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 3

My favourite part of the trip took place in La Boqueria. This place was food heaven for me. There are a variety of market stalls there from meat, seafood, vegetables and fruit. Lots of fruit.

I went to La Boqueria on two occasions. On the first day, I tried the fresh fruits, fruit juice and some dried fruits. I came across a stall with many dried fruits, such as apples, mangoes, strawberries, pineapples, bananas. I can honestly say that I dried pineapples are my new favourite snack. No added sugar, but they retain a lot of sweetness. You’d think you’re eating candy to be honest.

The fruit stalls are vast and the pricing is cheap compared to London. You can get a fresh cup of fruit juice for a little as €1.50 if you search hard enough. The same goes for bowls with chunks of fruit such as pineapples, dragonfruit, kiwi, mangoes, strawberries and more. Search hard and you’ll find a bargain.

There are also hot food stalls where you can have anything from paella and empanadas, to churros and pancakes. The options are endless.

And then they have spices from all over the world. But one thing I had to get my hands on was the king of all spices. Saffron. And Spain was the perfect place to buy it from.

The second day at the market was for tackling some savouries. I tried a spinach and cheese empanada which was great; spinach and cheese being one of my favourite combinations. I had some tasty vegetable croquetas as well – it was actually my first time trying these and I wasn’t disappointed at all.

The meal of the day however, was the paella from Ramblero de la Boqueria. Again, this was my first time trying this dish. It came with prawns, squid and mussels (my favourite trinity in terms of seafood), all cooked perfectly. I can’t fault this meal and La Boqueria in general.

I’ve booked a cheeky weekend away back to Barcelona, so I’ll be enjoying the food again quite soon!


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.


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.


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.

Apple Crumble

This classic dessert brings back so many memories of lunchtime in primary school. Before the whole Jamie Oliver school dinners shake up, apple crumble was hands down my favourite. It was so good I remember one day I had seconds…and thirds!

The majority of kids had it with custard, but I hated custard (still do). However, it tasted great without. These days, I have mine with vanilla ice cream, while the rest of my family continue to wonder why I can’t stand custard.

My recipe uses Granny Smith apples, so no need to cook them before hand as you would with Bramley apples.

Serves 6

Ingredients

For the Crumble

  • 160g cold unsalted butter
  • 160g caster sugar
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp demerara sugar (optional)

For the filling

  • 8 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced ~ 1cm thick
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190ºC (170ºC fan)/ gas mark 4. Use a 26 cm oven proof dish at least 5cm deep.
  2. In a bowl, mix in the flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add in slices/cubes of butter gradually while using your fingertips to rub the butter with the flour mix.
  3. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.
  4. Pour the diced apples into the dish and add the sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Mix together.
  5. Pour the crumble mix over the apples and even out. Sprinkle a thin layer of the demerara sugar on top.
  6. Put the dish into the oven for 40-45 minutes, until the top is golden.
  7. Leave to cool a little, and serve with custard, vanilla ice cream, or cream.

Turkey & Bacon Pasta

This meal has become quite the go-to. All made in one pan/pot, and is super easy – just be ready to chop up some meat and veg. I have tried this meal with various combinations of turkey, chicken, bacon, and pancetta – they all work great. If you want an extra punch in the cheese sauce, add some grated mature cheddar. The recipe below focuses on the natural sweet and nutty flavour of parmesan, which I love.

Serves 4

460 kcal per serving

Ingredients

  • 250g pasta of your choice (I use penne, or fusilli)
  • 300-350g turkey breast steaks, sliced or diced
  • 150g diced bacon
  • 250ml milk
  • 1 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 tbsp flour
  • 50g grated parmesan
  • 1 large red bell pepper, sliced or diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 large handful of spinach
  • 1 tbsp season-all
  • 1 tsp ground garlic
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Method

  1. Boil the pasta according to packet instructions.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp of oil into a large pan on a medium-high heat.
  3. Add the pieces of turkey breast steaks, bacon, bell pepper, season-all, paprika, ground garlic, and black pepper to the pan, and fry for 6-8 minutes. Once cooked, remove the turkey and bacon, but keep the juices in the pan.
  4. 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.
  5. Pour in a quarter of the milk at a time, and stir until the mixture blends smoothly.
  6. Add in the grated parmesan and stir until the cheese melts and the mixture is smooth.
  7. Add the diced tomato, spinach, bell pepper, turkey, and bacon back into the pan. Stir into the sauce until the spinach wilts. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  8. By now, the pasta should be cooked. Drain and add the pasta to the mixture.
  9. Serve your turkey and bacon pasta with a sprinkling of black pepper, and a few extra shaves of parmesan.

Lamb Leg Steaks with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

I’m back after a long revision, dissertation, and exam period! Although there were no posts, I’ve got plenty of meals in the bag so stay tuned. Head to my Instagram for a few teasers.

This meal includes one of my favourites: the sweet potato. I love sweet potato fries more than regular fries actually. I’ve paired roasted sweet potatoes with pan-fried lamb leg steak, red onions, and a little salad on the side.

Serves 2

440 kcal per serving

Ingredients

  • 2 lamb leg steaks
  • 3 sweet potatoes, cut into evenly sized chunks
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp season-all
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200ºC (180ºC fan)/ gas mark 6.
  2. Place potatoes onto a baking tray and toss in 2 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp season-all, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and 1/2 tsp paprika.
  3. Bake for 40 – 50 minutes, turning every 15 minutes.
  4. When the potatoes have reached the 30 minute mark, season the lamb with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp season-all.
  5. Heat a pan to a medium heat then place the lamb steaks in the pan.
  6. Cook for 4 minutes on each side, then take out of the pan to rest for 5 minutes.
  7. Place the sliced red onions in the pan and fry until softened.
  8. By now, the sweet potatoes should be cooked. Finish them off in the pan with the red onions, and serve with the lamb leg steaks.
  9. Enjoy with a side salad or mixed vegetables.