The Best Turkey Recipe

If you regularly cook turkey for Christmas, you’ll know one of the hardest things to do it have a moist bird. In 2007, I discovered this recipe by Phil Vickery and it was absolutely perfect. Although we have stopped having turkey at Christmas now, the memory of Christmas 2007 is stolen by the best turkey ever. If you are having turkey this Christmas, try this, I assure you it, won’t disappoint.

Serves: 8-10 adults
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 2½ hours, approx

Ingredients

1 x 5 kg or just under 12lb, Bronze turkey, with giblets and the wish bone removed
2 large carrots, peeled
2 large onion, peeled
6 sticks of celery
1 leek
2 bay leaves
2 chicken stock cubes
½ bottle dry white wine
2 pints cold water
salt and freshly ground black pepper
55g melted butter
2 tbsp roughly cornflour
4-6 tbsp cold water

Method

    1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas 6
    2. The first job is to remove the giblets from the bird and if you are using a frozen bird then make sure that it is fully defrosted
    3. Season the bird well inside and out with salt and pepper and pack the stuffing into the body cavity
    4. Tie the legs and the parsons nose together with a piece of string and secure well, so the stuffing is held inside the bird
    5. Chop all the vegetables into large chunks and place in the bottom of a large baking tray. Place the turkey on top. The tray should be large enough so the bird has at least 2 inches gap around it.
    6. Pour in the white wine, cold water and chicken stock cube, and place the whole tray on to the stove
    7. Bring to the boil and cover tightly with two layers of foil and pop into a preheated oven

THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT POINT Simmer for 5 minutes, covered to get the steam and heat going!

  1.  Cook the bird for about approximately 2 hours
  2. To check if the bird is cooked, carefully remove from the oven as there will be a lot of stock, wine and turkey juices
  3. Remove the foil and insert a knife where the thigh attaches itself to the body of the bird. The juices should run clear and if not, cover again with foil and cook for a further 20 minutes.
  4. When the bird is cooked, remove from the oven and turn it up to 230°C, gas 8. Brush with the melted butter and cook until browned for about 15 minutes.
  5. When nicely browned, remove from the oven and carefully tip off all the stock and keep warm
  6. Wrap the turkey in foil to keep warm, it will keep perfectly wrapped for 1 hour
  7. Reboil the stock and juices, you may need to add a little more water in a saucepan and skim well
  8. Mix the cornflour and water together and thicken the bubbling stock
  9. Carve the bird; the flesh will be soft and juicy. Serve the gravy and stuffing separately.

You can find the recipe here.

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Baking Has Taught Me To Never Say Never

The first celebration cake I baked was for my daughter’s fourth birthday. It was a disaster. Bless her heart, she thought it was the best cake ever and still does. I look at that and think what the heck is that????? If I showed you that cake and said I wanted to start a cake business, chances are that you would laugh me out of your presence. Never mind any dreams of having a café, I just didn’t have the talent.

I baked this cake in September 2012

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Six months later
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A year later

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And this one in December 2013
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In 15 months of practice (not even regularly) and no formal training, I have begun to turn out better looking cakes. There have been days when I’ve been so down on myself and thought there is no chance on earth or in heaven that I could ever ever do this. Who would want a cake that looked like a mudslide? However, A little over a year, I am really proud of what I’ve done. Not because they are the best but simply because I have improved and some people actually want to pay for my cakes.

So I’ve developed some ‘never rules’ to always remember when I’m embarking on a new journey:

      Never judge a book by it’s cover, including yourself

 

      Never be afraid to learn something new

 

      Never stop learning

 

      Never say you can’t until you’ve tried

 

      Never give up because something is too hard for you

 

      Nerve judge your future by a moment of hardship

 

      Never compare yourself to someone else and decide you’ll never be good enough

 

      Never let tears (or disappointment) stop you from getting up the next day and trying again

 

      Never stop trying whilst you still have breath in you

 

      Never lose patience with yourself

 

      Never let imperfection stop you from presenting your work

 

      Never be in a hurry to be a master at what you do

 

    Never fail to assess where you are and determine a course of action to get you to where you want to be.

All this from baking you ask. What can I say? The kitchen is a jungle. 🙂

A Simplified Christmas

I wrote this post this last year and it has served as a useful reminder. If last year was simplified, this year will be simplified to the max! Enjoy!

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It’s been a long and busy year. And I am really looking forward to two weeks off work and just simply relaxing. Today is my last day at work this year and I’m pumped – as my son would say. 🙂

So this year, as I’m determined to have a simple Christmas, we did all Christmas presents shopping online, in fact at the same store. Anything that required veering into other stores has been relegated to a nice-to-have list for 2015. Plus we’ve had a chat about being grateful for whatever you get. So I’m optimistic about no I-didn’t-get-the-present-I-wanted drama. 😂😂😂😂😂 I crack myself up. I’ll let you know if that worked out. (update, it did!)

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Still hidden away to avoid hypertension in young children

The other thing that always goes off kilter at Christmas is my food shopping habit. I’ve found that I shop like there’s been a hurricane warning and my family is going into a bunker for two weeks; rather than for one day which is essentially how long the shops will be closed for. So this year I was determined not to do that and I’ve succeeded. I did my food shopping online too so I wouldn’t be distracted by great offers in the stores. I have a few items left but I’ve made a list and I’m sticking to it when I hit the grocery shop shortly.

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The cookbooks begat the shopping list

I like – scratch that – I love cooking and Christmas is usually the time that I experiment with new recipes, but that’s another stressful thing and this year I’m not doing stress at Christmas. So I’ve stuck to what we all like and is tried and tested. For the first time ever, I won’t be peeling potatoes. I’m a food snob like that I know but in the name of a stress-free Christmas we are getting frozen potatoes 🙈🙈🙈 – a suggestion made by my husband which no doubt takes him off potatoes peeling duty. However, I got his point. If you want a stress-free meal then take the stress away. I’m still processing that one though. I might just nip out and get potatoes in the morning and so I can make my gorgeous hassleback potatoes.

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Hassleback potatoes. The best way to do them!

My family and I also made a pact not to get presents for one another until the New Year which is just perfect and I can avoid the Christmas madness out there. I have a super organised friend whose Christmas shopping is usually done by October. Alas, I have not been blessed with such genes so I’m very happy with this unanimous decision.

Another thing that adds to my stress is baking a Christmas cake for church. Well I’ve scrapped that this year. And will do something in the New Year when I’m chilled. Although it’s sounding like my New Year is getting pretty full already. Eek!

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Merry Christmas

Lastly, I cancelled my hair appointment just because the last thing I feel like doing right now is spending a couple of hours in a hair salon under a dryer when I could be home with my feet up. Well-being before beauty for me. My hair will just have to do as it is for one day.

So here’s to a truly simplified Christmas day and holiday. 🍸

Breakfast in Bed

I’m taking advantage of the half-term and having a lie-in today. My daughter walks in and asks what she can have for breakfast. I know she’s after my pancakes.  

I do make delicious pancakes 🙂

However, I say nothing and give her some other options. As she reluctantly walks out of the room, my husband says slyly, “why don’t you get up and make pancakes”. He gets a side eye.

However, if I’ve learnt anything about my daughter over her seven years of existence, it’s that she has bionic ears. Or at least always looks for opportunities to negotiate with you. A few minutes later, she walks in to hug me and says, “mummy why don’t you make pancakes?” My husband smirks in the corner.

So I say, “no! I want breakfast in bed!” Then my husband says, “that’s no problem, you make the pancakes and we’ll bring it to you in bed”. Now my daughter is jumping and saying “yes, we will!”

Somehow I think I’m being cheated. I better get my own breakfast in bed!

Redefining Wonder Woman Series 9: Redefining Nigerian Cuisine

Months ago I stumbled on a Facebook account displaying Nigerian cooking in a way I’ve never known it. Most people don’t know much about African cuisine, talk less of Nigerian. Without chatting to her, it was clear from her blog and social media that she was a woman on a mission – to put Nigerian food on the map. It’s a huge ask to undertake but with 11k and 40.5k on Facebook and Instagram respectively, Dunni is well on the and as if to reinforce her vision, earlier this year, WayFair UK featured one of her recipes on their Father’s day blog. I would say that is quite revolutionary. Hope you like her story.

 Dun

RWW: Tell us a little bit about yourself
DK: My name is Dunni Obata, I am an IT Project Manager and I also have a Bachelors degree in Physiotherapy. I switched careers years ago and have been working in IT for four years now. 

RWW: What is Dooney’s Kitchen about?
DK: How many words would you like? Oh let me see…..Dooney’s Kitchen is first and foremost about documenting Nigerian cooking for posterity. It is a food blog focused on promoting Nigerian food and the possibilities that can stem from it. Dooney’s Kitchen is about breaking barriers and changing the perception of Nigerian cooking. My personal mantra is every Nigerian dish can be Dooney’s Kitchen Redefined.

RWW: What is your earliest memory of food and cooking?
DK: I really can’t pick an earliest memory because believe it or not, I hated food for probably the first 9 – 10 years of my life. Mealtimes were like torture, and my mother wasn’t the type to entertain comments like “I don’t like this food, or I don’t want that dish”. You ate what she cooked for the family, no questions asked. My passion for cooking probably stemmed from two things. Firstly, as the eldest child as well as being female, culturally I was expected to help my mum out in the kitchen. Secondly, and the most influential bit, was the strong need to cook my food MYself. Not that my mother wasn’t a great cook, she is a phenomenal one, but my taste buds were different and even at the age of three, I was aware of that. I knew exactly what I wanted my food to taste like. Cooking gave me the opportunity to make what I want, how I wanted it. 

RWW: Who or what inspires your cooking?
DK:  I was taught to cook by an entire ‘village’, from my mother to grandmothers, aunties and friends. I haven’t had any formal training yet but hope to register on some courses soon. The love of a challenge inspires me. I was the child you didn’t say ‘no’ to, because the next response would be ‘why’? I learnt quickly enough though to say, ‘yes Mummy’, LOL, but with food, I take no prisoners. Hearing “it can’t be done, or it shouldn’t be done that way”, gets the response, “why the heck not?” I also draw inspiration from the oddest places like a conversation with a friend, a TV programme, walking past a food shop. Even my beloved kitchen gadgets inspire me. 

Igbagba Ofofo or Gbagba Fofo. Otherwise known as Okro Peppersoup.

Igbagba Ofofo or Gbagba Fofo. Otherwise known as Okro Peppersoup.

RWW: When did you start blogging and why?
DK: I started blogging in 2013, and I am what you call an accidental blogger, because it wasn’t a decision I came to on my own. A friend of mine convinced me to start blogging. I used to put up display pictures on my BBM and she advised me to set up a blog as way of collating my recipes as well as putting an end to the multiple requests for recipes I was getting. ‘Just do it’, she said. At that time, I don’t think I had ever clicked on a food blog in my life. I didn’t know they existed. Of course I knew about food sites like Martha Stewart, Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver, but I wasn’t aware of food blogs as much.

RWW: Do you remember the moment you decided that you wanted to put Nigeria food on the world stage?
DK: When I started blogging, it was just an avenue to document my recipes, so I didn’t answer the same question fifty times. As I continued to blog, I realised the information available about Nigerian food was very sparse. Also, I could see that Nigerian food wasn’t perceived as a unique cuisine. It is termed African food, even by Nigerians. That phrase is one of the least favourite things I like to read or see. It symbolises everything that is wrong about how we are perceived as a people. Africa has 53 or is it 54 countries, and why of all the other continents are the individual countries labelled the same? Africa is a continent rich in history, culture and diversity. Why have we let that happen? As someone who loves a challenge, I have made it my personal mission to shine the spotlight on Nigerian food.

RWW: There is obviously the temptation to veer off into mainstream or more popular food. What keeps you focused on Nigerian cuisine?
DK: That is the only food I know, the only food I was brought up on, the only food I truly appreciate. As I said previously, I love the challenge of taking Nigerian food further than our community, so that challenge keeps me focused. 

Rice, Beans & Plantain

Rice, Beans & Plantain

RWW: What has been your experience so far?
DK: The experience has been better than I thought it would be. Expensive and very exhausting, but I love what I do and seeing where I can go with my blog encourages me, even more, to stick with it.

RWW: What do you enjoy most about cooking?
DK: The process. Even the prepping which I am not fond of. However cooking is like music and dance. Components, come together to create magic and I enjoy it. 

DK's Catering Services

Dooney’s Kitchen offers a private chef service

RWW: You are obviously close to your mum. Has blogging about food brought you closer?
DK: Oh it definitely has. She likes to remind of the times we fought over cooking and food. She often says, “thank goodness I didn’t let you win the battle of wills otherwise you wouldn’t have seen what you disliked turn into a success”, Whenever I get stuck on a dish, I speed dial her. When she discovers a new way of cooking something and she calls me to tell me about it. It’s great.

RWW: Do you have any advice for anyone starting a food blog?
DK: Don’t! Just joking. Do it because it is something you want to do. If you want to do it for the fame, it will chew you and spit you out. It is a lot of work, harder than you can imagine. Food blogging is tough – I will tell you that for free. So, be prepared for hard work.

RWW: What is your reaction to people who say you are an inspiration?
DK: I am still not used to it and  I pray that I always maintain that sense of wonder. It never gets old when I hear it and I hope that never changes.

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Frozen Maize Pudding

RWW: What are the highlights so far?
DK: The people I have met through what I do – people  I ordinarily wouldn’t have had access to. The other day Funmi Iyanda (Nigerian broadcaster and journalist) tweeted about Dooney’s Kitchen. Don Jazzy (Nigerian record producer) left a comment on my Moin Moinlette and followed my page. I have been privileged to meet so many successful individuals and entrepreneurs, too many to mention. The networking opportunities the blog has given me, are the highlights for me and of course, I hope to meet Jamie Oliver through what I do. 🙂

Moin Moinlette

Moin Moinlette (Bean Pudding)

RWW: You must have the highest number of kitchen gadgets I’ve even known anyone to have – bordering on an addiction. 🙂
DK: I love kitchen gadgets, because I love shiny things. I am excited my technology. I was also raised with kitchen gadgets. My mother had a number of Kenwood products so as soon as I could afford them, and had a kitchen and store cupboard I could call my own, the purchases started. These kitchen gadgets weren’t designed with Nigerian food in mind and challenging myself to see how I can adapt them to Nigerian cooking, makes the purchase well worth it. I recently made pounded yam using a hand mixer. I bet the people at Kitchen Aid have probably never heard the words pounded yam before. 

RWW: What does the future hold for Dooney’s Kitchen?
DK: World domination. Just joking. : ) Dooney’s Kitchen will be the reference point for all things Nigerian food. Twenty years from now, Nigerian food will be on supermarket shelves and it will feature on the dinner table on millions of homes. I think the problem we have had so far is that our food has been too insular. Dooney’s Kitchen will change the dialogue.

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Thanks Dunni.

If you want Dunni to cook for you, you can contact her via her blog. When she’s got her T.V show and chain of restaurants, remember you read about her here. 😉 In the meantime, you can follow the progress of Dooney’s Kitchen or see more of her mouth watering pictures on www.dooneyskitchen.com, Twitter @DooneysKitchen, Facebook DooneysKitchen and Instagram dooneyskitchen

RWW

Easter Joke

I’ve been teaching my kids basic kitchen skills like chopping safely with a knife, whisking, how to use the blender, etc.

I had a couple of cakes to bake this weekend so we were perfecting egg cracking. I worked out how to explain it to my daughter and by the end of the day she was cracking eggs perfectly. No more shells in the batter or egg in the table.

As I’m mixing the batter she walks up to me and says “mummy, guess what?” I say, “what?” She responds, “I am now an eggs-pert at cracking eggs”. And with a twinkle in her eyes she leans forward and says, “geddit?”

My sisters will no doubt say she has inherited my rubbish sense of humour.
😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

Happy Mother’s Day – For Mums No Longer With Us

I uploaded a picture of myself on my blackberry profile and my cousin instantly commented on how much I looked like his mum.

To be honest with you, that was like the bestest compliment anyone could have paid me. My aunty Dupe was hot, stunning, tall, graceful, fashionable and a fully domesticated goddess. She cooked, gardened, hosted amazing parties – as far as I was concerned as a child, she was uber amazing and her love for her children was unequivocal. She was just a chilled mum and I loved that about her.

I told my cousin that was the best compliment he could ever pay me. Apart from the fact that she was pretty and elegant, I’ve always had a picture of her in mind when I imagine domesticated bliss. Her way about the kitchen was always an inspiration to me. I proceeded to tell him a little story of how I remembered her.

When I turned thirteen, she gave me a YSL Paris perfume. It was such a huge moment for me. Not only was it not a cheap body spray, it was an expensive perfume. It made me feel so grown up and spoilt.

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Sadly, she passed away about six years later and I could never bring myself to throw away that perfume bottle. I kept it constantly on my dresser – empty as it was. When I moved from Lagos to London at twenty-one, I brought it along with me. To which my cousin responded hoarder, in the way one would say L-O-S-E-R. I wasn’t ashamed. I know I have hoarder tendencies but only of things that have sentimental value and parting with this I guess felt like I would be losing the constant reminder of her. I cherished the constant reminder that bottle was of her in my life so I couldn’t throw it away. However, when we moved to Cambridge we got rid of a lot so two and half years ago, I finally parted with it. It was a little bit tough to let go of it but clearly her memories live on in my heart.

She was by no means a saint, in fact she was a real as they come but as a human being, she had a great heart. When my mum was going through a divorce, my aunt was there not just to support her but to make her laugh. She made an unpleasant experience lighter somehow with her infectious laughter. And when she laughed, the whole world knew someone was laughing – right from the depth of her. She would throw her head back, and her shoulders would shake uncontrollably, often accompanied by tears of joy. That’s how I choose to remember her – pretty, elegant, tall, generous, joyful and sublime.

So this post is dedicated to my cousins, her children, and all my friends and a host of people who I’ve never met, whose mums are no longer with us. I hope you remember them today as special. I hope you remember them today as loving. I hope you count yourself blessed to have been birthed by her – faults and all. I hope today is a day to cherish those wonderful memories you have of your mothers.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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In My Kitchen

I accepted ages ago that I actually love cooking and have stopped resenting standing for hours in the kitchen preparing food for my family.

I really love cooking. In my kitchen, I’m in my own world. I create and I relax. I love the colours and different smells. And certain ingredients reappear over and over again because I’m just in love with with them. I mean if I was left stranded on a desert island without them, it just wouldn’t be good. 😐
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Of course I hate cooking under obligation and my simple way out of feeling that obligation is to experiment and introduce my children, and husband, to different kinds of food. I love to challenge myself to cook whatever is in my cupboard without going out to shop. Makes me feel really accomplished and smart. LOL.

I’m alive in my kitchen right now cooking a chicken and coconut curry. Feeling so so happy! Very rewarding.

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Little Chef

My daughter has taken to writing a lot. Her latest sample is a recipe for ‘pretend’ soup.

    1. Onions
    2. Carrot
    3. Garlic
    4. Hot Water
    5. Tomato Purée
    6. Tomato
    7. Prawns
    8. Potato
    9. Banana

It’s not a bad recipe for a six year old and I could possibly make something out of it. However, not sure about the banana. I cannot imagine where she got that from.

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Weird Food

When I was young I hated eggs; any sort of eggs but most especially boiled ones. *sick*

My mum and I had never ending fights about eating eggs.  She felt they were nutritious and should be a part of my diet.  I felt otherwise.   I didn’t mind a fried egg without the yolk but my mum said I was wasting food every time I threw the yolk out.  This led to the issue of an ultimatum – eat your eggs with the yolk or you can’t eat eggs at all.  I gladly chose the latter and didn’t eat eggs for most of my childhood. 

However before the ban :), in a bid to mask the taste the yolk, I discovered, or rather created, some eggy concoctions.  Scrambled eggs weren’t so bad but with garlic salt they were suddenly absolutely scrumptious but my all time favourite was a fried egg lathered in orange marmalade.  Mmmm mmm mmmmmmmm.

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    Spot the missing yolk.

On a day when I just want to vegetate, this is one of my favourite childhood meals.

Do you have any accidental concoctions?