Putting the soul back in the kitchen
It’s only a couple of weeks since meeting Eira and I now find myself in the kitchen of another of Cardiff’s food visionaries. Geraldine’s vision is to “put the soul back in the kitchen”. She wants to save kitchens from becoming a place to warm up convenience foods and rescue them as a place where nourishing meals are cooked up from scratch.
Geraldine’s work for charities and community groups led her to create a course to show people how to make simple healthy meals using fresh ingredients. More recently she’s focused her efforts on helping young families eat well on a budget. Look at this alongside her work as a chef in various community kitchens, food projects and festivals and you see why I call her a visionary.
Today, Geraldine is letting me taste a few of her recipes that will be on the menu at ffresh during the course of Tiger Bay The Musical. Her recipes are steeped in the multicultural heritage of Tiger Bay, where she grew up. Her grandad was a baker from Barbados who moved to Cardiff and opened up a boarding house and cookshop for seamen. After finishing college, Geraldine went to live in Barbados. It was there she learned her craft at the ‘Ocean View Hotel’ renowned for its excellence in Bajan cuisine, and learned about herbal medicines and natural remedies from two elder women she worked with.
As we talk, Geraldine prepares some delicious Jerk Chicken, a Cucumber and Avocado Salad, Salt Fish Balls and Pan Fried Plantain. Watching the ease with which she navigates her kitchen, mixing, adding herbs and spices and assembling this delicious meal, I’m more than inspired to go back home and rediscover my lost enthusiasm for cooking.
It’s no surprise Geraldine prefers home cooked food to eating out, but in her lifetime she’s seen the kitchens of Tiger Bay replaced by restaurant chains in Cardiff Bay. So, it’s nice to know a local girl will be putting nourishing food back on the menu at Tiger Bay Presents.
The chicken goes in the oven first. It’s been marinating all night in a very special and delicious spice mix. All the juices that have been released is what the chicken is going to be cooked in, no need to add oil. The end result is a spicy, juicy and tender chicken.
Jerk marinade (12-15 chicken drumsticks)
2-3 tsp ground Jamaican pimento (allspice)
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
tbsp dark brown sugar
2 tbsp fresh thyme
2 bunches spring onion
1-2 Scotch Bonnet chillies
2 tbsp dark soya sauce
3-4 garlic clove
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
Juice of 1 fresh orange
Juice of 1 fresh lime
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1. Blend together all ingredients in a blender or food processor.
2. Pour over chicken and marinate for about 2 hours or overnight.
3. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour. Barbecuing is even better. Make sure coals are white before placing chicken skin side down and keep turning to prevent chicken from getting too dark. Baste regularly. Cook for about 70 minutes.
Cucumber and Avocado Salad
As the chicken is roasting and our conversation rolling we turn to making a simple and very refreshing cucumber and avocado salad
1/2 long cucumber
Pinch of fresh chilli (depending on how hot you’d like it to be)
1-2 tbsp lime juice
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp finely cut fresh parsley
1. Cut the cucumber into quartered slices.
2. Finely slice the chilli and sprinkle it over the cucumber, together with lime juice and salt. Mix it all together. Then add avocado and parsley.
3. Enjoy it as a side dish or a refreshing salad on its own.
Salt Fish Balls
Geraldine’s signature dish, which she will be serving for people at the Tiger Bay Presents festival. Salt fish was part of Geraldine’s diet since she was a kid, it was cheap and delicious served with cornmeal dumplings.
Ingredients ( will serve 6 people)
230g salt fish (when flaked)
230g self raising flour
Half or one full bonnet chilli
1/2 bunch spring onions
Cold water to bind (8 tbsp)
Deep oil for frying
1. Soak fish overnight. Remove skin and blanche with boiling water for few minutes.
2. Drain water and allow to cool.
3. Flake the fish (making sure all bones are removed) into bowl.
4. Finely chop or grate the spices and herbs and add it to fish.
5. Add flour and enough cold water to make a medium batter (dropping consistency)
6. Put a pot on heat and fill it with oil about 2 inches. Wait till it’s hot. You can try by dropping a small spoonful and see of it stays in one consistency.
7. Drop small spoonfuls of the batter into hot deep oil and fry until golden brown.
8. Drain on paper towel and serve.
Pan Fried Plantain
Lastly, a plantain is sliced and fried in hot oil in a frying pan. This is served on a side of succulent and delicious roasted jerk chicken. Together it makes a sweet and sour duo – a real feast for your taste receptors.