Ask any Trinbagonian what’s their favorite dessert/snack and I can guarantee it would be almost impossible to find someone who would not say currants roll. A lovely flaky dough filled with cinnamon, brown sugar and currants.. layers and layers of island delight. There are some who like it somewhat wet or moist and compact and then there are those of us who look for that balance of perfect pasty exterior and a filling you’re only too excited to bite into. Before I drool on my keyboard, lets get to the recipe…
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter (cold, in cubes)
1/2 cup veg shortening (cold, in cubes)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup or more ice cold water
1 1/2 cups currants
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup melted butter
1 egg + 1 tablespoon milk
* Sugar for sprinkling (optional)
Notes. The key to flaky pasty crust is to use cold ingredients (water/butter) and don’t overwork with your hands as the natural heat can warm things up quickly.
Let’s start off by making the dough for the pastry, since we’ve got to give it time to chill in the fridge for at least 1/2 an hour (2hrs is best). Cut the chilled butter and shortening (place in the freezer for about 25 minutes if you want), then sift the flour into a food processor, add the salt and cubed butter and vegetable shortening. Remember it’s important to use ice cold water. Before adding any water, give the mixture a few pulses in the food processor.. until you have the texture of little peas. Now start adding the water, about 3/4 cup to start and work it until you have a dough which will start to take shape. Add more water was needed. (it will look crumbly)
Empty the now semi-formed dough onto a flour-dusted surface and (work quickly) shape into a smooth dough ball. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for about 2 hours.
As the dough chills in the fridge you can make the mixture for the filling. Very simple – in a large bowl, place the cinnamon, currants and brown sugar and give everything a good mix. If you want to be a bit creative you can certainly add some raisins and a drop of vanilla.. but remember that the vanilla is not a traditional ingredient.
It’s now time to put things together and get these tasty treats in the oven. Cut the main dough ball into 2 pieces, then roll out the first one on a flour dusted surface. Be sure to dust your hands and rolling pin with flour as well. This dough can be a bit sticky. Roll until you have a thin (less than 1/2 centimeter) rectangle shape. Now brush the surface with 1/2 of the melted butter.
It’s now time to add the lovely stuffing and roll into shape. Pour 1/2 of the currant mixture onto the flattened dough, but leave about 2.5 centimeters as a border without any. Try to make sure it’s spread evenly. Now as if rolling a fat cigar (very tight) roll into a cylindrical shape. Remember the tighter you can roll this, the more lovely layers the finished currants roll will have. Be sure to pinch the ends to create a seal.
Repeat with the next piece of dough and remaining currant mixture. And set onto a parchment line baking sheet.
Beat the egg and milk and brush the surface of each roll to give it a lovely golden color when it’s done in the oven. The final step (optional) is to sprinkle with some granulated sugar before placing into a 350 degree oven for about 50 minutes (middle rack). You’re looking for a lovely golden color.
The scent coming out of your oven will have you impatient (can you say eager anticipation?)and your children will be pacing and finding every excuse in the book to see what’s going on in the kitchen.
Allow to cool before slicing (the traditional way is to slice on an angle) so it has enough time to set and not fall apart especially if you’re using a blunt knife (I used a serrated blade). BTW you can brush with melted butter and sprinkle more sugar immediately after it comes out of the oven for that extra touch.
Yes, it’s that time again. I’ve got a wicked cookbook “Italian Kitchen – Traditional and contemporary recipes for perfect Italian cuisine” to give away to one lucky reader and I’m hoping it’s you. Each recipe comes with a beautiful picture so you know what the dish is supposed to look like, simple step by step instructions and best of all.. they’re very easy to put together. All you have to do is leave me a comment in the comment section below and your name will be automatically entered..
There are two bonus ways you can have your name entered in the contest, giving you 3 chances at winning. Along with leaving a comment below, go to the Facebook fan page and/or the Youtube cooking channel and leave a comment there.
Here are the rules pertaining to winning this cookbook.
- contest is open to everyone globally (even if you won something here before)
- there are 3 ways to enter your name (see above)
- 1 winner will be chosen at random (if you left 3 comments, your name will be entered 3 times)
- contest is open from April 21 – to midnight May 1.
- 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 cookbook out to you. It’s simple, free and fun!
Without a doubt, this will become THE go-to dessert recipe in your home as it is in ours. With juicy pineapple dusted with cinnamon and grilled to release it’s natural sugars and juices, then simmered in a wonderful rum / brown sugar sauce.. yum! On it’s own or as a topping for a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream, this grilled pineapple will excite your taste buds! Can someone please tell me why our mom never made this for us, when we had pineapple growing in our back yard as a boy on the islands? Mom, we need to have a serious chat!
1 ripe pineapple
1/2 cup dark rum
1/2 cup golden brown sugar
4 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Notes: You can top this with some toasted coconut flakes if you want to add some additional flavor and texture to this wonderful dessert. Additionally, you can add some raisins in the rum sauce if you’re like me and like rum and raisin ice cream.
I’m sure you can use pineapple in the can (tin) but I much refer to use a fresh pineapple, as long as it’s fully ripe. If your grocery store doesn’t have them fully peel and cored, here’s a quick video I did a while back showing how simple it is…
I must mention that if you’re serving this to minors or you don’t deal with alcohol, no worries. All the alcohol burns off during the simmering process… but you do get a wonderful flavor from it.
Peel, core and trim the pineapple into spears, then sprinkle with the cinnamon and toss around. I used a stove top cast iron grill pan for grilling (you can use your out door grill, indoor grill or heat in a non-stick frying pan). Brush the grill pan with some vegetable oil or cooking spray, then (med/high heat) grill the pineapple spears for 3-4 minutes on each side. Set aside as we get the sauce ready. Try not to over-grill or you’ll find the pineapple will go soft and loose it’s shape.
In a fairly deep sauce pan on medium heat, add the brown sugar and butter and cook/stir until it’s melted and starts to go a darker color and develop big bubbles (frothy). Takes about 4-6 minutes. Remember to keep stirring.
Now turn off the heat and gently pour in the rum. Have a whisk handy as it will clump and you’ll think it’s ruined. Fear not, keep stirring. After 2 minutes of stirring, turn the heat back on (the alcohol should have dissipated by now) and keep stirring until you have a semi-thick consistency. Have the heat on medium. Now add the grilled pineapple pieces to the pan and gently toss the sauce all over them. Cook for a couple minutes (until all the flavors blend and you have the consistency you’ll be happy with).
Your kitchen will have the wonderful scent of the brown sugar, grilled pineapple and the rum will just take this to another level.. wicked for days! You can store in a sealed container in the fridge for a week or so, just microwave to heat every time you’re ready to use. I average sized pineapple will give you enough for 4 people and about 6-8 people as a topping for ice cream.
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked for a cassava pone or “doubles” recipe, yuh boy would be rich. No Joke! Though I’m still to come up with a good doubles recipe, I’m very excited to share this tasty cassava pone recipe with you all. I’m sure “bake and shark” will replace the requests for cassava pone now that I’ve finally got around to getting this up.
As there are islands in the Caribbean, so too the many recipes for making pone as it’s lovingly referred to at times. In this recipe I’ve tried my best to cover all the basics to give you a mouth watering slice of cassava pone, but you can certainly personalize it as you get better at it. I do things a little different than my mom (who’s recipe I used as the base for this), and dare I say my version is better than hers?
3 cups grated sweet cassava
1 cup grated coconut
1 cup grated pumpkin
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoon melted butter
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon grated ginger
½ cup raisins
Notes: Some work is required as far as the grating of the cassava and pumpkin, but you can also use a food processor or purchase the already grated cassava from your local (well stocked) grocery store and those of us in North America, can certainly use pumpkin pie filling. I know it’s not traditional, but sometimes convenience beats out on tradition. Same can be said for using canned coconut milk and not worrying about grating dried coconuts to get the milk out.
The first step is to peel, wash and grate the cassava and pumpkin. The skin on both the pumpkin and cassava will be a bit tough so you’ll need a sharp pairing knife or potato peeler. Now it’s just a matter of grating both items. It will take a bit of labor and do watch out for your fingers when the pieces get small as you grate away. At that point I usually use a piece of paper towel to hold onto the small pieces so I have a better grip. If you’re not in the Caribbean or somewhere tropical where cassava is grown, you may notice that it’s skin may be waxy. I believe the cassava is dipped in wax to help prolong it’s shelf life when it’s exported so don’t be alarmed. I’ve been told that you can find already peel cassava in the frozen section of the grocery store, which works well for this recipe. But I can’t confirm the results when used as I’ve never personally used frozen cassava.
Now it’s just a matter of assembling everything into a thick batter. Start off with a large bowl (you’ll need a wooden spoon or whisk) and add in the coconut milk, sugar and spice. Give that a good whisk to break down the sugar. Then add everything else and mix well. In the mean-time preheat your oven to 350F.
The next step is to grease a baking pan/dish (I used a ceramic pie dish).. you can use cooking spray or a light coat of butter as I did. Now pour in the batter into the baking dish and place on the middle rack of your now hot oven.
Since every oven differs when it comes to maintaining it’s heat and distribution, you’re aiming for 1 hour of baking. However if you find that the middle of the cassava pone is still wet or not as firm or golden brown as the edges, do allow it to bake for 10-20 minutes more. I ended up leaving mine for an extra 15 minutes if memory serves me right. I did the toothpick test.. stick a toothpick into the middle of the pone and if it comes out clean it means it’s fully cooked.
It’s very important (and you’ll need to ignore the temptation) that you allow the cassava pone to fully cool before slicing.
Your entire house will be blanketed with the lovely aroma of baking goodness and don’t be surprised if your loved ones keep asking “is it done yet?”. I purposely turned on the fan above our oven (vent) to pump the enticing scent throughout the neighborhood. You could hear neighbors mutter “what is he making now”, area dogs were barking hysterically and people on their evening walk would pause as they walked by our house (with a quizzed expression on their faces). Yea.. the wicked chef is at work again!
There is a bit of work involved if you choose to grate your ingredients, but I assure it will be well worth the effort. If you’re not from the Caribbean and you do have friends from the region.. make one of these and surprise them. you’ll instantly get an island passport of choice (smile).
One thing you can’t get away from in the Caribbean is the love and appreciation of bananas. So this banana nut bread is a common visitor in our kitchen whenever we have bananas which are about to go bad (rude house guest though – never sticks around for more than a day and just disappear s without even saying bye). As a boy growing up on the islands I recall always having a bunch of bananas or plantains hung up to ripe in the shed adjacent to our home… watching it closely for the first sign of ‘yellow’ so we could attack. We usually lost out to the many birds in the area who would zero in before we would.
Like the banana fritters recipe I shared with you all a while back, this banana nut bread recipe is great for using ripe bananas which are about to go bad (over ripe).
4 ripe bananas
1/2 cup walnuts (chopped)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
4 tablespoon sour cream
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
You can also add some cinnamon and allspice to really give this banana nut bread that unique Caribbean flavor.
Notes: I used really ripe bananas (easier to mush) and it’s a great way to use bananas which are about to go bad. You’re probably wondering about the sour cream, but I assure you it will make this bread very moist and not dry as some banana breads are notorious for.
In a large bowl, place the sugar, salt and butter… we’ll cream it to a smooth consistency. I started off with a spatula but I opted for my hand mixer after, for easier work. If you have a freestanding mixer, remember to keep scraping down the side so you get the lovely creamy consistency we’re hoping for.
Now it’s time to add the eggs, vanilla and sour cream and continue to cream with your hand mixer for a couple minutes.
Now it’s time to add the dry ingredients, but before you do.. in another bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda together. This way they will mix evenly. This is when you would put the cinnamon and nutmeg if you want to add a bit of spice to the final bread. Since I didn’t want to over-work the dough, I did the rest manually with my spatula. Add the flour and in a folding motion.. mix well. You should have a smooth, thick dough by this time. I’m sure you can do this step with your mixer.. but on low speed and not for too long.
It’s now time to mush the bananas to add to the dough. In a large bowl I placed pieces of the peeled bananas and using a potato masher I went to work. It took a few minutes, but at the end I had a smooth banana mash.. ready for the dough.
Before we move on, it’s probably time to pre-heat your oven.. set it at 350 as we want this to bake slowly. Now pour in the mashed banana (puree) into the main batter and fold it in until it’s completely mixed. Remember not to over-mix.
Add the chopped pieces of walnuts and fold in, so every slice of the finished banana nut bread will have a little tasty crunch. I used a silicon baking mold and though I probably didn’t need it, I still hit it with a tiny bit of non stick cooking spray. If you’re using a conventional baking pan, do remember to grease with butter and dust with four.. or baking spray. You’ll notice that I had the baking mold on a cookie sheet.. that’s just for handing purposes (get in and out of the oven).
By now your oven should be ready… place it on the middle rack and allow to bake for 1 hour. After 1 hr it should be fully cooked, but do check with a toothpick. Insert a toothpick into the deepest part of the bread and if it comes out clean, it means it’s fully cooked. Due to variations in everyone’s oven… you may need some additional cooking time. This is exactly what I needed, so I had to keep it in the oven for an additional 15 minutes. You’ll certainly get mad having to wait an additional 15 minutes as your kitchen will have the lovely scent of baked banana nut bread goodness.
Allow to cool (if you can) before slicing and enjoy.
I’ve been told that I don’t do enough dessert recipes, so with some time on my hands I decided to raid the cupboards and come up with a dessert recipe to share with you all. This recipe is somewhat refined from the one my dad would do, but it’s just as delicious and if I may be bold enough.. better that his! He’s old school when it comes to making sugar cake, as he prefers to get fresh dry coconut and do his thing with the grater. Besides not liking to grate coconut like a mad-man (my fingers still show battle scars from the last time I grated coconut), I noticed that I had some per-packaged shredded coconut so it was going to be a recipe for sugar cake I’d be sharing.
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups dessicated coconut (unsweetened)
2 bay leaves
thick slice of fresh ginger
4-6 drops red food coloring (optional)
The first thing we need to do is start the syrup we’ll need as the base for this. In a deep saucepan heat the sugar, water, bay leaves and a thick slice of ginger. Bring up to a rolling boil and allow to cook until it reduces and gets thick. (about 5-7 mins). You’ll have to constantly stir with a spoon or a whisk as I did.
Now it’s time to remove the bay leaves and ginger from the pot and discard (if you like the strong aroma and taste of ginger and bay leaves.. you can always grate the ginger into the syrup and crush the bay leaves). Add the essence and stir in the dessicated coconut (shredded or flaked coconut).. now add the drops of coloring and stir constantly. It will require about 5-7 minutes (on medium heat) to get to the consistency we’re looking for.(you can always follow along with the video below)
The idea is to burn off as much liquid as you can from the pan, so you have a thick and sticky consistency. A good sign that you’re close to where you want it to be, is when the coconut mixture starts coming away from the sides of the pan and somewhat clump.
On a parchment lined cookie sheet I then took spoon full amounts and made small heaps to form little sugar cakes. This will need to set (cool and take shape) before you can fully enjoy them. Remember we just made a syrup with the sugar so this will be extremely hot… do have some patience. Your kitchen will have the lovely aroma and coconut, essence,ginger and bay leaf… and I’m sure you’ll and your kids will love this tasty treat.
* If you have a 1 inch deep pan you can pour the cooked mixture into it and allow to cool, then cut into even squares. You can also be creative and do different colors and stack them to form a rainbow effect if you wish.
Store in an airtight container for maximum freshness and do refrigerate if you plan on keeping them more than a few days.
So you’re confused if you’re not form the Caribbean, tambran is just the local way of saying tamarind. This was a favorite of mine as a kid in primary school on the islands. Today I still search them out whenever I make a trip back home or when I go shopping at the many Asian stores locally. The only difference with the ones that comes in a small plastic box at the Asian stores is that there’s no real kick to it and they’re really tiny in size. Probably the size of a small marble. But the ones I grew up eating every recess in primary school, where as big as ping pong balls. Back then I think we got 50 cents to buy treats at recess and lunch break and most of my money went to the vendor with the preserved fruits and tambran balls just outside the school compound. It was a tough choice to make when there were “penna cool” (freezies) on sale and the days were hot and sticky. The tough choices we had to make on our own as kids!
200 grams of tamarind (see note below) – a little less than 8 ozs
1/2 scotch bonnet pepper (or any hot pepper you like)
2 cups golden brown sugar
3 tablespoon white sugar (granulated)
2 cloves garlic
Note: Usually the tamarind (tanbran) we get in the Caribbean are a lot bigger in length and thickness than the packaged ones I got from the local Asian store. If you want less work, you can always buy the tamarind paste that’s already free of seeds and the hard shell exterior. I left the seeds in my finished tambran balls as I find they hold a lot of flavor and as a kid I like spitting the seeds at the end. But if you do, remember not to sink your teeth into them or you’ll be making a visit to the dentist. or cussing Chris!..
Start by creating the spicy sort of paste we’ll need to give it that kick … to know that we’re eating tambran balls. In a bowl (as in my case) or a mortar and pestle place the hot pepper, garlic and about 1 teaspoon of the brown sugar and pound to smooth paste. I put the little bit of sugar to give it a bit of grit to achieve a smooth paste.
Set this aside and lets get the tambran ready. A s in my case (since I didn’t buy the pulp) remove the outer hard shell and pull the ‘meat’ or pulp out.. try to remove that sort of stringy fibers that may be holding them together. You have two options now, remove the seeds or not. I didn’t as I mentioned in the notes above. Break up the pulp into pieces and add it to the pepper/garlic paste we made.
The next step is to add the brown sugar and give it a good stir, then using your hands start forming the ping pong tennis ball size. If you find that it’s not holding well, add about 1 teaspoon of water to the bowl. Remember you’ll be playing with extremely hot peppers so you may want to wear gloves. If you find that the mixture is too soft/runny and not taking shape, add some more brown sugar. Additionally if the room is hot they may give you a hard time shaping as the heat from your hands and room temp will melt the sugar. Place the mixture in the fridge for a few minutes and try again.
I was in too much of a hurry to eat these so my ball did not shaped well. But I’m sure you’ll do a better job than I did. The final step is to spead the granualted sugar on a plate and roll the tambran balls to give it that extra finishing touch. You can always set them in the fridge to chill a bit and remain in it’s ball like shape.
Remember, though this is basically a sugar rush waiting to happen, it will be spicy from the raw garlic and scotch bonnet peppers.
With or without some homemade coconut ice cream, this one will surely be a huge hit at your next BBQ. Maybe it’s just a casual weekend “lime” with friends and you want to wow them with a simple but outstanding dessert.
1 ripe pineapple
2-3 tablespoons of dark rum
1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
1/2 cup of whipped topping (try to avoid the canned stuff.. get some whipping cream and make your own – musch more tasty)
1/4 cup of shredded coconut.
Peel pineapple and cut crosswise into 6 slices. Place in a bowl and drizzle the rum and sugar over the slices. Mix around so every piece gets coated (would be nice to let it sit for about 3-5 minutes – covered so the rum does not evaporate). On a medium hot grill, place the slices for about 10 minutes, turning once. Remember to watch closely since the sugars can burn and become overly charred.
Top with the whipped cream and shredded coconut… feel free to add a nice heaping scoop of your favorite ice cream.