Posts tagged “trinidad food

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

[yumprint-recipe id=’8′] 


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

[yumprint-recipe id=’6′]thc-vermicellisoup-final


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


trini choka & sada roti

thcpimentogarlicfimg

Ok, so I’ve been blogging for a bit now and haven’t really showcased any authentic Trini food yet so I thought when better to start than right now?!

My husband is at home these days and that makes me extremely happy!  He loves Indian food (here in Trinidad we have our own brand of Indian food- West Indian- many dishes are derivatives of East Indian dishes brought here by the indentured East Indians and are still vastly popular today.  I can’t say that I know the exact history behind sada roti and choka, but I can certainly use my imagination to come up with a story.

thcdough

Sada roti is very similar to naan if you’ve ever had it.  The difference really is that sada is made in such a way that it ends up being a sort of ‘pocket’, similar to a pita pocket.  I suppose it was made that way in the past so that people could enjoy it as a sandwich, stuffed with a variety of fillings.  Today throughout Trinidad, it serves as a filling breakfast or lunch and is eaten every morning by many West Indians.
Here in Trinidad, when someone claims to be proficient at making sada the first question out of the listener’s mouth is “your sada does swell?” It’s sort of an enigmatic quality for those of us ‘occasional sada makers’.  Getting your sada to swell on the tawah (baking stone) is an accomplishment many fail to achieve- no matter how many years they are attempting! Impressively, my sada did in fact, swell!

thctawah sada on tawah thcsadaswells thcsadarotidetail

Choka is a term used to describe any vegetable that is prepared in a particular way- usually with heated oil, onions, garlic and a variety of spices.  Traditionally, vegetables like okro (okra), karili(bitter gourd), aloo (potato), tomatoes, bhigan/melongene(eggplant) and bodi(Chinese long beans) are used, but many others like saime, green figs and edoes are also very common.  It really depends on what you like and what you have! They are all prepared by either first roasting or sautéing the vegetable and then adding heated oil with garlic/onion.  There are many ways to prepare choka and I would gladly debate that there isn’t just one definitive method. Today I prepared ‘fry aloo and salt fish’

thc-tomatochokaing thcpotatoingredients

potato saltfish details

I would happily post the recipes for the items I cooked today if anyone comments with the desire to learn these Trinidadian dishes, however I felt like using this post as more of a ‘show and tell’ today rather than another recipe post.

thctomatochokadetail thcchokaroti2thcchokaroti1

I just couldn’t resist adding in the photo below; my little sweet baby couldn’t resist messing with my food set up, I found it adorable!

thcbehindtheshotdough


hearty chicken & roasted vegetable soup

soupdetail

Good Saturday morning to all!

Well, as I have said before and I’ll say again, Saturdays here in Trinidad and Tobago represent soups- in fact, maybe I’ll start calling Saturday ‘Soupaday’!

So, good ‘Soupaday’ morning to all!

Today I am posting about a soup I made and tested on Tuesday that I’m making again today.  My husband and little one so enjoyed this simple, rustic, hearty chicken & vegetable soup that I’m compelled to re-test the recipe and share it.  I am certain this one is going to warm up those colder nights or heat up those hot ones!

To start with, I used roasted vegetables- essentially all of the vegetables in my fridge at the time got pulled and used in this soup.  There are a few that I would, only because of my own personal taste preferences, not roast. Mushrooms for one, I’ve never really enjoyed roasted and prefer them raw, sautéed or cooked some other way, aside from roasted.

Ground provisions are best for this recipe and chicken breasts prove to be not only the healthiest option, but also the tastiest.  You can substitute chicken for pork or beef and for a vegetarian or vegan option just omit the chicken bouillon cubes (use garlic/onion/vegetable cubes) and leave out the milk at the end.

Recipe

This recipe calls for homemade chicken stock (recipe follows) and roasted vegetables.  You can use good store bought chicken stock or vegetable stock if you prefer.  The best vegetables to use are those that intensify and sweeten upon roasting- ground provisions are best as well as left over roasted vegetables from the day before. Dumplings can also be added and a split pea base can be used as an alternative to my pumpkin soup base- but this is a nice, lower calorie option to the traditional local sancoche(sancoach).

Roasted vegetables

Ingredients

1 large sweet potato, peeled
3 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
1 large carrot, peeled
3 sprigs thyme, leaves removed
1 large red onion, peeled
1 lb pumpkin, peeled and cut into large chunks
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

roasted vegetables1

Method

Pre-heat oven at 450F for 15 minutes before roasting vegetables.  Peel potatoes, sweet potato, onion and carrot.  Cut potato, sweet potato and pumpkin into large chunks roughly the same size.  Cut carrots into half at cross-section and into large sticks about 1 inch thick. Place all cut vegetables into roasting pan/tray and drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme leaves.  Toss to distribute. Roast at 400F for about 20 minutes or until vegetables are soft, but still slightly firm. Use all of the roasted pumpkin and toss into stock (recipe below). For the other roasted vegetables, divide into two- half will go into the stock and the other half will be cut into smaller chunks for the soup towards the end of cooking.

seasonedvegetables

vegetablesforsoup

Homemade chicken stock

Now, I know that the best chefs and recipe books lend a lot of importance to stocks and I really do agree.  I see the value of having a tasty, full bodied stock as a huge asset to any meal, soups included.  I also know that there will be some out there who would scoff at the use of bouillon cubes in a stock, but in the end, for things like soup I just prefer to use them.  Of course, ultimately it is your choice and you can definitely omit them.

chicken stock

Ingredients

1 whole chicken breast
3 stalks celery, washed and leaves included
1 large carrot, peeled and left whole
1 large yellow/white onion, peeled and left whole
6-8 cups water
1/2 cup scallions/chives, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 chicken bouillon cubes

Method

Wash the chicken breast with water and lime/lemon if you desire.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place seasoned chicken and bouillon cubes in a stock pot with 6-8 cups of water (depending on how much soup you desire). Bring to a boil and immediately lower heat to a simmer. After about 20 minutes, add whole carrot, celery and onion. Leave to simmer for a further 20 minutes so that the aromatics can be infused. Remove chicken and let stock simmer for a further hour.  You should get a clear, flavorful broth. Strain vegetables and reserve broth for soup.

clearstock

Putting it all together

Add the 5-10 peeled cloves of roasted garlic to the broth along with the following optional ingredients.

Optional Ingredients

1/2 cup whole/evaporated milk/ heavy cream
Parsley, finely chopped
Creme fraiche
Chili flakes
Croutons
1 can butter beans(drained and rinsed)

butterbeans

Method

Chop or dice the chicken into bite size pieces. With the roasted vegetables reserve half for the soup broth and half as chunky vegetables for the soup. Use all of the pumpkin roasted. Place half the roasted vegetables in the broth, bring to a boil. When very soft use a hand blender to pulse the vegetables and combine it with the broth. The soup should be a smooth with the vegetables well infused about 25 minutes at a low heat.  The remaining diced vegetables and diced chicken as well as 1/2 cup of evaporated/whole milk can be added into the soup about 15 minutes before serving.

soupbowl2

Serving size ~ 4 persons

Suggestions ~ Serve hot with a touch of creme fraiche and toasted croutons. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and add a dash of chili flakes or pepper sauce for an extra bite.

soupfinal