Workers of the World, Eat Right!
Portable food that's healthy and homemade.
Portable food that's healthy and homemade.
I often suggest that hard-working people make soups and stews in bulk as a way to have healthy, sustainable and inexpensive food on hand throughout the week. I mean, once you prepare your stock, most soups don’t take that long to make. They are great for using fresh, local and seasonal ingredients. And they freeze well. Of course, the problem is that a lot of hard working people don’t have the ability to warm up soups or stews on the job or the time to sit down at a table and enjoy them. Solution: portable foods.
Think tamales (Mexico), samosas (India), and patties (Jamaica). Most are hearty and compact. They have sustained people throughout history. And they are perfect for making in bulk, freezing, and grabbing before you leave for the day. In my attempt to revive the homemaking of portable foods, I have been doing some experimenting, using only fresh, seasonal and best-quality ingredients. My first success was Jamaican Veggie Patties. My love for this sustaining meal goes all the way back to Brooklyn.
From the time I moved there in 1997 until I moved to Oakland in 2005, veggie patties were one of my staples. I lived in Crown Heights my first year in New York, and there was a slammin’ Jamaican restaurant right down the block from my apartment. It was one of those hole-in-the-wall joints that always had a line extending to the sidewalk. When I moved to Clinton Hill, there was a Golden Crust Restaurant around the corner from my spot that always held it down (but not as good as the first place.) For many people, Jamaican patties are eaten as a snack, but when you’re living on a graduate school stipend of $15,000.00 a year in New York City, a $1.50 veggie patty moves quickly into the meal column. I still basically treat them as the center of a meal, usually eating them with a large green salad.
Using fresh ingredients will give you the tastiest product. But feel free to use frozen corn and peas if that is all that is on hand. So go ahead, check my soundtrack and suggested film to get you in the flow and try making these patties yourself. As an on-the-go-meal, these will be far more satisfying than anything you can pick up at a fast food place.
Jamaican Veggie Patties
Yield: 6 servings
Soundtrack: “Ghetto Youth” by Tricky from Pre-Millennium Tension
Film: Life and Debt (2001), directed by Stephanie Black. This documentary explores economic globalization and its impact on the Jamaican economy.
For the filling
· In a medium sauté pan over medium-low heat, combine the coconut oil, the onion, cinnamon, allspice, cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are caramelized. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, carrots and potato, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the carrots and potatoes are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the green peas, carrot, cabbage, thyme and lemon juice, cover, and cook for 3 minutes more.
· Season with additional salt and pepper to taste, and set aside to allow the flavors to marry.
For the pastry
· Combine 1 1/2 cups of the white flour with the pastry flour, turmeric and salt in a large bowl and mix well. Set the remaining 1/4 cup white flour aside. Add the coconut butter to the flour mixture and rub with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine sand, about 10 minutes.
· Combine the vinegar and water and mix well. Then, without overworking the dough, add the water by the tablespoon, while stirring, just until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and starts to coalesce. Squeeze into a tight ball, flatten, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
· Preheat the oven to 350°F and remove the dough from the refrigerator.
· With the reserved flour, lightly dust a clean surface, roll out the dough until it is about 1/8 inch flat. Cut 6 6-inch circles from the dough. (I use a bowl.) Spoon 2 heaping tablespoons of the filling onto the center of half of each circle, leaving about 1/8-inch border. Fold the other half over to make a half-moon, press to seal, and make ridges around the edge using a fork.
· Transfer the patties to a parchment-lined baking sheets, and bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Serve immediately with some hot sauce.
FOR THE FILLING
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 cup 1/4-inch diced yellow onion
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Coarse sea salt
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup 1/4-inch diced carrots
1/4 cup 1/4-inch dice yellow potatoes
1/2 cup fresh green peas, rinsed (use frozen if fresh are unavailable)
1/2 cup fresh sweet corn (you can also use frozen if fresh isn’t available)
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
FOR THE PASTRY
1 3/4 cups unbleached white flour, chilled
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, chilled
2 teaspoons turmeric
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup cold coconut butter
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons ice water