I have to say: this is the first country that I got to where I searched long and hard and never did find a bread recipe for Gabon. Almost every single reference I could find just merely mentioned that they tend to eat French bread and pastries. I did find one recipe in French from someone’s blog for a “pumpkin seed cake,” but it was ground pumpkin seeds (or possible egusi?) mixed with onions and fish and other stuff and baked in a banana leaf. It wasn’t the type of “cake” that I was thinking of. And I also found a reference to a breakfast item of splitting a baguette in half lengthwise and filling it with beans and mayonnaise, but my husband balked at the idea. (He’s not a mayo fan.) So, I was forced to expand my search to include West African breads and came up with groundnut bread.
|Groundnut bread. She's a beauty, ain't she?|
|The inside of the bread. Hello, peanut butter lovers.|
The recipe I found called to use a premade roll mix, but I can do better than that. I used the “Unbelievable Rolls” recipe from Allrecipes.com, and I cut the amounts in half. I heated the milk, water, sugar, and salt in a saucepan, and once I took it off the heat, I added in an egg and the yeast. Then I put the flour in a different bowl, made a well, and poured the milk mixture into it, letting it sit without stirring it. After this sits for about 20 minutes, I poured in some melted butter, stirred it, and let it sit for another 45 minutes. At this point, I jump back over to the groundnut bread recipe. I rolled out the dough until it was a ½” thick. Then I spread peanut butter over the surface, leaving a slight gap around the edge, rolling it up. I pinched one end and swung the rest of it around to form a round loaf (or a ring loaf). I transferred it to a greased cookie sheet and let it rest for about 10 minutes. I brushed it again with melted butter and sprinkled a few chopped peanuts on top before scoring a criss-cross pattern on top and baking it at 400ºF for 15 minutes. I cut it into 2-inch pieces to serve it. I could’ve probably eaten the entire thing myself. But I felt obligated to share with my family. The roll part was light and airy and the peanut butter was not overpowering like I thought it might be. It was practically perfect.
|Perfect summer salad.|
Next, I made the side dish: Gabon Cucumber Salad. I’ve made similar salads before, but this is a little different – and it is FABULOUS! I chopped up some onion and grape tomatoes and sliced some cucumbers. Then I mixed in some dried parsley flakes, mint flakes, olive oil, juice from a half lemon, salt and pepper to taste, and some cumin. The cumin is what made it amazing. Cumin is always amazing.
|More chicken than mustard, but try telling that to a finicky 5-year-old.|
The main course for today is Gabon Mustard Chicken. I took some chicken drumsticks and lightly fried them in oil and placed them in a pot. Then I sautéed onions and threw it into the pot as well. I added garlic (about three cloves minced) and yellow mustard. I didn’t realize I should’ve bought more mustard, so I added in a little Italian salad dressing to fill out the recipe. The recipe calls to cover the top of the pot with aluminum foil before placing the lid on it so that it traps the steam. I also didn’t realize someone used up the last of my aluminum foil either, so I had to use parchment paper. (I figured it was better and safer than plastic wrap. Oh, and I found out my husband just took my aluminum foil out to the garage for some project and never brought it back in. Pardon me while I scream inside of my head for a bit.) It cooked on low heat for about an hour. (And it was supposed to be on a bed of rice, but, yeah, I forgot to get more of that too.) But I should’ve adjusted my heat or added some water because the salad dressing pretty much burnt up in the bottom, and I got a steam burn on my fingertips. The flavor was still really good, albeit fairly subtle, and the chicken was fall-off-the-bone tender.
|Fresh out of the oven. Check out the photo below for the toppings.|
And finally, the dessert: Baked Bananas. I cut the bananas into thirds at a diagonal angle. Then I beat one egg into a couple tablespoons of orange juice and dipped the bananas into this before rolling it in breadcrumbs and lightly frying it. After they were fried, I transferred them to a baking sheet where I baked them for about five minutes. It’s topped with sour cream and sprinkled with brown sugar. I wasn’t so sure about the sour cream part (and I certainly didn’t use the term “sour cream” with my daughter – I just called it “cream,” and she loved it. Until she just read this and yelled at me for “lying” to her.) But it was really good.
|One outstanding meal, I must say.|
For a meal where I forgot part of the ingredients and part of it didn’t quite turn out the way I anticipated, this was actually a really good meal. The thing I like about West African cooking is that many of the meals often do not take very many ingredients. And although I started my business, Da Capo Proofreading LLC (www.dacapoproofreading.com), it’s slow-going when it comes to gathering customers. And my book project is dragging on forever, too. In other words, money is getting tighter. But hopefully, things will turn around. At least we weren’t starving artists tonight. We’re pretty full at the moment.
Up next: The Gambia