Saturday 29 November 2014

Video - Suya Salad Cups

I got the funniest email. 'Mr Obi' said he was too lazy to click on link to YouTube videos. He asked why I don't have them on the blog. The part about lazy fingers had me laughing for a good 5 minutes. I get the message. I shall post the videos on the blog going forward.

Don't forget to subscribe.


Friday 28 November 2014

Compound Butters....

Compound butters are an excellent way to integrate interesting ingredients into butter and enjoy delicious tasting spread on different foods. All you need is butter at room temperature and whatever add-ins you like. This means that the possibilities are endless. You can have sweet versions with honey or chocolate or pureed fruit. Or savory versions with different fresh herbs or garlic or chilies or even boozy versions with drops of Irish cream or cognac.
Pictured below: Corn muffins and strawberry butter - Compound butter made by adding pureed strawberries to room temperature unsalted butter
Pictured below: Garlic herb toast. Compound butter made by mixing pureed fresh garlic and dried Italian herb blend into salted room temperature butter. Spread butter blend generously on sliced bread and put under the broiler for 5-7 minutes. You can use this blend on dinner rolls or baguettes and serve with pasta

You can make different kinds of butters and store in the fridge until the butter firms up. If you are big on frou frou presentation (lol), put the butter blend on cling film and roll. Keep in fridge till the roll firms up. Slice to serve.


Tuesday 25 November 2014

Exploring my Green Thumb

I have set myself a challenge for 2015. One of many. But this one is special because.......I am a notorious plant killer. I simply do not have a green thumb. I have tried to grow pretty flowers and they all died. I tried to grow cactus plants and bamboo things - which are supposed to be únkillable'. Well not in my case. They turned brown and turned moldy. I have tried culinary herbs - with limited success but nothing like the flourishing pictures online.

So I just gave up. However, a few months ago, I decided to revisit this matter. In my mind's eye, I see myself growing all sorts of fruits and vegetables. And herbs and flowers. And going from my garden to my food lab or into a pretty vase in the house. As a former management consultant and strategist, I decided to be methodical about this. I wrote out all the terrible things that happened to the plants and what I did to contribute or not contribute to their demise. And I saw some learning points. I went online and have subscribed to YouTube channels, bookmarked home gardening websites and I am ready.

Come January, I will be starting a greenhouse that I plan to grow culinary herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables. My challenge is to try to grow as many things as possible including things that people have sworn will not thrive in Nigeria. I also hope to have good enough harvests - even if its 2 purple carrots at a time that I can challenge myself to use in my food lab. I will document this (mis)adventure on the blog and I honestly cannot wait.

In the interim, I decided to plant scent leaf/efinrin/nchawun/African basil as a test case. I use this herb a lot - in peppersoup, egusi soup, I add to yam porridge, white rice, fried stew and even to lemonade so it made sense to start with this.

Look at it!!!! I am so excited. There is hope for me afterall. Its doing so very well and I think this bodes well for my greenhouse project....


Monday 24 November 2014

New Webisode on YouTube channel - Suya Salad Cups

This week on the YouTube channel, I show you how to make easy, delicious and fun to eat suya salad cups

Don't forget to subscribe to the channel and leave comments.


Friday 21 November 2014

What to do with leftover fabric.....

Do you have extra Ankara or lace fabric from getting outfits made and you have no idea what to do with them? I have an idea.....


Wednesday 19 November 2014

Finally. A Baking Post. And A Giveaway: Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Considering that I have run a boutique bakery - Cupcake Couture Lagos for the past 4 years, it is amazing that there is not a single baking recipe on this blog.
There is no better recipe to break the 'no baking recipe on the blog' jinx than this moist and delicious banana chocolate chip muffin one. And to celebrate, its also giveaway time. Oh yaay.
So - banana bread and its variants are very popular with a lot of people around the world. I make a killer banana bread if I say so myself but I am always on the lookout for recipes that use bananas in baked goods in different ways. I was going through one of my many recipe binders that contains printed and torn out recipes from magazines, the internet etc and I found a recipe for banana chocolate chip muffins that seemed easy enough. I tried it and while it was nice, I tweaked the recipe - Uzo style and the result is super moist muffins with undeniable banana flavor that is not too sweet which means the kiddies can enjoy this as well.
To make 12 muffins, you will need:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 57g butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk - Please see kitchen tip post on how to make buttermilk at home
  • 3 large very ripe bananas - chopped into small pieces
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 12 cup muffin tin
  • 12 muffin liners
Sieve flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside
In a stand mixer or using a hand mixer, cream butter and brown sugar for about 5 minutes or until fluffy. Add beaten egg and buttermilk.

Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir in flour mixture until just incorporated. Do not over mix

Add bananas and chocolate chips and fold in gently so as not to turn the bananas to mush

Scoop mixture into muffin liners - filling them 3/4 of the way

Bake in a preheated oven at gas mark 4 or 400F for 20 minutes until light brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

Let muffins cool in pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack until ready to eat

I realize that everyone doesn't have chocolate chips or muffin liners lying around - so I am giving away 12 muffin liners like the ones in this picture and 1 cup of real semi sweet chocolate chips - enough for this recipe to 2 readers. All you have to do is: comment on this post, subscribe to and follow on twitter: @uzosfoodlabs. Winners will be picked at random and should be able to pickup their gifts from Lekki 1, Lagos.

Friday 14 November 2014

Uzo's Food Labs on the Konga Blog

I am so chuffed to announce that Uzo's Food Labs will feature on the Konga Nigeria Blog on Mondays and Fridays writing on home and food matters and just having a blast. Please follow and leave your comments and questions.

The good people of Konga put up an introductory post...


Wednesday 12 November 2014

And we are live - Uzo's Food Labs on YouTube

I am so excited to announce that the official YouTube channel for Uzo's Food Labs is now live. I look forward to sharing recipes, tips and home projects on the channel with new episodes up every Monday.

The first episode shows how to make a super easy but flavor packed condiment blend.

Please subscribe, leave comments and spread the word.


Friday 7 November 2014

Lazy weekend breakfast, or brunch or snack - TGIF!!!!

I am not one to celebrate Fridays or weekends usually. As an entrepreneur, weekends and public holidays really mean nothing to me since I work pretty much round the clock. However, this weekend is so different. I am so glad its the weekend because I have a pretty special Sunday planned and I simply can't wait for Monday because it is the beginning of something very special to me and a possible game changer. I will share details on Sunday....So keep everything crossed for me :-)
Weekends also tire me out more than usual because the hubby makes those days family time. Which is great. But it also means more meals and snacks have to be planned and made than during the week. And sometimes, I just don't want to. I said it. LOL
This simple 4 ingredient wrap is so easy to make, satisfies my boys - big and small and by tweaking 3 of the ingredients, it is transformed into a different palate experience and can be had several times a day.
You will need:
  • Flour tortillas
  • Cream cheese - plain or jazzed up with anything from mixed herbs to spices and even dried fruit
  • Lettuce - washed thoroughly in vinegar and water mixture and patted dry with a kitchen towel
  • Deli meat  - I used salami


On a flat plate, spread your cream cheese mix on a flour tortilla. Be as liberal as you want or skimp if you want. Place lettuce leaves on tortilla and top with deli meat slices.

Roll and slice and serve

That is how simple it is. I will say it again - I love to play around in my food lab but sometimes, I really am just too exhausted to make elaborate things. This wrap is an example of simple, fast and tasty and of course - pocket friendly.
I would love to hear what variations of this you try :-)

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Ogbono & Okro Soup - With Some Other Stuff Thrown In - Emergency Eats

My favorite Nigerian soup in the world is Okro. Plain Okro and fiery hot stew. Followed by íla asepo'. Which is the kind of okro that's mixed with palm oil and all sorts of yumminess and with some pumpkin leaves (ugwu) added. Comfort food at its finest for me.
A close second is Ogbonno soup. With Okro.
Do you see the trend here?
I find that I usually plan to make soups so its a pretty elaborate process for me. Making sure everything is just right. A few weeks ago though, I had a craving for okro and ogbonno soup. The kind of craving that had to be satisfied immediately. I opened my freezer. I had no dried fish. No yellow pepper. 6 okro, or is it okros? Or is it pieces of okro? (hmm). I was not going to be deterred. I forged ahead with my mish mash of ingredients.
I started with some 8 pieces of lamb I had languishing in a Ziploc bag that I had planned to grill. Threw the pieces into a pot. Seasoned with salt, a stock cube, my condiment blend (blended onions, garlic and ginger) , added some water and let the meat boil. I know some people will clutch their pearls in horror seeing the garlic and ginger added here - especially as I will not be straining the stock  - clutch said pearls and hold on to your hearts....LOL. The base of any good soup (no matter what kind of cuisine it is from) is stock that should be full of flavor and able to hold up to the ingredients that will be added to it.
Once the lamb was almost cooked through, I added some ground Cameroonian pepper, some locust beans and ground crayfish. Added a dash of palm oil. Some salt after tasting and the ground ogbonno. By this time, the reality of my soup hit me. This would be pretty uninteresting. I grated my okro and set aside and opened the freezer. I found some uziza leaves that I had cut and had leftover from a yam porridge recipe. And some seafood mix - which had shrimps, mussels and octopus. Dare I add to my soup?
Without thinking too hard, I threw the okro, uziza leaves and seafood mix into the pot. Stirred everything well and crossed my fingers.
Oh yumminess. First of all, adding uziza leaves to anything elevates it from ordinary to pretty freaking spectacular. The seafood mix while unexpected just made the soup sexier. I have never had ogbonno mussels or octopus but it worked just fine adding that óbstruction' to the soup that we Nigerians like and wonderful texture too.
The moral of this post: food made in a hurry can be a lot tastier than planned out labored pots. Try introducing the unexpected to regular fare - it might just work.....