Category Archives: vegetarian

Sunday Brunch… Cheese pies (Mini Quiches)

Guyanese Cheese Pie

Where did all the time go? It feels like ages since I last posted a recipe.

Here’s the run down on where I’ve been and what’s been going on. I decided to take the summer off from blogging. We went away on vacation and when we came back, I just couldn’t get myself back on a proper schedule that allowed time for blogging. People always asked, how do you find the time to blog with a baby? And I always said easy, I blog when he’s napping. Well, he doesn’t nap as often anymore and when he is napping there are so many other things to do. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been cooking and taking pics when I can, but I can’t seem to find the time to edit and post new recipes. Then, I decide to do a fitness challenge for the month of September. Thirty days of clean eating and working out! So cooking Guyanese food was not on the agenda. I just couldn’t cook and bake all that deliciousness and stick to my plan. So here I am, I made it through the 30 days, started the Insanity workout program and am finally figuring out time to blog. I have a back log of recipes, so check your emails often!

Now for this recipe. A subscriber and friend asked for this one. The last time I made cheese pies, before this time of course, I was in high school, making these pies in Home Economics. So I had to do some research for a recipe. I tried the basic quiche recipes on foodnetwork.com and even Googled some Guyanese cheese pie recipes, but none came close to what I consider the best cheese pie I’ve ever had, the cheese pie from Fogarty’s. I’m not sure if there’s is still the best, but it was good when I was growing up in Guyana. It had a distinct flavor and after 3 tries I nailed it!

For this simple recipe you will need Pastry Dough, cheddar cheese, eggs, milk,   bell peppers, mustard, scallions and a bit of hot pepper. I'm using Guyanese wiri wiri pepper.

For this simple recipe you will need Pastry Dough (about 1 lb), cheddar cheese (7 ounces, shredded), eggs (4), milk (1 cup), bell peppers (1 mini, finely diced), mustard (3 tbsp), scallions (2 heads finely chopped), 1 tbs granulated garlic and a bit of hot pepper. I’m using Guyanese wiri wiri pepper.

The first time I made these pies, I used a cheap, pre-shredded mild cheddar cheese and it was terrible. The cheese didn’t melt and the pies tasted awful. This time I used a really sharp Australian cheddar with a flavor similar to Anchor Cheddar. It was perfect.

Add 1 cups whole mild and 4 eggs to a measuring cup. Whisk in mustard and garlic powder and finely dice hot peppers.

Add 1 cups whole milk and 4 eggs to a measuring cup. Whisk in mustard and garlic powder and finely dice hot peppers.

Roll out pasty dough until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Cut into circles large enough to fill a muffin pan. Grease a muffin pan with butter or cooking spray.  Line muffin pan with pastry dough.  Fill dough 1/2 way with shredded cheese, add milk until cheese is almost covered.  Then add diced bell peppers and scallions.  Top off with a bit more shredded cheese.

Roll out pasty dough until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Cut into circles large enough to fill a muffin pan. Grease a muffin pan with butter or cooking spray.
Line muffin pan with pastry dough.
Fill dough 1/2 way with shredded cheese, then add diced bell peppers and scallions. Add milk until it covers cheese.
Top off with a bit more shredded cheese.

Bake at 350 degree Fahrenheit for 25 to 30 minutes. Mine had a bit of souffle action going on while backing because I over filled the cups.

Bake at 350 degree Fahrenheit for 25 to 30 minutes.
Mine had a bit of souffle action going on while backing because I over filled the cups.

See below for the pastry dough recipe.

Let cool after baking then enjoy!

Let cool after baking then enjoy!

Guyanese Cheese Pies (Makes 12)

Ingredients:
Crust
1 lb short crust pastry dough:
4 cups flours
1 cup vegetable shortening (1 stick)
1/4 cup butter
about 8 Tbsp ice cold water

Filling
1 cup whole milk
7 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 eggs
3 tbsp spicy brown mustard
1 mini red bell pepper (or 1/2 large bell pepper), finely chopped
2 heads of green scallions, finely chopped
1 wiri wiri pepper finely chopped
1 tsp granulated garlic

Directions:

Crust
Rub/cut/mix shortening and butter into flour until mixture forms a bread crumb like texture. Add ice water, 1 tbsp at a time, and pinch mixture together to form a soft dough. Do not knead. Separate mixture into two and chill in the refrigerator for as least 1 hour. When chilled, use dough to make any Guyanese pastry combination.

Filling:
Combine milk, eggs, mustard, pepper and granulated garlic in a measuring cup. Whisk until completely mixed together.

Assembling:
Roll pastry dough out until it is 1/8 inch thick. Cut into circles large enough to cover a cups in a muffin pan. Grease a muffin pan with butter or cooking spray, then line with pastry dough. Fill muffin pan with cheese until about 1/2 way up each cup. Then add a bit of scallions and bell peppers. Pour milk and egg mixture into cup, until is covers the cheese. Then top off with a bit more shredded cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.

Tips and Ramblings:

1. Be sure to let your pastry dough chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before working with it.
2. I liked the rich flavor of mustard in these pies you can choose to add less mustard if you wish.

Happy Baking!

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Vegetarian Side… Pok Choy with a bit of teriyaki sauce

Guyanese Style Pok Choy

I love vegetables. Simple with no meat or additives. Just seasoned right. Pok Choy or Bok Choy as it is commonly known to non Guyanese, is one of those vegetables that you don’t want to over cook, or over do (as we Guyanese say). It is best enjoyed in a simple flavorful dish, where you can truly taste the crunchiness of the leaves and deliciousness of the pok choy. The recipe below, is quick and simple and highlights the flavors of the pok choy.

Start with about 4 bundles of fresh pok choy.

Start with about 4 bundles of fresh pok choy.

Cut off the head (part holding leaves together), then wash the leaves individually to remove sand.  Be sure to wash white stalk thoroughly.  Then chop into small pieces.

Cut off the head (part holding leaves together), then wash the leaves individually to remove sand.
Be sure to wash the white stalk thoroughly.
Then chop into small pieces.

Then in a saute pan, cook 1/2 onion (diced), 4 cloves of garlic (finely chopped) and 3 roma tomatoes (diced).  You can use about 2 tbsp olive oil to cook the onions, garlic and tomatoes. Cook until tomatoes are soft and onions are slightly brown.

In a saute pan, cook 1/2 onion (diced), 4 cloves of garlic (finely chopped) and 3 roma tomatoes (diced).
You can use about 2 tbsp olive oil to cook the onions, garlic and tomatoes.
Cook until tomatoes are soft and onions are slightly brown. Add a bit of salt and pepper to increase flavor.

Add the pok choy and toss together.

Add the pok choy and toss together.

Then, add about 1/4 cup of teriyaki sauce. The one I am using is by LeChoy and is actually a marinade and is not as sweet as some teriyaki sauce can be.

Then, add about 1/4 cup of teriyaki sauce. The one I am using is by LeChoy and is actually a marinade and is not as sweet as some teriyaki sauces.

Add salt and pepper to taste, mix together and continue to cook for about 5 minutes.

Add salt and pepper to taste, mix together and continue to cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and enjoy.

Serve with your favorite starch (roti or rice)!

I had mine with rice and fried fish.

I had mine with rice and fried fish.

Pok Choy with a bit of teriyaki sauce (serves 4)

Ingredients:
4 bundles of pok choy
3 roma tomatoes (diced)
1/2 yellow onion (diced)
4 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1/4 cup of teriyaki sauce
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

Directions:
Cut head from pok choy bundles. Separate leaves and wash individually to remove sand and mud. Chop into small pieces and set aside. Add oil to a saute pan on medium heat. When hot, add onions, garlic and tomatoes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until tomatoes are soft and onions are brown. Add chopped pok choy. Toss together, then add teriyaki sauce and remaining salt and pepper. Mix together and cook for about 5 minutes, or until whites of the pok choy stems are a bit tender. Remove from the heat and enjoy with your favorite starch (rice or roti).

Tips and Ramblings:
1. Sometimes you are unfortunate to find Pok Choy that has more white that green on the stems. You will need to throw away or save for stir fry, most of the white part of the stem. You need to have a good balance between the white and green of the stem or the dish will taste watery and less flavorful.
2. I get my Pok Choy from the Asian markets. They seem to have them in a wide variety.
3. If you are using a really sweet teriyaki sauce you can reduce the amount to just about 2 tbsp.
4. If you don’t have teriyaki sauce but you have cassareep, you can use about 1 tbsp of cassareep and 1 tbsp of brown sugar. The flavors will net out to be just about the same.

Happy Cooking!

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Roti, Roti… Sada Roti

Sada Roti

When I was growing up in Guyana, my mom made sada roti often. Sometimes she stuffed the roti with sugar and made sugar rotis. These were so delicious, especially when the melted sugar ran down your hands.  Sada Roti is quick and easy and doesn’t require some of the steps, patience or skills of paratha roti. Sada roti is very similar to the roti my Bengali cousin (in-law) makes when she has us over for dinner. Her’s is a bit thinner and made with some type of whole wheat flour, but it is equally delicious. You can follow the video for making paratha roti (see recipe list for the paratha roti post), to see the first steps to make this dough.

In a large mixing bowl, add 4 coups of flour, 3 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp salt.  Mix together, then form a well in the center of the ingredients.  Add 1 1/4 cups of water.  Mix together to form a soft dough. Cover with a damp paper towel and let sit for 1/2 hour.

In a large mixing bowl, add 4 cups of flour, 3 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp salt.
Mix together, then form a well in the center of the ingredients.
Add 1 3/4 cups of water.
Mix together to form a soft dough.
Cover with a damp paper towel and let sit for 1/2 hour.

After dough sits for about 1/2 hour, separate into 8 equal pieces. Knead each piece into a smooth round dough ball.  Cover with a damp paper towel and let sit for an additional 1/2 hour.

1. After dough sits for about 1/2 hour: 2. separate into 8 equal pieces. 3.Knead each piece into a smooth round dough ball.
4.Cover with a damp paper towel and let sit for an additional 1/2 hour.

Roll each dough ball into a small round disk. I made mine, just about the size of my palm.  Since I was cooking these outside on the grill, I rolled them all out and placed them on a bread board.  Note: if you are going to do this, be sure to put pieces of parchment paper between each layer. Mine were completely stuck together when I was ready to cook them.

Roll each dough ball into a small round disk. I made mine, just about the size of my palm.
Since I was cooking these outside on the grill, I rolled them all out and placed them on a bread board.
Note: if you are going to do this, be sure to put pieces of parchment paper between each layer. My rotis were completely stuck together when I was ready to cook them.

Place a cast iron skillet on medium heat. I placed mine on the burner side of my grill. When the skillet is warm, place a rolled out roti onto the skillet. When small air pockets form on the roti, flip over to the other side.  When large air pockets form, remove roti from skillet and put directly onto the flame.  Roti will rise into a round ball.  Once roti forms a ball remove and place in a dish towel (to keep warm). Continue steps until you've cooked all of the rotis.

Place a cast iron skillet on medium heat. I placed mine on the burner side of my grill.
When the skillet is warm, place a rolled out roti onto the skillet.
Cook until small air pockets form on the roti, then flip over to the other side.
When large air pockets form, remove roti from skillet and put directly onto the flame.
Roti will swell into a round ball.
Once roti forms a ball remove and place in a dish towel (to keep warm).
Continue steps until you’ve cooked all of the rotis.

You can see the grill lines in my rotis. They were so delicious.

You can see the grill lines in my rotis. They were so delicious.


Sada Roti (Makes 8)


Ingredients:

4 cups of all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups of

Directions:
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Mix ingredients together. Then form a well in the center of the ingredients. Add water and mix together to form a soft dough. Let sit covered for at least 30 minutes. Then separate into 8 equal pieces and knead into smooth balls. Let sit for another 30 minutes. Then roll into flat disks about 8 inches in diameter and about 1/4 inch thick. Warm a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Add a rolled out roti disk and cook until small air pockets appear. Then flip to the other side. Cook until large air pockets appear. Then remove from the skillet and lace directly onto the open flame. Cook until roti swells into a round ball. Remove from heat and place in a dish towel to keep warm. Continue steps for cooking until all the rotis are cooked.

Tips and Ramblings:

1. You can choose to leave your roti on the cast iron skillet until it swells into a ball. That’s how my mom makes it and it’s just as delicious.
2. The longer you let the dough sit, the softer the roti will be.
3. Extra rotis can be placed in the refrigerator. Cover with a paper towel when reheating in the microwave.

Happy Cooking!

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Baigan Choka… Roasted Eggplant

Baigan Choka

I don’t have a gas cook top / stove / burner. My cook top and oven are electric. Which means there’s no flame for roasting peppers or tomatoes or other vegetables, especially eggplant for baigan Choka. I LOVE baigan choka. In fact, I love eggplant, period. Since I don’t have a way to cook it during the winter months, I can’t wait for summer when we fire up our grill and start cooking outside. These past few weeks we’ve cooked all our meals on the grill. No joke! Which means my house is free of food smells (if you know me, you know I have a slight OCD about food smells. Ha).But it also means that I made baigan choka!!! One of my viewers and good friends asked me a while back to share my baigan choka recipe so here goes. It’s really simple and the hardest part is roasting the eggplant to perfection.

For this recipe you need 4 simple ingredients: Eggplant (I'm using two fairly large eggplants), 1 large tomato, about 4 cloves of garlic and about 5 heads of green onions (not pictured)

For this recipe you need 4 simple ingredients: Eggplant (I’m using two fairly large eggplants), 1 large tomato, about 4 cloves of garlic, half a wiri wiri pepper and about 5 heads of green onions (not pictured)

Wash the eggplant and tomatoes.  Then, make 2 inch slits (with a knife), lengthwise along the entire eggplant.  Peel the garlic cloves and cut in halves. Insert haves into a few of the slits in the eggplant.

Wash the eggplant and tomatoes.
Then, make 2 inch slits (with a knife), lengthwise along the entire eggplant.
Peel the garlic cloves and cut in halves. Insert garlic halves into a few of the slits in the eggplant.

I placed the eggplant and tomatoes and the rest of the garlic on the grill to roast. You can also roast your garlic this way for the choka, but I was making a dish for dinner that required roasted garlic, so I was killing two birds with one stone.

I placed the eggplant and tomatoes and the rest of the garlic on the grill to roast. You can also roast your garlic this way for the choka, but I was making a dish for dinner that required roasted garlic, so I was killing two birds with one stone.

After a while the eggplant wasn't getting the char I needed so I moved it to the burner of the grill.  If you are making this at home, you can put directly on the flame on your stove. Juices will leak from the eggplant and that can be very messy so be careful. Once one side of the eggplant becomes charred (roasted), turn on the other side and continue to roast.  At home, you can place the tomato on a fork and roast over the open flame as well.

After a while the eggplant wasn’t getting the char I needed so I moved it to the burner of the grill.
If you are making this at home, you can put directly on the flame on your stove. Juices will leak from the eggplant and that can be very messy so be careful.
Once one side of the eggplant becomes charred (roasted), turn on the other side and continue to roast.
At home, you can place the tomato on a fork and roast over the open flame as well.

What the ingredients looked like after 30 minutes of roasting on an open flame

What the ingredients looked like after 30 minutes of roasting on an open flame.

Let the eggplant cool for about 5 to 10 minutes. You want it too cold, but cool enough so you can work with it.  Insert a knife under the skin and pull skin towards you to create an opening or access to the flesh.

Let the eggplant cool for about 5 to 10 minutes. You don’t want it too cold, but cool enough so you can work with it.
Insert a knife under the skin and pull skin towards you to create an opening or access to the flesh.

Use a fork to scoop out the fleshy parts of the eggplant from the charred skin.

Use a fork to scoop out the fleshy parts of the eggplant from the charred skin.

Finely dice green onions and 1/2 of a wiri wiri pepper (you can use scotch bonnet peppers if you don't have wiri wiri peppers).  Saute in a small sauce pan with 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, on medium heat.  The olive oil gives it a great flavor.

Finely dice green onions and 1/2 of a wiri wiri pepper (you can use scotch bonnet peppers if you don’t have wiri wiri peppers).
Saute in a small sauce pan with 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, on medium heat.
The olive oil gives it a great flavor.

Place the fleshy parts of the eggplant that you removed from the charred skin, and the roasted garlic, in a plate or serving dish.  Then, remove the skin from the tomato. Add the tomato to the eggplant and garlic. Using a fork, crush tomato and garlic and mix together with the eggplant.  Finally, add the green onions, pepper and salt to taste (about 1 tsp).  Mix together and serve hot with your favorite type roti. I had mine with sada roti.

Place the fleshy parts of the eggplant that you removed from the charred skin, and the roasted garlic, in a plate or serving dish.
Then, remove the skin from the tomato.
Add the tomato to the eggplant and garlic. Using a fork, crush tomato and garlic and mix together with the eggplant.
Finally, add the green onions, pepper and salt to taste (about 1 tsp).
Mix together and serve hot with your favorite type of roti. I had mine with sada roti (recipe to follow).

 

Baigan Choka / Roasted Eggplant (serves 4)

Ingredients:

2 large eggplants
1 large tomato
4 cloves garlic
5 heads green onion
1/2 wiri wiri pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt

Directions:
Wash eggplants and tomato. Using a knife, make 2 inch slits lengthwise along each eggplant. Peel garlic cloves and cut into halves. Stuff halves into a few of the slits along the eggplants. Add to an open flame and roast for about 30 minutes or until the eggplants are completely charred and soft. Rotate eggplant so that all sides are roasted evenly. Roast tomato on an open flame until the skin is charred and easily removes from the flesh. Finely chop the green onions and pepper. Add oil to a small saute pan on medium heat. Add green onions and peppers and saute for about 3 minutes.
When eggplants are completely roasted, remove charred skin and scoop fleshy part and roasted garlic out with a fork. Add eggplant to a serving dish. Then, remove skin from roasted tomato. Add tomato to the eggplant and roasted garlic and crush with a fork. Add green onions, pepper and salt. Mix together and enjoy.

Tips and Ramblings:
1. You can choose not to cook the green onions and add them raw. It gives it a nice crunchy taste.
2. The tomato I used had a lot of water. So it made my baigan choka a bit watery. It also had a sour/tangy taste which also affect the taste of the choka, so choose your tomato wisely. Roma tomatoes or vine ripen tomatoes might have been a better choice.

Happy Roasting!

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Vegetarian Side Dish… Katahar Curry

Katahar Curry

Katahar is a relative to the Jack Fruit family. In fact, many mistake it for jack fruit. The young/green katahar is usually cooked in a coconut curry broth. The mature/ripe katahar is used only for its seeds, that are boiled and eaten as a nutty, meaty snack.

Before I made this dish, I hadn’t eaten katahar in over 13 years. Every time I visited Guyana it was not in season. When I lived in New York, I rarely longed for Guyanese food because it was so readily available. A few weeks ago while visiting my mom, we went shopping in little Guyana and what did I see on a vegetable stand on Liberty Avenue? Katahar of course. So I bought two katahar/s, packed them in my suitcase and brought them to Denver.

I should state as a disclaimer that katahar is quite time consuming to cook, from peeling, to the actually cooking, it takes like 2 to 3 hours, if you’re lucky. So I let the katahar sit in my refrigerator for almost 3 weeks, putting off cooking it every time I saw it in the fridge. Sadly, when I finally decided to cook it, one of them was completely rotten and the other one was salvageable but a bit brown.

 

Now for this dish…

First, you will need to peel off the tough green skin from the Katahar. Then, separate the "flesh" from the seeds/nuts. Next, you must remove the outer shell from the seeds. Finally, I shredded the flesh in to tiny strips and cut the seeds/nuts into halves.

First, you will need to peel off the tough green skin from the Katahar.
Then, separate the “flesh” from the seeds/nuts.
Next, you must remove the outer shell from the seeds.
Finally, I shredded the flesh into tiny strips and cut the seeds/nuts into halves.

Now for the curry…

Prepare a curry paste I added 1 onion, 6 cloves of garlic and 2 tbsp water to the food processor and blended until finely chopped.  Then, I combined 1 tbsp granulated garlic, 1 tbsp geera (ground roasted cumin), 1 tsp garam masala, 2 tbsp curry powder, and 1 tsp salt. Mixed it together to form a curry paste.

Prepare a curry paste!
I added 1 onion, 6 cloves of garlic and 2 tbsp water to the food processor and blended until finely chopped.
Then, I combined 1 tbsp granulated garlic, 1 tbsp geera (ground roasted cumin), 1 tsp garam masala, 2 tbsp curry powder, and 1 tsp salt.
I mixed it together to form a curry paste.

Cook curry paste in a pressure cooker on medium heat, with about 3 tbsp of oil.

Cook curry paste in a pressure cooker (without the lid on, just like you would a sauce pot) on medium heat, with about 3 tbsp of oil.

When most of the liquids have evaporated from the paste and the curry almost brown in color, add the katahar.

When most of the liquids have evaporated from the paste and the curry is almost brown in color, add the katahar.

Add 5 cups of water and pressure cook until flesh and nut are tender (melts in your mouth tender).

Add 5 cups of water and pressure cook until flesh and nut are tender (melts in your mouth tender).

Once the katahar cooks, add 2 cups coconut milk and reduce heat. Let simmer (without pressure lid on) until broth thickens, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Once the katahar cooks, add 2 cups coconut milk and salt to taste. Then, reduce heat. Let simmer (without pressure lid on) until broth thickens, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Katahar curry is best enjoyed with white rice!

Katahar curry is best enjoyed with white rice!

Katahar Curry (Makes 6 servings)

Ingredients:
1 medium katahar (peeled and prepared)
1 onion
6 cloves garlic
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp granulated garlic
1 tbsp geera
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp oil
2 cups coconut milk
5 cups water (for pressure cooking)

Directions:
Peel and separate katahar flesh and nuts/seeds. Peel nuts and cut into halves. Shred flesh into tiny strips.
Prepare a curry paste by combining onion and garlic in a food processor with about 2 tbsp water. Add curry powder, granulated garlic, geera, salt and garam masala to processed onion and garlic. Add oil to a pressure cooker on medium heat, with lid off. When oil is hot, add curry paste. Saute curry paste until the liquid evaporated and curry is almost brown in color. Then, add katahar, followed by water. Increase heat to high, add lid and pressure cook until flesh and seeds are tender. When katahar is fully cooked add coconut milk and a bit more salt to taste (of needed). Reduce heat and let simmer until curry broth thickens.

Tips and Ramblings:

1. You can peel and prepare the katahar overnight. It took me about an hour to peel the little katahar I had.
2. You can add more spices or pepper to the curry paste. I have a pretty good curry powder that has loads of spices so I often don’t add anything else to my curry paste.
3. I didn’t want the curry to lose the richness of the coconut milk, through the pressure cooking so I chose to add the coconut milk towards the end as a thickening agent.
4. I had to check my pressure cooker 3 times and add a bit more water before the katahar was fully cooked. It pressure cooked for like an hour.
5. Logic tells me this would be a great slow cooker dish, so next time I am fortunate to come across katahar I will try it in the slow cooker. Of course I also need to buy a slow cooker, first. (smile)

Happy Cooking!

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Carrot Pilaf…and Fried Tilapia with a cucumber salsa

Carrot Pilaf and Tilapia

During this week, I had a craving for tilapia. So I made a quick rice pilaf and fried some tilapia. The meal felt like it was missing something. So I went to my refrigerator, pulled a few ingredients and created a cucumber, avocado and tomato salsa. I tossed it all in some lime juice and cilantro and the flavors were just what the fish was missing. Plus, the lime juice over the fish was pretty tasty.  This meal is perfect for a weekday dinner and the left overs were equally delicious.

 

First the pilaf…

 

In large stock pot on medium heat, saute1 large onion (thinly slices), 6 cloves of garlic chopped and about a handful of plum tomatoes (halved). I used about 3 tbsp of canola oil.  When the onions are a little brown, add 1 cup of shredded carrots, followed by 2 cups of rice.  Mixed together, then add 1 tbsp dried thyme, about 3 tsp salt, and a pinch of fresh ground pepper.  Then, add 4 cups of vegetable stock or water.

In a large stock pot on medium heat, saute 1 large onion (thinly slices), 6 cloves of garlic chopped and about a handful of plum tomatoes (halved).
When the onions are a little brown, add 1 cup of shredded carrots, followed by 2 cups of rice.
Mixed together, then add 1 tbsp dried thyme, about 3 tsp salt, and a pinch of fresh ground pepper.
Then, add 4 cups of vegetable stock or water.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat and simmer until rice cooks and all of the liquid evaporates.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat and simmer until rice cooks and all of the liquid evaporates.

The finished product…

Carrot and Rice Pilaf

Now the tilapia…

First I washed the fish with some lemon juice and salt.  Then, I created a dry rub with:1 tbsp granulated garlic, 1 tbsp fresh thyme, 1 tbsp dried  oregano, 1/2 tsp cayenne powder and 2 tsp salt.  Coat fish in dry rub and let marinate for about 30 minutes.

First I washed the fish with some lemon juice and salt.
Then, I created a dry rub with: 1 tbsp granulated garlic, 1 tbsp fresh thyme, 1 tbsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp cayenne powder and 1 tsp salt.
Coat fish in dry rub and let marinate for about 30 minutes.

Frying the fish…

Combine a cup of seasoned Italian bread crumbs and a cup of flour. Mix together thoroughly.

Combine a cup of seasoned Italian bread crumbs and a cup of flour. Mix together thoroughly.

Coat fish in the bread crumb mixture.

Coat fish in the bread crumb mixture.

Add about a cup of oil to a frying pan on high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add flour coated fish. Fry on each side until fish is golden brown (about 2 minutes). Drain fish on a few sheets of paper towels to remove excess oil.

Add about a cup of oil to a frying pan on high heat.
When the oil is hot but not smoking, add flour coated fish.
Fry on each side until fish is golden brown (about 2 minutes).
Drain fish on a few sheets of paper towels to remove excess oil.

 

For the salsa…

Peel and dice 1 large cucumber and 1/2 of a large avocado.  Finely chop 1 slice of red onions. Cut 1 cup of plumb tomatoes in half.  Combine all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Then, add the juice of 1 lime.  Finally add 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro, 1 tsp salt and a pinch of ground black pepper and a pinch of ground cayenne pepper. Mix together.

Peel and dice 1 large cucumber and 1/2 of a large avocado.
Finely chop 1 slice of red onions.
Cut 1 cup of plum tomatoes in half.
Combine all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl.
Then, add the juice of 1 lime.
Finally add 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro, 1 tsp salt and a pinch of ground black pepper and a pinch of ground cayenne pepper.
Mix together.

Bringing it together…

Top the fried tilapia with the cucumber salsa, be sure to get some of the lime juice on the fish.

Top the fried tilapia with the cucumber salsa, be sure to get some of the lime juice on the fish.

Put the rice and fish together and enjoy!

Put the rice and fish together and enjoy!

 

Carrot Pilaf (Serves 6 large portions)

Ingredients:
1 onion, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup plum, halved
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp oil
1 tbsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp cayenne powder
1 cup of shredded carrots
2 cups rice
4 cups vegetable broth or water

Directions:
Add 3 tbsp oil to a large stock pot on medium heat. When oil is hot, saute onions, garlic and tomatoes. Once onions cook and become a bit soft and brown, add shredded carrots. Then, add thyme, salt, cayenne powder and rice. Mix together then add vegetable broth or water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer until rice cooks. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

 

Tilapia (serves 4)

Ingredients:
4 tilapia filets
2 lemons (juiced) and 1 tbsp salt (for washing fish)
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1 tbsp granulated garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne powder
1 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs
1 cup flour
1 cup oil for frying

Directions:
Wash fish with lemon juice and salt. Make a dry rub by combining thyme, granulated garlic, salt, oregano and cayenne powder. Completely coat tilapia and let marinate for at least 30 minutes. When fish is ready for frying, combine bread crumbs and flour and coat fish with the mixture. Add oil to a large frying pan on high heat. When oil is hot but not smoking, add flour coated fish. Fry on each side until golden brown (about 2 to 3 minutes each). Remove from oil and drain on a few sheets of paper towel.

Cucumber, avocado and tomato salsa (serves 4)

Ingredients:
1 large cucumber (peeled and diced)
1/2 large avocado (peeled and diced)
1 cup plum tomatoes (halved)
1/4 cup cilantro (chopped)
1 limes (juiced)
pinch of cracked black pepper
pinch of cayenne powder

Directions:
Combine cucumber, avocado, tomatoes in a small mixing bowl. Add lime juice followed by cilantro, black pepper, salt and cayenne powder. Mix together and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Tips and Ramblings:
1. When I made the rice I added way too much oil for sauteing the onions. I was busy getting my 9 month old out of the kitchen and into his play yard and wasn’t paying attention. The rice came out a little bit greasy but it was still pretty delicious. So be sure not to use more that about 3 tbsp oil.
2. You could add coconut milk to this dish if you like, but since it’s a pilaf I skipped the coconut milk.
3. You could add about 1 tbsp brown sugar for a little touch of sweetness to the rice.
4. Don’t over cook the tilapia or it will be pretty dry. You want it to have a bit of crunch but still moist.
5. Be sure to get some of the lime juice on the fish, it will give it a really tasty flavor.

Happy Cooking!

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Roti, Roti… Potato Roti (Aloo Paratha)

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If you don’t know by now, I love roti! Once in a while I make aloo parathas or potato rotis. Not because, I don’t like them, but because they are so delicious I can’t stop myself when I make them and eat way too many. If you are not sure how to make roti, check out my recipe for paratha roti before attempting this version of the paratha. Trust me, it will help a lot in the first part of the dough making.

Potato roti or aloo paratha, is a potato filled flat bread that is seasoned with Indian spices. It goes great with curry of any variety! I love mine with channa curry (chick peas curry or chola). My husband loves his with shrimp curry. My mom always made hers with chicken liver curry, which is also really delicious.

So here’s the recipe…

Making the dough…

In a mixing bowl combine: 2 cups flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp butter or ghee and 1/4 tsp salt. Mix together until butter is incorporated into the dough.

In a mixing bowl combine: 2 cups flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp butter or ghee and 1/4 tsp salt.
Mix together until butter is incorporated into the dough.

Add 3/4 cup water to flour mixture and knead together to form a soft dough.

Add 3/4 cup water to flour mixture and knead together to form a soft dough. Let dough sit for an hour.

While waiting on the dough,  prepare the potato filling…

Peel and dice 1.5lbs potatoes. Add to a saucepan and cover with water. Boil on medium heat until potatoes are tender.

Peel and dice 1.5lbs potatoes.
Add to a saucepan with 1/4 cup chopped onions, 1 tsp salt and cover with water.
Boil on medium heat until potatoes are tender.

When potatoes are fully cooked, drain and place in a large mixing bowl. Crush with a potato masher.Then, add 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp garam masala, 1 tbsp granulated garlic, 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper or chili flakes.

When potatoes are fully cooked, drain and place in a large mixing bowl.
Crush with a potato masher.
Add 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp garam masala, 1 tbsp granulated garlic, 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper or chili flakes.  Then, mix together.

Bringing it together…

After about 1 hour, divide dough into 6 equal pieces. Then roll into smooth balls.

After about 1 hour, divide dough into 6 equal pieces.
Then roll into smooth balls.

1. Flatten a dough ball into a small round disk.2. Fill with 1/3 cup of the potato filling.3 and 4. Close up the dough dish to form a large round ball.5. The difference between a filled dough ball and a regular dough ball.

Flatten a dough ball into a small round disk.
Fill with 1/3 cup of the potato filling.
Close up the dough dish to form a large round ball.
Notice the difference between a filled dough ball and a regular dough ball.

Cooking the rotis/parathas…

To make the baste, add 1/4 cup of butter and 1/4 cup of oil to a small bowl. Microwave until the butter melts, then mix together.

To make the baste, add 1/4 cup of butter and 1/4 cup of oil to a small bowl. Microwave until the butter melts, then mix together.

On a floured surface roll a filled dough ball into a large round dish about 1/8 of an inch thick.

On a floured surface roll a filled dough ball into a large round disk about 1/8 of an inch thick.

On a warm skillet on low to medium heat add the rolled out roti. Then flip over using a metal spatula. Baste with the butter and oil mixture. Then repeat on the other side. Roti will inflate (swell up) into a large ball.

Add roti to a  warm skillet on low to medium heat.
Then flip over using a metal spatula.
Baste with the butter and oil mixture.
Then repeat on the other side.
Roti will inflate (swell up) into a large ball.

Placed cooked roti on a few sheets of paper towel to help absorb some of the oil from basting.

Place cooked roti on a few sheets of paper towel to help absorb some of the oil from basting.

The finished product.

The finished product.

I had mine with channa curry and my husband had his with shrimp curry. Yummy!

I had mine with channa curry and my husband had his with shrimp curry. Yummy!

Potato Roti / Aloo Paratha

Ingredients:

The dough:
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp butter or ghee
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup water

Potato filling
1.5 lbs potatoes peeled and diced
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp granulated garlic
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper

Baste:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup oil

Directions:

Making the dough: Combine flour, baking powder, butter or ghee and salt in a large mixing bowl. Mix together until butter is fully combined with flour. Add water and knead to form a soft dough. Cover with a damn paper towel and let sit for 1 hour. After an hour, separate dough into six pieces and roll into smooth balls.

Making the filling: Add potatoes, salt and onions to a small pot. Cover the potatoes with water. Then bring potatoes to a boil on high heat, cook until potatoes are tender. Remove from heat and drain water. Crush potatoes using a potato masher. Add cumin, masala, granulated garlic and cayenne pepper to potatoes. Mix well and set aside.

Filling the rotis/parathas: Flatten a dough ball into a small round disk. Fill disk with 1/3 cup of the potato filing. Close disk up to form a potato filled ball. Repeat process for the remaining pieces of dough.

Cooking the rotis/parathas: For the baste, combine 1/4 cup of butter and 1/4 cup of oil in a small bowl. Microwave until butter melts, then mix together. On a floured surface roll a potato filled ball into a large flat disk about 1/8 inch thick. Place on a warm skillet on low to medium heat. Flip over and baste with butter and oil mixture. Flip over and repeat. Cook roti for about 2 minutes on each side making sure to baste both sides. Roti should become completely inflated. Remove from heat and place on a few sheets of paper towel to allow excess oil from basting to drain. Repeat process until all the parathas are cooked.

Tips and Ramblings:
1. Please see my paratha roti recipe and video for more details on how to make the roti dough.
2. Potatoes must be mashed to a smooth consistency or it will be hard to roll the parathas out into a disk without it tearing.
3. When filling the dough balls with the potato, you can adjust the filling amount if the dough is being stretched too thin.
4. When rolling out the roti, please ensure that the surface and dough ball is completely floured. Roll gently to prevent the roti from tearing.

Happy Cooking!

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Sunday Brunch… Potatoes and Vegetables Gratin

Potato Gratin

This is a quick side dish, perfect for Easter brunch. It’s a classic potato gratin with a veggie twist. I’m not going to say too much on this post, still sick and battling a nasty cold. So while my head is in a fog, I’ll spare you guys any crazy stories.

For the dish….

First you will need about 1lb potatoes.Washed and sliced into 1/8 inch thickness.Layer in a sauce pan and cover with water. Cook until it is al dente (slightly hard).

First you will need about 1lb potatoes.
Washed and sliced into 1/8 inch thickness.
Layer in a large saute pan and cover with water and add 1 tsp salt.
Cook until it is al dente (slightly hard).

Once the potatoes cook, remove from heat but not from water.For the veggies I am using a bag of steamers by Bird's Eye, but you can use fresh cauliflower, carrots and broccoli. Just remember to steam them a bit before putting the dish together.

Once the potatoes cook, remove from heat but not from water.
For the veggies I am using a bag of steamers by Bird’s Eye, but you can use fresh cauliflower, carrots and broccoli.
Just remember to steam them a bit before putting the dish together.

For the sauce:Melt 1 tbsp butter in a saucepan on low heat. Add, 1 tsp granulated garlic, 1 tbsp chopped onions, 1 tsp spicy brown mustard, 4 cups shredded cheese, 2 cups milk, 1 tsp parsley flakes and a pinch pf  fresh ground black pepper.Whisk together until cheese melts and forms a thick sauce.

For the sauce:
Melt 1 tbsp butter in a saucepan on low heat.
Add, 1 tsp granulated garlic, 1 tbsp chopped onions, 1 tsp spicy brown mustard, 4 cups shredded cheese, 2 cups milk, 1 tsp parsley flakes and a pinch of fresh ground black pepper.
Whisk together until cheese melts and forms a thick sauce. Remove from heat and when cooled whisk in 2 whole eggs and set aside.

Layering the Gratin…

Grease a large baking dish with oil or cooking spray. Add a light layer of cheese sauce.Then add a layer of potatoes, followed by another layer of cheese sauce.

Grease a large baking dish with oil or cooking spray.
Add a light layer of cheese sauce.
Then add a layer of potatoes, followed by another layer of cheese sauce.

Add a layer of vegetables, then another layer of cheese.Finish with a second layer of potatoes and a final layer of cheese sauce.

Add a layer of vegetables, then another layer of cheese.
Finish with a second layer of potatoes and a final layer of cheese sauce.

Top with 1 cup shredded cheese and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 40 mins.

Top with 1 cup shredded cheese and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 40 mins.

I had mine with a side of oven roasted herb crusted chicken breast. Yummy.

I had mine with a side of oven roasted herb crusted chicken breast. Yummy.

Potatoes and Veggies Gratin (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

1lb potatoes
1 packet Bird’s Eye Steamers (mixed veggies),
or
1 head of broccoli
1/2 head of cauliflower
3 Carrots
5 cups of shredded cheese (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 eggs
2 cups milk
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp chopped onions
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp spicy brown mustard
2 tsp salt
1 tsp parsley flakes
pinch of black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wash potatoes and slice into 1/8 inch round slices. Layer slices in a large saute pan, cover with water, add 1 tsp salt and cook on medium heat. When potatoes are cooked but not too soft (al dente) remove from heat, but not water.
Prep veggies:
If you are using the steamers, follow instructions on the packet. If you are using fresh veggies. Steam veggies for 5 to 10 minutes. They should be cooked but not soft. Season with 1 tsp salt
Making the cheese sauce:
Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add chopped onions, granulated garlic, mustard, parsley flakes and black pepper.
Add 4 cups cheese and milk. Whisk until cheese melts into a thick sauce. Let cool then whisk in eggs.
Layering the gratin:
Grease a large baking dish with cooking spray or oil. Add a thin layer of cheese sauce. Then add a layer of potatoes followed by a layer of cheese sauce. Then add a layer of veggies, followed by another layer of cheese sauce. Finally add a top layer of potatoes and a final layer of cheese sauce. Then top with the remaining shredded cheese.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Tips and Ramblings:
1. If you want this to be more cheese, you can add 1/2 lb more cheese.
2. You can make the cheese on the top much thicker, but I wanted a more subtle cheese flavor.
3. You can make the sauce thicker by adding a tbsp of flour to the butter before adding the onions etc.

Happy Cooking!

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Vegetarian Sides… Callaloo Cook-up!

Callaloo Cook up

In Guyana we call a variety of green leafy vegetables callaloo. It is similar in taste and structure to spinach. In this dish I am using spinach, since I am not lucky enough to find callaloo in Denver. This is a one pot, rice dish and is great with fish and fried ripe plantains or just by itself. It’s a great alternative to rice and beans or cook-up rice with peas and meat.

Now for the recipe…

We're going to season this dish with 2 tomatoes (diced), 1 large onion (diced), 3 cloves garlic (finely chopped), salt, pepper and dried thyme. To get the dish started, saute onion, garlic and tomatoes in about 2 tbsp oil on medium heat, in a large stock pot.

We’re going to season this dish with 2 tomatoes (diced), 1 large onion (diced), 3 cloves garlic (finely chopped), salt, pepper and dried thyme.
To get the dish started, saute onion, garlic and tomatoes in about 2 tbsp oil in a large stock pot on medium heat.

For the callaloo (in this case spinach):Wash 1 bundle of spinach and chop into large chunks

For the callaloo (in this case spinach):
Wash 1 bundle of spinach and chop into large chunks.

Add callaloo (in this case spinach) to sauteed tomatoes and onions.Then add 2 cups rice.Add 1 can coconut milk (about 2 cups) and 2 cups water.Then add salt, pepper, and dried thyme. I also added a wiri wiri pepper for flavor. Cover and bring to a boil on high heat.

Add callaloo (in this case spinach) to sauteed tomatoes and onions.
Then add 2 cups rice.
Add 1 can coconut milk (about 2 cups) and 2 cups water.
Then add salt, pepper, and dried thyme. I also added a wiri wiri pepper for flavor.
Cover and bring to a boil on high heat.

Once the rice comes to a boil, reduce to low heat and cook until all the liquid evaporates and rice cooks.

Once the rice comes to a boil, reduce to low heat and cook until all the liquid evaporates and rice cooks.

There you have it Callaloo Cook-up Rice. Yum. Pretty quick and easy.

 

Callaloo Cook-up Rice

Ingredients:

2 Roma Tomatoes (diced)
1 large onion (diced)
3 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 bundle of spinach (washed and chopped)
2 cups long grain rice
1 can coconut milk (about 2 cups)
2 cups water
1 tbsp dried thyme (preferably Guyanese thyme)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 wiri wiri or similar (e.g. scotch bonnet) pepper. Used whole for flavor.
About 2 tbsp oil for cooking onions, garlic and tomatoes.

Directions:
Saute onions, garlic and tomatoes with about 2 tbsp oil, in a large stock pot on medium heat. When tomatoes are soft, add spinach and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes. Then, add rice, coconut milk and water. Add thyme, salt, black pepper and wiri wiri pepper. Stir together.Cover and bring to a boil on high heat. Once rice comes to a boil, reduce heat to low to medium and let simmer until rice cooks and all the water evaporates. Serve with your favorite protein and some fried ripe (sweet) plantains.


Tips and Ramblings:

1. This dish cooks in about 30 minutes, or as long as it will take for the rice to cook
2. At the end of the dish, I cut open the wiri wiri pepper for some mild heat
3. My husband wanted more heat and ate his with some good Guyanese pepper sauce
4. I served this dish with some pan fried tilapia and a nice green salad.

Happy Cooking!

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Vegetarian Sides… Pumpkin and Tomatoes

Guyanese pumpkin

I LOVE pumpkin. I could eat it every day, with every kind of protein or without anything protein at all. Pumpkin and roti is my comfort food. Throw in some dhal and I’m in heaven! Today I am featuring the first in a series of Guyanese vegetarian side dishes. Initially I thought about cooking seven curry and featuring that, but I couldn’t find katahar in Denver to save my life. So I am doing something a bit more simple. Now I know a lot of you will give me lots of grief about these next posts because you can probably already cook these dishes, but listen, I have non-Guyanese followers too.

This dish is quick and simple. It takes about 30 minutes to prep and cook.

I am using 1 1/2lbs pumpkin. Peeled, gutted (seeds and "guts") removed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes.To season this dish you will need: 3 Roma tomatoes sliced, a handful of plum tomatoes cut into halves, 1 large onion diced, 6 cloves garlic finely chopped, 1 wiri wiri pepper, 1 tsp dried thyme, about 2 tsp salt and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper..

I am using 1 1/2lbs pumpkin. Peeled, gutted (seeds and “guts” removed) and cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
To season this dish you will need: of  garlic (finely chopped), 1 wiri wiri pepper, 1 tsp dried thyme, about 2 tsp salt and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper.

First, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Then cook onions, garlic and garlic until slightly brown. I also add the whole wiri wiri pepper  for flavor without the heat. Then add sliced roma tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are soft.Add diced pumpkin, thyme, salt and black pepper.

First, in a large saute pan on medium heat, warm 2 tbsp oil. Then cook onions and garlic until slightly brown. I also add the whole wiri wiri pepper for flavor without the heat.
Then add sliced roma tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are soft.
Add diced pumpkin, thyme, salt and black pepper.

Saute pumpkin for about 5 minutes, then add 1 to 2 cups of water. Cover and let simmer until pumpkin is fully cooked and soft (about 15 minutes)Then, add halved plum tomatoes. Cook for an additional 5 minutes and remove from heat. Serve with rice or roti and your favorite protein!

Saute pumpkin for about 5 minutes, then add 1 to 2 cups of water. Cover and let simmer until pumpkin is fully cooked and soft (about 15 minutes)
Then, add halved plum tomatoes. Cook for an additional 5 minutes and remove from heat. Serve with rice or roti and your favorite protein!

I’m having mine with dhal and roti. Yummy.

pumpkin and roti and dhal

Guyanese Style Pumpkin Stew (6 Servings)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs peeled and diced pumpkin
3 roma tomatoes (sliced)
1 large onion (diced)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
about 10 plum tomatoes (halved)
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 wiri wiri pepper for flavor (not heat)
2 tbsp olive oil

Directions:
Heat oil in a large saute pan on medium heat. Add onions, garlic and wiri wiri pepper. Cook onions and garlic until brown. Add roma tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are soft. Add pumpkin, thyme, salt and pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes, then add 1 to 2 cups water. Cook covered for 15 to 20 minutes or until pumpkin is cooked and soft. Add plum tomatoes and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat and enjoy.

Tips and Ramblings:
1. You can use butternut squash as a substitute for pumpkin if you are in the US and can’t find pumpkin. For this post I bought pumpkin from my local Asian market but I’ve often cooked butternut squash as a pumpkin substitute. You may need to add brown sugar and blend the butternut squash with a hand blended to give it a smooth texture but the flavors are very similar.
2. You can add chicken, beef, shrimp, lamb whatever protein you want to this dish. Most Guyanese prefer pumpkin and shrimp. I recently made pumpkin and salt fish. It was delicious.
3. If you want some heat in this dish. You can cut open the wiri wiri pepper at the end or chop it up in the beginning. I like the flavor of the pepper without the heat.

Happy Cooking!

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