This and that

Friday, June 1, 2012

Foodie Friends Friday Featuring Wayne of Passione Per Cucina

  I have recently joined a group called Foodie Friends Friday .... Each Friday I will feature a recipe from one blogger in this group and in turn a recipe of mine may be featured on someone else's blog. Doing this will bring more visibility to our blogs ... My hopes in doing this: is for me to bring more attention to African foods as that is my main purpose of my blog and also get to know some great people and make new friends in this blogging world.
   This Friday, I am going to feature a recipe from Wayne of Passione Per Cucina 

Pasta with Smoked Salmon and Ricotta
      As I was trying to decide who I would feature on my blog this week... I came across Wayne's Blog and the title of his blog enticed me... although I am not sure what it means, he does say " I love to explore the Italian love of food, as well as the customs involved in preparation and sharing of the typical Italian Meal"-  that sold me.  I wanted to dig more into his blog and I know I will enjoy going through his blog and learning new ways to prepare Italian foods then the typical lasagna and pizza... I can't wait to have time to sit down and do some reading.  I didn't get through too many but this one ~ Pasta with Smoked Salmon and Ricotta jumped out at me as I love smoked salmon and use it alot in my own cooking,  I know that I will definitely be making this recipe.  I am sure you will also find great joy going through his blog.... so if you have time, go and check it out and let him know that I sent you....
                              Til next time.............. Marlys

Friday, May 25, 2012

Chicken soup and rice

       I have been cooking for at least 30 years on my own and before that with the help of my mother and I always thought I knew how to cook rice.  You add the rice to water... for each cup of rice, double the water, some salt and oil, bring the water to a boil and then simmer it for around 20 minutes... RIGHT??????
    BUZZ,  WRONG... at least in our house that is wrong.  I now bring my water to a boil and don't turn the heat down right away and cook my rice for much longer... sometimes it is so stuck to the pot I am not sure it will come out... but it does. My husband likes his rice crunchy... so cooking it longer will make it crunchy.  Once the rice is cooked, I now turn the heat down and keep on cooking my rice.  Then about 5 minutes before I serve it, I turn the heat off and by magic the rice comes right out of the pot.  I do take the stuff that was stuck to the side and serve it to my husband.  I am no so much partial to crunchy rice.. it is OK but a full plate of it no.
       We do have rice often in our house and that is also one of my staples in the fridge.  I also learnt that reheating it in the microwave is also a big WRONG... but I still do it.  The right way to do it is put it back in the pot with a small amount of water and reboil it.  One of the ways we do eat rice is with chicken soup... A plate full of rice, a bowl full of soup... What could go wrong.

                              Chicken Soup and Rice   

Chicken soup and rice.

Stewing Chicken
Water - about 4 -5 cups
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 tbsp tomato paste or 1 small can tomato sauce
1 large tomato
1 clove garlic
1 onion
1 tbsp ginger
1 tbsp anise
1 tsp kele (an african spice) - this can be skipped if you don't have it
1 chicken maggi cube
1 tbsp maggi liquid seasoning
hot pepper to taste

Cut up stewing chicken into small pieces, place in pot with water to cover, ginger garlic paste, 1 tbsp salt and small amount of sliced onions.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 1 -2 hours until chicken is tender.  Once chicken is tender add more water to equal 4- 5 cups of water.  Add 1 tbsp on tomato paste or 1 small can of tomato sauce. ( I prefer tomato paste but if you are out, tomato sauce will work).  If you want a darker broth add more tomato paste.  Bring to boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Grind tomato and garlic and place in pot.  Add seasonings - ginger, anise, kele, maggi cube and liquid seasoning and hot pepper.  Add more salt to taste.  Simmer for about 1/2 hour.  Prior to serving add more thinly sliced onions to taste. 
chicken defrosting in water...

Spices - this is double the amount used
ingredients in the pot

giving the pot a stir

Simmering the soup......
Once again, these measurements are just a suggestion.  The best way to make a good soup is let it simmer, taste it and smell it... add more spices if needed.  The longer soup simmers, the better it tastes, the flavors blend together... Enjoy with crunchy rice.

Til next time.. Marlys

Linked on:
     Monday Manic Party,Ultimate Soup Recipe List, Soups at Saturday Dishes

Monday, May 21, 2012

African sauce

     In my fridge at just about any given time you will find some rice and a sauce to use with it. I have learnt that you don't eat rice plain.  This sauce can be used for just about anything... rice, pasta,  corn porridge, yams (boiled or fried),  rice and beans... or as my husband uses it when he really doesn't like what I have made or thinks it needs more flavor. Also this sauce can have chicken, beef, pork or smoked salmon or a combination of all.  When I am running out... I will just make more and throw the leftovers into the new stuff...
    I think that I have come to perfected this recipe as I have made it many times... I have been told that my sauce is as good as my mother-in-laws.........So I think that is a great compliment, as if anyone tells you that your cooking is better then their mother, especially if it is your husband, it is a compliment.  We have made this for many of our guests and I have made it for a church fundraiser and have also taken it to work and everyone praises it.
   As with most of my cooking, I have never really used a recipe but I will try to write it down as close to possible as I can.  With the spices, most of it is to taste..

Sauce with fried yams

                                            African Sauce

1/3 cup oil ( I use olive oil but any kind of oil will work)
1 1/2 TBSP heaping of tomato paste
1 - 2 roma tomatoes
onions ( this is used to your tastes)  I put in lots as we love onions
hot pepper to taste
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp anise (either ground or whole that will need to be ground)
1 tsp ginger 
1 cube maggi (chicken or beef)
2 tsp maggi liquid seasoning
salt to taste
meat - smoke salmon, beef, chicken - the amount of meat is to your taste.

    Cook oil and tomato paste together until mixed, you may have to add a small amount of water if not mixed properly.  Once cooked add a small amount of thinly slice onions, anise, and ginger and bring to boil... and then turn down to a simmer.
    Grind tomatoes, small amount of onions, and garlic.  I put them in mortar and use pestle to grind or I will also use my food processor.  If I use the food processor - I cook this mixture for a few minutes to decrease the liquids.  Once mixture is mixed to the texture you want -- either very fine or with pieces place in oil and tomato.  Bring to a boil and then simmer again for about 5 minutes or so.  Add maggi cube and maggi liquid seasoning.  Add hot pepper  - I do sometimes add the pepper to the mortar with the tomatoes, onions and garlic.
    Add meat and cook at simmer for 15 - 20 minutes.  Add salt to taste at this time.  I also may add more anise and ginger to taste.  Before serving add more thinly sliced onions to mixture (these onions are not cooked but fresh in the sauce this way).
  * When I use beef, I will cook the beef in water with onion and a bought ginger garlic paste about 1 tbsp until water is reduced - approximately 1 hour.  I then add 2 tbsp oil and cook the meat until crispy on all sides.  I do buy roasts or steaks on sale and cut into small pieces - if they seem tough I cook them in the water mixture longer.  
    * When I use chicken I cook them in 2 tbsp oil with minced ginger and garlic or the garlic/ginger paste until crispy on all sides.
    * If I use a food processor to puree my tomato mixture I will add 1 more tomato cut in small pieces.
    * I do freeze my tomato paste when I open a can.. I freeze it in about 1 -2 tbsp sizes, so when cooking in oil it may splatter, so be careful.  Also the tomato paste may look like it is burning when you are cooking it as it will turn a black colour in spots... this is ok and gives flavor to the sauce.
    *This sauce may look oily... if you don't want as much oil, just skim it off.  If serving with rice or rice and beans the oil will be absorbed by the rice.

tomato paste in oil
onions, garlic, tomatoes

using pestle and mortar

adding spices

adding tomato mixture to oil and tomato paste

adding onion and hot pepper

smoked salmon added to mixture

eating the sauce with fried yams... YUM!
I hope that this recipe will give you some idea of how to make this sauce.  Yesterday when I made this meal to take for my co-workers, the doctor that was on duty said cooking is better when you taste and add.. That is exactly how I cook.  I taste and then add spices and this is also how my husband cooks.. they don't use measuring spoons or cups... they add a little, taste and then add more if needed.  I have only given you a guideline as I believe everyone's taste is different and a recipe should be used as a guideline to make the creation your own.
   I hope you enjoy this.... Until next time... Marlys



Tomato Blog Hop


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spinach and Spaghetti Squash Quiche

 No, once again it isn't an African meal.... I need to get back to blogging about African cooking but as my menu is small... I need to fill in once in awhile with different things... So here it is different and I also needed to cook up a spaghetti squash that was sitting on my counter.  I found this recipe on but many comments said that it was bland... So after reading through the comments this is what I came up with:

                                                      Spinach and Spaghetti Squash Quiche
1 cup spaghetti squash
1/2 cup spinach - I added a small amount of kale to this also
1 small onion sliced
1/4 cup mushrooms sliced
1 clove garlic minced
1 tsp oil
2 eggs beaten
2 egg whites
12 oz evaporated milk
1/4 cup colby and monterey jack cheese, shredded
1/4 cup romano cheese
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp seasoning salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
small amount of bread crumbs (I used italian bread crumbs)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2.  Pierce spaghetti squash several times.... I used knife to do this and made small slashes around the squash.  Place in microwaveable dish and cook for 10 minutes.  Turn and cook for another 10 minutes.  Set aside to cool.  Once cool to touch, cut lengthwise and remove seeds.  Shred 1 cup of the squash and set in bowl.  You will have lots leftover for another meal....
3.  Place spinach in pot and cover with water.  Bring to boil and remove from heat and drain. Once cool, cut in small pieces.
4.  Place oil in pan, sauteed onion, garlic and mushrooms until soft.  I added onion first and cooked for a few minutes and then added the garlic and mushrooms.
5. In bowl add the spaghetti squash, spinach and onion mixture.  Stir in egg whites, beaten eggs, evaporated milk, cheese, and spices. Stir until well combined.
6.  Spray 9 inch pie plate or quiche pan with cooking spray.  Sprinkle bread crumbs to bottom of dish.  Pour in egg mixture.
7.  Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes or until toothpick comes clean.  Allow to cool for about 10 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  I preferred it at room temperature.

And if you are a food blogger..... Take pictures throughout the recipe and at the end...

Bring Spinach and Kale to a boil.  Drain and set aside.

                                     mince garlic

slice mushrooms

Sauteing onions, garlic and mushrooms

cut spinach and kale in small pieces

     shredded spaghetti squash and cut spinach

crumbs to bottom of pan

   ready to go in oven..

and here is your piece.  Enjoy!

I thought this had lots of flavor and will certainly enjoy the leftovers, unless you would like to come and have some....  Now to figure out what to do with the leftover spaghetti squash...
            Till next time...  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Goat soup you say......

   The first time I was in Togo was in 2005 and during this time I was able to go to an African Market which was near my husband's home town... although I  didn't know at the time as I hadn't met him yet.  As we were walking through the market I saw many people eating  soup from a vendor.  So, being curious I wanted to check out what they were eating.  To my dismay, the soup had the goat's head in it.  I am not one to eat anything with the head in the food or attached.  I have been known to send back food that I have ordered to have the head  cut off or also have covered up the head with a napkin as I am eating.  I just can't eat something that is staring at me....

Needless to say my first experience with goat soup wasn't a truly pleasant one.  I have though, over the years, come to love it.  It is probably one of my favorite soups.

                                                      Goat Soup
1/ 2 lb to 1 lb goat meat
1 tsp salt
1 tablespoon garlic and ginger paste ( I buy this at an African Market)
1/8 cup of onions or to taste
    Place all these ingredients in large pot.  Add water to just cover the meat and boil for 1 - 1 1/2 hours.  I do sometimes boil the meat longer if it is old as that will  make the meat tender.
 2-3 cups water
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 roma tomatoes,
1/4 cup onion
1 clove of garlic
2 tsp anise
1 tsp ginger - fresh if you have
salt to taste
hot pepper to taste.
    Once the meat has finished it first boil, add 2 -3 cups of water and 1 tbsp tomato paste (if you would like a darker soup, add more tomato paste).  Bring to a boil.  At this time I take out my mortar and pestle and grind the tomatoes and onions.  Add to soup, continuing to boil .  Next I grind the garlic, anise and ginger and add to soup.  Bring to a rolling boil.  Once the soup has boiled for about 10 minutes or so, I will taste it and add salt.  The salt will bring out the flavor of the other spices but if you still need more flavor add more garlic, anise and ginger to taste.  Prior to serving I add the hot pepper and also add more onions.  Serve with rice or fufu.
     The rice is served on the side and a spoonful of rice is dipped into the soup and eaten.  I will write about fufu for those of you that don't know what it is at a later date.
soup boiling

As I have many pictures of Togo, I am going to leave you with some of the market pictures I took on my first trip there in 2005.
the soup market

I thought this lady was beautiful, took the picture more because
of her then the things she was selling.
This was the kettle that the soup was in
Til next time, enjoy and happy eating..... Marlys


Monday, April 23, 2012

Our favorite breakfast food

   Today as I was making breakfast, I thought why not write a post about our favorite breakfast food... It is not African by any means but I didn't say everything would be African did I?  So as I sit here drinking my morning chai, I will try to write a post that hopefully will have some meaning to it.
    I grew up knowing that breakfast was the most important meal of the day, my mother always had breakfast ready for us.... but she made PORRIDGE! (hot cereal to my American friends).  I hated porridge and felt that the benefits of not eating breakfast outweighed the benefits of eating breakfast.... and also when I did have to eat porridge I had so much sugar on it that it probably just gave me more cavities.  I ate a spoonful of porridge with at least 2 spoonfuls of brown sugar, so not very healthy in my book.... So, what did I do ~~ I stayed in bed, and jumping out just in enough time to get ready for school and leave.. with no breakfast.  My poor mother, she tried but she was from the era that breakfast needed to stick to your bones and living through a Saskatchewan winter~ ~ you need good hot porridge to stick to those bones. So I was never one to eat breakfast, until after I got married.
     After I got married, I started flipping through cookbooks to try and figure out what would be good for breakfast.  One weekend, we had company so as my husband and I were getting up we were trying to decide what to make them... pancakes...NO... waffles...NO..... eggs....NO.  By the way the no's were coming from my DH.  So down I went to grab my cookbooks and I came across a recipe for oven pancakes.  I thought, this sounds good and yes, I do make new recipes for company It turned out delicious and has been a staple breakfast food for us. Over the last couple of years I have tried many different things when I have made them, especially with the cooking time as we like ours really crispy and each time I make them they turn out just a slight bit different..but they are very easy to make.

                                                         OVEN PANCAKES
1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
3/4 cup milk ~~ at Christmas time I use a half and half mixture with eggnog
3/4 cup flour
2 eggs
pinch of salt

Melt butter and spread in 9X13 baking pan ( I use a glass one and think it works better).  Mix together  the rest of the ingredients and pour into pan.
Place in cold oven and turn heat to 450 degrees.  Cook for 15 minutes.  Turn down heat to 350 degrees and cook for another 20 minutes.  Eat with toppings of choice.  We eat ours with powdered sugar (or icing sugar as this Canadian's would say) and fresh fruit.

I found this recipe in a church cookbook and it is pretty easy.  A couple of tricks I have learnt... I do preheat my oven slightly -- as I have a gas oven, I find that it does turn out better to turn the oven while I am mixing the batter.  I also mix the batter with a spoon just so everything is mixed.  After the last 20 minutes of cooking, I turn off the oven leaving the oven pancake in until it is crisp.  We love it when it is crisp, so I just leave it in as I am getting everything else ready.  I have also left it in for a few more minutes at 350 degrees if it isn't as brown as I would like it.  

  Hope you enjoy this... til next time.  Marlys


Friday, April 13, 2012

How it all started.....

A little bit African, this started on the day I married my husband in Togo, Africa.  As I am a Canadian, the only way we could get married was to do it in Africa and then I would have to petition my husband to join me here in the United States... So on April 15th, 2006, we were married in Lome, Africa in a civil ceremony (our legal wedding).  On April 19th we had our religious ceremony and after this ceremony we donned the traditional garb that a couple would wear for a tradition ceremony.  The picture of us is when we wore the traditional garments and beads which were placed on me by my husband's family. The girl beside me is my sister-in-law (isn't see beautiful?).

During the six weeks that I spent in Togo with my husband, I did most of the cooking in the apartment we rented on a small camp stove.  My husband called my kitchen "quick and sweet" as most of the food I prepared was sweet compared to his standards and everything was made fast... I did watch as my mother and sister-in-laws make their traditional foods but because of the language barrier, was only able to watch.  It didn't look easy and I didn't ever think that I would learn to do it... Once my husband arrived here in the states,  he has taught me how to cook properly.. although I still won't pound fufu or make Akume (corn porridge) as I just can't get it right... or maybe I don't want to ;-) but mainly because it is much too hard and I am a wimp by nature.  I can say that I do try, but I last for about a minute before I am played out . Maybe before I die, I will be able to pound fufu or make Akume to the right consistency.  But one thing I can say is that I do like my conveniences ~~ like a stove, not sure if I would want to start a fire every time I need to eat.

I will leave you  with pictures of preparing food in Africa and how my journey first began....

What I cooked on in our apartment in Lome.
As you can see it was hot by my red face. Oh, by
the way the shelf that the stove is on has a bit of a lean
but that will be a story for another time.

cooking over an open fire.
carrying water
Pounding yams to make into fufu
pounding fufu... I am not doing it correctly!