Yam and”Cheese” Pie, Raw Christophene Salad and revisiting Coconut Bread
Long time no see or hear huh? Yes I have been slacking off and working on the upcoming Health and Wellness Expo in Dominica. I also have been eating really light just to save time these days. Well it is Sunday and some people are celebrating Easter so, I decided to actually “cook” a dish I have not done since I went vegan. I wanted to make a yam and cheese pie which is very popular in Barbados and in my household but I wanted to elevate the pie a little. Before we go on yam is not what Americans call yam and this is not no situation where this country calls something one way and the other country does but this is a factual issue. What Americans call yam is a sweet potato. In Colleen Patrick Goudreau’s book the Vegan Table she explains what I am trying to explain here, and I was impressed with her for that. Yam looks like this and it is like a nuttier richer version of potato. It has a lower glycemic index in comparison to English potato and is high in potassium. To read up on true yam click here and do pick up one when you go to a market that sells West Indian or African food products to try. I remove the skin before I boil it, others do not. If you hand itches you for about 20 minutes do not start to freak out..it will go away. To minimize yam itch as I call it peel the yam in cold water or use gloves.
So I wanted to remake cheese and yam pie which is basically mashed yam with some cheese thrown in and grated onion then baked…it is nice comfort food but I wanted more so what I did was to make a loaded roux with a smiggin of yeast flakes, vegan cheese which doesn’t taste like much, mushroom, shallots, white wine, hot peppers and Caribbean fresh herbs inclusive of broad leaf thyme. I cooked my yam soft and mashed it with the roux, added in grated onion and then baked the pie with a flavoured panko topping which some of the left over mushrooms and roasted garlic. I finished it off with some crisped capers and served it with Barbadian onion gravy and salad. Unfortunately with the vegan cheese I have it does not melt so the top did not get that bubbly crust I was use to. When you mash yam with any liquid like milk or the roux in this case the texture gets very very soft and it may look like a failed recipe. Do not worry, bake and cool and the pie will become sliceable again.
Raw Christophene Salad
That beautiful salad you are wondering about is raw Christophene (chayotes) with apple, carrots and a light lemon and kelp dressing with a little agave. Raw christophene taste like a stronger version of cucumber and really pairs well with other sweet crispy vegetables. I use to steam my christophenes and stuff them but raw really does this under appreciated squash justice. The crunchy salad paired well with the rich yam pie and gravy. To read up more on christophenes click here and, there are some christophenes on my left in this photo.
Coconut Bread with a Slight Difference
Coconut bread is a spiced dense bread consumed throughout the Caribbean made with freshly grated coconut. It is generally not vegan as cows milk and an egg usually appears in most recipes. I bought a freshly husked out coconut yesterday and wanted to make some coconut bread with it for the weekend. I forgot there was no unbleached flour in the house and all I had was oat and whole wheat. I substituted whole wheat and oat in the recipe from my book Caribbean Vegan..added some gluten flour and some molasses and the bread came out well. Coconut bread is always this thing that brings about debate. Each island makes a different version in terms of texture and each household makes it different as well. The coconut bread my father use to make for me growing up in Barbados is very heavy and medium dense in body. It is not anything like the texture of banana bread so when you make it and it is the way it is it is correct:) The crust is hard and hearty and what we do is brush the crust with sugar-water over and over until the crust has a caramel look and taste. Some people sprinkle with sugar as well but I do not. My partner does not like the raisins and cherries that we usually add to coconut bread so, basically this is a plain whole wheat and oat coconut bread. When you use whole wheat flour you really can see the coconut in the bread which bothered me a little. Sometimes I mix coconut, brown sugar and almond extract together with a little cinnamon and nutmeg and put it in the centre of the bread so when it is sliced you have extra coconut in the centre. Coconut bread is excellent for breakfast and tea times and you can dunk it into your hot beverages. There is something else like coconut bread made in Barbados called Lead Pipe which I will make vegan…I know I will go through lots of flour to perfect that one but that is eaten with cheese. I have some vegan cheese here today and will try my coconut bread with it as I wait to perfect my Vegan Bajan Lead Pipe recipe…stay tuned…you can hold your breath. The recipe for coconut bread and other Caribbean favourites inclusive of turnovers and coconut flan can be found in Caribbean Vegan.
Until next time