Tag Archives: Jamaican

Jerk Roasted Squash with Fruit and Nut Rice Pilaf

21 Sep

I made some of this Jerk marinade/sauce to use up some of the hundreds of scotch bonnet chilli peppers I have at the moment. The plant/bush has actually flowered again and is now producing even more.

I also made another batch of my Scotch Bonnet Hot Pepper Sauce …..

The first thing I made with the jerk marinade was Jerk Baked Feta. I don’t have any pictures of it because I made it at night and we ate it all, sorry (not sorry really), but I will definitely do it again, it tasted amazing.

All you do is put the 200 gr block of Feta onto a large rectangle of foil, spoon over 3 or 4 tbsp of the jerk marinade and coat it well. Wrap up the feta in a foil packet and bake it for 10-15 minutes at 180 C. Unwrap your fragrant cheesy parcel and dive in with some  good pita or roti bread.

A customer at the restaurant, Norman, gave us a bag full of these beautiful squash. In my new guise as “Jerk Addict” I knew I was going to give it the jerk treatment. The sweet butteryness of the squash is enhanced by the spicy, zingy jerk marinade, they are made for each other, seriously.

I served this with a Fruit & Nut Rice Pilaf I found in my new Caribbean cookbook. Spice It Up by Levi Roots and drizzled it with some of my Scotch Bonnet Hot Pepper Sauce mixed with some Greek yoghurt to tone it down slightly.

Jerk Roasted Squash with Fruit & Nut Rice Pilaf

serves 3, vegan, gluten-free

For the jerk roasted squash:

  • 1 bunch/handful fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, then crushed
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns, then crushed
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 tsp allspice berries, then crushed
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 6 scotch bonnet chillies (mine are small) use 4 large deseeded
  • 2 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 2 limes, zest of 1, juice of 2
  • 140 ml olive oil
  • 1 medium squash

Put all the ingredients for the jerk marinade (not the squash) in a processor and blend to a smooth paste. Transfer to a sterilised jar and seal. Refrigerate until needed. This makes about 200 ml.

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Wash the squash and slice off  a little of the top and bottom. Leave the skin on. Slice the narrow end into 1-2cm discs (see picture above). Then cut the fatter end in half lengthways, scrape out the seeds and slice each half into 1-2 cm half moons.

Line 2 baking sheets with foil and place the squash circles on one tray and the half moons on the other. Drop about a teaspoon of the jerk marinade onto each disc and swirl it around to coat the top. Turn the disc over and do the same on the other side. Do the same with the half moons. Drizzle both sets of squash with a little olive oil and put both trays in the oven. The discs on the top shelf and the half moons on the middle shelf.

Cook for 30 -40 minutes depending on the thickness of your slices. The half moons will be ready before the discs. You want them to be really soft when you test them with a knife.

Serve hot or at room temperature with the Fruit & Nut Rice Pilaf.

For the Fruit & Nut Rice Pilaf:

Serves 3, vegan, gluten free. Adapted from Spice it Up by Levi Roots

  • 150 gr long grain rice, I used a wild rice mix
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 50 gr sultanas (or dried tropical fruit mix)
  • 25 gr almonds, roughly chopped
  • 350 ml veg stock
  • the juice of 1/2 lime or orange
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt & black pepper

Rinse the rice in a sieve until the water runs clear and leave to drain. Heat the olive oil in a large pan with a lid over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes until softened then add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring for another 2 minutes.

Next add the rice to the pan, stir to coat in the oil and spices then add the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil. Season well with salt & black pepper and boil hard for a minute. Then reduce the heat to very low and cover with a lid. Leave to cook for about 15 minutes until tender, try not to stir but make sure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Check seasoning and serve immediately garnished with some fresh thyme.

Serve the dish drizzled with some Scotch Bonnet Hot Pepper Sauce if you like it fiery. Or mix it with some greek yoghurt for a more manageable heat.

This jerk marinade is amazing. You can use it for chicken, fish or pork but try the foil baked feta and squash too. You may surprise even the most stubborn carnivores with this recipe.

I also used it as a salad dressing with some more olive oil and lime juice. I used some of the leftover roasted squash, chopped up with some chickpeas and mixed it into a salad with the jerk dressing and a splash of hot pepper sauce. Really good lunch dish..

Things That Made Me Smile Today……..

 The Eucalyptus trees are starting to shed their bark, covering the ground with cinnamon- like curls….

It reminds me of a programme I saw about the cinnamon producers in Sri Lanka. Strips of  bark from the cinnamon tree are layered together, one curl inside another and then it is expertly rolled into the cinnamon sticks we buy and use for cooking. Amazing to watch….

It is one of the few signs of autumn we get here, and the first nod towards the changing season…..

Hello Autumn!

Jamaican Lentil and Coconut Soup

14 Dec

This recipe started off as a Jamaican lentil stew that I wanted to turn into a soup for a Caribbean meal I made on Friday night.  The basic recipe was kind of plain & rustic, I thought it needed the volume turning up, as Ina Garten would say. So I added a lot more Caribbean spices, scotch bonnet chillis, thyme and coconut and some fresh mandarin juice for sweetness. I also blended the soup to a smooth puree rather than leaving it as a chunky stew. The result was a spicy, sweet and aromatic flavour with a smooth & creamy texture. Just the thing to warm the soul and transport you to a Caribbean island on a cold winter’s night…..

Jamaican Lentil & Coconut Soup Recipe

serves 4-6 vegetarian

  • 1 cup uncooked brown lentils about 2oo gr
  • 1 cup veg stock 225ml
  • 2 cups water 550 ml
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  •  1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp butter or olive oil
  • 1 big spanish spring onion (or about 4 scallions)
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 scotch bonnet chilli, chopped (you can use any fresh chilli or 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes)
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 45 gr sultanas
  • 50 ml tomato puree
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1/2 tin coconut milk about 200 ml
  • about 3oo ml veg stock to get desired consistency
  • the juice of 1 mandarin
  • fresh coriander, chopped for garnish
  • greek yoghurt to swirl on top (or mango & coriander yoghurt chutney see recipe here)

Rinse the lentils well and put them in a large sauce pan with the water & veg stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, add the carrot, celery & half the ginger, cover and simmer for about 20- 30 minutes, until the lentils are cooked.

Meanwhile in a small frying pan dry toast the curry powder & spices over a low heat until fragrant, don’t let it burn. Tip this into a small bowl and set aside. In the same pan heat the butter or oil over a medium heat, add the spring onions, the rest of the ginger, garlic, chilli, vinegar & raisins. Cook for 2 minutes stirring constantly then add the tomato puree and cook for another minute.  Add the toasted spices to the tomato mixture along with the thyme & oregano, mix well and add this to the simmering lentils along with the coconut milk and season generously with salt & black pepper.

Simmer this uncovered for about 20 minutes or so then take off the heat and carefully blitz with a stick blender until you have a smooth puree. Put the lentil puree back in the pan and on the heat. Add more stock (if you wish) until you reach your desired consistency (I like it thick but still soupy).  Add in the mandarin juice and check for seasoning.

Serve the soup in warmed bowls topped with a swirl of  Greek yoghurt or Mango & Coriander Yoghurt Chutney and some freshly chopped coriander. I served some Roti Bread alongside the soup see the recipe here.

Enjoy…!

Caribbean Vegetable Patties with Mango and Coriander Yoghurt Chutney

13 Dec

These little pasties/patties were part of a Caribbean meal I made for friends on Friday night. They remind me of the vegetable pasties they sell in the Caribbean shops in Notting Hill and Portobello Road, the ones in the clear plastic packets. I used to live on them when I was working around there, well working & shopping, actually mostly shopping!! I do miss London occasionally, the multicultural buzz and the food, obviously. The fantastic choice of vegetarian food from all over the world. You could eat from around the world just in one street. Anyway, I suppose that living here, in Spain, makes me more creative. It means I continue to learn about food by cooking recipes from around the world rather than going out to eat, cheaper too…!

Caribbean Vegetable Patties

adapted from an www.101cookbooks.com recipe

makes about 15 mini patties, Vegetarian

  • 1 pack (375gr) frozen puff pastry, defrosted in the fridge overnight. If you want to make your own authentic pastry see recipe here
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (I used vegetable oil)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes (I used 1 scotch bonnet fresh chilli, chopped)
  • salt & white pepper
  •  2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • the juice of 1 mandarin & 1/2 a lime
  • about 75 ml of veg stock
  • tbsp grated coconut
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 sweet potato, scrubbed & diced
  • a handful of frozen peas
  • a handful of frozen sweet corn
  • 1/4 cabbage finely shredded
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • the other 1/2 lime juice
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • cumin seeds

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-low heat, add the onion, spices & salt and cook for about 5 minutes until the onions are soft and caramelized slightly. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more then stir in the juices, veg stock, carrots, sweet potatoes & coconut. Reduce the heat slightly, cover with a lid and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10- 15 minutes. Stir in the peas, sweetcorn, cabbage, herbs and the rest of the lime juice and cook for 3 minutes more (you don’t want any liquid). Taste & season again with salt & white pepper and leave to cool for at least an hour (I left mine in the fridge over night)

When your filling has cooled preheat the oven to 210 degrees. Flour your work surface and rolling-pin and roll out the pastry, if necessary, to about 2 or 3 mm thick.  Cut out circles of pastry about 12cm (4 1/2 inches) in diameter (I cut around a small bowl). You will have to re roll the off cuts of pastry to get about 12 – 15 circles. Put a heaped tbsp of the filling in the middle of one half of the circle, being careful to leave the edges clear. Get yourself a cup of water, wet you fingers and wet the edges of the pastry. Fold the other half over the filling, press together with your fingers to seal and then crimp around the edges with a fork.

Place the patties on a baking tray lined with baking paper, brush the tops with beaten egg, sprinkle with few cumin seeds and bake until golden brown (about 25 minutes) turning half way through.

These patties are great served hot or cold so they would be perfect for a buffet table or as party food nibbles. Serve them with a chilli sauce or my easy mango & coriander yoghurt chutney. You may have some of the filling leftover, I did, so I made an individual Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie by topping it with mashed potato, grated cheese & breadcrumbs and baking for about 3o minutes. Really tasty Caribbean comfort food!!

Mango & Coriander Yoghurt Chutney

  • 2 pots greek yoghurt about 250 ml
  • about 3 tbsp mango chutney, if you want to make your own see my recipe here
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • a good squeeze of lime juice

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, taste and adjust as required. You may want more sweetness from the chutney or more lime juice, it’s up to you.

I served these as a starter as well as a Caribbean Lentil Soup (I will blog this tomorrow) and my Caribbean Squash & Plantain Curry with Roti Bread see recipe here.

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