The fifth cookbook from this bestselling author. Over 100 recipes that add that special Levi style to traditional favourites or describe totally new taste sensations to complete a meal or star in a teatime. Great for creating family treats that everyone will love.
Sugar and spice and all things nice. Levi’s latest collection of recipes is all about indulgence. From luscious cakes and bakes, to creamy puds, from cool ice-creams to wicked cocktails, this is food to share and make everyone feel good.
What does sweet mean to you? It could be those sweet moments by yourself, watching TV and getting out the popcorn or having a nice chunk of cake or a chocolate bar. Or it could be a celebration. Your birthday’s arrived – and that means it’s everybody’s birthday. From Almond Cake with Lime and Cardamom Syrup or Salted Caramel Cheesecake to Pears in Ginger Syrup and Mango Bellini, the recipes here are about celebrating and sharing, getting together and enjoying the moment with great food.
In an industry where everyone is busy, musician, hot sauce maker, restauranteur, and TV presenter Levi Roots is busyer than most. This is why we are grateful to him for finding the time to answer some of our questions about Sweet, his latest cookbook (And one of our Books of the Year for 2013!).
BooksAboutFood.com(BAF): This is a fun, almost festive, book was that your initial goal in creating this?
Levi Roots: I really love the festive season, or any excuse to celebrate! It’s a way of expressing love and I feel it’s important to enjoy yourself with friends and family on these special occasions. A lot of the spices used in the Caribbean are also used in Christmas cookery all over the world so it’s no surprise that there is an element of festiveness about this book – particularly clove, cinnamon, ginger and allspice. Caribbean food allows you to experience a blend of flavours in a unique way and I hope I’ve inspired people to try something a little different, but yet familiar! The spices and flavours in this book are used a lot in the Caribbean in both sweet and savoury dishes – not a lot of people appreciate just how versatile they can be.
BAF: Has food always been an important part of your life?
Roots: Food has always been a big part of my life. My earliest memories are of food from my childhood. Where I grew up, children were encouraged to help in the kitchen, especially boys. I learned a lot about growing and cooking food from my Grandparents, who I lived with at the time. When I got a bit older and moved to the UK, I really began to discover music so food took a back seat for a little while. I came back to it a few years later and decided to merge my two passions to create my Reggae Reggae Sauce business.
BAF: Besides cooking you are also an established musician. Are there similarities in the creation of good food and good music?
Levi Roots: There are a few. To begin with, you need to have passion for what you’re doing. Composing lyrics for a melody is very similar to choosing ingredients for a dish you’re about to cook. It’s done with love, passion and careful consideration! In the Caribbean, we wouldn’t separate food and music; there is such a sense of community that it always feels like a party!
BAF: From where do you find your inspiration?
Roots: My Grandmother was my inspiration growing up. She taught me how to cook and I credit her with the inspiration to create the sauce. I also was inspired by my mother who was a nurse and taught me how to read and write. When I moved to the UK, I discovered Bob Marley and he’s been a huge musical inspiration ever since.
BAF: What’s next for you?
Roots: We have a lot of exciting projects in the pipeline. I do a lot of work with charities such as The Prince’s Trust and the National Literacy Trust and we have a number of fantastic initiatives that we’re working on this year. We’re always looking to expand and improve the brand so we are looking at some new ranges. Lastly, we are now looking to open a chain of restaurants in 2015 so we have a lot of work to do but it’s a really exciting time for me right now!
Pears in Ginger Syrup
Caribbean Bakewell Tart
I love the look and I love the taste of this. There’s nothing more comforting than a steamed pudding and, with chocolate chips in it, it’s even better.
175g (6oz) self-raising flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
pinch of salt
100g (3 1/2oz) unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
100g (3 1/2oz) light muscovado sugar
2 free-range eggs
2–3 tbsp milk
150g (5 1/2oz) white chocolate chips
1 quantity Chocolate Sauce
(see page 94)
custard or crème fraîche
1. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and salt into
a bowl and stir to combine. Beat the butter and sugar together, using an electric mixer or by hand, until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture one at a time, alternating with spoonfuls of the dry ingredients, and beat with the mixer set on a low speed or stir gently by hand after each addition. Stir in enough milk to achieve a dropping consistency, then fold in the chocolate chips.
2. Spoon the mixture into a greased 1 litre (1 3/4 pint) pudding basin and cover with foil. Place an upturned saucer in a large saucepan with a lid and pour in roughly 6cm (2 1/2in) water. Put the pudding basin in the saucepan on top of the saucer and place over a medium heat.
Bring the water to the boil, reduce the heat slightly, place the lid on the saucepan and steam for 1 1/2 hours, checking from time to time to ensure the water doesn’t boil dry.
3. Drizzle over a little of the Chocolate Sauce and serve with the remaining sauce and custard or crème fraîche on the side.
Pears in Ginger Syrup
You can use firm, under-ripe pears for this dish, which combines ginger wine and spices as the base of a delicious syrup. Ginger wine is very Jamaican; I remember it from my youth, and there are lots of reggae songs about Stone’s Ginger Wine. If you can find one, sing along as you cook.
300ml (1/2 pint) ginger wine
300ml (1/2 pint) water
200g (7oz) soft light brown sugar
2 pieces of preserved stem ginger in syrup, finely chopped
3 thick strips unwaxed
2 bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks, halved
8 firm pears, peeled but stalks retained
double cream, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas mark 6. Place all of the ingredients except the pears and cream in a bowl and stir to combine. Arrange the pears in one layer on their sides in a 23cm (9in) square, 6cm (2 1/2in) deep ovenproof dish.
2. Pour the ginger wine mixture over the pears, cover with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, carefully turn the pears over and return to the oven for a further 30 minutes, then turn the pears again and bake for a final 10 minutes.
3. Transfer the pears, bay leaves, lemon rind and cinnamon sticks to a serving bowl. Heat the liquid from the ovenproof dish in a saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes to reduce, then pour over the pears. Serve with double cream.
For the pastry:
85g (3oz) cold unsalted butter,
cut into small pieces
125g (4 1/2oz) plain flour, plus extra for flouring
25g (1oz) caster sugar
1 free-range egg, separated
1/2tbsp cold water
For the filling:
150g (5 1/2oz) unsalted butter, softened
150g (5 1/2oz) caster sugar
3 free-range eggs, beaten,
plus 1 yolk
100g (3 1/2oz) ground almonds
finely grated rind of 2
1 tbsp white rum
3 tbsp lime marmalade (you can use Mango jam for a real Caribbean kick!)
pouring cream, to serve
handful of toasted flaked almonds or sweetened coconut shavings
icing sugar, for dusting
pouring cream, to serve
1. To make the pastry, put the butter, flour and sugar into a food processor and whizz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Mix the egg yolk with the water and pour into the food processor. Whizz again until the pastry comes together into a ball. (Alternatively, put the butter and flour in a large bowl and rub together with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar, then add the egg yolk and water. Bring the dough together into a ball with your hands.) Wrap it in clingfilm(plastic wrap) and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
2. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and use it to line a 20cm (8in) diameter, 3.5cm (1 1/2in) deep, fluted loose-bottomed flan tin. Put the tin into the freezer for 20 minutes to chill the pastry.
3. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas mark 7. Line the pastry case with nonstick baking paper, fill with baking beans and bake blind for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans. Lightly whisk the egg white and paint the dough with it. Return the pastry case to the oven for 5 minutes, then remove. Reduce the heat to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas mark 6.
4. Now make the filling. Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten eggs plus the extra yolk, beating after each addition. Fold in the almonds, lime rind and rum.
5. Spread the base of the tart case with the marmalade, then spoon in the almond mixture and spread it out using the back of a spoon. (It will look like you don’t have enough filling, but don’t worry.) Bake for 35—40 minutes or until the filling is set and golden on top. Leave to cool, then scatter over the flaked almonds or coconut shavings and dust lightly with icing sugar. Serve with pouring cream.