Cooking Rice

You know how some seemingly easy to cook food, just throw you off! Rice can be one those! You even wonder if the times you ever cooked it right were a fluke!

Growing up, I learnt many tips ranging from adding oil, butter or margarine to rice to prevent it from over cooking and turning mush. I bought a rice cooker that I’ve only used twice in 10 years. I cook my rice in pot.

With Rice you find that it can either be undercooked or overcooked. The brand of rice can also be a factor. Buying rice from an open market, you’d be prone to all sorts of inconsistencies. In Nigeria the most popular form of rice that is the staple in every home and in the markets is “Long Grained Parboiled Rice”. I would be focusing specifically on those. These tips I’d be sharing, also apply to the local rice like Ofada and Abakaliki rice.

Tips for cooking rice.

  • Wash properly
  • Don’t cook with excessive water.
  • Cook on medium heat
  • Trap steam

Let me break it down.

• Tip 1

Wash rice properly. I don’t use the parboiling method of first boiling rice and then rinsing. I wash the rice till the water is clear.

• Tip 2

Do not start cooking your rice with an excessive amount of water. There is a high tendency you will end up with over cooked soft mushy rice if you do. Cook with just about double the amount of rice. Say you are cooking one cup of rice, cook with 2 cups of water. I recommend you start with already hot water.

• Tip 3

Cook on medium heat. It’s important not to start cooking rice on high heat, it would just boil too fast and burn. On low heat, it would cook too slowly and absorb water.

• Tip 4

*My most important tip*

Once the water has reduced remaining and you can no longer see it on top of the rice, turn the heat down to low, not all the way low but lower than medium.

Next you want to trap the steam. The steam will cook the rice through. Usually towards the end of the cook, the rice may still seem hard and there is usually a temptation to add more water to help the rice cook through. Don’t be tempted, but trap the steam in the pot to cook the rice through.

To do this, you can use Foil, Banana leaves or moinmoin leaves. I won’t recommend plastic shopping bags, I’ve used then I the past and they did the job but it’s not very safe health wise.

Place foil or leaves over the rice and place the lid on the pot to cover it. Remember you have turned the heat down, so the steam will slowly cook the rice through.

This might take any where from five to ten minutes.

Take the lid off, stick a bottom of a spoon or fork into the rice to check for water, if the comes out without water on it, the rice is ready to be taken off the heat.

I use this method to cook all rice dishes that i use Long Grain Parboiled Rice for, Jollof Rice, Fried Rice, Yellow (Turmeric) Rice , White Rice, and Ofada Rice . And you will observe a constant through the images I’ve shared, the rice keeps intact, it’s not soggy and its properly cooked through.

Try these tips and feed me back.

Homemade Agege Bread

Homemade Agege Bread

I find it interesting that since I started blogging in 2015, I don’t have a recipe on the blog for Agege bread. Weird right. I have for PaniPopo bread rolls which I absolutely love,you should check the recipe out.

An egbon of mine DM’ed me a few days ago to send her the recipe for Agege bread, that is when I realised I didn’t have it here on the blog. Waawu. I found a picture from 2014 on the Facebook page though.

I’ve dusted my recipe book, typed out the recipe and added a few tips I learnt in the last one year. Like my recipe book contains some bread improvers that I’ve never gelled with, so removed those. Using Vitamin C is a tip I learnt and I’ve explained what it’s used for in the recipe.

Recipe

  • 6 cups all purpose flour (you’d need some more to powder the rolling board, about a cup at least).
  • 1 1/2 tbsp yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar (you can half this, I’m a sweet tooth)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1  cup milk
  • 100g – 150g margarine (Can be substituted with 2-3 tbsp of vegetable oil)
  • 2 large egg (one for dough, one for egg washing)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ascorbic acid ( I crushed 5 tables of white vitamin C to get this). Vitamin C acts as dough improver. It accelerates the rising of the dough and extends the shelf life.

Procedure

  • Sift flour in a large bowl, add sugar, salt, and vitamin c and whisk together. Add the margarine and rub into into the flour till it forms crumbs
  • *Check that your yeast is active. Sometime you buy packet yeast and you may not know it has been exposed and is now not as potent. To do this, add a 1/4 tsp sugar to your yeast, add 3 tbsp of warm water. Leave it for about 3 minutes. The yeast is expected to froth if it is still active, if it doesn’t froth like the foamy top on beer after leaving it for longer than 10 minutes, the yeast is not active
  • In another bowl, mix wet ingredients, one egg, milk water and whisk together
  • Make a hole in the centre of the dry ingredients and add yeast, the mixed wet ingredients to make a dough.You can use a mixer or mix by hand.
  • Transfer the dough onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Or keep mixing in your mixer until dough is stretchy and elastic. The key to making great Agege bread is in the kneading. Kneading will activate the gluten that will make the bread stretchy
  • Roll the dough up. Grease a bowl and place the dough in it. Cover and put in a warm place to rise until it doubled. I usually turn the oven on briefly to warm it up and turn off. Then I place the dough inside to rise, takes about an hour for the first rise.
  • When it has risen, deflate the dough and place on a floured surface knead the dough very well, this will knock out all the air from the first rising and will make the dough fluffier and more elastic
  • Divide it into two, roll the dough up to form a loaf and place in a greased baking pan. For this, I placed both rolls, side by side in the same pan
  • Cover with damp kitchen towel and place in a warm place to rise the second time.
  • When it has risen, turn the oven on and set to 350 degrees. If your oven doesn’t come with a temperature gauge set the heat to about three notches below the highest.
  • Whisk the extra egg you set aside together. Using a brush, Egg wash the top of the risen dough before you place the dough into the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes. About 15 minutes into the bake, you can pull the bread out to give it one more egg wash. If you don’t want the top crust too dark, don’t egg wash.
  • Alternatives to egg wash. You can brush with milk or margarine.
  • You can pass a skewer through the bread to know if it is ready or tap the top to hear a hollow sound.
  • Once it is ready, take it out of the oven, remove from the pan and set on a wire rack to cool.
Cooling on a wire rack , the top crust is a little dark because I double egg washed.
Look at the inside of the bread! Recognise the familiar Agege bread draw! Yum!
A slice of warm Agege bread

I can think of so many ways you can enjoy bread. How do you like yours?

Egg Roll

It’s day 4 of the Covid Lockdown extension (in total we have spent 22days indoors). It seems the kids have decided that cooking will always be their get-out-of-boredom card. That will totally not be a problem of they don’t keep trying to drag me along . They have asked me for Egg Rolls now it’s been a week. They wanted it as part of the Easter menu, they even pull out my recipe book and tried to do it themselves

I don’t have a problem with them doing it themselves but I like to teach/guide them first before I leave them to do it themselves. With adult supervision of course.

They even served siesta today, because it was the condition I gave to making the egg rolls. So here goes.

Recipe

● 8 Hard boiled eggs

● 3 cups all purpose flour

● 1/4 tsp Salt

● 2 tbsp Sugar

● 1/2 tsp grated Nutmeg

● 1 tsp Baking powder

● 50grams Margarine

● 1 Egg

● 1/2 cup water

Procedure

– In a clean dry bowl, seive the flour and add all the dry ingredients (salt, nutmeg, sugar, baking powder).

– Add the margarine and rub in the flour mix until it forms crumbs.

– Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the egg and half of the water. Combine the flour gently with the egg and water without kneading or over working the dough, add the rest of the water and work it all in till you can form a ball.

Leave the dough to rest for about 30 minutes

– Lightly flour a board after the dough has rested and place the dough to divide.

Divide the dough into 8. This recipe can make 9 eggs, so you can divide into 9 parts too.
Hard boiled eggs
Lightly flour your palms and fingers, and wrap the dough around the egg to form an oval. Pinch off any excess dough that might form around the closure and seal properly
The closure might look like this, just pinch off excess dough without over stretching or compromising the wrap around the egg
Deep fry on medium to almost low heat, this is to allow the pastry cook through without cooking too fast and burning the outer crust.
There you have it, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, and very filling!

Many a road traveller has been saved from hunger by egg roll. Cheap and available at almost every bus stop or motor park. One egg roll and a drink and you have a full belly for a long distance travel.😁

Fdvie Avocombo Juice was my drink pairing of choice with the Egg Roll.
Don’t you just want to reach into your screen and grab a bite!

Money saver tips for Vegetable Fried Rice ingredients

Buying in bulk and storing can save you a ton of money. Every home manager loves to shave off an extra penny here and there from home keeping expenses and this is one of them.

I was at the frozen foods section of a large supermarket chain recently and i saw the price on a bag of chopped vegetables, good lordy. There is no way i was going to parting with that amount of money on imported packaged food, that lord knows what sorts of preservatives is in it.

Fried Rice is a regular meal in my home and i have learnt to save a lot of money by buying my vegetables in bulk and storing in the freezer.

The vegetables in the picture below cost me the following from Mile 12 Market , Ketu Lagos Nigeria.

Carrots 300 naira
Green Pepper 300 naira

Red Pepper 200 naira

Runner Beans 200 naira

Green Peas 300 naira

Spring Onions 200 naira
Total cost 1500 naira.

Green Pepper 300 naira

Red Pepper 200 naira

Runner Beans 200 naira

Green Peas 300 naira

Spring Onions 200 naira
Total cost 1500 naira.

From this amount of vegetables, i will get a total of 6 -600g- bags of vegetables enough to make fried rice for my family of 5 (sometimes more) at least 6 times.

So on the average each pot of fried rice will cost just about 250 naira or less for vegetables.

Procedure.

  • Wash your vegetables properly under running water to get rid of dirt. Peel the carrots, de-seed the peppers, and chop them up separately.

  • Combine all the ingredients in the bowl, toss properly to ensure that the vegetables combine evenly.

* If you want, at this point you can bag it up and store in a freezer at this point.

  • I prefer to season the vegetables so they are ready to use when i want to cook. I season with salt, bouillon cubes,curry, thyme.

  • Toss it well to ensure that the seasoning is well incorporated. Let it sit for 30mins before bagging.

Pack into air tight, freezer bags or polythene bags and freeze till you are ready to use. I’ve stored mine for as long as 2 months in a freezer.

This also saves you a lot of cooking time.

Homemade Fries: How to make great fries from scratch.

You can shave a few pennies off your shopping budget if you make your own fries at home for your self.

Say goodbye to store bought brands and stock up on your DIY (do it yourself) brand.

Blanching your potatoes before frying would give you really great golden potatoes. Blanching them and freezing for later use is just as great.


Ingredients

  • Medium sized Irish Potatoes
  • Vegetable oil
  • *Salt Optional

Procedure

  • You need potatoes of course

  • Wash and peel the potatoes using a knife or a potato peeler, and keep them in bowl of room temperature water, to prevent oxidation.

  • Using a knife or a potato slicer (a potato slicer is preferable because it keeps the slices consistent), cut the potato into strips.

Potato slicer

Cut potato strips.

  • Cover the potato strips in water, and if you’d like salt them and leave soaked for 30mins

Potato covered in salt water

  • Strain the water from the potato using a seive
  • Heat up some oil in a pan. Enough oil to for deep frying. Heat it up till its really hot.

Hot oil Tip

Since we mostly don’t use thermometers in cooking here, i learnt to know when oil is hot enough for frying from Sister Som, my friend’s sister. She taught me to put a drop of water in oil while bringing up the heat. As the oil heats up , it would start to make popping sounds to get rid of the water. When the sounds stops, you know your oil is hot enough.

  • Fry the potato till it’s just cooked, without allowing the skin to crisp.
  • Take it out of the oil and spread it out on tray lined with absorbent paper towel. See picture below.

Blanched fries

  • Set the tray into a freezer and freeze over night.

Frozen blanched potato fries

    • Take it out of the freezer and bag in an airtight freezer bag. If you however don’t have freezer bags, you can use airtight polythene/nylon bags.

    • Store it in a freezer till the next time you want to make some fries.

    When you are ready to make your fries, take the frozen chips out of the freezer, heat your oil till very hot, and deep fry till crisp and golden.


    Like this

    Tea Time; Let’s Have Homemade Herbal Tea

    Did you know you can make your own tea using a blend of your favorite herbs and spices?

    I do that all the time and i want to share one of my mixes with you.

    The beauty of this is that, this is made with locally grown spices readily available in the market, especially from the Hausa spice vendors.

    Tea is a beverage so popular it’s one of the most consumed in the world. It’s an aromatic beverage commonly prepared by pouring hot or boiling water over cured tea leaves. Mostly had for breakfast, however in some cultures, tea is had at any time of the day.

    In Nigeria tea is most popular as tea bags, and because of our British colonial past, we have our tea with a handsome helping of milk and sugar.

    I really like using Zobo leaves to make tea, not only because it makes such a beautiful colour of tea, it’s also very aromatic and zingy.


    Health benefits of this herbal tea.

    Herbal teas are good detoxifiers. So is this tea. All the ingredients play a key role in metabolism, detoxification of xenobiotic and flushing toxins out of the body

    It Aids in digestion, Treats nausea & headache, Prevents respiratory disorders, Aids in breast feeding, Helps in weight loss, Helps allergies , Improves skin health, Improves kidney health.

    Increases Immunity;
    The presence of vitamin C in sorrel is pretty impressive.
    Vitamin C also referred to as ascorbic acid, increases the production of white blood cells and stimulates the immune system, which is the first line of protection against pathogens and other free radicals present in the body, hence helping to prevent cancer.


    Ingredients

    • Dried Zobo leaves (Hibiscus Sabdariffa, Roselle, Red Sorrel, or Jamaican Sorrell.
    • Fennel Seeds
    • Dried Mint leaves
    • Cinnamon

    Procedure

    Blitz them all together in the dry mill of your blender, a food processor or coffee grinder. I don’t have a measurement for this. Just eye ball it and go with your gut.

    To make a brew

    • Add 1/2 teaspoon of the tea a cup of boiling water. Allow it to infuse. You can use a tea infuser or strain using a seive.

    Sweeten with honey or any non-nutritive/zero calorie sweetener e.g Stevia or Truvia.

    You can enjoy hot or cold. Do not add milk to this tea because the acidity in the zobo it will cuddle the milk.