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End of the Journey?!

22 May

My journey is over!! Not only did I cook some wonderful food but have cooked my way through almost the entire COOKBOOK. Thank you for those who followed the journey and cooked some wonderful food! I will admit, I still have to post the tripe recipe. LOL.. I cooked it.. buuutt..uugghh…I am also missing just a few baking recipes. No worries,  I will get them up soon.

Anyway, I received my official invitation on 4/18/2013.. In my car, while driving home from work, I got the email that changed everything. After having to pull over to the side of the road to call my BFF and mentor, I was able to read and discover that I HAVE BEEN INVITED TO SERVE IN PEACE CORPS MOZAMBIQUE!! My staging date will be September 24, 2013. I have been in a sort of denial for the last few days. Not sure if I should spread the word, out of fear of jinxing it!  Jamaican culture is to be somewhat humble about successes. I wasn’t even sure about how to move forward in these posts. So I have stayed quiet. But now it is time to share.  My happiness is overwhelming, my joy is overflowing, and yes I feel blessed!

You know when something just feels so good, so right and so perfect.  That is how it feels.  I stated in the beginning that the journey was over… HA! It has just begun!

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Recipe #17: Ginger Bread

28 Apr

Right now I am trying to do anything to get away from cooking that tripe! So I decided to test my hand at baking.  There are quite a few recipes that call for baking in The COOKBOOK.  I have actually gone through almost all of the dinner dishes, so to avoid the tripe, it is only right to begin on a few desserts.  This was such a quick and easy recipe, me (who sucks at baking) completed it without barely a hitch!

Here is the Recipe from the book:

  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 egg beaten

Heat the molasses, sugar and butter gently in a pan.  Pour in the hot water, mix well and set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg, then add the grated ginger and the well beaten egg.  Combine the molasses liquid with the flour mixture, and pour the resulting batter into a shallow tin lined with greased paper.  Bake in a slow over at 300 – 350 degrees F. 150-160 degrees C, for an hour or until done.

OK Here is what I did:

I began with the molasses. I was very nervous about burning it, so I kept the heat on low as everything melded together.

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While that was working I grated the ginger.

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Once the molasses and butter mixture was melted, I added the water and let it sit. The consistency was runny, and smelled delicious. Image

I set that aside and sifted the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg together.

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Once that was done I got the pan ready. I learned a trick that my aunt always uses when she is baking something so that the food doesn’t stick.  I took a slice of butter and placed it on a napkin.  I rubbed the butter all around the pan.  Then a took of pinch or two of flower and shifted it around in the pan until the entire pan and the sides were covered.  Then I discarded the excess flour. Image

Now my only hiccup was when I added the molasses mixture to the flour.  It became really clumpy.  I am not sure how to prevent that.  If you have any ideas, let me know! But I added all the ginger to that mixture and stirred it up. Then poured it into the pan.

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See.. a little clumpy.  But anyway, I baked that for the specified time.  The house smelled awesome! And wallah! Gingerbread!!

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My mom asked why i didn’t put it in a bread pan. LOL, I don’t know! But the test was whether it bread came out smoothly.  And Oh yes it did!!

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Look closely at the bottom of the pan! And yes I served it with ice cream. I know it is supposed to be a bread, but I thought ginger and ice cream.. and yes it was yummy.  I wonder if I could use that bread to make a bread pudding..hhmmm…LOL!!

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Everyone loved the bread. It was like eating a ginger bread cookie, just softer.  We all picked at pieces of the bread all day.  It didn’t last long! YUM!!

Recipe #16: Jamaican Beef and Okra

14 Apr

So, I took the Beef Tripe out of the fridge. I thawed it out, but I am still not ready to work with it.  I am promising myself that I will do it some time this week, but I am not ready yet!.  So instead of cooking the tripe I went back out to the store and just picked up some round of beef. In The Cookbook I found Beef and Okra, which is a dish I am much more willing to work with!

Here is the recipe from the book

  • 2lb shoulder steak, round of beef, sirloin or shin of beef
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/3 cup of oil
  • 2 onions
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1lb of okras, tops removed

Cut the meat across the grain into thin slices, no more than 2×3 inches and season them with a little salt and pepper.

Brown the meat in the oil, then add the onions and garlic and stir until these take color.  Add the thyme and tomatoes, stir again, and add the water.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer until the meat is tender.  Add more water if it becomes necessary.

Add the okras, taste for salt, cover, and cook for a further 30 minutes.

Here is what I did:

My family isn’t really a beef eating family, so I knew my goal was to get them to enjoy this meal.  Also, I’ve cooked beef before and my personal challenge is trying to figure out how to get the beef tender.  When I said this out loud my father, my backseat cook, yelled that I need to “let da meat cook.” LOL! So that is what I did.

First I bought already cubed meat, and I seasoned them on both sides with salt and pepper.  I added them to a pot of hot oil and butter.

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While that was browning I chopped up my other ingredients, the tomatoes, onions, and garlic.

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Once the pieces were brown, I followed the rest of the instructions, adding in the onion and garlic.  Letting it brown, and then adding the tomatoes, thyme and water.  I added just enough water to cover the meat.

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I covered the pot and let this simmer. Like I said, my goal was to get the meat as tender as possible.  This pot of yummy goodness simmered for over an hour.

When I felt I could break apart the beef cubes easily with the knife I added in the Okra. I used frozen okra because my supermarket didn’t have fresh ones.  I also added in a few dashes of hot sauce.

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I covered the pot again and let it simmer for another hour.  At this point the meat was practically falling apart.

Then I served it up with rice and peas.  Made perfectly of course from the previous recipe!

Here is dads plate!

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Here is mine!

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Another success! This was so good, the beef literally melted in my mouth. My dad added a few more dashes of hot sauce, but I was good with my spiciness.

After rereading the recipe I noticed it said I should slice the meat into thin slices.  Next time I will make thinner slices, but regardless definitely a go to meal!

RECIPE #15: Jamaican Escoveitch Fish

9 Apr

My dad, the backseat cook (lol), has insisted that we are eating too much of the same meat.  So he decided that he would buy fish, tripe, beef kidneys, and other pieces of meat that I have never eaten…ummmm..I decided to start with the fish. Luckily the COOKBOOK has other fish recipes, and I found escoveitch fish! I’ve had this at Jamaican restaurants, and although the fish is delicious it’s the onions and carrots that I always go back for. I’ll worry about the other pieces of meat another time!

Here is the recipe from the book:

  • 2 lbs fresh fish
  • juice of 2 limes
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • oil
  • 1-2 cho cho or cucumbers
  • 2 onions
  • 2 hot peppers, scotch bonnet
  • 2 tablespoons pimento berries
  • 1 cup vineger

Clean and wash the fish, rub them with the lime juice, and dry them with a kitchen cloth or paper.  Sprinkle them on both sides and inside with salt and pepper.  heat plenty of oil in a frying pan until it is very hot and begins to smoke very slightly.  Place the fish in the hot oil one at a time, taking care that they do not overlap.  Reduce the heat a little and fry the fish on both sides.  If they are difficult to turn, then the oil was not hot enough.  Leave them for a couple minutes to allow the underside to brown, then turn.  When the fish are done, drain them and arrange them on a large platter or in a deep bowl.

In the meantime, peel the cho chos and cut them into halves and then into long strips.  Put them in a saucepan with the onions, hot peppers, pimento, vinegar and a little salt to taste.  Bring the mixture to a boil simmer for 2 minutes or so, then remove it from the heat.  Pour this hot pickle over the fish.  The fish can marinate for 1 hour to 3 days.  Can be served hot or cold.

O.K Here is what I did!

The best fish for this is the red snapper, I got pretty big snapper because I couldn’t find anything smaller.  If you can find smaller fish, then please use them, the big ones complicate things! Image

I cleaned and washed those babies, and then salted and peppered the inside and the outside. I couldn’t find a pan to fit them in tho.. LOL. I had to use my bridge burner and a long pan.  I heated the oil until it was smoking and then carefully placed the fish down…. do this carefully, i splashed the first time. I let them cook for 4-6 minutes and then flipped. Image

While that was cooking I sliced up my onions, cucumbers (cause I’m still not sure what cho cho’s are, lol), onions and hot peppers. I sliced these into thin strips.

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I placed my sliced pieces into a pot with vinegar, I used apple cider vinegar.  I let it boil and then simmer for a few minutes.

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Once the onions and carrots were more translucent, but not soft I wanted them to have some crunch, I poured my mixture over the fish.

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I let this sit over night.

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Then served!

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Notice I cut the fish in half, and had two pieces.  Don’t be intimidated by the fish head, you can also ask your butcher to cut the heads off and just do the tail end.  My mother happens to looooove the fish head. This was delicious. The onions and carrots tasted exactly how I wanted them to. Next time I will spice it up another notch!!

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Keep it Spicy!!

Recipe #14: Jamaican Corned beef and Cabbage

17 Mar

When I was growing up we always ate the quick and easy dish of corned beef and cabbage, but the corned beef we always ate was the corned beef in a can, the bulla(y) beef.  Mom would cook it down with some cabbage and white rice and that is what I knew as corned beef and cabbage. It wasn’t until I was with a friend on St. Patty’s Day, we were eating at this Irish Pub and I ordered corned beef and cabbage.  It looked completely different, I realized that the corned beef and cabbage I ate growing up was a completely the, “I am not a chef version.”  LOL. So I went searching in The Cookbook, I figure, if I ate it while growing up, it must be because it is a traditional recipe that my mom transformed….lol. And guess what I found? A recipe for corned beef! Just so happens it is also St. Patrick’s Day!

Here is the recipe from the book:

  • 12 Pimento berries
  • 2 stalks scallion
  • 3 slices hot pepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 3 table spoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon saltpetre
  • 3 lb leg, loin or silverside of beef

Pound the pimento berries in a mortar.  Add the scallion, hot pepper and garlic and pound these almost to a puree, then combine with the black pepper, thyme, salt and saltpetre and mix well.

With a sharp, long, narrow-bladed knife, make incisions all over the meat.  Place a little of the seasoning mixture in each incision, leaving some to rub over the outside of the meat.

Place the seasoned meat in a glass, china or earthenware container, cover with plastic wrap, and leave it for 2-3 days in the bottom of the ridge.

When the mean is to be cooked, transfer it to a large pot with plenty of water.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and gently cook until it is tender.  This should take about 2 hours.  the corned beef should be tender but not falling apart.

OK here is what did:

First, luckily it was St. Patrick’s Day week. I was able to find an already prepped beef loin, so I didn’t have to worry about the saltpetre.  Image

I took the pimento and the scallion and pounded them in a bowl.  Very similar to what I did for the jerk rub. But I made a much better mixture.

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I added a whole hot pepper, sliced, pepper, garlic, pepper and  less salt since the corned beef was already salted. Pounded everything all together and got a great smelling paste.

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Then I made the incisions in the beef and stuffed the mixture into each incision, I rubbed the remaining mixture all of the beef.  I covered the beef and let it sit in the fridge for 2 days.

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Once I was ready to cook, I placed the beef in a pot, and filled it about half way with water.

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I brought everything to a boil, lowered the heat and cooked this for about 2-3 hours.

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This is smelling delicious at this point.  My mother kept lifting the pot. After about 2 1/2 hours I removed the beef.

I let it rest for a few minutes, and then sliced it up.

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This is beautiful because you can see all the seasoning that you stuffed into each incision when you slice it.

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To make the cabbage, I simply added onions, and carrots to an oiled hot skillet and cooked that until the onions were translucent. I sliced up cabbage and added it to the onions and carrots.  Here is the kicker! I added the juice from the pot the beef was in and poured it over the cabbage.  I let that cook down until the cabbage was tender but still had a crunch.

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This was so delicious. I think my favorite recipe. Very flavorful beef. My mom even loved it and she actually is not a beef lover.  My dad was not a huge fan, only because corned beef has the red on the inside.  He kept asking if it was actually cooked.  I informed him that canned corned beef is also red on the inside.  My brother LOVED the cabbage, and he never compliments anything so I know that was a hit!

Happy St. Patty’s Day!

RECIPE #13: Jamaican PEAS SOUP

9 Mar

A few posts ago I cooked the rice and peas recipe. In that recipe I mentioned the fact that I wasn’t sure why Rice and Peas were called Rice and Peas since it is made with kidney beans.  Well turns out that in Jamaica, traditionally kidney beans are known as kidney peas.  Anyway, I went searching through The Cookbook looking for something completely different and found a Red Peas Soup recipe, but unfortunately I didn’t have any kidney beans. So I switched it up and made just a Peas Soup with Gungo Peas or as you will find it in the supermarket Pigeon Peas!

Here is the recipe from the book:

  • 2 cups red peas
  • 2lb shin of beef
  • 1/2 lb salted pig’s tail
  • 10-12 cups of water
  • 1lb yellow yam or other hard yam cut into pieces
  • 2-3 cocos
  • 1 1/2 cup of flour dumplings
  • 1 whole hot pepper
  • 3 slices hot pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 stalks scallion, crushed
  • 1 spring thyme
  • black pepper
  • salt

Put the peas and meats in a large pan with the water and bring to the boil.  reduce the heat cover and allow to cook until the meats are tender.  This should take about 2 hours.  Crush some of the peas with a large spoon or fork, then add the yam, cocos and dumplings.  Season the soup with the whole and sliced hot pepper, garlic scallion, thyme and a little black pepper.  cook until the yam and cocos are soft, adding more water if necessary.  Taste for salt.  Be Careful not to break or cut the pepper when you are stirring the pot.

O.K. here is what I did.

First, I must say, this was possibly the most difficult recipe for me to get together.  For some reason all of the ingredients just would not work with me.  Seriously drama from start to finish.

Shopping for the ingredients, I realized I had no idea what a yellow yam looked like, and when I went into the supermarket this is what I saw. Image

There were so many different types of YAM! I gave up after going to 2 supermarkets and getting very confused.  My mom kept saying “it’s the long one, that looks like a branch.” (She refused to come to the supermarket with me)

Yeah… ok…I just bought potatoes.. LOL

Anyway, like I said before, I used pigeon peas instead of kidney beans, because we had the dry ones in the house already. I Soaked the peas with the pigs tail for a while.  The dry peas have to get soft and just boiling them will not get them as soft as I needed them at the end. So I soaked everything for about an hour before I boiled them.

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Now, don’t be discouraged by the pigs tail.  It is just pork and the favor is really good. I couldn’t find the salt beef, so I only used the pigs tails.

Then, I began trying to roll out the dumplings. I mixed flour and some salt together and added water. Of course, this was my second hiccup.  I ran out of flour! My mother laughed, she said she has never run out of flour, obviously all of my cooking is using up items we previously barely used.  So, I was supposed to make firm little dumplings. But, instead mine came out as sticky little dumplings. Whatever… I just threw them in.

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I added in the diced potatoes and the rest of the ingredients, minus those dam yams, and brought everything to a boil.

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I simmered everything for about 2 hours, until the potatoes were soft and I could crush a few peas on the side of the pot. Then I served it up.

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Yum! Can’t wait to make this with the yam, next time I will ask. In some markets they will cut it open for you and you can see if it is yellow inside.  Those are yellow yams. But the flavor was good. I think I would add less peas next time, but you can add or remove peas to your taste. My dad loves peas, my mom not so much. They both agreed that the flavor was great regardless.

The dumplings came out fine as well, I would make sure to make them smaller and next time check to make sure I have enough flour.

This is dads bowl, notice the size of his compared to ours! LOL

*His*

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*Mine*

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RECIPE 12#: Fricasseed Chicken (Brown Stew Chicken…?)

3 Mar

So I was told today that I need to slow down. Apparently, I have cooked so much that we have food for days, we can’t eat it fast enough. So I didn’t cook all week. My hands were itching to get to the pot.  I had chicken in the fridge and I went searching for brown stew chicken in The COOKBOOK, but I couldn’t find it.  The only thing I found was  Fricasseed Chicken, the recipe sounds very similar to Brown Stew Chicken, so maybe that’s it?

Here is the recipe from the book

  • 1 chicken, 4lb
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 2 onions
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 3-4 slices of hot pepper
  • 1 whole hot pepper
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2-3 cups water

Wash and dry the chicken, removing any feathers still remaining on it.  Rub it all over with the lime juice.  Cut into joints and place them in a bowl.  Season with salt and plenty black pepper, add garlic, thyme, onions, tomatoes, and hot pepper.  Mix well and leave the chicken to marinate for 15 mins.

Remove the chicken pieces from the bowl, and fry them in oil until very brown.  Fry as many pieces as the pan will hold without overlapping, and when they are all browned, remove them from the pan.  Take the pan off the heat for a minute or so for it to cool a little, then lower the heat, put the pan back, and scape in the seasoning in which the chicken was marinated.  Stir for a minutes or so, then pour the water, bring to a boil, and add the chicken pieces.  Cover the pan and simmer for 1 hour or until the chicken is tender but not falling apart.  Be careful not to break the whole hot pepper.

Taste the juices for salt and if the gravy is too liquid, reduce it by increasing the heat, leaving the cover off, until the excess liquid evaporates.  Remove the whole pepper before serving.

Here is what I did:

First of all, there was noooo way I was plucking feathers of a chicken for the morning. I decided to just use the chicken I had in the fridge, which were just drumsticks. I cleaned it and then seasoned the chicken with all of the spices, (a little extra hot pepper and salt lol) and I marinated the chicken over night.

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The next day, I took the chicken out and picked of the seasonings to fry.  If you fry it with the seasonings, such as onion, still attached the seasoning will burn and make the oil pop. It’s an extra step, but very worth it. I used a mix of half oil and half butter.  I fried the chicken, just a few at a time.

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I removed each piece, once it was browned on all sides, and continued until the entire batch was cooked.  Then I put them to the side.

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I could have eaten them then…if they weren’t still raw.  Don’t eat them yet.. lol

Then I added the seasoning to the pot.

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Yumm…Once, those were giving off a delicious aroma, I added a little water. A little less than the recipe called for, because for some reason I am not good at reducing water down.

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I added the chicken back to the pot and covered the pot for an hour. The water did reduce well this time.. surprise surprise… the one time I add less water…smh.  Once it was done, yumm.. very flavorful, not too spicy but I didn’t mind. The next day the chicken was even better. I served it with white rice and avocado slices. Image

Notice..I am working on my plating skills.. LOL!! How am I doing?