Roman Catholics and Dominoes.

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As a child, Easter was a very important date in my Caribbean food diary.

Firstly, I would be on school break. Secondly, it was a time when my mum would make her Heavenly Easter Bun, and thirdly, my dad would have bought some new music which  he would then play – in true Jamaican DJ fashion – very, very loudly. So loud in fact, that the windows would vibrate and dance in time to the beat.

There would be friends round, and  dominos played with  gladitorial intent – my dad and his mates obsessively eyeing their ‘cards’ and then staring intently at each other as if to bore a hole through their opponants’ heads. They would consume large amounts of  bun and cheese together with  fish and bread, washed down with large doses of overproof rum – always with water added of course, no self respecting Caribbean food lover would drink overproof rum neat.

My siblings and I  loved it. We would charge up and down the stairs, chasing each other in whatever world we had just made up, shouting and making strange noises to suit. Occasionally, we would miss our footing and bounce down the stairs like loose bowling balls. This would inevitably drive my mum absolutely mad, so that she would subsequently ban us to the garden, or bedrooms depending on the weather.

Before all this frivolity and fun however, there was Good Friday. Always a solemn day.My mum being a Roman Catholic, meant that we would observe the Roman Catholic tradition of fasting until 12.00 noon and abstaining  from meat. We always had fish.

My  mum would always drag me unceremoniously along with her to the fishmongers one or two days before Good Friday.  After what seemed like hours of regally pointing, haughtily smelling, and tenaciously haggling, we would finally emerge, mum satisfied, me totally bored.

During our Fishmonger visit, Mum  would have picked up a couple of kilo of sprats which she would then deep fry .  They were gorgeous! I could never get enough of them!  I  would guzzle them down with some fragrant Hard dough Bread, layered with butter, and sweet fried onions, the juice would have drizzled down my face and covered my hands, but it was always worth it – My mum is a Caribbean food magician!  She would also perform magic  with our evening meal; serving ambrosial, spicy, red snapper with soft, waxy, green bananas, fluffy, melt-in-the-mouth yellow yams , and satisfyingly gelatinous boiled dumplings.

Perhaps you fancy a change from fried, baked, or poached fish. Why not try my Salt Cod Pate? Absolutely divine with fried plantains.

ANGELI’S  Caribbean Food SALT COD PATE


INGREDIENTS

250g Salt Cod – or any salted white fish

100ml Creme fraiche

2 tablespoons Mayonnaise

1 teaspoon Anchovy paste

1/2 oz chopped and de-seeded scotch bonnet pepper

1 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns

1 oz chopped coriander leaves

2 cloves of chopped garlic

METHOD

Soak the salted fish for aprox 3hrs, changing the water 3 or 4 times – this will wash out  most of the salt.  Next shred the fish.

Put all the ingredients into a food blender and blitz until fine.

Serve as an appetizer or a starter and enjoy!

Love, Laughter and Food for all

Angeli :)

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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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Let me see you ‘stamp and go’

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Patois, or Caribbean Creole is a blend of different languages, each island in the Caribbean posessing it’s own dialect.

I grew up to the sound of Jamaican Patois. At times highly amusing, occasionally very frustrating,  but on the whole  extremely entertaining. Every now and then  I would have no idea what my parents were saying and would have to make an educated guess as to what they wanted me to do. If I were wrong it would be to my disadvantage because then  would come  “a wa mi jus seh?” (what did I say?)  or “Ow com you too ‘ard airse?” (why are you so wayward?).

I remember the first time I went to Jamaica -I was 10yrs old – the people were colourful, gregarious, and affable. However, I had no idea what anyone was saying so my mum had to act as translator.

My grandmother – sister sweetie as she was known, was lovely. She and my grandfather spoilt me rotton. She would say things like “a wat im waant fi eat?” , “ow im pretty soh”  and “leave im alone G”
My Grandfather, not  understanding anything I said, would dispassionately grunt a reply, stare at me uncomprehendingly, or get my mum to translate.
The Jamaican language  is heavily influenced by the West African  dialects brought in by the slaves, I’m no expert, but I do know that  African men and women can have the same name, because in Africa you give your child a name according to the meaning, not the gender. Perhaps that’s why I became a ‘he’ and a ‘him’.

Grandma was also a  wonderful cook when it came to Caribbean food – Her fish fritters were simply gorgeous!  The spicy, spongy interior was beautifully offset by the silky, soft-crisp exterior. They were so moreish that once I started eating them  I couldn’t stop.

Of course there was  a price to pay -  I always ate far too many.
Grandma would always laugh affectionately and one of her sayings was
“Now yu see, yu nyam far too much. Yu eyes far bigga dan yu Mout, yu gwine get bang belly.” (You’ve eaten too much and now you’re going to have a tummy ache).

The fish fritters were worth it though. I loved them :)

Fish fritters have different titles in different caribbean islands – for example  -  Accra(Trinidad),Bacalaitos(Antigua), Saltfish cake(Barbados), Stamp and go(Jamaica).

Why not try these at home, and create a bit of sunshine.

RECIPE

Angeli’s  Caribbean Food Fish Fritters –


150g (5.5 oz)  chopped salt fish (Remember to soak the fish overnight to remove the excess salt. You can then  taste the fish to see if it is at the right saltiness for you – I use the salted fish that has been filleted and de-boned)

250g (1/2 lb) plain flour
1 tablespoon chopped tomato
1 dessert spoon chopped scotch bonnet
1 tablespoon chopped spring onion
1 egg
1 teas thyme leaves
Approx 500ml (1pt)  water
Oil
Large deep frying pan, or wok.

Heat oven to 220 degrees centigrade (428 fahrenheit)

Put the fish, flour, tomato, pepper, onion, and thyme leaves in a bowl and  mix together.

Add the water bit by bit until you have a  thick watery dough – you  may not have to use all the water.
Roughly beat the egg and add to the mixture
Now vigorously beat  everything  together with a  hand whisk to incorporate as much air as possible.
Put oil in pan and heat – you want it to be about 4cm (2inches) deep , you will know it is hot enough if you sprinkle a tiny bit of flour in and it sizzles.
Using a dessert spoon, drop in spoonfuls of the mix, and fry on both sides until golden brown.
Take them out and place in an ovenproof dish.
Once all are fried, put in  hot oven for aprox 8-10 mins.

Your fritters are now ready to serve.

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Mothers – who’d be one?

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I enjoy being a mother and relish  the complexities and challenges it brings. I  firmly believe all human beings are made to nurture, I have concluded it’s innate within all of us.

This Mother’s Day, my daughter made me breakfast in bed. She found out what I like to eat and drink and then ordered my husband to the supermarket – hubby doesn’t ‘do’ supermarkets, or shopping, so that was an achievement in itself.

She then dragged him out of bed on Mother’s Day to help her prepare my surprise. It was lovely! She had prepared heart-shaped toast, scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, bucks fizz and had even given me one of my chocolate mousses as a ‘dessert’. I was in heaven.

Chocolate Mousse?  I hear you say – for breakfast?  well it so happens that all the women in the family were gathering  at my mum’s for sunday lunch, all of us having promised to bring something for the feast. My contribution was a chocolate mousse soaked with the wonderfully mellow Appletons Rum.

The champagne and music flowed, the men did the washing up – we watched ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ and all had a great time.

Mothers – Who’d be one? I would :)

Try  my  Rich Caribbean Chocolate Mousse  recipe for yourself and let me know what you think.

Angeli’s Caribbean Food  Rich Chocolate Mousse.              

150g (5oz) 72% dark chocolate
2tbsp the best rum you can afford. *
3 egg whites
50g  (2oz) caster sugar
100ml (3.5 fl oz) double cream **

Method

Put a  med sized pan of water on to boil – turn down to  a simmer  and place a (glass) bowl on top .

Break the chocolate into small pieces and place into bowl. Once melted  mix in the  the rum, turn off the stove, leaving the bowl on the pan.

Whisk the cream until very thick and stiff, Put aside.

Whisk the egg whites in a grease-free bowl until very thick and stiff  you will be able to make ‘little peaks’ with the whisk.

Add the sugar bit by bit , whisking until all is incorporated. The mixture will be ready when it is smooth, thick, and shiny.

The chocolate mix will be a bit stiff by now, but still melted, fold in the whipped egg whites bit by bit to the chocolate mixture, making sure all is blended.

Now add the cream mixture and once all mixed in pour into small dishes or glasses. I get 4 or 6 depending on how greedy we are!

* the higher  the rum quality, the less water it will contain – melted chocolate doesn’t like water.

** I find that double cream is far superior to whipping cream and holds it’s shape longer.

Love, Laughter, and food for all

Angeli x :)

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My True Love Have My Heart And I Have His

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Their eyes met across a crowded room drowning out all else around them.

The prince waded through the throng of partygoers, never once losing her   gaze. She was transfixed.
Finally he was in front of her, he swept her up in his arms and declared for all to hear.
“I am in love, Marry me for my heart is yours….”

Okay, the story didn’t quite go like that. But it was love at first sight, and The Shrek did ask me to marry him after three weeks together.

We got married 8yrs later. However, my wedding day was wonderful. It was everything I wanted it to be – magical, whimsical, irreverent and beautiful. As is always with special occasions, it was over all too quickly.

My wedding cake was baked by my mum in true caribbean style to her own secret recipe. Fruit cake is always eaten on special occasions and most caribbean women will have their own recipe.

I had decided to design and decorate my wedding cake myself. My ‘love chest’ cake contained magical heart sweets – both bought and hand made.Enchanted love charms, gossamer  rose petals and one of a series of poems  The Shrek had written to me declaring his undying love and passion.

This was the poem in the ‘love chest’

The sound of our love deafens me
It’s volume drowns all else around me
And when we’re apart
I hear the echo of our love……


We will be celebrating Valentine’s day as a family day of love. I will be making special  Caribbean Spice Chocolate Cookies.

Recipe

My Caribbean Food Love Cookies

230g(8oz) self-raising flour
40g(1.5 oz) good quality 100% cocoa
120g(40z)   softened salted butter
190g(7oz)  brown organic caster sugar

60g icing sugar

2 large eggs
1/2 teas  highest quality vanilla essence
1/4 teas good quality finely ground cinnamon.

Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius (aprox 350 degrees farenheit)

Method

Put the flour, cocoa, and cinnamon in a bowl and mix together well.

In a small bowl place the eggs and the vanilla essence,  lightly  whisk together until there is just a little froth.

Put the all the sugar and the butter in a bowl and whisk together  until creamy.

Add the egg mixture bit by bit untli all is blended.

Now add the flour mixture and mix on a low speed until just blended.

The mixture will be soft and pliable

Shape into balls and place on a greased baking tray about 5cm(2in) apart.

Bake for aprox 10-12 mins.

Let cookies cool before placing  a small heart cutter  on the centre of each of the cookies.

Sprinkle some icing sugar into the shape.

Now removing the heart cutter will reveal a little heart on top of the cookie.

Happy Valentines day my friends
Love, laughter, and food for all.
Angeli

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Caribbean Pie In The Sky

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I love apples, baked, raw, fried, stewed, I could go on, but I think you see the picture.

My mum – caribbean food  home cook extraordinaire – makes a demon apple pie. With a ‘melt in your mouth’ short crust pastry case covering tangy, tart bramley apples which in turn are sweetened with cane sugar, and flavored with essential caribbean spices : cinnamon, cloves and ginger.

The synergy of pastry, apples, and sugar for me is perfect.The smell of the spices divine.  Inevitably I am always sent into a salivating frenzy, and once baked I can never get enough.

No matter where I go to eat, I avidly scan the menu to see if they serve apple pie for dessert. I’m disappointed every time.

Whenever I get the urge I have to make one.  Such a simple recipe, such a wonderful, satisfying taste.

On the 15th January 2010 I tweeted:

‘I have a taste for hot spicy apple crumble, but it must be homemade – so now to the kitchen…ciao everyone.’

One of the replies I received was from Dawn at  @Vanillakitchen
She said simply:

‘spicy apple crumble? you best share that one’

So here it is:

rockaberry2wt7

Recipe

My Caribbean Food Spicy Apple Crumble

For the filling:

1kg Peeled, and sliced cooking apples of your choice(I prefer Bramleys for that wonderful tartness)
60g Brown cane sugar
1/2 tsp Ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ground Cloves
1 tsp Ginger

1 tbl spoon water
2 tbl spoons Ginger Wine (I prefer Stones Ginger Wine)

For the Crumble:

200g Plain Flour
50g Oats
80g Butter (make sure it is at room temperature)
100g Brown Cane  sugar

Pre heat oven to 180 degrees centigrade,(around 350 degrees Farenheit)

Method

Place the flour and oats in a large mixing bowl, then roughly chop and add the  butter.
Lightly rub the butter into the flour and oats using your fingertips.
When it has all been incorporated add the sugar and combine with the other ingredients again using your fingertips for best results.

Put aside.

Put the apples, wine, sugar and spices in a large enough pot and cook very gently on a low heat until the apples have cooked down and are soft and translucent.
Spoon the apple mixture into a pie dish.
Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly on top of the apple, lightly spreading it out with your fingers.
Cook for aprox 30mins or until the topping is golden brown.

Serve warm or cold, with cream, or ice cream.

My Caribbean Food Spicy Apple Crumble – Enjoy:)

Love, Laughter, and Food for All
Angeli x

(photo courtesy of Rockaberry)

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Callaloo, A Natural Viagra?

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Callaloo – what on earth is it?

It’s a luscious leafy Caribbean Food green vegetable, found in the Caribbean and Asia. It grows easily in the summer without much fuss, in the same way as chard or spinach, and is bursting with minerals and vitamins.

Some even swear that it’s a natural viagra!

One autumn, when I was a young child, my dad brought back some seeds from the Caribbean and decided to plant them to see if they would grow.  We ceremoniously followed him into the garden whereupon he raised his hand magestically in the air like a priest about to sanctify a marriage. He freely scattered the seeds around the garden, like throwing confetti at a wedding, with wide circular arm movements. Some landed in the warm, fertile, soil while others landed on the barren path.

The following summer Callaloo had been given birth everywhere.

Like unruly excited toddlers, callaloo had invaded every nook and cranny in the garden. They giggled with the poppies, played hide and seek with the sweet corn, others danced and swayed lazily in the sunshine as if at party.

Actually, Callaloo is very ordinary looking, and could easily be mistaken for a garden weed if you didn’t know what to look for. There is no defining smell, and it’s charming, more-ish, taste is hidden away to be discovered, like a honeymoon kiss.

Once harvested, cleaned and cooked, the tantalising aroma with its melt-in-the-mouth taste, is sublime.

Try this simple Caribbean Food recipe with spinach, sorrel, or chard if you can’t find callaloo. As it has to be made quickly, you need to have everything ready so that you have no interruptions.

RECIPE
pic
2 medium sized tomatoes
2 medium sized shallot onions
a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme (you want the strongly flavored one with the tiny leaves).
1clove garlic
red scotch bonnet pepper to taste
pinch of salt
pinch of freshly crushed black pepper
approx 1 tablespoon of oil (I use Sunflower oil)
approx 1 tablespoon of water
Approx 1/2 kg Callaloo

Cooking time = approx 10mins

1x Ciabbata loaf or French loaf

METHOD

chop the tomatoes into quarters
Thinly slice the onions
Thinly slice your scotch bonnet pepper
wash your thyme.

Put a medium sized saute/frying pan on a medium high heat, add the oil and heat for a few seconds.
Next add your onions and the thyme and saute until the onions are soft.
Now add your tomatoes, cook down until they are soft too.
Add your scotch bonnet, garlic and water. Cook for a minute or two.
Now when everything has come together, add your callaloo, and allow it to wilt down into the tomato sauce, using a wooden spoon/fish slice to turn the mixture.
After a few minutes everything will have melded so you can now take the pan off the heat.
Add your salt and black pepper to taste.

Now for the Bruschetta

Take the bread and cut into thin slices.
Toast or grill until crisp on both sides.
Rub one side with cut garlic.
Arrange on a plate and  spoon on the callaloo mixture.

Now Enjoy!
Callaloo, Love, Laughter, And Food For All :)

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Caribbean Food: Why You Must Eat Your Dad’s Trees

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Caribbean food cinnamon. Pale, dusky brown, with a seductive spicy aroma and a sweet woody taste.

Its soft fragrance fills your nostrils caressing your throat with it’s complex ambrosial flavour. Next to nutmeg, this is probably the most frequently utilised caribbean food spice of my cooking-crazed family. Used in cakes, drinks, and savoury dishes, cinnamon evokes in me strong emotional memories of warmth, safety and celebration.

On my dad’s farm in Jamaica, he had a couple of ever-green cinnamon trees. He said they were ancient, almost antique. I remember, he didn’t touch the outer bark as this might cause the tree to become infected which would make it rot, even die! Instead, he only ever used the inner-bark. As it dries out, the sides of the bark curl inwards and are called ‘quills’. This is what you buy in your supermarket.

I remember, my first encounter with caribbean food cinnamon was as a four year old child. It was winter, dark and cold outside and I stumbled downstairs tousled and sleepy-eyed to watch my dad light the fire in the kitchen. Once it was crackling, hissing and spitting, he went to get ready for work. I sat close to the fire feeling safe and warm, watching the fire dance and skip, impatiently awaiting my breakfast.

After my mum had made my dad’s lunch, she began the preparations for our breakfast. Velvety cornmeal porridge with soft, fluffy, fried dumplings, or freshly baked bread and butter, was a favourite in the winter months. My dad claimed it would make our brains grow. The scoundrel could get away with such claims – I was only young and my dad was the font of all knowledge.

As my mum began cooking the porridge, I watched every movement avidly, eagerly anticipating the flavours filling my mouth. She took out an enormous pot and an old wooden spoon, followed by all the ingredients, and lay them down on our scuffed-up old wooden table.

She measured out a tiny handful of golden cornmeal into the pot. Then, filled the pot with what seemed like an ocean of water and placed it onto our beaten-up old stove. When she lit it, it made a loud whooshing noise and then hissed like a witch all the way through the cooking process. Mum began to stir the porridge and then added the magic ingredient – cinnamon. She stirred for what seemed like hours and went into a trance! Mum had a habit of thinking out loud whilst cooking; to a four year old she was chanting a magic spell.

I watched this spell-making in quiet fascination as the ‘brew’ transformed from an odourless, grey, watery mass into a majestic golden elixir. The smell of cinnamon in the porridge was divine. I devoured it.

Hallelujah for Caribbean Food.

Pic by oiseauxbleu

Pic by oiseauxbleu

CORNMEAL PORRIDGE
50g (2oz)  Cornmeal (I prefer coarse)
1/2 teaspoon  vanilla essence
approx 1 teaspoon of  finely grated cinnamon.
300ml (1/3 qt) water.
100ml (4fl oz) skimmed milk
Brown demerra sugar to taste

Small wooden spoon
small/medium pot

Put Cornmeal, milk and Water into a medium sized pot.
Place on cooker on a low heat and begin to stir.
After 5 minutes, add the cinnamon. Keep stirring.
After another 5 minutes, add the vanilla. Keep stirring.
Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring all the time to prevent lumps.

Your porridge is now ready for eating. Pour into a bowl, add sugar to taste.

Love, laughter and food for all!

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Scotch Bonnet Peppers & My Shameful Love Affair

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Help me please, I beg of you.

I know this blog is about caribbean food but I have a true, embarrassing, confession to make – I am having a secret love affair, and it’s been going on for years.

What’s more, until now I haven’t been able to tell The Shrek (my husband). Those of you who’ve seen The Shrek’s picture on my About page know he is a tall, gallant, handsome beast and will scream “You’re mad for deceiving such a hunk.” You’re shocked. Aghast even. And demanding “How could you even contemplate such a thing?” Well, I’ve sweated, over many years, about confessing and can’t bare to hide it any longer. So here it is:

I am having a furtive love affair with scotch bonnet peppers.

I’m ravenous for them. I know it’s wrong, but I can’t help it. I can’t quench my insatiable need. The soft, delicate, curves of the fruit beg to be lovingly caressed. I bite and the flavour sets my pulse instantly galloping, such that I pant, my chest heaves and I can hardly catch my breath. I clamour to savour each and every sensuous mouthful, oblivious to the world around me. I stagger and swoon at the sweet, intoxicating, aroma as it fills my body until I think I will faint with wanton pleasure.

The truth is I have a track-record, as I’ve also had encounters with jalapenos peppers, affairs with sweet cherry peppers and even had flings with little bird peppers in my caribbean food cooking. But oh, none of them can compare to the arousing, spicy, fiery flavour of the scotch bonnet.

Such is my passion for scotch bonnet peppers, that I will secretly slip them into almost anything I cook: from humble, work-a-day beans and cheese on toast, to a full luscious caribbean chocolate and rum ice-cream. In fact, recently, I  sneaked a smidgen of dried scotch bonnet, together with ginger and sugar, into some caribbean-style limeade .

The Shrek, unsuspecting, tasted it smacked his lips together and remarked upon the ‘bite’ of it. The blood flushed to my face and i blushed like a teenager. I let out a high-pitch rapid laugh, nervously and quickly ushered him out of the room, away from the scene of the ‘crime’ so that I could have an intimate moment with my forbidden love.

I know i’m wrong. Help me. I beg you. I can’t stop. I need your advice, what should i do?

Whilst i await your advice, here is a recipe for fresh, fiery, scotch bonnets captured and steeped in spicy pickle:

pepperpic

Picture of Scotch Bonnet by barron

Approx 40 scotch bonnets — assortment of colours and making sure that fruit is as fresh and as blemish free as possible.
600 ml (1 pt) pickling vinegar (distilled, or cider vinegar will also do)
150ml (1/4 pt) water
1 teas pickling salt
2 tablespoons pickling spice
Sterilized jars and lid – I like to use the wide mouth ones with the attached snap down lids – they provide very good air tight suction.
stainless steel cooking pot, and stainless steel spoon.

* Sterilize the jars by pouring just-boiled hot water into very clean, grease free jars filling them to the top , making sure that the lids are also sterilized, I do this process a couple of times.
* Put the vinegar, water, and the pickling spice into pot, place onto a medium high heat and bring to the boil, once boiled, add the salt and stir until totally absorbed.
* Now leave to cool.
* Slice the peppers and stack in the sterilized jars. Pour cooled liquid over the chillies making sure they are wholly immersed in the solution
*Secure and leave in cool dark place for about a week before using.

If storing in fridge, then I recommend you put the pickle in the darkest place – usually the bottom shelf – I either put a clean tea cloth on the shelf above or wrap the jar in grease proof paper to keep it dark.

Well my fine friends, that’s it. My latest offering, this time on scotch bonnet peppers. Would love your comments and, erm, remarks on my situation :-O

Love, Laughter & Food For All

Angeli XXX

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