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 ?

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.

During my vacation I knew that if I didn’t go on the much talked about spice tour I would have nearly gone out of my mind. So I booked the tour and waited excitedly for the day to arrive.

Going through the farm and observing these fragrant tasty herbs and spices in their natural habitat was nothing less than enlightening.

From the weird to the wonderful. Wonderful for me being the opportunity for me to see the vanilla bean plant and actually buy vanilla beans!

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The red fuzzy fruit is said to be used as a pigment in lipsticks. The herbs on the farm are used optimally in making a variety of scents, oils and soaps. In fact my tour guide informed me that the main scent used in making the famous Chanel No. 5 originated from Zanzibar! I was so mesmerized that I gave in and purchased some hand made soap.

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Of course I purchased vanilla beans, some gorgeously hued saffron, mixed spice packet and nutmeg.

I bargained hard and got what I considered to be a superb deal.

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I was now equipped to literally unleash more aromas and flavours on my family and friends…..and I have too. It’s as if I have been seized by a cooking and baking bug. In fact just the other day, I said to myself, “I must be addicted to my oven!”

In my next post, I will share some simple delicious recipes that I have made using my newly acquired spice and herb stash.

FFF tip of the day: Bruising, crushing or toasting certain herbs and spices helps to release their natural oils and intensify their flavours thereby giving more aroma and taste. Pepper corns taste better when they are cracked or crushed, rubbing rosemary leaves between your palms releases it’s heady fragrance which transfers beautifully to your food as it cooks.

The versatility of ingredients is one of the things that fascinates me about cooking. One ingredient can be transformed to make so many delicious meals that the possibilities are almost endless.
In this food lab exercise, I applied the everyday tomato in 3 different dishes and the results yielded truly gastronomic delights but don’t take my word for it, ask my hubby :)…..
Here we have fresh chicken (broiler), mince beef, eggs, bread crumbs, spring onions, tomatoes, red onions, green peppers, scotch bonnet peppers, eggs, mild cheddar cheese, cucumbers, herbs (chives, rosemary, basil, bay leaf) and spices (chilli flakes, black pepper and suya pepper)
Ingredients set out With these ingredients, I prepared meatballs in tomato sauce, lasagna and herbed chicken (which was incorporated into a stew (Nigerian tomato sauce).
Prepping for italian menu
In a blender, add the tomatoes, red onions and scotch bonnet peppers. Reserve some tomatoes for garnish. Blend until completely liquified. Cook mixture for 30 minutes; bring the mixture to boil then let it simmer. I don’t usually add a great deal of water when I am blending tomatoes so 30 minutes is enough time to get the consistency I am looking for; you may need to adjust your cooking time to suit your preference.
Then using about 1.5kg of mince beef, in a bowl, add 3 eggs, 4 finely chopped green peppers, 1 teaspoon of chives, 1 teaspoon of basil, 1 teaspoon of sage, 2 teaspoons of salt, 2 teaspoons of black pepper and one cup f bread crumbs. Mix with your hand until all ingredients are fully integrated then form even sized balls and set aside.
Pasta and meatballs Meatballs ready fro cookingIn skillet heat, 4 table spoons of vegetable oil (I used corn oil) and add meat balls, brown and take out of the pan without cooking the meatballs through.
Cooking meatballs
Using the same pan that was used to brown the meatballs, add, 3 table spoons of vegetable oil, some chopped onion and garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Ladle in about 3 – 4  cups of the cooked blended tomato. Let simmer for 8 minutes, add 2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon of dry sage, 1 teaspoon of black pepper and 1 teaspoon of salt then re-introduce the browned meatballs to the pan.
To boost the flavour profile of the sauce, I char grilled some local green peppers. Blitzed them in a blender with olive oil and added the paste to the sauce in the last stages of cooking. You may use red, yellow or orange bell peppers, which are usually imported in Nigeria. I chose to use locally grown peppers because I try support the use of home-grown produce when possible.
Cover the pan with a lid and let simmer for a further 12 minutes. Serve with pasta!
NOTE: After char grilling the peppers, put in a bowl and cover with cling film for a few minutes or wrap in a clean tea towel to facilitate peeling before blending.
IMG_8710Pureed green peppers
For the herbed chicken, I simply cut up two whole broilers and used a dry rub composed of chives, rosemary, dry ginger, salt, black pepper, chilli flakes, sage and some suya pepper.
IMG_8718Spread the chicken parts on a baking tray and drizzle with oil and put in a 250 degree pre-heated oven for about 35 minutes or until the chicken juices run clear.
Lasagna and herbed chicken in the ovenNow for the lasagna. I used oven lasagna sheets so there was no need to pre-cook them. These are readily available in most major grocery stores and super market. I bought mine at Spar (Park N Shop).
Grate 250 grams of mild cheddar cheese and set aside. You may also use some parmesan cheese but I used a mild soft cheese instead to counter balance the cheddar. In pan add 3 table spoons of oil, some chopped onions and saute for a couple of minutes. Add 3 cups of cooked tomato paste, 2 teaspoons of salt, 2 cloves of crushed garlic and 200 grams of mince beef; stir for about 8 minutes on a medium heat. Set aside and prepare to assemble the lasagna. Get an oven dish, spread some of the tomato/mince sauce at the bottom and layer on some lasagna sheets, sprinkle with both the cheddar and parmesan, ladle tomato sauce over it and cover with lasagna sheets. Repeat process and be sure to end with lasagna sheets covered in cheese and tomato/mince sauce. Put in 250 degree heated oven and cooked for about 30 minutes (Read the guide on the packet of the lasagna).
I opted to serve the lasagna with fried plantains and a simple tomato and cucumber salad.
Lasagna plated
I hope I have helped bring some italiano inspired cuisine to the Naija table.
Bon appetito!