A BOXING DAY DELIGHT ##LEFT-OVER JAMAICAN ACKEE/CODFISH AND HAM

Guys, it’s Boxing Day (the day after Christmas). Today, in my neck of the woods, the sun has chosen to remain out of sight for most of the day. It has been raining ‘cats and dogs’ and is quite gloomy. And, like the sun, it took me sometime to really lift my head from the pillows.

I dragged my dear self on the outskirts to nab me some endorphins. Oh, it helped for a bit. But, deep down I knew that I needed some more shut-eye. Gosh, I needed to gather my focus that was still missing. Thank God I went with the flow and paid a visit to ‘La La land’. I woke up and felt like my old self.

I know; I know, I overdid a bit. After all, it was Christmas. But, it was worth it. I believe I had me a couple of glasses of white wine. Then, I decided to graduate to an Irish Cream mixed with ‘good old’ Jamaican White Rum (oh, it brought back sweet memories). It was smooth and tasty as it made its way down. After chatting for a bit and doing a jig, one can forget the consequences of mixing drinks.

Anyway guys, I hopped in my kitchen and decided to clean up what was right before me. In a tupperware was some left-over ackee and codfish (Jamaica’s national dish). It was one of the items on my brunch from the big day, (Christmas). I finely chopped some left-over ham and added it to my national dish. All I had to do was to steam me a little brown rice with asparagus.

I served my ackee and codfish/ham on a bed of steamed brown rice and asparagus. I then added avocado (I call it nature’s butter), wedges of plummy tomatoes and a few pieces of fried plantain.

Guys, to say that I was happy is quite an understatement. I was on ‘cloud-nine’, pretty much over the moon. It doesn’t take much to make me happy. Hurray for left-overs on ‘good-old’ Boxing Day, the day after Christmas.

NB.- Ackee is a tropical fruit that is native to West Africa. It was introduced to Jamaica in earlier years and has become a national dish when its paired with salted codfish. This fruit is savory in taste as its cooked as a vegetable.

##STUFFED CABBAGE…..A DISH YOU CAN ‘STUFF’ AND STORE

I confess; I’m not a great lover of cabbage. However, recently, I nabbed one at my neighborhood grocer (produce section) with the plan of making yours truly a dish of stuffed cabbage. I’ve cooked it once or twice in the past and enjoyed.Thus, I decided to revisit the cruciferous dish. I also added a huge input of dear old lycopene in the form of one of my faves, tomatoes. And, I loaded up a great amount of veggies. Like most dishes, everyone place their special spin. So here is my variation to stuffed cabbage. The other ingredients are:

Some of the ingredients for Stuffed Cabbage
Some of the ingredients for Stuffed Cabbage

Of course, other ingredients included:

  • Minced turkey (1/2lb)
  • Italian sausage (1/4lb)
  • Cooked brown rice (1 cup)
  • Raisins (1/2 cup)
  • Medley of veggies
  • Olive oil (drizzle) (canola or any oil of choice)
  • Onion (L) 1/2
  • Fresh tomatoes (4)
  • Canned tomatoes (2-14ozs)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garlic (2 cloves)
  • Dried basil and oregano (1/4 tsp)
  • Sugar (1/4 cup)
  • Red wine vinegar or any house vinegar (1/4)

    Cored cabbage in pot with simmering sweet/sour tomato sauce
    Cored cabbage in pot with simmering sweet/sour tomato sauce

Preparation:

1. Remove core from cabbage.

2. In a sturdy stock pot, whole cabbage is boiled in salted water for 3 minutes. Then cool under cold tap water.

3. When cabbage is cool enough to handle, use paring knife or any knife to cut/remove tough center.  (I used twelve leaves)

4. In sauce pot, drizzle oil and soften diced onion and garlic. Add finely chopped tomatoes and canned tomatoes and season along with salt and pepper to taste. Add other dried seasoning along with sugar and vinegar.

5. Allow sweet and sour tomato sauce to simmer until it’s thickened to desired consistency. Set aside.

6. In hot skillet, drizzle oil and brown turkey/sausage. Make sure to season with salt, pepper, garlic, onion, dried basil oregano along with a dash of balsamic vinegar. Set aside.

7. Finely chop veggies (carrot, onion, bell pepper, etc.) and do a quick stir-fry (five minutes) of them. Remove from stove and add cooked rice, turkey/sausage, raisins and combine.

8. Use a measuring cup (1/4) or spoon to fill prepared cabbage leaves.

9. Place a layer of sweet/sour tomato sauce at bottom of baking dish.

Cabbage leaves awaiting filling to be placed in baking dish
Cabbage leaves awaiting filling to be placed in baking dish
Filled cabbage leaves ready to be folded and placed in oven
Filled cabbage leaves ready to be folded and placed in oven

10. Fold cabbage leaves and place in waiting baking dish. Spoon on sweet/sour tomato sauce on top. Cover with foil.

Stuffed cabbage leaves awaiting hot oven
Stuffed cabbage leaves awaiting hot oven

11. Bake in heated 350 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes.

12. Remove foil at the last five minutes. Serve hot. Add extra sauce if needed.

A plating of stuffed cabbage
A plating of stuffed cabbage
Stuffed cabbage in tupperware for storage in freezer
Stuffed cabbage in tupperware for storage in freezer

Guys, as always, be kind to your loved ones as well as your beautiful palates. Enjoy!

 

 

IT’S COLUMBUS DAY…..SO I MADE YOURS TRULY STUFFED BELL PEPPERS WITH ITALIAN SAUAGES

I’m always on the fence when it comes to a day as this, (Cristoforo Colombo Day). Is it a holiday? Well, as for yours truly, I’ve no break. Based on some history books, the Italian Explorer made his way to the ‘New World’ approximately four times. Christopher had his way to convince Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand to finance his trips.

Anyway, I won’t get too much in history. But, based on what I’ve grasped in history books, the guy (Columbus) was rather¬† sly and conniving. On one of his trips to Jamaica in 1500 where he and his men were supposedly stranded he became desperate for food. The Arawaks, the island’s natives refused to feed Christopher and his men. After all, it seemed like they were always relying on them.

Nature was on Christopher’s side. You see, an astronomer had previously told him that there would be an eclipse. As a result, he used it to his advantage by telling the Arawaks that if he and his men weren’t given food his god would be upset and would send his wrath on the land.

True to his words, later that night, the night skies became darkened and the moon transformed to red. The poor and humble Arawaks asked for mercy and granted the wish of the cunning Christopher and men.

Guys, who knows? All I know, it’s not a holiday for yours truly. However, because I love Italian food, I’ve decided to make myself stuffed bell peppers. I used up four from a pack of six. I cut three of them in halves and chopped off the stem of the remaining. I removed all the veins and seeds and gave a quick three-minute boil in salty water. I then rinsed and dried and set aside.

In my skillet a couple Italian (mild flavor) sausages were browned after I removed meat from the casing and did a quick drop of the pieces. I added diced bell peppers, egg-plant, onions, garlic and fresh tomatoes. I made sure to season along with cracked black pepper, dried basil/oregano and a pinch of salt. I also drizzled a little red wine vinegar because I had it on hand (any other vinegar will do).

STUFFING (INCLUDING ITALIAN SAUSAGE, PEPPERS) FOR PEPPERS
STUFFING (INCLUDING ITALIAN SAUSAGE, PEPPERS) FOR PEPPERS

I removed the Italian sausages and veggies from the heat and added a cup of left-over boiled rice. I combined and stuffed the bell peppers. By the way, I reserved my clipped off stem from the red one. Great for presentation.

BELL PEPPERS READY FOR STUFFING
BELL PEPPERS READY FOR STUFFING

In a baking dish a little water was added to cover the bottom. I then placed the stuffed peppers in the dish and covered with a piece of foil. This was then placed in a heated oven at 350 degrees F. I baked them for 15 minutes and then removed the foil. I sprinkled with light bread crumbs mixed with parmesan cheese and finely chopped parsley. I then drizzled the top with a little olive oil and place it back in the oven to complete another 15 minutes.

Guys, when I cut into my stuffed bell peppers, they were just perfect. The peppers were sweet and still had a ‘bite’. And that’s what I like. I hate mushy. The stuffing of Italian sausages, brown rice, egg-plant, onions, a few bits of olive, garlic and melted parmesan were just a perfect union of flavors.

What do you know? Christopher Columbus would have had a fight for my stuffed peppers. By the way, was he really Italian? Some history books said he was from Spain. But, who cares? It’s all water under the bridge. Guys, thanks to Christopher Columbus, it’s his day, go have some fun.