A FEW OF JAMAICA’S FINEST #CALLALOO PLUS

So it’s back to basics for yours truly. It always warms my heart and stomach to indulge in Mother Nature’s offerings. I’m doing that with a few of Jamaica’s wholesome foods in the form of:

  • Callaloo (Jamaica’s spinach)
  • Breadfruit (great starchy substitute for rice, pasta, yam)
  • Avocado
  • Pumpkin
  • Plantain
  • Plum tomatoes
  • Garlic

Thanks to my neighborhood farmer’s market; I’m having one of the best times ever.

 

 

GRILLED BREADFRUIT WITH IDEAL PALS (ACKEE/CODFISH/CALLALOO)

Sunday’s brunch was quite a Jamaican affair. I went with one of my favorites, breadfruit which was roasted the previous day. This was done in oven at 450 degrees fahrenheit for approximately one hour. Peeled the tropical beauty and sliced:

SLICED BREADFRUIT FOR GRILLING
SLICED BREADFRUIT FOR GRILLING

Brushed slices with a little olive oil, sprinkled with a pinch of salt and then allowed my grill pan to do the work:

GRILLED BREADFRUIT SLICES
GRILLED BREADFRUIT SLICES

Served grilled slices of breadfruit with Jamaica’s national dish, ackee and codfish with slices of fried plantains, steamed callaloo (Jamaican spinach) and a slice of nature’s butter, avocado.

N.B – History books have stated that the breadfruit plant/tree was brought to Jamaica  from Tahiti in 1793. Over the years, this fruit has flourished in abundance. The young fruit is often boiled and used in soups and the mature version is ideal for roasting on an open flame (coal/wood), on stove top or oven.

Breadfruit is a great substitute for rice or bread. It is loaded with fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.

 

 

 

 

PERFECT JAMAICAN COMPANIONS #ACKEE/CODFISH, ETC.

If it’s the week-end, at some point,  I’ve got to go Jamaican. And, that ‘s what I did for Sunday’s brunch. I allowed a few items of left-overs (boiled banana and whole-wheat dumplings) to be a part of my delicious dish.

I warmed my soft/creamy banana and slit in halves. These I placed beside my fiber-filled Jamaican spinach (callaloo).  I could consume these wholesome greens virtually everyday.  I pan-fried the combination whole-wheat dumplings after I sliced them in halves and did a quick dry. They were crispy and quite brown and provided a hearty texture to my plate.

Now, I couldn’t leave out my country’s national dish (ackee/codfish). I have eaten same repeatedly over the years. Combined with that salty codfish which by the way had just about the right proportion of sodium within. I made sure to  rinse, boil, and soak beforehand in order to eradicate extra salt.

When the yellow and smooth tasting ackee and codfish were  intertwined, along with Jamaica’s spices like pimento (all spice), fresh thyme, and other ingredients,  culinary magic was released on my taste-buds.

Of course, no Jamaica brunch like this is quite complete without the addition of a sweet treat. Thus, I added a few pieces of fried plantain to the mix. That move certainly provided a mouth-watering balance. With nature’s butter (avocado), my brunch was ready for consumption.

A CRUSTY HOME-MADE BREAD/CURRIED CHICKEN THIGHS

The past evening, I  made a surprising spin on my dear palate. I was feeling a tad creative in respect of carbohydrates for my spicy curried chicken thighs. So instead of the usual brown rice or potatoes served with same, I decided to make a home-made flat crusty bread(well, my way).

In a bowl, a combination of whole-wheat and all-purpose flour were added along with a sprinkle of baking soda, pinch of salt, drizzle of oil, melted butter, and  boiling water. A dough was made and rolled out into flat breads.

INDIVIDUAL UNCOOKED FLAT BREAD
INDIVIDUAL DOUGH FOR TO BE FLATTENED WITH ROLLING PIN

These were cooked in sturdy skillet for approximately three minutes per side. Served crusty flatbread with side dish of sautéed kale. Of course, I also had a side of fried plantain to temper and provide a balance to my spicy chicken.

My palate was ecstatic. And so was I.

 

A STORMY DAY DISCOVERY! #LEFT-OVER CURRIED CHICKEN THIGHS

As dark clouds blanketed the evening skies, I hastily made my way to my humble kitchen. Mother Nature was at work on this first day of autumn (well, that’s what the calendar states). However, the elements screamed summer conditions within my midst. With thunder roaring and the skies lighting up, I knew it was quite risky stirring up a pot. However, tell that to my waiting stomach. It didn’t care.

Time was of the essence. I kept my fingers crossed hoping there wouldn’t be an interruption in the electric power. With that in mind, I knew that I wasn’t going to cook from scratch. Moreover, I was exhausted and required much-needed slumber.

I smiled as I made my way to my faithful freezer. Most times, it doesn’t disappoint me. As such, I made a quick rummage through the contents, and my eyes lit up as I spotted the container of curried chicken. I cooked that almost a week ago.Who knows? My foggy brain was trying to focus. So far, so good. All I needed was some carbohydrates and vegetables.

My trek further led me to discover some left-over Jasmine rice. As a matter of fact, there were two small containers which turned out to be just the right amount. I grabbed hold of the frozen spinach at the side of the freezer door. I love to keep a couple of them on hand for times as this.

Thanks to my microwave oven, it produced a quick thawing of my frozen spinach. After about five minutes, I drained the water content and placed spinach in a skillet with a drizzle of olive oil, softened onions and crushed garlic. I warmed through same and seasoned with a pinch of salt and black pepper.

Within a few minutes, my dear microwave yielded quite a feast. No one would have surmised that my supper was left-overs. My curried chicken thighs were piping hot and released mouth-watering aromas. I served same on a fluffy bed of Jasmine rice with a ring of garlic spinach. And, like a true Jamaican, I topped with a serving of fried plantains and a slice of nature’s butter (avocado). I was in heaven.

So funny how Mother Nature works. After all that hoopla of thundering and lightning, no precipitation followed. The sun began to shine.

SUNDAY’S SUPPER WAS A CURRIED AFFAIR #CURRIED CHICKEN

It was an easy decision for supper. You see, already I had some chicken parts (dark/couple pieces of wings) marinated in a ziplock bag. These chicken portions were bone-in and skinless. Whenever I’ve downtime, I try to take advantage of same by prepping my poultry and/or meats in advance. So, it was relatively smooth to get supper going after returning to my abode.

I allowed my marinated curried chicken to come to room temperature.

MARINATED CHICKEN READY FOR SKILLET
MARINATED CHICKEN READY FOR SKILLET

Chicken was marinated with salt, black pepper, crushed garlic, pimento(all spice, soy sauce,finely chopped onions and scotch bonnet pepper and of course, curry powder. In a hot skillet, a drizzle of coconut oil was added; then, chicken was placed in skillet.After a quick sauteing of same, water was added to cover chicken. Additional seasonings and spices were added including bell peppers, thyme and a dash of cumin.

Chicken was cooked under low to medium heat with lid on until fork tender. Moreover, the gravy/curry sauce was simmered to the right consistency that I liked.

CURRIED CHICKEN SIMMERING IN SKILLET
CURRIED CHICKEN SIMMERING IN SKILLET

I served my curried chicken with steamed whole wheat rice along with sauteed kale and fried plantain.

CURRIED CHICKEN DISH ALONG WITH STEAMED WHOLE WHEAT RICE, SAUTEED KALE AND FRIED PLANTAIN
CURRIED CHICKEN DISH ALONG WITH STEAMED WHOLE WHEAT RICE, SAUTEED KALE AND FRIED PLANTAIN

LEFT-OVERS TO RUSH HOME TO ##CURRIED CHICKEN #NO FAST FOOD FOR THIS GAL!

When you do the ‘grave-yard’ shift, the last thing on your mind is to cook a meal from scratch. It’s no wonder many of us head for the fast food eateries in order to satisfy the hunger within. After all, these eating joints are conveniently located at every nook and cranny within neighborhoods. And, let’s face it, when the hunger pangs call, you can’t help but to surrender with a big mac and fries.

But, yours truly didn’t cede. I had a perfect plan. I couldn’t wait to get to my abode. You see, sometime last week (oh, can’t say when with this foggy head), I made a dish of curried chicken. Had a couple servings from the batch and stored another for a ‘rainy’ day as this. When it comes to forecasting in the kitchen, you got to be on top of things; otherwise you find yourself exceeding your food budget.

The previous day, I had removed the left-over curried wonder from the freezer. I knew my chicken was little deficient in spice. So, like a true Jamaican gal, I headed for the freezer and retrieved scotch bonnet pepper. Love to store excess in the freezer in ziplock baggie. I finely diced a portion and tossed it with chicken in a small stock pot. Under low heat, in a I allowed my dear poultry pieces to heat throughout. By the way, they were bone-in…..love to suck on my bones!

I served my curried chicken with a fluffy steamed Jasmine rice along with spears of garlic-flavored broccoli. No curried dish goes without a few pieces of fried plantain. Plantain provides such beautiful medium to a curried dish. Thus, I sliced my golden ‘guys’ and pan-fried them in a little canola oil.

My curried chicken dish was even tastier than the day I made same. All the flavors came together superbly. The curry, all spice(pimento), cumin, scotch bonnet pepper and other spices and flavors united in such a cohesive and balanced way. Moreover, the other ingredients gave the dish a perfect finish to my palate. Hmmm, I was a happy camper.

JAMAICAN JERK CHICKEN COMINGLES WITH A TOUCH OF LATINO INFLUENCE

I’m no expert; however, when I see a sale I grab and run for it. Well, on my last shopping trip at my neighborhood store I noticed three cans of 15.5 ounce black beans for $2.00. As a matter a fact it was when I also bought the three cans of garbanzo beans (chickpeas) for $2.00 as well. It seems like Publix was on a roll with a 3 for $2 deal. Publix is the supermarket in my region.

Anyway, I hatched the perfect plan for Sunday’s supper and beyond. You see, whenever I cook on Sundays I also prepare for a couple a days in the week. If I don’t, I’m liable to eat anything which includes take out at a fast food joint or any other food establishment. Therefore, it’s very vital that I plan my meals ahead especially for the first few days. Later on in the week, I can always ‘coast’ along and be spontaneous with my choices.

As I was saying, my black beans turned out to be just what I needed. I simmered it with a little coconut milk along with diced onions, bell peppers, garlic, thyme, celery and dried seasoning. I know that my Latino amigos would love my twist on the dish. I further made a tomato, avocado and parsley salad (sorry, I had no cilantro) which I added a squeeze of lime along with a pinch of salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Of course, I added a small sprinkle of sugar for a fine balance to cut the acid from the tomatoes. Then I placed it in the refrigerator to chill.

I marinated my chicken (dark portions) the previous night. I made sure to input less sodium as I know that the jerk sauce has a good proportion of salt included. I added crushed garlic, along with chopped onions, thyme, and black pepper. Jerk sauce is found in the ethnic aisle of many neighborhood stores or West Indian/Latin stores.

Chicken parts were roasted in oven for forty-five minutes at (390 degrees F) turning once. I then basted it with a blend of a squeeze of ketchup, vinegar (any kind will do), a touch of honey and soy sauce and then gave it another five minutes under the broiler.

I served my Jamaican jerk chicken, black beans, avocado/tomato/parsley salad with a serving of rice and fried plantains. The co-mingling of flavors were unbelievable. My taste buds were greatly heightened with the spicy jerk chicken and the corresponding cooling effects of the salad that just exploded in my mouth. Moreover, the creamy black beans and the sweet plantains just about provided a great balance to my meal.

Guys, as always, be kind to your loved ones as well as your good palates.