Trini ‘Tambran’ (Tamarind) Sauce’

I remember being about 6 or 7 at the time (for some reason I put a lot of childhood events between this age range) when I tasted my first Tamarind Ball. It was dark in colour and resembled a golf ball that had been rolled in sugar. My brother told me it was (pepper) ‘hot’, so as neither of us could bear hot pepper at the time I avoided them as best I could.

But then a few weeks later, I thought I’d pluck the courage to go try one of these ‘sweets’ as my Dad called them. He had brought them back from a short trip he’d made to Trinidad to see my Grand – parents and extended family. I had watched on with envy as my Mum and Dad devoured them with child like pleasure all week and couldn’t understand the fascination with something that resembled liquorice but tasted like pepper.

The moment the Tambran was in my mouth, I was met by an unusually sweet sticky texture which I chewed on for a couple of seconds, before coming across the odd black seed (which I guessed had been missed). Then came the pepper of fire, which turned out to be more like a tickle rather than a punch in the mouth; it was over before I knew it. I loved them!

From then on I void never to follow my brother’s advice (in relation to food) ever again.

The recipe below is for Tambran sauce, I thought it would be better to share the sauce rather than the sweet/savoury balls with you because it’s a very versatile sauce which can be added to a number of sweet, savoury dishes or even drinks!

I’ve used this sauce in the Bara and Channa which is joining the blog soon, and hopefully I’ll share a drink with you too! Enjoy

Nutritional Value: 

Each 100 grams of tamarind contain 36% of the thiamin, 35% of the iron, 23% of magnesium and 16% of the phosphorus recommended for a day’s worth of nutrition. Other prominent nutrients include niacin, calcium, vitamin C, copper, and pyridoxine.

'Tambran' (Tamarind) Sauce

  • Servings: 10-20 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

10 sweet tamarinds, shelled and de-seeded

2 to 3 cups water

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 pinch of salt

2 cloves of garlic – crushed

1/4 medium onion – grated finely

1/2 tsp scotch bonnet pepper – chopped finely (or more!)

Method

Once you have removed the shell from the tamarind, rinse the tamarind under running water (this is to make sure any bits of the shell still on the fruit are completely removed.

You will see a boney like membrane running along the fruit, remove that too if possible, otherwise, transfer the tamarind a saucepan. Pour into the saucepan, two cups of water and bring the pan to a fast boil, you will see the tamarind begin to dissolve, you can help the fruit separate from the seed by mashing it with a potato masher. If the liquid starts to thicken, add more water and lower the heat. This should take 5 -7 minutes.

Take the tamarind off the heat, pour the mixture through a sieve into a bowl, leaving behind the husk and the seed. You want to add the husk to the remaining sauce and discard the seed. Now return the tamarind sauce to the saucepan.

In the saucepan, add the remainder of the ingredients and bring it to a medium boil to help thicken the sauce. Once the sauce is at the consistency you want, allow it to cool and store in sterilised jars in the refrigerator.

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West African Peanut Stew

 

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Thick, thin or soupy. Depending on where you are, peanut stews can be found across the whole of West Africa. This is one dish I really wanted to get right, it had to be as authentic as I could possibly get it without having to grind the peanuts to make butter myself. This dish is usually made with chicken, but as someone who is attempting but failing badly to wean off meat, I thought I would try and make this with vegetables.

The question was, which vegetables to use and to combine. My choice was based on several factors: texture, colour, and combination. As I would be missing meat, I had to make up for that with giving the stew something to chew on. IMG_7451No one likes over-cooked discoloured vegetables, well I don’t and so I needed vegetables that could hold their form, or at least help thicken the stew. I decided against courgettes for that very reason: they tend to get very watery when cooked and lose both colour and texture. Aubergines on the other hand taste better when they melt away into a pulp, especially helpful for this thick sauce. And then the small black flecks of eggplant skin still shine through the soup.

Then in honour of this stews ‘roots’ (sorry for the pun), sweet potato was an easy choice, it forms the ‘meat’ of this stew. The mushrooms also help to add a depth of flavour and save you having to add a heap of water to the dish, you want a fairly intense sauce.

Try and keep the vegetables as chunky as possible and add them in stages, I added to green sweet pepper, right at the end when all was said and done (i.e. cooked) for example as again I wanted to retain the bright green colour and crunchy texture. You will really enjoy this with the coconut and lime rice also on the blog…happy cooking!

West African Peanut Stew

  • Servings: 4-5 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1 large (orange flesh) Sweet Potato – cut into chunks
1 large Aubergine – cut into cubes
1 cup mushrooms – roughly chopped
3 spring onions – cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 medium onion – chopped finely
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 cup of chopped plum tomatoes (and juice)
1/2 medium green sweet pepper- chopped 1″ squares
4 garlics crushes
3 sprigs thyme
3/4 cup peanut butter

To Temper

1 tsp tumeric
1 whole scotch bonnet
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 whole cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp fenugeek powder
1 tsp corriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp of Asafoetida

salt to taste
Roasted peanuts (garnish)

Method

Heat 3 tbsp oil in a large pot. Add the chopped aubergine to the pot and let it cook for about 5 minutes stirring frequently. You can cover the pot with a lid, lower the heat and allow the juices from the aubergine to soften it. When its cooked, take it out the pot and set it aside.

In the same pot, add 2 tsp of oil and all the ingredients under ‘to temper’, fry gently under a medium heat for about 30 seconds. Then add all the onions, garlic and thyme the temper and fry until the onions have softened. Then add the mushrooms followed by the aubergine and all it to cook gently.

Then add all the remaining ingredients to the pot except the peanut butter: you want to dissolve the butter in some hot water first to help distribute it. Then add the peanut butter to the pot with all the other ingredients (except the green peppers). Cook under a medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 20 mins or until the potato is cooked.

Season to taste. Serve with rice

Pecan Caramel Monkey Bread

photo 4

The moment you slowly remove the bundt pan from this bread. Its like watching a child open a birthday present, in small motion and to find that it was exactly what they had hoped and wished for.

This was my experience unravelling the monkey bread. I had searched high and low for the recipe that reflected the image in my head of how this was all going to turn out, but nothing met my credentials. So I took a few ideas from here and there and put together a recipe which tastes so good! I wish you could hear me say this out loud…it is unbelievably good, the whole process of making this bread really therapeutic, I don’t know why. The process and ingredients are very similar to that of Brioche, so I felt a lot more confident putting it together. Not all monkey breads require eggs, but I wanted to the rich texture of the brioche in this one and it paid off so well.

A couple of tips: be generous with the caramel. If you find you need to make more, do so. Secondly don’t fill the bundt pan to the brim with these dough balls. Remember the dough still have to prove after you have formed it in the pan, I found during that time the mixture expanded so much that when it reached the oven, some of the balls dropped off like cinnamon golf balls! Pleasant to my quick fingers…not so good a look when your bread has holes in it!

This bread is made for sharing and makes sharing fun. I’ll let you know how my colleagues at work get on with this one tomorrow!

 

Pecan Caramel Monkey Bread

  • Servings: as many as you like!
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

For the Dough

1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water (room temperature)

1-1/4 cups warm 2% milk (room temperature)

1/3 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

5 cups Canadian Strong Bread Flour

 

For the Caramel

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp almond essence

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1/4 cup butter, cubed

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

 

For the Dough Balls

3/4 cup chopped pecans

1 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup butter, melted

 

Method

The night before

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk, butter, sugar, eggs, salt and 3 cups of flour. Beat on the medium speed (with a dough hook) for 3 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a firm dough.IMG_7401

Keep ‘kneading’ in the food mixer until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Or turn the mixture on to a floured surface and knead by hand for the same amount of time.

Place in a greased bowl or container. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

 

 

The next day

The next day, take the dough of the fridge and leave it for 1 hour to get to room temperature.

For the caramel, in a saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter and cream to a boil. Cook and stir for 3 minutes. Pour half into the bundt pan; sprinkle with half of the pecans.
Punch the dough down and cut it into long strips, then cut it again into 2″ squares.  Shape each square into 40 -50 balls

Then take two bowls: in one combine white sugar and cinnamon in another melted butter. Dip the dough balls in butter, then roll in sugar mixture.

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Place balls in the pan one by one; top with remaining caramel and pecans, only fill to 3/4 of the pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, in a warm place for about 45 minutes.

Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool for 10 minutes before turning it into a serving plate. Serve warm.

 

 

 

 

Salmon Kebab Sticks

IMG_7101Here marks the end of the stick it in the oven with a drizzle of lemon and pepper Salmon fillets. No more, and I mean it.  I have no problem with grilled Salmon any day of the week, especially if you want something quick after a long day that still tastes pretty decent with a simple side of potatoes or vegetables.

I bought some salmon earlier at the weekend and seriously that was all I had in mind; but as with life, we all need a transformation of some kind and so as I walked through the dreary aisles of Morrison’s Superstore I almost shouted:  “What about the salmon?!” So this post is dedicated to the beloved Salmon which has served us tirelessly and has been crying out for a make-over greater than being chunked, diced or smoked. He wants more out of life.

This recipe should take you no more than an hour. I took my time with this one only because I find cooking very therapeutic, but I’m sure it can be achieved in much less time. As with regular Salmon fillets, be careful not to over-cook them, you want to retain the juices, this often happens when you re-heat Salmon which sometimes can’t be avoided. Having said that I re-heated these for my lunch and they were fine.

Salmon Kebab Sticks

  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

2 skinless salmon fillets (480g)

2 cups fresh breadcrumbs

1 tbsp Thai Green Paste

1/4 cup finely chopped red sweet peppers

1/4 cup freshly chopped Coriander

1 tbsp fish sauce

1/2 tsp garlic and ginger paste

Mini kebab sticks (optional)

1/2 black pepper

 

‘Basting’

1/2 tsp Tumeric Powder

4 tbsp Honey

1/2 cup hot water

 

METHOD:

  1. Take the salmon steaks and either roughly blend it in a food processor or mince it using a meat tenderiser and sharp knife on a chopping board. You want a mince like consistency.
  2. The breadcrumbs are formed from stale white bread of a crusty loaf of bread which you can slice and place in the oven for a few minutes to dry out slightly before blending in the food processor.
  3. Mix all the ingredients together adding the breadcrumbs little by little, you want the mixture to form a large ball.
  4. Shape the mixture into 8-10 balls and place in the fridge for 30 minutes, this will help the mixture hold together whilst cooking.
  5. Remove from the fridge and form the salmon into ‘tear drop’ shapes before piercing through with the kebab stick. Alternatively roll them into sphere’s on to a well oiled baking sheet or pan. Make sure you leave spaces between the kebab sticks whilst cooking.
  6. Place in a pre-heated oven a gas mark 5 for 15-20 minutes, turning the kebab sticks over if necessary.
  7. Half way through the cooking mix together the turmeric, honey and water, using a pastry brush, brush the kebab balls with the marinade before returning to the oven for the last 5 minutes.
  8. Serve with sweet mashed potatoes

All content and images copyright ©  2014 Ranette Prime – Love Loretta’s Kitchen

Sushi & Tofu

IMG_3240You might find it hard to believe, but I am not someone who is very adventurous when it comes to trying new foods: I like to stick to what I know. I’ve come a bit further down the line then where I was a few years a go. I never thought the day would come when I would actually enjoy snacking on cold rice which is essentially what I summed up sushi to be. I was first introduced to sushi whilst at university about 12 years ago. My housemate’s girlfriend at the time is Japanese and she would often prepare sushi at the weekend with him. She must have cornered me or something because I went from going in the kitchen to wash dishes to clapping down a ‘scrambled egg mayo’ sushi she had made. I wouldn’t say it was like fireworks in my mouth (sorry it does get better believe me), but my interest was peaked.

The second occasion was probably another 10 years after that, this time it was salmon. But again the whole ‘lets go  Yo Sushi’ vibe didn’t really sit well with me. I wanted cooked food. Until one day whilst hovering around in Sainsbury’s looking for something else, I came across a Sushi Kit. And so I thought, OK if I’m going to get over this fear of Sushi I have to take it on…and make it my own. So I apologise from now to any Sushi lovers, but I have made some adaptations. I am on the bridge, I have yet to cross over to the over side, but I can see the summit…I’m almost there.

Sushi and Tofu

  • Servings: 4 rolls (6-7 slices per roll)
  • Difficulty: medium
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For this recipe you will need:

250 g Sushi Rice

4 Nori Sheets

Bamboo Rolling Mat

Cling Film

Wasabi Paste (optional)

The method below will assume you have not bought the kit, obviously if you have the kit, you can follow the instructions there!

For the filling, I added the following:

1 Ripe Avocado sliced length ways

1 Red Sweet Pointed Pepper – sliced thinly length ways

1/2 medium onion (grated)

2 cloves garlic (minced)

1 tbsp coconut cream  or sushi vinegar (to add to the rice)

Dash Soya Sauce/ Hoisin Sauce

1 carrot sliced thinly ideally with a julienne peeler 

And for the Tofu

Firm Tofu sliced into 1/2 inch slabs (6 slices on average)

3 tbsp Soya Sauce

3 tbsp Teriyaki Sauce

2 garlic cloves minced

1/2 tbsp honey

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Marinating the Tofu

Before anything else marinade the tofu. Place all the ingredients for the tofu in a saucepan and warm gently to release the flavours. Take a rough guess of how much to make depending on how many slabs of tofu you have prepared. Then pour the mixture over the tofu and making sure it is fully submerged in the marinade. Then refrigerate.IMG_3224

Cooking the Rice

Put the rice into a bowl and wash with cold water. Repeat 3 or 4 times and then drain rice in a sieve. Add 330 ml of water and the washed rice to a saucepan. Bring the rice to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on. Turn off the heat and leave to stand for 15 – 20 minutes. Do not open the lid!

While the rice is cooking, and this is entirely optional gently stir fry the peppers and carrots in with the onion and garlic and Hoisin sauce. You still want the vegetables to be crunchy, you are simply flavouring the vegetables before adding them to the rice later. Remove the vegetables from the saucepan and allow them to cool completely.

Layering and Rolling

With the rice still warm, stir in the coconut cream or the sushi vinegar if you prefer. Then let it cool down further. Then set up your equipment: on a hard surface place lay out a clean tea towel for stability. Then place the sushi rolling mat with the lines facing horizontally. Following that, cut some cling film so that its slightly larger than the rolling mat (by 1 inch or two). Then take a Nori sheet and place this on the mat also.  Then take some spoonfuls of rice place then randomly over the Nori sheet, and with your fingers spread the rice out until you have a thin layer covering the sheet.

Next comes the layering, I decided on this order: peppers, carrots and avocado, thinking about how it would look once sliced. I also added a slight drizzle of the marinade from the peppers and carrot. The key is to place the vegetables one inch from the edge and then roll the sheet and mat away from you as if you were rolling up a sleeping bag: tucking it in tightly as you go along.IMG_3233

You should leave about 1/2 an inch around the sheet ‘green’ so that you can seal the sushi roll when you reach the end with water if necessary, When you get to the end of the sheet give the sushi a final roll in the mat to even out the shape, the cling film should be fully wrapped around it by this time. Then twist the two end like a sweetie wrapper.  Place each of the rolls in the Fridge. When this is done, place the Tofu in the oven or under the grill for 10-15 mins. By the time the Tofu is ready the Sushi should be cool enough to slice into 1 inch sections.

Serve with wasabi paste, or pickled ginger or soy sauce. Try alternative fillings e.g. crispy salmon and cucumber.

Red Onion Fougasse Bread

IMG_4167This flat, round fougasse loaf is very popular all over France and is a very similar to the Italian focaccia. Here I decided to make a mustard/ garlic butter which I brushed over the bread once baked, if I’m honest I was trying to mimic the fougasse garlic bread I love so much which is served at the restaurant Cafe Rouge, which came drenched in this garlic butter sauce which tasted like none other.

But I digress, this bread is as enjoyable and fun to share and tear over some soup! I strongly recommend using a strong white bread flour for this recipe, it will make such a big difference to the to the texture: the bread turned out really nice and fluffy on the inside and with a light crust.

I also found it expanded in size quite a bit, so make sure you leave a lot of space in the pan between breads. This recipe is adapted from the BBC Good Food website if you want to see other versions of the bread.

 

Red Onion Fougasse Bread

  • Servings: Makes 3 large loaves
  • Difficulty: medium
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1 red onion – finely sliced

1 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra

coarse sea salt

For the Dough

7g sachet easy-blend yeast or 15g fresh yeast

500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

2 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

2 tbsp olive oil

For the Garlic Butter

3 garlic cloves, minced

50g butter

1 tsp english mustard

few fresh thyme sprigs – chopped

Tip the flour into a mixing bowl. For easy-blend dried yeast, stir this into the flour. For fresh yeast, crumble it and rub into the flour as you would with butter when making pastry. Add the salt and sugar. Boil the kettle and measure 100ml into a jug. Top up with cold water to the 300ml mark. Test the temperature with your finger – it should feel perfectly hand-hot. Add the oil. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid all at once. Mix quickly using your hands or a wooden fork to make a soft and slightly sticky dough. Wipe the dough around the bowl to pick up any loose flour. Sprinkle the work surface with flour and tip out the dough.IMG_4159

Knead by stretching it away from you, then folding it in half towards you and pushing it away with the heel of your hand. Give it a quarter turn and repeat, developing a rhythm.

When the dough is smooth, put it back into the mixing bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for 1 hr (no need to find a warm place). The dough is ready when it springs back when you press it with your finger. Thinly slice the onion and gently cook in the oil until softened, about 5 mins. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and lightly knead in the onion. IMG_4161

Using a sharp knife, cut the dough in half. Roll or press out one piece of dough to a rectangular shape about 20 x 25cm, then transfer to a baking sheet lined with non-stick paper.

Make a large diagonal cut across the centre of the dough almost to the ends. Make three smaller diagonal cuts either side of the large cut to make a leaf shape.

Then with your fingers, gently pull the bread where you have made the slits creating an inch gap. The bread should resemble branches at this point (see baked image above)

Repeat with the other piece of dough. then sprinkle with a little flour and sea salt.

IMG_4172Heat oven to 240C/220C fan/gas 8. Leave the loaves to prove for 20 mins then bake for 13-15 mins until golden.

In the meantime melt the ingredients for the garlic butter in a pan gently.

When the loaves leave the oven, brush them with the butter a few times over and then leave to cool.

Salt fish Fritters

Salt fish Fritters are a stable of most Caribbean households. Some eat it for breakfast, as a snack with bread or on its own. Unlike fish cakes which are made of a mixture of potato and cooked fish, saltfish fritters are made with flour and pack in a lot more flavour which makes them very filling. The end product should be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

These fritters have the most flavour out of any fritter I have tasted recently and the key to this is a couple of things: grate all your ingredients where stated, that way all the flavour will be well-distributed into every bite.

Secondly taste as you go along, yes taste the dough, that is the only way to achieve the flavour you want, because once you start frying there is no turning back. You can also adjust the measurements and flavours as you see fit, provided the texture of the dough is not too stiff or runny (do a sample fry first), this should take no more than an hour to complete.

For the recipe e-mail me at: lovelorettaskitchen@gmail.com

 

Chinese Pot Stickers

IMG_2832Ah! The day I discovered pot stickers: I was introduced to these fancy dumplings by a close Malaysian friend of mine who also shares my fascination with food from around the world. She told me about a restaurant off Liverpool Street in London called Ping Pong who apparently churned out these steamed parcels all day and night.

It happened to be Chinese New Year 2013 celebrations that weekend, so when we discovered that Ping Pong were also throwing together ‘Dumpling Classes’ to celebrate the year of the Snake, we signed up straight away. In the end we didn’t end up going…pretty much how most of my adventures with my friend ended up, but I did manage to persuade another friend of mine to try the restaurant out. Setting: Ping Pong Restaurant; In the midst of our discourse about the failing economy, social injustice and men our intense conversation was interrupted by these delicate yet crispy parcels correctly entitled Gyoza’s. Here begginneth my relationship with the Pot Sticker.

Pot Stickers

  • Servings: 30
  • Difficulty: medium
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½ cup (or 4) Spring Onions finely chopped

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1/2 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms

2 cups Chinese white cabbage, finely shredded

1 cup carrots, grated

2-3 garlic cloves chopped

1 sachet black bean sauce (120g)

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 package round gyoza skins or wonton wrappers (around 30)

Salt to taste

1 egg (whisked) or water (in a bowl)

Vegetable Stock cube or jelly

In a Wok or large saute pan, add a little oil and saute garlic and ginger. Add the mushrooms and stir.

Add the cabbage, carrots and onion. Keep frying until the mixture is soft, and then place in colander to drain. IMG_2816Save the drained liquid.

Stir in the black bean sauce little by little, just enough to taste, you don’t want soggy vegetables or a puddle of black bean juice.

Add the sesame oil when mixture is cooled. Check for seasoning. Set aside to cool down.

Lightly flour your chopping or side board.

Take a gyoza skin, lay flat on board. Take a level teaspoon of the vegetables making sure you get a good mix and place in centre of circle.

Then take egg wash or water and wash the circumference of the skin (always wanted to say that word).

Now fold the wrapper in half like an envelope, sealing it to form a half-moon shape, keeping the bottom flat.

Then pinching the corner (I start with the right) fold the corner inwards, like making a paper fan, pressing each fold gently.

 

IMG_2819In a hot non-stick pan, coat with oil and place dumplings.

When bottom gets brown, mix together the drained liquid from earlier with the vegetable stock jelly (should make up 1/4 cup of liquid all together), taste and add water if necessary.

Pour over the frying dumplings and cover immediately.

This will steam the dumplings. Carefully watch the dumplings and completely evaporate the water so that the bottom gets crispy again and sticks to the pot.

Serve with Soya Sauce or any dipping sauce of your choice.