Sunday, 9 January 2011

Winter Comfort Split-Pea Soup

This is a hearty and comforting soup to beat the winter blues. Many Jamaicans add the bone left over from the traditional Christmas baked ham to Gungo Pea soup which gives a wonderful, rich flavour. Of course there are many variations to the Pea and Ham Bone soup, some people use lentils or white butter beans but in this recipe I am using dried green split peas - vegetarians will love it!

3 1/2 pints chicken stock (you can also use vegetable stock cube)
3/4 lb dried green split peas
4 thick rashers smoked bacon diced (optional)
1 whole Scotch Bonnet pepper
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
2 tbs Sunflower oil
Sprig of thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

NB: There is no need to soak the split peas overnight.

In a large saucepan fry the chopped bacon and when browned add the chopped onions and garlic fry until golden. Now stir in the split peas to absorb the flavours. Transfer to a saucepan and add the stock, the thyme and Scotch Bonnet pepper. Bring to the boil then cover and simmer gently for about 40-45 minutes or until the peas are cooked through and softened. Discard the whole Scotch Bonnet Pepper carefully so as not to break the skin and get the seeds in the soup!

When the soup is ready either liquidise it until smooth in a blender or leave nice and chunky. Add the ground black pepper and a little salt to taste. Add a little more stock if it is too thick. Cover again and heat for a further 10 minutes. Some people might like to serve it sprinkled with crisp fried croutons of bread.

Serves 6

Saturday, 18 December 2010

An Alternative Christmas Lunch

I love Christmas. the excitement of decorating a freshly cut pine tree, the warm smell of cloves adorning the traditional baked ham and rum soaked Christmas puddings ! all these smells remind me of my childhood family Christmases and I could go on... !

My menu this week is not the traditional turkey or goose but a roast leg of lamb accompanied by potato Dauphinoise which is an ideal accompaniment for a rich meat such as lamb. And as a treat for vegetarians, a tasty butter bean and aubergine stew.

For a light starter thinly sliced smoked salmon garnished with sliced lemon and sprinkled with black pepper and served with some excellent brown bread. To end the meal a luxuriously creamy banana brulee.

Roast leg of lamb

3 - lb leg of lamb
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tbsp cooking oil
1 teaspoon finely chooped rosemary
3 oz softened butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to gas mark 7 220 C/425F

Make small incisions all over the surface of the lamb and insert the garlic and chopped herbs. Rub the softened butter over the lamb and season with salt and pepper. Place the lamb in a a well oiled roasting tin. Cook for between 1 hour and 20 minutes until done. Transfer the lamb to a warm serving dish.

Gratin Dauphinois

4 lbs good quality potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 pint double cream
1/4 pint milk
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 oz butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to gas mark 3/170c/325F

First peel the potatoes and slice them very thinly. In a gratin dish arrange a layer of potato slices, sprinkle with the garlic, pepper and salt then arrange another layer of potatoes on top. Mix the cream and milk together and pour over the potatoes add the butter on top and bake on the highest shelf in the over for 1 /1/2 hours or until tender.

Butter Bean and Aubergine stew

4 tbsp oil
1 onion peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 aubergine trimmed and cut into chunks
a glass of white wine
1/4 pint vegetable stock
1 400g can of chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoon tomato puree
1 x 400g can of butter beans
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat 2 tbsp oil and fry the onion and garlic. Transfer to a flameprof casserole. Add remaining oil to pan and fry aubergine until soft. Transfer to casserole.

Pour over the wine, stock and tomatoes and stir in the tomato puree. Bring to bubbling and simmer for 15 minutes to reduce. Stir in butter beans and gently heat through. At the end of cooking season to taste.

Banana Brulee

1/2 pt double cream
4 egg yolks, beaten
1 tbsp caster sugar
2 ripe bananas peeled, sliced and sprinkled with lemon juice
Demerara sugar for topping

Place the double cream, beaten egg yolks and caster sugar in a pan. Stir gently over a very low heat until the custard thickens. Arrange banana slices in the bottom of 4 ramekins. Pour the custard mix over the banana slices and leave to cool. Transfer to the fridge and leave to chill for one hour. Next sprinkle a layer of demerara sugar over the custard mix and cook under a pre-heated grill until the sugar is melted and caramelised. Leave to cool again then chill until required.

To drink: try a bottle of red Rioja Contino Estate Reserva 1984

Saturday, 11 December 2010

An Elegant Dinner Menu

Here is a delicious and easy dinner menu for the festive season ahead. This is my own version of Chicken Fricassee, a Jamaican favourite. Start the meal with a fresh and lemony crab salad and finish with chilled Passion fruit cheesecakes below.

Fresh Crab and Avocado Salad

2 large avocados
7 oz white crab meat
crisp lettuce leaves
1 small red chilli diced

6-8 tbsps olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix all the ingredients together. Halve the avocados, cut into thin slices and add to the lettuce leaves . Pour over the olive oil dressing and serve.

For the Chicken Fricassee:

3-4 lbs chicken pieces
3 slices streaky bacon, chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
2 tblspns plain flour for coating the chicken pieces
2 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 chillie, chopped
Oil for frying the chicken
1 pint chicken stock
Sprig of thyme
Black pepper and salt for seasoning

Season the chicken with the salt and pepper and coat with the sieved flour. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the chicken until browned. Transfer to a warm dish and set aside. Fry the bacon, onions and garlic until soft and then add the chillie and mushrooms. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and pour in the stock and stir. Add the thyme and bay leaf. Transfer to a casserole dish and place in a hot oven to cook for about 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened. If the sauce is too thick add more water to the sauce. Serve with boiled white rice.

Passion Fruit Cheesecakes

Serves 4

6 oz digestive biscuits
3 oz unsalted butter, melted
7 oz cream cheese
Juice of a lime
Pulp and seeds of 2 ripe passion fruit
4 fl oz thick double cream
1 sachet gelatine
3 tbsp hot water
2 egg whites

Crumble the digestives in a processor, add melted butter and mix well. Press a layer of the mixture into the bases of four 3 in loose-bottomed flan tins. Chill until set.

For the filling, beat cream cheese until softened then stir in lime juice and passion fruit pulp and seeds. Fold in double cream. Dissolve gelatine in 3 tbsps boiling water and leave until syrupy. Add gelatine to cheese mix and stir through. Whisk egg whites until stiff and carefully fold into the mixture. Divide between flan tins and chill until set.

Turn out on to 4 plates, decorate with passion fruit seeds and pulp.

To drink: A chilled sauvignon blanc from the Loire Valley.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Glazed Ham with Sweet Pickled Baby Onions

With the Christmas holidays and festivities upon us nothing is quicker and easier for feeding unexpected guests and family than a traditional whole baked ham. Served hot or cold with a cold potato salad or creamy mashed potatoes. In this recipe the ham is glazed with mustard and Demerara sugar and accompanied by sweet pickled onions and raisins.

1 x 8kg smoked cooked ham
2 doz cloves

For the Glaze
4 fl oz orange juice
2 oz brown Demerara sugar
4 tbls Dijon mustard

For the pickled baby onions

1 kg baby onions
100ml water
150 ml Balsamic vinegar
4 tbsps olive oil
100g caster sugar
1 tbsp tomato paste
50g raisins

To pickle the onions place them in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to stand for one minute. When cooled put the onions in a saucepan with the vinegar, oil, sugar,tomato paste, raisins and 100 ml water. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer gently uncovered until the onions are tender and the liquid has reduced. This will take around 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F Gas mark 5
Remove the skin from the ham and score the fat in a diamond shaped pattern. Into each diamond insert a clove and pread the mustard all over the ham. Next sprinke on the brown sugar. Put the ham in a roasting tin with the orange juice, place in the oven and bake for around 30 minutes basting occasionally until the surface turns golden. Serve with the pickled baby onions.

To drink: I suggest a good Beaujolais

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Creative Caribbean recipes: Smoked Salmon Kedgeree

Creative Caribbean recipes: Smoked Salmon Kedgeree: "This is a recipe I have adapted from one passed down to me by my formidable former mother-in-law. This was a favourite breakfast recipe - r..."

Smoked Salmon Kedgeree

This is a recipe I have adapted from one passed down to me by my formidable former mother-in-law. This was a favourite breakfast recipe - rice with fish and curry - dished up by Indian servants during the family's miltitary service in India in the old days of Empire!

This makes a delicious and simple lunch or supper dish and acceptable to many vegetarians!

1 1/2 lbs lightly smoked salmon fillets
3 oz butter
300g Basmati Rice
150ml milk
1 onion chopped
4 hard-boilled eggs, shelled and chopped
1 teaspoon hot curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 green chillies, finely sliced
5 tblspns chopped fresh coriander
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Place the salmon fillets in a large sauce pan and cover them with the milk. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 10 minutes until the fish is cooked. Transfer the fish to a dish, reserving the milk. Cook the rice in lightly salted boiling water with some of the milk until tender. In a saucepan melt the butter and soften the onion, the cumin seeds, and chillies for about 5 minutes then stir in the curry power and cook for a further minute. Stir in the cooked rice and the chopped eggs. Flake the fish and add to the rice mixture with a little of the milk to moisten. Sprinkle over the chopped coriander and stir the ingredients together and heat through. When ready to serve, season to taste and transfer the kedgeree to a hot serving dish, pour over the lime juice. My mother-in-law liked to serve a dollop of thick cream to the kedgeree.

To drink: A well chilled chablis

Saturday, 20 November 2010

My Mother's Chicken Curry

Chicken Curry and Goat (mutton) Curry are firm favourites in Jamaica and have become part of the national cuisine thanks to Indian indentured labourers brought to Jamaica in the 1830s to work on sugar plantations after slavery was abolished. Most Jamaican parties are incomplete without a steaming plate of chicken or goat curry!

4 tbsps oil
3 1/2 lb chicken, cut in 8 joints
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 Scotch Bonnet pepper, chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp ground tumeric
3 tbsp hot curry powder
1/2 hot chicken stock or water
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped in chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 fresh limes
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves

First rub the lime juice over the chicken , pat dry and set aside.
Heat the oil in a pan and brown the chicken joints. Transfer to a flameproof pan. Fry onion, garlic and Scotch Bonnet pepper until soft but not browned. Stir in spices including the curry powder and cook for a further minute. Add the chicken and potatoes and mix together. Pour in the stock. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer until chicken is cooked through and the curry is thickened. This should take around 45 minutes. Add the chopped coriander leaves stir and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve on its own with a mixed green salad or with boiled white rice if you are feeling greedy!

To drink : A delicious chilled New World sauvignon blanc which would go well with the spiciness of the curry.