Saturday, 29 June 2013

LIGHT COCONUT CUPCAKES

Short of calling them airy fairy puffy-cloud feather-light delights, these cupcakes really do melt in the mouth. The centre texture is extraordinarily fluffy with a delicate, crumbly exterior.
If you weren't convinced about vegan baking before then this is sure to change your mind.




















Ingredients

(makes 12)
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup wholegrain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup grated coconut
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1/4 cup sunflower oil

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Combine the coconut milk and sunflower oil in another small bowl and add that to the dry ingredients. Beat to form a thick, gooey mixture.

Line (or grease with oil) a cupcake tin and scoop the cake batter into each cupcake mould.

Bake in a pre-heated oven, gas mark 5, for 25-30 minutes or until the cupcakes have risen slightly and are golden brown.

Leave to cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

GROCERY HAUL #6

I beat my alarm by two hours this morning. Two hours! And what's more, I was feeling unusually upbeat, raring to go, eager to get outside for some fresh morning air. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am not a morning person (and I believe I have stressed this point somewhere else on this blog). In fact, a little part of me resents the upbeat, glowing morning person. You know the kind - up at the crack of dawn, a million and one things already accomplished, breakfast downed and lunch already on the cooker. Throw in some cheerful humming and the resentment might just grow into hatred for the next hour or so, or at least until my own brain kicks into gear and I can string a sentence together.

No, I am more of a night owl. The kind of person who wishes the world would operate back to front - work all night and sleep all day. I guess I can see how this could maybe be a waste. I mean, the sky was pretty blue and gorgeous this morning and the fruits did look extra dazzling with the sun rays bouncing off them...

Anyway, on to my purchase. As it's summer, I'm trying not to overload on the heavy stuff like yams and potatoes etc..and opting instead for more cooling, refreshing fruits, salads and whatnot.


















- coconut milk
- pineapple
- watermelon
- dates (great for snacking)
- fresh basil
- green lettuce
- tomatoes
- grapefruit
- apple (crimson red, almost black! caught my eye so thought I'd try one)
- groundnut
- lime
- golden pear

Oh, and look what I came across on my morning stroll:












As a book addict, of course I had to stop for a browse. I ended up picking up a book on salads. I need as much inspiration as I can get. Plus, it was such a steal - we're talking mere kobo/pennies/cents.

Happy weekend, but most importantly, happy eating!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

BEANS & PLANTAIN CAKES WITH A TOMATO-ONION SALAD

Can you believe I almost named this recipe 'PEPPERED "STEAKS"'? I was going for the whole juicy-alternative-to-regular-steak thing but decided against it. It wouldn't have been such an atrocious idea I suppose, after all I've dabbled in spicy burgers and meat-less pies in the past. But let's get real - it tastes nothing like a steak, maybe looks like a steak with the right angle and lighting, but yeah... Let's celebrate it for what it is this time around - beans and plantain (classic combo) under a different, arguably chic guise.

Long before I even considered a plant-based diet as a valid way of eating, I used to tease a veggie friend of mine for eating things like veggie burgers and veggie sausages and veggie mince etc etc. I always wondered why so much effort went into making mock versions of meat products. I can't speak for any of the vegetarian/vegan food production companies, but I've come to realise that there's something fun about trying to re-appropriate long-standing dietary favourites that I once thought I couldn't live without. The creative side of me wants to push the boundaries of what food can be transformed into. A bit like a mad scientist in a lab, without the fly-away hair and villainous laughter of course...

Ingredients
(serves 3-4)
- 1 cup cooked beans (I used black-eyed beans)
- 1 very ripe banana
- 1/4 cup wholegrain flour
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- Ground black pepper
- 2 large tomatoes (chopped)
- 1 small onion (chopped)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Salt to taste

Mash the beans and ripe plantain in a large mixing bowl to form a smooth or chunky texture, depending on which you prefer. Add the wholegrain flour, ground ginger and crushed stock cube, give it a good mix to achieve a light, sticky mixture.

Line a baking tray with some greaseproof paper and drop two to three tablespoons of the mixture on at a time (use the back of the spoon to spread it out a little and form roughly round shapes). Lightly sprinkle each 'cake' with black pepper.

Bake in a pre-heated oven, gas mark 6, for 20-25 mins or until brown and firm to the touch.
Leave to cool for a few minutes and serve with a refreshing tomato/onion salad (chopped tomatoes and onions tossed with 1 tbsp olive oil and salt to taste).

Thursday, 20 June 2013

BEANS AND RICE

This post goes out especially to one of my blog readers who appears to be just as obsessed with brown basmati rice as I am and who requested a beans and rice recipe. As soon as I saw your message this morning, I knew my dinner plans were sorted. Cheers for that :)

As popular as the beans/rice combination is in Nigeria, I can probably count the number of times I've eaten it on one hand. After today, I might make it a bit more of a permanent fixture in my regular menu. It's certainly a wonderful way to pack in some extra protein.



Ingredients
(serves 2)
- 1/2 cup brown basmati rice
- 1/2 cup cooked beans (I've used red kidney beans, but feel free to use whatever type you have!)
- 2 large tomatoes (chopped)
- 1 medium onion
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- Salt to taste

Start by sautéing the onions in oil, then add the chopped tomatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes until the onions are softened. 
Add the basmati rice and cover with a little water. Season with the stock cube, curry, thyme and salt. Turn the heat all the way down and simmer until the rice is soft. 
Stir in the cooked beans at the very end and cook for another minute or two.

Enjoy!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

BREAKFAST #4 - PLAIN PANCAKES AND SEASONAL FRUITS

Happy Saturday! It's been a while since I've done a breakfast post soo here's what I had to eat this morning. The pancakes are plain this time around, unlike the banana and raisin number I shared back in March.

But shifting the focus away from the pancakes, let's talk seasonal fruits. Where I am at the moment, peaches are in absolute abundance. You can't walk into a store or market without being hit by the smell of sweet, fragrant peaches.  Nothing says summer like fresh fruit so I've topped my pancakes with lightly spiced peaches and oodles of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Yum!


















Ingredients
(serves 2)
- 2 peaches (diced)
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup cane sugar
- 2 tbsp vegan margarine (melted)
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1  tsp nutmeg
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice

Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, melted margarine and almond milk in a large bowl to form a thick, gooey batter.

Drop 1 cooking spoon of the batter into the centre a non-stick frying pan and cook/brown on both sides (medium-low heat). Repeat the process for the rest of the pancakes.

Place the diced peaches in a bowl and toss with cinnamon and nutmeg until evenly coated.

Stack your warm pancakes on a plate and top with the spiced peaches. Squeeze as much lemon juice as you want over the top.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

SPINACH AND APPLE PESTO

In the culinary world, I imagine that there are few things more exciting than discovering or trying new flavour combinations. This particular dish was the result of me glancing into my fridge and thinking that I'd reeaaallyy like something unusual for dinner.

In the end, I was a wimp and only used half an apple in this recipe, but if I could start all over again, I'd throw in at least another whole one.

It just works!

You've got the heat of the scotch bonnet pepper (or ata rodo) just sitting at the back of your throat, the creaminess from the [vegan] margarine-infused spinach, the crunch of the chopped toasted peanuts and then bam! you're pelted with the juicy morsels of sweet apples. If this explosion of flavours and textures was an outfit, it'd be some kind of colour-riot iro and buba that's just crazy enough to look flattering.




















Ingredients
(serves 2)
- 2 servings whole-wheat spaghetti
- 2-3 cups spinach (finely chopped)
- 1/2 scotch bonnet pepper, or ata rodo (finely chopped)
- 1 large tomato (finely chopped)
- 2 tbsp vegan margarine
- 1/2 large apple (chopped)
- 1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- Salt to taste

Boil the spaghetti in salted water for 8-10 minutes, drain and set aside.

To make the pesto, melt the vegan margarine in a large frying pan and add the chopped tomato, apples and spinach. Sauté on medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Next, add the peanuts, curry powder, stock cube and season with salt. Make sure the ingredients are well combined and keep stirring as you cook for a further 5 minutes. You may need to add a drop or two of water if the pesto dries too quickly but in the end, you want a paste-like mixture (you don't want your spaghetti to swim in it!)

Finally, add the cooked spaghetti to the spinach pesto, mixing well until the pesto is evenly distributed and coating the strands of spaghetti.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

BUTTER BEAN PARCELS

These are about the cutest little things I've made to date and I'm incredibly happy with how they turned out. As we dip our feet into the summer months, light eating really is the name of the game. A couple of these with a side of salad and you've got yourself a nourishing lunch or dinner. And if you're one to fill your summer nights with food, fun and friends then these will look effortlessly impressive at your next get-together.
I've used butter beans in this recipe but please feel free to use whatever type you have in your kitchen cupboard. 

Ingredients
(serves 4-6)
- 1 + 1/2 cups wholegrain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- Warm water
- 1 cup cooked butter beans
- 2 carrots (finely chopped)
- 1 courgette (chopped into small cubes)
- 1 large tomato (finely chopped)
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
- Salt to taste

To make the filling, place the cooked beans, chopped vegetables and seasoning in a saucepan with a little water and cook uncovered on medium-low heat for 20 minutes. You want the liquid to reduce down a little and the veg to get soft. Leave to cool while you get on with the pastry.
To make the pastry parcels, mix the flour, baking powder and oil in a large bowl (add a pinch of salt if you want). Start adding the warm water slowly, mixing until you have a firm dough. Divide the dough into eight equal parts.
Putting it all together: take one part of the dough and roll it out into a roughly round shape on a lightly floured surface. Place the rolled out dough in your cupped palm and fill the centre with 2-3 tablespoons of the filling.  Be careful as you lay it down on a lined baking sheet. Play around with the shape until it more or less resembles a small parcel. (If you've got a large muffin tin then go ahead and use that.)






Repeat this process for the rest of the parcels and bake in a pre-heated oven, gas mark 6, for 20-30 minutes, or until the pastry case is cooked and slightly browned. Serve hot or warm!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

HOT SALTINE CRACKERS

My idea of vegan junk food is a bowl of saltine crackers. Tired of the shop bought variety, I rolled up my sleeves and made my own. I was in a bit of a hurry when I made this batch so they came out in all kinds of strange and wonderful shapes and sizes. If you're a neat freak then feel free to make yours more square and uniform. If anything, at least it proves that I baked these myself and didn't throw a bunch of Ritz crackers in a bowl!

I realise that adding chilli to everything doesn't automatically make it more African, let alone Nigerian. I mean, I'd hate to perpetuate the stereotype that we eat, drink and breathe spicy food. Well, sort of...


















Ingredients
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup wholegrain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup sunflower oil (and a little extra for brushing)
- Warm water
- Chilli powder
- Salt

Place the baking powder, all-purpose and wholegrain flour in a large mixing bowl and add the oil. Start to add the water a little bit at a time, kneading as you go along, until you have a firm and slightly elastic dough. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes to combine the ingredients.

Roll the dough out very thinly on a lightly floured surface. Grab a knife (in a non-violent way) and cut the rolled out dough into your desired shapes. Lift the crackers very gently onto to lined baking sheet and prick each one with a fork.

Mix a little water and oil in a small bowl. Brush the crackers with this oil-water mixture before sprinkling with salt and chilli.

Bake in a pre-heated oven, gas mark 6, for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Yum!
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