetables and fruits (yes tomatoes are fruits!!!!!!!), then cooking them down till you have a beautiful thick crimson paste which you the fry the heck out of in searing hot vegetable or palm oil. Alternatively you could roast said vegetables/fruits whole then blitz them before finishing them off. See this post on how to use roasted peppers to enhance your sauce.

The beauty about Nigerian stew is it’s versatility. It is such a great vehicle for an assortment of flavours; it works well with ginger, garlic, basil, thyme, chicken, fresh fish snails, gizzard, turkey, smoked fish, beef, oxtail, tripe, sweat breads name it! Errrrr not necessarily all at once. It am sure you catch my drift.

Anyway back to focus of my post, the most consistent way stew is consumed in Nigeria across almost every single tribe is with white rice (essentially steamed rice or as “boiled rice” as it is generally referred to.

One popular pairing is of Ofada sauce, a pungent peppery stew, served with locally grown rice. It is an acquired taste and if you ever venture near it please be sure to have a fire extinguisher to hand because your tongue is guaranteed to catch on fire or at the very least your brain will……..it’s worth it though…….I think………..

Lest I forget to mention, rice and stew is never really complete without a side of fried plantains locally called “dodo”. If you set such a dish before a Nigerian, you have a 99% guarantee of having a happy camper whose buccal cavity will remain decidedly agape as he inhales the meal.

Here are some of my versions of this classic Nigerian staple: Ordinary just got extraordinary!

As we say in my language, “Ko di echi” (until the next time πŸ˜€)

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Most people think that my perspective on food is purely intercontinental (read none Nigerian meals) and this is soooooo not true! I love our ethnic food just as much as I love any other food. Wherever we lived in the world, our Nigerian meals remained prominent on the menu.

You are talking about a girl that grew up on banga soup and starch; a delicacy that will be completely lost on you if you didn’t grow up in the Niger- delta part of Nigeria or at least have Niger- delta origins. I am from Delta state and my mum makes the freshest and bestest fresh fish banga soup ever! Ofe nsala is another meal that was a regular feature in my diet as a child; my grand mother used to make this amazing version with smoked fish and chunky snails (rest her soul). When my mum made Ukpo ogede (a steamed plantain pudding) I would be giddy with excitement barely able to wait for it to cool so that I could dive into its sweet, spicy yumminess.

In fact just a couple of weeks ago, I felt like a little girl again as I watched her make this meal in my kitchen. My sons and I attacked it shamelessly…….hmmmm…..that reminds me, don’t I have some stashed away in my freezer?

Right here I have my mum’s recipe and step by step guide for making Ukpo ogede and also for making ofe onubu (bitter leaf soup; a favourite amongst the Igbos of Eastern Nigeria).

My husband is from the Yoruba tribe and their diet is distinct from those of the Igbo’s in the sense that, their soups mostly have tomatoes as a base. This is foreign and even considered abnormal to the Igbos. So although we use similar ingredients for our soups, the way Yorubas prepare their meals is different.

This point was driven home to me, when I was newly married to him and as a new wife I was eager to show my cooking prowess and so I plunged head first into a local open market sourcing for the freshest ingredients with which to make ogbono soup (please don’t ask me for the English description for this soup PLEASE!) and after hours of labouring and prepping and cooking, I presented him with what I considered to be a fabulous meal! He took one look at my offering and asked “Where is the stew?” I was stunned? Stew? STEW??!!! Until that day, I had never heard of pairing stew with ogbonno!! When I told him there was none, he pushed the plate away and said he couldn’t eat it! I almost emptied the contents on his head!!!

In case you’re wondering, “stew” in Nigeria means a tomato and chilli base sauce which accompanies a lot of meals. It is a staple in every single household. It takes on different flavours and consistency depending on the part of the country you come from.

I learned the hard way, that stew is a must if I am to even dream of presenting any kind of Nigerian meal to my husband; lest I labour in vain.

I decided to showcase FFF’s take on Nigerian meals and the recipes of course πŸ™‚

Here we have poundo yam and okra soup (Yoruba style). Full guide on how to make this here

Poundo yam is yam flour and. Is something of a novelty in Nigerian cuisine. Back in the day, you would boil yam and pound the heck out of it in a huge wooden mortar and pestle.

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Now most of the tedium of making it has been removed by the availability of yam flour (called poundo yam) and technology; if you have a food processor or an electric yam pounder you can put your cooked yam in there and whizz away for a pliable yummy finish.

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No Nigerian home menu is complete without a weekly offering of rice in one form or the other. The most popular being steamed white rice and stew.

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This meal is almost always accompanied by a side of fried plantains.

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In the northern part of Nigeria, they enjoy a Savoury rice meal called Dafaduka. It is delectable to say the least!

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If you ever attend a Nigerian party and you are not presented with puff-puff or Puffies please fee free to institute action against your hosts! I am a lawyer and I will gladly represent you in court! Lol! They are a constant and for good reason too. They are small, tasty and deceptively filling!

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We love our black eyed peas or beans (as we call it here). I made my take on beans on toast recently and you can try the recipe too.

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As you may have noted, plantains feature quite a bit in our meals, we fry the, boil them, roast them, mash them……we do pretty much what we like with them! Lol. Roasted plaintain is a local snack referred to popularly as boli; I never did quite understand it but I took the inspiration of roasting plantain to make something rather interesting; grilled plantain “boats” topped with a tuna mix.

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While we are on the subject of plantains, as a child we would have fried plantain and eggs usually on a Saturday morning. The eggs would be scrambled in tomato sauce, with chillies and chopped onions; very delish indeed.

Inspired by a recipe I saw in a foodie group that I belong to I updated my childhood memory with these plantain egg cups.

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Recipe for a Plantain egg cups for one big serving or 2 servings

Ingredients
3 ripened but firm plantains
4 eggs
3 tbs chopped fresh chives
2 tsp dry ginger
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbs vegetable oil
2 tbs grated Parmesan (optional)
Salt to taste
Garnish more chopped chives and paprika

The How To
Pre heat oven to 180 degrees. Grease two ramekins with vegetable oil and set aside.

Wash and peel plantains. Using an mandolin or a very sharp knife, carefully slice the plantain lengthways to get long even slices about 1/4 of an inch thick.

Break eggs in a bowl adding chopped chives,black pepper, paprika and cayenne and salt and whisk until well combined.

Carefully lay plantain strips in oiled ramekins criss crossing them so that the form a “cup”. Season plantain with dried ginger and some salt. Then carefully pour in egg mixture up to halfway (the egg will rise so it needs space). Top with cheese (optional).

Bake in oven for about 18 minutes or until plantain is golden and egg set.

Let cool in ramekins for 5 minutes then gentle tease out. Garnish with a dash of paprika and more fresh chives if you choose.

Serve with a simple combo of mayonnaise and ketchup or any sauce of your choosing.

I find that the sweet tangy ketchup pairs well with the plantain and mayo balances out the eggs.

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These meals are a tiny fraction of the amazing variety of meals available in Nigeria but they represent my interpretation of some of the more popular offerings.

FFF Tip of the day: Don’t be scared to incorporate fusion in your cooking; you will surprised at unlikely pairings that turn out deliciously!