Filo tart with zucchini and smoked cheese

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Our for a walk in North Ridge, we met some of our old neighbourhood goats. It’s still pleasantly cool, lovely to be able to walk without immediately dripping with sweat. Weekend mornings the streets are relatively quiet, many of the small shops are closed, and we can walk quietly, with an occasional honk from passing taxis. The goats were observed near +233 jazz club, where there is also a flat area used as a football training pitch.

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Here they sell lottery tickets or phone scratch cards? Not sure. Anyway, I am back in Accra for three weeks between trips. Traveling so much does disrupt cooking routines, like making sure there are fresh vegetables you feel like cooking with, but not accumulating food that will not keep until you are back. Here, I realized I had three packets of filo pastry, some precious zucchini and some scamorza (smoked cheese), so this was thrown together for a quick dinner.

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Filo tart with zucchini and smoked cheese

Filo pastry: I  used three oven-tray sized sheets, and froze the rest
3 tbs melted butter
3 zucchini, sliced in thin half moons
1 yellow onion
salt, pepper
250 grammes scamorza (smoked cheese), or another meltable cheese of your choice

Line oven tray with baking parchment or a silicon mat. Heat oven to 220C. Unfold two sheets of filo pastry on baking sheet, and brush top one with melted butter. Lay third filo pastry sheet on top, and brush with last melted butter. Chop the zucchini once lengthwise, then slice into half moons. Scatter the zucchini evenly across pastry. Chop the peeled onion, and scatter this across tray as well. Add some generous pinches of black pepper and salt. Chop or grate the cheese, spread it on top of zucchinis and onions, then bake at 220C until cheese is melted and golden. Use scissors to cut.

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Tro-tro (minibus taxi) of the week: Doctor Jesus.

doctor jesus

 

Goats, and apple crumble with butterscotch chips

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The neighborhood goats are still doing well. I met them the other day, snacking on this palm branch. It is the end of the rainy season, not too hot yet but it is getting hotter. The goats forage and roam, and go home at the end of the day. Small, but glossy coats and they look healthy.  Quiet weekend here, after heavy rain Friday and the gas explosion here in Accra last night, very sad. At least seven killed, according to the news so far.
Time to make a rather deconstructed crumble, due to some vintage apples in the  bottom of the fridge, and the goal to use up the last butterscotch chips bought in New York last year.  Maybe not a very British crumble, but it was good.
Apple crumble with butterscotch chips
4 apples, peeled and sliced thinly
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbs honey  (as I was out of brown sugar and low on butter….)
1 tbs butter
1 tbs water
Heat oven to 180C. Layer the apples in a Pyrex dish, with the cinnamon sprinkled over. Mix all the other ingredients, it will be damp and crumbly. Scatter in a thin layer over apples. Bake 30 minutes, the apple juices will bubble through and the top will be slightly golden. Serve warm with icecream or vanilla custard. Very nice cold next day.
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And here are the goats, heading home. Up in Tamale my friends were petrified of hitting a pregnant goat in traffic, that can be very expensive. Our neighborhood is relatively safe in that respect, traffic is never very fast. I thus have time to see the local peacock, who morosely sits high on a compound wall nearby each morning, looking at the road, barred from going further by the electric wire.
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Time to make dinner: tonight, Meera Sodha’s vegan recipe for aubergine, black-eyed bean and dill curry  which looks both interesting and delicious.

Off to buy eggs, a sunny morning in Accra

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Eggs are easy to find here, though the supermarket eggs have been so-so. A little pale, and after some dire experiences with weirdly gloopy Shoprite egg contents, I always break them one by one into a small bowl first. Probably a freshness issue, eggs are not refrigerated here but neither are they in Italy. Supermarkets are popular here but expensive, most people would shop locally or at markets instead, probably some eggs just sit around too long. A neighbour had recommended the local chop shop round the corner, a small shack selling drinks, small snacks, tinned food, well-priced beer – and eggs, 80 pesewas each (20 US cents) so I bought eggs there: carefully placed in a small plastic bag and taken home.

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These eggs were fresh, lovely yellow yolks, just in the day before. There are surprisingly many chickens here, and every morning the roosters next door start crowing at 430 or so. There are chickens wandering around on the dusty streets, some followed by scrawny chicks, eating bugs and drinking water from the open drains. I still have not worked out where the local chickens roost at night: there are hardly any dogs here, and few cats (cats get eaten, I am told) so maybe there are not so many predators of chickens in town. Maybe two-legged ones. These eggs come on cardboard trays, I have no idea where they are from.  Must ask!

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A passing chicken. We live in North Ridge, a nice quiet area of Accra, with an embassy and hotels nearby, but there are chickens scratching away on the embassy doorstep and small, sleek, plump goats wandering down the street now and then. Our Internet provider Surfline was offline for two days, so we went to our Airtel lady (another corner shack) to buy 20 cedis credit  to get online. She also sells eggs, even cheaper at 50 pesewas each – rather filthy, but also very fresh and great quality, counted out and deposited in a small plastic bag.

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Saturday was laundry day for this neighbour (or more likely their guard, since it is outside the fence.) This laundry is drying on the grass, which is a common sight (fences and hedges are also used.) Even in the rainy season laundry dries quickly daytime, before evening comes with 95% or higher humidity. Good to know, as some houses are damp and clothes/shoes/books go moldy – we have been spared so far. As you see the houses in our area are generally fenced in, barbed wire and/or electrical, with heavy security gates and 24 hour security. On the left above you see the street gutter, actually covered here with cement squares. Often gutters are uncovered and rather deep – indeed, as in the photo with the goats above. Street flooding is a serious issue here.

But we seem to be heading out of the current rainy season, which has been lovely and cool. 23-32C, such a difference! I have packed away the light summer duvets we brought, unopened, as it is never below 23C here and sheets suffice nicely. Our guards have blankets and coats for the night shift, whereas I think it us just wonderful to escape the relentless sweaty Accra weather, even just for a month or so.

With nice fresh eggs as well, life is good indeed!