Food is nostalgia, if you ask anybody to fondly recall something from their youth you will surely get a reference to, for example, the cake their grandmother baked or maybe the special chicken recipe their mother used to make.
Food is also repetitive, meaning when a young person begins to make their way into the world on their own, they may tend to purchase food ingredients they are familiar with, many times drawing from what was purchased in their family home kitchens. That’s a normal reaction and a safe way to start. However, how do we deal with the sheer boredom of repeating the same recipes over and over? Or how do we deal with using up leftovers to avoid food wastage, with the rising cost of food nobody wants to see it thrown out.
Three ingredients most Trini kitchens would have are bread, chicken and saltfish. Probably the bread is used for breakfast and lunch sandwiches, the chicken for stew or baked recipes and the saltfish for stew or cooked up with provisions.
Here are some delightful ways to use those three basic ingredients from our Trini pantries, while eliminating waste, improving the recipe repertoires and overall embracing cooking from home again.
Cassava and salt cod brandade
A traditional Mediterranean classic made with salted cod and potatoes, here I’ve used cassava for an earthy and delicious brandade.
4 ozs salted cod
2 cloves garlic
⅓ cup olive oil
⅓ cup milk
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 hot pepper, seeded
1 lb cassava, boiled and inner vein removed
½ cup milk
2 tbs butter
¼ cup chives, chopped
salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Squeeze lime juice onto salt cod and boil in enough fresh water until tender, about 5 to 10 minutes, remove and flake.
Heat oil and ⅓ cup milk separately.
Place fish in a blender or food processor and puree add garlic and pepper.
With motor running add ⅓ cup milk and oil alternately and process to a creamy consistency.
Remove and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350F
Heat ½ cup milk with butter add to cassava and mash to a creamy consistency, a hand held mixer works well here. Add chives and combine.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Combine cassava with salt fish mixture and mix well.
Place into a shallow greased pie plate and bake until browned on top. About 15 minutes.
Remove and serve with toast points for a delicious appetiser.
Serves 6 to 8
Korean style sticky chicken
1 lb boneless chicken
Vegetable oil for frying
1 slice ginger
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs minced chives
1 egg yolk
½ cup corn starch
1 tbs minced garlic
1 stalk of lemongrass pounded and finely chopped
2 tbs white vinegar
½ cup Thai style sweet chili sauce
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
Cut chicken into one-inch pieces and combine with marinade, let rest for 30 minutes.
Mix sauce and set aside.
Spread the corn starch onto a plate, beat egg and set aside.
Dip chicken in egg then dredge in potato starch, fry in hot oil until golden brown, drain.
Heat a clean wok over high heat, add 2 tbs oil add garlic and lemon grass and stir fry until fragrant, add sauce and cook until thick. Add chicken and turn quickly to evenly coat with sauce, remove to a platter.
Serves 4 to 6.
Bread pudding with caramel rum sauce
1 cup boiling water
1 cup raisins
⅔ cup granulated sugar
4 cups milk
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp grated orange zest
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1½ tsp cinnamon
1 660 gm loaf white bread
Preheat oven to 350F.
Butter an 12-inch baking dish.
Pour boiling water over raisins and allow to soak for 10 minutes.
Heat milk in saucepan.
In a mixing bowl beat eggs with sugar add milk, vanilla, orange zest and spices.
Cut bread into one-inch cubes, pour custard over bread cubes, add raisins.
Pour mixture into dish.
Bake in a water bath for about 50 to 60 minutes.
Cool until warm.
1½ cup brown sugar
1½ cup evaporated milk or light cream
½ cup dark rum
½ tsp flaked salt
In a heavy saucepan melt sugar and cook until it turns a caramel colour.
Averting your face add the milk gently, it will bubble vigorously. Cook and stir until mixture is homogeneous. Strain stir in rum and salt.
Serve warm over bread pudding.
Makes approx 3½ cups.