Eat in the heat: #1 Fresh lemonade and pan toasted nuts
This is the start of a new series about the food that I cook and eat in the Caribbean. Because food is different here. Not hugely different, but different enough. Firstly, there is no online food ordering, no home delivery, no click and collect. For an Ocado.com addict with three young children that's been hard to accept.
There are no short cuts. I had to forget about dashing out to Marks and Spenser to pick up a meal that can simply be popped in the oven.
It took me months to work out what dishes tasted good and worked well in Barbados.
For the first few weeks after our arrival I wandered around the supermarket in a daze, struggling to work out what to feed the family. And although I found a few familiar things (you can get some over-priced Waitrose products here, so yes, I did find a packed of very expensive frozen fish fingers) many of the staples I was used to just weren't available.
Gradually I've learned to adapt my stock of go-to family recipes and although it hasn't been easy, our diet is now healthier and more varied than ever.
I've enjoyed experimenting with recipes to find what really works in a hot climate.
Middle Eastern cookery has been a big inspiration (think Yotam Ottolenghi, Claudia Roden). Many Asian dishes feel right in this climate and I also make more Mexican inspired dishes. So cumin, corriander, smoked paprika and chilli usually play a role in my dishes. These flavours also work well for us as we're not really fans of meat and tend to base our meals around fish, pulses, cheese, eggs, tofu, nuts and vegetables.
This is an island, so I'm always guaranteed fresh fish and regularly go to the local fish markets. But there is no regulated organic meat industry in Barbados and all supermarket chicken is battery farmed which makes meat even less appealing here than in the UK.
Most of our meals are eaten family style, with dishes in the middle of the table to share (I find this helps with picky eaters too - they watch what everyone else is doing and put their own portions on their plate).
For lunch, we eat lots of fresh salads with pulses, eggs, sheeps and goats cheese and roasted nuts. For dinner: mexican beans and fish tortillas, pan fried fish with fresh herbs and rice, and lots of gently spiced soups and curries. I bake all our bread and make our tortillas. And I try to make most of our snacks too as I don't like the long list of ingredients in most of the biscuits and crackers on the supermarket shelves. Yes, it takes up a lot of time but I (usually) think it's worth it.
Since moving to Barbados I've discovered new new ways with food, new ways of assembling, serving, spicing and nourishing myself and the ones I love. And now adopt a more thoughtful style of cooking and eating. So whether you live in a tropical country, are looking for summer food ideas or simply want to bring a bit of heat into your kitchen, I hope you feel inspired to try some of my ideas.
This is a drink that I often make to pep me up on a hot afternoon. It's a ridiculously easy take on Bajan lemonade and is a healthy and quick alternative to shop bought fizzy drinks. The nuts are a non essential but highly reccomended accompaniment.
Juice of two fresh limes or lemons
x 2 500ml bottles of soda water
x 2 tbsp agave syrup or raw honey
Ice to serve
You will need: a jug or glass bottle with a funnel to hold the drink. And a large jug to mix.
- Squeeze the juice from the limes/ lemons (limes grow locally here - we even have a lime bush in our garden - so I prefer to use them) and add to the mixing jug along with the agave or honey.
- Mix with a wooden spoon until the syrup is disolved.
- Pour the lime/ lemon syrup into serving jug or bottle using a funnel.
- Add soda water and stir with a wooden spoon if serving in a jug. Or, if using a bottle, cap and gently tip a few times to mix.
Pour over ice and enjoy!
Salt and vinegar peanuts
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp Sea salt
Glug of olive oil
2 cups raw peanuts
1) Put a frying pan on a medium/high heat, add the olive oil then the nuts and, using a spatula, move them around until they smell toasted and turn golden brown, taking care not to burn them.
2) Next add the cider vinegar. It will create steam which is good. Move the nuts around the pan until the liquid has evaporated. Finaly add sea salt and turn off the heat. Serve in pretty bowls. And beware. They are moorish.
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp sea salt
Glug of olive oil
2 cups raw cashew nuts
Using the cashews, follow step one as above.
2) Add smoked paprika and sea salt to the pan until the nuts are well coated and your kitchen is filled with a wonderful smoky aroma. Serve warm.