Posts tagged “thehiddencook

grilled oregano pork, string bean salad & greek salad

pork platter & salad finished2

Hi all!

Today marks day 1 of my four week salad challenge! I must say it started off really well, since today’s lunch was wonderfully refreshing, clean, simple and oh so delicious!  The meal is very simple and like I said, clean but the preparation is the hard part (at least for me since I don’t get a huge amount of time to devote to cutting up things since my baby usually comes into the kitchen after 5 minutes of being away and cries out for me to be close) 🙂 sweetness!  Today was different though, I got some extra time to look after our meal since my little one was visiting grans and aunties.  So, I basically reverted to the days when I could leisurely prep for the meal and take photos for the blog.  Was nice!

trimming beans

string bean salad

This meal sticks very nicely to the rules I made for myself (and I hope you too) in the previous post.  The citrus guava cake is gone(I must say I think I’ll have to make this one during guava season since it was a huge hit with the family and friends) and vegetables and fruits have taken it’s place instead.  I got inspiration for this meal from my girl Ina (yep, we are good partners taking in the occasional drink and pork sandwich by Kep’s…hmmm, I wish!). Wanted to find another way to make string beans-got an intimidatingly large bag from Pricesmart recently.  I love string beans, but sometimes I get a bit tired of the same old ‘steam me and put some garlic on me’ routine. So today I mixed it up a bit.

What is great about this string bean salad is that the string beans really take center stage.  I loved the crispness of the beans set against the tart spiciness of the brown spice mustard I used.  I also love the sweet warmth of the roasted garlic in there and the crunchy red onions really added that extra punch. Additionally, this string bean salad can be served at room temperature or cold! How wonderfully great is that?

salad prep

salad dressing greek salad


The other dish I prepared to go along with this was a Greek salad- wow 2 salads in one meal? Good stuff.  Anyway, I love Greek salads, the salty creaminess of feta cheese set against the sweet mellowness of tomatoes and crunchy morsels of cucumber? Come on, it’s so good.  What makes it even better is that it’s so easy!  I mean, you can throw it together in five minutes-I know its my go to salad when I’m not in the mood to make an elaborate dressing.  Speaking of dressings, that’s the other thing I like about Greek salads, the dressing is ridiculously simple.  Now, I don’t know the exact definition of a Greek salad, but I know how I make mine.  The only really essential elements for any salad I want to convert to being Greek are cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions and feta cheese.  Everything else is fair game.

pork seasoning

I ain’t gonna talk too much about the perfectly cooked, delicately seasoned pork chops that went with these salads because, hey, this is about salads, isn’t it? It was good though, real good. 

Will definitely be making these again during this 4 week salad challenge 🙂

pork string beans & salad pork platter close

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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-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

 


chinese choy sum, snow peas & lap cheong 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

Recipe

Ingredients:

1 package choy sum, washed thoroughly, thick stems removed
4 lap cheong sausage links, sliced about 1/4 inch thick on the diagonal cross-section
1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger root
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp soy sauce
1/8 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups jasmine rice (or any other white rice)
1 1/2 cups water
salt to taste

garnish:

chives, finely chopped for garnish

Method:

Rice:

bring 1 1/2 cups of water with ~1 tsp of salt to a roaring boiladd 1 1/2 cups rice and return to boil
when the rice comes to a boil, lower heat to the lowest level your stove will allow
add whole lap cheong sausage links into rice & cover pot and let simmer for about 20 minutes
when rice is soft, remove sausages and let cool, then slice them

Choy sum, snow peas & lap cheong:

after the sausages are sliced, heat the oils in a non-stick pan or wok
quickly add the choy sum and snow peas and toss continuously while adding ginger and garlic
add in the sliced lap cheong sausages-vegetables are cooked when bright green and crunchy and choy sum begins to wilt
add soy sauce
sprinkle salt as needed and additional sesame if you desire

Notes:

serve hot on a bed of rice and garnished with chopped chives
Suggestion~ Oolong/green/jasmine tea serves as a beautiful complement to this dish. Rice can be replaced by brown rice or noodles depending on your preference.

thc-choisum recipe-finished thc-coisum recipe-bowl close thc-coisum recipe-final rice_1_1


more vino, more sushi, trinidad- a review

thc-morevinocollageWe have been patrons of More Vino, More Sushi (will be referred to as ‘More Vino’ henceforth) for quite some time now. We first starting buying their sushi when there wasn’t yet a San Fernando branch and we always loved it.
When More Vino decided to open up a branch in the ‘South land’ we were thrilled!  We thought to ourselves ‘great, now we would be able to get good sushi in south!’

We have never looked back!

The quality and selection of More Vino’s sushi is unparallelled to others that I have sampled here in Trinidad! With clean, crisp, modern interiors, a relaxed and unpretentious exterior, an extensive wine list (it is called More Vino) and friendly, accommodating staff, More Vino is sure to please even the most exacting of patrons.

thc-morevino-smokesalmonbites

I dined at More Vino on a Friday afternoon- just past midday.  We were a party of seven ‘hungry for sushi-thirsty from the midday sun-toddler-wielding grown-ups’. This never once intimidated our gracious waiter- a wonderfully pleasant, ‘willing to please’ young man.  Opting to dine in More Vino’s beautiful courtyard area, we quickly noticed that the passing traffic faded seamlessly into the landscape.  The decor in the exterior dining area- with dark wicker tables and chairs, grape vines enthusiastically growing towards the heavens anchored to weathered wooden columns, wooden barrels serving as plant pots housing lush shrubbery and unpainted concrete floors contrasting against More Vino’s trademark royal purple and neon green- can well be described an eclectic melange of Caribbean cool and Mediterranean chic.  It works.

thc-morevino-exteriordiningarea

The interior areas are outfitted with bar height modern tables and chairs- again in a darker colour palette-  a sushi bar complete with a sushi chef working in earnest to fulfill the desires of all patrons and a bar area- dimmed lights and wine glasses seemingly hovering overhead.  The downstairs area inside is quite small while being sufficient  which makes me feel comforted in the fact that More Vino probably followed the restauranteur’s golden rule, ‘your kitchen should be twice as big as your dining area’.  It works.

thc-morevino-barglasses

Now that I have painted the picture of what More Vino, More Sushi, San Fernando is like, let’s get to the good part…the really, really good part- the food.

I say without reservation or hesitation, MORE VINO’S SUSHI IS THE BEST SUSHI IN TRINIDAD!

I have eaten (boy, have I) more times there than any other restaurant in San Fernando…I have ordered, I have dined in, I have had it at friend’s get-togethers and I have shamelessly eaten leftovers from friends and family- it has always been great and has never once disappointed me. Not once!

thc-morevino-maracassushi

From sushi neophytes to connoisseurs and everything in between, More Vino has the pickings to please even the most discerning.  With items like the last samurai, sushi pizza and riceless crab rolls those who are hesitant to try or are new to sushi are sure to be converted into diehard fans. The volcano, iron chef rolls and a variety of sashimi and nigiri offer a wide selection for the more adventurous or refined sushi palates. The fish is sublime, silky smooth and buttery- I almost envisage the head chef in the kitchen bludgeoning a fish from some cloistered tank in a hidden enclave and serving it- a beat of life still remaining in its heart- to me, or anyone else fortunate enough to dine at More Vino.  It’s that fresh!

thc-morevino-sushilime

The portions are sizable- an average 8 rolls per purchase- served with the staple sides of wasabi and gari (pickled ginger).  The appetizers are good- edamame, dumplings, fried calamari and a variety of tempura makes up a list of about 12 items. Sashimi, platters, salads, soups and even pasta and steak(!) can be found on More Vino’s extensive menu. Something admirable, since sometimes you might find yourself dining with a friend who simply cannot be convinced to try sushi!

We ordered the following rolls- pizza roll (new), riceless crab, maracas, last samurai, volcano, sophie jan, iron chef and dickiemoto- a lot of sushi, but how can you choose just one? Here are a few comments about some of the rolls.thc-morevino-pizza roll

The pizza roll is particularly enigmatic in its ability to trick the taste buds- it’s flat rice base serves as the ‘crust’ while ‘toppings’ like salmon, cheese and even pineapple are baked on top and drizzled with a garlicky mayo.  The taste is outstanding!

thc-morevino-ricelesscrab

The riceless crab is one not to be dismissed as a ‘low carb dieter’s dream’. At the helm of this roll is soft shell crab tightly and expertly packaged into rice paper drizzled with spicy mayo, and topped with a sliver of red onion for that textural pop. The taste is exquisite!

thc-morevino-sophiejanroll

Sophie Jan is an unassuming roll- I picture ‘her’ sitting quietly at the back, waiting to be noticed. She is not to overlooked; with salmon, tempura shrimp, garlic sauce and the surprising addition of pistachios- the sophie jan roll is delectable!

thc-morevino-lastsamurairolls

The last samurai became a surprising favorite of mine within the last year.  I’ve never been one to shy away from the ‘real sushi’- raw fish- and stick to cooked favorites, but I had to try this one under the suggestion of a cousin of mine.  I wonder sometimes how I survived without it! The beef is cooked to perfection, the crab salad gorgeously tasty and the crisp cucumbers are refreshing and subdued. Definitely one to try! The taste is exceptional!

thc-morevino-ironchef roll

The iron chef is a deliciously simple roll- salmon, crab salad and tobiko (flying fish roe)- which brings the sea to your mouth. I love the salty taste of fresh sea water as the roe pops in my mouth! These little eggs seem to tell a whole story of the ocean when they are eaten. The taste is refined and buttery, smooth and velvety!

Noteworthy points

  • It’s probably best to make reservations on Fridays and Saturdays since the place fills up pretty quickly
  • the service is great and the staff are very friendly
  • parking extends along the streets and there’s always a parking attendant there to assist
  • two locations- San Fernando and Ariapita Avenue, POS
  • you can order online @ morevino.com!

Pros

  • Great sushi, always fresh and always good!
  • Nice ambience- trying dining outdoors
  • Quite fast with orders
  • Wide slection
  • Very good portion sizes
  • One of the best mojitos I’ve ever had!
  • Extensive wine list
  • Clean, professional environment

Cons

  • Sometimes parking can be tricky on busy nights but attendants are always ready and available to guide you
  • Can be a bit pricey (especially when you order hundreds of rolls!)

Rating – 9.75/10

I would definitely recommend More Vino, More Sushi San Fernando!

thc-morevino-volanoroll

 More Vino:On the web
More Vino on facebook (South)
33 Scott Street, San Fernando                       223-VINO
                       &
23 O’Connor Street, POS                                622- VINO
 
 

 

 


upcoming weeks

sky

Good night all.

I just got back from an amazing workout session…with myself! Yay for me!  It’s nice sometimes to just ‘catch up with yourself’.  The hours in a day never seem to be enough anymore and sometimes it’s really good to just take a deep breath and get some alone time.  I heard a person once say that ‘if you can’t be by yourself then you must be very boring to be with’.  I think it’s so true.  So, I enjoyed the time I had tonight working up a sweat and getting the heart rate up.

Aside from that I am making plans for my trip abroad with my family.  I am really looking forward to it.  I’ve lived abroad for a long time and traveled to quite a bit of countries but for sometime now I’ve been at home, here in Trinidad and haven’t traveled outside of the region.  So I’m happy and excited to see what our first ‘big’ vacation as a family will be like.  I also imagine that with all the excitement of being abroad, revisiting places and experiencing new things I’d be overflowing with ideas for posts-reviews, travel tips, food and general entertainment, so I’d be sure to post those, time-permitting.

I don’t know if I would be able to be as consistent with the posts- I post daily in case any of you were wondering (save the other day when I missed a posted grrrrr). I will be very busy with work and I’ve been using a small point and shoot camera for the last few posts which I’m not at all happy with.  My camera is on the way and I can’t wait!  I imagine I will be taking a lot more photos in the upcoming weeks.

More than that, thehiddencook, has a few pages that I’d like to update.  The Glossary of Trini Terms for one has to be updated and I try to include new words and phrases every time I make a post and there’s something applicable, but the page just needs to be more comprehensive.  So I am going to be working on that over the upcoming days/weeks so be sure to check it out-who knows you might get a laugh!  I’d also like to make a few more pages that I think would only add to the whole vibe of thehiddencook, so I’ll also be working on those.

For now, I guess shorter posts with limited photos might be in the near future, at least until I get my new gear!

Have a great night everyone…

Here’s to a wonderful, productive, better tomorrow!

Sincerely,

thehiddencook

over the islands