Thursday, 27 November 2008

More On Cuisine

As I mentioned on an earlier post, I am trying to make some local dishes, and make the most of local ingredients. If I can feed them to Baby JoJo, which is more and more possible as I rarely use salt and hot spices, then it is even more of an advantage. I have a couple of recipe books but these are aimed at tourists and only have a few dishes in them, many of which I wouldn't bother trying as they are either too complicated (for a particular festival for example) or I just don't like them. However, I have selected a few manageable ones and so have produced the following..,.
Gratin de christophine
Christophines are a vegetable also known as chayote, according to Wikipedia (although ours are more yellow than the ones you see here). Mamie doesn't grow any and I have rarely seen her cook with them. For this recipe you basically take out the inside and turn it into a sauce then stuff it again. Mum very kindly took these photos, hmm, mine aren't quite like the ones in the picture!

Here is the recipe if you fancy a go! I am having to get used to the french culinary terms.

Colombo de poulet

There is a significant Indian population in Guadeloupe, who came over in the mid 1800s after the abolition of slavery, to fulfil the needs of the plantation owners on the sugar cane fields. They brought lots of traditions and ingredients with them, including colombo, which is a curry powder made of various spices and is very delicious. I just learnt that the Indians were the only ones who cooked cabri (goat) until recently, when the other parts of the population took an interest. It is very tasty in this dish in any case. Often it is made with pork, but I prefer chicken. It came out splendidly, with the chicken falling off the bone, yum!

Poulet au coco

This is a pretty simple dish, where you cook the onions, garlic, carrot and white wine (I used water as didn't have any!) then cook the chicken and let it simmer in coconut milk. I have been using coconut milk in a tin but I would like to try using it from fresh as we have so many of them! I am not sure how to get the milk though. I used to have a problem with my chicken not being fully cooked but having investigated online, I discovered it is better to cook it low rather than high I was doing, and it seems to have helped.


A fish dish where you make the sauce with lime, garlic, spring onion, tomatoes, thyme and hot pepper (unless you are me!) then cook the fish in it. These ingredients are really common here, and in season they are all in Mamie's garden except the garlic. I used salmon rather than local fish. It is common locally to use oil which has roucou in it - Mamie grows these in her garden and the grain is used for the oil - have a look at wikipedia for more info here. The dish was fine, though a bit too watery and it would have been nicer with racines (sweet potato, breadfruit etc) than rice I reckon.

Gateau de patates douces

Oh, I have not had much luck with my baking recently! My loaf of bread was like a doorstop, my first bunch of cinammon rolls the same, the second lot I went to the other extreme and undercooked! My banana cake was not cooked in the middle and the biscuits I made also burnt. Sigh, I blame it on the oven...! However, this sweet potato cake came out fine, and as it is 1 kg sweet potatoes and only 100g sugar I was happy to stuff the girls on it!

If anyone has baking tips I would gladly welcome these, and I would love recipes based on wholewheat flour and honey rather than refined sugar and white flour. I am looking for a tasty carrot cake recipe too, if you hae any suggestions. At my Saturday night bible study group they passed around various tips and I learnt not to dump in my flour all at once, or mix it with the hand mixer - has to be done by hand. All very useful!

Another common practice here is to chop and freeze vegetables as soon as you get them, which is a great idea as even in the fridge they do go off quite quickly. My only problem is my tiny freezer, but I will give it a try anyway! At the moment I have five cups of shredded coconut and some courgette in there, and I have just purchased a huge bunch of parsley (whilst awaiting Bertie's!) which I will put into ice cube trays.

On a similar subject, I am sure you are eager to know how my menu went...! Well, I mostly stuck to it except when I forgot to check it and soak the beans on time (apparently you can prepare them and freeze them too, which I might start doing if I can fit them in!) which just resulted in shifting around a couple of meals. It was very unstressful in any case! I also spent a third less at Carrefour this week, as I followed my list to the letter, which I was thrilled with, and I have thrown out less. Keep it up!

This week's menu is as follows:
Monday - Chick pea curry (soak chick peas and brown rice) - very nice, unfortunately our gas bonbonne (no gas on the island so everyone has a little or not so little canister attached to their cooker and hopes it doesn't run out at an inopportune moment!) ran out half way through. We have had it for nearly three months which was good going. Anyway, Bertie dashed to the store and exchanged it for a new one, but the rice was ruined! The girls didn't like the chick peas so I squashed them all and they ate it fine!
Tea – bread and salad
Tuesday – Tuna pasta (courtesy of Gina Ford!) – you are supposed to add fromage frais to this, but I didn’t discover till I got home that the tub I had bought was vanilla flavoured! Made lovely dessert though…
Tea – Pancakes (wholewheat with cheese and ham, followed by maple syrup ones for the girls and lime and sugar for us)
Wednesday – supposed to be blaff de poisson but I realised I needed to use up my leftover Minestrone soup, so we did
Tea – supposed to be soup, became a delicious omelette courtesy of Bertie, made with eggs from Mamie’s hens
Thursday – Spaghetti Bolognese and wholewheat pasta
Tea – Potato wedges and salad
Friday – supposed to be bean burgers using the leftover brown rice, but I have just realised I haven't soaked the beans, oops!
Tea – Salad, and if I can manage it, some homemade bread that isn’t as hard as a brick!
Saturday – leftover spag bol
Tea – Bertie handles this one
Sunday – eat at church


Missus Wookie said...

Heather - I soak and cook my beans before freezing, either whole or mashed as we use beans mashed for Quesadillas and to thicken soup/stews, plus mashed beans are almost bean soup :)

Hope you find a way to fit things into your tiny freezer!

Hevs said...

Thanks for the tip! I think mashed will be the way to go as we disguise them from the girls!

Mei-Li said...

My mum used to get coconut milk by scraping the coconut on a special coconut grater thing that you sat on and grated the coconuts. She then squeezed out the milk using a muslin cloth.