A Right Royal Knees Up

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It had to be done, William and Kate had decided to tie the knot at last. I waited with baited breath for the announcement. Finally , in November, it came. I could breath again.

April 29th 2011. How fantastic. I decided I would go on a diet and spend a fortune on hair and clothes so that I would look good at the Abbey. What would I bring as a wedding gift? Some Caribbean Food fruit cake? Some Ceremonial Sorrel drink?

The invitation never arrived.

Never mind, I’ve lost a stone in weight, and I didn’t want to go anyway. All those TV cameras. All those people. Braying and cheering at anything that moved.

No I didn’t want to go.

But of course I wanted to see the  dress.

We all piled into my brother’s house. Friends, family and hangers’ on – most weren’t intending to watch, but because we had watched the Royal Soap that was ‘Charles and Diana’,  It was felt that we had to watch William get married. For Diana. Needless to say, it was really only the women that stayed glued to the TV, the men had lost the will to live.

We were told to bring something to eat, so I made some savoury Caribbean food tarts – Ackee,and Panchetta. Of course there had to be fizz, so I  brought a couple of bottles of Pommery.

Oh, it was loverly! It was grand! Nobody in the world does Pageants the way we do here in Britain! Moreover, they didn’t leave us out, reference to ‘Commoners’ were made throughout the broadcast, people were fawning, bowing and scraping all over the place making me feel quite queasy- as if I had been transported back  to the Victorian age!

I can now rest easy knowing that the ‘Chelsea set’, and the blue blooded aristocrats, not only had a good time, but that they are seemingly riding out the credit crunch without too much pain, judging by the outfits.

Furthermore, when I’ve lost my job, as most of us ‘commoners’ will in the next couple of years, at least I can sleep well at night knowing  the Royal Family will be able to survive yet another generation.  Hurrah!

Gawd bless you all suh!

Celebrate with me by  making my caribbean food savoury tarts.

Angeli’s Supreme Caribbean Food Ackee and Panchetta tart.

It is nigh on impossible to get fresh Ackees unless you are in the Caribbean, so we always used tinned.

1 x 500g tin Ackee

1x teas chopped red scotch bonnet pepper

1/4 teas thyme

1 teas chopped garlic

2 plump ripe tomatoes chopped

1 teas freshly ground black pepper

3 rashers of panchetta , or bacon thinly sliced into 2cm long pieces.

1/2 teas salt.

1 packet of puff pastry (375g)

Oven temp 22oc or 200c(fan)

METHOD

Open tin of Ackee and drain off liquid. Put ackee into bowl of hot salted water and leave

Fry off the Panchetta/bacon for  aprox 3 mins on a med high heat.

Next add the onion and fry for aprox another minute.

Now add the tomato, garlic, thyme and scotch bonnet and cook for aprox 2mins

Finally, gently strain off the water from the Ackee, and carefully add to the tomato mixture.

Turn down heat to med low and cook for about 2 mins.

Remove contents to a plate and sprinkle the black pepper over the mixture. Leave to cool.

PASTRY

Roll out the pastry  until approx  0 .5 mm/1/4 inch thick.

divide pastry into 4 rectangles – each about 8cmx12cm or about 6inx4in. and place onto a non-stick baking tray.

Pile the cooled mixture onto the rolled and scored pastry  and put into  oven for about 15mins.

(it is very important that you score the inner area with a knife so that the pastry under the mixture doesn’t rise).

Now serve as a substantial starter, or as a wonderful snack and enjoy!

Love, Laughter and Food for All

Angeli :)

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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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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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