Pimento Grain

the recipes of a nomadic Jamaican

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Jerk Compound Butter for grilled Oysters (or Corn)

Hama Hama oysters grilled to perfection, brushed with jerk butter

Hama Hama oysters grilled to perfection, brushed with jerk butter

I completed allergy tests earlier this year to confirm that while I am allergic to crustaceans, mollusks not contaminated by being stored or cooked with shrimp, crab, lobsters etc. will do me no harm. That was great news, it meant I could partake of some of the best seafood in the country, top-ranked oysters from Hama Hama and Willapa Bay that are harvested right in my backyard. My only prior taste of the mollusk had been deep-fried in a po-boy; I enjoyed it but it wasn’t mind-blowing. I tried Hama Hama oysters for the first time at a cider tasting event at a local resort, it was life-changing. The blue pool oyster was crisp and light but I couldn’t get over the fact that it was raw, so I ordered a few Hama Hamas from the grill, brushed with chipotle butter – heavenly. So yesterday, after a massive storm with 75mph winds, flooding, power outages and fallen trees, I braved the hourlong trip along the Hood Canal to procure some fresh, clean oysters. I have no experience with shucking, so I took the easy route and allowed the heat from the grill to slightly open the cooked oysters,  the jerk butter added a little kick to the naturally salty oyster ‘soup’. The butter is very versatile and can be used with corn, steaks, eggs, fish, or in any operation that could benefit from a bit of spicy fat. I did not add salt here since the oysters are themselves salty but if you’re using the butter in another dish, feel free to add some or use salted butter. Substitute the butter with coconut oil, duck fat or ghee if you’re into that.

So delicious

So delicious

1. Stir together until spices are evenly distributed

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 whole scallions (green onions), finely chopped

1 tsp freshly ground allspice (pimento berries)

1 small scotch bonnet habanero, seeded and finely chopped

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 tsp fresh thyme leaves

2. You may shape the butter and refrigerate it, wrapped in parchment or use immediately.

Enjoy!

Just throw 'em on a hot grill for easy opening. They won't open as wide as mussels will but shucking will be an easier choreJust throw ’em on a hot grill for easy opening. They won’t open as wide as mussels do but it makes things easier

At-Home Pizza Dough

My andouille-green pepper creation

My andouille-green pepper creation

Last week, in lieu of my own wood-burning masonry oven, I got a Big Green Egg barbecue. The first thing I made on it was pizza and it was more amazingly delicious than anything I could have hoped to bake in my conventional oven. Of course, the fact that I labored lovingly over the crust made it even more rewarding, and I use the word ‘labored’ loosely because the crust was quite easy to make.

Pizza is, in fact, a bread so the crust is always the most important part. Be sure to use just a few high-quality toppings to get the best flavor. You can start the process as few as three hours ahead of your desired bake time and keep the dough, refrigerated, for up to three days. You will need a pizza peel, a bread stone, some semolina flour for dusting (cornmeal may also be used), and a very hot oven.

1. Weigh the following into a large bowl and set aside

550 grams Tipo 00 flour

2. In a separate bowl, stir together and dissolve

300 grams water at 80°F

5 grams active dry yeast

3. Add yeast mixture to flour and knead. Then work in

10 grams olive oil

4. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes. Add

6 grams salt 

5. Knead to combine, transfer to a clean container and let rise, covered, for an hour.

6. Punch the dough down, divide and shape into ball(s). This dough will make four 8-inch pizzas, two 12-inch pizzas or one 16-inch pizza.

Ready for the stone

Ready for the stone

7. Place balls in a floured container to rise. Dust the top of the balls lightly with flour, cover and let rise for two to three hours, until doubled. If not using on the same day, place the balls in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake.

8. Pre-heat your oven with pizza stone inside. My household oven only goes up to 550°F so I use this setting inside. If you are baking on your barbecue grill, try to get it to around 700°F 

9. The dough will be soft and light after this second rise. Flatten the dough and gently stretch it into your desired sized circle using your fingertips. If refrigerated, leave at room temperature for 30 minutes. Be careful not to stretch too vigorously as the dough is very delicate and well aerated from yeast activity and will break. Pay close attention to the dough and work around areas that have been stretched very thin. 

10. Place dough on dusted peel then add sauce and toppings. This dough likes to remain the star of the show and does not do well when piled too high so choose your few toppings carefully.

11. Slide onto fiery baking stone and cook for 8-15 minutes, depending on your oven temperature. A good indication of doneness is the crust being golden brown, or very slightly charred if done on your barbecue grill.

Pizzeta with tomato, sausage and basil

Pizzeta with tomato, sausage and basil

Fresh Cranberry Cornbread

Crumbly and delicious cranberry cornbread

Crumbly and delicious cranberry cornbread

I missed the local cranberry festival this year but a generous friend went and brought me a bag of delicious, antioxidant-filled crimson berries. I had never come in contact with a fresh cranberry before but I was certainly excited and readily accepted the challenge of going through three pounds of the infamously sour fruit. I had gathered several recipes in preparation for delivery but the giver suggested cranberry cornbread and that was the first thing I made. I sliced the berries in half down the stem and macerated them overnight with copious amounts of sugar and a splash of brandy (about half a cup sugar per cup of sliced cranberries). I decided to stick with my favourite cornbread recipe, folding in the berries just before baking. This recipe adds a fresh and nutritious dimension to sweet cornbread. 

I would never have guessed that cranberries were white on the inside

I would never have guessed that fresh cranberries were white on the inside

1/2 cup demerara sugar per cup of cranberries and a splash of brandy or your favorite hard liquor

1/2 cup demerara sugar per cup of cranberries and a splash of brandy or your favorite hard liquor.  Leave in fridge overnight, stirring occasionally.

 

1. Whisk together

1 cup coarse cornmeal

1 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2. With a wooden spoon or heavy spatula, mix in until combined

1/2 cup olive oil (not extra virgin)

2/3 cup whole milk

2 large eggs

3. Toss in evenly

1 cup macerated cranberries

4. Pour mixture into two 4×8 loaf pans and bake at 400°F for 25 minutes, or until it passes the clean toothpick test.

Enjoy!

Straight out of the oven, chock full of delicious, fresh cranberries

Straight out of the oven, chock full of delicious, fresh cranberries

Sweet cornbread packed with cranberries

Sweet cornbread packed with cranberries

Rosemary Focaccia with Potatoes and Anise

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A deliciously browned focaccia, ready to be devoured

I’ve been dabbling in bread making for the last year or so; ever since attending a class at Hains House I have been baking at least twice a month and, surprisingly, losing weight. It took me a while but I finally have a bread recipe that I feel comfortable sharing with you. The dough is adapted from Dean Brettschneider’s Bread. You will need a good kitchen scale and a large, rimless cookie sheet.

The beautiful surface of the focaccia before it went into the oven

The beautiful surface of the focaccia before it went into the oven

1. In a large bowl, with a strong wooden spoon, combine

500g white bread flour

10g salt

28g olive oil

15g sugar

10g chopped rosemary leaves

7g instant yeast

380g water (at 75°F)

2. The dough will be shaggy when just combined. Tip it out onto a floured workbench kneading for 10-15 minutes, resting every 2-3 minutes. You will know to stop kneading when the dough is smooth and elastic. DO NOT add any flour to the dough, it should be a bit wet. To prevent sticking to your hands, occasionally moisten your palm and fingers with water at room temperature.

3. Return dough to a lightly-oiled pan that can accommodate at least twice its volume. Cover with a processing cap and leave in a warm place for an hour.

4. After an hour, gently fold the dough over onto itself seven times in the bowl, effectively deflating it. Cover the dough again, return it to a warm place for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

5. While waiting for the dough to double, line a rimless cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside. Combine in a small bowl

120 g heavy cream

80g sour cream

2 large cloves garlic, crushed and finely minced

1 Tbsp fresh rosemary

6. When the dough has doubled in size, tip it out on a well-floured workbench and use your fingers to gently press it out into a large rectangle. Carefully lift the dough onto the lined cookie sheet, gently press the surface to ensure it’s relatively even.

7. Spread the cream mixture over the surface of the dough. Do not leave any border.

8. Very thinly slice

1 anise (or fennel) bulb

1 medium yukon gold potato

9. In a tight arrangement, layer the anise and potato slices alternately over the dough. Drizzle with

4 Tbsp olive oil

10. Sprinkle with 

Anise fronds

Rosemary sprigs

11. Season with freshly ground salt and pepper. Allow to rest for 15 minutes, then bake at 485°F for 25 minutes.

Slice and serve warm. This will serve 4-6 as a main dish, or 8-10 as a side.

grab a slice

grab a slice

 

A Rough Guide to Perfect Shoestring Fries

barbecue meal

Barbecued pork belly with fries and slaw

Welcome to my home, where whatever happens to show up in the mail from Amazon inspires dinner. Yesterday the Kitchen Elite V Blade Mandoline Slicer showed up and my first thought was, “finally, an easy way of cutting potatoes!” so I decided to make fries for dinner. I found some pork belly in the freezer and considering how incredibly warm and beautiful it’s been, barbecue was the only option;  since I’ve been eating kale and arugula all week, coleslaw was a well-deserved indulgence.

Golden, hot, delicious.

Golden, hot, delicious.

You deserve to know how the perfect fries are made; so here is a basic formula for thinner cut fries, you can adjust cooking time based on thickness and please season to your desired taste.

Unpeeled potatoes make the best fries, in my opinion.

Unpeeled potatoes make the best fries, in my opinion.

  1. Slice your desired amount of russet potatoes about 7mm, a little more than 1/4 inch, thick (peeling is a matter of aesthetics but please wash thoroughly)
  2. Rinse potatoes under running water to get rid of excess starch
  3. Drain potatoes and splash with 1tsp of apple cider vinegar per pound of potatoes; do not rinse
  4. Place potatoes in a large container, add enough water to completely cover the potatoes
  5. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours
  6. Heat a generous amount of peanut oil in a heavy-bottomed pan to 320-350°F
  7. Drain and pat dry potatoes
  8. Fry potatoes in small batches for 4 minutes, immediately transferring to a towel-lined baking sheet. Keep oil for final frying
  9. Refrigerate potatoes, uncovered, for at least an hour for same-day use or freeze for use within two weeks. Thaw before final frying
  10. Reheat oil to 400°F
  11. Fry potatoes in small batches for 3 minutes or until desired crispiness is achieved (stacked against each other, nobody wins)
  12. Transfer to towel-lined baking sheet and season as desired

Enjoy!

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Fries being… fried.

Photos from a Bread-full weekend at Hains House

My first loaf was a basic sandwich bread. I added too much flour the first time and patient Pat allowed me to start all over again.
My first loaf was a basic sandwich bread. I added too much flour the first time and patient Pat allowed me to start all over again. This bread is probably best known as weekender in Jamaica, much better that hard dough in my opinion.

I spent last weekend learning how to bake bread. No, I spent last weekend actually baking some delightful breads. When I signed up for a three-day class at Hains House, I anticipated a lot of lecturing and theory but from the moment I entered the classroom, I had my hands in flour, and I continued to learn by doing for the entire weekend. Forewarned to come with comfortable shoes, the few breaks we took were for delightful meals at the farmhouse table prepared by our industrious instructor-hostess, Pat Hains. I hauled home nine large loaves of bread and several smaller buns crafted by my own two hands, scones and even some hard-to-find fresh yeast that our master instructor was willing to share.

Farm-fresh eggs give a boost to the color of brioche.
Farm-fresh eggs give a boost to the color of brioche.
I elected to add fresh rosemary to my batard
I elected to add fresh rosemary to my batard
Pull-apart rolls from the very versatile brioche dough
Pull-apart rolls from the very versatile brioche dough
Butter for brioche!
Butter for brioche!
We even made bagels
We even made bagels
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Pane Francesa
My batard has been formed in the banneton, scored and ready for the wood oven
My batard has been formed in the banneton, scored and ready for the wood oven
Lovely rosemary loaves
Lovely rosemary loaves
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Margherita toppings
My chewy batard with pumpkin seeds
My chewy batard with pumpkin seeds
Fresh out of the oven
Fresh out of the oven

We are still going through all the bread I made this weekend (lots of bread pudding and french toast are on the horizon) but I am already gathering the tools to bake some loaves at home – I even made a little bread nook in a room adjacent to the kitchen. Thanks, Pat, for this immersion into the world of artisan breads and the courage to go forth and bake!

Pimento or Allspice

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