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.

Desserts & Puddings · Food for a Fiver · Fruit & Berries · Vegetarian

Fruity, Fresh Summer Granita

Granita is a simpler form of sorbet from Italy. Lovely for dessert or just as a snack  on a hot summer’s day.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg of watery fruits (eg. melon, currants, citus fruits etc)
  • 200-300 g caster sugar
  • 200 ml water

Directions:

  1. clean and peel the fruit, put into a blender and mix into a smooth paste
  2. pour the sugar and water into a pan on medium heat and stir until the sugar crystals have dissolved
  3. mix the cooled sugar syrup with the fruit paste and put into the freezer
  4. take out every 15 minutes and give it a good stir – repeat for about 2 hours until it’s got a crystalline texture
  5. Garnish with some fresh fruit or berries
Breakfast · Comfort Food · Eggs · Food for a Fiver · Vegetarian

Lush, Fluffy Pancakes

Pancakes are perfect comfort food and they are really simple and cheap (!) to make. These are the American style thicker pancakes and they’re yummie-scrummie-licious!

Ingredients:

  • 5dl flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1tsp salt
  • 0,5 dl caster sugar
  • 2,5 dl yoghurt (flavour optional)
  • 1,5 dl milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tbsp melted butter

Directions:

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl
  2. Separate the yolk from the whites and mix the yolks with yoghurt, milk and butter
  3. Mix in the dry ingredients
  4. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks
  5. Gently fold in half of the egg whites first (to make it easier for yourself) and then fold in the rest
  6. Turn on the cooker on medium high heat (mark 4) and add some butter to the skillet (make sure the pan is hot before you start frying your pancakes)
  7. Fry the pancakes for about 1 min on each side
  8. Top them with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, fresh berries, ice cream, jam or whatever tickles your tastebuds.
Swedish · Vegetarian

Mannagrynsgröt or Swedish Semolina Porridge

This is probably, next to risgrynsgröt, my kids’ all time favourite breakfast. And some days they want it for lunch or tea too!

Ingredients:

  • 2 dl milk
  • 2 tbsp semolina
  • a pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Pour the milk into a saucepan, add a pinch of salt, and bring to boil.
  2. Add the semolina and whisk properly for about 4-5mins whilst allowing the porridge to thicken and set.
  3. Serve with milk and sugar/cinnamon, apple sauce or whatever tickles your fancy.
Caribbean · Desserts & Puddings · Vegetarian

Mango Fool

This scrummy dessert is so easy to make I think it must have got its name cos you’d be a fool not to try it… lol

And this is how to do it…

Ingredients:

  • 350g ripe mango flesh
  • 300ml double cream
  • 0,5 tsp vanilla essence
  • 0,25tsp allspice
  • 3tbsp icing sugar
  • fresh sprigs of mint

Directions:

  1. Put mango chunks (but save just a little for garnish!) in a blender or liquidiser and blend.
  2. Whip together cream, allspice, vanilla essence and 2 tbsp icing sugar.
  3. Chill mango and cream separately for at least an hour.
  4. Just before serving fold the two together.
  5. Divide between four serving bowls or glasses.
  6. Sprinkle with remaing icing and garnish with mint and a few thin slices of mango
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.
Comfort Food · Desserts & Puddings · Eggs · Swedish · Vegetarian

Pannkakor or Swedish Pancakes

In Sweden it’s an old Thursday tradition to have yellow pea soup for tea and pancakes for pudding. Personally I find the pea soup to be one of the more disgusting dishes we have (and I do think we have quite a few we shouldn’t mention), but pancakes on Thursday is a tradition we’ve embraced in this house.

Pancakes are so versatile! They can be eaten hot or cold. They can be eaten the way they are with just some sugar, syrup, chocolate spread, ice cream, whipped cream, custard, jam, jelly, berries, fruit or whatever else you could think of putting on top of or inside them. They can be turned into cakes by making stacks of them with thin layers of yummy stuff in between. And they can be rolled up into crepes and filled with something sweet or something savoury.

Me man doesn’t like his food to be sweet. He claims food is supposed to be savoury and puddings are supposed to be sweet. (Sweet & Sour is not even in his vocabulary! lol) One good thing with pancakes is that they work so well in a compromise cuisine kitchen. You can make sweet and savoury ones. Served with bacon, or fried  with some chopped  bits of bacon in them. Or rolled into crepes and filled with minced meat, mushroom sauce, shrimp stew, chilli, chicken ragu etc. The options are endless.

The best thing about pancakes if you ask me is that you can make a huge batch and keep in the fridge for breakfast, lunch boxes or after school snacks. Or you can roll them up and freeze them. I always triple this recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 5dl milk
  • 4dl white flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 50g butter (optional)
  • 0,5 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Whisk milk, flour, eggs and salt together.
  2. Add 50g melted butter (not necessary but I find that using butter in the pancakes means you need very little fat to fry them) and whisk until well mixed.
  3. Fry pancakes in a hot skillet: Pour small amounts of mixture into skillet. When the top is dry – ie when all the mixture has gone solid – flip over and fry for up to a minute on other side.
  4. Or… Bake in oven: Pour mixture into a non-stick baking tray and bake in oven at 200* for about 20-30mins (until golden brown).