Archive | Vegetarian

Applewood Smoked Pineapple Chow.

Applewood Smoked Pineapple Chow.

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Let’s get the disclaimer out of the way to prevent the traditionalists from becoming active with the hate comments. Yes, this not a traditional Trinbago chow recipe, however your taste-buds will be gratified from the different levels of flavor both the grilling and the apple-wood smoke adds to this classic Caribbean salad. Chow is cross between a salad and pickle, usually made using a tart fruit (like green mangoes  | mango chow) and is popular in the Southern Caribbean.

 

You’ll Need…

1 ripe pineapple
1/2 medium red onion
2 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper
2 tablespoon shado beni (or cilantro)
1/2 lime (or lemon)
Pinch fresh black pepper

Apple wood chips for that smokiness goodness.

To learn how to peel and trim a fresh pineapple, watch this video: How to peel, trim and core a pineapple.

 

Before we get to the recipe, I’d like to say thanks to Chef Marc from http://www.menufortheweek.com for sharing his personal touch in making pineapple chow. In the coming months we’ll have some exciting news to share with you, as Marc and I explore a new dimension to Caribbean cooking.

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In this recipe we’re using a propane grill, but you can use a charcoal bbq or an indoor grill if you like. If you don’t have access to a grill, you can place the pineapple slices on a lined baking sheet and broil for a couple minutes on each side. You won’t get the rich flavor of the apple wood smoke, but you will enjoy the caramelized flavor of the cooked pineapple.

Create a pouch with a piece of sturdy tin foil with the applewood chips, wrap and poke some holes with a fork. Place it on the side of the grill area (or directly on the hot coals or flame) and cover the lid. Allow the smoke to develop before you begin grilling. There’s no need to soak the wood chips in water as we’ve done in the past as we want immediate smoke.

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Peel and slice the pineapple into 1/2 inch slices. Marc didn’t core the pineapple and to be quite honest.. I much liked the texture of the core when grilled.

With your grill on a medium heat (you can oil the grates so the pineapple pieces don’t stick), place the pineapple slices over a medium heat and cover the grill immediately (you don’t want to loose that lovey smoke you created). Grill for 2 minutes, then flip to the other side and grill for another 2 minutes. The goal is to NOT over-cook the pineapple pieces, but to get grill marks, warm for the natural sweetness to come through and to infuse it with that smoke. Also grill the scotch bonnet pepper for a minute or two for a totally different flavor than using raw scotch bonnet.

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Slice the onions very thin, crush or dice the garlic (very small) and chop the shado beni (chadon beni or culantro). If you cannot get shado beni double up on cilantro. Remove the roasted scotch bonnet off the grill, deseed and chop finely. The grilled pineapple should be cut into bite sized pieces (like little pizza slices).

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It’s now time to assemble everything. Place everything (except the lime juice) into a large bowl and give it a good mix, now top with the lime (or lemon) juice and give it a final spin – taste for salt and adjust.  Try to use fresh ground black pepper!

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You can serve this up immediately, but Marc recommends that you have it chill in the fridge for about an hour or so to allow the flavors to develop and marry together. I quite agree as I had it the next day with by eggs at breakfast and it was stunning!

I do hope you give this recipe a try and for you traditionalists, be prepared for a whole new take on the beloved Trini chow.

Again..special thanks to Chef Marc for his wicked Applewood Smoked Pineapple Chow recipe.

Posted in Salads, VegetarianComments (1)

Caribbean Orange Pineapple Salad.

Caribbean Orange Pineapple Salad.

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If you’re familiar with what we call ‘chow’ in the southern Caribbean, you’ll see the same basic principles used in this recipe. “Chow’ is basically a sort of spicy pickle, usually made from a tart fruit like mango, plum, pineapple and when these fruits are not in season cucumber can also be used. It’s supposed to have herbal, garlic and hot pepper elements to really appeal to the taste buds.

In this recipe we’ll focus on two main ingredient.. sliced oranges and diced pineapple chunks!

 

You’ll Need…

4 oranges
1 cup cubed pineapple
pinch sea salt
pinch black pepper
1 clove garlic (crushed)
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1/2 scotch bonnet pepper

* If you’re using canned pineapple, fell free to toss in about 2 tablespoon of the juice it’s packed in. The more this marinates, the stronger the flavors will be.

 

Peel the oranges and slice them into 1/4 inch slices… I used seedless oranges so be mindful of the seeds if your oranges contain seeds. You can use any of your favorite citrus if you want to be a bit creative.

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In my case I used fresh pineapple as I try to keep away from canned foods as much as I can. The sodium and preservatives that’s usually added is something I know my body just does not need.. plus fresh pineapples are readily available and relatively cheap.  Peel, remove the core and dice into small pieces- see my note above about using canned pineapple.

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Crush the garlic, and finely chop the cilantro (in the Caribbean we’d use shado beni aka Culantro) and scotch bonnet pepper.

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It’s now time to assemble everything.. place in a deep bowl and combine all the ingredients. Remember to wear gloves when handling scotch bonnet peppers, wash your hands immediately after with soap and water and do not use any of the seeds if you’re concerned about the raw heat. I like using fresh ground black pepper and sea salt, but use what you have.. no need to go out and buy sea salt.

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Allow everything to marinate in the fridge for an hour or so for best results.. you can also add some diced cucumber and drizzle on a little honey to balance off the heat if it’s a concern of yours. Do I need a dressing for this? Nah.. this is a wicked salad all on it’s own.

 

 

 

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Caribbean Style Coleslaw Recipe.

Caribbean Style Coleslaw Recipe.

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If you’re concerned about the supposed heat or spiciness of Caribbean food, know that you can always adjust the amount of pepper and spices you use to your personal liking. Additionally, as we see with classic Jamaican jerk, you can always go with a pairing which compliment the dish and bring in that sort of cooling effect. This Caribbean style coleslaw is just that. A slight kick from the minced scotch bonnet and mustard powder, but the creaminess from the mayo-combo and the fruity flavors of the mango and pineapple will give you a delightful finish.

 

You’ll Need…

4-5 cups shredded cabbage
3/4 cup purple cabbage
1 cup shredded carrot
3/4 cup diced pineapple
1 cup mango (sliced thin)
3 tablespoon diced red onion
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper diced finely (no seeds)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Dressing…

1 cup miracle whip (or mayo)
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
3 tablespoon pineapple juice (or vinegar)
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 lemon (juice)

 

Note: Please remember to wear gloves and wash your hands with soap and water immediately after handling scotch bonnet peppers. I used Miracle Whip instead of traditional Mayo as I enjoy the tangy flavor of the whip, but you can use your fav mayo. IMPORTANT – this recipe is posted under vegetarian, so do keep in mind that you’ll need to use a vegetarian substitute for the mayo.

 

There are two steps to the recipe. Step 1 is to prepare the fruits and vegetables and Step 2 is basically making the dressing and mixing everything together.

For a bit of texture I grate 1/2 the amount of cabbage, then using my chefs knife I shred the rest of it. It’s also important to finely dice the onion so you never get a large piece of onion while dining.. can be a bit overpowering.

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Mix all the ingredients mentioned above for the dressing in a bowl (I like using a whisk for this step) and set aside. Then in a large bowl, place the shredded cabbage.. you’ll notice that I used a bit of purple cabbage as well. Don’t add too much of the purple cabbage as it will discolor the entire coleslaw as you mix everything together. Add all the other ingredients, top with the salt and mix in the dressing we made. Give everything a good mix and set in the fridge to chill a bit before serving.

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Remember to store in a cool place (cooler with ice) if you’re taking this to a picnic this summer as the dressing can go bad with excessive heat. If you have it in the fridge for a few hours you will need to give it a good mix before serving as you’ll find what looks like water on the surface (that’s normal).

With the brilliant flavors of the diced mango and pineapple you’ll find that this is not your basic coleslaw and I encourage you to use other fruits you like… apple, peach.. be creative.

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A Refreshing Mango Strawberry Salad.

A Refreshing Mango Strawberry Salad.

I was doing a chef’s table a few months back and I wanted to include a tropical salad in the mix, so Caron suggested I do a take on ‘mango chow’ and hinted that I should add a “Canadian’ element by using some sliced strawberries in the mix. It was such a hit with the 30 + people in attendance that I’ve now made it several times.

This is an excellent salad when you’re looking for something light and refreshing… but with a slight kick from the bird’s eye pepper and fresh garlic.

 

You’ll Need…

2 mangoes (ripe but firm)
2 cups strawberry
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 birds eye pepper (deseed and chop fine)
black pepper (optional)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (any salt you like)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 medium red onion

 

Note: If you don’t have bird’s eye pepper you can use a 1/4 of a scotch bonnet or habanero pepper and a few drops of pepper sauce (hot sauce)  is also a excellent alternative. If you’re concerned about the heat you can omit the ‘pepper’ from the recipe.

Prep the fruit. Wash, peel and cube the mango. Trim (remove the stems) off the strawberries, wash, pat dry and slice into 1/4 inch pieces. Deseed the bird’s eye pepper and chop finely and remember to wash your hands with soap and water immediately handling the peppers. Then it’s just a matter slicing the red onion very thin and dicing the garlic.

All you have to do now now is assemble everything thing in a large bowl and top with the salt, black pepper, lemon (or lime) juice and toss in the chopped cilantro.

You can serve this immediately, but I find that if you leave it to marinate for about 30 minutes in the fridge (cover with plastic wrap) the flavors are more pronounced. Do remember to give it a final toss before serving. You can add your favorite (firm) fruit to the mix and cubed cucumber or pineapple works great in this salad as well.

My Trinbagonian friends will be looking at this recipe and say “lawd.. Chris fooling people with chow”. True That! But to a global audience this is a great introduction to our beloved chow (a very spicy fruit pickle which blends sour or tart flavors with herbs, citrus and heat from scotch bonnet peppers).

Before you go, don’t forget to check out the latest cooking videos, connect with me on twitter and join our community on facebook. Oh yea! Leave me a comment below – it’s appreciated.

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Baby Pak Choi With Salted Cod The Caribbean Way.

Baby Pak Choi With Salted Cod The Caribbean Way.

One of my favorite dishes growing up on the islands was when mom would make pak choi with leftover stewed pork. The slight crunch from the pak choi (not over-cooked) combined with the flavors brought to the game by the tender pieces of stewed pork with hints of ginger.. I may have to get that one done very soon as I now have a craving. Back to the pak choi with salted fish recipe… This version is just as tasty, as I find that the bits of salted cod brings it’s own unique flavor to the finished dish.

You’ll notice that I added this recipe to the vegetarian section as the salted fish can easily be omitted with great results. I would just double up on the onion and garlic for added flavor.

You’ll Need…

2 lb baby pak choi
1 cup prepared salted cod
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper
1 large onion (diced)
4 cloves garlic (diced)
2 tablespoon olive oil

Optional – Cashews and/or sliced almonds

Double wash the pak choi as there’s usually sand/dirt between the stems and drain, then chop into 1/4 inch pieces (cut across into ribbons).  You’ll need to boil the salted fish (cod) then rinse and shred. The boiling will remove most of the salt it was cured in and help hydrate it a bit. If you don’t boil the salted fish in water before using it will be too salty for use. Watch this video if you’re unfamiliar with working with salted fish (click link) : How To Prepare Salted Fish. Try to purchase boned salted fish to avoid having to pick out the tiny bones.. but still keep an eye out for any bones which may still be present in boned saltfish.

Now heat the oil on a medium flame in a wide pan and add the diced garlic and onion. Reduce the heat to low and slowly cook for 3-5 minutes. Then toss in the bits of salted cod (any dry salted fish) as well as the black pepper and with the heat still on low cook for another 2-3 minutes The goal here is to get a ton of flavor created before adding the chopped pak choi.

Raise the heat to medium and start adding the chopped pak choi to the pot. It will wilt as it cooks so don’t get alarmed when you get the feeling it won’t all fit in your pan. Top with the scotch bonnet pepper and stir well. Do not cover the pot or you’ll risk having too much moisture/liquid form.

Cook with the pan uncovered for 5-7 minutes or until you get the desired texture you like with your pak choi. I like it with a slight crunch. You’ll notice that I didn’t add any salt to the dish as the remaining salt from the salted cod will be enough to season this properly.. but do taste and adjust accordingly.

If you want to add some cashews or sliced almonds, you can do so the final 2 minutes of cooking. This will add a lot of texture to the dish (and protein). Remember when working with scotch bonnet (or any hot pepper) to wear gloves if your skin is sensitive and do wash your hands with soap and water immediately after. Also note that the scotch bonnet is optional and do not include the pepper’s seeds if you’re concerned about the raw heat. The seeds and white membrane surrounding the seeds is where the majority of heat will be.

This is a wonderful dish to have with steamed or boiled rice, works well with roti and other flat breads and if all fails.. make a sandwich with it. Superb!  Before you go, don’t forget to check out the latest cooking videos, connect with me on twitter and join our community on facebook. Oh yea! Leave me a comment below – it’s appreciated.

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Festive Vegetarian Pineapple Fried Rice.

Festive Vegetarian Pineapple Fried Rice.

This Caribbean inspired vegetarian pineapple fried rice is a wonderful way to use leftover rice you may have in the fridge and it must be noted that it is not a traditional Caribbean dish. However with use of wonderful Caribbean flavors you’ll find that you’ll purposely make extra rice just so you can have this dish on the regular.

You’ll need…

4 cups cooked rice (day old)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 bird’s eye pepper (or 1/4 scotch bonnet)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 large onion (diced)
1 bell pepper (1/2 yellow + 1/2 red)
1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
1 scallion
1/2 carrot (diced finely)
1 stalk celery (diced finely)
1.5 cups pineapple (1/4 inch pieces)
1 tablespoon veg oil
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon curry powder

optional – toasted coconut flakes – topping.

Notes: If you’re using freshly cooked rice (or leftover), may I suggest that you allow it to cool in the fridge for a few hours. This will give you a lovely grainy finish to the rich dish. I used parboiled brown rice, but you’re free to use any rice you like.

Start by prepping all your vegetables as this is a very quick dish to put together. Next heat the vegetable oil on a medium heat  in a deep pot (I used a non stick pot to cut back on the amount of oil I use) and add the diced onion and garlic. Reduce the heat to low and let that cook for a couple minutes. Then add the diced celery, carrot and bell peppers and allow it to cook for 3 minutes (low heat).

Toss in the bird’s eye pepper (whole), grate in the ginger, add the black pepper, salt and curry.. raise the heat to medium and stir well. Cook for 2 minutes to toast the curry powder to bring out all the flavors of the spices in the curry powder. Then add the diced pineapple (you can use drained canned pineapple if you want) along with the soy sauce, sesame oil and hoisin sauce. Stir well.

Raise your heat to med/high and toss in the rice (note – if the rice was in the fridge as I suggested, take it out about 15 minutes before you start this dish) and mix well. The idea here is to warm the rice through and help it take on that wonderful flavor base we created. Let it cook for about 4-6 minutes, then top with the chopped scallion and turn off the heat. Serve!

You’ll notice that I didn’t use much salt as my rice was already cooked in salt and the soy sauce will contain much salt. Also notice that I didn’t cut or break the birds eye pepper as I wanted the flavor without the raw heat. But you can certainly cut them finely for that added kick.  This is best served warm so your guests will really appreciate the combination of flavors we created with this tasty Caribbean inspired Vegetarian pineapple fried rice. A great way to add extra flavors and texture is to top the finished rice with some toasted shredded coconut.

Before you go, don’t forget to check out the latest cooking videos, connect with me on twitter and join our community on facebook. Oh yea! Leave me a comment below – it’s appreciated.

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The Ultimate Pommecythere Chow (pickled ambarella).

The Ultimate Pommecythere Chow (pickled ambarella).

This Trinbago (Trinidad and Tobago) style Pommecythere Chow (pickled ambarella) is so simple to make that you really don’t need a recipe. However, for those of you not familiar with the whole concept of ‘chow’ will find this helpful. Chow in Trinidad and Tobago and many of the southern Caribbean islands is simply fruit (tart) or citrus, marinated in a spicy liquid. Green mango is certainly the fruit of choice, but you can use Pommecythere as in this or pineapple, sour cherries, cucumber, plums, apple, oranges and other citrus with great results.

You’ll Need…

5 pommecythere
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 lemon or lime
2 tablespoon finely chopped shado beni
8 birds eye pepper (or scoch bonnet)
3 cloves garlic

Notes: Green pommecythere are used for the slight tartness. pommecythere – Spondias dulcis (syn. Spondias cytherea), known commonly as ambarella, is an equatorial or tropical tree, with edible fruit containing a fibrous pit. It is known by many other names in various regions, including pomme cythere in Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, Guadeloupe, and Martinique, June plum in Bermuda and Jamaica, juplon in Costa Rica,golden apple in Barbados, jobo indio in Venezuela, cajá-manga and cajarana in Brazil, quả cóc in Vietnam, manzana de oro in Dominican Republic.

Wash and peel the pommecythere using a pairing knife or potato peeler, then slice into 1/4 inch pieces. Watch the video below to see how I cut through them – keep in mind that there’s a spiny seed in the middle. Place in a large bowl for mixing.

Then it’s just a matter of finely chopping the peppers, garlic and shado beni. If you can’t source shado beni, you can use cilantro. Traditionally, the pepper, garlic and shado beni is crushed in a mortar and pestle, but I like the chopped small pieces – excellent when you get bits as you eat the chow.

Then it’s just a matter of placing all the ingredients in the bowl, squeeze in the lemon juice and top with salt. Mix well and allow to marinate for a bit before diving in!

Remember that if you include the seeds of the pepper it will increase the heat level and if you choose (much better in my opinion) you can use scotch bonnet pepper. This chow can also be placed in a glass jar, top with water (adjust the salt to compensate for the added water) and leave to really preserve (soak as we say) for a few days. The Pommecythere will absorb the flavors of the garlic, lemon juice and shado beni, plus the heat of the hot peppers for a more unique and traditional flavor.

Before you go, don’t forget to check out the latest cooking videos, connect with me on twitter and join our community on facebook. Oh yea! leave me a comment below – it’s appreciated.

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The World’s Hottest Pepper Sauce Using Trinidad Moruga Scorpion and Ghost Peppers (Bhut Jolikia).

The World’s Hottest Pepper Sauce Using Trinidad Moruga Scorpion and Ghost Peppers (Bhut Jolikia).

At the time of putting this recipe together the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion was the hottest pepper in the world and in all honesty it was indeed pure fyah! I had never tasted anything as hot and some may think I’m nuts for using them in a pepper sauce. However there’s news coming out of the US that the Carolina Reaper and the Chocolate Bhutla peppers now holds the record for the world’s hottest pepper.

Every summer I do the best with the little area of free space in our back yard and do a little gardening. This year I was fortunate to get an assortment of very hot pepper plants from a local nursery and the crop at the end of the summer was quite plentiful. Along with the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion I planted the Bhut Jolikia, Chocolate Bhut Jolikia, Chocolate Scotch Bonnet, Scotch Bonnet, Habanero and the Seven Pod pepper.

So here’s my take on the worlds hottest peppersauce…

 

You’ll Need…

25-30 HOT peppers *
1/2 cup cilantro chopped
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup vinegar
10 cloves garlic
1/2 lemon

Notes. This recipe works great with any type of hot pepper, but I used a combination of Trinidad Moruga Scorpion,  Bhut Jolikia, Chocolate Bhut Jolikia, Chocolate Scotch Bonnet, Scotch Bonnet, Habanero and the Seven Pod pepper. You may need a bit more than the 1 cup of vinegar, depending on the consistency you like your pepper sauce. Also note that this is a raw pepper sauce, but you can certainly cook it after you’ve blended it together.

I went for heat and didn’t concentrate too much on added flavor, so you’ll notice I kept things basic, with the use of garlic, cilantro (wish I had shado beni) and 1/2 of a lemon.

Basically all you have to do is give everything a rough chop to make it easier for your blender or food processor to work it into the consistency you like. Remove the seeds from the lemon and cut it into pieces, including the skin. IMPORTANT Be sure to wear gloves, open your kitchen window for ventilation and DO wash your hands with soap and water immediately after handling such lethal peppers.

Place all the ingredients in the blender and pulse, then liquefy to a somewhat thick but smooth consistency.

For maximum HEAT, do include the pepper seeds.

* Liking the old school blender?

As mentioned above you may need a bit more vinegar and depending on your tolerance for salt you may need to adjust this as well. Store in a glass container (sterilize first) in your kitchen cupboard or in the fridge where it could easily last upwards of 6 months.

 

If you’re looking for some tips on handling such hot peppers, check out: Trinidad Scorpion Moruga The World’s Hottest Pepper.

Before you go, don’t forget to check out the latest cooking videos, connect with me on twitter and join our community on facebook. oh yea! leave me a comment below – it’s appreciated.

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The Ultimate Pepper Roti Recipe.

The Ultimate Pepper Roti Recipe.

Pepper roti is one of those delightful dishes which became popular after I left the islands for North American shores. I was only introduced to this a few years back when my cousin hosted us for dinner during one of our Carnival visits and I immediately fell in love with it. What a treat! Stuffed with freshly grated vegetables and creamy from the addition of New Zealand cheddar, the layers of roti is really something you must try at least once. With moms help.. let’s go through the steps in making classic Trinbagonian pepper roti!

You’ll Need…

Roti

2 cups all purpose flour
pinch salt
2 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon butter
1 – 1 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon veg oil

Stuffing

1 scotch bonnet pepper finely diced (no seeds)
1/2 cup grated carrot
1 cup grated potato
1 cup grated cheese (cheddar aged)
3 cloves garlic (crushed)
1/2 cup sweet pepper (bell pepper) grated

Note: for the filling you can always add ingredients you like.. even more scotch bonnet if you want it even more lethal!

First we need to make the dough for the roti (basically the same as we did with buss up shut or paratha roti) . In a large bowl place the flour, salt and baking powder and give it a good mix. Then start adding some of the water and start kneading… add more water as necessary to form a smooth and somewhat soft/firm dough.

 

Cover the dough with a tea towel or plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes. Then divide into two dough balls, dust your work surface with flour and with a rolling pin, roll out to a circle. With the aid of the pictures below and by watching the video directly below the post, you can follow along. In a small bowl place the butter and oil and mix well.. the butter should be soft. You’ll need a small brush (pastry brush).

After rolling out one of the dough balls flat (about 12-14 inches wide and 1/4 inch thick… the size of your tawa), make a cut from the center out. Then brush on some of the oil/butter combination over the surface. Now, roll to form a sort of cone.

Then tuck in both ends to seal. This will give the roti the layers that paratha or buss up shut roti normally have when cooked. Tap town to sort of flatten, cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for about 10 minutes.

Prepare the filling in the meanwhile (grate, chop etc).

Then place it all in bowl and mix it evenly so when we spread it on the roti we’ll have a uniform blend.

It’s now time to get back to the dough. On a flour dusted surface, roll out one of the dough balls the size of your tawa (tawa is the baking stone (iron) we’ll be using to cook this on the stove top). With your tawa on a low flame, brush on some of the oil/butter mixture onto the tawa, then place the rolled out dough onto it. The oil will prevent it from sticking, help develop color and give it a sort of fried exterior when fully cooked. Now top with the filling as evenly as you can, but leave about 1/4 inch off the side bare. This way we can seal the roti when we add the other layer.

Roll out the other dough ball the same shape and size as the previous one, then gently place on the one on the tawa. It can be a bit tricky! Then using a fork, press down on the edges to help seal the pepper roti.

By this time the underside will start developing some colour and firm up a bit. Brush some of the oil/butter combo on the top layer we just added, then try to flip the roti so the raw side is now sitting on the tawa. Turn the heat up a bit, so we can cook the inside of the roti with it’s stuffing. I’ve seen some people blanch the grated carrot and potato, but since we grated it finely.. you should be fine. After 3-4 minutes, brush a little more oil/butter on top and flip back so the original side is on the tawa again. Give it a minute or tow and you’re dun!

You’re looking for a golden crust, with a lovey creamy filling as the cheese melts and the other ingredients cook. Give it a minute or two to cool before slicing so you don’t end up with a mess! You can multiply the recipe if you want to make enough for  large crowd.  I guess this is a Caribbean version of  quesadilla?  Serve warm and do tell your guests to expect the kick from the finely chopped scotch bonnet pepper.

Side note: You can use a griddle or non stick frying pan (with low sides) to cook this pepper roti if you don’t have a traditional baking stone or tawa.

Before you go, don’t forget to check out the latest cooking videos, connect with me on twitter and join our community on facebook. oh yea! leave me a comment below – it’s appreciated.

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Traditional Coconut Chutney.

Traditional Coconut Chutney.

With mom and dad visiting this past summer I had the help I needed to put together one of the most requested recipes, coconut chutney. A spicy condiment which is an excellent topping for many of the street foods you’d find being sold in Trinidad and Tobago, especially ‘doubles’. Traditionally a mortar and pestle or ‘seal’ (a flat stone with a rounded one for grinding) would be used in making coconut chutney. With this in mind you’ll notice that we did encounter some problems getting the right texture, but we found a good medium in using the box grater along with a food blender.

 

You’ll Need…

1 dried coconut
3 cloves garlic
1 scotch bonnet pepper
teaspoon salt
4 leaves of Chadon Beni (culantro)

 

Notes. If you can’t source shado beni, you can also use twice the amount of cilantro. If you wondering why I needed help in making something so simple.. I hate grating, so I got dad to jump in with the box grater. Grated my fingers as a kid and the memory is still fresh.

When buying a dried coconut be aware of the following. Give it a shake and ensure you can hear liquid moving around inside. The dried coconut may be wrapped in a plastic wrap (especially in North America), this helps to keep them fresh and quite normal.

Using the back (NOT THE BLADE) of a cleaver or a large chef’s knife (a hammer works well also) , tap on the hard shell, to crack open. Do this over your sink so the water inside will pour out without having a mess on your counter. It will take a few hard taps to crack open. With care, use a pairing or butter knife (whatever you feel comfortable using), separate the white flesh from the hard shell. Basically putting the blade between the shell and flesh with a prying motion.

Discard the hard shell part and place the flesh (no need to remove the sort of brown skin on the exterior) on an open flame. I used my grill, but you can use your stove top (it will make a mess) or place on a foil lined tray in a high oven. Let it roast on the open flame, flip often and try to get it a bit charred. Will take a few minutes. It will take much longer if you’re using an oven.

It will go charred.. doh fret! This is exactly what we’re looking for. Allow it to cool a bit so you can safely handle it. Now scrape of any excessively charred bits and give it a good rinse with cool water. It’s now time to grate or you can cut into small pieces and place directly into a blender or food processor. Only after grating did we notice that the texture was not as traditional coconut chutney. So we then placed the grated coconut in a blender, along with the salt, shado beni, scotch bonnet pepper (add more or less according to how spicy you like it) and garlic. Blend!

If using a blender as we did, you’ll need to add a little water to allow it to work. Adding water is not traditional but it didn’t affect the taste at all. You’re looking for a somewhat smooth paste, but with a texture close to grains of sand.

This coconut chutney is meant to be very spicy, but you can control the heat by how much scotch bonnet pepper you add. Do remember that if you’re concerned about raw heat, don’t use any of the seeds of the pepper and do wash your hands with soap and water immediately after handling such lethal peppers. Store in the fridge for a few days, but it’s best when used fresh.

Before you go, don’t forget to check out the latest cooking videos, connect with me on twitter and join our community on facebook. oh yea! leave me a comment below – it’s appreciated.

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Roasted Tomato And Rice Soup, Memories of Tomato Choka.

Roasted Tomato And Rice Soup, Memories of Tomato Choka.

About 10 years ago I had my first culinary encounter with tomato and rice soup while visiting Caron’s grandparents and though I wasn’t (so I thought..silly me) a fan of tomato soup, the plump grains of rice in it got my attention. I could not believe I was asking for seconds even though my bowl was only half the way through. I had always reflected back to that dish, but for some reason I never ventured to ask Heddi (ma-mere) for the recipe. Somehow I’m glad I didn’t as when it came time to prepare it it this past summer when we had an abundance of vine ripe tomatoes in our garden, I decided to put my own twist on this tomato and rice soup I first fell in love with a decade ago.

Tomato choka is one of my favorite ways to enjoy ripe tomatoes, so I thought I’d mimic the same technique in making this rice and tomato soup for those rich roasted and spicy flavors. Basically, here’s my take on tomato choka soup.

 

You’ll Need…

3 large tomatoes
1 medium onion
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups chicken stock (or veg)
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper
1 cup parboiled brown rice
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)
1/2 teaspoon  brown sugar
pinch ground coriander

* If you don’t have access to a grill as I did, toss the tomatoes in about 2 tablespoon of olive oil (not mentioned in the ingredient list) and roast them in your oven at 400 F for about 30 minutes or so. You will notice that I used chicken stock, but the recipe is posted in the vegetarian section. For vegetarians, please use vegetable stock and it will be a complete one-pot vegetarian meal.

As with making traditional tomato choka I placed the ripe tomatoes on my grill, along with a whole green scotch bonnet pepper to cook. The pepper will take about 2-3 minutes (remove), but give the tomatoes about 20-30 minutes, flipping them so they char evenly. Yes, it’s normal for them to look burnt on the outside.

Remove the tomatoes off the grill and place in a bowl to cool. They will release a lot of liquid as they cool, thus the reason for having them in a bowl so you can save this lovely liquid to add to the pot later. When they’re cool enough to handle, remove the charred skin and give them a rough chop.

Heat the olive oil on a med/low flame in your soup pot and gently cook the diced onion, thyme and garlic for about 4 minutes. Then add the tomato paste and cook for another 2-3 minutes. By adding the tomato paste at this point the sort of frying will increase the natural sugars in the paste and give the dish a lovely sweetness.

Now turn up the heat and add all the other ingredients except the rice. Bring to a boil.

Wash the rice to remove any grit and extra starch. Do so by placing the rice in a strainer and run cool water over it while moving it around until the water runs clear. Or you can place the rice in a deep bowl, top with water, then massage the grains of rice. The water will get cloudy. Drain, repeat until the water runs clear. As the pot comes to a boil add the rice, then turn the heat down so you have an active simmer going.

Let it cook for 20-25 minutes or until the rice grains are plump and fully cooked.

Skim off any sort of reside off the top of the pot as it cooks and discard. Remember to taste for salt and adjust accordingly. If you used a whole scotch bonnet pepper as I did, you now have 2 options. Remove it so you don’t have that ‘kick’ or burst it open to reveal that Caribbean sunshine. WARNING! It will be live!

Top with some chopped parsley and get ready to serve with a thick slice of coconut bake or bread. This is not your typical Caribbean soup which is usually thick with ground provisions and salted meats (for the most part), but I assure you that this absolutely delicious, quite filling and a great twist on traditional tomato soup and rice soup.

Before you go, don’t forget to check out the latest cooking videos, connect with me on twitter and join our community on facebook. oh yea! leave me a comment below – it’s appreciated.

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Pak Choi With Smoked Bacon A Twist On A Caribbean Fave!

Pak Choi With Smoked Bacon A Twist On A Caribbean Fave!

This is a take on traditional Caribbean technique of cooking “bhagi” or greens especially in Trinidad and Tobago. You’ll notice that I also placed this within the vegetarian section of the website, so before the flood of emails… I wanted to point out that you can leave out the bacon and start with olive or coconut oil for additional flavor. So by simply leaving out the bacon you could have a delicious vegetarian dish.

Traditionally our mom would prepare this dish when she had leftover stewed pork (Stewed Pork With Pak Choi)  from the night before and it’s one of those dishes everyone of my siblings quite enjoyed with hot sada roti. Oh the joy when mom got us all to eat the same thing.

 

You’ll Need…

6 – 8  cups chopped pak choi (about 2lbs)
1/4 lb smoked bacon (I used smoked pork belly)
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
2 birds eye pepper (bird pepper)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 scallion
4-6 cherry tomatoes (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt

* IMPORTANT: If you don’t eat pork or prefer to have this vegetarian, leave out the bacon and start with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. If you don’t have bird’s eye pepper, you can use scotch bonnet or habanero (very small piece).

 

Cut the bacon into small pieces and place in a dry pan on medium heat. The idea is to cook until crispy and to render off the fat. Reserve about 1 teaspoon of the fat.  Once crispy, drain on paper towels and set aside.

Remove each leaf/stem of pak choi and wash under running water individually as you’ll find dirt between each leaf (natural as it grows), Rinse well and drain – now get ready to chop. I usually cut each leaf lengthwise first (about 1/4 inch, then make into a bundle and cut in the other direction the same thickness. Besides trimming off the very bottom of the white stems (discard), do use the rest of the pak choi (white and green).

Also chop/dice the onion, garlic, tomato and scallions (green onion) and set aside.

In the same pan you rendered the bacon (don’t wash) heat about 1 teaspoon of the bacon fat on a low flame, then add the onion, garlic and scallion pieces. Let it cook on low for about 3 minutes to basically soften up and create a flavor base.

Toss in the birds eye peppers (don’t cut open) then start adding the chopped pak choi to the pot and finish off with the salt and black pepper. It may seem like a lot at first, but it will wilt down (have your heat at med/high at this point). Give it a good mix.

The rest of this dish takes some personalization. I like my greens (still green) and not over cooked. So I let it go for about 5 minutes, then I topped it with the pieces of bacon and stirred well. The pak choi will release a bit of liquid so at this point you’ll need to raise the heat to high and burn off the excess liquid (took another 3-5 minutes).

The last 2 minutes of cooking you can toss in the tomatoes so they too are brilliant in colour, retains it’s shape and give the dish a brightness. Remember to taste for salt and if you wanted, you can certainly cook this a bit longer if you’re not like me and like a little texture to the pak choi. You’ll note that at no time did I cover the pot as it will only help to create liquid you really don’t need.

This is excellent on steamed (or boiled) rice, with roti and when all fails, I make sandwiches with this… lovely! If you break the peppers while cooking it will release the raw heat (though mild since they are bird’s eye) so if you like playing with “the Heat”.. break them open! BTW if you don’t dine with the swine, you can use some prepared saltfish (salted cod) instead of the bacon for additional flavor.

Before you go, don’t forget to check out the latest cooking videos, connect with me on twitter and join our community on facebook. oh yea! leave me a comment below – it’s appreciated.

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Jamaican Callaloo And Swiss Chard A Wicked Vegetarian Combination.

Jamaican Callaloo And Swiss Chard A Wicked Vegetarian Combination.

With both Jamaican callaloo (aka amaranth, callaloo, chorai or bhagi) and Swiss chard both in abundance in my garden this summer, I thought I’d combine them both for a delicious vegetarian recipe. Here’s the thing, DON”T for one minute think this will be a bland or petty recipe since you heard me use the word vegetarian. If you’re new to Caribbean cuisine be aware that NO recipe is ever bland. We love bold flavors and our food always reflect the vibrancy of our people.

You’ll Need…

1 table spoon coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cherry tomatoes chopped
6 cups Jamaican Callaloo (trimmed)
6 cups Swiss Chard (trimmed)
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/2 medium onion
4 cloves garlic
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper
1/2 cup coconut milk

Notes: You can also use vegetable or olive oil if you don’t have coconut oil.

Wash, drain and trim the Swiss chard and callaloo bush. With the Swiss chard do wash them thoroughly as the ribs of the stem can hide dirt.  With the calaloo bush, don’t use any tough stems.  Roll into bundles and cut into ribbons/shreds. Also prep the onion (sliced thin) , scotch bonnet pepper (dice), garlic (sliced thin)  and tomatoes.

Heat the oil in a deep sauce pan on medium heat, then add the onion and garlic. Turn the heat down to low so we can gently cook the onion/garlic. After 3 minutes, turn the heat back up and start adding the shredded callaloo and Swiss chard to the pot. It may seem as if it won’t all fit, but it will wilt down. Then add the scotch bonnet pepper, salt and black pepper. Top it with the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Now reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and cook for about 20-25 minutes.

If there’s any remaining liquid in the pot at this point, remove the lid, turn up the heat and burn it off. Yea, it’s that simple a dish to put together.

After you turn the heat of, drizzle on the lime (or lemon) juice, top with the chopped tomatoes and cover the pot. Let that sit for about 3 minutes before serving. For those of you who get that sort of itch at the back of your throat when you eat “greens” the lime juice will help with that, plus it will brighten up this dish as well.

Before you go, don’t forget to check out the latest cooking videos, connect with me on twitter and join our community on facebook. oh yea! leave me a comment below – it’s appreciated.

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Traditional Curry Pigeon Peas Recipe.

Traditional Curry Pigeon Peas Recipe.

I hated going with our mom and dad to pick peas (harvest pigeon peas) in our garden as it was always in the afternoon when my friends would be playing football (soccer) plus the heat between the trees (from the day’s sun) was stifling. You had to sort through fully developed peas and avoid the younger ones which were not ready for harvesting. You couldn’t just grab the whole bunch off the trees and make fast work of the harvest. The good part about this job was that if I helped to pick peas I didn’t have to participate in shelling… something I hated even more (I would eat tons while shelling so I always got into trouble with our mom) and the residue on your fingers was not appealing.

Peas season (as we called the 2 month period where pigeon peas were in abundance) was a fun time for me as it always meant getting a good dose of two of my favorite dishes.. pelau and curry pigeon peas, so when I got access to fresh pigeon peas I knew right way that I had to share this recipe with you all.

 

You’ll Need…

3 cups pigeon peas (shelled)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 medium onion diced
4 cloves garlic crushed
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper
1.5 tablespoon curry powder
1 small tania (coco in Jamaica)
2 cups water
2 leaves shado beni (chadon beni, culantro) *

* I used fresh green pigeon peas, but I know this recipe works well with canned pigeon peas, but cooked for a shorter time and less water. Email me if you need help with that. If you can’t get the tania you can use 2 medium potatoes.

Heat the oil in a deep saucepan on medium heat. Add the diced onion and garlic, turn the heat down to low and cook for 3 minutes. With the heat still on low, add the curry powder (I used a madras blend made in the Caribbean) and stir well. Let that toast for about 3 minutes. It will cook the raw taste of the curry off and waken up the spices which make up the curry.

Now add the diced pepper and give it a quick stir.

Rinse and drain the pigeon peas then add it to the pot at this point. Turn up the heat, add the water, diced tania, salt, black pepper and shado beni. Bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 35-40 minutes with the lid slightly ajar. If you’re using canned pigeon peas, cook for about 1/2 hr.

As the peas cook your kitchen will have that wicked scent of a good vegetable curry and do remember to stir it occasionally. The gravy will start to thicken up and if it’s till a bit thin, using the back of your spoon you can crush some of the now cooked peas to help thicken the gravy. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly.You can also turn up the heat to burn off any extra liquid.

This is an excellent side for roti, rice or bread, and if you’re like me you’d even treat it as a soup? As it cools it will thicken up a bit so do keep that in mind when cooking off any extra liquid in the pot.

Before you go, don’t forget to check out the latest cooking videos, connect with me on twitter and join our community on facebook. oh yea! leave me a comment below – it’s appreciated.

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How To Make Haitian Pikliz (Picklese).

How To Make Haitian Pikliz (Picklese).

The Caribbean is flooded with pepper sauces and condiments of all kinds as it’s simply part of our culinary culture. The textures, heat level, ingredients, ways of preserving and overall vibrancy of them all are unique to the maker and individual island. In Trinidad and Tobago you’ll find a lot of chutneys and amchars, while in Barbados you’ll hear the locals boast about their peppersauce. As someone who consider myself an aficionado of anything hot and spicy, it must be said that Haitian Pikliz is at the top of my list when it comes to spicy condiments.

The slight crunch of the vegetables, the heat from the thinly sliced scotch bonnet peppers and the flavors the vinegar (takes on) which is use to bring it all together is just outstanding (after marinating for about a week or so).

This recipe is dedicated to the beautiful people of Haiti.

You’ll Need…

2 cups shredded cabbage
1 large carrot
1 cup bell pepper (green, orange, red)
1 onion
2 scallions
6 scotch bonnet peppers
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
12-14 peppercorns
2 cups vinegar (see note)
1/2 lime juice

* 4 cloves (traditionally used)

Note: Add enough vinegar to cover the ingredients in the storage container. Allow to marinate for about 5 days before use. I was out of cloves, but it’s a traditional ingredient used in making this lovely pickle, so I would recommend using.

 

This is a very simple recipe to put together as it involves a couple steps and some patience (to marinate). Start off by slicing the cabbage very thinly, same for the all the other ingredients. You may be tempted to use a food processor, but I would suggest you don’t. The food processor may overwork the vegetables and you won’t get that unique size/shape pikliz is supposed to have. Grate the carrot and diced the garlic very fine.

Place all the sliced ingredient sin a large bowl .. large enough so you can easily mix everything easily without spilling all over the place. Also mix in the salt, pepper corns and cloves.

Get a fairly large glass bottle and pack in everything, then all you have to do is top with the vinegar, cover and set aside to marinate. You can certainly begin using right away, but if you give it about five days to marinate and really take on the flavors of everything you’ll be rewarded with the best pikliz you’ve ever had.

Since we used vinegar as the base, it will act as a preservative so you don’t have to worry about it going bad if you don’t store it in the fridge. However, if you do store it in the fridge it can last months. But be aware that some the heat will be lost the longer it stays in the fridge. Now if only I had some Griot to accompany this Pikliz!

Before you go, don’t forget to check out the latest cooking videos, connect with me on twitter and join our community on facebook. oh yea! leave me a comment below – it’s appreciated.

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Curry Jingi (Chinese Okra) A Tasty Vegetarian Dish.

Curry Jingi (Chinese Okra) A Tasty Vegetarian Dish.

As a young fella on the islands I knew this vegetable as the one our mom would sometimes use to scrub blackened pots with and to be quite honest, I was never a fan of it. As we’ve discussed before, that lack of appreciation quickly went away as I grew older. When dried the jingi or Chinese okra is commonly known as a luffa and used all over the world as a body scrubber, but our mom had one use for it.. scrubbing pots.

When still green (not fully mature to it’s fibrous state) the jingi is a lovely vegetable, with a mellow sort of flavor and works well as a curry.

You’ll Need…

2 lbs jingi (Chinese okra)
1 small onion (diced)
3 cloves garlic (crushed)
2 tablespoon veg oil
1 heaping tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch black pepper
2 potatoes (cubed)
1 tablespoon chopped shado beni (or 2 tablespoon chopped cilantro)
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper
1 cup water + 3 tablespoon

Note: Shado Beni (chadon beni) will also be called culantro and can be found at West Indian, Latin and Asian food stores.

 Wash, peel and cube the jingi into 3/4 inch pieces (make sure the jingi is NOT fully mature so you don’t have to discard the inner (fluffy with seeds) parts. I used everything.

Heat the oil in a deep sauce pan on medium heat, then toss in half the diced onion and garlic, turn the heat down to low and allow the flavors to build slowly. After 3 minutes, add the curry powder (heat still on low) and allow it to toast for about 2 minutes. The spices which make up the curry will bloom at this point. Pour in the 3 tablespoons of water as well as the diced scotch bonnet pepper and allow to cook for about 3 minutes. This will now take the rawness out of the curry. It will go grainy and start to clump – that is natural.

Now turn the heat up to burn off any remaining liquid and add the cubed jingi and stir well so everything gets coated in the curry base. Now top with the black pepper, salt, chopped shado beni and add the diced potato. The final step is to add the 1 cup of water and bring to a boil.

Turn the heat down and allow to simmer until everything is tender (lid on). It will take about 25 minutes to fully cook. The goal is to have the potato tender to the point where it will help thicken the overall dish. Taste for salt and adjust to your liking. If you find that it’s still a bit runny, you can turn the heat up and burn off any excess liquid.

This is a lovely vegetarian dish which is great with rice and/or sada roti and a great way to use a very underused vegetable. If you’re not sure where to get the jingi (Chinese okra), check out your local Asian or West Indian market.

Before you go, don’t forget to check out the latest cooking videos, connect with me on twitter and join our community on facebook. oh yea! leave me a comment below – it’s appreciated.

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Jamaican Festivals – The Ultimate Fried Dumplings!

Jamaican Festivals – The Ultimate Fried Dumplings!

My first true encounter with ‘good’ Jamaican festivals was breakfast at our friend Dino’s home in Portmore Jamaica several years ago. Imagine waking up to a full spread of festivals, ackee and saltfish, boiled green bananas and to top it all off, a piping hot cup of rich and creamy Milo! Moms (Dino’s mom) had us set for the day! When the day came for us to continue our trek through Jamaica (Ocho Rios > Montego Bay then Negril) it was painful to know that we won’t be waking up to such a wonderful home-cooked breakfast anymore.

My inquisitive self had to investigate this wonderful Jamaican Festivals recipe in more detail, so with some arm-twisting I got mom to leave me with some hints. Here we go…

 

You’ll Need…

1 1/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons cornmeal
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

* About 3 cups of veg oil for frying.

 

In a large bowl sift in the flour and baking powder, then add the cornmeal, sugar and salt. Give that a quick whisk to mix the ingredients, before we start adding water.

It’s now time to start adding the liquids, so pour in the vanilla and start adding the water a little at a time as you whisk everything around. As it stars to take the shape of dough, you will need to get your hands in there and start kneading. If you find that the 1/2 cup of water was not enough, do drizzle in some more. The idea is to work it for 5-7 minutes, until you have a well formed dough ball that’s firm dough and slightly sticky. Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and allow the dough to rest for about 1/2 hr.

After it’s rested, dust your work surface with four and divide the dough ball into 8 equal (as best you can) parts. Then using your hands form each piece into a cigar shape. Try to make them about 6-8 inches long and not overly thick. They will increase in size as they fry.

It’s now time to fry these until they are golden brown and get ready to enjoy some of the best fried dumplings you’ve ever had. Heat the vegetable oil on med, then gently add the shaped festivals dough into the pan. Allow to cook for about 2-3 minutes before you flip them over. In total you’ll probably need between 5-6 minutes for each to be fully cooked and take on that lovely golden color we’re looking for. Have paper towels ready to drain off the excess oil after they’re cooked.

These Jamaican festivals are just amazing and you’ll love the crunchy exterior and the fluffy interior will have a lovely texture followed by the flavored sweetness of the vanilla and sugar.

Do try to serve warm and if you want to get a  bit creative you can certainly dust them with some icing sugar if you want to make them more like a snack for the kids.

WINNER WANTED!

As I promised on Facebook a few days back, we’ve got a lovely 7 piece Tomodachi knife set to give out to one lucky winner. There was a lot of excitement when I posted that note, so I do expect to see a lot of entries for this giveaway. All you have to do is watch the following video and in the comment section directly below, let me know if the tutorial was helpful (basically what you like about it).

Your name will be automatically entered to win this beautiful knife set which I’m sure you’ll enjoy using. One lucky winner will then be chosen (randomly) and we’ll mail out the prize to you as we normally do.

Here are the rules pertaining to winning this knife set.

- contest is open to everyone globally (even if you won something here before)

- 1 winner will be chosen at random

- contest is open from May 30 – to midnight June 30.

- winner will be announced within 1 week of the official close date.

- the winner will have 1 week to contact us with their mailing address

- we will cover all shipping expenses (standard mail)

I hope you take a moment to enter your name as I’d really like to mail this wonderful collection of knives out to you. It’s simple, free and fun!

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Jamaican Callaloo (Amaranth) And Bean Soup.

Jamaican Callaloo (Amaranth) And Bean Soup.

I must mention that I used chicken broth in this recipe and you’ll find it’s listed under the vegetarian section of the website so please use vegetable stock to make this fully vegetarian as I didn’t have any left in the pantry when I was putting the recipe together. If you can’t source Jamaican callaloo (chorai bhaji), any ‘greens’ will work (spinach, collard greens… even the green parts of pak choi (bok choy) or Swiss chard).

The flavors from the fresh herbs, scotch bonnet pepper, onion and the textures of the sweet potato and callaloo, will all combine for an excellent Caribbean inspired soup.

 

You’ll Need…

3 cups chicken broth
1 can (540 mL)  Bean Medley
1 large onion diced
1 potato
5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
8 cups  Jamaican callaloo
1/4 cup parsley leaves with stems
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper.
1 diced sweet potato
2 scallions (spring / green onions)
1 tablespoon thyme

Notes. use veg stock for the veg version of this recipe. If you don’t have coconut oil, use extra virgin olive oil.

 

Start by prepping the ingredients.. wash, chop and dice. The sweet potato is peeled and diced as you would any regular potato and try to cube them in the same sizes. Remember to wear gloves when handling the scotch bonnet pepper, wash your hands with soap and do not include any of the seeds. That’s where the real fire is when it comes to such lethal peppers.

Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot on medium heat, then add the diced onion, garlic, parsley, thyme and scotch bonnet pepper. Turn the heat down to low and let that gently cook for about 3-5 minutes. We’re creating a lovely base for the soup at this point.

Wash, drain and trim the callaloo (cut into smaller pieces).. feel free to use any tender stems if you wish. Tough stems will not cook down and will give the soup a woody texture. Now add all the chopped callaloo to the pot and give it a good stir. It will wilt down as it cooks.

Add the cubed potatoes and all the other ingredients to the pot. Bring that up to a boil and reduce with the cover slightly ajar to a rolling boil for about 20-25 minutes.

I don’t like using beans straight out of the can, so I usually place the beans in a strainer and let cool water run over them to remove the grit and excess sodium in packed in.

Taste for salt and adjust accordingly. The vegetables will still have their shape so it’s now up to you (if you want to thicken it up a bit as I did), to use a stick blender and give it a couple quick buzz. DO NOT over do it. If you don’t have a stick (immersion) blender, you can take about a cup or 2 (not all) out and place it in your traditional blender and give it a couple pulses. Then return it back to the pot and give everything a good mix. If you don’t have either you can use a whisk or swizzle stick to break things down a little so it thicken up a bit.

 

This recipe is enough for 4-6 people as a starter and 3-4 as a full meal with some coconut bake or your favourite bread… please serve hot.

Oye! before you go… Remember you can watch the cooking videos on the recipe channel and we’d love to interact with you on our Facebook fan page. There’s a few thousand of us already causing commesse on there… so do check it out.

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