Years ago, I was a little obsessed with finding out the history of different cultures and food. One of the things I discovered in my learning quest was a street food that’s very popular for breakfast in Trinidad and Tobago. It’s called doubles.
If you go to Trinidad, you are sure to see this snack sold by street vendors. Doubles are said to have East Indian roots. Many East Indians, newly released from being indentured servants, chose to stay in Trinidad instead of returning to India; therefore, they needed a way to make money. Ever-enterprising, they set up small stalls to sell whatever they could, which just happened to include curried and fried channa (chick peas) in small paper cones. Later on, as the story goes, a vendor discovered that adding bara (East Indian fried bread) would make a nice little meal. Read more on our sister Multi Cultural Cooking Network website or click below.
One of the many meals that was frequently on my family’s table was oxtails. When that tender meat hit the plate, we couldn’t get enough No need to worry about whether we’d eat it all.
Perhaps, Jamaica is most popular for it’s oxtail recipe, but oxtails are eaten all over the world. Russians and Jews eat oxtail stew. Koreans make an oxtail soup called kkori gomtang. Peruvians use a lot of cilantro and Serrano peppers in their recipe. The Romans eat a braised version called Coda alla Vaccinara, which is a staple of the culture. In newer versions it may includes ingredients like cocoa and tomatoes.
Now, I don’t know if my mother looked to the Caribbean for her inspiration; I wasn’t taking notes at the time. However, as an adult I recognized that any Caribbean restaurant worth its salt knew how to make a mean order of oxtails, and that’s pretty much what I’ve been going with since then. However, there are those who relish taking their culinary skills to higher heights and deeper depths…so here’s to you achievers! Try this recipe for Jamaican oxtail from the Grandbaby Cakes website.
Ingredients for Jamaican Oxtail
1 tbsp olive oil
5 lbs oxtails
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 medium onion diced
3 garlic cloves diced
1 medium carrot peeled and diced
2 celery stalks diced
1 red bell pepper diced
1 habanero pepper
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp allspice
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 cup red wine
3 cups Jerk BBQ Sauce recipe below
1 cup beef broth
3 fresh thyme sprigs
See the recipe instructions for Jamaican oxtails and the ingredients for the Jerk Barbecue sauce at Grandbaby-Cakes.com.
Sometimes you just need a day. Do you know the feeling? Work, responsibilities, familial duties and obligations are par for the course, but it can’t all be done at the expense of your health and wellness. I wanted to eat, drink (non-alcoholic for me) and be merry. It was Christmas after all…so I took a day and decided to do it at Wylder Hotel, Tilghman Island.
The Wylder Hotel has two locations. The other is Hope Valley, CA. Tilghman Island is in Talbot County, Maryland. It is, indeed, an island, which spans about three miles in distance and is separated from the mainland by the cutest little drawbridge called Knapps Narrow (also referred to as the Tilghman Island Drawbridge). Quaint is probably the word, that would work best for the area, and quaint is just lovely..
I halfway expected to see the charming, semi-rugged, small-town guy from almost every Christmas Hallmark movie when I pulled up to the reception area at the Wylder Hotel, Tilghman Island, but if he worked there, he wasn’t on shift. No bother, I wasn’t disappointed because I did receive repeated wonderful hospitality by the hotel’s reception staff, which was an army of one on Christmas, when I visited.
My main requirements for my day was being somewhere I could gaze at the water, sit near the water. walk near the water…in other words, water was a major part of the equation. The other part was being able to have a decent Christmas dinner and they totally made that happen.
I made my order to Tickler’s Restaurant, the Wylder Hotel’s onsite restaurant, which also has an outdoor crab shack on the bay for your warmer weather stays. I decided I would get the Rockfish Imperial meal. The menu describes the entree as a wild striped bass, lump crab & herb stuffing with imperial glaze. It was accompanied with Chesapeake-lemon butter jus and brioche croutons.
Now, I get concerned when I order fish. I’ve been burned many times because it can be too dry, not seasoned well or, at times, too fishy. (I know, ironic right?). It can be all over the place if you don’t know what you are doing, but I had faith because I was on the Eastern Shore, right on the Chesapeake Bay and they should know what they’re doing. Crab, fish, seafood—it’s what they do! My faith was not in vain. My Rockfish Imperial was perfect. And oh, the Chesapeake lemon butter jus and brioche croutons…Mama Mia!
The Wylder Hotel has rooms, suites and bungalows. I had a beautiful suite with a jacuzzi, king-sized bed, the most comfortable robe ever, and a view of the Chesapeake Bay from the window. The real view was from the private walkway balcony, which adjoined from the bedroom. Although it was cold, I made the most out of my opportunities to enjoy the awesome view. I even decided that I needed to wake up early to make sure I didn’t miss the unbelievably majestic break of dawn on the bay.
There are lots of other amenities like fire pits, bikes, kayaks, canoes; it’s all included in your resort fee. They even have nightly bonfires at the fire-pits. There you can sit on the adirondack chairs, make s’mores or just sit enjoy the sights by the bay. And just a stone’s throw away is St. Michaels, Maryland, which is also beautifully quaint and whimsical. Their unique shops offer the opportunity to get out of the ordinary pieces or fun gifts.
If none of the activities or the shopping interests you, I found that the Wylder Hotel, Tilghman Island is a wonderful place to just “be.” I imagined, I would do a lot of writing while I was there and maybe I would have done so if my stay was longer. But what I ultimately discovered was I just wanted to be on the property getting my gaze on because sometimes—and hear me when I say this—you just need a day.
Rich, velvety, spice-filled drinks are the best! And when it comes to that combination it’s hard to overlook sorrel. It’s one of those drinks that lets your tongue experience the full spectrum. Hints of cinnamon, those earthy cloves and of course, the lovely tart flavor of the the sorrel leaf, itself, makes for an uncommon and unparalleled delight.
You can find sorrel drinks in most Caribbean restaurants or bottled, but it’s fairly easy to make it yourself as well. Some iterations include ginger and some do not. It’s made in different cultures in the Caribbean like Jamaica and Trinidad; however, you will also find sorrel as a Christmastime standard in the Central American country, Belize.
Sorrel drinks are great for celebrating holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and even to toast in the New Year. Although, sorrel is also consumed without the great fanfare of holidays, It’s a really festive kind of drink. It’s has oomph! It has heart and it’s just really good. See the ingredients below and check out the recipe on our sister Multi Cultural Cooking Network blog,
8 ounces dried sorrel
2 cinnamon sticks (each approximately 3 inches long)
1 piece orange peel (fresh or dried, approximately 3 by 1-inch)
12 whole cloves
10-12 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar (or more to taste. Granulated will give a better colour.)
Oh the weather outside is frightful! Nope, not during Christmas in Argentina. The weather is downright balmy…some might even say it’s hot and humid. It’s summer, after all. That doesn’t stop the Christmas trees from going up in their pink, blue, white or green glory and the nativity scenes are placed respectfully near the trees. The decorations and celebrations are plentiful, and part of those celebrations often include a good old barbecue called an asado.
An asado is a traditional event when families and friends gather over some pretty awesome barbecued food. It’s done in Argentina but it’s also done in other South American countries. So what kind of food is prepared during an Argentinian asado? Well, traditional asados are all about the grill (parrilla) or open fire, where chicken, roasted turkey, roasted pork, chorizo, morcilla, which is a blood sausage eaten in Spain and Latin American countries are cooked. Regionally other meats like goat or veal are popular as well.
Typically, the grilling duties go to the guys and the salad, which is often eaten with the grilled meats, are handled by the women. One of the more popular salads is the Salad Olivier, known as ensalada rusa, which is actually a Russian potato salad.
Another wonderful part of celebrations in Argentina happens on Christmas Eve after midnight. Globos are released into the air and these beautiful paper decorations, which have a light inside, fill the sky. Oh what a night!
Hopefully, your Christmas turkey won’t be attacked by a pack of neighboring dogs running through the back door like in the 1983 classic film A Christmas Story. However, just in case your kid feigns an icicle attack to cover that he almost shot his eye out and said shenanigans lead to the open door for dogs to come in…just remember to be open to other dinner plans.
Not even Ralphie’s loving and patient mom was about to go back in that kitchen to fix another turkey. It was the the middle of the afternoon on Christmas! That’s why dad took Christmas day by the horns and rustled his family together before their tastebuds could fully recognize what they were going to miss. In the process, Ralphie and his family got introduced to something new for Christmas—Peking duck, a traditional northern Chinese dish often distinguished by it’s crispy golden brown skin.
I saw this movie when I had just turned 12 years old. I didn’t see it on the 24-hour TBS marathon; I saw it at a movie theatre in Manhattan in 1983. And oh my goodness, A Christmas Story was one of the funniest movies I had ever seen. There was a true LOL moment in pretty much every scene.
It’s the end of the movie, however, that brought the true culinary teachable moment. This is when this Brooklyn-born, Queens living girl learned that Christmas dinner didn’t have to be served at home or over the river and through the woods at Grandma’s house.
More revelations…Christmas dinner didn’t have to include a turkey, and in some cultures they actually cook and eat their bird with the head attached. This may sound basic to you but these were monumental discoveries for a kid that wasn’t growing up in the age of 24-hour cooking channels and culturally specific foodie shows.
Watching A Christmas Story became a reference point for me to want to shake it up when it comes to the Christmas meal. In fact, when I spent my first Christmas out of the country in Puerto Rico, the culture was different, the food was not mom’s, grandma’s or any one of my aunties’. Nonetheless, it was all okay. And I even knew exactly what to order… I went for the duck.
When school is out and the kids are looking for something fun and crafty to do this holiday season, MCCN has found a fun and festive solution.
The kids need something that they can sink all 10 fingers into…something to satisfy their burgeoning artist calling, or at least something to keep them occupied. Believe it or not, you can find your crafty solution in a box of Pop Tarts. “How so?” you ask. Here’s how…get a family and friends craft night together and do the unthinkable! Make a gingerbread house from Pop Tarts.
Is that even legal? Is that technically a gingerbread house? Yes, I know…your mind is in overdrive. Don’t overthink it. Just do it! And don’t get the shivers about the arts and craft project. Who’s grading you? It’s going to be okay because you’re in it for the fun!
We’ve found a very simple step by step guide provided by the Gluesticks blog, which even includes a video so you can pause, rewind and get it in the ball park. Just a suggestion, you might want to get a few snacks that aren’t going on the Pop Tart gingerbread house like one of those Christmas tins full of popcorn or the annual love it or leave it fruitcake.
Now that that’s squared away, go ahead and take on that family and friends craft night like a champ. We, at MCCN, believe in you so get to it and have yourself a merry little Christmas!
Supply List for Pop Tart Gingerbread House
6 strawberry PopTarts Variety of Christmas candy Royal icing (If you don’t want to make the royal icing you can use regular store-bought vanilla icing)
I’m all about the waffles on any given day, so Belgium is on my food and drink bucket list as one of those no-brainer options. I’m so glad Belgians didn’t get a raw deal with their waffles like they did with their pomme frites. The Belgian’s waffles, French fries and Belgian chocolate are quite enough to make this American girl honored to salute them for their huge contribution to my life. And as an American, I’m not going to go embarrassing us overseas looking for maple syrup and butter. My expectations are set to enjoy what Belgium has to offer. I will simply go where the waffle quest takes me. However, I have it on good authority that it will take me to Brussels.
What Americans know as a Belgian waffle, with it’s deeply creviced pockets, is what Belgians would call a Brussels waffle (or gaufres de Bruxelles). But you can also find the Liege waffles in abundance as well. It has a thicker brioche batter and incorporates pearl sugar for crispness. The Liege waffle is also not perfectly rounded but has those kind of edges that you get when you didn’t quite put enough waffle batter on the waffle iron/maker. But it’s all good, we’ll eat those too.
So the Bucklist picks for my waffle experience (Unless the locals give me some other liquid gold recommendation) are BE Waffle and Maison Dandoy. And here’s the great thing about both…location, location, location. They are both situated in the Grand Place, a historic area where you can enjoy the Baroque and gothic architecture. It’s obviously a must-see area. It’s been around in some form or fashion since the 12th century!
Okay, back to the waffles…BE Waffle serves hot-off-the-iron waffles as street food in a market-style area. Go ahead and dig in with your hands. That’s what you’re supposed to do.
You can load up on the available toppings, from chocolate to whipped cream to fruit. Then take it to go as you enjoy just being a tourist in Belgium. Nonetheless, as a tourist, know the culture enough to notice what’s legit and what’s not. I noticed that a review from TripAdvisor, indicated that BE Waffle was selling fresh, hot waffles but that wasn’t always the case with some of the other street vendors. Whether you traveled from another continent or from another nearby neighborhood, you want your food to be right. Be observant and then go get your waffle.
Maison Dandoy is located in a shop in the same district as BE WAFFLE and has been there on Rue au Buerre since 1829. I, for one, love that it’s located on “Butter Street.” It gives me such hope of how good the waffles will be.
Images from Maison Dandoy’s Facebook Page
In all fairness, my anticipation for Maison Dandoy might edge out BE Waffle by just a smidge. It has several locations in Brussels and one of the locations has one of my favorite things…a tea house. The waffle offerings look so lovely and the presentation is awesome in every way. I’m looking forward to topping my Liege or Brussels waffle with powdered sugar, chocolate, whipped cream and/or fruit and enjoy with what looks to be some awesome options for coffee beverages.
Prayerfully, my bucket list will be satisfied sooner rather than later, but until then I’ll keep on slathering on the butter and drizzling on the syrup knowing that Belgium is calling. And when I can’t put off the call anymore, I’ll grab my passport and my pen so I can check Belgium off as “done.”
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! So let’s get to cracking those eggs and searching for the marzipan to make the Yule (Old English for ‘Christmas’) log cake with all the fixings. The Yule log is often referred to as Bûche de Noel in French culture. The rolled Christmas cake is fashioned as a sweet roulade.
The sponge cake is usually a yellow cake that’s rolled and most often iced and filled with chocolate buttercream and cut-off at the end to resemble a log. There are other iterations of the dessert such as using a chocolate sponge cake with chocolate ganache, or chocolate icings infused with coffee, espresso or liqueur.
Bûche de Noel received its name after the ancient Yule log tradition was pretty much discarded. Parisian bakers provided elaborate decorations and brought the popularity of the dessert back in the 19th century. The cake is traditionally served in France, Belgium, Canada, Syria, Switzerland and other former French colonies like Vietnam (I had to look that one up just to make sure it wasn’t fake news. What do you know…you learn something new every day.)
The Yule log cake has been on many a table since the early 1600’s. According to History.com, the first recipe for the Yule log was printed in 1615 in Gervaise Markham’s tome “The English Huswife.” The marzipan and meringue decorations go back just as far.
Celtics, British and Gaelic Europeans of yester-year embraced the lore of burning an actual Yule log. And boy-oh-boy is there a lot of lore that surrounds the pagan tradition of burning away/cleansing the events from the outgoing year. Nonetheless, what has endured is the delicious rolled sponge cake iced and ready for many a Christmas sweet tooth around the world.
Want to try your had at making a Bûche de Noel? See the ingredient list below.
2 cups heavy cream ½ cup confectioners’ sugar ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 6 egg yolks ½ cup white sugar ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract ⅛ teaspoon salt 6 egg whites ¼ cup white sugar confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Pastry chef, Jalisa Harris is enjoying her decision to have faith and open One Bite, LLC. It’s her very own baking business serving the DMV area (D.C., MD, VA.). MCCN talks to her about her business and passion for baking in our new series, The Cool Culture Cook. (See the interview above)
One Bite makes cakes, pies, pastries and all kinds of baked goods by request. Harris’ company has done birthday parties, weddings, church anniversaries and the requests get more and more diverse. However, that’s where she is now, which is a long way from her beginnings.
Getting her degree in culinary arts was one thing but making the move to start her baking business was a decision she came to over time. As you can probably imagine, every day is not a cake-walk for the young pastry chef and entrepreneur (pun absolutely intended) but success stories without trials are even less realistic than fairytales.
We all know in every good fairytale there is always a villain to overcome or an obstacle to overtake, and such is life. Sometimes there is a struggle. Funds aren’t always rolling in, ingredients can be expensive and throw in a global pandemic, like the one from 2020, and you can begin to understand the saying, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Nonetheless, even as an operation of one, the young business woman’s faith and family support system have helped her slay those proverbial dragons during the low times. She credits her mother for her encouragement, which has helped her carry on One Bites growing success story.
Now let’s talk about those rewarding moments. After all, all work and no fun is not going to cut it. Harris definitely loves the reward of a job well done. In fact, customer satisfaction is kind of a thing with her. She wants to see the smile. She’s looking for the reaction, especially since she pours her passion into everything from the ingredients to the design of each delectable baked bite.
From cupcakes, to character cakes, to pies and sugar work, Harris is in it to satisfy even the youngest customer with dreams of princesses and rainbows or Spiderman and Moana for their birthday cakes. Harris is also in it for the long haul and continues to up her game as her baking business and artistry grows.
Check out part one of Harris’ inspirational and gutsy story on MCCN’s new series, TheCool Culture Cook.