Incredibly it is that time of year again, come this Friday, November would have rolled round and in my opinion that would mark the commencement of the end of the year.

With this period comes global festivities such as Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas and New Year not to mention end of year office parties, awards and other such celebrations. These flurry of activities raises the question of FOOD; GLORIOUS FOOD.

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Usually, in Nigeria, The Christmas holidays conjures images of rice and chicken. And if you’re adventurous you might throw in some turkey. I say, step out of the box, burn it and explore other lush options of culinary wonders.

Instead of regular jollof rice, why not try my Thai style spicy jollof rice or maybe tasty easy one pot Dafaduka, give roast potatoes a rest and tackle the amazingly fragrant rosemary oven roasted yam. So you think that you just cannot dispense with chicken, then why not try some of my chicken piglets? Or give your whole roast chicken a fresh twist by infusing it with lemon and lemon grass. Breakfast shouldn’t be left out of the fun, there are fun crepes, pancakes and the like to explore. How about my marmalade filled French toast and zingy tangerine and blueberry compote to give your taste buds an exiting start. Make fun salads with unexpected ingredients.

Here are some of my holiday picks for the upcoming Holidays.

Marmalade filled French toast and zingy tangerine and blueberry compote.

Zingy start to any day

Zingy start to any day

Ingredients for marmalade filled french toast
4 slices of fresh soft bread
2 eggs
2/3 cups of milk
3 – 4 tablespoons of butter
marmalade

How To:

Combine egg and milk in a bowl and whisk until mixture is homogenous. Set aside.
Cover one slice of bread generously with marmalade and lay the other slice over it and pinch the edges closed. Steep in the milk and egg and milk wash and set aside.

In a pan melt the butter and add the immersed sandwich. Cook on each side until golden brown.

Ingredients for compote
This compote is a blueberry and tangerine compote
1 cup dry blueberries
1 cup tangerine juice
2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cups of sugar
2 tangerine wedges (garnish)
Cocoa powder (optional garnish)
Mint (optional garnish)

How to

Soak blueberries in tangerine juice for 15 minutes. (If using fresh blueberries skip this step)
Add soaked blueberries and juice into a pan along with sugar and butter. Bring to a boil and the simmer for 6 – 7 minutes until mixture thickens slightly. Stir often.

Remove membrane from tangerine wedges and scoop out the pulp.
Plate up french toast. Place compote on the plate, scatter the tangerine pulp about the plate and finish off with a dusting of cocoa powder and a sprig of mint.

First stage of satisfactionIf you would prefer a more savoury affair for breakfast then barbecue chicken and veg filled crepe is the meal to try. The best part? It makes for a great brunch for those lazy days where you sleep in and can’t be bothered with an early meal.

Savoury delight for a great start to your day

Savoury delight for a great start to your day

Recipe:
Ingredients for crèpes with barbecue chicken filling
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon melted butter, plus more for cooking crepes
Directions
Put the flour and salt and in a large mixing bowl. Gradually whisk in the milk. Whisk in the eggs, 1 at a time, and then whisk in the sugar, melted butter, and vanilla. Cover and let rest in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.Heat an 8-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Melt a small pat of butter in the pat and swirl around so that it lightly coats the surface.

Add 1/3 cup of the batter and move your wrist in a circular pattern to coat the pan with thin even layer of batter. Cook for about 1 minute or until the first side browns lightly, then flip and cook 45 seconds to 1 minute longer. Remove to a plate and repeat with remaining batter.

To make Chicken filling you need
1 ripe tomato
1/2 green pepper
1 tsp of chives
1 tsp basil
2 tbs oil
1 tbs BBQ sauce
1 cooked chicken thigh (see recipe for herbed chicken on my post Tomatoes, chicken and Mince, Oh My!
5 tbs of a cooked tomato sauce
1/2 chopped onion
1 chopped spring onion (garnish)

Heat the pan with oil, add onions and turn down the heat. Add the basil and chives then add tomato sauce, keep the heat low. Take the meat off the chicken bone and shred. Add to the pan along with BBQ sauce. Stir for a minute, add the tomatoes and chopped green pepper. Leave the heat on for another minute and turn it off.

Fill crèpes and enjoy!

You could serve with a side of yoghurt to give the meal an extra boost.
Savoury crepes and a side of yoghurt

Savoury crepes and a side of yoghurt

Crepes and pancakes are fun and os easy to make. See BN Cuisine with Nkem: Delightful Crepes and Delicious Pancakes for more fun, easy, yummy recipes.
Worth waking up for

Worth waking up for

My Thai Style Spicy Jollof Rice is a pleasant twist to our Nigerian Jollof rice.

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Ingredients for Thai Style Spicy Jollof Rice

3 cups Basmati or Jasmine Rice

3 table spoons olive oil

1 canned chopped tomatoes

4 pieces of dry lemon grass

1 can coconut milk

1 big onion

3 cloves of garlic

2 table spoons of salt

3 table spoons sweet chilli sauce

1 table spoon dark soy sauce

2 table spoons freshly ground black pepper

2 table spoons chilli flakes (optional)

2 spring onions/ shallots (garnish)

The How:

Chop all vegetables and set aside in individual bowls.

In a pot heat olive oil and add onions and garlic. Be careful not to burn then, after about 3 minutes on medium heat, add the canned chopped tomatoes, allow to simmer for about 20 minutes, then add the coconut milk, soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce, black pepper, salt lemon grass. Simmer for another 10 mins. Depending on the instructions for cooking the rice you may have to allow the mixture cool first before introducing the raw rice. Cook until rice is tender. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Garnish with chopped spring onions after serving.

Serves 4

birthday lunchFor your chicken roast, freshen it up by adding lemons and lemon grass to the stuffing. For a step by step guide, visit my Facebook page.

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Want a different take on potatoes? Try hassel back potatoes and Marsala chicken or fragrant rosemary roasted yams and chicken

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Salads get a raw deal (lol, pun intended) but they can be delightful accompaniments to meals. With a few unexpected ingredients like Ube or flowers from chives you can really make a salad the focal point on your table.

20130923-181242.jpgTomato canapeSee recipes for these delectable salads on my post “Nigerian flair to the everyday Nigerian fair”

What festive season is complete without dessert? NONE! There are so many simple recipes that are amazing to eat and fuss free to make. My go choices are homemade no churn ice cream and my banana bread varieties. My facebook page has all the recipes you need. The ice cream was inspired by a recipe I saw on Nigella Lawson’s website and I have adapted mine to make so many delicious varieties.

Banana bread galore 4

Homemade icecream and banana breadNeed I say that there is a wealth of options to explore on the gastronomical landscape.

If you would like some help with bringing some interesting variations to your dining table over the holidays, kindly contact me and I’ll be happy to provide a special one-of-a-kind service to you.

 

 

There’s a predictability that comes at meal times that can make such periods tedious. Meals become a chore and there’s really no spark at the table. You can turn this around by taking bold chances in the kitchen.

I have been puttering in my Flab (Food lab) over he past couple of months since my last post and I have developed some truly amazing recipes using Nigerian staple foods.

A good example is the ube fruit. Ube is also known as bush butter or African pear. It is native to West Africa between Eastern Nigeria and Angola. Ube can be cooked by steeping it in hot water or roasting it. Traditionally it is paired with corn for a popular Eastern Nigerian snack but my interesting take on it converts it to a delicious nutritious spread or dip; a cross between a guacamole and a tapanade.

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Ingredients for Ube spread/dip
12 ubes
½ lime (just the juice)
2 tsp ground black pepper
3 tbs olive oil
½ cup of fresh parsley
1 clove garlic
1 tsp salt (optional)
½ cup Flaked cooked fish (preferably a mild tasting one) (optional)
3 spring onions

METHOD
Steep ubes in boiling hot water for 5 minutes, drain and carefully scrape the cooked flesh into the a blender or food processor. Juice half a lime and add it in with black pepper, chopped spring onions, parsley, peeled garlic, flaked fish (optional).
Blend all ingredients in the blender/food processor until it forms a paste and then carefully add in the olive oil pulsing the blender/food processor until the paste loosens and becomes smooth. Taste for salt and serve.
This spread works well on a tortilla (or any flat bread) with a salad piled on: pictured below or as a delicious dip for your favourite snacks.

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You could also try stuffing tomatoes with the dip for an instant delicious snack or canape.

Stuffed Tomatoes Ingredients
6 firm ripe tomatoes
4 tbs of soft any soft mild cheese (like brie)
2 spring onions
4 tbs of sweet corn
4 tbs Ube spread (see recipe above)
Ground Black pepper

Method
Halve the tomatoes vertically and scoop out the pulp. Chop the spring onions and set aside. Then scatter some sweet corn at the bottom of each tomato reserving some for the topping. Scoop even portions of the ube spread into each tomato shell. Then add even bit of cheese, sprinkle with the reserved sweet corn.

Garnish each stuffed tomato with the chopped spring onions. To finish off, sprinkle each tomato with freshly ground black pepper. Now enjoy!
This spread really makes for a guilt free indulgence!

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Another great Nigerian food is plantain. The plantain is a staple meal in every Nigerian home and is so versatile that you can eat it ripe or unripe, boil, roast, and fry it. Boiled plantain serves as a great base for the Nigerian pottage, which could include any combination of yams and beans.
When fried plantain is known as dodo; a beloved meal by almost anyone who has eaaten it. Roasted plantain is a snack commonly enjoyed with a side of peanuts; roasting it intensifies its flavour.

But have you considered using it in a curry? The results might surprise you.

Ingredients for Nigerian Flair to a curry
3 tbs hot curry powder
2 onions
3 cloves of garlic
4 cups chicken stock
2 blades of lemon grass
3 potatoes
2 ripe plantains
2 tbs vegetable oil
4 hard-boiled eggs.

Chop onions and garlic finely. Peel and cube plantains and potatoes (keep the sizes even). Heat a pan with the oil; add finely chopped onions and garlic. After 2 minutes, add plantains and potatoes and give it a good stir.
Make a thick paste of the curry and add to the pan, coating the contents evenly. Then pour in the chicken stock and add the lemon grass. Let simmer for 20 minutes.
Serve over boiled eggs with cooked rice of your choice.

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Please note: the Curry powder used in this recipe was quite spicy and the chicken stock was well seasoned so no salt was required. Adjust your recipe according to the salt required.
In the serving suggestion below, the curry is served with jasmine rice and a side of cucumber which helps to cool and cleanse the palette.

Another amazing experiment was the one I made with pap. Also known as ogi or akamu. A fellow foodie friend (Dooney) and I loathe the stuff so we challenged each other to come up with recipes that we could abide. She made a creme brûlée inspired dessert and I made a pudding type dessert that was surprisingly good.

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Substitute yams for potatoes as I did in the recipe below; or use both potatoes and yams.

Crispy Rosemary Chicken and Fries
Ingredients
8 chicken thighs
4 potatoes, quartered
3 slices of yam cut lengthways into chips
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or as needed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Place chicken yams and potatoes into a large bowl. Pour olive oil over them, and stir to coat. Scatter the chicken and potato pieces in a large baking dish, or cookie sheet with sides. Sprinkle with rosemary, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, uncovered. Baste during the last 15 minutes for extra crispness.

Please note that the original recipe I followed called for chicken thighs but I used boneless chicken breasts which cooks a lot faster. So my cooking time was reduced.
Serve accompanied by a salad and dip of your choice.

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These recipes are so easy to follow that it should be a crime not to attempt them. So go on and add a surprising twist to your meal times.