A roti and a red Solo

Imagine I had to come all the way to Brooklyn to get this classic Trini combo but at last I was able to satisfy my curry craving.  I was a bit skeptical at first when I approached Ali’s Trinidad Roti Shop on Fulton Street.  From the outside, the establishment did not look very promising – a bit dingy and run down.  Desperation and hunger won out though and I ventured inside to surprisingly clean surroundings, warm and welcoming Trini accents and the delicious smell of curry, cumin and ghee.

It wasn’t the best roti I’ve ever eaten but it was huge, the skin was light and fluffy and the chicken was tasty and well seasoned. It was a nice reminder of home and will tide me over until my next trip home.  Forgive the less than stellar pics but I was ravenous after a day of shopping and only remembered to take some snapshots halfway through the meal!

A farmers’ market breakfast

It’s spring time in New York and I’m visiting my lovely aunt who insisted on dragging me to the Farmers’ Market in the pouring rain this morning.  I don’t know what it is about markets and me but every single time I go to a market, no matter where in the world,  it rains. Not a sprinkle or a drizzle but buckets of rain!

Torrential downpour notwithstanding, I had lots of fun going through the fresh produce and sampling the organic, homemade items on offer from goat cheese with cinnamon and dried cranberries, honey, warm apple cider and fresh artisan bread. Yum! Unfortunately, since my camera is not waterproof I couldn’t take any pics!  We picked up some stuff for breakfast and lunch and made our way back through the rain via the park. And wouldn’t you know, as soon as we left the market, the rain eased!

Spring time in New York

For breakfast, I picked up freshly baked foccacia bread, fresh goat cheese, organic tomatoes, basil and oyster mushrooms which I’ve never tried but they looked so pretty,  I couldn’t resist.

Oyster Mushrooms

The oyster mushrooms lived up to their name.  They had a fishy, oyster like aroma and taste. I sauteed them in olive oil with some minced shallots and garlic for a few minutes and added a little kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and a squeeze of lime juice.

After removing them from the skillet, I lightly seared slices of tomato seasoned with kosher salt and Italian seasoning.  I used up the last juices from the pan by toasting the bread in the skillet.  I then plated everything up topping the tomato slices with goat cheese crumbles and fresh basil. We washed it all down with apple cider with a squeeze of lemon juice.


Happy Easter!

It’s the Easter weekend and I’m craving hot cross buns….  However, I’m on vacation so there will be no baking for me this weekend.  I’ll just have to drool over these!



   Wizzy’s Hot Cross Bun(nies)

Bake and buljol

coconut bake and saltfish

Weekends at my grandmother’s house meant a huge breakfast of freshly made  coconut bake, stewed down saltfish (buljol) and real cocoa tea made from the cocoa beans that she grew on the estate behind her house.  This is exactly what I was craving this Sunday morning. I couldn’t get the authentic cocoa tea but I could certainly rustle up some bake and buljol.

coconut bake and saltfish

Coconut bake

What to use

2 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

2 oz cold margarine

1/2 cup of coconut mik (approx. )

What to do

Sift flour with the baking powder and add salt.  Rub in margarine.  Slowly add the coconut milk and knead the mixture to make a smooth dough.  Leave to rest for about 25 minutes.  Roll out to  circle about 1 inch thick.  Place on greased baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  This should serve four persons or two very hungry persons.  Serve hot.

roast bake

Buljol

What to use

1 pack of of saltfish (salted cod) (preferably boneless or you will spend a lot of time picking out tiny bones)

1 pimento pepper

1/2 onion (red or white)

1 large ripe tomato (diced)

two cloves garlic (minced)

2 tbs ketchup

1 tbs olive oil

1/4 tsp lemon juice

1 tbs cilantro or shadon beni

1/2 green sweet pepper diced (didn’t use any this time around but it’s part of my usual recipe)

What to do

Place the saltfish in boiling water and soak overnight.  In the morning, rinse saltfish and shred into small pieces (removing any bones).  Rinse again and drain. You want to remove all that excess salt. Saute onion, peppers, garlic and cilantro in olive oil is large skillet over medium heat until tender.  Add saltfish, tomatoes, lemon juice and ketchup and cook for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Serve hot with coconut bake.

coconut bake and saltfish

Egg fried rice

No long story or clever anecdote tonight.  Just dinner! Chinese without the takeout.

What to use

3/4 cup long grain rice

2 eggs (beaten)

2 tbs vegetable oil

2 garlic cloves  (minced)

1 tsp lemongrass (ch0pped finely)

4 stalks spring onion (diced)

1 can peas and carrots

2 tbsp soy sauce (preferably reduced sodium)

a few sprigs of chives for garnishing

Chines five spice powder ( a couple dashes)

sea salt

What to do

Cook rice, drain, rinse in cold water and set aside.  Scramble eggs over low heat. Heat the oil in a wok or deep skillet until really hot.  Add the garlic, spring onions, lemon grass and peas and carrots and saute for about two minutes.  Stir in the rice and then add scrambled eggs.  Add soy sauce, five spice and salt to taste.  Saute for a few minutes more and then transfer to serving bowls.

Caprese Tarts (with a touch of feta)

I wanted to do a little twist on one of my favourite salads, the caprese salad. The caprese salad is  just a simple combination of tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil.  I used the same ingredients but decided to make into a little pastry instead. This recipe makes three tarts.

What to use

1/2 sheet of puff pastry (divided into three squares)

3 tsps of pesto

1/2 large tomato (sliced thickly)

3 tbs fresh basil leaves (julienned)

3 slices of feta cheese (tomato & basil flavoured preferably)

1 egg (whisked with 1 tsp of water to make egg wash)

dried oregano

Sea salt

black pepper

What to do

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Layer a baking tray with parchment paper.  Thaw out 1/2 sheet puff pastry and divide into three rectangles and place on baking tray. Be sure to leave a few inches between each rectangle.

Spread 1 tsp of pesto in the center of each rectangle.  Add one thick slice of tomato to each.  Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on each slice of tomato. Add some chopped basil, a thick slice of mozzarella, a little more basil and top with a slice of feta cheese.

Brush edges of each rectangle with egg wash and top each with a sprinkle of oregano. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Before they hit the oven….

Out of the oven….

tomato and mozzarella tarts

Close up…

Ready to dig in…

Ridiculously easy and absolutely delicious!

!!!!Updated to add new photo!!!

I couldn’t resist making these again the following night.  Just a little variation in presentation….

Baked eggs with spinach and cheese

 

Love and eggs are best when they are fresh. – Russian proverb


What to use

3 eggs

1/3 cup red peppers

2 tbs chopped chives

1 cup chopped fresh spinach

1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar

salt and pepper (to taste)

cooking spray

What to do

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two ramekins with cooking spray.  In a mixing bowl, add eggs and gently stir in remaining ingredients except cheese.  Don’t whisk!  Top with cheese.  Pour into ramekins and bake for 20 minutes.

Garnish with a little chopped chive.

This works perfectly for a brunch. You can increase the number of eggs and other ingredients accordingly and use a muffin tin to serve lots of people. Each person will then have a perfectly baked omelette and you don’t have to slave over a frying pan!

And this is what they looked like on the inside after I nibbled off all that lovely top layer of cheesy goodness!

 

Marinated seared tuna with wild rice

What a day! I’ve been making a real effort to eat regular, healthier these days but sometimes my work schedule wreaks havoc on my best laid plans.  Like today, all I had for the entire day was an unspectacular breakfast of  two slices of toast, a boiled egg and an apple! The only thing that got me through the day was the thought of this lovely, fat tuna steak that was waiting for me at home!

Beautiful, isn’t it?

I was pretty much ravenous by the time I got home from work so I decided to do a quick marinade and sear the tuna.

What to use

1 fresh tuna steak

1 tbs olive oil

1 tbs sesame oil

1 tbs soy sauce

6 tbs white wine vinegar

1/2 lemon

1 tbs chopped cilantro

few sprigs of thyme

ground black pepper

sea salt

What to do

Whisk together olive oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, cilantro, thyme, salt and pepper. Marinate tuna in mixture for about 15 minutes. Heat heavy skillet and add a little olive oil. When oil is hot, add tuna and sear for two to three minutes on each side over medium high heat.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and bake tuna for about 10 minutes.  Remove and allow to rest for a few minutes.  I know a lot of people prefer their tuna rare but I like mine medium to well with just a hint of pink on the inside.

Sprinkle steak with a little more sea salt and coarse pepper.

I had my tuna steak on a bed of fresh herb salad with some wild rice that I quickly sauteed in some butter, garlic powder, oregano, parsley, onion powder and finely chopped parsley.

I washed it all down with some fresh watermelon juice. (I blended some fresh watermelon, strained it and added some fresh lemon juice and wedges.)

Not a bad way to end the day!

 

Hearty lentil soup

Wow! I’ve been so busy.  It’s seems like it’s been ages since I’ve had a home-cooked meal.  I’ve been planning to make this soup for some time now but only just got around to actually doing it.

It’s pretty easy to put together and is a hearty option for dinner.

What to use

1 cup lentils (washed and drained)

1  white onion (sliced)

2 celery stalks (diced)

2 cloves garlic (minced)

1 tbs shadon beni (finely chopped)

3 tbs spring onion or chive (finely chopped)

2 carrots (sliced)

3 cups pumpkin (cubed)

2 tomatoes (diced)

3 cups water or vegetable stock

2 bay leaves

salt and pepper to taste

1 tbs lemon juice

parsley for garnishing

2 tbs olive oil

Tabasco sauce

What to do

Boil lentils for two minutes and leave to soak for an hour.  Drain lentils and set aside. Saute onion, celery, garlic, shadon beni and spring onion in olive oil until tender.  Add lentils, carrots, pumpkin, tomatoes, water/stock, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until lentils are soft and pumpkin and carrots are tender. Stir in lemon juice and remove bay leaves before serving. Add a few dashes of Tabasco sauce and top with parsley.

 

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