Saturday, June 21, 2014

Great finds

There was callaloo at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza Greenmarket!

Callaloo can actually refer to several plants; this is amaranth (which can also be called Caribbean spinach, water spinach, or Jamaican spinach). I've eaten it before, but never had a chance to cook with it. The way callaloo is prepared varies by country, of course, but it's frequently combined with okra, "creamed" with coconut milk, or simply steamed. In this case, I cooked it with tomatoes, onions, carrot, and a lot of garlic... and photographed it with a wobbly camera with a pen stuck in the missing battery cover slot. Sigh. So much for photo quality.

Sorry for potato quality.
I chose to put it with a whole roasted jerk porgy (cheapest fish at the market, even if I did have to scale and gut it myself*), and searched the Internet until I found a relatively simple, clean jerk sauce recipe. It was really good... once I'd added coriander and muscovado, reduced the salt level, and cut back on the thyme a little bit. Unfortunately, I wrote down the alterations but closed the link--which was open in incognito mode for some reason--and can't find it again. Recipe comes with caveats; I hope I remembered it correctly!

Ditto with the apology.

A tropical meal needs a tropical dessert: mojito cupcakes. I can't stand rum, but there's something about a touch of rum (well, rum extract) in a cupcake...

Andy's camera did a little better...

Whole roasted jerk fish
1 2-lb fish, snapper if you want to pay for it
bay leaves
onion slices
lime slices
jerk sauce (see below)

Clean your fish well and pat the skin completely dry. Salt both sides lightly and let sit for 10-15 minutes, then wipe dry again. Stuff the fish with lime slices, onion slices, and 3-5 bay leaves. Make a series of shallow diagonal cuts in this pattern on either side of the fish. Coat thoroughly with jerk sauce on both sides and marinate for 30 minutes or so, flipping and re-coating once with sauce. Preheat the oven to 425. Roast the fish about 15 minutes, depending on the thickness, until just slightly underdone. At that point, turn the oven to broil in order to crisp the skin and finish cooking. Serve with a slice of lime.

Jerk sauce (I think)
1 small onion, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
1 tsp coriander
1 to 1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 to 2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tbsp ground allspice
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp black pepper
1/2 tbsp muscovado or brown sugar
1 tbsp salt
1/2 habanero (or a little less than that of Scotch bonnet)
1/4 c white vinegar (might have been 1/2??)
2 tbsp soy sauce (might have been 1/4 c??)

Blend it all in a blender or food processor. Adjust salt level.

Callaloo and okra
3 cups okra, fresh or frozen/defrosted, sliced into 1-inch chunks
1 large bunch callaloo (mine was somewhat massive...)
1 small onion
2 tomatoes, chopped
5 cloves garlic (yes, 5), thinly sliced
1 carrot, finely chopped
oil or butter

Melt the oil/butter in a large saucepan. Saute the onions until translucent. Add garlic, carrot, and salt until onions are soft and garlic is fragrant. Add chopped tomatoes and okra; cook until juices release and tomatoes begin to break down. Add the callaloo and cook, stirring, until greens are tender. Salt and pepper to taste.

Mojito cupcakes
1/2 c butter, room temperature
2/3 c granuated sugar
1/3 c dark brown sugar
2 eggs
zest and juice of 2 large limes
fresh mint, finely minced
1/4 tsp rum extract (may increase to taste)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c sour cream or yogurt
1/3 c milk

Mix dry ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk yogurt/sour cream and milk in a separate container. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, followed by lime juice/zest, mint, and extracts. Alternate adding flour mixture and milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, blending just until combined. Fill lined cupcake tins a little over halfway each. Bake at 325 F for 18-22 minutes or until cupcakes spring back when lightly pressed. Cool completely before assembly.

To assemble, pipe or spread on the frosting and roll in or sprinkle the minty sugar rocks. Finish with a little grind of sea salt on top.

Minty sugar rocks
1 c sugar
1/3 c water
1/2 tbsp honey
1 c fresh mint
green food coloring (optional)
pinch salt

Put all ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil, whisking just until sugar is fully dissolved. Cook to the hard-crack stage (300-310 F), swirling occasionally. Immediately pour through a metal strainer onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, tipping the pan to spread sugar in an even 1/4-inch thick layer (although it doesn't really matter all that much, since you'll be grinding it anyway). Cool completely. Break up with a mortar and pestle or by hand.

Alternatively, see this link for making rock candy if you want a truly lovely topping and have a little foresight.

Mint lime frosting
1 stick butter, room temperature
1-2 tbsp heavy cream
zest and juice of 1 lime
3-4 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
powdered sugar
1 pinch salt
optional: rum or rum extract

Cream together the butter, 1/4 c powdered sugar, heavy cream, lime juice zest, salt, and optional rum/rum extract. Continue to add powdered sugar to taste or texture. Keep chilled until ready to frost cupcakes.

*It's been awhile since I've cleaned a fresh fish, and I've never done so inside an edifice that I cared about keeping clean, much less a teeny-weeny New York kitchen. Scales. Scales everywhere.

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