Sunday, November 23, 2014

Arugula with Caramelized Pumpkin and Zucchini - a Thanksgiving Salad

I made caramelized pumpkin for the first time  a couple years ago when it was used as a topping for my pumpkin risotto. This year, I'm using it as a main ingredient in this thanksgiving salad. Also featured here is lightly grilled zucchini ribbons. Of course, grilling season is over (and I am not one of those brave souls who would still grill in sub-freezing temperatures) so I had to  resurrect my old grilling skillet for this purpose. Alternatively, lightly searing them on the bottom of a regular skillet works just fine. For the dressing, I used a store bought balsamic vinaigrette - the choice is yours. 

Arugula with Caramelized Pumpkin and Zucchini
Serves 4 

1 zucchini, cut into thin ribbons
1 tbsp vegetable oil 
8 cups arugula
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 cup caramelized pumpkin (find recipe here)
1/3 cup candied pecans
salt and pepper

1. Brush both sides of the zucchini ribbons with the vegetable oil. Cook on a grill surface or regular skillet set on medium heat, for one minute on the first side and about 30 seconds on the other side. Set  aside. 
2. To arrange the salad, place mounds of arugula on the bottom of a large serving platter. Layer with the zucchini ribbons, followed by the caramelized pumpkin. Finish with the dried cranberries, candied pecans, salt and pepper. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Trinidad Coconut Bake

Coconut bake is  made in practically every household in Trinidad.  I was taught how to make it by my mother but my earliest memory of this uniquely Trinidadian bread was my paternal grandmother's. It was part of her weekend baking lineup. A savory bread that's made with freshly grated coconut, it is usually served for breakfast with something called salt fish buljol (salted fish with fresh tomatoes, onions, pimentos and sometimes scotch bonnet peppers).

In Trinidad, freshly grated coconut is always used for this bread. Dry coconuts are sold in every grocery store. These coconuts are then cracked and the hard jelly carefully extracted and grated by hand. Admittedly, this is a tricky process and I would not recommend it for someone who has never done this before. However, if you are so inclined, here are step by step instructions on how to do so. Alternatively, you can use store-bought, unsweetened, shredded coconut. And, while salt fish buljol is the traditional topping so to speak for this bread, it is just as delicious slathered with butter. This morning, mine will be served warm with butter and spicy scrambled eggs.

Trinidad Coconut Bake
Makes two 8" round bakes 

4 cups all purpose flour
1 packet yeast
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cubed
2 cups grated fresh coconut
1 1/2 to 2 cups water

1. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast, sugar and salt - combine well.
2. Work the butter into the flour mixture until fully incorporated and the mixture becomes coarse and crumbly.
3. Mix in the grated coconut.
4. Add the water and stir the mixture until a soft dough forms. Placed on a floured work surface and knead until the dough pulls together into a uniform ball, adding extra dry flour to prevent any sticking. Return to the bowl, cover with a dry towel and allow to rise for about 30 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet or two 8" round cake pans.
6. Divide the dough into two equal parts, and shape into 8 " round disks. Place on the baking sheet or in the pans and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until risen slightly and the tops have turned golden brown. Serve warm.