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.
In this the final smoothie in our "Week of Smoothies", I thought I'd round off things with one that's not only very simple to make, but it mimics a popular drink we enjoy in the Caribbean, Carrot Punch! With orange juice and diced apples, it's packed with health benefits and so refreshing. While smoothies are not something we traditionally make in the Caribbean (as I've mentioned before), you'll find that it's becoming very popular the past few years. And while we normally reach for tropical fruits, apples are widely available - to be honest I've had better apples in the Caribbean (imported) than in Canada.
As we continue with this week of smoothies, it's time to use a very common but ignored Caribbean (tropical) fruit, Jackfruit. A sweet (like refined sugar) tasting fruit, with a sort of custard-like texture, but the scent can be a bit overpowering when it's fully ripe. We had just driven through Fern Gully, Jamaica and had stopped for 'refreshments' at a road-side bar, when I gazed on a Jackfruit tree on the side of the building laden with some of the largest fruits I've ever seen. It's funny how whenever I think about Jackfuit, it takes me back to that Jamaican trip and the roadside bar where I enjoyed some of the most refreshing Guinness I've ever had.
Pumpkin and shrimp are two things mom struggled to get us to eat as kids, but as an adult I can't get enough. Looking back I wish I had started eating pumpkin from a younger age as the pumpkins mom would use came directly from the small garden we had at the back of our home in rural Trinidad. Grown organically and under the brilliant Caribbean sun... I still recall mom commenting "gosh this pumpkin cook real gud" every time she made a pumpkin dish.
As we close off another successful year of July's Month Of Grilling, I'd like to take a traditional recipe for making Geera Pork and tailor it for the grill. Geera (cumin) Pork is one of those food/snacks you normally associate with enjoying big-people beverages and can be classed as a 'cutters'. As you'd find Tapas in Spain, we have 'cutters' in the Southern Caribbean. To help the pork tenderize without having to cook for an hour plus and to add a bit of a fruity balance to the fiery scotch bonnet kick in the kebabs, we'll employ the use of a ripe pineapple.
Last weekend I was asked "what's your specialty?" in reference to what I cook and without hesitation I said it's not so much a dish or category of food, but technique. As we continue July's Month Of Grilling, I'm sure you can tell that I quite enjoy working with the raw heat of the grill. The essence of the fire changes the overall dish in such a manner that's almost impossible to duplicate on a stove or oven. While we're not using pimento wood to give the burgers that unique "Jamaican Jerk" depth, I assure you that you'll be amazed by what a simple jerk marinade can do to basic ground beef.
I may have mentioned this in the past, but growing up on the islands I never liked fish and I think the same can be said about my brother and sisters (mom had a tough time with us). While I outgrew this, I still think my sisters are not fans of fish to this day. My brother on the other hand, elevated his taste buds.. so it's not strange to see him at seafood restaurants in New York sitting behind a massive lobster feasting away. While my fav fish dish is my mom's curry Kingfish, during the summer months this grilled fish is something I do quite often.