Archives for category: St Lucian

The first time my beloved made me Lucian style cornmeal porridge was a night when I had a migraine coming on and felt too nauseous to eat. She decided to cook up a quick bowl of porridge for herself.

As I walked past the kitchen I smelt the spices and looked over her shoulder as she stirred the pot full of glossy yellow cornmeal. To both of our surprise I asked to try some and found it delicious.

I ended up eating a big bowl which completely fixed my nauseousness and poor hungry Joyous had half the portion she had anticipated. (Not an unknown event around here!)

I’ve loved it ever since and we often have it for breakfast.

You can make it dairy and sugar free and it is gluten free already, so it’s a great detox option.

Lucian style cornmeal porridge with stewed rhubarb and apple…& ginger tea.

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Ingredients:

2 C liquid (we usually do half water and half milk, soy milk, almond milk or coconut milk)
Cinnamon bark (or 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon)
1-2 fresh bay leaves
Sultanas or raisins (optional)
1/2 C fine cornmeal (polenta)

Rhubarb and apple and a little water (or ginger tea) to stew it in.

Method:

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Half fill a cup with cornmeal and cover with milk. Leave to sit for a few minutes.

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Pour approx 1C water into a pot and add the raisins, bay leaves and cinnamon. Cover and simmer for approximately 5-10 mins (longer is better for the flavor).

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After 10 mins or after you can see some good colour in the water remove the cinnamon bark (and dry to reuse).

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Add the cornmeal, stirring or whisking all the time as you add it to avoid lumps forming.

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Bring it back up to boiling, then turn it down low to simmer for 5-7 minutes. Assess the consistency and add more milk to thin it if it needs. I prefer it more porridgy and thick, Joyous likes it thin enough to drink like a thick soup.

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Stir in a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of butter (or butter substitute).

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Serve with the stewed fruit and or brown sugar/coconut sugar/cream etc.

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Babies and small children love this too.

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For a real Lucian style breakfast serve it with ginger tea.

Make simple ginger tea by bashing a chunk of ginger root, bringing to the boil then simmering till the liquid changes colour. Stir in raw sugar (or don’t) and enjoy. (In this picture some of the ginger root was already used so we just added more, you’d usually use just one chunk.)

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NB: If you live in NZ then try Fruit World for the cheapest cornmeal around. Way better than buying it as ‘polenta’ from the supermarket or a gourmet food store.

Op-shopped vintage kitchenalia:

Pic 1- silver floral teaspoon & 1950’s era pastel striped linen tea towel. Both purchased from the Matakana church op shop in 2013.

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…And all things nice…It’s a girl!

Joyous and I are very happy with our new arrival – an English Mastiff, Shar Pei x puppy.

She’s called Fidél (meaning ‘loyal’ in French / Patois), and is a sweet wee girl.

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So in celebration of two weeks of having her I decided to bake something that included sugar and spice and all things nice. (Actually that’s totally an excuse, I just felt like making something yummy for the wife and I.)

A long while ago I wrote about the delicious apple pie my wife made. (I freely admit it’s been a long while since I wrote any thing on here!)

Here’s an adaption of that pie, adding rhubarb fresh from our soggy winter garden and leaving out the usual raisins.

The original recipe was from the delicious cookbook- Momma Cherri’s Soul in a Bowl by Charita Jones.

Spiced Apple & Rhubarb Pie

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(Supposedly serves 6-8, or 2 people every night for a week!)

Ingredients:

6 stalks of rhubarb
Approximately 4-6 (preferably) green apples (enough to be about 2/3 apples to 1/3 rhubarb)
115g butter
75g soft brown sugar
75g sugar (I used raw but original recipe called for caster)
1 Tbsp cornflour
2-3 cinnamon sticks or 1-2 tsps cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp good quality vanilla extract
2 sheets of sweet short pastry (sometimes Joyous makes pastry but we think store brought pastry is just fine)

Method:

Cut the rhubarb into evenly sized pieces.

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Core the apples, leave skins on. I usually slice into thick slices but as I was using the rhubarb this time I cut them into similar sized pieces. (I’d probably leave the rhubarb a bit larger next time it doesn’t cook down quite so much.)

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Put them into a pot and add all of the other ingredients (except the pastry duh).

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The three key ingredients are the cinnamon sticks, freshly grated nutmeg and the vanilla extract, best quality makes a big difference. We use Doria’s special stash of St Lucian cinnamon bark and nutmegs.

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Put the pot on a low heat and let the butter slowly melt, stir it together to ensure the cornflour mixes in well. I cook it down till the consistency looks right for a pie…but overcooked this batch, (distracted by Miss 8 Weeks), so the rhubarb turned to mush. Never mind, it’s delicious mush. But next time I’d cook it for a shorter time.

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Line the pie tin with baking paper then lay in the first sheet of pastry, cutting the edges to line right up the sides.

Pour in the wet mixture and use the other sheet to cover the top of the pie.

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(As my mixture was quite dangerously near the top of the pie I cut some extra paper and tucked it down between the tin and the existing paper to prevent it from overflowing during cooking. Or you could simply put it on a tray.)

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Place in an oven preheated to 190 degrees Celsius, (so says the original recipe, my oven has no temperature gauge so I just watch it closely). Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.

Serve with fresh pouring cream, vanilla ice cream or au naturale.

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Vintage kitchenalia notes:

Blue spotted ‘Grimwades of Stoke on Kent’ plate (1 of 2) purchased for $2 from a car boot sale in 2013.

Pie dish purchased from a garage sale (yard sale) circa 2010.

Pale green ‘Crown Lynn NZ’ desert bowl, one of a set of 12 pieces for $10 purchased at the Red Cross Glen Eden op shop in 2013. Silver desert fork (one of a boxed set of six) purchased at a Mt Albert church fair circa 2009.

Last night’s dinner was perfect for the sudden autumn chill we’ve been experiencing. It has come as a shock after the longest and best summer I can remember since childhood.

With all this lovely weather, the wife and her bro have been out fishing quite a bit with my Dad and our god-daughter, so we’ve got plenty of fish in the fridge and freezer. Last night my darling decided it was time to cook up a giant batch of chowder. This has become one of my favourite warming soups as she flavours it so brilliantly with our home grown herbs & a good helping of spice and chilli. Not to be outdone, I thought a side of Polenta chips (fries) would go well. Although, to be honest, they are another of Joyous’ recipes.

Now before you freak out at the length of the recipe and amount of ingredients, a few words of advice…

Essentially you only need fresh & smoked fish, potatoes and hopefully some fresh herbs, lemon juice & something creamy. The rest of the ingredients are just made up of what you have on hand. The mild chilli flavours are not essential, so any wusses can leave them out if need be. It’s not supposed to be hot, just tasty.

Basically all you do is throw it together into a pot and simmer it, except the fish and the delicate vegies, which you add right at the end so they don’t disintegrate.

So here we (jointly) present:

Snapper and Smoked Kahawai Chowder with Parmesan Polenta Chips

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Chowder Recipe:

Serves 6-8 (or 2 people for a week!)

Ingredients:

4 Fillets of Dense White Fish – (we used snapper & monk fish is good too)

1/4 of a Smoked Fish – (we used Manuka Smoked Kahawai)

5-6 Potatoes – preferably firm fleshed eg Desiree (we usually use a mix of red potatoes and Kumara – sweet potato)

1 or 2 large cloves of Garlic (preferably smoked)

1-2 Spring Onions – to taste

Fresh Thyme – we used fresh organic Lemon Thyme (approx 1 Tbsp)

Fresh Coriander (approx 1/4 C)

Fresh Parsley (approx 1/4 C)

Chilli Pepper and/or 1 Tbsp Hot Chilli Sauce (approx) – to taste

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Vegie (or fish) Stock made up to approx 4 C of liquid

1 Tbsp Smoked Paprika

1 tsp of Adobo Sazon or 1/4 tsp Turmeric

Generous slug of Bitters (you know, the stuff you use in a cocktail)

Salt to taste

Ground Black Pepper

25 grams of butter

Juice of 1/2 a lemon (or more, adjust to taste)

Red Pepper / Capsicum

Kale or any other green vegetable

1 can of Sweet Corn Kernels

1/3 can of Evaporated Milk or a similar amount of fresh cream

We also added 1 tsp of smoked Jalapeno Peppers)

Method:

Chop the fish into pieces approximately 3cm square. Marinate, (while you prepare the rest of the ingredients or longer if you have the time), in crushed garlic, salt and a little of the lemon juice.

Dice potatoes into decent sized chunks, put in a large saucepan. If you are using kumara (sweet potatoes) as well, you will want to add them part way through cooking so they don’t turn to mush.

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Ready to add the liquid

Add the olive oil, roughly chopped herbs, more crushed garlic if you love it, fresh chilli (but ours wasn’t hot so we added extra chilli sauce later), butter, black pepper, salt, Adobo Sazon (or turmeric) and the smoked paprika. Put this on the heat and stir together, slightly caramelising the potatoes. When they look a little browned, mix up the stock and pour over. Bring to the boil then simmer until the potatoes are nearly cooked. (If you are adding sweet potatoes then put them in once the regular potatoes have just started to boil.)

When the regular potatoes are just about cooked through, stir in the evaporated milk, chilli sauce, bitters, lemon juice, kale stems and smoked fish. Check the taste, adjusting the amounts to get it just right for you. A minute or two later gently add the fresh fish pieces, the sweet corn, capsicum (diced into large pieces) and put the roughly cut kale leaves on top.

Turn the fish over to help it cook evenly if you need to, then once cooked stir the chowder together.

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Stirring it all together

It’s now ready to serve.

Polenta Chips Recipe:

Ingredients:

1/2 C Polenta / Fine Cormeal
1 C Milk
1 C Vegie Stock
Approx 1/4 C grated cheese (Parmesan is ideal)
1 tsp of Thyme (we use fresh organic Lemon Thyme)

Method:

Grate the parmesan and line a 20cm square tin with baking paper. Do this preparation first as once the polenta is setting you will want to be able to pour it in quickly.

Pour stock and milk into a pot, add the thyme leaves, bring nearly to the boil. When nice and hot, gradually pour the polenta into the liquid, whisking quickly as you pour. Keep whisking until it thickens. Do not stop or you will get lumps. This should only take a few minutes.

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Brisk whisk

Add the Parmesan in last. I swap to a spoon to stir it in so I don’t have Parmesan all congealed in my whisk.

Stir until it looks like it’s beginning to set. Usually about 5 mins from when you first added it. You should be able to scrape it to one side and have it not move around too much when you try and tip it back.

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Well thickened

Pour it into the dish and smooth it out flat. Put it in the fridge if you are in a hurry for it to set. It should take about 10 mins to be set enough to cut up.

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Ready to cool

Once set, cut it into slices and put it into the oven on approximately 180 degrees Celsius (350 Fahrenheit). They take about 20 mins to cook, they may need turning. It will all depend on your oven. Fan bake works well if you have that setting.

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Into the oven

These are also delicious with Joyous’s Mint Yoghurt Mayo, and little kids love them too! (If they manage to wrestle them off the adults.)

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Deliciousness

So there you have it, one of our staple winter meals.

PS: Yes our eyes were larger than our stomachs and no, we didn’t eat everything in the picture at the top!

Early morning presents in bed (I was going to say ‘Surprises in bed’ but I knew your minds may wander off in another direction…). St Lucian cocoa tea and cereal accompany reading our books in the sunshine at our riverside campsite at Rarawa Beach. Followed by a long day driving to the most Northern point of NZ – Te Rerenga o Wairua. The first time Joyous had seen the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea meeting. Eventually making it back to our campsite in time to ponder  the dinner question.

It had to be special. It ought to be memorable. It had to be attainable.

We possessed one gas burner. A tiny grill. A gas BBQ we couldn’t use due to a total fire ban. Fresh local produce. A bottle of dessert wine. Chocolate. Fresh Northland summer fruit.

Birthday dinner campsite style.

 

Sunset Birthday Dinner

A red sky

Falling light

Into rich night

You taste everything

As I do

Maori Potato Salad with Manuka Smoked Snapper and a Basil Caper Mayo

Ingredients:

New potatoes, Smoked fish, Mayonnaise, Sour Cream, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Capers, Sweet Basil, Sweet Peppers, Lime (or lemon) juice, corn on the cob.

Method:

Scrub the new potatoes. Preferably tiny Maori potatoes eg Peruperu, but Jersey Bennes would be good or any firm new potato.

Peruperu potatoes

Peruperu potatoes

Add water and a little salt and boil till tender (Peruperu are quite firm so perfect for this.)

Flake your smoked fish. If it’s super fresh you can use as is, but our manuka smoked snapper had been frozen then in the chilli bin (cooler) for a couple of days so we cooked it (once the one gas burner was available!) then left it to cool.

Manuka Smoked Snapper

Smoked Snapper

Mayo: I use half and half of the following – a decent mayonnaise (eg Best Foods or Heinz etc) & sour cream. So it was about 1.5 Tblsp of each.

Add some sea salt to taste (approx ½ tsp), a generous squeeze of lime (or lemon) juice, freshly ground black pepper, approx 1 large Tbsp of capers (roughly cut), around 6 medium sized sweet basil leaves sliced finely. Stir together and set aside. (By the way this is amazing  as a dip with raw carrot sticks, with roast potatoes etc.)

Basil caper mayo ingredients

Basil caper mayo ingredients

Finely dice a couple of small, or one medium sized capsicum (sweet pepper), no matter the colour.

Mayo & sweet peppers

Mayo & sweet peppers

Once the potatoes have boiled, drain them immediately then leave to cool down a little. (You want them just warm.)

Cooled & ready to assemble

Cooled & ready to assemble

While you wait, boil the fresh corn on the cob using the single gas burner!

To assemble the potato salad, add the ingredients into a large bowl in layers so that you won’t need to over mix it and risk making a big mushy mess.

Layering the salad

Layering the salad

Mix it gently

Mix it gently

Lay the table prettily whilst your love is busy inside pinning up the mosquito net. (I was pleased to have noticed that my Nana’s aunt’s hand embroidered table cloth was in one of the cupboards, and we’d used it at our wedding, so that was lovely.) Pour delicious NZ dessert wine into your best glassware. Light the candles and say ‘dadah’ when your love next steps out of the camper. (You can use one of the candles later to sing Happy Birthday and your love can make their birthday wish.)

Looking pretty

Looking pretty

Drain the corn and have butter and sea salt nearby for it to have a wee wallow in if desired.

Have some dark Ghana chocolate and delicious local sun ripened summer fruit ready to follow.

Now you are ready to…Make love with Smoked Snapper Peruperu Salad and Corn-on-the-cob! (Hehe, sounds knobbly.)

Blurry, but she's still gorgeous

Blurry, but she’s still gorgeous

Happy Camping 34th Birthday Joyous.

My love, on the occasion of her 34th birthday. At Rarawa in the Far North. Reading and drinking our special St Lucian style cocoa tea. The way any good birthday begins.

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I’m downloading photos and will do a ‘birthday road trip & camping dinner’ post once I get sorted.

Back in the winter of 2008, my (now) wife and I were just new. It was a wet, cold winter and we spent many hours snuggled up in each others arms reading and talking etc (ahem).

One stormy evening she (Joyous) arrived with some mysterious ingredients and set about concocting me a treat in the kitchen, while I lazed around on the sofa. Soon delicious chocolatey spicy smells permeated the house and she presented me with a steaming cup of Lucian Cocoa Tea.

It was hot so I blew on it, then took a small sip. Down my throat slipped a thick velvety creamy chocolate spiced drink, that was followed immediately afterwards with a hit of chilli. It was unbelievably delicious – seriously unbelievably delicious. Almost magical. Every sip made me feel like I was being enchanted, as it warmed my throat and lined my belly I felt I was swallowing a little part of her gorgeous chocolatey spiciness, and I was quickly becoming addicted.

We’ve had it a million times since, and I love it every time, but none so much as that first bewitching falling-in-love occasion.

It’s our celebration drink, our impressing visitors drink, our ‘remember the days’ drink, our special occasion drink, our comfort-in-hard-times drink… We took a thermos camping on a deserted beach and drank it at sunrise on New Year’s Morning 2009. We once took it in small plastic bottles to see the All Blacks win a rugby match (the bottles went in our pockets to keep our hands warm, before warming our bellies). NYE 2009 we took it for a picnic on a wild West Coast beach at sunset then when it got too windy we drove home and sat under an old walnut tree in our back garden finishing off the thermos of it and listening to the sound of parties going on around us in the neighbourhood. We have it every Christmas morning, at Easter, on birthdays. Some lazy Sundays I wake to the sound of the cocoa stick being grated, or the wafts of chocolate filling the house…

I recommend you make it for someone you love, (or would like to love), soon.

Joyous’ St Lucian Cocoa Tea

Ingredients:

Approx 6 tablespoons of freshly grated Cocoa Stick*

2 fresh (preferably) Bay leaves

Freshly grated Nutmeg to taste (or ground nutmeg)

1 good sized Cinnamon Stick (or a few smaller pieces)

2 C Water

2 C Milk

Raw sugar to taste

Optional:

1-2 Tbsp Cornflour (to thicken)

1-2 whole dried Chillies (Not traditional but awesome!)

A few fennel seeds (Traditional in St Lucia)

Approx 45g best quality grated dark chocolate (eg 70% +)

2 C Coconut Milk or 2 C Evaporated Milk can be substituted for the regular milk, or use half milk and half cream

Main ingredients

Main ingredients

Method:

Grate the cocoa stick (using your finest grater or a microplane zester), into a heavy bottomed pan, add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick/s, and some finely grated nutmeg (we use a zester), for your first time try about 1/4 of a whole nutmeg. Add the chocolate, broken into pieces.

Dry ingredients

Dry ingredients

Pour in the water and bring it to the boil stirring the whole time, then turn down to simmer for as long as you can wait (10 mins minimum).

If you want to reuse the cinnamon stick, you can remove it now and wash and dry.

Add the milk (or 1 C milk and 1 C cream if you are really trying to impress), add the chilli/s now if you don’t want it too hot (if you like it with a kick you can add them earlier on in the cooking process).

Lastly, if you wish to thicken it, whisk 1-2 Tbsp of cornflour into the milk before you add it to the pot. Obviously, the more you use, the thicker it will be. If you do this step, then whisk the milk into the pot so it does not form any lumps.

Bubbling away - the cocoa stick has quite a lot of cocoa butter in it.

Bubbling away – the cocoa stick has quite a lot of cocoa butter in it.

Simmer for at least 5 more minutes then pour into mugs. You may need to strain it if you did not use a zester for the cocoa as it may be a little grainy. It’s a good idea to fish out the chilli and chuck it back in the pot or you or your loved one may get a big surprise.

Add sugar to taste, stir well and…make love!

PS – If you are using this recipe as a seduction technique…make sure you do not handle the chilli…or your love may get a very painful surprise later on…

All gone.

All gone.

A poem to read on a stormy night whilst falling in love and drinking Cocoa Tea:

Rain – Hone Tuwhare

I can hear you making
small holes in the silence
rain

If I were deaf
the pores of my skin
would open to you
and shut

And I should know you
by the lick of you
if I were blind:

the steady drum-roll
sound you make
when the wind drops

the something
special smell of you
when the sun cakes
the ground

But if I should not
hear
smell or feel or see you

You would still
define me
disperse me
wash over me
rain

Joyous greeting the sunrise on New Year's morning 2009 with a hot cup of Cocoa Tea

Joyous greeting the sunrise on New Year’s morning 2009 with a hot cup of Cocoa Tea

* Sourcing/Substituting Cocoa Stick:

The best kind of course is Lucian Cocoa Stick which can be brought there at the markets. In the UK you can most likely purchase it in Brixton, in the US try a West Indian stockist if you have one nearby. As a substitute you can use Cacao Powder or the best quality, strongest Cocoa Powder available (eg a Dutch Cocoa powder.) In NZ, use Koko Samoa, available at the Otara Markets and some supermarkets, or give Cacao a go.