As a new immigrant to Canada, I remember the days when oxtails were just about the cheapest cut of meat you could get at the grocery store / butcher (they were practically giving the stuff away). Along with liver, gizzards, trotters, chicken feet, snouts and other parts of meats which were considered undesirable by the major part of the buying public, we reveled in the prices. In the Caribbean nothing goes to waste, so what most people refused to use, we had already perfected recipes which brought out the natural goodness of these cuts. Today, with oxtails hovering between $8 and $11 a pound, its now become something you buy for a special occasion or when you have a serious craving.. as in this case with me today!
Salsa is not a "Caribbean" type dish! Really? How easily we forget the Spanish speaking Caribbean, like Dominican Republic, Cuba and Puerto Rico. I started making this take on salsa for my girls after I read the label of the pre-packaged stuff they were buying at the grocery stores. Called salsa, but lacked any real flavor and loaded with sodium and preservatives. You'll notice that I've taken the technique we use in Trinidad and Tobago for making Tomato Choka and applied it in making this salsa.. for what I believe is the best salsa you'll ever have/enjoy! Ask my daughters and their friends.
This is my take on a recipe which screams St Lucia. After a full day of beautiful Caribbean sunshine and wicked heat, we ended up in a small family run restaurant in Castries St Lucia where it was recommended I try the "Green Fig Salad" (like a potato salad made green cooking bananas). What a delightful dish, one bite and I could see why St Lucians are so proud of this dish. The creamy texture, mixed in with the texture of the cooked banana and the slight herbal elements combined with the bits of salted cod was just perfect. So here's my version of Green Fig Salad!
This is NOT a recipe on so many levels, but an ideal dish for when you want something light and for when it's just you you're 'cooking' for. Just about every day I get emails asking for healthy recipes and with the new 'living better' regime I follow, I thought I'd share this one with you. Our family home in the Caribbean is surrounded with many fruit and citrus trees, so I have a natural affection for both avocado and grapefruit. Maybe in the coming weeks I'll share mom's recipe for one of the most refreshing grapefruit juices you've ever had (I assure you). You can easily multiply the ingredients if you plan on making this for a group. Not only is this a super quick salad recipe, it's vegan, vegetarian and gluten free.
As we have Caribbean Green Seasoning as the base of many dishes in most of the Southern Caribbean, in the Spanish speaking Caribbean you'll find Sofrito. An aromatic blend of herbs, garlic and seasoning peppers. A few years back while in old San Juan (Puerto Rico) I had a delightful rice dish at a small roadside vendor and she told me that the secret was all in the sofrito she started with. You will definitely find variations in the way sofrito is made as you make your way through Cuba, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic, as everyone tend to have their own specific recipe. This recipe I'm about to share is as basic as sofrito comes and a great starting point.
Our mom is an expert at making Caribbean style stewed red beans and I'm still to find someone who can match the way she balances flavor, tenderness and the perfect consistency to the gravy. A recipe which calls for soaking dried beans and slowly cooking then for a relatively long time. Time is something we never seem to have much of lately, so I've come up with a recipe which will cut the cooking time tremendously and give you the same sort of feel-good vibe as if you were eating traditional Caribbean stewed beans - stuff your mom or grandma would make for you.
We always seemed to have had Papaya (say paw paw or paw poi in Trinidad and Tobago) trees in our yard as kids growing up on the islands, so this punch (or call it a smoothie) as well as ice cream was always in the fridge. I still recall getting in trouble with my dad for cutting the leaves (with long stems) off the tree as we would make a sort of cave-man flute or whistle with it. In the process of breaking the leaves off, my brother and I would knock the baby Papaya off the tree and the odd time we would even knock off the more mature fruits.. yea, we didn't care as all we wanted were the stems/leaves.
Kuchela is one of those spicy condiments traditionally made with green mangoes and a must-have topping for 'doubles', saheena and pholourie (street food in Trinidad and Tobago). Being that I call Canada home and green mango is not something I can go in my back yard and pick off the trees as I did for my mom when I was a young fella on the islands, Granny Smith apples are my new choice. Though sweet, the slight tartness and sturdy texture of these green apples makes an ideal kuchela when you can't source mangoes.
My first encounter with this wonderful spicy pork dish was New Years Eve night (say old years night in the Caribbean) at my cousin's home. They had recently come back from Trinidad and while there another cousin of ours made a batch of this to partner the adult beverages everyone were partaking in. In Trinidad and Tobago we have what we refer to as "cuttas", as the Spanish have Tapas as sides for drinking. We have an assortment of spicy, fatty, fried and otherwise alcohol friendly foods which are a big part of our drinking culture. Chow is typically made from tart fruit (like green mangoes)and pickled with extra hot scotch bonnet peppers, lemon juice and herbs. But in this recipe we'll replace the mango with marinated pork, fried until crispy and golden.
Simple, Quick and Tasty! Three words which embodies this chicken recipe. I had a request on Twitter a while back asking for a simple but tasty way to do chicken in the oven, on those weeknights when you want to eat well but not spend all night in the kitchen. Though I've shared several oven roasted chicken recipes in the past, I went into my personal repertoire, for one I do on the regular for my family. The flavor you get from that hint of ginger, allspice and the sweetness of the roasted peppers, will definitely have your family asking for seconds.