Tag Archives: living in Accra

Sunday linguine with shrimp

An Italian friend was visiting Accra, and offered to come over and cook Sunday lunch. It was delicious! He had bought the shrimp that morning at the fish market in Jamestown. I am counting down to Italian summer holidays by the sea, so this was perfect. I do moan about the lack of fresh seafood in Accra, being on the coast and in Gulf of Guinea as we are, but it does exist: getting fresh shrimp just takes a bit of detective work and effort.

Sunday linguine with shrimp

50 ml olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Pinch of chili flakes
1 kg fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
7 or 8 medium plum tomatoes, diced

Pinch of salt
500 grammes dry linguine

To serve: Small handful chopped fresh parsley

Put the pasta water on and start the pasta. Heat the olive oil and sauté the chopped garlic. Tip in the diced tomatoes. Finally, let the shrimp cook gently in the tomato sauce for just a few minutes. Toss sauce and linguine, and serve at once, with a bit of fresh parsley and cold white wine.


Note: the tomatoes seem to have vanished into the pasta, but it was delicious!

 

 

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Pasta alla Genovese two times

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My flatmate is having a birthday dinner tonight, and the flat is festooned with banners, balloons: it looks to be a lovely evening. A friend is back from Tanzania and asked to come over to do laundry (he is in a hotel) last night, so while the laundry was being done he helped with the decor, and made dinner. Very much appreciated. He had planned to make pasta alla Genovese (pasta with potatoes, pesto and green beans) but had had not had time to shop. But we had all the ingredients! Only Ghanaian sweet potatoes, but that worked out just fine too.

I had made this a couple months ago, and was curious to see if our friend cooked it all in one pot. It’s all about the timing and how finely the vegetables are cut. Ideally the order is diced potato, then pasta, then green beans, but I rarely get the timing quite right. Here is a Nigella recipe explaining it well, she even makes the pesto. Here’s the BBC Good Food version. This is a very forgiving dish, and very satisfying.

Pasta alla Genovese

500 grams potatoes (peeled and diced in finger-thick pieces)
500 grams pasta of your choice
200 grams fine green beans (trimmed and cut in half)
160-200 grammes pesto
a little starchy cooking water
grated cheese to serve (parmesan or grana padano)

Bring a big pot of water to the boil, add salt (more than a pinch, less than a handful: q.b. as Italians say, quanto bisogno or as much as you need.) You want the pasta, beans and potatoes all to be done at the same time, which is why I sometimes do this in two pots (even three, which is terrible).  Look at the pasta cooking time and estimate as well as you can. If you feel brave, the all in one pot: diced potatoes first, then pasta, then green beans 4-5 minutes before the end. Drain, stir pesto through, and with a cooking water if it looks dry at all, and serve. With a little grated cheese if you like, and a little more salt pepper for me.

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Notes: Top one is the one I cooked, this one is cooked by my friend. Both very nice! It should be linguine or spaghetti, or trofie, but I have had several versions and this is the pasta that was on hand. The first time I had this, an Italian friend made it with penne, with beans cut same length as the pasta. I use a little extra pesto as I usually make extra for my packed lunch the next day.

It is rainy season in Ghana and not too hot, but humid: I find mildew on cupboard doors, lunch bags, oven mitts, suitcases….. I wipe it off with vinegar and hope for the best.

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Not all roadside gutters are cleared out well, which increases risk of flooding. We live in a higher area, with no flooding danger. I am enjoying the cooler weather though, and the occasional walk home. I am also counting down to holidays in Italy, which will be nice (despite heatwave there at present). The Roman papers are moaning about the  caldo africano”  but we are used to worse in West Africa, and I am really looking forward to some days of Italian summer.  And Italian summer food!

Back in Accra, making ricotta zucchini dumplings

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Back in Accra, where it is rainy season and a cool 26C. Nice! The monthly Goethe market  has moved to the W.E.B. Dubois centre, and was very nice indeed. First Saturday of the month, if you are ever in Accra, it is great for presents. Fabric, bags, jewelry, carvings, shea butter soap, and much more. Me, I bought bagels, eggs and spinach.

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Window shopping for future present needs: the batik bags are gorgeous. And I was very happy to see Afrisocks there.

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I’ve seen Afrisocks online, and plan to get some for Christmas presents. Nice to actually see the real thing, though. New patterns coming in October or November, and the current ones are great too. Also ladies socks are planned.

With rainy season in swing and some household items going moldy (suitcases, toiletry bag), best to not do any Christmas shopping too early.  I bought spinach from Sowgreen (behind the market, usually at Dubois every Saturday) and went home to make these ricotta, courgette and spinach dumplings. Normally that would be challenging here, but I am just back from Rome and had brought back fresh ricotta and zucchini. Yes, I make the most of my checked luggage. Then I saw the recipe in The Guardian yesterday and thought: it is a sign! Whoohoo! I can make that!

Normally I read through well-traveled BBC Good Food magazines, or my increasingly mottled cookbooks, noting recipes to try (preferably with available items like sweet potato, banana, avocado, eggs) while sighing over all the ingredients which are not available here (or are insanely expensive) and debating substitutes. It was fun to just follow the recipe for once.

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See  Thomasina Miers’ recipe for ricotta, courgette and spinach dumplings which were quite labour intensive, but very tasty.  I followed the recipe as indicated, just with a splash of KLM red wine from last flight in the tomato sauce. Lots of dumplings left so maybe I will try to freeze some. Or have them with cheese, hmmmm…..

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A good weekend to all!