Wed | Feb 26, 2020

Barbara Hepburn - Legend In the Kitchen

Published:Thursday | June 28, 2018 | 12:19 AMLatara Boodie/Gleaner Writer


"I can cook any dish, and the funny thing is I don't eat meat, and I have never had meat from birth, but I can cook it and I can almost guarantee that it is the best, " said eighty-seven-year-old Barbara Hepburn, a legend within the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission's history and a phenomenal humanitarian within Hepburn's community. In celebrating their 55th anniversary, JCDC highlights her ability to create innovative Jamaican cuisine that will leave you beaming with country pride.


Kitchen escapades


Hepburn began her kitchen escapades from as early as elementary school by being an active member of the 4H club.

Her most memorable experience involved learning how to make butter from scratch.

Her passion for food grew at the workshops held by the Social Development Commission (SDC), which gave her an opportunity to perfect her skills and compete professionally.

"They (workshop coordinators) told us what to do and how to enter the JCDC (Jamaica Cultural Development Commission) Culinary Arts Competition and I was the only one from the SDC workshop that entered in culinary arts... I got a certificate of appreciation" she said.

"I have a zeal for cooking, and when you have nine children and one adopted, you have to feed them well. Cooking for me was just everything, and that is why I entered the competition over the years," said the award-winning chef.

Barbara has over sixty gold, silver and bronze medals, certificates of merit, plaques, and trophies, which she has garnered in eighteen years of competing within JCDC.

Her most memorable entries include Yellow Yam Ice Cream, Fish in Jacket (fish with creamed potato), Yellow Corn pudding,

Plantain and Dasheen pudding, Pumpkin & Banana pudding, Red Pea's wine and Mango Bread

Turn Cornmeal Delicious served with Chicken"


3 cups cornmeal

4 cups coconut milk

1 medium onion

1 large stalk escallion

2 cups dice beef

1 green sweet pepper

6 small okras

1/4 cup diced raw saltfish

1 medium tomato diced

1/4 lb Grace Hello Margarine

1 hot scotch bonnet pepper (cut very fine)

black pepper to taste

2 tsp salad oil





Cook the meat until it is brown, and set aside

Lightly fry onion, escallion, green pepper, okras, tomato, hot pepper in salad oil

Combine meat, saltfish, butter, cornmeal and stir well.

Set coconut milk to boil until a slight scum is formed (roughly 10-12 mins), then add cornmeal.

Stir well to remove lumps, then cover and steam on a very low flame.

Stir occasionally until cornmeal is cooked

Grease a mould dish and press the turned cornmeal in cover of dish to keep warm until ready to serve.

Unmould and serve with chicken and tomato slices.


Fish In Jackey/ Blanket





6 to 8 medium-size fillets (2 lb)

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon white peper

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup snipped fresh dill

3/4 cup dry white wine


1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced


For Sauce


Reserve fish liquid

1/4 cup flour

1 cup light cream

For Mashed Potatoes

3 lb Irish potato

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup butter/margarine

1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1 egg yolk (optional)




1) Preheat oven to 350ºF. Rinse fillets under cold water: dry with paper towels. Fold in half. Arrange in large, ovenproof (2-inch deep) baking dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, lemon juice and snipped dill. Add wine. Cut 2 tablespoons butter in small pieces.

2) Dot top of fish with butter. Cover dish with foil. Bake 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in 3 tablespoons hot butter in medium skillet, over low heat saute sliced mushrooms until tender (about 10 mins). Remove from heat and set aside. Remove the fish from oven

3) Carefully drain off liquid and reserved (liquid should measure about 1 1/2 cups). Drain fish very well. Make sauce: Add flout to mushrooms. Stir until smooth. Stir in reserved fish liquid and the cream. Cook over medium, stirring constantly until mixture boils.

4) Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring. Pour sauce over fish. Prepare mashed potato: Cut in quarters. Cook in 1 inch light salted boiling water just until potatoes are tender (about 20 mins). Drain very well, return to saucepan.

5) Heat slightly over low heat, to dry out potatoes. Beat (preferably with mixer) until smooth. In saucepan, heat butter and milk just butter melts (do not boil). Gradually beat in hot milk mixture until smooth. Beat in salt, pepper and egg yolk until light and fluffy.

6) With mashed potato in pastry bag, with a number 6 tip, make lattice pattern over fish and around the edges (as pictured). Place in 350ºF oven until bubbly and hot (or potato is lightly browned/25 minutes). Garnish as desired-Makes about 6 servings.


Callaloo Casserole





Mashed Potatos

2 1/2 lb potatoes, pared and quartered

1 tablespoon salt


1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup butter or margarine

1/6 teaspoon white pepper

1 dash cayenne

2 egg yolks (optional)

Cream Callaloo

1/4 cup chopped onion

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

3 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 cups light cream

2 pkg (10-oz size) chopped callaloo, cooked and squeezed dry.

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/6 teaspoons white pepper

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg


1) Make mashed potatoes: Put potatoes and salt in a large saucepan; add cold water to measure 1 inch deep. Bring water to a boil over high heat. Cover; reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain well and return to saucepan.

2) Place pan over low heat and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until potatoes are dry. Beat potatoes (preferably with a mixer) until smooth and no lumps remain.

3) In a small saucepan, heat milk and butter until butter melts-do not let milk boil. Gradually add hot milk mixture to potatoes, while beating potatoes constantly for a smooth, light and fluffly texture. Beat in white pepper, cayenne and egg yolks.

4) Make callaloo: In saucepan, saute onion in butter until tender but not brown. Remove from heat and stir in flour. Gradually stir in cream; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add spinach, salt, pepper and nutmeg; cook 3 mins or until hot.

5) Grease a shallow 9-inch round ovenproof serving dish. Spoon callaloo mixture into center of dish. Fit a pastry bag with a number 5-star tube and fill potato mixture. Pipe large potato rosettes around edges of spinach mixture. Sprinkle with cheese (if desired).

6) Into take to a covered-dish dinner: Cover Callaloo Casserole with foil and bake just before serving. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Uncver spinach and bake 15 mins or until potatoes are light golden brown. Makes 8 servings