All posts filed under: Liberia


Monday Meal Review: Liberia

THE SCENE: The first of two cakes. I walk up to her proudly. I carry the still-warm cake in my hands. The scent of cinnamon, and molasses fills the room. “What is it?” she asks, peering into the pan. “Gingerbread cake” I reply. “Ooh,” she says. With a quick flourish I flip the cake over onto the platter. “Should we see what it looks like?” I ask. Her eyes grow wide. “Yeah!” she says. Dramatically, I raise the pan. “What is it?” she gasps, staring at the golden rings of delicately overlapped plantains. “Plantains” I say, smiling. She recoils, like a vampire from garlic. It’s been a while since we’ve had plantains. They’re like strangers again. “It’s… it’s… bananas!” I hurriedly say, grasping to find something she can relate to. She comes closer again, looking at the buttery, sugary goodness. “Bananas!” she smiles. But I can’t lie. Not for long, anyway. I wait until the exact moment she takes a bite to correct myself. “Yes, plantains are like bananas. These are plantains.” With the food already in …

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Smoked Ham & Green Bean | Jollof

I’m that girl who orders the same thing over and over again at restaurants. I know – not what you’d expect from someone cooking the world. But I can’t help it. I like knowing what to expect. Plus, there’s nothing worse than wasting hard-earned money on a dish that I could possibly end up hating. After all, it’s not like I can send the food back just because I don’t like it. Now, to be fair, I’m a completely different person at home. Without the burden of outrageous restaurant bills, I’m a free spirit.  I play with food. Experiment. Get all MacGyver on it. If things begin to head south, I’m quick on my feet. A dash of this and a squirt of that will usually bring the meal back into edible form. I rarely make the same thing, the same way, twice. Well, today we’re revisiting Jollof – a dish we made a few months ago with such success that I thought I’d make another popular variation for Liberia, a country that loves Jollof as much as any …

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Warm Mango and Cloves

Welcome to my weakness. The mango. If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed I make a lot of recipes with this heavenly fruit. Quite possibly I’ve made more mango recipes than anything else. Everything about the mango is perfect. Sweet. Golden. Juicy. And, right now, totally in season. So, go find one (or five hundred). Rain or shine. In Liberia they like to chop them up and cook them with cloves. About four cloves will give the mango an alluring, but not overpowering flavor – reminiscent of pie filling. If the mangoes are perfectly ripe, they don’t even need sugar. Otherwise, a spoonful should do you. Cook for just ten minutes and serve this as-good-as-pie-filling with a big dollop of whipped cream. The whipped cream melts just a little from the heat of the snuggly-warm mangoes… Good luck sharing this with anyone else. I ate the whole thing by myself. Ava was napping. Keith was working. And I, … well, I have no regrets. Here’s how you do it: Serves 1-2 Ingredients: 2 cups …

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Plantain Gingerbread Upside-Down Cake

  I’m not really a dessert person, so it’s all the more surprising when I come across a recipe which makes me want to lock the doors, draw the curtains, and eat until every last crumb is gone. I mean, seriously. Plaintain Gingerbread Upside-Down Cake??! If this isn’t the perfect holiday recipe, I don’t know what is. And of all the places for it to come from… Denmark is known for gingerbread. Germany. Even the United States. But I was genuinely surprised to find gingerbread cake in the bustling big cities of Liberia. Now, I’m not talking the same-old gingerbread you’ve had before. This is an African spin. Yes, it’s a standard upside-down cake, but instead of pineapple, it boasts a dizzying spiral of ripe, tropical plantains – a perfect match for the molasses-based cake.  The butter and brown sugar bubble and brown, making the edges of the cake just a little bit crisp – which is the best part. For those of you wondering, the love of gingerbread comes from Liberia’s historical ties with …

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Menu: Liberia

I did it. I made two desserts for Liberia. And I smiled the entire time. How could I not? I was in a good mood. Just look at this kid. Look at her. She’s an angel  for goodness sakes. Plus, I’m pretty sure angels only eat sweets. That’s what she’d have me believe, anyway. As for the Jollof – we tried a vegan version and loved it so much that I put together this meat-lovers variation. What sounds good to you?* Smoked Ham & Green Bean Jollof This is big time comfort food. A large pot of rice seasoned with tomatos, cinnamon, cayenne, garlic and ginger, then cooked with smoked ham and green beans. Traditionally served with hard-boiled eggs. Plantain Gingerbread Upside Down Cake Warm, sweet gingerbread cake – perfect for teatime, dessert, or anything in between. The plantain is arranged in concentric circles on top of ooey gooey brown sugar and butter. The cake makes a dazzling display at any holiday spread or potluck. Warm Mangoes with Cloves I prefer to cook for other people, but …

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About the food of Liberia

My feet might as well be jingle bells and my smiles made of gingerbread. I’m feeling the holiday spirit. I made cookies. There are parties to attend – dresses to wear – gløgg to drink. I even mailed out our holiday letter yesterday – one of my favorite traditions because it slows me down enough to reflect on the last year. Complete with family portrait, the entire project becomes a time stamp in an otherwise chaotic life, perfect to share with our dear family who all live so far away. In the midst of all this wintery merriment, the time also came to explore the food of Liberia, a country on the coast of West Africa known for her hot, tropical weather. A place where, as Anthony Bourdain says, “a puff of air is an event.” I wondered, hope against hope, if there is some food Liberians might like that would be remotely “holiday” themed. I was in luck. For those of you who know a bit of Liberia’s history, perhaps this won’t seem so …

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