General

sweet, sweet blogging life…

…where have you been?

Oh how I have missed you!

It has been far too long. I’ve been occupying myself with lots of crafts these last few days (weeks really).  My baby’s birthday is coming up and I’ve been designing and making (slaving really) over invitations, decor, food ideas…just about everything. Phew…it’s hard work when you want to do it all yourself, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  It gives me a lot of satisfaction doing these things so I’m always happy to do them.

I’ve also been thinking about lots of new ideas for food-both savory and sweet.  I haven’t done any ‘sweet’ posts since I started thehiddencook back in January so I’m thinking one is just about due.

I am very honored to mention as well, that some folks have written asking me about new posts! I’m so happy that my posts seem to be reaching people and that people appreciate the effort that goes into each and every post 🙂 So, thanks for keeping me on track and for checking in on me!

thc-manowar

 


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

 


back home and happy

THCmonkey

Hello everyone!

I feel like it’s been quite sometime since I’ve been able to post here on thehiddencook and boy did I miss it!

I had a wonderful vacation with my family and returned to a great reception- birthday celebrations and all!  One of my siblings shares a birthday in the same month as me and decided to return home from school to surprise us all!  It was wonderful and continues to be exciting.  I anticipate that since ALMOST everyone is at home now- still missing another sibling and family- we will be venturing into some other areas of Trinidad.  I am really looking forward to seeing some old, familiar places but some new ones too.

I also got my new camera!  This was probably the most exciting part of the trip abroad for me.  I’ve been eyeing new gear for quite some time now, but promised myself 8 years ago that I’d learn my first camera thoroughly before trying out a new one.  So said, so done.  Now that I’ve put my trusty old friend to ‘nap’ I have invested in a new friend whom I am sure will serve me well!  I am learning new things every single day about photography and hope that one day I’d be able to take beautiful photos and touch on mastering some of the tricks and techniques I so desire to.

Anyway, with that little intro into what’s been going on on my end, I’m just going to use this post to put up some of the photos I’ve taken so far.  I hope you all enjoy them!

I encourage comments and constructive criticism so that I could better learn my downfalls and improve upon my techniques.

A review on David’s Tea follows…

THCbattimamzelle THC orchid

 


shell title

Hi everyone!

I’m back on thehiddencook and will be a lot more diligent from now on;)

I’ve been very busy occupying myself with lots of different things lately so it’s been a bit tough to stay on top of things. Organization is key and sometimes I feel like I need an organizer to swoop in and just kind of put things in perspective for me!

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Thanks to all of you wonderful people out here in ‘blogoland’ who keep me on track and who make sure I stick with everything- the blog, the healthy eating, the photos, everything!

latest updates-salads, soups and the such

Anyway, it’s been a few weeks since I completed the 4 week salad challenge. Let me tell you, doing a salad challenge for 4 weeks is tough! PHEEEEWWWW! When you’re surrounded with delicious food and you have to dine out and special occasions arise, it’s really tough to stay on track! I managed to stick with it FOR THE MOST PART, but I have to confess, I wasn’t able to be as stringent as I’d have hoped :/ Someone commented about the salads I had done, if they were specific or if I just sort of used anything. I used any and everything. I find that making my own salad dressing is really the only way to go about this so just whip something tasty up using balsamic vinegar (I also got a raspberry flavored one from HiLo), olive oil, a little honey and salt and pepper. That’s the basic one (really basic is using plain lemon juice over a Greek style type salad), but you can really get creative using feta cheese, parmesan cheese, different herbs and spices. It’s really about getting creative and doing what you like! I tried many different things over the 4 week period and what I really learned was that you can make vegetables as tasty and as exciting as you’d like to! I also learned that I don’t always need to have meat on my plate- this is a big one since I’m a self professed meat lover! I didn’t always miss the meat especially if I had beans in my salad- channa (chick peas) are the best! Soups are and will always be my best friend! I have made tons of soups during the 4 week challenge and still continue to make them. What’s really helpful is that I really load them full of vegetables since I had made that one of the rules of challenge and that only makes soup that more delicious!

Many photos just didn’t make it into the blog in the last few weeks because I had been preparing for e big day- our little one turned 2! Since I decided to prepare many different dishes at home I had honestly been so caught up with that that I didn’t have the time to photograph every single meal we had made during the weeks leading up the the big birthday. As I said, I am back on track now, so stay posted for much more here at thehiddencook!

For now, click away to learn about the BEST (and I am not kidding you) tasting green juice EVER!


greenjuice final-closeok, as promised in my last post, I have the answer to the best tasting green juice ever to exist!

My husband and I came up with this one and I have to say it’s one of our favourites! We love it, our child loves it and everyone else-from the old to the young, the healthy to unhealthy- all LOVE it!
What I love about juicing is not only how hard it is to mess it up, but how easy the whole process is! I’ve done some really lame juices, but the one thing to be remembered is that if you have lame, stale, old ingredients you will get lame, stale juices. Don’t forget that golden rule- always choose the freshest, crunchiest fruits and vegetables and you really can never go wrong! greenjuice ingredients

This juice is specifically for those of you reading the blog from Trinidad-or the rest of the Caribbean where portugals are abundant. If you can’t get hold of portugals (sorry guys) then choose clementines or tangerines. I am not putting in the quantities because it all depends on how much juice you want to make. I think it’s pretty easy to sort of gauge how many of each fruit you’d need based on what you see coming out of you juicer.portugal close

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I don’t use a blender. I have a Black amp; Decker juice extractor, which I love. I mean, I wish the feeding tube were larger and the cup a bit bigger, but I make do. I don’t believe that you have to have any specific model or brand to get the best tasting juice- but hey, I’m no connoisseur! I don’t think anyone has to go out there and purchase the biggest, most expensive junk to get the best tasting stuff (but then again, I make cakes, breads and everything else with my hands). That being said, you can blend the ingredients, you’d just have to add in some water. I’ve done a few juices by blending and by juicing and I can say I prefer some juiced and others blended (for instance, I do a minty watermelon juice that is fine when blended, but I’ve done others containing ‘harder’ fruits and just can’t get into the chunky bits). It’s all about your personal preference.

apple closeAnyway, without further delay here is the best tasting green juice you’ll ever have! Please try it and post a comment, I’d love to hear if you’ve become a green juice believer!

greenjuice final_1

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saltedcaramelmacarons

Happy Sunday everyone!

Just returned from a lovely, heavenly family vacation! I don’t think we’ve all been on a ‘full family’ vacation in years and I can certainly say, I was very happy to be a part of it! The babies- 3 now in the family- all had a sunny time 🙂

Today I’m writing about the elusive french macaron- this will be a 2 part post since I shall include the recipe in the second part to this post. Macarons are different from macaroons in case anyone was wondering -macarons (pr. mac-a-raw (sorta kinda) are little delicate french biscuits made of egg whites and almond flour. The ingredients are basic, but the technique is anything but!

Traditionally these little drops from heaven were called ‘puffs’ and were made and sold unfilled. That was of course, until the creator of Laduree (Paris) decided to fill them making them all the more delicious!

I am obsessed with macarons! I confess and wholeheartedly, un-embarrassingly admit it! Their light, slightly crisp nature with an understated grittiness thanks to almond meal, make them perfect little treats. Their fillings can range from the complex gastronomic creations of mad scientists to the delicate simplicity of a baking neophyte, yet their ability to satisfy one’s desire for a not-so-sweet dessert is almost unparalleled.

I have attempted these about 5 times now and I have to say that I have only ever failed once (phew, thank God!). I tried them for the first time around 2 1/2years ago, while I was pregnant with our baby and although the taste matched those that I had sampled, they fell flat (due to over mixing presumably). Today I have made quite a few successful batches and I am pleased with the recipe and technique I have developed.

Although this post does not include a recipe, here are some pointers on how to create great macaron shells.

http://www.bellayoscura.com/music.html
whippedwhites

  • use slightly less almond meal : powdered sugar. I use 1 1/4 cups almond meal to 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • aged egg whites are NOT necessary. I am testing this theory once again just to be sure, but so far it hasn’t made a difference. I will update this once I test it one more time, just to be sure.
  • egg whites have to be at room temperature, cold egg whites just don’t whip up the same
  • resting the piped macarons before baking them DOES make a difference. I have found that even 15 minutes rest time is enough to make beautiful macarons
  • never bake macarons on 2 different oven shelves at the same time. it just doesn’t work. these delicate biscuits deserve their alone time in the oven. keep it simple
  • you MUST bang the trays on the table before baking. it just isn’t as light if you don’t
  • never let any oils/egg yolks come into contact with your egg whites-this marks the end of your perfectly whipped whites!
  • leave your macarons for atleast 1 day to mature before serving them. You will be shocked how much better they taste!

stay tuned for part 2…


lambnavarin-served_1.Happy Monday everyone!

Hope the weekend went well for everyone!

Just to let you all know, I’ve been working really, really hard in the kitchen. Been doing lots of macarons, experimenting with different fillings and working on some nut-free options. I will definitely be posting part II to my elusive french macaron in the very near future so please keep coming back to see those updates.

For now, let me talk about lamb navarin. This is a meal that I consider ‘comfort food’; it may not be a Caribbean dish, but it’s raw rustic taste and flavor really makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
I first made this dish, word for word from Julia Child’s mastering the art of french cooking, about 9 months ago and have dreamed of making it again ever since- it’s that good. ingredients-navarinlambshoulder-lambnavarin.Lamb is one of my favourite meats, but it’s one that I rarely cook. Whenever I purchase a new cookbook one of the first things I look for is lamb. I’m always looking for lamb recipes, new ways to showcase the sweet, distinct taste of this tender delicious meat. I have to admit, every single lamb recipe that I’ve tried, I’ve loved! I don’t take credit for it, I think it’s just easy to work with such a naturally great tasting meat!

The Process…

flour coated lamb_1. http://www.bellayoscura.com/bella_y_oscura–juan_colomer_e.html
vegetables-lambnavarin-This recipe is adapted from Julia Child’s original lamb navarin- a few tweaks here and there, in an effort to simplify the original version. I opted to use lamb shoulder (centre cut (since it’s the easiest to come by, I get mine from Pricesmart)) and I leave the bone in. The first time I made this I had removed all bones and used them to make lamb stock (which I froze and used this time around). I have to say, I prefer the bones in this meal; it makes it all the more rustic and sort of forces you to savor the whole meal. I didn’t have petit pois this time, so I just omitted them, but they do add a nice little addition. Usually I serve lamb navarin with plain white rice, but this time I opted for a delicious wild rice blend cooked in some left over lamb stock…it was sublime!

lambnavarinfiMake this meal ahead of time and you can reheat it in the oven- the taste only improves as the days go by- the meat and vegetables absorbing the flavors more and more as time passes. I cook with cream sherry and feel that this addition really adds that ‘umph’ to the whole meal. This is one meal that can definitely bring the whole family to the table!

Enjoy and savour!

lambtastylambnavarindetail

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