Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes were introduced to Africa from Latin America with Portuguese sailors. Nowadays, they are widely cultivated throughout South Africa. There is a quite simple recipe from South-Africa that provide a very nice accompaniment to a char grilled chicken dish or grilled fish, vegetarians would find quite attractive too.
This what you need for 4 people:
  • 1 teaspoon Honey.
  • 1 tablespoon Sultanas.
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger.
  • Juice of a Lemon.
  • Grated rind of an Orange.
  • 1 teaspoon of Cinnamon.
  • 2 Sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced (about 1/2 inch thick).
  • 1/4 cup of Water.
  • 2 tablespoon of Olive oil.
  • Salt & Pepper.

First Parboil the sweet potatoes, dry them and let cool down. In a heavy pan pour the olive oil, and mix in the honey as well as the sultanas on a low heat. Then add the ginger, cinnamon, orange rind, lemon juice, ginger and the water. Cook this mixture, slowly, for 10 minutes stirring from time to time.

Next add the potatoes to the mixture, mix them well but gently to make sure that they are coated from all sides. Place them on a greaseproof oven dish and cook them at high temperature (200 degrees Celsius) for 10 to 15 minutes.

"A man replete with food is not the same man when fasting"

Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Vegetarians/ Vegans/ Dairy free/ Gluten free.


Renaissance Culinaire Links - Guide to Culinary & Baking Resources For professionals & Home users.


Why is there seasons for fish and crustaceans?

We are familiar with seasonality for fruits, vegetables even milk. But Seasons for fish and crustaceans, it is not that obvious. Why can it be considered that a particular fish, shellfish or crustaceans has variations of qualities because of the natural phenomenon of the seasons.
Fishes live out a life ruled by a dual type cycle. During the first phase they grow and mature, accumulating energy reserves and reaching their peak of culinary quality. The second phase is a period in which they expend those reserves to migrate and create masses of eggs or sperm for the next generation. Unlike most land animal, which store their reserves in layers of fat tissues, fishes use the proteins of their muscle mass as their energy pack.
During migrations and spawning, they accumulate protein-digesting enzymes in their muscle and literally transform their own flesh into the next generation.

This makes their meat meager and spent, resulting in spongy,mushy dishes.

Crustaceans (crabs, shrimps, lobsters) quality is also, subject to fluctuation due to season cycles. One typical aspect of crustaceans is their shell. To grow they must periodically cast off the old cuticle and create a larger new one. It is called molting.
During this process the animal constructs a new, flexible cuticle under the old one from its body's protein and energy reserves. Then, it squeezes its shrunken body through weakened joints in the old shell, then pumps up itself with water (from 50-100% of its original weight) to stretch the new cuticle to its maximum volume. Finally, the shell hardens and gradually replaces its body water with muscle and other tissues.

Molting means that crustacean flesh quality is highly variable. An actively growing animal has dense, abundant muscle while an animal preparing to molt or newly molted have a poor muscle mass and is mainly filled with water.


Hsing Jen Cha

Balance of flavours, textures colors and cooking methods plays a very important part in Asian cuisine. This dessert uses two of the original products of Asia, almonds that became established in Asia before spreading westward to the middle-east and Mediterranean countries, and rice which was domesticated 7000 BC in the Yangtze river valley in China.
Note that the rice and almonds need to be soaked overnight.
Serves 4 :
  • 200g Pearl Rice.
  • 100g Almonds, skinned.
  • 590 ml Water.
  • 6 tablespoon Sugar.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Bitter almond essences.
  • 1 pod of Cardamon, pounded.
  • 12 Whole almonds, whole, skinned and toasted.

There it goes, Drain the rice and the almonds and grind them in a food processor. Then place this mix in a heavy pot with the sugar, almond essence, cardamon and the water and cook gently for 30-40 minutes, stirring constantly.

Let to infuse for 5 minutes and serve lukewarm topped with the toasted almonds.

"Our lives are not in the hands of the Gods, but in the lap of our cooks"

Lin Yutang

Vegetarian/ Vegan/ Dairy free/ Gluten free.
Contains nuts.


Why is fish meat rich in highly unsaturated fats?

There is a very interesting question. Why fish and not the best quality Irish Angus beef contains high levels of unsaturated fats? These fatty acids that are so good for our health.
In fact, this is very simple. It comes from the difference between the environments in which fish and beef or pigs leave. Oceanic waters are colder than pasture or barns. Furthermore, fishes are cold blooded creatures and mammals are hot blooded ones. Throw a thick beefsteak in the sea and it will congeal, its cells are designed to operate at the animal's usual body temperature around 40 degrees Celsius.

The cells membrane, energy reserves of a fish and everything they eat must remain fluid and workable at all time even if the environment surrounding them approach freezing temperature.
Their fatty acids are therefore very long and irregular and don't solidify into orderly crystals until the temperature gets very low.


Colombo de Giraumon

Turban squash or giraumon a turban

There is recipe using a squash native from the Caribbean. Giraumon come in 3 main edible varieties Giraumon, turban squash and Eisine squash. Despite their attractive decorative effect,
these squash have a firm, sweet and mealy texture.

For 4 people :

  • 1 Onion, finely sliced.
  • 2 cloves Garlic, crushed.
  • 2 teaspoon of Curry powder.
  • 3 cloves Garlic, crushed.
  • 1/2 Red chili, finely sliced.
  • 450g of Giraumon, peeled and chopped in cubes.
  • 2 Tomatoes, chopped.
  • 1 tablespoon Sultanas.
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sugar.
  • Juice of 1 lemon.
  • Salt, pepper.

In a heavy pot, sweat of the onion, the garlic and the chili. Avoid any coloration. Add the spices and cook for 5 minutes. When this is done, add the giraumon, the tomatoes and the sultanas, sprinkle with the lemon juice and allow to cook for 30 to 40 minutes stirring frequently to ensure that it doesn't catch.

It makes a great accompaniment to pineapple glazed ham or black pudding or simply some rice.

"We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat or drink, for dining alone is leading the life of lion or wolf"


Vegan/ Vegetarian/ Dairy free/ Gluten free.


Malaysian Pisang pancakes

Pancake Tuesday, great! But what about dairy intolerant people? There is a great Malaysian pancake recipe that will suit there dietary needs. Pisang pancakes are simply banana and coconut pancakes. This is a very easy recipe.

For 4 people :
  • 2 Eggs.
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar.
  • 225g Self-raising Flour.
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut cream.
  • 5 Bananas.
  • 1/2 Lemon juice.
  • Butter.

In a bowl whisk energetically the eggs and the sugar. Then sift the flour and fold it into the eggs, a little at the time, alternating with pouring the coconut cream.

Mash the bananas with the lemon juice and mix it well with the "batter".

Melt some butter in a non-stick pan and pour a couple of spoon of the mix, tilt the pan so that the "batter" coats the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 6 minutes then flip it and cook it for another 6 minutes.

Then you just have to enjoy them as there are still warm.

"In cooking as in the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection"


Vegetarian/ Dairy free.


Ful Medames

There is a recipe which claim to be the Egyptian National dish. Ful means stew but cooked in the oven. This is a very simple dish but you will need a bit of time ahead of yourself as the slowest the ful is cooked the better the final result will be.

This serves four people :

  • 225g Brown beans, soaked for 24h+.
  • 1 lit Water.
  • 4 cloves Garlic, peeled, cored and crushed.
  • 1 tablespoon of ground Cumin.
  • 6 boiled hard (10 minutes), Eggs.
  • 6 Tomatoes.
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped.
  • 2 Lemons.
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, coarsely chopped.
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric.
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika.
  • 30cl Extra virgin olive oil.

In an ovenproof casserole, sweat of the onion and the garlic with the olive oil, very gently, for 5 minutes then add 2 tomatoes roughly chopped, the cumin and the beans. Top with the water and bring to the boil. Let it simmer covered for 10 minutes. Then place the casserole into a preheated oven 150 degrees C (300F, Gas 2). Let the beans cook gently for 3 to 4 hours.

On side plates place the sliced eggs, sprinkled with the turmeric, the rest of the tomatoes finely sliced and the lemons cut in wedges.

Finally, take the casserole out of the oven, let them rest for 5 minutes uncovered, sprinkle the beans with the paprika and the parsley and serve accompanied with the side dishes of eggs, tomatoes, lemon wedges and some olive oil.

"Laughter is brightest were food is best"

Irish proverb

Vegetarian/ Gluten free/ Dairy free.


Caribbean Avocado Soup

While in the West avocados are considered like a luxury, they are known as the butter of the poor in most of tropical parts where they grow abundantly all year around. In these countries they provide a handy source of protein and vitamins.
There is a very simple and refreshing soup recipe.

For 4 people :
  • 3 ripe Avocados.
  • 2 stalks of Spring onions, finely chopped.
  • 1 tablespoon Lime juice.
  • 590ml/ 2 1/2 cups of Milk or Soy milk (for a dairy free option).
  • Salt and Pepper

Open the avocado by doing an incision all around and move gently the two pieces against each other until they open by themselves. Then scoop the flesh out and place it in a food processor adding immediately the lime juice to avoid its oxidation. Add the scallions some salt and pepper and blitz it to a fine mixture. Then add progressively the milk (or Soy milk) while using the food processor to a medium speed.

Serve Chilled.

"There is no love sincerer than the love of food"
George Bernard Shaw

Gluten free/ Vegetarian/ Dairy free (if using soya milk)


Shiro wat

Traditionally Ethiopians abstain from meat and fish during the 8 weeks of lent. This has produced a rich variety of wats (stew) using the berberé (traditional spicy paste) combined with nuts. So this recipe comes in to steps first the combining of the berberé then the cooking of the stew.

This recipe serves 4 .
For the berberé :

  • 1 clove Garlic, crushed.
  • 1 Scallion (or spring onion), only the white part.
  • 1 tablespoon Red wine vinegar.
  • 120ml/ 1/2 cup Water.
  • 2 tablespoon Chili powder.
  • 2 teaspoon Rock sea salt.
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Black pepper.
  • 1/4 teaspoon of fresh, grated Ginger.
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground Coriander.
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground Fenugreek seeds.
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground Nutmeg.
  • Seeds of a pod of Cardamon, crushed.

For the Wat :

  • 225g Raw Peanuts.
  • 1 Onion, finely sliced.
  • 2 tablespoons tomato purée.
  • 1 Egg, beaten.
  • 600 ml/ 2 1/2 cups Water.
  • Olive oil.
  • 2 Cloves, crushed.
  • Pinch Cinnamon.
  • Pinch Allspice.
  • Salt.

First combine the garlic, spring onion, vinegar and water in a blender until smooth. Set aside. Put all the rest of the ingredients for the berberé into a dry heavy pan on medium heat to toast gently for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring all the time. Then add the blend of garlic and scallion to the spices and simmer very gently for 10 minutes. It should get to the consistency of a thick paste (like tomato purée for example). This make enough paste for up to two stews, the left over can be kept for a month in the fridge.

In a heavy pan heat up a tablespoon of olive oil and sauté half of the berberé paste previously done, keep aside. Grind the peanuts into a smooth paste in the blender. Now, in a separate stewing pot, sweat of the onion with a spoon of olive oil, stir in the tomato paste and the sautéed paste. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes while stirring well. Then, spoon in the beaten egg and gradually add the ground peanuts. When it is done pour in the water, a little at the time, stirring constantly to produce an even mixture.

Bring, gently, to the boil and let it simmer for 15 minutes.

Serve warm with rice.

"The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of the human race than the discovery of a star"

Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Vegetarian/ Gluten free/ Dairy free.
Contains Nuts.


Abou Ganouje

There is a fine little recipe that a friend's wife from Jordan. This salad of aubergine and tomatoes makes a really, healthy and refreshing starter or snack on a hot summer day.

For 4 to 6 people :
  • 3 Aubergines (also known under the name of Eggplants).
  • 1 Green bell pepper, finely sliced.
  • 3 Ripped tomatoes.4 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil (from Greece or Crete).
  • 1 Small onion, finely sliced.
  • Juice of 2 lemons.
  • 2 cloves of Garlic, crushed and very finely chopped.
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chili powder.
  • 1 teaspoon ground Cumin.
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, coarsely chopped.
  • Salt/ Pepper.

Heat your oven to 180 degres Celsius (350'F or Gas mark 4). First slightly cook the aubergines, whole, in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil for 10 minutes. Let cool down.

Cut them in half and scoop out the pulp and chop it raughly.Then toss it carefully with the onion, chili and tomatoes.

In a bowl, join the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin and chili powder with some salt and pepper (to taste) and mix well.

Pour the dressing over the salad then chopped parsley.Mix Carefully and let to rest for 1 hour in a cool area (not the fridge as the olive oil would set and would not be absorbed by the aubergines).

"Eat little, sleep sound"

Iranian Proverb

Gluten free/ Vegetarian/ Vegan/ Dairy free.