Friday, 15 July 2011

Paella

(pron: pay-ay-ya)




Paella probably has its origins in a Moorish rice pilaff, introduced during the long Moorish occupation of Spain. Even the name Andalucia is Arabic in origin. However, in style and flavour paella is unmistakably Spanish, and in my opinion perhaps the best rice dish in the world.

If you love paella, it is well worth investing in a good quality paella pan, which you will be able to find in the kitchen section of good department stores - or do a web search for one and buy it online. A large frying pan or a wok are good alternatives.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
4 tbsp olive oil
Half a medium Spanish onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 rasher of belly pork, skinned and cut into small pieces
2 chicken thighs, skinned and boned and cut into small pieces
2 cups of paella rice
A pinch of real saffron
1 cup of frozen peas or trimmed fresh mange-tout

Half a red pepper, roughly chopped
Half a litre of fish stock
200g mixed fish pieces (hake, cod and salmon are great)
100g large peeled prawns
100g prepared squid
Chopped parsley for garnish

Method:
Heat the oil in a paella pan and add the onion, garlic, chicken and pork. Stir and fry to seal the meat and flavour the oil.
Add the dry rice and stir to coat each grain in the oil.
Add the saffron.
Add half of the fish stock and bring the pan to a fast simmer for 10 minutes, adding more stock as necessary to keep the pan bubbling away.
Stirring is unnecessary, but you may just wish to turn the ingredients in the pan occasionally.
Add the peas/mange-tout and peppers and return the pan to a fast simmer.
You need to stay with the pan and watch closely as the rice begins to cook through, testing a few grains - until it reaches an al-dente texture.
Add all the fish, squid and prawns, arranging it evenly over the rice.
Add more water or stock if necessary, but don't overdo it - you want the rice to absorb the last of the liquid as the fish cooks.
Turn the heat down very low and cover the pan loosely with foil. Leave like this until the rice is perfect.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Welsh Cakes

Welsh cakes are simple to make and have a wonderful taste which belies the simplicity of their ingredients. The cakes are cooked on a flat griddle, and not inside the oven.


Ingredients:

225g/8oz self-raising flour, sieved
110g/4oz (preferably Welsh) salted butter 
1 egg
handful of sultanas 
milk, if needed
85g/3oz caster sugar
extra butter, for greasing

Method:
1. Rub the butter into the sieved flour to make breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, dried fruit and then the egg. Mix to combine, then form a ball of dough, using a splash of milk if needed.
2. Roll out the pastry until it is a 5mm/¼in thick and cut into rounds with a 7.5-10cm/3-4in fluted cutter.
3. You now need a bake stone or a heavy iron griddle. Rub it with butter and wipe the excess away. Put it on to a direct heat and wait until it heats up, place the Welsh cakes on the griddle, turning once. They need about2-3 minutes each side. Each side needs to be caramel brown before turning although some people I know like them almost burnt.
4. Remove from the pan and dust with caster sugar while still warm. Some people leave out the dried fruit, and split them when cool and sandwich them together with jam.

Steamed Vegetable Rice

Versions of this simple dish are legion; from pilau rice and pilafs to rissottos and paellas - the list is almost endless. This recipe is quick, easy and delicious and can be used as an accompanyment to stir fries, fricassees, curries and stews.


The choice of vegetables can be arbitary, but onions and garlic should always be used. Use whatever fresh or frozen vegetables you have to hand. Saffron adds a touch of luxury with its lovely yellow colour and delicate fragrance.

Ingredients:

1 med onion, chopped finely.
2 cloves garlic, crushed.
1 tbsp cooking oil.
2 cups of roughly chopped vegetables. I often use carrots, celery and cauliflower.
2 cups of dry, long grain rice. Basmati and Thai fragrant rice are best, but American long grain is good too. Try to avoid the quick-cook varieties - they taste awful. You can also use coarse cracked bulgur wheat for a nutty, Arabic taste.
3 cups of vegetable stock.
Pinch of saffron.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Optional Garnish:

Any combination of the following: Roasted cashews and pine kernels. Chopped fresh parsley, coriander or methi (fenugreek) leaves. Quartered hard-boiled eggs. Hot, flaked smoked haddock. Chopped spring onions. Dried fruit. Unsalted butter.

Method:

Use a good quality heavy-based pan with a heavy, tight-fitting lid. Heat the oil until hot and add the onion and garlic. Stir and fry for a few seconds to relax the onion mix. Add the dry rice and stir to ensure all the rice is coated with oil. Add the chopped veg, stock and saffron, a pinch of salt and a twist of pepper. Cover with the lid and bring to a rapid boil, so that steam vapour escapes from beneath the lid. DO NOT REMOVE THE LID steam is needed to cook the rice properly. Removing the lid will ruin the dish. Reduce to a very low simmer for 5 minutes and turn the heat off completely; the rice will continue to cook in the retiring heat of the saucepan - so don't be tempted to peek under the lid! Allow to stand covered for 10 minutes before removing the lid. Stir to mix the ingredients. Decant to a suitable serving platter or dish, season and garnish. Serves 4.

Note:

Cooking rice in the retiring heat of the pan has a wonderful effect on the texture of the finished rice; making it light and yielding in texture. 

Meaty Option:

Stir fry any combination of lean chicken, pork, beef or even chorizo in with the onions and garlic. Serve with a rich meaty gravy or a sweet chilli sauce.

Trinidad Doubles

This is a favourite in Trinidad, where street vendors compete fiercely to make the best. Doubles are cheap to make and very, very good. Classic Trini Doubles consists of curried channa (chick peas) between two Baras (a type of bread), garnished with mango chutney, tamarind chutney and hot pepper sauce.




Dough for Bara

2 cups flour
½ tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Saffron powder
½ tsp. Ground cumin (jeera)
1 tsp yeast
1/3-cup warm water
¼ tsp. Sugar
Oil for frying
Additional water

In a large bowl combine flour, salt, saffron and cumin (jeera). Put aside. In another bowl place warm water, sugar and yeast. Let sit for about 5 min. until the yeast and sugar are dissolved. Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture with enough water to make slightly firm dough. Mix well. Cover and let rise for about 1-½ hours. Punch the dough down and let it sit for another 10 – 15 min.

To shape Bara, take about 1 tbsp of dough, pat with both hands to flatten to a 5”circle. If dough sticks to hand moisten palms with some water. Fry in hot oil, turning once until cooked. Remove and drain on a paper towel.

Channa Filling

½ lb dried channa (chick peas) soaked overnight
1 ½ tbsp. Curry powder
3 cloves garlic, minced/crushed
1 onion (sliced)
Salt to taste
Hot pepper to taste
1 tbsp. Corn oil
Pinch of ground jeera (cumin powder)
Pepper Sauce (to taste)

Boil soaked channa (chick peas) with salt and ½ tbsp curry powder until channa is tender. Drain. Mix 1 tbsp curry powder with ¼ cup water. Heat oil in a large skillet and add the garlic, onion, and curry powder mixture. Sauté for a few min. Add the channa. Stir to coat well with the curry mixture and cook for about 5 min. Add 1-cup water, jeera (cumin), salt, and pepper. Cover, lower heat and let simmer until the peas are very soft. Add more water if you need. Channa should be soft and moist. Add more salt if needed.

Finishing – Putting the two together

Put about 2 tbsp. cooked curry channa on a Bara. Cover with another Bara. You can also add mango chutney, tamarind chutney or pepper sauce before putting the second Bara on top.



ENJOY!!!!

Silken Chicken

Silken Chicken is the best way I know to produce delicious tender Chicken for stir-frys. It is important to cut the chicken breast across the grain of the meat, not along the grain. For example: a cooked chicken breast will divide into strings when torn along the grain - so you must cut at right angles to this direction.


Ingredients: 
2 chicken breast fillets sliced against the grain into thin strips. 
1 Tbsp light soy 
1 clove of garlic, crushed. 
1 egg white, yolk removed 
1 Tbsp cornflour (or potato flour) 

Method:
Mix and marinate all the above ingredients for 1 hour (or longer). 
Heat just enough oil to cover the meat until very hot. Groundnut oil is best as it can stand high heat. Carefully drop the marinated chicken into the hot oil, turn off the heat and stir the meat lightly. The oil will have enough residual heat to cook the chicken through in about five minutes. The meat is then strained of oil and transferred to the stir fry for the last few seconds of cooking. This method will ensure lovely tender chicken every time. This method can be adapted for all types of meat fillet - try beef fillet, adding grated fresh ginger to the marinade.

Enjoy! 

Sicilian Orange Cake with Breadcrumbs and Almonds

This is a delicious, easy-to-make cake, with a moist texture and a super zesty tang. I don't do many desserts, but this is a winner!


2 tablespoons softened butter
1 cup home-made dry breadcrumbs, not too finely ground
1 cup sugar
1 cup lightly toasted almonds, finely ground
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 large eggs
¾ cup vegetable oil (one with a mild or almost non-existent flavour)
The grated zest from 2 oranges
The grated zest from 1 lemon
½ teaspoon orange flower water

For the orange syrup:

The juice of the 2 oranges and of the lemon you zested for the cake
½ cup sugar
½ cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or another orange liqueur
½ teaspoon orange flower water

Butter a 10-inch round cake pan (a low-sided springform pan with removable sides is ideal).

In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, the breadcrumbs, the almonds, and the baking powder until well blended.

In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs together with the oil, and pour the mix in with the dry ingredients. Add the orange and lemon zest and the orange flower water, and mix well.

Pour the batter into the cake pan, and place it in a cold oven. Turn the heat to 350 degrees, and bake until the top is golden and the cake feels firm, about 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool for about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, put all the ingredients for the orange syrup into a small saucepan, and give them a stir. Turn the heat to medium-high, and let the sauce bubble and reduce for about 6 or 7 minutes. Let the syrup cool for about 15 minutes.

Run a knife around the sides of the cake, and unhinge the pan. Slide the cake onto a flat serving platter. Poke a bunch of tiny holes in the top of the cake with something skinny and sharp, like a barbecue skewer or a toothpick. Slowly pour the syrup over the cake, letting it soak in. If too much syrup pools up around the cake, just spoon it over the top again. Let the cake sit for about ½ hour to further soak up the syrup before slicing.

Salt Codfish Fritters

The concept of fritters probably came to the Caribbean via either Spanish influence (frituras) or the East Indian immigrants (pakoora). Either way, we are all grateful for this tasty range of easily prepared snacks.


Ingredients:
1 fillet of salt codfish, soaked overnight in 2 changes of water.
1 small onion, finely chopped.
2 tsp (or more!) of hot pepper sauce.
A good pinch of chopped fresh coriander (cilantro).
1 cup of cooked, mashed potato.
1 cup of self-raising flour (or plain flour and 1 tsp baking powder).
1 egg.
1 cup of lager beer.
Oil for shallow frying.

Method:
1. Pick all the white cod meat away from the bone and skin of the salted fillet and set aside. Messy but therapeutic.
2. You may wish to rinse the white flesh again in clear water to remove excess salt. 
3. Add all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and mix to a stiff batter, adding some of the lager beer until the correct consistency is reached.
4. Drop tablespoon sized blobs of batter into hot oil and fry until golden.
5. Drain on kitchen paper.

Serving:
Fritters can be eaten hot, warm or cold as a snack, or as a starter with a little salad, a wedge of lime and a splash of hot sauce.

Notes:
It is also possible to use canned tuna, left over vegetables or shredded chicken instead of salt codfish, but the salt codfish is well worth the extra effort.

Rice and Peas

Probably originating in the west coast of Africa, rice and peas is an extremely popular staple throughout the Caribbean. If you have never had this before, you are in for a treat!

In the lilting patois of the islands, 'peas' has been adopted as the name for all dried and fresh legumes - including what we call 'beans'. The 'peas' can be kidney beans, black-eye beans, gunga peas (pigeon peas) or any similar legume.


It's usually served as an accompaniment to curries and other spicy fare, where its relative blandness is used to balance the piquancy of the meat.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 cup of finely chopped fresh onion
2 cups of long grain rice (try to avoid quick-cook or parboiled rice - it tastes awful.)
1 cup of cooked beans or 1 small can of beans, drained
1 cup of coconut milk
2 cups of vegetable stock
Pinch of dried thyme
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (optional)

Method:
Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan with a tight-fitting lid until hot and add the onions. Stir and fry until the onions begin to caramelise. Add the dry rice and allow it to become coated in the oil and onion mixture. Add all remaining ingredients and stir. Cover tightly and bring to a rapid rolling boil. Reduce to a low simmer for 3 minutes then turn the heat off. Rest the rice, covered for 10 minutes to absorb all the liquid and cook in the retiring heat of the pot. DO NOT REMOVE THE LID! Removing the lid will allow the steam to escape and the rice will not cook. The rice will keep hot for quite a long time if left covered.

Serving:
Serve alongside jerked meat, curries and ackees and salt codfish.





Steamed Rice

Why do people make so much fuss over cooking rice?

Do not use quick cook or par-boiled rice - it tastes awful.


Measure rice: 

2 measures of rice to 3 measures water or stock.
For brown or wholegrain rice use a ratio of 1 measures of rice to 2 of liquid.
Wash and drain rice.
Use a heavy pan with a heavy lid.
Add water or stock.
Cover and bring to a rapid boil.
Remove from heat.

Do NOT remove lid until the rice has stood (This is the bit that everybody gets wrong); the rice cooks in the steam.
Stand COVERED for at least 10 minutes.
Fork to seperate the grains, add butter if required.
Serve
Enjoy!

Radical Roasties (Roast Potatoes)

There are as many recipes for roast potatoes as there are cooks. This is my humble submission. 

My priority here is to achieve a roastie which is crisp and tasty on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, and tasty even when eaten cold. I have made no attempt to reduce the calories, salt or fat intake; I believe roasties are, and should always be, a singular indulgence which should remain forever aloof from fad diets. If you choose low fat roasties, you will not live longer, it will just seem that way. 

To make the best, I use the best, so maris piper potatoes, sea salt and goose fat are the natural choices.


Ingredients:

1 bag of maris piper potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters, rinsed and drained.
3 tbsp sea salt (yes 3).
Large saucepan of boiling water.
200g goose or duck fat (now available in most big supermarkets).
Drippings from a meat joint.*

*A roasting joint or bird is not an ingredient of this dish, but the drippings are used to good advantage.

Method:

Add the spuds and all the salt to the saucepan, bring to a boil and continue boiling for about 7 minutes. Drain the boiling liquor and toss the drained spuds to fluff the outsides. Lift the lid and add several knobs of goose fat to coat the spuds. Transfer the spuds to a roasting tin and bake at 180°C for 30 mins. A roasting joint suspended above the roasting tin on a wire rack will spatter the roasties with an extra layer of tastiness. Turn each spud to ensure even cooking and continue to roast until they are crisp and gently browned with slight scorching in places. You can time your meat joint to be removed 10 mins before the roasties; this will give the meat time to rest and firm up for better carving.

Serving:

Only with roasted meat, three veg, Yorkshire puds and a meaty gravy.  If you want the best recipe for Yorkshire pudding, ask a Yorkshireman!

Note:

The reason for the high amount of sea salt is to help with the crisping of the outside of the roasties. This method also has the effect of reducing the fat absorption of the roasties, keeping the insides light and fluffy. 

Goose or duck fat imparts a rich flavour, has a high flash point and will not burn at the high temperatures employed here. 

For these reasons, the best chips are also maris pipers cooked in goose fat.


Pork Adobo

Pork adobo is the national dish of the Philippines, and the best pork stew in the world! There are many variations of this dish within the Philippines, but the basics are the same. I ate a version in Solvec Cove in Luzon which had dwarf bananas in it. You can also add pineapple chunks to this dish if you so wish. I use a pressure cooker to get the meat really tender and succulent.

The addition of vinegar helps to render off the fat and add a tangy succulence to the meat which defies description – you just have to try this! 


Ingredients:

1.2Kg belly pork joint
Oil for frying
½ cup cider vinegar (pork & apple is a winner combo)
½ cup dark or sweet soya sauce
6 cloves garlic, finely crushed
1 tbsp soft light brown sugar
200ml chicken stock
Plenty of freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons of cornflour, mixed with a little water

Method:

Skin and cut the meat into bite sized cubes, cut any bones into separate pieces and add to the mix. Heat a little oil in a wok until smoking and add the meat to brown. Drain and transfer the meat to your pressure cooker. Add the vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, sugar, stock and plenty of black pepper and pressure cook for about 45-50 minutes. Drain the stock through a sieve into a collecting jug/bowl and stand for 3 minutes to allow the fat to rise. Skim off the excess fat and return the skimmed liquor to the meat. Add the cornflour and heat until the sauce glazes and thickens, then serve.

Serving:

Serve over plain steamed rice, with a single steamed green vegetable on the side. I like to use broccoli or whole green beans. Always make more than you think you will need, it will all be eaten!

Pollo con Piňa

This wonderful Antiguan chicken curry is a big hit with all my family and friends. To me it is simply the Caribbean on a plate; it incorporates all that is fresh, fruity, tantalising and spicy about the food of the region - all in one dish!




Please do not use boned or intensive farmed chicken; it is not authentic and does not give enough flavour. This dish is well worth the additional expense. Serves 4-6.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 large onions, finely sliced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon of madras curry powder
1 large fresh free-range chicken, cut into 12 pieces (bone in, skinned)
1 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon of hot pepper sauce (or to taste)
1 tablespoon of honey
1 can of coconut milk
1 cup of chicken stock
A handful of chopped coriander leaves
1 generous tot of rum
Salt to taste

Method:
Heat the oil in a large cooking pot until very hot. Add the onions and stir-fry until they are soft. Add the garlic and ginger and stir. Add the curry powder and stir well. Add the chicken pieces and fry until they are all seared. Add the pineapple and tomatoes and stir. Add the hot pepper sauce, honey, coconut milk and stock. Stir well and bring to a boil, then simmer on a low heat for about 40 minutes, or until the meat is succulent. Add the coriander and rum just prior to serving. Salt to taste.

Serving:
This dish is excellent served with rice & peas, fried plantain chips and baked sweet potatoes (all three if you are hungry). I like a cold, strong lager with it - Red Stripe would be my first choice. Put your favourite reggae album on and imagine blue seas, palm trees and white sandy beaches. Soon come!

Fiery Hot Habañero Pepper Sauce

This is a recipe of mine which has been reproduced countless times on the internet since I originally posted it a few years ago:

Fiery hot sauces are legion in the Caribbean, most of which contain habañero or scotch bonnet peppers.


I find the best way to use these hot peppers is by making up a pepper sauce. This way you can accurately gauge how much heat you are adding to a dish. The heat of individual peppers can vary enormously (even those from the same plant), so a sauce tends to homogenize the heat; making it easier for you to assess the amount to add to any dish.

Always wear latex or household gloves when handling the peppers and avoid touching your eyes. Chilli peppers are an irritant and even a tiny amount in your eyes can cause extreme pain.

You will need:

16 whole habañeros (seeds and all)
1 oz onion
1 clove garlic
2 tsp sugar
4 Tbsp white malt vinegar (or white wine vinegar)


Blend all ingredients to whatever consistency you desire. I like to leave it still quite rough for adding during cooking and smoother for a table sauce. Heat to boiling and simmer for 15-20 minutes.


Spoon the cooked sauce into a preheated preserve jar and seal. Leave the jar in a cool, dark place for one month (at least) to develop a good flavour.
There are many variants on this style of sauce; habañeros or scotch bonnets are available in various stages of ripeness, from green through yellow to bright red, so you can control the colour of the sauce by selecting all single colour peppers.


The addition of bananas, mangoes and other fruits enjoy an occasional foodie fad. I much prefer the original and undiluted version.

Some recipes involve mixing the type of peppers used; poblanos, jalapeño and chipotle are quite popular varieties. You can achieve widely varying sauces by altering the ratios of pepper types, so feel free to experiment.

Use in sauces, marinades and stews, or sprinkle sparingly on meats, fish and rice dishes. 

I can't live without this sunshine in my life, so I always keep a stock of it.

Pine Kernel Pasta

Roasted pine kernels are a common garnish in Italian cookery, and a key ingredient of the superb pesto sauce. This recipe uses ground pine kernels to thicken and flavour a pasta sauce. The superb, delicate flavour of this sauce is the perfect compliment to cooked, fresh, filled pasta and totally belies the simplicity of its ingredients. Due to its richness, this sauce is used quite sparingly.


Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil.
Half a small onion, finely chopped.
2 cloves garlic, finely mashed.
2 tbsp ground, toasted pine kernels.
1 small carton of single cream.
A dash of lemon juice.
1 pack of fresh ricotta and spinach or pumpkin ravioli or tortellini. 
Saucepan full of boiling, salted water.

Garnish:

Whole, toasted pine kernels and chopped fresh parsley.

Method:

Heat the oil in a small saucepan and add the onion and garlic. Stir and fry gently to soften the onions. Add the ground, toasted pine kernels and stir. Add the cream and stir continuously until the cream begins to boil. Adjust for taste with a little lemon juice. Turn off the heat to the sauce and start the pasta. Add the filled pasta to the boiling water and stir once. Boil for 3 minutes, drain and arrange the pasta on serving dishes. Drizzle the sauce sparingly over the cooked pasta. Garnish with whole, toasted pine kernels and chopped parsley.  Add a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Variations:

Any vegetable-filled pasta will do here, but avoid harsh or sour flavours and meat-filled varieties. The sauce is also excellent simply tossed with unfilled pasta like lingune, spaghetti, tagliatelle and paparadelle (ribbon pasta). 

Try to avoid the cliché of adding parmesan to this dish; it will overpower the delicacy of the sauce.

Lassi - Indian Yoghurt Drink

Sweet definitely works well to counter piquancy. The best remedy by far for me is sweet lassi, an Indian drink made of buttermilk.



Blend:


1 banana or the flesh of a mango
2 cups of buttermilk (or yoghurt)
1 cup of iced water
1 cup of crushed ice
1 tablespoon of castor sugar


Serve cold with hot spicy food

Pete's Lamb Kidneys

Lamb kidneys are juicy, succulent and highly nutritious. They are at their best when they are just cooked through; overcooking makes them leathery and dry. Dusting the kidneys with flour helps to protect the texture of the kidneys and also thickens the juices into a tasty, clingy sauce. The honey adds a lustre and depth of flavour to the dish, and the lemon juice balances it all.


I keep hammering this one home, but many British cooks seem to think it's not cooked unless it's overcooked – and this is a shame; because our meat and dairy produce are second-to-none in the world, and they deserve better.

This recipe is cooked quickly in a wok to seal in those succulent juices. It is sufficient for eight portions, as a light teatime meal.

Ingredients:

1kg trimmed lamb kidneys.
2 tbsp plain flour
Sea salt and black pepper
½ a medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
Oil for stir-frying (ground nut oil is best)
1 tbsp honey
Dash of lemon juice
Method:

Trim the kidneys of white gristle and cut each kidney into about 4 pieces. Season the flour with  salt and black pepper and dust the kidneys well. Combine the kidneys, onions and garlic and set aside. Heat about 2 tbsp of oil in a wok until it smokes! This ensures a good strike heat in the wok; sealing in the juices of the kidneys. Take care not to burn the oil though. Add the kidney mixture to the hot oil and stir continuously until the kidneys are just cooked – no more. Judging this is critical, but quite easy; you watch a large piece of kidney in the pan as it cooks, then stop cooking just as it stops issuing pink juices. At this stage the flour should have thickened the juices until it clings to the kidney pieces, and the garlic and onion are softened and sweet. This is the time to add the honey and lemon juice. Stir and fry for 30 seconds more and serve.

Serving:

This is one of those dishes whose taste belies the simplicity of it's ingredients, and it is very rich and very nutritious. You can serve this as a starter, on toast - or with a mushroom risotto as a main course.

Kidneys contain uric acid and should not be served to patients being treated for gout.

Jerk Marinade

Ingredients:

2 or more teaspoons of West Indian hot pepper sauce
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
1 teaspoon allspice, ground
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 tablespoon Demerera sugar or West Indian honey
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons of lime juice
1 tablespoon of dark rum

Method:

Marinade raw, skinned meat portions for at least 4 hours, or better overnight. For best results oven bake the meat and finish over barbecue coals. Oven baking will produce a hot spicy gravy liquor.

Jerk Chicken

Jerk chicken is a signature dish of Jamaica and has a well-deserved reputation as a classic dish of the Caribbean. Like many Caribbean dishes, there are as many recipes as there are families for this fiery, delicious meat dish. 




Ingredients:

6 chicken thighs and 6 drumsticks, skinned and slashed to absorb the marinade.
Marinade:

1 medium onion, roughly chopped.
4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped.
4 limes: Juice, peal and flesh – all in!
2 tablespoons of pineapple juice.
8 allspice berries, roughly ground.
2 or more teaspoons of West Indian hot pepper sauce (caution!).
1 teaspoon of salt.
Generous tot of dark rum.

Method:

Mix all the ingredients and marinade the meat for at least 8 hours before either barbequing or hot-roasting until thoroughly cooked, but still juicy and succulent.

Serving:
This dish is great served with ‘rice & peas’, fried plantain chips, BBQ sweetcorn and spare hot pepper sauce (for the hardy). Oven roasting produces a delicious liquor-gravy too. Make sure there is plenty of strong lager beer and rum punch to hand.

Notes:
Thighs and drumsticks are the best chicken joints for this dish due to their moist texture. Breast meat, although lean and tasty, is better reserved for stir fries and curries. 

You may substitute the meat with equal weight of pork chops, goat meat (on the bone), whole fish, split raw lobsters or raw jumbo prawns – adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Hog Belly n Beans

Variations of this delicious, simple dish are found throughout western and eastern Europe and the USA. Dried haricot beans and salt pork or bacon were winter staples in pre-freezer days and a must for sailors, trappers, cowboys and pioneers alike. 




My recipe is in the modern, mid-western USA style; but options for an original Polish recipe are added below. I use the superb boiled, smoked bacon from Polish/Eastern European delicatessens - better and cheaper than supermarket fare. 

This recipe feeds 4 hungry cowpokes!

Ingredients:

1 kg Salt Pork/Speck/Pancetta/Boiled Bacon, cut into bite sized chunks. 
1 large onion, roughly chopped.
2 cloves of garlic, mashed.
2 cans of good quality baked beans, including their tomato sauce.
2 small cans of butter beans, drained (optionally, replace with 1 can baked beans, drained of sauce).
1 tbsp sweet red paprika powder
1 tsp smoked paprika powder (back to the Polish deli…)
2 tbsp honey
Dash of tabasco to taste (optional).

Method:

Fry the bacon, and onion over a fierce heat, allowing the bacon to sweat some of its fat. You may need to add a little cooking oil if the bacon is really lean. Do not worry about a little caramelisation of the onions and bacon, as this adds a nice dark flavour and colour to the beans. You may wish to drain some of the fat off at the end of this stage.

Reduce the heat to a simmer, add the garlic and fry gently for a few seconds to flavour the fat. Add all the remaining ingredients to the pan and add half a can of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes and stir. Adjust for taste and simmer for a further 10 minutes, stir and serve. 

For a fuller flavour, decant to a baking dish and bake open, in a medium-hot oven, for 15-20 minutes. Keep an eye on the liquidity of the beans if you decide to bake them - adding water (or good bacon stock if you have some) as necessary.

Polish Option:

The Polish recipe uses only butter beans (pro rata by volume, of course), adding about 3 tbsps of tomato paste and another half can of water to replace the sauce you get in baked beans. Poles prefer it to be less sweet and less sticky, so omit the honey altogether and add more stock/water.

Summary:

This dish is either a hearty meal in itself or as a breakfast item, excellent with a fried egg. Always serve the beans with crusty bread to mop up the delicious sauce.

Garbanzos

(Pron: Gar-BAN-thos)


This is a Spanish stew of chick peas, potatoes, pork and sausage which is native to Catalonia, but versions can be found all over Spain and the Spanish-speaking world. Garbanzos is very cheap to make, but is at least as tasty as dishes costing ten times as much to prepare. Many Barcelona tapas bars offer a version of Garbanzos. Cook plenty because this dish is very popular – especially with kids! This recipe serves about 4 generous helpings.




Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil.
1 large Spanish onion, coarsley chopped.
2 cloves garlic, crushed.
200g salt pork/uncooked bacon/pork shoulder, cut into bite-sized chunks.
100g chorizo (Pron: Cho-REE-tho), cut into bite-sized chunks.
1 tbsp sweet paprika powder.
1 tsp dried chilli flakes.
1 cup of tomato passata (or 1 cup of water and 2 tbsp tomato paste).
1 cup of vegetable stock.
2 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks.
2 cans chick peas, drained.

Method:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan until hot. Add the onions, garlic, pork and chorizo then stir and fry for 2 miunutes or so, until the meat starts to brown and the onion relaxes. Add the paprika and chilli flakes and stir. Add the passata, stock, potatoes and chick peas and stir well. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for half an hour, or until the potatoes are cooked. Mash a few chick peas and some potato against the inside of the saucepan with your stirring spoon; this will help to thicken the sauce slightly - so continue until you have the desired consistency. 

Serving: 

Garbanzos is best served with huge chunks of fresh crusty bread. There are no hard and fast rules in the Spanish eating culture, and most dishes can be eaten at any time of the day or night. Garbanzos, like many Spanish dishes, are good to eat when served just warm or even cold. Leftovers can be served as a snack in a warm pitta bread pocket with fresh tomato and grated cheese.

Variations:

Due to its peasant heritage, this dish is also cooked with rabbit, goat, wild boar and other game. Honey may also be added to adjust the sweetness - especially where the dish is intended to be eaten cold. Chorizo is almost always used - whatever meat is added. Pig cheek and tongue are also used, but most other offal is avoided. Leaving out the meat entirely makes for a tasty vegetarian stew.