Hello, my name is Nkem and I am addicted to lemons…….the truth is, I honestly can’t quite remember how I became captivated by these tart bright fruits but I am helpless! I seek to infuse them in everything I make!

I knew I there was a “problem” when recently, I hosted friends to lunch (yet again πŸ™‚ ) and I presented the poor darlings with TWO lemon blueberry inspired desserts! TWO!! Thank God for my husband who made the quick smart decision to buy some banana split ice cream.

So on the fateful day mentioned above I made a lemon blueberry cake and a blueberry lemon poke cake. Yes; the poke cake rears it’s head again.

The lemon blueberry cake is from an amazing recipe I found on Eat Little Bird and the poke cake was from Swanky recipes.

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My guests were very gracious about it and did to point out the obvious (you just have to love good friends!) but it really set me thinking…….

I lay before you evidence of my errrr emmmm fascination with lemons.

Exhibit 1Lemon poppy seed loaf. This delightfully speckled moist cake left me waxing lyrical from the minute I tasted it! Look at it and tell me that you aren’t drawn by its black speckles and suggestive hints of yellow. Drowned in lemon syrup this cake is moist tangy sweet with the slightest crunch from the poppy seeds. I am helpless to resist!

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Exhibit 2 – Lemon blueberry parfait. Just the prospect of making lemon curd from scratch was enough to get me to make this dessert. It was such a rewarding experience making it. The best part was the mmmmms and ahhhhhs from my friends as they ate every spoonful.

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I will share the recipe for this very soon.

Exhibit 3No bake citrus cake. So I found this recipe for a no bake lime cake which was great but I took one look at it and totally revamped it. Get the amazing recipe. The best part is that it is absolutely guilt free! No sugar, no dairy, no gluten and no baking! If you are entering a food trance , I understand; it’s incredible right?

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Exhibit 4Lemon blueberry bar. I will shoot straight from the hip; you need to taste this! That’s all I am going to say!

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Exhibit 5 – Blueberry and lemon poke cake. Do I really need to say anything about this?

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Exhibit 6Lemon drizzle friands. These dainty little wonders are gluten free and delicious. Get the full recipe and “how to” guide here.

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Exhibit 7Lemon blueberry cake – Don’t think for a minute that you have seen the last of my lemon and blueberry pairings!

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Exhibit 8 – Lemon jello something-or-the-other. Honestly speaking I don’t even know how I came by this. All I remember is that hubby bought packets of Lemon jello on impulse when he went grocery shopping last December and I pottered around with it, threw in some condensed milk at a point and voilΓ . I promise to reconstruct the recipe πŸ™‚

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Before you pass judgment please know that I also apply lemons to my savoury meals too. They are uh-maz-ing for lifting flavours and adding a burst of freshness as the ensuing evidence will prove.

Exhibit 9 – Panko and pistachio encrusted salmon. Truth is, fish and lemons were meant to be; don’t question it just accept it. Recipe soon

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Exhibit 10 – Whole roast lemon chicken. There aroma and flavour of this roast will stun you!

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Exhibit 11 – Prawn scampi. Again lemon and fruits de la mer? A perfect match. This pasta dish is simple delicious and impressive to look at. The recipe will be up soon….I promise….

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Exhibit 12 – Lemon as a garnish – can you spot the lemons? Lol!

Beef stroganoff

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Spaghetti and creamy chicken

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Pilau rice and coconut cream sauce

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Spicy fish and spaghetti

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Of course I made lemonade! Sadly I didn’t always have the discipline to take pictures first but I have a few shots that will suffice for evidentiary purposes.

Exhibit 13 – Pink Lemonade. This was something I just threw together using the children’s black currant cordial, fresh lemon juice and some water.

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Based on the preponderance of evidence that I have set before you, what is your ruling?

Just before I sign out, when you have a moment, take a lemon and examine it, smell it, feel it. Then cut it in half and examine it some more; if you are not struck by the beauty of this fruit then I rest my case!

FFF Tip of the Day – Although lemons make an excellent addition to so many things, they can overpower if not used in a balanced fashion. Always taste and adjust when using fresh lemons to prepare your meals.

Most people think that my perspective on food is purely intercontinental (read none Nigerian meals) and this is soooooo not true! I love our ethnic food just as much as I love any other food. Wherever we lived in the world, our Nigerian meals remained prominent on the menu.

You are talking about a girl that grew up on banga soup and starch; a delicacy that will be completely lost on you if you didn’t grow up in the Niger- delta part of Nigeria or at least have Niger- delta origins. I am from Delta state and my mum makes the freshest and bestest fresh fish banga soup ever! Ofe nsala is another meal that was a regular feature in my diet as a child; my grand mother used to make this amazing version with smoked fish and chunky snails (rest her soul). When my mum made Ukpo ogede (a steamed plantain pudding) I would be giddy with excitement barely able to wait for it to cool so that I could dive into its sweet, spicy yumminess.

In fact just a couple of weeks ago, I felt like a little girl again as I watched her make this meal in my kitchen. My sons and I attacked it shamelessly…….hmmmm…..that reminds me, don’t I have some stashed away in my freezer?

Right here I have my mum’s recipe and step by step guide for making Ukpo ogede and also for making ofe onubu (bitter leaf soup; a favourite amongst the Igbos of Eastern Nigeria).

My husband is from the Yoruba tribe and their diet is distinct from those of the Igbo’s in the sense that, their soups mostly have tomatoes as a base. This is foreign and even considered abnormal to the Igbos. So although we use similar ingredients for our soups, the way Yorubas prepare their meals is different.

This point was driven home to me, when I was newly married to him and as a new wife I was eager to show my cooking prowess and so I plunged head first into a local open market sourcing for the freshest ingredients with which to make ogbono soup (please don’t ask me for the English description for this soup PLEASE!) and after hours of labouring and prepping and cooking, I presented him with what I considered to be a fabulous meal! He took one look at my offering and asked “Where is the stew?” I was stunned? Stew? STEW??!!! Until that day, I had never heard of pairing stew with ogbonno!! When I told him there was none, he pushed the plate away and said he couldn’t eat it! I almost emptied the contents on his head!!!

In case you’re wondering, “stew” in Nigeria means a tomato and chilli base sauce which accompanies a lot of meals. It is a staple in every single household. It takes on different flavours and consistency depending on the part of the country you come from.

I learned the hard way, that stew is a must if I am to even dream of presenting any kind of Nigerian meal to my husband; lest I labour in vain.

I decided to showcase FFF’s take on Nigerian meals and the recipes of course πŸ™‚

Here we have poundo yam and okra soup (Yoruba style). Full guide on how to make this here

Poundo yam is yam flour and. Is something of a novelty in Nigerian cuisine. Back in the day, you would boil yam and pound the heck out of it in a huge wooden mortar and pestle.

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Now most of the tedium of making it has been removed by the availability of yam flour (called poundo yam) and technology; if you have a food processor or an electric yam pounder you can put your cooked yam in there and whizz away for a pliable yummy finish.

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No Nigerian home menu is complete without a weekly offering of rice in one form or the other. The most popular being steamed white rice and stew.

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This meal is almost always accompanied by a side of fried plantains.

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In the northern part of Nigeria, they enjoy a Savoury rice meal called Dafaduka. It is delectable to say the least!

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If you ever attend a Nigerian party and you are not presented with puff-puff or Puffies please fee free to institute action against your hosts! I am a lawyer and I will gladly represent you in court! Lol! They are a constant and for good reason too. They are small, tasty and deceptively filling!

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We love our black eyed peas or beans (as we call it here). I made my take on beans on toast recently and you can try the recipe too.

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As you may have noted, plantains feature quite a bit in our meals, we fry the, boil them, roast them, mash them……we do pretty much what we like with them! Lol. Roasted plaintain is a local snack referred to popularly as boli; I never did quite understand it but I took the inspiration of roasting plantain to make something rather interesting; grilled plantain “boats” topped with a tuna mix.

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While we are on the subject of plantains, as a child we would have fried plantain and eggs usually on a Saturday morning. The eggs would be scrambled in tomato sauce, with chillies and chopped onions; very delish indeed.

Inspired by a recipe I saw in a foodie group that I belong to I updated my childhood memory with these plantain egg cups.

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Recipe for a Plantain egg cups for one big serving or 2 servings

Ingredients
3 ripened but firm plantains
4 eggs
3 tbs chopped fresh chives
2 tsp dry ginger
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbs vegetable oil
2 tbs grated Parmesan (optional)
Salt to taste
Garnish more chopped chives and paprika

The How To
Pre heat oven to 180 degrees. Grease two ramekins with vegetable oil and set aside.

Wash and peel plantains. Using an mandolin or a very sharp knife, carefully slice the plantain lengthways to get long even slices about 1/4 of an inch thick.

Break eggs in a bowl adding chopped chives,black pepper, paprika and cayenne and salt and whisk until well combined.

Carefully lay plantain strips in oiled ramekins criss crossing them so that the form a “cup”. Season plantain with dried ginger and some salt. Then carefully pour in egg mixture up to halfway (the egg will rise so it needs space). Top with cheese (optional).

Bake in oven for about 18 minutes or until plantain is golden and egg set.

Let cool in ramekins for 5 minutes then gentle tease out. Garnish with a dash of paprika and more fresh chives if you choose.

Serve with a simple combo of mayonnaise and ketchup or any sauce of your choosing.

I find that the sweet tangy ketchup pairs well with the plantain and mayo balances out the eggs.

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These meals are a tiny fraction of the amazing variety of meals available in Nigeria but they represent my interpretation of some of the more popular offerings.

FFF Tip of the day: Don’t be scared to incorporate fusion in your cooking; you will surprised at unlikely pairings that turn out deliciously!