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Green Beans with Mushrooms

This is another of my quick and easy side dishes. The green beans remain nice and crunchy while the mushrooms bring that earthy texture to the dish, whilst the onions add just the right amount of sweetness.
Photography by Robert Demetrius


½ pounds green beans
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced (cremini and white button)
1 teaspoon dried French thyme leaves
½ sweet onion, finely diced
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

Heat your skillet at medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss in the green beans. Sauté for 1 minute then add the finely diced sweet onion and toss occasionally for another minute before adding 4 ounces of sliced mushrooms. Continue to toss for 5 minutes. Add ¼ teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper and 1 teaspoon dried French thyme leaves, then turn off the heat, cover the skillet and let rest for a further 5 minutes. Uncover and your side dish is ready. The heat will cook the beans a bit further, but the beans will remain nice and crisp.

This serves 2. Voilà. Now that was really easy. Just double the recipe if you need to serve 4 persons.

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Roasted Pumpkin with Yogurt and Black Sage Honey Sauce

During my visit to a Latin supermarket, trying to find an ingredient for one of my Jamaican dishes, I came across a beautiful piece of pumpkin that had such a vibrant orange color, that I just couldn’t resist getting. I just knew it would have been perfect for a dish I had in mind. Roasting pumpkin brings out the sweet flavors and the soft silkiness of the vegetable. Adding some smoky spices to the pumpkin gives it that warm, comforting taste and fragrant smell that I was looking for.
Photography by Robert Demetrius

Black sage honey has a buttery caramel flavor that I thought would go wonderfully well with the roasted pumpkin sprinkled with smoky spices. So, I decided to serve the roasted pumpkin with thick and creamy Greek yogurt blended with the buttery caramel flavor of the black sage honey to just top it off.

2 pounds pumpkin
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
Yogurt and Black Sage Honey Sauce

Start by pre-heating the oven to 450°Fahrenheit.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Wash the pumpkin well, then pat dry before slicing it into ½ inch thin slices.

In a small dish, blend 1 teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon coriander, ½ teaspoon nutmeg and ½ teaspoon salt together.
Pumpkin Slices with Spices and Garlic
Place pumpkin slices on the parchment paper lined sheet before drizzling with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then sprinkle with ½ of the spice blend. Turn the pumpkin slices over and repeat the process by drizzling with 1 tablespoon olive oil, then sprinkle with the spice blend.

Mince 1 large clove of garlic and sprinkle over the pumpkin slices.

Once the oven has come to 450°Fahrenheit, place the baking sheet in the oven for 20 minutes, before turning the pumpkin slices and baking them on the other side for a further 5 minutes.
Pumpkin Slices Hot from the Oven
Prepare the Yogurt and Black Sage Honey Sauce by mixing the yogurt and honey together.
Pumpkin Slices Ready to be Served
Let the pumpkin slices remain on the sheet for about a minute before transferring to a platter. Serve a dollop of my Yogurt and Black Sage Honey Sauce with the roasted pumpkin.

This serves 4. Voilà. If you are like me, I couldn’t wait to eat it so I dipped the roasted pumpkin into the yogurt. Enjoy!

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Yogurt and Black Sage Honey Sauce

On one of my trips to Savannah, some friends and I did a honey tasting at the Savannah Bee Company and bought a bottle of black sage honey. The black sage honey has a warm, buttery caramel flavor. Blending it with thick and creamy Greek yogurt is just luscious.
Photography by Robert Demetrius


7 ounces of Greek yogurt
1½ tablespoons Black Sage Honey

Just blend the honey into the yogurt.

Voilà. I served this with my Roasted Pumpkin and the recipe is enough to serve for 4. Enjoy! This would also be great with fruits in the morning for breakfast or just as a snack. 

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Jamaican Stew Peas

This is a typical Jamaican dish. The saltiness of the pig’s tail, the creaminess of the coconut and just a few other simple ingredients and you have a burst of complex flavors all at once.
Photography by Robert Demetrius

2 cups red peas (red kidney beans)
2½ pounds salted pig’s tail
1½ pounds stew beef
6 pimento seeds
3 cloves of garlic
2 cups coconut milk
2 stalks scallion
3 sprigs thyme
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 scotch bonnet pepper
Soak 2 cups of red peas overnight, they will be much easier to cook the following day as it won’t take that much time before they soften, especially if you do not own a pressure cooker like myself. I had soaked mine for 16 hours before using.
Scalding Pig Tails
For this recipe I used 2½ pounds of salted pig’s tail. It will be necessary to scald the pig’s tails twice. To scald the pig’s tails, start with a large pot. The tails should be covered by at least two inches of water and bring to a boil. Drain the water and start the process over again. It should take about 13 minutes to reach a boil. Use 7 cups of water, each time, just to minimize the saltiness. You can also scald it three times if you are not a salt lover. You should not need to add any more salt when seasoning the stew later on.
Cutting Beef in 1/2 inch Pieces
Cut 1½ pounds stew beef in ½ inch pieces. This will shorten the cooking time and you are guaranteed tender morsels of meat.
Once the pig’s tails have been scalded and drained, add the drained, soaked red peas and the stew beef in the pot and mix. 
Beans, Pig Tails and Beef Covered with Water Seasoned with Pimento Seeds and Garlic
Add 6½ cups of water, so that the pig’s tail, meat and peas are covered in water. Add 6 pimento seeds and 3 cloves of garlic. 
Stew Bubbling Hot on the Burner
Beating Scallion Stalks Before Adding to the Pot, Allowing the Flavor to Release Quicker
Adding Coconut Milk to the Stew Peas
Bring to a boil, which should take around 15 minutes, simmer for 1½ hours at medium low heat before adding 2 cups coconut milk, 2 stalks of scallion which should be crushed slightly, 3 sprigs thyme, 1 scotch bonnet pepper and spinners and let simmer for a final 30 minutes. 
Stew Peas with Coconut Milk, Scallion Stalks and Fresh Thyme
Adding the Spinners
Whole Scotch Bonnet Pepper adding a Delightful Flavor to the Stew Peas
Make sure the scotch bonnet pepper is whole, with the stem still on. Place the pepper on the top and be careful when stirring, as you do not want the pepper to break. It has only been added for flavor and not peppery heat.
This serves 6. Voilà. In Jamaica, the typical way to serve this dish is with white rice, vegetables and fried ripe plantain. Enjoy.


Spinners
1 cup of all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon of salt
7 tablespoons water
In a bowl, mix flour, salt and water. Start with about 5 tablespoons of water and add more if needed. The dough should be somewhat dry in consistency, but easy to roll as the spinners should be dense once cooked. To roll the spinners, take about the size of a quarter amount of dough and roll between your two palms, so you get an elongated and thin dumpling. Drop in stew or soup and allow to cook for about 30 minutes.

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How to Scald Pig Tails

This is preparation for a few Jamaican dishes that require pig tails. Pig tails in Jamaica are usually cured in brine or salt and therefore are quite salty. In order to remove the salt, it is necessary to scald the pigtails a few times in boiling water. When purchasing, ask the butcher to chop it in pieces as it will be required to be in pieces for my Jamaican Stew Peas.
Photography by Heaven on Hearth
cured pig tails
water

Place the pig tails in a large pot, making sure that they remain in one layer and cover with about 3 – 4 inches of water and bring to a boil. Boil for about 3 more minutes, then drain the water and repeat another two to three times.

Voilà. Now how easy was that? Now you can use the pig tails in my Jamaican Stew Peas without it being too salty.

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Spinners

Are what we call long, thin shaped dumplings which are found in soups and stews. They are easy to make and do not require a lot of monitoring while cooking.
Photography by Heaven on Hearth
1 cup of all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon of salt
7 tablespoons water

In a bowl, mix flour, salt and water. Start with about 5 tablespoons of water and add more if needed. The dough should be somewhat dry in consistency, but easy to roll as the spinners should be dense once cooked. To roll the spinners, take about the size of a quarter amount of dough and roll between your two palms, so you get an elongated and thin dumpling. Drop in stew or soup and allow to cook for about 30 minutes.

Voilà. How easy is that!

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Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Caramelized Onions

Growing up in Vienna, it was a given to start our meal off with a bowl of soup before the main course. My Omi always made the best soups in the world and each time I make a soup, I think of her. Most of the everyday soups that she made were broth based, but she made the most delectable cream soups. She had a penchant for either adding rich cream, or roux and even adding some sherry or cognac to her cream based soups.

Photography by Heaven on Hearth
A steaming bowl of creamy velvety smooth soup warms your heart and soul, no matter what the weather. Now with a family of my own, I have continued with the tradition, just not as often and certainly not before each main course. I am also thrilled that my husband gets all fuzzy on me when he comes home to the aromas of a wonderful pot of soup.

This is a rich, creamy, velvety and satisfying non-dairy soup. The sweetness added by the bits of caramelized onions and the creamy texture of the blended cauliflower are married into a wonderful bowl of goodness.

6 cups of vegetable broth
1 large head of cauliflower or 7 cups of cauliflower florets
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped (1 large and 1 medium sized clove)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
Caramelized Onions (see recipe)
Cauliflower Caramelizing
Start by caramelizing the onions. Once they are finished, remove the onions from the pot and add the cauliflower florets, using the left over oil in the pan to brown them for 3 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 cloves of roughly chopped garlic, tossing occasionally in the pot for another 5 minutes. The cauliflower will start caramelizing a bit and will also start softening a bit. Pour the vegetable broth in the pot and bring to a boil. Once brought to a boil, simmer for 10 minutes covered and 5 minutes uncovered.
Cauliflower on Vegetable Broth with Thyme Leaves
Once the soup has cooled use a hand immersion blender to blend the soup. Leave a few small florets in the soup for texture. Then add ½ of the caramelized onions to the soup, so you have bits of sweet, soft onions that you can bite into but leaving the rest for when you are ready to serve the steaming soup in bowls. Portion the balance of the caramelized onions evenly in four portions. Before serving each bowl of soup, add the final touch…the caramelized onions and a sprig of thyme just to please the eyes.
This serves for 4. Voilà. Enjoy a bowl of goodness!

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