TinTin (Christina), my dad's mom guarded her dried pigeon peas like they do gold at Ft Knox. It was common knowledge that if peas were out of season, she had some stored in airtight bottles somewhere in the dimly lit-smoky kitchen of hers. I still recall the scent of that kitchen, a mixture of the musty tobacco she always had drying in the ceiling and the smoke from the different types of hard-wood she would use to fire-up the coal pot she would use to to cook her meals. Not to mention the actual smoke from the pipe she smoked all her life! To this day, I'm still to taste a stewed dried pigeon peas like the stew this woman would make on that coal pot, in that simple kitchen.
Dasheen Bush is basically the leaves (usually the tender ones) of the Dasheen plant (Taro) which is used mainly in the Southern Caribbean for making Callaloo or as in this case, stewed down on it's own like you would spinach or any other 'greens'. With the aid of coconut milk and a few simple ingredients and what you'd think is a simple vegetarian dish, is something very tasty and in my case, quite addictive. It's was one of the few vegetarian type dishes mom never had a hard time serving us as kids. With Sada roti, flour dumplings or with split peas dhal and rice... iman was in heaven.
There are several variations to fish soups as you make your way up and down the island chain of the Caribbean, so there's no surprise that I have several recipes in my repertoire. This version is very similar to the fish broff (broth) you'd find in Trinidad and Tobago, which I shared a few years back. Fairly light when compared to the thick stew-like soups we enjoy in the Caribbean, but you can certainly add yams, green cooking bananas, sweet potatoes, dasheen and other ingredients if you like.
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.
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.
When you grow up in the 'country' areas on the islands, you're sure to have a kitchen garden where most of the vegetables, herbs and peppers you use in in the kitchen, comes directly from. My brother and I were gardeners from a very young age (not by choice.. especially when we wanted to run football and not tend to plants). Looking back, it seems we always had some sort of beans planted in that small plot of land at the back of our home. Maybe this is where my love for beans of all types originated? In this recipe we'll use two of my favorite ingredients, string beans and shrimp along with that lovely curry base, this will definitely be delightful.
With the increase in demand for both vegetarian and gluten free recipes, I thought I'd take one of the most traditional dishes of the Southern Caribbean and remove a key ingredient - meat! Meat lovers can tune in here for the Chicken pelau video. This one pot dish was a must whenever we'd spend a day at the beach, go to the Oval to watch touring cricket teams and whenever pigeon peas was in season. Back then freshly shelled peas were used, but today living in North America I have no choice but to reach for the canned stuff. I assure you, you won't know there isn't meat in this dish when it's done 'bubblin' and you serve yourself a plate.
Most people who are new to Caribbean cuisine at one point or the other, always end up trying to make Jamaican style rice and peas (peas and rice?). Sadly if you're not seasoned at making rice and peas, it can be a bit challenging. You always risk ending up with rice which is overcooked and soggy. With this in mind, I decided to share a fool-proof way of cooking Jamaican rice and peas, with the same flavors and texture you'd get from the conventional method of cooking this dish. However we'll employ the use of a rice cooker!
I was recently challenged to put together a coconut rice recipe, however the recipe must be foolproof. According to the person who emailed me, they have a difficult time cooking rice as it usually ends up a messy mush in the pot or under-cooked. They were looking for perfectly cooked coconut rice, grainy in texture and rich in Caribbean coconut flavors. Being a rice dish I thought it would be a good time to also have it appeal to vegetarians and friends on a gluten free diet at the same time.