RECIPE: CASSAVA CAKE

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CASSAVA & THE JAMAICAN TRADITIONS

Cassava has been rooted in Jamaican history since before the British. It was a major part of the Arawak diet. If you’ve been fortunate enough to traverse the banks of Middle Quarters – a bustling fishing district in cool and industrious St. Elizabeth, Jamaica – you probably would have had the pleasure of authentic Jamaican fried fish, peppered shrimp and bammy. If you haven’t and you’ve a penchant for the spic things in life you should stop by.

 

 

THE ORIGINAL CASSAVA CAKE

Now shrimp you’ve heard of and fish certainly but what is bammy? Bammy has been music to my palate since I was a toddler and I’m not alone in this; far from it. It’s a traditional Jamaican favorite and I pray the matriarch of our family won’t be displeased by my revealing these secrets to you. It’s sort of like a flatbread made entirely from cassava roots that have been cleaned and pounded by hand. Every Jamaican household has their own spin on the preparation of bammy. We generally like to pair it with traditional and usually spicy salting like ackee and saltfish, mackerel rundown, jerk pork or jerk chicken, and peppered shrimp.

 

I visited the oldest bammy factory in the hills of Montego Bay when I was a teenager and enjoyed the grand tour. You’d think the factories did it differently but creating this masterpiece is not a process to be rushed. Why? That can only be properly answered when you take your first bite into a piece after it’s been soaked in coconut milk and fried. That might take a while for you to access. Raw cassava roots are easier to get a hold of though so I’m sharing a much easier cassava recipe you can experiment with this Summer.

 

CASSAVA CAKE RECIPE

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

For Your Cake

 

3 lbs of grated cassava

3 cups of coconut milk

1 cup of raw agave nectar

1 cup of coconut cream

½ cup of coconut flour

2 ounces of coconut oil

4 eggs (you can save three of the yolks for the topping)

1 tbsp of molasses

½ tsp of nutmeg (finely grated)

Pinch of salt

 

For Your Topping

 

½ cup of coconut milk

½ cup of agave nectar

3 egg yolks

 

HOW TO PREPARE

You’ll want to preheat your oven at 350° Fahrenheit. Prepare 2 shallow 8-inch baking pans by greasing them and set them aside. Combine all your cake ingredients. You can either use an electric mixer or mix in a bowl until consistency is even throughout. Pour your mixture into your prepared pans and bake for 50 minutes.

While your cakes are baking, pour your topping ingredients into a blender and blend well. When your cakes are firm in the center (after about 50 minutes in the oven), remove them from the oven and pour your topping over them. Turn the oven off. Put your cakes back in the oven and leave them there for about 8 minutes until the sweet topping has set. Now you can remove and enjoy!

 

SERVING IDEAS

After your cake is cool, you can cut it into squares, triangles or whatever shape you like. You can serve as is or with cheese, avocado, ice-cream, or fruit. Some fruit and herbs like cherries, grapes, mint leaves or shredded coconut make wonderfully complimentary garnish for your cassava cake.

Avoid pairing your cassava cake with tangy flavors like pineapple, lemon and kiwi. They don’t seem to be very enjoyable together. You can also drizzle with caramel, molasses or condensed milk to your liking. Feel free to experiment with the ingredients and don’t hesitate to share! Enjoy! Have fun and a great Summer!

RECIPE: JAMAICAN SWEET POTATO PUDDING

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Hopefully, my family doesn’t disown me for letting out such a big family secret as this recipe. My grandmother – the matriarch of our family – is the queen of the sweet potato pudding. I know many Jamaicans will tell you that but in my case, it’s true.

Community tourism is a program run by the Jamaican Ministry of Tourism that allows visitors to the island an experience of Jamaica that’s somewhat “off the beaten path”. You’ll stay in the homes of vetted families and have the privilege of enjoying some of the best of Jamaican living in a safe, fun, warm environment! My grandmother has participated in community tourism for years.  People come and watch her make this sweet potato pudding over and over and over again. They watch closely, take their notes and leave. They fly home, then she gets the call – they can’t replicate it.

 

It has taken me a long time to refine the recipe and fashion it into something consistent – ironing out the hit and miss. This is mainly because my grandmother taught me to bake. You’d think that makes it easier, right? WRONG! Firstly, I never saw the recipe on paper. The only place it was written down was in her brain. Secondly, ol’ time people – an elite class to which my grandmother belongs – do not believe in measuring instruments. She never used measuring spoons, cups or anything the like. Hence, everything is weighed and measured by hand and perfectly so every single time. I suppose if I’d been doing that for the better part of seven decades I’d be good at it too. I hope to be. Until then, I’ve designed a recipe with actual measurements to guide the rest of us to perfection. I hope you enjoy!

 

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

3 lbs of the Jamaican Sweet Potato

1 lb of flour (I now prefer a mix of almond meal and tapioca flour)

2 cups of coconut milk

1 cup of brown sugar (Note: you can use honey or agave instead)

1 tbsp of coconut oil

1 tspn of powdered nutmeg

1 tspn of molasses

1 tspn of vanilla

A pinch of salt

Optional: 1 cup of raisins

 

NOTE: If you’re planning on adding the slushy effect to your sweet potato pudding, you’ll need to procure a few additional ingredients.

1 cup of coconut milk

1 egg yolk

½ cup of sugar

 

HOW TO PREPARE

Wash your sweet potatoes and peel them. Rinse again and grate your sweet potatoes into a bowl. Add coconut milk, coconut oil and wet spices to your sweet potato bowl. (You can add your raisins as well if you’ve chosen to include them in your pudding.)

In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. After you’ve done this, you can mix your dry ingredients into the rest of your sweet potato cauldron. Ensure they are thoroughly and evenly combined before pouring your mixture into 2 greased medium baking pans. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour.

 

ABOUT THAT SWEET SLUSHY

If you’re going for the traditional pudding with the sweet slushy on the top you’ll need to remove your pudding from the oven ten minutes earlier. Toss all three ingredients into a blender and blend thoroughly. Apply the slushy mixture all over the top of your pudding. Place the pan back into the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Allow your pudding to cool before cutting.

 

SERVING IDEAS

You can serve warm or cool. I’m sure you’ll figure out your preferences immediately. You can serve small cubes with ice-cream. Our children always enjoy having a slice with milk. We wouldn’t dare overshadow the traditional Christmas cake with pudding at Christmastime but sweet potato pudding is a welcome addition to our thanksgiving table. We hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we do.

Recipe: Jamaican Stew Marinade/Sauce

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WHAT YOU’LL NEED
4 cups cherry tomato
2 cups Freshly cut onion chives
1 cup water
2 Large Jamaican Key Limes
3 oz raw agave nectar
Jamaican Bird Peppers (Mild heat:2 Medium heat:6 Hot:12+)
3 Tbsp coconut oil
2 Tbsp Browning
Sprig of thyme
Sprig of sweet Jamaican basil
Sprig of rosemary
Pinch of Sea Salt
Clove of Garlic, peeled
INSTRUCTIONS
Toss all ingredients into a blender and puree thoroughly.
Pour mixture into a saucepan and let it simmer over low heat until it thickens. Do not cover saucepan.
Allow your sauce to cool before pouring into a mason jar for storage.
Keep refrigerated.

RECIPE: Spiced Mamey Sapote Punch

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The naseberry/sapodilla was one of my favorite fruits growing up. That warm, super-sweet flavor; the smooth texture; that fragrance reminiscent of a wildflower field on the edge of a rose apple (Syzygium jambos) orchard… all melting into your senses is just too hard to beat. Mamey sapote is another member of the Sapotaceae family that’s basically a ginormous naseberry on steroids in my opinion. The texture and flavor make it an excellent candidate for ice-cream. I’ve also created a version of what Jamaicans call "blen up" using mamey that’s simply amazing! I had to share it with you!

This recipe makes an enormous pitcher so if you’re serving a gathering of  8 or less you can use half the quantities  of ingredients specified. Whatever you do, have fun!
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
A blender
That pitcher I was telling you about
5 pounds of Ripe Mamey sapote fruit
96 ounces of unsweetened almond milk
1 bottle of Guinness extra stout (you can use a bottle of Malta if you intend to serve to minors)
8 – 10 ounces of agave syrup – light, medium or raw are all acceptable
(You can use condensed milk if you prefer)
2 ounces of molasses
1 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
a pinch of cinnamon powder
WHAT YOU’LL DO:
Blend mamey fruit, almond milk, molasses, nutmeg and cinnamon together into a smooth puree, then pour into pitcher. Add your bottle of Guinness and stir in. Add sweetener to taste. You can chill before serving and/or pour over crushed ice to serve. I hope you enjoy! We certainly do!

WINTER IS COMING!

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EASY HOME REMEDIES TO BOOST THE IMMUNE SYSTEM AND SOOTH FLU-LIKE SYMPTOMS

…so that GOT photo is unrelated but I couldn’t help myself – I’m a huge fan!
I spent a lot of my early childhood years with my grandparents while growing up in sweet Jamaica. Mama and Papa Rennie were my introduction to many aspects of my life now like farming, gardening, cooking, baking, church, the beach, river-bathing, and home remedies. Interestingly, my mother – who’s been a nurse in some professional capacity all my life – would choose to apply those same home remedies first on the rare occasion I took ill with the cold or flu.
I’ve created my own recipes over the years and I’m going to share a few of our collective home remedy secrets with you. Now, I am not a medical practitioner in any official capacity so I encourage you to discuss these options with your primary care physician and pediatricians before executing them. I’ve found them to be very effective, easy on the palate and more readily received by children than over the counter drugs.
GARLIC AND HONEY
That old jam, jelly, preserve mason jar – don’t throw it out! Wash it out and carefully drop it in a pan of boiling hot water to sterilize it. You can leave your jar in the pan until it cools. After you remove your jar, allow it to dry thoroughly, then fill it to within an inch of the rim with cloves of peeled garlic. Pour honey over your garlic cloves. Allow it a few minutes to seep into the spaces between your garlic cloves and fill your jar with more honey. Cover your jar, label and date it, and store it in a cool, dry place. You can start using your garlic and honey in as little as 6 weeks. I like to give it at least 3 months… and how do you use it? Whenever you feel those symptoms coming on – a chill, swollen tonsils, a sore throat… – or if you just want to give your immune system a boost, you open your jar and take a teaspoon full. Feel free to chew the garlic or swallow it whole if you prefer. Do not reuse a soiled spoon. When you are done, put your jar back in that cool, dry place. DO NOT refrigerate.
GINGER AND HONEY
Remember that sealed mason jar? secure a couple because you’ll need another for this as well. You apply the same method of sterilization we talked about when we were getting our garlic-honey concoction together. Scrape your ginger root of all its skin and rinse. You can leave it to drip on a clean towel or paper towel for a few minutes before cutting it into half-inch slices or dices (some folks make them smaller) and filling your second mason jar with them. Pour honey over your ginger until there are no air pockets remaining in your mason jar. Seal and store in a cool, dry, place. This, you can also take a teaspoon of in as little as 4 weeks. DO NOT refrigerate.

LEMON/LIME AND HONEY
Alright! D’you remember that quick and easy remedy I promised? Well, this is it! Simply juice a lime or lemon into a cup/glass. mix it with honey – 1 part lemon/lime juice to 2 parts honey and take a couple teaspoons full.
GINGER LEMON HONEY TEA
I saved the best for last! This is my favorite! It’s my very own recipe and it works! Blend half a pound of ginger in 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Be careful to leave the lid off the pot. Ginger tends to overflow (much like milk) if covered and can really make cleanup difficult for you if your pot isn’t left open. Strain off the liquid and add an ounce of lemon juice and honey (to taste) to it. You may discard the pulp or add it to your compost.
I pray you find these recipes helpful in your endeavor to keep yourselves and your family healthy and flu-free this winter and always. God bless you.

RECIPE: SPICED RIPE BANANA FRITTERS

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Absolutely delicious and relatively easy to make, these were always a favourite in our household when I was growing up. Over time I’ve tweaked the recipe and here is my version.INGREDIENTS3 large overripe bananas1 cup brown rice flour (or quinoa flour)1 fl. oz. coconut oil1 fl. oz. coconut milk1/3 cup brown sugar1 large egg1 tspn baking powder1 tspn corn starchA pinch of salt, nutmeg and cinnamonDIRECTIONSBeat egg until fluffy then set aside. Purée bananas with coconut milk. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add liquids to dry ingredients and mix until evenly textured.Set your non-stick frying pan over medium heat for 90 seconds then spoon your fritter mix into your pan. Try not to add too much batter to each dropping so they’re not too thick. Cover your pan and allow each set approximately 5 minutes for thorough cooking.Remove, let cool and enjoy! Serves a family of 4 to 6 people.