Saturday, 26 October 2013

Beef Lasagne







My older sis lived in Italy with her family for a long time and her mother-in-law made sure she taught her every Italian dish known to man. The first time I had lasagne at my sister's I was pleasantly surprised at the rush of creamy cheesy flavour and the herbal fullness of my sisters lasagne and made up my mind I would have a go at preparing mine one day.  Earlier this month on one of my many grocery shopping trips, I was kinda surprised to find lasagne sheets in Nigeria and remembered my lasagne ambition, I picked up a pack and started planning my recipe.  Last Sunday morning, ignoring Mr. Man's exaggerated eye rolls and loud 'hmmmmphs' I decided to try my hands at making it.  Just as I was about to start I remembered my sisters recipe called for parmesan cheese and I didn't have any, but luckily for me I had some cheddar cheese so I decided to use that instead.  Mr. Man took one bite of his plate and I can never forget the way his eyes lit up (he's a foodie and can be quite opinionated when it comes to rating food he has never tried) and he gave it a good 10/10! Success!

Ingredients

2 teaspoon olive oil

1 large onion (chopped)

2 crushed garlic cloves

600g beef mince

1/2 cup red wine

500g bottle of tomato pasta sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

250g packet of dried lasagne pasta sheets

2 cups of Bechamel sauce or white sauce (learn to make yours HERE)

2 cups of grated Cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon Oregano (optional) 

Salt

Pepper




METHOD

1.  Heat oil in a frying or saucepan over medium heat and add chopped onions and garlic and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add you minced meat and with a wooden spoon crush the lumped up meat against the sides or bottom of your cooking vessel to loosen them. Cook for 10 minutes while stirring every 3 minutes or so.









 2.  Add sauce, sugar and wine and season with pepper and salt (add oregano spice or any spice of your choice at this point).



3.  With the heat on low, allow to simmer for 30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened


grease or oil spray tin




Lasagne sheets




4.  Preheat oven to 180°C/160°F. Lightly grease a square baking dish.  Spoon some of the mince mixture over the base of dish and arrange the lasange sheets over it, you can carefully break the sheets so it would fit the baking pan. 



5.  Do another layer by adding the minced mixture on the lasagne sheet, use a spoon to level it and drizzle some of the Bechamel/white sauce (learn to make yours HERE) sprinkle some cheddar cheese and layer with lasagne sheets as you did before.  Do like 4 layers in total.








6.  For the topmost layer don't cover with lasagna sheet, just layer with white cream, cheese and a whatever is left of the mince mixture (if nothing is left don't worry). 





7.  Cover baking foil loosely with foil and pop in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until pasta is tender and cheese has melted




         8.  Allow stand for 10 minutes before digging in!



cheesy goodness




Lasagne with red wine (no point saving what's left from your cooking for later)



Going.....



Going......





All gone!



CONFESSION:
After pouring in the 1/2 cup of wine, I took the time to pour myself a liberal amount of red wine, matter of I filled the glass to the brim and got quite boozy.  Who said you have to wait till the end of your cooking to enjoy the rewards?  **Hic***




Thanks for the follows, comments and suggestions.  I've learnt a lot over the past month from you my constant readers and people that have taken the time to teach me a thing or two about my recipes. I want to specially thank all my BBM and Facebook friends for helping me advertise this blog.  


Please take time out to visit my Facebook page and like it!!! (Click HERE!!!!!)



Read, Comment, Follow and (by God!) COOK!!!!


BEX

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Chinese: General Tso's Chicken Sauce with Basmati Rice





Ever wondered how Chinese food is made? Well if you're a diehard Chinese food lover like me you would have at least thought about it once.  I decided to give Chinese cooking a go after I got tired of being ripped off doing takeaways.  My favourite Chinese meal has to be chicken cashew nut followed by Emperor Tso's sauce which is soooo easy to cook that it's outrageous. Oh I forgot, I like sweet and sour sauces as well. Let's get cooking shall we?


INGREDIENTS

3/4 Cup chicken broth

2 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

2 medium onions, chopped

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

500g of uncooked chicken cut into 1 inch cubes

White wine vinegar, corn starch, soy sauce and chicken broth

METHOD

1.  In a medium bowl mix together chicken broth, cornstarch, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar and ginger and whisk together. Set it aside





2.  Heat oil in a frying pan or wok over medium heat, add garlic, onions and pepper and cook for 2 minutes









3.  Add chicken and cook until browned which should take like 8 minute




4.  Add the reserved sauce you made in step 1 and simmer till the sauce thicken and the chicken is cooked through and through

5.  Serve with long grained rice or better still Basmati rice!!!!!








Tuesday, 22 October 2013

African: How to Cook Ogbono Soup (without leaves)






Growing in Jos, Plateau I hated everything that was gooey and slimy (like I said in an earlier post, I'm a fussy eater) and it was just my luck that my grandmother was Yoruba and would happily put a steaming bowl of eba and okra soup mixed with stew in front of me ignoring my cries of 'No! No, Mama No' she would sit in front of me and with a sinister gleam in her eyes daring me not to eat my lunch or dinner.  My mum being more of an ogbono soup person and would try to make me eat my plate of semovita and ogbono soup with a cane in her right hand.  Being forced to eat these soups made me hate them the more. As soon as I was old enough to choose my meals I just stopped eating Ogbono and Okra (Granny never succeeded with Ewedu as even my mum wouldn't touch it).  I still thought them vile till on a trip to London (of all places) my older sis gave me her own version of Ogbono and I was converted.  I still won't touch Ewedu and would only eat seafood okra from Yellow Chilli but it's obvious to everyone that I've made major progress.  I'm not an expert on Ogbono soup cooking but here's my own recipe......





IMPORTANT:  Please endeavour to buy real and fresh Ogbono seeds from the market, I heard that one way to find out if it's the real deal is to break a seed into two bits and rub together, if the sides start drawing then you know it's the real deal.  Also try not to fry your ogbono in the palm oil as it might lose it's draw.



Ingredients


(Depending on the quantity you can increase or scale down on the ingredients as you think fit)


Your choice of beef, goat meat, lamb or tripe (shaki, roundabout etc)

1 cup of ground Ogbono

1/2 cup ground crayfish

2 big spoons of palm oil

1 cup periwinkle (optional)

Snails (optional)

Stockfish (optional)

2 cubes of Maggi or Knorr

1 cup of warm water

Salt (as needed)

Ground Cameroun pepper (as needed)



Method

1.  In a good sized pot cook your choice of meat with onions, maggi and any spice of your choice till soft and set aside

2.  In a another good sized pot pour your palm oil and when it gets a bit hot (make sure it's not hot enough to fry the ogbono) add your Ogbono and meat stock and start stirring making sure no bits of Ogbono are sticking to the bottom of the pot


Mixing Ogbono to the melted palm oil (remember not to fry the ogbono in the oil)
                                             
3.  Stir till it starts drawing (add some big spoonfuls of warm water if you think it's too slimy or mix a little more Ogbono with warm water in a bowl and add to the main pot if its not drawing enough) and add dried ground pepper and crayfish

4.  Cover and cook for 15 minutes on low heat 


Stirring mixture of palm oil, Ogbono and meat stock water


5.  Open pot and stir well gently scrapping the bottom of your pot to make sure no debris is sticking at the bottom, add your meat, stockfish, tripe, snails, periwinkle, Knorr/Maggi and salt give it a good stir and cover pot.  Cook for another 10 minutes on low heat and.....Taadah...you're done! Serve hot with any swallow (Eba, Semo, Pounded yam, Wheat) of your choice!!!!


just added meat, periwinkle, snails etc in the pot



Smells like heaven



Good God!!!


I know Ogbono can be a little tricky but this recipe works for me and I'm sure it'll work for you too!

Send pictures of your creation to ijawgal@yahoo.com

Don't forget to...

Read, Comment, Follow and COOK!!!!!


Bex

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Homemade Pizza (Tomato Sauce, Minced Pork, Smoked Sausages and Mozzarella Cheese)



Tired of your fave pizza order place scrimping on the cheese or ham on your pizza?  Think the pizza maker is being stingy with the tomato sauce? Tired of wondering what goes into your pizza while on a diet?  Well no need to sweat the small stuff.......simply make your own pizza at home!  I decided to surprise Mr. Man on Saturday movie night by whipping up a major meat fest pizza, at the end of the evening we were so full that we practically passed out on the sofa with Alien Vs Predator still playing on the dvd.  

To put your mind at rest, home made pizza is soooooo easy to make.  My major issue is I'm kinda impatient when rolling out pizza dough so I just roll for a bit and stretch it on the pizza pan (it's homemade pizza not a cooking competition. lol).  You don't need too much ingredients and trust me it's fun to make as you and your friends or family can get really creative by experimenting with different toppings.


Ingredients

(For the Pizza Dough)
400 grams all-purpose flour or bread flour (strong flour)

2 teaspoons of instant yeast

2 teaspoons of Sea salt (you can use normal table salt)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

250ml of water


(For the Sauce and Topping)
Lasagne Tomato Sauce (Use any tomato sauce of your choice)

Minced pork 

Sliced smoked sausages

Mozzarella cheese



Method
(Preheat oven to 250C. Brush a pizza baking tray/pan with olive oil)

1.  To make pizza dough, mix the flour, salt, yeast, water and olive oil in a bowl and using the mixer paddle of your mixer for like 15 seconds to mix the ingredients and exchange the mixer paddle for the dough hooks (as pictured below) and mix for 30 seconds or till the mixture forms a ball that is slightly sticky to the tuch, if the mixture is too dry add more 2 tablespoons of water and process for another 10 seconds, if the mixture is too sticky simply add 1 tablespoon of flour till it becomes less sticky.  Sprinkle enough flour on a clean work surface and knead the dough by hand for 15 seconds to form a smooth round dough ball, put the dough in a bowl and cover with a plastic wrap and keep in a warm place for the dough to rise (like 1-2 hours or till the dough doubles in size).  

2.  While your waiting for your dough to rise put some olive oil in a frying pan or skillet and stir fry your raw mince meat adding some powdered garlic or any spice of choice. I stir fried mine under medium heat till I was sure the meat was thoroughly cooked (say 15 minutes). When properly cooked, put aside to cool


(Mixing with a dough hook)


 3.  When the dough is ready, knead again on a floured work surface till smooth and using a rolling pin (or a smooth wine bottle if you don't have a rolling pin) carefully roll out to form a round pizza base that will fit your pizza pan

4.  Put the rolled out pizza dough on your pizza pan and pop in the oven for 6 minutes

Sliced sausages and diced cheese

5.  While you're waiting for the 6 minutes to elapse, dice your cheese and slice your smoked sausages if you haven't done so already.










6.  After the 6 minutes, bring the pizza dough out of the oven wearing your oven mitts or napkin to avoid burning your fingers off (I burnt mine that's why I'm saying this. lol). Allow cool for 3 minutes or so and spread the tomato sauce followed by the minced meat, sliced sausages and diced mozzarella.  Pop back in oven and leave on for 10-12 minutes (or till the cheese melts) and voila! Just like that your pizza is cooked!

7. Enjoy, Enjoy, Enjoy!!!!















Delish and yummy



 Note:  If you prefer a thinner crust simple reduce all the ingredients by half (e.g, instead of 400grams of flour use 200grams, 2 teaspoons of yeast use 1 instead).  If you live in Nigeria please note that most ingredients featured in this blog can be found in Nigeria, send me an email if you're having difficulty sourcing for anything.


Thanks for stopping by please do send pictures of your creations to be featured on this blog.


BEX

Read, Comment, Follow and COOK!!!!

Friday, 11 October 2013

African: Edikiakong Soup


Ekikaikong.....the name in my minds eye conjures images of beautiful nubile virgins of the Efik persuasion dancing with calabashes balanced expertly on their braided hair and their spotless ebony skin gleaming with exotic oils under the African sun....  I remember the first time I tasted this soup at a friend's house, it won me over the moment I dipped my moulded ball of Eba into its leafy lush goodness.  

Edikaikong Soup

If you're reading this and you're Nigerian I'm sure you know what I'm talking about, Edikaikong is from the South East of Nigeria.  I'm not quite sure if it's the Efiks or Ibibios precisely (we non indigenes just call all of them Calabar people) so I'll just call it a Calabar soup (Forgive my ignorance Imabong, Adiagha or Uduak). Enough of the chitchat, lets get-acooking!


INGREDIENTS

6 Handfuls of Waterleaf

4 Handfuls of Ugwu (or frozen spinach)

Meat (as much as you want really, I used like half of the hind leg of a goat)

100g Kpomo

100g 

2 large spoonfuls of palm oil

Crayfish (use as preferred)

Pepper (use as preferred)

2 cups of Periwinkle (I prefer cooking it in its shell, I just chop off the bottom bit off)

4 large snails (de-shelled and cleaned with lime or alum)

Salt (use as preferred)

1 stock cube



METHOD
(The first thing to note when cooking Edikaikong is that you don't need the stock water from your meat or any water at all as the waterleaf supplies all the liquid you'll ever need for the dish.  If you must, make sure the liquid is not more than one or two large cooking spoon of liquid. It's also important to note that since the soup will draw it's liquid from the waterleaf you need more waterleaf than ugwu.  Well now that we've gotten these major facts out of the way let's start cooking shall we?)

1.  In a good sized pot season and boil your meats (beef, tripe, goat meat etc) and stockfish with enough water (if the water dries out before your meat is cooked simply add some warm water into the pot as adding cold water could make your meat toughen).

2.  When the meat is soft enough check that you have as little stock water as possible in the pot before you add palm oil,  if you have too much stock liquid scoop as much as possible out before adding the oil.  For health reasons I use as little palm oil as possible and stir till the oil mixes well with the mixture and add the water leaf. Cover pot and allow cook for 5-7 miuntes 


Add waterleaf and stir


3.  When you open the pot you'll notice that all the waterleaf that you were wondering if you had made a mistake by adding has shrunk and the soup is bubbling along rather merrily. Add your pepper, periwinkle, snails and crayfish, stock cubes (maggi or knorr)  at this point and allow cook covered for like 2-5 minutes then pour in your Ugwu leaf, add salt and allow cook for another 2-5 minutes and you're done!




Sorry the pictures do not follow the method step by step.  It's kinda difficult taking pictures of bubbling pot with the steam in your face and burning your fingers....tough work.




After the cooking and picture taking, I helped myself to the above picture of Edikaikong and a small bowl of eba.  I'm sure my neighbour could hear me sucking away at the periwinkles....not like I cared anyway.  

Don't forget to Read, Comment, Follow and COOK!!

BEX