Tag Archives: allspice

Caribbean Sweet Potato Patties with Spicy Coconut and Spinach Sauce

31 Aug

I was looking for recipes containing scotch bonnet chilli peppers because our plant is producing more chillis than we can cope with at the moment. Apart from making more of my Scotch Bonnet Hot Pepper Sauce, I am trying to find ways of including them in every meal.

I found a Trinidadian recipe for crab cakes that were coated in grated sweet potato and served with a Callaloo sauce. Callaloo is a popular Caribbean stew or soup of West African origin made with leafy greens called Callaloo or Taro that are similar to kale and spinach. There are many different versions but in Trinidad they use coconut milk, okra and peppers as well as the greens. In Jamaica they use tomatoes and spring onions. The African-American dish Collard Greens is also a version of Callaloo.

In this recipe the callaloo is blended to make a smooth sauce to serve with the cakes. I omitted the crab (obviously) and used roasted and mashed sweet potato as the base for the cakes mixed with Caribbean herbs and spices and our lovely scotch bonnets for heat.

Caribbean Sweet Potato Cakes with Callaloo Sauce

Serves 2-3. Vegan, Gluten-free.

For the cakes:

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled & cut into 1″ cubes (550gr)
  • 1 or 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • whole bulb of fresh garlic (outer leaves peeled off but still held together)
  • 1 or 2 scotch bonnets chillies, deseeded & chopped
  • 3 spring onions/scallions, chopped
  • salt & black pepper
  • a handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • the zest of 1/2 a lime
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 200C. On a lined baking tray, toss the sweet potato cubes with the olive oil, allspice, cumin, dried thyme, chilli flakes salt & pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes until soft. Roast the head of garlic at the same time.

Mash the sweet potato in a bowl with half of the roasted garlic cloves that have been squeezed out of their skins. Cook the spring onions and scotch bonnets with a pinch of salt,  in a little oil for a few minutes until softened. Stir this into the potatoes with the chopped coriander and lime zest. Check for seasoning, add more salt or lime zest if necessary. Cover and leave to rest in the fridge while you make the sauce.

For the Callaloo Sauce:

  • 1 tin coconut milk, 400 ml
  • 100-150 g fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • the rest of the roasted garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 scotch bonnet chilli (whole)
  • 1 green or red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs, whole
  • salt & black pepper
  • the juice of 1/2 a lime
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped plus extra for garnish

Put everything except lime juice & coriander in a med-large saucepan, season with salt & pepper and bring to the boil stirring to wilt the spinach. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 20-25  minutes, then remove the whole scotch bonnet (don’t throw it away) and thyme sprigs.

Carefully blend with a stick blender (cover with a towel) or in a food processor until smooth. Taste, if it is not hot enough cut the flesh from the scotch bonnet and add that to the sauce and blend again. Add the lime juice and chopped coriander and taste for seasoning, add more salt if necessary.

Pour the sauce back into the saucepan and keep warm while you cook the cakes.

Shape the sweet potato mix into 6 patties or smaller ones for canapes if you like. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan/skillet over a medium high heat. when the oil is hot add the cakes to the pan and cook for a about 2 minutes on each side until browned and crispy.

Pour enough sauce into your dishes to cover the base and top with 2 or 3 cakes. Sprinkle with some fresh coriander and serve with extra lime wedges to squeeze over.

We served this with a side of Caribbean Chargrilled Sweetcorn to carry on with the theme.

I am writing this listening to helicopters and light aircraft flying low over our house. Last night a friend, Andrew rang me at about to say that he could see lots of smoke coming from the mountains where we live. He was staying in his house across the valley at the time. I walked upstairs and opened the door onto the outside terrace and was greeted by huge plumes of orange smoke coming from the mountains in at the edge of our town. The view from the roof terrace was even worse and confirmed our fears.

The Barranco Blanco valley was on fire.

Totally unbelievable and shocking photographs started to appear on social networking sites as we heard about thousands of people being evacuated from their homes.

The fire was spreading rapidly, helped by the wind conditions, down the valley towards the coast. Friends of our were extremely worried about a dog rescue centre that was in great danger. Many people came to help and all 300 dogs were helped to safety along the riverbed towards Fuengirola before the fire reached them.

Our thoughts are with the families whose homes have been damaged or destroyed and we hope beyond all hope that this tragedy was not premeditated.

The area affected is one of the areas where we walk with dog. This morning we went out with heavy hearts to see if some of our favourite beauty spots were still there. Thankfully our favourite hill where we love to sit and look down to the coast has only been blackened on one side. The other side is as yet untouched, the firebreaks actually worked.

The whole valley is devastated, all the wildlife and plants destroyed. This is how it looked before.

Looking through all the photos of how it looked before is really upsetting. Rufus on top of the world….

Stay Safe Everyone

Sweet, Spicy Watermelon Pickle

11 Jul

This is what I made with the watermelon rinds I had leftover from making the Watermelon Agua Fresca in my last post.

It’s a sweet spicy pickle perfect to serve as a relish on burgers, at barbeques or as part of a picnic lunch. It’s great with mature sharp cheeses like goat’s cheese, Manchego, Cheddar or Feta or with salty cured hams like Serrano and Parma, you could even serve it with a whole roast ham or gammon steak. It would also be a very welcome addition to any Indian meal.

It’s really simple to make but you do it over three days. Don’t let that put you off, you’re not working on it for three whole days or anything silly. You leave it covered in its syrup overnight in the fridge then take it out in the morning, drain it into a saucepan, bring the syrup to a boil and then pour it back over the watermelon. Then put it back in the fridge until the next morning and repeat the process once more.

The original recipe didn’t have any chilli in it but my chilli pepper plant has just started to produce some little green babies so I added a few whole ones to the pot with the whole spices. You’ve got to have a little heat in a pickle or what’s the point?

Watermelon Pickle Recipe

Makes 1 big jar, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Epicurious

  • 2kg (4 pound) watermelon, quartered & sliced into 1 inch thick wedges/triangles
  • 1.75 litres (8 cups) water
  • 2 tbsp sea salt plus 2 tsp
  • 450 g (2 cups) sugar
  • 275 ml (1+1/4 cups) apple cider vinegar
  • 8 cloves
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
  • 1 tsp grated/minced ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 8 allspice berries
  • 3 whole green (or red) chillies

Cut the watermelon flesh from the rind leaving a thin layer of pink on the rind. Use the flesh to make agua fresca or watermelon feta & mint salad.  Cut off the dark green part of the rind and discard it. Then cut the rind into 1 inch pieces.

Bring the water and 2 tbsp salt to a boil in a large saucepan then add the rind pieces and boil until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and transfer them to a metal bowl with the whole chillies.

Add the 2 tsp salt, sugar and the rest of the ingredients to a large saucepan, bring to the boil, stirring continuously until the sugar dissolves. Pour this over the watermelon rinds and chillies in the bowl then place a plate on top to keep the rinds under the syrup. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight.

The next day strain the syrup from the rinds into a saucepan, bring the syrup to the boil and pour it back over the rinds in the bowl. Cover with the plate again and the cling film and leave again overnight.

Repeat straining, boiling and pouring over rinds one more time and leave again, covered in fridge overnight. Then spoon the rinds and spices into a sterilised jar, pour over the syrup so it covers the top of the rinds and seal. Store in the fridge.

I really enjoyed making something so delicious out of something that would normally just get thrown away. Means more money to spend on shoes…..!

Caribbean Chilli Stuffed Peppers

16 Sep

As you know I get most of my food inspiration from the fruit & vegetables I see growing in the fields where I walk with the dog in the morning.  There are hundreds of these peppers everywhere.

This time of year there is always a glut of tomatoes. So much so that they are basically being given away or left to rot on the ground.

This whole field of corn is being left to dry out completely. The corn was ripe about a month ago but has not been harvested. I don’t know why, I’m hoping that they are going to use it to make corn flour or something. It seems such a waste.

My scotch bonnet chilli pepper plant is still producing more chillis. I have 3 large tubs already in the freezer and it has just flowered again which means another crop.

I have just been back to England for a few days for my mum’s birthday. As usual I had to buy another cookbook while I was there. This time I decided to go for something Caribbean as I have so many Scotch Bonnets to use. The book is Spice it Up by Levi Roots.

There are lots of recipes I’m eager to try but his Caribbean chilli was the first one because it used a lot of stuff I had to finish up in my fridge. I love recipes like this It’s so versatile. I added the sweetcorn and used lentils instead of kidney beans as  that is what I had.

I also have a really healthy thyme plant on my terrace. It’s not woody at all so you can use the whole sprigs for seasoning as well as the leaves. Fresh thyme is used a lot in Caribbean food.

So you can kind of see how my brain works. The stuff I see growing while walking the dog stays in my head. It gets added to the things I have on my roof terrace and inspiration from books brings it all together somehow.  It’s this creativity that I love and that keeps me cooking and writing this blog.

So I made the chilli which was delicious on its own with some rice or cornbread and then used the rest to stuff into the green peppers for lunch the next day. A sprinkling of grated cheese before roasting gives it that something extra and takes it in a slightly more Mexican direction.

For that late summer vibe you can’t beat a bit of Caribbean spice. So if it’s rainy where you are, bring on the sunshine, get creative and start cooking.

Caribbean Chilli Stuffed Peppers

Serves 4 as chilli, 6 for stuffed peppers, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free.

Adapted from Spice it Up by Levi Roots

For the Caribbean chilli:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, halved lengthways, rinsed & finely sliced (optional)
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, finely sliced
  • 1 heaped tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • salt & black pepper
  • a bunch of fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 red pepper, cored, deseeded and roughly diced
  • 2 small long green peppers, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 250 gr mushrooms, quartered or sliced
  • 2 large tomatoes chopped (or 1 x 400 gr tin)
  • 1 or 2 red chilli (ideally scotch bonnet) I used 4 of my small ones
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)
  • 1 tin/jar cooked lentils, rinsed
  • 1 tin/jar cooked kidney beans/white beans, rinsed
  • 1 ear of corn, silk removed and kernels sliced off into a bowl
  • 2 tbsp tomate frito (tomato puree/ketchup)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 or 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • a handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped plus extra for garnish
  • 1/2 a lime juiced

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, leek, celery, carrot & garlic and cook for about 5-8 minutes until softened.

Season well with salt & pepper and add the cumin, allspice and fresh thyme leaves, stir and cook for 2 minutes. Next add in the  peppers, cook for 2 minutes then add in the mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the chopped tomatoes, chillis, sweetcorn, lentils & beans and stir well. Then add the tomato puree, sugar & soy sauce.

Lower the heat, cover and cook over a low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste, add more salt, sugar or cayenne pepper if not hot enough for you. Stir in the chopped coriander and squeeze over the juice of 1/2 a lime.

Serve straight away with plain boiled rice or some cornbread or use to stuff peppers.

For the Stuffed Peppers:

  • 1 large long green pepper per person
  • Caribbean chilli (see above)
  • olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • fresh thyme leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
  • dried chilli flakes
  • grated cheese

Preheat the oven to 180C. Cut the peppers in half lengthways and remove the seeds and core. Line a baking tray with baking paper and place the peppers on the tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, thyme leaves and chilli flakes, toss to coat.

Roast in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, you can do this while your chilli is cooking if you like. When the peppers are cooked spoon the cooked chilli into the peppers and sprinkle over the grated cheese. Put back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes for the cheese to melt. Cook for 15-2o minutes if the filling is cold.

Serve on their own or with a simple green salad.

Things That Made Me Smile Today……..

My best friend Tara, who I miss a lot, made dinner for me when I was back in England. I’ve never seen her cook before so I was very honoured!!

Especially as she made my White Bean Dip  as well as a Blue Cheese, Pear & Walnut Salad, Nachos and some delicious Spicy Roasted Potatoes. It was  far too much food for the two of us but we still managed to polish off some Baklava and a bottle of pink champagne.

She has two gorgeous Chihuahuas, a boy & a girl called Rocky and Coco. Rocky is the white one and Coco is brown. I don’t usually like little yappy- type dogs but they are so cute.

Thanks T, I miss you. Come and see me soon!!

Caribbean Chargrilled Sweetcorn

11 Aug

The sweetcorn plants that I walk past every morning with the dog are starting to show their sweet kernels, which means it must be nearly ready for harvesting.

This recipe could easily be adapted to suit a variety of different influences. I made it Caribbean because I have so many scotch bonnet chillis at the moment but I have also made a Thai version with birds-eye chilli, ginger, red curry paste and fresh coriander which is also fantastic.

You start by making a flavoured butter (or I used an olive oil spread) that you pack as much flavour into as possible. Then you remove the corn silk from inside the leaves, but keep the leaves on.

Smear the flavoured butter all over the sweetcorn kernels then cover them back up with the leaves. Heat up your griddle pan or barbecue to hot and cook for about 12 minutes rotating slightly, with tongs, every 3 minutes until all sides are cooked. The leaves with be blackened, you may need to open a window!

Caribbean Chargrilled Sweetcorn Recipe

Serves 2, vegan, gluten-free. Inspired by Como Water (Tiffany made a version using harissa paste which I will be trying out next time)

  • 2 ears of sweetcorn, with leaves still attached
  • about 3 tbsp olive oil spread (flora) or butter
  • 1 or 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 scotch bonnet chilli pepper, stemmed and finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  •  a small handful of fresh parsley, chopped (marjoram would be nice too, I couldn’t get any)
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme leaves, stripped
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • a tiny pinch of ground cloves
  • the juice of half a lime
  • salt & black pepper

Remove the butter from the fridge to soften if using. Mix the olive oil spread (or butter) with the rest of the ingredients, except the corn and season with salt & pepper. Store, covered in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

Carefully peel back the leaves of the corn without removing them and pull off the corn silk (strands). Smear the flavoured spread all over the corn kernels and replace the leaves to cover the corn.

Heat your griddle pan or barbecue to hot and cook the corn in the leaves for about 3 minutes on each side, using tongs to turn them, 12 minutes in total.

Serve immediately sprinkled with a little more salt. 

I served mine with some of my homemade Scotch Bonnet Hot Pepper Sauce.

As I said before, adapt this recipe to suit your preferences or the style of meal you are planning. I would always start by adding spring onions, garlic, salt & pepper to the butter and then add…

Thai: minced ginger, chilli, red/green curry paste, fresh coriander, lime juice.

Mexican: cumin, oregano, fresh coriander, chipotle sauce, lime juice

Indian: garam masala (or curry paste), minced ginger, fresh coriander, chilli powder, lemon juice

Middle Eastern: cumin, coriander, cinnamon, fresh coriander, harissa paste, lemon juice

Cajun/Creole: paprika, cayenne, oregano, thyme, dried basil, white pepper, lemon juice

Italian: dried oregano, fresh basil, sundried tomatoes, dried chilli flakes

Greek: dried oregano, fresh mint, fresh thyme, crushed fennel seeds,cinnamon, black olives, lemon juice

Things That Made Me Smile Today……

Beautiful bright coloured gerberas……

And sunflowers reaching for the sky…..

Also, I have a new camera which I am very excited about. I will still be using my trusty point and shoot for when I’m walking the dog but I am using a “proper” SLR camera for my food pictures. Please bear with me as I have no idea what I’m doing and the instructions are in Spanish, which could take a while. 

I’m learning as I go and loving it, any advice?

Baked Feta with Mango Salsa Recipe

6 Oct

Having been inspired by my Dad’s comment on my “70’s” Stuffed Tomatoes recipe about bringing back the cheese & pineapple on a foil hedgehog, I have called his bluff & brought it up to date! 

We have a mountain of our homegrown scotch bonnet chilli peppers in the freezer & I had been thinking about doing a Caribbean inspired dish using them & the mango I have in my fridge. I was watching a programme called Caribbean Food made Easy (I think) where they cooked fish with Caribbean spices in foil on the barbecue & served it with a mango salsa. Obviously I don’t eat fish so I had to come up with replacement for it which is when I remembered the Foil Baked Feta recipe in Vicky Bhoghal’s book Flavour which is delicious. It was all starting to come together… 

Feta Ready for the Oven

 

Baked Feta & Mango Salsa Recipe 

Serves 2 Vegetarian 

For the Feta: 

  • 200gr block Greek Feta
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 clove garlic chopped
  • 1  small scotch bonnet chilli (deseeded & chopped) you can use any fresh chilli or dried 1/2 tsp
  •  a sprig of thyme leaves
  • some coriander leaves
  • 1/2 tomato chopped
  • 1/2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 red onion finely sliced
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • Some crusty bread  for mopping up the juices
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees
  2. Tear off a large piece of foil, put the feta in the middle and add the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Make a little pouch by folding up the foil and bake for 10 mins

Meanwhile make the Mango Salsa: 

  • 1 mango chopped
  • the other half of the tomato
  • the other half of the garlic clove
  • 1/4 red onion chopped
  • the juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1 chilli deseeded & chopped(you can’t use a scotch bonnet as the heat only comes out when they are cooked)
  •  a handful of chopped coriander
  • a handful of chopped fresh mint
  • salt & black pepper
  1. Mix everything together in a bowl, taste for seasoning, and place in  a serving dish or bowl.

Mango Salsa

 

Baked Feta & Mango Salsa

 

Enjoy this straight away and imagine yourself on a Caribbean/Greek island! 

Obviously you can keep it real with Greek flavours in the pouch, oregano, parsley, chopped olives, whatever you fancy, just make it gorgeous…

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