Monday, June 17, 2013

Candied Golden Limes ~ What to do with Calamansi?

So it might be that lately I am a little, just a teeny, tiny bit, obsessed with calamondins which are also known as calamansi. A lot of it has to do with the fact that they are a relatively unknown local fruit. Truly, I feel like the fruit version of a modern day orchid hunter when I rediscover some hitherto unknown or fallen out of favour produce. Some of you might remember me getting a wee bit crazy over rumberries, and then again with purslane?

I have had my eye on this fruit for a couple of years and have been wanting to blog about it for the longest while. 

Rather surprisingly, I did not find this in a some remote country district but in a suburb of the capital city where it was being grown as an ornamental by an elderly, Chinese, gentleman. The small tree is quite beautiful when laden down with orange fruit which are about the size of limes. They have an intense, fragrant smell-like Portugals (tangerines) but don't be fooled by the heady aroma. Bite into one and you will be in for a screwed up, sour faced surprise........ugh they are so very sour! Yet, if you know what to do with them, they can be utterly delightful.

Camalodins or calamansi are also known as Chinese oranges or golden limes. The fruit starts off green, then turns yellow and finally orange. It can be used when green since it is just as sour green as it is in its orange state. The fruit is thought to have originated in China and is most likely the result of a cross between a kumquat and a mandarin. It is grown here mainly as an ornamental but not much is done with the fruit outside of using it to season fish. It is quite popular in the Phillipines where it is used commercially in juices and marmalade. 

Now can we talk about breakfast? More importantly, can we discuss how these darling, candied limes have turned my boring, healthy, yoghurt and oatmeal breakfasts into desserts? 

Yum, I love the idea of dessert for breakfast, don't you? 

Candied Calamansi 

1 lb calamansi
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Lay some waxed or parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup granulated sugar on the paper. 

Slice calamansi into thin rounds and remove the seeds. Combine sugar and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir a few minutes until the sugar is completely dissolved and syrupy. 

Add the calamansi slices and cook until they are translucent. Drain the rinds and lay on the sugared, parchment paper to dry. Let dry overnight or a couple of days. Store in an airtight container.

WARNING: Usually I end a recipe with a cook's tip. This time around I think it more appropriate to end with a warning.  I strongly advise that you do not under for any reason dip these in chocolate! Trust me on this. I am not to be held responsible if you ignore this warning and end up consuming a pound of chocolate covered calamansi in one sitting. Yeah, it.....uhmmmm......has been known to happen.....just saying.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Caribbean Smashed Potatoes

I'm here to talk about smashing stuff.

Can I confess that more often than not I arrive home in a mood that is more conducive to smashing things, rather than preparing dinner.

These potatoes are two thumbs up, high five, secret handshake delicious AND they have the added bonus of giving you an outlet for burning off some of the day's stress.
Here is how you go about pretending that you are crushing your boss' giant potato head making these smashing good potatoes.


12 potatoes (small to medium sized potatoes)
2  tsps kosher salt (or more to taste)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Herbs (* you can pretty much use any of your favourite herb blends. Fresh rosemary is nice. Herbs de Provence or Italian herbs are great too. Here I have used green seasoning which is a staple in every Trinidadian's kitchen.

Boil your potatoes in water salted with 1 tsp of salt. Cook the potatoes until they are tender. Check that the centers are cooked through by piercing with a fork or bamboo skewer.

Preheat your oven to 450°F

Drain the potatoes.  Brush a large baking tray with oil. 

Use a potato smasher to pulverize those puppies.

Brush the smashed potatoes with oil. 

Be generous. 

Sprinkle with your favourite blend of herbs. 

Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon kosher or a coarse grained sea salt. The larger grains cling to the crispy skins just a little bit better than table salt. 

Roast potatoes in the oven at 450°F until they are crispy. This should take about 30 minutes.

Cooks Tip: You can do the prep work - boiling and flattening the potatoes- the night before. Then all you have to do the next day is cover them with oil, herbs and salt before roasting them.

As a final note I'd like to make mention that I am very honoured to have been featured in this month's newsletter of Simply Trini Cooking. Click the link to head on over to the website and subscribe to get your free copy. I wonder if you can guess which one of my recipes is being showcased?