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!
When I started this blog, I wanted it to reflect a journey. Half of that journey is of Daniel and I being first-time homeowners and making a house a home, which is reflected in the category Jersey House. The other half of that journey is the one I’m taking connecting with my Haitian roots and cooking my grandmother’s handwritten recipes. I first wrote about this journey under the category Kreyol Kitchen here. It certainly has been a journey, mostly full of mistakes, some frustration, and lots of tasty tasty tasty meals.
The holiday season and change from one year to another is often a time of reflection. It’s also a time of many a holiday dinner, party or potluck. So, on that note, I’ve reflected upon the recipes I’ve done so far (and there are many more to come!) and have rounded up my Top 5 here that would be great to cook, bake or make for your holiday festivities this year. Enjoy!
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.
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.
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!