Tag Archives: cookbook project

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!!

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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 #11: jAMAICAN CURRIED SHRIMP

25 Feb

Today when I got up my father offered to make breakfast.  He also told me he put a new battery in my computer.  These random acts of kindness are not all that random..I think he is just really just trying to butter me up.  He may be more exciting about my journey than I am.  LOL..  Grocery story shopping has become so interesting, now I am trying not to get the same meats over and over again. Then I realized we haven’t eaten shrimp in a while. Decided to see what the COOKBOOK had for shrimp.  Curried Shrimp yum! Curry is so good, and similar to jerk seasonings, you can curry almost anything. So curried Shrimp it is! Although, warning from now, ladies, If you just got your nails done you may want to wait before making this dish. You will find out why at the end.

Here is the recipe from the book:

  • 2lbs fresh shirmp
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1fl oz oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 3-4 slices hot pepper
  • 1 sweet pepper, chopped (optional)
  • salt
  • blackpepper
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Shell the shrimps, then fry them gently in the butter and oil with the onions and garlic.  Add the curry powder, stirring it for a few seconds, then add the tomato, hot pepper, sweet pepper, salt and black pepper,  Pour in the water, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium.  The dish should be ready in 10 minutes or when the sac has reduces and thickened.

OK Here is what I did:

I followed the recipe almost exactly, I bought a pack of frozen shrimp already shelled and cleaned. I just rinsed them off.

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I also added a some salt to the shrimp before I began frying.  I fried the shrimp with the onions and garlic in the butter and oil mix. The smell was divine!

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I fried the shrimp slowly, and soon they  turned that gorgeous pink color. Image

Then, I added my curry. I have curry that I bought from a Jamaican bakery. They sell nice big bags that are made in Jamaica.  But they sell curry in almost every grocery story now.

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Smelling good!! I added water, and then covered the pot to let it simmer.

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Wallah! Image

I served mine up with white rice! It was so good dad went back for seconds, so did I. LOL

The only thing I would change about this recipe is adding less water.  I wanted my sauce to be a little thicker.  Besides that the shrimps were spicy and delicious. The only thing about curry is that it stains.  Curry will stain everything, your clothes, your hand, your skin, your nails. Look at my palm a day later from where I placed a drop to taste the sauce!

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No worries, it will fade away.  Besides, it was all worth it!

Recipe #10: Jamaican Oxtails

19 Feb

If you are planning on a quick meal, this is not the one! Oxtails are delicious, but definitely take some planning. I’ve never had oxtails outside of a Jamaican bakery or restaurant, so homemade oxtails are an adventure. Lately, I hear more and more people in the states asking for oxtails, good to see people broadening their horizons!!

Here is the recipe from the book:

  • 2lb oxtail
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 spring thyme
  • 3 slices hot pepper
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 lb cooked broad beans

Wash and dry the pieces of oxtail and brown them in oil.  Add 4 cups of water, bring to a boil, then lower and simmer until the oxtail is tender, adding more water if necessary.  Reduce the sauce to a thick gravy by increasing the heat, then add the tomatoes, onions, garlic, thyme, hot pepper, salt and black pepper.  stir for a few minutes, then add the remaining water and broad beans.  Mix them in, lower the hear, cover again, and simmer for 10 minutes or until the water evaporates leaving a thick gravy.  Serve with rice.

OK here is what I did:

First of all, I decided to marinate my oxtails first. So I added the oxtails, onions, thyme, garlic, hot pepper, salt and pepper in a bowl and refrigerated it over night. I also added some browning to make sure that I got some color on my oxtails. Image

Next day, I went ahead and fried the oxtails. Got them nice and brown, I fried a few pieces at a time and  removed them from the pot. Image

Once my batch was browned, I added everything back and covered the meat with water.

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Now this part takes a while, Oxtails are a pretty tough cut of meat. So I let them simmer for about 2 hours, to get the meat really tender. To the point that it was falling of the bone. Then I added all of the other ingredients. Broad beans are just another word for butter beans.  I got nervous about the flavor and also added a little more salt and pepper.

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I let all of that go for about another hour and served it up with a fresh batch of rice and peas.

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The oxtails were delicious.  If they cook for as long as I said then they come out nice and tender. Meat was falling off the bone! YUM!  Mom said she wanted it spicier tho! LOL.. always can be spicier!

Recipe #9: Saltfish and PawPaw (Papaya)

18 Feb

The recipe book said “Saltfish and Pawpaw.”  My first question.. what in the world is paw paw?! My father says that he thinks that at some point in his life he has had salt fish and papaya.  His mother may have cooked it for him and that is the last time he has ever had it. Just goes to show how old school some of these recipes are.  I have never heard of salt fish and papaya, ever! Matter a fact, before this project I had never even opened up a papaya… Made me a little nervous…Here goes…

Here is the recipe from the book:

  • 1/2 lb salt cod
  • 2lb green papaya
  • 6 slilces of bacon
  • oil
  • 2 onions
  • 1 tomato
  • 4 slices hot pepper
  • 1 spring of thyme
  • 1 cup water

Boil the salt cod in water for 15 minutes.  In the meantime peel and slice the pawpaw, discard the seeds, and set it aside.  When the fish is cooked, put it under some running water to cool, then remove the skin and bones and flake the fish.

Fry the bacon in a little oil, then remove from the pan and set aside.  Add the onions, tomato, hot pepper and thyme to the pan.  Stir for a few minutes and then add the flaked fish; stir again and add the slices pawpaw.  Pour in the water, cover the pan, and simmer until the pawpaw is tender and the liquid is reduced to a gravy.  Garnish the saltfish and pawpaw with the bacon.

OK here is what I did:

Like I said, I have never used or opened a papaya. Image

A little intimidating.. lol.

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Gorgeous. When I opened it, I got worried.  The Papaya was a little more ripe than I thought. I decided to go ahead and move forward with the recipe.  I scooped the seeds of the papaya out and began slicing.

I also began boiling some green bananas to go along with it.

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I followed the recipe exactly, except I added more thyme and a few red pepper flakes.

ImageSprinkled the bacon on top!! Bacon makes everything delicious!

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I had to taste it at this point. My goodness…divine!  A sweet, salty, spicy mix of flavors!

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I served it with some left over dumplings and the boiled green banana.  I was so nervous to try this, but it turned out so good. I am glad to have another saltfish recipe under my belt.

My dad also enjoyed it. He said I needed to make more gravy so the dumpling and the banana could soak some of it up. Next time, I will also try to find a less ripe papaya. My dad said it should be more green than pink, but he said quote “It nah taste bad, it taste good ya nuh” lol.. Keep it spicy!

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Recipe #8: Ackee and Saltfish with Fried Plantain and Dumplings

17 Feb

Ackee and Saltfish! Jamaica’s National Dish, made with Jamaica’s National Fruit, Ackee! I grew up eating Ackee and salt fish on Sunday mornings for years.  Then, for a while ackee disappeared from stores in the U.S. An ugly rumor that Ackee was poisonous spread and Ackee was banned in the United States.  Ackee is only unsafe if the pods are not opened before they are picked.  Luckily, the U.S lifted their ackee ban years ago, and we can eat ackee again!

Here is the recipe from the book:

  • 2 dozen ackees in pods
  • 1/2 lb salt cod
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 spring thyme
  • 3-4 slices hot pepper
  • 1 small tomato
  • black pepper

Choose ackees that are completely open, with the black seed and yellow fruit clearly visible in the pod.

Remove the ackees from the pods.  Discard the seeds and the pink membrane found in the cleft of each fruit.  wash them an put them to boil in a lard pot of water with the salt fish.  As soon as the ackees are tender, pour the contents of the pot into a large sieve, discarding the ware.  Separate the ackees from the fish.  Run some clod water over the fish so that you can remove the bones and skin, then flake it and set it aside.

Put the butter and oil to heat in a frying pan. Add the onions thyme and hot pepper slices, and tomato.  Stir for a few minutes then add the flaked fish.  Stir for a few more minutes then add the drained ackees, carefully stirring so as not the crush them.  Add a little more oil if necessary, sprinkle with plenty of freshly ground pepper, and the dish is ready.

O.K. Here is what I did.

Now, I had no intention of looking for actual ackee, and I don’t even think you can find the fruit in the states.  Luckily, you can get ackee in a can! If you go to almost any grocery now, ackee in a can is available.

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I drained the ackee from the water, and set it aside.

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Then, I followed the rest of the instructions.  I fried the onions, added the thyme, and used red pepper flakes ( I have to buy more hot pepper).  Image

I let that delicious smelling mixture fry for a while and then I added the salt fish that I had flaked from the previous cod fish recipe. (If you didn’t check out the last recipe.  Just take some cod fish fillets, boil them twice and then flake the fish.)  I let that fry again for a few mins, stirred the pot and then added my ackees. My mother and father do not like crushed ackee, so I made sure that I stirred very carefully. Also, I added quite a bit of black pepper at then end.  I covered the pot and let it simmer.

With the ackee, I fried up some sweet plantain. This is a great addition to the ackee.  I simply peeled the plantain and fried in hot oil.

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I also rolled out some dumplings. Which just consists of flour, salt, cornmeal and baking powder.  Then just add water.

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I separated the dough into flat circles and fried them until golden brown on each side. Then Sunday Brunch is served!

Ackee and saltfish with fried plantain and dumplings.  Delicious, and traditional!! Image

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Some people say ackee is an acquired taste, I just think it is delicious. It was also featured on food networks Diners, Drive Ins and Dives once.  If you want a true taste of Jamaica, THIS is the dish to make!! Keep it spicy!

Recipe #6: Traditional Homemade Jerked Seasoning on Pork Chops

13 Feb

YUMMY!! As promised, I said I was going to make a homemade jerk recipe.  I read a jerked pork chop recipe in the book, but I wasn’t sure because the ingredients in the book didn’t sound like the type of jerk seasonings that I know. This book actually doesn’t even have a recipe for jerk chicken, which is the jerk that most of us are used to.  The only recipe that it has is for those jerked pork chops.  Luckily, I took pork chops out of the freezer last night and they were ready to be cooked.

According to my parents, during the time that this book was published, 1985, jerk was mostly done on pork.  Jerk chicken didn’t become known as the popular jerk that we are used to until later when cooks would roll around on the North Coast attracting tourists to their fragrant drums, where they grilled Jerk chicken.

Jerk chicken became the popular jerked food, when actually, traditionally, jerk pork was the original jerk!  The recipe from the book is the traditional jerk.

Here is the recipe from the book:

  • 4lbs pork chops or any other cut
  • 2 oz pimento berries (all spice)
  • 6 stalks escallion, chopped
  • 2-3 hot pepper, chopped
  • 4 cinnamon leaves, or bay leaves, chopped
  • salt
  • pepper

Wash and dry the pork. Heat the pimento berries in a small frying pan, stirring them for 5 minutes, then put them in a mortar and pound them until they are powdery.  Add the escallion, hot pepper, cinnamon or bay leaves, salt and pepper.  Pound these together until you have a thick paste.  Rub the paste all over the pork and leave it for at least an hour over night in the refrigerator.

When you are ready to cook, placed the seasoned meat on the grill of a barbecue or coal pot.  Life the grill to the highest notch on the barbecue and gently cook the meat over charcoal made from burning green pimento wood. Or you can throw pimento berries on the charcoal… Pork should be ready in an hour.

Here is what I did:

I followed the recipe for the jerk paste almost exactly. The fragrance from the roasting pimento (all spice) berries was amazing.

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Now I don’t have a mortar (something I need to invest it), my mother had the nerve to hand me a toy one… smh. So  instead I used a wooden block and crushed up the pimento. The crushing the pimento part took a while.   I added all of the other ingredients, I used a bay leaf, and ended up with a great smelling paste.  *Probably was a little chunkier than it needed to be, but smashing those pimento berries was no joke.*

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I went ahead and rubbed the pork chops with the paste, coating both sides.

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Since it is also winter, I didn’t pull out the grill.  I just baked my pork chops.  I baked them for 45 minutes… my father likes his meat well done. Then I broiled it for 5 mins, just to get a nice color.

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Sooo.. how did my traditional jerk seasoning turn out.?…Amazing! My mom loved it, the flavor was so good. So different than the stuff from the jar.  I can’t wait until summer time, I am going to pull out the grill and put that paste on everything!

Change? Time should be spent really grinding down those pimento berries, otherwise the pieces may be to big.  But they sell ground allspice pimento berries as well, so maybe I will try that.  Also, next time I will definitely marinate it over night and add another hot pepper, you know I love it spicy!!