Moist Chocolate Cake & Milk Frosting


27 July 2010


2 c. flour
1 t salt
1 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
3/4 c. baking cocoa (Matinal)
2 c. sugar (or less)

1 c. oil
1 c. brewed coffee
1 c. milk
2 eggs
1 t vanilla extract

Sift dry ingredients together in a bowl (I actually did this because I have to sift the worms out of my flour). Add oil, coffee and milk and mix together. Add eggs and vanilla and beat for 2 minutes. The batter is thin. Pour into two greased and floured 9" cake pans. Bake at 325 for 25-30 minutes (or over a medium-high flame in a marmite, one at a time). Let cakes cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan (or not, if you only have one pan and a marmite oven).


1 c. milk
5 T flour
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. shortening (or all butter)
1 c. sugar
1 t vanilla extract

Combine milk and flour and mix out lumps. Heat in a saucepan until thick. Cover and refrigerate. Beat butter, shortening, sugar and vanilla together until smooth. Add chilled milk/flour paste and beat for 10 minutes. Frost cooled cake.

My sister made this cake for me when I was younger. She got the recipe from Taste of Home, which is where I've copied the recipe from. It is still amazingly delicious and the frosting doesn't require powdered sugar, which is hard to find here.

Veggie Burgers au Cameroun


2 c. cooked beans
2 eggs
1 c. oats (dry)

1 T oil
1 onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped (or more)
1 maggi cube
1 shrimp cube
1 packet elena (70 gm tomato paste)
cumin, hot pepper

Saute onions in oil for a few minutes. Add garlic, cubes, hot pepper and cumin, cook for another minute or two. Add tomato paste and mix together. Add spice mix to beans. Mash beans with a fork (or what have you) and mix in oats and eggs. Let sit in fridge for 30 minutes or so (this will help the burgers stick together better). Form into 8 patties (about 1/2 inch thick, you can press them thinner in the pan if they're falling apart). Fry on both sides for a few minutes.


Pasta with Chard and Pine Nuts


23 July 2010


8 oz (250 gm) penne, rotelle or rigatoni
(I used farfalle)
1/4 c. pasta cooking water
1 T olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 lb chard leaves, washed & chopped
1/2 c. wine or stock
(or pasta water with a splash of balsamic)
1 t red pepper flakes
1/4 c. toasted pine nuts
Salt & pepper

Cook pasta while prepping other ingredients. Toast pine nuts in a dry pan.

In a large pan, heat oil and add onion. Cook for 2 minutes and add garlic. Add the chopped Swiss chard and toss to coat (or not, if you're using a very tiny pan). Pour in the wine or stock (or pasta water with a splash of balsamic, if you're me) and stir to coat (or not, if you're using a very tiny pan). When the chard begins to wilt, stir in the red pepper flakes and pine nuts. Bring to a simmer and stir in the reserved pasta cooking water. Immediately add the cooked pasta (or add *to* the cooked pasta, if that pan is bigger) and toss to coat. Or kind of mix it together carefully, if your chard likes to stick together.


The original recipe can be found here. You'll notice I didn't use tomatoes (I didn't have any) and I quadrupled the pine nuts (and tripled the garlic). It still turned out great. And my stock substitution was perfect. I bet the original recipe turns out pretty tasty, too.

Also, this was really delicious cold the next day. Boom.



24 May 2010


Greens (not bitter)

Maggi cubes (or other MSG/flavor source)

Chop greens into fine pieces (hold in a bundle and cut across in small sections - on a cutting board if you're American, or just in your hand against your index finger if you're Cameroonian). Boil until tender. Drain.

Chop onion, tomato, garlic, ginger and piment finely. Fry in lots of oil with plenty of Maggi. Add in drained greens, mix thoroughly and fry a little more.

Throw in some meat or fish chunks if you've got them lying around.

I made njama-njama for the first time the other day after Jane gave me a bunch of non-bitter greens. Yum! It is one of my favorite Cameroonian foods, and maybe the only time you eat vegetables as a dish.

I'm eating a plant! There were twice as many greens as shown here.

After chopping the first half. Fingers still intact!

Onion, tomato, garlic, ginger, cube (Honig, not Maggi)

And it's njama-njama! This is normally eaten with fufu corn aka couscous de maiz. But I like it just straight veggie deliciousness. No bland, non-nutritive starch ball necessary!

Bagels From Heaven


2 t dry yeast
1 1/2 T sugar
1 1/4 c. warm water

3 1/2 c. flour (+ more for kneading)
1 1/2 t salt

Add sugar and water to 1/2 c. of warm water and let sit 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve. In a large bowl, mix flour and salt and form a well in the center. Pour the dissolved yeast and half the remaining water into the well and mix. Add reserve water as needed to form a firm and moist dough.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Gradually work in more flour to form a stiff and firm (but still smooth and elastic) dough. Put dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat it, cover it with a cloth and let it rise somewhere warm for about an hour (or til doubled in size).

Punch the dough down and let it rest 10 minutes. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces (or 9, if you can only fit 3 bagels at a time in your marmite oven and you like symmetry). Roll each piece into a ball and press between your hands to get rid of air bubbles (you can feel them coming out!). Coat a finger in flour and press it through the ball to form a ring. Gently stretch the ring and work your fingers into the hole until it is about 1/3 the diameter of the ring. Cover with a cloth and let rest 10 minutes more.

Meanwhile, set the oven to preheat at 425 F or preheat your marmite to what seems like a good temperature. Also, bring a large pot of water to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer. Use a slotted spatula to lower the bagels into the water in batches of 2 or 3. Boil, uncovered, until they rise to the surface (~1 minute) and then flip them once. Remove from the water and drain excess water. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet (or inverted pan lid) and bake 20 minutes until beautifully golden.

I found the recipe here, a truly amazing baking blog! While mildly time consuming, like all bread is, the bagels were amazing! My yeast didn't proof as well as I wanted, and my bagels were neither smooth nor highly-poofed, but they were delicious bagels in Cameroon. The recipe is easy if you've got the time, and I imagine they get better each time you make them.

Lacking cream cheese, lox, jam, etc, I ate the bagels plain, and ate one toasted and topped with a fried egg, avocado and Cameroon style condiment. Yum, yum, YUM!

Bagels resting pre-boil.

Boiling water on the left, marmite oven on the right.

Bagels a-boiling and a-beginning to float.

Bagels enter the oven.

Fresh, hot, tasty bagels! Before entering my belly.

Vegan Naan


10 May 2010


2/3 c. warm water
1 t sugar
2 t yeast

1.5 c. flour
1 T oil
1 t salt
margarine for frying

Mix yeast, sugar and warm water and let stand for 10 minutes until foamy. Add flour, oil and salt and mix into a dough. Knead for 5 minutes. Let rise for 30-90 minutes until doubled in size or impatient. Divide into 8 equal pieces and roll into balls. Flatten with hands or rolling pin, depending on desired irregularity coefficient, to about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Fry in a pan over medium heat, adding margarine for each piece. (More margarine = more tastiness, less margarine = more health, butter instead of margarine = non vegan, wheat flour = add more yeast).


This recipe is best served with LJ's Chana Dal and McCrays amazing greens, some cold beer and friends. But. It goes well with pretty much everything. I would wrap bread in this naan. Maybe not.

Best Eggplant


09 May 2010


1 small eggplant
2 T butter/margarine
1 t salt
3/4 c. water
1/2 T sugar
1/2 T vinegar

1/2-1 t. ea:
- cinnamon
- coriander
- cumin
- turmeric
+ spicy chili to taste

Cut eggplant into small chunks (1/2-1 inch). Heat butter and spices, cook for ~1 minute (don't allow to burn). Add eggplant and salt and toss to coat. Combine water, vinegar and sugar and add to pan. Simmer covered until tender (~10 min). Uncover and simmer rapidly until liquid is evaporated (~15 min).

This is one of my new favorite recipes! The original recipe can be found here. I like to eat this plain, but it's also good over rice, couscous and with naan. When I serve it over something, I don't evaporate ALL the liquid.

Everytime I cook this, Jane comes to the window and says, "Zara, what are you preparing? It smells SO good!"

Potato Gnocchi and Pesto


23 February 2010

May your dreams be starchy and garlic-thumbed.


2 lb potatoes, peeled
1 t salt
1 egg
2+ c. flour

Chop potatoes into 1-in chunks and boil until tender. Drain water and mash potatoes with a fork. Let potatoes cool til they won't cook a raw egg. Whisk egg and salt and add to warm potatoes. Knead in flour, about 5-10 minutes. Roll out into ropes and cut into little gnocchi sized pieces (1/2 inch-ish?). Poach in salted water 3-5 minutes. Drain and serve with sauce.

2 c. fresh basil leaves
1/2 c. olive oil
3 garlic cloves
1/3 c. pine nuts (if your loving family sent you some)
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese (i have no idea where you would acquire this in Cameroon)
salt and pepper to taste

Chop basil, garlic and pine nuts very finely. Mix with olive oil, salt and pepper. (There is no Parmesan cheese here).

During Peace Corps training, we made gnocchi for one Thursday night dinner, with 3 sauces - pesto, spicy tomato, and creamy-cheesy. Every time I make gnocchi on my own, I overestimate what 2 pounds of potatoes looks like and end up adding so much more flour and cooking for hours and destroying my kitchen.

The first time I had gnocchi was at a chic little Italian restaurant in Eureka, CA of all places, when my family all came to visit me at college. That gnocchi had a butter sauce and smoked salmons and capers...

Banana Bread


3-4 ripe bananas
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 c. flour

1 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 t lemon juice (or vinegar)
1/3 c. oil

Mash bananas. Add sugar and mix. Add egg and mix. Add flour, salt and baking soda, mix. Add lemon juice (or vinegar) and oil, mix well. Grease a round cake pan and dust with flour. Pour batter into cake pan. Cook in a marmite oven over medium heat for 20-30 minutes, until a knife or toothpick comes out clean. (Or, if you're equipped, bake in a loaf pan for 1 hour at 350˚F).
This is my revision of the Banana Bread recipe from the Cameroon PCV cookbook Chop Fayner. I baked it a few times when the Engineers Without Borders were visiting. Even the Cameroonians helping them liked it!

One-Egg Cake & Cameroon Chocolate Sauce


1 ¼ c. sugar
1/3 c. butter/margarine
1 c. milk
1 ¾ c. flour

2 ½ t baking powder
1 t salt
1 egg
1 t vanilla

Cream butter and sugar. Add half of milk and vanilla, mix well. Mix flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mix gradually. Mix egg and second half of milk. Add to batter. Mix well. Pour into greased pan (9x9, or what have you). Bake at 375˚ for 25 min, or in a marmite oven over medium flame until a knife/toothpick comes out clean.

While the cake is cooking, make chocolate sauce.

Cameroon Chocolate Sauce
Matinal (or other cocoa mix)

Melt margarine over low heat, add Matinal or other cocoa mix to desired consistency. If you live outside of Cameroon, you probably can find a better recipe with better ingredients. However, this one is delicious. Serve cake with chocolate sauce. Yum.

At home in Alaska, my sister would cook up One-Egg Cake with chocolate sauce as a spur of the moment dessert. It was a staple dessert for winter nights, the perfect addition to an evening of reading or playing games with the fam.

Easy Lentils (+ Lentil Burgers)


2 Tbsp veg oil
1-2 onions, diced
1-2 carrots, diced
2-3 celery stalks, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp peeled/minced ginger
1-2 Tbsp hot pepper, minced (or cayenne)

2-3 Tbsp ground cumin
1-2 Tbsp ground coriander
16 oz lentils (≈2 c) (i prefer brown lentils)
½ t salt
5 c. water

Heat oil over medium heat & add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, ginger, hot pepper, cumin and coriander. Cook 2-3 min. Add water, lentils, salt, pepper. Bring to boil, then cover and reduce to low. Cook for 40 min, until lentils are tender and water is absorbed (unless you want it soupy). Serve over couscous (yum!) or rice, or plain, or on bread-like something.

Leftovers? (Yes, this makes a lot) Take 1.5-2 c leftovers, add 1 egg and enough flour to make into burger consistency (still pretty messy). Make into 3 or 4 patties and fry in a little oil. Lentil burgers, yum!

My senior year of college, I would cook up Easy Lentils and some plain couscous on the weekend. I ate lentils and couscous almost every-day for lunch, and a lot of times for dinner, too.

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