, Newburyport, MA


April 2, 2014

Spicing things up

Port cook puts a global twist on homemade dishes


“I don’t get the opportunity to do a trial run when I do the recipes for the Custom House, so I kind of have to nail them right the first time,” she said.

One recipe that Mullins has revisited a few times is a South African version of grilled cheese, braaibroodjie.

“I’ve also translated it into a pizza,” she said. “It works really, really well for a pizza.”

Mullins learned to love the art of preparing food as a child growing up with a Pakistani father and American mother.

“My mom will tell you I’ve been cooking since she carried me on her hip,” Mullins said. “I’ve always enjoyed cooking. I’ve always enjoyed just trying different things, experimenting, that doesn’t change.”

As someone who makes “three meals a day, seven days a week” most of the time, Mullins said she doesn’t really have a favorite dish.

“It’s going to come down to, ‘What am I in the mood for?’” she said. “There’s very little I can’t cook. I can make everything from mac and cheese to a dish from Senegal.”

Below, Mullins shares four recipes, two from the First Friday Socials and two of her own specialties.

Jamaican Sweet Potato Stew

Vegan and gluten-free

1 cup kidney beans/red peas (precooked or soaked overnight)

4 cups coconut milk

2 pounds cubed sweet potatoes

1/2 cup cubed pumpkin (or butternut squash)

1 cubed medium carrot

1/4 pound string beans

2 scallions

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 medium onion, chopped fine

1 scotch bonnet pepper

1 teaspoon salt

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

2 small tomatoes (cut into chunks)

Cook the kidney beans/red peas in coconut milk.

Add the sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, and string beans. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Add salt, onion, scallions, tomatoes, thyme, garlic, pepper and margarine. Simmer another 10 minutes.Serve hot.

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