Food

pineapple black bean salad

sprouts

It’s Saturday night, I hear music blaring in the distance and I’m up, trying my best to post this recipe before Sunday hits.  I’m trying to do this so that it can become a part of your Sunday lunch/bunch/dinner.  It should be.  It’s as delicious as it is vibrant- what its colors will do to your eyes its flavors will do to your taste buds.  You simply MUST try this one.

Pineapples are a part of my life.  They are staples here in our house. I picked up two along the roadside (translation: I purchased them from a roadside vendor-many of whom are scattered along the way to Mayaro) when driving down to Mayaro a few days ago and decided to incorporate it into this lovely salad that I learned to make while I was away at school. 

pineapple bean salad ingredients_1closeup

Down here in Trinidad we have something called ‘chow‘.  Traditionally made using mangoes- the best are greener or at least half-ripe (I actually love sweet, ripe mango chow the best, but most will disagree).  Chow is made using the ubiquitous chadon beni (bandania) herb, garlic, salt, pepper, vinegar/lime and a tip of sugar.  It’s sort of a pickled fruit salad? I’m not sure of what’s the best way to describe it, but I’m going to venture out on a limb here and say that Trinidad owns chow!  Ask any Trini about chow and they will begin their description with a nostalgic glean and a mouth ‘full of water’. It’s ours.

before mixing

Pineapple chow has grown in popularity since some genius on the heights of the North coast road en route to Maracas decided to make it.  Since then many have perfected the art of making pineapple chow.  I was lucky enough to have a bit left over and decided to incorporate it in my black bean salad.  I would have to say the decision was a good one! I will definitely be doing a post on pineapple chow in the very near future.

dressing the salad

This served as dinner for me last night and part of lunch today.  I threw in some raw beets because I just love beets.  This salad is filling as a main but works really well as a side too. Of course, since I’m doing the 4 week salad challenge I can’t say I’ve used it as a side…it’s my only focus.  I ate this with grilled chicken breast for dinner and for lunch the next day I had it with a piece of steak.  I’d say the 4 week challenge is in full swing and it’s really causing me to come up with great new salads 🙂

pineapple bean salad

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citrus guava cake

guava cake:tea:slice

Ok, so I’ve been having dreams about guava.  I mean, literally.  I’ve been thinking about ways to use this delectable fruit, to the point of obsession. 

guava fruit

Guava is just one of those fruits-sweet, tart, soft, firm…a scent that is undeniable and attributable only to itself.  When cooking guava the entire house smells of it. Why isn’t there a guava scented air freshener?  Hmm, maybe one needs to be created?

guava fruit close

Air fresheners aside, I thought about guava and why I had never tasted a guava cake or any such delight.  Sure, in Trinidad we have guava cheese– a sweet, firm treat made from guava syrup infused with various spices- and guava jam/jelly.  These are both staples in Trinidad and in other parts of the region, but guava cake and other guava sweets just aren’t the popular.  If you know of or have made guava flavored sweets please feel free to leave a comment below, I’d love to hear about them!

It isn’t guava season here in Trinidad, but my family has a tree and we’re always freezing the ripe fruits in order to make juices, jams and ‘cheese’ so I was in luck when my thoughts happened upon creating a delicious guava cake. 

cooking guava guava puree

At first I wanted to make cupcakes but the lack of cupcake trays sort of ruined that idea!  I searched online for recipes that I could modify to create a guava cake and turned to one of my favorite people- the barefoot contessa-Ina Garten.  I always trust her recipes and never second guess them because they always work.  I chose her strawberry country cake as the jumping off point for my citrus cake.  I swapped the sour cream for Greek yogurt and upped the lemon and added lime instead of orange and never bothered to use vanilla extract.  My cake was a lemon/lime blend which I thought would both balance out as well as enhance the guava frosting.  It worked!
I used 1 8-inch pan to make one cake and 2 12-cup mini cupcake trays to make 24 cute little mini cupcakes.

guava cake w:cupcakes

guava cupcake

For the frosting/filling- really, the star of the cake- I spoke to a couple of professionals to get ideas and ultimately chose to do a sort of mix-up of many different ideas.  I considered a mousse or a custard (which I will definitely try in the near future once the guavas reappear) but opted for a smooth butter cream instead.  I loosely followed this recipe for a berry butter cream frosting and found it was very successful!

To top it off I decided to do some candied lime rind as my topping as the flavors spoke for themselves and really didn’t need any additions that might compete or subtract from their tart crispness.  I didn’t cover my rinds with sugar-a step that is quite popular in many recipes- since I felt that 3/4 of a large bag of sugar was, well, sugar enough. 
(Just as an aside-I can totally understand why many pastry chefs are skinny…after you see what goes into these little treats you might never sanely choose to eat them!)

guava cake w:slice

This cake is perfect with tea/ coffee or on it’s own.  The guava is bold and assertive, timidly supported by the fresh, clean tartness of lemons and limes.  The odd guava seed that has found it’s way into the smooth, buttery frosting is a surprising textural delight. 

guava cake slice with tea-sideguave cake slice with tea

This cake is a must for anyone who loves the taste and smell of guavas!

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vermicelli soup recipe


My grandmother used to make vermicelli soup on Mondays- she actually had a weekly menu where Mondays were soups, Tuesdays were peas, rice and some meat, Wednesdays offered some sort of pie and so on. I always kind of admired the whole ‘menu’ idea when I was growing up and later came to see the significance of it; being a wife and mother is hard work and I am all for changing things up so that life can be just a bit more manageable. I think my grandmother was on to something!

thc-vermicellisoup-ingredients

This soup signifies comfort food for me.  It’s not rich or fattening, it’s not fried, breaded or cheesy and creamy…but it reminds me of my grandmother.  It reminds me of her house- the smells, the dust, the way she would serve us this with soft white bread, buttered to exquisite perfection, the translucent white plastic bowls with little small stubs for ‘feet’ that she’d serve us this in.  I miss my grandmother- her wisdom, her quietude, the way she did everything ‘just so’.  Bless her, she was a lovely woman. 

Her food was always superbly cooked, just enough of everything good.  Never too salty or spicy and with just the right amount of sugary sweetness.  This soup was no exception.  I always remember being excited when she told us lunch was vermicelli soup- the long thin noodles bathed in a clear broth with bits of floating bubbles (later I found out these were bits of salt-butter micelles) and soft perfectly cooked potatoes. I don’t really remember there being any meat, but after making this soup I now know why!  The meat simply disappears into the background- a stock cooked for hours on end proves too much for the meat’s survival!

thc-vemicelli soup-goldenray1I used chicken- just like my grandmother did-and made a beautifully perfumed chicken stock, but if you have a good, high quality store-bought chicken stock that’s also fine.  I also made a few adjustments to her original vermicelli soup recipe- adding carrots and pasta shells for my little one’s enjoyment.
What’s great about this soup is that the broth provides a nice unobtrusive milieu to which anything can be added.  You can use different types of meat stock/meat- beef would be lovely- and add vegetables to your heart’s content- cabbage would be great. 

thc-vermicelli soup-garni collage

For me, I wanted to try to come up with a vermicelli soup recipe similar to my grandmother’s.  I wanted to stay as true to her delicious light recipe as possible. Since I never got a chance to ask her for her original recipe I had to come up with one that I felt would come close- golden ray salted butter and all.  I think I did a pretty good job… my parents agreed!
thc-vemicelli soup final

thc-vermicelli soup-close final

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vermicelli soup recipe

My grandmother used to make vermicelli soup on Mondays- she actually had a weekly menu where Mondays were soups, Tuesdays were peas, rice and some meat, Wednesdays offered some sort of pie and so on. I always kind of admired the whole ‘menu’ idea when I was growing up and later came to see the significance of it; being a wife and mother is hard work and I am all for changing things up so that life can be just a bit more manageable. I think my grandmother was on to something!

thc-vermicellisoup-ingredients

This soup signifies comfort food for me.  It’s not rich or fattening, it’s not fried, breaded or cheesy and creamy…but it reminds me of my grandmother.  It reminds me of her house- the smells, the dust, the way she would serve us this with soft white bread, buttered to exquisite perfection, the translucent white plastic bowls with little small stubs for ‘feet’ that she’d serve us this in.  I miss my grandmother- her wisdom, her quietude, the way she did everything ‘just so’.  Bless her, she was a lovely woman.

Her food was always superbly cooked, just enough of everything good.  Never too salty or spicy and with just the right amount of sugary sweetness.  This soup was no exception.  I always remember being excited when she told us lunch was vermicelli soup- the long thin noodles bathed in a clear broth with bits of floating bubbles (later I found out these were bits of salt-butter micelles) and soft perfectly cooked potatoes. I don’t really remember there being any meat, but after making this soup I now know why!  The meat simply disappears into the background- a stock cooked for hours on end proves too much for the meat’s survival!

thc-vemicelli soup-goldenray1

I used chicken- just like my grandmother did-and made a beautifully perfumed chicken stock, but if you have a good, high quality store-bought chicken stock that’s also fine.  I also made a few adjustments to her original vermicelli soup recipe- adding carrots and pasta shells for my little one’s enjoyment.
What’s great about this soup is that the broth provides a nice unobtrusive milieu to which anything can be added.  You can use different types of meat stock/meat- beef would be lovely- and add vegetables to your heart’s content- cabbage would be great.

thc-vermicelli soup-garni collage

For me, I wanted to try to come up with a vermicelli soup recipe similar to my grandmother’s.  I wanted to stay as true to her delicious light recipe as possible. Since I never got a chance to ask her for her original recipe I had to come up with one that I felt would come close- golden ray salted butter and all.  I think I did a pretty good job… my parents agreed!

thc-vermicelli soup final

thc-vermicelli soup-close final

 

find the printable recipe and more photos here


sick & voiceless

Hi all!

It’s been far too long. 
Over the past week I’ve been a bit under the weather.  I’m sick & voiceless.  Losing my voice is better than having to put others through the croaky voice that I had a couple days ago- but it’s also really annoying since I can’t vocalize to my little baby 😦

Anyway, I’ve been busy thinking about, well, really, obsessing about what stuff I’m going to do next on the blog and I’m very excited.  Have a few ideas of recipes I’d like to try out and share so be sure to check back in.

I just need to clear this yucky feeling and get myself back up and running and then all will be well 🙂

Wishing you all a wonderful week a head!

Made this baked salmon this week- it was delicious!  I used portugal juice to steam the mustard encrusted salmon and complemented it with sauteed spinach and mushrooms. The brightly coloured garlic roasted sweet peppers and capers were both fabulous additions to this simple meal.

thc salmon portugal

 


saltfish accra

scroll down for the printable saltfish accra recipe

Hi everyone!

Today is an extra special day- it’s my father’s birthday!
Happy Birthday to a wonderful father and an inspirational mentor!

I decided to make him a very special treat today- one of his favorites- saltfish accras.  My sibling hosted a decadent breakfast spread for him- eggs, bacon, sausages, homemade waffles and homemade hash-browns; I provided the accras as a little addition to all of the deliciousness!

thc-accra seasoning

Accras are the Caribbean’s answer to crab fritters; traditionally made from saltfish (salted pollock/cod) these golden brown, salty gems have earned their well deserved reputation of being delectable treats all across the Caribbean.  I’ve had them and heard of them on different islands- many times by different names like saltfish patties and fish cakes- but what unifies them no matter the island is their great, unmistakable flavor.

thc-accra-ingredientsThese are by far one of my most favorite foods from the Caribbean region- fried golden parcels of savory richness- perfect as an accompaniment to any breakfast/brunch or as a standalone appetizer with a variety of dips.  These saltfish accras can also be served as an alternative to a fish burger- fry bake providing the best ‘bread’ for these tasty treats- topped with a selection of condiments. 

IMG_2866

Today’s version of accra included shrimp- a wonderful, textural addition to any accra.  Conventionally accras are made using saltfish, but many have perfected shrimp accras, (unsalted) fish accras and any other seafood combination. Unfortunately, I don’t know the history of accras and why they are traditionally made with saltfish (if anyone reading this knows the history of accras please do not hesitate to post it in the comments below!) but I can imagine Trinidad in the older days, friends liming and looking for something to nibble.  I picture one friend offering to whip up something quick and having the cured saltfish on hand, some seasonings and flour and thus was born ‘the accra’. I like doing this- imagining the better, old days.

thc-accra-process

 

 

thc-accra final thc-accra-final detail

thc-accra-breakfast

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chinese choy sum, snow peas & lap chong

Scroll down to the printable recipe

thc-choisum recipe-ingredients2_1

Chinese choy sum (choi sum) is one of my favorite greens; every time we dine at a Chinese restaurant it is seldom left out.  Similar in taste to pak choy (bok choy), this ‘flowering cabbage’ has slightly bitter undertones which are easily complemented by garlic and ginger.  Although I stir-fried mine, you can also steam choy sum or have it soups- which makes it particularly delectable.

Lap chong (lap cheong )-a sweet and savory Chinese sausage can only be described as ambrosial! I am sure to always have some stocked since it’s prep time is so short and it makes any plain rice come to life when you cook them together…plus, it my husband’s favorite!

thc-coisumrecipe-lapcheong_1a

I purchased the lap chong sausages from Sincere’s on Cipero Street here in San Fernando and the choy sum from Hilo supermarket.  I always feel like I’ve won the lotto when I see freshly stocked choy sum in the produce section of Hilo; if you can’t get a hold of fresh choy sum, pak choy can easily be substituted.

Of course when preparing and indulging in delicious Chinese food a great accompaniment is oolong tea- today was no exception.  My husband purchased this wonderfully aromatic monkey-picked oolong from Teavana (yes, the tea is actually picked by monkeys trained to do just that!).

thc-choisum recipe-oolong tea

This meal is a simple, quick one which has become one of my ‘turn to when I need something fast and easy’ meals. It’s not surprising that this meal is one of the favorites in our house- a testament to simple, unpretentious food being the best. 

I am sure that it will become one your favorites just as quickly as it has become one of mine!

thc-choisum recipe-chopped ingredients

thc-choisum recipe-finished_1a thc-choisum recipe-bowl

thc-coisum recipe-bowl close

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