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.
As I mentioned previously, I’m translating my grandmother’s recipes, the ones she hand wrote one summer when she was visiting us from Haiti. I wanted to start off easy so I chose Poulet à la Crème, or chicken in a cream sauce. The recipe calls for cooking the chicken (or duck) in its own juices until tender and has a good yellow color. Put the chicken, piece by piece, in a buttered oven dish. Add a can of evaporated milk and a can of cream of mushroom soup. Mix them well and cover the chicken. Add grated cheese to lightly cover the chicken and then bake until the chicken is fully done.
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 all the recipes she had memorized in a notebook. Over the course of the summer, she wrote down in her script handwriting every recipe, from marinades to desserts, she could remember. I’ve thought for a while of making every recipe in the book as a way of connecting with my grandmother and of learning more about my Haitian culinary roots. Now that we have our own house, I thought it time to start the Kreyol Kitchen. In addition to documenting how we, as first time homeowners, are tackling making our house a home, I’ll document on this blog how I tackle these recipes, from the easy to the hard, and share those recipes with you. Stay tuned for deliciousness!