By Abby De Four
The Christmas season is a time for family, giving and merriment.
Several traditions make this festive holiday memorabledecorating
the home, sewing curtains and polishing every piece of furniture
until it gleams are some of them. For some folks, the last-minute
rush of painting and shopping on Christmas Eve adds to the
High on the list of things that contribute to the celebratory
atmosphere is the preparation of traditional Christmas culinary
delights. Fruits that have been soaking in cherry brandy
for ages and the pastelle press that has been inactive for
11 months are called up for duty. Without a doubt, the prime
ingredient in a true T&T Christmas is the sumptuous
food we enjoy, often special to this time of year.
Jamellia Jeremiah, a student of the Hospitality and Tourism
Institute (TTHTI) gave WomanWise some tips for the preparation
of three popular Christmas items. The 22-year-old has a
diploma in culinary arts and is currently pursuing an associate
degree in culinary management.
Despite her youth, Jeremiah has mastered the tricks of the
trade through observing her mother and grandmother in the
kitchen as a child in her hometown of La Brea. Now she is
widely sought-after for her skill in the preparation of
traditional fruitcake, pastelle and ponche de creme.
Although she has been able to formalise her knowledge of
food preparation, she said it was the time spent in the
kitchen with her family that laid the foundation for her
Here are her tips for optimum Christmas specialities.
No need to despair if you have not been able to soak your
fruits this Christmas. Chop your prunes, raisins, almonds,
candied cherries and red cherries into small pieces. Mince
these chopped items in a blender with cherry brandy or rum.
Place the minced ingredients in a pot to simmer for 90 minutes.
The fruits are now ready for use in your cake mixture and
will have the same effect as fruits that have been soaked
Use fresh meat in pastelles, especially if using minced
Use warm water to mix cornmeal to ensure a smooth consistency.
Season cornmeal with salt and butter. Wrap pastelles with
fig leaves, not foil. The leaves add to the flavour of the
pastelle and are easier to handle than foil.
Ponche de creme
Ensure all utensils are thoroughly sterilised, as this drink
can be easily contaminated. Examine eggs for freshness individually
Flavour with spice, cinnamon, nutmeg and aromatic bitters.