Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Addictive Potato Chips or French Fries that are Baked not Fried

Crispy Potato Cubes, baked not fried

I don't know about you but I absolutely love French fries. In Trinidad, no doubt due to our history of being a British colony, we call French fries 'chips', although with the advent of so many KFC outlets in Trinidad, the term fries has gained more popularity. A quick search online to find the origin of 'French fries' which seems to be obviously French led me actually to Belgium. According to Wikipedia, 'French fries' may have been mistakenly named by British and American soldiers because the Belgians spoke French, the soldiers assumed that they were in france and eating a French dish.

Whether it really was supposed to be 'Belgian Fries' and not ;French Fries', I know you will agree with me that fries are morsels of crunchy deliciousness. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. There is a catch to all this exquisite yumminess, ah yes, the fact that these are usually deep fried.

That's what really great about this recipe, you get all the crunchy caramelized potato exterior and soft fluffy interior that you love in a traditional fried potato, but without all of the fat. What I love about this recipe as well is that there is no sitting and babysitting the pot, you leave for 15 to 20 minutes, and comes back, give it a turn. I don't even bother to peel the potatoes, I just scrub them really good with soap.

One thing though to remember is to wash the potatoes slices to take out the starch and dry them thoroughly afterwards. Otherwise you will be getting soggy potatoes not divinely crispy ones. Also lay them out in only one layer on your pan, don't overcrowd. If you follow the above tips, you will be on your way to crispy 'baked' fries that look and taste like they have been dunked in hot oil though all they have done was hung out in the oven.

I did potatoes cubes, but this recipe works for normal French fries and wedges, the only difference being the cooking time involved. If you want wedges but don't have the time to cook them in the oven, I recommend cooking them partially in boiling water and then slicing them in wedges and letting them finish cooking in oven.

I dipped my 'fries' in a mixture of ketchup, soy sauce and pepper sauce. Gosh so good! This is one of my favorite recipes, and if you give it a try, I guarantee you will not miss that deep fried French fry.

Cuisine:        Belgium or France 
Good for:      Lunch, Dinner, Snack
Category:      Side Dish     
Time:            1½ hours
Serves:         3
Skill:             Medium
Suitable: Vegetarian, Low fat
Heat: mild


6           Potatoes scrubbed clean.
5 tb       vegetable or coconut oil
             salt to taste
¼ tsp    black pepper (optional)
½ tsp    chilli powder (optional)
2 tb       parsley (optional)

  1. Slice potatoes either as French fries or as we say in Trinidad; chips, larger for wedges or if you want as cubes like I did.
  2. There is no need to peel potatoes if you have washed them properly.
  3. Soak slices in water and wash out as much starch from potatoes.
  4. Drain and place on a clean dry kitchen towel to dry.
  5. Once the potato slices are dried toss them with oil, salt and black pepper and chilli powder.
  6. Preheat oven to 400ยบ.
  7. Grease two baking sheets and add potatoes in an even flat layer. Ensure that there is space between potato and use an extra pan if necessary.
  8. Place in oven and bake for 40mins for french fries, 50-60mins for cubes and 1 hour 15mins for wedges.
  9. If you are making wedges, you can partially cook the potatoes by boiling before cutting into wedges to save on cooking time.
  10. Turn potato every 15 to 20 minutes so all sides can brown.
  11. Take out of oven when done and add more salt if necessary.
  12. Toss with parley and Enjoy!

Do's and Don'ts
  • Do dry potatoes thoroughly. If you don't your fries will not be crispy.
  • Don't overcrowd the pan, as your fries will steam.
  • Do turn occasionally as if you don't your potatoes will stick to the pan.


© Chillibibi Food Blog  All Rights Reserved




Sunday, April 27, 2014

Irresistible Hot Sweet and Sour Wings

Hot Sweet and Sour Wings

The first time I made these, was quite by accident just taking a bit of this and that from the kitchen and when I tasted it, it was just sooo good. Unfortunately, I did not write the recipe down, so this is my best attempt at recreating the greatness I achieved that day. It's not quite there just yet, but it is still really good.

This recipe is a bit healthier that normal hot wings because of the fact that these are baked not fried. If you want you can omit the butter in the sauce, although the butter really helps temper the heat of the hot sauce, but if you are a trini, I am sure you can handle it. You can cut down the heat by using less hot sauce, but if you really love mild food this is really not for you. I rate this as 'Mother in Law' hot, and if you have ever tasted 'mother in law' you will understand. For those non-trinis (non-Trinidadians), 'Mother in law' is a Trinidadian-Indian really hot vegetable condiment/pickle made from karelli, onions, garlic, carrots and lots of hot pepper. It's very popular at Indian weddings in Trinidad, it's name being a reference to how badly 'mother in laws' usually treat their son's or daughter's spouses.

So please do try this recipe and let me know what you think!

Good for:      Lunch, Dinner, Snack
Category:      Appetizer      
Time:            1½ hours
Serves:         2 (2 wings each, these were large wings) or serves 1 if you greedy!
Skill:             Medium
Suitable:       No peanuts
Heat:            Mudder in law Hot!



4           Chicken Wings washed with lime


1tsp salt (less or more depending how small/large your wings are)
1tsp garlic rough chopped
1 tb herbs; chadon beni, parsley rough chopped
1tsp congo pepper rough chopped (optional)

3tb vegetable oil        
1 tb        Chilli powder

Hot, sweet and sour Sauce

2tb        butter
¼ c       good hot pepper sauce
2tsp      garlic minced
¼ tsp    black pepper
1 ½ tb   vinegar
1 ½ tb   sugar
1tsp      soy sauce
1tsp      Worcestershire sauce
pinch    or more salt as needed 
1 tb        fresh chadon beni or parsley chopped

Garnish with shadow beni, parsley or chives

  1. Wash wings in lime until the fresh smell is gone.
  2. Pat wings dry. Combine marinade ingredients and mix into wings.
  3. Marinate in fridge for a few hours, minimum a hour at room temperature.
  4. Let come to room temperature and brush herbs and garlic off wings. You do this so they don't burn in oven and wing's skin get crispy.
  5. Brush wings with vegetable oil and sprinkle with chilli powder.
  6. Bake in a 350 oven for around 1 hour until crispy on the outside. Placing wings on a rack then baking sheet will help with this.
  7. Turn over a few times to ensure both sides are get crispy.
  8. While chicken cooks, heat butter on medium heat and add garlic and let infuse in butter. Take off heat.
  9. Add hot sauce and rest of ingredients.
  10. When chicken is done, take out and toss in sauce.
  11. Garnish with herbs and serve immediately.

© Chillibibi Food Blog  All Rights Reserved




Friday, April 25, 2014

Fry Bake, Crispy on the outside, Soft on the inside

If you are not a trini, then you would find this bread rather contradictory; how can a bake be fried? I am not sure what the origins of this fried bread are, it could be Indian as it is usually eaten with things like tomato choka, or it could be African in origin as it is eaten with buljol, salt fish and shark. Bake and Shark is a Trinidadian institution.
It's a fish sandwich famously available at Maracas Beach in north Trinidad. The sandwich comes as the name suggests, with 'Fry Bake' and 'Fried Shark' but what takes it over the top for me are the vegetable toppings and condiments. Vegetables such as tomatoes, onions, shredded mango, shredded cucumber, pineapple chunks and cabbage and condiments such as chadon beni sauce, pepper sauce, mayonnaise, garlic sauce, mango kuchela, tamarind chutney and old standbys ketchup and mustard. It's definitely a Trinidadian invention and absolutely a must try if you visit Trinidad. Richard's Bake and Shark is a popular Kiosk in Maracas Beach, I've had quite a few from Richard's; they usually have the longest line and are really good.
Fry bake also makes a great trini breakfast and can be paired with tomato choka, fry aloo (potato), saltfish buljol and bygan choka. My favorite is bake and fry tomato or fry aloo. Fry Bake could almost be an indian puri, although it's a bit bigger and thick enough that it has a pocket inside to put yummy fillings in.
Cuisine:        Trinidadian Indian
Good for:      Break fast, Lunch, Dinner
Category:      Bread      
Time:            1 hour
Serves:         4
Skill:             Medium
Suitable:       Vegetarian

2 c           white flour (or combination white and whet
2 tb          baking flour
½ tsp       salt
1 to 1½ c water
                vegetable oil for frying
  1. Mix flour, baking flour and salt.
  2. Make well in middle of flour. Pour water a little at time while mixing until you get a semi-dry dough.
  3. Knead for 5 minutes until you get a smooth ball.
  4. Let rest for 30 minutes.
  5. Divide dough into 8 balls and knead these into smooth balls and let them rest for 15 minutes.
  6. Heat oil in a frying pan, oil should be 1½ to 2 inches in depth.
  7. Roll out a ball of dough till around 4-5 inches diameter using a rolling pin.
  8. If a small piece of dough sizzles, oil is ready.
  9. Drop a flattened dough into the hot oil. Let cook on one side for a few minutes and then on the other side for a little less.
  10. If it puffs up, even better as it's easier to make a pocket inside the bread after it has cooked.
  11. Take out and drain on adsorbent paper.
  12. Repeat with remaining dough balls.

© Chillibibi Food Blog  All Rights Reserved

Sunday, April 20, 2014

'French Decoded': An article I did for Website Languages.Guru

Eiffel Tower

I recently did an article; 'Sexy Sophisticated French Decoded' that was published on Languages.Guru, a website about languages, obviously! I  love the French language, ever since I was introduced to it in high school. At the high school I attended you had to do both Spanish and French for two years and at the end of those two years you had to choose to do either of the languages or to move on to Computer Science instead. I just fell in love with French, it was so much more sophisticated and sexy. The way it sounded, compared to the loud pronunciation of the Spanish language, to me was just so appealing. It's a language made for romance. Not surprising I chose French and went on to gain a CXC Grade 2 at my O' Level Exams, an equivalent to a grade 'B'.

I know my choosing French was not very practical, Venezuela is closer to Trinidad where I live than even Barbados or Grenada, but French to me was enchanting. I really would have benefited greatly from doing Computer Science. Trinidad actually does have French influence since as a Caribbean island, it had been claimed by the Spanish, French and English a few times during it's early history. The name 'Trinidad' is Spanish and was the name given by Columbus when he saw the three peaks that dot the south of the Caribbean island. What is spoken in Trinidad is a French dialect called Patois. Words that have seeped into Trinidad dialect that have French origin include words such as 'Macomere' and 'maco', which mean a very nosy individual and 'Flambeau' which means a lighted torch.  Trinidad Carnival is descended from French origins as can be seen from words such as 'Mardi Gras'.

The article, 'Sexy Sophisticated French Decoded' is really an introduction into the French Language. It  gives an overview of the basics of the French language, it's pronunciation and simple phrases. You can view the article here.

I did another article which is more specific to dining at a French Restaurant and I will post the link once the article is published. This article I know will be more relevant to you my readers, being food related. It will help you navigate the French Restaurant landscape.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Curried Vegetables, so delicious with Roti

Curried Vegetables, delicious with Roti
A variation of this curried vegetable dish was a staple when I was growing up. I am indian by origin; my ancestors came from India to Trinidad about a hundred years ago. They were very poor and when I compare the cuisine that I grew up that has indian roots, it's a much simpler version of the indian food that I would eat in an authentic Indian restaurant. The curry that is most prevalent in Trinidad has become fairly generic due to the spices being sold already ground and mixed. 
It has become so popular to buy prepackaged spice curry mixes in Trinidad, I did not know that curry was a mixture of spices until I read an indian recipe book. Curry traditionally is a mixture of turmeric, cumin (geera, hindi) and coriander (dhania, hindi) in its simplest from, but the variations are really endless, with the addition of other spices and nuts and seeds.
Cumin in both it's seed and ground is used in Trinidadian Indian cooking when we make chokas like 'Bygan Choka' and to make 'Dhal'. Fenugreek whose hindi name is 'Maithee' is a seed also used to 'chunkay' dhal. It has a scent reminiscent of maple syrup, but with a much spicier undertone.
This curry was made with a ready made curry spice blend, probably Chief, Turban or Chatak brands. I also added extra ground turmeric, cumin and coriander to add more flavor to my curry. You can add the equivalent extra curry powder if you don't have these spices. Try this recipe with dhalpourie or sada roti. It's simple and a great way to eat vegetables. You can substitute any vegetable you want, it's a very versatile and easy recipe. Just tweak your cooking time for the vegetables that you have added to ensure they are cooked. You can make this as dry or as saucy as you wish. I prefer a saucy curry that I can soak my dhalpourie or bread in. This can also be eaten with rice.

One note on herbs though. I used bandania, also called chadon beni in this curry. Cilantro can be substituted, but more should be used. Since I live in the tropics the herbs I use are very potent, due to the heat and much smaller in size. Less is needed to achieve flavor.
Cuisine:        Trinidadian Indian,
Good for:      Lunch, Dinner      
Time:            1 hour
Serves:         7
Skill:             Medium
Suitable:       Vegetarian

½                 cauliflour
1                  onion sliced
4                  garlic cloves minced
4                  potatoes
5                  tomatoes
2 c               sliced patchoi or spinach
1                  hot congo pepper
2 tsp            curry powder
1 tsp            coriander
½ tsp           ground cumin
½ tsp           tumeric
1 c               milk
3                  leaves bandania (chadon beni), cilantro can be substituted
3 tb             coconut or vegetable oil
                    salt to taste
                    water as needed  

  1. Cut cauliflower into florets.
  2. Chop potatoes into bite sized pieces.
  3. Put oil in pan and heat on medium.
  4. Add curry powder, turmeric, cumin, coriander and fry till fragrant. Add water to this mixture occasionally to ensure spices don't burn.
  5. Add onion and garlic and fry till soft.
  6. Add vegetables, potatoes and tomatoes first, then cauliflower and patchoi last. Fry for a few minutes for each vegetables.
  7. Add about a cup of water and let cook down, till the vegetables candy at the bottom and then add water again.
  8. Add milk to pot and let reduce a few minutes.
  9. Repeat process until the vegetables are cooked.
  10. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Be careful not to burst the hot pepper, unless you like your food very hot. Take out of pot.
  12. Add bandania at the end or parsley.


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