Carrot and Zucchini Flatbread

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Who doesn’t love a good flatbread?

A couple weeks ago I had the urge to make a flatbread with fresh bammy. If you aren’t from Jamaica, you might not know what bammy is, so here goes my description; bammy is finely grated cassava (a root vegetable, like yam), that’s been beaten, dried and formed into thin bread, then baked. It’s Jamaica’s flatbread and it’s sooo good!

My grandparents used to make bammies back in the day when they had the strength to, cause let’s face it, it takes a lot of energy to grate and beat the hell out of the cassava. They had a pestle and mortar, which was actually a hollowed out tree trunk that they would beat the cassava in. The old grate they used to grate the cassava on still stands tall today and we use it to grate coconuts and the like.

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Nowadays we get our bammies from family friends in St. Elizabeth who bake them fresh. I like to crisp my bammy up in a dry hot pan when I get it and that’s exactly what I did with the bammies for this recipe.

Like many of my recipes, I made this one with the items I had on hand and in my garden. I made a carrot puree that went on top of the bammy by simple pureeing cooked carrots with some salt, pepper, almond milk and a pinch of turmeric. The puree was smooth and delicate and surprisingly tasty! I added roasted beets and roasted zucchini on top of that and crunchy pumpkin seeds.

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The best topping of all is the fried pumpkin blossom. I picked some blossoms from my pumpkin patch, stuffed them with organic cream cheese, breaded them in breadcrumbs and fried them lightly in olive oil… OMG it’s so so good. If i had enough of these, I’d fry them up and snack on them all day long! If you take one thing away from this flatbread recipe, let it be this.

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I finished the flatbread off with a drizzle of olive oil, sliced it up and shared it with my mom and Gordon. It’s the perfect lunch time snack that is fast replacing my favourite overnight oats.

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Carrot and Zucchini Flatbread

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

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This is a great flatbread that’s perfect for a lunch snack and it’s super tasty!

INGREDIENTS

2 fresh bammies

1 1/2 carrots

1/2 cup almond milk

a pinch of turmeric

salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 zucchini

1 roasted beet

4 pumpkin blossoms

2 tablespoons organic cream cheese

1 pinch dried herbs

1/4 cup breadcrumbs

olive oil

pumpkin seeds

limes

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a hot pan, crisp up the bammies to create a crust on both sides. Set aside.
  3. Slice carrot and boil until tender.
  4. Slice zucchini, season with salt, pepper and olive oil and roast in the oven until cooked.
  5. Place beet in foil paper, season with salt, pepper and olive oil and roast in oven as well.
  6. When the carrots are soft, puree them in a blender with the almond milk, salt, pepper and turmeric. Puree until smooth and velvety.
  7. Preheat a pan with some olive oil over medium heat.
  8. To the cream cheese, add any dried herbs you have on hand and mix it together.
  9. Stuff the pumpkin blossoms with the cream cheese mixture and roll them in the breadcrumbs.
  10. Fry the stuffed blossoms in the heated oil until crispy and golden brown. When done, transfer the blossoms to a paper towel to drain.
  11. Once the zucchini and beets are tender, remove them from the oven. Slice the beets in desired shape.
  12. To the bammy, add some carrot puree. Top with the vegetables and the fried blossoms.
  13. Add the pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of olive oil. Garnish with lime.
  14. Slice the flatbread and enjoy.

 

Guava and Tomato Bruschetta

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Food on bread and I have a love affair that’s growing deeper each day!

With my extra loaf of Beetroot Bread, I decided to make a quick snack to bring along with me to work today and for some reason I couldn’t get the idea of guava and tomato on bread out of my mind so I made a Guava and Tomato Bruschetta that totally hit the spot and then some!

So my guava tree is still giving us guavas on repeat and I just hate wasting the fruit. I’m always staring at the tree from my kitchen window, trying to think up some sort of recipe that’ll save those poor guavas from the decay that awaits them if they fall to the ground- a loss for me but a huge gain for the little worms that seem to love guavas just as much as I do. I usually pick my guavas as soon as they turn a bit yellow, I never wait for them to become super ripened; that’s when the worms take up residence in the fruit and it becomes all but inedible.

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Today in particular, I thought of a total of two delicious recipes, this bruschetta and a yummy dessert which I’ll be posting at a later date, so look out for it!

For this recipe I kept some aspects fairly Italian only because I knew that the flavour profiles would sing sweetly together. I made the classic, but in no way overrated balsamic reduction with honey and I drizzled it over the plump, sweet diced tomato and the fresh, grilled guavas. In all honesty guys, I could have had my grilled guavas with the balsamic reduction on its own; I’d treat the guava like bread and the reduction like melted cheese and have a twist on fondue. I mean, they were that good together!

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But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself; the first thing I did was to slice my bread into about 1 inch thick slices and toast them in some homemade garlic oil.

To make the oil, I added one thinly sliced garlic clove to some olive oil in a pan. I let that heat slowly on low flame until the garlic slices became browned. Simple.

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On top of the bread, besides the fruits, I added a blue cheese yogurt. I made this by just mixing some crumbled blue cheese with some yogurt. I just love the taste of guavas and tomatoes and blue cheese; especially the guava and blue cheese together, it’s a match made in food heaven! I smeared this all over the top of my toasted bread.

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For my fruits, I diced my tomato and sliced my guava, then grilled it on super high heat just to soften it a bit and bring out the natural sugars. You wanna do this because the guava you choose for this recipe has to be between green and ripened- so not green but not very ripe either. You want it pretty firm with a green tinge.

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After I grilled my guava slices I diced them the same size as the tomatoes and tossed both with salt and pepper. Then I quickly made my balsamic reduction which takes little time on high heat.

I added the fruits to the blue cheese yogurt topped bread and drizzled over the balsamic reduction then garnished with thyme leaves. The thyme leaves create this beautiful symphony with the balsamic reduction and the fruits and even the blue cheese which it sorta subdues, so if you aren’t too big on blue cheese, that thyme could be a real help!

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I packed these up and brought them for a pre-lunch snack and managed to share with my mom even though every taste bud inside me was begging me to be a little selfish and have it all!

These bruschetta are savoury with slightly sweet elements which only work to highlight and control strong flavours like the blue cheese. These are definitely worth a try and of course it’s vegetarian and healthy! Oh! and don’t forget that fresh ingredients are important, especially for a fresh preparation like this.

So check out the recipe for this deliciousness down below!

Gauva and Tomato Bruschetta

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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A bruschetta is a great snack option that’s vegetarian and healthy but so so good! try it for lunch or as an appetizer.

INGREDIENTS

3, 1 inch slices of beetroot bread or another hardy and healthy bread

garlic oil

1/4 cup yogurt

1 tablespoon crumbled blue cheese

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 medium tomato, firm but ripe

1 large guava, firm and sightly green

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons honey

fresh thyme leaves

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a pan, add some garlic oil and toast the bread slices on one side and brush the other side with some of the oil. Flip the slices over and toast the oil brushed side; the slices should be crunchy but not over done (hard).
  2. Combine the yogurt and blue cheese, season with salt and pepper (just a pinch each) and set aside in the fridge.
  3. Dice the tomato and add to a small bowl.
  4. Slice the guava and grill in a grill pan over high heat. Grill the guavas for half a minute on each side or until the slices soften up just a tad.
  5. Dice the sliced guavas and allow to cool to room temperature or slightly warm.
  6. Add the guavas to the bowl that has the diced tomato; season with salt and pepper and toss, set aside.
  7. On high heat, reduce the balsamic vinegar with the honey in a heavy bottom sauce pan. The mixture will get thick but still pour-able. Take it off the heat at that point.
  8. Smear the blue cheese yogurt on top of the toasted bread slices.
  9. Add the diced fruits and drizzle with the balsamic reduction, then top with the fresh thyme leaves.
  10. Add salt and pepper on top, if desired.

I hope you shine today!heart

 

Callaloo and Quinoa Stuffed Mushrooms

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Stuffed Mushrooms are the quintessential appetizer for just about any occasion and for health-conscious people, it’s a quick, ‘pop in your mouth’ snack or even a great side dish! I made a few of these Callaloo and Quinoa Stuffed Mushrooms for a post lunch snack and had some left over to go with dinner. They were so delicious that we ate them all in one day!

If you’re from the Caribbean, you know Callaloo. It’s a green leafy vegetable that is often seen as similar to spinach or collard greens. It has a beautiful earthy flavour and is very soft and delicate when you harvest it before it gets too old. Most Jamaicans chop callaloo finely, stalks and all and cook ’em with onions, tomatoes and garlic etc. It’s very popular and scores a solid 7 on the taste score board but I much rather using the callaloo leaves and stalks separately to make all sorts of things like flat breads, smoothies, pasta or cooked in dishes like these here stuffed mushrooms. I don’t limit this tasty vegetable and it sucks that it’s so under-utilized in Jamaica but here’s one way to use it that’s different from the traditional ‘steamed’ callaloo.

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I harvested my callaloo leaves from the garden literally minutes before I cooked them up! Nothing beats gathering your food from your garden and cooking it… that level of self-sufficiency is so rewarding and yes, nourishing my body with organic, healthy greens is a major plus!

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If you aren’t able to get callaloo where you live, feel free to use spinach or collard greens or just about any leafy green vege. As for the quinoa, if you got it, use it but you can definitely substitute with brown rice or wild rice or some other grain. You really should never feel obligated to get just the same ingredients I use, it’s most important to use the fresh ingredients that you can get your hands on.

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So along with the callaloo and quinoa, these little mushroom ‘poppers’ came together quickly in a hot pan with some raisins, almonds, the mushroom stems that I snapped off the caps, Parmesan cheese (non-dairy peeps can use vegan Parm cheese) and fresh mint leaves.

I used some coconut milk to moisten the whole thing and sorta thicken it up so the mixture holds its shape when you stack it inside and on top of the mushroom caps. Organic and homemade coconut milk is the way I like to go; it takes time but it’s all worth it. We always keep a few coconuts in the kitchen for milk making.

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My favourite ingredient in these little guys is the fresh mint; it’s such a pronounced flavour that creates an unreal harmony with the sweet raisins. I love mint so much that I’m growing a bunch of different mint plants all over the garden and these things spread like weeds which I’m all for.

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#1 rule when cooking with mushrooms is never wash them. Always clean them with a damp, clean towel to remove the soil or dirt. If you make the mistake of washing them, you’ll end up with wet sponges full of water! Not very appealing. So after you clean them up, season them with salt, pepper and some olive oil and get them stuffed.

Lay them out on a parchment lined sheet pan and bake ’em at 350°F for just 10 minutes; they’re ready in no time.

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The filling is injected with different flavours, its just punch after punch after punch and then that bright, herby mint steps in and just mellows out the taste, making everything sit nicely on your palate. The mushrooms are a burst of juices on their own and when you first bite into them you’re getting a great intro to all the flavours you have to look forward to.

These Callaloo and Quinoa Stuffed Mushrooms are so good I could sit back and pop them in my mouth, eating them by the dozen. You gotta try this one!

Click here to get the recipe.

I hope you shine today!heart

 

 

 

 

Thai Inspired Papaya Salad (Som Tam)

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I’ve had an obsession with Thai food ever since I discovered the cuisine years ago. The flavour profile is notoriously sour and sweet and boy is it spicy! Thai food, the way it is prepared, how the country’s natural fruits, foods and animals are used, shows just how much history the cuisine has. Thai food almost seems like an experience in itself; one of those meals you eat and are immediately transported to a matriarch’s kitchen in the Thailand countryside.

I have been playing around with Thai flavours for a while now and I have so much respect for the cuisine. Its intricacy is one I want to get to know more and more and one day I’ll do so in the motherland herself!

One of my absolute favourite dishes is the green papaya salad. Traditional green papaya salad is salty, spicy and a bit sweet. They add fish sauce and sometimes dried shrimp for the salty, chilis for the spicy and sugar for the sweet. Of course no Thai dish seems to be complete without a few leaves of Thai basil so that’s thrown in there as well. My recipe isn’t traditional though; I have no choice but to use what Jamaica has to offer and well, what I’ve got in my garden! I also do a bit of a ‘switcharoo’ because the papayas I use are never completely green although I have some perfectly green papayas on the tree.

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I usually make this salad with the traditional green beans (string beans) but this time I went with an assortment of other vegetables.

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I started out by making a paste with the chili, garlic, salt and toasted almonds (peanuts are traditional but I’m allergic to the stuff) and the smell coming from the paste was unbelievable. It gets me excited about what I’ll be eating every time I make it! Making the paste is best done with a pestle and mortar, if you don’t have one, you seriously need to get one (it works magic in the kitchen) but in the mean time, mash the ingredients with a smooth rock wrapped in foil, until you get a paste.

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To the paste I added fish sauce (you can use vegan fish sauce if you desire), lime juice and honey (the sugar replacer). I let that hang out for a bit so the flavours can chat and get friendly.

I cut all the veges julienne in thin, long strips and tossed them with the salad then garnished with mint since I’ve got no Thai basil (in fact I’ve never seen it here before) and sat down to a light yet super flavour-packed meal. I must say, fish sauce has such a strong, deep taste and smell that when you are first working with it you might want to throw it out thinking it’s totally off. It’s not. It just smells really… pungent! Don’t worry though, it doesn’t taste that way, just trust in the beauty of Thai food and pour that fish sauce in!

I have this salad on its own but I’m thinking seafood would be a perfect accompaniment, some seared fish or grilled shrimp perhaps! If you wanna go super traditional, you can have it with sticky rice! No matter how you pair it though and even if you don’t, its a winner salad that’s sure to satisfy.

Try out the recipe below. Leave me a comment, let me know if you like it!

Thai Inspired Papaya Salad (Som Tam)

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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This salad is light but packs a punch in the flavour department. It’s great as an appetizer but I enjoy it for lunch and dinner too!

INGREDIENTS

The dressing

2 cloves garlic

1 chili pepper or one bird pepper (I used the bird pepper)

2 tablespoons toasted almonds or peanuts (I used sliced almonds because that’s what I had in my pantry)

1 teaspoon salt

2 limes (one for garnish)

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon fish sauce

The salad

1 green papaya (or slightly ripe, if you want that added sweetness)

1 medium carrot

1/2 of a medium red bell pepper

1/2 of a medium green bell pepper

2 medium tomatoes

mint, chopped (Thai basil, if you can find it)

extra toasted almonds or peanuts, for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a pestle and mortar, smash the garlic, chili, almond and salt into a paste. Add the juice of 1 lime, the honey and the fish sauce. Mix it together and set aside.
  2. Slice all the vegetables (except tomatoes) thinly, lengthwise then cut into thin strips. Quarter the tomatoes lengthwise.
  3. In a bowl add the vegetables and pour over the dressing. Toss it to ensure all vegetables are coated with dressing.
  4. Plate by mounting the salad high and garnishing with chopped mint and toasted almonds.
  5. Serve with extra chilis and lime. Enjoy!

I hope you shine today!heart

Carrot & Sweet Potato Soup

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Everyone in Jamaica knows that Saturday is soup day. A big pot of chicken foot soup or beef soup or chicken noodle soup is the standard and traditional Saturday evening meal. But I have never been a fan of the traditional soups and have always leaned towards light or creamy soups and boy do I have a creamy one for you today!

I made this yesterday for dinner and actually had it with some fried fish; the salty fish with this creamy and slightly sweet soup was just… a match made in heaven. On top of that, the fish skin was crispy so yeah, I was so blown away by this meal.

Although this wasn’t a traditional Jamaican soup, I used Jamaican staples to craft it and all the ingredients were local and organic.

I came across the main ingredients and subsequently the inspiration for this meal during the week; they were gifted to us from our neighbour who has a huge farm where all sorts of plants, animals and herbs flourish! We visited the farm to get our weekly supply of eggs and my eyes caught a carrot field where an old carrot plant that was now blossoming little white flowers. I mentioned the plant to my neighbour and it was as if he heard ‘may I have some of your carrots please?’ because he quickly begun to uproot carrots two by two and packed them in a bag for me.

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I knew I had to make something real tasty with these super fresh and uber beautiful carrots but ‘carrot and sweet potato soup’ didn’t pop into my head until soup day arrived and I was craving soup.

My farmer-neighbour had sent the sweet potatoes earlier in the week and as I stared at them I though, hmm, carrot and sweet potato soup? Yes! It was a definite winner and I begun to consider exactly how I wanted it to taste and what ingredients I’d add to make it an unquestionable ‘star dish’.

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I made my own chicken stock which is essentially the backbone of this soup but of course store bought chicken or vegetable stock is a definite alternative. I actually added extra carrots to it, just so the soup would really scream ‘carrots!’.

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And I added the wonderful herb/seasoning that is escallion (green onions) which I just adore. It delicate flavour is one of my favourites to work with and gosh is it good when sliced, fresh and added to just about any meal. Plus I just love watching them grow.

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Our escallion bed at my grandparent’s.

By the way, did you know that onions are a relatively new ingredient in Jamaican cuisine and escallion was what ‘old time people’ used to use instead, and you know how they always say food tasted better then.

The Jamaican staples I added were onions of course for a great sweet and distinct flavour and garlic because I LOVE IT and for its unique spicy, aromatic zest. Ginger, it goes great with sweet potato, Indian chilis for just a bit of heat and Jamaican curry powder because it adds gusto and really enhances the colour of the soup. Coconut milk, because it is my new obsession and makes this a seriously creamy soup and of course sweet carrots and sweet, sweet potatoes.

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I made this soup in a heavy sauce pan and added the ginger, onions, garlic and chilis to some hot oil then seasoned with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper; I’m a big believer in ‘seasoning as you go’, this means for every batch of ingredients I add to the pot, I season it with salt and maybe pepper depending on the dish and how spicy I want it. This method is a full proof way to get your meals tasting like a Michelin star chef’s masterpiece!

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To garnish, I drizzled a bit of coconut milk, added toasted organic pumpkin seeds and chopped some herbs.

This soup is perfect for those of us who will be gearing up for the colder months ahead but it really isn’t season specific so feel free to enjoy it any time.

Check out the recipe below and drop me a comment if you’ve tried this yum yum soup!

Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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This is a great appetizer or main dish meal and perfect for the colder months ahead.

INGREDIENTS

Oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 Indian chili peppers, sliced

1 small knob ginger, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 large sweet potato

3 medium sized carrots

Salt and pepper to taste

2 1/2 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)

1/2 cup coconut milk + more for garnish

toasted pumpkin seeds (optional)

chopped parsley (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a heavy sauce pan.
  2. Add the onion, pepper, ginger and garlic and allow them to sweat until transluscent. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the curry powder and saute for 5 minutes.
  4. Slice the carrots and dice the sweet potato and toss them in. Saute until the carrots and sweet potato are lightly browned.
  5. Pour in the stock and lower the heat. Season with salt and pepper and allow the soup to simmer for 30 minutes. The carrots and sweet potato should be tender and mashable.
  6. Add the soup to a blender in parts so you don’t over load it. Blend on low first then increase the speed once everything is blended together. Blend until smooth.
  7. Return the soup to the pot over medium heat and add the coconut milk.
  8. Simmer for 5 minutes. If the soup is too thick, add more stock.
  9. Pour the soup into bowls and garnish with coconut milk, toasted pumpkin seeds and chopped parsley.

I hope you shine today!heart

Summer=Veges=Okra

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Summer brings tons of yummy vegetables and one of these is my absolute favourite, OKRA! Yes, I know okra gets a lot of heat for being slimy and some people find that pretty… not awesome, but there are ways to hide its slimy nature and really appreciate the flavour of this unique vegetable.

 

Here in Jamaica we usually embrace this slippery vege but I’m sure there are some of you out there who won’t touch the stuff because of the dreaded slime. Here’s how to get your okra fix, minus the slime.

I played around a lot with this recipe; the first time I made these Okra Fritters, I added corn and tomatoes and I replaced the flour with cornmeal to make it gluten free. It was good, no, it was great but the second recipe was just amazing.

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The Gluten Free Version

The recipe I’m sharing can be tweaked to make it gluten free and vegan; just replace the flour with cornmeal or say, rice flour, and the eggs with 1 banana, yes I know, its wacky but it works and gives a hint of sweetness.

Get the recipe below.

Okra Fritters

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
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This is great for breakfast, as an appetizer or a quick snack.

INGREDIENTS

6 oz. okra

3 oz corn kernels

1 1/2 oz red bell pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

1 1/2 cups flour or 1 cup cornmeal

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk or 1/3 cup good ole water

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

Olive oil for frying

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Slice the okra thinly.
  2. Dice the bell pepper into small pieces.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the dried herbs.
  4. Lightly beat the eggs and add them to the flour. Mix and add the bell pepper and most of the okra slices, reserving some for the top.
  5. Add the milk and mix to create a batter that is not too thin but not thick.
  6. Add the grated Parmesan cheese.
  7. Put enough oil in a frying pan over medium heat and scoop about two tablespoons of batter in the pan. Quickly place a few pieces of the okra on top.
  8. Cook on one side for 3 minutes or until golden brown. Flip the fritter over and cook on the other side for about 2 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Serve with sour cream or sriracha yogurt.

I hope you shine today!heart