Thursday 26 June 2014

Amped Up Mayonnaise

Burgers, sandwiches, wraps - All very easy to throw together when time is not on your side. They can get boring though because lets face it - when you have a combination that the family loves, its hard to tweak. A very easy but tasty way to make things exciting is by making what I call amped up mayonnaise. 
Amped up mayonnaise is really mayonnaise with add-ins. The wonderful thing about amped up mayonnaise is there are so many variations that you can make to your taste. My 2 favorite versions are - garlic mayonnaise (crushed garlic stirred into mayonnaise) and this version here - curry chili mayonnaise.
You will need:
  • 1 cup mayonnaise. You can use low fat versions. You can also swap half of the mayonnaise with natural yogurt for some zing
  • 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder
  • 1 birds eye chili or any type you prefer. You can deseed the chili for less heat

  • In a bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir well.
  • This can keep in the fridge for a week
Use this mayonnaise on burgers, sandwiches (this is a ham and cheese sandwich pictured), wraps or even as a dip for chips or potato wedges.


Kitchen Tip - Ripening Fruit

If you have unripe fruit that you would like to use and would like to speed up nature, try wrapping the fruit in newspaper and store in a warm place for 2-3 days


Sunday 22 June 2014

Adventures from Calabar 2 - Boiled Plantain and Smoked fish with Vegetable Sauce. And an Amstel Malta Milkshake

I had another opportunity to cook on air and be a guest on The Spot on EbonyLifeTv (Channel 165 on DSTV) and as usual it was a fabulous experience. 
If you have never caught The Spot, I urge you to. Its a largely unscripted show hosted by Lamide Akintobi, Zainab Balogun and Ebuka Uchendu and while it is different from the regular tv fare, its pretty smart and addictive. 
This time, my brief from the producer was a healthy, nutritious, filling meal that was pocket friendly but yummy as well.

(Just before we started shooting)
I decided to prepare boiled ripe plantain with a smoked fish and vegetable sauce.
To feed 4 people, you will need:
  • 4 ripe plantains - assuming one per person
  • 1 cooking spoon of flavourless oil - I prefer canola oil
  • 1 large red onion - finely chopped
  • 4 large tomatoes - finely chopped
  • 1 yellow scotch bonnet pepper
  • 1 stock cube
  • 3 large smoked fish (I used mackerel) - skinned, deboned and flaked
  • 2 cups red whole crayfish - heads and tails removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground crayfish
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 bunches of ugwu (pumpkin leaves) - washed and rough chopped
  • Salt to taste

  • Cut each plantain into 3 pieces and place in a pot with salted water
  • Boil until cooked through
  • Heat oil in a large saucepan
  • Add onions, tomatoes and scotch bonnet pepper
  • Saute until translucent
  • Add stock cube, ground crayfish and cayenne pepper and cook for another 5 minutes stirring constantly
  • Add the smoked fish and red crayfish with a cooking spoon of water
  • Add salt to taste
  • Once the sauce is quite dry, add the ugwu, stir very well to incorporate all ingredients and turn the heat off
  • The steam will cook the vegetables just enough to be cooked through but still have crunch
This sauce can be served with potatoes, yam and rice. Or even eaten on its own since its so filling.

I also made an Amstel Malta milkshake which is so easy to make and so delicious as well.

To fill 4 glasses, you will need:
  • 3 cans of chilled Amstel Malta
  • 1/2 cup of dried skimmed milk
  • 12 strawberries
  • Add all the ingredients into a blender. Blitz till smooth. Pour into glasses and serve immediately


Tuesday 17 June 2014

Spicy Mimosa

The World Cup fever has overtaken us all on this end. As a result of the time difference between Nigeria and Brazil, we are watching the matches into the early hours of the morning. This means little sleep, grogginess and messed up schedules. Who needs sleep anyway? Its manic I tell you.
Sexy drinks are perfect to mix for match watching and seeing as Brazil is all about sun and fun and evokes feelings of forbidden pleasures, this spicy mimosa is perfect for this season and its unexpected too.
To mix up a good pitcher full which will fill at least 4 tall glasses, you will need:
  • 1 bottle of good quality champagne. Rose works even better
  • 2 cups of orange juice. Not freshly squeezed. Good quality juice from a pack/bottle will work just fine
  • Chilli/hot sauce - to taste
  • Empty the bottle of chilled champagne into a jug/pitcher
  • Add the chilled cups of orange juice and stir
  • Place in the fridge until ready to serve

  • Once ready to serve, add a few drops of the chilli/hot sauce into a glass and fill with the mimosa

So simple and different but gets the taste buds popping.

Sunday 15 June 2014

World Cup Eats - 1

The World Cup is underway and most of Nigeria is in a football fog. Hard to escape the fever even if you aren't a soccer fan. Thankfully I am. And I live with a border line obsessed fan. He also loves to invite people over to watch games and sometimes tell me at the last minute. Last night was one of those last minute nights and seeing as I am recovering from the worst flu I have ever had in my life, I was not in the mood to create anything.

Thank goodness for pizza and delivery companies. I ordered boxes of pizza which is perfect TV watching food anyway.

I did make lots of shandy though.

When I was younger, I remember an advert on TV for Green Sands Shandy and I still remember the jingle now. And I vaguely remember it came in a short bottle. I don't remember if I ever drank it then but we had boxes of the stuff stashed under the staircase. Over the past 2 years, I have become obsessed with making and serving shandy. It might have to do with the fact that its so easy to put together, guys and girls love it and its so nostalgic.

All you need is cold light beer and cold 7up or Sprite or ginger ale. The recipe? Simply add half a cup of beer to half a cup of the soda. I just open both bottles or cans and pour at the same time into each glass. That's half and half right? LOL.

So pizza and shandy for television watching parties...yaaay.



Monday 9 June 2014

Kitchen Tip - Removing the smell of garlic from chopping boards

Lemon or lime juice and a little salt go a long way towards reducing the odour of both garlic and onion on your chopping board.

Sprinkle your cutting board with salt. Cut a lemon or lime into quarters and use these quarters to rub the salt into the board, squeezing the juice on to the board as you go. Let the board sit for two to three minutes, and then wipe it clean with a damp cloth.

Voila....odour free cutting boards.


Cold Brewed Iced Tea and Cuba Libre(Rum & Cola with a twist)

I don't like to drink alcohol just because I am a wuss. Really. My alcohol tolerance is so low, its laughable. But I still like to have fun fun drinks when I have company over and they getting their buzz on.
These 2 drinks will make the teetotalers and drinkers in your life very happy. Plus they are so easy to put together which should make any hostess happy.
The first drink is a citrus cold brewed iced tea. To make a pitcher, you will need:
  • 1 green tea bag
  • Cold water to fill the pitcher
  • Slices from 1 orange
  • Slices from 2 lemons
  • Slices from 3 limes
  • Sweetener of choice (Sugar, Stevia, honey etc)
How to:
  • Simply put all the ingredients into a pitcher and fill with water and place in the fridge for at least 3 hours and ready to serve.
  • Substitute the fruits with any combination of your choice. You can also use flavored tea bags as well.
  • Sweeten to taste
I prefer to make the tea unsweetened and offer my guests the option of sweetening to taste. Just have ice on hand to add to glasses afterwards.
To make the Cuba Libra, you will need:

  •  Juice from 9 limes
  • 1 cup of dark rum
  • 3.5 cups of cola
  • Ice cubes
How to:
  • In a pitcher, add all the ingredients listed above and serve immediately

To up the fun factor, play around serving your drinks in unusual glasses and with fun straws and picks. These drinks go very well with salty crunchy snacks like pretzels, potato chips, veggie crisps etc.

Friday 6 June 2014

Food Porn

Red velvet and vanilla marble cake topped with whipped cream and home made strawberry sauce.


Thursday 5 June 2014

Coconut Ice

There is nothing I love more than frozen treats. Even if its freezing cold outside, I must have my water straight out of the freezer. I put my cut fresh fruits in the freezer and cant abide room temperature anything. I cant even drink hot tea or coffee. I stick the cups in the freezer after so they are as close to frozen as I can get them depending on how impatient I am.
So its no surprise that this coconut ice is one of my favorite frozen treats to make. It ticks a lot of my boxes: frozen (check), coconut (check), zingy lime flavor (check), easy peasy to make(check).
Its refreshing and not cloyingly sweet and as long as the people around you (regardless of age) like coconut, this is a winner every time.
To make enough to serve 4 or all for yourself, you will need:
  • ¼ cup of caster sugar
  • 1 400ml can coconut milk
  • 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup dessicated coconut
  • Sprinkles to garnish and serve
Pour 2/3 cups of water into a saucepan. Add the caster sugar and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and leave syrup to cool in fridge
Grate the rind from the limes and set aside
In a bowl, juice the limes and add to the cooled syrup, desiccated coconut and coconut milk
Pour mixture into a freezer container and freeze till firm. About 4-6 hours. Use a hand mixer or fork to break up the crystals.
Scoop into glasses, decorate and serve
For extra nuttiness, toast the dessicated coconut in a dry pan on the stove till it browns before adding into the syrup and coconut milk mixture



Monday 2 June 2014

Braised Chicken 'Suya"


When I was invited to Calabar to shoot episodes of the themed Friday Cookout shows on The Spot (on EbonyLifeTv Channel 165 on DSTV) last month, the producer asked me to come ready to cook on air and make tasty Nigerian dishes that could be ready within the 1 hour shooting time, be healthy and still pack a taste punch.
The first meal I chose to prepare is one that is a staple in my home because its really versatile, is ready in no time and is so yummy. Its my braised chicken suya dish that I make as a sauce sometimes to go with sides of rice or plantain or yam or I make dry to be eaten on its own like traditional suya.
I don't know many people that don't like suya in one variant of the other. These spicy, aromatic skewers of protein street food (anything from beef to chicken to offals) cooked over open coals with a wire grill placed over the coals is such a part of Nigerian culture, I really think it should be named THE Nigerian national dish. It is enjoyed by everyone regardless of tribe or religion. I honestly don't know anything that unifying except for The Super Eagles.(National soccer team)
I came up with this dish one evening. I really planned to make chicken suya the traditional way as one of the sides to entertain friends that were supposed to come over. I had doused the chicken with suya spices that I got from my favorite suya spot and kept the chicken in the fridge with the intention of grilling once people started arriving. The it rained. Tropical storm. People started calling to cancel. I had to figure out what to do with all this marinated chicken since grilling outdoors was also a no go. There was the additional problem of excruciating hunger for hubby and i since we planned to eat with the guests. Grilling in the oven would take too long. I decided to put the chicken pieces in a pot with a little bit of water and voila....This staple was born.
The beauty of this dish is that you can do everything to taste since people like their suya served in different ways and in different quantities.
To make my version that feeds 4, you will need the following ingredients:
  • 8 chicken pieces - Cut into sizes you prefer. This assumes 2 pieces per person. I recommend making more than you need
  • Suya spices (yaaji) - from your favorite suya spot. I don't recommend using the bottled stuff that's now available at grocery stores
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • Salt to taste
  • One red onion - sliced
  • 3 large tomatoes - diced
  • 4-6 efinrin/scent leaves
Wash the chicken pieces and place in a pot with a little bit of water. You can add water as you go along but the key to this dish is to have a very thick sauce at the end of the cooking process or to have it completely dry.
Add the stock cube, suya spices to taste and some salt

Cook chicken until it is cooked through and liquid left in pot is enough for sauce. If cooking chicken to eat dry, cook until all the liquid is absorbed, stirring constantly. The chicken will begin to brown and stick to the bottom of the pot, so stirring constantly is imperative.

Slice the onions, dice the tomatoes and chop up the efinrin/scent leaf and add to the chicken.

You want the vegetables to still be "alive" - to still have crunch to them so its important to add at the end of the cooking process

Stir through and turn the heat of. The steam left from the cooking process will cook the vegetables just enough to still have the freshness factor.

Serve and enjoy! This version is served with white rice and diced fried plantain.