Here's another one of those classic soups you'll find being made on a Saturday throughout the Caribbean, with each household putting their own personal twist on things. While it's loving known as Red Peas Soup, the key ingredient in most cases is usually red beans (Kidney Beans). And though in this recipe I didn't use any ground provisions (I explain more in the demo video) it's also customary to add stewing beef and/or smoked meats as well. I went pretty basic to keep it simple for you to duplicate, while giving you maximum flavor and heartiness.
This roast chicken takes me back to my childhood days visiting my godfather in Princess Town (Trinidad). His chef would usually prepare this for us for lunch... served with steaming bowls of white rice and stir-fried cabbage, carrots and bell peppers. I still remember the fear which would come over me when his massive Great Dane named "Buster" would come begging for food from me. Buster was so BIG, it's rumored that as a kid I could easily ride him like a pony.
I'm a HUGE fan of spicy foods, so it wasn't surprising that I fell in love with Scorpion Nuts the very moment they came into contact with my taste-buds. I think it was a couple years back when my sister was here (Toronto) on business and she brought back a bottle each for my dad, sister and myself, from Trinidad. Very similar to typical spicy fried nuts or channa you'd get in plastic bottles in grocery stores or from road-side vendors throughout Trinidad and Tobago, but these were made with Trinidad Moruga Scorpion.
As a kid I never had much love for this dish, but as I grew older (and moved away from home / the Caribbean), Corn Cou Cou became a fave of mine. Since mom could never convince us to eat corn Cou Cou it was rarely ever made in our home, except for the odd time she would make it for dad.. usually served with stew fish. While the corn meal and okra are the 'constant' ingredients in Cou Cou, you'll find that the technique and supporting cast of ingredients will differ as you visit kitchens across the Caribbean.
You'll notice that I'm referring to all the 'greens' as spinach in this recipe, so kindly bear with me. I had good crops of Swiss Chard, Jamaican Callaloo (chorai bhagi) and Kale in my garden this past summer, so it was only natural that I did this dish.A dish mom would make for us, however she would use dasheen bush (tender leaves of the dasheen plant) and there were times she would add a bit of cooked yellow split peas to the mix (she had a name for that dish which I can't recall at the moment).
This is one fella you can take out of the Caribbean, but you can never take the "Caribbean" out of him. I've had the opportunity to dine in various countries / restaurants and while many of the dishes I've experienced we're definitely tasty, I will always head back 'home' to the islands when I need something comforting. Such is the case when I eat dishes containing yam, dasheen, green banana, eddoes, cassava and other ingredients we refer to as being 'provision'. I'll always remember weekends when mom would prepare this dish for me, my brother and dad.. my sisters we're somewhat picky eaters.
Every summer I try to plant many of the herbs, vegetables and peppers I use in the recipes I share, in the little garden I have at the back of our home. Nothing gives me pleasure than knowing what went into growing my food and there's always a sense of accomplishment as well for me. Every year I try to plant a variety of HOT peppers, ranging from the insane stuff to mild and flavorful. This homemade pepper-sauce is not about the mild - unfortunately. We're going for raw heat with the peppers I'll be using, However with the addition of the frozen berries things will balance off naturally.
This is definitely one of those dishes that takes me back to my childhood. Seafood was our mortal enemy (with the exception of fried King Fish) of ours when we were kids, however this fried dried curry shrimp was something we always requested from mom. Normally served with hot-out-the oven coconut bake. Unlike traditional curry shrimp where you'd normally have a gravy or sauce and sometimes you'd find pieces of potato in the mix, this curry shrimp is all about that rich and intense curry flavor.
I grew up on classic Caribbean ice creams which were homemade and usually flavored with many of the fruits that grew at the back of our home in Guaracara Trinidad. Coconut, mango, sour soup and barbadine (Giant Granadilla) were the flavors of the day. Unless it was the odd time mom would bring home Flavorite (brand) from the grocery store, where we'd get a taste of chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and the odd time .. rum and raisin. After having a superb pina colada in old San Juan (Puerto Rico) a few years ago, I knew I had to give this a spin in my ice cream maker.
This is one of those recipes I associate with my grandmother who would always have dried pigeon peas stored in re-purposed glass ketchup bottles, in a dark corner of her smoky kitchen (she cooked with an open wood fire - called a coal pot). While she would save hers for making stew peas and pelau, the odd time she would make this rice dish, it was a bit different than what I'm about to share. If you have a pressure cooker you can cook the peas in a much faster time, but I quite like this slow method.