The Scotch Bonnet is the chile pepper of choice for much of the Caribbean's multiculturally influenced cuisine. And while its name implies a jaunty little red cap which you could sylishly wear when you want to look cool, its heat will, in fact, blow the top of your head off. Just ask Cynthia Nelson; she ought to know. As cook, writer, stylist, and photographer of her very popular blog, Tastes Like Home, Cynthia has the kind of multiple talents that are as hot as that Scotch Bonnet she knows so well.
A native of Guyana who now resides in Barbados, Cynthia specializes in the diversely delicious food of the Caribbean islands and north-most continental coastal countries of South America, punctuated by a distinctive nostalgia for the cooking of her early years.
With an extensive history in broadcasting (as a radio personality, anchorwoman, and producer) Cynthia currently teaches this media, while continuing to be the voice of several advertising campaigns.
Her love of communications and passion for food have evolved into several impressive writing positions in addition to her fine work on Tastes Like Home. Cynthia is featured every Saturday in the Stabroek News, as well as a contributing writer for The Christian Science Monitor, and a contributing writer for the Latin Caribbean Food section of About.com, where she specializes in West Indian foods. She also writes for Caribbean Belle; Canada's City - Style and Living Magazine; and "U Magazine" in Trinidad and Tobago. Awarded the Bronze Medal for her photography by Barbados' National International Festival of Creative Arts, Cynthia has also recently published her Tastes Like Home: My Caribbean Cookbook, a glorious tribute to the flavors of the regions she knows so well. They're all just more feathers in Cynthia's bonnet.
I am most delighted to feature Cynthia Nelson who shares her love of fresh black-eyed pea fritters as a guest blogger for My Legume Love Affair - Kicking Off Year 4.
The following writing, recipe, and photography are owned by Cynthia Nelson and protected by copyright. 2011. All Rights Reserved. All materials are presented here by permission and courtesy.
There are multiple parts of the Caribbean. There is the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, the Dutch-speaking Caribbean, the English-speaking Caribbean and the French-speaking Caribbean. The cuisine of the region is vast and diverse and the food is heavily influenced by the happenings of the colonial era. Too often when people (Caribbean people included) talk or refer to the Caribbean, we tend to speak exclusively of one part of the Caribbean, that is, the section to which we belong.
I am from the English-speaking Caribbean but as someone interested in the food culture and heritage of the region, my taste for Caribbean food extends beyond the borders of the English-speaking nations of the Caribbean. For this 37th helping of MLLA, I bring to you Accras from Haiti (French-speaking Caribbean).
Accras are fritters made of black-eyes peas and tannia, also known as malanga. Accras are very popular in Haiti and has its influence from West Africa.
Fresh Black-Eye Peas
One of the things I am fortunate to be able to get here, at the farmers market in Barbados, is fresh black-eye peas. Green, plump and begging to be cooked, I usually grab about 2 bags of these peas whenever they are available. Accras are traditionally made with rehydrated black eye peas or canned black-eye peas, so please do not feel that you cannot make this recipe if you cannot find fresh black-eye peas. Also, feel free to substitute the tannia/malanga with taro/eddo.
It is important to label these accras as Haitian accras because in other Caribbean countries like Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, there are also accras. While those accras are fritters too, they are made with a seasoned batter that contains salted codfish.
2 cups fresh black-eyed peas
½ cup water
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 green onions chopped, white and green parts
1/3 cup diced onions
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Minced hot pepper to taste
2 cups grated tannia/malanga or taro (1 ¼ lbs)
1 egg at room temperature, beaten
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
Oil for shallow frying
Add the following ingredients to a food processor and puree: black-eye peas, water, salt, green onions, onions, garlic, black pepper and hot pepper. Transfer to a large bowl.
Add tannia to pea-seasonings mixture. Mix in beaten egg.
Mix flour and baking powder together. Add to tannia-pea mixture and incorporate fully.
Heat oil in pan until very hot but not smoking.
Using a tablespoon, dip batter and add to pan. Do not over crowd. Fry until nicely browned and crisp. Be sure that one side is browned before turning over.
Drain on paper towels.
Serve with meal as a side dish or as a snack or appetizer.