Friday, January 22, 2016

Quick Fix: 5 ways to Detox a Caribbean Christmas

It had been three days. I was washing my hands to get rid of the evidence (ham pinching is an art) and as the water glazed over my hands, I had to ask the question. When last did I have a glass of water? I know I'm not alone here. Whether you were trekking from Mama's house down south to your partner's cook up by the beach or simply eating from an outlandishly set-up table, it was very easy to get caught up in every dish that passed under your nose. It was also very easy for seconds to become thirds and fourths. Dare I say, fifths and sixths. For many, Christmas and eating until you unbutton your jeans is synonymous.

Christmas ham still going strong
In the Caribbean, every plate of stewed peas is washed down with ice cold ginger beer. Topaz black cake and ruby red sorrel drink are jewels to be hunted. And since ham goes the distance, it's no surprise to step into the new year still digging towards the bone. Water never stood a chance. But could you imagine what your body is going through right now. Your liver, pancreas and kidneys are working overtime to process the sudden shock of salt, fats and sugar to the temple we call our body.

I am asking you to come out of that four-week long coma. It's time to clear your blood stream and digestive track and clean up the body. We changed curtains and painted the house for the season, what could be so hard in doing it for ourselves?

Here are a couple local items to get you started. You may even be surprised who made the list.


Cinnamon

Sprinkle me please?

Cinnamon is known for the power of it's bark. It's bite, on the other hand, is on the sweet side. As Grenadians, boiling a couple pieces for our morning tea is an anticipated ritual but did you know that you that this habit has been saving your life? Many studies have proven this practice can turn your insulin into glucose groupies which regulates your blood sugar levels and give you the upper hand on diabetes. Persons who drank 5g for 40 days saw a 30% decrease in blood sugar. Cinnamon can also reduce your total cholesterol and ease intestinal pains. If I were you, I'd be shaking a dash of spice in everythang hunny, everthang; in moderation of course. (Everythang!)

Mauby

What a hunk!

A fellow barker with a bitter attitude.The only reason we keep him around is because we are used to him. I have seen newbies twist their face up in sheer shock and digust and as a kid, I hated that Mauby. But now as an adult and for most Caribbean nationals, we cannot stop professing our love. I figure, he have some kinda hold on us, fuh sure. Whether you sweeten with brown or white sugar and flavour with orange peel, aniseed, cinnamon or clove, the health benefits outweigh that smooth, acquired taste.

Mauby is a diuretic which means if you don't want to wet the bed, don't drink it before you sleep. In all seriousness, the more often your urinate, the greater opportunity you body has to get rid of excess salts (ham-like salts) and toxins (rum-like toxins). This in turn, can lower blood pressure and the occurrence of hypertension.

It's also rich in saponins, like the ones used to make soap. That's why he always looks so bubbly all the while hiding that bitter hate inside. Saponins attract those delicious cholesterol globules to themselves and prevent the body from taking them up, saving you from clogged up blood vessels and an overworked liver.

Studies have shown that 300ml of the diluted commercialized beverage can significantly lower your blood pressure. And when mixed with milk acts as a blood 'builder'. Give the guy a chance. You won't regret it.


Coconut Water

Ready to embrace my inner coconut woman


To me, coconut water is the God-given gatorade. I have two of these every weekend, just for the fun of it. I'm an islander; sue me. It's the perfect composition of sugars, lipids, ions, vitamins, amino acids and enzymes to grow tissue cultures and therefore is ready to fuel you body back to a healthy level of metabolism. Um um Sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium are the ions that ensure the proper running of your body's cellular processes . Coconut water, being the best wingman ever, has a similar set-up to that found in blood. So guess whose blood pressure will be under control. And as a bonus, add mauby to the mix and the effect is doubled. Scientist's honour! Try 2-3 coconuts a week and see results within three.


Sorrel




Sorrel's gift has always been its insane amount of polyphenols. Anthocyanins,tannins, saponins and ascorbic acid team up to provide you 165mg of antioxidants per serving. Whether you are eating the seeds and leaves or drinking the juice of the calyx expect to improve your immunity with every bite and sip. It helps to actively remove free radicals that are accumulating in your body since you started Christmas binging. Chase a fever away, recover from a hangover, lower blood pressure with its diuretic properties are just of few of the many talents. That means get a glass of sorrel minus the sugar and the rum and starting once a week try a cleaner, safer version of your favourite Christmas drink.

Tumeric

Root for me baby!

Behind every tumeric root is a chemical called curcumin that puts in the work. Anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-fungal, it does it all. Think power grid shut down. Low density lipids, down. Swelling, down. Blood clumps, down. Cadmium and lead overdose, down and down. Meanwhile lipase and amylase production is up and fats and sugars are being taken out in a body bag.
It is most effective as tea or in curries. No Oil Down does not qualify as a viable source of curcumin.


So which one are you most excited to try first or 
are you still hesitating to take on the challenge?
Let me know down below.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Bite me: Flavour Forecast 2016



Fashion trends aren't the only things to watch out for this month. Every year the top guys at Mc Cormick prepare a list of flavours that have the potential to take the food world by storm. This year they have narrowed it down to 6 flavours that are guaranteed to dominate this year's palettes. And I have to say, if you live in the Caribbean, you already have a head start. Check it out below! 


Pomegranate and Lime 

Heat + Tang: Imagine spicy explosions with swirls of tangy goodness. Think Ginger and Tamarind sauce, Chilli Pepper and Lime vinaigrette or Scotch Bonnet and Pineapple stir fry. This combination is always a winner.
When prepping dipping sauce for spicy Hot Pot, you gotta have 
sesame seed oil, chives, garlic, vinegar and seasoning salt.


Suan La Noodles is a really popular dish in Chongqing, China.
 It's sweet potatoes noodles flavoured with...vinegar and chilli
Tropical Asian: We can do tropical. It's in our blood. But can we do Asian? You've been doing it all along, thanks to our Indian ancestry. Mango Chutney immediately comes to mind. I could taste it now; sweet chunks of mango seasoned with jeera, masala, garlic and the like. 

Steamed pineapple rice with mango and goji berries

Blends with benefits: My foodie friend, you already have a couple go-to herbs and spices. All I ask is that you sprinkle it on E-VER-Y-THANG. Try Moringa and Chocolate. Seamoss, Pumpkin and Spice smoothie is one for the books. Dare to be healthy and adventurous at once! You can't go wrong.


Green tea frosting and chocolate cake is so good...

so good that we had to show you twice. This time green tea ice cream
vanilla cake and chocolate sauce.
Yogurt bowl with banana, coconut, 100% chocolate and flax seeds/


Alternative “pulse” proteins: I'm talking tamarind seeds, chick peas, daal. These super legumes are rich in protein and low in cholesterol and sodium. Pair with spices to up the nutrition for a balanced meal.


Peas soup with some good ole dumplings


Ancestral flavours: For us original Pirates of the Caribbean, nothing says roots like Cassareep (fermented cassava sauce), Big Thyme and Coconut milk. Don't you miss the days when we cooked everything in coconut milk. It's all about getting back to simple and filling meals when the only thing you could afford to cook with was love.

Traditional fried rolls

Conkie prepared with corn meal, pumpkin,
coconut milk and raisins

Culinary-infused sips: Pickled, roasted, and brûléed are the ones to look out for. Now tell me, what don't we roast? Breadfruit, bread-nut, corn, wild meat. We got that charred taste down to a science. So in this case, what do you know, we are ahead of the game.


In China, pickled meat or vegetables are a must with every meal

Breadfruit sliced and cored and ready to roast
As you set up new diet plans and tick off your 'Things to taste before I die' list, make sure to try some of these tips. 
Tasty, nutritious and fun...That's how my 2016 will be!



Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Clarke's Court Christmas Bake Off

Nothing says Christmas in the Caribbean like baking. We know that right? A moist, black cake of decadent fruit is like Christmas currency. It's really not a question of if, but a question of how many cakes can one collect for the season. Personally, I'm on cake number five. Then Clarke's Court comes around to make me totally rethink the concept of Christmas baking with the Clarke's Court and Blue Band Christmas Bake Off.
Clarke's Court New Premium product 'Black Gold'

Tucked away in a lush corner valley, south side of the country is Clarke's Court Rum Factory, a World Class awarded distillery. The only other Caribbean island to hold this prestigious position is St. Lucia. So consider this sacred territory.


There's a flavour for everyone here, even the picky-est, 'stush-est' palettes. So if you enjoy a fine combination of aromatics or you just want a tasty glass of rum to shock your system, Clarkey's got you covered. This is not your under the counter, behind the stove joint. They have received Gold medals for #37 blend, Grenada Mojito, Rhthym Coconut Rum and Superior Light and Silver medals for Old Grog and Camerhogne Liqueur. As Kansime would say 'Quality Product'.

Stock up on your Sorrel mix for the holiday
The bakers really couldn't ask for better ingredients. One taste of the sorrel rum and I wished I was doing the baking. But hey, I was going still going to do the tasting. #winning


If the faces below are familiar, you probably recognize them from Grenada Cake Wars with two new buddies: Marsha Peters and Mavis Paul, who just happens to be Kellon's mom. Our emccee warned that any child who beats his mother will be cursed...
But it seems like this was a chance Kellon was willing to take.


Now to the challenge:
1.Combine a special Clarke's Court Rum with a secret ingredient for a bombastically flavoured cake.
2. Decorate said cake inspired by the festivities of the season and Clarke's Court itself.
3. No traditional fruit cakes allowed



Here's how it went down


 Ashphil Robinson




Ashphil presented a four tiered cake led by Rudolph and his stomping crew. The first bite was that sorrel+rum taste we all know. As my teeth sank further in, soft, gooey golden-apple stew hit me for a wonderful blend of flavour.


I also loved the separate details of each layer from brick-house chimney to winter wonderland and her vibrant used of colour. It was a beautiful complement to the cake.

Kellon Maximay

It was obvious that this baker knew rum. Clarke's Court was fully represented not only in the perfectly stained, aged and labelled barrel but also in the well-defined flavour throughout the cake.




Kellon came heavy on the alcohol and zestyness to create a truly lemon lime cake with fresh trails of lemon-grass fragrance. I hope Moms was watching her back because the competition was heating up.



Mavis Paul



Speaking of mom, Mavis is a name used to mean all things sweet and she certainly lived up to it. With Rhythm Coconut Rum and Carambola fruit, you had to come right or don't come at all. Mavis showed her skills by somehow blending the two flavours into one mouth-watering taste. You know the kind of cake that you blink and suddenly, there's no more cake, because you ate it that fast. Yup. 


She nestled it under a wintery snowglobe filled with snowman lollies and coconut shavings and of course, a bottle of Rhythm Coconut Rum.


Shelly Ramdeo

Santa must  have taken one look at our cocoa trees and rum and said "Christmas, who?" In fact, I won't be surprised if he's still parked up at Shelly's place eating all her cake.


After all, if some one offered you a cake with a surprise inside of pineapple and mandarin compote in liqueur and spices, topped with liqueur and chocolate frosting, would you leave? Would you even remember you had gifts to deliver all around the world? I wouldn't. That's for sure.



Marsha Peters




With Spicy Rum and Fresh Sorrel, Marsha was our Christmas Ambassador. This was Grenadian Christmas in a cake. Look at that exquisite bottle!  


The highlight of this cake was the fresh bits of sorrel. You know we are so used to drinking the sorrel, that I never considered baking with it. Marsha used it perfectly in this cake.


Sheena Gellineau



In case you didn't know, Sheena kills fondant every time. Like every single time.



For this competition she does it not once, twice but three times: three separate cakes and two flavours. Coconut and Passion Fruit was perfumed in a creamy sponge cake to the judges' delight. Come to think of it, is there anything that coconut doesn't pair nicely with?

This competition would not be complete without a lil Black Gold cake miracle.


Look at the picture below. You can tell the difference but can you really tell the difference.


This is the work of none other than Mrs. Pierre out of St. Paul's. 
She's obviously the fairy godmother of Cake-land.

Now for the results

Third Place: Mavis Paul



Second Place: Kellon Maximay


First Place: Shelly Ramdeo



This event has taught me a couple things.

1. Rum drinking doesn't always end in drain blocking.
2. Christmas cake doesn't have to be black cake.
But most importantly,
3. Any cake that's soaked in rum is a winner.

Have a Merry Christmas yall and a cakelicious New Year!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Waste not, Want not: Sorrel/Roselle


Christmas is around the corner so your sorrel should already be blushing in the front yard. My question is this. Are you only going to make Sorrel Drink? Or do you want a chance to get the most out of your plants this season? Then I need you to stop everything else you are doing and read below.

Introduction:

Strangers know her  as Sorrel or Roselle but to her family she is Hibiscus sabdiriffa. Not to be mistaken for these beautiful Hibiscus flowers of the same family.



The seeds actually contain the greatest source of  phenols and antioxidant activity. Can you imagine that it ALWAYS thrown away *bows head*. Additionally it's full of protein, and not just any protein but the kind that is found in milk. Am I convincing you to collect sorrel seeds yet. This low density lipoprotein is a great addition to the diet.

It is known for its antiseptic, diuretic and sedative qualities as well as lowering blood pressure and improving digestion. That's what the bush men say. And if it's true, why aren't we making more use of this plant?

Cultivation:

The most important thing to consider is sunlight. Sorrel needs 13 h of sunlight during its first 4-5 months. Remember when the old folks used plant sorrel on Whit Monday with corn and peas. Ahhh, I see the light bulb going off in your head. Don't you love when tradition and science decide to get down and dirty?


In addition, well-drained soil, 5-10 inches of rain in the first three to four months, and these babies can be nursed into a healthy, bountiful harvest.

Storage:

So fresh 'n so clean: Sorrel is best when it's fresh. The beautiful colouring, high level of nutrients are reasons to use this as soon as it is picked.

Work on your tan: Sun drying is great for preserving sorrel calyces but even better is air drying. That way, anti oxidants are not reduced in great amount from the heat of the sun. Don't be stingy with the amount you start with, because you will only recover about 10% of it. Bag it or press into ball and enjoy the next year around.

Chill out: Of course, if you have the space, freezing is another wonderful option and allows you to keep the rich red colour in whatever you choose to make.


Recipes:



CALYX:

During my time abroad, I couldn't wait until December to pull out some sorrel flowers(even though they were ready since July) and  Clarke's Court Pure White hashtag Caribbean Christmas. Or so I thought. Turns out Mali and most of French speaking Africa make this drink and call it bissap but instead of our spicy chaser version, they have a minty kick. Some persons even make it into a milkshake.


Funke's twist on Sorrel Milkshake

Another awesome way that sorrel was prepared in China was a dried pickled snack, right next to the salted prunes and dried mangoes.

Pickled sorrel

You can use it when serving meat or in cakes, like this cheese cake below from Nesi Lemak Lover.

Nesi's Sorrel Cheese Cake

For those who love cranberry sauce but don't have access to the fruit, sorrel is a good substitute of colour, flavour and nutrition (healthier, in fact). Sorrel sauce is as simple as sugar, spices, citrus and sorrel. 
Roselle 'Florida Cranberry' Sauce
Don't skip out on a jam, jelly or stew to enjoy sorrel beyond the season.



The juice can also be used together with seaweed as a tonic in a colon detox salad or jelly or some home-made wine, tonic of a different kind.



LEAVES

Since sorrel is annual, we always cut the tree down to harvest the sorrel calyx and then burn the rest of the plant. My experience of 'red-not-blood-stained' fingers is enough to make me throw it all away. But there at least three ways that you can use them.



  • Fresh and raw in salad.
  • Cooked like spinach as a side dish, in soups or added to chutneys and curries


Hungry Ang Mo's Sorrel leaf curry
Hungry Ang Mo also pickles the leaves with Tamarind paste for a savory-tangy tasty condiment.


  • It can also be dried and used as tea.


SEEDS

In their pods, they are used in the preparation of Sorrel jam so that you don't have to add extra pectin.



Another option is dried and ground into a meal which can be used as coffee or to prepare a high protein soup.

On the medicine side it can used as a tonic, diuretic or laxative.



I don't know but if I were you, I'd be heading out side to pick me some part of that sorrel tree. We can't waste any more time.. See ya!


Sources

http://foodtank.com/news/2014/02/a-love-affair-with-roselle\

http://www.southernexposure.com/growing-guides/roselle-culture.pdf

https://sciencezoneja.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/hibiscus-sabdariffa/

http://infusion-hibiscus.com/media/Food_2$281$291-16o.pdf\

http://www.fao.org/3/a-av006e.pdf

P.K. Wong, S. Yusof, H. M. Ghazali, Y. B. Che Man, Physiochemical characteristics of roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.), Nutrition and Food Science, 32 (2002), pp. 68-73

N. Mohd-Esa, F. Shin Hern, A. Ismali, C. Lye Yee, Antioxidant activity in different parts of roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) extracts and potential exploitation of the seeds, Food Chemistry, 122.4 (2010), pp. 1055-1060


Monday, November 9, 2015

Quick Fix: Baking for Lactose Intolerant Kids

This past week my nephew celebrated his first year of existence outside of the womb and in this world. For 12 months of light, he's super intelligent and alert. He's knows want he wants and he's not to be messed with. It's probably to make up for the fact that he is also lactose-intolerant, something he has no control over.

Birthday Cake one out of four
When I heard he wore his birthday hat for the entire day, I knew there was no way I could bake a cake with any dairy. Anyone who wears their hat all day, intends to eat cake too. I easily solved that by replacing butter with oil. The tricky part was the frosting. No to Buttercream, No to Ganache. No to a lot of things.



I have a weird array of plants in my yard. One of them is Monkey Apple Fruit. Nope, no monkeys live on the true. Acutally, it's a cousing of Soursop and Sugar Apple. The orange flesh is just as soft and grainy as sugar apple but without the sourness of soursop. In fact, it's pretty mild. Perfect.


I quickly pulped it and boiled the juice with spices and sugar. Pretty soon I had something that resembled Apple Sauce. The next day I whipped in icing sugar and I was rewarded with DRIPPILICIOUS dairy-free glaze. Won't He do it! Can I get an amen?