Ultimate Macaroni Cheese

Macaroni cheese is pure comfort on a plate. A few of my British friends were surprised when I told them that mac and cheese is also really popular in the Caribbean. It is often served as one of the side dishes at West Indian parties, and it is common to get a slice of macaroni cheese when you buy a Jamaican takeaway.

My mother-in-law was first to teach me how to make this dish, but I have adapted it over the years and this is now the most asked for dish by my toddler. The three main components of this dish are macaroni, cheese sauce and cheese topping. I boil the macaroni so that it is just a little softer than al dente. I make my cheese sauce using two types of cheese: parmesan and cheddar. I also add a little grated onion and ground black pepper to enhance the flavours even more.

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Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

Serves: 4-8
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking/Baking Time: 40 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 270 g macaroni

Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion grated
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 200 ml milk
  • 60 g grated parmesan cheese
  • 120 g grated cheddar
  • 0.5 tsp ground black pepper

Topping:

  • 60 g grated cheese

METHOD

  1. Cook the macaroni. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Stir in the macaroni and cook for 15-16 minutes. Drain well.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180 °C fan (200 °C conventional oven).
  3. Make the cheese sauce. Heat the butter in a pan. When it is melted and hot lower the heat to medium and add the flour. Mix well for two minutes.
  4. Add the milk a little at a time at first to thin out the paste and make it more liquid. Then add the remaining milk a quarter at a time stirring continuously.
  5. Add in the onion, parmesan and cheddar and mix well.
  6. Remove from the heat and stir in the macaroni.
  7. Pour into a medium sized baking tin.
  8. Top with the remaining cheddar and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the cheddar has melted and has started to golden.

NOTES

  • This can be made as a side dish.
  • It can also be served as a vegetarian main dish with a side salad and garlic bread.

Super Quick and Easy Stuffing

A roast dinner is not complete without stuffing! Whether you are looking to serve stuffing with your Sunday roast or you are looking for a quick stuffing recipe for Thanksgiving (my US friends) then you’re in the right place.

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This super easy stuffing can be prepared in minutes and produces a delicious light and airy herby stuffing. I could eat this with gravy alone, but it complements roast meats perfectly.


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Super Quick and Easy Stuffing Recipe

Serves: 4
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Baking Time: 50 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 large red onion finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 0.25 tsp dried thyme
  • 0.25 tsp ground sea salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 110g self raising flour
  • 100 ml extra virgin olive oil (I would recommend Odysea Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180 °C fan (200 °C conventional oven).
  2. Place butter in a small baking dish. I use an small 20 cm x 15 cm enamel pie dish which you can purchase here. Place in the oven for a few minutes to melt the butter. Swivel the dish slightly to ensure the melted butter coats the bottom and sides of the dish.
  3. Combine the remaining ingredients together and mix with a spoon. It will look course and not very dough like at all, but don’t worry.
  4. Divide the mixture into 8 and use your hands to press each eighth of the mixture together and roll into balls. Arrange the balls in the pie dish. They should fit snugly into the dish. Cover with foil. OR Just pour the mixture straight into the pie dish and press it down into an even layer using the back of a spoon and then cover with foil. I do the first method (shaping into balls) for better presentation.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil, crank up the oven to 200 °C fan (220 °C conventional) and bake for an additional 10 minutes until the top is slightly brown.

Filipino Garlic Fried Rice

This classic Filipino dish is known colloquially as “sinangag” and consists of rice that is fried with fresh garlic and seasoned with salt and pepper. It is usually eaten for breakfast in the Philippines and is often served with dishes such as fried eggs, corned beef or fried beef tapa. In my home we sometimes eat it in place of toast when we have a fry up (eggs, bacon, sausage and beans). However it can also be made as a dinner time side dish. This is a brilliant way of using up any left over rice you have – in fact it actually works better with day-old rice that has been stored in the fridge as it is firmer than freshly prepared rice, therefore the grains will tend to stay whole as they are fried. This is such an easy dish to make and is so full of flavour.

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Filipino Garlic Fried Rice Recipe

Serves: 6

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbsp light olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 600g cooked basmati rice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 0.5 tsp ground black pepper
  • 0.5 tsp salt

METHOD

  1. Add the oil to a wok or a heavy bottomed frying pan and heat using a medium heat.
  2. In the meantime use a large wooden spoon to break down the cooked rice and separate the grains.
  3. Add the garlic to the wok and stir for around 2-3 minutes until it is soft and is starting to go brown.
  4. Add the rice and the garlic powder, pepper and salt and stir four 5-6 minutes until the grains are tender.

NOTES

  • For a Filipino breakfast serve with fried eggs, beef tapa or fried corned beef and onions.
  • This is also perfect as a dinner side dish.

Jamaican Coconut Pumpkin Rice

Coconut Pumpkin Rice is a hearty side dish is often served with Jamaican main dishes such as brown stew chicken, curry or even steamed fish. However, it also goes well with non-Jamaican dishes such as steak or fried chicken. In this dish the pumpkin is first mixed with sautéed onions and garlic. Thyme and spring onion are then added to the mix – this thyme and spring onion combination is quite synonymous of Jamaican cuisine. The mixture is then stewed in coconut milk until the pumpkin is tender, before being mashed. Finally rice is added which is cooked in the remaining liquid. The result is a fluffy orange rice, which has a little sweetness due to the pumpkin and the coconut milk, but is also savoury at the same time due to the thyme and spring onion. The flavour is absolutely superb!

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Now, this is an easy dish to prepare, but in the final stage getting the correct amount of liquid for the rice to cook can be a little tricky. So just be a vigilant here as you don’t want the rice to be soggy, or on the flip side, burnt. The idea is to cook the rice until the liquid is absorbed. Resist the urge to stir at this point!


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Jamaican Coconut Pumpkin Rice Recipe

Serves: 4

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 35 – 40 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • half a medium onion finely chopped
  • 2 spring onions – finely chop the white part and cut the green stalks in half
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 230 g pumpkin diced into approximately 1 cm cubes
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 200 ml coconut milk, about half a can (I use Dunn’s River Coconut Milk)
  • 195 g basmati rice rinsed well (I use Tilda Pure Basmati Rice)
  • salt to taste

METHOD

  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and on a medium heat sauté the onions and the white part of the spring onion until soft.
  2. Add the garlic, pumpkin, thyme, ground black pepper and the spring onion stalks and mix well.
  3. Add the coconut milk and simmer gently with the lid on for around 20 – 25 minutes until the pumpkin is soft.
  4. Remove from the hob and remove the spring onion stalks and the thyme sprigs. Use a potato masher to mash the pumpkin in the coconut milk.
  5. Add the rice and stir. The coconut milk should completely cover the rice, if not then add a little water such that the level of the liquid is about 1 cm above the level of the rice.
  6. Return to the heat, bring to a gentle simmer. Put the lid on the saucepan and cook for 10 minutes until the rice is cooked. Try not to stir it until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. If you get to a point where you feel the rice is cooked but there is still too much liquid then remove the lid.
  7. Season with salt to taste.

NOTES

  • You can substitute the pumpkin for butternut squash if pumpkin is not in season.

Yorkshire Pudding

When it comes to British cuisine I always look forward to a roast dinner. As per tradition this was previously reserved to Sundays in our household. However, since covid-19 happened and we are now at home during the week, a mid-week roast is now our thing. And a traditional English roast would not be complete without Yorkshire puddings!

For my non-British readers, a Yorkshire Pudding is not actually a dessert, as the name suggests, but is traditionally a side dish originating in Yorkshire in the north of England. It is made from a batter of flour, eggs and milk, and is cooked in a muffin tin or ramekin with hot oil. As the batter cooks the sides rise and it becomes light, fluffy and slightly crisp on the outside. The higher the sides rise, the better. It can be served as a side dish for a roast dinner or it can be filled with a variety of fillings, a popular filling is sausages, mashed potato and gravy (yes, all three together).

This simple dish has 4 main ingredients, is so easy to make and is really delicious.


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Yorkshire Pudding Recipe

Serves: 4-6 (makes 4 large puddings or 12 mini puddings)
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15-17 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 60 ml light olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 110 g plain flour
  • 140 ml whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • pinch of salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 220 °C fan (240 °C conventional).
  2. Add oil to your Yorkshire pudding tin or muffin tin as follows: 3tsp oil per hole for a 4 hole Yorkshire pudding tin, or 1 tsp per hole for a 12 hole muffin tin. Place the tin in the oven for 10 minutes to heat up the oil.
  3. In the meantime, add the flour, salt and pepper to a large bowl.
  4. Beat the egg then whisk in the milk.
  5. Slowly add the egg and milk mixture to the flour whilst whisking. Whisk until a smooth batter is formed. It should be around the consistency of pancake batter.
  6. Remove the Yorkshire pudding tin or muffin tin from the oven and pour the batter into the holes.
  7. Place the tin back into the oven and bake for 15-17 minutes until the sides of the puddings have risen and the puddings are nice and brown.

NOTES

  • Serve as a side dish with roast beef or roast chicken.
  • Stuff with mashed potatoes, sausages and gravy for an indulgent main dish.

Easy Garlic Naan

Recently I’ve been really inspired by South Asian cuisine. Curries and dal are currently my bag. I’m loving the heat from the spices, the wholesomeness of the pulses and satisfying savouriness of the sauces. Plain steamed rice was my accompaniment of choice, but I was craving the soft buttery naan you get in restaurants and decided to have a go at making my own garlic naan. It was way easier than I thought and super tasty. I can honestly say that I will not be buying dry supermarket naan bread again.


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Easy Garlic Naan Recipe

INGREDIENTS

For the naan:

  • 7 g fast acting yeast
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt (optional, see Notes below)
  • 300 g plain flour
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder
  • 150 g natural yoghurt
  • 25 g butter melted plus an extra tbsp
  • 2 cloves garlic grated
  • 100 ml water (room temperature)

For the garlic butter:

  • 50 g butter melted
  • 2 cloves garlic grated

METHOD

  1. Place the yeast, sugar, salt, flour and baking powder (i.e. all the dry ingredients) for the naan bread in a bowl and mix with a spoon.
  2. Add in the melted butter, and yoghurt. Then gradually add in the water whilst stirring with a spoon.
  3. Once a the mixture has come together use your hands to knead the dough for around 5 minutes. The dough should be a little tacky, but not overly sticky that a lot of it sticks to your fingers and you have difficulty kneading it. If you find that it is too sticky then add in a tablespoon of flour.
  4. Grease a large clean bowl with the additional butter and add the dough. Grease the top of the dough and cover the bowl with clingfilm. Place a tea towel on top and leave the bowl in a warm room for around 2 hours in order for the dough to rise.
  5. Once the dough has risen preheat your oven to the lowest heat setting.
  6. Make the garlic butter by mixing the butter and the garlic.
  7. Split the dough into 6 small balls.
  8. Place a non-stick frying pan on a medium high heat. Do not add any oil.
  9. Use your hands to press and stretch one of the dough balls into a flat tear shape. Wet your hands slightly with clean water to stop the dough from sticking to them.
  10. Dry fry the raw naan in the frying pan until it starts to puff up, around 3 minutes each side. Reduce the heat a little if you find it burns before reaching 3 minutes.
  11. Once cooked use a pastry brush to brush each side of the naan with the garlic butter and place on a baking tray.
  12. Repeat steps 9 to 11 for each of the dough balls.
  13. Place the baking tray of naans in the oven to keep warm.

NOTES

  • The salt in the naan bread is optional. I only add it if I am using unsalted butter.
  • Don’t worry about the naan sticking to the frying pan. The butter in the naan seems to prevent this.
  • Serve as a side dish with a curry or kebab.

Seasoned Potato Wedges

Potato wedges are a great alternative to chips. These wedges seasoned with garlic oregano and parmesan are crispy on the outside and nice and fluffy on the inside. They take minutes to prepare and are so full of flavour. They make the perfect midweek side dish.

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Seasoned Potato Wedges Recipe

Serves: 4
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Baking Time: 30-40 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 550 g peeled potatoes (about 4 medium potatoes)
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 0.5 tsp pepper
  • 80 ml of light olive oil
  • 20 g parmesan

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (or 200°C for a fan oven).
  2. Chop the potato into wedges and place in a bowl.
  3. Add the paprika, garlic powder, oregano, and parmesan and toss together to coat the wedges.
  4. Sprinkle over the oil and toss the wedges again.
  5. Line a large baking sheet with grease proof paper and spread the wedges evenly on top. For the family sized portion this recipe produces I would recommend the Masterclass Large Professional Premium Non-Stick Baking Tray – Masterclass make really good quality heavy bake ware that doesn’t warp. You can find out more about this baking tray here – just make sure that your oven is wide enough to accommodate it.
  6. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the wedges are brown and the centres are soft.

NOTES

  • I use Maris Piper potatoes for this dish.
  • I normally get 8 wedges from each potato.
  • For more rustic potato wedges you can leave the skin on. Just be sure to give the potatoes a good scrub before cutting them.

Yoghurt and Mint Dressing

Salad definitely doesn’t have to be boring! This is my own version of Indian raita and it adds some pazazz when drizzled over a simple side salad. It has cooling yogurt, refreshing mint, some warming spices and a slight lemony tang. This is one step recipe is fail-proof.


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Yoghurt and Mint Dressing Recipe

Serves: 4

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 heaped tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 0.5 tsp dried mint
  • 0.5 tsp dried coriander leaf
  • 0.5 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp water

METHOD

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a jar and give it a good stir.
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NOTES

  • The water is used to thin the dressing dressing out in order to get it to a nice consistency for pouring/drizzling over salad.
  • This goes well over a salad of lettuce, sliced red onion, tomato wedges and mango chunks. For a nice lunch dish you could even add grilled chicken for a filling salad.