Saturday, 4 April 2015

Overnight Oats - My Life Saver

 
I have a huge problem with eating breakfast. I am usually nauseous in the mornings  - and considering I suffered no morning sickness when I was pregnant, the nausea is annoying. I get by with drinking sips of water or sips of cold green tea till I have my first meal of the day at about 1pm. I know all too well how important breakfast is but added to the fact that I cannot stand hot food....
 
Enter this solution - overnight oats. Every night, I pour some oatmeal, granola or muesli into a glass jar. I add milk - even though I am not lactose intolerant, I really like flavored soy milk, almond milk et al.  Cover the jar and leave in the fridge overnight. The next morning, I add fruit or nuts - in the jar pictured, I added mango chunks and toasted coconut flakes and voila. Breakfast is ready. Cold, healthy and ready. Plus I get to take the jar with me and have breakfast on the go....The variations are endless and you can add pretty much anything you like including yogurt, honey....
 
Breakfast is indeed the most important meal of the day and I admit that I can tell the difference in my productivity and energy levels through out the day since I started including this in my diet.
 
Enjoy!!!


Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Early April - Garden Update

I am a little worried now that this new hobby of mine has become an obsession. However, this is one obsession that I figure will not hurt anyone - I mean there is virtually no space left in my house - but hey - who needs space.
 
It's exciting times in my garden with harvests and flowers and all things sprouting. At this point, the only cause for concern is my green zucchini pot. There are 2 plants in the pot producing lots of leaves and no flowers at all anymore. I am watching closely but just to be on the safe side, I have replanted directly in the ground and hope for better luck.
 
On to the updates:

 
 
Cylindra Beet ready to come out of the ground

These bean pods will be golden yellow when ready for harvest

Not really a fan of peas but I will be forced to make interesting things for the family as  these plants produce like mad

Swiss chard. I have been harvesting the outer leaves and adding to smoothies

Jalapeno pepper a few days away from harvest

Right on time and ready for harvest. My butter crunch lettuce is all done now so its good to have more lettuce ready

Okra pods. I have harvested quite a few pods so far

Giant spinach. This plant is spreading so much. I probably should have done research before planting

Sugar baby watermelon. So exciting. This variety of watermelon does not get as large as regular varieties ad even though it spreads, it has not been as scary as I thought

Early morning harvest: Butter crunch lettuce leaves, cylindra beet and forage premier kale

The okra plant produces this beautiful hibiscus looking flower which falls off to reveal an okra pod

Cucumber plant beginning to flower - all male flowers usually come through first - anxiously waiting the female flowers

 
Happy Gardening!!!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Ginger Mango Lemonade



Living in Nigeria, we are exposed to extreme weather conditions. Blazing heat. Tropical thunder storms. Its been blazing hot for the past few months and keeping hydrating is imperative to avoid sunstroke and general unpleasantness. Water is of course the best way to keep hydrated - the colder the better for me. However, we all need a break from water and crave something sweet to quench our thirst. Ice creams or fizzy sodas are not a regular part of my diet and I do not find them refreshing. Instead I find myself drinking water to cleanse my palate after I treat myself to any of them.
The only exception to my rule is lemonade. I love the freshness that comes from tangy lemons and by making my own versions at home, I get to control the level of sweetness. The flavor combinations are endless and if you are feeling naughty, you can 'harden' the lemonade by adding vodka to it. This version is a great way to use mangoes which are in season and by making a simple syrup and adding ginger to it, gives enough of a kick to cut down the sweetness from the sugar and the mangoes. Make a pitcher or 3 and keep refrigerated because you will not be able to get enough.
To make a pitcher of lemonade, you will need:
  • 2 ripe mangoes - peeled and flesh cut away from the stone and diced into small pieces
  • 1/4 inch of ginger - washed and cut into 2
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 cups of water
  • 2 cups lemon juice
Directions:
  • In a large sauce pan, combine the mangoes, ginger, sugar and water and simmer for about 10 minutes stirring constantly.
  • Remove from the heat and let cool
  • Strain mixture into a pitcher or jug and add the lemon juice
  • Stir and taste. Add more water if mixture is too sweet or add a dash of vodka if its an adults only drink
  • Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving
The variations are endless - add fruits of your choice and even herbs like mint or African basil (our local 'scent' leaf) for unexpected flavor profiles.
Enjoy!!!

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Coming Soon.......

Combining my 3 loves: Food, Brain Power & Mother Africa and working with the amazing Mayowa Fabode.

Are you ready?

Friday, 27 March 2015

Thai Style Coconut Lemon Grass Chicken


Sooooo....

It is no secret that I love Thai food. I haven't been to Thailand before and while it is on the list of places to visit, I have had many a meal at Thai restaurants in a few countries and I have sampled a lot of the staples. Thai food has that delicate balance of sweet, sour and spicy elements that when combined in the right ratios is food nirvana. While I might not be an expert in this cuisine, there are a few staples in Thai cuisine that are pretty common in these parts and can be used with everyday ingredients to evoke tastes of street food in Bangkok. These include: lemon grass, fish sauce and coconut milk.

Which brings me to this baked chicken dish. The beauty of this dish is its almost a hands off dish. The chicken sits in the marinade overnight and is baked till done. This means you can spend your time making a side to go with it: rice, couscous, acha, salad, stir fry ---- whatever rocks your world.

To make 8 pieces of chicken, you will need:
  • 8 pieces of chicken - I prefer bone in pieces like the thighs and drumsticks
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 medium red onion - rough chopped
  • 1 small piece of ginger. Peeled and chopped into little pieces
  • 2 lemon grass stalks- rough chopped
  • 3 green chilies - rough chopped (use as many or as few as you prefer) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
  • Salt to taste
Directions:
  • Combine all the ingredients except the chicken and salt in a bowl with a secure lid
  • Stir to combine and taste. Season with salt to taste. Fish sauce is salty so you need to add salt last to be sure you do not over season
  • Add the chicken and ensure all pieces are covered with the marinade. Use a skewer to poke holes in the chicken to ensure even marinade.
  • Cover and marinade in the fridge over night
  • Preheat oven to 350F and line an oven proof dish with foil (this makes clean up a breeze)
  • Arrange chicken in a single layer and spoon some of the marinade over the chicken and bake till done - 25-30 minutes
  • Baste the chicken with the remaining marinade at least once during the cooking process
  • Serve with a side of your choice
There will be some marinade left in the baking pan after the chicken is ready. That is a simple pan sauce that you can reduce in a sauce pan and serve by the side of your meal to be used over the side you serve this chicken with.

Enjoy!!!

 

Saturday, 21 March 2015

I say Potato, You say Petatoes, We say Poraros – Sweet Potato Muffins




With all the advances in technology today, I still cannot believe it is impossible to clone humans safely. This is a roundabout way of saying that life has been so incredibly busy that getting posts done for BN Cuisine has been next to impossible. However, I have come up with a few tricks that make juggling a little easier. If I can only stick to the plan…..

On to the potatoes…

Sweet potatoes are a favorite in many households (and kids absolutely love them) – usually served fried in Nigeria and available in different variants. The locally grown sweet potatoes look like cocoyams with tan or dark brown skin and usually have white flesh when peeled. Sweet potatoes from Benin Republic are very common here in Nigeria as well with darker peel than the local variety. These varieties of potatoes can range in taste from bland to mildly sweet. Some supermarkets sell imported sweet potatoes (usually from Europe) with darker red / orange skin that have orange flesh when peeled and can be saccharine sweet. The North Americans call them yams (insert side eye here) and are a staple at many a Thanksgiving dinner table with brown sugar and butter added and topped with marshmallows – bordering on dessert in my opinion. The local variety has the same texture as floury potatoes when mashed unlike the imported kind that tend to be moister.

We tend to get stuck in a rut with foods on heavy rotation in our lives and sometimes in the case of the sweet potato, it is just easier to fry them and move on. This humble root vegetable can be used in so many different ways – try boiling and mashing the potatoes and adding a little butter, salt and cream and serving with steak or grilled chicken with some veggies on the side, or bake with fresh herbs like thyme and rosemary for a fragrant healthier option, You can also make a traditional pottage (porridge) using yams and some sweet potatoes as well as add chunks of sweet potatoes into spicy pepper soup instead of yams.

So many options but how about making some muffins with them? Makes sense in my world for the following reasons: honey muffins, waffles and cornbread are common side dishes served with savory meals in certain parts of the world, sweet crepes can be stuffed with savory fillings – why can’t I make muffins using sweet potatoes that will be a little dense and not overly sweet – which will make them perfect for mopping up sauces? A crunchy topping gives textural balance to these little guys. I also committed to serving corn bread at a Southern themed brunch event and went into the pantry and discovered that packets of cornmeal had developed legs (or I used them all and forgot to restock) and needed an alternative fast and I had quite a few sweet potatoes staring at me. After 3 tries, I was happy with the results and got rave reviews. Seeing as I hate going anywhere empty handed, these also made a pretty gift in a box after the event.

To make 18 muffins, you will needs:

  • 3 large sweet potatoes (weigh them to get 450g of potatoes)
  • 280g all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 125g sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup liquid full cream milk
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup mixed nuts

For topping:

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

  • Peel sweet potatoes and cut into chunks. Add to a pot of water and cook till soft. Drain and mash using a food processor or a mini pestle and let cool
  • Line muffin tins with paper cups and pre heat oven to 200C or gas mark 3
  • In a bowl, stir together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and salt
  • In another bowl, stir sugar and cinnamon for topping
  • In another bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, oil, milk and orange zest till smooth. Add the mashed sweet potatoes and stir until well blended. Add the flour mixture until just combined. Do not over mix
  • Add the nuts and stir to combine. Spoon batter into muffin cups and sprinkle each muffin with some topping mix
  • Bake muffins until a toothpick inserted comes out clean – 20 -25 minutes
  • Serve with butter and your favorite baked or fried protein.

Enjoy!!!

 


Friday, 20 March 2015

Green Egg Scramble


Eggs. Simple enough to make one might think but it is for that exact reason that eggs can be boring. Like a lot of foods that we eat regularly, we tend to go into default mode with eggs – boil or fry. Make an omelet with onions and tomatoes and some chilies if you like some heat.
I love to use eggs as a carrier for vegetables. It is a lot easier to feed my family insane amounts of vegetables if I include them in eggs. This green egg scramble concept is also a very delicious way to deal with egg white only omelets if you are on a diet. By loading the eggs up with all these fiber and nutrients, a small bowl is quite filling which means – no need to have carbs on the side to fill you up. You can also make a few eggs go a long way as well.
To make a 4 egg scramble, you will need:
  • 4 eggs
  • A small bunch of greens – spinach, kale, ugwu (fluted pumpkin leaves) or lettuce will work. Use one type or a combination
  • 1 green bell pepper – deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 carrot – grated
  • 2 spring onions – finely chopped (white and green parts)
  • Cheese – grated cheddar,mozarella, smoked gouda – any kind of cheese you prefer or a combination. I usually use a smoked cheese because of the delicious flavor it adds to the omelet
  • Salt and white pepper
  • Oil: Olive, vegetable, canola oil can be used. Unsalted butter can be used as well
Directions:
  • Prepare all the vegetables and set aside
  • Crack eggs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Whisk till well combined
  • In a large skillet or frying pan, add just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan
  • Add the vegetables and cook for 5 minutes stirring constantly
  • Add the eggs and using a wooden spoon or spatula stir the eggs constantly on low heat. Low and slow is the secret to moist eggs
  • Add the grated cheese and stir mixture until the cheese has melted
  • Serve hot
Enjoy!!!