Yesterday I got to see Levi Roots in action at the Marcus Lipton Centre. The consummate entertainer and chef demonstrated how to BBQ, grill or bake five recipes at a cost of £5 each for the Loughborough Junction Big Lunchers who are holding our BIG LUNCH on Sunday 2 June on the corner of Loughborough and Barrington Road.
First he had to ‘de-bling’ all his rings – luckily he’d organised for a ‘bling bowl’ to be on the table. And then straight into the recipes and a few stories along the way.
After all as Levi said, cooking in the Caribbean is all about being social, having fun and chatting, listening to music while the BBQ splutters in the background and the sun shines.
We had a lovely British grey sky but were soon enjoying the banter and after his trademark ‘Lord a mercy’ Levi launched into his recipes.
Hot cheesy potato skins went down a treat with the local ‘tasters’ and the prebaked (20 mins) and scooped out potato skins were filled with chopped spring onions (scallion) and thyme and then drizzled with olive oil and baked at Gas Mark 6 till brown on the outside – and then they were filled with the ‘magic’ Reggae Reggae sauce and topped with cheese before being bunged back in the oven till the cheese had melted. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and an optional pinch of sea salt on top.
Carnival food got a look in too – with corn on the cob – but whereas most Caribbean cooks put the whole corn, leaves and all on the BBQ, these were de-skinned and pre-boiled on the stove. You put them on the BBQ with salt and oil and serve it once it’s got that BBQ tinge with flavoured butter. (Levi suggests premaking the flavoured butter and keeping in the fridge – you add spring onion and garlic to softened butter and then wrap it up in wax paper ready to cut when needed). Delicious.
To add some spirituality to the mix we got an I-tal dish – vegan and made from local produce. You need flakes of thyme, 2 big tomatoes (from your garden or Brixton Market) sliced in 3 thick slices and chopped up garlic with a bit of chilli.
First toast brown bread with the crusts cut off and then rub the pieces with a slice of garlic. Mix the thyme, garlic and chilli in a bowl with olive oil and then pour mixture onto the tomatoes before grilling toms until they are brown. Press into the pieces of toast and then cut up – superb.
Then a dish that Levi said he’s added to his repertoire ‘because Halloumi cheese is not typically Caribbean’. Halloumi and melon wrap.
You cut up pieces of sweet melon or watermelon or even mango and put them into a bowl, then add some chopped mint and red onions and pieces of cucumber. (Levi’s tip is to de-seed even the cucumber or it gets into the teeth especially of elderly relatives). Then add chopped up chilli (with seeds for hotter) and cover with the juice of a lime. For the Halloumi, you can cut pieces and BBQ straight onto grid or place the pieces on tinfoil, which Levi prefers. After it’s ready you place the combo into wraps (or roti) and cut up or eat whole.
Wonderful food and a great vibe.
For pudding: bananas. Slit them along their skins the natural way from top to bottom and then cover the banana inside with a mix of yummy muscovado sugar, softened butter and vanilla extract mashed up together. Then whip them onto the BBQ. Optional extras are nutmeg and a tot of rum!
You stick them on the BBQ for about 20 mins until the sugar seeps around the banana and serve the hot insides with a dollop of cream. BOOM and it is ready, as Levi says.
The Big Lunch is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and led by the Eden Project and aims to encourage us to reach out to our neighbours, chat and eat together. This year’s event will be based around a carnival theme so keep your eyes and ears open and let’s get in the mood!
Angela Akinyemi, Events Coordinator, Loughborough Junction Community Action Group and organiser of the Loughborough Junction Big Lunch, says: “We can’t wait for our event on 2 June and we’ll definitely try out some of Levi’s recipes on the day.”
For more information about the BIG LUNCH visit www.thebiglunch.com