Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Recipe #74: Savory Pastry Chips

Today's recipe, savory pastry chips, is a popular party snack in Ghana. When we made these at Flair Catering we used a pasta machine, but you can make them fine at home without one. Also, we fried them, but by adding a bit more margarine or butter, you could also bake them.

Assemble ingredients
  • 1/2 lb (8 oz) flour (that was about 2 2/3 cup unsifted for me)
  • 1 oz margarine (or butter or butter-flavored shortening)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried ground red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • ~ 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground garlic (1 or 2 cloves, peeled)
  • 1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons) ground or finely grated onion (roughly 1/2 small onion)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • l or 2 bay leaves to season the oil 
  • about 5 cups of vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup of cold water
  • extra flour for rolling out the dough
If you do not have a pasta machine, you'll need a rolling pin.

  1. Sift the flour into a large bowl, then rub or cut the margarine or butter into it (I use my hands, or two table knives), add  the 1/4 teaspoon red pepper, the 1/4 teaspoon white pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, mixing all together until it looks like cornmeal. 
  2. Prepare the garlic and onion and add to the dough, mixing some more. I blended mine together in a blender, and added a teaspoon of water to help blend it. (NOTE: I should have added about a tablespoon).
  3. Add the 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and continue mixing.
  4. Measure out 1/2 cup of water. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of water over the dough in the bowl and mix it in with a fork. Push the moistened flour to the side and add a little more water (a couple of tablespoons), mix and push to the side of the bowl. Continue adding the water until the dough is just wet enough to hold together. 
  5. Knead the dough lightly in the bowl for half a minute.
  6. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, and roll one out to about 1/8: thick on a lightly floured surface. (If you have a pasta machine, simply cut the dough into sizes that will fit into it). I usually wet my counter with a little water and put waxed paper on it, then sprinkle the waxed paper with a little flour. This makes cleanup easier.
  7. Gently fold the dough on top of itself several times, then cut it into strips about 1/8 to 1/4" wide (the thinner, the crisper).
  8. Unfold the dough, and cut the strips into pieces (mine were about 1 3/4" long). You can also cut them into many tiny squares if you prefer.
  9. Heat about 5 cups of oil to about 260 degrees F in a deep fryer or in a heavy pan or pot on the stove, depending on the size of your fryer or pot, and making sure not to overfill it.  Season the oil with a bay leaf or a couple of slices of onion. Remove the leaf or onion before it burns.
  10. Add the strips (or squares) carefully into the pot. I put a couple dozen at a time on a slotted spoon and added them, stirring the oil occasionally while they cooked.
  11. Within a few minutes, when they are a light golden color, they are ready to remove and drain. The chips should not be as dark as  doughnuts or atwemo. Cook smaller squares separately from the strips. They will cook in just a minute or two. They should be nice and crunchy when they cool.
These chips can be frozen, or stored tightly covered in an airtight container for up to a week.
When doubled, this recipe is easily enough for 12 people.At Flair they often serve these chips with plain peanuts or coated groundnuts in small cocktail baskets set around the room. After you make this once, you can decide if you want to increase the salt, pepper, onion, etc. next time.

My grade on this recipe: If I were to give myself a grade on my execution of this recipe today, I'd probably give myself a B+. Why? First of all, I grabbed "white"whole wheat flour from the cupboard instead of the white unbleached flour I meant to, so the color is not quite right, and they're heavier and a bit drier than they should be. Secondly, I forgot to add (and then remove) the bay leaves to the oil after I heated it and before I added the chips. It's missing that subtle seasoning touch. Finally, when I blended the onion and garlic in the blender, I didn't add enough water to make a smooth paste so there are bits of onion visible in the finished chips. Still, the chips taste fine.

Pineapple flour: last week when I was making pineapple juice, I tossed the pineapple core in the blender and blended it, then put it in a saucepan over a very low heat trying to dry it to see if I can make my own pineapple flour. (Not only do I not have a pasta machine, and I don't have a dehydrator, either). That didn't work, so today I scraped out the pineapple dregs from the pan and put them on a plate outside to see if they would dry that way. I'll let you know if it ever gets dry enough to grind it again. However, I can see at best I'll only get a couple of tablespoons of flour. . .

Update on the corn dough effort: Yesterday I mentioned that I was going to try soaking some hominy corn overnight, and then try to make my own fermented corn dough using that. Today I rinsed off the corn. I ended up with about 2 3/4 cups of soaked corn. In order to blend it, I had to use a little over a cup of water (about 1/2 cup water to each cup of corn). It's much wetter than normal corn dough. I poured the mixture into a glass pitcher that I've covered loosely. I'll keep you informed. I hope it begins bubbling and fermenting by tomorrow.


A. Gillispie said...

Hi Fran,

Unrelated to this post, but do you know how to make "da qua?" I have no idea if this is spelled correctly, but that is how is sounded--da qua! When I ate it, it was sort of like a peanut butter ball, but with lots of spice. Alway a big fan of your blog. I have learned much from you about my childrens' native foods!

Anita (agillispie@cox.net)

Fran said...

Thank you, Anita. Hmmmm. I'm not sure what you're talking about. Was it cooked? Where did you eat it? Knowing what language the name is might help.

A. Gillispie said...

It was carried on a glass/wooden box just like a bofrut would be, but they were smaller--about the size of a golf ball. It smelled like groundnuts and ginger, but was also FULL of pepper! I don't think it would have been cooked--definitely not fried. It was more like peanutbutter balls that we make here in the states--with peanut butter and powdered sugar. It was that texture. Sorry, don't know what language. We bought it in Tema. My Ghanaian friends were playing a joke on me (knowing I can't take much pepper), telling me that all obrunis like da-qua! I took a big bit of the ball and couldn't even get it down. Then I learned that even Ghanaians just take small pinches of it at a time. I've been to Ghana many times and never ran into it before. Sorry I don't know more! I thought you might know what it was. =-)

Miss Babee said...

@ Gillispie,I believe I know what you are talking about,it's a-lakoua(not sure of the spelling).it is made from local roasted corn flour(eburosam) with a few spieces.It is very spiecy as you said but unfortunately,I don't know the recipe,it's normally made by Ewes.hope this helps you find the recipe.

Fran said...

Thank you very much, Miss Babee. Can anyone further help us to discover how to make this "a lakoua"?

A. Gillispie said...

Yes, Miss Babee, this may be it! What I tasted defintely had much ground nut in it.

twinnymummy said...

Hi there A. Gillispie

Its called Zoowe in Ewe. Its made with ground roasted corn, ground roasted peanuts, ginger, pepper, whyntia (long black spice in hausa kooko, sugar and probably some secret spices.

Depending ow rich you want it - more or less corn is added (probably 1 part corn to 3 parts peanuts)

All these are ground together and then molded into balls

A. Gillispie said...

TwinnyMummy, YES! This sounds EXACTLY like what I ate (except the name was given in a different language). If you just smelled it, it was like groundnut and ginger, but when eating you could taste the pepper and other spices.

Unknown said...
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lya23 said...

I know what u are talking about. It is a known delicacy of the Ewes in Ghana .i may be able to help you with threcipe. The main ingredient is groundnut...it is neither fried bt rolled into balls by the hands.