Red Red – Ghanaian Black Eyed Beans Stew

Believe it or not, I used to hate beans. It was only until a year and a half ago (when I gave up meat) that I started to eat more beans and pulses. It was then that I realised they aren’t so bad.

Red Red is a traditional Ghanaian stew made with black eyed beans and tomatoes. The name comes from the colour of stew as it is normally cooked in palm oil. Red Red is typically served with fried ripe (yellow) plantains.

My parents make this regularly and it was not long ago that I thought ‘I’d better make this myself’. So, I did. If you’re like me, you’d prepare this meal at least a day in advance by soaking the black eyed beans in water overnight. I don’t tend to use canned beans for this, but, if it makes your life easier, definitely go for it!

Make sure you have an apotoyewaa (clay grinding pot/large pestle and mortar) at hand, otherwise, be prepared to finely dice onions and scotch bonnet peppers!

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 500g black eyed beans, soaked in water overnight and washed
  • 200ml palm oil
  • 1 large onion, half sliced, half diced
  • 2 scotch bonnet peppers
  • 400g chopped tomatoes, canned or fresh
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes (I used Knorr)
  • 2 tsp season-all
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 200ml warm water
  • Salt to taste

Method

  1. In a large pot, boil the black eyed beans for 30 – 50 minutes over medium-high heat until soft. Ensure that there is always water in the pot so the beans do not dry up and risk getting burned.
  2. While the beans are boiling, grind up the diced onions and scotch bonnet peppers with a dash of warm water, until you get a smooth mixture.
  3. Heat the palm oil in another pot over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the ground onions and scotch bonnet mixture to the pot and fry off for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Add the sliced onions and garlic and fry until the onions are soft.
  6. Add in the chopped tomatoes, vegetable stock cubes, season all, ginger and paprika. Stir until the stock cubes have dissolved and are fully incorporated. Cover the pot and leave to cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Add the warm water to the pot, stir, then leave to cook for a further 15 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Once the beans are fully cooked, drain them, leaving some liquid behind. Add the beans and the liquid to the tomato stew and stir until will combined. Check for salt/seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  9. The Red Red is now ready to be served – enjoy with some fried ripe plantains and/or rice!

Barcelona Eats: Part 2

Part 1 went off to a mediocre start, but now, it only goes up from here.

The first evening was spent at La Barca del Salamanca – a seafood restaurant – again on Moll de Gregal. This restaurant was recommended to me by my brother, so I trusted it would be a good meal.

La Barca del Salamanca

To start, my friend and I ordered some tomato and olive oil bread, and I got a serving of padron peppers too. The grilled monkfish was ordered for my main course. For drinks, a pitcher of sangria of course!

Tomato and Olive Oil Bread

I’ll keep this one short and snappy: very moreish and because I ate so much, it was a mission finishing my main. We also got olives with this, but I’m not a fan of them.

Rating: 5/5

Padron Peppers

Blistered just right and topped with crunchy sea salt, these padron peppers were bursting with flavour. The portion was large as well which helped me forget about the price!

Rating: 5/5

Grilled Monkfish

This main came with potatoes, asparsgus, tomatoes and a slice of lemon. The monkfish was fresh and the portion overall was large. At this point I was ready to fall asleep and the sangria was not helping. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this dish, it just needed a tad more salt and pepper.

Rating: 4/5

The service was great, however, if you’re not careful, you’ll be convinced to order the whole menu. So, be sure to stand your ground and say no thanks. The night finished with free mini cakes to our surprise and a shot of lemon liqueur. A night well spent, I must say.

I need to go back to this restaurant!

Overall Rating: 5/5

Part 3 will include adventures around Las Ramblas.


On the Bab: A Review

Korean food is becoming more and more popular where I’m from, and for very good reason. I first tried Korean BBQ some years ago with friends. It was a nice and modern restaurant with grills built into the tables. Back then, when I used to eat meat, Korean BBQ was always a great option.

Now that I only go for veggie or fish dishes, it’s a good challenge finding new places to eat. On this occasion, the Korean food spot I went to was called On the Bab.

I visited On the Bab after recommendation from my brother. It’s a Korean restaurant for casual dining. I went there with two friends from university – I hadn’t seen one of them in two years, so it was essentially a reunion. We went to the branch in Old Street, London, around 3pm.

Although this branch does not do table bookings, we were seated straight away, which was quite lucky. It was a small restaurant with tables placed quite close together, typical of a lot of restaurants in this area. I ordered the Gimari Salad, Toppoki and ‘On the Buns’.

Gimari Salad

Price: £4.50

The Gimari Salad is a fried seaweed roll salad. Each roll was nice and crispy and the salad underneath made this starter refreshing. If I could eat these little seaweed rolls all day, I would!

Rating: 5/5

Toppoki

Price: £4.90

My friends swear by Korean rice cakes, and I can see where they’re coming from. This was my first time trying these and I was not disappointed. I had no expectations of the Toppoki, so just went in blind. It was served with a boiled quail egg and a sweet and spicy sauce.

Rating: 4/5

On the Buns – Mushroom Fritter

Price: £8

Two fluffy buns with large mushroom fritters. I had to tackle these with my hands and eat them like burgers. These were so tasty and the textures of soft buns, crispy batter and meaty mushrooms made the experience even better.

Rating: 5/5

On the Bab is a great Korean street food spot and I recommend you visit. I will have to go again to try other vegetarian and pescatarian options. If you’re a meat eater, definitely try their their Korean Fried Chicken, I’ve heard fantastic things about it.

There are four locations all in London: Shoreditch, Covent Garden, St Paul’s and Soho. There will be one opening soon in Paris too!

Overall Rating: 5/5

Location: On the Bab, 305 Old Street, EC1V 9LA

Website: http://onthebab.com/shoreditch/#3rdPage


Spicy Vegan Stir-Fry

My posts have been a bit scattered recently, but, there’s good news: I’ve finally finished university! So, while I’m job hunting, I’ll have more time to tend to this blog. I’ve also booked a cheeky day trip to Amsterdam, so expect some posts about the experience soon.

Now, for this week’s recipe…

If you’re looking for a quick mid-week meal, a stir-fry is the way to go. You can prepare your vegetables ahead of time and store them in the fridge for even less hassle.

This stir-fry includes bell peppers, onions, spinach, mushrooms, tofu and of course, chillies for heat. To get the tofu crispy, I made sure to flatten the tofu block with something heavy overnight. This helps to remove the moisture from the tofu.

Enjoy this stir-fry on top of some brown rice, or have it as a starter. Whatever works for you!

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 bird’s eye chillies, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced
  • Half a block of tofu, drained and cut into cubes
  • 125g shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp season-all

Method

  1. In a wok or large frying pan, heat the sesame oil over a medium heat.
  2. Fry off the garlic, ginger and chillies for 1 minute.
  3. Turn the heat to high, then add the tofu. Fry until crisp and golden brown all over, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the onions, peppers and mushrooms and fry for about 3 minutes, until tender.
  5. Add the spinach, soy sauce and season all. Stir until the spinach has wilted, then remove from the heat. Enjoy!

Bulgur Wheat Jollof

The first time I had bulgur wheat was in Kervan Sofrasi two or three years ago – a Turkish restaurant in North London. The way they had cooked it reminded me of jollof rice, since it was orange in colour. It was a great alternative to eating rice.

As some of you may know, making jollof rice takes a good two or three hours. Making the switch to bulgur wheat will reduce your cooking time by half, guaranteed! When I want to cook something in bulk that will last me a week, bulgur jollof is definitely in my top five choices.

You can experiment with the seasoning as it is all to taste. Feel free to include vegetables, meat or fish to your stew to add even more flavours and textures.

Serves 5

Ingredients

  • 500g bulgur wheat, washed and drained
  • 400g tinned plum tomatoes
  • 200ml water
  • 4 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper (optional)
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into large chunks
  • 1 large onion, 1 half thinly sliced, the other half cut into large chunks
  • 2x chicken stock cubes
  • 1x shrimp stock cube
  • 2 tsp season all
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp paprika

Method

  1. In a blender, blend the plum tomatoes, onions chunks, bell pepper chunks and the scotch bonnet until smooth.
  2. Heat a large pot with the oil on a medium heat. Once hot, fry the sliced onions and minced garlic, until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the tomato puree to the pot and fry for about a minute, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the blended tomato mix into the pot and stir. Add the chicken stock cubes, shrimp stock cube, season all, ginger and paprika. The stew will start to bubble and pop at this point, so be mindful!
  4. Add the water to the pot, stir and cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally and seasoning to taste.
  5. Once the stew has been cooked, add in the bulgur wheat. Reduce the heat to low and stir, ensuring all grains have been covered by the stew.
  6. Cover the pot with foil (shiny side facing the inside of the pot), then cover the pot with its lid.
  7. The bulgur wheat will cook in about 20 mins, during this period of time, be sure to stir frequently or else your bulgur will burn.
  8. Once the bulgur wheat has completely absorbed all of the stew and fully cooked, turn off the heat and leave to stand for 15 minutes. After this time, use a fork to separate the grains, then serve.

Spinach & Artichoke Pasta Bake

After watching numerous videos on ‘spinach artichoke dip’ or ‘spinach artichoke bread’, I jumped on the bandwagon and decided to make a spinach and artichoke pasta bake.

Cheese and spinach I love, so that wasn’t a problem. However, I had never tried artichokes until having this dish. I was a little bit hesitant, but after giving this new veg a taste, it made a great addition. I can understand why everyone loves the spinach and artichoke combination now!

This dish is really simple to make and lends from my Turkey and Bacon Pasta recipe. I added vegetable stock, cream cheese, cheddar, and parmesan to make a flavourful and creamy cheese sauce.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 250g pasta of your choice (I used wholewheat fusilli)
  • 150g baby spinach
  • 1 can (400g) artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 250ml milk
  • 1 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 vegetable stock cube (I prefer Knorr)
  • 30g grated parmesan
  • 2 tbsp light cream cheese (I used Philadephia Light)
  • 100g grated mature cheddar (use 40g for topping)
  • 1 tsp season-all
  • 1 tsp ground garlic
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (for topping)
  • 1 tsp black pepper (1/2 tsp for topping)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan)/ gas mark 4.
  2. Boil the pasta according to packet instructions, but remove from the heat 2 minutes before the suggested time.
  3. On a low heat, melt the butter in the pan and then add the flour. Stir for 2 minutes until the mixture becomes a smooth consistency.
  4. Pour in a quarter of the milk at a time, then the stock cube, and stir until the mixture blends smoothly.
  5. Add in the cream cheese, grated parmesan and cheddar, and stir until the cheeses melt into a smooth mixture.
  6. Add the spinach, artichokes, season-all, ground garlic, paprika and black pepper into the pan. Stir into the sauce until the spinach wilts. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  7. By now, the pasta should be cooked. Drain and add the pasta to the sauce, stirring until the pasta is covered evenly.
  8. Pour the pasta into an oven dish, top with the cheddar, paprika, and black pepper, and bake for 15 minutes.
  9. Enjoy!
Spinach Artichoke (1)

Tip: If your sauce is too thick, add some milk. If it’s too thin, add more flour and cheese.


Quinoa, Stir-fried Vegetables & Feta Salad

I was in the mood for having ”super grains” after having some from the cafe at work a few weeks ago. It was a quinoa, sultana and almond salad. Of course, I picked out the sultanas (it’s a texture thing), and just had the quinoa and almonds, along with some lettuce, onions and tomatoes. It tasted great.

Sometimes I get bored of having the typical rice, pasta, or potatoes, so quinoa was a good change. Also, my rice cooker broke mid-week, and I can’t be asked to sit in the kitchen to watch over brown rice cooking on the stove after work everyday.

The thought of having to wait for my stainless steel pot to soak in soapy water for at least an hour before being able to wash up, made my head hurt. I really have to do the dishes before eating, or it just feels wrong!

If I could make something in bulk just once, and refrigerate it, I’d be content. Old rice just doesn’t sit well with me, unless I’m stir frying it. I was hoping to find a tasty dish with inexpensive ingredients, so I had a browse on BBC Good Food.

I came across this amazing recipe by Sarah Cook, and gave it my own spin.

Serves 5

Ingredients

  • 250g quinoa
  • 3 large bell peppers, cut into chunks
  • 1 large courgette, sliced into ~ 5mm thick semi circles
  • 1 large red onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 vegetable stock cube (I prefer Knorr)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp season-all
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 150g feta cheese, cubed
  • Parsley, chopped (optional)

Method

  1. Follow the packet instructions for cooking the quinoa, but add in the vegetable stock cube and stir. Drain once cooked and separate the grains using a fork.
  2. In a pan, heat the olive oil over a medium/high heat, then add in the chopped onion, bell peppers, courgettes, paprika, chilli flakes, season-all, and black pepper. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes until the vegetables start to soften.
  3. Once the vegetables are cooked, add them to the quinoa.
  4. Add the lemon juice and feta cheese, and stir until well combined.
  5. Serve into a bowl and top with roughly chopped parsley.
Bulgur veg and feta salad
I tried this meal with bulgur wheat as well, and it tasted just as great!

Baby Potatoes with Roasted Vegetables

It was one of those days where I had to throw something together in a short space of time. I gave myself a pat on the back for not succumbing to getting a takeaway.

Anyway, this quick fix consists of baby potatoes, peppers, onions, courgettes, and cheese. The cheese of choice on this particular day was Gouda as I wanted something mild and mellow. I also kept the vegetables large and chunky.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 500g baby potatoes, halved
  • 50 – 70g Gouda, sliced into small pieces
  • 2 large bell peppers, cut into chunks
  • 1 courgette, sliced
  • 1 large red onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp season-all
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C (180°C fan)/ gas mark 6.
  2. In an oven proof dish/tray, add the bell peppers, courgettes, red onion, olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, season-all, and black pepper. Give it a mix and place in the oven for 20 minutes. Toss half way.
  3. While the vegetables are roasting, cover the potatoes with cold water in a pot and bring to a boil over high heat on your stove. Reduce the heat so the potatoes simmer for 10 – 15 minutes until tender.
  4. Drain the potatoes in a colander, and take out your roasted vegetables from the oven. Add the potatoes to the oven dish/tray and mix with the vegetables. Top with chunks of Gouda (or a cheese of your choice), and place back into the oven for a few more minutes until the cheese has melted.
  5. Enjoy!

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

These roasted potatoes were made back at Christmas. They went nicely alongside the rest of our dinner which included: roasted turkey (marinated for 2 days by my mum of course), pigs in blankets, carrots, parsnips, sage & onion stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, and slaw. We also had a classic apple crumble for dessert – you can find my recipe here.

I used Maris Piper potatoes as they leave you with a fluffy inside and crispy outside. The oil/fat chosen was simply olive oil. I know some people like to use duck or goose fat which gives a nice flavour, but for me, it’s not necessary. Check out the quick and easy steps to making these rosemary roasted potatoes below.

Ingredients

  • 2.5kg Maris Piper potatoes, peeled, cleaned, and cut into medium sized chunks
  • 6-8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp ground garlic

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200ºC (180ºC fan)/ gas mark 6.
  2. In a large pot, parboil the potatoes for 6-8 minutes, then drain. Shake the potatoes together to fluff up their edges.
  3. Add the olive oil into a large baking tray until covered with a thin layer, and heat in the oven for a few minutes until smoky.
  4. Once the oil is hot, carefully place the potatoes onto the tray and season with the rosemary, salt, pepper and garlic. Coat with the olive oil already in the tray.
  5. Roast for 40 – 50 minutes, turning at least once throughout the cook.
  6. Enjoy these spuds as part of your roast dinner.

Roasted Chicken & Vegetables

Give your leftover vegetables some love with this flavoursome oven dish that won’t break the bank. Carrots, bell peppers, and onions are items that I always have lying around, which form the bulk of this meal. I will be trying this recipe with other vegetables such as sweet potatoes, parsnips, mushrooms, courgettes… The list goes on!

Serves 4

320 kcal per serving

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken quarters
  • 1 large red onion, cut into chunks
  • 3 bell peppers, cut into chunks
  • 8 carrots, cut into chunks
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 3 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp season-all
  • 1 tsp ground garlic
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground ginger

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C (200°C fan)/ gas mark 7.
  2. In a large oven proof dish, place in the chicken quarters. Season with the season-all, garlic, paprika, ginger, soy sauce and chilli flakes.
  3. Add in the carrots and bell peppers. Spread evenly in the pan in between the chicken.
  4. Squeeze the juice of 1 lime over the chicken and vegetables, and add 2 tbsp of hoisin sauce as well.
  5. Place in the oven for 20 minutes.
  6. After the 20 minutes, take out the oven dish and turn the chicken. Add the red onion into the dish.
  7. Squeeze the juice of the remaining lime over the chicken and vegetables, and add the rest of the hoisin sauce. Adjust seasoning where necessary, then cook for a further 20 minutes.
  8. The food should now be ready to cook. Eat the chicken and vegetables on its own, or have it with a bit of rice or cous cous for an extra filling meal.