Jamaican Peanut Porridge Recipe from Vegan Beans from Around the World

Sharing about cookbooks is one of my favorite aspects of food blogging. I love posting about the books I find interesting and supporting the art and the authors. I have a long list to post about over the next few weeks, but I still want to make sure I share plenty of my own recipes. I’ve decided that Fridays will be cookbook review day throughout the summer. So if you have a love of cookbooks be sure to swing back by for plenty of new ideas and recipes. 

Jamaican Peanut Porridge Recipe from Vegan Beans from Around the World | Fake Food Free


Even after several trips to Jamaica, I have never heard of peanut porridge. I know this because if I had ever encountered anything similar I would have written about it several times by now. 
Thank goodness for the cookbook, Vegan Beans from Around the World by Kelsey Kinser. Without it, I may have never been introduced to this rich and creamy warm breakfast.


Peanut porridge in a bean cookbook? Yep. Because they are legumes, of course. In fact, this handy cookbook is full of bean dishes that go way beyond a slow cooker full of soup or stew. Chickpea Fries, Lebanese Spiced Lentil Pilaf and Korean Red Bean Soup are a few examples. 
You know I’m food photo crazy when it comes to cookbooks, but this is one book that inspired me even without them. It reminded me of several basic recipes I should return to, while also giving me an array of brand new ideas. 
What caught my attention about this porridge goes beyond how much I love Jamaica and the foods from there. It combines so many of my favorite ingredients. The cooking technique is interesting as well. You combine freshly ground peanuts and finely ground oats with other ingredients to form a batter which you then then pour into boiling water to cook. 

Jamaican Peanut Porridge Recipe from Vegan Beans from Around the World | Fake Food Free


It is similar to a peanut oatmeal, but the flavors are deeper and more complex. Another bonus is no sugar. The coconut sweetens it just slightly, but not enough to take over the rich flavor of the peanuts and nutmeg. 
Just a note, the recipe says this serves 1 to 2. When compared to my normal servings of oatmeal this would be about 3 servings for me, so plan on large portions or having a little extra for leftovers. 

Jamaican Peanut Porridge

© 2014 Kelsey Kinser. Reprinted with permission from Ulysses Press. 
From the book:
Peanuts are common in a lot of African cuisine, and they made their way over to the Caribbean due to this. For an American unfamiliar with this type of dish, it’s a wonder to stumble across. If you like peanut butter, you’ll like this porridge. It’s basically peanut butter–flavored oatmeal served hot for breakfast. It’s high in protein and a yummy way to start your day the Jamaican way. You will need peanuts for this; peanut butter just doesn’t work the same.

Serves 1 to 2

1 cup oatmeal (quick cooking is fine; instant is not)
1 cup shelled raw peanuts
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flour
1⁄8 teaspoon fresh grated mace or nutmeg
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3⁄4 cup coconut milk
water as needed

In a food processor, grind the oatmeal into a powder. Set aside. In the same food processor, grind the peanuts until they are almost a smooth peanut butter.

In a small pot, bring 1 cup of water to a boil with the salt.

While the water is coming to a boil, mix together the flour, powdered oatmeal, peanuts, mace or nutmeg, and cornmeal into a medium-sized bowl.

Using a spatula, stir in water (not the boiling water) until a loose, liquid paste is formed, which will take about 1 cup of water or so. This paste should be wet enough to be able to be poured.

Pour this paste into the boiling water. Stir until no lumps remain.

Reduce heat and cover partially, cooking on medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the bottom from sticking to the pot and burning.

Remove the lid and add the vanilla and the coconut milk. Cook on medium-high heat until the porridge no longer has a taste of raw flour and is the consistency you prefer, at least another couple of minutes. Serve.

Jamaican Peanut Porridge Recipe from Vegan Beans from Around the World | Fake Food Free


Disclosure: This book was sent to me for review purposes. I was not required to write about it and received no compensation for doing so. 

Thanks for reading! All images and content are the property of Fake Food Free unless otherwise stated. Please do not republish full recipes and images without written permission. What is okay? Feel free to Pin images, share links to my posts or share the photo with the title of this recipe and a link back to the post. Confused about copyright and food blogs? Here is some helpful information on Recipe Attribution. If you want to use a photo or full recipe, just ask. I’m sure we can work something out. 


Jerk-style Country Ham and Pineapple Tamales

This is the fourth in my series of Cookbooks for Christmas. Be sure to check out The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Bread Baking, The Vegetarian Option and How to Cook Indian.

Before I moved to Kentucky, country ham was nothing more than the step-child of meat options on the Cracker Barrel breakfast menu. I had no idea why someone would select ham over bacon or sausage despite the fact that they all came from the same animal.
Then I moved to Kentucky. Suddenly country ham is everywhere. There are country ham biscuits as party appetizers and skillet-fried country ham for breakfast. It is a regular offering in the meat case at my local butcher, and my most recent job exposed me to a youth agriculture program where the kids made their own country hams to auction off at the local stock sale.
See, I told you. It’s everywhere.
My first encounter with country ham had me gasping for a drink of water. Salty. Very salty. Things haven’t changed much since that first impression, but I have found that I like country ham in things. Meaning, those things it is in helps balance the salty flavor.
A few weeks ago I got a copy of the cookbook Ham: An Obsessionwith the Hindquarter by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. I never knew there was so much one could do with ham. The book contains 100 unique recipes from the around the world.

Guess what is featured from my part of the world. Yep, country ham.
As I flipped through I saw recipes for Collards and Country Ham, Country Ham Butternut Squash and Chile Stew, and Country Carbonara. That doesn’t include all the things that don’t use country ham such as Steamed Ham Buns and Roasted Fresh Ham with Apple Wheatberry Salad.
If you’ve read a cookbook by Weinstein and Scarbrough before you know it’s as much about the text as it is about the recipes and photography. It is part comical novel, part recipe book. I was immediately sucked into the story about the taking of their pig from farm to market.  

So back to this country ham.

One thing that I wasn’t expecting (nor would most Kentuckians), was to see country ham Caribbean-style with a side of Mexican cuisine thrown in. The second I turned to page 151 I knew what I was making.

Jerk-style Country Ham and Pineapple Tamales.
Sounds pretty amazing, right? Not only was I excited about these flavors, but this was my very first time making tamales. As with post things I put off, I was left thinking – why in the world did I wait so long?
These tamales are simple to make. The construction takes a little time, but not so much that it’s overwhelming.
Now, let’s talk about these flavors. The spices, pineapple and rum are just what the country ham needs. The tamales are sweet with just a touch of saltiness. With all of the spices, the flavor explodes in your mouth with each bite. This recipe is such a creative representation of Kentucky meets Caribbean!

Jerk-style Country Ham and Pineapple Tamales
Reprinted with permission from Abrams Books

Makes 20 Tamales

Call this Bruce’s culinary free-for-all: a Caribbean filling made with American country ham and served as a Tex-Mex delicacy in corn husks. There’s not much more I can say, except they freeze well. Make them in advance, then wrap them individually in plastic and freeze for up to 3 months; thaw on the counter for 30 minutes before steaming as directed.

20 large, dry corn husks for tamales
6 ounces dried pineapple
10 ounces cooked country ham, rind removed and discarded, the meat cut into little cubes (a little less than 2⁄3 cup)
3 medium scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/4 cup dark rum such as Myers’s
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
4 cups instant masa harina
3 cups very hot water
2⁄3 cup peanut oil
1 teaspoon onion powder
1. Put the corn husks in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Set them aside to soak until soft, about 30 minutes. If they all won’t stay submerged, place a little plate over them in the bowl to force them down into the hot water.
2. Meanwhile, put the dried pineapple in a medium bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak for 10 minutes, then drain in a colander set in the sink. Chop the pineapple into tiny bits.
3. Transfer those pineapple chunks to a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Add the ham, scallions, rum, ginger, brown sugar, vinegar, 1 teaspoon cumin, the coriander, oregano, thyme, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, cayenne, and garlic powder. Pulse until well chopped and thoroughly blended but not pureed. This is the filling for the tamales, so you want some tooth in the thing—in other words, no baby food.
4. Mix the masa, hot water, oil, onion powder, and remaining 1 teaspoon ground cumin in a large bowl to make a wet dough.
5. Take a corn husk out of the hot water and spread it on your work surface so that its natural curl faces you. Spread a generous 1/4 cup of the masa dough into the corn husk, smoothing it out but also keeping it near the thicker bottom of the husk, like a little bed of dough for the filling. Spread the dough out to the sides a bit so that when you roll the husk closed the long way, that dough will encircle and even cover the filling.
6. Place about 11/2 tablespoons of the ham mixture in the center of the dough in the corn husk.
7. Fold the sides of the husk up and over the filling, thereby also bringing the masa dough up and around the filling inside. Make sure the sides overlap and fully close, holding the filling tightly inside. Fold the wider bottom up over the husk and do the same with the narrower top. Tie these in place with butchers’ twine so the tamale will stay closed.
8. Repeat steps 5 through 7 with the remaining husks.
9. Set up some kind of steaming contraption: either a large vegetable steamer in a large saucepan with about an inch of so of water in the bottom, or a couple of bamboo steamers placed over a wok with a similar amount of water in it. Bring the water to a boil over high heat.
10. Stand the tamales up in the vegetable steamer or lay them in the bamboo steamers. Cover, reduce the heat, and steam for 40 minutes, checking the water occasionally and adding more if necessary. In no event should the water rise and come in contact with the tamales. You want the water gently simmering in the pan or wok but not boiling vigorously. Once steamed, set the tamales aside for 5 minutes before serving, just so no one gets a steam burn from the incredibly hot filling inside. And don’t be a Gerald Ford. In the 1976 presidential race, he tried to eat a tamale still in the husk while campaigning in Texas. He lost the state. Unwrap the husk and fork out the tender filling inside.

Caribbean-style Pumpkin Soup

This creamy pumpkin soup uses scotch bonnet peppers for a subtle, pleasant heat.
Caribbean-style Pumpkin Soup | Fake Food Free

When we travel to Jamaica we always look forward to the pumpkin soup. Although the version I make at home uses a similar squash, I like the pumpkin soup of the Caribbean much better. It has taken me a long time to figure out what exactly makes the difference in the flavors.

First of all, there are the spices. Despite the fact I use pumpkin in all sorts of dishes, the temptation to put in a seasoning such as cinnamon or nutmeg is a force I can rarely overcome. After years of only eating pumpkin pie and bread it’s as if my brain says – there’s pumpkin, must add some variation of pumpkin pie spice – even when it’s a savory dish.

Second is the heat. I never added any type of hot peppers to my version, but I now believe that is what makes a pumpkin soup outstanding. It isn’t spicy; it’s just a mild, warming heat in the back of your throat after each bite. That’s accomplished with Scotch Bonnet peppers which I just happened to grow in our garden this year. They came on late, but I have a nice bag full in the freezer to pull from for occasions like this one.

Scotch Bonnet Pepper | Fake Food Free 

On one of our recent trips I picked up the cookbook, Eat Caribbean by Virginia Burke. Inside is a recipe for Pumpkin Lobster Bisque. Now pumpkin I had, but lobster I did not, so I tried modifying the recipe hoping it would turn out like the pumpkin soups we’ve had while traveling.

It’s definitely the closest I’ve come and much better than my standard version of winter squash soup. In this case, I think it’s the closest I want to get. Sometimes you want to make sure that there is still plenty of reasons to travel for the real thing.

Caribbean-style Pumpkin Soup | Fake Food Free


Caribbean-style Pumpkin Soup

Adapted from Pumpkin Lobster Bisque from Eat Caribbean by Virginia Burke

Makes: 4 to 6 servings


2 tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
4 cups mashed roasted pumpkin 
3 tbsp of tomato sauce (or 2 plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped)
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 whole scotch bonnet pepper
1 ½ cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/3 cup cream or half and half
1 tsp fine ground sea salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp ground black pepper, or to taste
Croutons for garnish
In a small soup pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter and add the garlic and onion. Cook for about 3 minutes, reduce the heat if necessary to prevent burning the garlic. Add the pumpkin and tomato sauce. Next, add the thyme and scotch bonnet pepper. 
Pour in the stock, stir and bring to a simmer. Simmer over low to medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stir occasionally. If you want more heat, gently pierce the scotch bonnet pepper as it cooks. 
Remove the thyme sprig and pepper and discard. Remove the soup from the heat. Using an immersion blender, puree all the ingredients. Or you can transfer the soup to a blender, blend until smooth and return it to the pot. 
Stir in the cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Return to low heat if necessary to heat the soup through.  Garnish with croutons, if desired. 
Thanks for reading! All images and content are the property of Fake Food Free unless otherwise stated. Please do not republish full recipes and images without written permission. What is okay? Feel free to Pin images, share links to my posts or share the photo in a round up post with the title of this recipe and a link back to the post. Confused about copyright and food blogs? Here is some helpful information on Recipe Attribution. If you want to use a photo or full recipe, just ask. I’m sure we can work something out.