Scary way to make Delicious Chicken Curry - Guyanese Style!


~  Menu  ~

2 Bloody Caesars
Chicken & Potato Curry with all accoutrements
Amstel Light
Coffee

Today, as is a sort of tradition on Tortola, we (me and me mates) went to the Tamarind Club for brunch. 

Caribbean-hotel

This, for me, is a little … um … sad or poignant or irritating or perhaps pleasing, I don’t know!  

Three times, under three different owners, I have been the Tamarind Club chef and now it makes me both proud and cross to see my old dishes still on the menu after my 3 years absence.  Sometimes they are as I intended and sometimes, sadly (to me), different so to save myself emotional turmoil and because it is always excellent I usually have Karen’s wonderful curry. 

Karen is from Guyana and makes her curry in a particular and, to me, very scary way.  She heats the pan till appallingly, frighteningly hot so that I always imagined it would crack when she added liquid, but she doesn’t and it doesn’t.  She adds no liquid whatsoever to the curry yet it is pretty juicy.  This is because, as she says, the chicken “springs water” due to the high heat.  

This is her recipe in her words – you’ll have to fill in the details yourself – I am writing about it more for the interesting method than the specifics!


Karen's Exceptional Curry


Have ready …

1)   A bowl of chopped up onions, celery and peppers,
2)   Diced carrots and potatoes in water,
3)   Madras curry powder and a little jerk seasoning mixed together to a paste with a little water.
4)   Boneless, skinless and “prepped” chicken thighs. 

~   Heat .25 cup oil to very hot.
~   Add curry paste and cook out.
~   Add chicken and stir to coat, add onion mix and stir in.
~   Take the potatoes and carrots out of the water and stir them in. 
~   Cover and do over low heat till the chicken "springs water".
~   Turn up the heat and cook to tender. 
~   If too runny (!) mash in a few of the potatoes.
west-indian-chicken-curry
Jerk seasoning is, as I am sure you know, a Jamaican yummy and spicy speciality used to seriously season up meats and fish.  You can buy an excellent product in most supermarkets, Dunn’s River is a good make as is Grace if you can find it.  It is something I keep in my store cupboard.

bloody-caesar-by-the-pool



Bloody Caesar


You've probably heard of this too. It is a horrid sounding wonderful tasting cocktail made of Clamato (tomato and clam juice) Vodka and various spicy flavourings.  Like an up market Bloody Mary. See here for the Classic Bloody Caesar recipe.





Um ...

They have a good ruse at the bar, a delicious spiced rum concoction which is clearly displayed in a pretty bottled labelled “Um” and if, when asked what you’d like to drink, you say “um” you get a free glass of that.   I was tempted to play innocent and say “um” but thought they’d recognise me! 

I didn't take a picture of my lunch but here are some of the Tamarind Club taken when I worked there.


wedding-table


tortola-restaurant

P.S. From the future - some of my dishes are, even now, in 2017, still on the menu.  I must have been brilliant!!!

Mango Jam Recipe and a Handy Hint

I am sitting on the deck of our friend’s, Bob & Roberta of recent banana fame, house doing this post – don’t be jealous! Although there is good reason to be, this is the view …

Tortola

The air is full of the sound of bananakeets, pretty little birds of the eponymous song “Yellow Bird High in Banana Tree”, who are feeding on the sugar water left out for them. 

bananaquit

Sometimes a humming bird whirs up and takes a drink too.  
hummingbird-at-feeder
The temperature is, I don’t know, 80 ish but lovely and breezy so just about perfect.  Oh .. and Bob has just brought me some fresh coconut off his tree, sweet and delicious.

freshly-opened-coconut
Its great meeting up with all my old friends.  Bob & Roberta, Ian and Kathy and Lynne and Lash and lots of others.  Lynne is Canadian and her husband, Lash, is from here.  They run a bar called Dove Love and Tuesday nights are Canadian Night.  This means that if you have heard of Canada or ever met a Canadian you are eligible to go along for a really quirky, good food, lots of chat and drink sort of evening.  It felt so much like old times it was as if I’d never been away.  The very fact that ex-pats here have chosen to live on a small Caribbean island means that are out of the norm and of course and that’s the way I like it!  Glad to see you – you bunch of weirdos.

I haven’t had any lunch at home yet but breakfast is another matter.  Roberta, is a great cook, especially in the homely baking and preserving type stuff.  Yesterday we had homemade “English” muffins (in England we just call them muffins) with homemade maple syrup from Bob's cousin and today we had Roberta's lovely homemade bread with her homemade preserves; Pear and Anise, Mango Jam and Chokecherry Jelly.   All three are excellent.  

I have heard of chokecherry of but never seen one.  It is a sour wild cherry but when cooked up with sugar and made into jelly it is excellent stuff.  The mango jam, however, is my favourite so here’s her recipe, I’m afraid it’s in American so you’ll have to do the conversions yourself, sorry!
                                                                                      
how-to-make-mango-jam


Mango Jam Recipe - with handy hint ...



5 cups fresh mango flesh – coarsely chopped
6 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon of butter
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Half a cup Certo pectin (I wasn't sure this was available in the UK but looked it up
online and it is)

~   Mix together the mango, sugar, lemon juice and butter in a large non-reactive pot and bring to a boil, stirring till the sugar has dissolved.
~   Turn down the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
~   Return to a boil for 1 minutes, add the pectin, and boil for another single minute but no more.
~   Set aside.
~   Have ready clean warm dry jam jars. 
~   Spoon the jam into the jars.
~   Cool, cover and refrigerate till needed.

The handy hint is the adding of butter to the jam. Like the famous pouring of oil on troubled waters this stops the jam frothing up and boiling over and there is no need to remove scum from the surface as, according to my friend, there isn't any.

Hopefully we shall be moving onto our boat tomorrow but there is a bit of a problem – some git seems to have stolen our dingy, so its not complete paradise. 

So there, just a quickie whilst I can borrow Bob and Roberta’s internet connection.  I’ll do it again as soon as poss.  Here’s a nice pic from the airplane for your delectation.

pleasures-of-flying



Posh Lunch and a Vicky Sponge



Guess what we got at Tesco (yes – them again) – a dozen Langoustine for ₤3.  So here was today’s lunch …

~  Menu  ~

Half a dozen langoustine
Chilli Mayo and a bit of salad
Glass of White Wine
Victoria Sponge

Because the langoustines were on their best before date I cooked them as soon as I got them home, otherwise I think I would have grilled or sautéed them but lucky buggers can’t be choosers.  

Half a dozen each for me and my love; Father in Law doesn’t like shellfish so poor old man had to make do with a fillet steak sarnie *** – see how grim it is up here.  They were so sweet and tender and delicious  I might almost have been willing to pay full price for them!  I did a bit of salad, got my mayo and sweet chilli sauce out of my stores and had a bit of sourdough bread and a little white wine – with lunch of this quality it would have been rude not to.

*** The reason the niggly old bastard (not my words – his own!) had a fillet steak sarnie is that it was his 86th birthday a couple of days ago and he failed to eat all his steak.   Well obviously he wasn’t getting away with that and had to have his second fillet today.  

I also, for his birthday, made his favourite kind of cake – cream cake.  A simple Victoria sponge cake but I only had square cake “tins” (silicone) and it turned out like this …

A new Twist on the old Vicky Sponge!

Classic Victoria Sponge


225g/8 oz room temperature butter – nice warm room!
225g/8 oz  caster sugar
pinch salt
4 eggs - beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
225g/8 oz  self raising flour - sifted

~   Preheat oven to 180ºC/350°F/160ºC fan/gas 4.
~   Grease two 20cm round cake pans (or square equivalents).
~   Whisk together the butter and the sugar to light, in both texture and colour, and fluffy.
~   Gradually, a little bit at a time, whisk in the beaten egg.  If you add it too quickly the batter will split and look curdled which isn’t the end of the world but can make the cake less light.  Whisking in a spoonful of the flour with the first egg addition can help avoid this.
~   Whisk in the vanilla extract together with the last egg addition.
~   Using a large metal spoon or a spatula fold in the flour (see below for how to fold in).
~   Divide between the two pans and bake till golden and risen and if you press the top lightly with your finger it should spring back. 
~   Cool for a few minutes in the pans then turn out, gently, onto a cooling rack.
~   When cold fill with strawberry jam and freshly whipped cream.
~   Sift over a little icing sugar.

One of the beauties of this recipe is that it is easily remembered (equal quantities of butter, sugar and flour and half as many eggs as ounces!  Easy to double or halve the recipe too - that's another one of its beauties.  Oh yes - and it's nice.


How to  fold in ...


Although it is difficult to explain an action in words, for those of you unsure of how to fold in I’m going to give it a try because it is important - you want to retain the air that has been whisked in and even to fold in a tad more.

Using a large metal spoon or a spatula cut across the middle of the mixture, slide the spoon or spatula under it to the edge of the bowl and fold that portion over the rest.


It’s quite easy to do, just hard to describe. Keep cutting and folding from different angles, rotating the bowl, till everything is merged together in a light and airy way.


So frankly that’s about it for today’s blog.  I am busy packing, washing, cleaning, checking things, nagging etc. and it wouldn’t make very interesting reading even if I had time to pontificate on it.  Tomorrow we leave The North and the next day we leave England for two months but I shall blog from the other side of the pond with lovely sunny vistas and general showing offness.


Homemade Bread & Dipping Gravy


~  Menu  ~

A Bowl of Gravy!
Homemade Seedy Bread
Some Chocolate

Today I have been playing with bread – I have made all sorts of things for an article I am writing for that excellent magazine, Vegetarian Living and then, having finished that I just felt like making a little more bread!  So I did!


how-to-make-bread

Easy Homemade Bread Recipe ...


500g strong flour of your choice
2 tsp sugar
a heaped tsp salt
1 sachet easy blend yeast
1 tbsp olive oil
300ml warm water

~  Mix together all the dry ingredients.
~  Mix in the wet ingredients and knead together for a few minutes till smooth and elastic.
~  Set aside in a warm place to rise till double its size - about an hour. 
~  Knead again, add whatever you feel like (I added some seeds) and form into loaves or buns or similar.
~  Rise again till doubled again and at the same time pre-heat your oven to 200°C/400°F/180ºC fan/gas 6.
~  Bake till risen and golden and sounds hollow when rapped on the bottom.

I also portioned and froze the Steak and Red Wine Casserole I made yesterday – setting stores away to feed my father in law (common law!) while we’re away.  I was very generous with the gravy but still had too much.  My lunch became obvious to me.


great-idea-for-leftover-gravy
You might as well pin this!!!
The casserole recipe is very basic but  I might as well give you the recipe  …

Steak & Red Wine Casserole


1 kg diced stewing steak (or lamb shanks are good instead!)
salt & pepper
a few tbsp flour
3 tbsp or so olive oil
2 large onions – coarsely chopped
1 large carrot – sliced
1 garlic clove – finely chopped 
1 tbsp tomato paste
200ml red wine
beef stock or water to cover

~   Season the steak and toss with flour to coat.  Shake off excess flour.
~   Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan and, when hot, add the steak in several batches, turning the meat in the oil till brown on all sides and setting aside* before adding the next batch.
~   When all the meat is brown and set aside add the last tablespoon of oil and the vegetables to the pan and cook, stirring from time to time, till softening and beginning to go brown.
~   Stir in the tomato paste and cook for a minute or two.
~   Add the red wine and stir in, scraping any meaty or vegetabley residues on the bottom of the pan. 
~   Bring to a boil, stirring, then return the meat and all their juices and stir in.
~ A  dd enough stock of water to just come to the top of the meat and return to a boil.
~   Turn the heat down low, low, low, cover tightly and simmer for agest (2-3 hours or more) till fall apart tender.
~   Taste and season.

*  I always set my browned meats aside on the upturned lid of the pot I am using; saves juices and washing up.

With some sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, warm bread fresh from the oven and glass of something of the red persuasion lunch was grand.

Sadly for my diet (so much for a cunning plan) not only did I have to cook and eat a load of bread today which was not my fault but I also received a prize that I won on Twitter.  Sadly it is chocolate and it would have been rude not to have at least given it a try!
chocolate






Scott's Soup plus a Trouser Joke!

Yesterday we visited friends and their son, Scott (actually he’s one of our friends too!) aged 9, had cooked a most wonderful Butternut Squash and Leek Soup.  It was about 4 in the afternoon and we only popped in for a coffee but I just had to eat a whole bowl full of the stuff.  It was seriously good, the sort of thing I would be happy to have on a restaurant menu.  Chaps like Scott surely gives hope for the future of eating in Britain – perhaps it won’t all be bought in stuff after all.

I didn’t take a picture but it was this colour!


So, today's lunch …
~  Menu  ~

Smoked Haddock and Leek Fishcake
Honey Mustard Drizzle
White Wine Spritzer
A few strawberries, surprisingly enough

We have bought our tickets and in about 10 days are off on the next stage of our seasonal wandering – to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands (we lived there for 16 years and still have our old live-aboard boat anchored in Trellis Bay) for a couple of months of sorting out said boat, catching up with friends and maybe taking in a few rays (and rum).

Before we go I am stocking up my father-in-law's freezer for him and today I have made Chicken Casserole, Red Wine Braised Beef and Smoked Haddock in Creamy Leek Sauce. Whilst doing it I had a few bits and pieces over and made myself a well deserved lunch using up a modicum of mashed potato I had in the fridge. 

I munged together a good spoonful of buttery tender cooked leeks, a handful of mashed potato and all the little pieces and flakes of smoked haddock that fell off, or were encouraged to leave, the main pieces of fish.  Formed into a cake, coated in seasoned flour, shallow fried till crispy and drizzled with bought in Honey Mustard Dressing from my store cupboard and with lots of freshly ground black pepper it was delicious. 

delicious-fishcakes-from-leftovers

We bought some very cheap strawberries in Tesco yesterday  (we're not always in there - honest!); 59p a punnet.  They are a little different from British strawberries, pointy and on the firm side.  I halved and sugared them for dinner tonight and ate just a few whilst I was doing it.


strawberries-from-Egypt

I have to say that my Up a Day, Down a Day Diet is not going as well as expected.  This is through no fault of the diet but seems to be some strange failing in myself!

As an excuse I am using the fact that I am testing a lot of dishes for a couple of articles I am writing and am naturally greedy thorough and have to try everything.
  

Oh - before I go I just want to pass on a joke I saw on Twitter ... 

MEN. Show your wife that YOU wear the trousers by wearing trousers and shouting "Look at my trousers!"

... it was posted by Twop Twips so now I'm following them in case they are often this funny.

Phurejas - delicious precursors of modern potatoes!

I recently bought a bag of delicious Mayan Gold potatoes because it says on the packet they are ...

 “prized for their rich flavour and buttery flesh.  An exceptionally smooth potato” 

I roasted some in goose fat and they were a resounding success and yesterday I sautéed them and I have rarely had better – they were ultra creamy inside and uber crunchy outside.  What more could I want?

It turns out that these potatoes are not exactly potatoes - they are phurejas!  

Phurejas 


These are the modern potato’s precursor from which our potatoes evolved.   Because they are not as dense as modern potatoes they cook quicker (I thought they did! – lucky I was on the ball actually) and also they are useful if you are on a diet as with their lovely colour and flavour you can fool yourself that they already have butter in them.

These somewhat pointy “potatoes” with their seriously yellow flesh are, I think, the nicest I have ever tasted (so far).

Today, for lunch, I made my standard Chicken, Leek & Potato Soup using them and it was better than ever even though I have since read that they are not suitable for boiling.

Mayan-gold-potatoes
Spread the word of these delicious potatoes -
pin this image.

Yesterday we went to Barter Books in Alnwick and I want to give it a mention because it is FABULOUS if you like books, being one of the largest second hand bookshops in Britain or Europe or the World or somewhere like that.

Apart from its obvious attractions there is a large model railway running around the top of the book shelves in one of the rooms, open fireplaces, a café, interesting quotes scattered about the place and IT IS HUGE taking up, a large part of Alnwick Station.  It is one of the many pleasures of being Up North.  


Cunning Plan Starts Today - Bugger!

~   Menu   ~

Breakfast … nothing




Lunch ...  2 slices of dry toast with a little Bovril (from my store cupboard)



… which I served on a pretty plate to make it even more exciting!


Basically a few months ago, fed up with creeping middle age spread, I tried an eating regime that seriously impressed me. The diet was invented or discovered or something by a certain Dr. Johnson, you can read all the details (and lots of other stuff) on his site but the basic idea is that every other day for 2 weeks you consume less than 500 calories (yikes!) eating as usual, not binging, on the intervening days.  According to Dr. Johnson and others this can turn on the  SIRT1 or "skinny gene." and, thereafter, being slim and staying young for longer is a doddle.  Nice

After the 2 weeks are up (and yes, it is difficult eating so few calories every other day) you are allowed 1000 calories on the “down days”, which is quite easy, continuing to eat as normal on the alternate days.  A really easy way to check your calorie intake is to register at caloriecount.com and avail yourself of their their excellent info.



I am not sure about the “skinny gene” or it being easier to stay slim because of it but it is definitely true that eating a lot less than normal on alternate days has a positive effect on the old flabby bod.  The beauty for me, is that only dieting for 1 day at a time, if I crave something I only have to wait till tomorrow to have it.  Furthermore this way of dieting need not interfere with my social life, such as it is, I just make arrangements accordingly.  One other benefit for me is that I dabble in freelance food writing and this diet enables me to test (and eat) recipes one day and then write about them the next. 

So, you may be wondering, why if it was so good, did I stop eating like this and allow myself to put on weight again.  Well, my friends, I am Peculiar and spend portions of my life nomading around staying at friends and family and at these times it is difficult to stick to any sort of regime.  Christmas and New Year haven’t helped.  Now, with the festive season finally over (it was a long one, wasn’t it?) and the possibility of being scantily clad in the tropical sun shortly (maybe, maybe not – don’t know yet) I am determined to have another go at it. 


For dinner I think I shall have a piece of salmon with Hellman’s Light mayonnaise, salad and um … I know, more nothing!

To drink today I have had, and will have, black coffee and water.  Delish.

However tomorrow is another day which, as I said, is why I like this way of losing weight.