Thursday 3 December 2015

Chef's Face Off - Update!!!

So its a wrap.

It was something. Mystery basket included Chocolate powder. Eggplant. Cardamom pods. A coconut still in its husk. Tomato pepper sauce. Pickled vegetables. Fresh tomatoes. With a pantry that had only fresh mint, basil and cilantro, bell peppers, onions, milk, butter and dried spices. No rice, pasta or flour. We had 35 minutes to whip up a dish using all the ingredients provided. 10 minutes in, we were stopped and asked to switch stations. The horror. 10 minutes after, we were asked to take something from the other person's station. I ended up presenting a Thai style coconut and lemon soup with a temper (sort of like a really intense fried concoction of chicken and onions and vegetables and herbs...seasoned and fried till crispy) which went in the middle of the bowl of soup for intense flavor and texture.

Thank you to all the blog readers that came up and introduced themselves and kept yelling Go Uzo during the cook-off. LOL


Monday 30 November 2015

Updates - From The Garden, About The Blog and A Preview into 2016

Life has been all sorts of hectic lately. Which is a good thing. It is what I want. It is what i have been working towards. However, in order not to get completely overwhelmed and lose track of absolutely everything, I have had to take a step back. To plan things properly. 

I am very excited to say that after 3 years of registering a domain and renewing and doing nothing, we will actually go live with our website in 2016. The goal is to launch by the end of the first quarter at the latest. The website will have a section for the blog and so much more. All things 'From Uzo's Food Lab' related. This is a roundabout way of apologizing for the sporadic posts. Its also manic season for the bakery which leaves very little time to post. 

Exciting and busy times ahead. One of my major dilemmas is finding the right person to design the site without mortgaging my future children. Any recommendations will be very helpful.

Before we go all Idris Elba and Common sexy with the blog, here are a few updates from the garden:

Pepper harvest - sweet banana, cherry bomb, green bell, jalapeno and  Hungarian hot wax varieties

Ripening cherry bomb pepper

Tomato harvest - large cherry and striped stuffer varieties

Spider plant. I am making an effort to introduce inedible plants into the garden

Brussel Sprouts forming. Its been trial and error but i have it right. Finally 

Begonia plant. Its so pretty i think

My very first beef steak tomato from the garden

Black truffle tomato coming in

With the Christmas season here, I would love to know what will be making it onto the menu this year?


Tuesday 10 November 2015

Kitchen Tip - How to keep cake moist

To prevent hard, stale tasting cake, use slices of bread. Attach slices of bred to the cut exposed part of cakes with toothpicks. The bread keeps the moisture in.


Wednesday 4 November 2015

Drowning my blues with Boozy Iced Tea

Have I mentioned that I do not drink alcohol? Well I do not drink alcohol - usually. Sometimes though, life just deals all sorts of hands and short of screaming - maybe crying and screaming, some alcohol is needed.

Shall I go into details? Let me see - after getting excited about a potential business opportunity, it fell through. The same day, I went to the garden for some stress relief and saw that plants in 8 pots had just died. As a result of some pest I am sure. Then - the bakery staff forgot a pretty big order and the client showed up for pickup at 4pm and everyone was confused. To cap the day off, I reached for a baby wipe to clean my face and some how grabbed antibacterial wipes instead which resulted teary eyes and bruised skin.

I was completely drained. One would have thought that I would simply crawl into bed and sleep but I was too wired. I knew this day deserved some alcohol. Down to the kitchen I went to make some boozy iced tea  - only a handful of readily available ingredients required, cold, kind of healthy and just what I needed...

To make a small pitcher for 1, you will need: 2 green tea bags (You can use any kind of tea you like including fruity flavored varieties), fresh basil or efinrin (African basil, scent leaf) leaves

You will also need cold water, sugar to taste and of course alcohol - I used citrus flavored vodka

The wonders of no recipe required. Simply chuck everything into a little jug and stick in the fridge or freezer for all the flavors to come together. I stuck my pitcher in the freezer and went up to take a long shower.

After about an hour, the boozy tea was wonderfully chilled and ready for me. Delicious. Refreshing. And also ensured that I slept very well.


Tuesday 6 October 2015

Sticky Sweet and Spicy Chicken

Is every cook like me? Getting bored with chicken? Making the same old chicken dishes?

Seeing as chicken is a crowd pleaser and can be pocket friendly, I am constantly looking for ways to make chicken dishes that are tasty and interesting.

Enter this very very moreish, simple to put together dish that is perfect for feeding a crowd - its soccer season (viewing parties at your house? Serve this), the holiday season is almost here and schools are going to start sending memos with the kids for things to bring for class parties or just for Sunday lunch or to eat all by yourself. The chicken gets a sweet and spicy glaze and is cooked in the oven. The results are best eaten with your hands surrounded by lots of napkins.

The best part about this dish, is the ingredients are easy to find and can be started overnight in the fridge.

You will need:
  • 12 pieces of chicken - I prefer dark meat and use drumsticks or wings. Especially if serving as party food
  • All purpose spice or poultry seasoning - season to taste
  • 1 large onion - rough chopped
  • 1 cup dark honey
  • 1 large piece of ginger - grated
  • 4-6 yellow scotch bonnet peppers - finely diced
  • Salt to taste
  • Season chicken pieces with all purpose or poultry season. Marinade for at least 4 hours or overnight in a covered container in the refrigerator
  • Pre heat oven to gas mark 4. Line an oven proof dish with foil
  • Place chicken pieces along with leftover marinade into the dish and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Turn chicken pieces over and cook for another 10 minutes
  • Place honey, ginger, chilies in a pot and heat. Stir constantly to ensure the glaze does not burn
  • Pour the glaze over the chicken ensuring chicken pieces are evenly coated and return chicken to the oven and cook for another 10 minutes
  • Serve as a side with rice or potatoes or pasta. Or on its own. Or with a salad


Saturday 26 September 2015

Garden Update

The garden is doing so many wonderful things. Its all so very very exciting. Here are some things that got me dancing this week:

Sweetcorn. If you have been following my garden posts, you will know I have had no luck with growing sweet corn in the past. Corn needs to be planted close to each other so pollination can happen. Seeing as I live in a concrete jungle....I decided to try something radical and try to grow corn in the largest pots I could find. Success. Beautiful super soft and sugary sweet corn. I have planted a few more pots so a few lucky people will get to buy some

I got these seeds from a special aunty. It looks like an apple right? Its a cucumber. A lemon cucumber. Simply gorgeous

Ginger. Yes. I grew ginger. Look at how beautiful these rhizomes are. So soft and the flavor is insane. It will be so hard to go back to buying the shriveled stuff from the markets.

There are some more interesting things happening in the garden and there just might be a giveaway pretty soon...


Monday 31 August 2015

From The Garden Of Uzo's Food Labs...

Our garden is doing all sorts of  wonderful things. What started out as a hobby in January this year has become  a growing business and another part of the Uzo brand. We sell our produce once a week and we now have 2 garden sites expanding everyday.
Here are some of the gorgeousness from our organic garden over the past few weeks
Sweet banana and jalapeno peppers

Turnip greens

Curly kale - the variety available in Lagos, We offer vegetable pots for sale like this kale pot so you can have a steady supply of kale for a few months

Forage premier kale

Experimenting with growing cauliflower. We have a head forming. Fingers crossed

Fresh basil dried and stored

Lima beans

Long rod okra

Curly kale pot on the way to its new home

Harvested lima beans

Cherry tomato coming through

Yellow pear tomatoes

Green bean flowers

Italian basil pots

Butter crunch lettuce

Black beauty egg plant

Carrot ready for harvest


Green beans ready to be picked

Sweet basil

Broccoli florets

Mixed produce basket for a client

Green beans

Interesting white and black speckled moth on zucchini leaves

Purple tomatillo plant growing

I am putting together a series of videos for the Youtube channel on gardening which will be fun, fun, fun.
I would love to hear from you - questions about the garden and produce. Please send emails to

Sunday 30 August 2015

Poulet Yassa and some rambling...

How do working wives and mother do it? I mean really? I really want to know. Actually - let me rephrase...How do mogul wives and mothers do it?  I have been working so very hard building the brands, being a wife and mother and I honestly cannot remember my name a lot of the time. I have decided to ramble on the blog now and again and see if that provides some relief....

Now on to Chicken Yassa .....

This is a dish that is very very common in Senegal and The Gambia. Some websites even claim that it is the national dish of Senegal. I stumbled on this dish when I was searching for recipes to use up an over enthusiastic purchase of onions. This dish gets its flavor from a lot of onions. I mean a lot of onions. Some would say an obscene amount of onions. It also uses lemon juice which is not a very common ingredient in meat dishes here in Nigeria. I tried one of the more popular versions of this recipe and decided I like it enough to tweak the recipe and voila...a new family favorite.

To make Chicken Yassa that feeds 4 people, you will need:
  • 1 chicken cut into 8 pieces
  • 6 large onions - thinly sliced
  • 2 yellow or red scotch bonnet peppers - finely diced
  • Juice from 4 large lemons
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup green olives
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 stock cubes
  • Salt & black pepper to taste
  • Add all the ingredients except for the oil, mustard and olives to a bowl and mix together. Marinate overnight in the fridge
  • Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and grill or fry until brown and set aside. Save the marinade
  • Heat the oil in a large pot . Remove the onions from the marinade and add to the pot cooking until they begin to brown - about 10 minutes. 
  • Add the rest of the marinade and the browned chicken pieces to the onions and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the mustard and olives and cook until chicken is cooked through. 
  • Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with rice, yam or potatoes.

Saturday 4 July 2015

Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

A few weeks ago, I got a package from a new wholly Nigerian company run by 2 young ladies called Uwa Earth Foods. The package contained a selection of their preservative free and all natural peanut and cashew butters - crunch peanut butter, spicy peanut butter, cashew butter and chocolate cashew butter. To say I was excited is an understatement. A lot of the things I love in 1 package: Female entrepreneurs, Organic food company, preservative free, very few ingredients, cute packaging and proudly Nigerian.
I went into mad scientist mode thinking about what to do with all these goodies apart from smearing on bread. This is one of the results. These cookies are chewy and rich. The creaminess and taste of the cashew butter adds a sophistication to these cookies that you will not get from peanut butter. The chocolate chips add just the right amount of sweetness. These cookies can be eaten warm or cold with some milk or cocoa which would be perfect for this rainy season. You can also serve this with plain vanilla ice cream for an indulgent treat.
To make about 30 cookies, you will need:
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 125g butter
  • 125g cashew butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon set aside
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons liquid full cream milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • Whole cashew nuts for decoration
  • In a bowl, sift flour, baking soda, salt and set aside
  • Using a stand or hand mixer, cream butters, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, egg, milk, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour mixture until incorporated. Add chocolate chips and stir with a wooden spoon till evenly mixed
  • Place in fridge for about 10 minutes
  • Using a cookie scoop, scoop dough unto baking sheets lined with parchment paper
  • Sprinkle each cookie with some granulated sugar and top with a whole cashew nut pressed into the dough
  • Bake in a preheated oven (350F) until golden brown - between 12 - 15 minutes
  • Let
  • Cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely

*You can find Uwa Earth Foods on Facebook & Instagram- @uwaearthfoods

Monday 29 June 2015

Red Wine Punch...

Have you figured out that I love to mix drinks yet? I fancy myself a mixologist in my own little world. I am not sure everyone else especially my friends in the drinks business would agree but I specialize in delusions of grandeur and so I choose to bask in my title of Queen of the mixologists.
This red wine punch came to life in an attempt to do away with seeming endless bottles of wine in my pantry. I am doing all that I can to use up all the bottles but we keep getting more as gifts and I do not seem to be making much progress.
On the plus side, this punch recipe uses a full bottle of wine so you will not have any wasted wine. You will need a pretty large pitcher or jug for this recipe as well as:
  • 3 cups orange juice
  • 3 cups pineapple juice
  • 1 bottle good quality red wine
  • Orange slices
  • Lime slices
  • Combine all the ingredients and stir to combine. Chill and serve


Sunday 28 June 2015

Garden Update

As a gardener learning everyday, the rainy season has been interesting. A lot of seedlings died. Plants tilting in all sorts of directions. Some pots waterlogged. My blood pressure has risen and crashed so many times, I cannot even begin to count.
There is some stability now though. I asked questions, did research and made a few amendments. I have also made my peace with the fact that in this growing process, there will be all sorts of wins and losses. I will just take it all in stride especially as we work to expand the garden and offer more produce for sale.
 Here a few things we have growing:
Red Russian Kale

Curly kale. The kind commonly found for sale in Lagos

Forage Premier Kale

Cherry belle and white icicle radishes

Hungarian hot wax peppers

Prize head lettuce