Saturday, 29 August 2015

Caribbean Food Week - Menu Two

Dee – For our second and final mix of food and music for Caribbean Food Week, we brought a slight change of focus to the table.
Instead of an evening meal made up of a main course and dessert we chose a lunch consisting of an elegant restaurant style starter, followed by a street food favourite.  More preparation was required for this meal, but it was well worth it.

Island Sweet Potato Vichyssoise
The recipe for this chilled soup starter came from one of our oldest recipe books, ‘Creole Cooking’ by Sue Mullin.  I mentioned in a previous blog entry that it had seen quite a bit of use over the years and had a tatty dog-eared character all of its own: click here for details  Well, it’s still going strong and provided us with this quick and easy recipe which only needed a few ingredients.
We made it the day before serving it, as it needed time to reach the chilled temperature.  First, the sweet potatoes were boiled until tender and then blended with some poached spring onions and seasoned.  Crème Fraiche was stirred into the soup before it went into the fridge to chill.
We served it in small bowls and garnished it with a drizzle of chilli oil and a coriander leaf.  The sweet potatoes retained their flavour in what was quite a delicate tasting soup with a pleasantly smooth, rich texture.  The chilli oil provided the tiniest hint of heat and worked very well in what was a most interesting starter.

I found the recipe for Doubles in the Wikipedia Cookbook click here for details while seeking out recipes from Trinidad and Tobago to match the music which I will cover later.  It didn’t take long to convince me to select them for the menu when I saw the photographs of curried chickpeas topped with various different garnishes sandwiched between two yellow coloured flatbreads.
There were several different parts of the dish to prepare and I started with the distinctive flatbreads, known as ‘bara’ which were made with a wheat dough to which Turmeric was added to give it the distinctive yellow colour.  They were cooked in a pan on the hob rather than baked.
For the chickpea curry, I used a tin of ready-cooked chickpeas for convenience and a curry powder mix from Tan Rosie.  The chickpeas were added to a frying pan in which onions and garlic were softened and then coated with the curry powder.  A little water was then mixed in to stop the mixture from becoming too dry.
Traditionally, Doubles are served with the chickpea curry sandwiched between the two flatbreads, so we decided to keep with this approach.
Several garnishes were suggested for the chickpeas and I opted for hot pepper sauce, chopped coriander and dessicated coconut, which added a delicious sweet taste that held its own alongside the hot and spicy flavours coming out of the curried chickpeas and pepper sauce.
I used a home-made hot pepper sauce from a recipe by Shivi Ramoutar, author of the recently released ‘Caribbean Modern’ recipe book.  It used raw ingredients which were blended together and then rested to allow the flavours of the different ingredients to infuse.  The recipe available here includes scotch bonnet chillies, fruit and vinegar and should come with a warning as it is fiery hot.  Only a small amount is needed but it is as packed with flavour as well as heat.
Both Jay and me loved our doubles, and would happily make them again.

The soundtrack to the meal:  Various Artists – Café Caribbean
The second of our Caribbean albums from Jay’s parents was a compilation of recording artists from Trinidad & Tobago, released in 2003 as part of the ‘Café’ series on the Metro label.
On reading the notes accompanying the album I learned that the different areas of the Caribbean had their own musical as well as culinary traditions, and that of Trinidad and Tobago was presented here as upbeat and rhythm driven with a noticeable African influence.  Electronic bass, synths and percussion were used to great effect and the overall mood of the music was celebratory.
I particularly enjoyed the album’s opening track ‘Controller’ by Square One, and the steel percussion driven instrumental ‘Soca dance’ by the Pamberi Steel Orchestra.
The music provided a good accompaniment to our lunch menu and delivered on its title of sounding like something that I imagine would be played in cafes in Trinidad & Tobago.
Other titles in the series include Café Cubana and Café do Brasil.  In fact, all of them sound interesting.  Have I just talked myself into starting another blogging project?

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