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) ┬ámilk
  • 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.

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Caribbean · Desserts & Puddings · Side Dishes · Vegetarian

Perfect Plantains

Here’s a recipe for sweet(ish) plantains that can be eaten as a side when you have a BBQ or as a pudding with ice cream or something. The recipe is from one of the cooking programmes on BBC.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe plantains – the skin must be black
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp demerara sugar
  • 8 tbsp freshloy sqeezed orange juice
  • salt & pepper to taste (optional)

Directions:

  1. Peel the plantains and cut them crossways into 2.5 cm thick slices.
  2. Lay each plantain on a large sheet of foil keeping the slices together so it still looks like a whole plantain.
  3. Smear each plantain with butter – or just put little bits on top of them if the butter is hard – and sprinkle them with sugar.
  4. Shape the foil into a little boat around each plantain.
  5. Pour orange juice over the plantains
  6. If eaten with meat, you might want to grind some salt and pepper over them as well.
  7. Wrap the foil so that the plantains are completely enclosed inside. This can be done up to 24hrs before they’re to be cooked!
  8. Put foil parcels on the BBQ rack or in the oven and cook for about 30mins until the plantains are soft.
Baking · Bread · Caribbean · Side Dishes · Vegetarian

Bammies or Bammy Bread

The first time I was introduced to Bammies, I got the name wrong and was wondering why on earth you’d name a bread after your bum. But then I realised in the West Indies it wouldn’t be called a bum if that’s what they were referring to. I’m still none the wiser as to why they’re called Bammies, but I do know this little cake is something you should try!

Made of cassava, these breads/cakes/fritters or whatever you’d like to call them are often served with fish, but you can have them with many types of meals or just as a snack. In Jamaica I hear they are common for breakfast.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg cassava
  • 1 tbsp salt (or to taste)
  • coconut milk

Directions:

  1. Grate the cassava and squeeze it dry (easiest if you put it in a cloth and wring all the fluid out)
  2. If you want to make them r-e-a-l-l-y fine, pound the grated cassava in a mortar or run it through a blender/food processor.
  3. Add salt
  4. Prepare each bammy by pressing one cup of the cassava mixture into a small, greased frying pan.
  5. Cook over moderate heat, turning when edges shrink from the sides of the pan (about 10 minutes per side).
  6. Soak bammies in coconut milk for 5-10 minutes.
  7. Fry until light brown.
Caribbean · Side Dishes · Vegetarian

Callaloo Rice

Callaloo is the spinach of the West Indies. I have not found fresh callaloo in the UK yet, although I saw that you could buy the seeds off eBay. When I get my own garden, methinks there will be a few stands of callaloo in there.

This is a side dish that goes well with most fish, seafood and chicken dishes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unprocessed white rice
  • 1 tin callaloo
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 lemon, sliced with the peel on
  • 1 large tomato, quartered

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients with 11 dl (just over a litre!) of water and bring to boil.
  2. Cover the pan and simmer gently until rice is done, ie approx 30-40mins

This can also be done with processed rice, but it won’t get the same taste as the ingredients won’t get as much time to set.

Comfort Food · Side Dishes · Vegetarian

Potato & Savoy Cabbage Mash

I know this doesn’t sound all that interesting, but mash is comfort food and there are days when you just gotta have it! However, sometimes it’s nice to add a little extra something to the mash…

Ingredients:

  • 1kg floury/dry/old potatoes
  • 1 savoy cabbage
  • butter
  • cream
  • milk
  • (1 egg)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Peel and chop the potatoes in quarters, and boil them in salted water until they are mashable (good word!) ie about 15 mins.
  2. Cut the savoy head in half, slice each half up like a loaf of bread, and boil for 3-5 mins in salted water.
  3. Drain the potatoes and chuck them back into the pan.
  4. Drain the cabbage and chuck it on top of the potatoes
  5. Add butter, cream and milk in measurements that works with your budget, diet and conscience. Some days we just need a bit of extra fat, innit…
  6. Optional: add a raw egg
  7. Mash it all together until you have a smooth mash.
  8. Add salt and (black) pepper to taste
  9. Serve with pork or (spicy) sausages and some Reggae Reggae Sauce
Caribbean · Side Dishes

Simple Rice & Peas

Rice & Peas is a very common and popular dish in the West Indies. The name is slightly misleading as it normally contains beans not peas. This is not just one dish as you will find many different versions of it, some even incorporating meat.

This recipe can be used as a basic guideline; choose the beans and herbs you think will work best with your main dish.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of rice
  • 1 tin of red (or mixed) beans (it’s cheaper and better to use dry ones that you let soak over night in water, but since I have a tendency to forget things like that I keep a stash of tins just in case…)
  • a few sprigs of thyme or rosemary
  • 50g creamed coconut
  • 1-4 cloves of garlic (ie to taste!)
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1qt water

Direction:

  1. Put all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to boil, then leave to simmer until rice is cooked.
  2. This can be done in a slowcooker as well, but I find it needs more water then. Just bring it all to boil, then pour into slow cooker and leave on low for about 4hrs.
Caribbean · Side Dishes · Vegetarian

Sweet Potatoe & Callaloo Pie

A pie that is lovely to eat as it is with a savoury sauce and a fresh salad, but it also works nicely as a side dish with meat, chicken and fish. This is a recipe you can make different versions of. Try to add mince meat and/or a few cloves of garlic and/or some single cream. Or make it with ordinary potatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 50g butter/margarine
  • 1 onion
  • 2 spring onion stalks
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1tsp fresh thyme
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1 tin of callaloo or spinach (or get it fresh if you can!)
  • 2kg sweet potato
  • 0,5tsp ground allspice
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180*
  2. Slice the sweet potato and chop all the other veggies
  3. Melt the butter in a skillet and saute the veggies (start with onions, then add the others in order of how long they need to be cooked) with the spices
  4. Place half of the sweet potato slices in a greased babking dish.
  5. Spread the sauted veggies over the potatoes
  6. Place the rest of the potatoe slices on top
  7. Sprinkle with allspice and cover with greaseproof paper
  8. Bake for about 45mins (make sure potatoes are thoroughly cooked

Serves 4-8 people depending on how hungry they are and whether you serve it as a side dish or a main course.