Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Wednesday Meal


Late breakfasts, lazy Sunday lunches and posh desserts are the stuff of dreamy, relaxed weekends. Weekdays are a whole other story.

Sure, it’s nice to have a fabulous repertoire of sensational epicurean delights to wow your family. But of what use is haute cuisine when you find yourself completely exhausted with only microwave time to get dinner on the table?

Enter the Wednesday meal. You know that dish that you can make blind and in your sleep.  I call it my Wednesday meal because that's the day of the week when I usually want a bit of reprieve from the kitchen. You won’t find this in many cookbooks nor will it grace your plate in a restaurant. However the combination of smoked herring, rice, dhal and bhaji is a traditional meal that every Trinidadian knows well.

With the exception of the dhal, each component of this meal only takes 10 maybe 15 minutes to prepare. You will forgive me the omission of the dhal as the cooking time is longer.

Dasheen Bush Bhaji
Serves- 5-6
2 bundles dasheen (rolled younger leaves)
1 onion
6 cloves garlic
1 tsp oil
1 tablespoon curry
4 ochros (okra) optional
1 pk (50g) coconut milk powder
½ lime
Salt to taste

Here is what you do. Boil some water and put smoked herring fillets to soak. Now, feeling all virtuous that you are about to nourish your family instead of cave and reach for the takeout menu, prep dasheen leaves and heat oil on medium high. Mix the curry with water and add to the pot. Cook for about 2 mins.

Finely dice a garlic clove or six.

Yeah six is definitely better.

Then in a wide, deep pot, sauté the curry and the garlic. You want this mixture to get wonderfully fragrant, but without burning. Monitor the heat and keep moving everything around the pan. Add the dasheen leaves, ochros (okra) if using, coconut cream powder and 1 cup of water. Cook it all on medium heat until the callaloo melts in the pot and the water is cooked off.

While that is bubbling away, cook your smoked herring.
smoked herring
Smoked Herring
1 lb smoked herring fillets
2 tomatos
2 medium onion
1 hot pepper (optional)
6-8 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 Trinidad pimento peppers (optional)
1 sweet pepper(optional)

Start by putting the fillets into a fairly deep bowl and cover with boiling water. This will help remove some of the salt and make the fish tender enough to shred. Let it soak for about 10 – 15 mins. Salt content varies so taste a tiny piece of fish before going on to the next step. If it is too salty repeat the first step and steep the fish in boiling water again.

Drain the water from the bowl and rinse the fillets with a fresh batch of cool water. Squeeze dry and start shredding the fillets into small pieces. You will encounter a few small bones. Remove as many as you are inclined too but don’t worry if you don’t get them all because they are very soft and can be safely consumed.

Chop the rest of ingredients and set aside
Sauté the onion, garlic and seasonings in 1 tablespoons of oil. Then add the tomatoes and cook about 2 minututes. Add the flaked smoked herring and hot pepper (optional) and allow it to cook for about 10 minutes.

Boil some rice, a squeeze of lime over the bhaji and dinner is ready. See that wasn’t too hard was it? So tell me what is your favourite easy to prepare Wednesday meal?


This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Southwestern Shredded Beef

Southwestern Beef Casserole

One of my favourite cooking mantras is cook once, eat twice. So you can be sure the minute I saw Southwestern beef wraps over on Our Best Bites, I was all over this recipe. The plan was to cook a lot (once) so that there would be leftovers to make tacos ( thus eating twice).

My plan was a colossal failure. There were no leftovers because certain individuals seemed to think that eating twice meant that they should go back for second helpings. I have no real evidence but I do I have my suspicions that some may have even stretched it to eating thrice. Consider yourselves warned.

Originally this was a slow-cooker meal from Mc Cormick. I have adapted it for the pressure cooker.


Southwestern Shredded Beef


2 medium onions, cut into 1-inch wedges

3 cloves garlic

2 1/2 pounds boneless chuck roast,

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon  cumin, ground

1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (or 2 teaspoons culantro)

3/4 teaspoon salt

5 Trinidad pimento peppers or substitute with 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

6 diced tomatoes

*For extra heat, use spicy salsa and/or add 1 chopped jalapeno pepper to slow cooker when adding green pepper


1. Put onions and whole garlic cloves at the bottom of the pressure cooker.

2. Mix chili powder, cumin, cilanto and salt in small bowl. Rub seasoning mixture all over meat. Place meat on onions and garlic in the pressure cooker. Top with green pepper and diced tomatoes. Cover.

Consult your pressure cooker manual on how long to cook the beef as the following instructions may not work for your brand of cooker.

3. Cook on high until desired pressure is acheived (about 5 mins). Turn  heat down to med - low and cook for 20 minutes.

4.When the 20 minutes are up, release the pressure from the pot according to the manufacturer's instructions. This takes about 5 mins.

5. Shred beef with 2 forks. At this point you will find that there is still a lot of liquid in the pot. You can drain the liquid of or f cook further in the uncovered pressure cooker to thicken gravy.

Serving Tip: Serve with rice,  fried plantains and bean salad