Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Valentine Special: Red Velvet Cupcakes

Hello All,
Valentine's day is just around the corner and as usual the colour red is popping up everywhere you turn.  Want to show that special person just how much they mean to you? Instead of ordering a cake why not bake something special for that lovely lady in your life?  Oh so you think he's the bees knees? why not go the extra mile to bake him something to show him that he means the world to you.

Since red is the colour of love why not surprise him/her with a dozen red roses and a dozen red velvet cupcakes topped with white cream frosting? Imagine the surprise when she/he bites into it and discovers the moist redness of the cake even more surprise when you tell him/her you baked it all by yourself!

Come on....lets bake some!


150g Self-Raising Flour

150g Caster Sugar

60g Butter (room temperature)

1 Large Egg

10g Cocoa Powder

40ml Red Food Colouring

120ml Buttermilk (to make buttermilk at home just add 1 tbsp of white vinegar to 1 cup of whole milk, stir and allow to sit for at least 5 minutes)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 180C and line a 12-hole baking tin with cupcake paper cases.

1. In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar together till it becomes soft and fluffy (if using a mixer beat for like 5 minutes)

scrape sides with a rubber spatula and get at the extra bits sticking to the bowl

2.  Gradually add eggs and beat some more till it's well mixed

mixture should look something like this, don't forget to scrape the sides

3.  In a small bowl combine the cocoa powder, vanilla extract and red food colouring to make a paste

combo of red food colouring, cocoa powder and vanilla extract

4.  Add paste to the butter and sugar mixture and mix till the batter is evenly mixed with the red paste

5.  With the mixer in slow speed gradually pour in half of the buttermilk and add half of the flour, mix for like a full minute and then add the rest of the buttermilk and then the rest of the flour and mix everything till well mixed. Give a final 3 minutes mixing with your mixer on high speed.

6.  Fill each cupcake case with the batter till two-thirds full and pop into the pre-heated oven to bake for like 15-20 minutes

7.  After the time elapses poke one cupcake with a toothpick to see if it comes out clean or gently press a finger against one cupcake to see if it's firm and springs back. If either of these happens then you know your baking is done.

8.  Leave the cupcakes to cool down in the baking tin for like 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

In a bowl beat 90g of butter till it becomes fluffy and add 160g of sifted icing sugar with a tablespoon of water or milk. Beat the mixture till it achieves the consistency you want, if it's too thin add more icing sugar.  If mixture is too thick simply add half a tablespoon of water or milk.

When the cupcakes have cooled down, put the butter icing in a piping bag and decorate each cupcake.  You can add colour to the frosting or leave it bare.  Decorate further with coloured sprinklers like mine and add a cherry on top for more effect!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

African: Banga Soup

Banga soup is one soup that I don't particularly look forward to cooking because of the process of extracting the oil from the palm nuts. Yes I know there's the option of using canned palm-fruit oil sold in supermarkets but there's this part of me that likes cooking stuff from scratch if I can manage it.  Banga soup is native to the lovely folks of the south-south of Nigeria.  I'm from the South-South myself and learned how to cook this soup by watching my elder sister (she belongs to the palm-nut-oil-from-a-can camp).  The first time I ate this soup as a child was with starch but as an adult I don't think I can ever bring myself to eat that combo as the only place I want to see starch is in my washing and not on my dinning table!


1 big bunch of palm-nut fruit or 800g Palm-fruit cream concentrate

Goat meat/Beef/Fresh Fish/Assorted Meat (tripe)

Oburumbebe Stick

1 tablespoon of Banga Spice (rohojie and aidan ground together, you can buy this in the market)

Ground Crayfish

Ground Pepper

Small bunch of scent leaf or Obeleteintein leaves

Stock Fish

Dry Fish (optional)

Periwinkles (optional)


1.   If you decide to use the canned palm-fruit oil from the can just skip this step.  If you decide to do it the good ol' fashioned way then here goes..... in a good sized pot wash and put the palm-fruit in water and boil for say 20-30 minutes (till fruits are soft and easy to work with).  When cooked transfer to a mortar and pound the fruits gently (the goal is to loosen the husk from the fruit not crack the nut!). While your waiting for your palm fruit to cook if you've not boiled your meat you can start doing that, make sure you keep some stock water from the meat pot as you will need it when cooking the banga soup proper.

boil palm fruit till tender

put in a mortar and gently pound to remove husk

with gentle pounding it should look like this

transfer husk and all to a pot and pour warm water

pour water and husk through a strainer to get oil

The fruit of your labour should look like this

2.  Put the pot on the hob or stove and heat under medium flame till the red oil rises to the top (as pictured below). Pour half a cup of stock water into the pot of boiling oil and add ground pepper, crayfish,  snails, periwinkle, stockfish and stock cube and cook for 5 minutes.  After this, add the banga spice and taste to make sure you're fine with the intensity of the flavour!

Add your condiments...

I prefer putting my dry fish in whole and not broken into bits

Periwinkle and cowhide is optional (I cook nearly all soups with periwinkle-in-its-shell)

3.  Add the oburunbebe stick (it adds extra flavour to the soup, it can be removed, washed, kept in a clean place and used several times, to 'loosen' the stick to let more flavour out, i make deep marks on the stick before each use).

Ground banga spice and Oburunbebe stick

4.  Cover pot and cook for 5 minutes, open pot and add your sliced scent leaves or obeleteintein leaves, cover again and cook for another 5 minutes. You can remove the obunrunbebe stick at this point or let it it soak in the soup till you're ready to serve.

5.  Like I said earlier, people from the south-south love to eat their banga with starch but you can eat with any 'swallow' of your choice

Like this post? well send some encouragement my way by visiting regularly for new recipes, commenting, liking my Facebook page, following me on twitter or following through Google!

Don't forget to read, comment and cook!


Monday, 2 December 2013

Pictures Only: Bites and Taste of Europe

So I went for a card exhibition in Paris and managed to convince my boss I needed a couple of days to rest and sightsee. I was shocked when he agreed and before he could change his mind I quickly moved to a cheaper hotel in Paris and booked a ticket to Rome (Rome has always been on my list of places I must visit so when the chance came I grabbed it).  Below are pictures of some of the food I ate. Enjoy...........


Hot chocolate with whipped cream and cocoa seeds..topped with a single strawberry! WOW!

Ambasciata di Capri Pizzeria off Via Cicerone in Rome, got the seafood pizza below here, they were a bit unfriendly so I never went back

I ordered for seafood pizza but was shocked when I opened the box and saw this!

It tasted as good as it looked

Breakfast at Isa Hotel Rome

The Lasagna was delsih!

Too many choices.......

I ordered a piece of every pizza on the menu and the best wine in the house! Gracia

Cookie Heaven

Funny looking flat BLT sandwich......

Gelato! It was cold as hell but I couldn't resist! Italian ice cream has got to be the best!

Cheese and stuff from everywhere wanted to bring some but didn't think customs would be pleased!


RUC, home of the best beef burger on earth!

I literally saw heaven when I assembled it together and cut open the middle

If you're ever in Paris, make sure you visit the Ruc and order the beef burger and fries!

Club sandwich from the Hilton La Defense, didn't wow me sha, still prefer the one from Cactus in Lagos