Thursday, March 23, 2017

More Baked Akara!

After making a baked version of akara with yeast I experimented using baking powder instead. For the first attempt I only substituted the yeast (see previous post) with 1 tsp baking powder. The mixture baked well and was tasty but a little dry. So I decided to reduce the amount of water and add egg instead. It worked!

Since I was expecting a few guests I decided to make a double portion to surprise them. Here is the recipe which will yield two dozen beancakes:

INGREDIENTS
3 cups bean flour
2 cups water maximum
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 large onion
1 large tatase or 2 scotch bonnet peppers
4 Tbsp olive oil or any other good quality vegetable oil

PREPARATION
Grease 2 muffin tins lightly and set aside.
Preheat oven to 180C or gas 4
Finely chop onion and peppers, removing seeds. Heat oil in a small pan and saute onion and pepper for a few minutes on medium heat until onions become translucent and the oil turns red from the pepper. Turn off heat and allow to cool a little.
Meanwhile mix all dry ingredients in a fairly large bowl then whisk in about half of the water. Next add the eggs whisking to incorporate thoroughly. Next whisk in the onion, pepper and oil. Gradually add more water until mixture has a good dropping consistency. You might not need all the water..
Using a scoop divide mix equally between the two muffin tins to obtain 24 muffins. Bake immediately for about 15 minutes.Test for doneness with a toothpick; toothpick should come out clean and dry. Remove from tins and cool muffins slightly on a wire rack before serving or cool completely and freeze, wrapping each in foil to prevent them drying out. To reheat, place in a steamer for 10 minutes. Enjoy!











Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Baked Akara!

Akara in Yoruba and Kose in Hausa, these deep fried bean cakes are enjoyed all over Nigeria. Traditionally they are made from dried black-eyed beans or honey beans, soaked overnight and skins removed. Then they are put through a grinder with onion, salt, tatashe ( a large type of hot pepper) and maybe one or two other ingredients, depending on locality.
Then oil is heated in a large basin and the mixture is dropped in by the spoonful, turned over once or twice and fried until golden brown. When done they are drained on newspaper which does take up the excess oil to a certain extent. Finally wrapped in fresh newspaper the akara are sold to the waiting customer.

For a long time I was racking my brain how to recreate the deliciousness of akara without the process of deep frying, because any food saturated with fat is an absolute taboo for anyone with heart problems, high cholesterol and/or diabetes. So a healthy version was needed, especially since beans are highly recommended for anyone with these conditions..

So I tried baking the mix with the addition of baking powder but all I got was a soggy mess. After several attempts I gave up. Then I stumbled on some bread recipes made with bean flour and that triggered a few flashing light bulbs! 

This time my experiment turned out to be a winner! Therefore I will share my recipe so that anyone with health concerns can enjoy their akara!

Ingredients:
1 cup bean flour
3/4 cup lukewarm water 
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp dried active yeast plus a pinch of sugar
1 Tbsp regular flour
1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped finely
1 small hot pepper (I used Scotch Bonnet), seeds removed and finely chopped

Other items:
mixing bowl
whisk, wooden spoon
measuring cups and spoons
small jug for the water
muffin tin, greased
saute pan

Method:
Sift the two flours together with the salt into the mixing bowl. Stir yeast and sugar into the water, cover and allow to stand for 5 - 10 minutes.
Meanwhile heat the oil in the saute pan and gently fry the onion and pepper for a few minutes until onion is translucent. Take off the heat and allow to cool.
When just warm pour over the flour mix and stir in. Then add the dissolved yeast and whisk to get rid of any lumps.
Pour into the muffin tin, dividing batter equally, not more than half full for each. Cover with a dishcloth or a sheet of plastic and allow to rise for an hour or two in a warm place. The batter will not rise too much because bean flour does not contain many carbohydrates. The extra flour added will allow the yeast to lighten the batter. When ready the batter will have a spongy, mousse like texture and should have risen by half.
Preheat oven to 180 C - gas mark 4 - for 5 minutes, then place muffin tin on middle shelf and bake for 15 minutes. When a toothpick inserted comes out dry and clean remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack for a few minutes before serving.
This quantity makes six akara, depending on the size of your muffin tin.  The recipe can easily be doubled. Any leftover bean cakes can be frozen and reheated in a steamer when needed.





Saturday, February 4, 2017

Make Your Own Yoghurt!

Many years ago a friend of mine in Kano told me how to make my own yoghurt which I have done off and on with good results. After a while flavoured yoghurt in little pots became fashionable and of course, the children preferred that. Later still real fruit was added, fruit which was not easily available in Nigeria and does not even grow here. Naturally one wants the best for the kids and I bought those as weekly treats.

Looking back I now know that this was foolish, expensive and quite unnecessary! So I want to encourage the younger generation to always provide the very best they can which in my opinion is always made at home.

Homemade, because one is totally in control of what goes into the product. In this case it is yoghurt, full fat, rich and creamy!

Just buy a pot of natural yoghurt without any added sugar and you are ready to start. You will need milk, a saucepan, a whisk, a jug for mixing, a container for maturing the yoghurt and a measuring gadget. A thermometer is not needed, your little finger will do nicely!

I have researched various recipes and I am sure they all work perfectly well but are not ideal for a hot climate. Therefore my method will give excellent results in sweltering conditions!

Measure 500 ml milk and put in your saucepan. Measure 120 ml (1/4 cup) of the purchased yoghurt and place in mixing jug. Put the saucepan on the fire for a few minutes. Dip your little finger into the milk to test. It should not be hotter than a baby's bath water! If it is too hot you have to allow the milk to cool down, otherwise you will get cheese instead of yoghurt! Another way to test is to dip a spoon into the milk and touch it to your lips. You will know it is too hot if you get a burning sensation. A little warmer than lukewarm is alright. Remember we are in the tropics and a little heat goes a long way!                                        

Yoghurt and milk mixture
                                                                                         
When you are satisfied with the temperature take 120 ml of the milk and add to the yoghurt, whisking to remove any lumps. When smooth, slowly add the remaining milk, whisking gently to distribute the yoghurt mix. Now pour into the container you have chosen and put the lid on. In a warm kitchen the yoghurt will have set in four hours. Average temperature in my kitchen is between 30C-35C(86F-95F).
       
The setting stage
                                                                                                                                                   

Yoghurt is set and ready to be placed in the fridge
                                
When chilled, serve with chopped fruit of your choice. Good options are sliced bananas, cubed mangoes or pawpaw. Instead of milk, this yoghurt could be used for muesli or cornflakes with some fruit added, so no extra sugar is needed!  
                                                        
Don't forget to keep some for the next batch!                                                                                                                                                  
                                                                    

Sunday, January 29, 2017

It's Apple Compote This Time!


Instead of apple puree for your pancakes you could make an apple compote instead. No additional sugar is used, which makes it quite healthy.




You will need 3 to 4 tasty apples for 6 to 8 small pancakes. Peel the apples, cut into quarters and remove the core. then cut into smaller pieces, about 2 cm square. Place in a suitable pan, then add


a handful of raisins or sultanas and a little cassia bark, or if you prefer use 1/2 stick of cinnamon.


Also add 1 tbsp of water and 1 tbsp of lemon juice plus a dollop of butter. Cover pan and bring to    boil. Remove cover and allow liquid to evaporate, by which time the apples should be soft. Now just   let the added butter do some caramelizing to give the apples a golden colour. Stir the fruit gently so  it wouldn't break up, making sure that all pieces are well caramelized.                                                      



Remove from heat and turn into bowl to cool. After cooling you might want to keep it in the fridge to chill until ready to use.                                                                                                                              


Finally arrange the pancakes, add the apple compote, serve and enjoy! You will find that additional sugar is really quite unnecessary in this recipe as well as in the previous ones!                                  

Bon appetit!                                                                                                                                          

Monday, January 16, 2017

Some Call It Applesauce!


After the pancakes I think you ought to have my own recipe for apple puree, which some people call applesauce. I have removed the sugar entirely so that anyone with sugar restrictions might enjoy this. But if you are not sure consult with your doctor or dietitian.

For a yummy puree choose eating apples, not cooking apples. For 1 to 2 portions take 3 medium sized apples , wash and cut into chunks. No need to peel or to remove core.

Put in a suitably sized pan adding 3 Tbsp water, 1 Tbsp lemon juice and a little star anise. Cover the pot and bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until soft.



Place a nylon/plastic sieve over a bowl and pour in the cooked apples and allow to drain for a couple of minutes. Remove the star anise.

Transfer the sieve to another bowl and using a wooden spoon press and mash the apples through the sieve. Skins, seeds and core will be left behind in the sieve and can be discarded.

Check your apple puree if the consistency is to your liking. If you feel it is too thick add a little of the drained juice and stir in.

Some people do not like star anise, in which case you can opt  for 1/2 stick of cinnamon or a piece of cassia bark.

Depending on your generosity this amount can serve for 4 - 8 medium pancakes. Leftover apple puree can easily be frozen for use next time.




Monday, January 9, 2017

Pancakes Another Way!

Last week I gave you coco yam pancakes which I hope you tried and enjoyed.Today I want to add a different recipe, again with reduced carbohydrates

For 8 medium sized pancakes you will need:

2 slightly heaped Tbsp plain flour
2 slightly heaped Tbsp wholewheat flour
2 well heaped Tbsp coconut flour (you can use desiccated coconut ground in a spice blender)
4 heaped tsp skimmed milk powder)    or use
200 - 250 ml water                           )   skimmed milk from bottle or carton
1 large egg
a pinch of salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Put all ingredients in  a fairly large bowl and whisk until smooth. Allow to rest for 1/2 hour and then check if more liquid is needed. The batter should be a little thicker than regular pancake batter because of the coconut content.


For frying use a frying pan not larger than 20 cm diameter, otherwise the pancakes will break when flipped over.

Heat pan until very hot, then wipe with kitchen paper dipped in vegetable oil, preferably cholesterol free.

Add a ladle full of batter and swirl around to coat the base of the pan. Fry until browned underneath then flip over to fry the other side, using a fish slice or palette knife. When the second side is nicely brown remove to a warmed plate and keep hot while frying the remaining pancakes.





In the previous recipe I used apple puree to serve which is equally good for these pancakes. But for 
this batch I chose to make an apple compote instead, cooked with raisins.
 Place some of your filling on half of a pancake and fold over. Repeat with the remaining pancakes.


Ready to be eaten.

You should give them a try, these pancakes are very tasty!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Happy Healthy New Year!

Now we have left Christmas and overindulgence behind and are well into the new year, which we hope will be a prosperous and healthy one for everyone.

Unfortunately many have a health challenge like diabetes which puts serious restrictions on what to eat. Good cookbooks are available that make it a lot easier to plan meals, but to re-create favourite dishes of family members takes a lot of research and experimentation!

One of those favourites in our home is pancakes with all possible variations. Today I will show you one of them: Potato pancakes originally, now called coco yam pancakes. The change was necessary because coco yam is lower on the glycaemic index than potatoes, therefore better for diabetics but just as delicious!

You will need:
1 medium sized coco yam (malanga coco)
1 small onion
1 egg
1 heaped tbsp wholemeal flour ( wholewheat )
a pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
about 1/2 cup water
vegetable oil for frying

Method:
Peel and finely grate the coco yam and onion into a bowl. Add the egg, flour, salt and pepper and whisk to combine. then add enough water to make a medium dense batter.

Heat a little oil in a fairly large non-stick frying pan and when very hot add a ladle of batter in 3 places, spreading each into a neat circle. Fry until top is no longer liquid and bottom is nicely browned. Flip over and fry the other side until brown. Remove from pan to a warmed plate lined with absorbent paper.

Frying the first batch second side
To serve, choose a savoury or sweet accompaniment. I like to serve apple puree (homemade and without sugar) with these pancakes since it is traditional and my husband simply loves this combination!