Gluten free

Polenta Taragna

Polenta Taragna – a northern Italian delicacy. Using a thermal food processor or instant mix.

Polenta Taragna is a dish, consisting of Polenta flour mix, butter and cheese. Polenta is a typical dish from the Valleys in the Italian northern regions (i.e. Bergamo, Brescia and Valtellina). Unlike the typical Polenta, Polenta Taragna is made with a mixture of corn flour and buckwheat flour. The dish is also commonly called Taragna. Walking through Valtellina, you can’t help but eat one of the local culinary traditions’ signature dishes: polenta taragna! I’m sharing my version of this hearty dish to prepare for the impending winter weather! A sprinkle of corn and buckwheat flour adds a typical dark colour and rustic flavour, while the cheeses add a particular smoothness. The traditional Valtelina family zealously keeps its secret for a flawless Taragna, and the cheeses used can vary depending on the areas or the custom passed down by their ancestors, thus utilising Branzi, Casera, or Fontina! This rich dish can be enjoyed alone, as a single dish, or with sausages or grilled meats or stews. I especially love it served with slow-cooked pulled pork. Polenta Taragna is an engaging meal capable of carrying all of the area’s rich flavours. How to make Polenta Taragna using a Thermal food processor Thermal food processors are a great investment for professional cooks, chefs and/or anyone who does heavy cooking. Polenta is a dish that requires many minutes of stirring over heat, hence making it in a food processor saves both time and energy. How to make instant mix Polenta Taragna in 5 minutes If you prefer to make it by hand or if you don’t have a Thermomix; this 5-minute instant recipe is for you.

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Millet ‘Pap’ Porridge with Fresh Mango and coconut

Unpacking African Diet Bias Featuring a Simple Recipe for Millet Porridge (Pap)

Let’s dive into African Diet Bias. I will also share a simple recipe for Millet porridge (pap). One of a multitude of healthy meals found in the diverse cuisines of Africa It is no secret that food plays a key role in our overall health, in addition to our desired physical aesthetics. We have Keto diets, Paleo diets, Vegan or Vegetarian diets, and the Mediterranean diet. Most of the popular diets today guide us in living a healthier lifestyle as prescribed by global cultures. With the popularity of the endless list of diets we have today, the African diet is one that seems to have not made the cut. People of African heritage from natives of the continent to the greater diaspora have cultivated an array of dishes that have been overlooked and/or unfairly categorized as unhealthy. Similar to most diets, the African diet is influenced by cultural beliefs, religion, and medical requirements. Today I would like to take an elementary look at the fundamental makeup of the African diet to explain why this notion could not be further from the truth.   The African Diet: Unpacked and Indisputably Healthy Although vegetarianism is not necessarily celebrated in the vast African culture, it is the foundation on which most cuisines on the continent are built from a variety of locally grown rice, cassava, yam, sweet potatoes, and leafy greens. Cuisines such as Nigerian or Ghanaian consider dishes made with these plants as the entree. On the contrary, meat dishes are served as sides. These days there is plenty of research showing that diets high in meat increase the chances of disease (especially diets high in red meat consumption). The Normalization of Open Markets, Farm-to-table, and Slow Foods in Africa Commonly known to those who have the privilege of travelling around the Mediterranean, fresh fruits and vegetables rot quite quickly. This is because preservatives (chemicals) have not been used on produce. The same can be said for most African countries. Although prevalent, fast food takes the backseat in African diets. Movements that we now know as “farm to table” and “slow food” are the core of most African cultures to this day.  The core of most African food cultures focuses on creation rather than consumption. For example, the bi-product of one dish can play a key role in another dish. When there is waste, it is typically used to replenish the soil for the growth of new crops or used in the production of animal feed. These elements often get layered into a meal. Consider the False Accusations Against Palm Oil Palm oil is an ingredient criticized with arguably good intentions in the Western hemisphere. These criticisms however are often based on ignorance. The consumption of Palm oil outside of Africa is based on exploitation and several other concerns, which you can read about almost everywhere.  Let me tell you about the raw, rich, and vibrant Palm oil I and many Africans grew up on. The Palm tree in most West African countries produces nutrient-rich Palm fruit, which yields a delicious extract used in soups. From this same extract comes Palm oil and then the Palm kernel oil from the seeds. You can say it’s a triple threat of good deliciousness!  The palm oil used by Africans is just as I have described – rich, raw, and vibrantly red. There is another, however extremely processed, refined, and bleached version which most people (non-Africans) refer to as palm oil. This is cheaper and more plentiful. Thus, it is used in the production of some of our most loved products. Such as chocolate spreads, mayonnaise, creams, and various condiments. Palm oil in its truest raw form is nothing to be scared of. Unrefined and unbleached palm oil is a nutritious source of many vitamins. It holds great value in the African diet, not just for its flavour and richness but also for its medicinal properties. Let’s Get Into Legumes (and Cereals) The legume family is one of the highest consumed food groups in Africa. Lentils, Black-eyed peas, Cowpeas, and Bambara nuts, are just a few. The range of legumes and the dishes they are made with is very similar across several African countries. This is the same for cereals such as maize, tapioca, and millet. Debunk the African Diet Bias and Try Making Your Own Millet Porridge Recipe a.k.a Pap A popular breakfast cereal across Africa is ‘pap’. It is a porridge that can be made from either maize or millet. It can be made into a smooth consistency or gritty, depending on what culture. The dish also has different names across countries, with the most common being pap. Pap can be referred to as ‘Ugali’ in East Africa as a hot dough made from maize to accompany soups. Pap can also be referred to as ‘Akamu’ or ‘Ogi’ which is a smooth runny porridge made from fermented maize or millet in Nigeria. Simple pap in South Africa typically refers to a thick gritty porridge made from millet. Below is an easy and healthy recipe combining the flavours, styles, and shapes that pap takes across the African continent. Using locally sourced items here in Italy to recreate a widely loved African dish. Continue to Embrace The African Diet At the end of the day, is baffling as to why the African diet is not as prevalent across its borders. As with so many things, Africa has influenced the world’s food culture as we know it today. However, the continent is not recognized for what it brings to the table. It should be mentioned that Palm oil, avocados, and nuts are a huge part of the African diet. Especially peanuts (popularly known in Africa as groundnut), and cashew nuts. Many are surprised to learn that Africa has a history of fermentation being used as one of the oldest forms of food preservation. Fermented foods are high in probiotics which aid in digestion. Foods like Garri from Nigeria and Guedj from Senegal go through a fermentation process that aids their

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4 Ways to Prepare Plantain Around the World (In honour of world plantain day).

So we all know what bananas are, but how about plantains? You know those green, sometimes yellow, or perhaps black/brownish banana-looking things you’ve seen maybe once or twice. Are you from an African country, some parts of Asia, Latin America, or the West Indies? Chances are that you are already quite familiar with plantains. If not, please allow me to take you on a journey with four ways to prepare plantain around the world in honour of world plantain day (June 5th). Plantains are of the same species as bananas but unlike the popular sweet fruit, the plantain is a vegetable. One that is typically cooked just like you would a potato. Yes, that’s it… plantains are the bridge between a potato and a banana. Although it is debatable that it is not best practice to eat them raw, allow me to let you in on a secret. Every kid that grew up eating plantain, like myself, has (out of impatience) munched on a slice of ripe plantain while waiting for the cooking. I don’t want to go into childhood tales here, but rather, let me give a few facts about plantains: Added Note: You can also find plantains as a source of alternative flour in gluten-free baking and cooking. Now that we’ve gone through the basics… Below are some of the most well-known plantain dishes from different parts of the world. Detailed recipes are included for you to try: Puerto Rican Mofongo: This traditional Puerto Rican dish is a hearty meal worth the effort. Mashed plantain can play the role of the main dish, as well as a great side dish. Enjoy this plantain recipe for a virtual trip to mouthwatering paradise. Nigerian Dodo / Jamaican Sweet plantain: Most Jamaicans know them as ‘Sweet Plantains’ but ‘Dodo’ is the Nigerian name for this delight. It is also the renowned accompaniment for the famous West-African jollof rice. This plantain recipe is most popular across West-African countries and the West Indies. Ghanian Kelewele: This is a spicier version of fried sweet plantains. This popular Ghanaian snack or side dish saves you from throwing away very ripe plantains. If they have dark spots and are nearly going bad, just chop them into bites size, toss them with spices, fry them, and enjoy. Typically serves as a snack with peanuts or as a side dish to many rice and/or bean-based meals. Nigerian Kpekere: This is another popular Nigerian plantain dish. It is a common street food across the country. Similar to the Puerto Rican Tostones, these deep-fried green plantains are great to snack on during work, studying, on the road, chilling, or when taking a break. Other popular plantain dishes:

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Gluten and dairy free Blueberry Sponge Cake with extra blueberry sauce

This Blueberry sponge cake is both gluten-free and dairy-free with no compromise in taste. Yes, it neither has eggs nor milk and It looks, feels and tastes just like blueberry cake should. So how is it gluten-free? – Because this cake uses buckwheat flour as a substitute for wheat flour. Although it has “wheat” in the name, buckwheat is not wheat and gluten is not present in both its raw or cooked state. Ok, so how about eggs, how can it be completely “dairy-free”? – Every cake needs a binding agent, especially a sponge cake. Here’s where aquafaba comes in – the perfect binding agent works just like eggs. What is Buckwheat and what are its gluten-free benefits? A gluten-free pseudocereal that is highly nutritious with various health benefits. Buckwheat is rich in iron, zinc and selenium, with a low glycaemic index of 40. It is rich in fibre and contains D-chiro inositol which is beneficial for people with insulin sensitivities. It is a great substitute for wheat flour, especially for anyone struggling with endometriosis, PCOS and diabetes. Buckwheat is a local crop of Valtelinna in the Lombardy region of northern Italy. Typically buckwheat grows in mountainous regions with temperatures not exceeding 20 ° C. Its uses include baking biscuits and cakes such as this gluten-free blueberry sponge cake. Buckwheat flour also makes delicious savoury dishes like pasta, such as “Pizzoccheri” and “Polenta taragna”, two common Italian dishes. What is Aquafaba and how is it dairy free? An ingredient used in place of eggs with a consistency similar to egg white. It can be whipped into meringues, and used in cakes and mouses. Aquafaba is the liquid from cooked chic peas, broad beans and kidney beans. However, the most commonly used aquafaba is that of chickpeas because of its more neutral colour – bearing a closer resemblance to egg white. So when next you use a tin of these peas/beans, drain and save the liquid. This is the perfect egg substitute you need for all your eggless baking adventures. This recipe requires whipping aquafaba until stiff peaks and folding it into the buckwheat batter. Thus, creating a delicious Gluten and dairy-free Blueberry Sponge Cake. If you like this recipe you might also like this Gluten-free Polenta Pancakes with Berries.

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Extra nutty Cocadas – An introduction to Panamanian cuisine

Cocadas are a popular snack and dessert in Panama. They are made from coconut flakes which are cooked until caramelised. The sticky mixture is usually moulded into balls but can also be made into bars. They reminded me of a common snack in Nigeria known as coconut candy. Similarly cooked until caramelised and formed into balls. Coconut candy is a popular street snack in Nigeria, likewise the Cocadas in Panama. I am simply amazed at how much culture transcends from Africa into several Central American cultures. Thanks to my Panamanian friend, Vivi, I was able to journey through this food culture of African descent. We added some extra bits here and there. Such as using cashew nuts to give the Cocadas an extra nutty flavour. As this was my introduction to Panamanian food. Aside from the delicious Cocadas, we also made some “Arroz con Guandu”, rice and peas cooked in coconut milk. It reminded me of the different versions of rice and peas we have across the Caribbean and West Africa. Guandu is the pea used in this Panamanian dish. To go with the dish we made some plantains. As is similarly done in almost all cuisines that have African heritage. Plantain en Tentacion is what it is called, which translates to plantains in temptation and I’ve never heard a more accurate phrase. How to make the Arroz con Guandu (Rice & peas) INGREDIENTS: Vegetable oil 1 Onion A handful of Coriander (cilantro) About 1 1/2 cups of Long grain rice One 400ml can of Coconut milk 400g canned Guandu beans(Pigeon peas) Salt to taste Water INSTRUCTIONS: Rough chop the onions and cilantro into small bits. Place a pan over medium-high heat and pour in about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add the chopped onions and cilantro, stir and fry for 1 to 2 minutes. Wash the rice and add it to the pan, then pour in the coconut milk and water, just enough to cover the rice. Season with salt, stir together and cover with a lid. Cook for 15 minutes. Drain the can of guandu beans and rinse with water. Add the beans to the cooking rice and cook for a further 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and Its ready to be served. How to make the “Platanos en tentacion” (Plantains in temptation): INGREDIENTS: 3 Yellow plantains Handful of cinnamon sticks About half a cup of water about a 3rd of a cup of brown sugar. Vegetable oil for frying. INSTRUCTIONS: Slice each plantain at a slanted angle into chunks. Place a large pan over medium-high heat, and add enough oil, just enough to cover the surface of the pan. Once the oil is hot, place the sliced plantain and fry on both sides until a little charred. Add water, sugar and cinnamon stick to the pan and bring to a boil. Simmer until you have a thick syrup coating the plantains. Remove from heat, serve with the rice and enjoy. After enjoying a plate of “Arroz con guandu” and “Plantanos en tentacion; some cold Cocadas are the perfect dessert to complete the meal. How to make the Panamanian Cocadas with Cashew nuts:

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How to make Moi-Moi with Lentils and Tuna

How to make Moi-Moi with lentils – A Nigerian Savoury Pudding

As a Nigerian delicacy typically made with black eyed beans, making Moi-Moi with lentils is easier, quicker, vibrant and taste just as delicious. Moi-Moi is a traditional Nigerian dish typically made from black-eyed beans. It is a savoury pudding made from blending beans, peppers, onions, seasonings, oil and water into a smooth puree. The preparation usually involves whipping the puree vigorously and wrapping it in African serendipity berry leaves (commonly known as a soft cane in Nigeria). However, banana or plantain leaves are also commonly used to wrap Moi-Moi and other dishes in Nigeria. Moi-Moi is a very versatile dish. It can be eaten as a main course. As a side commonly served with rice dishes. Also a popular dish on a Nigerian party buffet. Makes a perfect accompaniment to Smoky Party-Style Jollof Rice. Also commonly eaten for breakfast/brunch with Nigerian pap (a fermented corn porridge). It is also a common street food that makes a great quick lunch on a busy day. Why Lentils? The classic Moi-Moi recipe with beans is a tedious one. Traditionally the beans must go through a process of soaking, using of hands to wash and removing their skin. Blending the beans in a puree also requires a heavy-duty blender or food processor. Additionally, the time for the beans based Moi-Moi to cook takes at least 1 hour. Lentils on the other hand is a more convenient option and tastes just as delicious. You can hardly tell the difference. For this Moi-Moi recipe I’m using red split lentils, here’s why: Cooking time: Takes less time to cook in comparison to regular beans. The cooking time is basically slashed in half. Soaking is optional: You can soak the lentils if you are not confident in the strenght of your food processor. However most food processor can break down lentils into a fine paste or powder (lentils flour) Vibrant colour: I do not recomment using green lentils or any other colours. Typically smoked vibrant red paprika peppers (tatashe) are added to traditional moi-moi to boost its colour. However, the red lentils already provides a vibrant base. Nutritional Benefits: Although lentils have similar nutritional structure to beans. Lentils are higher in protein and lower in carbs than beans. They are also a source of polyphenols and carry a lesser amount of phytates. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Immaculate Ruému (@immaculateruemu) The original recipe for moi-moi made with lentil and cooked in food pouches. I came up with this moi-moi recipe about 3 years ago. I received some cooking pouches that I wanted to try and I had a craving for Moi-Moi also. So I grabbed what was available in my pantry at that time (lentils) and whipped up my first ever lentil Moi-Moi puree. It was perfect. Soft, light, filling, easy to make, melted in my mouth and delicious. cooking the Moi-Moi in pouches are perfect for commercial use especially when you don’t have access to the soft cane or plantain leaves. Likewise, if you need to serve them in disposable packaging at events. Moi-Moi made with lentils can also be baked in the oven over a pool of water. Similar to how cheesecake is made. You can use ramekins or baking tins for the baked version. For the steamed in a pot version, you can use the pouches as seen above. Additionally, you can use cooking jars that are reusable. Frequently asked questions about making and serving Moi-Moi with lentil Q: What do you serve it with? A: This Lentil Moi-Moi can be served the same way simply cooked lentil is served. You can also use it as a spread on bread or as a filling in pies. Q: Do the lentil require soaking beforehand? A: No, soaking the lentils is not necessary. However, you can soak them if believe your food processor is not strong enough to break the unsoaked lentils. Q: Similar to beans, do lentils cause gas? A: As with most legumes., lentils contain FODMAPS that can cause bloating and excessive gas production. This is different for everyone. If you have a sensitivity to bloating and the like, I would recommend soaking the lentils for at least an hour before using them. This has been known to reduce the symptoms of bloating or excessive gas. Q: Do you eat it cold, room temperature or warm? A: There is no right or worng answer. How moi-moi is eaten is based on personal preference. I prefer it warm and that is how I recommend it to most people. However I’ve also eaten moi-moi at room temperature and it was still delicious. Moi-Moi is a dish that is usually filled with protein before cooking. However, this is optional. The most common choice of proteins is fish. Others are eggs, corned beef or shrimp. The first time making the lentil moi-moi, I used shrimps. Over time I have tried wit with various proteins and they all taste delicious. For this recipe, I used some canned tuna fillets. I also decided to add some fresh sprigs of parsley for an extra depth in flavour. It was mouthwatering.

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