Sunday, April 29, 2012

Time for some Grilled Cheese Sandwiches!


“You know how long I ent see yuh?”

If you’re Trinidadian, you know that’s exactly how we greet someone after a long absence. 
(Don't laugh, but I actually said it out loud to my blog as I signed in! LOL!)

I admit, I haven’t been showcasing anything of late, and honestly, I was really feeling it... I have missed doing my comforting little food blog so much, and as I'm sitting here typing away it's like catching up with a buddy you haven't seen in a while and you can't wait to fill them in, hahahaa!

This morning, I plan to be in my little kitchen for a few hours well, because after singing the 'month-end-blues' yesterday and looking at my nearly empty food bins and fridge, my home-girl Hazel and I had a ball getting our stocks together as we went grocery shopping. What's also overdue is a belated birthday cake for the two other members of my family - missed celebrating Errol and Leja's birthdays because of work... *sigh* Still haven't decided what type of cake as yet, but I plan to give my Hamilton Beach stand mixer the workout of its life, cuz it will have some frosting... oh yes... there will be frosting...

But before I can do any of that later, I have to fuel up with a nice breakfast. Actually, I am feeling for one of my many versions of the classic grilled cheese sandwich.
Americans do theirs using American cheese, butter and a frying pan, but I have my own favourite.  Heading to the fridge I grabbed the cheese, whole wheat bread, mayo and tomatoes. 

Check the bacchanal that followed!
 

Okay, here are my (not so) usual suspects. My main ingredients are none other than sliced whole wheat bread, good, tangy cheddar cheese (aka "rat cheese"), some mayonnaise and a couple of sliced tomatoes.

So, first I coated a slice of bread with a little mayo. Now some people use butter, but to me the butter on the bread just tastes... like scorched butter. (I know, I have a very strange palate.) Just use a little mayo though. If you can't see the bread through it, you're putting too much on, lol!

Next step, I grabbed 'old faithful' and heat it on medium high and put my slice of bread in (mayo side down). Listened for the sizzle, then  then put in two slices of cheese. Now, you can see there's not much cheese overlapping the edges here; that's because any excess cheese would drip into the pan and make a mess. On the cheese I put a few slices of tomato, then covered it with another slice of lightly coated  bread, this time, mayo side up.

Next, I covered it for just a few seconds; I like to think that the heat makes the cheese melt better.

After a couple of minutes, I took my trusty spatula and gave it a quick, precise flip; it was the perfect colour!

Just had to go in closer! See how the cheese was beginning to melt? I just let it go for a minute more, and then removed it from the pan.

And there it is. I flipped it over on the other side, which was a bit darker, but no biggie. I easily cut him in half - always on the diagonal - and had some fun moments just watching that cheese ooze out onto the plate!

Confession time: As I was preparing the second one Errol walked in and grabbed the first! Made a couple more, though. I cut into them to see that cheese do its thing, and then... took my first bites. Deelish!

Yep! Dangerously CHEEEEEEEEEEZAAAAAAAY!

I gotta tell ya.... this sandwich totally rocks. Over the years I've tried many different combos, cheese and carrot, cheese and olives, etc, but the real important part is the cheese. Use cheese that melts really well and has a good tangy taste to it - I also like Anchor Vegetarian Cheddar. This one here is my personal favourite combination though, because I've loved eating tomatoes and cheese together since childhood! 
Sometimes for a little variety, I'd add in some dried oregano, a little chopped pepperoni and an olive or two for a pizza styled grilled cheese, but you can use your imagination and create to your heart's content. Credits go to my late 'Trinimerican" mom Frances Wilma for introducing this to me... loved it ever since! :-)

Thanks for letting me share this one, my friends, and I hope you have fun making your own grilled cheese combos! 

Take care of yourselves, and until my next post, don't forget to mind de pot!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bargain Barbadine Punch

I woke up late – just as I had planned to – and was coaxed into alertness from a deliciously familiar smell coming from the kitchen. I couldn’t pinpoint it right away, but my top two possibilities, soursop and barbadine came to mind. 

Entering the kitchen, I was greeted with the sight of two very beautiful barbadines, bursting with sweetness. The first one had just been washed and placed on the cutting board and I couldn’t resist taking a quick photo.




It had been months I had seen one. My childhood days were bountiful days for them. I can remember the taste of barbadine ice cream all too well. The recipe is still in my head… The last time I had seen one was in Tru Valu grocery, and it was encased in cling film and Styrofoam no less, and slapped with an eighteen dollar price tag. There was no way to even coax the scent towards my nostrils to determine its ripeness either… compare that to the fragrant ones in my kitchen, procured from “de man on the main road with de truck”, at a lovely cost of ten dollars each. (Great bargain indeed!)

We had to move fast, because they would not last in the fridge as they were dangerously close to crossing over to over ripeness… with that said, the tools and other ingredients were brought out quickly, and Errol grabbed his knife and started the operation…


The barbadine was split deftly in two and the seeds were scraped out. The inner wall where the seeds were attached was also scraped off.

The flesh of the barbadine was placed in a huge bowl, after being gently scraped away from the skin.

Three tablespoons of mixed essence, a few dashes of Angostura Bitters, one and a half tins of condensed milk and 5 cups of whole milk were all poured over the fruit.

The immersion blender came out to break it all down. Normally this would go into the blender in batches and blended on 'liquefy' until nice and smooth. The immersion blender did its job well though, and I could tell already that this was going to be a pretty large amount…

video


Gave it a taste, but it wasn’t sweet at all, so another can of condensed milk went in, and it was blended again. 
As you can see, it was pretty thick. The only thing left to do was pour some into a glass with some ice.

Barbadine punch, with a pinch of nutmeg!

 
We got a gallon and a few cups extra from this batch. Of course, the extra cups were drunk with gusto, while the rest was decanted into a giant mug and placed in the fridge. I should note that we didn’t worry to squeeze any pulp from the seeds themselves as we had two barbadines to process; there was more than enough flavour to go around. No scene. It was good to taste barbadine again. 

Thus ends another adventure in my little kitchen. Hope you enjoyed it, and if you want the detailed recipe, email me at naiclah@gmail.com. 

Take care of yourselves, and like I always say, don't forget to mind the pot!