Thursday, 10 December 2015

Spicy Cabbage Soup

As you can see from the red color of the soup, this is unlike many other cabbage soups that you may find on the Internet. This is a very spicy soup that once again combines a variety of very spicy ingredients from my mixed cultural heritage. It is not for those who do not like spicy food. In addition to cabbage, I have added sweet corn, carrots and Chayote squash. It's the perfect warming agent for those very cold Winter nights....but again, only for those who like and can tolerate spicy food!
2 lbs meaty Lamb neck bones
1 tablespoon Jamaican Meat seasoning
1/2 tablespoon of Lebanese 7 spice mixture
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 cups of chicken broth
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 medium sized carrots, peeled and sliced
1 Chayote squash, peeled and cubed
1 tin sweet corn
1/2 cup pearl barley
3/4 cup Maggi Spicy Masala Chili Sauce
1 whole Habanero Pepper (green)
4 oz Spicy Cajun Andouille sausage, sliced thickly
6 Allspice Berries
1 Tablespoon Caraway seeds
4-5 sprigs thyme
4-5 cloves garlic
1 large yellow onion
1 lb very ripe tomatoes
1 small head of cabbage cut into pieces
1. Season the neck bones which have been cut in small pieces, with the spice mixtures, salt and pepper. Marinate in refrigerator overnight.
2. Mix in about 1 tablespoon olive oil and place in an oven proof baking dish. Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 45 minutes until the spices and meat have browned.
3. Chop the onion and garlic very finely in a small chopper. Wash and puree the tomatoes.
4. Drain the drippings from the browned lamb bones into a frying pan or wok. Place the meat, barley, thyme, tinned corn, caraway seeds, and allspice berries into a large (7-8 quart) slow cooker.
5. Saute the chopped onions,garlic and sliced Andouille sausage in the lamb drippings until the onions become translucent. Add the pureed tomato mixture and the spicy Masala Chili sauce. Let this simmer for about 3 minutes then add the mixture to the slow cooker.
6. Add the 6 cups of chicken broth to the ingredients in the slow cooker, and float the whole habanero chili pepper on top. Cover and cook on high for 8 hours.
7. About an hour before the soup is finished, add the chopped vegetables and cabbage. Balance flavors to taste using chicken bouillon cubes or granules.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Slow Cooker Hakka Style Chinese Ribs with Red Bean Curd

As I mentioned in previous postings, I grew up in the Caribbean in a multicultural setting. My best childhood friend was of Hakka Chinese ancestry. I became accustomed to this style of Chinese cooking, with its myriad flavors and multidimensional sauces. This is why other styles of Chinese cooking, especially Northern style cooking appears very bland to my palate. The unique flavor of this dish comes from the fermented Red Bean Curd.

Instead of cooking this in a wok, I did it in a slow cooker. That way I just set it, and forget it! Step 6 is very important as the sauce is too delicious to be wasted.


2 1/2 lbs pork ribs, cut into bite-sized pieces (I use Pork Loin Back Rib Tips or Oriental cut ribs)

5 Tbsp oil

1 whole bulb of garlic
6 shallots
2x2inch piece of dried orange peel, soaked in water until soft

1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder

3 Tablespoon mashed fermented red bean curd (about 3-4 cubes) plus 1 tablespoon of the fermenting liquid

4 teaspoons Dark Brown Sugar or Piloncillo

2 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce

1 Tablespoon rice wine
1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 small can of chicken broth

1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 -1 teaspoon salt 


1. Put pork ribs into a large bowl and sprinkle the light soy sauce over them. Mix well and set aside for 30 minutes.
2. Heat oil in a wok until very hot, then add pork ribs and fry until lightly browned.
3. Remove the browned rib pieces and put in a 2-3 quart slow cooker.
4.  Put the shallots, peeled garlic cloves, rehydrated orange peel and ginger in a small chopper. Chop finely.
5. Discard the oil in which the ribs were browned, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the wok. Lower the heat to medium and add the chopped garlic, five spice powder, shallots, orange peel, and ginger and stir-fry for a few seconds.

3. Add the mashed red bean curd and stir-fry for 1 minute, then add in sugar, dark soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, and mix. 

4. Pour in the can of broth and bring to a boil.

5. Pour this mixture over the browned ribs in the slow cooker and cook on high for about 4 hours or until the ribs are fully cooked. 

6. Remove cooked ribs from the slow cooker using a slotted spoon, and place them in a bowl. Pour the liquid from the slow cooker into a pot or wok and heat on high heat until the volume is reduced by one third. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes so that the sauce and oil separate. Drain the oil off the top and pour the thickened sauce over the ribs.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

A Thick and Hearty Spicy Lamb and Lentil Soup

Nothing beats a thick, hearty soup in the Winter. I like any kind of bean soup as long as it's spicy, and can be made in a slow cooker. For this version of lentil and lamb soup, I wanted something that had complex flavors and would be spicy so I took  inspiration from my Jamaican-Lebanese cultural heritage. It does require some work to get the right balance of flavors but I found that adding some chicken bouillon cubes (1-2) towards the end, tasting as I did so, resulted in what I wanted to achieve. The flavors are a mix of Jamaican and Lebanese spices and include, black pepper, allspice, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, and cloves, all of which are contained in the prepared spice mixes that I used.. The Habanero pepper is ubiquitous in Jamaican cooking as we put that in almost every dish that we make! You will need a large (7-8 quart) slow cooker for this unless you plan to make it in a stockpot on the stove. The length of time for which the soup is cooked is not so much for the lentils but more to ensure that the lamb is cooked to the point where the meat falls off the bones. Lamb is a very fatty meat so if you prefer something less so, I guess beef or chicken could be substituted.
1 1/2 lbs Lamb neck bones
4oz spicy Andouille Cajun Sausage, sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped (yellow, sweet, white, it does not matter)
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lb very ripe tomatoes, pureed
1 lb lentils, washed and picked over
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 8 oz can mushroom stems and pieces, drained
1-2 tablespoons Jamaican Meat seasoning
1/2 rounded tablespoon Lebanese 7 spice mix
8-10 whole Allspice berries
5-6 sprigs thyme
2 tablespoons Maggi Spicy Masala sauce (if you cannot get this, use 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce)
1 Habanero chili pepper, whole
10 oz butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
8-10 cups chicken broth (depending on capacity of slow cooker or stockpot)
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 cups Swiss Chard or Kale leaves, washed and cut into thick strips

Have the butcher cut the lamb neck bones into small chunks (see photo)

 Season the lab with the meat seasoning and 7 spice mix. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
Brown the lamb chunks in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit(see photo)

 Sauté the chopped onions, sliced Andouille sausage, garlic, thyme, and allspice berries in the oliveoil until the onion becomes translucent. Add the pureed tomatoes and the whole habanero pepper to the mix and sauté 2-3 minutes longer.
Put the lentils, barley, sautéed mixture of onions etc, drained mushroom pieces, Maggi sauce, oven browned lamb chunks (I discarded the small amount of drippings), and butternut squash in a 7 quart slow cooker. Add 8 cups of broth and cook on high for 6 hours (you may need to top up with broth as the liquid is absorbed during the cooking process. If you need to do this, boil the broth before adding to the slow cooker to prevent a drop in cooking temperature). Taste at the end of the cooking period and season to taste using 1-2 chicken bouillon cubes (I like the Wylers brand). Add the Kale or Swiss Chard leaves 5-10 minutes before serving

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Puffed Millet Cookies

Update: A friend has told me that he sprinkled some coarse sea salt over these cookies prior to baking, and then pressed the grains into the cookie mix. I can well imagine that this would be delicious as one would end up wiath a salted caramel taste especially if Panela sugar is used! I plan to try it with my next batch!

I wanted to make a biscuit (sometimes called a cookie in other countries) using puffed millet, and Piloncillo. Most of the recipes I found for this were in the form of "no-bake" bars, and was not what I wanted. Piloncillo is a type of raw sugar that is common throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. It is a mixture of sugar crystals and molasses, formed at the stage of sugar processing where the two have not yet separated. Different countries have different names for it. The name piloncillo refers to the traditional cone shape in which the sugar is produced (see photo)
. It is also known as panela and panocha. There are actually two varieties of piloncillo produced one is lighter (blanco) and one darker (oscuro). In Jamaica, we call the very dark "wet" variety, "New Sugar" or "Wet Sugar. This is softer, more liquid than Piloncillo, and we would eat it "as is" or use it to preserve Tamarinds. I could not find that here in the US so Piloncillo or its Indian cousin "Jaggery" would have to do! I put the lump of Piloncillo or Panela in a plastic ziploc bag, the wrap the bag in a clean kitchen towel. I use a wooden mortar or a hammer to hit it through the towel so that it breaks into smaller pieces. The result is a soft center coated with a caramel outside. I use it to sweeten my coffee as the taste is far more flavorful than just dark brown sugar.

Piloncillo is very hard compared to the brown sugar you purchase in a box in mainstream American supermarkets. I like the dark, Colombian variety called Panela that comes in a flattened shape.
If you cannot find Piloncillo in your neighborhood Latino market, you can substitute dark brown sugar in this recipe but you will not end up with the same taste. The recipe yielded 30 cookies, and using one of the nutrition calculators online (Calorie Count) it said that each cookie had approximately 7 grams sugar and 14 grams carbohydrate. I cannot verify that with any accuracy. Are these cookies healthy? I have no idea. Are these cookies delicious.....Hell, yes! They are crisp, crunchy with a hint of caramel that goes great with a cup of coffee. You will not be able to eat only one!

  • ½ cup self raising flour+1/2 cup durum atta flour
  • 3/4 cup Piloncillo
  • 1 cup flax meal
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 cup Scottish oatmeal
  • 1 cup puffed millet
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 75g butter+50 grams coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 6 tbsp boiling water

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking trays with parchment paper. Place flours, oatmeal, puffed millet, sesame seeds, salt, and flax meal in a bowl and stir to combine. Make a well in the centre.
2. Place butter, Piloncillo, coconut oil, and golden syrup in a saucepan to melt, heat over low heat until bubbly and smells like caramel. Dissolve baking soda in the boiling water. It will foam when added. Add melted ingredients and dissolved baking soda to dry ingredients and mix to combine.
3. Using both hands, shape 1 heaping tablespoon of mixture to form balls ( see photo)
and press onto prepared baking trays, lined with parchment paper, using the bottom of a drinking glass. I oil the bottom of the glass, and press lightly until the ball is flattened to about 1/2 inch thickness (see photo above). Allow space for biscuits to spread while cooking.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until firm and golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes.
5. Lower the oven temperature to 250 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake for another 45 minutes to one hour. It is this drying out phase that makes the biscuits crisp and longer lasting. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack. Store in an air tight container.


Sunday, 29 November 2015

Jerk Pork Loin Back Rib Tips in Jack Daniels BBQ Sauce

This is a recipe I developed to balance the fiery taste of jerk pork with the sweetness of an American Style BBQ Sauce. The seasonings I used are spicy but not significantly so when used in the proportions in the recipe. It is a very simple recipe, and not one that requires a lot of preparation or ingredients. My supermarket sells the pork loin back rib tips, in strips, at a very reasonable price. These tips are what is cut from a rack of back ribs to give it a nice, straight edge. They look like oriental style cut ribs that are sold in strips in Asian supermarkets but the back rib tips are much meatier. The supermarket tends to put out a couple of packages each day so I tend to check every time I'm there to build up my stock. The "jerk" seasoning provide the background flavors while the Jack Daniels BBQ sauce gives the necessary sweetness and glaze to the ribs.

3 lbs Pork Loin Back Rib Tips
1 heaping teaspoon of Grace Hot Jerk Seasoning
1 1/2 tablespoons of Grace Caribbean Meat Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon Pickapeppa Sauce
1 Tablespoon Worcester Sauce
1 Tablespoon Sriracha Pepper Sauce
1 bottle Jack Daniels Hickory Brown Sugar BBQ Sauce
1. Cut the rib tip strips into 2-3 inch lengths. Put in a ziploc plastic bag.
2. Add all the seasonings with the exception of the BBQ sauce. That is added later. Mix to coat all the pieces in the bag with the seasonings. Marinate in fridge overnight.
3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer the ribs to an appropriate size baking dish (I use a 9X13 inch baking dish). Bake the ribs for anywhere between 30-45 minutes until they are nicely browned. Remove from oven and add the bottle of BBQ sauce to the ribs.
4. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and return to oven for another 30 minutes.
5. Remove from oven, take off the foil and place the ribs under the broiler for about 5-10 minutes until the sauce is bubbly and thick, and the ribs develop a slight char. Have a lot of paper towels handy as these are very moist and coated with the sauce.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Honey Persimmon Quince Tea Bread

This is a spin-off on my Plantain Cranberry Bread but it is a difficult recipe, and very labor intensive. Don't try it unless you have a lot of time, a lot of help or both! The result, however, is outstanding so it's well worth all the effort I put into it.....and no, I did not have any help! The flavor is not strong as the fruits used do not themselves have strong flavors. I wanted to find a way to use Quinces since this is their season, and the usual method of poaching is too sweet for me (not that I don't do that and have it with plain yogurt, and granola). The spices have been adjusted to compliment the combination of quince and persimmon, and I have substituted honey in place of molasses to result in a more pleasing, lighter color for the bread. I also used a Meyer Lemon
as it's like a cross between an orange (the flavor that goes best with Quince) and a lemon. This delicately flavored, and not very dense bread goes well with a fragrant tea!
Asian pear, Quince,and Persimmons

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup bread flour

½ cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon Chinese 5 Spice Powder

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

1 tsp grated fresh ginger root

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup yogurt

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

½ cup oil

1 Asian Pear or Apple( the skin is quite tough so I just cut it in quarters, cored it, then grated only the inside of the fruit. The peel stays intact while you are doing this and can be discarded). Drain the accumulated liquid before adding it to the rest of the mixture.

2 tablespoons honey

3/4 cup grated Quince (The quince can be peeled easily using a regular vegetable peeler. Cut the fruit in half with a large, sharp chef's knife. Be sure your cutting board is secure; the fruit is very tough and spongy and will be hard to cut.)

3/4 cup shredded Persimmon (Peel the persimmon, then grate it)

½ cup chopped dried cranberries
Juice and zest of one Meyer lemon

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a loaf pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper, Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, 5 spice powder, coriander.
3.In another bowl, mix together well, the shredded persimmon, grated apple, ginger root, Meyer lemon juice and zest, chopped cranberries, grated quince, and yogurt.
4.In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, dark brown sugar, oil, and honey.
5. Add the Quince and persimmon mixture to the wet ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until fully incorporated.
3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, and mix together until just combined. Do not over mix.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the edges are golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then allow it to cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Chewy or Crunchy Oatmeal Granola Treacle Breakfast Bars

 Update: 11/29/15. I decided to give this a new title, as well as revise the directions. My reason for doing this is that the bars can either be "chewy" or "crunchy" depending on a simple tweak to the ingredient list, and the baking method. 
These started off as chewy, oatmeal seed bars that are different to my breakfast cookies. I wanted to make a bar that was not too hard but also not very soft. These fit the bill! I did not put the chopped, dried cranberries in these but will do so next time. It's important to make sure that the mixture is really compacted tightly in the baking tin. I used the method of covering the mixture with plastic wrap and using a rolling pin to to the compacting. It worked well. Press the mixture in the pan using your fingers first, then use the rolling pin to really pack it tightly. I used puffed millet to give add some crunch to the bars but any of the puffed cereals can be used. I like the Arrowhead Mills range. If you want to make the bars crisp, replace 1/2 cup of the Scottish Oatmeal with Durum Atta flour, and extend the time of the second bake by 1 hour at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. The bars also have to be placed on a rack for this second bake. 

3 cups Scottish oatmeal

2 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons coconut or vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon Salt

1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar

1/4 cup Lyles Golden Syrup

2 Tbsp water

1/2 tsp baking soda

2-3 Tbsp Molasses

1 tsp Vanilla

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup puffed Millet

1/2 cup Flax meal (or 1/4 cup wheat germ+1/4 cup flax meal)

1/4 cup Finely Chopped Pumpkin seeds

2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup chopped, dried cranberries (optional)
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, water, vanilla, chopped cranberries, golden syrup, butter, coconut oil, salt, and molasses. Heat the mixture slowly, stirring until all combined and the mixture is bubbling.
2.Toss together the oatmeal, puffed millet, wheat germ, baking soda, flax meal, cinnamon, sesame and pumpkin seeds. Pour in the sugar mixture, water and baking soda, stirring as you pour. Mix until everything is well coated with the liquid mixture.

3.Press firmly into a shallow baking pan lined with parchment paper. The mixture fits perfectly in a 9x11x1 inch pan. Make sure the paper overhangs the sides of the baking pan (photo). Use your fingers to press the mixture first, then cover with plastic wrap or wax paper and use a rolling pin as seen in the photo

4. Bake until golden, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and score into squares with a sharp knife (do not cut all the way through).
Then decrease the temperature to 275 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake for another 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven,  cut along score lines to form squares but leave to cool in pan.  Lift parchment paper out of the pan and fully cut square pieces with a sharp knife. To make the crunchy variation, modify the oatmeal mixture as explained at the beginning, after the first bake break the bars along the score lines and place on a rack in a baking tin. Lower the oven temperature to 250 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake for about 1 hour to dry the bars out completely. Remove from oven when the bars are a dark brown color, cool on the rack and keep in an airtight container. 

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Plantain Cranberry Bread

This is one of those recipes that you can taste in your mind but translating it to reality is a challenge. I came up with this as I wanted something for Thanksgiving that was not made with Pumpkin! We do not celebrate Thanksgiving where I'm from but if we did, I guess this could be called Plantain Thanksgiving Bread. I can't call it Harvest Bread as the ingredients I have used, grow year round in the Caribbean. I therefore settled on Plantain Cranberry Bread as that would bridge the Caribbean-American gap. I also used American Sweet Potato or Sweet Yam as it's sometimes called. I did not use the Caribbean sweet potato or Boniato as it is more starchy, and has a different taste and texture to the American variety. It is a tedious recipe to make because of so many ingredients but it's well worth the effort......very "Moreish" as we say in the Caribbean!

·          INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup bread flour

½ cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon nutmeg

⅛ teaspoon allspice

1 tsp grated fresh ginger root

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup yogurt

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

½ cup oil

1 Chayote squash, peeled, seed removed, and finely grated (I would imagine that 1/2 cup of grated zucchini could be used as a substitute)

2 tablespoons molasses

3/4 cup grated raw, American sweet potato

3/4 cup "turn" plantain ("turn" means that the plantain is firm with yellow skin, not soft and ripe with blackened skin), peeled and shredded(if you are not familiar with how to peel it, there are many sources on the Internet that show you how to do it)

½ cup chopped dried cranberries
Juice and zest of one lemon


1. Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Grease a loaf pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper, Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg and allspice.

3.In another bowl, mix together well, the shredded plantain, grated chayote, ginger root, lemon juice and zest, chopped cranberries, grated sweet potato, and yogurt.  To shred the Plantain, use the coarse shredder (larger holes), and use the smaller holes to grate the other ingredients)

Shredded "turn" Plantain

4.In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, dark brown sugar, oil, and molasses.

5. Add the sweet potato and plantain mixture to the wet ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until fully incorporated.

3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, and mix together until just combined. Do not over mix.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the edges are golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then allow it to cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Brown Butter Raisin Beer Bread

 This is a very quick and easy beer bread to make. Unlike others on the Internet, this recipe uses a variety of dry ingredients that enhance its nutritional value as well as its taste. I used a Boston Lager but I'm sure any light ale would work. I added the Flax Meal because of the high concentration of Omega3 found in that grain. The oatmeal adds fiber as well as helps lower cholesterol. All in all, it is a very satisfying breakfast bread that goes great with a morning cup of coffee.

1 cup bread flour
1 cup wholewheat flour
1/2 cup scottish oatmeal
1/2 cup flax meal
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup raisins, finely chopped
2 tbsp butter
1 12oz bottle lager

1. Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside
2. Slowly melt butter,  molasses and finely chopped raisins in a saucepan until butter slightly caramelizes.
3. Add the beer to the cooled butter mixture then add all to the dry ingredients, mixing until a dough forms.
4. Pour mixture into a well greased and floured loaf tin. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40-50 minutes or until cake tester inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.
5. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before turning out on a cooling rack to cool further. Slice when cooled completely. I cut the bread in thick slices, then cut those in half (see photo)
The bread goes well with butter or cheese.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Healthy Crunchy Sesame Pumpkin Seed Cookies

I'm always looking around for a healthy bar or cookie to eat for breakfast. These fit the bill. It's a cross between a Granola bar and a seeded cookie. I can also control the amount and type of sugar that I use. These are dry, crisp cookies that are double baked, and dried out in the oven so that they keep indefinitely. They never usually last that long however. Using the amount of sugar in the recipe results in cookies that are not that sweet but the amount and type of sugar can be increased if sweeter cookies are desired. Other types of sugar such as raw Turbinado, Piloncillo, or Palm sugar could also be substituted for the brown sugar in the recipe. These will bring a different dimension of taste to the cookie. If Piloncillo is used, omit the molasses and use maple syrup instead.
3/4 cup flour+3/4 cup durum atta flour
3/4 cup sugar (I use a mixture of 1/2 dark brown and 1/2 granulated white sugar)
1 cup flax meal
2 heaping tbsp salted and toasted pumpkin seed kernels, finely chopped almost to a meal like consistency (if using unsalted seeds, add 1/2 tsp salt to mixture)
2 heaping tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp desiccated, unsweetened coconut
2 cups oatmeal
2 1/2 oz butter
2 1/2 oz coconut oil
2 tbsp molasses (Honey, Golden Syrup or Maple Syrup could also be used)
1 1/4 tsp baking soda (for a less crumbly, firmer texture use 1/2 tsp baking soda)
8 tbsp boiling water

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Place flours, sugars, pumpkin and sesame seeds, oatmeal, and flax meal in a bowl and stir to combine. Make a well in the center.
2. Place butter, coconut oil, and molasses in a saucepan to melt, or microwave in a bowl to melt. Dissolve baking soda in the boiling water. Add melted ingredients and dissolved baking soda to dry ingredients and mix to combine.
3. For shaping, I use a wooden mold that is made specifically for a Lebanese pastry called Ma'amool, and fill the mold completely with the dough, pressing it tightly then inverting it on to the baking sheet.
I would imagine, as I stated in a previous recipe, a similar shape might also be obtained if the mixture is packed tightly into an oiled foil cupcake liner then inverted onto prepared baking trays (I use parchment paper), allowing space for biscuits to spread while cooking. The dough can be a bit crumbly and that makes it difficult to handle.
4. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from oven to cool for 15-20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 275 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake the cookies for another 45-50 minutes until they are golden brown in color. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. The cookies will become harder as they cool. Store in an airtight container.                      

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Ground Pork with Bitter Melon

I guess this recipe could also be entitled, "Fish Tasting Pork with Bitter Melon". The pork does end up with a "fishy" taste. I grew up eating mainly Hakka Chinese food in Jamaica. My friend's mother was an excellent cook, and she would always put something "smelly" in whenever she cooked Bitter Melon. It would either be dried shrimp or dried fish, something to make it fragrant (Fragrant 香 - xiāng). Nowadays, the term "Umami" is used to describe that kind of taste, and for me, it's an integral part of my taste in food.  I decided to use XO Sauce and Fish Sauce to try and recapture that taste. I use Lee Kum Kee Premium XO Sauce. It's very expensive but has a quality and taste that the cheaper versions cannot match. Getting the right balance between the "sweet" and Salty" tastes in this dish that counteract the bitterness of the Bitter Melon, is not easy. The seasonings may require adjustment at final tasting to get the taste you like.This dish has very little sauce so it goes well with stir-fried vegetables or steamed Chinese Broccoli or Yu Choy Sum.

3/4 lb ground pork
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 bitter melon, washed, deseeded, and sliced (see photo)
1 tablespoon salt
3 stalks green onion
3 cloves garlic
4-5 slices of ginger root
1/2 tsp black or white pepper
1 heaping tbsp Lee Kum Kee XO Premium Sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 chicken bullion cube + 1/2 cup water
1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp Guilin chili sauce
1. Wash, remove pulp and seeds, and slice the Bitter Melon (see photos). Mix with 1 tablespoon of salt and set aside for about a half hour. This helps to decrease the bitterness of the Bitter Melon. 

2. Place the garlic and green onions in a small chopper, and chop finely (see photo).

3. Rinse and drain the Bitter Melon so that no salt is left on the vegetable.
4. Microwave the chicken cube with the water so that it's dissolved. Mix in the XO sauce, sugar, fish sauce, and chili sauce.
5. Heat the cooking oil in a wok and fry the ground pork until fully cooked, and some of the pork starts to brown. Add the black or white pepper to this mixture.
6. Add the ginger root, chopped green onions and garlic and continuing frying.
7. Add the sliced Bitter Melon and continuing stir-frying
8. Add the bullion mixture with sauces to the wok and cook at high heat until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Serve.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Oven Baked Beer Braised Pork Ribs

I like barbecued ribs a lot but do not have an outdoor grill. This has forced me to come up with ways to "barbecue" using only my oven. One supermarket here in the US sells what they call "end tips" of pork spareribs. These appear to be the ends that are cut off a rack of ribs to make the edges nice and straight. This is what I used for this dish but any cut of pork ribs may be used e.g country style, Missouri style etc. I use Jamaican type seasoning as that's what I like but I'm sure any type of all purpose meat seasoning could also be used. 
Yummy, rich, dark brown sauce. Ignore the rice grains

3 to 3 1/2 lbs rib tips or pork spareribs
3 tbsp all purpose meat seasoning
1 bottle barbecue sauce, any brand you like
1 tbsp Sriracha pepper sauce
1 tsp Paprika
1 12 oz bottle lager
1 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
3 medium sized shallots,chopped coarsely
4 tbsp cooking oil
1. The rib tips come cut the length of a rack of pork. I cut them into shorter lengths. Season with the all purpose seasoning and paprika (see photo) and 2 tablespoons cooking oil. Marinate in refrigerator overnight. 

2. Line a roasting pan with heavy duty oven foil. Place ribs on the rack of a roasting pan, and broil until lightly charred (see photo). Alternatively, you could brown the ribs in a frying pan. 

 3. Discard the oil that's drained into the roasting pan and add the remaining 2 tbsp cooking oil fresh cooking oil. Add the chopped shallots to this (see photo) and put under broiler until the shallots start to cook and smell fragrant.
4. Remove from under broiler. Set oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the broiled pork strips to the roasting pan, along with the lager, brown sugar, and molasses. Cover with foil and steam bake for 1 hour.
5. Remove pan from oven, uncover, and add the bottle of barbecue sauce, and the Sriracha pepper sauce. Shake pan back and forth to mix and coat the ribs, making sure that they are submerged in the liquid.
6. Place roasting pan under broiler and broil until the liquid is bubbling, reduced in volume, thickens and coats the ribs. You may have to move the pan from under the broiler to turn the ribs in the mixture so that they do not burn but instead develop an even char. The ribs come out with a rich, brown color, coated with sauce, and have a really good flavor.