All posts tagged: cooking

Loretta’s Kitchen turns Supper Club

I finally succumbed to the pressure. Loretta’s Kitchen is making the transition to become a supper club. It’s been just over 2 years since I launched the food blog – hosting a supper club hadn’t even entered my mind, I was hoping at the most to maybe get a few recipes published and write a cook book, but I wasn’t in a hurry! I enjoyed writing and soon began to develop a taste for food photography. Most of all I loved receiving the numerous messages and         e-mails from people as far as Australia asking me where to purchase casareep from? LOL it has been a lot of fun. This is not the end of the food blog. No. Like with most things I need to be challenged. For example I changed gyms last week and besides feeling pain in a totally different way, my body is responding really way to the and I am seeing the benefits already! The food blog as interesting as it is – needs some energy injected into …

Ethiopian Lentil Stew (Misir Wot)

If you can’t stand the heat, then you better stay out the Ethiopian Kitchen! It’s not that Ethiopian food doesn’t have a range of mild flavoured dishes, they do, but pepper is so essential to the cuisine that to avoid it is to essentially ban yourself from the whole experience! Ethiopian Cuisine: I haven’t tasted anything so lip-smackingly delicious in a good long time! I’m gonna be stuck on this for a while! Ok admittedly the last time I tasted authentic Ethiopian cuisine was about a year ago where I just happened to walk by a small take away 5 minutes walk down Kingsland High Street in Dalston, London. They offer a selection of stews or ‘wots’ with a combination or rice or the infamous Injera bread, all for just £4!! Many Ethiopian’s are Orthodox Christians who traditionally eat vegan on Wednesdays and Fridays, as well as other special days,  hence why there is such a wide selection of vegan/vegetarian Ethiopian dishes. This recipe is adapted from the more classic Misir Wot, which literally means ‘lentil stew’; I have added …

Breadfruit Curry

Happy New Year! I had an enjoyable Christmas and New Years with friends and family, for the first time, I didn’t do much of the cooking, I was determined this year that I wanted to have a break from the kitchen and have some quality time with people I love, which I did. Nevertheless my brain was still ticking away with recipes and new projects for the coming year and so having made it through the first week back at work, I am ready to kick things off again with Loretta’s Kitchen! Many of us have started the new year with resolutions: lose weight, start a new course, learn a language etc…,maybe all three. Well how about adding to your list, ‘try out new cuisines, fruits and vegetables’? If you can’t afford to travel this year, you can bring the’exotic’ to your kitchen ;-). To help you out, I thought I would introduce some of you to an interesting fruit. Known as ‘Breadfuit’. Breadfruit found mainly in the Caribbean (although native to Tahiti), is a large …

Spinach Rice

“Eat your Greens…” ‘Mature’ spinach as I like to call it, has a stronger taste and smell than baby spinach which is why I recommend it for this dish. I bought mine in my local market for 40p a bunch, not bad! Blending some for spinach helps create the green vivid colour in the rice, but still allows you to enjoy the texture of the spinach running through. To make the rice tender and grainy, I prefer to use a pan with a large surface area rather than a pot, that way I avoid having to stir the pot and the flavours get evenly distributed. Its optional to stir in the butter after the rice has cooked rather than during the cooking process. I’ve had some excellent feedback on this recipe, I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!  

Perfect Fried Chicken: The Science bit

The days of munching on a bargain box of chicken and chips from KFC smothered in ketchup (I thought I was too sophisticated for the likes of Chicken Cottage or anything ‘cheaper’), are long behind me. But I still miss the crunchy coating and juicy chunks of white meat from that greasy cardboard box; I didn’t really care to know which 11 herbs and spices the Cornel chose to dunk and fry my precious chicken thighs in, I was just happy they bothered to season it at all. All these years I have been satisfied with, well good fried chicken that tasted amazing, but never  had the KFC combination of crispy, juicy and finger lickin’ tasty…time and time again. Maybe that’ been your experience too: just how do they do it? Well I think I have the answer. Here’s the breakdown: Stage 1 – The Chicken: For this type of recipe, it makes more sense to avoid the chicken breast and wings; chicken breast has too little flavour and takes way too long to cook. While the wings have too little …

Rice ‘n’ Peas Risotto w/ Crispy Okra

We sat in our regular cafe spot not far from Highbury and Islington Station; me mulling over an overly sweet Chai Latte, him a large, mug of Americano, our opposing tastes in beverages mirroring our personalities… Him: “Have you made it yet?” Me: “Made what? The Roti Wrap? The De-constructed Ackee and Saltfish? He had thrown so many weird and wonderful recipes ideas at me over the last few months I couldn’t keep track, and I wasn’t sure if he really wanted me to take him seriously. Him: “The Rice and Peas Risotto (blank stare). I think if you make it with coconut milk, it’ll be a great fusion you know…?” Me: “Oook…?” I tried to picture it in my head. I was stepping onto sacred ground here: NO ONE messes with rice and peas…a famous chef was publicly humiliated for his version of rice and peas which insulted the whole of the global black population. How would I pass such a test??? Why was my boyfriend setting me a challenge that could go disastrously …

Sunday Brunch: Shaksuka Eggs

I’ve been meaning to make this dish for the longest while. The mouth-watering pictures of Shasuka Eggs, (Tunisian dish of eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce) flooded my pinterest page long before I knew the name of the dish. I love breakfasts, I could have them all day. I used to work in an all-day breakfasts cafe in Nottingham as a student: scraping down the greasy hot plate where I fried eggs, bacon, mushrooms and sausages before slapping them onto large oval plates with two slices of white toast. I loved assembling the items on the plate and seeing people stroll in at 2pm for a full English. The greasy spoon just off the town square served nothing more all day, everyday. You would never dream of serving Shasuka Eggs in a cafe like that, even if it used more or less the same ingredients. I only managed to eat half of this dish midday today, I’m back home now, so I think I will definitely warm up some more crusty bread and finish off the …

Smokin’ Fried Plantain

Plantain…isn’t is just a big banana? Well no, because unlike regular bananas, it can’t be eaten raw. However just like a dessert banana, the longer its left to ripen, the sweeter and softer it becomes! Since as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed ripe Plantain in various ways: steamed, baked, fried… Basically if you treat it just like a potato you can make some really interesting dishes: salads, chips, crisps, even mashes. Unlike it’s close cousin the green banana, which I also love, but I’m finding hard to be win over to the masses because of its firm waxy texture (which makes it good for potato salads)  – see my ‘Fig Salad’ recipe for example 😉 To fry the plantain, you want the banana to be firm with some dark spots (like the middle row below), too soft and you won’t be able to slice it well, and the high sugar content will cause it to caramelise and stick to the frying pan. Not a pretty sight! This recipe combines two of my favourite ingredients: plantain and …

Red Hummus Stuffed Chicken w/ Veg Spaghetti

Sometimes leftovers make the best meals: after making a batch of hummus, I wasn’t sure what else to use it for besides dipping tortilla chips into it. Then there were the left over carrots, aubergine and courgette from a quick vegetable roast I made a few days before. I hunted around for ideas and recipes but couldn’t find anything that really appealed to me: I found many recipes for chicken smothered in hummus, but I felt like that was a bit of a waste and wasn’t convinced the hummus would stick to the chicken while cooking. So in an effort to preserve all the great flavours of the paste and not to lose the vibrant colours and textures from the left over vegetables, I devised what was actually a very tasty dish. It really is less complicated then it looks.  Enjoy!

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

This version does not disappoint – it’s full of flavor and wonderfully creamy. Hummus is a really versatile addition to your food pantry, which has sadly been relegated to dips, chips and wraps, so if you’re interested what else its good with, check out my next post:

Soft Spinach Tortilla

These tortillas are unbelievably soft and tasty. The bright green dough is what strikes you first before you rip it open and dip it in some cool hummus or filling of your choice. I love how these wraps turned out, a lot better than I expected. To re-heat them, I recommend you fold them and place it in the toaster for a 10-20 seconds if your feeling lazy like me, keeping a close eye on it of course, otherwise a minute or two in the oven. You won’t regret it…;-)

Cheesy Chipotle Rice ‘n’ Beans

I have to thank my friend Hayley for the inspiration behind this recipe. Last month she asked me to come up with a couple of lunch box recipes for students, tired of limp sandwiches and luke-warm pasta bakes. I completely understood where she was coming from as I have the same dilemma for work lunches; she wanted something tasty, fresh and filling that didn’t look like a dogs dinner after day 3; cheap but not compromising on nutrition and quality. Yeah she wasn’t asking for much really ;-). I’m not a great fan of brown rice. I know many people who eat it religiously and preach about its benefits, but to me it always felt like more effort than it was worth, until I created this recipe. I strongly recommend the use of short grain brown rice: it retains its shape and has a slight nutty texture and taste to it which means it can stand the pressure of being tossed around in a pan without turning into mush like so many other rice grains do. …

Prize Giveaway: Healthier Recipe Cookbook

Who said creamy Arctic Roll can’t be healthy? Low fat doesn’t always mean low taste. Yes we’ve heard it all before; Many of us who have been round the diet block a few times will be familiar with this phrase.  What sends me back to old habits however is usually a lack of planning and scarce range of healthy tasty recipes to work with. I’ve even gone as far as eliminating the word diet from my vocabulary whenever I embark on a new eating (dis)order…determined that this is how I’m going to eat for the rest of my life: no more bread. no more diary. No more strawberries. But somehow my body is smarter than what I think it is and so it kicks into survival mode clinging on to whatever morsel of sugar,  fat or berry I ‘treat’ myself with…on my ‘cheat day’ of course! 😉 Over the years you soon learn that the key to long-term weight-loss and health is a lifestyle change: So here comes another healthy recipe book and I’m thinking, do we need …

Tasty Tofu Burgers

To get the best results from the recipe, try to use the firmest tofu you can find. You can always replace the egg with 1/2 cup of ground flax seeds as this acts as a good binder to the mixture. These burgers can be grilled as well. The most important thing besides the taste is that they hold together well; the finer you chop up the nuts and mushrooms the better.  

Roasted Sweet Potato w/ Tahini Garlic Sauce

The best part of making this dish was pulling out the tray of sizzling fresh herbs and olive oil, from out of the oven; it was like being hit in the face with a bunch of Sage and Thyme. It was with great excitement really, because I didn’t know what to expect: I had never combined these potatoes with this sauce before; this isn’t some glorified version of chips with fake garlic sauce from Mr Chippy on the High Street, oh no. All fresh. All real tasty. I tried the Tahini Garlic Sauce in salads during the week, and it worked very well. I think it should also work with other roasted vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower. The sauce can stay fresh for 2-3 days only, in fact the garlic will become more pungent over time. Let me know what combinations you have tried recently (a photo would be nice!)

Guyanese: Pepperpot

If there was ever a dish which made me immensely proud of my Guyanese heritage, it would be this one. Pepperpot, the National dish of Guyana. Simply the bitter-sweetest, warmest, stickiest pot of stew you will ever taste. It has a taste like none other, and its all down to one main ingredient: Cassareep. Cassareep was not as accessible in the 80’s when I was growing up as it is now; and even here, only certain West Indian shops sell it. I don’t know where we found the thick black molasses mixture when I was a child, but it was cherished like liquid black gold in our home: It would sit at the back of the cupboard, in a used Pepsi Bottle silently, waiting for the 25 December. I recall it being sealed with masking tape around its mouth and neck, as if smuggled out of the country, put on a boat destined for the Motherland…only to sit at the back of someone’s cupboard for 11 1/2 months of the year. “Cass-a-reep” I was told by my mother …

Caribbean Pumpkin Fritters

This is what you could call a golden oldie. I love the bright yellow hue that the pancake mixture has when you mix all the ingredients together. And the smell of the warm pumpkin spices could have you licking from the bowl. Again I was left with the issue of what to do with the abandoned piece of pumpkin I had left over from the first dish I made. And soon realised that I hadn’t made anything sweet with any of the gourds I had bought. I wasn’t in the mood for a cake, I wanted something really quick but could still fit into the dessert category. And then I remembered pumpkin fritters, made effectively the same way that banana fritters are made and served with a hearty savoury main meal or on its own with a dusting of cinnamon sugar. The key to this recipe is the roasting on the pumpkin. It really doesn’t take any more than 30 minutes and in the meantime you can get all the other ingredients ready so that all …

Spicy Pumpkin Parcels

What to do with left over pumpkin? Especially if you’ve bought a whole pumpkin like what I did, there is always going to be something left. Besides soups and throwing it in the oven, there are numerous creative recipes that can be made with this gourd. These spiced pumpkin parcels are the best example of this: once I baked them I threw a few of them straight into the freezer for those days when I really don’t feel like cooking anything. The pastry has a hint of turmeric powder in it just enough to compliment the flavour and colour of the spicy pumpkin filling. Another optional extra was that I placed two small spinach leaves at the base of the pie, for no other reason than I had some extra spinach lying around in the fridge! Once the parcels have been made they really take no time to bake in the oven and appear on your plate.                    

Gluten Free: Pumpkin Falafels

For this recipe I used the Kabocha Squash for its sweet nutty flavour. I have always found falafel a little dry and so I thought the addition of squash to the recipe would give it a smoother texture. The last night I truly enjoyed a hot falafel wrap was during one of my trips around New York last year with a friend. I don’t normally eat from street vendors, but this one was surrounded by massive signs which read: “As recommended in the New York Times” as well as having an extended queue of customers, I took a risk. They were really nice and what I liked was the unexpected crunch of the coriander seeds. This falafel can be baked or fried, I chose to fry them slightly in shallow oil just to release some of the flavours from the spices and give it that crunchy texture. And then I finished baking them in the oven. Enjoy them with a nice fresh salad or in a wrap with your favourite dressing.