Thanks to Seville for the following recipe. I am in a really bad mood today. Any talk of my mom's amazing cooking will probably send me over the edge so I'll have to write it another time. I should send this recipe to my parents, they have fig/banana trees in their yard.
Let me be forward and offer a recipe I lifted from a Trinidadian newspaper, to start your Caribbean collection. This one is for pastelles. Don't know if your mother made these, but maybe you'll try them. (If you cannot get fig (banana) leaves in LA, I think you can steam these in parchment paper).
Get your fig leaves before, clean and soften them and keep them in the refrigerator until you need them. Buy your filling ingredients and make your filling a day ahead and refrigerate it. On the big day all you need to do is prepare your cornmeal, fill and wrap.
To prepare fig leaves, steam them in a large pot of boiling water for ten minutes until they become pliable and soft. They may also be softened by waving them over an open flame.
Cornmeal dough and pastelle assembly
2 cups yellow cornmeal
3 cups warm water
1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 tsp salt
- In a food processor or by hand, combine cornmeal with butter and salt.
- Add water and process to make a soft, pliable dough.
- Divide the dough into 12 balls. Cover with a damp cloth to prevent drying.
- Place one piece of dough on a greased fig leaf and press into an eight-inch square. Spoon two tablespoons of filling onto the middle of the dough and fold and seal pastelles.
- Wrap in fig leaf and tie into a neat package.
- Steam pastelles for 45 minutes until cooked.
- Makes 12-15 pastelles.
Chicken and beef pastelles
1 lb chopped beef and chicken, chicken only, or beef only
2 onions, finely chopped
2 tbs olive oil
1 cup chopped chives
1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme
2 pimento peppers, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbs chopped celery
1/2 Congo pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup tomato sauce
4 tbs capers
3 tbs stuffed olives, sliced
1/4 cup raisins
2 tbs fresh thyme
- Combine beef with chicken. Add salt and black pepper.
- Add a quarter-cup chopped chives and one tablespoon thyme.
- In a large sauté pan heat olive oil.
- Add onion and garlic. Sauté until fragrant. Add pimento peppers, remaining chive, pepper and thyme. Add meat and cook until brown.
- Add tomato sauce, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Add raisins, capers and olives and stir to combine.
- Cook for about five minutes more. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Add two tablespoons fresh thyme and stir to combine.
- Remove from heat and cool.
- Prepare dough as in recipe above and fill and fold pastelles as indicated.
- Makes 12-15 pastelles.