Monday, May 30, 2011

Stewed Salt fish; just like Granny used to make

Huge greetings to everyone! I know I have been absent for a bit, but as you know, I do have a day job and unfortunately for the past few weeks, it seems like it is trying to swallow me whole. I’ve had more than my share of late evenings and bringing work home, but I’ve also had to deal with much more negativity and bitterness. Yes… it’s been taking a toll on the old Halcie.

Sadly, I work in a high stress environment that tests my natural good natured self daily. Of late, I’d come home so tired and angry over the day’s events that I wouldn’t even prepare something proper for myself to eat (Gasp!) and instead I’d just purchase and eat whatever street food or takeout I saw along the way.

Not good.  

Anyway, you’ll be happy to know that after one of the worst Fridays I’ve ever spent on the job, I decided to call upon another of my Granny’s classics for some comfort. Just like her special mashed potatoes, her Stewed Salt fish is the stuff of legends, reputed to banish any unhappy or angry feelings and replace them with nothing but satisfaction… I kid you not. She would say, “When jumbie (bad spirit) troubling you, ent you does throw salt to chase it? Well, eat salt fish and they will stay away too.”

So, I placed the contents of an entire large 400 g pack of salted shark to boil for 15 to 20 minutes and while that was happening...

I started by slicing 3 medium sized ripe tomatoes and 5 pimento peppers.

Chopped up a large stalk of celery, sliced a huge sweet pepper into thin strips, chopped up an onion, and sliced a couple stalks of chive. I also got 2 peeled garlic cloves, a sprig of parsley and a sprig of fresh thyme for the pot.

I took the salt fish and drained it, then using a fork, I lightly took it apart in small chunks. You see, this is going to be turned about in the pot as you cook it, so I didn’t flake it as finely as I normally would as if I was making a buljol… it would have dissolved otherwise.

Now for the cooking. A couple tablespoons of regular soya or vegetable oil goes into a heated pot, into which two crushed garlic cloves are then put in. Took them out when they were browned, so the oil had a lovely garlic flavour.

In went the chive, pimento peppers and onion, which I sautéed for a couple of minutes. This was followed by the sweet pepper strips, which also got tossed for a bit. Then the chunks of salt fish entered the pot with a quiet sizzle.

After cooking for about 3 minutes, I added in the sliced tomatoes. In went about a ½ cup of water – the amount usually varies – followed by the parsley, the sprig of fresh thyme and my Granny’s special touch, a pat (roughly less than a tablespoon) of Golden Ray cooking margarine and an 'adjustable' spoonful of ketchup. (I could almost see her smile as I did that!)

Next, the pot gets covered, the heat is turned down low and the stew simmers for 8 to 10 minutes.

Here’s the finished product, Granny’s Salt Fish Stew.

As you can see, my daughter didn’t miss a beat and fixed herself a sandwich immediately, hahahaa!

The rest of us created our own sandwiches soon after, and the remainder was eaten with bhaji rice, plantains and a lovely cucumber salad. The only thing that was missing from this recipe was a couple of boiled eggs, which Granny would slice and put in the pot after the stew was done. As a child, it was my favourite part, since I have a ‘thing’ for the yolks which contrasted nicely with the veggies. But, it’s just as tasty without them, so don’t worry.

Just so you know, after enjoying that stew, I was right as rain. ;-)

So, I shall now take my leave and quietly relax until my next workday, which I plan to enjoy to the fullest by laughing my head off at EVERYTHING. Everyone, enjoy today’s Indian Arrival holiday (May 30th) and the rest of your long weekend. Until next I write, my friends, I leave you much love  and many hugs.

Don’t forget to mind the pot.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup? Hell yeah!

You’re looking at the title of this post and probably wondering if this known meat mouth has probably lost it, right? Don’t worry my friends. I haven’t. But I have found something I can’t wait to share with you besides today’s spicy Butternut Squash soup and that’s the people who helped bring those ingredients to me, along with some beautiful fresh produce, meat, fish and fruit juices. Say hello to D' Market Movers.

My girl Hazel is responsible for putting me in touch with these lovely people who deliver fresh groceries to your door. I should also note that they are also environmentally conscious food growers that are doing their part to help others reduce their carbon footprint as well. This recent Outlish article explains their story and philosophy best, and you can click on the link above as well.

Believe me, I was a little scared about ordering fresh produce online, and if you’ve been to the market or grocery and had to deal with spotty vegetables, it can put you off.  But Hazel assured me, “…Halcy, their vegetables are fresh, the fruit is nice and ripe and the prices are good. And the people give you quality all the way. Trust me.”

And thanks to you, Hazel, Market Movers is now my mobile go-to grocery and I love that they can deliver to my workplace or at home. Owners David and Rachel are two of the most amazing people you will ever meet and you can see that they really care about what they do. I was so excited after getting my delivery that included (among other things) sweet potatoes, Granny Smith apples, plantain, fresh thyme and that beautiful butternut squash, that tired as I was that day, I was anxious to cook and eat them… which brings me to my soup du jour…

I broke down the butternut squash by chopping off the slender half. I peeled off all the skin and then cut the round part in half so I could scoop out the seeds and then chop it in a large dice.

Here I have my seasonings and root vegetables on standby. There’s chopped chive, carrots (sliced into half moons), plus sliced pimentoes and onions. A celery stalk was also sliced. One regular potato and one sweet potato were cut into about 1 inch pieces. The black container has chadon beni, garlic and fresh parsley for garnish.

Now for the cooking. Heated my giant pot on medium high and added in a potspoon of olive oil. In went the chive, chadon beni, onion and celery, which I tossed for a couple of minutes. Next went the potatoes, carrots and sweet potato (again tossed for 2 minutes), followed by the star of my soup, the butternut squash.

Next, the pimentoes and freshly grated garlic were added, followed by the leaves from the thyme. Added in a shake each of ginger powder, ground nutmeg, red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon of Madras curry powder – continued to toss – then poured in 32 ounces of vegetable stock (made from Maggi Vegetable stock cubes) along with 2 to 3 cups more of water. A shake of dried parsley and a dash of Angostura bitters went in before stirring it all. (Hey, you know how I roll! Hahahaa!)

The next step was to cover the pot, lower the flame and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. I checked and tasted it after the first 15 minutes and as you can see, the root vegetables were softening nicely. No extra salt was needed because the vegetable stock has salt already.

Time's up and the butternut squash is cooked, yet still holds its shape. Now for a final stir and...

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you my Spicy Butternut Squash Soup.

I shall now confess that that this bowl of soup was the only one I got. The rest was quickly dispatched by my family; actually my daughter in particular, hahaha! As the only fish and vegetable eater in a house of meat mouths, she staked her claim pretty early. No matter, I can always whip it up again – it’s in my head. But I am willing to share the recipe, so just ask if you need it. :-)

So, til next time we meet, my friends. My body is still tired from the previous work week and I am taking every inch of rest that I can. Don’t forget to check out Market Movers soon; they are also on Facebook. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and like I always say, doh forget to mind de pot! 

Take care, everyone! :-)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother’s Day Breakfast for One

Mother’s Day is here and you know, it’s been so long since I’ve actually woken up on a Sunday with a feeling of such absolute… calm. 
Of course, my kitchen will soon be filled with the sounds of pots and pans banging and burners being lit, but I had ample time. Listening to the sounds of my family asleep was something I missed. For me, mornings mean hustle. Rush. Checking clocks and watches. Beating the traffic so you can enter a stress filled building with a few stress filled people and then doing even more beating, this time with deadlines. You work late sometimes. You come home tired with just enough energy to pick up some takeout on the way, or if you have food stocks in the cupboard, you make something simple to eat. But there’s no real joy during the meal. It’s all automatic. No smells to savour and no anticipation. The body is tired, so you give it fuel. Then, you go bed tired, fall asleep and wake up more tired the next morning, to hustle. Rush. Check the clock…

Oh, how I missed these Sunday mornings!

This Mother’s Day… I wanted to make myself something special to eat, and luckily, I didn’t have to reach very far into my arsenal of favourites. I knew exactly what I wanted… a nice, herbed cheese omelette done just my style; seasoned, lightly spiced and filled with cheese.
It’s funny, but the moment my dream omelette entered my mind, my stomach began to growl in anticipation. There was no turning back.

Luckily, this Mommy had everything she needed to do it just the way she loved it…

Broke two eggs in a small bowl and added red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt.
Sprinkled in a few fresh thyme leaves.
And for my own special touch, I added a little of my homemade, ground seasoning.
Beat everything up until just frothy.
Melted a little butter in my frying pan.
Swirled it around so it coated the bottom and a little way up the sides - a very important step.
Gently poured in my beaten egg.
Now, as soon as the edge began to set, I started gathering the cooked egg from the sides with my spatula to the middle... (check the sequence that follows).

Setting up nicely!

Next, I tilted and twirled the pan a little so that any remainder of uncooked egg would hit the hot sides of the pan and cook up nicely.
Now this is where you gotta work really quickly. In went the cheese on one half of the omelette...
My sliced red onion...
and slices of pimento pepper... this next part always gets me nervous, but here goes the folding!

YAY! Success!

That cheese is looking wonderfully melty!

Into my waiting plate it goes!
Gave it a little Mother's Day decoration with a bit of the leftover filling, hahahaa!

All I needed was a nice cup of decaf with some creamer to go with my tasty omelette.

Yep. That's my Sunday right there. :-)
How to make Halcy’s Cheese Omelette

2 eggs
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of red pepper flakes
1 pinch of fresh thyme leaves
½ teaspoon of home made ground seasoning (or you can use store bought)
3 slices Anchor vegetarian cheddar cheese
A little less than a ¼ of a smallish red onion
1 or 2 pimento peppers, sliced
A tiny sprig of parsley (for garnish)
1 oz butter (for frying)


  1. Break the eggs into a small bowl and add everything listed except the cheese, red onion, pimento peppers and parsley. Beat everything together lightly until just frothy.
  2. Heat the butter in a non stick frying pan on a medium high flame, swirling it around to cover the bottom and sides.
  3. Pour in the beaten egg and let it spread across the pan.
  4. Just as it begins to set around the edges, take your spatula and pull a few cooked edges from the edge of the pan to the middle so that some uncooked egg can fill the space. Also, tilt the pan to let uncooked egg reach the edges so it cooks and sets.
  5. Lower the heat a little and quickly add in the sliced cheese, red onion and slices of pimento pepper.
  6. When the edges of the omelette are lightly browned and the cheese is slightly melted, take your spatula and ease it underneath the uncovered half and fold it over.
  7. Slide the omelette out of the pan onto a plate, and decorate as you wish with the parsley and any leftover pimento.

I can honestly tell you that as I ate, my brain actually sighed in relief. It’s a personal favourite that I had truly missed. It reminded me of the omelette I had in Grenada at the Spice Island Beach resort while on assignment for the Guardian newspaper a couple of years ago. Again, it was a Sunday. Paired with a small bowl of fruit salad, my omelette came, speckled with fresh herbs and filled with mushrooms and cheese. I had eaten it with gusto before taking a stroll along Grand Anse beach and enjoying the salty breeze.

The pinch of salt in my own omelette would have to suffice though, hahaa! But it felt so good to reconnect with this tasty breakfast. The crunch of the pimentos coupled well with the soft, pillowy eggs and its wonderful flavourings. This is one meal that can’t be rushed, neither is it meant to be eaten in a rush. It’s the perfect start to my Mother’s Day.

Thus, I wish everyone a wonderfully blessed and Happy Mother’s Day celebration. Until my next post, my friends, and don’t forget to mind de pot!  :-)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Birthday Bundt for the family

April is now gone, but I can’t help but remember that month especially fondly this year. You see, I always have two birthdays to deal with in April (fiancĂ© and daughter) – and one after the other to boot (17th and 18th respectively).

I had planned long before to make them both a birthday cake, since buying one was out of the question, especially with the prices of everything going up and up in the bakeries these days. Plus, I still had a couple of cake pans that I hadn’t yet christened. 

The springform one was purchased with the intention to experiment with cheesecakes, only to realise that Mr Man was not a cheesecake lover – I won’t say what he thinks it tastes like on this forum, lol! The second pan (seen above), which I duly christened, was a bundt pan. My next problem was finding a cake recipe they both would love. Both are rather picky in the cake department, you see. He likes fruitcakes. She doesn’t. I can make a mean chocolate cake, but we definitely wanted something different...

So, I decided to let my fingers do the searching (online) and I found the perfect solution (original recipe link:, which I gave my own festive birthday treatment. Most Trinidadians will agree that its execution is a really nice throwback, as you’ll soon see!

First ingredients were 8 ounces of room temperature cream cheese and 1 and ½ blocks of Blue Band Butter, also at room temperature.
Both were mixed together until silky smooth.
In went 2 1/2 cups white sugar (recipe said 3 but I cut back), beaten in gradually, then I added 5 eggs (recipe said 6, but I cut back). I beat them in 2 at a time, followed by the last egg.
Folded in 3 cups of sifted flour using a metal spoon, followed by 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence. I didn’t realise the mixture would increase this much, or I would have used my giant mixing bowl, but, the first stage of the cake batter was complete. Now for the fun part…
I divided the batter into four, and in two bowls, I placed a teaspoon or so each of red and yellow food colouring.
So this…

became this… I think you can see where I’m going with this one.
So I heavily (cooking) sprayed and floured up the bundt pan.
Put in the first layer of plain batter.
Then dollops of red batter…
Followed by yellow...
Continuing with all 3 colours until all were used up and it looked like this. But wait... there's more!
Took my wooden skewer and started swirling everything… 
*stoner voice* Whooooa... trippy!
Into the oven it went at 350 degrees F to bake for 1 hour, 20 minutes (or 30 minutes if you think it needs it). Another point, this cake didn’t need to go in a preheated oven.
Here it is after 1 hour. The middle was still soft, so I let it go for another 20 minutes. And I’m still amazed how the cake rose without needing baking powder.
Here’s the bundt cake, all done. I forgot to snap a photo of it before I turned it out the pan. What happened was a huge crack appeared around the hole and part of that batter wasn’t fully baked. So, I turned the oven off and let it sit in the pan for an extra 15 minutes to ‘soak’ up some extra heat. After that, it passed the skewer test (came out clean).

And check out those colours!
To glaze or not to glaze? Okay, I gave in. A simple mix of icing sugar and some fresh squeezed orange juice was drizzled on.
A quick cut for the birthday people, lol… check the lovely marbled effect inside! 
They just LOVED IT!

 Here are my tweaks to the original recipe (including the name):

"Cream cheese (Marbled) Pound cake in a Bundt pan"

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese (Let it get to room temperature.)
  • 1 1/2 cups butter (or 1 ½ blocks of Blue band butter.)
  • 3 cups white sugar (I used 2 ½ cups.)
  • 6 eggs (I used 5 eggs.)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (Used vanilla essence.)


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (I upped the heat to 350 degrees F) then grease and flour a 10 inch tube pan.   (I skipped the preheating and baked it at 350 degrees F instead.)
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar gradually and beat until fluffy.
  3. Add eggs two at a time, beating well with each addition. Add the flour all at once and mix in. Add vanilla.
  4. Pour into a 10 inch tube pan. Bake at 325 degrees F (160 degrees C) for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Check for doneness at 1 hour. (If it’s still soft in the middle after an hour, let it go for 20 to 30 minutes more. If it’s still not cooked after that, turn the oven off and let it sit there for a further 10 to 15 minutes.) A toothpick (use a skewer) inserted into center of cake will come out clean.

And there you have it. This "Cream cheese (Marbled) Pound cake in a Bundt pan" will now be included in my ‘go to’ file. We all loved this cake. The texture was nice and firm and nothing went flying when you cut into it. As for the swirls, they certainly brought back memories of the traditional pink, yellow and brown marble cakes we’d buy in the bakery back in the day.  

So, with cake memories dancing on my brain, I shall now bid you adieu. Take care of yourselves my dears, and like I always say, doh forget to mind de pot! :-)