With the travel industry in free fall, lockdown likely to continue beyond Easter, and the suggestion that we do not venture more than a mile from our homes, travel is off the cards and all the more desirable. Every so often when I'm not preoccupied with something more pressing, my mind strays to future family holidays and where we could explore next.
A continued lockdown and the likelihood of a second wave of coronavirus towards the end of the year, suggests that it might not be safe to book any kind of travel for some time.
If we couldn't venture out today, I decided that we'd take a culinary trip to distant shores. Jamaica is a place I'd love to visit. It came into my consciousness again earlier this year when I read Nicole Dennis-Benn's novel, Here Comes the Sun.
Aiming to bring a little Caribbean flavour to our table, I sought out a recipe for Jamacian style pies which I made with rice and peas and served with a mango sauce. I wanted my pies to look like the golden yellow half moon patties I'd seen in takeaway windows not far from Half Moon Lane, South East London and for this it was clear I'd have to make my own pastry.
Pastry is something I've yet to master. I take inspiration from my friend Sarah, a one time farmer's wife (plus much much more), who can whip up a quick pastry in the blink of an eye whilst simultaneously chatting to you and making a pot of tea. It's only taken me about 15 years to catch on that pastry making is not actually that difficult. And doesn't take half as much time as you think it will.
Homemade Cornish-style pasties are also a favourite for Sarah's family and I thought of her as I was preparing to create something that felt very much like a spiced up version of the hand held meat pie.
I chose this recipe from Delicious magazine to base my pie pastry on. I modified the recipe slightly (swapping the sour cream for Greek yogurt (because that's all I had) and adding 1/2 tsp of turmeric to achieve the golden yellow pastry I was striving for). I also created my own filling combination, choosing best quality butcher's mince and combining this with red onion, desiccated coconut, mixed spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, grated ginger, garlic, worcestershire sauce and an egg.
My rice and peas were made with kidney beans, but in the past I've used gungo peas. A quick mango sauce delivered the finishing touch.
Our travels in the kitchen tickled our taste buds and reminded us that there's a whole world of culinary delights to explore even if we are stuck at home (if we can get hold of the right ingredients, of course!)