Thursday, 16 October 2014

PANTILES FOOD FESTIVAL 2014 (PICTURES)

Just in case you don't follow my social media, here is a picture update of what turned out to be a successful event. The two-day Pantiles Harvest Food Festival took place in Tunbridge Wells back in September (20th and 21st). It was successful for a number of reasons:

1. I learnt a lot about the vegan/health food market. (It's not enough to just be plant-based; there is a massive gap in the market for gluten-free and sugar-free options too)

2. I met some lovely, encouraging people who made me think that perhaps my passion for [vegan] food and cooking - and wanting to base a career around it - is not all that crazy.

3. On a more practical level, I nearly sold out and made a profit. The late nights and colossal shopping trip for baking ingredients paid off!

4. I got non-vegans to admit that vegan cakes are actually pretty awesome.











Sunday, 5 October 2014

BEANS AND PLANTAIN RAVIOLI

In the spirit of the last vegan recipe challenge, I put together this ravioli dish. Freshly made pasta filled with a lightly spiced mixture of beans and plantain, topped with sautéed red pepper and garlic. Another great idea would be to include sweetcorn in the topping - yum! It's easy to make this look fancy by garnishing with fresh herbs and small mounds of julienned cucumber. The only real effort is getting the pasta dough just right. 

I made the mistake of blending the filling for too long in the blender and I ended up with a filling that was smoother than I would have liked, so I've adjusted the instructions below. Enjoy!























Ingredients
For the pasta:
- 1 2/3 cup all purpose flour
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil

For the filling:
- 1/2 cup cooked beans
- 1/2 boiled plantain
- pinch of chili powder
- pinch of paprika
- salt and pepper to taste

For the topping:
- 1/2 red bell pepper (finely chopped)
- 4 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
- 1/4 scotch bonnet pepper (finely chopped)
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste

Start by making the filling. Place the cooked beans, boiled plantain and spices in a bowl and mash with a fork until you have a chunky mixture. Set aside.

To make the pasta, combine all the pasta ingredients in a large bowl using a fork to bring the mixture together. With floured hands, bring the mixture into a dough. If it feels too dry, add a little bit more water. If it's too wet, add a bit more flour. Knead for about 10 minutes on a floured surface until the dough is smooth and pliable. Leave the dough to rest for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare your topping by sautéing the chopped red pepper, garlic and scotch bonnet in some olive oil (medium heat), until the pepper is nice and soft. Season with salt and pepper.

Back to the pasta. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions and roll each one out into a square/rectangular shape, as flat you can get it. Both pasta sheets should be roughly the same size and shape.

Spoon the beans/plantain mixture in small mounds across one of the pasta sheets, making sure to leave enough space between each one and around the edges. Cover the whole thing with the second pasta sheet and press down lightly around the edges and between the mounds. Use a sharp knife to cut out your individual ravioli squares. Trim any irregular edges.

Fill a large pot with salted water and a drop of olive oil, and bring to a boil. Add your ravioli squares to the hot water in small batches and cook for no longer than 5 minutes. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon.

Place as many as you want on a plate, spoon over the pepper/garlic topping, and garnish with fresh herbs and julienned cucumber.

Phew!


Monday, 15 September 2014

VEGAN RECIPE CONTEST (CLOSED)

Calling all creative foodies!

This month, The Vegan Nigerian and Anemistyle are teaming up to bring you our very first Vegan Recipe Contest. The rules are simple and fantastic prizes are up for grabs. We want to see the unusual and we want to see the innovative. The most creative interpretations will get the most points. Whether you’re familiar with vegan cooking or not, we want to hear from you. Simply take the key ingredient – BEANS – and rustle us two dishes: one sweet and one savoury. Send us the pictures and recipes, along with your name and country. We’ll pick a winner on the 30th September and ship a bundle of goodies to your doorstep!

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to flaunt your culinary skills! ;)


Key ingredient
BEANS! Brown, black-eyed, kidney beans…. Use your favourite, use what you have!

The rules
1. Create a sweet and savoury dish with the key ingredient. Email the photos and recipes to vegannigerian@gmail.com or anemistyle@gmail.com

2. Meals entered MUST be vegan (no meat, eggs or dairy)

3. Like Anemistyle and The Vegan Nigerian on Facebook

Prizes
A selection of yummy vegan snacks
Your recipes featured on our websites
Exclusive access to 10 vegan ice cream recipes, as seen in Nice Cream: 25 Delicious, Dairy-free Recipes

Winner will be selected on: 30th September 2014

Get cooking!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

CARROT CAKE

I've just come back from a local farmers' market where I got to showcase a few vegan bakes I knocked together yesterday. I figure the best way to find out if your food is really any good is to take it out there, have people try stuff and give their honest feedback. Also a great way to meet people, make connections and fill up an otherwise lazy Saturday morning. 

One of my creations was this mouth-watering beauty. Succulent carrot cake that filled the house with the smell of cinnamon and warm spices; drizzled with silky dark chocolate and garnished with freshly grated carrot. 

If you like the look of it or plan to make it yourself, share this post with your nearest and dearest. They won't believe it's vegan!


Ingredients
(serves 6-8)
- 1 cup grated carrots
- 1 1/4 cups self-raising flour
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup sunflower oil
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup non-dairy milk (e.g. coconut, almond, etc)
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp cinnamon 
- 2 tsp mixed spice

For the glaze
- 1 cup dark chocolate (broken into small pieces)
- 1 tsp coconut oil

Sift the self-raising flour and corn starch into a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, ground ginger, cinnamon and mixed spice. Add the grated carrot and mix until it is completely coated with the dry ingredients.

In another bowl, whisk the sunflower oil, apple cider vinegar and non-dairy milk together.
Add this to the dry ingredients and mix well to form a cake bater.

Lightly grease a round cake tin and dust with a little flour. Pour in the cake batter and bake in a pre-heated oven, gas mark 6, for 30 minutes.

Leave to cool completely before taking it out of the tin.

To make the chocolate glaze, melt the chocolate and coconut oil together. I put mine in the microwave for 20-30 seconds then stirred with a spoon to speed up the melting process. Be careful not to microwave it for too long or you could end up with burnt/stodgy chocolate!

Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cake when it has cooled down. (You can pour from a small jug to make the drizzle neat.) Garnish with a handful of freshly grated carrot. Enjoy!


Friday, 12 September 2014

INTERVIEW: ESOSA E (Raw Girl in a Toxic World)






This is my first feature interview on the blog and what a treat it is! You might recognise Esosa from the hit web series An African City. Keep reading to find out more about the talented actress/writer/model, and her raw vegan lifestyle! 

Hi Esosa, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Sure. I am Nigerian American and my family hails from Edo State, 5’10 tall, I act, I write in a range of forms including creative storytelling and informational health articles etc., I make movies, sometimes design clothing and model. The thing I am most passionate about is living into my purpose. What drives me is the fear that I will not utilize all of the talents God gifted me with. Every day I try to push myself to be a better version of me, and to do work that resonates with why I believe I am on the planet.

How long have you been a vegan, and what motivated you to take the extra step towards raw veganism?
I believe I was around thirteen when I gave up meat, so now it’s been over ten years that I have been vegan. After being vegan for a long while, in college I started to get sick a lot because of improper diet coupled with stress. I learned about the raw way of living from a cousin I went to visit and the idea stuck with me because she was a raw foodist and was so incredibly youthful, energetic, and passionate about life. It wasn’t until a year later, when I was consistently feeling fatigued and had a stubborn case of acne, that I finally went raw.

For those who might be sceptical about the benefits of adopting a plant-based lifestyle, can you share some of the positive changes you’ve experienced throughout your vegan journey?
There are so many but some of the primary benefits include: clear skin, increased energy, sleeping less hours and still feeling rejuvenated, maintaining health and avoiding sickness, mental clarity, and an increased inclination to explore spirituality.

What would you say are the major challenges of being a raw vegan?
Raw veganism can be really difficult to sustain, especially if you are rigid and focused on staying 100% raw in any situation life throws you in. I have never been a fan of rigidity and everything changed for me when I learned to go with the flow of life and eat the best food available to me at a given time. I love eating as much raw as I can, but if I am in Africa, travelling extensively or even if I just feel like my body needs it, I will eat cooked food that is vegan. It’s really important that you find what works for your body. No diet is meant to be for everyone; we are all too genetically unique to conform to fad diets for the sake of doing so. If you listen to your body, you cannot go wrong.  I do however believe that all of us should work to completely eliminate processed franken-foods, GMO’s, and toxins from our diets as much as possible. If you are already dealing with a serious condition, it has been proven scientifically that adopting a plant-based diet can heal numerous diseases without invasive procedures or heavy medications.

Your blog and YouTube channel contain some mouth-watering raw recipes such as Raw Tacos and Coconut Macaroons. What does a typical day look like for a raw vegan (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks)?
It really depends on the day for me. I’m up very early around 5:30 most days and usually writing by 6 or 7 am. I generally don’t like to eat a heavy breakfast and I don’t eat until a little later in the morning, but I will drink a lot of water to get the day started. Some things that are great for breakfast that are raw: raw oatmeal w/ nut milk, green juice, fruit smoothies, green smoothies, fruit alone, chia pudding, and coconut water. I always try to get in something fresh and green, whether it is a green juice or a really large salad with tons of veggies. You can check my blog for inspiration on meals you can prepare for lunch and dinner, but if you are a busy body like me, you will learn quickly to keep it simple. Fruit is fast food, salads are quick, smoothies are even quicker and great because you can pack them with superfood supplements. Those are my staples, and everything else is for when I have additional time and creativity. I also love to go out and try gourmet raw restaurants. I also always have go-to desserts that are really fast to prepare like coconut macaroons or raw chocolate mousse if I am having a craving for sweets. Remember, if you are experimenting with plain vegan (cooked) dishes, you can pretty much make anything you would make normally minus the meat or dairy. For example, there’s a great recipe for banana french toast on my blog, completely egg-free and delicious.

Can you share a raw vegan recipe inspired by a traditional Nigerian dish with us?
I have yet to create a raw recipe inspired by a Nigerian dish; although I have thought about it. It’s a little difficult because of the ingredients we use and how heavy we cook our food! But I have made a vegan version of Egussi that is delicious. I have to save that recipe in my arsenal because I have plans for it. Akara is technically vegan, and it’s easy to make a version that is much healthier if you fry them in coconut oil.

You must have such a busy schedule as an actress/filmmaker. How do you stay fit and what is your favourite exercise?
I generally try to mix in weight training, cardio, and yoga. Sometimes one aspect falls to the way side. For instance at the moment I’ve been in super yogi mode and practicing hot yoga two to three times a week. In the near future I want to do more pilates.

One of the things I love about An African City is the fact that your character, Ngozi, is a vegetarian. Did you have a hand in deciding this aspect of her character?
No, I didn’t. I was at lunch with the brilliant creator of the show, Nicole Amarteifio—she’s like a sponge, you have to be careful what you say around her at all times because it could end up in a script. I was ordering my meal (in typically Ngozi fashion) and she just had the idea right then to make her a plant-eater. The raw food thing was way too extreme for Africans to grasp, so I think she was smart to go with vegetarian.

Do you think that the concept of vegetarianism/veganism needs to become more widespread in Africa? Why/why not?
I think it would be great if it did, mostly to bring awareness and knowledge of healthier food options and the ability to cure many common ailments with diet. As more fast food options and genetically modified crops are finding their way into African countries, there will be more people contracting diseases like diabetes and cancer. Africans have some of the most potent healing herbs and plants on the planet and we should be using them. Many of us also eat way too much white sugar, white rice, white flour, and foods heavily fried in unhealthy oils. I believe that the health of a nation determines its destiny; the more educated we become as a people about health, the better Africa and its countries will become.

You have a new e-book Thrive on Veg! coming out soon, which will outline the ins and outs of embarking on a plant-based lifestyle. Tell us more about it!

Thrive on Veg! is the resource that I wish I had when I was embarking on a plant-based lifestyle. The goal of the book is to give a simple overview of the many variations of a plant-based diet, discuss the health benefits going VEG can offer, key nutrients needed to stay optimal, tips and tools for transitioning, how to set up your plant based kitchen, and recipes so that you can begin your journey immediately. My most recent draft of Thrive on VEG! is currently 75 pages, but I anticipate the final draft may end up being somewhere around 100 pages packed full of great information, delicious vegan and raw recipes (will be printable), and inspiring insights for anyone interested or curious about a plant-based lifestyle. The book is now available for pre-order on my health blog and will be released on October 15th.

Finally, do you have any other projects coming up? Any new roles to look out for?
We will be back with a second season of An African City, so stay tuned to the Facebook page, Twitter etc. for updates and look out for more Ngozi! I have also been cast in a few additional projects, two feature films, and a TV series currently in development. For updates on my progress you can find me on Facebook.

Thank you very much, Esosa.
Thank you!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

OGI / AKAMU / PAP

As a Yoruba girl, I call it ogi. The igbos call it akamu. Some call it pap. It goes great with akara, moin moin, fried plantain, or even puff puff. If you're not familiar with it, then the best way to describe it is as a custard/porridge made using the raw, fermented starch from ground white or yellow maize. The maize is soaked for a few days, ground to a paste and sieved to remove husks. The (raw) ogi is then left to ferment for a few more days, giving it a distinct sour taste.                                                                                                                                                         These days, you can buy raw solid ogi in batches, making it easier to have your glossy, custard-like meal in a matter of minutes. All you have to do is add hot boiling water.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   If you're a fan of ogi, I'd love to know what you like to eat with it. Let me know in the comments below!
Ingredients
- 1 cup raw solid ogi
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 4-6 cups boiling water
- brown sugar to taste

Grab a large mixing bowl and start by dissolving the raw ogi with the cold water to form a smooth paste.

Add the hot water a little at the time, stirring the ogi simultaneously. The mixture should start to thicken and it's up to you to decide how thick you would like it. Once you've got the consistency you want, stop adding water.

[Another technique is to combine all the ingredients in a saucepan, stirring continuously on a low heat until the mixture thickens.]

Serve hot with a light sprinkling of sugar. Alternatively, you can sweeten it with dates/any other natural sweetener of your choice.


Saturday, 6 September 2014

FOOD, FESTIVALS, FUN

Get your calendars out! There are a few cool festivals coming up in the next couple of months, some I will be attending, some that you might be able to attend. Check them out:

1. Pantiles Food Festival

When: 20th and 21st September 2014
Where: Tunbridge Wells, Kent
More info: Pantiles Food Festival
I will be selling on both days, 10am - 5pm, in the Lower Walk area. Vegan cakes, bakes, treats...come say hello if you can!














2. London Veg Fest

When: 27th and 28th September 2014
Where: Olympia West, London
More info: London Veg Fest
I will be attending the Saturday event, most likely strolling about and sampling everything on sight :)

















3. Lagos Veg Fest

When: 10-12 October 2014
Where: Freedom Park, Lagos Island
More info: Lagos Veg Fest
If all goes to plan, I will be doing an online broadcast on Saturday afternoon. I will give a short talk, perhaps followed by some Q & A. If you're in Lagos, you have no excuse not to go ;)


Saturday, 30 August 2014

EXTRA SPICY WATERMELON SALAD (OIL-FREE)

Watermelon never tasted so good with this sweet and explosive salad recipe.

In response to one of my Facebook posts, Natural Nigerian mentioned that she likes to add watermelon to her salads. I got inspired, happened to have some watermelon at home, and decided to knock this beauty together. I love how my brain immediately goes to unexpected food combinations. Watermelon...scotch bonnet pepper...

The next time you crack open a giant watermelon, remember this recipe and give it a shot. You won't regret it.



Ingredients
(serves 2 or one very hungry individual)
- 1/4 watermelon (chopped)
- crispy lettuce (shredded)
- 1/2 apple (chopped)
- 1/4 cucumber (chopped)
- 1 tomato (chopped)
- 1-2 stalks spring onion (finely chopped)
- almonds/peanuts (optional)
- juice of 1 lemon
- fresh ginger
- 1/4 scotch bonnet pepper
- cayenne pepper
- ground black pepper
- pinch of salt

To make the dressing, grind the ginger and scotch bonnet pepper in a pestle and mortar. Add the juice of one lemon and allow to infuse.

Throw/arrange the rest of the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Spoon/drizzle the dressing over it, making sure to avoid adding large clumps of the ground ginger and scotch bonnet (unless you're extremely fearless with your hot food!)

Sprinkle on some cayenne pepper, black pepper and a pinch of salt.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

YAM BURGERS

So I've given you the recipes for the home-made ketchup and bread rolls. All that's left is to share the actual veggie burger recipe that pulls the whole thing together. 

I wanted something a little different from the brown bean burgers I made over a year ago in my very first blog post (!) and if I had to compare the two, I think this yam burger wins hands down. I particularly like the way it crisps up on the outside and holds its shape perfectly. There's nothing worse than a veggie burger that falls apart on you, turning the process of eating into an embarrassing struggle and unintentional workout, not to mention the gloopy mess it creates. Anyway. I hope you give this recipe a try and that you enjoy it as much as I did. I won't always have the time or energy to make my own ketchup and bread rolls from scratch, but the actual burger is so easy and straightforward that it just might become a staple.

(If the plating looks rushed, it's because I was in a hurry to eat the thing... Aside from a burger that falls apart on you, nothing's more annoying than a cold burger.)

Ingredients
(makes about 6)
- 2 cups cooked yam (chopped into small pieces)
- 1 cup toasted breadcrumbs
- 1/2 red bell pepper (finely chopped)
- 1 large carrot (grated)
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- Spices (cayenne pepper/garlic powder/Cajun spice...)
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- Sunflower oil

Throw the cooked yam, breadcrumbs, red pepper and spices into a food processor and blend until you have a soft dough consistency. Scoop out the mixture into a bowl and mix in the grated carrots and seasoning. 

With lightly floured hands, shape the mixture into 6 burger patties.

Heat a little sunflower oil in a frying pan and fry the burgers on medium heat for about 6-8 minutes, turning over to brown on both sides. The aim is to allow the burgers to heat up all the way through.

Serve in a burger bun with a slice of fresh tomato, crispy lettuce, fried onions and ketchup. Enjoy!

Saturday, 23 August 2014

BREAD ROLLS

These turn out perfect every time and is a great way to get your whole house smelling like a bakery! I used these for my yam burgers and the texture was perfect. It held together well and was easy to cut through.
Give it a try and let me know what you think!


Ingredients
(makes 6-8)
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 tbsp dry active yeast
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 cup plain flour
- 2 cups wholegrain flour
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1 tsp salt
- melted vegan margarine or coconut oil (to glaze)
- sesame seeds (optional)

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water and leave to sit for about five minutes. 

In a large mixing bowl, add the plain flour, wholegrain flour, dissolved yeast mixture, coconut milk and salt. 

Knead for 10-15 mins on a floured surface until you have a smooth dough. 

Place in a bowl, cover and leave to rise for 1 hour.

Divide the dough into 6-8 buns and arrange on a baking sheet. Cover and leave to rise for a further 40 mins.

Brush with some melted vegan margarine or coconut oil (sprinkle some sesame seeds on top, if you want) and bake in a pre-heated oven, gas mark 6, for 15-20 mins until golden brown on top.

Friday, 22 August 2014

HOMEMADE KETCHUP

My quick and easy version is super tasty and will go perfectly with your veggie burgers and chips. Also great as a dip for crisps and crudités. I used this sauce with the yam burgers I made yesterday and it complemented it perfectly! 


Ingredients
(makes 2 cups)
- 4 large tomatoes
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup water
- 6 tbsp rice wine vinegar / apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp ground black pepper
- pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp corn flour

Blend the tomatoes, bell pepper and water until smooth. Pour into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the vinegar, sugar, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Boil for about 5 minutes on high heat then turn the heat down completely and allow to simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes. 

Dissolve the cornflour in a little hot water. Add to the sauce and stir well. Bring to the boil again, stirring continuously until the sauce starts to thicken.

Allow to cool before serving. 
Store in a glass jar to maintain the freshness. Keep refrigerated and use within a week.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

SIMPLE SALAD

The salads seem to have it these days. Here's another fresh, easy recipe. There are days when I crave simplicity in my food and this is just one example of what I'm likely to put together.
This was originally posted on my instagram page (www.instagram.com/vegannigerian) and got sufficient attention for me to turn it into a post. Feel free to add as much or as little of each ingredient as you want. I used one tomato and about a 1/4 cucumber for this particular dish. The more greens you can pack in, the better. Vegetables (especially green leafy vegetables) are generally very low in calories, so you don't need to be afraid of eating them to your heart's content. More mouthfuls... Each one packed with decent vitamins and minerals... Win. 


Ingredients
- shredded lettuce
- tomatoes (thinly sliced)
- cucumber (thinly sliced)
- whole almonds
- juice of 2 lemons
- dried mixed herbs
- cayenne pepper
- sea salt 
- capers (optional)

Place/arrange the salad ingredients in a large bowl.

To make the dressing, whisk the lemon juice, cayenne pepper and mixed herbs together in a small bowl. Pour over the salad. Sprinkle on a pinch of sea salt for extra taste, and a few capers (optional). 
It tastes even better when you leave it to rest for a couple of minutes before serving.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

BEST VEGAN SALAD...

...I've made so far.

Perhaps it's the variety.

Or the lemon-scented dressing.

Or the inclusion of plantain.

Whatever it is, this salad hits all the right spots. It's crunchy, slightly tart, sweet, savoury, and incredibly filling.

I've peeled the carrots with my good ol' julienne peeler (remember this recipe?). You can get yours here too (in the 'kitchen' section).


Ingredients
(serves 1-2)
- 1 plantain

- 1/2 head of iceberg lettuce (thinly shredded)
- 1 large carrot (julienned/cut into strips)
- 1/4 small red onion (finely chopped)
- 1/4 cup chopped pineapple
- raisins/sultanas
- 1 tbsp chopped nuts
- fresh strawberries (optional)

For the dressing:
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- juice of half a lemon
- 1 tsp maggi seasoning
- 1 tsp olive oil

Toss all the salad ingredients in a large bowl.

To make the dressing, combine the lemon juice, maggi seasoning, olive oil and dried thyme in a small bowl and whisk with a fork. Pour over the salad and mix well.

Peel and slice the plantain diagonally. You have two options on how to cook the plantain. For a leaner dish, grill the slices, turning them over to brown on both sides. Alternatively, you can make traditional fried plantain by frying the slices in a little sunflower oil, turning over to brown both sides. Remember to drain the excess oil on some kitchen paper.

Serve the salad with the plantain. Enjoy a filling, wholesome lunch or dinner.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

NICE CREAM : 25 DELICIOUS, DAIRY-FREE RECIPES



I hope you're all enjoying the summer and keeping safe.

I am very pleased to share my new e-book featuring 25 scrumptious vegan ice cream recipes.
They're all healthy, guilt-free and totally delicious! So you can indulge as much as you want without worrying about your waistline. 

Would love it if you could download a copy and share with family, friends and anyone you think will find it useful! This is one way to brighten up your summer and treat yourself and your loved ones to something that treats you well in return.  

You can find it in the Amazon Kindle Store or in my store under the 'Books and DVDs' section.

Thanks guys! :) x



A little teaser of the kind of recipes you'll find inside:

 Coconut Candy

Spicy Chocolate

Caramel Cone


Friday, 1 August 2014

FOUR LAYER CHOCOLATE CAKE

Hello folks,

If you're not following the blog on Facebook yet, then what are you waiting for?! :) I'm going to be trying extra hard this month to post lots of useful/interesting links and articles, so do join in and get liking and sharing and all that good social mediary stuff. 

I recently posted up some pictures of this indulgent four-layer chocolate cake that I made for my brother's birthday. The response was great, so I hope you give it a go at home and enjoy the final results as much as my family did. Or make it for someone special and watch their eyes bug out mid-bite as you casually reveal that it is, indeed, entirely vegan! 

My brother was a massive fan. And before you say: 'Well, he has to say he likes it, you're family etc etc...', it is worth pointing out that no one tells it to me straight like he does. He has been the guinea-pig for many of my crazy kitchen experiments and he never fails to say exactly what's on his mind - whether good or bad or...outrageous. With his infamous sweet-tooth and life-long experience in tucking into more cakes than he'd probably like to admit, I was thrilled to receive his positive feedback on this one.

Also, I've never had this much fun baking a cake before. I'm not ashamed to admit that this one came with diagrams and to-do lists and revised shopping lists and... well, I got a liiitttlllee bit obsessed with the idea of what I wanted it to look and taste like. Took two days to construct: one day to bake all the layers and let them cool, another day to create the fillings and ice it up. It's technical, it's time-consuming, and there are many steps involved. Only start this if you have a free weekend or couple of days on your hands.

You'll need a 12" cake tin, cake spatula or palette knife, piping bags and nozzles. 

Enough chatter. Recipe time.
































Ingredients
For first cake mixture:
- 3 cups plain flour
- 1.5 cups soft brown sugar
- 6 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2/3 cup sunflower oil
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 2 tbsp vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
- 2 cups water

For second cake mixture:
- 3 cups plain flour
- 1.5 cups soft brown flour
- 6 tbsp dried/shredded coconut
- 6 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2/3 cup sunflower oil
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup water

For the filling:
- 3 cans coconut milk (refrigerated overnight)
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- 6 pitted dates (or 1 cup raisins/sultanas)
- 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries (or other fruit of your choice)

For the frosting:
- 6 ripe avocados
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 8 pitted dates (or 1 cup raisins/sultanas)
- 4-6 tbsp cocoa powder

For the decoration:
Go wild. Do what you want. But I used...
- dried fruits (cranberries, cherries, etc.)
- dessicated coconut
- dark chocolate squares

To make the two separate cake mixtures, always start by mixing the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa powder etc.) in a large bowl.  Then mix the wet ingredients (oil, water, vinegar, coconut milk, etc.) in another bowl and whisk lightly with a fork before adding it to the dry ingredients. It is important that you combine this way in order to get the right cake texture.

When you've made the first cake mixture, divide it into two equal parts and bake each part individually in a lightly greased 12" cake tin for 30 minutes in the oven, gas mark 5. Allow to cool slightly before taking out of the tin, then place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Repeat this process for the second cake mixture.

If possible, allow all 4 cake layers to cool down completely overnight before attempting the filling and frosting.

To make the filling, take the refrigerated cans of coconut milk and scoop out the coconut fat that separates to the top. Avoid adding the excess liquid that has sunk to the bottom. Blend the coconut cream, dates (or raisins/sultanas) and cocoa powder in a food processor until smooth and creamy. 

Start to assemble the cake (on a cake board or tray) by spreading the cream filling between each cake layer. Arrange the chopped fresh strawberries (or other fruit) in one of the layers along with the coconut cream. I did this to have a burst of fruit freshness in each slice. Plus it adds a nice vibrant colour.

Place the stacked cake in the fridge while you make the frosting.


To make the frosting, blend the avocados, dates (or raisins/sultanas) and cocoa powder in a food processor until smooth and creamy.

Take the cake out of the fridge and frost the cake with about 3/4 of the frosting mixture using a palette knife or cake spatula to get a smooth covering. Don't worry about getting it perfectly smooth. It's a messy job so be prepared to wipe around the base of the cake board afterwards.


Use the other 1/4 of the frosting mixture to pipe along the base or anywhere else you wish. I used the little that was left to pipe the number '24' on the top.


Decorate with a mixture of dried fruits like bright red cranberries; sprinkle on some dessicated coconut; top with chocolate squares/chunks/chips etc... 

Refrigerate for an hour or two before serving so that the frosting hardens up a little. Store in the fridge and consume within 3-4 days.


Get creative with your decorations and send me a picture of the final product. If I get responses, I will feature them on the blog at some point... 




Monday, 21 July 2014

RICE WITH CARROTS + E-BOOK REVIEW

My super talented blogger friend, Ada, released an e-book today! When I first got into blogging, she was one of the first to welcome me and leave all kinds of lovely, encouraging comments on my posts. Before I get on to a review of her handy guide-book, I have a quick and easy recipe to share.

Don't let the simplicity of this dish fool you. There's something about this combination that I can't quite put my finger on and I found myself wanting to eat large amounts of it. Perfect as a side or even as a main meal.


Ingredients
(serves 2)
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 2 carrots (sliced)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- water
- salt to taste


Heat the oil in a cooking pot and sauté the chopped garlic for a few seconds. Add the rice and cover with enough water (approx. 3-4 cups). Add the curry powder, thyme, chili powder, stock cube, and season with salt. Stir, cover with a lid and turn the heat all the way down. When the water has nearly dried out and the rice is almost ready, stir in the chopped carrots and cook for a few more minutes to allow the carrots to soften. Serve hot or warm.

--

E-BOOK REVIEW: GET U.G.L.Y.


Low self-esteem. Body image insecurities. These are issues we all face at one point or another in our lives. In her no-nonsense guide, replete with personal anecdotes, Ada gets to the heart of the matter and offers her reader 10 fool-proof tips on how to achieve that sometimes elusive thing called self-acceptance.                                                 
By adopting the acronym U.G.L.Y. (Unconditionally Grateful Looking like You), she deconstructs the superficial label of 'pretty' and emphasises the importance of searching deeper and recognising the innate value we all possess, regardless of our outward physical appearance.                         

The tips range from the very practical (think posture and the power of smiling!) to the more abstract and perhaps more challenging ("stop trying to be pretty, work on being attractive" - a seeming paradox that she goes on to clarify with much nuance). 

The book will take you hardly any time at all to read and it must be said that the beautiful layout also makes the reading experience that bit more enjoyable. 

Why do I think it is worth checking out? Because although some of the tips may appear obvious at first sight, they are timely truths that we need to be reminded of as often as possible. So grab a refreshing drink of your choice, take a few minutes out of your busy day, and get stuck in.                                                            

Click here to subscribe to Ada's blog and get your free copy of the e-book!

Friday, 18 July 2014

SUMMER DRINK #4 - NIGERIAN CHAPMAN

Anyone else sweltering in the heat today? Summer is my favourite time of the year. I really can't get enough of it, because then I get to make tasty, refreshing drinks like this one.

Chapman is a popular cocktail drink in Nigeria which you'll find served at restaurants, bars and most big events. Next to the club sandwich, it exists in my memory as one of those fascinating things grown-ups had at fancy restaurants or sipped by the pool at places like Ikoyi Club. 

It's usually made using Angostura bitters, lemonade, fanta and some sort of blackcurrant cordial. If you run a quick google search, you'll find that there's no shortage of detailed recipes online. What I'm offering here is a healthier version of the drink. I've chucked out the soda and made a few swaps: 

fanta -> freshly squeezed orange juice
lemonade -> fresh lemon juice and sparkling water


Ingredients
- 6 cups blackcurrant juice or diluted ribena
- 6 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 cups sparkling water
- juice of 2 lemons
- lemon, lime, orange and cucumber slices (to garnish)
- ice cubes

I mixed mine in a large punch bowl and threw in a generous helping of sliced lemons, lime, oranges and cucumber. Throw in some ice cubes for some extra chill. 

                                      

                                      

Monday, 14 July 2014

VARO JOLLOF RICE GIVEAWAY WINNERS!

Thank you to everyone who entered the jollof rice giveaway. I've never had this many entries for a giveaway before, which only encourages me to do more like this. I wish I could give a box to everyone who entered but, alas, only 3 winners can be selected.

CONGRATULATIONS:

- Claire Efua Barber
- Akibo Tommie
- Nafisa Shehu

Please shoot me an e-mail at vegannigerian@gmail.com with your contact details.

Thanks again for the continued support. Stay tuned for more EPIC giveaways on the blog! :)

Saturday, 12 July 2014

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE POTS

Credit to Anemistyle for this beautiful creation, which has quite easily changed my culinary life :) I was spoilt rotten when I had lunch at hers this past week. You can check out pictures of the vegan dishes she rustled up on the Facebook page. One of the desserts she made was the very delectable 'bounty in a cup' which was assembled with creamy, home-made, vegan chocolate mousse and a soft coconut layer in the middle. The chocolate bar 'Bounty' used to be one of my favourites in my pre-vegan days and so I didn't even need to taste the dessert to fall head over heels with it. I was blown away by the texture of the mousse, and was unable to guess the secret ingredient to getting it so smooth and creamy. You probably won't be able to guess either, but you will be delighted with the results - trust me! The ingredients are easy to find and are all indigenous to Nigeria, so I hope to hear some feedback from a lot of you who try it at home!

A dose of spontaneity is always good for the soul so when lunch was over, we ventured to the nearby grocery store to pick up some ingredients to experiment a bit more with the chocolate mousse. The experiment involved flavouring some of the mousse with a touch of chilli, and topping with a range of fruits to see what worked and what didn't. Three tropical fruits were selected for the task - mango, banana, and orange. I will be reviewing the mango and banana.

Dried mango - this was probably my favourite combination. The mousse for this pot didn't have any chilli added, which I think was for the best as it would have overwhelmed the flavour of the mango. The mango added some extra sweetness and a chewiness to every bite - a welcome contrast to the creamy mousse and slightly crunchy coconut. It would be worth experimenting with some fresh mango to see if that works as well. If any of you do use fresh mango, let me know what you think.






Banana - the mousse used for this pot was flavoured with chilli. I overdid the chilli in this one, and have adjusted the recipe below. It was wayyy too hot, even for a spice enthusiast like myself. Chilli-chocolate is a wonderful combination when the balance is right, so go easy if you decide to add some. As for using fresh banana as a topping, you can't go wrong with that. I plan to re-make this soon using the amended recipe.







Ingredients
(makes 4)
- 2 ripe avocados
- 2-3 heap tsp cocoa powder
- 4-5 tsp brown sugar (or any sugar replacement of your choice)
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
- 1/4 tsp chilli powder (optional)
- 6 tsp grated/dessicated coconut
- 1 tsp water
- 1 tsp brown sugar (or sugar replacement of your choice)
- Fruit slices (mango, banana, orange...whatever you have available)

To make the chocolate mousse, blend the avocados in a food processor or mash it by hand with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the cocoa powder, 4-5 tsp sugar, pinch of salt, vanilla essence and optional chilli powder. Mix well to combine all the ingredients.

To make the coconut layer, place the grated/dessicated coconut in a bowl, add the water and 1 tsp sugar. Combine to form a soft coconut paste.

To assemble the dessert, start by layering some mousse at the bottom of a small glass cup or ramekin, making sure to smooth out the top with the back of a spoon. Next, add a generous layer of the coconut mixture. Finish off with another layer of chocolate mousse, smooth it out, and top with some slices of fresh fruit. Sprinkle on any leftover coconut to garnish.

Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours or until you are ready to serve them. It should keep for up to two days.


We also scooped some into tiny cupcake cases and topped them with different things: banana, coconut and mango, cashew nuts. Bite-size portions that can be frozen for a melt-in-the-mouth treat.

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