Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lentil Burger Sliders

A few weeks ago I stumbled across the blog of a pro chef who had posted about Pea Ravioli.  Sometimes he shares recipes, but this one wasn't on there.  So without thinking, I commented and asked him to share the recipe . . . only to realize that this was really an advert for his restaurant's new-for-spring menu after I hit 'send'.  But he took compassion on me and my remote location and emailed me the recipe!  Nope, sorry, unless he himself gives me permission, I'm not sharing that one.

But he did also recommend his post on Legume Burgers . . . which linked back to a post by a Spanish chef.  Now, thankfully French is similar enough to Spanish that I was able to get the bulk of the idea without google translator . . . or maybe it's because he has more pictures than words in the post . . . hmmm.

Today we had a graduation party for two of the MK's who will be leaving shortly to head back to the States . . . and I decided Lentil Burger Sliders would be fun to make.  I didn't have a real recipe, and needing it to go far (in the end there were about 35 little patties . . . actually, in the end there were none as they all got eaten because they were SO good) I added a few extra veggies and switched the curry for soy sauce, since I don't have any curry powder.

1 cup dried lentils
3 cups water
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
1 large onion, peeled and shredded
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 head of cabbage, shredded (the more you need to feed, the more cabbage you should add)
1 cup oats
2 eggs
2 Tbs soy sauce

Bring lentils and water to a boil (with salt) in a medium sauce pan.  Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are soft.

Using a food processor, blend oats until they form a fine powder.  Pour into a bowl and set aside.  Change your chopping blade to the shredding plate and shred the carrots, onion, cabbage and garlic.  Don't have a food processor . . . ADD IT TO YOUR CHRISTMAS LIST!!!!!!!

Once lentils are cooked, combine powdered oats, shredded veggies, eggs, and soy sauce.  Place lentils into food processor and blend into a paste.  (I only blended half, but ended up with lots of stray burnt individual lentils . . . so next time . . . and there will be a next time! . . . I will purée them all).  Add lentil paste to everything else and stir till all ingredients are blended.

Since it's so hot here, the mixture was quite difficult to form . . . or maybe I should have only used one egg instead of two . . . next time . . . so I dropped little cookie-dough sized balls on parchment paper, flattened them to make patties, then placed them in the deep freezer to get a little more firm to be easier to handle.

Putting a splash of oil on a non-stick frying pan, fry the patties until nice and crisp.

I made a batch of Momma S-haus' Famous Galmi Rolls (if she gives me permission, I'll post that recipe too) for buns and served them with some (African) Heinz Ketchup (yes, it does taste a bit different) and (real) Dijon Mustard (that I carried over from France . . . some things are so perfect as they are, they just can't be duplicated).

In a word: YUM!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ruthie's Red Sauce

This recipe is a bit general.  I suggest instead of trying to follow this 'recipe', not knowing if it's coming out correctly, you just ask your west African friend to show you.  Don't have a west African friend??  Find one, they ask her to show you how to make red sauce.  Your tastebuds will be glad you did!

Now, this recipe is a little incomplete . . . as of right now, I only know that in the spice mix there is cumin.  R. said she'd bring me some of the herb seeds and spices she grinds up to make the mixture so I'll be able to figure out what they are.  And I'm going to have to get creative on figuring out what the equivalent of the 'west African little round green peppers' are . . . but something tells me this will taste good even without them.

Ruthie's Red Sauce
Serves 4 . . . or 5 . . . or 6 . . . or (there’s always room for one more!)
1-2 cups oil
1/2 kg beef, cubed
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbs tomato paste
1/2 tsp ground spice mix (cumin, black pepper, white pepper, anise, coriander, dried ginger . . . )
1 tsp ground red pepper
2 west African little round green peppers, whole
1 Maggi bullion cube (Knorr, Oxo, or whatever your bullion brand of preference is)
In medium sauce pan, heat oil.  Add beef and onions and salt.  Cover and let cook until beef and onions are nearly completely cooked.  Add tomatoes with half a cup of water.  Cover and let cook until tomatoes begin to break down.  Add tomato paste. Cover and let cook for ~10 minutes.  Add spice mix and ground red pepper.  Cover and let simmer until tomato skins have peeled off (they roll up and look like tiny red tubes).  Drop in the African green peppers (whole) and with you fingers, break up the maggi cube and sprinkle into the sauce.  Stir and let simmer another 4-5 minutes.  
Serve over rice.

Gâteau au Citron

The original recipe hails from The Cake Duchess, but it's been adapted for life in west Africa.  The Duchess's version has icing . . . here icing doesn't survive hot season, so it was omitted.  Also, our lemons are green (not to worry, we have limes too . . . they're small and smooth, lemons are big and lumpy) so I we didn't get the lovely yellow color of her cake.

1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
zest of one lemon
1/2 cup homemade whole-milk yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup oil (I used sunflower)
lemon syrup:
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan. In a large bowl combine the yogurt, sugar and eggs and mix well. 
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and lemon zest. Add to yogurt mixture. 
Mix in the oil and stir until everything is mixed well.  Your batter should look nice and smooth.
Pour into your prepared ban and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until the cake tester comes out clean. Cool cake on a rack for 20 minutes and then turn out on a rack to cool completely. 
In a small bowl, combine the sugar and lemon juice. When cake is cool spoon the lemon syrup over the cake.
Let cool completely. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pot Stickers

Original recipe hails from the More With Less sister cookbook, Extending the Table.  Two must-haves for anyone living in a place where a little culinary creativity is necessary.  Just a note, I did bring soy sauce and sesame oil from home, but with the ever growing Chinese population in Niger, word on the street is they are available in Niamey . . . and if we can get it in Niger, you can get it wherever you are!

(Oh, another note . . . next time I will cut this recipe in half . . . not sure I will ever spend another whole Saturday afternoon rolling my own wanton skins!  OY!)

2 C cold water (500 ml)
6 C flour (1.5L)

Using a pastry blender (another must-have for life-in-tough-placers) combine water and flour, knead about 5 minutes until smooth (the book suggests using chopsticks . . . maybe that's for authenticity . . . or just a really bad joke).  Cover with a damp cloth and let rest 15-30 minutes.  Roll into LONG rope about 1-inch diameter (2.5cm).  Cut into 1-inch lengths and shape into balls.  Flatten with finders and roll out on countertop into very thin disks (3 1/2-inches in diameter).  Flour countertop as necessary to keep dough from sticking.  Lay disks on lightly floured surface, not overlapping as they will stick together.

1 1/2lb (750g) ground beef or pork (or whatever meat is available)
1 1/2 Tbs onion, minced
1 tsp minced ginger root (or 1/8 tsp ground ginger)
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs sesame oil
dash of pepper
1 large head cabbage, finely shredded

Shred cabbage, onion, garlic and ginger root in food processor.  Don't have a food processor, PUT IT ON YOUR CHRISTMAS LIST, and in the mean time, get a choppin'!  Squeeze out excess water from mixture.  Add to meat, along with soy sauce, sesame oil and pepper.  Stir until mixture is 'pasty' (as in 'like a paste' not 'Deb. is pasty white!').

To stuff the skins, place 1 heaping tsp of filling on each disk.  Use fingertips to spread a little water around the edge of the skin.  Fold disk firmly over filling and press and roll edges together to form a half moon.  Set on lightly floured surface.  The dumplings should not touch each other as they will stick!

Steam in a covered bamboo or metal steamer over boiling water.  Line steamer with cabbage leaves or a thin cloth for easy clean-up afterwards.


Fry in 1 1/2 tsp oil until golden (~3').

Dipping Sauce:
I just used a little bit of whatever I had on hand:  2 parts soy sauce, 1 part sesame oil, 1 part vinegar, a few garlic cloves (I didn't have time to crush them, so I just dropped them in comme ça), and a generous dash of ground ginger.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Probably one of the easiest things I've ever made.  And I use this recipe at least once a week.

1 Tbs starter*
1C Hot water (I boil it in the kettle then let is sit for a minute)
1C Cold water (here, that's whatever temperature happens to come out of the filtered tap)
1C Whole milk powder

While the hot water is boiling, combine filtered 'cold' water, starter and milk powder in a sealable (I use a screw-on lid jar) 1L/1quart container.  Still till powder is absorbed and lumps are gone.  Add hot water.  Stir again.  Cover.  Wrap jar in a tea towel and leave on kitchen counter** for a few hours or overnight.  Refrigerate once solid.

*The word on the street is that you can buy yogurt starter . . . if you live in west Africa, just ask a neighbor for some.  Once you've made yogurt, just save a little bit for the next batch.
**This works great if you live in the Sahel.  If you don't, go to your local library and check out a book on homemade yogurt.  But I warn you, you will never be satisfied with store bought again!  Except for this great stuff you can buy in France that they sell in glazed terra cotta pots . . . YUM!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Coffee Ice Cream

Since I was a little girl, coffee ice cream has been my absolute favorite!  And it's so much easier to make than one would think.  Here's a basic recipe that can be tweaked as needed.

1L heavy whipping cream (reconstituted milk powder works too . . . just know that the less fat there is the longer it will take to freeze and the more icy it will be in the end)
1/2 C sugar
1 tablespoon NesCafé dissolved in as little water as possible.

Combine all ingredients in a 1L-ish container (it will need a little wiggle room) that seals well.  Shake well to stir.   Stick it in the freezer.  Every half hour or so shake it up and replace in the freezer.  Once it starts to feel a little solid, scrape down the edges with a spatula and stir.  Cover and seal well.  Shake one more time for good measure.  Stick it back in the freezer.  After a few hours (depending on how cold your freezer is and how quickly it 'melts' each time you take it out to stir), voila!  You're very own homemade not-quite-Ben&Jerry's-but-hey-it's-cold coffee ice cream.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Scalloped Potatoes

These were a big hit at a recent community bar-b-q we had here on the compound.  The original recipe came from  It called for whole milk, which of course for me here, comes in powder form.  And instead of heavy cream I altered the quantities and used homemade yogurt.

Yield: 6 servings
Active time: 30 minutes (HA!  Not in Niger . . . try at least an hour)
Total time: 1 3/4 hours

3/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg (the fresher the better)
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
3 pounds (~1.5kg) boiling potatoes (about 6 in the US, 12+ in Niger), scrubbed clean
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup yogurt
1 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 350F (180C).  Generously butter a 2 1/2 quart baking dish (not glass).

Thinly slice potatoes.  Layer in baking dish, overlapping slightly and sprinkling each layer with some salt, pepper and nutmeg, and some of the butter.  Add yogurt to milk and pour over potatoes, pressing down gently to submerge potatoes in liquid.

Cover with foil and bake until potatoes are tender, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.

Remove from oven and uncover.  Turn on broiler and 3-5 minutes.

Let stand 10 minutes before serving.