As kids, my brothers Greg, Doug and I would spend endless summer holidays on Lemara, my Grandpa’s yacht which was moored at Richards Bay in northern Natal, South Africa. We would swim, fish off the bow, and go on day-trips to Pelican Island, a small island at the entrance to the harbour.
I remember on one trip to Pelican Island with Grandpa; we went for a walk leaving our gear on the shore, and upon returning we discovered a troop of monkeys rummaging though our food supplies. Grandpa had a sling-shot (the local South African Term is a Katty), he loaded it with a big stone and fired at the monkeys, hitting one square in the head, and as they were fleeing he hit another smack on his bright blue bum.
Back on Lemara, Gran would always cook up a hearty supper, and being three small growing boys needing to replace energy from the activities of the day; we must have eaten a lot, and I am still amazed at how Gran fed the three of us from the small galley. One of my favourites was Tuna Bake. This is a mixture of several recipes and I think I have recreated the delicious cheesy tuna flavours that Granny served up.
300g spiral pasta
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups milk
2tsp vegetable stock powder
zest of 1 lemon
fresh ground black pepper
2 cups grated tasty cheese
1 425g can tinned flaked tuna in springwater
200g large flat mushrooms, chopped
panko crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs)
Preheat oven to 180°C. Boil pasta to packet directions until just cooked. While pasta is cooking melt butter in a medium pan and sauté onion until soft. Stir in flour and cook; stirring for one minute. Remove from heat and stir in milk. Heat until mixture simmers and thickens. Remove form the heat and stir in stock powder, pepper, zest and 1 1/2 cups of cheese.
Combine cheese sauce, tuna (including the springwater), drained pasta and mushrooms in a large oven-proof casserole dish. Sprinkle with a generous layer of panko crumbs, a layer of the remaining cheese, and then a thin layer of panko crumbs. Bake for 25-30 minutes until browned and crispy on top.