I may have mentioned before that while growing up on the islands mom never made any sort of curry dishes with pork, so I credit my aunt Victoria (I speak about her in my book) for passing the basics of this recipe on to me, when I lived with her during my early years in Canada. Her version included a bit more cooking (I like my beans with a slight crunch) and a little heavier on the curry, so this version of curry pork with green beans is personalized to my liking.
Here's another one of those spicy condiments I grew up enjoying with many of the street food sold outside the gates of my secondary school in San Fernando, Trinidad at recess and lunch time. Usually used a a dipping sauce for Pholourie and Saheena... and as a topping for doubles and aloo pies. But I think we most enjoyed it on it's own as a thick savory sauce when our taste buds craved something exciting (especially when we didn't have enough money for the pholourie). You'll find that I did stray a bit from the traditional type recipes, however you'll enjoy the subtle complex flavors.
One of the things my parents instilled in us from an early age, was to NEVER waste food, so growing up you'd always find containers (usually old margarine containers) with leftover food in the fridge. I love rice (brown parboiled) in just about any way it can be cooked, so having leftover rice in the fridge is like seeing the pieces of puzzle waiting to be put together. Said puzzle does not have an after picture to follow, so it's rare that my final fried rice is ever the same. This time I'm using some fresh Jamaican callaloo (called chorai bhagi or spinach in the rest of the Caribbean) from my garden.
If you grew up on the islands you'd have at least one experience with cheese paste sandwiches... the go-to snack at many kids birthday parties. A zesty cheese spread made with grated cheddar, spiced with mustard and usually done in different colors so you get that sort of rainbow effect when you look at a cross-section of a sandwich. This recipe is the gown-up version of said cheese paste as we'll add some fresh vegetables to the mix and instead or grated cheese, we'll employ the use of cream cheese.
Breakfast was usually a grab and go routine for me as a young fella on the islands during the week, as I went to school in the city and it meant leaving our sleepy village very early in the morning. I had to take a 2nd taxi (shared) when I got into San Fernando (2nd largest city in Trinidad) to make it in time for the first bell. So weekends was when mom would go all out with whatever we wanted for breakfast. Now this sort of breakfast was never included as I only developed a liking for many of the ingredients you'll see me use, during my travels across the Caribbean as an adult.
When some of your youngest fans get their mom to contact you "mom can you contact Chris to see if he can do a Caribbean taco recipe for us?" you know you have to jump into action. So the first thing I cranked out was the topping for said taco. During the summer months this also works as a great topping for grilled burgers and hot dogs. And when those cold wintry weekends kicks in and I want to brighten up my mood... I put a side of this with my eggs at breakfast! Versatile indeed!
Understandably we don't automatically associate chili with the Caribbean when we envision the meals being prepared in homes across the islands. However, times are indeed changing and we're experimenting with different recipes, ingredients and flavors. Just take a peek at the many international restaurants you'll find in any capital city of any island in the Caribbean and you'll see that our dining habits are changing. Some may argue that it's a bad thing as our culinary culture is quickly losing out to these outside influences. Topic for another day!
As a young fella on the islands, I don't ever recall having lamb (had to call mom and she confirmed this). And to be quite honest, I didn't even start eating goat until my adult years in Canada after living with my aunt, who's a master at cooking it in a rich and spicy curry sauce. Today I'm not a huge fan of lamb, as I find the taste and texture turns me off a little (plus the price), but the odd time it is cooked in our home, this is my go-to recipe. Not necessarily "Caribbean", but you'll noticed a lot of flavor-adding ingredients being used as we would in the Caribbean.
As a young fella on the islands my brother and I would always volunteer to go help dad in the garden whenever we knew cucumbers were in season. We had a stash of salt and a few cloves of garlic in the make-shift shed, where dad would take his breaks from the midday sun. With scotch bonnet pepper (congo as we'd say) and shado beni fresh from the garden.. we'd always make a huge bowl of this 'chow' with the 'baby' cucumbers (always the sweetest). Immediately after we'd hit the river to go fishing, followed by hours of swimming in the cool refreshing waters of the Guaracara river. Funny thing is dad never got our assistance, but he never peeped a word to mom!
Callaloo, the delicious soup-like dish of the Southern Caribbean is traditionally made with the inclusion of fresh ocean crabs for it's unique and rich flavor. If one cannot source that wonderful 'blue' crab, we then look for that layer of flavor from salted meats like pigtails and beef, and I've seen some people use smoked meats on some occasions. I must point out that the traditional recipe for making callalloo (not to be confused with Jamaican Callaloo) are the tender leaves of the dasheen or taro plant. However, sourcing those in Canada is almost impossible, so we'll be using baby spinach with brilliant results in this vegetarian version of Callaloo.