Food

Elegant and Tasty Dishes on a Budget - Week 3

Thursday, January 24, 2013    

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CONTINUING our campaign to cook on a tight budget (see January 10 & 17, 2013 at www.jamaicaobserver.com), we at Thursday Life invited Chef Oji Jaja to prove that elegant restaurant-style dinners could also be prepared for less. It was a real treat to eat the two delicious vegetarian meals that he made at my home last week, with one coming to less than $250 per head, and the other under $200. I decided to continue with a variation of veggies for the remaining recipes, but threw some sausage into my stuffed peppers when my son complained that he really wanted some meat this week. As a result, this has also determined next Thursday's theme, which will be dishes ideal for your kids' lunch boxes, so don't miss out on that.

You'll see that this week's recipes are super reasonable in price — two under $250 (per head), two less than $200 (per head), and one under $125 (per head).

OJI'S JAMAICAN MONDAY FOR UNDER $200 PER HEAD:

Rosemary & All-Spice Ackee on Bammy: Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 tbsp vegetable oil - $1

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped - $40

1/2 onion, finely chopped - $10

1/2 Scotch bonnet pepper, finely chopped - $10

Pinch of all-spice - $10

2 tsp freshly chopped rosemary, plus 4 sprigs -$120

2 dozen ackees, blanched - $300

Salt & pepper - $2

1/4 lb (2) tomatoes, seeded & diced (concasse) - $15

1/4 lb (2) tomatoes, sliced - $15

Fried Bammy:

5 tbsp vegetable oil - $5

12 small bammies - $200

Fried Plantain:

1 tbsp vegetable oil - $1

1 plantain, peeled & diced - $50

Method:

• Cook the ackees in a pot of simmering water until just softened. Drain well and set aside.

•. Cook the bammy: soak the bammy in salt water for five minutes. Drain well. Heat three tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large frying pan, and fry the bammy on both sides until lightly golden and cooked. You will have to do this in batches, and will probably need two more tablespoons of vegetable oil. As the bammies are cooked, remove and place on a plate covered in paper towel, and keep warm in oven at 250°F until ready to use.

• Heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large frying pan, and fry the garlic, onion and Scotch bonnet until softened. Stir in the all-spice and rosemary. Add the cooked ackees, and gently stir in to heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

• Heat two teaspoons of vegetable oil in another frying pan and gently cook the plantain until just soft and lightly coloured.

• Place three bammies on each plate, top each with a big tablespoon of the ackees, and top that with the concasse of tomatoes. Divide the plantain and the sliced tomatoes between the four plates, and place on either side of the ackees on bammies. Decorate with a sprig of rosemary and serve immediately.

OJI'S JAMAICAN TUESDAY TOFU FOR UNDER $250 PER HEAD:

Pan-Seared Tofu with Garlic Yam, Tomatoes with Balsamic Reduction & Rosemary Zucchini: Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 lb tofu, cut in half across & each half cut into 6 slices - $196

Salt to taste - $1

Blackening Spice Marinade:

1 tsp paprika - $40

1 tsp chilli powder - $40

1 tsp Italian seasoning - 40

1 tsp garlic powder - $40

1 tsp onion powder - $40

2 tbsp vegetable oil - $1

Garlic Yam:

2 tbsp vegetable oil - $1

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped - $40

1/2 onion, finely chopped - $10

2 lbs yellow yam, peeled & diced - $140

Salt - $1

Tomatoes with Balsamic Reduction & Rosemary Zucchini:

Ingredients:

1/2 lb (4) tomatoes, sliced - $30

1 small bottle balsamic vinegar - $200

1/2 oz butter - $20

1 tsp freshly chopped rosemary, plus 1 sprig rosemary - $30

1/2 lb (1 medium) zucchini, diced - $50

Salt & pepper - $2

Method:

• Mix all the blackening spice marinade ingredients together in a large bowl, and toss the tofu and a little salt with the marinade to mix well. Leave for an hour.

• Make the balsamic reduction by boiling the balsamic vinegar in a pot until it has reduced by about 80 per cent. Leave to cool.

• Make the garlic yam: cook the yam in a pot of boiling water, along with some salt. When tender, drain well. Heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a frying pan and cook the garlic and onion until softened. Stir in the cooked yam, and season with salt if needed. Reheat when ready to eat.

• Heat the butter in a frying pan, add the rosemary and zucchini and sauté until just tender, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Reheat when ready to eat.

• Place a non-stick frying pan over high heat and cook the tofu slices on all sides until blackened (dark brown).

• Divide the hot yam between four plates and decorate with a small sprig of rosemary. Place the sliced tomatoes next to the yam, top those with some of the balsamic reduction, and that with the sautéed zucchini. Place the three slices of blackened tofu next to that. Serve immediately.

WEDNESDAY'S SAUSAGE SUPPER By Emma FOR UNDER $200 PER HEAD:

Roasted Sausage, Yampee & Ackee-Stuffed Peppers: Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs (4 large) green sweet peppers - $120

2 lbs yampee - $160

1/4 lb (1) Hamilton's English Bangers - $130

2 tbsp olive oil - $4

6 escallions, finely sliced - $30

1/4 lb tomatoes, diced - $15

2 tbsp freshly chopped basil - $120

1 dozen ackees - $150

Salt & pepper - $2

Method:

• Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the yampee in the oven

    and cook for an hour. Remove, cool, peel, and dice.

• Cook the ackees in simmering water until just tender.

    Drain well and set aside.

• Put the sausage in a small ovenproof dish and cook in the oven at 400°F for 25 minutes, turning halfway through cooking. Remove, cool slightly and dice.

• Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a frying pan, add the escallion, tomatoes and basil and cook for a couple minutes until just starting to soften. Stir in the cooked diced sausage and yampee. Add the cooked ackee, stirring gently so it doesn't get mushy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

• Slice off the top of the four peppers, and scrape the seeds out. Stuff each pepper with the ackee mixture, then return the top, or the 'lid', you cut off each one. Place the four peppers in an ovenproof dish, lightly rubbing each with a little olive oil. Roast in the oven at 400°F for 20 minutes.

THURSDAY’S HEALTHY SALAD By Emma FOR UNDER $250 PER HEAD

Quinoa Salad: Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 pack (12 oz) quinoa - $350

24 fl oz water

6 escallions, finely sliced - $30

3 cups chopped cilantro - $360

1 lb green sweet peppers, diced - $80

1 lb tomatoes, diced - $60

1 Scotch bonnet pepper, finely chopped - $20

Salt & black pepper - $2

Lemon Dressing:

3 fl oz freshly squeezed lemon (about 3 large lemons)- $30

3 fl oz extra virgin olive oil - $15

Method:

• Place the quinoa in a large pot with water. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, take the cover off, and leave to cool.

• Mix the dressing ingredients together in a glass jar.

• Place the cooked and cooled quinoa in a large bowl, along with the remaining ingredients and the dressing. Stir well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

FRIDAY'S HEARTY SALAD By Emma FOR UNDER $125 PER HEAD

Paprika & Cilantro Potato Salad: Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks - $70

1 lb Irish potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks - $60

1 lb tomatoes, cut into chunks - $60

3/4 lb stringbeans, cut into 1-inch lengths - $45

4 escallions, finely sliced - $20

1 cup chopped cilantro - $120

3 fl oz extra virgin olive oil - $15

3/4 tsp paprika - $30

Salt & black pepper - $2

Method:

• Place all the potatoes in a large pot of cold water, cover with a lid, bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cook for another five minutes. Drain and refresh in cold water, then drain again and pour into a large bowl.

• Cook the string beans in a pot of boiling water for a couple minutes, until just starting to turn tender, but still have a crunch. Drain, refresh in cold water, then drain again and pour into the bowl with the potatoes.

• Stir the remaining ingredients into the bowl with the potatoes and string beans, season to taste with salt and pepper. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

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