Posts tagged Dinner

Spaghetti & Sauces

Some people have online shopping addictions - clothes, shoes, bags - but I’m straight up hooked on spinach, lettuces, tomatoes, garlic and lemons.  I can’t get enough of that shit!  Fresh Direct is my crack.  

If you too are addicted to online food shopping, produce and consuming greens and vegetables packed with riboflavin - then this sauce tasting might be for you too.  

Spinach & Arugula Pesto

2 c. spinach leaves (packed)
2 c. baby arugula (packed)
4 cloves garlic
1 T. lemon zest
1/2 c. walnuts
3/4 c. olive oil
1/2 c. Locatelli

-To a food processor fit with a steel blade, add garlic and walnuts - pulsing until chopped
-Add spinach and arugula and pulse until completely chopped
-While pulsing, drizzle olive oil through the feed tube and continue to process until completely blended
-Remove mixture from food processor and stir in cheese, salt, pepper and lemon zest  
-Serve over pasta of your choice or spread over crostinis and pair with cheese

Spicy Anchovy Sauce

1 pack of Cento anchovies
3 cloves garlic (smashed and sliced)
1 T. crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 pints cherry tomatoes (halved)
3 T. water
1/4 c. toasted breadcrumbs
2 tsp. lemon zest 

-Add anchovies (oil and all) and crushed red pepper to a saucepan and place over medium low heat, cooking until anchovies begin to dissolve
-Lower flame and add cherry tomatoes and cook until completely broken down (adding a little bit of water if the sauce looks dry or too thick for your liking), about 15-20 minutes
-Serve over spaghetti (this amount works for a 1/2 lb. of pasta) and top with toasted bread crumbs and lemon zest

Thursday, April 12, 2012   ()

Spring Salads & Sides

I’ve been cooking, but my time to write has been minimal.

I’m not going to give you my leftovers.

I’m going to share what’s been going on in my kitchen since I’ve returned from Mexico.

I’m not making Mexican food.
I’m still looking for Taye Diggs and or Javier Bardem.
I’m not searching for them in my kitchen, but when I’m out with friends I’m usually staring right past them and scanning the room for someone to bring home and hold.
I’m a bit of a nut job because I’m moving and moving is always stressful.
I’m not moving far, don’t you fear.
I’m going to be based out of a tiny Queens kitchen until I can afford a house on my own, or with Taye and or Javier.
I’m not really into having two lovers at once, but I’m not opposed with these two hunks.
I’m only moving 2 miles from my current apartment.
I’m really happy about it - the apartment is oozing with good energy.
I’m going to be outfitted with a separate kitchen and a living/dining area.
I’m about to make mad noms.
I’m happy it’s share time.

See below.  

And, did you know happy was my first word?

Now you do.  

Grapefruit Salad
*serves 3-4

2 large pink grapefruits (peeled and cut into cubes)
1 small red onion (very thinly sliced)
3 T. chopped walnuts
3 T. dried cranberries
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T. olive oil
3-4 leaves of radicchio, romaine, or 6-8 leaves of endive
Optional: parmigiano reggiano 

-Place cubed grapefruit in a bowl and add onions, walnuts and cranberries
-Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper
-Toss with olive oil
-Serve grapefruit salad in radicchio cups or line romaine lettuce leaves or endive with the grapefruit salad
-Optional, but delicious: top with a slice of parmigiano reggiano  

Prosciutto, Fig & Pecorino Salad
*serves 3-4

1 1/2 heads of romaine
1 small onion (very thinly sliced)
10-12 dried figs (cut each fig into four pieces)
4-6 slices of prosciutto 
1/4 c. grated pecorino romano
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar for dressing

-Add chopped romaine, onions, figs ans half of the pecorino to a salad bowl
-Sprinkle with salt and pepper
-Toss with vinegar and olive oil
-Top with prosciutto and remaining cheese
-Drizzle with a touch of olive oil and serve 

Roasted Kabocha Squash with Honey Butter

1 whole kobacha squash (halved, deseeded, and sliced)
1 T. olive oil
2 T. butter
1 T. honey
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees
-Coat slices of squash with olive oil, salt and pepper
-Line a baking sheet with foil and lay squash on its side
-Roast in the oven for 40-45 minutes until fork tender (turn the squash about halfway through, so it browns evenly) 
-In a small saucepan, over low heat, or in the microwave, melt butter and honey
-Drizzle squash with honey butter and serve hot  

Spring Side: Friselle with Tomatoes, Capers, Garlic & Olive Oil 
*serves 3-4 as an appetizer

1 pint cherry tomatoes (sliced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
3 T. pearl capers
20 olives (pitted and sliced, which I didn’t use because I was fresh out!)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
4 pieces friselle

-Mix tomatoes with garlic, capers, olives, salt, pepper and olive oil and let sit for 30 minutes to one hour
-Lightly wet friselle, top with tomato mixture and serve  

Thursday, April 5, 2012 — 3 notes   ()

I’m Coming Out

Orecchiette With Broccolirabe, Broccoli Florets and Sausage

Jamaican Rock Buns

Jack Daniels Apple Cake

Recipes follow story

I’m not going to lie, I can’t, not here.  I’m always honest in this space.  I’ve been going through somewhat of a cereal  eating, lay on my couch and watch stand-up comedy phase - while burrowed in blankets and protecting myself from the world.

A downward spiral of thinking about family, dudes, should I go out - I should go out - but I don’t want to go out, has been numbing me.  Numbing me so much I have no new meals, stories or anything to speak of.  I’m a tank of this weird combination of elation and melancholy.  I know, it doesn’t seem possible to be both happy and depressed at once - but I am and I have mastered a balance with this shit which makes me OK.

The equation is:  happiness + sadness + accepting times will be good and shit = YOU’RE OK 

The Happiness:

To be on my couch eating cinnamon toast crunch and watching tv while wrapped up in blankets.  It’s feels so good and right that it’s almost wrong.  I haven’t been completely anti-social, I have Facetimed with friends so they know I’m still breathing and not just ignoring their invitations to get together.  Although I am attached to my blanket fort I am leaving my house and trotting off to work everyday - quite happily.  The tv I am watching is not depressing.  I’m not watching Sylvia and writing bad poetry like Daddy, Part Deux or Lady Lazarus Returns.  No.  I’m draining my brain on filthy stand-up comedy because cereal dinner tastes better with blow job, boob and raunchy sex jokes.  I do this alone and I’m more than happy that that’s the case because my faith in ever finding a life partner is slowly dwindling - but I’m comfortable with that.  Besides, I’ve booked and planned a trip to Tulum where I plan on starring the lead in How Tinamarie Theresa Got Her Groove Back.  I’ll probably sit on my hammock, eat alone and talk to no one for 7 days, while I avoid eye contact with anyone who dare look my way when I am standing in my bathing suit, but it’s nice to think that fun and non-traumatic nudity could be a possibility.  

The Sadness:

As I’m laying on my couch, with no life force, like a blob - but surprisingly not having gained any weight - not even as a result of bloating (this should be filed under The Happiness), I’m thinking about the fact that I’m unevenly wearing in my new couch.  I’m laying there, right, with more body pressure on the center cushion than on the outer ones. I think about standing up and doing a quick flip, re-arranging the cushions for even wear, but putting the cereal bowl down on the floor, taking the blanket off, getting up - all seem way to taxing.  I think about doing it when I get up to move to my bedroom for real sleep, but I just walk on by.  In the morning I do the same thing; I walk on by.  It’s like I don’t really care about my couch, it’s sad.  While I lay, on my couch, in my bed (wait, I flipped my mattress last weekend - THE HAPPINESS) my mind cycles through the traumatic events that have unfolded in my life in the past few weeks, like being left naked in my bed, family issues that have my mind in a whirl and wondering what I’m doing with my life and whether or not it matters that I don’t have a plan.  

Now, don’t be too concerned - like I said - I’m eating and I’m leaving my house for light socializing - I even managed to go out last Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  I just haven’t found it in me to cook.  Not once, mid-lay or mid-wrist  twist to get the right remote angle from couch to tv did I think I should be cooking, what can I cook?  I should visit the grocery.  Almond milk, cereal, grilled chicken and fresh vegetables have been tiding me over.  I’m staring at food photos I took, stories and recipes I haven’t written, that $500 credit from my food photography class.  I’m frozen.  When my heart’s not open.  Madonna went through a weird phase with that Ray of Light album.  In the Frozen video I always thought it would be much cooler were she to morph from scary Madonna, clad in black garb with that terrible dye job - into the Brandon Lee reincarnate.  The color and the way that video was shot always reminded me of The Crow.  I suggest a Brandon Lee button surprise to close the video if she ever does decide to revisit this song.  I would’ve been much happier had she done that from the get go.

Anyway, here are some old recipes, which are new to you because you wouldn’t have known any better had I not been so honest.

I could pretend right now.  Pretend that I’ve been cooking and chopping and drinking wine and giggling, but there’s so much make believe behavior going down around me that I needed to be brutally honest with you and myself.  

I hate myself for being so honest sometimes.

Orecchiette With Broccolirabe, Broccoli Florets and Sausage

3 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. spicy sausage (remove from the casing)
2 heads broccolirabe (cleaned and de-stemmed)
2 broccoli crowns (stems trimmed, leave about 1”)
6-8 cloves garlic (peeled, smashed and sliced)
Red pepper flakes
1 pint grape tomatoes (halved)
1 lb. orecchiette (cooked al dente according to instructions and reserve a cup of pasta water)
Kosher salt to taste
Locatelli for serving
Olive oil for serving

-Heat olive oil in a large stock pot and add sausage, cooking for 8-10 minutes or so, until all sausage is light brown
-Add garlic and red pepper flakes, tossing with sausage and cook for 5-7 minutes
-Add broccolirabe to the pot in batches, adding more as each batch cooks down, drizzling with olive oil between tossing 
-Once all broccolirabe has been added, toss in broccoli florets 
-Cook for an additional 10 minutes, then add tomatoes, salt and cook until vegetables are tender and tomatoes have collapsed
-Serve hot, over orecchiette pasta, drizzle with olive oil and top with grated Locatelli

Jamaican Rock Buns

To complete my West Indian dinner,  which took place over a month ago, and I still haven’t posted all of the recipes – pathetic -  I landed on these sweet treats.  I referenced a recipe from The Trini Gourmet and combined it with my very own scone recipe.  You can find the recipe and some background info on Jamaican Rock Buns or Toto – right here.

Jack Daniels Apple Cake

I had a bottle of Jack in the house.  Rather than have friends over for shots or enjoy a little sip over ice while laying, alone on my couch – that’s just a suicide PSA waiting to happen – I cooked with the stuff.

4 apples (peeled and cut into cubes)
1/2 c.  Jack Daniels
2 c. flour 
2 tsp. baking powder
Zest from 1/2 of a lemon
1 c. white sugar 
1 stick of butter
2 eggs
1/2 c. milk

For topping

1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. slivered almonds
1/3 c. light brown sugar
4 T.  of melted butter

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-In a small bowl, toss apples with Jack and put aside
-In a large bowl, sift together 1 c. flour and baking powder, add lemon zest
-Beat butter and sugar, adding eggs one at a time
-Combine dry ingredients and wet ingredients, add milk and gently mix
-Fold in Jack Daniels soaked apples
-Put r1/2 c. of flour, brown sugar and slivered almonds in a bowl and mix with melted butter 
-Pour batter into the pyrex dish
-Sprinkle almond crumble topping over the top 
-Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, until cake is deep golden brown
-Cool on a rack, cut chunky boozy slices and lay on your couch 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012   ()

Braised Kale Risotto

Braised Kale Risotto 

Recipe follows story

I’ve developed an anchovy obsession as of late.  I can’t get enough of the salty goodness.  I lap them in between mounds of manchego and tomatoes, sandwiching them between fluffy bread and pressing every last bit until cheese and anchovy oil are leaking out of every side of my hot and perfectly pressed panini.

Kale, kale is another one of my obsessions.  The leafy green that’s healthy and hearty, that I do so enjoy heaping on my plate when eating a simple skirt steak or fried flounder. 

A box of arborio rice has been taunting my existence since Eve’s birthday dinner some 6 months ago.  I also happened to be harboring a large bunch of kale and anchovies …

It’s cold here in NYC.  My too tiny apartment is too hot and I’ve had a long weekend of rest, too much rich food and too much to drink.  For the most part, it was a positively perfect weekend. 

Why stop now?

Risotto paired with some of my favorite flavors seemed like a most marvolous meal to say farewell to a weekend that was restful, raucous and tasty.  

Braised Kale Risotto 

For Kale

2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 T. red pepper flakes
5 cloves of garlic (peeled and sliced)
8 anchovy filets
1 large bunch of kale (torn and stemmed)
1/2 c. water
1 can whole plum tomatoes (roughly chopped) 
3 T. capers
12 Gaeta olives (pitted and roughly chopped)
-Heat olive oil in a large stock pot, over a medium flame, adding anchovies, garlic and red pepper flakes, cooking for 5 minutes until anchovies are completely dissolved
-Add kale in bunches and toss to coat with anchovies and oil
-Add water and toss
-Add tomatoes, lower flame, add capers and olives, simmering until kale is tender about 30-35 minutes

Put kale aside and begin to cook risotto 

For Risotto

1 T. olive oil
2 T. butter
1 large onion 
1 c. Arborio rice
1/2 c. wine
1 1/2 c. water
2 T. grated Locatelli cheese + 1/4 c. for serving

-Heat olive oil and 1 T. of butter in a large stock pot over medium heat and add onions, sauteing until light brown - about 8-10 minutes
-Add risotto and toss with onions, toasting and coating for 2 minutes
-Pour in 1/2 c. of wine and mix with the rice, stirring occasionally
-When wine is completely evaporated and absorbed, add water a 1/2 cup at a time, occasionally stirring, until rice is tender and fluffy (the whole process should take 15-18 minutes)
-Remove from heat, add remaining 1 T. of butter and cheese 
-Toss braised kale with risotto and serve as is or topped with more Locatelli 

Monday, January 16, 2012 — 4 notes   ()

Eggplant and Potato Curry

Eggplant & Potato Curry

Recipe follows story

Inspired by my gastronomic jaunt to Canarsie, and many amazing conversations with a few shop and restaurant owners, I prepared a Guyanese holiday dinner.  The main portion of my meal was meaty, which wouldn’t necessarily work as two of my guests were vegetarians.

Orin Small, owner of Smally West Indian Market in Canarsie, gave me quite the education in Guyanese cuisine, how it was influenced by colonization as well as other cultures that made their way in.  He noted lo mein and fried rice as being two mainstays in Guyanese home cooking and vegetables such as eggplant, Chinese long beans along with okra and cassava are also popular.  I had no shortage of vegetables to choose from, but I needed to figure out a recipe that would qualify them under the umbrella of this meal.  Smally orchestrated my Guyanese meal and gave me the makings for solid vegetarian sides of plantains and coconut rice, but I was left to my own devices for the main fare.    

A trip to the Tastee Pattee Bakery & Grill, led me to opening my dessert choice to Jamaican rock cakes so the recipe for my vegetarian dish needn’t be exclusively Guyanese.  

I broadened my recipe search and found inspiration on

Chris, of, is cooking up food memories from Trinidad and Tobago and his recipe for potato and eggplant curry looked promising.  

Eggplant is hearty and meaty and, when coupled with potatoes, makes a completely soul and belly stuffing meal.  It’s no hot pepperpot stew, but I hoped this vegetable pairing would provide my non-meaty friends with a substantially satisfying substitute.

I took Chris’ recipe and improvised based on ingredients I had in the house and bits of the main meal that I already had prepared.  

I swapped out water for coconut milk and instead of cooking the eggplant down with the potatoes, I scored it, stuffed it with garlic and roasted it in the oven until it was completely broken down.  Roasting any vegetable greatly increases its flavor.  The browner and more caramelized a vegetable, the more intense flavor you will get from it, so I started there.

And here’s where I landed …

Potato & Eggplant Curry 
makes 5-6 servings 

1 large eggplant
6 cloves of garlic (peeled and each clove sliced in thirds)
1/4 c. vegetable oil
3T. curry powder
2 tsp. all spice
1 large sweet onion (diced)
6 white potatoes (peeled and cubed)
1 14 oz. can of coconut milk + equal parts water (use water if necessary)
1 T. green seasoning
2 wiri wiri peppers (de-seeded)
Salt to taste 

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees
-Score eggplant and stuff with garlic
-Place eggplant on a baking sheet and roast for 45-50 minutes until eggplant is collapsed
-Put aside to cool
-Once cool, slice eggplant open and scrape out the flesh and garlic and put aside in a bowl 
-To a large skillet (that has some depth), over medium heat, add oil, curry powder and all spice  and mix until a paste is formed
-Add onions and coat with the curry, cooking for 7-8 minutes
-Add potatoes and toss to coat, cooking for an additional 10 minutes
-Add eggplant and toss to coat
-Pour in coconut milk and additional water if necessary (potatoes should be covered)
-Add green seasoning and spices and allow pot to simmer
-Lower flame, being careful to watch the pot so the potatoes do not stick to the bottom of the spot, and cook for 40-45 minutes until potatoes are fork tender  
-Serve over plain rice or eat alone  

Tuesday, January 10, 2012 — 9 notes   ()

Eat Your Way to Good Luck

Black Eyed Pea Soup with Country Ribs

Recipe follows story

My mother recently informed me that my grandma used to make lentils with sausage as the first course to dinner on New Years Eve.  I couldn’t recall this memory, and I thought I remembered every memory and moment of lentil consumption that involved my grandmother and other members of the Corrado clan.  I can still hear all of the men at the table slurping and chugging glasses of wine, but I don’t see lentils.  I thought I remembered every moment of eating, period, but, somehow, this one didn’t stick.  

Celebrating the New Year with pork product is one tradition I am not opposed to, especially since it’s supposed to bear good luck.  I can use all the luck I can get, after all I lost a book to someone I used to date and my appendix in 2011. Amongst a little bit more of my pride, waning with every year that goes by.

I decided to end the year with DC friends and, yes, a lot of pork.  Our New Years Eve breakfast started out with plates of maple glazed bacon and our dinner party preparation, although slightly haphazard and marginally rushed, managed to incorporate various iterations of pork - that which was slow cooked and combined, along with other meats, to form a tomato based and wine doused ragu.  Our mixed meat ragu was delicately spooned over plates piled high with creamy polenta.  Ok, maybe the meat ragu was plopped a top plates piled high with creamy polenta. Heaping portions were doled out in the kitchen and served.  Leftovers were distributed to guests and reheated on New Years Day.  A contribution from another dinner party guest, which is always a crowd favorite, sweet and delicious dried dates, stuffed to the brim with blue cheese, wrapped in thin strips of prosciutto and baked.

Heavenly pork laden treats were bestowed upon all 10 people that sat at a very long table, on a very charming street, on a somewhat warm weathered East coast New Years Eve day, at a dinner party on Capitol Hill.     

I’ve no photos of the meal, just the memory of making it with friends.  I’m also currently harboring a giant bowling ball of pork, short ribs, lamb and oxtail in my stomach.  I relinquished this meal to pure enjoyment and fulfillment outside of making every meal into one that needs to be plated perfectly and photographed, with recipes and notes recorded line by line and in between bites.
Not because I didn’t get my fill of pork this weekend, but because a lady has to eat - upon arriving back to Queens on Monday afternoon I made a black eyed pea stew with country ribs.  I know, why didn’t I make my grandmother’s lentils?  Because I make them at least once a month.  I celebrate her need for sausage and spice often.  I welcomed myself back to my kitchen and my dinner table by enjoying something new.

A hearty soup brimmed to the top with the other white meat, coupled with black eyed peas and mustard greens.  I had black eyed peas in the house, so I gave a nod to southern tradition by incorporating them in to the soup.  In the south, this special little pea is prepared and eaten to ring in the new year with good luck and prosperity.
I sat eating a bowl of peas with pork and prayed, yet again, for this was my fourth pork bathed meal in 3 days, that some sort of god would bestow upon me a fine year ahead.

I believe I’ve eaten enough pork to secure some good luck in 2012, but I’ll have to wait and see. 

From my kitchen to yours, Happy New Year.

Black Eyed Pea Soup with Country Ribs

1.5 - 2 lbs. country ribs
2 T. butter
2 sweet onions (diced)
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. fennel seeds
5 medium carrots (cut into rounds)
1 pint of grape tomatoes (halved)
2 yukon gold potatoes (peeled and cubed)
3 quarts of chicken stock
1 lb. dried black eyed peas (cooked/prepared according to instructions on bag)
4 large dried bay leaves 
1 medium bunch of mustard greens (washed, de-stemmed, and cut into bite sized pieces)

-Place dried beans and 8 cups of water in a pot, bring to a boil for two minutes, cover, remove from heat and let beans soak for 1 hour
-To a large stock pot add butter and country ribs, browning for 4-5 minutes on each side, and removing from the pot once browned
-Add diced onions and garlic, sauteing until sweating - about 5-7 minutes
-Add cayenne, fennel seeds and carrots - tossing with onions and garlic and cooking for an additional 5 minutes
-Add tomatoes and potatoes - tossing with other vegetables and spices
-Place ribs back in the pot, add chicken stock, black eyed peas and bay leaves
-Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and incorporate mustard greens in batches and simmer for 40-45 minutes until potatoes are fork tender
-Serve hot, with crusty bread or crostinis

*The flavor of the soup intensifies as it sits, so if you could make this ahead and serve on day two, you’ll have a bolder soup with a stronger pork and herb infused taste.   

Wednesday, January 4, 2012 — 9 notes   ()

Heaping Helpings Of Hot Pepperpot Stew: A Guyanese Christmas Treat

Hot Pepperpot Stew

Recipe follows story

I picked up this recipe for Guyanese hot pepperpot stew when I was out in Canarsie, talking to Smally, on day two of my visit to the neighborhood.

Hot pepperpot stew is made with a hodgepodge of meats onoins, garlic, hot peppers, fresh herbs and cassereep.  Cassereep is an extract made from the root of the cassava plant and it has a molasses like consistency.  This ingredient serves as the primary source of flavor in Guyana’s national dish and it is also responsible for giving hot pepperpot stew its distinct, rich brown, almost black color. 

Not only is hot pepperpot stew Guyana’s national dish, but it is often eaten on Christmas day.  The longer this stew sits, much like any meat packed stew or gravy, the sweeter it gets.  For breakfast, hot pepperpot is enjoyed with homemade bread and for dinner it’s eaten over rice.

So, thank you - Smally - for sharing your family recipe and helping me shop for ingredients.  Last weekend, my friends and I celebrated a Guyanese Christmas with a large vat of hot pepperpot stew.

And the stew kept on giving, as I ate it for dinner all week long.

Next time you find yourself on the L train, get off at the last stop, walk over to Smally West Indian Food Market on Avenue L and tell Orin Small you’re looking for ingredients to make hot pepperpot stew - he’ll be more than happy to help you out and share more recipes if you ask. 

Hot Pepperpot Stew
makes 8-10 servings

4 cows feet (optional)
1.5 lbs each - lamb shoulder, beef oxtail, veal neck bones (or any meat on the bone of your choice)
.5 lb. pork stew meat
3 large onions (diced)
Water to cover meat
1 bottle Cassereep
8 cloves of garlic (minced)
8 wiri wiri peppers (minced)
1/3 c. dried thyme

-Place cows feet in a large stock pot
-Cover with water and place over a medium high flame, brining to a boil and cooking for 1 hour
-In a separate pot, add oil and brown lamb shoulder, oxtail, veal neck bones and pork stew meat for 3-4 minutes on each side.  Then remove meat from the pot and set aside
-Add the onions and garlic and saute for 7-8 minutes or until they are sweating
-Combine all meat in one pot with onions, and garlic, cover with water, add cassereep, thyme, wiri wiri peppers and bring to a boil
-Once boiled, lower flame and allow everything to simmer for 2.5-3 hours, or until meat is shredding, tender and falling off the bone
-Serve with Guyanese bread or rice

Friday, December 23, 2011 — 1 note   ()

A Taste Of Guyana

Brown Gravy

Green Seasoning
Coconut Peas and Rice

Fried fish with green seasoning

Fried Plantains

Recipes follow story

One of my biggest crushes in this life, bigger than my crush on Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman and apple crumb pie a la mode …

Aubrey Leander DeSilva.

Who is Aubrey Leander DeSilva?

My first crush.  Aubrey lived across the street from me and his house directly faced my back yard.  From his garage, and from my grandpas garden, we would talk on the phone, every day, after school.  He was 14 and I was 12.  He was Guyanese, he dj’d, he could dance - and I was chubby and self-conscious.  He would tell me I had beautiful hair, he would always ask me what I was reading whenever he saw me shuffling around with a book.  He was a dream.

When I stepped off of the L train and set foot on Rockaway Parkway 2 weekends ago, I wondered where Aubrey was.  I wished he would be waiting in front of the library for me, where he used to pick me up after school, but no such luck.

I walked past the library, past Canarsie High School, past bodegas where I would buy cigarettes for 10 cents a piece.

I arrived at Avenue L, where I would go to the movies, eat a slice, then eat an icey, then gobble down a pastry.  

This time around I didn’t have a slice, icey or pastry, my friend and I closed in a little West Indian market between 94th and 95th Street - that is after we stuffed ourselves on Jamaican food for lunch.

Orin Small is originally from Guyana and has lived in Canarsie for the past 16 years and he opened his specialty West Indian Food Market 12 years ago.  His motivation; one day  his wife sent him out to purchase mixed essence, and there was none to be found in the neighborhood.  Mixed essence contains vanilla, pear oil, almond oil, pineapple and caramel - among some other flavors  - and from what I learned, it’s a key ingredient in black cake or rum cake a traditional holiday treat enjoyed in Guyana and throughout the Caribbean.  Orin Small saw this as an opportunity to build a go to market in Canarsie, where residents could seek out ingredients to make meals they would always enjoy at home.

Standing close by Orin was his son, Roland.  Roland Small may only be 15 years old, but he knows a thing or two about making a sale and giving cooking tutorials.

For the child who is raised among family meals and a culture rooted in the tradition of cooking, sharing memories of food will always be the first thing on their mind.  Well, at least that’s the case for me and Roland.

I walked out of the store on Saturday night, learning how to make the Small’s version of Guyanese green seasoning, as they prepare it in their own home.

It was recommended that I use this green seasoning on any kind of white fish and then fry it up, until the rub gets crispy.  The Small’s enjoy their fried fish with coconut peas and rice or plantains, and they also shared their recipe for brown gravy.

Going back to Canarsie didn’t land me in the arms of my childhood crush, it brought me back to my only love - my kitchen.  

Brown Gravy
*makes 2 cups

1 T. oil
1 medium onion (diced)
1 bunch scallions (diced)
1/2 pint grape tomatoes (halved)
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
3 wiri wiri peppers (minced)
3/4 c. water
1 c. Miracle Seasoning

-In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium flame
-Add onions and scallions, sauteing until fragrant about 5-7 minutes
-Add garlic, tomatoes and wiri wiri pepper - and cook for an additional 10-12 minutes, stirring frequently
-Add water
-Add Miracle Seasoning and bring to a boil
-Put aside until fish is fried and ready to serve

Green Seasoning  
*rub for 8 filets

1/3 c. dried broad leaf thyme
1/3 c. dried fine leaf thyme
1/2 c. fresh basil
4 scallions
2 cloves garlic
3 wiri wiri pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
8 pieces of butter fish (or any white fleshed fish filet)
3 T. vegetable oil

-In a food processor, fit with a steel blade, add first 7 ingredients and pulse until blended
-Rub green seasoning on fish and put aside
-Add oil to a large skillet, and place over medium flame, frying rubbed fish - in batches - cooking for approximately 3 minutes on each side (depending on thickness/size of filet)
-Top with brown gravy or serve on the side 

Plantain Chips
5 green plantains
Vegetable oil for frying
Kosher salt

-Soak plantains in scalding hot water for 7-10 minutes, for ease of peeling
-Fill a medium sauce pan, halfway, with oil and place over medium flame - allowing to reach 375 degrees 
-If you do not have a thermometer or a deep fryer, test the oil by tossing in a piece of plantain, and if it floats to the top within moments - you’re good to start frying
-Trim top of plantain, make a slice through the skin of the plantain - lengthwise - and remove skin
-Cut plantains in half
-Using a mandolin, if you have one, slice lengthwise into long strips
-If you do not own a mandolin, make lengthwise slices or slice plantain into thin rounds
-Add plantains to the hot oil, frying in batches, until deep golden brown 

Coconut Peas and Rice

2 c. parboiled rice
1 c. yellow split peas
1 14 oz can coconut milk
1 1/4 c. water
1 small onion (diced)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

-To a large stock pot, add peas, rice, diced onion, coconut milk, salt and pepper
-Place pot over a low flame and cover 
-Cook until all liquid is completely absorbed
-Serve with fried, herb rubbed, white fish

Thursday, December 22, 2011 — 12 notes   ()