Cardamom and Chilli Truffles

So pleased to let you have an exclusive recipe from Caribbean Modern to share with you, via the delicious Original Beans chocolate website.  These delicious Cardamom and Chilli Truffles are so simple to make but are utterly sophisticated and exotic in flavour.  Perfect for after dinner, or with a nice cup of tea in the afternoon.  Try out the recipe here:  http://originalbeans.com/recipes/

picture taken from caribbean modern, by kris kirkham

picture taken from caribbean modern, by kris kirkham

Asparagus Soup (warm or chilled) with Crab Biscotti

It's that wonderful time of the year: scarves, gloves and woolly hats have been packed away (and I better not have to unpack them again until October!), the birds are chirping, the sun is (mostly) shining and my mode of transportation is once again a 'Boris' bike.  Oh, and did I mention that it's almost Asparagus season?  Delicious raw and shaved into a salad with a lemon dressing, boiled until just tender with parma ham and poached eggs, or simply griddled with a drizzle of oil and sea salt, these delicate stalks are so versatile.  Here is a simple recipe for a delicious, wholesome asparagus soup that goes so well with this sweet and subtle crab biscotti.  Perfect served chilled when the sun is scorching, or warm when it has decided to retreat (as it sometimes does in this country).  

Asparagus soup, hot or chilled, with crab biscotti (serves 4)

For the crab biscotti:

  • 135g self-raising flour
  • 1 tbsp mixed, dried herbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1.5 tbsp caster sugar
  • 56g room temperature, unsalted butter, cubed
  • 30g white crab meat
  • sea salt and pepper

For the asparagus soup:

  • 500g asparagus, chopped, (discarding white tough ends, reserving the tips)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stick, chopped
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1l vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 tsp chopped chives
  • 100ml double cream
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper

For the crab biscotti:

Pre-heat the oven to 175°C.

Mix together the flour, herbs and a good pinch of salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, beat the sugar and butter together.

To the sugar and butter mixture, beat in the egg until well mixed.

Pour in the flour mixture, a little at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon, until a dough forms.

Using your hands, bring the dough together, kneading, into a ball, (using flour on your hands to stop the dough from sticking, if necessary).

Flatten the dough into a rectangle, with a length of about 16cm, and a thickness of about 1.5cm.

Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool, then with a serrated knife, carefully slice into inch-thick slices.

Place the slices, cut side down, back onto the lined baking tray, and bake for about 15-20 minutes, until golden.

Allow to cool completely on a rack. Then serve immediately, or store in an airtight container for later.

For the asparagus soup:

Heat a glug of oil in a large saucepan.

Add the chopped onion and celery and soften for about 10 minutes, do not brown.

Add the chopped asparagus, cover the pan and allow to sweat on a low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the flour, then pour in the stock and the chopped chives, bring to the boil and then lower the heat, cover the pan and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and blitz with a hand-held blender, or transfer to a free-standing blender, until smooth.

Place the soup back onto a low heat, stir in the reserved asparagus tips, the cream, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and season to taste.

Serve immediately, or cool to room temperature and then place in the fridge, and serve as a chilled soup.

Tamarind, Prune & Molasses Glazed - Clove Studded Ham

Other than bringing family and friends together, what I love about Christmas, (other than the perfect excuse to eat and drink the most indulgent things at the most random times of the day,) are the familiar meals that bring memories (funny, happy and sometimes, painful) from the years past.  My Ma would always cook ham for us on Christmas Eve, perfectly-timed, so that when we got back from Midnight Mass we could feast on the just-out-of-the-oven, aromatically-clove-scented, thick slices of it, with spoonfuls of chow-chow (our version of Piccalilli) and scotch bonnet pepper sauce (more on our love for condiments another time...).  The cloves are something that I just cannot make my version of Christmas Ham without, it is too perfect for that salty meat to leave it out, but here I have also added a lovely sour-ish, dark and syrup sweetness from the tamarind, prune and molasses sugar glaze.  A pleasant, and simple way to 'tropical-ise' your Christmas.

Serves 4-6

1kg boneless gammon joint - 1 small onion, peeled and halved - 1 carrot, cut in large chunks - 2 bay leaves - 5 peppercorns 

for the glaze:  2 level tbsp tamarind paste, 100g pitted prunes, 3 tbsp molasses sugar

about 15 cloves 

Method

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 200C.

2.  Pop the joint into a large pot and cover with cold water.  Add the peeled onion, carrot bay leaves and peppercorns, bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat and gently simmer for about 1 hour and a half, with the lid on.

3.  In the meantime, to make the glaze, pop the glaze ingredients into a mortar and use a pestle to bash and grind the ingredients to make a smooth-isn paste.

4.  When the ham has cooked, leave it to cool a little in the water then carefully remove it from the pot and place it in a baking tray.  Carefully remove the skin, but leave a layer of fat over the meat.  Use a knife to score a diagonal criss-cross pattern across the top of the fat.  Generously smother the ham with the glaze and at each 'diamond' point scored into the fat, stud with a clove.  Pop the ham into the oven and bake until the glaze is sticky and a little charred, for about 20 - 25 minutes, basting regularly.  Enjoy hot or cold, with some hot scotch bonnet pepper sauce and with my Christmas Quinoa, if you fancy.

 

 

Fruit and Nut Quinoa

Forgive me for the lack of adventure in the title, but nothing else really seems better to describe this quick, easy and festive-flavoured dish that looks like it has been studded with baubles and has that all too familiar yule-tide fragrance, courtesy of the clementine zest!  I made this when I had leftover quinoa lying around and fancied a light dinner.  You can really throw in any dried fruit, it works so well.  Try adding fresh pomegranate and cooked chicken for a more filling meal.  I actually really love this with my Tamarind, Prune and Molasses Sugar, Clove-studded ham, but this versatile recipe also works amazingly as a breakfast, believe it or not: obviously ease back on the salt and pepper and pour over warm milk and drizzle with maple syrup (or actually cook the quinoa as a you would porridge, until the grains are puffed up and stir through the remaining ingredients).

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Serves 4-6

200g uncooked quinoa, 1 tbsp virgin coconut oil, 50g toasted, roughly chopped cashew nuts, 20g toasted pumpkin seeds, 75g roughly chopped dried pineapple pieces, 20g roughly chopped raisins, zest of 1/2 clementine, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/4 - 1/2 tsp ground allspice, salt and pepper

Method

1.  Cook the quinoa as per the instructions on the packet.

2.  Whilst the quinoa is still warm, add the coconut oil and 'fluff' through with a fork to incorporate, then 'fluff' through the remaining ingredients and finally season to taste.  Enjoy warm or cold.

 

Breadline Challenge Recipes

Due to popular demand, I have a written up a few of the recipes that I survived on for the Breadline Challenge (living off a drink and food budget of  £2.10 for a week for the fantastic Charity - FoodCycle (here is a little more about it and how I got on: http://www.shiviramoutar.com/blog/2014/11/25/the-breadline-challenge).  The idea behind the below recipes was to eat as cheaply as possible, whilst trying to be nutritious.  Obviously I had a limit as to what ingredients I could use (due to the budget), so I have written up the recipes exactly as I ate them during the Breadline Challenge week (recipes serve 1, and the pricing is an estimate of this serving) but have offered suggestions as to how you can make them extra special, just by adding regular, store-cupboard and back-of-the-fridge ingredients!  I haven't gone mad with exact amounts as these dishes don't need to be exact, you can really get away with adding more or less of ingredients that you like!

Sausage One-Pot

I loved this hearty and simple one-pot dish, not only was it incredibly tasty, it was also packed with fibre and goodness from the lentils, red beans, spinach and peppers.  65p/portion.  You can add any veg that is a little past-it and change the seasoning, instead use smoked paprika, or parsley and thyme, or cumin and chilli for a bit of a kick!  Chunky bread is great to have to hand to mop up any juices.

Ingredients:  glug of oil - 2 sausages - clove of garlic, crushed - small handful of chopped frozen peppers - a couple tablespoons of tinned chopped tomato - large handful of chopped frozen spinach - a third of a tin of drained, cooked lentils - a third of a tin of drained, kidney beans - a pinch of paprika - salt   

Method:  1.  Pierce the sausages, heat the oil in a small saucepan and fry the sausages on a medium heat, until brown on all sides.  Remove the sausages and set aside for later.

2.    Add the garlic and stir out for about 30 seconds until the aroma is released, then add the peppers and continue to stir for a few more minutes, until defrosted and softened.  Add the chopped tomato and the spinach, cooking until it has defrosted.  Slice the sausage thickly and throw into the saucepan, along with the beans, lentils and paprika, stir and pop the lid on and cook until the sausages are cooked through, stirring often.  Season to taste and serve immediately.  

Banana Pancakes

This 'life-saver' recipe is based on one in my forthcoming cook book, Caribbean Modern, where I use coconut milk, cocoa nibs, maple syrup and spices to create a light cross between french toast and pancakes.  During the breadline challenge week all I had was bananas, milk and peanut butter so I whittled down the ingredients list to create a more basic, but still tasty version of this energy and protein-packed breakfast, brunch or dessert dish.  If you want to make this a little more special (and closer to the original), add a pinch of cinnamon, some cocoa nibs, or chocolate chips, and a dash of maple syrup or sugar to the wet batter and serve with blueberries, maple syrup, caramel, chocolate sauce, or anything sweet that you've taken a fancy to.  25p/portion.

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Ingredients:  1 large ripe (brown-spotted is even better!) banana - 1 large egg - 3 tbsp milk - pinch of salt - glug of oil - 1 heaped tbsp peanut butter

Method:  1.  Mash the banana in a bowl, then whisk in the egg and add a tablespoon of milk.  In a large frying pan heat the oil on a medium heat.

2.  When the oil is hot, spoon out about a third of the batter to a thickness of about a third of an inch and cook until the pancake is golden and dry underneath, then flip over and cook for about 20 more seconds, until cooked through.  Repeat with the remaining batter.   Whilst the pancakes are cooking, heat the peanut butter with 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk, until warm and a little looser.  Serve the pancakes immediately with the peanut butter dolloped on top.    

Spinach, Lentil, Bean & Caramelised Onion Oatcakes, Pepper 'Ketchup'

Having drunk litres of soup and chomped on platefuls of lentil/bean hot-pots during the Breadline Challenge week, I really needed something different using the same ingredients.  This creation was mildly inspired by walking past a 'Byron' burger joint and getting 'mouth-waters' (you know what I mean) for one...  Whilst it isn't an aged medium-rare beef patty, it is filling, nutritious and can take on any flavour you want via the introduction of any spices or herbs, try smoked paprika, curry powder, a mixture of ground coriander, cumin and chilli, or simply thyme or oregano.  Also, it was simple to make and made a great lunch the next day.  Throw in any beans or cooked veg that you have lying around.  45p/portion.

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Ingredients:  oil - 1/2 onion, roughly chopped, salt, a third of a tin of cooked lentils, a third of a tin of kidney beans, 3 cubes of frozen, chopped spinach. 

Method:  1.  Pop the oven on to 200C.  

2.  In a small saucepan, heat a large glug of oil and soften the onions, on a low heat, with a large pinch of salt until caramelised and golden, about 15 minutes.  Allow to cool.

3.  In a large bowl, roughly crush the beans, add the lentils, spinach and onions, mix and add a pinch of salt and paprika and finally the oats, just enough to bind the ingredients together and form into 3 to 4 burger-sized patties.  Pop into the oven for about 10 -15 minutes, until a little dry.

4.  Whilst the oatcakes are in the oven, to make the ketchup, fry the peppers in a frying pan, on a medium heat, in a little oil, until softened and slightly golden.  Pop them into a blender and blend until you have a smooth puree.  Season to taste and add a little dash of oil and mix.

5.  To finish the oat cakes, in a frying pan, with a little oil, on a medium heat, fry until browned and crisp on both sides.  Enjoy with the ketchup, to dip.

Buttered Rum Ice Cream

Just the other day, as I walked down Kensington High Street, I felt that I had stumbled into a scene from The Matrix, you know the one with all the Mr Andersons, faces hidden under sunglasses, except here, instead of suits, the shortest short shorts, flip-flops, and general skin-baring attire, the sunnies are somewhat updated, and instead of dark, grey rain, there is sunshine, glorious, sunshine!  And it hit me, Summer has finally arrived!  (Ok, that Matrix analogy was perhaps a wee bit dramatic!)

And, it just so happens that I have a perfect offering to take the edge off this heatwave, my Buttered Rum Ice Cream recipe.  (I know some of you have been asking for this, so what a perfect coincidence!)

This recipe is quite special to me as I created it for Masterchef, and I served this up to the lovely Thomasina Miers, Tim Anderson (a different Mr Anderson) and James Nathan.  I promise you that it is a doddle to make and will result in a luscious ice-cream that it is literally buttery on your tongue, melting away to reveal a delightful, subtle warmth of the golden rum.   (To be honest, when is rum ever not delightful?)  You can also blend this ice-cream with some milk and a banana to make a really yummy, slightly boozy milkshake!

You will need an ice-cream maker for this recipe, I have one that I bought for £11 on the high street, it has lasted me for a year, and I make a LOT of ice-cream and sorbets.  It is a worthwhile 'investment', you really don't need anything fancy!  I always store it in the freezer, because you never know when you are going to feel like ice cream.   

time:   10 minutes prep + 20 minutes cooling + 20 minutes churning 

serves 4 

250ml whole milk                                  

25ml double cream

50g granulated sugar

3 egg yolks                                                                                                              

1.5tbsp salted butter, room temperature, diced                                                                                                         

25ml dark rum

1/4tsp freshly grated nutmeg

 

1.  In a saucepan, slowly bring to the milk and 30g of the sugar to the boil.  

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the remaining 20g sugar until pale and fluffy.

3.  Pour the boiling milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking continuously.  

4.  Pour the combined mixture (the custard) back into the saucepan and thicken on a low heat, until the custard can lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon.  Do no let the mixture boil.

5.  Stir the butter and double cream into the custard and pour back into the large bowl.

6.  Fill another large bowl with ice cubes or iced water.  Place the whole bowl of custard into the bowl of ice cubes (like a cold bain-marie).  Stir the custard occasionally.

7.  Pour the rum into the cooled custard and stir.

8.  Pour the custard through a sieve and into the ice-cream maker, following the ice-cream maker's instructions.  (It should take about 20-40 minutes to reach a lovely creamy consistency).

9.  If you are not immediately using the ice cream, transfer into a freezable container and place in the freezer for later. 

Roasted Pineapple Creme Brulee (with a hint of chilli, if you like!)

There is nothing more satisfying than cracking the top of a burnished creme brulee with the back of your spoon...oh, other than actually eating it of course!

My recipe below adds a tropical pineapple lightness to the luscious creaminess that you expect from this dessert.  It is quite refreshing and perfect for Summer.  If you want to, experiment with that fingernail of chilli, it just adds a (very) subtle warmth to the end of each spoonful, and paired with that pinch of cinnamon, it is quite divine.

One thing, do make sure that you catch every last grain of sugar by that torch/grill, there is nothing nice about biting into a spoonful of un-caramelised sugar (unless you are trying to help the medicine to go down...) .

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time:   10 minutes prep + 45 minutes cooking + 2 hours cooling

serves 4 

300 ml double cream                                  

200g fresh pineapple, in chunks

zest of one lime

5 egg yolks                                                                                                              

120g caster sugar                                                                                                         

large pinch of cinnamon

red chilli, about half an inch, roughly chopped

demerara sugar, 1tbsp + extra for topping

melted butter, for grilling pineapple

1.  Place the chunks of pineapple on a baking tray, brush with the melted butter and sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over the pineapple.  

2.  Place under a medium-high grill for about 5 - 8 minutes, turning halfway, until both sides are caramelised and golden, or use a chef's torch to caramelise.

3.  Pre-heat the oven to 150C

4.  Puree the pineapple in a blender until smooth.

5.  On a medium heat, in a saucepan, add the double cream, the pineapple puree, the cinnamon, lime zest and the chilli, if using.  Bring the mixture near to boiling point, stirring often, and remove from the heat.  

6.  In the meantime, whisk the egg yolks and sugar, with an electric whisk if you have one, until light and fluffy. 

7.  Pour the hot cream mixture through a fine sieve (using the back of a large spoon to help push through all that lovely flavour) , into the egg and sugar mixture, whisking as you go.  Set aside. 

8.  Place the ramekins into a large, high-sided roasting tray.  Carefully pour just boiled water into the tray, to reach halfway up the ramekins. (Creating a bain-marie).

9.  Pour the hot cream into the ramekins, to fill two-thirds.

10.  Place the roasting tray into the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes until set, but with a jelly-like wobble in the centre.  Keep an eye on this. 

11.  Remove from the bain-marie and let cool, then refrigerate for a couple hours, or overnight.

12.  Sprinkle the demerara sugar to cover the surface of the cream, using the back of a spoon to even it out.  Use a chef's torch (moving the flame in a circular motion) or a grill on a medium-high heat, to caramelise the sugar.   

13.  Cool, and place back in the fridge to firm up before serving.

 

My Jerk Marinade

Caribbean food.  What is the first thing you think of?  Jerk chicken, rice and peas?  Jerk has become quintessentially Caribbean (specifically from Jamaica, and before then, Africa!) and can be found in numerous restaurants across the Globe because it is just that good!  

Describing both the method of cooking (usually smoking in an oil barrel), as well as the actual marinade itself, Jerk is packed with intricate flavours, spices, heat, sweetness and sharpness. The starring roles go to the allspice berries and my love in life, the scotch bonnet pepper.  

Jerk works magically on meat (especially pork and chicken wings and legs!), fish, tofu and vegetables,  versatile enough for both a cold Winter's day and a Summer barbecue!  

This marinade has a nice kick, whilst retaining the complexity of the spices.  It looks like there is a lot in this recipe, but all you have to do is throw it into a blender!  It will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks.  Whatever you decide to throw in it, try to do so for at least 24 hours before you cook.  And when you cook, be it oven, or outdoor barbecue, be sure to have a beer to hand, otherwise it simply isn't authentic!

time:   15-20 minutes

serves 6 (stores in the fridge for a couple of weeks)

2 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves                                      

4 spring onions, coarsely chopped

1-2 (depending on how hot you want it!) scotch bonnet peppers, de-seeded and chopped                                                                                                               

4 garlic cloves, crushed                                                                                                          

4tsp allspice berries, crushed

4tsp black peppercorns, crushed

3tsp sea salt

4 bay leaves

1/2 cinnamon stick, toasted and roughly chopped

1tsp coriander seeds, toasted

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2tsp grated fresh ginger

1 tbsp Demerara sugar                                                                                                               

1 tsp honey

3 tbsp oil

juice of 1 lime

couple drops of soy sauce

 

1.  Throw all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until you get a fine puree.

2.  Cover the meat/fish/vegetables in the marinade and leave in the fridge for 24 hours.

3.  Cook, as per instructions on the packaging for meat/fish/vegetables. Enjoy with a green salad, or my rice and peas and pineapple slaw recipes (coming soon). 

 

Salted Tamarind Popcorn

Tamarind is a delightful little thing that is both sweet and sour, is a perfect partner to spicy heat and is utterly moreish!  You most likely would have come across it in Asian food, but you are also probably eating it on a more regular basis with your dirty fry-up, as it is also a not so secret ingredient in HP sauce (and Worcestershire sauce too)!  In the Caribbean, we use it a lot in our savoury sauces, dips, pepper sauces and confectionary also (if you come across a tamarind ball, you have to try it)!  

Luckily enough for us all, it is very easy to find in your local supermarket.

I happened to be messing about with it the other day and found that it would make a divine more 'adult' version of a caramel, particularly with a sprinkle of sea salt to bring out those nuances of sourness amongst the sweet.  You can pour this on vanilla ice cream at the liquid state, but I do recommend you try the popcorn.  I dare you to not eat a whole jar's worth!! 

time:  1hr 15mins total cooking time

serves 2 (stores up to a week in an airtight container)

25g popping corn                                      

1 tbsp vegetable oil                                                                                                                

50g granulated sugar                                                                                                          

50ml double cream                                                                                                    

30g salted butter                                                                                        

1 tbsp tamarind concentrate (or paste)

pinch of cinnamon                                                                                                                

good pinch of sea salt                                                                                                               

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 120C.

2.  For the popcorn, heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium heat.  Add the corn, place the lid on the saucepan, and shake the saucepan occasionally.  After a few minutes the kernels will being to pop, once the regularity of the popping slows, remove from the heat.  Give the saucepan a good shake.  Set aside.

3.  Have the cream and butter measured out and close to hand.  In a small saucepan, on a medium heat, add the sugar, swirling the pan occasionally until the the sugar dissolves and starts to turn reddish-brown at the edges.

4.  Add the butter, swirling until it dissolves.  Remove from the heat and add the cream and the tamarind.  Return to the heat for a minute or so.  Stir in the pinch of cinnamon. 

5.  Spread the popcorn out on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.  Pour on the tamarind caramel, ensuring to coat every single popcorn.

6.  Place in the pre-heated oven for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  Leave to cool to room temperature, sprinkle with salt and then break up any large pieces (or not!), and enjoy.

Callaloo

What the hell is it, I hear you say?  Callaloo is a tropical, spinach-like plant, and the name of a (creole in origin) dish that is made from it.  It's like a rich ham hock chowder, made with okra, leafy greens, a gorgeous blend of herbs and a coconut milk base.  There is also a subtle sweet kick of scotch bonnet pepper (make it gentle, or, if like me you heart a bit of heat, make it hot enough to blow your eyes out of their sockets.)   In Trinidad, we also use dasheen leaves (another form of wild spinach) to make Callaloo.  However, here, I make it using the everyday, humble (but nonetheless super) spinach. I don't even have to say that it is packed with so much wholesome green-age that would make even Popeye blush, but it is also low-carb, and you can use reduced fat coconut milk.  Super tasty and healthy.  Win-win.  egarding the meat element of the Callaloo, you can use any form of salted meat, beef or pork.  If you are feeling particularly adventurous, go for pig tail!  As it finishes cooking, I like to throw in a fat handful of cooked crabmeat, but cooked, shredded chicken also works well, and if you feeling particularly flush, cooked lobster meat works a treat and makes it extra special.  

What the hell is it, I hear you say?  Callaloo is a tropical, spinach-like plant, and the name of a (creole in origin) dish that is made from it.  It's like a rich ham hock chowder, made with okra, leafy greens, a gorgeous blend of herbs and a coconut milk base.  There is also a subtle sweet kick of scotch bonnet pepper (make it gentle, or, if like me you heart a bit of heat, make it hot enough to blow your eyes out of their sockets.)  

In Trinidad, we also use dasheen leaves (another form of wild spinach) to make Callaloo.  However, here, I make it using the everyday, humble (but nonetheless super) spinach. I don't even have to say that it is packed with so much wholesome green-age that would make even Popeye blush, but it is also low-carb, and you can use reduced fat coconut milk.  Super tasty and healthy.  Win-win. 

egarding the meat element of the Callaloo, you can use any form of salted meat, beef or pork.  If you are feeling particularly adventurous, go for pig tail!  As it finishes cooking, I like to throw in a fat handful of cooked crabmeat, but cooked, shredded chicken also works well, and if you feeling particularly flush, cooked lobster meat works a treat and makes it extra special.  

time:  35-40 mins cooking + 5 mins prep                                                                                                                                                                                                         

serves 2

a small ham hock, cooked and shredded, reserving the bone                                      

170g spinach                                                                                                                

60g okra, chopped                                                                                                          

1 small onion, peeled and chopped                                                                                                    

1 large clove of garlic, peeled and crushed                                                                                        

3 sprigs thyme                                                                                                                

1.5 tsp chopped chives                                                                                                      

1 tbsp chopped parsley                                                                                          

400ml coconut milk                                                                                                    

200ml vegetable stock                                                                                                  

a scotch bonnet (habanero) pepper                                                                  

vegetable oil                                                                                                                

salt and pepper

1.  On a medium heat, in a large saucepan, add a generous glug of vegetable oil and the chopped onion.  Soften the onion for about 5 minutes, but don't brown them.

2.  Add the spinach, okra, garlic, herbs, coconut milk, stock, ham hock bone, a small handful of the ham hock and the scotch bonnet pepper.  Season with a little salt and pepper.  Turn the heat up and bring to the boil.  Then turn heat right down, cover the pan and simmer for about 30 mins.

3.  Carefully remove the bone, the woody stalk of the thyme and the scotch bonnet pepper, keeping the latter, if you want to add more spice.  

4.  Using a hand-blender, carefully blitz the callaloo until it is uniformly green, but still with a little texture.  (If you don't have a hand-blender, blend in a free-standing blender).

5.  Stir through three-quarters of the shredded ham hock.  Taste, and add more salt and pepper, if needed.  If like me, you want more spice, chop up the scotch bonnet pepper, discarding the seeds.  Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly.  (I have had several painful experiences that I would not wish upon anyone...)  (You can also incorporate the following cooked and shredded proteins at this stage: crabmeat, chicken, lobster, for a little added pizazz).

6.  Serve in bowls, garnishing with the remaining shredded ham hock (or indeed with any incorporated protein as above) and sprinkle as much chopped scotch bonnet as you like.   You can also serve the callaloo over rice, if you fancy a heavier meal.