What’s for Dinner? Baked Cod

Quick ‘n’ Easy!

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Baked Cod, it’s delicious and in season, fresh from Alaska. Don’t worry, your dinner won’t actually smell like that.

Did you know that the more pungent (read, fishy) fish are actually better for you?  Yup, Heard it on Fresh Air. And I trust Terry Gross.

So, this dish is so easy you don’t even need a recipe.  You will cook this in a foil packet in the oven (or on a grill if you’re like that).

Place your Cod filets in foil.

Drizzle with olive oil and lemon (or lime) juice, sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika, thyme.

Wrap up your foil with space on top and an opening for steam.

Bake at 400 Degrees F for 15-20mins. Or on the grill.

Serve with some vegetables and a starch (in my case, mac ‘n’ cheese with broccoli and carrots mixed in.)

Bon Apetit.

Cheesecake Chocolate Chip Cookie Bar

Oh. My

This one’s for the grown ‘n’ sexy only, cuz  Oh. My.

I’m not usually one for over the top sweets. I don’t usually like my sugar with another side of sugar. The whole cake pop craze missed me.

But I must say, I fell hard for this concoction right here.

pinpic

pinpic

I came across the recipe on pinterest, which led me here, to the recipe. It is important to note that this is not my creation, but I’m reposting the recipe for my FB friends who have asked for it.

What I love the most is that despite it’s richness, it’s is not overly sweet. It doesn’t have that sugar ‘bite’ that I despise in sweets. The flavor is more complex and layered, instead of just ‘sweet’, probably owing to the cream cheese.

I added Macadamia nuts because, to me a chocolate chip cookie is not complete without nuts. And I love Macadamia nuts. A lot. Even though they’re crazy expensive. And fattening.

So here’s the recipe:[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:1]

Traditional Yoruba (Nigerian) Cooking Part VII – Putting it all together

So there you have it folks!

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We just made our introductory foray into cooking Traditional Nigerian food. I hope that it was clear and easy to follow. If not, contact me and I’ll be happy to help.

So now that I’ve outlined the different steps in (hopefully) short and easy to understand steps, you may be wondering, how do you put it all together and cook everything simultaneously? Well, it’s the same well-choreographed dance of cooking any other big meal (think thanksgiving). You just have to know what to start with, where to go next, and so on and so forth.

Here is the order that I prep the dishes on Stew-making day:

1. Prep the meats – par boil the meats. While the meats cook on the stove…
2. Prep the sauce – blend the tomatoes, onions peppers in the blender.
3. Cook the Stew – After the meats go in the oven, I pour the tomato sauce mixture into the remaining chicken broth, then start to cook the sauce.
4. Prep the Okra – while the Stew cooks on the stove.
5. Add the meats – when the Stew has cooked down and flavors have melded together.
6. Cook the okra – while the meats stew in the the Stew and finally…
7. Make the Iyan/Pounded Yam – the last step.

This way, everything is ready to go at approximately the same time, if you are planning on eating the Iyan the same day you cook the Stew.  It may seem like a lot for one meal, but remember, the Stews (both the Okra and the Pepper Stew) will last more than one meal. The next time you get a hankering for some Iyan, the Iyan  is all you have to make.

I hope that this series was helpful, informative and gets you cooking, African style! Please contact me if you have any questions.  In case you missed any parts of the post, here they are:

Please subscribe to this blog here so you don’t miss a post!

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: The Ingredients/Shopping List
Part 3: Prepping the meats
Part 4: Making the Stew/Obe Ata
Part 5: Okra Stew!
Part 6: The Pounded Yam (Iyan)
Part 7: Putting it all together/Conclusion

Yoruba Nigerian Cooking Part VI – The Iyan Pounded Yam with a video!

And so we’ve arrived at the main event…the Iyan, or Pounded Yam.

So, a little background on Iyan.

Iyan Pounded Yam.

Iyan Pounded Yam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traditional Iyan is made of cooked yam pounded into a solid mass using a mortar and pestle.

img courtesy of nigerianokrasoup.wordpress.com

img courtesy of nigerianokrasoup.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t worry, we won’t be working this hard.

Pounded Yam has come a looong way since I grew up making and eating it in Nigeria. It is now widely available in a much easier to prepare powder form. The powder is made of Dried ground yam. The traditional way is of course the best, but that’s a story for another day.  

Today we will be making the powdered form, in the interest of simplicity.

Ingredients

1 C Iyan Powder. (I use the Ola-Ola brand)
3 C Water

Special  Tools:

You will need a rounded bamboo or wooden spoon or spatula for mixing.

spatula

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get the sturdiest version you can find, for it will be getting quite a workout.

You will also need a plastic bowl scraper for portioning the Iyan when it is done.

scraper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Method

1. Set aside the Iyan powder in a bowl.

2. In a saucepan, bring water to a low boil, then turn off the heat.

3. Quickly, but gradually add the Iyan powder to the water while stirring rapidly. Don’t worry about the lumps that will form. They will smooth out as you add more powder and stir.

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add your powder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is important not to add too much powder as it will swell up with cooking.

3. Continue to mix and stir until the mass is smooth and elastic. Sprinkle a little bit of cold water over it and give a final stir, then Plate.

That’s it! Wait, wha? Still don’t get it? Here’s a quick video I made to show you how to make it. I hope it helps.

Please subscribe to this blog here so you don’t miss a post!

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: The Ingredients/Shopping List
Part 3: Prepping the meats
Part 4: Making the Stew/Obe Ata
Part 5: Okra Stew!
Part 6: The Pounded Yam (Iyan)
Part 7: Putting it all together/Conclusion

Traditional Yoruba (Nigerian) Cooking Part V – The Okra Stew

The Stew portion of the traditional Yoruba meal is a two-parter, with each part having it’s own function. In the previous posts we’ve  made the Pepper Stew, in which your meats are cooked. We will now make the second part, the Okro (or as known in America, Okra) stew.  Compared to the pepper stew, Okra stew is very simple and quick to prepare.

If you’ve had any experience with Okra you will know that it has a slightly slimy texture. People either love or hate that about Okra. It is this same property that makes it an important part of this meal. The Okra stew we will be making today serves as a kind of lubricant for getting the Pounded Yam meal down your throat. Pounded yam (as you will see in the next post) is quite sticky. If you ate it by itself it would stick to your throat, which could be a little uncomfortable. The Okra stew rectifies this, in addition to it’s own unique flavor.

Depending on your locale, fresh Okra could be hard to find, but I find that most grocery stores carry frozen Okra. Today we will use the frozen Okra in this stew. I will show how to use the fresh Okra in a future post.
There is one traditional Nigerian condiment that is commonly used in Okra stew that I have omitted because I can’t find it locally. It’s Yoruba name is Iru. It’s known in english as fermented locust bean. To me it gives off a kind of Umami flavor found in indigenous asian foods. I must warn you that Iru  is a very PUNGENT condiment. In other words, the stuff stinks to high heaven, and is not for everyone. But boy oh boy, it takes your Okra to the next level of deliciousness.

Ingredients

12 oz bag frozen cut Okra
1 tsp salt
1 C water
1/2 Tbsp dried shrimp
1 bouillion cube

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African Style Dried Shrimp (found in an African grocery store)

Method

1. Chop down  the frozen okra in a food processor into a slightly rough consistency, being careful not to over-pulverize.

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2. Place the water, salt, dried shrimp and bouillon cube in a small saucepan, and bring to a low boil.

3. Once the water starts to boil, turn down the heat and add the chopped okra.  Cook on low heat for approximately 3-5 minutes, or until tender to the bite.  Stir periodically to keep from boiling over.

Set aside until ready to serve with the rest of the meal.

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That is it! Wasn’t that easy?

On monday, we will be making the main event, the Iyan  (pounded yam).

Please subscribe to this blog here so you don’t miss a post!

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: The Ingredients/Shopping List
Part 3: Prepping the meats
Part 4: Making the Stew/Obe Ata
Part 5: Okra Stew!
Part 6: The Pounded Yam (Iyan)
Part 7: Putting it all together/Conclusion

Traditional Nigerian (Yoruba) Cooking Part IV – The Sauce–Obe Ata

Now we’re getting somewhere!

The Stew, or Obe Ata is the backbone of this meal. You could skip the Okra if you really needed to (and I can’t imagine why you’d want to), but you definitely can’t skip the Stew. The stew is where all gorgeous the flavor is concentrated.

Obe Ata  literally means Pepper Soup or Pepper Stew. However, Obe Ata is heavily tomato based. It is definitely NOT like spaghetti sauce, tomato soup or anything else that’s heavily tomato based. It has a more complex flavor due to the slow cooking and the inclusion of the broth from the meat prep.

Here’s a little chemistry lesson: Cooking tomato sauce with protein neutralizes the acids and lends it a mellow flavor. In return, the acids further tenderize the meats. It’s a win-win.

You’re welcome

So, here’s what you need for the stew:

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Ingredients:

4 medium Tomatoes cut up
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 sweet red pepper (not pictured) cut up
1 medium onion cut up
1 habanero pepper, cut up, seeds discarded (or 1 teaspon pepper flakes)
***habanero is of THE hottest peppers, so handle with care.***
1 Tbsp palm oil
1 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil.

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Method

1. Cut up and place all ingredients except the oils in a blender. Blend to a fine puree. Blend in 2 batches if needed. Set aside.

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2. Add the oils and the pureed tomato mixture to the chicken broth from the meat prep.

Bring to a rolling boil, then turn down and simmer on low heat.

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3. Continue to simmer until the stew has thickened a bit (approximately 30 minutes). Taste and add a little more salt you’d like.

4. Once the sauce has thickened a bit, it’s time to add the meats that have been dried in the oven.

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5. Cook for another 5-10 minutes to allow the meats to soak up the stew.  Set aside until ready to serve.

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Making the stew is the bulk of the work for this mean. Luckily once it’s made the stew can be kept in the fridge up to 1 week after cooking, and used for several meals. To reheat, I suggest scooping out what will be used for one meal, in order not to further break down the meats.

So now the stew is done, it’s time to make the Okra Stew!

Please subscribe to this blog here so you don’t miss a post!

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: The Ingredients/Shopping List
Part 3: Prepping the meats
Part 4: Making the Stew/Obe Ata
Part 5: Okra Stew!
Part 6: The Pounded Yam (Iyan)
Part 7: Putting it all together/Conclusion

Traditional Yoruba (Nigerian) Cooking–Part III–Prep The Meats

So, let’s get down to brass tacks, it’s time to prep the meats!

You can use any meat or combination of meats of your choice. I am using 2 Ibs of Chicken thighs and drumsticks, ad 2 Ibs of cubed Goat meat, because I loves me some goat!

Note: I f you are cooking Goat meat I suggest cooking it separate from the chicken.

Here’s why.

Goat has a distinct musky flavor and can be quite fatty. I prefer to let the fat render out during the cooking process, then I discard the broth.  I do not want the extra fat/cholesterol and musk in my stew. That’s just me.

Ingredients:

2Ibs of Chicken or 2Ibs of Goat: (The spice mixture is the same for both meats, but double if doing only one kind of meat)
The spice mixture is the same for both meats.
1/2 Medium Onion, sliced thinly.
2 Bouillon cubes (maggi cubes’ target=_blank>Maggi cubes, or any other variety)
1/2 Tbsp Thyme
1 Tbsp Jamaican Curry powder
Salt to taste

Method:

1. Prep the Meats by removing and discarding any unwanted parts such as skins and excess fats. Rinse the meats thoroughly. Place the meats a sauce pan and cover with water up to approximately 1 inch over the meats.

2. Add the sliced Onions, spices, bouillion cubes and salt to taste.

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3. Cook the meats on medium high heat. Chicken: Boil for 20 mins. Goat: Boil for 40mins.

4. While the meats cook, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the meats from the broth and place in a lined cookie sheet. **Reserve the chicken broth for the stew***
The boiled meats should look like this:

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The cooked Goat.

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The cooked Chicken

4. Time to dry the meat in the oven. This step is what takes your meats to the next level of flavor greatness. Drying further cooks the meats and condenses the flavor. Place the meats in the preheated oven and bake for approximately 30-45mins.

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Dried Goat

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Dried Chicken

This concludes the Meat Prep. At this point you can bag and freeze the meats for another day.
Sometimes I cook extra so I can skip the meat prep the next time I want to make some stew.

Next stop, we’ll work on the sauce portion of the stew.

Please subscribe to this blog here so you don’t miss a post!

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: The Ingredients/Shopping List
Part 3: Prepping the meats 
Part 4: Making the Stew/Obe Ata
Part 5: Okra Stew!
Part 6: The Pounded Yam (Iyan)
Part 7: Putting it all together/Conclusion