Sunday, 26 July 2015

Tasty Oven Stewed Pork

I wanted to come up with a recipe that combined the spices and flavors that were common in other countries. This is the result of that idea. Sambal Oelek is an Indonesian crushed chili pepper sauce that is commonly used throughout South East Asia. Coriander and Tamarind are more commonly used in Indian cooking, as is the Maggi Masala sauce. Thick Soya sauce is borrowed from China, and ginger, combined with lime juice and Allspice are integral components of Jamaican Jerk Seasoning. Worcester sauce is a staple in English seasoning, and imparts a nice tart taste for the background. There is sauce/gravy with this but because it is slightly spicy, and tart, for maximum enjoyment the dish should be accompanied by a sweet/spicy Pepper Jelly, Tamarind Chutney or a sweet Indian Mango or Lime pickle. It also goes well with a simple green salad using a Strawberry or Raspberry Vinaigrette.  


2 ¾ lbs pork shoulder or butt with fat and good marbling
1 tbsp Grace Caribbean Traditions Meat seasoning
2 tbsp Sambal Oelek
Juice ½ lime
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp black pepper
1 tbsp Worcester sauce
1 heaping tsp Tamarind Concentrate
3 cloves garlic
½ piece of ginger root, peeled
2 tbsp Maggi Masala Sauce
1 tbsp thick Soya Sauce

  1. Cut the pork into 1 inch cubes and put in a Ziploc plastic bag. Season with meat seasoning, coriander, allspice, black pepper, Thick Soya Sauce, and Sambal Oelek.
  2. In a small chopper, place the garlic cloves, ginger root, Masala sauce, tamarind concentrate, lime juice, and puree to form a paste. Add to seasoned pork. Mix well and allow to marinate in refrigerator overnight.
  3. Use a 9 by 13 inch pan as your baking pan. Cut a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil, larger than those measurements and place the pork and marinade in that. Wrap the pork in the foil and bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and unfold the foil so that it lines the baking pan.
    Bake at the same oven temperature for 15 minutes, basting once or twice with the sauce. Because it bakes in the sauce, the pork pieces do not become dry.
    Accompany with suggested items.


Monday, 20 July 2015

A Truly Tropical Tea Bread

There are quite a few tea bread recipes on my site. Some are healthier than others but all are pretty delicious with a cup of tea or mug of coffee. I have been looking for a truly tropical tea bread recipe, one that would remind me of the flavors of my childhood when I would climb Tamarind, Orange, Mango and Guava trees to gorge on the sweet, ripe fruit. None of what I found on the web reflected this at all. Some recipes used ingredients that are not even available naturally in tropical regions. This recipe is a result of trying to incorporate the flavors I remember, into a banana bread that would bring back fond memories for me.This is delicious especially when spread with sweet cream butter!
8 oz self raising flour
¼ tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground Jamaican Allspice
1-2 dashes of ground black pepper
1 tsp grated ginger root
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 oz butter
2 oz coconut oil
2 ripe bananas, mashed
4 oz dark brown sugar
Grated rind of one orange
2 eggs
4 tbsp guava jelly/jam
1 tbsp Honey (if a darker bread is preferred substitute honey for 1 tbsp molasses)
1 1/2  tbsp Tamarind Paste/concentrate
1 oz dried mango or guava, finely chopped

  1. Grease and flour a 1-5-2lb loaf pan. I also line the pan with parchment paper because of the “syrup based” ingredients
  2. Put flour and spices in a bowl and work in butter and coconut oil to get a crumbly mixlike the texture of coarse cornmeal or breadcrumbs
  3. Peel and mash the bananas (I use a fork). Add the grated orange zest, ginger root and chopped mango to this. Pour the lime juice over this and mix well. Set aside
  4. Beat eggs and sugar until it gets a bit pale (I use the whisk attachment on my mixer). Add the guava jelly, tamarind paste, honey and whisk for another minute. Fold in banana mixture.
  5. Change the mixer attachment to the paddle type and mix wet and dry ingredients. Alternatively, mix by hand until just incorporated then pour into prepared loaf pan.
  6. Bake in 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven for about 1 hour or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. If it starts to become too brown either decrease the oven temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit or just cover the baking tin with a tent of heavy duty aluminum foil. Allow the bread to cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes the turn out on a rack to cool.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Vietnamese Pickled Mustard Greens, My Version

I'm a person who loves pickles in any shape or form. In this version of Vietnamese Do Choa, I have used just the stems of the Mustard Greens (Gai Choy). The leaves are quite bitter, and though may be used in soups,I tend to puree them in a food processor with a little water to make a paste. This paste I use in my garden as fertilizer, burying lumps of it beside my plants. It adds organic vegetable matter to the soil and also nitrogen. To make the pickle, you have to trim off all the leaves, and use only the stems, including the part where it fans out to the leaf.
Giant Mustard Greens or Gai Choy

3 bunches of Gai Choy (These have to be fresh, and relatively blemish free)
1 cup Pickling salt
2 1/2 cups of water
1 cup vinegar
2 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/8 tsp pickle Crisp
2 red or yellow Habanero Chili Peppers, cut in thick slices with seeds
1. Trim the leaves off the Gai Choy stems. Wash the stems very carefully making sure that all the dirt is removed. Cut the stems into 1 inch pieces
2. Mix the 2 1/2 cups of water with the pickling salt and heat on stove top until salt is completely dissolved. Let this cool to room temperature
3. Put the cut Gai Choy stems and the slices of Habanero chili  in the salt solution and let this stand at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight.
4. The next day, mix the vinegar, Pickle Crisp, 2 cups of water and one cup of sugar in a saucepan.  DO NOT BOIL. Heat slowly until sugar is just dissolved. Let this cool to room temperature.
5. Boil 4 cups of water in a saucepan. Drain the cut Gai Choy stems and sliced Habanero Chilis through a colander and pour the boiling water over them. Immediately rinse with cold water about 2-3 times taking care not to bruise the stems. Drain on a paper towel then transfer to a clean glass container. Add the cooled pickling brine and refrigerate. The pickles will be ready when they start to turn a bit yellow. They keep for quite a while in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Kerala Chicken Curry using Double Horse Curry Mix, "tweaked"

This is not a food hack but more of a food “tweak”. From time to time, I try pack mixes for curries but have never found one that really works all that well.  I found a new one for Kerala Chicken Curry (it was actually made in Kerala) and decided I’d try it with some modifications. On opening the envelope, it was easy to see that this mixture was quite different to any other that I had used. You could smell the spices and actually see the curry leaves and other ingredients almost as though they were freshly ground. The mixture was dark and rich looking. My “tweaks” involved, using a small amount of Jamaican chicken seasoning and marinating overnight in the refrigerator, dry frying, toasting or “burning” the spices before I added liquid, and as liquid,  I used chicken stock instead of water. The other departure from the recommended recipe was that I used a slow cooker, and decreased the amount of liquid called for in the original recipe. The result is a very satisfying curry, with a rich, dark and thick sauce, perfect to spoon over rice or “sop up” with fresh Naan bread.
1 pack "Double Horse" Kerala Chicken Curry Mix
 2 1/2  lbs chicken meat
3/4 tsp Grace Caribbean Traditions Chicken Seasoning
1 1/4 cup chicken stock (Equivalent of a small tin of Swanson Chicken broth in the US)
5 tbsp cooking oil
1. Season the chicken meat with the chicken seasoning and marinate overnight in refrigerator
2. Heat the cooking oil in a wok and fry the chicken meat until browned in areas. Put in a 2-3 quart size slow cooker
3. Discard the oil, and use a paper towel to wipe the wok clean 
3. Empty the contents of the Kerala Chicken Curry Mix in the wok and "toast" until fragrant. Add the chicken stock and continue cooking for another minute until a paste forms.
4. Pour this mixture over the chicken meat in the slow cooker and cook on high for about 3 hours. Stir occasionally (about twice in the 3 hour period) so that the sauce thickens and coats the meat. Plate and enjoy.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Fish with Ready Mix Paneer Tikka Masala Sauce

This is another “food hack” where I have used an envelope of Paneer Tikka Masala sauce to make a fish Tikka Masala. Readers may ask, “Why not just buy an envelope mix for fish Tikka Masala?” The reason is that those pack mixes for Fish Tikka Masala require you to use 1-1.5 kilograms of fish, and if you are cooking for just one person that’s not an option. This mix only needed 250 grams of cottage cheese (for which I substituted an equivalent weight of fish), and added just three additional ingredients not called for in the original directions on the mix envelope. I also did not follow the directions exactly the way suggested on the envelope, as the sauce would have been to thin for my liking. The result is a meal that’s ready in less than 30 minutes, and is a lot better than a slice of pizza or a hamburger. 

1 envelope of Rasoi Magic Paneer Tikka Masala
250 grams fish filet
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 tomato (approx 150 grams)
½ cup milk or half and half
½ inch piece of ginger root, peeled
2 tbsp Maggi Hot and Sweet Tomato Chili Sauce
2 Thai chili peppers
1.      Cut the fish filet into medium sized cubes and set aside
2.      Mix the contents of the Paneer Tikka Masala mix with ½ cup of milk or half and half to form a paste. Add the 2 tablespoons of Maggi sauce to this.
3.      Slice the tomato into quarters and put in a small chopper along with the ginger root. Blitz to a puree
4.      Heat the oil in a wok over high heat and quickly sauté the fish cubes until opaque.
5.      Add the tomato puree and cook for 1-2 minutes
6.      Add the Tikka Masala paste and stir in with the fish and tomato puree. Do NOT add water as suggested on the mix envelope. Reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes more. Serve with rice of Naan bread. Sweet lime pickle goes well with it too.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Mahi Mahi cooked with Mutter Paneer Ready Mix Sauce

 After a hard day at work, we all just want to be able to prepare a tasty meal in 15 minutes or less. Because of this, I’ve been experimenting with what I call “Food Hacks”, using inexpensive prepared sauce mixes meant for use with a particular product but using them with something else. The reason for sharing these “Hacks” is to help people realize that because the sauce envelope says “for Beef”, “for Chicken” or whatever, does not mean that it can’t be used for something else. Some may need to be “tweaked” a little by the addition of other ingredients like onions, garlic etc but for the most part, they can be used “as is”.  In this “Hack” I used a prepared Indian sauce mix for Mutter Paneer, a type of dairy based cheese. The brand of sauce mix is Parampara, and directions indicated it could also be used for Tofu, so I thought I’d try to see if I could extend its use to fish, since that has an equally bland and neutral a taste as does Paneer or Tofu. I elected to use an equivalent weight of Mahi Mahi filet and follow the directions as indicated on the envelope.The only changes I made was to add two green Thai chilis, and increase the quantity of green peas. 

These prepared sauce mixes are readily available in most Indian or Pakistani grocery stores here in the US. I would imagine the same applies to their availability in other countries as well. While someone who cooks Indian food in the traditional manner may cringe at the thought of using a sauce mix meant for cooking Paneer, to cook fish. Others may just welcome the idea of a quick, good tasting substitute that can be prepared with minimum fuss, and tastes close enough to the real thing! The result tastes like it’s supposed to, a mild Punjabi type fish curry, more along the lines of a creamy Korma as opposed to a more spicy Goan or Sri Lankan Fish Curry. I will be trying a variety of brands of Paneer sauce mixes to see how they perform as substitutes. 

1 envelope of Parampara Mutter Paneer ready to cook sauce mix
1 7oz fish filet, cut in cubes
5 ½ oz can green peas
300 mls water
3 ½ oz yogurt
2 ½ tbsp fresh cream or “Half and Half”
2 whole Thai green Chili (optional)
  1. Whisk the contents of the sauce mix envelope with the water and yogurt. Cook the mixture for 7 minutes
  2. Add the drained green peas, chili peppers (if used) along with the cubes of fish
  3. Cook until the curry becomes thick (5-7 minutes)
  4. Add the fresh cream and bring to a boil
  5. It goes well with both Mango and Sweet Lime Pickles

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Jerk Chicken with Spicy Guava Sauce

I wanted to try a jerk chicken recipe combined with Sambal Oelek. Both flavors are among my list of favorites. Sambal Oelek is an Indonesian Chili Pepper sauce. The primary ingredients are Chili, Salt, and Distilled Vinegar. Jerk seasoning has a whole other set of seasonings and spices, and is quite different to the Sambal Oelek. I knew therefore that I would need a bridging pepper sauce to link those two diverse tastes so that the result would be a pleasing blend and taste. I opted to use Korean Red Pepper Paste (Gochujang) which, by itself, I really do not like but when combined with other, more spicy pepper pastes, the sweet smoky taste tends to tame them and blend the flavors well. In fact, the resulting flavor is quite different to the individual sauces/pastes used to make it. In addition, because Gochujang contains sweeteners, it helps to thicken the final sauce. This Jerk Chicken with Spicy Guava Sauce is the result. It pairs well with Indian Sweet Lime Pickle.

2 lbs chicken thighs, skin on, bone in
1 tbsp wet jerk seasoning
1 tbsp Grace Caribbean Chicken seasoning
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp Worcester sauce
½ tbsp Jamaican Pickapeppa sauce
2 tbsp cooking oil
2 tbsp Sambal Oelek
1 tbsp Gochujang
1’ piece of ginger root
1 medium yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
3 tbsp guava jam or jelly

Sauce ingredients in chopper
1. Make 2 cuts in the chicken thighs down to the bone. Do this on both sides. Season the chicken thighs with salt, pepper, Jamaican Chicken Seasoning, Worcester Sauce and Pickapeppa sauce. Put seasoned chicken in a plastic Ziploc bag and marinate in refrigerator overnight.
2. When ready to cook, prepare the sauce. Put sauce ingredients in a small chopper and blitz to a puree.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons cooking oil in a frying pan. When hot, quickly sauté the pureed sauce ingredients until it starts to bubble. Simmer for about 3 minutes and put aside.
4. Put seasoned, marinated chicken thighs in a small baking dish so that the pieces are close together.
Uncooked chicken in baking dish
Place just under the broiler and broil, turning once, to get a light char on both sides of the thighs.
Chicken just under the broiler
The chicken is NOT cooked at this stage so handle as you would any raw meat.
Chicken after first broil (uncooked)
5. Make sure that the thighs are placed skin up in the baking dish. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake in oven set to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour.The oven rack should be set to the center.
6. Remove the dish from the oven and take the foil off the dish. At this stage the chicken will be cooked but the sauce may appear a bit watery.
7. Turn the oven off, and start the broil element. Leave the oven rack in the center of the oven. Do not put it close to the broiler. Broil for 3 minutes until the skin chars and the sauce starts to bubble. Remove the baking dish from under the broiler, turn the chicken pieces over and broil again for another 3 minutes. Repeat again so that the skin is now facing up and broil for 3 minutes more until the skin is charred in areas and the sauce has thickened.


Friday, 3 July 2015

Mahi Mahi Stir Fry with Sauce for Black Pepper Chicken

Mahi Mahi Stir Fry with Sauce for Black Pepper Chicken

We are all busy people who are always looking for time saving ideas to come up with a great tasting but quick to prepare meal, especially one that does not have to involve calling for "take-out". Enter the “food hack” concept. This is pretty much like any other hack where an item is not used for its original purpose but instead is used for some other purpose. For this recipe I used Lee Kum Kee Sauce for Black Pepper Chicken but paired it instead with fish! The result is a great tasting Chinese meal that’s ready in minutes. I changed the suggested veggies as well as I thought this combination would be better with fish. The suggested combo on the pack is celery and carrot. I used young corn and carrot instead. 

1 envelope of Lee Kum Kee Sauce for Black Pepper Chicken
1 8oz Mahi Mahi Filet, defrosted and cut in cubes

1 medium carrot and 6 spears of young corn, sliced as shown
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine (optional)
2 tbsp cooking oil
  1. Heat the oil in a wok until smoking then add the fish cubes. Quickly stir fry the fish then add the sliced carrots and young corn when the fish is almost cooked.
  2. Add the Chinese cooking wine if desired. If not pour the contents of the Lee Kum Kee Sauce over the fish and vegetables and continue stir frying until fish is cooked (about 3-5 minutes).
    Mahi Mahi Stir Fry paired with Blanched Chinese Broccolli