Thursday, 24 September 2015


Rustle this quick , tangy and spicy salad for your packed lunches. Best to store it in a mason jar to maintain it's freshness. 


300g of cooked black eyed Beans
1 large diced sun-ripened Avocado
80g of cherry tomatoes
1 zest and juice of Lime/ Lemon
1 tablespoons of extra Virgin oil or 2 tablespoonful of Coconut oil
1 finely diced Banana Shallots
50g of chopped mint
20g of blended fresh Ginger
1 diced green chilli (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste. 

How to boil your Black eyed beans 

Soak 250g of black eyed beans overnight or for a quicker recipe, soak in warm water for about an hour. 

Soaking the beans makes for a quicker cooking time. 

Wash the beans under cold running water and place in a saucepan. Cover the saucepan with 800ml of cold water. 

Place the saucepan on a medium heat and cook gently for 35-45 minutes. 

The beans are cooked when they're soft to touch and darker in colour. 
The cooked beans will weigh about 300g as it's swelled with water. I prefer my beans el dente (with a little bite), hence I cook mine for 30 minutes.  

Melt the coconut oil in a frying on a medium heat. 
Add the shallots & zest of lime/lemon and fry for 2 minutes 
Add the Ginger and chilli, fry for a further 2 minutes.
Add the cooked beans and about 3 tablespoonfuls of it's juices 
Cook for 3 minutes (making sure you stir well).
Then add your preferred tomatoes and cook for 1 minute. 
Take it off the heat , and leave to cool down for about 2 minutes. Add the chopped mint, Avocados and lime juice.

Best served with natural yoghurt. 

If you do like my recipes, leave a comment below, subscribe to my blog, YouTube page and share. 
All photos and recipes are by the owner of this blog. 

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Hotel Viura (Exploring cultures & Food)

2015 has and it's continuing to bring out the best in me. My mindset is being one of 'sacrifice till it's amazing'. A typical year involves at least 4 holidays, however this wasn't the case for 2015. It's being a year of tapping into my creativity, challenges, personal development, opportunities to mention but a few. 
My husband and I decided (with little persuasion) to go on a 'Foodie' and 'Winey' holiday in Northern Spain. I left the holiday planning to my husband (shh he's good at planning the perfect holiday). 

An early morning flight from Heathrow (British Airways) was smooth sailing, apart from the odd moment, a grumpy flight attendant told me not to use the front toilet facilities again; pointing to the facilities at the back (which was much further from my seat, comments withheld). 

Anyway, I was rather excited about this trip (as it was my first holiday of 2015 and the only time I could  go "away amongst my busy schedule). 

We arrived safely at Bilbao Airport, quickly picked our hired car and headed to our hotel 'Viura' ( with the help of our Sat Nav, a necessity, for driving holidays). 

The 'topsy, turvy'  lopsided rectangular and boxy shape of the exterior fills one with intrigue and great anticipation.

 I was awed by this magnificent structure (creativity at it's best). The contemporary looking and mind boggling hotel, was different but complimented it's old surroundings. 
The architect who designed this magnificent hotel is Beatrix Perez and she works with 'Design House Architecture' , who owns the hotel. 

We checked into an equally inspiring reception area , greeted by the warm smiles of the receptionist and into our amazing room. 

Sari (the male receptionist, who welcomed us on our first day) was helpful with further information about the village and hotel. (Thank you Sari) (If you do visit the hotel as a result of reading this piece, say hi to Sari). 

I've been surviving on a 3-4hr daily sleep for a while now, however I was overcome with exhaustion and fell into a 5hr deep sleep. I woke up to the sound of the church bell ringing, feeling rested and refreshed after enjoying a rainfall shower . 


We headed to the restaurant for our 11 course dinner , which was  reasonably priced a little shy off 100 Euros, including wine , per person. The flavours of the dishes, the presentation , the quality of ingredients, the amazing Rioja wines that accompanied each dish was an inspiring experience. 

 The ambience of the restaurant is one of nostalgic romance mixed with modernity. The clever use of concrete and natural colours, with the brushed soft linen curtains lends itself to 'experimenting outside the norm'.

The dishes 

Generally, the dishes served here are creative and experimental; by using quality ingredients  and enhancing the natural flavours of each ingredient. 
We were served by an impressive waiter by name Carlos, who paid attention to our needs (enhancing our experience).

I loved the dishes and asked to meet the chef. Caroline, is from Equador and moved to Spain a few years ago. She was very friendly and we had a conversation about ingredients (Cassava, Plantain ) and passion for food.

The black metal banisters sat perfectly to industrial wired mesh ( one might frown on this, but it works) with soft downward lights , to give it a subtle and warm look.

The colourful paintings of various famous celebrities, gave the room the pop of colour it needed, coupled with the  inspiring ambience of both the old and young. 

My favourite part of the hotel was the restaurant (I guess, I knew I was guaranteed great food and wine) the essence of taking this trip. 

The red wine cellar (cave) 'with its perfect humid temperature' was located at the end of the restaurant . The tunnel connected to a bar and further to the church. The tunnel was where the church received wine as taxes from the wine makers, in past times. 

Breakfast was sympathetic to everyone's need, with a great selection of Manchego cheeses, cakes, smoked Salmon, cuts of cured meat, fruits, breads etc with an added benefit of a cooked breakfast. 

The roof terrace gave a 360* panoramic view of the village with about 300-320 inhabitants (depending on the year) and nestled next to the church. 

The old , sandy coloured buildings, sat next to each other, with narrow amalgamating, steep streets, with the frequent passage of tractors filled with Grapes descending skilfully, all nestled beautifully amongst the mountain. 

'Villabuena de Alava', is a beautiful village, including the surrounding villages. It's best to hire a car to allow you to explore the mountainous area, without restriction. 

Thank you Viura Hotel for the great experience. See you next time. 
 All photos are by the owner of this blog. 

Saturday, 19 September 2015

From the Basque country with love.

In July 2013, my husband and I decided to travel to the Basque country ,to explore the fusion of ingredients on the borders of both Spain and France. The idea of fusion cooking, with the best of ingredients ,  great wine and off course  great company , had me giddy with excitement. 
We arrived in Bilbao and stayed at the 'Hotel Míro' for a couple of days. Bilbao is known for it's Guggenheim Museum and it's a charming place. 

In exploring Bilbao, we came across a specialist grocery shop (more like a boutique for fruits) and purchased some plums and peaches. They were the best plums and peaches I had ever tasted.  I reserved some of the plums and peaches for our trip to Biarritz .


The next day, we hired a vehicle and drove to Guethary in Biarritz, the best decision we ever made. We picked some fresh salads from a deli next to the Hotel Míro  for our trip, drove through picturesque towns, finding odd buildings in the middle of the motorway and stopping to have a picnic by a beach in Bidart.

We finally arrived in Guerthary and checked into the most amazing boutique hotel 
The exterior of the building was understated but boasted of a homily feel. The vintage rusty Fiat Panda parked on the drive way with loads of cigarette butts in the tray and the boho look of our host, who happened to be the owner gave me a sense of excitement and freedom for our stay.


The reception was breathtaking, the interior was designed with clashing colours, furniture and flooring which added to it's unique retro feel. I was in love and couldn't wait to see our room. 

The host offered us a glass of his finest vintage Champagne, checked us in and did a grand tour of our new home for the next 2 nights before we continue to San Sebastian. 
The host then advised the bar was run based on 'honesty', which meant he relied on his honest guest to serve their own drinks and pay accordingly. 

Our room was painted in a bright Lemon green colour with hints of purple,red, a huge bath tub, doors that opened to our patio with a view of endless fields and animals.
We quickly unpacked to enjoy our new surroundings. I decided to have a bath (after seeing the wild lavender bath gel) with a glass of Champagne and enjoy every aspect of our new surroundings.

                             Fruit bowl                                          Fresh fruit bowl
 Continental breakfast at Arguibel was amazing, the nutty brown baguette (my favourite), freshly squeezed orange juice, natural yoghurt, fruit bowl, assortment of cheeses and cured meat served at the patio overlooking fields with the sun kissing your skin fills you with a sense of content.


Dinner was booked at with a sea view. Our experience in this restaurant was and still is a memorable one. We had Mussels, grilled langoustines, Charcoal grilled Sole, fresh seaweed to mention but a few.

 The dishes were fresh, of great quality, cooked perfectly by enhancing their their natural flavours and coupled with the romantic setting, made it a memorable experience. Whenever you visit Biarritz please make a reservation and enjoy their amazing dishes and bilingual waiters.

After 2 nights in Guerthary we then drove to San Sebastian in Spain ( a fusion of French and Spanish cuisine). 

I'm off again to San Sebastian for inspiration for an African 'Pinxtos' ( a small snack eaten in bars in Northern Spain, The Basque country) dinner. 


Monday, 14 September 2015


'Yam', is a tuberous root vegetable, which is synonymous but not exclusive to Africa. There are over 600 varieties, of which 95% are cultivated in Africa. In parts of America and Canada 'sweet potatoes' are referred to as 'Yams' , however that's not the case , as the similarity ends with both been a tuberous root vegetable and cooked the same way; they differ in taste and texture.

'Yams' are starchier , have a tougher skin and not as sweet as 'sweet potatoes'. The skins can be peeled by ,using a knife. Care must be taken, when peeling the skin off, as the juice of the raw Yam could irritate your skin (best to use a chopping board).

 The most popular Yams in Africa, are the yellow and white ones, with my favourite being the yellow type , 'Pona' (as commonly known in Ghana).

Pounded Yam is a firm favourite of most Nigerians and it's  accompanied with Egusi (melon seeds) soup, whereby in Togo/Ghana, it's served with Chicken /Goat meat light soup. 
'Ndudu by Fafa' is about using African ingredients to create Western inspired dishes as well as offering a twist to traditional African dishes. Enjoy this French inspired dish.  

Serves 4
200g of boiled Yam
2 eggs, separated
20g of chives
30g of melted butter
150ml of lukewarm full fat / semi skimmed milk
125g of grated Cheddar
100g of grated Parmesan (Optional)
Half a teaspoon of Baharat spice (A Middle Eastern spice) available in most supermarkets
Salt and Pepper to taste

You can replace the chives with spring onions.

If you don't have any fresh milk, mix 120 ml of evaporated milk and 30ml of lukewarm water instead. 

You can omit the Parmesan and increase the quality of the Cheddar by 80g. 

Try and be creative and use shredded 'Wagashi' , the West African cheese .  It won't melt, however it will add a chewy texture to the dish.  
Please omit salt, if you're using Wagashi. 

How to boil your Yam 

Using a sharp knife and a chopping board, peel the tough skin of the Yam (as shown above) to expose the flesh. 
Slice the flesh into 2cm discs as shown  above. 

Wash the Yam under cold water and place in a saucepan. 
Add enough cold water to cover the Yam (about 4 inches above).
Place the Yam on a high heat.  When it starts to boil, reduce to a medium heat. Cover with a lid and boil gently for 12-15 minutes. 

Insert a fork and if it penetrates without any restriction, your Yam is ready. 

For this recipe, I purposefully over cooked the Yam, to an almost mashy state. (Tip for a fluffier Soufflé), as Yam is denser than Potatoes.
Leave the Yam to cool down and mash into a smooth paste. 

Preparing the Yam Soufflé

Pre heat the oven to 180*c. 
Butter your ramekins or soufflé dish and set aside. 

Place the mashed Yam in a bowl, add the melted butter , chives, 2 egg yolks and cheddar cheese / Parmesan / Wagashi. Mix till well combined. (see below)

Add the lukewarm milk , a pinch of milled black peppercorn and mix well.

Add the nutmeg and Baharat spice and mix well. 
In a bowl , add the 2 egg whites and whisk till stiff peaks. (You can use a whisker or a fork) 

Baharat spice

Alternatively, you can use an electric whisk (for a faster process).
Add the whipped egg whites to the mixture and using a figure of eight movement, gently stir the mixture together.

Don't be tempted to mix  quickly at this stage. The whisked eggs help the mixture to rise and maintain it's fluffier texture.

'Ndudu twist'
Add a teaspoonful of a spiced tomato sauce to the base of your ramekin (optional). 

Once combined, pour your mixture into each ramekin and run your thumb around the edges (helps the soufflé achieve it's classic shape). 

Place a tray with water in your pre heated oven and then place your soufflé in the middle tray of your oven. 

Bake for 14-18 minutes or until puffed and golden. Serve immediately. 

All photos and recipes are by the owner of this blog. 

Watch and subscribe to my YouTube page and learn how to make this spicy tomato sauce. Why not add a tablespoon of this sauce , underneath your soufflé? This will give a surprising element to your dish. 

I wish I had access to 'Wagashi' (the West African cheese) to create more recipes. I'll keep that thought, until my next visit to Ghana. 

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3 cheese and Pistachio soufflé 

Yam Soufflé