Caribbean food king? My dad – ‘Mr T’

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Mr T is in the house - May 2010 in Jamaica My dad recently passed away, he was a fiercely loyal, loving father with a strong family ethic.
I love my dad, and I miss him greatly, I am coming to terms with the fact that he has gone, and I can no longer talk to, or share a joke with him. As a family we are still in  the  grieving process and still trying to get our heads over what has just happened.
Last year he had been diagnosed with asbestos related cancer, and this weakened his immune system greatly. His passing was still a shock because he had been told that the  cancer was stable and was not moving, he had gone to Jamaica in the spring, and came back looking very healthy. However, events took a turn for the worse very quickly, it seemed that he had contracted a chest infection which was complicated by the cancer. One thing led to another and within a week of him being admitted to hospital, he had gone.

My dad grew up on a farm. There were goats, chickens, cows, coffee, chocolate, sugar cane ,star apples ….I could go on. He wasn’t a great caribbean food cook when we were little because my mum was so good, he couldn’t be bothered. Still she had to work, and they were a team so  he persevered, and actually became quite good.He always said that while growing up in Jamaica, when it came to food, he wanted for nothing, because they grew everything they needed to survive. Earlier in the year we were joking about Puri Dahl, which is one of his favourite caribbean food  snacks. I had made them for him but had made them just a bit too hard – the joke was how long it was taking him to eat and digest them.

I didn’t feel that I could carry this blog on , but now I think I owe it to my dad who together with my mum looked after us, and is there for us 1oo% .
Working with asbestos, was the ultimate death sentence as it takes 30-40 years to develop . We knew that he loved us and would have died for anyone of us. In the end he died for all of us thanks to the asbestos he had unwittingly inhaled all those years ago when I was little .

I love you dad.

Angeli xo

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Caribbean Chocolate Tea – Liquid Heaven

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Rich, creamy and spicy. Caribbean Food Chocolate Tea. A Sunday morning treat.

My Dad grew up on a farm, and one of the things they grew was chocolate. His Grandfather planted the cocoa, and the family still harvest it today.

Dad said that when he was a little boy he used to help with the harvesting of the cocoa. One of his delights was to open some of the pods and drink the liquid surrounding the bean.
I was intrigued to find out if the liquid tasted of chocolate, but he said that it tasted syrup-py and sweet,and even though the adults had told him not to drink it, he loved it.

Anyhow, after the fruit ripens – it goes a bright yellow -  the beans are picked out and put into  a container  to ‘ferment’ for about a week. This helps the chocolate flavour and aroma to develop. It is then ‘parched’, meaning roasted. The beans are taken out and ground up, either in a grinder, or using a pestle and morter. The fat in the chocolate is released helping the   mixture  to becomes pliable like plasticine.

Vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg are the magical spices added to the mix which is then made into sausage shapes or small ball shapes. Finally, it is left out in the sun to dry after which it is then ready to use.

My dad reckons that if stored properly in airtight jars, the chocolate will last for years. I can indeed vouch for that because it is not something you could find here in the UK as I was growing up,  yet  I had it every Sunday as a drink.

RECIPE

Angeli’s Caribbean Food Chocolate drink.

To get an idea of  chocolate tea, try making the following drink.

1 or 2 teas very good quality 100% cocoa
Hot water
High quality vanilla essence
finely ground cinnamon
finely ground numeg
tiny pinch of salt.
milk either plain or sweetened (condensed milk) .
Sugar (if required)

In a large mug, place your cocoa and your hot water, add milk  as required.
Add sugar as required
Add a few drops of vanilla essence
Sprinkle in the cinnamon and nutmeg. about half of a 1/4 teaspoon.
Add a tiny pinch of salt.

Give everything a good stir, sit and enjoy with a slice of homemade bread and butter. Lovely!

Hope you enjoy my Caribbean Food chocolate tea.

Love, laughter, and food for all.

Angeli x :)

photo courtesy of  www.thechocolatechemist.co.uk

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Donald – Where’s Yer Troozers?

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This Christmas I have fufilled another of my Caribbean Food culinary dreams  – to make traditional Caribbean sorrel drink the way my mother does. I succeeded.

Sorrel is red, related to the Hibiscus plant, and is used in Caribbean and Asian cooking. It has a sharp pungent taste and smell and is used fresh or dried.

The challenge – to make the traditional festive drink the way my mum does.

I’d watched her make it all thro’ my life – now it was my turn. Using dried Sorrel she had sequested away, I made it exactly to her recipe. First,  putting the dried sharp tasting flower heads into a stainless steel pot, then adding fresh caribbean ginger, ground pimento seeds, and a stick of spicy cinammon. Finally, I poured in some boiled water, and left the mixture to  steep overnight.

I  finished it off on Christmas Eve morning by adding  a thick sugar syrup to the rich, pungent, blood red solution. I then added fragrant lime juice, strained off the flower heads and  added a generous amount of Jamaican overproof rum. Almost a whole  bottle!

My dad had  informed me that back home in the Caribbean, he used to make sorrel juice without the alchohol, sugar and spices. He said it’s very nice, and extremely good for you.  I nodded sympathetically, he seemed to have forgotton that he had given me some as a child.
It tasted like stale, year-old, floor polish then. I’m still not a fan.

The Shrek decided that he would be the official taster, so just after brunch he started to glug in the most unseemly way. “Ooh that’s got a bit of kick” he exclaimed smacking his lips. “Not bad though” he grunted.

A couple of hours later he came back again, and asked me if I had any more of ‘that juice drink’. He took a whole glass of it and disappeared.

The next thing I heard was the ‘quaint’ skirl of Scottish bagpipes in the distance – oh no, he had put his music on.  A few minutes later I heard him bellowing like a foghorn singing one of his traditional Scottish ‘ballads’.

Next thing I know, one of the neighbours began knocking on the door and had come round, concerned at the noise, to see if everything was okay. I had to explain that the noise she could hear was my husband ‘singing’..

A whole bottle  and a half later, he was spinning wildly, arms and legs flaying out at all angles, bellowing, whooping, and yodelling all over the house. “Have you got any more of that sorrel stuff, he growled.
I had managed to produce three wine bottles worth of my mix and half of it was now in his considerable gut!

By now The Shrek was jumping, twirling and roaring at the top of his voice. ‘Donald where’s yer troozers’ he ‘sang’ scooping up our amused daughter, pirouetting her around as if she was a rag doll.  Delightedly She  squealed and giggled, like a wild hyena and when he finally put her down, they were jumping and screeching together, totally out of time to the music.

Around 9pm, he collapsed in an unseemly heap and didn’t wake up again until 11.00am Christmas day. What a hunk!

Of course, the big test for my Caribbean Food Christmas drink, was  my mum and dad. When we finally arrived at their house 3hrs late for our festivities The Shrek was strangely quiet.

I ceremoniously poured some Sorrel for them  into a glass, and they took a sip.  ‘Hmm’ exclaimed my mum in surprise, “that’s lovely!” That was it. To have my mum’s  culinary approval is like gaining a michelin star.

My dad  agreed “very nice – It’s very strong – how much rum did you put in it?” “Oh just enough to give a kick” I replied. “The Shrek really enjoyed it.”

Try my recipe for yourselves my friends. Happy new year!                  Layout1_1_P4VBBSorrelA2AM

ANGELI’S TRADITIONAL  FESTIVE  SORREL JUICE

1.5kg Fresh sorrel petals or  200g dried sorrel
Fresh root ginger  which when chopped weighs approx 100g
3 litres Boiling water
300g Demerara  or raw cane sugar
2 limes
75g Finely chopped Pimento seeds (Allspice)
50g Finely grated cinnamon
200ml Caribbean Overproof rum – or a very good quality dark rum
100ml  Good quality Ginger wine

If you are using dried sorrel it is always a good idea to empty the contents into a dish and sort out the flower heads so that any stones and unwanted gritty bits don’t find there way into your mix.

Put the flower petals all the spices  and all the sugar in a pan – I prefer a steel one.
Pour  in the boiling water and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Cover with a well fitting lid or foil and set aside for at least 8hrs.
When the mixture is cold, you are able to add the rum and the ginger wine. Strain and bottle, Now  enjoy.

Love, laughter and food for all
Angeli :)

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Caribbean Food: The Academy Awards

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My caribbean food friends, I need your help.

I have a special recipe that i created some time ago. It’s for a refreshing summer drink that i love and make often. But I’ve never named it.

Please could you vote, in the comments section below, for one of the three potential names. Or, even better, if after reading the recipe you have an alternative then please comment. I’ll leave the post for a few days then announce the final result. So, in my best ‘Academy Awards’ voice… the nominations are:

1/ Citrus Cooler

2/ Zesty Zinger

3/ Golden Haze

4/ … or your alternative :-)

INGREDIENTS

Pic by AdambaronPhoto

Pic by AdambaronPhoto

4 unwaxed lemons
10 unwaxed limes
1 green tea bag!
Fresh ginger – when chopped weighs approx 20z (50g)
Approx 1/2in (1 cm) square red scotch bonnet (you may want to leave this out if making for children)
1 cup (8 oz,  250g) White granulated sugar
1/2 cup  (4 oz,  125g) cup Brown Demerra cane sugar
1 1/2 qt water ( 3pts, 1.5litres )

You will need:
Medium cut grater – not too fine
Medium cooking pot – big enough to hold 1 pt (1/2 qt,  500 ml) water.
Large bowl big enough to take 3 pts of liquid (1 1/2 qt, 1.5 litres)
Large and small spoons
Knife
Jugs /bottles for finished drink

First Peel and roughly chop the ginger and  wash the fruit.
Make a sugar syrup by placing all the sugar and ginger and the pepper into cooking pot.
Pour in 1 pt (500 ml, 1/2 qt) water, place on a gentle heat, stirring constantly until all sugar is melted and water is about to start boiling.
Take off the heat and set aside with all the bits  left  in.
Boil another pint of water and pour into a jug containing the green tea bag – leaving it to infuse for approx 3-5mins.
Stir, take out tea bag and set aside. Tea bags are better – less mess:)

Take Approx 5 limes and 3 lemons and grate skin into  a large bowl – taking care not to grate the white pith as well.
Cut the fruit in half, take the halves and squeeze all the juice out into the bowl.
Once done, take all the lime halves and place in bowl also.

Into the bowl containing the lemon/lime halves, squeezed juice, and grated peel;  pour  in the remaining pint,(500 ml 1/2 qt) water from your reservoir ,then  the  unstrained syrup water , and finally, the green tea. Stir all the elements together and put aside to cool. (I usually leave mine overnight in the fridge for the flavours to develop). Once Cooled, add water to taste and  strain off into jugs or bottles. Serve very cold with lots of ice – it is Delicious. My caribbean food friends and family love it!!

Variations:

Add sliced strawberries, cucumbers, and sprigs of fresh mint together with  approx 8 oz (1 cup 250ml) Ginger wine,  a good splash of dark caribbean rum, and a few drops of Angostura bitters  for a Pimms alternative.

Add approx 1/4 cup(60 ml, 3 oz) of 70% proof white caribbean rum for a HOT! HOT! HOT! carnival experience.

There you have it my friends

Love, Laughter, and Food for all

Angeli x

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