Banana oatmeal pancakes


In honour of Shrove Tuesday, which is on February 13th this year: pancakes!  These were also a pre-travel, clear out fridge cooking effort (not much of an effort, really). I must confess, I do not particularly like bananas, but will eat them in banana bread and pancakes.  Freshly made pancakes with jam? Excellent start to the day! It really should be fastelavnsboller, Norwegian Shrovetide buns filled with whipped cream, but given the massive cost of whipping cream in Accra, this is close enough!

Banana oatmeal pancakes

2 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
2 small eggs
50 ml milk
1/2 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla sugar
pinch of cinnamon
1/2  cup plain all-purpose wheat flour
butter to fry pancakes

Mix everything, beat with a fork until smooth. I had small sweet Accra bananas and small eggs, you might need more or less milk and flour depending on batter consistency. I made this the night before, and left batter in fridge so I could have pancakes when waking up with minimum effort.

Heat your frying pan, add a little butter and fry pancakes until golden and cooked through. Serve warm with jam (also very nice with Biscoff).


Note: these were veering towards hockey puck firmness, after the batter sat in fridge overnight. Another small egg or a splash of milk might have lightened them. Very tasty though, and it made about 8-9 of these, so this will be another breakfast as well.  Last time I added sesame seeds to the pancakes, which was a good addition.

As another house move is coming up soon, my pantry is mainly in boxes or given away, but I am looking forward to unpacking in March and restocking at Relish (flax/sesame/chia seeds) and the Great Wall Supermarket (mirin, bok choi, rice noodles, soy sauce, good fresh tofu). Accra is OK for certain items, if you know here to go and can afford them. I just heard that Saagar (Indian shop in Osu) has frozen paneer, so that is also on my list. Given that it will be a shared kitchen, some discipline will needed for what can actually fit. Still, it will be nice to soon cook and not wonder which box the thyme/chili flakes/Worcester sauce/etc are stashed away in.



Pre-travel roast beetroot soup with quinoa


Phew, third shower of the day and it’s only early afternoon….. Accra is getting stickier, about 32C and only 67% humidity, not really that bad. We hear Tamale (in the north) still has heavy harmattan, so we cannot really complain. This morning I’ve moved all my last things out of my friend’s storage room (boy’s quarters…. tiny), so my rented room is now a Jenga-like stack of kitchen tools, dismantled floor fans and suitcases.  I’m off to Rome for work next week, and had a plethora of vegetables in the fridge, so this roast beetroot soup with quinoa was concocted while schlepping bits of an office chair, a table top and legs, an increasingly rickety drying rack and more through the flat.

I have been flathunting in Accra with two colleagues, and we may now have found a nice flat. Discussions are still ongoing regarding burglar bars and lease agreement, but we are crossing our fingers for a move later this month. I gave away most of my moving boxes to friends last year so will be moving again in bags and baskets, and am just hoping that bed linens and clothes have not gotten too moldy since November. We shall see.


Really, you could make some variation on this with most root vegetables…. This is just what I had to use up before traveling. I try to buy local produce here, and was vaguely thinking of a beetroot risotto with feta, but soup is what these beetroots ended up in. Most of the soup will end up in the freezer so I have lunch ready for a few days when I am back in Accra, which might also be our moving week. After three months living out of suitcases, it will be very nice to actually unpack again.

Roast beetroot soup with quinoa and red rice

1 kg peeled beets, quartered  (about 2 pounds)
1 large diced potato, quartered
3 carrots, peeled (mine were wizened but fine for soup)
1 onion, peeled and quartered
3 clove garlic, peeled but whole
1 tbs olive oil

4 stalks celery, diced (last of my precious post-Christmas UK celery)
2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 cm fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 tbs olive oil

2 litres vegetable stock (here, from two stock cubes)
1/3 cup quinoa
1/3 cup red rice
2 tsp parsley
2 tsp rosemary
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Heat the oven to 220C. Line a baking sheet sheet with baking parchment or aluminum foil. Spread out the vegetables, drizzle over some olive oil and let the vegetables roast until soft when pierced with a sharp knife.  I left them in about 35 minutes, then turned off oven and left them in another 15 minutes or so.

In the meanwhile, heat a little olive oil in a big saucepan, and gently fry the celery and bell peppers until soft. Then tip in the roast vegetables, 2 litres of vegetable stock and blend well with an immersion blender if you have one. Then add the quinoa and red rice (or plain rice, or lentils, whatever you feel like adding for a bit more body) and spices, and bring the soup to the boil. Cook until quinoa and rice are soft, 25 minutes or so. Taste and see if you want to add more spices, salt or pepper.


It was very nice! Quite thick, good flavours and a little crunch from the quinoa. Maybe some feta on top as well? It was a generous pot of soup, so six portions are now cooling and destined for the freezer, and there is plenty left for this weekend as well. Enjoy your weekend!

What to make for dinner? Fiskeboller med hvit saus

I have an old Norwegian cookbook from the late sixties, “Hva skal vi ha til middag?” What shall we have for dinner? It’s a basic cookbook, and I was reminded of that as I sweatily dragged four boxes of books from storage to my bedroom the other day. Most of our books are back in Rome, as humidity and dust are hard on books. Ten-twelve cookbooks came along to Accra. There are a couple from Nigella, a Simon Hopkinson, the wonderful first Rachel Roddy. But the cookbooks are in a box I have not found yet, so this month I am looking in my food cupboard, online bookmarks and a few precious UK food magazines for inspiration. There is no perfect meal planning, but cooking helps boost morale. Having some ideas at hand does help, also so there is a packed lunch ready for workdays. I am trying out Google Keep for collecting ideas:


Half the time ingredients are not available here, but still excellent inspiration. The uppercase abbreviations are reminders of where the recipe is, like OL=Olive magazine or BM=bookmark, for Nigel Slater’s baked pumpkin and spiced chickpeas recipe – which looks amazing. I have not found lemongrass and lime, so I might try a ras el hanout variation for the chickpeas instead. We shall see. Tonight is definitely fiskeboller med hvit saus, Norwegian tinned fish balls in white sauce, served with boiled potatoes and raw grated carrots. And a sprinkling of curry powder! Very retro, but that is a well-travelled tin that is not going on a third housemove. One could make fiskeboller from  scratch, but the tinned ones are normally used.


Take one tin……

Fiskeboller med hvit saus  (source: TINE)
8 potatoes  (or 4 very large ones, halved)
4 carrots
2 tbs butter
3 tbs all-purpose wheat flour
250 ml stock from the tin of fiskeboller
100 ml milk
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 tin of fiskeboller  (Norwegian fish balls: like dumplings, boiled, not fried)

To serve: Sprinkle of curry powder

  1. Wash the potatoes and boil under done, 20-30 minutes.
  2. Make white sauce: melt the butter on low heat, add flour and stir well. It will look fry. Pour in stock drained from the tin of fiskeboller, a bit at a time, keep stirring until it is smooth. Add milk and bring to slow boil for a few minutes, so it thickens. Season the sauce  with salt, pepper and nutmeg (taste it!). Add more milk if the sauce is too thick, and stir well so it does not burn.
  3. Carefully add the fiskeboller to the sauce and heat gently so they are warm through before serving.
  4.  Serve with boiled potatoes, raw grated carrot and a sprinkle of curry powder on the fiskeboller and potatoes.


Note: Wonderful lighting, and such a photogenic dish! Leftovers now packed for three lunches, and two of us had dinner with this. In the TINE recipe the carrots are boiled, but I like them grated raw with this.

PS The coffee pod note at the end of the list above is because I really miss my morning cappuccino, normally magically appearing bedside at 0615, but the barista (my husband) is currently a continent away. The French press is in a box somewhere. Coffee capsules are not ideal, but I am contemplating getting a coffee pod machine for the weekends…. if coffee capsules can be found outside the Nespresso shop at Marina Mall. Still looking. Has anyone tried the refillable coffee capsules? Less waste would be good.