It’s not always possible to know the depth of one’s ability until a challenge is staring you in the face.

A few weeks ago, when my friend Joke, contacted me to ask if I could create food art for an event, I had never done anything like that before on a large-scale.

Sure, I had a folder full of such artistic expressions on Pinterest and had pottered around with smaller projects but never for public consumption.

Fast forward to the GTB Fashion Weekend which took place between November 12 – 13, 2016 in Lagos, and Food Fashion Fusion had the opportunity to showcase its creativity for the event’s VIP Lounge.

gtb-fw-tag

It was tough going but with the support of my entire family; my bestie who believes that I can perform brain surgery if I put my mind to it, my husband who just wants me to “Do it!”, my parents who believe that I can perform magic, a crack team and the support of some amazing female entrepreneurs, we created some pretty unique food-fashion installations.

The process was messy and the FFF studio looked like a food hurricane passed through, threw up and the made two more passes.

prepping-for-gtb-fw-candice-dress

We’re still cleaning up, a week after the event 🙂 but we have no regrets.

We made necklaces, dresses, handbags and miniature portraits all designed with different kinds of foods. Nothing was off-limits; fresh chilis, quails’ eggs, coated fennel seeds, “Ridi”; a sesame seed snack from Northern Nigeria, all came into play to create one-of-a-kind jewelry.

But we didn’t stop there, the bags were decorated with everything from Himalayan Pink salt, cacao nibs to Craisins. These bags were crafted by the talented Haowa Bello, CEO of Maison Coquette and the onus was on the FFF team to  enhance them appropriately; we  think that we did well on that front. 🙂

I couldn’t keep my hands of them; talk about irresistible arm candy.

Our centerpieces were Candice and Bianca; oh how these dressed challenged us. We must have used at least four different types of glue to complete these pieces. The well-tailored blank canvases were made by the talented Ronke Madariola, CEO, Kim Couture.

Demure Bianca was made up of Tapioca, Mentos,  and communion wafers while Candice, her fun-loving sister was made up of vibrant marshmallows, macarons and rice flakes.

Can you tell ho much we loved these dresses? 🙂

We took the theme further by setting out dessert candles to lend ambiance to the place; they looked and smelled good enough to eat! In fact, we had to ensure that they remained lit so that guests wouldn’t be tempted to taste them :-).

Owambe Candles by Tes Amore was the source of these striking candles and to be quite frank, I have never met someone as invested and interested in scents and candle-making as Hajara Pitan, CEO, Tes Amore.

All in all it was a good outing and I got to meet up with some friends.

 

The FFF team learnt a lot from the experience and we finally got to test run what it would be like to be in each other’s personal space for almost 72 consecutive hours. It wasn’t too bad 🙂

By the grace of God alone, we lived up to our name; “Food Fashion Fusion”

 

 

To know more about Owambe Candles please check out their instgram page

To know more about Kim Couture check out their instagram page

To know more about Maison Coquette check out their Instagram page

All professional photos were taken by Ikechukwu Okwechime. You can view his amazing work here

Egusi soup is not usually my favourite thing to eat and it is not helped by the childhood memories I have of spending HOURS shelling them.

Egusi is essentially the seeds of a melon or squash (please don’t ask me which variety 🙂 ) which have been dried. They are then shelled and the white interior is what is milled and used in cooking.

However, after I made the egusi recipe that I am about to share with you, I must admit that I have had change of heart. It is easy to make and would be excellent for a weekend meal.


I bring this recipe in conjunction with Evron Food Store. They provided all the ingredients used in its preparation and used the photos for a media campaign which ran earlier, in February.

It was fun cooking and shooting the whole process. Of course eating it was the best part of it all!

Please note that this post is not sponsored by Evron Food store and all opinions are mine.

The ensuing slide show will set out the process in 8 simple steps.

The first step to making a great meal begins with using the best ingredients and mis en place.

To serve 4 people you will need:

Ingredients

  1. 200 grams goat meat (cut up in medium-sized pieces)
  2. 1 medium-sized smoked/dry fish
  3. 2 teaspoons milled cray fish
  4. 100 grams milled egusi
  5. 4 tablespoons palm oil
  6. 2 scotch bonnet peppers aka ata rodo (chopped)
  7. 50 grams finely julienned utazi leaves (you could use pumpkin leaves or kale but the utazi is wonderfully fragrant so it’ a nice addition)
  8. Salt as required.

Boil the goat meat until its tender. I seasoned mine with some ginger, the crayfish and salt but you cam season it however you prefer to. Reserve the stock.

Next, Bring a some water to boil and steep the dry fish in it with some salt for at least 15 minutes. This helps to rehydrate it as well as get rid of any grit/dirt on it. Carefully debone it and extract the fleshy bits and set aside. Now follow through on the easy steps in the slide show.

I opted to serve mine with some steamed rice although the normal pairing is with eba, pounded yam, fufu or other similar starchy meal (there so many options! 🙂 )

The “How To”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you make this recipe, please take a picture and tag us on instagram using #foodfashionfusion. We will be happy to repost!

The silence on this blog has been so loud that it is deafening. Strange because the quiet belies the flurry of activities that have surround Food Fashion Fusion.

I have missed writing and sharing my kitchen exploits; indeed I have been involved in a few adventures over the past few months.

The most notable of them is that we set up shop 6 odd months ago…..well not really a shop but we now have a studio, a factory, a production base, a gathering place, an office….call it what you will but it really is not a shop in the walk-in-and-buy-something-off-the-shelf-kinda-way. In fact there are no shelves.

So yes, I have vacated my kitchen and my home no longer looks like a tornado has taken up permanent residence in it. I have to admit that the process has been tedious but so worth it and I am eager to share some of our activities with you.

As soon as we moved in October, after extensive battles with all manners of artisans from, painters, plumbers, carpenters to gardeners, we landed two major catering gigs. One was for the launch of Grace Foods’ products in Nigeria and the other was for the launch of the luxury arm of a Rental and Events company called Rent-a-Party.

Dunn’s River Spice Table Display at the Grace Foods Launch

Slices of Banana bread for days!

Canapés spread at Rent-a-Party Launch event

Both clients were very specific about what they required of us and they were both very detail oriented. The pressure was on but we executed it flawlessly. It was such a buzz!
Around this time we also officially joined instagram; all thanks to Femi who literally dragged me on kicking and screaming…..although I will admit now that has proven to be a useful marketing and communication tool.


Shortly afterwards, we went into the busy festive end of year season and it was a bake-a-thon. We baked, canned, preserved, packaged and delivered to all parts of Nigeria until we could barely move!!


By the new year, we had settled in nicely and felt ready to spread the FFF gospel.

 There is so much more to share with you so please come back soon.😀

 

 

 

The complexity involved in putting together a beautiful, wholesome, delicious meal requires an understanding of the food and ingredients being used. There must be balance and everything on the plate should complement one another.

Women are complex beings, we have so many layers that make us who we are, yet we are expected to look beautiful, be in the best moods, say the right things and be perfect at everything. In reality, a lot of women “mask” their true persona behind a façade…..not a sustainable way to live by any means.

 Like a great meal, women should be free to be themselves, be comfortable in their own skin and free to be accepted just as they are.

Today’s recipes will focus on the beauty of naked cakes. Think shabby chic, elegant yummines….yes I know…..that’s a lot of paradoxes but when you try these recipes, I know that you will come round.

The Classic White cake:
This cake is simple and unpretentious with mild hints of vanilla and almond it envelops you in its subtle fluffiness. It’s quit easy to throw together too.  You can find full directions here

To garnish you can use some whipped cream and any assortment of preferred fruits or chocolate scattered over the top.

   
   NOTE: You may opt to halve the recipe and make just one cake.

Orange Syrup Cake

This baked yummy appears to be plain but is packed with flavour and texture. This dense moist cake will pair well with a generous scoop of ice cream or can be enjoyed on its own. Addiction alert: Be sure not be left alone with this cake! Find the full guide for making this cake here

NOTE: If you have orange syrup to hand already, then like I did, you may decide to skip making the candied oranges and use fresh oranges to garnish your cake.

   
   Let’s take a walk on the spicy side, shall we? How about a Spiced Apple Caramel Cake? Dense, dark, moist and riveting, it will be way to Hoover this cake unaided! You have been warned, follow this recipe and adjust the quantities accordingly. Omit the butter cream frosting, drizzle salted caramel over the cake and voila!

   
 
Chocolate, Rum and lemon cakes are not to be left out. Great recipes for these can be found here, here and here.

   
   

   
 

   

 These cakes are distinct, bold, gorgeous and delicious. They are not fussy in how they are presented but remain true to what they are.

Enjoy unmasking the inner cake in you.

Today, Nigeria celebrates 55 years as an independent Nation. But the question on many people’s minds, would be, “So what???!!” There are so many things that are wrong with the country but there are also so many things that are right.

By no stretch of the imagination are we, as a country, attaining all that we can and should but I know that the cream will rise to the top. If every single person who believes in this country committed to restoring Nigeria through, diligence, forthrightness, patience, kindness and prayers, tangible, positive, sustainable change will be established. Please forgive the flurry of adjectives 😀

So I embarked on making this cake on whim yesterday and I am happy with how it turned out especially since I was up till 2.30 am asking myself how I got myself into what had literally become a sticky situation😀

  
But I would say it was worth it. I am happy with how it looks and what it represents.

  
The cake comprises two layers of lemon poppy seed cake and one layer of lemon blueberry cake. I chose these flavours because life is not always syrupy and sweet but has sour spots (tangy lemon) and bursts of goodness (represented by blueberries and poppy seeds). I believe a combo of these is what makes life what it is.

  
The 3 tiers represent the three arms of government; the legislature, the judiciary and the executive. The lollipop toppings represent the people of Nigeria. If you are a Nigerian reading this, yes, you are a lollipop 😂.
The colors dripping down the cake represent our unity as well as the fact that we should be in tune with the 3 tiers; one and the same.

It sounds all so idealistic but remember what I said earlier?

One of the expressions I learned at an early age is, “Life is not all cake, there are flies on it”. My dad taught me that when I was about 9 years old. And he would add “It is your business to keep the flies off so that you can enjoy your own share of the cake”. 

So, get your fly swats out and let’s get rid of the flies that are preventing us from enjoying our country.

  
This is my country and I believe in Nigeria.

God bless Nigeria.

In life, as we all know, people will influence you and your choices; enter on stage my dear friend, sister, and partner in quacking, Soty. Soty is an amazing woman from an amazing family and as a consequence she’s also filled with amazing ideas.
One of such ideas was to start a virtual women’s group dedicated to studying the book of Ruth. Now we have a wonderful group we fondly refer to as The Ruthies. The Ruthies are real, we’re honest and we’re committed to following God’s given purpose for all aspect of our lives. The name ‘Ruth” derives from a Hebrew word meaning “friendship” and it is just so apt because we have formed strong friendship bonds in our little Ruthie community.
As if her first idea wasn’t good enough, Soty just had to make it even better by assigning each Ruthie a practical task all geared at:

A. Bringing to life some of the culture and experiences that the biblical Ruth must have experienced, and

B. Taking each Ruthie outside of our comfort zone so much so that she begins to question her sanity (I might exaggerate a tinsy weensy bit but I am in thespian mode right now); basically she wanted us to dig deep and find an unusual expression of something innate in each of us. And this is how I got assigned the interesting task of recreating a Moabite Mezze.

  

 The first time she suggested it I was hopping around in excitement like a goat high on hemp leaves. I mentioned rather hastily how I happened to have some of the key ingredients in my pantry and how it would be an easy breezy exercise.

Well, after the hemp wore off and reality was in acute focus, I stopped hopping and started shaking in trepidation. What on earth was Shrak? Tabbouleh? Thank God at least I knew what hummus and falafels were; this is not to say I had ever considered making the latter from scratch.

Ever the helpful ducky she deluged my inbox which links to various Middle Eastern Mezze meals/recipes whereupon I feigned dyslexia. Yep! If I can’t read it, I certainly won’t be able to follow the recipes, right? The ploy didn’t last long and I had to get down to business.
I knew immediately that I wasn’t making Shrak; a flat bread, from scratch. Hadn’t I spied all manners of flat breads in the shops? One of those would have to do thank you very much! I also knew I wasn’t going to soak fava beans and chick peas over night in order to make falafels; with two toddlers, a company and home to run, school runs, Lagos traffic and everything in between, I wasn’t about to attempt culinary suicide.

Was the biblical Ruth suicidal? NO!! So why should a Ruthie of 2015 be? Anyway so this is how the idea of a modern Mezze took form. It may seem sacrilegious to the good people whose diet I was inspired by but I didn’t skimp on flavour and wholesomeness which MUST count for something, right?😀

Here’s how I navigated my way through my mezze.

I invited two unsuspecting friends and cute little angel over to mine and laid the spread before them. It was well received given the fact that they had never ventured near such food before; they preferred some of my offerings over others which I thought was very fair.

  

So on the menu we had; Falafels, baba ganoush, tabbouleh, “shrak” hummus and loads of freshly sliced bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots and plum tomatoes. For dessert we had a nice classic white cake which had absolutely nothing to do with a traditional mezze but seemed like a nice way to cap off the whole affair.

Falafels

Ingredients

200 g Fava beans rinsed and drained
200 g Chickpeas rinsed and drained

3 Chopped shallots/spring onions

2 tbs Chopped basil

2 tbs chopped parsley

2 tsp Chilli (you can add more or less but I wanted mine to have a bit of a kick)

1 tsp Salt

1 egg beaten

3 tbs vegetable oil

As I researched the recipe, I realised that it was really a vegetarian version of a meatball! Both in preparation and sort of final outcome. You could flatten it to a patty or leave it as little orbs; I preferred the latter.

The “How To”

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pan and sautée the onion and garlic over a low heat for 5 mins until translucent and softened.

Add the sautéed vegetable and all other ingredients into a food processor until you have homogenous mixture. Take out the blade and carefully form the mixture it balls. I would suggest balls about the size of golf balls. I let mine rest in the fridge overnight before prepping them for my guests when they arrived but you could leave them for half an her and them fry.
You might be tempted to fry them in more oil but please don’t! I attempted it and I watched in complete horror as my felafel disintegrated. Shallow frying is the only way!
Add the remaining oil to the pan, then fry the falafels on a medium heat for 3 mins on each side, until golden brown and firm. Place on paper towels to drain and serve.


Shrak

I was in complete cheat mode for this. I simply went to my neighborhood store and bought some flat bread! Easy peasy lemon squeezy! It acted as a great vehicle for all the yumminess spread out on the table.


If you want a great recipe for making shrak from scratch then check here. Good luck! 😄

Babaganoush

Ingredients

1 medium sized eggplant

1 lemon (juice)

3 cloves garlic minced

2 tbs tahini (paste made from sesame seeds)

1 tsp salt

Fresh parsley (2 tbs chopped)

Fresh basil (1 tbs chopped)

Olive oil for roasting

The “How To” 

Turn on the broiler of your oven and position a rack at the top of the oven. Then slice your eggplant into 1/4 inch rounds, sprinkle with salt and place in a colander in the sink to drain any excess liquid. After 10 – 15 minutes, rinse slightly and then pat dry between two towels.

Arrange them on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and season with a pinch of salt. Roast for 5-10 minutes, turning once or twice, until the eggplant is softened and golden brown. Remove from pan, stack the slices and wrap the rounds in foil to lock in moisture for 5 minutes.

Now peel away the skin of the eggplant and add flesh to a food processor.

Also add half the lemon juice, garlic, tahini, a pinch of salt and mix until creamy. Taste the resulting paste and adjust with more lemon juice or salt if necessary. Finally add in the herbs and pulse to incorporate. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. I added a bit of cayenne but this is purely optional.

Could this have been any easier? And it’s a great make ahead dish too!!!



Hummus

Ingredients
425 g chickpeas rinsed and drained

2 cloves garlice minced

2 tbs olive oil

4 tbs fresh lemon juice

3 tbs tahini

2 tbs water

1 tsp paprika

The “How To” 

Hummus is another simple dip akin to babaganoush; although there are flavour and textural differences, they both share the same yum factor.
Add the tahini and lemon juice to a food processor and whiz it around for a minute. Stop the machine, scrape down the sides and who it for an extra half minute. Now add the olive oil, salt and garlic and give it another go for a minute; again scrape down the sides and give it a 30 second burst. Now add half the chickpeas a d mix it for a minute. Scrape down sides, add the remaining and mix for a further two minutes. Add the water last and mix again and there!!!

When serving you can top with olive oil and a sprinkling of paprika. This dip could also be made ahead and stored  refrigerated in an airtight bowl.

At this point, I think it is only proper to whisper a quick prayer for the person who invented the fridge!!!

For the next dish, I had good fun making it. I threw out all recipe books and just basically recreated my own. Why, you ask? Well, I could not find the main ingredient (bulgur wheat) and I was determined to make this dish. And remember, that Ruth would not go into a tail spin over bulgur😀,  so here goes.

Tabbouleh

Ingredients

Fresh, soft flat-leaf parsley (a good fistful – chopped)

mint leaves (chopped; about 2 tbs)

2 limes (juiced) (you could use lemons but I didn’t have lemons)

2 cups couscous

8 cherry tomatoes; halved

4 spring onions, finely chopped

salt and pepper

1 tsp chilli powder

olive oil

Boiling water or hot vegetable or chicken stock

The “How To”

Pour boiling water or stock over the couscous, enough to cover it and let it sit for a few minutes until liquid is fully absorbed. Once absorbed fluff with a fork and pour lime juice over it.

Combine the parsley and mint, couscous, tomato and spring onion in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, add a drizzle of olive oil and mix with a wooden spoon. And we’re done!!


Slice up a variety of your favourite vegetables to dip into the hummus and baba ganoush and your mezze is ready!

For the unorthodox mezze dessert a.k.a. the white c. Here’s the recipe:


Ingredients

1/2 cup milk (room temperature)

1 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1/2 tablespoon baking powder

3 egg whites (room temperature)
The “How To”

Preheat oven to 175°C. Grease 1 (10 inch) round cake pan and the line bottom with parchment paper, and grease and flour paper.

Combine the milk and extracts and set aside. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy then gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy.
Sift together flour and baking powder; add to butter mixture alternately with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition.
Beat egg whites at medium speed until stiff peaks form and gently fold into batter. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 20 to 23 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes the remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack;

To prepare the frosting simply whip one cup of chilled whipping cream adding 1/2 cup of icing sugar and vanilla halfway through whipping. Ensure that you don’t over whip, once the cream starts to thicken STOP!! It helps to whip in bursts of about 20 – 30 seconds checking the consistency as you progress. Over whipping in this case would yield butter…..which is not such a bad thing if you were after making butter…….😀


Links to recipes that inspired the mezze
Tabbouleh

White cake

Falafels

Baba ganoush

Hummus
FFF Tip of the Day

When whipping egg whites, be sure that the beaters of the electric mixer is devoid from ANY batter/impurities and is clean and dry. The eggs should also be free of ANY impurities or yolk. Failing this the eggs will not whip to stiff peaks and you will be left with a runny mess.

Update – December 3, 2017

If you simply don’t have the desire to make your hummus from scratch or you’re concerned about your sugar intake, check out Positive Heath Wellness. They have amazing recommendations of healthy shop bought, low sugar hummus brands that you just have to see! You can still eat your hummus and have it!!