Sunday, December 13, 2009

Trini Bodi Curry

Bodi Curry (Green Beans)
• 3 cups of sliced green beans
• Ghee or vegetable oil
• ¼ teaspoon turmeric
• ¼ teaspoon curry
• salt

I a pan, add small amount of oil over high heat. Cook turmeric and curry powder in small amount of water.

Add beans and mix well, salt to taste. Cook until still crunchy.

Trini Green Mango Chutney

Green Mango Chutney
• 5 green mangoes (can substitute green golden apples)
• Ghee or vegetable oil
• 2 tbls chopped garlic
• 2 handfulls of brown sugar
• 2 tabls of black amchar massala
• Hot pepper sauce to taste

Slice mango, leaving skin on. Discard seed. Put in boiling salted water and cook until tender (3-4 minutes)

In a pot over high heat add oil and sauté chopped garlic.

Add mango, sugar, missala and pepper sauce. Mix and cook for 2-3 minutes

Trini Pumpkin Curry

Pumpkin Curry
• 2 ½ lbs peeled and sliced pumpkin
• 1 tbls chopped garlic
• Salt to taste

In a pot add small amount of oil to cover bottom and heat
Sauté chopped garlic
Add pumpkin and salt
Add water if necessary
Cover and cook over low heat until pumpkin is cooked

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Grace and Gary's Authentic Trini Rotis

As found at the Roti Shack located in Powerboats Chaguaramas, Tinidad. Many thanks to Grace and Gary for showing me how to prepare authentic Trini Rotis

Dal Phouri Roti

Roti Dough (for 15 roti)
• 2 ½ lbs Flour
• 2 ½ tbls Baking Powder
• 2 tbls Oil
• Water

Mix together, knead lightly and form into a ball. Texture should be like a soft bread dough. If too sticky add more flour
Dust with four and cover with damp cloth and let rest for ½ hour

Dal Phouri (yellow split peas)
Boil peas until just becoming soft but firm. Drain and put in a food processor, cuisinart, mill or grinder and grind into a fine smooth past. It is best NOT to use a blender as this makes them too finely ground and mushy.

If too dry add 1 tbls of oil

Add pinch of geera (ground cumin seed) and salt to taste.

Dal Phouri Roti
Take roti dough, flatten out into a disk, like an ‘a’ cup bra and fill with dal phouri.

Fold over and seal into a ball, dust with flour and set aside,

Continue until all the dough is used

Roll out flat and thin like a pizza. cook on a large flat hot oiled griddle or pan.

Turn frequently, brush with oil as needed. Fold in half and then quarters and set aside.

Assemble Roti add

• Chicken Curry
• Potato and Channa
• Pumpkin
• Green Beans
• Mango
Fold roti wrap around filling into a small parcel

Chicken Curry
• Ghee or vegetable oil
• 3 tbls chopped garlic
• ½ teaspoons turmeric
• 3 tbls curry powder
• 5 lbs of chicken in small pieces
• Marinade of blended shadow beni (or coriander), green onions, lemon juice)
• Salt to taste

Marinade Chicken pieces

In a heavy pan add oil, enough to cover bottom of the pan over a high heat
Cook garlic then add turmeric, curry powder and water to make a paste. Cook until bubbles start to form (approx 2-3 minutes)

Now add the chicken pieces and stir, coating with the mixture until almost dry.

Add a little hot water if necessary while cooking and be sure to tune the chicken at intervals to make sure all the chicken is cooked.

Potatoes and Channa Curry
• 2 lbs of potatoes cup into small cubes
• 1 can of Channa (Chick peas, You can use dried channa, soak overnight and cook until tender)
• Ghee or Vegetable Oil
• 2 tbls chopped garlic
• 2 ½ teaspoons turmeric
• 5 tbls curry powder
• Water
• Shadow Beni (or Coriander)
• Salt to taste

In a heavy pan add oil, enough to cover bottom of the pan over a high heat
Cook garlic then add turmeric, curry powder and water to make a paste. Cook until bubbles start to form (approx 2-3 minutes)

Add cubed potatoes and coat well with mixture
Add Channa and mix well
Add just enough water to cover and let simmer over low heat
When cooked add either whole Shadow Beni leaves or chopped.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The One Dollar Breakfast, Trini Style

Sada Roti and Baigan Takeaway Breakfast

This morning Robert and I stumbled off the boat and walked about 50 yards to breakfast. For Robert it was potato but I can never pass up a chance to eat eggplant so my order was Sada roti with potato and baigan (eggplant).

I watched as the roti dough was rolled out and roasted over the flame, then filled with potato and the superb baigan. It occurred to me that I should be taking pictures as heaven in a paper bag was created before my eyes.
Back aboard Bristol Rose and a quick search revealed the fabulous Simply Trini Cooking. Creator of Simply Trini Cooking, Felix Padilla has already done a better job of photographing, describing and demonstrating this traditional Trinidadian dish than I could ever hope to do. Thanks Felix, for sharing!

$6TT (6 Trinidad dollars - just US$1), buys breakfast at the Roti hut in Power Boats yard, Chaguaramas. I think we must have died and gone to heaven. Tomorrow morning we live again... at the roti hut!
Update: Plantain and Okra filling Yum!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Keeping it Fresh. Provisioning tips to share?

Cooking and eating well aboard a sail boat depends upon the ability to procure and store fresh ingredients. In the Bahamas, finding good quality fresh food is a big challenge. The inhabitants of these dry, rocky, limestone islands and visiting cruisers must wait for mail boats to bring fresh produce from the States.

In stark contrast, the volcanic islands of the Caribbean produce an abundance of gorgeous fruits and vegetables. Our previous posts include some examples of what we can find at the markets. Supermarkets in the French islands of the Caribbean offer some real treats, good cheap wine and of course the French bread is the best.

Romaine lettuce from the USA, purchased in Grenada

In the supermarkets here in Trinidad, American food producers dominate the shelves. What's nice is the fact we can also find a variety of foods from all over the world. We'll leave here at the end of hurricane season with a full stock of dry goods (pasta, sugar, coffee, etc.), canned goods (vegetables, meats, fruits, butter, etc.) and bottled delights (chutneys, sauces, olive oil, vinegars, etc.). And we shouldn't forget the bottles of duty free wine!!

Our freezer has been less than optimal so that's on the repair list while we are in Chaguaramas. The fridge side is just "ok". Boat refrigerators differ from land based refrigerators. Our refigerator uses holding plates that freeze and act like ice in a cooler. They require freezing down twice a day in the tropics. Storing fresh vegetables can be problematic as contact with the holding plates will burn and ruin fresh produce.

I've been unable to keep lettuce longer than a couple of days before ending up with a soggy brown mess in the bag. We've just discovered, thanks to Genna aboard Night Hawk, the best way to keep lettuce on a boat. Take a look at the picture above, of Romaine lettuce after three weeks storage!

Lettuce keeps exceptionally well when wrapped in paper towel and foil and stored in the refrigerator. Do you have any provisioning tips to share? Leave a comment.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Passion for Fruits

Passion flower, Passiflora

Unripe passionfruit.

The essence of the sun, Starfruit and pineapple.

Some of the ways we enjoy the tropical fruits of the Caribbean aboard Bristol Rose.

Fruit salad featuring passionfruit and wax apple.

Banana and starfruit with pineapple and passionfruit.

Paw paw (papaya) with a squeeze of lime, perfect for breakfast.

We try all the different varieties of the fruits we can find. This small, round papaya was fantastic.
Yellow ones, green ones, and.... red ones?

An embarrassment of mangoes in St. Martin.

Meat Pies, Big in Puerto Rico

These fast-food-fried pastries can be addictive. Empanadilla consist of a round of pastry filled with minced meat or seafood, folded and fried till crisp. They’re something like an Aussie meat pie.

In Puerto Rico we set out to do an extensive taste testing of empanadilla from lobster and shrimp to beef. The difference is in the seasonings used. We can honestly say we never had a bad one. Empanadilla are a favorite lunch time food and freshness is always assured as they are prepared when ordered - no reheating required.

We found our favourites at a little roadside stand in La Paguera and at the La Barkita restaurant in Salinas. The best cook’s offer their homemade spicy sauce as a finishing touch. A dash of La Barkita’s sauce creates a magical mix of flavors.

Pumpkin is for Cows

Barely enough pumpkin.

Even though we found ourselves in the possession of a massive Puerto Rican pumpkin courtesy of our mates Sunny and Blake aboard Slow Mocean, we had barely enough of the gorgeous orange stuff to make all the recipes we were drooling over. It’s hard to imagine any group of people more accustomed to eating pumpkin than Australians. We love it and cook it in so many ways, least of all as pumpkin pie which is essential to a Thanksgiving meal in the States. In fact after 13 years in the States, I still can’t get my taste buds around a sweet pumpkin pie served with cream or ice cream. My loss, no doubt.

I grew up with the good old “meat and three veg” diet of so many Aussies, thanks to the dominantly British and Irish heritage of most of us back then (The Brits never called themselves European in those days!). We might have starved if it weren’t for sausages, lamb chops, mashed potato and pumpkin and green beans or peas! These still represent comfort food for me. My favorite is roast pumpkin, preferably Queensland Blue variety, a must along with roast potato and sweet potato cooked in the same roasting pan with chicken, beef or lamb. Oddly, when I travelled through the UK in 1981, I did not often see pumpkin for sale and was told that was because they only fed it to cows! Mooo, don't call cows silly!

Seasoning Peppers

As a result of immigration from Southern Europe after WWII, Aussie tastes eventually changed and matured. The types of vegetables commonly available to us became more interesting. We can thank the Australian Women’s Weekly for introducing wonderful collections of recipes, Italian, Chinese, etc. and encouraging Aussie Mum’s to try them.

Soon my Mum was cooking stuffed zucchini, canneloni and lasagne like we imagined Italians would. Chinese take-away was always available (the Chinese came initially with the Australian Gold Rush of the 1800’s) but with the influence of immigrants from a list of Asian countries, especially Vietnam and Thailand, food tastes changed some more, to the point where Australians seem to have the best of all worlds. The variety of fresh fruits and vegetables just can’t be beat.

Never known to bow to authority or tradition, Aussie chefs over the past 30 years have been the most innovative, courageously ignoring culinary “norms” in favour of combining ingredients that rarely share the same plate. I recall a Peter Howard recipe of the early 80’s; roast pork with puree of kiwi fruit and onion. Now that’s a taste sensation. As for fusion, heck, Aussie chefs should have taken out a copyright on the word when they introduced the concept!

Coconut is perfect with pumpkin.

What has all this to do with pumpkin? Nothing, except to say that the humble pumpkin has never gone out of fashion! Here are some of the ways we used that Puerto Rican pumpkin, as pictured above.

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup
I adapted the recipe of Chef Christopher Walker of Villa Monzon in Montego Bay, Jamaica (Morgan Freeman & Friends Caribbean Cooking for a Cause). The beauty of this soup is that vegetables can be left out or substituted depending on what is available and so the finished flavour is often a surprise even to the cook!

250 grams potato
500 grams sweet potato
500 grams of pumpkin
250 grams yams or dasheen
2 carrots (peeled and sliced)
1 Chayote (choko) squash (peel, remove seed and cut into 1” pieces)
2 medium tomatoes
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 spring onions or green shallots
4 cups shredded cabbage
1 hot chili pepper
1 can coconut milk
6 cups vegetable broth or stock
Tablespoon of butter or oil
Red pepper for garnish (very finely sliced)

You’ll need a stockpot. Peel and cut the potato, sweet potato, yams and pumpkin into 2” pieces.

Gently warm the butter and garlic in the pot. Add the root vegetables, pumpkin and carrots along with the coconut milk and broth. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the chayote, tomatoes, spring onions, cabbage and chili pepper to the pot and simmer for 20 minutes more, or until the vegetables are tender.

Season with freshly ground pepper and salt. Serve garnished with finely sliced sweet red pepper. Serves 6.

Pumpkin Curry

Pumpkin Curry
Our 1982 reprint of “Caribbean Cookery” by Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz, originally published in 1973 as “The Complete Book of Caribbean Cookery” by M. Evans and Co. Inc., is positively indispensible as we sail the islands of the Caribbean. Ms. Ortiz attributes the following “colombo de giraumon” to the region Martinique - Guadeloupe. Here is her recipe.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1oz. unsalted butter
1/4 lb. bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, choped
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1lb West Indian pumpkin (calabaza), peeled and cut into 1” cubes
Salt, freshly ground pepper to taste
1 large clove garlic, crushed

Heat the oil and butter in a heavy saucepan, add bacon, onion and pepper and cook, stirring from time to time, until the onion is tender but not browned.

Add the curry powder and cook, stirring for a minute or two. Add cloves, tomatoes, pumpkin, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on the lowest possible heat, stirring occasionally to prevent the mixture from burning.

When pumpkin is very tender and almost reduced to a puree, mix in the garlic and cook, uncovered for a minute or so longer.

This dish is a perfect accompaniment to plainly cooked meat, fish or poultry.

Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz died on Oct 27, 2003 at the age of 88. To say she was extremely talented would be a gross understatement. Again we turned to her “Caribbean Cookery” book for inspiration.

Rooting Out Rotis

The real purpose of quitting my job and sailing 3,500 miles in a 43' boat is to find a good roti.

Many years ago my Fijian friends, Roger Clarke and Peter Moorse, introduced me to the Dee Why Roti Hut in Sydney. At the time I did not have a taste for hot food and the experience of eating a blistering hot roti for the first time was a life altering one.

Both Trish and I became regular customers of the Dee Why Roti Hut travelling across the city to get our roti fix when the need arose. On our last visit to the Roti Hut, sometime in the mid 80's, we were shocked to find it closed for good. Since that day we have searched far and wide for rotis.

Turns out that the roti we so fondly remember in Sydney comes from the West Indies; the closer we get to Trinidad & Tobago the more rotis we find.

First we found them in US virgin Islands at US$15. This price did not seem right as I recalled paying all of A$0.40, but that was a while back. Then in St Kitts we found them on the restaurant menus. Still not quite right as I recall eating them out of a paper bag and washed down with a banana smoothy.

We get to the Grenadines and voila, rotis at $8EC (US$3) complete with paper bag and tasting just as I remembered after a heavy handed application of local hot sauce.

Eating roti on the beach in Bequia.

Now in Grenada no trip to St Georges is complete without a Roti and yes we have found banana smoothies. Real roti is Carribean fast food, found in small, hole-in-the-wall restaurants or street stalls, served in a paper bag and if you're lucky, accompanied by a banana smoothy. Heaven!

Trish's Chicken Salad

A real favourite aboard Bristol Rose

  • Canned Chicken
  • Mayonaise
  • Celery
  • Ground black pepper

Mix together and serve in a lettuce leaf or on a sandwich with dill pickle

Thursday, July 9, 2009

To Market To Market .....

Market day in the Caribbean is always a great day. We have really enjoyed re-acquainting ourselves with tropical fruits and discovering new ones.

all in a day's shopping

Cashew, who would have ever thought they look like this?

Like markets all over the world, interacting with the vendors is half the fun.

Fresh Spices from the Caribbean for sale in Guadeloupe

Spices in St. Martin

Mahi Mahi

Caught a Mahi Mahi and just dont know what to do with it?

  • Fillet and skin fish, remove dark meet, cut into serving size pieces
  • Rub with Olive oil and season with a seafood rub (try Chef Paul Prudhommes Seafood Magic)
  • Grill fish on bar-b-que
  • Top with a fruity salsa
  • serve with lettuce and tomato

Hot Chocolate Caribbean style

Discovered in the markets of Basse Terre.

Vanilla Bean, Cinnamon Stick, Bay Leaves, Nutmeg, Unsweetened Chocolate
3 cups of water, 3/4 cup evaporated milk
Sugar to taste

  1. In a saucepan, bring water to boil with vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, bay leave, grated nutmeg.
  2. Add the chocolate and return to boil
  3. Reduce heat and simmer until chocolate melts
  4. add evaporated milk
  5. remove leaves, cinnamon, vanilla bean
  6. add sugar to taste
On reflection we should have added a dash of rum!

Colombo de poulet

The Colombo was introduced into Martinique and Guadeloupe around the middle of the 1800's by migrant Hindu workers. We found freshly mixed Colombo powder and all the ingredients needed to make our own Colombo on board Bristol Rose.

This recipe is based on one we found in Caribbean Cookery by Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz.
3 lb of chicken 1/2 lb, aubergine, peeled and sliced
4 tbl spoons oil, 1 christophene (choko)
2 onions, finely chopped, 1 lb dasheen (taro)
2 cloves of garlic, 1 can of coconut milk
1/3 cup Colombo, 1 cup chicken stock
1 tbl spoon tamarind pulp, 3 seasoning peppers (use hot peppers if desired)
1 green mango, lime juice
1/2 lb pumpkin, 2 tbl spoons rum
1/2 lb green papaya, bundle of thyme, green onions, bay leave
  • I used a pressure cooker for this dish
  • Saute chicken pieces lightly on both sides in oil, remove from pressure cooker
  • saute onions until golden
  • add garlic and Colombo and cook for 3 minutes
  • return chicken to pressure cooker and other ingredients except for lime juice and rum
  • Cover pressure cooker and cook for 30 minutes
  • add salt to taste, add lime juice and rum
  • serve with rice

Monday, February 2, 2009

Vernon's the Real Deal... and So Are His Pies!

Vernon's Store is worth finding!  

Vernon was born in the Abacos. He's the real deal 8th generation Abaconian being decendent from Loyalists who fled to the Bahamas during the American Revolutionary War in 1783. We weren't rude enough to ask when he was born; safe to say Vernon is over 50 and going strong.
Vernon's Store looks "lived in" and has Vernon's sense of humour stamped all over it, with his quotes and those of others penned and pinned to every shelf.  Visitors find much more than anything money can buy.

We don't like to over-research the locations we plan to visit. It's so much fun to feel like we've stumbled upon a little gem than to have it all planned out in advance. That's how it was with Vernon's Store. Every day he bakes bread and pies. Take a look at this Key Lime Pie!

No hint of the fake green coloring you find in the fake key lime pies that glow in the dark and last in the back of the fridge forever, found in so many grocery stores across the States. My guess is that Vernon uses real eggs (now that's a novel idea), real lime juice and real condensed milk to make these superb pies. He tops them with meringue; a great use of the egg whites you're left with if you make a 4 egg yolk key lime pie.  Again, we did not ask Vernon to give away any secrets. You'll just have to track him down yourself. Hint: we Hope you find him in Town in the Bahamas.