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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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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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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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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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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