Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Caribbean Food Week – Menu One

Dee – We’ve been planning a couple of Caribbean menus over the last few weeks, following a weekend visit to Jay’s parents when they gave us a couple of CDs to see if we could devise a menu to enjoy while we listened to them.
Our plans shifted up a few gears on Monday, when we found out that Caribbean Food Week was running from Monday 24th August to Monday 31st August.
I had several recipes in mind, and had already cooked one of them, a dish from Trinidad and Tobago called Geera Pork, but hadn’t got round to writing it up.  Luckily there was enough left over to enjoy again, so I used it as the start of the first menu.

Geera Pork with Buss Up Shut Roti
The recipe we used for the Geera Pork came from the Caribbean Supper Club Recipe Book that we bought when we attended a Jamaican themed supper club hosted by Birmingham based business Tan Rosie. click here for details
The Geera in the name refers to an alternative spelling of Jeera, or Cumin, which is used to marinate the pork along with salt, pepper and thyme overnight before being cooked in the stew the next day.  Water, chillies and peppers are added and the whole lot cooked until the liquid thickens.  It is a simple dish but one that is packed with spice and flavour.
The traditional accompaniment recommended in the book was Hops Bread, but I chose instead to have a go at another bread from Trinidad; the Buss Up Shut Roti.
The rotis were easy to make but rather messy as the preparation involved spreading a butter-oil mixture over the dough before rolling and folding it up to create a flaky texture.  After the dough had rested for a few hours, it was then rolled out and cooked on a flat pan.  The final stage, which gave the buss up shut its characteristic appearance, was to crush it together with two spatulas.  It was then left to cool, during which time it firmed up a little.  I used the Tan Rosie book and the Carribbean Pot web site for reference while making my rotis.
To complete the main course, we served the Pork and Rotis with fried Plantain and Sweet Potato and some simply steamed green beans.  This made for a tasty and filling tea.

It was getting late by the time we’d finished the main course, so instead of running the risk of filling ourselves to bursting, we decided to have dessert for breakfast the next day

Jamaican Ginger Cake and Blue Mountain Coffee
I was inspired to make this ginger cake after trying it at the Tan Rosie Supper Club, but unfortunately had to tweak the recipe slightly as we didn’t have any ground ginger.  I used finely chopped stem ginger instead which, although adding an interesting texture, didn’t deliver as much heat and spice as I wanted.  Still, the cake was a success.  It had a nice dark colour and moist texture, with a rich sweet taste from the dark brown sugar that was used.  We served it with some plain yoghurt, which provided an ideal accompaniment both for its colour and taste.  I will be making it again though, using the ground ginger.
We enjoyed the cake with a mug of Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee.  Its earthy but mellow texture contrasting well with the sweetness of the cake and the lightness of the yoghurt.
It was a great breakfast but one that we should really consider more of a treat than a regular occurrence.

The Soundtrack to the meal: 20th Century Steel Band – Warm Heart, Cold Steel
We based our first meal on this album, which was originally released in 1975.
There are a few notes about the band in the inside of the cd, but surprisingly little is written about them on line.  It took me a while to find out where they were from, but eventually I found an old comment on the album written by a family member of one of the band, who explained that they were originally from the Caribbean but moved to the UK in the early 1970s, securing a record deal after radio airplay from John Peel.  They released two albums, of which this was the first, before splitting up after their label, United Artists, folded.
The album is a mixture of cover versions of soul and motown classics, and original songs written by members of the band.
My favourite track is the fifth, entitled Number 1. This is an instrumental jam credited to band member Michael Oliver, and really showcases the talents of the band as they let fly on their own rather than trying to fit their sound round more conventional pop songs.
The sixth track, ‘Heaven and Hell is on Earth’, released as a single, is the best known due to its being sampled by a number of artists including Lauryn Hill, Salt n Pepa and Jennifer Lopez.  A section of the lyrics; “Children growing, women producing, men go working, some go stealing.  Everyone’s got to make a living” is also quoted on Soul II Soul’s Club Classics Volume 1 album.
Other highlights include a brilliantly haunting version of ‘Papa was a rolling stone’ and their take on ‘Land of a Thousand dances’ which has an infectious groove, but it is their own songs which are the highlights of the album.

Caribbean Food Week continues here, and the second menu, with accompanying music, will be up on the blog in the next few days.


  1. Matching food to music is such a fun idea.
    I love your recipes they're so different and unusual.

    1. Thank you, that's much appreciated :-)
      We enjoy the whole process: designing the menu, seeing it take shape, the finished dishes and then writing about them.
      I've just started doing some preparations for the second Caribbean menu. It should be up on the blog in the next few days.