*singing* Summer, summer, summer time. I swear that song is still a banger. I just got back from my epic 6-week summer tour which saw me rambling up and down the East coast/Southeast and included attending #BlogHer17, I’m happy but exhausted and slightly overwhelmed by all the information I received and connections I was able to make. Check out my #BlogHer17 recap here. I’ll probably do a summer tour recap…sooner or later.

I meant to post this recipe last week for my #SummerEats series, but really I couldn’t. I’ve been feeling mentally and physically spent so I took a tiny break but now I’m back alas, with a little something different today. #GrowingUpCrucian saltfish and fungi was a staple meal in many a household. It’s a local delicacy and could be considered the official dish. I’m not sure when Virgin Islanders started making this dish centuries ago but I’m certain that it was derived from dishes our ancestors brought over on the slave ships. Once they got to the Caribbean they used the ingredients they had on hand to make meals that were reminiscent of those they had back home. Talk about homesickness! Food is always filled with love and history I believe. The dish itself is made of saltfish/bacalao which is usually cod, it’s dried and cured with salt so it has to be soaked prior to use. This fungi is not a fungus grown in a lab or a funghi as in mushroom. I know it can be confusing. This fungi is made of ground cornmeal and okra and very similar to polenta in Italy, fufu in many African dishes or cou-cou in other parts of the Caribbean. When done properly it should be incredibly smooth and velvety in texture.

This dish is a spin on traditional salt fish and fungi, I wanted to lighten it up a bit for the summer and be able to serve at a dinner or garden party as an appetizer, like all the other dishes in my summer eat series. I’m all about small bites that are different but highlight those local flavors, so I came up with this recipe for arepas topped saltfish gundy.

Arepas are corn cakes made from cornmeal, water, and salt that are cooked on a hot griddle. They can be eaten as is or stuffed with meats, cheese or veggies. They are Venezuela, Colombia, and many other South American countries. You can also find them in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Trinidad and the Canary Islands. Which is not surprising when you think about the Atlantic slave trade, Caribbean, and Latin American food in many ways is a map back to our homeland and tells a story in itself, but let’s leave that deepness for another day.

To the kitchen, we go!

 

Arepas

I just used a standard arepa recipe that was on the back of the package masarepa that I had. The only difference is that I made the arepas bite-sized.

1 1/2 cups masarepa
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons milk
pinch of salt
butter for coating pan or griddle (*you can also use nonstick spray or coconut oil)

1. Combine the corn flour, water, milk, and salt, mixing thoroughly. Let mixture stand for five minutes.

2. Form disk shaped arepas, each about 1 inches in diameter, 1/8″ thick.

3. Heat a lightly greased skillet over medium heat. Cook the arepas in batches until crispy and golden brown on each side.

 

Saltfish Gundy

1 pound salted cod, boneless & skinless
1/2 onion, finely diced
3 aji dulce, finely diced (you can use regular sweet peppers)
¼ bell pepper, red & yellow, diced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon white vinegar (optional)

Pre-soak codfish overnight to remove excess salt, (*it’s very salty so change water at least twice)

 


Drain excess water and flake fish using fingers into large bowl, then set aside


Using medium size skillet and olive oil, then add shallots, aji dulce and bell pepper. Sautee for 1-2 minutes, you want to get the raw-ish taste out the veggies but still have them retain their color and bite.

 


Add sauteed veggies to the bowl, add a splash of white vinegar and mix to combine all ingredients together.


Let sit for a few minutes.

Serve on top arepas

 

So tell me have you ever tried arepas? Or saltfish and fungi? How’d you like it? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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For reasons on unbeknownst to me, I eat a lot of hummus. I think because lately my palate has been shot to shit and I have no desire or interest in most things. I know! Totally unlike me and my foodie’s heart. But it is what it is, hopefully, it won’t last long. So hummus comes in the picture when I’m not in the mood to curate a full blown meal. I love hummus but had never ventured to make my own which I’m not sure why as it’s very simple to make, takes a little time and doesn’t require much. Another great thing about it is that you can use any bean you’d like and are not limited to just the standard garbanzo. I’ve played around with a few and this black bean hummus is my favorite (for right now).

Recipes for hummus are a dime a dozen and I’ve included one below. In my opinion, canned beans are best, I use organic ones if I can find them. You can use dry beans and cook them then prepare the hummus, but then it wouldn’t be quick and easy now would it? Though tahini is optional I actually think it’s a necessity when making hummus. The flavors meld well together. You can find tahini in the grocery story usually in the international foods aisle. But, I made and do suggest making your own tahini though, it’s simple to make and tastes way better than the canned stuff in my opinion. Making the tahini was the only step that actually requires me to turn on the stove (to toast the sesame seeds) seeing as these days I want to be out of the kitchen as much as possible. It is not a game folks! But less talking and more doing right? So here we go!

Oh nothing, just toasting a huge pan of sesame seeds.

 

Ingredients

1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained, reserve liquid
3 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste), optional
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves roasted garlic,
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ tablespoon ground cumin
½ tablespoon paprika
Healthy dash of cayenne pepper
Juice of 1 lemon

Add black beans, 2 tablespoons reserved liquid and other ingredients to the bowl of your food processor. Proceed to blend, while slowly adding 2 tablespoons of olive oil, process until smooth and scrape down the sides if needed. You may additional spices, reserved bean liquid or olive oil to suit your taste buds. Garnish with a drizzle of remaining olive oil and serve with plantain chips.

 

Black Bean Hummus and Plantain Chips. Que rico!

Do you like hummus? What’s your favorite kind? Let me know in the comments!

 

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*Screaming in my best Sloth voice ‘HEY you guuuuys! Summer is here! This recipe is part of my Summer Eats series. It’s hot as hell out here and we’re trying to look good on the beach or at the pool so I figured it was best to lighten up my eats. #Summer17 will be epic! I can just feel it in my bones, I’m still on my summer tour which started in early June, I’ve been up and down the east coast and cruising ’round the dirty south. I’m thinking about doing a few restaurant reviews let me know if that’s something you guys would like to see, but for now, let’s eat!

 

Today’s dish is brought to you by the letter Z. And this time around the main Z is Zucchini (courgettes for my loves across the pond). Behind the burgeonning food scene on St.Croix are the farmers and fishermen who support them. They work hand in hand to provide the freshest, organic, non-GMO produce and meat, as well as seafood to the territory. I try to have an idea or a meal plan for the week when I’m home but most times I just play it by ear and see what’s fresh at the farmers market, and this time around it just happened to be zucchini. I adapted this recipe from a recipe I found Allrecipes ages ago. I love crab cakes, their one of my favorite foodie things, but due to my mom’s food allergies, she can’t eat them. I felt so bad once when I made them and she said that they smelled so good and it sucks that she can’t even taste it. Shortly thereafter I found this recipe that basically takes out the crab and subs in zucchini instead. I took it one step further and made this dish entirely vegan as well. Why do you ask? Because everything in moderation, that’s why. And as much as I love rich, decadent dishes, deep fried, slathered in cheese and other deliciousness there needs to be balance. We can’t go there all the time. And although I’m not a vegan (and probably will never be full-time) I love good food no matter what form it comes in. I also thought it would be great to share this with my vegan foodie followers and it features local ingredients and some freshly snipped green onions from our garden, so here you go ladies and gents.

1 large zucchini (about 1 pound)
½ onion diced, I prefer sweet onions but use whatever works for you
2 stalks celery, finely diced
¾ cup panko bread crumbs
½ red bell pepper, diced
3 local seasoning peppers, diced (if not available just omit or substitute sweet peppers, it should be about two heaping tablespoons full)
1 tablespoon soaked chia seeds
3 tablespoons veganaise
1 tablespoon brown mustard
2-3 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
Oil for frying
Grater

1. In a small frying pan add onion, celery, and peppers and saute for 2-3 minutes until soft and onions are translucent. Remove from heat and let cool.


2. In mixing bowl, grate zucchini, you should have about 2 to 2 ½ cups.

 


3. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

 

Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mix.

 

 

Add panko

 

 

Add chia seeds

4. Shape into patties and lay on plate or tray. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

 

5. Remove cakes from refrigerator and let come to room temperature.

6. Heat olive oil in heavy bottomed frying pan. Add cakes, making sure not to crowd the pan, fry until golden brown on both sides.

7. Remove from heat and place on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

8. Serve with roasted red pepper sauce.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

1 whole red bell pepper
garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 dash (or several) pepper sauce
½ cup veganaise
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

1. Rub ½ tablespoon olive oil onto red bell pepper, turn the stove on, using tongs hold bell pepper over open flame until skin becomes charred and blistered, set aside to cool, then peel char off.

2. Combine all ingredients, except for salt and pepper, in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth

3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Refrigerate until ready to use.

 

If you get a chance to try it let me know and make sure to use #ahirokoeats so I can find you!

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Summertime is here! By the time you’re reading this the bells have already rung announcing the beginning of the season. I love summer, it’s not my favorite season, but I still find it favorable. Summer in St.Croix also means that fruit is in abundance. It’s mango season! It’s tamarind season! It’s genip season! It’s passion fruit season! It’s crab season. Damn near everything is in season It seems lol. And who am I not to partake in the bountiful glory of fresh produce that the Lord has bestowed upon us?

I try to lighten up my meals in the summer and came up with this chicken dish. It’s already grilling season so why not throw something a little different on the grill? I thought this would be an awesome dish for a picnic, garden party or BBQ. Since it’s protein, it’s filling, the chicken is skewered on sugarcane which imparts a hint of sweetness as it cooks as well as a little tenderness. Last but not least the sticky, sweet and slightly tart tamarind glaze just sets it over the top. You can serve these as a main dish or appetizers, this time around I had it a side of coconut rice and a bit of veg and I was in heaven.

Without further ado, let’s get into it, shall we?

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
½ pound sugarcane (you can find them at your local Asian or Caribbean market), cut into thin sharp strips (about the thickness of a pencil)
3 cups lukewarm water
¼ cup honey
½ cup white vinegar
2 tablespoon sea salt

For sauce
3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon grated ginger
3 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ cup tamarind paste
¼ scallions, diced.

**I’ve noticed boneless skinless thighs may still have some of the fat still attached. I trim as much as possible but leave a bit on which will help once we get it on the grill.**

1. Rinse chicken with vinegar and set aside. In a large bowl/container add water, honey and sea salt, mix until honey and salt are dissolved.

2. Cut chicken lengthwise into strips about 2 inches wide.

3. Add chicken strips to salt water brine, soak overnight, or at least 6-8 hours, preferably overnight.
The next following day

1. Heat grill or grill pan

2. Remove chicken from brine and pat dry

3. Skewer chicken on sugar cane. If it is difficult to pIerce meat with the end of sugarcane, use a sharp knife to poke holes through the meat and them thread skewer thru and prepare the grill.

 

 

4. Once grill or grill pan is heated thru and ready to use, use tongs to place chicken skewers on the grill, and leave for 3-4 minutes. Be careful not to remove from heat until it forms nice grill marks.

5. After 4 minutes flip skewers to the other side.

 

6. As meat is cooking prepare glaze for basting skewers. In small bowl mix all ingredients until smooth, you may need to add more soy or sugar to suit your taste.

7. Once meat is cooked thoroughly, begin to baste with glaze. Turning twice to make sure skewer is evenly coated and Glazed.

8. Sprinkle with green onion before serving.

 

 

What are some of your favorite ways to incorporate in-season produce into your recipes? Let me know in the comments! And remember if you try out the recipe make sure to tag me and use #ahirokoeats so I can find you!

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I realized I haven’t done a food post in a while and how can a foodie/lifestyle blog exist without foodie things? After the epic Easter meal, I’ve been staying out of the kitchen for the most part. Does that happen to you? After making a big holiday spread you literally avoid the kitchen at all costs. I’ve been slowly easing my way back in because there’s a bunch of random food ideas that I made up while lounging around and I want to test them out. I’m actually super excited to get back in the kitchen and experiment. And did I mention I got a bread machine for my birthday? I’m keen to crank it up and get my loaf on! I see challah, brioche, ciabatta, focaccia and other bready things in my future. It’s going to be glorious!

But alas today’s recipe is brought to you by the letter ‘Y’. Y is for Yum and yuca is yummy. Yuca is also known as cassava and is widely available in throughout South America, the Caribbean, and Africa. It’s a starchy vegetable that has a similar shape to American sweet potatoes (aka Yams). Down here in the islands it is one of the staple starches and it along with other ‘ground food’-yams (not the American version), sweet potato (not the American version…confusing right?), green fig (green bananas, plantain, and tania to name a few…is know as ‘provisions’. They are usually served with fish dishes and prepared by boiling or steaming. I don’t care for provisions…it’s a texture thing that bothers me. But I do love a good yuca fry. Prior to making this I never had yuca fries before. The only other time I can recall having Yuca was at a Brazilian all you can eat steakhouse restaurant. Of course, it was delicious but it was also comforting and stick to your ribs yum, it was hot, salty, crispy and buttery but still tender. I couldn’t figure out how they prepared it looked like it was probably roasted. Something about it stuck with me and one day I randomly walked into a store and decided I wanted burgers and yuca fries. Yes, that’s how my mind works. I randomly think of things to cook or create all the time. Don’t judge me.

 

This is my take on yuca fries. I like to toss mines in a herb, garlicky buttery blend.  The first time I made it I used the Land o lakes Sautée Express garlic and herb packet. I think they’ve been discontinued because I can’t seem to find them anywhere in several states so I’ve created my own version. So let’s get our pot fired up.
Ingredients

2- yucca (mines were about 10-11 inches long)
2 tablespoons Earth Balance or butter
3 cups water
Oil for frying
Seasoning blend
-sea salt
-coarse ground black pepper
-parsley
– no salt seasoning
– garlic powder
– 2 cloves crushed garlic
– turmeric

In a medium sized pot place 3 cups of water and bring to boil


Peel yuca and slice into strips


Once water is boiling add yuca strips and cook for 3-5 minutes. You don’t want the yuca to get mushy, we’re just boiling off the excess starch here. Remove from heat and drain thoroughly on napkins on clean kitchen towel.

 

While waiting for the strips to cool, add 2 tablespoons butter/Earth Balance until melted.


Add seasoning spice blend to melted butter, mix thoroughly making sure crushed garlic is cooked thoroughly but not burnt (nothing taste as awful as burnt garlic, #trustme) and remove from heat.


In deep cast iron pot or fryer place enough oil, about 1 cup, into the pot and bring to medium heat to prepare for frying.


Using a slotted spoon or kitchen tongs start frying yuca strips in batches until golden brown. Be careful not crowd the pot. This should take 3-4 minutes, remove from heat and drain excess oil off using paper towels.


Once all the yuca strips have been fried and drain, use a mixing bowl to evenly toss yuca strips with seasoned butter mix.


Serve immediately

Have you ever had yuca fries? What’s your take? Let me know in the comments and if you try this recipe out be sure to use the #ahirokoeats hashtag so I can check it out.

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