Guyana: Paratha Roti

Oil-roti, buss-up-shot, Dhal puri. Some of the names I have grown to associate with the iconic national dish of both Guyana and Trinidad. From the Street Vendor in San Fernando to the Blue Hut on Mount Irvine Beach in Tobago, Roti is enjoyed by everyone, everywhere. The hardest task I have found however was not in the consuming, but finding someone who could do it well (or as well as my Mother…as we would all say). And I’m sad to report that those places and people are very few and hard to find. Many make the mistake of preparing Roti much like chapatti or some other flat bread, which is fine to those who don’t know any better, but to those who can sniff a good Roti from a far off it won’t be enjoyed as well.

The key to making a good Guyanese Paratha Roti is letting the dough rest adequately between each stage. The ratio of baking powder to flour is equally important. It’s also important that you use the right utensils. IMG_6930A Tawah (flat iron griddle) is what is used to cook the Roti on for the best results. There are several other stages not to mention the filling which varies if you are making Dhal Puri roti or simply oil-roti (plain). But essentially it is a tedious process, but once you get the hang of it its a really convenient side dish that can be stored in the freezer and used whenever you want to.

If you would like details of the recipe below, feel free to e-mail me: lovelorettaskitchen@gmail.com and I will be sure to send you the detailed directions (with step by step pictures).

Copyright © Ranette Prime and Love Loretta’s Kitchen, 2014. All Rights Reserved. 

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

IMG_3223

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.

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.

 

 

Pistachio Baklava

IMG_2739I live in a culturally rich part of London where the streets are essentially a tapestry of Turkish and Greek restaurants and bakeries. The Baklava’s are usually quite deliberately perched in long trays and pans in these shop windows, which also happen to be located behind a bus stop of some kind, leaving me drooling…for the 29 bus. Most of us are familiar with this very sweet delicacy, and only the brave or those with dentures can manage more than one maybe two squares. There is no healthy alternative to this, you can’t skip or substitute any ingredients it is what it is: yummy! Now off for my 5k run.

Pistachio Baklava

  • Servings: 60 pieces
  • Difficulty: easy
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Filling

2 cinnamon sticks

6 whole cloves

40g walnuts

250g almonds (with skins on), chopped

150g shelled pistachios, chopped

1 lemon, finely grated zest

6 tbsp granulated sugar

16 sheets Filo Pastry

75g unsalted butter, melted

Syrup

450g granulated sugar

Pinch of sea salt flakes

1 lemon, juice and 3 strips zest,

1 cinnamon stick

1tsp almond essence

1 tsp minced ginger (optional)

Whole cloves (decoration)

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Put the spices, in a pan and roast over a high heat until you start to smell the aromas. Allow to cool then with a mortar and pestle finely grind. Finely chop all nuts in a bowl and add the ground spice mixture with the lemon zest and 6 tbsp granulated sugar.

Open out the filo pastry, and cover with a damp tea-towel to prevent it from drying out. Brush a rectangular baking tray with vegetable oil. Brush a sheet of filo with butter and place in the baking tray. Repeat to make 8 layers. Trim to make sure it fits snuggly.

IMG_2740Add the nut mixture and spread evenly. Brush remaining pastry with butter and layer until all the pastry is used. Trim the top to a snug fit. Press down gently with the palm of your hand. Lightly score the pastry top but do not cut all the way through into the nuts. Criss-cross in diagonal lines to give a diamond pattern. Pin the whole cloves through the centre of each of the diamonds at this stage if you wish. Brush top with butter and bake for 25-30 minutes.

In the meantime make the syrup. Put the sugar in a pan with 300ml water, a pinch of sea salt flakes, the lemon juice and strips of zest, ginger and the cinnamon. Heat gently until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and boil for 5-8 minutes until the syrup is light and slightly thickened. Add the almond essence to taste. Cool quickly by placing the pan in a bowl of ice.

IMG_2747Remove baklava from oven once golden brown. Cut the pastry all the way through. Straining the syrup, gently spoon the syrup over the baklava.

(Adding cold syrup to hot pastry keeps the pastry crisp.) Cool completely.

 

 

 

White Chocolate & Lemon Viennese Whirls

IMG_1761Viennese Whirls growing up and pretty much as they are today, are made with a combination of jam and cream. What separates them from your average jammy dodger is the light crumbly shortcake texture of the biscuit. For this recipe you don’t have to keep to the classic ‘mountain peak’ or Swirl shape, why not experiment with shortcake fingers or squares?

The real reason why you should go to the trouble of squeezing the dough through a piping bag is because it’s aesthetically pleasing and makes you look like a pro. So why not give it a try?

White Chocolate and Lemon Viennese Whirls

  • Servings: Makes 32 sandwiches
  • Difficulty: medium
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Biscuit

250g/9oz very soft unsalted butter

50g/2oz icing sugar, plus extra to decorate

250g/9oz plain flour

50g/2oz corn flour

½ tsp pure vanilla extract

Filling

1/4 cup double cream

150g white chocolate chopped coarsely

1/4 cup (or more) lemon juice

1 tsp grated lemon rind

Yellow food colouring (optional)

For the Biscuit

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.

Put the butter, icing sugar, plain flour, corn flour and vanilla extract in a food processor and blend until smooth. You may need to scrape the mixture down a couple of times with a rubber spatula.

Spoon the dough into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle. Pipe 16-18 in rosettes or swirls of the dough, spacing well apart.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 13-15 minutes or until pale golden-brown and firm. Cool on the baking tray for five minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining dough to make 32-36 biscuits.

For the filling

Bring cream to the boil in a small saucepan.

Remove from heat. Add chocolate and stir until completely smooth

Add food colouring and lemon juice to taste (you want to be able to taste the lemon, don’t let the chocolate be overpowering).

Refrigerate until spreadable (roughly 1 hour +)

With another piping bag swirl on the cream to one of the biscuits, sandwich the other biscuit together gently and dust with the icing sugar to finish.