I look forward to the Holidays. Holidays mean having time off to catch up with friends and family, eat good food and laugh. This year I made a pumpkin pie cheesecake for Thanksgiving. I’m not a pumpkin fan so I thought it would but a nice alternative but still festive.

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake with a Ginger Snap Crust

For the Crust

o    1 1/4 cups ginger snap cookies

o    1/2 cup brown sugar & a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg

o    4 tablespoons of melted butter

For the Filling

o    4 packages (8 ounces each) bar cream cheese, very soft

o    1 1/4 cups sugar

o    3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

o    1 cup canned pumpkin puree (2 cups for stronger flavour)

o    1 tablespoon cinnamon

o    1 teaspoon nutmeg

o    1 teaspoon of allspice

o    1 tablespoon vanilla extract

o    1 teaspoon coconut extract

o    1/2 teaspoon salt

o    4 large eggs, room temperature

Directions

1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2.     Make the crust: In a medium bowl, mix gingersnap crumbs, sugar, and butter until moistened; press firmly into bottom of pan. Bake until golden around edges, 10 to 12 minutes.

3.     Make the filling: With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar on low speed until smooth; mix in flour (do not overmix) add vanilla, and salt; mix just until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until each is incorporated before adding the next.

4.     Remove a cup of the batter and put aside for decoration then add pumpkin puree and spices.

5.     Pour the white cheesecake batter into the orange cheese cake batter and use a knife to make swirls.

6.     Transfer to oven; reduce oven heat to 300 degrees. Bake 55 minutes. Turn off oven; let cheesecake stay in oven 2 hours more (without opening).

7.     Remove from oven; cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours. Unmold before serving.

The way to my heart is through my stomach

Everyone has that dish that brings them back to childhood. That one bite gives you a sense of comfort. ONE of the dishes that always does that for me is Shepherd Pie! You may be thinking what does this Jamaican girl know about Shepherds pie!? When I was a child I was put in preschool. My pre school provided lunch and snacks. Most of the meals I ate in pre school were standard Canadian meals that I did not eat at home. My mom didn’t cook things like meatloaf and mash potatoes. At home I was eating oxtail and sucking the marrow out of the bone lol. My ABSOLUTE favourite meal in pre school was shepherds pie. I’m pretty sure I licked my plate as a child and sucked my grubby little fingers. As I got older I forgot about shepherds pie but then I’d hear my friends saying “oh mom made shepherds pie for dinner,” and I decided I was going to look up a recipe and make my own. I think my Shepherds pie is actually pretty bomb but I haven’t made it this year. No let’s fast forward! Anyone who reads my blog knows I am passionate about GOOD food. So a special someone read my blog and said I am going to make you Shepherd pie. In my head I was like how did he know! It’s like Apple pie and Vanilla ice cream you can never go wrong! So I went to his house and watched him assemble this lovely pie and then i scarfed it down like a greedy little monster. It was delicious! There are a few key differences between this shepherds pie and my shepherds pie but I liked the twist. He put a layers of potatoes on the bottom, then meat, then potatoes, then cheese. Which made the pie veryy fluffy and light which I enjoyed and I will try next time I make it. He cooks his meat in a tomato sauce and I cook mine in a beef broth (both equally delicious). Finally, he also adds cheese to his mash potatoes while mashing them which is genius! Who doesn’t like more cheese?

So I give this meal 5 bites out of 5 and I’m excited for him to cook me many more dinners:)

You’re Jamaican me CRAZY! (lol I hate that joke)

I grew up in a very multi cultural environment. I’m black but all my friends weren’t which gave me the opportunity to be exposed to different cultures and also expose them to mine. Which is good because it eliminates ignorance. All of my friends (the non blacks lol) love Jamaican food. We do a lot pot lucks and eat each others food. So my friend Alex asked me to post a blog on how to make jerk chicken so she could make it at home lol. There is a hard way and an easy way to make jerk chicken. I’ve done both and they taste the EXACT same. You can either buy the marinade or make the Marinade. The good thing about making the marinade is you can add and eliminate or adjust ingredients to your liking. The bad part is it takes too much time for the same flavour. If you want to make it from scratch follow this link http://www.jamaicatravelandculture.com/food_and_drink/jerk_chicken.htm I’ve used this recipe twice and adjusted the proportions to my liking. However, I usually buy the marinade. I like the Grace brand. You can find it in the ethnic aisle lol. They also have a BBQ Jerk marinade and I mix them sometimes. The BBQ Jerk is more saucy. The Jerk Marinade is more like a paste. If you’d like the flavour to really penetrate the meat season it and leave it overnight in the fridge before cooking.

Recipe requires:

Chicken ( I did wings this time)

1 small Onion

4 Garlic cloves

1 Scotch Bonnet pepper (optional to make it extra hot)

3 table spoons Grace Jerk Marinade

half a cup Grace BBQ Jerk Sauce

Directions:

Preheat oven at 350 degrees

clean the meat and remove the fat. Some peoplelike to leave the skin because it gets nice and crispy!

dice onions, crush garlic, finely slice scotch bonnet peppers and mix with chicken. Add 3 tablespoons of jerk seasoning and and evenly coat with BBQ Jerk sauce.

(keep in mind the more jerk seasoning you add the spicier it will be)

Place chicken in a dish a bake until golden brown on one side and continuously baste the chicken (cover with the juices) so it doesn’t dry out. Then flip the chicken and do the same for the remainder of the cooking time.

Hope you enjoy!

Love the life you live, Live the life you Love.

Recently a friend of mine passed away. I have never experienced death before so this was a bit difficult to process. I don’t believe there is a right way to grieve, so I imagine everyone does it differently. I was in a state of denial for days, which eventually turned to sadness, then irritation, then I somewhat made peace with it. When we originally found out my friend Tanisha (his last girlfriend) decided to have a small get together at her house and pay tribute to him. She wanted people to feel him when they walked in the room because everything he liked would be there. The small get together turned into a full blown memorial service. He died in Cuba (on vacation) and his body is still there. His parents plan to bury him in Jamaica where he was born and his mother lives. So it was only fitting to have a memorial service here (in Canada) where many of his friends he met in high school and after live. Tanisha was there master organizer but everyone generously lent a helping hand. The service was beautiful and something I think we all needed for some kind of closure since there are so many unanswered questions regarding his death.

I officially met Horace (Odaine) at work. I was his “Manager”.During orientation I had everyone say three things about them. Two truths and one lie and everyone would guess the lie. I don’t remember what Horace said but one of them was “I was born and raised in Jamaica”.I laughed and said, “that’s a lie” with the utmost certainty. He was like, “its true!” and anyone who knows him, knows how proud of his country he is. Always rocking some kind of Jamaican memorabilia and after time I realized I couldn’t have been more wrong. Through conversation we realized we had mutual friends, had been at the same parties in the same limo and his first job was at Niceys (A Jamaican grocery store) right behind my house that I grew up in. We became more than co-workers but friends. I have so many memories of him that make me laugh and I am truly grateful for. Anytime I needed an ear he was there to listen and would do whatever he could to help. He was always the neutral party but even if you were his friend he wouldn’t judge you but let you know you are in the wrong. I remember getting into a fight with my boyfriend on my birthday and sitting at home. He messaged me “how’s your birthday, what did you and the hubby do?” I told him what happened and he said “you can’t spend your birthday alone after I’m done work we will go out to eat” we went out and had a good time. He was such a good person always making people laugh, respectful, pure hearted and  positive energy. Anyone can testify to that. Definitely raised by King and Queen. I am truly grateful to God for introducing me to him.

His memorial service was so touching. There was so many people there who loved him and who’s lives he had impacted. Pride was put aside and I saw tears fall from many eyes. I could imagine him watching us heartbroken because he wouldn’t want us to feel this way. It was talking to his Dad that really uplifted my spirits. Anyone, who reads my blog knows how much I love food and Horace would tell me about his Dad and how he’s a chef and all the different foods he has tried. So our conversation started off about food cause I’m nosey and inappropriate (lol) but eventually turned into a conversation about Odaine. He said something along the lines of, “Some days I feel sad, I feel angry, I feel happy and sometimes I feel absolutely nothing. But I am trying to be positive” Talking to his Dad is so surreal because Horace is younger replica down to the mannerisms, but I thought to myself if his Dad can bury his son and still have a smile on his face and a positive aura about him, everyone should strive for that. I can’t bring him back so I plan on cherishing the memories we did have and try to be more like him. Positive, life loving and confident.

I ordered the cupcake tearaway cake form Sobey’s. They are flexible with coming to them with your own ideas

2458 Dundas Street West
Mississauga
(905) 823-0711

I ordered the bracelets online from http://www.wrist-band.com/index.phpthey are made in China and ship internationally


 

The dish that got away…

I remember as a kid going to my friends house and her mom saying she was going to make pumpkin shrimp roti. I thought to myself that is absolutely disgusting I hate pumpkin. Those times the only thing pumpkin I had ever tried was pumpkin pie and I thought that shit was repulsive. So I said “sorry I don’t like pumpkin” she said “well you will like my pumpkin,” I continued to play with my friend and thought to myself “yeah right” *side eye*. Dinner time came and she placed a neatly wrapped roti in front of me and told me to take a bite. After some convincing I took a bite and proceeded to lick my plate clean. It tasted nothing like that artificial pumpkin slice they served me in school. The pumpkin flavour was subtle and the spice blend was amazing. Back then I knew nothing about cooking- I just knew what tasted good. As years went by I always wondered about that pumpkin shrimp roti recipe. I called it the dish that got away. I saw it on a menu once and got so excited. They brought me out some bland disgusting mush with mini salted shrimp it was just disappointing. One day I decided to look up my elementary school friend on facebook and ask her mom for the recipe. She either laughed or didn’t reply. Either way she can kiss my ass for that. After plenty of research I’ve concocted my own recipe that is almost as good as the dish that got away.

First things first you need to make your pumpkin purée (a little chunkier than a purée but it sounds fancy let’s call it that)

6-8 cups pumpkin (peeled and cubed – 1 inch pieces)
1/2 medium onion (finely sliced )
1 hot pepper (scotch bonnet is my weapon of choice)
3 cloves garlic chopped fine or crushed
olive oil
1 teaspoon salt (add more if needed)
1 teaspoon brown sugar

Wash, peel and cube the pumpkin in 1 inch pieces. Sauté the onions in a pan until transparent. Then add the pumpkin in a few at a time until there are no more left to add. (It seems like much but it will reduce in size drastically). Add the remaining ingredients, give it a stir and out the lid on for 25 minutes. It will start to sweat and realest water. After 25 minutes remove the lid and let the excess water evaporate. I used a potato masher but you can simply use a fork and crush and cubed pieces remaining.

Now it gets easy!

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup sliced onion

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tomato, chopped

1 vegetable bouillon cube

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

curry powder

cayenne pepper

cumin

ground masala

salt and pepper

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and ginger; sauté until soft, about 8 minutes. Add garlic; cook for 1 minute. Stir in plum tomato and pumpkin “purée”; add vegetable bouillon, coconut milk, and spice; simmer for 10 minutes. Add shrimp, . Simmer until shrimp are cooked (when they turn from grey to pink throughout). Serve with steamed rice or roti.

Roti is a better presentation because u can wrap it and lets me honest it looks like mush. BUT ITS SOME DAMN GOOD MUSH. I only had rice unfortunately it was too late to go out and buy some.

So for the past couple of weeks I’ve been trying to eat healthy and cut back on some of my ass jiggle lol. I found a recipe for Sesame-Ginger Salmon en Papillote. En papillote basically means in parchment paper. You cut the parchment paper in the shape of a heart fill in and fold the edges. In the oven it steams inside the packet and all the juices are retained at the bottom. I adjusted the recipe to my liking. I wouldn’t use eggplant next time maybe broccoli, bok choy or asparagus.

Ingredients

Salmon

½ of a Red/yellow and orange pepper

5 button Mushrooms

Quarter of an Eggplant

2 scallions

Salt and pepper

Sauce

Teaspoon of orange zest

Half the juice of an orange

3 table spoon of light soya sauce (not the dark one too strong and salty)

2 teaspoons of sesame oil

1 teaspoon of honey

1 teaspoon of finely slices ginger

1 tablespoon of sriracha (hot sauce)

(2 teaspoons of rice vinegar but I didn’t have it and it turned out fine)

1. Finely slice all vegetables

2. Divide vegetable portions in half and coat with 2 tablespoons of sauce

3. Put half of the vegetable in one papillote and the other half in the other

4. Season salmon with salt, pepper and marinade and place on top of vegetable bed

5. Close the papillote and bake for 30 minutes (depending on the size of your salmon baking times may vary)

6. Open up eat and enjoy serve with rice or eat as it!

Serves 2

I was a little skeptical that it wouldn’t have enough flavour but it tasted good and I topped it with extra sriracha. If you chop the ginger extremely fine and put it on top of the salmon while cooking its edible and not at all overpowering. Serve on a bed of rice:)

Alioli Ristorante

350 Burnhamthorp Rd West

Mississauga, Ontario (905) 281-1122

One of my best friends is moving to Chicago this week so I planned a surprise going away dinner at Alioli. This place is a hidden gem (literally). It’s at the corner of hurontario and burnhamthorp at the bottom of an office building (Very easy to miss). The website says “Arrving at Alioli- is like being taken through time and space to a village in Tuscany”, I don’t remember feeling like that but the restaurant is cute and intimate which I like. The food was very authentic and satisfying. This is no Boston Pizza Pasta (hate that place). I had the Linguine Pescatore. Fresh pasta, lobster meat, scallops, shrimps, diced tomato, white wine lemon dill cream sauce. It was delicious but I had higher expectations after reading the description. The flavour was great and the sauce wasn’t too rich. However, they should replace the term lobster meat with lobster “shavings”. For 24 dollars I don’t want lobster crumbs that could be mistaken for any kind of fish. I want fleshy meaty pieces. And the scallops were extremely small. They made up for it with the juicy plump shrimp. I know it sounds negative but what can I say I love my food. I wish I took more pictures. My friend ordered the Risotto con funghi (mushroom risotto) and Insalata caprese (caprese salad) Delicious! I’ve seen some pretty pathetic caprese salads in the past year and that was a generous serving. The risotto was perfectly al denté but still smooth and creamy packed with mushroom flavour! We received amazing customer service. Our waiter was very dry and sarcastic and our entire table loved him. For “larger” parties the automatically included a 15% gratuity which is fine but they didn’t give us the option on the terminal to include more for a tip. Everyone agreed they would have left more if given the option.

4 bites out of 5

Goat cheese sliders

So I had a pack a slider buns and decided to make sliders for the first time. I regret not using a binding agent like eggs or bread crumbs because it was so tender and fell apart easily but they still tasted great.

I sautéed onions in butter for a topping. It drastically reduces in size, I used one onion.

I cooked down mushrooms in butter and garlic as an additional topping as well.

I seasoned the ground beef with pesto, salt, pepper, grated onions (learned that from rachel ray), garlic and tomatoe paste then stuffed them with goat cheese.

I baked the sliders in the over then finished them on the stove

Jamaican Chicken Soup

Everyone enjoys a bowl of chicken soup! It’s warm, comforting and delicious. BUT JAMAICAN CHICKEN SOUP brings it to a whole new level. My girlfriend came over while I was cooking, so I was distracted by girl talk, 90210 and alcohol. Unfortunately, I didn’t take as many pictures as I would of liked. Anywho, If you would like to make it the recipe is below. Contiuously taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking because I don’t measure when I am cooking, only when I bake. This is how I make soup some people boil the bones for hours and omit using “cock soup” there are different variations.

Recipe

Chicken (all parts and bones make great stock)

Thyme

Bay leaves

Salt and Pepper      

Parsley

Curry Powder

Scallion

Scotch Bonnet Pepper

Jamaican Cock Soup Packs

Pimento Berries (Allspice)

Cho Cho (Christophine) (cut up into 1 inch pieces)

Pumpkin (cut up into 1 inch pieces)

Yellow Yam (cut up into 1 inch pieces)      

Irish Potatoes (cut up into 1 inch pieces)

Carrots

Celery

Onion

Tomato

Flour

Step 1: Sauté the onions celery and carrots and let them sweat on a low heat till onions are transparent

Step 2: Add meat bones and seasonings. fill the pot with water and let it boil continuously straining the fat that rises to the top for about an hour.

Step 3: strain broth add the remainder of your vegetables, meat, cock soup and season the broth according to taste

Step 4: In a bowl mix flour and water to make dumpling or spinners. Add to pot

Step 5: Cook until all your provisions are tender, soup thickens and flavour develops.

Tip: Because the soup is so hearty it can and will stick to the bottom of the pot so keep and eye on your soup and stir it.