garlic

Spaghetti in Garlic Oil in a white plate dusted with breadcrumbs and spring onion slices

Spaghetti in Garlic Oil

Food is my language. There is no doubt about that in my mind. Those that know me know that this statement to be true. My love of food is not so much about eating as it is feeding. I love feeding those that I value. I continuously find ways to delight people with food. My adventures in cooking for loved ones has led me to one conclusion. This spaghetti in garlic oil embodies my mantra.

cONTINUE
Chipotle Chili topped with yogurt and cilantro

Chili on a Chilly Day

The other day, it occurred to me that I have been on social media for about a third of my life. Growing up in Nigeria, I won’t exactly say that I grew up with technology. Technology and the internet was something that slowly drizzled into Nigeria. Moving the US when I was 16, opened my eyes to the internet and social networking online. Even before the days of Facebook, I spent a considerable amount of time online. One of my favorite things to do online is to learn about food. I have always been curious about the way other people eat. Food bloggers have become my demi-gods and I have become the person who falls in love with recipes. This Chipotle Chili from Gaby of What’s Gaby Cooking is one of my new loves.

continue
Fried Salt and Pepper Chicken WIngs in a bowl, dusted with specks of sesame seeds and spring onions. I have a half eaten wings between my fingers

Takeout Wings

Fried Salt and Pepper Chicken WIngs in a bowl, dusted with specks of sesame seeds and spring onions. I have a half eaten wings between my fingers

I don’t know much about American football. As a Nigerian-American woman, I grew up watching soccer in Lagos. I have vivid memories, from my childhood, of watching the World Cup games between the Super Eagles and other national teams. Now that I live in the land of the New England Patriots, during one of the winningest seasons, I find myself interested in the results. As has mostly been the case in the past six years I have lived in the Boston area; the Patriots are going to the Superbowl. As the fans send off the team, I am dreaming of chicken wings for Super Bowl Sunday. First up are these Salt and Pepper Chicken wings.

Second confession: I am a chicken wings connoisseur. Chicken wings always have a presence in the my freezer stash. I just find them so easy to cook. Baking wings at high heat in an oven and coating with sauce is a favorite cooking method. I can braise them quickly in a shallow pan to make a broth for instant noodles. The Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings are deep fried before being coated in an intense coat of sauce.

Fried Salt and Pepper Chicken WIngs in a bowl, dusted with specks of sesame seeds and spring onions

I knew I had to write up the recipe for these Salt and Pepper Chicken wings when I finally got my ratios right. It took a while to feel like I had the right balance of ingredients. I actually tested this recipe over three consecutive days. Each time was good until it was irresistible. There is something about cooking with ginger, garlic and soy sauce. The combination makes the space smell like good food is cooking. This trifecta add so much umami to this chicken.

It is my sincerest hope that you have an opportunity to try the recipe for Salt and Pepper chicken wings. The one thing I can tell you about making this chicken wings is that it is essential to have everything ready before you start cooking. The process goes by so quickly. The resulting wings are worth the effort.

Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings

The Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings is a homage to Chinese takeout menu. I wanted a taste that might not be authentic but reminds me of my favorite Chinese buffet experience. The wings do exactly that.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Appetizer, Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: appetizers, chicken, chicken wings, chili flakes, crystallized ginger, garlic, green onions, soy sauce, wings
Author: Sinmi

Ingredients

  • 3 Chicken Wings Party Style
  • 12 Sprigs Spring Onions
  • 8 cloves Garlic use less if you prefer
  • 2 tbsp Grated Fresh Ginger
  • 4 tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 2 tbsp Chili Flakes
  • 3 tbsp Freshly Milled Black Pepper
  • 1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
  • Gomasio or Everything But Bagel Seasoning optional
  • 3 Cups Vegetable Oil
  • Salt

Instructions

  • Pat the chicken wings completely dry before salting the skin generously.
  • Chop the garlic cloves into fine bits. Slice the spring onions, separating the greens from the white ends.
  • A saucepan, with deep side, heat up the vegetable oil on medium heat. Test out the temperature of the oil by testing with a thermometer to see if it is 375F. Or sprinkle some flour and see if it sizzles.
  • Once the oil is hot, start frying the chicken wings. Do not crowd the pot. Frying the chicken takes about 10-15 minutes. I like to turn my wings a couple of times to get a deep golden brown color on them. 
  • When pulling wings out of the oil, don’t place on paper towel. Gently place on a plate.
  • While the last batch of chicken fries, start making the sauce to coat wings in another saucepan. Add in the sesame oil first. Follow with the garlic and ginger after a couple of minutes. Once garlic and ginger become fragrant, add in the white part of the spring onions. 
  • A minute after the spring onions are added in, pour in the soy sauce. Let it reduce and become sticky. Add in the chili flakes and black pepper. Stir everything together and wait for the last batch of chicken to finish frying.
  • Once all the chicken wings are adequately fried, add them into the sauce with the heat still on. Stir it all together to get as much sauce on each chicken wings as possible. Once the sauce coats the chicken wings well, add in the green bits of the spring onions. Toss around for a moment.
  • Transfer the Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings to a plate. I like to sprinkle mine with either gomasio or everything but bagel seasoning. It adds some more texture and umami with the sesame seed and other spices.
Carrot Curry Soup with Biscuit and Pesto

A Soup to Soothe the Cold

Carrot Curry Soup with Biscuit and Pesto

My darling Boston has been experiencing a warmer than expected winter, so far. The lack of cold has meant that I have developed a robust appetite for soups as I usually do. This week, we had a bit of a cold snap when the temperature dropped into the teens from the mid-30s. It was a wonderful opportunity to make this carrot curry soup.

The truth is that I don’t know if I really like carrots. I am a bit of a picky eater. There are certain foods I only tolerate in specific preparations. Carrots are one of those. I can only seem to eat my carrots in soup form. Any other preparation and I am not likely going to be a fan. Although, there are a few salad options I have tried and liked.

Carrot Curry Soup with Biscuit and Pesto

I, overwhelmingly, prefer to taste the full range of flavors on my vegetables. One of the things that draws me to this Carrot Curry Soup is how insanely robust and flavorful it is. There is no hiding from the carrot in this soup. The roasting of the carrot to get that caramelization completely changes the way it presents itself in the soup. The carrot suddenly has both a sweet and salty taste on the tongue. This is one of my favorite things about this soup

As the name Carrot Curry Soup suggests, the curry paste is an important part of this production. Finding a good red curry paste makes a difference in this soup. I usually buy a popular brand that I have used and liked for years. Toasting the curry paste a bit before cooking is something I learned from reading South East Asian recipes. It gives the curry a chance to develop a heavenly fragrance while waking up dormant oils.

There is a bit of a choose your adventure to making soup. You can make it as thick or as thin as you desire. I personally prefer this carrot curry soup so thick it feels like a mousse. The feel of air on the tongue is one that makes quite a difference when eating this.

I have served this carrot curry soup with an insanely flavorful Walnut Cilantro pesto sauce that is still in testing. Hopefully, I can get that recipe out to you soon.

Please try the recipe and let me know what you think.

Carrot Curry Soup

Delightful use of carrot and red curry paste to create a warming winter soup.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Main Course, Soup
Keyword: carrot, coconut, coconut milk, coconut oil, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, red curry paste, roasted carrot
Servings: 4
Author: Sinmi

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Carrot peeled and quartered
  • 4 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 3 Tbsp Red Curry Paste
  • 13.5 oz Full Fat Coconut Milk this basically one can of coconut milk
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 inches ginger chopped
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  • The first step is roasting the carrots. Put the carrots on a baking sheet, add in two tablespoons of coconut oil and some salt. Mix it so that everything is well coated. Place in an oven that has been preheated to 400F. Roast for 25 minutes or until carrots is well browned.
  • In a medium-sized pot, heat up the leftover coconut oil. Add in the chopped garlic and ginger. Sauteed at medium heat for about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the red pepper paste. Keep stirring and heating until the paste mixture is fragrant.
  • Pour the coconut milk as well as 2-3 cups of water. Stir until the paste is well dissolved into the liquid. Add in the roasted carrots. Let it boil at medium heat for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Let soup cool down a bit before attempting to blend, for safety reasons. Once it is cool enough to handle, blend soup until smooth. This can easily be done in a food processor or blender. 

Notes

*I like to blend the soup for a long time to whisk some air into it. This gives it a mousse like texture when you are eating it. 
*Also, I serve mine with a tangy walnut cilantro paste sometimes. This adds a serious depth of flavor to the bowl. The recipe for that is here.
Lemony Yogurt Tahini Sauce made with a black whisk in a white bowl

Lemony Yogurt Tahini Sauce

Lemony Yogurt Tahini Sauce made with a black whisk in a white bowl

This sauce was a surprise that came out of nowhere. I needed a sauce to plate my smashed twice cooked cumin potatoes. I was fiddling with items in the kitchen for the sauce. Suddenly I remembered I had tahini in my cupboard. This is the origin story of this lemony yogurt tahini sauce.

I am writing this particular lemony yogurt tahini sauce recipe as much for you as for me. Just like I am writing this blog as much for me as it is for you. I am not even sure if it is for you. To be honest, as at the time I am writing this, this food blog is really nothing other than a project to soothe my anxiety. By embracing the idea of writing and creating food once again, I am finding control in some place. Every other part of my life is out of my control at the moment. But, this blog is within control.

A whisk coated with Lemon Yogurt Tahini Sauce

Yes, I don’t control if anyone would see this. But I control my creativity. Everyday when I go into my kitchen and I cook another item for the blog, it is another modicum of control over a situation that has escaped from my grasp. Perhaps making lemony yogurt tahini sauce is the way I will get unstuck from my life. Or maybe it will just be another thing that I do and quit when it gets too hard. Who knows? All I know is that at this moment the process of creating this space is making me happy and that is the only valid metric.

Okay! I have said too much. This is a food blog after all. This lemony yogurt sauce is just the right amount of tangy and nutty. It is what I imagine I would make if I like eating crudites (I don’t) But I’ll definitely use this on chickpeas and maybe that chicken shawarma bowl.

Give it a try! Let me know if you like it.

Crispy potatoes with lemony yogurt tahini sauce on a white plate

Lemony Yogurt Tahini Sauce

An easy sauce that makes a wonderful dip not just for crispy potatoes but also crudites and falafel balls.
Prep Time10 mins
Course: Side Dish
Keyword: greek yogurt, lemon, tahini, white sauce, yogurt, yogurt sauce
Author: Sinmi

Ingredients

  • 1 Lemon juiced
  • 1/2 cup Greek Yogurt I prefer whole milk yogurt
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 clove Garlic grated

Instructions

  • Add all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Or you could also dump it in a blender and let it do the hard bit.
Smoky Shrimp Confit on Mashed White beans

Shrimp Confit with Mashed White Beans

Shrimp confit served on mashed white beans and drizzled with oil.

I did not realize until a few years ago that black eye peas are actually a thing for New Year’s Day. The importance of black eye peas became apparent when I worked in a grocery store. All year, the frozen black eye peas just never seemed to go anywhere. Then, the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, they disappeared. Suddenly, customers are asking if we have more black eye peas in the back. I was flabbergasted but I found myself picking up this distinctly American tradition, in my own way. This New Year’s I am tapping into this tradition by eating beans on the first day of 2019 with this delightful smoky shrimp confit.

As an immigrant, my life is a blend of what I grew up knowing as my culture and what I have found in my odyssey away from my birthplace. There are parts of my new heritage that are intentional because I try to be very specific in who I am becoming. There are other parts that I have found and adopted through curiosity. My palate is very much about curiosity. There are many foods I did not understand at the beginning of my journey. Now, I find myself eating foods that amaze the woman that I am now.

Smoky Shrimp Confit in Oil

Since I am not a big fan of black eyes peas, I am serving the confit shrimp with white beans. The idea to mash my beans comes from my love of ewa agoyin. Ewa agoyin is one of those Yoruba meals that nobody makes at home. Ewa agoyin is best eaten from the pots of a food hawker that parading the streets. There is something mythical about the deeply fried sauce is ladled in the well created within the plated mashed beans. I could tell you what the flavors in the sauce harken to but I can guarantee that nothing made at home is like the hawker’s sauce. A good ewa agoyin hawker’s sauce is not only dark, but it is also smokey, salty and gritty in texture.

I have tried to capture some the mythical nature of this dish by serving the black eye peas with an intensely flavored shrimp confit. The oil for this confit is where all the flavor exists. It is deeply flavored from the use of garlic and herbs. The smokey nature is pronounced from the addition of a sweet paprika powder that lends it a vibrant color as well.

Smoky Shrimp Confit on Mashed White beans

Don’t be afraid of the oil in this dish. The seasoning to cook the shrimp means the oil is deeply flavorful. If you don’t soak up all the oil with bread while eating, store it in the fridge for a couple of weeks. It can be used on savory oats, to sauteed vegetables for a quick meal or even used to poach salmon.

The shrimp confit is a dish that requires patience but the result are so worthy of the time it takes to create. Why not start the new year off by coming to investing time in yourself? Cooking and exploring the different flavors that can exist in one meal is a good starting point.

 

Smoky Shrimp Confit

Shrimp is slow cooked in a bath of oil seasoned with herbs, garlic, and paprika.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Cooling Time15 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Main Course
Keyword: confit, paprika, seafood, shrimp, shrimp confit
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Sinmi

Ingredients

  • 1 pound shrimp (deveined)
  • 1 tbsp Sweet paprika
  • 1/2 small onion cut into wedges
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 3 sprig thyme
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 11/2 cups oil don’t use olive oil. Canola oil or a bland oil like safflower works best.
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes

Instructions

  • In a medium sized pot, add in the oil. Add in the rosemary, thyme, onion, and garlic. Cook over medium heat until the oil is fragrant. This process takes no more than ten minutes. Let the oil cool down and strain. This step can be completed a day or two ahead.
  • Pour strained oil back into the pot. Add in the paprika, chili flakes, and salt. Heat up until oil is just warm, around 200F. It should be at low heat.
  • Add in the shrimp in bulk, carefully. Doing this brings down the temperature of the oil so that it does not fry the shrimp. Keep oil on low heat. Monitor the heat to be sure it is not too hot. Cook until shrimp for about 20 minutes when it starts getting a pink hue.
Tomato Pesto Sauce on Fettucine

Tomatoes in the Winter

I get those moments when I become obsessive about a particular idea. The pass few weeks (yes weeks!) I have been obsessively thinking about how to eat tomatoes in the winter. The rabbit hole I entered led me to this wonderful creamy cheesy tomato pesto sauce.

Tomato runs in my blood. As a Yoruba woman, who was born and bred in Lagos for the entirety of my childhood, the tomato is a thing. It has taken a long time to not compulsively eat tomato sauce/stew with every meal. Growing in Lagos, we had really good tomatoes year round. I mean, there were times when there was scarcity and you wondered why the whole country had to subsist on tomatoes. However, more often than not, there was abundance. So many baskets of ripe and juicy tomatoes spilling over the woven basket. The market floor was often littered with rotten and underripe tomato tossed out carelessly by the traders.

I left that place of abundance to come to America, where tomatoes are mostly just passable. At first,I did not realize what I had given up because I lived in California. It seemed almost season-less. And I mean both the tomato and the state. Then I dragged my life over to Massachusett and suddenly, tomatoes have seasons. There is a very short window where I allow myself to eat tomatoes. it is usually from the middle of summer to late summer.

This short window of time is when the tomatoes are just about right to be eaten raw. A good tomato is juicy, almost like a ripe peach. When you bite into it, the juice oozes out uncontrollably. It should have a nice acidic edge that is only mellowed by its own sweetness. There is no way to write fully in words the magic that happens when you get a truly ripe tomato of good pedigree.

So, as you can imagine, given the frigidness I live with in New England, the magic of the tomato is one that is hard to lay my hands upon in the winter. I have had to come to terms with this. Come to terms means I don’t eat tomatoes in the winter, except it is canned. That is until I discovered a way to have cheesy tomato pesto sauce in the winter.

Tomato Pesto Sauce on Fettucine

Lately, I have discovered a new class of tomato products for the winter. It started with Divina tomatoes last year and this year has escalated to the marinated cherry tomatoes from Trader Joes. Goodness me! When I first tried the Divina Roasted Red Tomatoes, I knew it was a love that might not stand the test of time. I could not justify to myself, and my bank account, the wisdom of buying eight dollar jars of tomatoes. I knew it was something I would only ever be able to eat when it is on sale (trust me, I keep my eye on the price sticker at my grocery store).

The Trader Joes semi-dried and marinated Cherry tomatoes has been a perfect way to ease the hurt of not being able to afford the Divina tomatoes. If I am being honest, I also realize that the Trader Joes and Divina tomatoes are best for different purposes. The Trader Joes semi-dried tomatoes are best for cooking sauces. The Divina roasted tomatoes work best as a topping.

I have recently been using the Trader Joes semi-dried cherry tomatoes in this quick cheesy tomato pesto sauce. It requires no cooking and it is a reliable 15-25 minute meal provider. Most of that time is spent cooking pasta or prepping vegetables. The sauce comes about quickly in a blender and works so well went add to hot freshly cooked pasta.

The tomato pesto sauce is super easy to make. The ingredients mostly come out of a jar. Plus, the sauce does incredibly well in the fridge, on its own or mixed in with food.

Tomato Pesto Sauce

A quick and easy tomato sauce that creates goodness from roasted cherry tomatoes and a few other items from a jar.
Prep Time10 mins
Course: Main Course
Keyword: Pasta, Pesto, Sauce, Tomato
Servings: 4
Author: Sinmi

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Trader Joes Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 Roasted Medium Red Pepper
  • 1/3 Cup Pesto
  • 1/3 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 Tsp Chilli Flakes
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • Smoked Gouda Cheese Optional
  • Salt

Instructions

  • Add all of the ingredients, except salt and cheese, in a food processor and pulse until it comes into a smooth consistency.
  • Taste the sauce after blending. Season with salt to taste.
  • Tomato Pesto Sauce tastes best when mixed into freshly boiled hot pasta. The heat from the pasta heats the sauce. A bit of pasta water can be added to loosen up the sauce to desired consistency.
  • Shred the gouda cheese and sprinkle on top of the pasta as desired.