Rebecca Shetler Fast

Haitian Spiced Hot Chocolate with Coconut, Chokola Ayisyen

Chokola Ayisyen, Haitian Spiced Hot Chocolate with Coconut is a spicy, thick, and comforting drink. In Haiti, Chokola Ayisyen is both served for breakfast, and also as a sweet, liquid reassurance during troubling times. In this season of post-Hurricane hardship for many in Haiti, we make and share Chokola Ayisyen in warm solidarity with our Haitian sisters and brothers.  Join us.

Rebecca Shetler Fast
Haitian Spiced Hot Chocolate with Coconut, Chokola Ayisyen

Lemon & Parmesan Scrambled Eggs

Despite living in the city, our small courtyard here is full of life. We have mango, coconut, key lime, sour orange, moringa, and papaya trees, a small herb garden with lemon grass, chives, and basil, and maybe, most importantly, two chickens. For me, having a daily source of beautiful backyard eggs is hard to beat. Since Madeline is an early riser, she and I often go out just as the dawn is breaking and collect fresh eggs for breakfast. Madeline knows what comes next and will crawl excitedly across the kitchen floor to her high-chair and stand babbling waiting for her breakfast to be ready (often two scrambled eggs and fresh fruit). These Lemon and Parmesan Scrambled eggs are quick and easy to make and packed with flavor. The generous parmesan adds richness and umami, while the lemon brightens up the dish and gives it a light tropical spin.

Lemon & Parmesan Scrambled Eggs
Rebecca Shetler Fast

Black Fudge Pudding Cake

It has been a busy month for us here in The Hungry Hounds household, and Paul and I have been out of the kitchen more than in it these past weeks. While Paul is traveling in Haiti working to develop our Hurricane response projects, I am working remotely from North America. In the meantime, little Madeline is happily catching up on lost playtime with her family. We are reposting our recipe for Black Fudge Pudding Cake today, to send you into the Christmas season well armed with a fabulous and easy dessert that is both cake and pudding in one. Somewhere between a fudge brownie and a custard, there is not much to improve in this sumptuous chocolate dessert. If you are a hot fudge pudding cake novice, it is an easy, quick, and guest-impressing dessert that assembles like a science project.

Rebecca Shetler Fast
Black Fudge Pudding Cake

Paul's Honey Oat Bread

It is election weekend here in Haiti, which means comfort food is definitely in order. While elections anywhere can cause unease, unrest, and extreme emotions, in a country with few peaceful democratic precedents, a mood of wary watchfulness prevails. Back from travels and faced with an empty cupboard and blaring radio, I opted for one of my favorite comfort foods -- fresh baked Honey Oat Bread. This bread is easy to make, and the results are sublime. If you haven't made bread before, this a great place to start. Honey Oat Bread is fantastic as a sandwich base, as french toast, made into bread pudding, dolloped with fresh guava jam, or my personal favorite, smothered with honey and butter.

Paul's Honey Oat Bread

Gratitude

One year ago this Thanksgiving, I had never stepped foot in Haiti or walked its mountains. I had never believed such a small place could be so beautiful. I had never seen houses flattened by a storm, or seen a place I love put forward as a definition of hopelessness. Never imagined we would be so welcomed. Never been so impressed by resilience and hope in the face of long odds.

A year ago, I had never been a father. I had never felt my daughter’s heavy head resting on my chest as she slept, or lain awake on restless nights just to watch her breathe. Never smiled so hard, or wished so deeply, or held so tightly. Never believed so passionately in potential.

Some say you are only truly grateful for something when it is gone. Today, I am trying to be grateful for the things that lie ahead as much as for what lies behind. Grateful for the might and maybe and hopefully, not just the had and did and was. Grateful for possibility and the opportunity to try. Aware that a year ago I could not have known the things I am most grateful for today.

I am grateful for tomorrow, and for hope that maybe, just maybe, by the grace of God we can make it better than today.

Gratitude

Easy Guava Jam Bars

November means fall back home; the smell of mulled cider, pumpkin picking, and trick-or-treating. Feeling nostalgic for the tastes and colors of fall, while sweating in the 90s here in Haiti, we created a Caribbean-fall dessert, Easy Guava Jam Bars. These easy to make, and addictive bars combine the warm spices of cinnamon and allspice with the tropical sweetness of fresh guava jam. It is a stunning match of tart bright guava enveloped in a warmly spiced buttery crumble.

Easy Guava Jam Bars

Chewy Coconut Honey Granola

Madeline's grandparents from Indiana arrived for a visit this week. It was lovely support to have in the midst of our coordination and response to Hurricane Mathew. With grandparents here to watch Madeline in the early morning hours, we made a big batch of Chewy Coconut Honey Granola to feed the early risers. This Chewy Coconut Honey Granola is our favorite here in Haiti. It is dead simple to make, and a fantastic balance between sweet and salty with a satisfying chew.

Chewy Coconut Honey Granola

Haitian Squash Soup, Soup Joumou

Dieujuste Saint-Surain stands in his field in Senk-Pòt, Haiti, holding up two freshly harvested joumou (Haitian Creole for calabaza squash).  “To me, joumou means life, it means independence and it means the dignity of feeding my family with the food I grow,” says Saint-Surain. 

Following a long-fought independence from colonialism and slavery, Haitians developed a unique tradition of hospitality, celebration, and generosity centered around a simple meal: soup joumou. This well-loved Haitian dish is a hearty squash soup with meat and local vegetables. Soup joumou is shared widely with friends and neighbors on Haitian Independence Day, for Sunday breakfast, and at community celebrations. 

As Haitians take stock of the devastation of Hurricane Mathew, the spicy complexity and heritage of Soup Joumou is a reminder of a strong people, and a proud history of incredible resilience and independence in the face of daunting odds. 

Haitian Squash Soup, Soup Joumou

3 Families After Hurricane Matthew

High in the mountains above the Artibonite river, we pass through villages and clusters of houses that do not appear on maps, past destroyed houses that will never make it into official calculations of the damage fromHurricane Matthew in Haiti. We are miles from the nearest paved road, many hours from the nearest medical clinic, and nearly a full day's walk to the market where people normally sell their produce to purchase necessities like medicine, oil, and clothing. When I asked the local government official with us, why his region showed zero damage on the latest UN maps, he grew angry, "How would they even know? No one has come up to look. No one has even asked." Working with the local governments, community organizations, and a likeminded NGO, we are bringing the first relief supplies to people whose homes and livelihoods were destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in this area. Within 72 hours of the rains stopping, all our prepositioned aid (water treatment supplies, blankets, food, and hygiene kits) have been distributed to people in need. This is only the beginning for these families on the long path to rebuilding their lives and their communities.

If you've been watching the news on Haiti, you know of the devastation that Hurricane Matthew has wrought; the rapidly rising death toll, the destroyed homes and livelihoods, the statistics of suffering on a massive scale. But for us, and for our organization MCC, the story both begins and ends with the resilience and perseverance of the people and communities we serve. These are human stories better told through pictures of people, pictures of dignity and strength in the face of loss.

Here are the stories of three families after the storm.

3 Families After Hurricane Matthew

Prayer For Haiti

Hurricane Matthew, a category 4 storm, is on course to hit Haiti in the next 24 hours. The rain and wind has already begun.

We pray tonight for Haiti. We pray for the those without a safe place to sleep, without a place to brace against the coming storm. We pray for those with leaky roofs and mud walls, those still under tents and tarps and cardboard. We pray for those who fear their only belongings may be washed away. We pray for those who are sick and cannot travel to seek care. We pray for those who were hungry before this storm, and those who will see their crops washed away. We pray for compassion and helping hands. We pray for pastors opening up their churches to provide refuge from the storm. We pray for friends and neighbors helping people get to safety if they can. We pray for our staff and their families, for our partners and the communities we serve.

We pray for Haiti. 

Prayer For Haiti

Fresh Guava Jam

Hurricane Matthew is churning through the southern Caribbean this weekend, and we can already feel the winds picking up and the temperature falling here in Port-au-Prince. Currently, it looks like the eye-of-the-storm is likely to pass just off the southwestern tip of Haiti, but the damage may be significant. People are bracing for the storm; battening down the hatches and stocking up the larders as they are able. Keep Haiti in your prayers. 

One of the new additions to our pantry stock, in addition to some pickled red onions and granola, is Fresh Guava Jam, courtesy of jam making with our staff this week. Rather than traditional Cuban-style guava jam, which relies on long cooking to create a darker caramelized flavor, our Fresh Guava Jam has a bright fresh fruit flavor. It is not too sweet and has a tart bite from fresh squeezed key limes, which balance the warm tropical sweetness of the aromatic guavas.

Fresh Guava Jam

Venezuelan Arepas with Recado & Lime Chicken

If you've never tried an arepa before, you have been missing out. Arepas are to South America, what tortillas are to Central America and Mexico; a simple, easy to make, and yet ridiculously delicious corn-based staple and platform for creativity. These arepas are in a more Venezuelan style, a little more rounded and thick, and cooked primarily on the stove-top. This week we have been topping our arepas with Recado and Lime Braised Chicken, fresh avocado slices, and our Mexican Quick Pickled Red Onions. These arepas are also great with Paul's Yucatán Citrus Pulled Pork

Venezuelan Arepas with Recado & Lime Chicken

Recado and Lime Braised Chicken

Recado and Lime Braised Chicken is an easy, vibrant, deep, and tangy chicken dish that we love to make and serve to guests. This week we have been eating it on Venezuelan arepas with pickled red onions, avocado and a fried egg, last week we made our version of a pulled chicken sandwich on Paul's homemade bread with a creamy sauce. This dish is Paul's creation and takes his stunning version of Mexican colorado recado paste, and makes it into a rich braising liquid that allows the pungent recado flavors. Recado and Lime Braised Chicken is easy to make, and is a versatile an endlessly flexible dish, on tacos, over rice, with potatoes, or in sandwiches. 

Recado and Lime Braised Chicken

Mayan Red Spice Paste, Recado Colorado

complex base, potent marinade, or vibrant accent flavor. Mayan Red Spice Paste, Recado Colorado, is popular, both for its beautiful vibrant red hue, and warm tangy flavor. Rich in color, and fall flavors, our non-traditional take on Recado Colorado streamlines the preparation process. Recado Colorado is excellent for making red rice, a great base for barbecue sauces, a go-to rub for meats, on burgers, and a potent flavor boost for chilis and other soups. Stay tuned for two fantastic recipes using our Mayan Red Spice Paste coming up in the weeks ahead.

You may have noticed that we have a fondness for spice pastes here at The Hungry Hounds. If you too have caught the flavor paste obsession, check out our two other potent pastes: Smokey Mexican Chile Paste, Chilmole, and Garlic Ancho Chile Paste

Mayan Red Spice Paste, Recado Colorado

Simple Fresh Tomato Sauce

Here in Haiti, we are entering hurricane season, which often brings fronts of cool air and cloudy weather (just enough to trigger memories of cozy fall days further north). Back home, in Pittsburgh, the first tastes of fall are just around the corner. The summer's bounty of fresh veggies is still going strong, but the hint of cooler weather here has gotten us thinking about warm and satisfying comfort foods. This Simple Fresh Tomato Sauce is perfect for this in-between season: a fool-proof sauce packed with the bright fresh flavors of summer tomatoes, but warm, buttery, and comforting at the same time. This is hands down my favorite tomato sauce. Whether you're looking for a quick and easy, kid-friendly tomato sauce for pasta, or a rich and simple sauce that lets your summer tomatoes shine, this is the sauce for you.

Simple Fresh Tomato Sauce

Madeline's First Tastes

It is a muggy August evening here in Port-au-Prince. The fan is fighting a losing battle to keep us cool as we wash dishes together at the sink. Madeline’s bedroom door is open, and we hear her quiet hiccups as she sleeps. It is hard to believe that this time last year we were cooking in our Pittsburgh kitchen, planning our baby’s birth in a country we had never before visited. Madeline will be 7 months old next week, and each day her little personality gets bigger. She is a warm and pensive little baby, who adores her sleep. Madeline has figured out that the world is best when put in her mouth, and this week mastered crawling. This month has also marked Madeline’s introduction to solid food, and our excited creation of her first tiny meals. Her hands down favorite flavor combination is beet watermelon puree, with Paul’s Massaman curry a close second. Her least favorite; her papa’s attempt at a spicy potato leek soup. As people who love to cook, it has been thrilling to see Madeline’s world expand with every taste. Dorky new parents that we are, we both sit with rapt attention for each new bite: there’s a squint of her eyes, a slight cock of the head, and a furloughed brow, her tongue slowly rolling the new flavor around her mouth…and the moment of decision: food, or not-food. Luckily for us, Madeline has all but once given our weird concoctions the benefit of the doubt. To the joy of first tastes.

Madeline's First Tastes

Avocado Cucumber Salad With Yogurt Lime Sauce

On my way home from work yesterday, I passed a market woman, machann, with a pile of large green skinned avocados spread out in front of her. My bag of ripe avocados in hand, I mulled over dinner the rest of the way home. Later that night, Paul and I munched on a buttery and crisp Avocado Cucumber Salad with Yogurt Lime Sauce under our mango tree as we waited for cooler evening breezes to arrive. 

Avocado Cucumber Salad With Yogurt Lime Sauce

Watermelon Limeade

Last week we decided to get out of the hustle of Port-au-Prince. We leave the city through congested streets and drive up Route National 1, up the Cote des Arcadins. We are in search of two things, salty ocean breezes and beautiful watermelons. Watermelons, by virtue of their size and water requirements, are expensive and hard to come by in the capital, but along the coast, and especially around the small town of Luly, there are mounds of them piled high on roadside stands. We pull over and I ask for one watermelon, "youn melon dlo." And with thoughts of watermelon recipes dancing through my head, I can't help but ask for two more. Incredulous, the farmer asks me if I am sure I really want three watermelons? "Yes," I say. "Well then you must have a very big family who loves watermelons," he laughs. At home this week our small watermelon loving family of two-and-a-half polished off watermelon saladspies, and one of our new favorites, a Watermelon Limeade. With a spike of tartness from key limes, this is a great thirst quencher in these hot August days.

Watermelon Limeade

Spicy Plantain Chips... and 8 Years Of Marriage!

There are earnest life plans behind the expressions of joy in this picture. Plans for lives and careers dedicated to making change and helping people. We have chosen a life living out these dreams, driven by our shared passion for service, a sense of calling, belief in the inherent goodness of people, and the possibility of changing both people and systems. I remember taking a personality inventory in our early dating years, the results, we were both idealists. At the time, this seemed like something we would grow out of. But over 8 years later, we still find the greatest fulfillment embracing our idealism together.

This week, as we marked 8 years of marriage and 11 years of cooking together, we celebrated with food. For occasions like this, we often find ourselves drawn to simple tasty meals that we can make together and snack on throughout the evening. Spicy plantain chips and guac are a regular snack in our house, that is more about eating together than elaborate preparations and complicated techniques.

Spicy Plantain Chips... and 8 Years Of Marriage!

Cashews: Journey to the Table

As people who love to cook, it's easy to focus on food's transformation in the kitchen. But living in Haiti, and working alongside farmers, reminds us that the vast majority of the risk, effort, and artistry that goes into food's journey happens long before it reaches us in the kitchen. Take cashews, a nut I've always found delicious. You can find a thousand recipes for what to 'do' with cashews in the kitchen, in fact we have a few on our blog, but today I want to focus instead on their journey to the kitchen -- from fragile seedlings in mountain-top nurseries, to the freshly roasted cashew nuts for sale in market stalls.   

Cashews: Journey to the Table

Quick Thai Curry Drumsticks

Rebecca and I are coming up on 8 years of marriage. Crazy, I know. This week's sweltering and humid weather here in Haiti had me thinking back to our engagement in Thailand. In particular, I was remembering one late evening walk through a night market in Bangkok, snacking on delicious street foods as we talked about what a life together would look like. One stand was serving grilled chicken in an addictive, slightly sweet peanut curry sauce. Maybe it was just the romance of the moment, but that flavor combo has stuck with us, and it's one we find ourselves coming back to in the heat of summer. These Quick Thai Curry Drumsticks are simple, quick, and perfect for a hot summer evening. 

Quick Thai Curry Drumsticks

Gourmet Hotdogs 3 Ways

Moving to Haiti, there were foods that we were expecting to forgo. Take dairy and berries, both are mainly imported, elusive, and outrageously expensive; makes sense. On the flip-side, some surprising things have been easy to find. Like hotdogs; they are everywhere. Hotdogs are tucked into pikliz stuffed breakfast pastries, fried on the street, and cooked into Haitian style gratin. Hotdogs were were even served to me at the maternity clinic, a few hours after giving birth to Madeline. In the spirit of hotdog season, we're sharing some of our top 3 Gourmet Hotdogs; where the standard ketchup, mustard, and relish are replaced by toppings inspired by our favorite sandwich combinations: the ReubenCubano and Bánh Mì.

Gourmet Hotdogs 3 Ways