Food in the news!

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# Nigeria to establish two prison farms in Benue

The Assistant Controller-General, Zone H, which comprises Benue, Kogi, Nassarawa and Plateau, Samuel Agidi, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Makurdi. Mr. Agidi said the establishment of the farms would enhance food 

http://premiumtimesng.com/news/139282-nigeria-to-establish-two-prison-farms-in-benue.html

# In preparation for Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, street chefs are stewing up a food revolution…

Inspired by the exotic fast food served on street corners around the world from New York to Hanoi and Bombay or Marrakech, they plan to change Glasgow’s deep-fried culinary reputation forever. So forget greasy burgers and, instead, imagine pulled pork 

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/lifestyle/food-drink/food-revolution-stewing-street-chefs-1984428

# Food Network won’t renew Paula Deen’s contract

Celebrity chef Paula Deen’s contract with the Food Network will not be renewed, the network said Friday, the latest fallout over revelations that she admitted to using a racial epithet in the past. 

http://www.wlky.com/news/entertainment/food-network-says-it-wont-renew-paula-deens-contract/-/9365716/20667020/-/o5pvik/-/index.html

# Food shortages forecast after militants force Nigerian farmers to flee

Serious food shortages are expected across the region, said Borno state agriculture commission Usman Zannah, from crop failures after farmers fled the area around New Marte. The wheat and rice irrigation project in the area began last year with the …

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2013/06/21/Food-shortages-forecast-after-militants-force-Nigerian-farmers-to-flee/UPI-95461371832486/

 

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Fluffy pancakes and Lime sauce with Mantsar drink.

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Pancakes aka flapjacks are always delightful for breakfast. Instead of the everyday tea and bread, pancakes are special because they are like a cross between cake and bread, 2 in 1 goodness.

From the scrumptious smell in the pan to the scrummy goodness in your mouth, we all love pancakes. Growing up, I remember Tuesdays were Pancake Day and my mum taught us a song they used to sing in her secondary school. Can’t quite remember the words but it was like,

“Pancake seller, pancake seller,

now is time to fry them.

For today is Sunday,

then tomorrow’s Monday.

Tuesday again is pancake’s day

we dance our cares away.”

There are different kinds of pancakes, from flat pancakes, fluffy pancakes to Crepes Suzette. You could have sweet pancakes or savoury pancakes. They could go with sausages, minced meat, cheese, jam, honey, maple syrup, lemon juice, sugar, vegetables, etc. 

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Well I decided to make a yummy breakfast of pancakes and a drink. As seen from the picture, the meal was so colourful from the crockery to the smashing colour of the tomato against the back drop of the Mantsar. I used tomato slices for the garniture because tomatoes (albeit such wonderful berries) have been snubbed so much that when we see tomato, we see plain old stew. Breakfast was a hit; everyone especially liked how the warm lemon sauce went well with the ‘cakes.

The meal was basically fluffy pancakes drizzled with lemon sauce and a drink of mango juice seasoned with tsamiya juice. Mangoes are in season now; they are everywhere in your face and so I decided to put them to good use. You should flaunt them in different ways from juice to smoothies, jam to chutney, salsas to salads. Don’t be left behind.

On the other hand I love the name tsamiya (aka tamarind). Wow! How many times do you get “s” following “t” in a word, it sounds so outlandish and hence I named the drink Mantsar. “Tsami” means sour in Hausa and like the name suggests, tsamiya is real sour but a delightful, flavoursome sour I must say. In addition it has a rich brown colour as you can see from the picture below. 

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Instead of making the regular flat pancakes I made them fluffy and raised like Masa (a hausa snack that is eaten with Suya). This you do by carefully separating the egg yolk from the egg whites and then whisking the egg whites till they form a soft peak when the whisk is raised. By the way can anybody teach me how to make Masa, I’ve been searching forever for a comprehensive recipe.

Now to the recipe sorry I didn’t put complete measurements, I basically cooked from the heart *smiles* feel free to do the same:

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What you need:

Pancakes:

Flour

Sugar

Eggs separated

Milk

Water

Vegetable oil

Lime sauce:

½ cup of sugar

1 tablespoon of corn flour

A pinch of salt

1 cup of boiling water

Lime juice (1 big lime)

Rind of 1 big Lime

¾ teaspoon of butter

Mantsar:

Mangoes

Tsamiya

Sugar

Water

Tomato slices

How it’s made:

Pancakes:

  • Combine all the dry ingredients and mix well.
  • Add the egg yolks, milk and little water to make a thick batter.
  • Whisk the egg whites till it forms a peak when the whisk is raised.
  • Gently fold in the egg whites into the batter so that the air is not lost.
  • Spooning in a little at a time, fry the pancakes with little oil on low heat.
  • Flip when one side is done and cook the other side.
  • Garnish with a slice of lime.

Lime sauce:

  • Mix sugar, corn flour and salt.
  • Slowly add boiling water while stirring. Bring to boil.
  • Reduce heat and cook till thickened and clear say 15 minutes.
  • Stir in lime juice and rind.
  • Add butter.
  • Should be served warm, drizzled over pancakes.

Mantsar:

  • Peel the mangoes and cut off the flesh from the seed.
  • Pop the flesh into the blender add a little water and run till very smooth.
  • Sieve to remove the pulp fibers.
  • Wash some tsamiya and place in a pot with water.
  • Boil for about 20 minutes maintaining the level of the water.
  • Sieve this tsamiya juice and add to the mango juice.
  • Sweeten to taste and chill.
  • Pour in a glass and garnish with a pretty slice of tomato.
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Curry 101

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Welcome to introduction to Curry 101. This includes basics you should know about Indian curries and a Curry recipe. Firstly curry does not refer to the curry powder but it actually means “sauce” in Tamil (a south Indian language) and they are used to eat rice, naan bread or other type of food. There are different kinds of curries and not all of them are even yellow like the “curry powder” we know. Now instead of using the ready-made curry powder to make a curry, you need to combine your own spices available from the vast array of Indian spices. Theses spices are best bought whole and ground when needed. They can also be toasted before grinding or some can even be put whole in the food for that extra zing. But hey! even if you get them already ground, it’s better to have that than none at all. Many thanks to my Pakistani flat-mate who gave me this list of spices and the Curry recipe (in fact I named the curry after her). For a basic combo, you can combine the first 8 spices and grind to use for cooking curries:

  1. Turmeric powder
  2. Coriander seed
  3. Black pepper
  4. Cumin
  5. Cloves
  6. Green cardamom
  7. Black cardamom
  8. Cinnamon
  9. Red chili powder
  10. Star aniseed (star anise)
  11. Fenugreek
  12. Fennel
  13. Mace

Other ingredients popular in curries include:

  • Garlic
  • Fresh ginger
  • Coriander leaves
  • Tamarind (called “tsamiya” in hausa)
  • Saffron
  • Yoghurt or coconut milk as liquid base.
  • Ghee (clarified butter) which serves as the oil.
  • Thickener: cashew nut paste, tomato or ground onions.
  • Meat: (for non-vegetarian curry), lamb or chicken is commonly used.

Sehar’s curry with basmati rice and salsa

Now for the recipe I made some slight modifications. Instead of buying all the spices I used a Paneer masala called Everest® Kitchen King Masala which I bought from Park ‘n’ Shop. Masala just means “spice mix” in Hindi so to buy your own masala, just read the ingredients and see if it contains what you need. I chose this because it had all the spices I needed. In addition I didn’t have coriander leaves for garnishing so instead I made a Salsa.

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Ingredients: Sehar’s curry

  • Onions
  • Oil
  • Chicken breast cut in chunks.
  • Garlic and ginger, grated.
  • Salt
  • Knorr® cubes
  • Red chili powder
  • Everest® masala (at least should contain coriander powder and turmeric powder)
  • Green cardamom
  • Yoghurt (thick and unsweetened)
  • Tomatoes
  • Cashew nut paste (ground cashew nut mixed with water)
  • Coriander leaves

Basmati rice:

  • Basmati rice
  • Water
  • Salt (optional)

Salsa:

  • Tomato seeded and chopped
  • Parsley chopped
  • Cashew nuts, hand broken.
  • Mango (non-fibrous), chopped.
  • Vinegar
  • Veg oil
  • Black pepper
  • A rumour of cinnamon.
  • Red onions, chopped.

Procedure: For curry:

  • Take some onions and cut them into ‘D’ shape.
  • In a thick saucepan, put some oil and fry these onions until they are light brown. Strain them from the oil and allow them to cool.
  • In the same oil (add more if needed), put chicken, ginger and garlic then fry till the chicken is brown on the outside.
  • Blend fried onions and tomato. You could use a little yoghurt to ease the blending.
  • Pour this into the chicken, add remaining yoghurt then season with the salt, chili powder, stock cubes and masala.
  • Cook until chicken is tender and oil comes to the top.
  • At this point add the cashew nut paste.
  • Cook for 2 minutes and its ready.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves.

For Basmati rice:

  • Cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Add salt if needed.

For Salsa:

  • Combine the vegetables and nuts.
  • Add the dressings and seasoning.
  • Mix delicately.
  • Use as border garniture for the rice and curry.

Know thy Pasta

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Pasta, originally a food from Italy is now much loved all over the world. This is because it’s quick and easy to cook. Pasta is basically made from wheat flour and so has a neutral taste which lends it the ability of going well with a myriad of flavors and sauces. This attribute which it has in addition to foods like potatoes, bread or rice, makes it a very good staple food.

It is a good source of carbohydrate that is low in fat but also contains proteins. For those of us out there that are “fat” conscious, good news because pasta is not fattening. It only becomes fattening when the sauces or condiments you use for them are.

As cooking goes, pasta is best cooked “al dente” i.e. with a little bite; soft but not soggy. They can go with almost any condiments but these top the list for me: lots of garlic, minced meat, smoky bacon, baylis (yes, baylis), cheese or cream.

Pasta can grouped in different categories but for ease of understanding mine will be forms, sizes, colours/flavours and shapes. Others include long, short, flat, stuffed and pastas for soups:

Forms:

There are the fresh and dry. The fresh include the stuffed pasta and can be made at home and shaped with cutters, a press or manually. This can then be cooked immediately or stored in the freezer till ready to use. The dry is the most common type available in stores. These can be stored in their packets or air tight containers for many months.

You also have the plain and egg pasta. The plain is basically made just from flour while the egg as the name implies has egg added to it. Both are yummy however the advantages of the egg over the plain is that they are more nutritious, have a better/delicate texture and a richer flavor.

Sizes:

These range from small to large. The large ones include the popular lasagna which is baked and tubular cannelloni which is good for stuffing. The small ones include the alphabet-shaped “alfabeti”and rice-shaped “risi” which are both good for soups and the Couscous.

Colours and flavours:

These pasta contain ingredients that change the colours and flavours. They include brown pasta which is coloured by using whole wheat or chocolate, green by spinach or basil, red or pink by tomato or beetroot, yellow by saffron and black pasta by ink gotten from squid, octopus or cuttlefish.

Shapes: This is the most interesting category as they are very appealing to the eye. There are hundreds of shapes out there but I will stick to the top ten.

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1.     Spaghetti: This is the most popular, so much so that you could, “think pasta and think spaghetti.” From spaghetti Bolognese to spaghetti carbonara and everything in between, spaghetti sure is the king of the pack. These are thin and long pasta that in a bunch resemble a broom. Growing up I remember that some people couldn’t pronounce it well and instead called it “super-ghetti.” I don’t blame them as it’s super indeed. Lol. Some people break it before cooking but I say its best cooked unbroken so that you can dip and swirl your fork around it delightfully when eating. In Nigeria, there is a local spaghetti made by the Hausa people, called “Talia”. I must say kudos to them for giving us our own Nigerian indigenous spaghetti

spaghetti

2. Noodles: Even though this is traditionally an Oriental food with the Chinese name; “mein”, it is a form of pasta. Whether instant, fresh, dried or in different shapes and colours, they are basically curly looking like a head of jheri curls.instant-noodles7

3. Macaroni: Say mac and cheese and the cameras go flash! These pasta are curved, little, tubular shapes that look like little elbows. They are most popular in the dish; macaroni and cheese however they can be cooked with any other ingredients.macaroni pasta

4. Lasagne: I first took note of Lasagne in “Friends” (the hit series) when Monica was saying some stuff about it and then I got to eat it many years later and I must say it’s awesome. These are flat sheets of pasta that are cooked by layering them with cheese and a tomato based minced meat sauce. From the exotic sounding name to the pretty (mostly) transparent dishes in which they are baked, Lasagne is it any day for me. And in case you are wondering, Lasagne is plural while Lasagna is singular.lasagne pasta

5. Couscous: You might not know but this is a form of pasta made from semolina that comes already steamed and so all you have to do is soak it in hot water for a few minutes, somehow like our very own Eba. Native to North Africa and actually their National dish, they appear as fine grains that look like acha or quinoa.

cous cous pasta

6.  Ravioli: This is the most popular stuffed pasta. They come in squares but also in rounds. The stuffing which are ground vary and could be meat, fish, egg, cheese, vegetables, you name it. It is then boiled in water and served with a sauce. ravioli-1

7. Fusili:  This is spiral in shape like a corkscrew and always makes a very dainty dish because it looks very elegant. So boyfys and hubbys note that a dish of this (made by you!) will wow your significant other. In addition to spaghetti and macaroni they are the most popular pasta you can find in Nigeria.

Fusilli_pasta

8. Penne: This is tubular and looks like rigatoni except that the edges are slanted. They are available as smooth or ridged and the very good thing about this pasta is that since it is tubular, it collects sauces and so makes for juicy pasta dishes.penne pasta

9. Farfalle: This is bow or butterfly shaped. They sometimes come in tri-colours (pink, green and plain) in the same pack making for a very pretty presentation. A meal of this would be good temptation for little girls who don’t like eating.farfalle

10. Linguine: This is the sister of spaghetti as they are both long however linguine is flat and rectangular unlike spaghetti which is round and cylindrical. It can be cooked like spaghetti however the sauce should be thicker so that it can cling to its strands.011-linguine

The list goes on but others include: Cannelloni (big and tubular), rigatoni (small and tubular), conchiglie (shells), tortellini (little pies), cappelletti (little hats), risi (rice-shaped), alfabeti (alphabets), tubetti (little tubes) ruotti (little wheels) and farfalline (little bows).

Armed with this arsenal of information, I’m sure the sky is your limit in pasta cuisine so in the words of my Italian brothers I sign out with Bon appetito : )