Recipe: Jamaican Callaloo

IMG_3695This was SO DELICIOUS. It’s probably the yummiest Jamaican dish I’ve tried out this week. My guess is that it’s only a matter of time before the NY Times starts writing yuppie lifestyle pieces about callaloo.

This Jamaican callaloo recipe kind of tastes like a Jamaican version of collard greens. The callaloo is slightly bitter but not overwhelming, the scotch bonnet chili gives the dish a little kick, and the creamy coconut milk and cooked tomatoes round everything out.

I used canned callaloo to keep things simple. Apparently, in Jamaica callaloo can be cooked with salted cod or crab meat as well. I decided to stick with a basic recipe.

Jon’s Review: “While I normally have moral objections to vegetables, I’ll make an exception for this.”

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The Jamaican callaloo served with other Jamaican leftovers.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can callaloo
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/3 scotch bonnet pepper (or a milder pepper, if preferred!)
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/3 can coconut milk
  • salt and pepper
  • oil or butter

Saute onion, garlic, scotch bonnet and thyme with butter. After a few minutes, add the chopped tomato, and cook for approximately 3 minutes. Next, add the drained canned callaloo and saute until cooked through. Finish by adding about a third of a can of coconut milk (just eyeball this- enough to soak into the greens, but not too much to overwhelm the dish). Mix the coconut milk in well. Season and serve.

Recipe: Jamaican Peas and Rice

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I actually made Jamaican peas and rice once before. I cooked a big vegetarian feast for my 23rd birthday awhile back, and served this as a side dish. Peas and rice is a perfect complement to the other Jamaican recipes I’ve been trialing this week – I ate it with ackee and saltfish, and the flavors went well together.

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Rice and peas with saltfish and ackee.

Jon’s Review: “Yeah, this was tasty.”

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil (approximate)
  • chopped yellow onion
  • 4 diced garlic cloves
  • 2 cups of rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 can of kidney beans, drained
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 whole scotch bonnet chili (it will be used whole)
  • pinch of salt

Heat the oil in a pot and add onions. Saute for about 5 minutes. Then, add the garlic and uncooked rice and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the  salt, water, stock and coconut milk and stir. add the kidney beans and sprinkle with thyme. Also add the whole scotch bonnet. Simmer, then turn the heat to low and cover. The rice should be done after 15-20 minutes. When done, remove from heat and cover for 10 minutes. Then fluff with a fork. Discard the scotch bonnet before eating (or you can eat it if you’re a total masochist).

The recipe I used is based on this recipe.

Recipe: Jamaican Ackee and Saltfish

IMG_3684I remember reading about “ackee and saltfish” in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth – the character Clara was always cooking it. But until I moved to Brixton (a London neighborhood with a huge Afro-Caribbean influence) I had no idea what this dish actually was, and I certainly hadn’t tasted it.

After some googling, I found out that saltfish and ackee is actually the national dish of Jamaica, and it’s usually eaten for breakfast. Also, ackee is an exciting ingredient – apparently raw ackee is banned from the United States because parts of the plants are poisonous (the importation of canned ackee into the US is carefully regulated).

So, to kick off Jamaican cooking week we had ackee and saltfish for dinner tonight. It was great. The ackee isn’t particularly flavorful, but blends really well with the other ingredients.

Here’s Jon’s review: “This is delicious. It tastes like we’re having scrambled eggs for dinner, and I love scrambled eggs.”

Recipe:

Important Note – Unlike most of the recipes I blog about, this one is a bit time intensive. You have to soak the saltfish in cool water for 8 hours, or overnight before cooking. Some recipes skip this step, but it definitely eliminated a lot of the salt, and made the fish taste great.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of saltfish (the one I bought was 300 g, and the saltfish was skinned and de-boned. I used pollack, but cod saltfish would also work)
  • 1 can of ackee, drained
  • 1/2 scotch bonnet pepper
  • butter (for cooking)
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 tomato
  • about 1 tsbp of fresh thyme.

Advance preparation: Rinse salt off the saltfish and put the fish in a tupperware container. Cover with cold water and let soak either overnight or for 8 hours. Change the water several times during the period to remove excess salt.

Drain the fish. Then, gently simmer in a pan of boiling water for 20 minutes. While the fish is cooking, chop the onion, green pepper, hot chili pepper and tomato. Put aside. Then after two minutes, remove the fish from the heat, drain the pan, and let cool. Afterward, remove the skin and bones of the fish (if there are any) and flake the fish.

Finally, onto the main cooking bit – Stir fry the onion, green pepper, the scotch bonnet  and thyme in a big saucepan or wok for a few minutes, until the green pepper looks nearly cooked. Then, add tomato and flaked fish and cook for about 10 more minutes. Next, add the drained ackee and continue to cook until the ackee is hot. Stir gently, as the ackee can be a bit delicate. Serve with plantains, rice, or potatoes.

Recipe: Pickled Red Onions

IMG_3624It’s been ages since I last blogged. In the interim I’ve gone to Rome, finished up my masters’ degree, Jon and I got engaged, and now we’re living in London until I find a job back in the US. I have a lot more down time these days, so hopefully meatwheat will have a renaissance. Some plans for the rest of the summer include perfecting some Indian, Middle Eastern, and African dishes.

I was in Borough Market this afternoon, and noticed several people eating delicious looking sandwiches with pickled red onions – made me inspired to try making my own. After googling around, I adopted a recipe from David Lebovitz’s blog. It was actually quite simple, and they turned out delish. I’m excited to try them with a halloumi sandwich, or with a Mexican inspired breakfast dish (I think they’d be great with eggs, beans, cheese, tomatoes and cilantro).

Recipe:

  • approximately 180 ml of white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons of white sugar
  • one pinch of salt
  • 5 cloves
  • one dried red pepper
  • 1 sliced clove of garlic
  • 1 star anise seed
  • 1 thinly sliced red onion.

Put the vinegar, sugar, salt and spices in a saucepan, and cook until boiling. Add red onion and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and let cool. When cool, transfer to a glass pickle jar, or other non-reactive container.

Recipe: Earl Grey Infused Flourless Chocolate Cake

IMG_2710In preparation for Valentine’s Day, I decided to try out a new flour-less chocolate cake recipe. Flourless chocolate cake is an incredible naturally gluten-free dessert, but it is extremely rich and decadent, so I only eat it on special occassions. Tonight, I decided to make a recipe that included a heavy load of chocolate with an earl grey infusion. Bliss!!

I made slices for a bunch of friends, and am excited to hear their thoughts on how the cake turned out!

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All ready to go!

Recipe here, courtesy of Serious Eats and High Heels and Frijoles (I left out the lavender in their recipe, mainly because I couldn’t find any in Oxford).

Ingredients (caveat – this isn’t very healthy):

  • 4 ounces (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon loose Earl Grey tea leaves
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 16 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 9 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • Confectioners’ sugar (to serve. I also just pulsated some regular granulated sugar in the blender until it had the consistency of confectioner’s sugar.

Directions:

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 10-inch springform pan with 1 tablespoon butter and line exterior of pan with foil. Sprinkle sea salt on the bottom of the pan.

  2. Pulse the sugar with 1 teaspoon tea. Set aside.
  3. Combine boiling water with the remaining 3 tablespoons tea in a liquid measuring cup; steep for 5 minutes. Strain mixture into medium heat-proof bowl, pressing on solids to release any liquid.
  4. Add chocolate and remaining 8 tablespoons butter to tea mixture and set over double-boiler (bottom of bowl should not be touching simmering water). Stir continuously until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is smooth and shiny. Remove bowl from heat and set aside. (If you don’t have a double broiler, you can just melt everything in a pan).
  5. In a large bowl whisk egg yolks and 3/4 cup sugar vigorously until mixture is a thick, pale paste. Add cocoa, vanilla, and tables salt and whisk until completely incorporated.
  6. Add about 1/4 cup of warm chocolate to the egg yolk mixture and stir until completely incorporated. Whisk in remaining chocolate.
  7. In large, clean, dry bowl beat egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Slowly add remaining 1/2 cup sugar and continue beating until stiff, glossy peaks form. (If you decide to hand whip these, like I did, this step is a bitch. Friends, I made this cake for you because I love you a lot!)
  8. Whisk about 1/3 of the meringue into the chocolate batter until completely incorporated. With a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining meringue.
  9. Scrape batter into prepared baking pan. Bake until top begins to crack and cake tester has moist crumbs attached to it when inserted, about 1 hour.
  10. Transfer cake to cooling rack. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove springform mold and cool completely, about 1 hour. Sift cofectioners’ sugar over cooled cake.

GF Ingredients: M&S Gluten Free Salmon Fishcakes (With Tartar Sauce Recipe)

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Living in the land of fish and chips can be hard when you’re gluten-free (chips are gluten-free, but breaded fish fillets are NOT), so I was excited to stumble upon some great looking gluten-free salmon fish cakes at M&S today (you can order them online here, but they’re much cheaper in stores @ three pounds for two packs).

I decided to try them for lunch with some homemade tartar sauce. They were really good – very crisp on the outside, with nice pieces of fresh salmon flakes mixed with creamy potatoes in the inside.

Tartar Sauce Ingredients

  • mayonnaise
  • 1 medium sized pickle, chopped in to small pieces (pickles are called gherkins in England!)
  • squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • pepper, pinch of garlic salt

Directions: Mix ingredients for tartar sauce in a small bowl. Serve with M&S gluten-free salmon cakes (baked in the oven, according to the package) and with fresh lemon slices.

Recipe: Homemade Sushi

IMG_2658This weekend, we had a sushi-making party at our house, and we made several types of sushi rolls, including salmon, tamago (egg omelet) , and spicy tuna. I’ve been into sushi-making for awhile – I took Japanese for four years in high school, and often made sushi for class projects. It was really fun to share my sushi tips with housemates, and the sushi we made was probably the best sushi in Oxford (there’s not much competition here).

I bought the fish at a local fishmonger that is located in the Oxford Covered Market, and it was extremely fresh. I looked for fish that was smooth and uniform in color.

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Fresh slices of raw salmon – yum!

Ingredients :

  • white rice
  • sushi seasoning (a vinegar you pour on the rice after it’s done cooking)
  • fillings: fish, egg, avocado etc. (note that fake crab meat is NOT gluten free. It’s made of wheat)
  • sushi nori (seaweed sheets)
  • bamboo sushi mat

Directions for sushi rolls:

Cook at least 3 cups of rice until soft, and add sushi seasoning when cooked.

Put it in a bowl to cool (you can’t begin making sushi until the rice is room temperature –  it burns your hands and shrinks the seaweed). Next, prepare your fillings – cut the fish into strips, slice the avocado, and fry the egg. One of my favorite sushi fillings is “spicy tuna”. To make this filling, mix fresh tuna (1 piece)  with sliced green onions, a tablespoon of mayonnaise, and about a tablespoon of sriracha hot sauce.

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The filling for “spicy tuna” rolls

To make the sushi, place one sheet of nori on a sushi mat, and follow these directions for placing ingredients and rolling the sushi into rolls.

A couple of pointers: make sure you wet your fingers before adding rice/fillings to the nori. Otherwise, everything sticks to your hands. I find that the hardest part of making sushi is actually cutting the rolls. I use a very sharp knife, and make sure I dip the knife into water before I make each slice. This is definitely not traditional or professional, but it allows you to make a pretty roll.

Serve with gluten-free soy sauce and wasabi.

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Our sushi feast!

Directions for nigiri:

You can also make “nigiri” or stand alone pieces of sushi. To do this, cut your fish into thin slices, and place them on top of a ball of sushi rice. This worked really well with the salmon.

Recipe: Breakfast Parfaits

IMG_2640Today, Jon and I woke up early to go on a morning run in a local park. I’m not going to lie – this is the first time this has ever happened. Jon bought a new pair of running shoes yesterday, so he was excited to try them out. After we got home, I whipped up some healthy breakfast (in case this sounds anti-feminist, the deal is that I usually cook in the mornings, and Jon handles all the dishes). One of my favorite breakfast treats is a yogurt parfait. Today I made them with gluten-free granola, greek yogurt, artisanal maple syrup from my family’s farm in New Hampshire, and kiwis and bananas (this was just fruit I had lying around. You can use anything!).

For gluten-free folks, finding delicious breakfast cereal can be a challenge. I personally really like the Sainsbury’s wheat-free granola (from the UK), and that’s what I used in the parfaits. It has crispy faux-oat flakes, nuts, and raisins.

Ingredients

  • gluten-free granola
  • greek yogurt
  • maple syrup (it’s difficult to find in the UK. You can substitute honey)
  • fruit (I used kiwi and bananas, but you can use anything, including delicious raspberries)
  • a mason jar

Directions: Pour a small layer of granola in the jar. Top with a small layer of yogurt, then a small pour of maple syrup, and then fruit. Repeat one more time until you fill up the glass. make sure that the top layer is fruit – it looks prettiest.

Recipe: “Ghanaian” Jollof rice

IMG_2627I spent ten weeks in a small town in Ghana last summer when I was conducting research for my masters degree thesis. I was a little worried about finding gluten-free vegetarian food I could eat there, so before I left, I asked one of my Ghanaian friends, Isak, for recommendations. He gave me great advice, and highly recommended two traditional dishes: “red-red” (a mix of spicy beans served with fried plantains) and  jollof rice (a rice dish with tomato and spices).

I really liked both dishes. Because I didn’t have access to a kitchen in Ghana, I had to eat all my meals at local restaurants in town. I tried out several different types of jollof, and liked it best when the rice was soft, and came with several types of vegetables.

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This is the best jollof dish I had in a restaurant in Ghana. It was served with char-grilled squid.

I’ve tried to replicate jollof rice at home, and this is my best guess at a recipe. However, I’m sure many Africans will disagree with my directions. As this Guardian article points out, the recipe for the dish varies a lot between West African countries.

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A view of Accra, Ghana, from the Jamestown Lighthouse

Ingredients:

  • one onion, diced
  • two medium hot peppers, diced (I tried making the dish with hot peppers once, and that was a MISTAKE)
  • chopped carrots
  • tomato paste
  • vegetable stock cube
  • 2 cups of white rice
  • 4 cups of water
  • oil (for cooking)
  • garlic salt (for garnish).

Directions: In a cooking pot, fry the onion and peppers until soft. Add the chopped carrots and cook for approximately 3 more minutes. Next, add the stock cube and 4 cups of water, along with a generous portion of tomato paste (approximately 1/4 cup). Add the rice, cover and cook until soft (approximately 15 minutes). When the rice is cooked, add garlic salt for additional flavor, and more tomato paste, as needed. Serve with fish, or a simple omelet for protein.

Recipe: Jean-Georges Fried Rice (From Mark Bittman)

Mark Bittman is the man. I love his New York accent and his simple recipes. I’ve watched all his NY Times cooking videos, and my favorite is probably his “Jean-Georges” fried rice recipe. I was absolutely hooked on the dish in college. It requires only a few ingredients, is cheap and easy to make, and  goes really well with a dash of sriracha sauce.

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Here’s the link to the recipe and cooking video, courtesy of the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/27/dining/27mini.html?ref=dining&gwh=

Ingredients:

      • cooking oil (I use olive oil)
      • a couple minced garlic cloves
      •  a bunch of chopped ginger pieces (without the peel)
      • 2-3 chopped leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed and dried
      • cooked white rice
      • eggs

sesame oil and gluten-free tamari soy sauce (for garnish)

    salt (optional, for seasoning)

1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp and brown (you want little “chips”). Transfer to paper towels to drain, and salt lightly. Put aside

2. Add 2 tablespoons oil and leeks to the old skillet. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very tender but not browned. Season lightly with salt.

3. Add cooked rice. Cook, stirring well, until heated through. Season to taste with salt.

4. In a different skillet, fry eggs in oil, sunny-side-up, until edges are set but yolk is still runny.

5. Divide rice into dishes. Top each bowl with an egg and drizzle with sesame oil and 1 teaspoon of gluten-free soy sauce. Sprinkle crisped garlic and ginger over everything and serve.

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