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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Caribbean Macaroni Pie

Macaroni Pie is a standard dish at most Caribbean get-togethers. It was also almost a staple for Sunday dinner as a child growing up in the Caribbean.

1 14 oz package macaroni (the one that is a bit longer than elbows)
4 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 large egg
3 oz butter
2 tablespoons mayonnaise or Ranch dressing
White pepper
1 small onion, chopped

Boil the macaroni in salted water (directions on package) until it is well done – al dente. Drain well. Add the butter and milk and mix well. Then add the mustard, white pepper, chopped onion, mayonnaise, and most of the cheese (save some cheese for the topping). Add more salt if needed. Mix until the macaroni is well coated and then add the egg and mix again.

Grease an over proof dish with a little butter and pour macaroni mixture into dish. Top with bread crumbs and left over grated cheese. For a crisper topping add small dollops of butter.

Bake at 350 F for about 30 min or until the top is golden brown and crusty and all liquid has been absorbed. Let the pie sit for about 15 min before cutting.

Rice and Peas (Clouden Style))

This is a favorite dish for Sunday lunch/dinner in the Caribbean and is also a very popular dish at most Caribbean restaurants. Rice and peas is made in some of the islands with coconut milk and/or meat but this version does not contain either of these ingredients. This recipe is actually from my mother who makes very delicious rice and peas (with or without coconut milk) and is definitely one of the things that I miss living here in Massachusetts.

2 cups pigeon peas (check international section of the supermarket, e.g. Goya products)
1 medium to large Onion
Couple cloves of garlic
Sprig of thyme
2-3 seeds of clove (Not powder)
1-2 tsp. Sugar
1-cup rice
Salt to taste

Optional Ingredients
Olive oil
Evaporated Milk

Cook peas in water until soft and busted. (Note: if peas are frozen, thaw out first and start in cold water; keep adding hot to boiling water, never cold water once the peas has started boiling). Add seasoning – onion, garlic, chives, thyme, and clove seeds – to busted peas. Add a little sugar. Let simmer for a few minutes. Make sure that there is enough water for cooking the rice. Add rice and after brining to a boil add salt to taste. Cover and let cook until rice is to your required texture. Taste for salt. Enjoy!!!

OPTIONAL: Before you add the rice add a little olive oil, evaporated milk, and margarine. Simmer for a little while (more if milk is added, less if just oil and/margarine).

My mum’s foot note to this recipe is that she does not have to taste since she has YEARS of practice! Someday we will all be like you mum!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Peas and Dumplings – Caribbean Style

This is my mother’s recipe and one of my favorite dishes. My mother usually makes this at Christmas time. However, I usually request this every time I go home to visit.

½ package green or brown (dried) pigeon peas
2 or 3 clove sticks
Fresh garlic
1 medium onion – sliced or chopped
Green herbs – thyme, green onion etc.
1-2 teaspoons sugar
Salt to taste

For dumplings
1-cup flour
½ tsp. Salt
Water to make firm dough

Boil peas in water until soft. You can use a pressure cooker for this. If you don’t have a pressure cooker soak peas overnight in hot water and then boil in regular pot until soft.

While peas are boiling make dumplings. Mix flour salt and water together to make firm dough. Set aside in bowl.

Add the cloves, fresh garlic, onion, green herbs, sugar and salt to the peas. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for a few minutes. Form dumplings by taking small pieces of the dough and rolling them between your palms. Add to peas. Continue to simmer until dumplings are cooked. Turn off and serve.
This is delicious by itself or as a side dish with a meal

Ginger Beer

This is a drink that is very popular in the Caribbean during the Christmas season. It is very easy to make and also very refreshing.

1 lb fresh ginger (that is the ginger root)
~ 2 pints hot water
White Sugar to taste
Clean bottles to store.

Peel and grate the ginger. Put into a large bowl and pour the hot water over it. Cover and leave overnight. Next day strain into another bowl. I usually use a clean towel to do this as it works best to keep all the ginger pieces from getting into the strained liquid. Sweeten to taste. Pour into clean bottles and store in the fridge. To serve pour over ice. If the ginger beer is too strong you can add more water or some club soda