Spiced pumpkin bread

“All sorrows are less with bread.” – Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

I must confess I’m not a good baker! I find the process slightly intimidating.  Maybe it’s because it all seems so scientific and precise to me. If you’re even slightly off with any of the measurements that’s it! All your efforts are down the drain. I can’t tell you the number of botched cakes my kitchen has seen.

I decided to ease myself back into the joy of baking with this recipe that I stumbled across last night.  It seemed easy enough.  I love pumpkin. I love spices.  What could go wrong?  Thankfully nothing!

It came out perfectly.   I even took a risk by put my own little spin on the recipe by adding a little lime zest and dried cranberries to the mix.   I can’t tell you how delighted I am with it.   The kitchen was fragrant with the spices.   I felt like the proverbial domestic goddess.

 

Here’s the end result!

Perfect with a cup of spiced chai tea!

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Tobago fish broth

“Soup is liquid comfort.” – Author unknown

 

Saturday is traditionally soup day in many a Caribbean household.  I woke up this morning feeling a little homesick and thought what better way to perk myself up than to bubble up a pot of fish broth like my grandfather used to make.  Now talk about a sweet hand! My granddad is a whiz in the kitchen.  I am hoping to recreate his masterpiece here.

Now back in Tobago we would go down to the beach and watch the fishermen pull in their seines.  My mom would then carefully select the biggest, freshest snapper, grouper and king fish!  I couldn’t quite recreate that experience here in the Cayman Islands but I did manage to meet up with  some fishermen who had just brought in a fresh catch.

 



I got myself  four of these little  babies and one huge snapper that I plan to bake later in the week.

Fish Broth

What to use

2 snappers

3 Irish potatoes (peeled and cut into thick slices)

1 large carrot (peeled and sliced)

7 small ochros (halved)

2 pimentos (julienned)

4 stalks of chive (diced)

1/2 large onion (diced)

2 or 3 celery stalks (diced)

fish seasoning of your choice

1 lemon

2 tbs olive oil

2 hot peppers (Scotch Bonnet)

water

salt and black pepper to taste

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 packet of dry vegetable soup mix

What to do

Season fish with seasoning of your choice along with lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Set aside.  Saute onion, celery, pimentos, chive in olive oil  in large pot until tender.  Add a dash of salt and pepper.  When veggies are tender, add potatoes, carrots, ochros and cover with water.  Add a packet of soup mix, stir and let simmer for about five minutes.  Cut snappers in half and add to pot.  Add whole hot peppers.  (For the love of God, don’t let those hot peppers burst in the pot or your tongue will be on fire! lol)  Let cook over medium heat adjusting as necessary.  Stir occasionally.  Add salt and black pepper to taste. When potatoes and carrots are cooked, you’re all done.  Enjoy!

While the fish broth was cooking I couldn’t resist frying up one of the snappers to snack on. It was delicious! Watch out for those pesky little bones though.


Yummy!

Everything but the kitchen sink salad

So I suppose making a salad  isn’t really cooking, is it?  However, there is a certain art involved in putting together just the right combination of ingredients.

Due to a little mishap yesterday involving me, high heels,  running, steps and the sharp corner  of a wooden desk , I’ll be laid up for a few days on doctor’s orders.  No standing around in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove today! It also means no gym for a few days.  So, lunch today is what I like to call an “everything but the kitchen sink” salad.

My criteria for a great salad, especially as a main meal, is that it must be incredibly filling, colourful, varied in texture and of course, tasty!

What to use (in any amount you desire)

Romaine lettuces (chopped)

Red and Green sweet peppers (thinly sliced)

Sweet corn

Raisins

Hard-boiled eggs (chopped) (remove the yolk if you like)

Carrots (shredded)

Celery (diced)

Cucumber (sliced)

Green apples (thinly sliced)

Bacon  (the real deal not that imitation stuff!)

Roasted chicken breast (chopped)

Cooked jumbo shrimp

Goat cheese (crumbled)

Cheddar cheese (finely shredded)

What to do (it ain’t rocket science!)

Toss all ingredients together with dressing of your choice! I used a honey dijon vinaigrette.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste.

Some of you may prefer a neater finish but I love to have combination of flavours in every bite (plus I think it’s prettier this way 😉 ).

Candi’s Cinnamon Hazelnut French Toast

Who doesn’t love french toast? It’s my favourite treat when I’m in the mood for something a little more indulgent for breakfast.  I’ve got a much needed day off from work today so I decided to whip up a somewhat healthier version of the classic french toast.  It is ridiculously simple and utterly delicious!

What to use

1/2 cup Silk Almond milk

2 tbs hazelnut coffee creamer

1 egg

1 tsp cinnamon powder

3 slices Pepperidge farm Brown Sugar Cinnamon Swirl Bread

PAM butter flavour cooking spray

Toppings (entirely optional but highly recommended!)

sugar free maple syrup

Hershey’s light chocolate syrup

Fat free whipped cream

sliced bananas

2 packets of Splenda (with added fiber)

 

What to do

Whisk together milk, creamer, egg and cinnamon.   Dip each slice of bread in the mixture.  Cook bread on each side over medium heat in a skillet or frying pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Once both sides are brown, plate and add toppings.

 

Maracas Bake and Shark

This lovely sandwich is a must have when you visit the famous Maracas beach on the North Coast of Trinidad. Freshly fried fish, a light fluffy bake and a variety of toppings.  I always get the works – lettuce, tomato, cucumber, shredded cabbage and pineapple.  And you can’t forget the condiments! Tamarind sauce, chadon beni (a variety of cilantro) sauce, mango chutney, kuchela and the usual suspects of ketchup, mustard, pepper and garlic sauce. Are you drooling yet?

 

Pelau

Pelau (pronounced pay-lao) is one of the traditional dishes of  my homeland, Trinidad & Tobago. It’s a very easy to make one pot meal…our version of pilaf or paella.   It’s a staple of many a get together or lime as we call them.  Everyone has their own twist on the popular dish but my preference is for the  deliciously simple combination of rice, chicken and pigeon peas.

I can pretty much make pelau in my sleep.  It’s a wonderful Saturday afternoon dish which can refrigerate well and provide lunch for the whole week.   I actually think it tastes better after a few days.

Here’s a recipe from one of my favourite cookbooks – The Naparima Girls’ High School Cookbook.  This cookbook, which features the multi-cultural cuisine of Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean,  is a must have for every Trinbagonian cook!

What to use

3 lbs chicken pieces, skinned

1tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 tbsp mixed green seasoning

2 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp ketchup

2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 – 3 tbsp brown sugar

2 cups parboiled rice

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2  cup chopped sweet or pimento peppers

1 1/2 cups cooked pigeon peas

1 tbsp salt

1 whole hot pepper with stem (Scotch Bonnet)

2 cups coconut milk

2 cups chicken broth or water

What to do

Season chicken with salt, pepper, green seasoning, minced garlic, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and ketchup.  Heat oil in a large heavy iron pot or skillet.  Add sugar and allow to burn until brown.  Add seasoned chicken and stir until pieces are well coated with burnt sugar; brown for 5 minutes.  Add rice and turn often until well mixed.  Cook for 3 minutes more.  Add onion, sweet peppers and peas and cook for a few minutes, stirring a few times.  Add salt, hot pepper, coconut milk and broth.  Bring to the boil, lower heat, cover and simmer until rice is cooked and all liquid is evaporated (about 20 to 30 minutes).  Add more liquid if rice is still hard and continue to cook for a few minutes.

My adjustments

I used whole grain brown rice instead of parboiled white rice to up the fiber content.  I also added chopped carrots for some colour.

Pelau is traditionally served with a side of coleslaw but unfortunately I had no cabbage!  Next time for sure!



Avocado and Jalapeno soup

Last week, I went to a fabulous restaurant to celebrate a friend’s birthday.  The food was divine.  I started off with the soup of the day which was avocado and jalapeno.   I was pretty skeptical at first but decided to give it a try anyway.  Not a bad decision at all.  It  was incredible.  Creamy, smooth and spicy.   I would have never thought of making a soup with avocado.

Anyhoo, I decided to recreate this lovely concoction sans recipe!

This is my version of it below. Now bear in mind, not only am I new at this food blogging thing, I tend to cook freehand with little measurements.  I did make an effort to keep track, though, so that I could produce something resembling a real recipe.

What to use

1 cup celery (chopped)

1 large carrot (chopped)

1 average sized white onion (chopped)

2 garlic cloves (diced)

4 jalapeno peppers (sliced)

2 medium sized avocados (peeled and roughly sliced)

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

2 tbs evaporated milk

1 dash of jalapeno powder

1 dash of cayenne pepper

water (2 to 3 cups)

What to do

Saute celery, onion, carrot and garlic in oil until tender. Add jalapenos peppers.  I would suggest you take out the seeds for less heat! I left mine in and it was pretty spicy. Add water.  Allow to simmer for a few minutes. Add avocado slices, milk, jalapeno powder , cayenne and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and leave over medium heat.  Stir occasionally and let cook until all vegetables are tender.  Puree! And that’s it!  You can add a little tabasco sauce as a garnish and for a little extra heat.

Serve hot with some crackers.

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