I’ve recently rediscovered my joy for food, cooking and experimentation in the kitchen, so it wasn’t hard to accept a gorgeous hamper of Grace Foods to help create a ‘street party spread’ to celebrate Caribbean Food Week running 21st- 28th August this year.
We were sent an array of tasty items, from ginger beer to jerk chicken seasoning, as well as the classic coconut milk staple for any Caribbean dish. I decided to create a pretty traditional spread of food, mostly because I knew we’d enjoy the selection but also because it felt like the right way to begin our Caribbean food journey.
Our ‘menu’ consisted of:
Here’s how we prepared and cooked our food and drink…
With this dish it was a case of marinating the legs in Jerk Seasoning an hour or so before cooking and then cooking them at 180C for around an hour until the meat is super tender and full of flavour. This dish was the longest dish we cooked, so I made sure this went in first! We adored this seasoning, it added so much warmth and flavour to the chicken and worked so well with the rice and peas…
Rice and Peas
I was desperate to make Rice and Peas, but I had no idea where to begin. I was lucky because a) I stumbled upon the website Cook Like A Jamaican, and b) Grace Foods had sent me coconut milk and a tin of mixed beans. I loved the coconut milk provided because it wasn’t like ones I’d bought before (a mix of solid coconut cream and water), it was really creamy and such a great consistency. This dish is one I’ll definitely be making again!
Fried Chicken Drumsticks and BBQ Chicken Wings
With both the BBQ and Fried Chicken, I used the oven to cook them and the BBQ sauce was added once the chicken was virtually cooked, to add a little crispy coating and flavouring. The Hot & Spicy Fried Chicken coating was easy to use; I simply used a egg to coat the chicken pieces and then I rolled them in the seasoning. It advises you to put them in a bag full of seasoning andcoat it that way, but my method worked too (probably a lot messier though!). I adored this coating, I think it was one of my favourite parts of the meal!
George and Molly were on hand for this part of the feast, creating scrummy perfect dumplings that matched all the other food we had on offer. I used this recipe to follow and we all loved them!
- 500g plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 110g butter
- 125ml cold water
- 250ml vegetable oil for frying
You basically make a breadcrumbs mixture with the flour, baking powder, salt and butter and slowly add water until it becomes a firm dough. Then give it a short knead and separate into little round balls. We flattened ours a little before adding them to the hot oil. Then we cooked them for about 3 minutes on each side until they were golden.
Veg and Fruit
Whilst the chicken cooked I had time to prepare everything such as the pineapples, corn and coconuts! I did cook the corn my way, boiling it then sizzling it on the griddle once it was cooked, but had it been super sunny we probably would have gone outside and lit a barbecue for the event, unfortunately we live in Wales and it rains (a lot!). So we stuck to oven and hob cooking, but it all tasted so great!
It was super hard to get hold of coconuts, we tried so many shops, but finally Strawberry Fields (who deliver so much gorgeous fruit and veggie goodness!) saved the day! Warren and the kids cracked into a coconut and we chopped up lots of pineapple and watermelon to have with our food. I find watermelon so refreshing to eat and pineapple is my favourite fruit, so I was in heaven!
Cocktails and Mocktails!
It wouldn’t be a party without some sumptuous drinks to indulge in, so we cracked open the coconut milk, pineapple juice and maraschino cherries for the occasion!
With the mocktails we kept it pretty simple and tried a pina colada, plus the kids devoured the pineapple juice and the ginger beer and coconut milk from Grace Food was so delicious!
Marussia Beverages sent us a few samples to try out, they included Doorly’s 5 Year Old Rum, Mezan XO Jamaican Rum and Taylor’s Venvet Falernum Liquer. From this delightful bunch of delicious drinks we decided to make Pina Colada, Dark & Stormy and Falernum & Ginger as our staple Caribbean drinks for our party!
We followed Jamie Oliver’s recipe but I did prefer the ratio of coconut milk and pineapple juice more in the mocktail we made (it was more-ish!) so I’d probably go for more of a 50/50 split between them for my personal taste. This cocktail is my absolute favourite and we used the Mezan XO Jamaican Rum, and it was a perfect match for this creamy drink!
Dark & Stormy
This was really refreshing and Warren loved it! The mixture of rum and ginger beer is so delicious and we used Doorly’s 5 Year Old Rum with this cocktail. Just combine 2oz rum, 3oz ginger beer and 1/2oz lime juice. We added a lot more ginger beer and it went down well with the grown-ups!
Falernum & Ginger
We’ve never tried Falernum before, but now we’ll never look back. It’s one of the tastiest liquers I’ve ever had the pleasure to taste and we couldn’t wait to try it out in a cocktail. It’s literally Falernum, ginger beer and lemon slices. I do think you need to try out different amounts of each ingredient to figure out what suits your own taste, but again we went for more ginger beer and in hindsight I think we could have handled a bit more Falernum!
Our Caribbean Food Week celebrations went down well with all the family, and it felt good to be in the kitchen as a family cooking up delicious food and mixing tasty cocktails!
Our ‘street party food’ was awesome and it felt traditional and celebratory of Caribbean food, I only wish we were in the Caribbean to enjoy the sights, sounds and sand too!
Grace Foods will be hosting their annual Caribbean Food Week Food Festival at Windrush Square in Brixton, London between Friday 25th-Saturday 26th August and it’s set to be a treat full of Caribbean food, music, live cookery sessions and whole lot more!
Disclosure: I received items in exchange fore review. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.