Pumpkin and summer? Something is not adding up but FYI I live in the Caribbean so there is no fall to be eating pumpkins. Actually West Indian Pumpkin also known as Calabaza squash is quite plentiful during these times and quite cheap so I used what was in season .
This has been my second “summer” experimenting with vegan ice cream and from making over forty batches in my vegan life I had a lot of ups and downs with it. To make vegan ice cream creamy you need fat may it be from the soy creamer you use to adding additional vegan butter or even using raw cashews you need fat. Soy milk is not fatty so using that as your base would not give you a creamy non icy ice cream. Thickeners and binders are quite important as the mixture needs to be thick when putting into the ice cream maker. Thin ice cream mixtures result in icy ice-cream because most of the time this means there is too much water in the mixture and not enough fat.
Ice cream Profile
For this ice cream I used two thickeners xanthan gum and arrowroot flour alternatives arrowroot alone or cornstarch alone
Base: Soy creamer full fat made in France alternatives full fat coconut milk
Result creamy and scoopable out of the freezer after a 5 minute wait ( I do have my freezer on high so maybe that is why)
Low in ice crystals.
Sugar sources: West Indian light brown sugar, agave and maple syrup
Flavour profile of star ingredient: medium
Kid Friendly: medium high
Pairs well with brittles, molasses and sugar cones
Additional Info: Get the sweetest pumpkin and steam it, mix in the xanthan gum really well in the sugar and whisk in briskly to avoid clumps of binder forming in the ice cream. Over use of xanthan gum can turn mixture into a slimy mess.
Recipe Advanced Prep
1 – 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin
1 tsp pumpkin spice I used this recipe as who has that knocking around in their home outside of America?
Ice cream Base
2 1/2 cups soy creamer ( If you stick around I am working on a home-made version of this for people who cannot get this)
1 1/2 cups of soy milk plus 1/2 cup to dissolve the arrowroot
1/3 cup of vegan butter
1/4 cup sugar
Scant 1/4 tsp plus scant 1/8 tsp xanthan gum
2 1/2 teaspoons arrowroot
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract or 2 tsp. vanilla essence
Add soy creamer, 1 1/2 cups soy milk and butter to the pot and cook on medium heat. In the meantime mix the xanthan gum into the sugar really well. Grab a whisk. When the mixture starts to bubble slightly turn down the heat and add the xanthan sugar mixture. Whisk gently and you would begin to feel the mixture getting thick. Mix the remaining 1/2 cup milk with the arrowroot flour and turn up the heat until there is a slight bubble again and take the mixture off the heat. Add in arrowroot milk mixture and feel the ice cream mixture get even more thick. Cool and add agave and essence. Refrigerate until very chilled.
To make ice cream add the pumpkin until the custard and add to the maker and process as per instructions of the ice cream maker. Put ice cream into container and swirl in butter pecan mixture. Chill overnight, take down for 10 mins and scoop.
Butter Pecan Mixture
1/2 cup vegan butter (margarine without animal products)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup chopped pecan
Toasted pumpkin seeds optional
A generous pinch of cinnamon
A generous pinch of allspice
A generous pinch ginger
A generous pinch nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
Method ( make this when the ice cream has started to churn in the maker)
Add vegan butter, brown sugar, maple syrup and let it simmer on medium heat until it starts to become thick. Watch mixture and still and reduce heat when mixture starts to get significantly thick. Add pecans and stir and spices and cook until pecans are coated with thick syrup. Cool and wait for ice cream to finish churn before swirling it in.
Do submit your ice cream wishes via the Facebook Page. Next week I am leaning towards lemon ice cream and its evil twin lemon pepper. If you have an even more exciting request do submit.
Next week starts my 7 flavours of summer ice cream series were you would have access to 7 recipes to creamy delectable vegan ice cream and ice cream relatives.
I have asked the followers on my Facebook page to request some of their favourite flavours ever and so far I am working on a pumpkin butter pecan praline with edible cup and a pineapple coconut. For me, I am working on a strawberry cheesecake, something I love using cashew cream.
Each recipe would teach 7 different lessons on vegan ice cream and you would learn how to use different stabilizers to get creamy ice creams. Some ice creams would be low sugar which is usually the deal breaker for me with ice creams but adjust the sugar as you like. Some will use stabilizers like xanthan gum, guar gum with arrowroot. Some would just cashew cream…others would rely on simple arrowroot or cornstarch.
Do join the facebook page here to get in your ice cream request. As I live in the Caribbean I may not have access to all the fruits as they may be expensive and not fresh enough for my purposes so if your request does not get picked do not take it too hard.
So Friday was here and after getting less than 2 hours of sleep I was like a charged battery ready to meet all the invited chefs. I was still running around 30 minutes before start time speaking to my newly adopted staff at The Anchorage Hotel and making sure that everything was close to perfect. Chefs started to file in from all over the island, some from hotels, small restaurants and even Eco Lodges chefs. One of the most funny events were that people were not expected someone so young to be facilitating the event so when I introduced myself I always got this facial expression from everyone…I smiled it off:)
Last minute preparations were made and I was ready to face 30 plus people and cook…I was tired as you can see in the photos but very excited.
Take a look at what happened ..please excuse my appearance I did not sleep that night.
We did the Tofish Demo in detail speaking about pigments and seaweed strength. This was served with a new creole sauce recipe I made which is richer than the one in Caribbean Vegan.
I felt like I was writing lines but to be able to contribute of an event like this was amazing.
The food I choose to make was a mixture of recipes in Caribbean Vegan and new recipes I developed after my book was published. We decided to do a buffet for the chefs as it would be easier and they could choose what they want. I was aided by a 5-7 staff members at the Anchorage Hotel who came though for me. As tired as they all were Bernadine and Chef Nelson kept smiling and laughing at my corney jokes as we went in close to 2 am prepping for a buffet for 4o.
I would like to eat this salad everyday seriously it is so good.. Thanking Bernadine pastry chef and cook for following my quick verbal advice on the sauce..people raved about this.
That is a rustic coconut and fruit tart at the back and rum cake topped with a pecan Dominican Praline. Bernadine decorated this as I was doing the class.
Here is Bernadine smiling even if she did not have any sleep too.
I was exhausted but so happy at the same time. I cannot thank the staff at the Anchorage Hotel enough. Chef Nelson the new chef at the Anchorage is Barbados trained. He really controlled the kitchen and was there for me every step of gthe way. Thanking Devon, Renwar Joseph, organic farmer and cook George, the amazing Elizabeth who smiled for ever demo I called her up to do, Bernadine, my rock and Yvonne Amour a long time vegetarian who opened her hotel to me to do these events.
Later that night the Anchorage Hotel in Dominica served vegan snacks using some of my recipes and their existing vegan options.
After this event my night started all over again. I had a big workshop in the forest compliments JTAS and I had even more people to cook for….The chefs workshop was a big success and news was flying fast around the island about what happened at the Anchorage Hotel.
What really made me want to tear up was hearing people speak about food memories as they ate. They were eating vegan food yet it was oh so familiar. Emotions stirred within me and I started to think more deeply about the effect of Dominica was having on me. I was tired but I felt a calmness within and looking over at Terri smiling about that days success made me want to work even harder for the next workshop.
Before I go take a good look at this amazing woman Terri Henry who has pulled off this event for the last 3 years with this year being the biggest and most difficult.
A big thank you to Celia Sorhaindo from Tropical Ties for donating these photos.
You can also like Taymer Mason on Facebook to see other photos from that day.
So we got into the van and was headed to the Emerald Pool and Carib Territory ( a reserve where the indigenous people still live). I choose Emerald pool because later that night I would be up until 2 am in the morning making dishes and prepping for Friday’s first Caribbean Vegan Culinary Workshop where chefs from all around the island would come to train with me and do my introductory course on Caribbean Vegan Food. Something struck me when I was there and it made me feel a little uneasy…it was that this island was filled with all the fruits that are almost “extinct” in many islands including Barbados and I did not use any of these fruits because where I live in St Martin is void of anything fresh and local. I started to sweat a bit as I passed the market in Roseau where they were beginning to set up for the weekend starting on Friday morning. Then my nervousness turned to anger where I thought about all the times I have been chastised for using a local ingredient in my book by non Caribbean people…from when I used bread fruits in 2 recipes to my use of West Indian Pumpkin.. I then started to question everything I did leading up to writing Caribbean Vegan, my choice to publish the book, the market I courted in the past, the attitude of people to me, the content of the book and I wondered who was my realised audience. I wondered if I was chasing a goal that would never fit with me and a whole rush of thoughts came through my mind at this stage I was overcomed with emotion and started to cry right there and then in the van in front of a complete stranger when he got out and picked me this fruit. After eating this fruit I realised there was time for a change.
This is the fruit from the cashew nut and I went to secondary school in the countryside of Barbados where these fruits were plentiful. I have not tasted this fruit in almost 11 years and when I saw them on the tree hanging down without name or destination…I knew where I was …I knew I was in a place of inspiration…a place where finding the fruits and veg I longed to cook with were accessible. As I bit into my cashew the juice flowed down my arms and I pushed my neck forward to avoid it going on my clothes as it stains. I was overcome with emotion again….
Clem also picked me 3 big white fleshed guavas and I devoured those on the spot. These were not too sweet as I know some guavas to be but it did the trick. Clem knew the trees well and told me the other tree had very sour guavas!
As we drove through Carib Teritory..faces peaked out from small homes and sometimes mothers and daughters went down the street and some waited on the side of the road for transportation. There was a sense of calm there, a calm I only felt years ago when I was growing up in Barbados. There is still a calm in Barbados but the calm has been destroyed by many other factors. I choose not to take any photos of the Kalinagos without permission as I respect people and did not want to shoot them like if I was on safari tour or something as I myself disliked being photographed by tourist without asking my permission.
When Clem made a stop we were greeted by several members of the community who Welcomed us to Dominica and with genuine smiles. This one nice gentleman was selling a giant soursop and a big bags of passion fruit just for 2 usd! It is ok to pay more and I did because as it was off season I was not sure if he would make many sales that day. I purchased a bag of passionfruit for my husband who can eat up to 7 a day if I let him but I did not have anything to put my lovely fruit in.
I was then greeted by this lady who sold authentic Kalinago baskets that were made for carrying heavy loads like ground provisions. I purchased two items, a basket for fruit which was made from the spines of coconut and another large basket for shopping. I love this basket and take it everywhere I go. She also gave me a hand carven spoon and fork. One thing I did not like about Dominica was rthe water in the air which constantly made my curly long afro shrink down to 2 inches! lol
I also purchased Bajan Cherries from the side of the road for around 3 usd for 6 pounds and I made juice when I got home with the ones that did not spoil. Eating 3 of these cherries gives you the right amount of vitamin C for the day.
and one more because I know you are curious to see the inside..
Before I got the Carib Territory I made a quick stop at the Emerald pool where I wet my feet and took in the beautiful scenery.
Here are some photos from the pool
We got back into Roseau around 1pm and I had to meet Terri Henry. Terri had contacted me at the beginning of the year excited that there was a new Caribbean Vegan book . After hundreds of email exchanges and the event was confirmed Terri worked day in and day out with the help of her two friends Martha Cuffy and Celia Sorhaindoto pull off this event and it was not all about me and my food…that was just one aspect…there were speakers, tents, a million things to organize and Terri was still up cheering even on the final day. I really saw the true meaning of veganism there finally because all the reading in some magazine and reading about other people and things I cannot relate to I was able to see a really passionate spirit at work. Terri wanted to me meet one of her friend “Deschampes” who is the chef at his own establishment called Rootz Healing Foods and he is an Ital Chef. When we got there he was still making the special of the day was unknown but we waited patiently and I was presented with this ital dish. Now ital food is suppose to be 100 percent natural food…some Rastafarians are vegan but others eat ital foods which can include honey and will wear leather crafts. As I spoke at the event and I was face to face with persons of the Rastafarian faith I asked myself who the hell am I to try to change a religion, a resistance and a culture because I do not eat honey. I
I took a look at where I was coming from and it was from an island that did not grow its own food and it depended on the USA and Europe for everything. Most bloggers write from these places of mass import but many have access to fresh ingredients, I did not. In essence their ideals become the standard for veganism. Were my ideals coming from a privileged place and was I too practicing Western Veganism in the Caribbean or was I just benefitting from some imported health food products that took my dishes to another level? I also wanted some products to be available in Dominica but hoped that it maintained its whole food approach to veganism as well. Things like yeast flakes, and aluminium free baking powder and also some sea vegetables which are processed there but are not widely available. As I stayed longer in Dominica I realized I needed to rethink and redo a few things and I knew I did not want to come across as privileged and ignorant. When I went vegan in Barbados I was a student with not a lot of money and to bake meant money even apple cider vinegar cost and ground flax and I grew tired of the rice beans and vegetables or the ground provisions and beans. After moving to St Martin I had access to cheaper health food items and some of the vegan “luxury” items but as I write this there was a part of me that wanted to give up because I longed for the baked goods I ate before and for other familiar textures and flavours. Knowing what and what was not there Terri and I formulated a list of things I had to bring. I like the fact I can find everything in St Maarten but loath the fact that I cannot find anything completely fresh and nourishing. At this stage I was rethinking my approach because everything I do had to be from a place of respect. I personally just accept it as it is and try not to force my beliefs on other people’s culture as Rastafarians were living and eating like this for years and I am in no place to tell someone how to live. They are also show good examples in sustainable living. This is why I always try to tell people to take ital for what is is ital food and that veganism was another aspect but can fit in the Rastafarian faith…yes it is confusing but I don’t cook a lot of ital food but Daja has inspired me to cook more especially when I move somewhere like Dominica with fresh organic vegetables and ingredients because by the time the few roots get to St. Martin the taste and essence is lost to be honest.
Here is Daja’s dish
Here we have some dal cooked in coconut milk, some root vegetables and fresh vegetables. I could not move after eating this and I love “the fry” at the top which reminded me a little of fried fish I grew up eating even if he did not use seaweed the spices he used reminded me of that. I loved it and it was my first ital sit down meal. Thanks Deschampes!
He also sold plantain chips and also nut cake or nut brittle and both of them were the best I ever had. I picked up some raw cocoa and some nutmeg with the mace still intact to make some cocoa tea when I returned home.
After lunch Terri and I ran to the supermarket Astaphans one of the major sponsors to pick up some items I needed to work with on the Thursday night. I then headed back to the hotel to relax a bit and prep for my big night of cooking and acting an the executive chef for a event at the Anchorage.
Before I end….the hotel offered us a vegan meal that we could have gotten at the buffet like everyone else
Here is it
It is a lentil croquette with vegan mushroom sauce, italian pasta salad…..
After eating this I rushed to change into my kitchen gear and take over the kitchen to prep for 14 dishes in 4 hours…..as I walked up the stairs with my non skid Nikes and hair wrapped in a scarf and makeup wiped cleaned I began to feel a change within me…a fire that I never felt before and a worth that many tried to take away from me due to fear.
Coming up Event number one ..where I meet the chefs from all over the island, interviews, new found friends and me actually making cupcakes…yeah me!
and why am I sitting like this anyways?
Fin out next time
I have been away from blogging for a while as you noticed. I was busy preparing for Dominica’s 3rd Annual Health and Wellness events sponsored by Discover Dominica Discover Dominica’s Tourism Awareness Month which was three days of events focussing on health and wellness. This year I was invited as the guest chef for the events and initially getting into it I had no idea what I was in store for but in the end it was one of the most satisfying moments of my life and I left the island with a new sense of direction as I had been looking in the wrong places for guidance and acceptance in the past.
Trip to Dominica…flight and journey
I arrived in Dominica on the 10th of May at 6 pm and was met with some rain. This is my first time on this island but I had stopped once in transit a few years ago to Guadeloupe. I grew up in flat Barbados so approaching a mountainous island was something that took my breath away the first time I flew into Dominica. Immigration was quite fast and
I was outside within 15 minutes. I was greeted with this sign and a smiling team member of Khatts Tours greeting me. We were starving as the stop over in Antigua did not provide me with any vegan options so I was ready to eat in 20 minutes. When I got into the van the driving introduced himself as Johnny and he will be my driver for the next hour and a half to 2 hours!!!!! What!!! Where was I and where was the hotel? Later I found out Melville Hall airport was in the North and we had to make a long journey to the capital Roseau to get the Anchorage Hotel, Whale Watch & Dive Centre. The drive was beautiful and I could feel a big different in temperature from St Martin and the roads were winding and both sides were lush sometimes with a few houses peeking out and a slight activity of the late Caribbean evening. I saw lots of people walking with large backpacks on their way home from work and many tried to hail the taxi I was in for a ride as taxi also double as buses. After an hour we came to what I later learnt as Carib Territory and I saw a man placing flat cassava breads on a big metal disk for baking but before I could say stop to let me get out to buy my driving zipped up the road in the thickening dark roads. Hardly any road was straight and one must have great dexterity and experience to master these roads and we watched Johnny drive in admiration. After an hour and a half I started to feel a change a temperature …a drastic one…we were coming out of the mountains and into the city of Roseau and I could see more lights and we met more cars…I was getting excited and nervous and could not wait to get out to see my new home for the next 6 days. Finally we arrived at The Anchorage Hotel and Whale Watch Centre and I was quickly escorted to my room which was one of the biggest hotels rooms I ever stayed in. It consisted of two double beds and the large windows opened up and I was face to face with the sea and a jetty. I loved it. I quickly put up my cold items I was travelling with and made my way to the bar where I was offered a rum punch that was out of this world. A total 360 from the recipe in Caribbean Vegan I loved their rum punch and I crave it even as I write this.
We were then escorted to the restaurant which had a beautiful view of neighbouring hotels and the glittering sea. The waves lapped the shore and the warm sea breeze tickled my face. I was hungry and excited to see what the hotel was going to serve me. I was greeted with a menu which had a section called Vegetarian Selection and there was an Asian Tofu dish. As I had spoken to the hotel before about what I wanted as my first meal I knew that there was something else in the kitchen for me. We were first presented with a
1. Anchor Salad which is a fresh salad with a vinaigrette
2. Creole Red beans, rice and a fresh fresh fresh steamed string bean and spinach warm salad. It was a great start for the night and the beans were mildly spice and the vegetables were all one dreams of organic vegetable..
3. We were then served with a fruit plate which consisted of Mangoes, watermelon and papaya (or as I saw paw paw)
4. Then!!! yes then they listened to my request and offered a complimentary flask of fresh coconut water….I could not move after this meal. ( Please note I was not a regular guest at the hotel but an invited guest so I got some extras but this does not mean that the hotel will not provide you with the same)
We got up and perused the menu at the Anchorage and saw they had a Vegan high protein breakfast menu and also offered vegan porridge as well…
It was time to go to sleep and get ready for my only full day of vacation.
The next morning I woke up early as I do when I sleep in a strange bed and we were up at 7 am and I was hungry to say the least. I went up the restaurant and tried to put my meal together. I wanted a heavy breakfast as we were going whale watching later in the day and would be out at sea for a good couple of hours.
This is what they served us
Ok so the juice you can see is passion fruit. I got fresh tomatoes every single morning and hash browns. We also got a bread basked which consisted of fresh toasted bread and freshly made bakes.
The day rolled on and I went on the weekly whale watch where no one saw a whale. I did get a glimpse of a tail of a whale but it was too fast so I could not alert the other on the boat or snap a photo. Whales come to Dominica to birth and it is common to spot whales off the coast. These whales are not fed or aided to come up, we go out on a boat and watch and wait. For lunch I was given a
Spinach, chickpea and potato roti with sweet mango chutney.
After whale watching I grabbed a pina colada which was not too sweet and I got ready for dinner. Since I was going to be having tofu and seitan later in the week I asked Chef Nelson (Barbadian trained) chef to make me a fast bean or pea dish and I wanted something spicy.
He made a rustic dish which reminded me of home which was an oven roasted butternut squash with a beautiful chickpea fusion curry.
That was it for the night and I knew what tomorrow meant..my first test to cook for 40 people and run a kitchen staff to pull of the first vegan training course for chefs in Dominica. I knew it was a lot of work and knowing that the staff never made my recipes before I did not know what to expect and still I did not see the kitchen…But, tomorrow also meant I had a quickie island tour and I would have lunch with the organizer of the event Terri Henry at one of her favourite Ital restaurants.
To be continued….