BAHAMIAN JOHNNY CAKE (BREAD)
On many of the islands of the Bahamas – also known to the inhabitants of the Capital New Providence as the ‘Family Islands’ farming and fishing we the way of life. In many cases the farms were sometimes a days journey away and fishermen were gone for weeks. So this bread-cake was prepared for sustenance along the journey. It is believed that over the years its name evolved to what we now call ‘Johnny Cake’ or ‘Johnny Bread’. But its use and enjoyment remain the same.
3 cups Flour
1 tbsp Baking powder
1 ½ tsp Salt
2 tbsp Sugar
½ cup Shortening
2/3 cup Water or milk
Combine dry ingredients then cut in shortening until mixture is sandy – using fingertips. Add water or milk gradually, just enough to make a soft dough. Knead dough until smooth. Let dough rest for about 10 minutes.
Cooking Option #1
Meanwhile heat oven to 350 degrees and grease baking pan. Place dough in baking pan spreading it to fit tight to the sides. Pierce top of dough with a fork in several locations. Bake for 25 minutes or until brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle top bread with water. Return to oven and allow to bake for 5 more minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool a few minutes.
Cooking Option #2
Shape dough into a pan sized circle and place into a greased hot frying pan. Flatten to fit pan. Fry at medium-high heat over stove, turning several times, until golden brown and crusty on both sides. Lower heat and continue cooking covered for 15 to 20 minutes.
The best way to eat Johnny cake is while it’s still warm – cut into 3-4” squares, slice and coat with some butter and eat just so or dunk in your stew, souse or boil. Oh what great pleasure!
BAHAMIAN BAKED STUFFED CRABS
My fondest memories of eating these scrumptious appetizers are when I would spend my summer vacations in Nassau with my grandparents. Every summer during the evening Bahamians young, old and in between converged on Bay Street for Goombay Summer; a festival of Bahamian food, music, art and of course Junkanoo in the streets. My grandmother had a food stall and she would have the most awesome display of Bahamian cuisine I had ever seen and as her helper I would get paid in baked stuffed crabs, fried fish and coconut tart.
6 large Whole white crabs
3 cups Breadcrumbs
3 tbsp. Butter/margarine
1 med. Onion
1 med. Green pepper
1 tbsp. Thyme
Salt to taste
Wash crabs and place in medium pot. Cover bottom of pot with 1” of water and boil crab for 30 minutes. Allow crabs to cool. Separate crab backs from the body and remove crab fat. Set aside. Remove gall bag from crab back and discard (bag). Set backs aside. Pick the meat from the crab claws, legs and body. Over medium heat melt butter and add all ingredients until lightly browned. Stuff mixture into the crab back shells and bake at 400º for approx. 15-20 minutes. Yields: 6 servings.
BAHAMIAN MANGO GUACAMOLE
I’m not sure how they got to the Bahamas or when, but avocado or “pear” as they are so fondly called are everywhere and we love them. So to combine them with mangoes is just one of many combinations. This recipe is a hit for any party.
2 lrg Avocados
1 lrg Mango, chopped
½ Goat (scotch bonnet) pepper (to taste)
½ Red onion, chopped
1 Tomato, chopped
Cilantro, chopped fine
¼ cup cucumber, chopped
1 tbsp cumin
2 tsp paparika
2 tsp salt
½ fresh lime
Chop mango, red onion, tomato, cucumber and cilantro.
Cut avocados in half and squeeze with a few drops of lime juice. Scoop inside of avocado into a bowl, with a fork mash until creamy. Mix all ingredients and squeeze remaining lime juice over mixture. Chill for before serving.
Serve with tortilla, cassava chips or pita bread.
BAHAMAS SPICY MANGO SUMMER ROLLS WITH SOY
GINGER DIPPING SAUCE
What do Summer and mangos have in common the Bahamas. This light and tropical appetizer is a great hit at the parties and will make your vegetarian and vegan friends feel right at home.
1 lrg Mango, ripe peeled and sliced
1 med. Jalepeno pepper
1/8 cup cilantro leaves
1 med. Carrots, peeled and julienne
1 Ginger root, long chunk
6-8 Spring roll wraps (dry)
¼ cup Shoyu, Tamari or reg. Soy sauce
¼ cup Water
2 tbsp Roasted pistachio or nut of your choice (optional)
Cut all vegetables first. Peppers – cut top off pepper and then slice off 3-4 small rounds and place in dipping bowl. Then julienne the remainder for the rolls. Ginger- cut into a 1/2 “ chunk and grate. Squeeze the juice of the ginger into the dipping bowl with the peppers. Now julienne the rest or the ginger for the roll.
Add soy sauce to dipping bowl and stir then add water to dilute to taste. For a more spicy hot dipping sauce add red pepper flakes.
Fill a bowl a little bigger than the wrap with water. Dunk the wrapper in water for about 10 second remove to a dry surface. Build the roll with the all the other ingredients. Wrap like a burrito and cut midway on a diagonal angle. Place on serving platter and they are ready to serve. This quick and easy recipe takes 15 minutes of prep time.
BAHAMIAN CONCH FRITTERS
Ah Conch, our pearl of the sea. Pronounced (kun’k) this muscle of the sea lives in a shell spun from the granules of sand it processes during its life, thus the pink and pearly whites. Said to be an aphrodisiac and sexual stimulant it is believed to be the cause for the large families our grand parents amassed. A delicacy for sure its succulent meat is craved no matter how it is prepared.
I remember as a child spending the summer at my grandparents in Nassau. And I could never understand why mama would have orange rind and this smelly thing hanging from the kitchen window. Then one day I got up the nerve to ask what it was. “Conch“ she said, “Dry conch (cured), I’m going to use that to make soup and conch fritters”. Man, even as I think about it today I’m salivating. To use the cured conch it must be soaked in water over night, then boiled to tenderize. Because of its concentrated and potent flavour, cured conch need not be used in the same quantity as fresh conch.
|1 ½ cups
||Conch, ground (2 med) or
|½ med. Green Bell pepper
||Salt to taste
Pass onion, green pepper, hot pepper and conch through a food processor. In a large bowl combine all ingredients including ground conch to form a batter. The batter should be thick enough to drop from a spoon. If it is too runny add a little more flour to stiffen it. A little water would soften it up if too stiff. In a deep fryer or deep depth pot heat oil to 350ºF. PLEASE BE CAREFUL! Using a tablespoon for large fritters or teaspoon for small drop batter into oil; fritter should float to the surface. Use a cooking fork to turn so that they will be golden brown on each side. Remove fritters from oil and place in a pan lined with absorbent paper.
Conch fritter batter can be frozen and used later. To reuse remove from freeze and let stand at room temperature for hour or until defrosted. Pour into a large bowl and add 2 tsp of baking powder mix until baking powder is blended. If the consistency is off adjust with flour or water as needed. Please note that you may need to add seasoning to adjust flavour also.
Blend until smooth. Chill and serve on side.