Cuisine Calling: Food memories

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Coconut

Good food memories sustain us through life. It brings comfort to us when we can recreate those memories by making those recipes in our kitchens.

We all have special memories: maybe it was the homemade bread at Christmas time, or the sweetbread from the corner bakery, the currants roll from a special aunt. Or maybe the great curry duck at the river limes, the pelau at Carnival time, or the ice-cold sorrel at Christmas. Trinidad and Tobago is indeed a good place to make those memories, with our multi-faceted influences and extremely delicious foods.

For me, it was the coconut sponge cake my mother often baked, warm from the oven, tender and speckled with minute pieces of grated coconut. She never wrote the recipe down, but many years and trials later I think I have recreated a very close resemblance.

And the grocery-bought jam roll, made by Coelho, butter-less sheet sponge, covered with red jam, rolled jelly-roll style and covered in sugar. Then there were the homemade coconut tarts, juicy stewed coconut encased by flaky pastry or sometimes sweet-yeasted dough. Either way, those are still baked in my home kitchen.

Simpler times, simpler foods, the purest of ingredients and the best taste. Why not try to recreate some of those memories yourself, all you need to do is document the recipes from the cook or baker.

Shubh Divali!

Toasted Coconut Sponge Cake

1 cup finely shredded fresh coconut

1 cup unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

4 large eggs

21/3 cups cake flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tbs grated orange zest

1/2 tsp orange extract or vanilla

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

Preheat oven to 325F

Line, grease and flour the base and sides of a 9 inch cake tin.

Spread coconut onto a baking tray and lightly toast for about 5 minutes, just until coconut is dry and just beginning to turn colour, do not brown coconut.

Crumble lightly with your fingers.

Cream butter until light, add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time beating well until sugar is dissolved and mixture is fluffy.

Sift flour with baking powder

Add eggs one at a time beating well between additions.

Combine orange juice, orange zest and orange extract or vanilla.

Combine coconut with flour mixture.

Fold in flour alternately with juice in three additions, beginning and ending with flour.

Spoon batter into prepared tin, bake for about 50 minutes until a wooden pick inserted through the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 6 minutes.

Turn out of tin, remove lining paper and cool on cake rack.

Makes 1, 9-inch cake

Coconut Tarts

1 cup grated coconut

1 cup granulated sugar

2 clove, ground

1 tsp ground cinnamon,

1 recipe flaky pastry

In a large shallow saucepan add sugar and coconut, cook on medium heat until mixture begins to bubble, the mixture will water a little, add spices and continue to cook, stirring frequently until mixture comes together, (about 20 to 30 minutes). You can add a small amount of water to prevent sticking.

When the coconut is cooked, yet juicy, remove and cool.

Meanwhile preheat oven to 400 degrees

Roll out pastry to about 1/4-inch thickness, cut out a round 4-inch diameter.

Place one tablespoon of filling on the bottom portion of the pastry, leaving an edge of about 1/2-inch around the filling.

Bring the top portion over the coconut to cover it and crimp the edges and seal with a fork.

Repeat process for balance of pastry and coconut. Brush tarts with beaten egg.

Bake in a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

Makes about 12.

Toasted Coconut Sponge Cake.

Flaky Pie dough

2-1/8 cups all-purpose flour

½ tbs salt

2 oz cold butter

51/2oz cold shortening

¾ cup iced-water, approx

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor.

Cut the butter and shortening into small pieces, drop onto flour.

Pulse in food processor until mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Add the water and pulse a few times, add more water and pulse again.

Continue until the mixture has curds and clumps and sticks together when pressed between your fingers.

Remove and shape into a ball.

Wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.

Jam Roll

4 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup flour

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup jam or jelly

Icing sugar and coarse sugar

Preheat oven to 350F

Line and butter and flour a 9 by 7-inch baking tray or sheet pan.

Beat eggs until frothy add sugar gradually beat until thick and light in colour.

Add water, fold in flour.

Spread in baking tin, bake for 10 to 15 minutes.

Immediately invert onto a clean tea towel dusted with icing sugar, and coarse sugar.

Roll up from the long side and cool well.

Unroll, spread with jam and re-roll.

Wrap in foil or plastic until; ready for use.

Makes 10 slices.

rahamut@gmail.com

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