Thursday 29 May 2014

Recipe for my Naughty Mango Bread...

There is no doubt that it is mango season. Everywhere I turn, I see mangos.  In the markets, in supermarkets, in wheel barrows pushed around by fruit vendors – there they are waiting to be poked and prodded and then taken home to be peeled and eaten.
After receiving an obscene number of mangoes from my mother, I had done everything from peeling and eating the fruit straight from the fridge, blending as base for smoothies, putting chunks in plain yogurt, given my 14 month old son spoonfuls several times a day and I still had way too many left and we were getting sick of them. I couldn’t bear to throw them away so I decided to figure out some other way to use the fruits that would exhaust what we had left but be interesting as well. I thought to myself – banana bread is a classic, why not try making mango bread?
When I mentioned it to my husband, he screwed up his face every which way and said he wasn’t going to be a part of that nastiness. However, the idea had taken root. Mangos are considered a tropical exotic fruit so I could add some warmth with some spices and alcohol and it could just work. I am so happy to say that after a few tweaks, the naughty mango bread is a huge hit with my husband, friends and family with folks even offering to pay for loaves when no freebies are forthcoming. And the best part about it, no mixers needed. Just bowls and a wooden spoon..
To make a 9 inch loaf, you will need:
  • 1 cup of dried mixed fruit (cover the fruit with some brandy, rum or cognac for at least an hour. This is the naughty part of the bread)
  • 2 ½ cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ cup of vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 cups diced mango (2 medium sized mangoes or 1 very large mango should give you what you need)
Making the bread:
·        Preheat oven to 350 degrees F or gas mark 4.
·        Spray a 9 inch loaf pan or any baking tin of your choice with baking non stick spray or butter the tin thoroughly, dust with flour and tap out the excess
·        In a bowl, sieve and whisk together the flours, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt
·        In another bowl, whisk the eggs and oil together and pour over the dry ingredients.
·        Mix the batter well using a wooden spoon or a spatula. The batter will be very thick so don’t panic.
·        Drain the mixed fruit and add to batter along with the diced mangoes and stir well to be sure everything is properly incorporated.
·        Scrape the batter into the pan and use wooden spoon or spatula to smooth the top
·        Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick or thin knife inserted comes out clean
·        Let the bread cool for about 10 minutes before removing from the pan and let cool thoroughly before slicing.
This naughty mango bread is fantastic warm or cold, with coffee or tea or even with a light smear of butter if you are feeling generous about your calories.


Tuesday 27 May 2014

Guest Post - Mrs Temitope Laguda

I am so pleased to have the very first guest post on the blog. While this post has a food recipe in it, its more about a day in the life of a working mother who still tries to make sure her family eats home cooked meals as often as possible. For all the working mothers out there, we can attest to the daily struggle and fighting tiredness to don our superwoman capes at the end of hectic days.
I would love to hear from any working mothers who would like to share their creative meals that they create for their families.....
So here's Topsy....
I have to cook, I have to get my kids’ uniforms ready, I have to do laundry, I have to clean the house, I have to return phone calls, I have to respond to emails, I have to sort letters (actually bills), I have to do all these things but first, I need to get home! I need to get home and then cook. Now, you may think getting home isn’t such a big deal but if you are a mother of 2 and work 80miles away from home and the travel takes the better part of your day, you wonder what plans Mother Earth has for you and openly hate super heroes while actually secretly loving and envying them. Wonder Woman anyone?
I digress, I have a long To Do list and not so much time.  I have then decided to spend my train journey to draw a map of what I need to do and want to do. At the back of my mind, all I have there is sleep but that is infinitely impossible when I have gremlins waiting for me at home. That puts cooking on top of my list. Now, for the question of the year, what do I cook?? I have no clue! I do what I do every single time, wait till you get home and rummage through your pantry and refrigerator to see what you can rustle up. Having made that decision, I settled back in between the 2 selfish white men seating on either side of me and slept off.
Aahh….finally, I get home and head straight into the kitchen past the hungry faces and shouts of Mummmyyy!!! Sometimes, I wonder if their happiness is of love or get in the damn kitchen and make us some food woman! Anyways; Rice-check, Frozen Veggies- check; Chicken Breast – check; Prawns - check

I have decided to go for the usual; Rice but this time with mixed vegetables. Now, I’m notorious for eyeballing quantities and have a strong habit of making more than enough so whenever anyone is hungry, there’s always some leftover to tide them over. Probably a culture thing but it’s working for me.
 Here are the ingredients;
  • White Rice (for healthier version, brown rice)
  • Frozen Mixed Vegetables (I use Bird’s Eye). If you don’t have that you can use fresh carrots, green beans (both sliced thinly), sweetcorn, broccoli and green peas
  • Sliced skinless chicken breasts
  • Tiger prawns
  • Ground Ginger
  • Stock Cube
  • Curry
  • Mixed Herbs or just Thyme
  • Salt (very little)
  • Oil (I use sunflower oil, you can use olive oil)
  • Heat 1tbsp of oil in a non-stick frying pan, season your chicken and stir fry till almost cooked through.
  • Just before it’s done, toss your prawns in and fry them together till both are well done. 
  • Add your veggies (if using frozen, cook from frozen and if using fresh don’t cook them first, stir fry fresh with the exception of the broccoli.
  • Stir continuously and add your curry, mixed herbs/thyme, ground ginger.
  • Taste and add a little bit of salt if necessary. You can now add your broccoli, the reason for the late addition is because you don’t want your broccoli too soft, you want a bit of crunchiness in your veggie sauce.
  • Toss together and make sure the seasoning is well incorporated into the sauce.
  • The whole process should take no longer than 10-15mins. You want to keep all your nutrients in and not overcook it.
  • Serve with rice/pasta/cous cous.
Another variation is adding some water or chicken stock and a dash of soy sauce to it and then thickening with corn flour before adding your veggies to give it a wetter and moreish look. I have made different types of this veggie sauce to be honest and there’s no limit to what you can do to it. It’s about being adventurous.
 My family absolutely loved it and they asked for more, even I took some to work the following day for lunch.
 If I’m welcome back here again, I’ll tell you what I cooked for my husband that got him to propose to me a second time! Oooh, I’m hot like that! ;)
 Thanks for allowing me to grace your page Uzo. Hope to do this again soon! J

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Wait a minute! I cannot believe that there are no baking recipes up on the blog. This is ridiculous seeing as one of the many hats that I wear is as Head baker and Creative Director of Cupcake Couture and we bake every day...So here's to lots of baking recipes in addition to the other posts.


Thursday 22 May 2014

Adventures from Calabar Loading.......

One of my side gigs is host of Friday Food on The Spot on EbonyLifeTV (Channel 165 on DSTV). I have been fortunate to do this for the past 2 seasons and have had about 16 inserts so far. I was so excited to be invited to Calabar - where the show shoots to be a guest on the show for the full hour while cooking on air as well. It was hectic but so worth it.

My first full hour on the show airs on May 23rd at 7.30pm. Tune in.


Monday 19 May 2014

Buttery Rice Pilaf

I eat a lot of rice. A lot of people I know eat a lot of rice. Most of Nigeria eats a lot of rice. LOL. Okay so that sounds so dramatic but its true. We eat a lot of white rice with stews and soups, jollof rice, fried rice and 'concoction rice ' (where we just throw whatever is available into a pot and serve).
I know a lot of people that go to restaurants and order extra portions of rice especially if the fancy plated up rice portion is less than adequate.
The challenge now becomes how to make rice interesting time and time again. Rice pilafs are such an easy way to do that with less effort and ingredients than jollof or fried rice. They can be as subtle or pack huge flavor punches depending on what you plan to serve the rice with.
 My go-to pilaf is one that goes perfectly with spicy or mild sauces and stews and can even be eaten on its own and can be thrown together with ingredients that most people already have in their kitchens.
To serve 4, you will need:
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 2 cups chicken stock - you can substitute 4 stock cubes dissolved in hot water
  • 1 small diced onion - yellow or red
  • 2 crushed cloves of garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Unsalted butter to taste
  • Fresh parsley to garnish - optional
  • Salt to taste

  •  Add a few pats of butter in to a pot and add the onions and garlic immediately and sauté until translucent
  • Add the washed rice to the pot and stir constantly. You should ensure that the rice is coated with the butter, onion and garlic mix and the rice begins to toast.
  • Stir constantly to ensure no sticking to the bottom of the pan and the rice doesn't burn - about 10 mins
  • Pour the stock over the rice and add the bay leaves
  • Cover  and cook on low heat till rice is cooked through
  • Garnish with the fresh parsley and serve with a side of your choice

This rice pilaf is so easy to put together but gives same old rice a facelift and 'tastelift' that everyone will love.


Friday 16 May 2014

Monday 12 May 2014

Kitchen Tip: How to make sure your eggs are still usable

Eggs are a staple in most kitchens. I use dozens of eggs a week especially for my baking business and there is nothing worse than cracking an egg and its nasty and rotten or you need egg yolks only and the old egg yolk mixes with the white and its of no use for that recipe. Eggs are also notorious for making people sick if bad eggs are combined with improper cooking ...Imagine making runny poached eggs with less than fresh eggs?

Checking if your eggs are still usable is super easy.


Get a deep bowl and fill with cold water. Put your eggs in the bowl. Any eggs that sink to the bottom are fresh. Any eggs that rise to the top are bad and should be discarded. Any eggs that sink to the bottom but move around and try to sit on the point are in between. They can still be used for scrambling or added to recipes but not for any recipes that call for intact yolks.

That's how easy it is.


Saturday 10 May 2014

Yam wearing Underskirt - Dundun Oniyeri with Smoked Fish Sauce -

A few years ago, a popular Lagos quick service restaurant burst unto the scene with a menu item called 'Yamarita". This dish had 3 main elements - Yam pieces in a batter and fried, a chunky tomato and pepper sauce and battered fried whole fish which you could swap for peppered fish or peppered chicken for a little more money. It remains one of their best sellers and I honestly had never seen it anywhere else.
I have to confess to not exactly being a fan of yam but my mother is from Ondo state and people from that state are huge yam eaters. They can start the day off with hot mounds of pounded yam. So I have been told. My grandmother (God rest her soul) had designated yam pounders and pounded yam everyday was just a part of life. Then I got married. To a man from Ondo state. His family has designated yam pounders too and he likes his yam as well. So I have had to introduce yam into our culinary repertoire and be inventive so I can enjoy the meals as well.
It never occurred to me to try this dish at home until my mom in a conversation ages ago suggested I try yam wearing underskirt. I was like 'huh'. She said yamarita or dundun oniyeri translates as yam wearing underskirt. I had a good laugh. I actually still giggle thinking about it.
It can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be - all depends on what you choose to accompany the dundun with. Dundun Oniyeri is simply yam pieces dipped in seasoned egg wash and fried. Some people add flour or cornstarch for a bulkier batter.
I usually serve my dundun with this smoked fish sauce which is so easy to make but tongue bitingly yummy. The whole meal takes less than an hour to put together from start to finish but its one of those meals that is so delicious and packs such a visual punch that novices will think you spent longer slaving over the hot stove.
To serve 4, you will need:
  • 4 slices of yam - cut into wedges or "chips"
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and dried cayenne pepper to taste
  • Flavorless oil for frying - vegetable, canola or sunflower will work
  • 1 large dried smoked catfish or any fish of your choice
  • 200g whole red crayfish
  • 1 cooking spoon palm-oil
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 stock cube
  • 2 cups blended tomato/pepper mix
  • 1 tablespoon of ground crayfish
  •  Efinrin/nchawun/scent leaf to taste - optional


Start with slices of yam cut into wedges or 'chips'. Wash and drain and pat dry and set aside

In a separate bowl, crack your eggs and season with salt and some dried cayenne pepper if you wish. Whisk well and dunk your yam pieces in the egg wash. Ensure each piece is completely coated and drop the yam pieces into a pan of hot vegetable or canola oil and fry till golden brown.

The core ingredients for the accompanying sauce are dried smoked catfish and red crayfish. You can use any kind of smoked fish that you prefer really. I use this catfish because I have a source that calls me as soon as she finishes smoking the fish so its not hanging around for ages in the market.
Soak the dried smoked catfish and red crayfish to soften. Using your hands, skin and debone the catfish and flake into chunks and set aside. Take the heads and tails off the red crayfish and set aside. Save a little bit of the water used to soak the seafood for the sauce.

In a pot, add palm-oil and heat till it begins to smoke. You are not trying to bleach the oil. Just make it very hot. Add finely chopped onion and a stock cube and fry till onions begin to brown. Add blended tomato and pepper mix and fry sauce. Add blended crayfish and salt to taste.

Once sauce is seasoned to taste, add the dried smoked fish and red crayfish and cook on low heat for another 10 minutes. At this point, you can add some efinrin/nchawun/scent leaf which adds a whole different dimension of flavor to the sauce.
And that's it. That simple. Serve and enjoy!

Monday 5 May 2014

Sexifying Water....

I know there isn't a word like sexifying but that's the only word I could come up with. We all know water is magic and excellent for you. A lot of people use the word boring to justify not drinking enough water and even though my water guzzling is legendary, I have to agree that it gets so very boring.

Here is a simple way to add natural flavor to water and have fun too.

You will need:

  • Washed ice trays - there are so many fun shaped ones out there now and they are cheap as dirt.
  • Cucumber slices
  • Lemon slices
  • Lime slices
  • Mint leaves
Simply chop the fruit and vegetables to fit the ice trays and fill with water and freeze.

Pop out a few cubes and put in glass whenever you want to have a glass of water. I love watching the ice melt as I sip. Plus, the flavor of your water gets more intense as the ice melts and a little treat awaits you at the bottom of the glass.

I have tried this with other fruits like strawberries and peaches but it becomes cloying and takes away from the pure refreshing clean taste I want with water.