CALLALOO BOX FOR THE WIN!!

Hey everyone! So as most of you know I’m from the beautiful islands of Trinidad and Tobago and cooking is near and dear to my heart! I use a wide array of spices and seasonings, a lot of which I can only get in Trinidad. Since I’ve moved to California 12+ years ago, I’ve searched and searched for Caribbean stores where I can purchase the items I need, but with no success. I’ve only found one place and it’s 3 hours away and that’s so inconvenient!

Then CALLALOO BOX came into my life and made everything better! Callaloo box is a new U.S. based subscription box service featuring seasonings, marinades & hot sauces from the Caribbean twin-islands of Trinidad & Tobago. The founders are 3 girlfriends who are all immigrants from Trinidad currently living in the U.S. and Canada. Each month the box will contain different products considered to be cornerstones of Caribbean cooking.

Their aim is to get these products into the hands of anyone interested in Caribbean cooking that live in the U.S. and don’t have easy access to them, or anyone who simply loves food, cooking and experimenting.

A special discount code NATASHA5 is available to my followers for $5 off of their 1st box when signing up for a month-to-month subscription!!

They currently only offer U.S. deliveries but are actively working towards  launching deliveries to Canada next year.

When you receive the box, you will see that it includes an info sheet describing the main ingredients in each product along with some uses and helpful tips.

You can check them out and subscribe on their website at www.callaloobox.com or follow across social media (IG, FB & Twitter) at the handle callaloobox.

Here’s my dinner of bodi *Chinese long beans*, cucumbers and kuchela, which I received from the callaloo box!! It’s a spicy mango condiment that adds so much flavor to your meal!



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JERK PORK

I absolutely love Jamaican food, but jerk pork is one of my favorites, it’s so spicy, savory and juicy and mouth watering and you get the point! Pair this up with some rice and peas and salsa and fried plantains and a couple festivals *a sweet fried dough* and BAM! You’re an islander ha!

The best part is how easy it is to make! My marinade of choice is Walkerswood Jerk Seasoning. I let my pork marinate for a day or more, and then I toss it in the oven at 350 F for 35 mins, and then move the pork to the grill over medium low heat. Baste with your favorite BBQ sauce and let the meat slowly cook and the sauce to caramelize beautifully. Let cool, then cut and serve.

INGREDIENTS

  • Country style pork ribs ( you can use chops too)
  • Jerk seasoning marinade *I prefer Walkerswood hot and spicy*
  • Lime juice

DIRECTIONS

  • Wash the pork with lime juice.
  • Add 1-2 ozs of marinade  per pound of pork.*I love Walkerswood jerk marinade but there are other brands*
  • Massage marinade into meat. *please wear gloves if you don’t want your hands to be on fire*
  • Let pork marinate for at least 2 hours or over night for intense heat and flavor.
  • Bake pork at 350F for 30 mins. Reserve about 1/4 cup of drippings.
  • Add the drippings to 2 cups of your favorite BBQ sauce and reduce.
  • Put pork on grill over medium to low heat and baste with your sauce.
  • Cook until finished!

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JAMAICAN RICE AND PEAS

Let me start off by confusing you! This dish isn’t actually made with peas, it’s made with beans, red beans, also called kidney beans! Are you still there? *crickets chirping* PERFECT! I love Jamaican rice and peas, with jerk pork or jerk chicken or escovitched fish and fried plantains with a side of festivals *a sweet fried dough*.

I’ve had a lot of exposure to Jamaican foods. I worked at JAMWEST Caribbean foods for a while and the best part was getting to eat all the delicious food everyday and listening to Jamaican Patois that I could barely understand, and listening to stories from Chef Patrick while he cooked corn meal porridge :). It was truly amazing watching the giant pots of rice and barrels of jerked meats being cooked, and that rum cake from Miss Verona was so divine. Oh and how could I forget about the patties, and fresh juices and hiding in the walk in fridge to ‘sample’ dishes and getting locked inside hehehehe. Good times!

Here’s a much smaller recipe for rice and peas
  • 8 ounces small dried red beans or 8 ounces red kidney beans
  • 1 quart water
  • 16 ounces chicken broth or 16 ounces chicken stock or 16 ounces water
  • 1cup coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1cup white onion, chopped
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2  teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper (left whole) or you can slice it if you want lots of heat!
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 1cups uncooked long grain rice

DIRECTIONS

  1. Rinse and sort beans and place in a stockpot.
  2. Cover with several inches of water and soak overnight,-or- bring to a boil, boil gently for 3 minutes, then remove from heat, cover, and allow to sit undisturbed for 1 hour.
  3. Drain and rinse beans.
  4. Bring to a boil with chicken stock, water, and coconut milk.
  5. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours or until beans are tender and creamy.
  6. Add the thyme, allspice, scallion, onion, garlic, scotch bonnet, brown sugar, uncooked rice, salt and pepper.
  7. Check the level of liquid over the rice and make sure there is at least one inch of liquid (if not, you may add water or broth to cover).
  8. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until rice is tender.
  9. Serve hot as a side dish.
  10. For vegetarian,use water not the chicken broth or stock.

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I served the rice and peas, along side jerk pork, which is cooked pretty much the same way as jerk chicken and a tropical salsa! Put some calypso music on in the background and I felt like I was back at home 🙂11064670_10155442019540431_2611953002881183454_o

DHAL

Dhal, a staple in Trinidadian cooking. We make this dish alongside curries or to be eaten alone like a soup or with roti *flat bread*. It’s healthy, flavorful and filling.

So funny story, when I was a teenager I was a bit rebellious *What? Really?! No way!*… I know, hard to believe right!? Anyway, my mom was forcing me to learn how to cook and I wanted no part of it, so I was throwing a hissy fit about cooking dhal and deliberately doing it wrong so she would just get mad at me and shoo me away. Well….she didn’t and I got a pot spoon thrown at me and she made me count each grain of dhal *split peas* in the package! Ever since then I’ve hated dhal and refused to make it! *Yeah! I’ll show her!!*

Years later, I’m pregnant and craving dhal and I didn’t know how to make it! According to Caribbean superstition, when you get pregnancy cravings and you don’t satisfy it, your child will be born with a birthmark shaped like what you were craving! And I was not about to have a child with a dhal birthmark on his head! 😁

Luckily my sister Giselle was visiting me and she is the best dhal maker I know *Yeah! Take that mom!!*, so I paid close attention and wrote down this recipe. I like my dhal not too thick and not too runny, just in the middle.

RECIPE
1 cup yellow split peas
2 1/2 cups water
7 grains garlic
1/2 onion chopped (medium)
1/2 habanero pepper ( keep whole if you want the flavor and not the heat)
1/4 tsp saffron powder
2 pimento peppers finely chopped (or you can use jalapeños)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp whole geera (cumin)

DIRECTIONS

1. Soak split peas for a couple hours and drain.
2. Boil 2 1/2 cups of water and then add the peas.
3. Add the 5 garlic grains, onion, peppers and saffron powder.
4. Let boil until peas are very soft and tender.
5. In a small pan, heat oil and add 2 grains garlic and geera, let it brown over low heat.When the garlic is brown, carefully pour the oil mixture into your split peas. (This process is called chunkaying)

6. Whisk the mixture or puree until smooth and add salt to taste (about a tsp)

TIP: If your dhal is too thick you can add hot water until you get to your desired texture.

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CURRIED CHICKEN

I’m just gonna leave this right here! No fancy camera and lighting… Just a pic from my phone and sheer hunger as I wait patiently for this large pot of curried chicken to finish so I can stuff my face and then take a nice nap! I deserve it!

Hope you’re having a great day! *secretly I hope I just made you ravenously hungry 😁😁😁*

OK so I’ve had my nap, here’s the recipe as promised! I’ve adapted this recipe from http://caribbeanpot.com/heavenly-curry-chicken-with-tender-potato

3 lbs chicken cut into pieces

2-3 tbsp curry powder (chief madras curry is my favorite)

1 tsp geera (ground cumin)

1/2 of a scotch bonnet or habanero  pepper (use more or less to your taste)

1 tsp salt

3 tbsp green seasoning mix.

3-4 leaves of shadow benny (chopped) or 3 chopped tablespoon of cilantro.

2 pimento peppers (chopped)

1 medium onion (chopped)

1 tomato (chopped)

2 cloves of garlic (chopped)

2 tablespoon lime or lemon juice

2 tablespoons of oil (vegetable)

2 medium potatoes (peeled / sliced into chunks)

2 cups water

Start by washing the chicken pieces with the lime or lemon juice and water (not the water mentioned in the recipe). Then start seasoning by adding all the ingredients mentioned above, except the oil, potato and water. Allow this to marinate for a couple hours for best results. Feel free to cook immediately if you’re in a rush.

On high heat, in a saucepan (with a lid) add the oil and wait until you start seeing gentle smoke. Try fishing out the pieces of onion and garlic from the marinated chicken and add to the now hot oil.

guyana chicken curry

Allow this to cook for about 2-3 minutes (you’ll notice that other recipes will ask that you cook the curry powder – I don’t), then start adding the seasoned pieces of chicken. Move everything around so it gets in contact with the heated oil. Cover and let simmer for a few minutes. After about 8 minutes you’ll notice that the chicken released some natural juices – lets turn up the heat and get rid of that.

chicken curry with potatoes

As you wait for the liquid to cook down, peel and dice the potatoes. Place it into the same bowl that the chicken was sitting in. When the liquid that was released is gone, add the potato pieces and stir around. Pour the 2 cups of water into the same bowl and try to get any remaining seasoning that was left behind.

curry potato with chicken

cooking curry chicken

After you’ve added and moved the pieces of potato around the pot a bit, add the water and bring back to a boil. Cover the pot and turn down the heat to a gentle simmer. Allow this to cook for about 20 minutes or so. The goal is to have tender pieces of potato (melt and thicken the sauce) and a rich-thick sauce. If there’s still a lot of liquid left after the 20 minutes, using the back of your spoon, smash a few pieces of the potato. This will help thicken the gravy/sauce. Taste the sauce and adjust salt and pepper to your liking! Serve with rice or roti (flat bread).

chicken curry

trini curry chicken

curry chicken

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Curried Chicken

The Big Green Secret behind Caribbean Food

SHHHHHH!!! You can’t tell anyone about this!..*comes closer*… Do you want to know why Caribbean food always tastes sooooo good??? Well I’m going to tell you but you must promise to never share! Ok?! Excellent!… I trust you!

It’s this! Green seasoning! We all make it, everyone has their own variation, there’s never an exact measurement, you know you’ve got the right amounts of ingredients by a certain smell! Once you know it, you’ll remember it forever! I just can’t explain it!

Green seasoning is used on meats, fish, vegetables and even for a body scrub *ok maybe not a body scrub…really don’t do that*.

My preferred blend includes;

  • chives
  • cilantro (shadow benny/ bandania is used in the Caribbean, cilantro is in the same family)
  • celery
  • thyme
  • spanish thyme
  • oregano
  • congo/ scotch bonnet/habanero pepper
  • pimento pepper
  • ginger
  • garlic
  • onion
  • salt
  • lime or lemon juice
  • water

Then you blend it together until smooth and store in the fridge. Use this pesto looking mixture to marinate meats, fish and vegetables for incredible flavor! So go on! Grab an islander and have them tell you if you’re on the right track! 🙂
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About me!

Jerk chicken
Jerk chicken

I love food…i like to eat it, look at it, take pictures of it, talk about it, smell it, sleep next to it… ok well maybe not next to it 😉

I’m also crazy about my babies, orchids, photography and colorful beads. *nuts-o*

Always trying something new and sharing my passion with my friends and family, whether they like it or not!