Okra Coo-coo

Okra Coo-coo or Okra cuckoo is traditional Barbados dish usually served with fried fish.
Slimy okra was a bit of a challenge in our kitchen. My husband and I, we both like the taste, but every recipe witch we have tried turn out to be a small disaster. Ok, except frying it in tempura. Until we discovered this dish.
I really do not know is this true – original – traditional recipe and maybe we cook it completely wrong. Who cares anyway?! I’m not from Barbados and I can’t tell the difference.

10 – 15 okras (depending on the size)
1 cup cornmeal (medium to coarse consistencies)
5 cups water
2 tbsp. butter or olive oil
1 onion (chopped)
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1 tsp. salt or to taste
freshly grated white pepper

Soak the cornmeal in 2 cups of water. Stir it well so that the cornmeal is wet throughout. Set aside. Wash the okra and cut off the tops and point of the bottoms. Slice them crosswise about 1 cm thick. Set aside. In a saucepan heat the butter and gently sauté onion and garlic until soft and nicely smelly. Add okra, salt and remaining water. Cook for 10 – 15 minutes on low heat or until okra is cooked.

Add wet cornmeal. To avoid lumps: pour out half of the okras and the cooking liquid and set aside. Return the pot to a very low heat and pour in the wet cornmeal in a slow steady stream. Stir constantly to break up any lumps. Use wooden spoon. Then add reserved liquid and okras slowly, again stir in constantly. Cook, until cornmeal is cooked. If you are using fine consistency cornmeal few minutes will be enough. I like to use medium or coarse cornmeal and cook it for 10 – 15 more minutes on very low heat, stirring now and then. It will splatter if the heat is too high. Oh, who am I kidding? It will splatter. It always does, keep it partly covered with a lid. If the consistency is to dry and the cornmeal is not cooked yet add some water. When done, taste, season with white pepper and more salt if necessary.  Let it rest for few minutes with a lid on. Spread little amount of olive oil or butter in ramekins and pour in Coo-coo to shape it.

Our favorite way to eat this this is all the way vegetarian. Coo-coo Okra served with Sauté Zucchini.

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Easy pasta with nuts and herbs

a handful almonds, shelled
a handful pine nuts
a handful pistachios (shelled)
handful fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
handful fresh mint leaves
200 g pasta
1/3 – 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 orange zest
salt
splash olive oil

Toast the pine nuts and almonds. Put all the nuts and herbs in the food processor and whiz up. The mixture should be fine, but not completely pulverized, it should still have some texture. Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain. Toss in a bowl with the nuts and herb mixture, add olive oil, parmesan cheese and grated orange zest. Garnish with fresh mint or parsley leaves and serve immediately.

I just love the recipes with simple measurement scale: a handful, a pinch, a splash. My father’s favorite sentence was: I don’t know darling, you just cook it until is’s done. Cooking it’s easy, you just need empty stomach and no fast food solution nearby:-)

Another BINGO form Chef Laura Calder.

Berry vinaigrette

1/4 part red wine vinegar
3/4 parts everything else (1/4 olive oil, 1/4 frozen berries and 1/4 maple sirup)

Mix with immerse blender, pour over salad eat with the person you love.

Salad: mixed greens, celery, watercress, basil, coriander, parsley, mint, pomelo, grapes and berry vinaigrette!

Thai red curry paste – new improved version

3 lemongrass stalks
10 fresh red chilies (seeded and sliced)
115 g red onions or shallots (chopped)
4 garlic cloves
1 cm piece fresh galangal (peeled, sliced and bruised)
stems from 4 fresh coriander springs
1 – 2 tbsp. grape seed oil
1 tsp. grated citrus rind
1 tsp. shrimp paste (wrapped in foil and warmed in a frying pan)
1 tbsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. salt

My darling did this recipe old school style, with a mortar and a pestle. You can use food processor for making this paste. Also you’ll need nut grinder or mortar for making a powder of coriander and cumin seeds.

Slice the tender, lower portion of the lemongrass stalks and bruise them with a cleaver. Put them in a large mortar and add chilies, onions, garlic, galangal and coriander stems.

Grind with a pestle, gradually adding the oil until the mixture forms a paste. Alternatively, puree the ingredients in a food processor or blender. Add the citrus rind and the shrimp paste. Mix well.

Dry-fry the coriander and cumin seeds in a frying pan.  Grind them to a powder in nut grinder. Stir the powder into the spice paste, add the salt. Mix well.

Use the paste immediately or scrape into a glass jar. Cover with clear film (plastic wrap) and airtight lid, then store in a refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.

Recipes and inspirations:
Zucchini Spaghetti with Scallops in a Thai red curry

Sweet red carrots

250 g red carrots
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. muscovado sugar
pinch of salt
1/3 cup water
Half or quarter the carrots lengthwise. Blanche them in boiling salty water for minute or two. Drain. Put them in a sauté pan with the butter, salt, sugar, and water. Cook, tossing occasionally, until the carrots are tender and the liquid has reduced to a glaze.

French Lentils with Pecans and Goat Cheese

1 cup French green lentils (lentilles du Puy)
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
50 g pecans (toasted)
100 g fresh goat cheese

Cook the lentils, on low heat, in 1+1/2 cup of water with bay leaf and thyme for about 20 – 30 minutes, or until tender but not over cooked. All the liquid should be absorbed, if not drain off any excess.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and fry the onion until soft and golden. Add the garlic for one minute, then deglaze the pan with a balsamic vinegar. When the lentils are cooked, toss them with the onion, season with salt and pepper and put them in a serving dish. Scatter over the nuts and pinches of cheese.

Every recipe from Laura Calder was big success in our kitchen. This meal is very gentle in taste, each ingredient has its own distinctive aroma, yet they combine wonderful flavor mix. In original recipe she uses walnuts instead of pecans and walnut oil for seasoning.
This was super tasty, it deserves one more photo:-)

Lemon grass rice with cardamom

1 cup basmati rice (rinsed and drained)
1 lemon gras stalk (outer leaves removed, cut into 3 pieces)
6 cardamm pods (bruised)
2 cups water

Cook the rice with lemon grass and cardamom in a rice cooker or on a stove. When done, season with salt, cover and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Here, sprinkled with fresh chives and served with Pork tenderloin au poivre and chayote tops.