One summer break during elementary school, my grandmother, my father’s mother, came from Haiti to stay with us. While she was there, my parents asked her to write down in a notebook all the recipes she could remember. Over the course of the summer, she wrote down in her beautiful script dozens of recipes, from marinades to desserts. All the Haitian recipes that I’ve translated and cooked here in the Kreyol Kitchen category come from that notebook. Here we are in 1986 at Hershey Park in Pennsylvania during one of her visits. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!
Question: What is made mostly of rum and is keeping me happy all holiday season long?
Answer: Liqueur des îles.
Bonus: It’s made partially of fruit, therefore it’s healthy and practically a salad, amirite, people?!
Over the past few months, I’ve made quite a few of my grandmother’s recipes and they’ve all been delicious savory meals or sweet desserts (search category Kreyol Kitchen for more). But I realized I hadn’t made an alcoholic drink since last year so I wanted to see what other boozy beverages she loved. Liqueur des îles caught my eye because of the process. It’s essentially three steps over the course of 30 days and the wait is worth it. So let’s get to it!
Gigot de porc en chemise may be my favorite of my grandmother’s recipes that I’ve made so far. Here’s why: it translates to leg of pork in a shirt. And that shirt is bacon. You read that right. The SHIRT IS BACON!!! In other words, this is a bacon-wrapped pork leg. Covered in a bechamel sauce. OH MY GOODNESS!!
So let’s get to it.
Sardines au parmesan is tasty, easy to make and works well as a party appetizer or snack.
If you like mashed potatoes and if you like salmon, then this recipe is for you.
I did something I probably shouldn’t have done when you’re an invited guest: I brought a dessert that I had never tested before. I was looking through my grandmother’s recipes and saw le massepain au beurre, a name I didn’t totally understand but the instructions were simple and I understood that butter was a major ingredient which is always a good idea, so I decided to go with it.
It’s been a while since I made one of my grandmother’s recipes so I thought I’d trot out one of her fancier ones: lobster!
I don’t want to say that I hate eggplant, but I would really rather not eat it. So it was to my dismay when I saw how many recipes in my grandmother’s notebook called for eggplant. The vegetable has a beautiful color and a funny shape, so that is two things going for it. But the taste is not something I would call an asset for that vegetable.
But this post shouldn’t be about how much I hate – sorry, strongly dislike – eggplant. This post should be about how much this dish tasted like home. Many Haitian recipes call for some combination of evaporated milk, cheese, mustard, tomato paste, garlic, onion, salt and pepper. I grew up with those flavors. Now when I eat something with only two or three seasonings or herbs, the taste feels empty. With this recipe for aubergine a la creme (eggplant in a cream sauce), each bite was a burst of various flavors that blended so smoothly together. Dare I say, the strong taste of sauce maybe even helped mask the taste of the eggplant?
We had a weekend full of guests so I thought it would be a good time to try one of my grandmother’s dessert recipes. She wrote down a recipe called Gâteau à la Livre, but I think she meant Gâteau de Livre, which translates to pound cake. I don’t know if what she wrote down is the same as traditional American pound cake (I’m too lazy to check), but it tasted very similar.