Thursday, 28 May 2015

Apricot Sour Cherry Chutney

Pork chop, chutney, baked plantain and pickled cucumbers
This is a very quick and easy way to whip up a very tasty condiment to go with a thick cut pork loin chop, seasoned and cooked to your taste.
 6 dried Apricots
4 Tbsp dried sour cherries
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 Green Habanero pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Garam Masala
Thin slice ginger root
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp vinegar
1. Coarsely chop the dried apricots, cherries, onion, garlic, habanero pepper and ginger root. I use a small chopper to do this
2. Put all in a small saucepan and add the vinegar, salt, Garam Masala, and sugar
3. Bring to a boil and immediately turn down the heat to low. Simmer covered for 10 -15 minutes. If any is left over, it will keep in the refrigerator for a day or two.
Apricot and sour cherry chutney

Banana Chayote Squash and Mango Bread

Banana Chayote Bread
Living in Jamaica in the 1970s proved challenging for someone who liked baking cakes and breads. The importation of many items that used to be readily available in the 1960s, ceased, and one was forced to turn to making do with local ingredients that were not really made to do the same things. One had to figure out how to use things of similar texture but which had a different taste, in recipes. This bread is a result of that time when the motto was “Tun you hand” or make do with what you had. Fortunately, bananas, spices, coconut oil were readily available. All purpose flour and granulated or “white” sugar were luxuries to be had at supermarkets by buying “under the counter” or if someone would bring it back from a monthly shopping trip to Miami. These items were also available at US Dollar based stores in tourist areas on the North Coast, established for tourists and expats to purchase items. If you really wanted the items badly enough, and had a couple of US Dollars to spare, the items could be had a grossly inflated prices if you were prepared to drive from Kingston to the North Coast often. Brown sugar was often all that was available in ordinary grocery stores, and the flour readily available then was known as “counter flour” which I suspect was bread flour. This is why I have added flax and oatmeal as that type of flour is heavier, and more dense and glutinous than the lighter, all purpose variety. Zucchini could be grown there but I suspect that not many people thought about doing that even though it used to be readily available in supermarkets just a decade before. In its place, I have used the Chayote Squash or Cho-Cho as it is known in local Patois. This member of the squash family is grown and eaten throughout Central America and the Caribbean, and it became the substitute when “American” apples were no longer imported. The texture of the raw Chayote is like that of a Pear but the vegetable itself is tasteless. It does however take up the flavor of whatever juice or sauce in which it is cooked. Soaked in apple juice for 1-2 hours, it became pieces of “apple” used in pies, crumbles etc. All in all, as challenging as those times were, doing without a lot of things probably resulted in my making a healthier version of the bread!

The chopped dried mango makes a nice contrast

The Mango makes a nice contrast
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup oatmeal
¼ cup flaxmeal
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 tsp teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp allspice
Dash of Cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 medium ripe banana, mashed (about 1 cup)
Thumb sized piece of root ginger, peeled and finely grated
Juice and zest of 1 lemon (In Jamaica I used a small sour orange, known in local Patois as the “Civil” Orange, possibly a corruption of the term for Seville Orange. We used it to make Bitter Marmalade)
3/4 cup peeled, seed removed, coarsely shredded Chayote squash
1/2 cup chopped dried mango
Chayote cut open



1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour one loaf pan and set aside. I also line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt
3. In a separate bowl, add the Lemon juice, zest, grated ginger, chopped dried mango, and shredded chayote squash to the mashed bananas. Doing this prevents the mashed banana from turning brown, and also helps soften the chopped, dried mango pieces.
4. In a large bowl, use the whisk attachment of your stand mixer to mix the eggs. Add the sugar and oil and whisk until it takes on a pale color, and is mixed. Change to the paddle attachment for your mixer. Add in the banana mixture and mix well. Add the flour mixture and stir gently with a wooden spoon or on low speed on your stand mixer until no flour remains. 
5. Pour mixture into prepared loaf pan. Bake until a bamboo skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes, depending on your oven. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and then remove the bread from the pans and place on wire rack to cool completely before serving. Slice and serve. The bread keeps well when wrapped and frozen. Thaw just before use by reheating slowly in a microwave using low power.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

A typical Lebanese Snack, Olives and Cheese

Dressed Olives and Manchego Cheese

Olives dressed Lebanese Jamaican style

A typical Lebanese snack I grew up eating was a dish of cheese, olives, and bread! This was also eaten at breakfast or as an after dinner offering instead of a sweet desert. The bread is usually Pita but any flatbread would work equally well. The cheese is a hard, white, salty cheese like Greek Kefalotiri or Kasseri, Bulgarian Kashkaval, or Spanish Manchego. Olives are a mixture of black and green olives. Years ago, I would cure my own olives but now I buy them cured from a mainstream supermarket or a Middle Eastern or Greek store. The dressing I use is Lebanese-Jamaican style so it does differ from how the olives are dressed in Lebanon. Naturally, the Habanero pepper plays a role! There are no measurements.
Olives plus some of the brine in which they have been cured
Lemon or Lime juice
A small amount of vinegar, maybe 1-2 teaspoons (too much makes the olives get soft)
1-2 Habanero peppers with seeds, sliced.
Olive Oil
  1. Put the olives and the brine in a bowl. Make a couple of small cuts in the olives with a sharp knife.
  2. Chop up a couple of garlic cloves, coarsely. Add the chopped garlic,sliced Habanero pepper, thyme leaves, vinegar, and lemon or lime juice and mix all together.
  3. Place this mixture with all the liquid in a clean container, and cover the olives with olive oil. Keep refrigerated, and take olives out as needed with a CLEAN, DRY spoon. They will keep for quite some time like this.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Quinoa Tabouleh, Lebanese-Jamaican Version

Quinoa Tabouleh

My pot of Mint

Lebanese, because of their Phoenician heritage, love to migrate to other countries. Indeed, there are far more Lebanese outside of Lebanon than are currently living in the country. My own Grandparents arrived in the Caribbean in 1897 from a small mountain village in Lebanon. No matter which country they went to live, they preserved their culture, food, but unfortunately for many second generation Lebanese like myself, the language only lives on in the form of words for food, and a couple of swear words! What they did with their food was to adapt it in many ways to include local ingredients. One such adaptation in the Caribbean, particularly Jamaica, was to include the Habanero or Scotch Bonnet Chili pepper in all their cooking. To people currently living in Lebanon, the addition of such a hot pepper would be unthinkable as they prefer to use ground Sumac to obtain the sourness, tartness and spicy taste necessary. Another adaptation was to use limes instead of lemons in the dishes, as lemons were not always available.

I have a pot of beautiful, fresh mint growing in my garden so I knew that a dish of Tabouleh would have to be made with it! Tabouleh, or Cracked Wheat Salad, has many variations in Lebanon, and other countries of the Levantine region. The mix of grains, spices and herbs vary between families, regions within Lebanon, and countries of the region, each proclaiming their version to be the “best”. The most serious insult one can offer a Levantine person would be to say that you do not like their Tabouleh!

This version is made with Quinoa, a grain from South America, and the seasonings I use are representative of the Caribbean version of the dish. I also make it with cracked wheat or Bulgur wheat. There are few measurements as the final product is solely dependent on individual taste. I do not use a food processor to chop the herbs and vegetables as it results in too much bruising of the leaves, and that makes the leaves develop a black color due to the damage. Instead I use a very sharp knife or cleaver, slicing through bunches of the herbs as thinly as possible. However, a food processor may be used to “pulse” chop the herbs quickly, resulting in minimal damage to the leaves.
¾ cup of cooked Quinoa (this is cooked like rice using twice as much water as the grain, brought to a boil then simmered for about 15 minutes until all the water has evaporated). I let it cool in the fridge before adding any of the herbs to it.
Black pepper
Sumac (The sumac bush is native to the Middle East. The berries are dried and ground into coarse powder. Sumac is a versatile spice with a mild but tangy lemony flavor. It is used in many other countries of the region, including Greece and Turkey)
½ Habanero pepper, deseeded, and finely minced
6 stalks of Green Onions or Scallions, thinly sliced (use green and white parts)
2 medium sized cucumbers, chopped into small cubes (deseeded if there are a lot of seeds. I tend to use the small Kirby or Persian cucumbers with fewer seeds)
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped into small cubes(I remove the pulp and seeds, using only the firm part)
Flat Leaf or Italian Parsely, Fresh Mint, (I wash the Parsley and Mint very carefully, using 2-3 changes of water. I then use only the Mint leaves, and the small tips of the Parsley, not the larger stems. There are no measurements for this. As a rough guide, I use 1/3 portion of mint to 2/3 of Parsley. This is to say twice as much Parsley to the quantity of mint). I also tend to make my Tabouleh more “Herbal” than “Grainy”. Other may prefer it with more grains than herbs)
75 mls Lemon Juice and Lime juice in equal proportions
25 mls Olive Oil

Mix together the cooled Quinoa, chopped, herbs, sliced green onions, minced Habanero pepper, and chopped tomatoes and cucumbers. This mixture is seasoned to taste with the salt, black pepper and allspice. Add the Lemon/Lime juice and Olive Oil dressing, and mix thoroughly. Sprinkle Sumac on top of the salad before serving.


Friday, 22 May 2015

Grilled Jerk Shrimp with Aji Panca Sauce

Jerk Shrimp with Aji Panca, Avocado and Quinoa Tabouleh

Note how the sauce coats the shrimp  

Aji Panca is one of the weaker members of the chili pepper family. The heat level is about 1500 on the Scoville Scale (slightly hotter than a Jalapeno). Aji Panca is a type of chile pepper that is commonly grown in Peru, and frequently used in Peruvian cuisine. It is dark red, mild pepper with a smoky, fruity taste. It's often sold dried, or prepared into a paste. You can find the dried peppers and jarred paste in Latin food stores. To a “Pepperhead”, the paste tastes just like tomato paste with very little spiciness to it. However, it compliments other hotter sauces and seasonings well, and when balanced with sweetness, creates a sauce of good complexity, depth and heat! It pairs well with shrimp, especially when grilled. This broiled/grilled shrimp is the result of mixing the two seasonings. The leftovers (if any are left) go great in a seafood noodle soup recipe, similar to the one published in my earlier post. I paired this with a Quinoa Tabouleh, and Avocado. 

Jerk seasoning (wet or dry, I used dry)
½ lb raw shrimp, cleaned, and deveined
1 tsp honey
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp Aji Panca Paste
1 tsp Marukan Vinegar (I suppose ordinary vinegar could also be used)
1 tbsp cooking oil
1 tbsp Sriracha sauce (or Garlic Chili sauce could be substituted)
  1. Season the clean shrimp liberally with the Jerk Seasoning
  2. Add the salt, honey, vinegar, Sriracha, cooking oil, and Aji Panca paste. Mix well and allow it to marinate for about 20 minutes.
  3. Place the shrimp on a rack in a small roasting tray lined with foil (makes cleanup easier), and place under broiler until shrimp are cooked. I turn them once just to get a char on both sides.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Jerk Pork Chop With Aji Amarillo Mango Salsa

Jerk Pork Chop With Aji Amarillo Mango Salsa
Aji Amarillo Peppers

Aji amarillo is a bright-orange, thick-fleshed chili pepper that is Native to South America. It is used in bothe Peruvian and Bolivian cuisine. The heat level is mild when compared to the Habanero or Scotch Bonnet pepper. It adds a kind of slow, background warmth to sauces, and that can be quite pleasant. Jerk seasoning would be at the other end of the scale. I wondered what it would be like to combine the two, using dried mango to add the necessary sweetness that would balance both, and compliment the fruity taste of the Aji Amarillo. This is the result! It’s not overly spicy but the salsa is very fruity, and with a pleasant background warmth.
Some ingredients you need


2 pork loin chops, ¾-1” thick
1 tbsp Worcester Sauce
2 cloves garlic
1 small shallot
1 tsp finely chopped Habanero pepper
Dried Jerk Seasoning (any brand will work)
2 thin slices dried mango
1 tbsp Aji Amarillo Paste

1.      Sprinkle the dry jerk seasoning like you would a rub, over the pork chops. Add the Worcester sauce, and marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours.
2.      Remove chops from fridge, and place under broiler until both sides of the chop is sizzling and slightly charred. Remove from broiler
3.      Place the garlic, shallot, and dried mango in a small chopper and pulse until finely minced. Add the Aji Amarillo paste, and the finely minced Habanero to this and mix well.
4.      Divide this mixture into two, and put on top of each pork chop. Cover the roasting dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Tropical Green Tea Honey Ginger Tea Cake

This is a modification of a standard teabread recipe that I use but with the changes I made, it has a more cake like texture. The final product is lighter, and more crumbly than a bread, but not quite a cake. Because of the texture, I cut it in thick slices, and then cut those slices in 1/2 to serve. The flavors are very light, and tropical, and the color is very light due to the fact that it is made with green tea. White tea could also be used for this. I will publish a more bread like version, using the same flavors, at a later date.


2 oz dried apricots + 1 ½ oz dried mangos + 1 ½ oz dried sour cherries, all chopped finely
250 ml strong green or white tea (I use 2 teabags to the amount of water. I like to use Lipton Mango Peach flavored tea).
1 tbsp honey
3 oz sugar
4oz butter (or 1/2 butter and 1/2 coconut oil)
9 oz self rising flour
1/2 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp salt
1 tsp grated root ginger
1 tsp baking soda


  1. Put all the chopped dried fruit in a bowl. Brew 250 ml strong tea and stir in the honey, and grated ginger root. Let all steep for about 15 minutes. Remove teabags.
  2. Put the liquid mixture above into a saucepan, and add the butter, sugar, and dried fruit. Bring all to a boil, slowly, stirring continuously. Boil for 3-4 minutes then remove from heat to let cool to room temperature.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. In a separate bowl, put the flour, salt, baking soda and coriander,
  5. Mix wet and dry ingredients; stir the mix with a wooden spoon.
  6. Transfer to a greased loaf tin (I also line the bottom of the tin with parchment paper) and bake for about 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool bread in tin for about 10 minutes then turn out to finish cooling on a wire rack. Cut into thick slices, and serve with butter if desired.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Jamaican Jerk Chicken with Mango Chili Sauce

Ready to plate

Jerk Chicken with Mango Chili Sauce, Pickled Jalapenos, and Vietnamese Do Chua
Because I was very pleased with the National Brand Spicy Tamarind Chutney, I thought I would try to use their Mango Chili Sauce in a similar way. The combination of the very spicy Jerk Seasoning by Walkerswood was nicely offset by the sweetness of this mango sauce.Naturally, both sauces needed a little help with other things!
Some of the ingredients


2 lbs chicken (wings, drumsticks, thighs, bone in, skin on)
1 tbsp dry meat seasoning
3 tsp wet jerk seasoning (either Grace or Walkerswood brands)
1 tbsb pickapeppa sauce
1 tbsp Worcester sauce
1 tbsp light or dark soya sauce
1 tbsp thick soy sauce (this is soy sauce mixed with Molasses. It gives the dish a slightly sweet flavor, and causes a nice char when the meat is broiled)
1 tbsp grated ginger
1-2 tbsp cooking oil

Add after broiling
1 300 gram bottle National Mango Chili Sauce (Available from most Indian or Pakistani grocery stores). 

  1. Score meat, add marinade ingredients, and refrigerate overnight in a Ziploc bag. Make sure to mix the marinade into the meat well.
  2. I use a special broiler pan (see photo) but any type of roasting pan with a rack could be used. I line it with foil to make clean up easy.
  3. When ready to cook, place the chicken parts on the rack so that the drippings can collect in the pan. I broil close to the broil element in my stove, turning once when the surface has charred slightly (see photo)
  4. Remove from under broiler, and place the partially broiled chicken parts in the roasting pan. Cover with the whole bottle of Mango Chili Sauce. Cover with foil, and bake in oven at 360 degrees F for 45 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven, lift off foil, and then put the roasting pan under the broiler until the skin starts to sizzle and char (about 3-5 minutes).
Broiler pan

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Jamaican Korean Spicy Pork Chop

Spicy pork chop with quick stir fry of baby corn and carrot

I have never found Korean Red Pepper Paste by itself to be particularly spicy or interesting. I wondered what a fusion with some Jamaican Jerk would do to it, and whether the two types of seasoning would “play” nicely together. I thought the best thing would be to try it on a pork chop first to see what the result would be. The sauce is very thick, and spicy, made more interesting by the sharpness of the jerk seasoning, and the extra shallot and garlic. I did not know what to call this so it’s just what it is, Jamaican Korean Spicy Pork Chop!

Some ingredients you need

1 8 oz pork chop, ½ -3/4 inch thick
2 tsp Korean Red Pepper Paste (Gochujang)
1 tsp wet jerk seasoning (I use either Grace or Walkerswood brands)
1 shallot
1 clove garlic
3 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp honey
½ inch piece of peeled ginger root

  1. Put the pork chop in a Ziploc bag
  2. Put all ingredients for the marinade/sauce in a small blender and blitz to a paste
  3. Pour paste over the pork chop, and rub over the pork chop in the bag
  4. Refrigerate overnight
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Remove the chop from the plastic bag and wrap pork chop and marinade completely in foil. Bake for 30 minutes.
  6. Unwrap the chop and turn it over. Bake uncovered for another 5 minutes.Plate cop and spoon thickened sauce over it.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Gold Habanero Ginger Jelly

Most people are afraid to use Habaneros because they are such hot peppers. However, if the heat is tempered with sugar and other spices, it really tones things down a lot. This is my version of a Habanero Jelly that does not make a huge quantity. The preparation time is a little long and tedious but the final result is worth the effort. For most people, it's advisable to wear gloves when handling the peppers but since I've been handling these peppers for most of my life, I do not! Make sure that all the peppers selected are blemish free, and firm. The jelly makes a nice condiment for spicy dishes, and goes well with cream cheese and saltine crackers.
1/3 cup finely sliced dried apricot (you can also used dried Mango or dried Pineapple)
¼ cup dried cranberries or Golden Raisins
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup finely diced shallot
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp ground Coriander (optional but I like the Citrus taste of this spice)
½-1 tsp peeled, freshly grated ginger root (depending on your taste and liking for a "gingery" taste)
1/4 cup finely diced Red jalapeno peppers without seeds
1/4 cup finely diced Gold habanero pepper, without seeds  


1. Cut apricots into thin slices and place in a non-reactive saucepan or pot with the vinegar, ground Coriander, cranberries(or raisins), and grated ginger. Heat slowly to just below simmer then remove from heat and let sit for 2-4 hours. This extracts the pectin from the dried fruit and helps with the jelling process.
2. Finely dice the shallot, garlic, and all the peppers.Add to pan with apricots. Stir in sugar.
4. Heat mixture to the point just below simmer, stirring constantly until all the sugar is dissolved, and the shallots become translucent. Do not boil as this will boil off the vinegar. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
6. Remove from heat and immediately stir in liquid pectin, mixing well. You have to work quickly at this stage as the mixture does jell pretty quickly. Stir until all the solids are mixed and evenly distributed in the mixture.
8. Pour into hot sterilized jars
before it gets too firm
9. Cover with appropriate lids, and refrigerate if you are not going to can.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Fusion Fish Curry

This recipe is more about the sauce, and the fusion of cooking styles, and less about the type of fish that is used. It draws on Malaysian, South Indian, Jamaican and Sri Lankan curry to come up with a unique tasting sauce. The sauce has a lot of ingredients, which gives it tremendous depth and complexity of flavor. The fish should be in small pieces so that it can readily absorb the sauce. I used a whole Red Snapper, cut into 3 pieces, which was not ideal. This recipe could be used with any fish fillet, sliced Kingfish, chunks of fish meat, and even frozen fish fingers for a really quick meal! I’ll try it with Catfish meat next time. 

1 lb any kind of firm fish meat or fillet
Grace Caribbean Traditions Fish Seasoning
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 tbsp Jamaican or any type of Caribbean curry powder
1 tsp Garam Masala
½ tsp salt
1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely grated
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 medium sized shallot, chopped finely
Few sprigs of thyme
1-2 green onions, only green part, thinly sliced
2 small plum tomatoes, pureed
1-2 tbsp coconut milk
1-2 tbsp water
½ tsp sugar
1 tbsp Pickapeppa sauce or similar Tamarind based sauce
1 tbsp tomato chili sauce
2 tbsp chopped red bell pepper
1-2 tsp finely minced habanero pepper or 1-2 Thai Chili peppers, chopped

  1. Season the fish meat liberally with the salt and Fish Seasoning. If you have a good kitchen exhaust fan system, you can opt to brown the fish chunks in oil. I coated them with the cooking oil and put them under the broiler for about 5 minutes rather than frying. The idea is to just brown the outside with the seasoning to flavor the oil. Remove from oil.
  2. Saute in the cooking oil, the shallots, garlic, green onions, thyme, grated ginger, curry powder, garam masala, minced Habanero pepper, cubes of red bell pepper, until it starts to smell fragrant, and the seasonings release their flavor. Add the Pickapeppa sauce, tomato chili sauce, coconut milk, sugar and water. Simmer the sauce for about 10 minutes until the coconut milk starts to separate into oil.
  3. Place the browned fish pieces in the sauce, cover and simmer until the fish is cooked (about 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish meat).


Sunday, 10 May 2015

Refrigerator Pickled Jalapenos

I like to make my own pickled Jalapenos! The ones you buy from the stores are often very soft, have turned a brown color, and really do not taste all that appealing. Naturally, for someone who grew up eating Habanero peppers daily, Jalapenos are considered mild. The Scovill number for most Jalapenos ranges from 2-12 whereas the Habanero starts at about 2000! I have kicked the usual pickling mixture up a notch by adding some spices, garlic, and of course, a piece of Habanero to each bottle. I usually make more pickling mixture than I need.
I have not quantified the number of Jalapenos you need. That's dependent on the size bottle you will be using, the size of the Jalapenos etc. This recipe is only for the pickling brine.

Pickled jalapeno mixture
1 ½ c vinegar
1 ½ c water
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp Ball's Pickle Crisp
1 tbsp coriander seed
1 tsp pimento (Allspice) seeds
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 small carrot, sliced
1 small shallot, sliced
One small slice of habanero to each bottle

1. Clean and sterilize the containers well. Even though this is a recipe for refrigerator pickles (not canned) the same principles of preparing the bottles apply. Use only firm peppers that are nice and smooth with no blemishes. I sometimes add 1-2 red ones as well just for color. Wash the peppers and slice them up. Do the same with the carrots and the shallot. 
2. Bring the pickling mixture, the sliced garlic and the seeds to low simmer, just below boil. Don’t boil. Let it cool to room temperature. 
3. Pack peppers, carrots, shallots in a jar, Pour cool pickling liquid mixture over peppers in jar. Distribute the various seed spices between bottles if you are using more than one. Cover and refrigerate. Because this is a cold pickling method, they take about 2 weeks to mature.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Oven Baked Jamaican Fricasseed Chicken

Fricasseed Chicken is a Jamaican staple. The original method involves seasoning the chicken with the onions, garlic etc, and letting it marinate overnight. Then you would have to remove the onions etc before frying the chicken pieces in a lot of oil, and all before stewing it gently in the sauce. This is a new way of making this less greasy. I have also modified the way the sauce is made as I always hated to have to pick out the chunks of onion, green onions, and thyme sprigs in the sauce. All that stuff made it more difficult to enjoy the sauce over the rice unless you removed all the bits and pieces before eating. In addition, because it uses a variety of baking methods (Bake, steam bake, and broil) the flavors are more complex than you get from just stewed chicken. This has the flavors of an oven roasted, BBQ, steamed chicken. It is traditionally served with rice and red beans, fried plantain, sliced tomato and lettuce.

2 lbs chicken thighs or drumsticks, bone in, skin on
Grace Chicken, Dried Jerk, or All Purpose Seasoning
½ tsp salt
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp cooking oil to mix with raw chicken plus 1 tbsp oil to fry the onion etc
1 tbsp Worcester sauce
1 tbsp Pickapeppa Sauce
1 inch ginger root, peeled and finely grated
1 Medium sized onion, cut into wedges
3 Roma Tomatoes, cut into wedges
3 cloves Garlic
1 yellow or red Habanero pepper, left whole
A few sprigs of thyme, use the leaves, not the stems.
4-5 Allspice grains
3 stalks Green onions, both white and green parts
½ cup cubed green or red bell pepper (or both) (optional)
1/2 cup Tomato chili sauce (I use the Maggi brand made for the Indian market)

  1. Score the chicken pieces by making one or two cuts on both sides of the chicken down to the bone
  2. Season liberally with the All Purpose, Jerk or Chicken Seasoning (whichever one you opt to use). I also add an extra ½ tsp salt as the bottled seasoning, in my opinion, needs more. Rub the seasoning into the chicken, especially into the slashed areas.
  3. Put the chicken pieces in a Ziploc bag and add the Worcester Sauce, Pickapeppa Sauce, Honey, cooking oil, and grated ginger. Mix the pieces well by squeezing the bag and marinate in fridge overnight.
  4. When you are ready to start making the dish, fry the onion, whole Habanero pepper, tomatoes, garlic and green onions in about 1 tbsp cooking oil for about 3-4 minutes until the onion starts to break apart, and become translucent and soft. This mixture, including the Habanero, flavors the oil and allows it to transfer the flavor to the dish. Remove from heat, REMOVE THE HABANERO WHOLE and put aside. Puree the other things in a food processor or blender. After blending, add the thyme, allspice grains, and tomato chili sauce to this pureed mixture.
  5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F, and place the chicken pieces skin side up in a heat proof Pyrex oven roaster (or any other roaster). Bake at this high heat until the chicken skin is browned, and the seasonings smell fragrant (20-25 minutes). Remove from oven. At this stage you may discard the oil in the dish if you wish. If it’s a lot from the chicken skin, I do that. DO NOT however remove the skin!
  6. Pour the pureed mixture of onions, tomatoes, etc, over the partially baked and browned chicken pieces. Place the whole Habanero pepper on top. If you have opted to use the bell peppers, sprinkle over the top as well. Cover the dish with foil, decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake for 45 minutes. This allows the chicken to steam bake in the sauce, and absorb its flavors, and for the sauce to absorb the flavors from the seasonings on the chicken. It also allows the Habanero to flavor the sauce without it becoming too spicy (as it would if you sliced or chopped it up).
  7. Remove from oven and take the foil off. Make sure that the chicken pieces are well mixed in with the sauce. Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F, and let the sauce bubble and thicken as it cooks in the oven.
  8. Remove from oven, taste the sauce and if needed, season to your liking (rather than adding more spicy seasoning at this stage, I add a chicken bouillon cube, crumbled and mixed into the sauce). Place the roaster pan under a broiler, and broil until the skin on the chicken pieces develops a slight char in areas (as seen in the photo), and the sauce starts to bubble. Enjoy!

Friday, 8 May 2015

Kale and Salted Cod (Bacalau) Jamaican Style “Cook Down”

Kale and Salted Cod with Yam and Avocado

This is one of those Jamaican Recipes for which there are no measurements, only a list of ingredients, some cooking notes, and a method of how to prepare the dish. The proportions are really dependent on your taste, and liking for each ingredient. This is a recipe that can be made to your specifications. Some people may like it more “Vegetarian” with more vegetables than fish, others may prefer it the other way round. It is based on the traditional Jamaican “Yard Food” type of one pot cooking, specifically “Callalloo and Salt Fish” which also forms a part of any Jamaican Sunday morning breakfast. I have tried to make it a bit healthier but also without sacrificing any of the flavors. So, instead of Callalloo, a green leafy vegetable used throughout the Caribbean, I have used Kale. It is usually eaten with a starch that ranges from a Fried bread dough  (Johnny Cake or Festival), or with root vegetables like Yellow Yam, Sweet Potato, Malanga etc. Sliced Avocado and fried ripe plantain also go well with this. 

List of Ingredients

Salted Cod Filets
Habanero Pepper
Red Bell Pepper
Salt Pork (Fatback) or 1-2 slices thick cut bacon
Salt, black Pepper, Ground Allspice are the traditional seasonings but one can use any prepared multipurpose seasoning of your choice. For added flavor you can use a couple dashes of Worcester Sauce OR Tomato Ketchup OR Tomato Chili Sauce, depending on your preference (Yes the recipe is that versatile)

  1. To prepare the salted cod, I soak overnight in the fridge, changing the water at least twice. I usually pay more for the salted cod filets rather than the flat sheets of salted cod as they are too hard to separate the bones from the meat. When I am ready to use it, I discard the water in which it has been soaking, add fresh water and bring it to a boil, changing the water each time it boils to discard the foam that comes from boiling the fish. Once it comes to a boil with minimal foaming, I cook it for between 5-7 minutes until it flakes easily.  I then shred it for the recipe, coating the pieces in a small amount of olive oil so that they don’t clump together.
  2. To prepare the Kale, I remove the stems, and chop the leaves like you would any other leafy vegetable.
  3. Chop the garlic cloves finely, peel the shallots and cut into thin slices. Cut into thin slices however much of the Habanero you want to use. Cut the bell pepper and tomato into small cubes. I put the tomato in a separate bowl to which I add the sprigs of thyme, and I add the cubes of bell pepper to the bowl with the shallots, sliced Habanero and garlic.
  4. Cut a small piece of salted pork into small pieces. Use however much you think you would like. I just use enough to give it flavor. Thick cut bacon or pieces of country ham may also be used. These seasoning bits are fried in a small amount of oil, rendering them down until cooked and crisp. Add these to the bowl with the flaked, cooked, salted cod. Since the oil that the salted pork or whatever you have decided to use is what extracts the flavor and transfers it to the rest of the ingredients, reserve 1 tbsp of the oil, and discard the rest that has resulted from the rendering process. 

  1. Heat the reserved 1 tbsp oil that resulted from the rendering of the salted meat, and sauté the shallots, garlic, sliced Habanero in it. Once the shallots have become transparent, add the cubed tomato, bell pepper and thyme sprigs. Sauté all for a minute or two, then add the seasonings you have decided to use as well as the sauce you have selected.
  2. Add the flaked salted cod and fried salted meat, then cover and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the bell pepper is cooked to your liking (some people like this well cooked i.e soft, others more “al dente”.)
  3. Add the washed, chopped kale leaves on top of the mixture in the frying pan or wok, mix well and cover to steam until the kale is cooked to your liking. Add more seasoning at this stage if needed. Plate and enjoy with the starch of your choice, and some slices of avocado or fried ripe plantains!