Cooking from Ceci’s African Kitchen @ Las Cosas

Yesterday I attended a class about African cooking at Las Cosas. This was a class with a guest chef. When we have a guest chef, Chef Johnny Vee who is the regular instructor is still present, but the recipes are from the guest chef – in this case Ceci Tchakounte Tadfor. We also could purchase Chef Ceci’s cookbook after the class and have her sign it.

Class Description: Join Ceci Tadfor as she shares recipes from her just-released cookbook Ceci’s African Kitchen. Our menu is made up of delicious specialties from her homeland in exotic Cameroon, West Africa. We will make Peanut Soup, Black Eyed Fritters with Homemade Hot Sauce, Catfish Stew, Sautéed Spinach with Tomato (Nja Ma Nja Ma), Fried Plantains, and Puff Puff with Cinnamon Sugar for dessert. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to sample this very special cuisine. Of course Ceci’s book will be available for sale on the day of the class. (Hands-On)

Per usual the menu items were divided up among the class members. I worked with one classmate to make the Catfish Stew (i.e. Catfish Pepper Soup).

Catfish Stew

In the cookbook, this is called Catfish Pepper Soup. We used chicken stock instead of the water + bouillon cube. The curved dark item in the bottom right of the photo is called eseke seke. Chef Ceci said it was too dried out to use in our recipe as planned. So we just put it in the pot during the cooking and took it out before serving.

We began with prepping some ingredients. Below are the habanero peppers that we had to grind up.

We used a mortar and pestel. Chef Ceci said we would likely not use this much.

We diced some onion and tomatoes.

We grated some ginger and minced some garlic.

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The country onion was already roasted and ground for us (left). We put the jowe and njangsang (right) in a spice grinder to prep it. Jowe looks like black peppercorn. Njangsang looks like chickpeas.

We poured the two cartons of chicken stock in the pot and started to boil it.

The tomatoes, onion and salt were added to the pot after the chicken stock came to a boil. This mixture cooked for 20 minutes.

Next the garlic, ginger, njangsang, jowe, eseke seke, country onion, and habanero peppers were added and this cooked for another 20 minutes.

We added the catfish at the very end when we were almost ready to serve it.

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The finished dish was served in a soup bowl.

The Other Menu Items

Peanut Soup – peanuts, chicken, oil, tomatoes, tomato paste, ginger, garlic, water, onion, habanero pepper, dried crayfish, and chicken stock.

Black-Eyed Pea Fritters with Homemade Hot Sauce – black-eyed peas, onion, egg, habanero pepper, water, salt, and oil.

Sautéed Spinach with Tomato (Nja Ma Nja Ma) – spinach, onion, olive oil, and salt.

Fried Plantains – plantains, oil, and salt.

Puff Puff with Cinnamon Sugar – flour, water, sugar, yeast, salt, and oil.

Puff Puff as it was frying.

Finished Puff Puff with cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top.

The class recipes are in Chef Ceci’s cookbook Ceci’s African Kitchen: A Chronicle of Cameroonian Cuisine and Culture.

  • Black-Eyed Pea Fritters [Akara Beans] (p. 10)
  • Catfish Stew [Catfish Pepper Soup] (p. 41)
  • Fried Plantains (Dodo) (p. 17)
  • Green Njama Njama (p. 59)
  • Peanut Soup (p. 47)
  • Puff Puff (p. 21)

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