Caribbean · Comfort Food · Pasta · Pies · Side Dishes · Vegetarian

Mac’n’Cheese Pie

Now, here is a family favourite that never gets old! It is meant to be eaten as a side dish with your meat and hard food, but in this house it is just as often eaten as a main course with a nice salad on the side.

It does take a bit of time to prepare and cook the Mac’n’Cheese Pie, but 45 minutes of the total time is the baking of the dish in the oven. And to be fair, everything can be prepared in advance so that all you need is to bake it off when it’s time to eat. Alternatively, you can pre-bake it and just heat it up before serving. Best of all – you can even make a big batch and put a few portions in the freezer for quick lunches or a day when there’s just no time to cook.

Please note, this recipe is listed as vegetarian, but it does have dairy products and eggs in it. If this is a no go for you, skip the eggs and substitute the dairy with dairy free alternatives.

This recipe makes 8 portions of Mac’n’Cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1 litre (10dl) dried short cut macaroni
  • 6 tbsp butter, plus a little extra for greasing
  • 6 tbsp white flour
  • 1 litre (10dl)  milk
  • 2 dl cream
  • 1 tbsp mild mustard
  • (1 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
  • 5+7dl cheese, grated
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 dl scallions (or onion), finely chopped
  • 1 dl peas (optional)
  • 1 dl chopped plum tomatoes (canned or fresh)
  • 2 dl sliced yellow and/or red peppers
  • 2 dl sweet corn
  • salt
  • pepper
  • seasoning of your choice
  • (fresh parsley, chopped (to garnish)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Boil the macaroni for 8 minutes in lightly salted water (it should be al dente but not crunchy inside) Rinse under cold water and drain.
  3. Melt 4 tbsp butter in a pan and stir in the flour. Add the cream and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring vigorously. Then gradually add the milk and keep whisking until the sauce boils and thickens.
  4. Stir in mustard, (cinnamon), salt and pepper to taste, and half the cheese, then remove from the heat. Keep stirring until the cheese has melted, then add the beaten eggs and fold them into the mixture until you have a smooth, well mixed thick sauce. Pour the sauce over the macaroni and fold together.
  5. Melt 2 tbsp butter in the frying pan and cook the vegetables on low to medium heat for 5-10 minutes. If you are using peas, add them after the rest of the veg have been cooked, then season the mixed veg to taste with salt, pepper and your favourite seasoning.
  6. Pour half of the mac’n’cheese into a greased ovenproof dish. Spread the veggie mix evenly over the base layer, and top with second layer of the remaining mac’n’cheese.
  7. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese all over the top layer and bake in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the top is golden and bubbling.
  8. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley before serving (optional)

Serve as a side dish with your Sunday roast, or as a vegetarian main course with a seasonal salad.

Baking · Comfort Food · Desserts & Puddings · Swedish

Kladdkaka or Swedish Sticky Chocolate Cake

This cake is so easy to make that even the kids can be allowed to have a go. It was my birthday yesterday and my youngest daughter who we don’t normally let loose in the kitchen made this for our evening coffee. Simply divine!

Kladdkaka, a sticky chocolate cake, is a traditional Swedish fika (our word for the daily coffee/tea breaks we enjoy and love to share with friends and family) favourite. Almost impossible to ruin (unless you leave it in the oven for too long) and very quick and easy to make. It doesn’t even take very long to clean up after.

The cake is delicious served warm with ice cream, whipped (or even clotted) cream, but can also be served cold just as it is. When you have surprise visitors popping in, you can pop a cake in the oven and be ready to serve it just over half an hour later. How cool is that! =)

Ingredients:

  • 100 g butter
  • 2 1/2 dl (1 UK cup) caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 dl (0.6 UK cup) plain flour
  • 3 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar
  • icing sugar to decorate

Directions:

  1. Turn the oven on at 175° Celcius (350 F/gas mark 4).
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan.
  3. Take the saucepan off the hob and stir in the sugar and the eggs.
  4. Add all other ingredients (apart from the icing sugar) and mix to a nice smooth “gooey” consistency.
  5. Pour the mixture into a breaded or papered oven tray.
  6. Bake in the middle of the oven for approximately 20 minutes

You should end up with a fairly low cake that has a slightly crispy crust and a sticky inside. Once it has cooled down a little you can sprinkle some icing sugar over it and serve with cream, ice cream and/or berries and/or fruit. Or whatever else you might like to serve with a chocolatey sticky cake, really. I promise it’ll be a hit! =)

Caribbean · Chicken · Comfort Food · Slow Cooking

Scandiribbean Stew Chicken

Everybody in this house agrees that stews are fabulous food, but we have very different ideas of what makes a stew. I love beans and lentils, the kids want potatoes, carrots and stuff, and John is not convinced that either “peas” or root veggies are the bees knees. The kids don’t want meat on the bone, whereas John and I prefer it that way. I’m telling you, Scandiribbean fusion food can be a very tricky cuisine to master to everyone’s liking.

Yesterday, I made a version of stew chicken that combined Swedish style with West Indian taste. The good thing about this one is that everybody gets something they like. As usual, I cooked for a battalion and without any real measurements, but here’s a rough guide:

Ingredients:

  • 4 onions
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 baking potatoes, or 8 “normal” ones
  • 1 swede (the vegetable!)
  • 4 turnips
  • tomato puree
  • 12 tomatoes (or 2 tins of tomatoes)
  • 1 scotch bonnet (or other chillies or pepper sauce)
  • fresh ginger
  • bay leaves
  • lemon juice
  • soy sauce
  • maggi sauce
  • 1 pint of guinness
  • 1,5 litre chicken stock
  • salt & black pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • molasses or brown sugar
  • raw chicken on the bone cut in small pieces
  • meat of a cooked boiler hen (optional)

Directions:

  1. Season the raw chicken in a mix of soy sauce, maggi seasoning, lemon juice and salt/pepper/chilli for a day (shorter if you must)
  2. Chop the oinions and the garlic
  3. Peel the ginger and cut in a couple of big bits (so it’s easy to spot them and take them out later)
  4. Peel and chop all veggies into large cubes
  5. Heat up olive oil and molasses or brown sugar and stir until the sugar has melted.
  6. Add the chicken and stir vigorously until it has a nice brown colour
  7. In a Dutch put or slow cooker or big stew pot, heat up olive oil and add onions, garlic and scotch bonnet (or pepper sauce). Go gentle on the chilli – this dish is not meant to be hot it should just have a gentle warmth to it.
  8. When the onion is soft, add all the vegetables, the ginger, chicken stock, guinness, tomatoes and tomato puree and bring to the boil.
  9. Turn the heat down until you have a nice simmer, and add the chicken bits.
  10. Allow to simmer for about 40 minutes (if it looks to “watery” take the lid off and allow it to reduce for another 20 while you cook the rice)
  11. To please people who are scared of meat on the bone, you can now either add precooked meat to the stew, or fish some of the stew (without the bone chicken bits) out to another pot together with the boneless chicken.
  12. Check the taste and add salt/pepper/chilli/lemon juice/chicken stock/tomato puree/guinness or whatever you feel you’d like some more of. Ideally, the taste should be slightly different each time you make a stew. Chopped cilantro and /0r a few sprigs of thyme is nice.

Serve with rice, rice & peas, some fresh bread, with a salad or eat just as it is. Any way that works for you is good! =)

You can put the stew in the freezer and save it for a rainy day, or one of those when you don’t feel like cooking but still want a nice home cooked meal.

Bon appetit!

Comfort Food · Food for a Fiver · Soup

West Indian Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin soup, I must admit, is not exactly one of them dishes that are especially photogenique. But if you are looking for a warming, comfort food type, meal with a lovely velvety texture and a rich taste with a little retrospective sting to it, you’ve got to try this.

Ingredients:

  • 2 onions
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 carrots
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 1 scotch bonnet (use pepper sauce or other chillies if you can’t find scotch bonnets)
  • 1 calabaza or butternut squash
  • 2 large baking potatoes or sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 a cup cilantro or parsley
  • 4 bay leaves
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme or 2 tspn dried thyme leaves
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil
  • chicken or chicken feet (optional)

Directions:

  1. Chop up all the vegetables in large cubes
  2. Finely chop the scotch bonnet and the herbs (but not the bay leaves and the thyme sprigs)
  3. Heat the oil in a Dutch pot or a big soup pot.
  4. Add the onions, garlic and scotch bonnet and stir until the onion is soft
  5. Add the rest of the vegetables, the herbs, the bay leaves and thyme sprigs together with the chicken stock.
  6. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
  7. Allow to simmer for about half an hour until all vegetables are soft.
  8. Remove bay leaves and thyme twigs
  9. Puree the soup in a blender or food processor. (I like the hand held ones you can use in the pot as it saves you doing a lot of extra washing up…)
  10. Serve with fresh bread and enjoy! =)

Personally, I like to have chicken in this soup, whereas the Man wants chicken feet in it. None of them is necessary, but add to the taste. When you make the broth, or stock if you like, (because let’s face it – the cubed versions are nowhere near as nice as the home made stuff) you can use a boiler hen and add chicken feet at the end (last half hour or so) of the boiling process and save the meat and the feet to add to the soup after it has been pureed.

I would also like to add that I like to add some maggi seasoning and a bit of guinness to my soup, but again both are optional. Some people also like to add some cream or to put a dollop of sour cream on top of the soup.

The soup can be kept in the freezer, but you will need to add some extra water when you heat it. It won’t have the same velvety texture, but it will still have the same lovely taste.

Baking · Comfort Food · Desserts & Puddings · Sweets

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Fudge_Cake

This is an absolutely gorgeous chocolate fudge cake for one of those days when you just neeeeeed a choccie overload… =) Chocolate sponge sandwiched with chocolate and topped with even more chocolate! Yum scrumm for all us chocoholics out there…

Ingredients:

  • 100g spreadable butter
  • 250ml milk
  • 1 tbsp red vinegar
  • 100g plain chocolate, melted
  • 15g cocoa powder
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate soda
  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • Icing: 225g plain chocolate, 100g butter and 142ml carton double cream

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C
  2. Grease a round deep cake tin and line with baking paper
  3. Mix milk and vinegar
  4. Place all other cake ingredients in a large mixing bowl
  5. Pour in the milk mixture and whisk until smooth
  6. Spread into the baking tin and bake for an hour until firm in the centre
  7. Cool for 10mins, then turn out on a rack to cool completely
  8. Meanwhile, make the icing by melting the chocolate and butter together in the microwave for 3 minutes on medium heat, stirring after 90s. Stir until smooth then beat in the cream. Cool slightly.
  9. Halve the cake through the middle and spread half of the icing on the bottom half and sandwich together.
  10. Spread the rest of the icing over the top and sides of the cake
  11. If you want to, you can sift a little icing sugar over the cake and decorate with strawberries or something.
Caribbean · Comfort Food · Drinks

St Lucian Cocoa Tea

hot-chocolate

In the West Indies it seems any hot drink can pass for tea. Coffee tea, cocoa tea… John even calls mulled wine “wine tea” which I find hilarious! =)

Anyway, here’s a lush cocoa tea that has corn starch in it making it thicker than normal chocolate, but if you don’t like it thick you can leave it out.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup grated local cocoa stick (or 1/4 cup cocoa powder)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup cream or milk
  • Sugar to sweeten
  • Vanilla
  • Bay leaf
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • (1 Tablespoon cornstarch)

Directions:

  1. Put water to boil with cinnamon and bay leaf. Boil for about 15 mins.
  2. Grate cocoa stick and add to the boiling water; boil for another 10 mins.
  3. Add cream (or milk).
  4. Sweeten to taste.
  5. (Mix the cornstarch with water and add slowly to the boiling mixture, stirring all the time.)
  6. Add vanilla.
  7. Strain and serve.
  8. Add whipped cream and flaked chocolate to make it extra yummy.
Baking · Comfort Food · Swedish · Sweets

Negerbollar, or Swedish Chocolate Balls

chokladboll_stor1 These little balls have been my favourite sweet treat for as long as I can remember. We always used to call them negerbollar (negroe balls) which, admittedly, was not a very politically correct term. I just read in a paper the other day that the word has now been taken out of the Swedish Academy’s Dictionary and the balls are now to be called chocolate balls.

Ingredients:

  • 100 g butter
  • 3 dl oats
  • 1 1/2 dl caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tbsp strong coffee
  • dessicated coconut

Directions:

  1. Leave the butter out to get room temperature (or micro wave it a little)
  2. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl
  3. Roll into little balls
  4. Rolls the balls in the coconut to give them a nice coating
  5. Keep cold and serve with coffee or eat them just the way they are

Enjoy!