Haitian Akra Fritters

Ready to make fritters out of something other than corn? Try Haitian Akra fritters, made with pureed malanga, garlic, scallions, pepper, and herbs fried to perfection.

Unfamiliar with malanga? It’s a tropical root vegetable from South America that’s good baked, mashed or roasted (or made into fritters). Malanga can help you meet your daily fiber and potassium needs. It’s also considered one of the world’s most hypoallergenic foods, making it a good choice for anyone with severe food allergies.

• 4 medium malangas (look for white or purple yautia in vegetable stores, local grocery, or specialty food stores)
• 1/4 green and red bell peppers, chopped
• 1 tspn salt to taste
• 1 tspn black pepper to taste
• 1 scallion, chopped
• 1 shallot or 1/2 onion, chopped
• 2 garlic cloves crushed
• 1 seeded Scotch Bonnet pepper, chopped
• 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
• 1/4 tspn baking powder
• 2 cups oil


Peel and grate malangas in small bowl.

Pound or blend scallion, garlic clove, hot pepper to obtain a pulpy consistency.

Chop onion or shallot, bell peppers, and parsley.

Add chopped and ground spices to grated malangas. Put all other ingredients to taste, such as salt, black pepper, and baking powder. Combine entire mixture thoroughly.

In frying pan heat oil on medium heat. Take sample of mixture with knife, then fry as many as you can.

Once fritters get golden brown, turn other side and let fry.

When other side golden brown, drain on paper towel and serve hot.

For a downloadable/printable version of this recipe, click: Haitian Akra Fritters

Submitted by: Nadyne Duverseau, Banking and Operations Assistant, Finance, The Episcopal Church

Perfect for Your Picnic Basket: Roast Beef Po’ Boy

St. George’s Episcopal Church, New Orleans, uses its sandwich-making skills as a fund-raiser during the Mardi Gras season, but you don’t have to save this deliciousness for next February. A traditional po’ boy travels well, making it a perfect crowd-pleaser for your Independence Day picnic basket.

St. George’s parishioner and master sandwich-maker Ed Brown shows the best way to cook the beef, what kind of bread and fixings are needed, and how to build this tasty meal.


Submitted by: Ed Brown, St. George’s Episcopal Church, New Orleans

Macaroni Gratine (Because Who Doesn’t Love Macaroni & Cheese?)

For all you mac ‘n cheese fans out there, here’s a Haitian twist on an old favorite. Macaroni Gratine is a Sunday tradition in Haiti. Enjoy!

Baked Macaroni and Cheese (Macaroni Gratine) Serves about 10 people


  • 1 lb. macaroni (ziti)
  • 3/4 lb. grated Gouda cheese
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 pinch ground pepper
  • 1 cup chopped onion and green pepper
  • 1 scallion
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 parsley sprig
  • 1 teaspoon olive or vegetable oil
  • 1½ cup evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup margarine butter


Preheat oven at 350° F.

Prepare glass baking pan (square or rectangle) by spreading a little bit of butter in it.

Bring to a boil on medium heat 10 cups of water with macaroni, oil, scallion, garlic clove, parsley, and 2½ teaspoons salt for 30 minutes. From time to time, stir macaroni so it doesn’t stick in the pot. Turn off heat, strain macaroni, rinse with cold water, and put aside.

In a saucepan, sauté onion and green pepper in butter on medium heat (5 minutes).

Reduce heat, add 1 cup grated cheese, stir, then add 1 cup evaporated milk, garlic powder, mustard (optional).

Mix flour with remaining milk and continue to stir until thickened. Turn off heat!

In large bowl, quickly combine macaroni with the creamy sauce, stir, add some grated cheese, pinch of black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, ketchup (optional).

Put macaroni mixture into glass baking dish, and sprinkle remaining grated cheese on top.

Bake for 45 minutes.

When top is golden brown remove, let cool off, then serve.

For a downloadable/printable version of this recipe, click: Baked Macaroni and Cheese Haitian Style

Submitted by: Nadyne Duverseau, Banking  and Operations Assistant, Finance, The Episcopal Church


If It’s Monday, It Must Be Red Beans and Rice

It’s Monday morning, the traditional wash day in times before washers and dryers came on the scene. So how will you feed a hungry family and get through that wash load? Just set a big ol’ pot of red beans and a big ol’ pot of rice on the stove, and forget about ’em. A delicious meal will be ready for you whenever the laundry’s done!



For a downloadable/printable version of this recipe, click: Red Beans and Rice, New Orleans Style + Creole Seasoning

Submitted by: Brian Reid from St. George’s Episcopal Church, New Orleans. Brian has contributed recipes that have appeared in The Times-Picayune and other local publications.

Hot Cross Buns, a Holy Week tradition

Want to try your hand at making Hot Cross Buns this Holy Week? The Rev. Heather L. Melton, Staff Officer, The United Thank Offering, offers a little history and several recipes to get you started. According to Heather:

“I first decided to make Hot Cross Buns because I had this amazing experience at my field education parish during seminary of Good Friday.  At Saint Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco, the service ends in silence, but when you walk outside folks with giant baskets of Hot Cross Buns greet you.  They are delicious after a long service and welcome hospitality after the depths of Good Friday prayers, Holy Week and reflecting on the sacrifices God makes and the depths of God’s love that we are asked to respond to.  Here’s the issue, I hate raisins and candied peel but love cinnamon. I wanted to create a Hot Cross Bun that would appeal to folks like me…raisin-haters.  (Before raisin fans get upset, this recipe shows you how to make Hot Cross Buns in the traditional way as well as two alternative ways.)  What I found when I started making these was that often the dough was tough, dry or too sweet.  I decided to go to the experts, the British, to see how they make theirs (they have flavors from Earl Grey Tea to marmalade) and what might be going wrong with mine.  What follows is an adapted recipe from Paul Hollywood of British Bake Off fame (if you like to bake and haven’t seen this show, I highly recommend taking off the week after Easter and watching them all.) with some additions I learned from a failed King Arthur Bread batch (I was tempted by the word “easy” in the title) and a halfway successful Pioneer Woman batch.  In case you are a purist, the links to each of those recipes is below.

In case you’re wondering where the Hot Cross Bun come from, there are a few stories floating around.  The one I go with is that a 12-century Anglican monk who made buns marked with a cross in honor of Good Friday.  It wasn’t until the 16th century that the buns became popular in Elizabethan England.  Queen Elizabeth I pass a law limiting the sale of Hot Cross Buns to funerals, Christmas and the Friday before Easter.  At that time, folks were fairly superstitious and they believed that sweet buns had medicinal or magical powers ant that those powers were being abused.  Limiting the sale was to help decrease these beliefs.”

Here are some of the stories of Hot Cross Buns from Smithsonian Magazine:

They stay fresh for a whole year.

If you hang a hot cross bun from your kitchen rafters on Good Friday, legend has it that the bread will remain fresh and mold-free throughout the entire year. This harkens back to the body of Christ, which, according to the Bible, did not show any signs of decay after his crucifixion and prior to his resurrection. The bun should be replaced each year on Good Friday. Later in the year, the buns were sometimes broken up, mixed with water and treated as a medicine, FoodTimeline reports.

They expel bad spirits.

Due to the blessed cross on top, hot cross buns hung in the kitchen are supposed to protect from evil spirits. They’re also said to prevent kitchen fires from breaking out, and ensure that all breads baked that year will turn out perfectly delicious. Likewise, taking hot cross buns on a voyage at sea endows the boat with some protection from shipwreck, according to legend.

And cement friendships.

Those who share a hot cross bun are supposed to enjoy a strong friendship and bond for the next year. A line from an old rhyme captures this lore, says Irish Central: “Half for you and half for me, between us two, good luck shall be.”

They’re too sacred to eat any old day.

In 1592, Queen Elizabeth I decreed that hot cross buns could no longer be sold on any day except for Good Friday, Christmas or for burials. They were simply too special to be eaten any other day. To get around this, FoodTimeline explains that people baked the buns in their own kitchens—although if they were caught they had to give up all of the illegal buns on their premises to the poor.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/five-great-myths-about-hot-cross-buns-traditional-pre-easter-pastry-180951130/#JYFsmpp4W81638ED.99

How To Make Hot Cross Buns

Be aware that this is a fairly labor-intensive recipe, don’t start making them an hour before Good Friday services and expect them to be ready.  This would be best done on Maundy Thursday, iced (if doing it the American way) on Good Friday and eaten before Holy Saturday.

The best method for making bread is to weigh your ingredients, so I’ve included the weight in grams.  The Pioneer Woman recipe is close to this one and has cups if you don’t have a kitchen scale.


For the Dough:

  • 1 1/2 scant cups of full-fat milk
  • ½ stick of butter
  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Baking Powder
  • 1 ½ t. Cinnamon
  • ¼-1/2 t. Nutmeg
  • vanilla
  • 100g sugar (you can add more if you like a sweeter roll, if you’re not adding dried fruit)
  • 1 tbsp oil (I used grapeseed, you can also use sunflower or vegetable)
  • 1 Packet of Yeast
  • 1 egg

“Filling” Options:

  • 75g sultana
  • 50g mixed peel
  • zest 1 orange
  • 1 apple: peeled, cored and finely chopped, or
  • 1 apple: Peeled cored and finely chopped
  • ¼ cup of pecans chopped, or
  • 1 apple: peeled cored and finely chopped
  • 75g of dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup chopped almonds

For the cross

  • English Style: 75g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • American Style: 1 heaping cup powdered sugar

For the glaze: 3 tbsp apricot jam


  1. Bring the milk to the boil, then quickly remove from the heat and add the butter. Leave to cool until it reaches 100-110 degrees. (I pour mine into a liquid measuring cup and put it in the fridge checking the temperature and stirring often.) Once it reaches the desired temperature, add the yeast to proof.
  2. Put the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, and spices into a bowl. Make a well in the center. Pour in the warm milk and butter mixture, vanilla and then add the egg. Using a wooden spoon, mix well, then bring everything together with your hands until you have a very sticky dough.
  3. Tip on to a lightly floured surface and knead by holding the dough with one hand and stretching it with the heal of the other hand, then folding it back on itself. Repeat for no more than 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size and a finger pressed into it leaves a dent.
  4. With the dough still in the bowl, add your filling ingredients. Knead into the dough, making sure everything is well distributed. Leave to rise for 1 hour more, or until doubled in size, again covered by a tea towel to stop the dough getting a crust.
  5. Divide the dough into even pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured work surface. Arrange the buns on one or two baking trays lined with parchment, leaving enough space for the dough to expand. Cover with a tea towel, then set aside to prove for 1 hour more.
  6. ENGLISH STYLE CROSS: Mix the flour with about 5 tbsp water to make the paste for the cross – add the water 1 tbsp at a time, so you add just enough for a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle. Pipe a line along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses.
  7. Heat the oven to 375. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes depending on the size of your buns, until golden brown.
  8. Once you remove the buns from the oven, transfer them to a cooling rack. Gently heat the apricot jam to melt, then sieve to get rid of any chunks. While the jam is still warm, brush over the top of the warm buns and leave to cool.
  9. AMERICAN STYLE CROSS: Once the buns are completely cool, mix the powdered sugar with milk or water, about 4 tbsp in all, but do it slowly so that you get a thick paste. (If it’s too runny just add more powdered sugar). Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle. Pipe a line along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses.

For the original, unadulterated Paul Hollywood recipe go here: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2066661/hot-cross-buns

For the Pioneer Woman recipe: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/hot-cross-buns/

And in case your baking luck is better than mine, the King Arthur Easy Hot Cross Buns: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/easy-hot-cross-buns-recipe

For a downloadable/printable version of this recipe, click: HOT CROSS BUNS

Submitted by: the Rev. Heather L. Melton, Staff Officer, The United Thank Offering


Calling All Recipes for Hot Cross Buns!

Hot-cross buns!
Hot-cross buns!
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot-cross buns!
If you have no daughters,
Give them to your sons;
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot-cross buns!

Do you have a hot cross bun recipe, memory, or legend to share with Make Ready the Feast for this traditional Good Friday bread? We’d love to fill the blog with your offerings during Holy Week! Any and all traditions and recipes for Holy Week and Easter are welcome. If sending a recipe be sure to include a photo or two. Email to: Mary Brennan, mbrennan@episcopalchurch.org.

For the Fourth Sunday in Lent: Simnel Cake

Who knew there was a traditional dish for the fourth Sunday in Lent? Our friend, Brian Reid, from St. George’s Episcopal Church in New Orleans offers a fine tradition and recipe for Simnel Cake. From Brian:

“We launched this tradition only a couple years ago at St George’s – serving the cakes after the service on the fourth Sunday of Lent.  A few or more people will bake and bring one. This year it’s been announced that anyone can bring any cake of their choosing, and we’re making a contest out of it.

The cake is an English tradition for the fourth Sunday in Lent, known as Mothering Sunday.  In the traditional Epistle reading for that Sunday, we hear from St Paul’s letter to the Christians in Galatia: ‘That Jerusalem which is above, is free, which is our Mother.’ This lead to a tradition of visiting one’s mother after this particular service. Expecting their families, mothers would bake this cake to serve with tea. Another story is that serving girls on estates and in households (think, Downton Abbey) were allowed this Sunday off to visit their mothers. Yet another story is that a family would travel to its ‘Mother Church,’ or parish they were originally from, on this Sunday.

At any rate, these cakes became popular over time for that occasion midway through Lent, which was a good time to break the fasting a little.  Much like the third Sunday of Advent, ‘Stir Up Sunday,’ with its baking tradition. Indeed, the two Sundays share the rose vestments and altar dressings in many churches, including ours at St George’s.

Over time the Simnal Cake was moved to Easter and is often decorated with the marshmallow peeps and chicks our nations share. Mothering Sunday continues to be celebrated today, the forerunner of the United States’ Mother’s Day held in May.

‘Simnel’ is from the Latin ‘similis,’ as in similar or same, as the cakes were originally made with equal parts of flour and sugar. Not so here, but the attached recipe is certainly not missing any butter. Soaking the fruit in brandy was my own variation of this, my priest’s, recipe. It certainly did not hurt anything!”

Enjoy the tradition of Simnel Cake:


  • One 4-ounce container red or green candied cherries, quartered (⅔ cup)
  • ¼ cup candied fruit and peel mix, excluding any cherries therein
  • 1⅓ cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup dried currants
  • ½ cup brandy
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1¾ cups self-rising flour
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 pound almond paste (marzipan), divided into thirds
  • 2 tablespoons apricot jam or preserves
  • 1 egg

The Night Before Baking:

Place the candied cherries and the candied peel mix into a mesh strainer, and pour over boiling water to rinse the syrup off.  Drain well in strainer, then on a clean dish towel or paper towel.

Place the raisins and currants in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 15 minutes (to plump), then drain well and dry on towels.

Place all of the drained fruits in a bowl and pour the brandy over.  Cover the bowl and let the fruit soak overnight.

Bake Day:

Preheat the oven to 300˚.  Butter an eight inch round spring-form pan.  Cut a round of wax paper to fit the bottom of the pan, and butter the paper.  Then, dust the entire pan with the buttered paper in the bottom with flour.

Cream the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat the eggs in one at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition.  Stir the self-rising flour into the batter.  Stir the soaked fruits with the brandy into the batter, along with the lemon zest and allspice.  Pour one-half of this batter into the prepared pan.

Roll out one third of the marzipan into an eight inch circle, and place this over the batter in the pan.  Pour the remaining batter over the layer of marzipan.

Bake in the 300˚ oven for 1½ hours, or until the cake tests done.  (A toothpick or metal skewer inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean, with only small dry bits of cake clinging to it.)  Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove the sides of the pan and let the cake cool completely.  Set the oven to broil and move the rack to a position in the oven so the cake will be about eight inches from the broiler.

Warm the apricot jam or preserves in a small saucepan, then spread over the top of the cake.  Roll out one third of the marzipan into another eight inch circle, and place this over the top of the cake.  Beat the third egg and brush this over the surface of the marzipan.  With your hands, roll the last third of the marzipan into eleven balls (representing the Twelve Disciples minus Judas).  Places the balls in a circle about one inch inside the circumference of the top of the cake, and then brush them with the beaten egg.

Place the cake under the broiler to brown the top surface of the cake, watching like a hawk!

Submitted by: Brian Reid from St. George’s Episcopal Church, New Orleans. Brian has contributed recipes that have appeared in The Times-Picayune and other local publications.

For a downloadable/printable version of this recipe, click: Simnel Cake Recipe