Saturday, 23 February 2013

VEGAN CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

We all need a treat from time to time and these cupcakes hit all the right buttons. I have always enjoyed baking - cakes, brownies, pies, breads..you name it, I've baked it. One of the really fun aspects of starting to eat plant-based has been coming up with vegan versions of some of my favourites. The other day, I baked a  vegan apple pie cheesecake for my family and they loved it. These cupcakes also proved to be very popular.  

                        

Ingredients
1 + 1/2 cups wholewheat flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup unrefined brown sugar
1 tsp cider vinegar
2 organic ripe bananas (mashed)
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sunflower oil
Dairy-free 85g chocolate bar (to melt with 2 tbsp almond milk)

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4.

Mix all the dry ingredients - flour, cocoa powder, sugar - in a bowl and set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix the mashed bananas, vinegar, almond milk, vanilla extract and sunflower oil. Start to add the dry ingredients, folding carefully as you go along until well incorporated.

Line a cupcake tray and spoon the mixture in. Bake for 20-25 minutes. To check that they are done, stick a toothpick in and see if it comes out clean.

When the cupcakes have cooled down, melt the dairy-free chocolate bar with 2 tbsp almond milk and spread lightly over each cupcake.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

AKARA

These delicious bean fritters can be eaten for breakfast, as a snack (served with your favourite dips), or as an appetizer.















Ingredients
2 cups black eyed beans (peeled)
1 medium onion
1 large red bell pepper
1 scotch bonnet pepper
Salt to taste
Sunflower oil

To peel the beans, soak them for five minutes and start to peel by rubbing them between you hands. The skin should fall off easily.

Grind the peeled beans, peppers and onion to form a smooth (ish) paste. Some like the texture of their akara to be quite thick, in which case they would add just a little water to the paste. I used one cup of water to lighten the mixture for this recipe. Whatever you choose to do, just make sure that it does not get too runny. 

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and season with salt. 

Heat some oil in a deep fryer or large frying pan. Add the mixture in spoonfuls, making sure to avoid overcrowding. Fry until golden brown on both sides and drain on some kitchen paper.

These are so good fresh and hot, but taste just as good when they're warm/cold. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

EFO RIRO

This is my vegan version of a Yoruba classic: efo riro. This rich spinach stew is great with rice, pounded yam,    eba and other starches. I like to make a large batch of this and keep in the fridge to last me the week.


Ingredients
- 5 large bunches fresh spinach (roughly chopped)
- 3 red bell peppers
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper
- 1 medium sized onion
- 4 fresh tomatoes
- 4 tbsp palm oil
- 1 tsp iru (fermented locust beans)
- 2 vegetable stock cubes
- Salt to taste

Blend the peppers, tomatoes and onion in a food processor to form a smooth mixture.

Heat the oil in a pot and add the pepper mixture, disolve the stock cubes into the sauce and bring to a boil.

Add the chopped spinach and iru (fermented locust beans) after 10 minutes then turn the heat down. Season with salt. Simmer for 30 minutes and you're good to go.

TAYO'S FRAGRANT CHICKPEA SOUP

A good friend was in town for a few days and so I decided to treat her to some lunch - vegan style! I came up with this recipe and named it after her. I'm glad to report that it went down a treat. The broth is light and fragrant; the chickpeas and pasta make it filling and wholesome. I consider this recipe a bit of a fusion dish because I used some Japanese miso paste to give it a lift.
I used fresh chickpeas which made the cooking time quite long. Canned chickpeas work if you're short on time.















Ingredients
1 cup wholewheat pasta of your choice
1 cup fresh chickpeas (or a can of cooked chickpeas)
2 fresh tomatoes (chopped)
4 cups of water
2 tbsp chopped ginger
1 cup chopped spinach
1 tbsp organic miso paste*
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper (optional, if you don't want the heat!)

If you're using fresh chickpeas, be sure to soak them overnight. Boil them in fresh water for 2-3 hours or until soft.

Start to build up the soup: add all the ingredients - except the miso paste - to a large pot and simmer on very low heat for an hour. 

Stir in the miso paste and bring the soup to a boil for a further 10 minutes, making sure the paste is well dissolved.

Enjoy!

*Don't fret if you don't have immediate access to miso paste, vegetable stock cubes are a good replacement.

Monday, 18 February 2013

JOLLOF RICE

Jollof rice is probably my all time favourite dish. As a child, my mother cooked it every Sunday for lunch and so it's always had an air of something special to me. These days, I probably have it up to 2-3 times a week and that really is a testament as to how amazing it is.

There is a silent debate about the best type of rice to use - long grain? basmati? brown? But truth be told, every family has their unique way of making this dish, so it is completely up to you. As someone who has tried using all kinds of rice for this dish, I can confirm that they all taste fantastic. 


Ingredients
(serves 4)
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 1 large red bell pepper
- 1-2 scotch bonnet peppers (depending on how hot you want it!)
- 2 medium sized tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato paste (optional)
- 2 cloves garlic
- Fresh ginger (about the size of your thumb)
- 1 small onion
- 2 vegetable stock cubes
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- Salt to taste
- 4 tbsp sunflower oil or coconut oil
- 3 cups water
- Fresh chopped basil (optional)

Blend the peppers, tomatoes, onion, ginger and garlic with 1 cup of water to form a smooth mixture.

Heat the oil in a pot and add the mixture, along with the stock cubes and seasoning.  Add the remaining 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.

Add the rice to the mixture, stirring well, then lower the heat completely. Cook for about 30 minutes, making sure the rice doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot (you might have to add a tiny bit more water as you go along). You want all the water to be absorbed and the rice texture to be light and fluffy. 

Chopped basil works so well with this dish, so if you have some lying around or growing in the garden, you can add a handful towards the end. 

Jollof rice can be eaten with fried plantain* or moin moin*. Why not try it with some steamed vegetables too!



*Recipes coming soon!

PUFF PUFF

Puff puff is a deep fried Nigerian snack. Crunchy on the outside, pillow-soft on the inside. As if it couldn't get any better, it's also very easy to make. I like it as an occasional treat and it's also great to serve at parties. Kids and adults alike will love it!


Ingredients 
(serves 6)
- 1 cup plain white flour (or whole-wheat flour)
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 tsp dry yeast
- 4 tbsp unrefined brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
- 2-3 cups vegetable oil 

Add all the dry ingredients to a bowl and mix well. 

Add the water to form a sticky, stretchy batter. Cover the bowl with a clean napkin and leave in a warm area to rise for 1 hour. 

After an hour, the batter should be bubbly and double in size. Mix well to knock out some of the air.

Heat the oil in a deep fryer or large frying pan. To test the temperature, add a spoonful of the mixture. Once it turns golden brown, the oil is hot enough.

Start adding spoonfuls of the batter to the oil and avoid overcrowding the fryer/pan. The traditional way is actually to use your hands to scoop the mixture in, forming round ball shapes. Give it a go! It took me a while to master the technique and my first few attempts looked more like disfigured pin-pong balls than anything else, but I got there in the end.

Once the puff puff is golden brown on all sides, drain on some kitchen paper. 

Done!

Friday, 15 February 2013

WARM VEGETABLE SOUP WITH QUINOA

Sometimes you just want something warm and comforting. This one-pot dish is indulgent, packed full of warming flavours and entirely guilt-free!





Ingredients
- 6 cups of vegetable stock
- 3 sweet potatoes (chopped into bite-size pieces)
- 1 cup of roughly chopped spinach
- 4 carrots (chopped)
- 1 cup of broccoli 
- 1 cup of cauliflower
- 1 cup of green beans
- 1 cup of chopped tomatoes
- 250g quinoa
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- Salt to taste

Place all the ingredients in a large cooking pot and simmer on a low heat for 45 minutes. 

Leftovers can be stored in the freezer. 


NIGERIAN FRIED RICE

Cast your eye over the buffet table at any Nigerian party/gathering and you are bound to find a fried rice option (usually next to the jollof rice). Why wait until you're at a party though? Here is a fool-proof recipe that tastes so good you'll want to eat it everyday!


Ingredients
(serves 4)
- 2 cups of brown rice
- 4-5 cups of vegetable stock
- 1/2 scotch bonnet pepper (chopped)
- 2 medium carrots (finely chopped)
- 1 small red bell pepper (chopped)
- 1 small green bell pepper (chopped)
- 1 small red onion (finely chopped)
- 1/4 cucumber (thinly sliced)
- 1/4 cup red cabbage (chopped)
- 1 tbsp crushed garlic
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- Salt to taste

Cook the rice in the vegetable stock until soft and all the water has evaporated.

In a separate pan, saute the chopped vegetables in oil for a few minutes, adding the crushed garlic and ginger half-way through. You can cook the vegetables until they are soft but if you'd like a bit of a bite, cook for less time. 

Stir the sauteed vegetables into the pot of rice and season with salt. 

This recipe is ridiculously easy and one of my personal favourites. I use brown rice in this dish but basmati/long-grain work just as well.

SPICY BROWN BEAN BURGERS

It seems a little odd to start this blog off with a burger recipe. After all, burgers are American aren't they? Are burgers even that popular in Nigeria? Well, here's the thing. When I made the decision to become vegan (and cold turkey at that!) I immediately lamented the many meals that I could no longer indulge in. Sure, my resolve was pretty strong and I knew I wouldn't be deprived with the array of great plant-based meals out there, but still...burgers...
So, with that in mind, I set out first and foremost to create a stellar burger recipe that not only put the meat-based one to shame but was also packed full of the flavours that I know and love. The result? A bean burger mix with a spicy Nigerian twist ;)


Ingredients
(serves 4)
- 2 cups of brown beans
- 4-6 cups of water
- Salt to taste
- 1 small onion
- 1 medium tomato (chopped finely)
- I clove of garlic (chopped finely) 
- 1 tbsp crushed ginger
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 4 tbsp plain/brown rice flour 
- 2 tbsp of sunflower oil 

Cook the beans in salted water over a low heat until the beans are well softened and the water has evaporated a little. Keep checking to make sure the water doesn't dry out before the beans get soft and add more as necessary. 

When the beans have cooled a little, place in a food processor and blend until smooth. 

In a large mixing bowl, add the beans and other ingredients making sure the mixture is well combined to form a sticky dough. Shape into burger patties and set aside.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add the burger patties, preferably two at a time, depending on the size of the frying pan.

Cook the burgers on both sides until well-browned and piping hot. 

Serve on a wholewheat bun with all your favourite burger fillings - lettuce, tomatoes, pickle, ketchup etc. This mixture freezes extremely well so you can make a large batch and store away for days when you want something quick and easy!


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