Making rotolo (stuffed pasta rolls)

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Back in Accra, and catching up with cooking and writing. As usual I came back with fresh food, this time some fresh pasta and ricotta. Fresh pumpkin and spinach I found here: it is so good to see more vegetables available in Accra. I’d seen rotolo mentioned in a Jamie Oliver article in the Guardian, then again in this blogpost which had a nicer recipe, I thought. It’s like a vertically rolled vegetable lasagna, really nice. Time to try it!

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Rotolo (stuffed pasta rolls)

500 gr pumpkin, boiled or steamed
250 gr ricotta
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp pepper, 1 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic
400 gr fresh baby spinach, washed drained and blanched

800 gr tinned tomatoes, chopped (I use kitchen scissors in the tin….)
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 onion
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper

4 sheets fresh pasta 125 gr 20×40 cm – this one cooks in 15 min

Topping: 100 gr cheese of your choice, optional

There are various components to this: pasta sheets, topped with mashed pumpkin, with a dollop of steamed spinach mixed with ricotta. The pasta is rolled up, set vertically in a dish, with tomato sauce poured around the rolls, and baked. Cheese added last ten minutes. It’s not complicated but also not a quick dish to make, though I enjoyed making this.  Let’s see:

Pumpkin: steam, roast or boil it. Drain and cool a bit, and mash.

Tomato sauce: Chop onion and garlic,  fry gently in olive oil, tip in chopped tomato wirh salt and pepper, and let cook gently while you prep the rest.

Spinach: Blanched it quickly in the pumpkin cooking water. Drain, cool slightly  (so you can handle it). Squeeze out water (I used a kitchen towel) and roughly chop. Mix it with ricotta, nutmeg, thyme plus a pinch of salt.

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Lay out your pasta sheets, and slather on some mashed pumpkin. These pasta sheets were 15×20 min (for lasagna), a good size. Add a generous dollop of ricotta-spinach mixture in the middle of each, spread it across the middle parallell to the short  side. Roll up the sheets from the short end.  Cut each roll into three pieces  and set down in a baking dish. Pour tomato sauce into the gaps.

Cover in foil, bake 20 min at 180C. Then top with cheese and bake 10 min more, without foil.

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Before it went into oven… and as it came out, with slightly crispy pasta edges and melted cheese. Definitely something to make again.

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Swedish election ugnspannkaka

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A rainy Sunday in Accra, and we are back from watching “Crazy Rich Asians”, very enjoyable. Dinner is a Swedish classic: Ugnspannkaka med potatis och fläsk, an oven pancake with potato and salted pork (or bacon). This is in honour of the Swedish elections today (though the far-right surge is depressing). Classic Swedish peasant food, like a crustless quiche. Often just a pancake batter with bacon, but grated raw potato is very nice in it too. Here, I had planned to add in some frozen leek, as I am excavating long-frozen freezer items, but when I opened the box it was frozen chopped celery, so in that went instead. This is adapted from an ICA recipe, Ugnspannkaka med potatis och fläsk, which I downsized to fit my Pyrex dish.

Swedish election ugnspannkaka: oven pancake with potato and bacon

200 ml plain flour
2/3 tsp sugar
2/3 tsp salt
400 ml milk
2 eggs
2 medium potatoes, peeled and grated  (raw)
a cup of chopped celery and 1/4 onion (not traditional)
200 grammes of bacon, chopped and fried separately
1 tsp butter to grease the dish with
Optional: 3 tbs of grated smoked cheese  (not traditional, I just had some in the fridge)

To serve: lingonsylt, lingonberry jam

Heat oven to 225. Grease a 20×20 cm pyrex dish with butter  (if you do have a 20×30 cm dish, use the original Swedish proportions). Mix flour with salt and sugar. Add half the milk, whisk in eggs until smooth, then add rest of milk. Peel and grate the potatoes, mix into batter. Fry the bacon. Add the batter with the celery and onion  (those are not traditional but I am emptying out fridge and freezer before a trip).

Bake in middle of oven 35-40 minutes or so, until golden and set. Rest five minutes before serving. Serve with lingonberry jam on the side.

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Tomorrow Kofi Annan’s remains arrives from Geneva. The state funeral of the former Secretary-General of the UN is in Accra on Thursday this week. Workers have been sprucing up the roads (see the newly painted white road edge). The public viewings start Tuesday

kofi annan poster

 

A walk through Jamestown

img_20180825_152702I’ve been meaning to do the Jamestown Walking Tour for ages. It’s a walk with local guides, every Saturday 2pm, only 30 GHS (6.5 USD). Jamestown and Usshertown are the oldest districts in Accra, built around the British James Fort and the Dutch Ussher Fort. The lighthouse is current closed for sightseeing, the walking tour is interesting. The Act for Change group doing participatory theatre is based in the community centre.

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A Ga shrine on the edge of Jamestown. It looked very new, but was apparently refurbished for Chale Wote.  According to some legends the Ga people migrated from Nigeria, or from Israel. Jamestown is the oldest and poorest part of Accra, but very lively.

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One of the roads built after fires in 1894.  Some say Jamestown has a hipster vibe, and locals are proud of their area, but it is quite poor; medical colleagues working there doing home visits tell me there are still children with acute malnutrition.

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Signs from the Homowo festival. It’s a Ga area, as the sign also indicates: Pepsi wishing Gamashie (the area) a happy new year, for Homowo.

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An older mural, on our way to the harbour.

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It was quiet in the harbour, due the festival in the streets above.

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Not as many boats as Tema, but still a considerable number. There is talk of a coastal development in Accra, from Christianborg to the Arts Centre, but who knows if that will ever happen. Politicians have also long promised to upgrade the Jamestown harbour.

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Fishing boats.