In my fantasy world I live in a beautiful house on the beach. I love the ocean air - always have - and while I have lived in many places where the ocean was within sight of our place, it was not directly on the beach. In my fantasy I wake up in the morning to be greeted by the warm sun streaming through the large windows and swaying lush green palm trees dancing in the gentle warm breeze.
The ocean is not blue it is turquoise and emerald and the sands are pure virgin white. On the weekends we have picnics and barbecues on the beach with the children building huge sand castles and the adults laughing enjoying the carefree atmosphere.
In the evenings Tom and I sit on the patio to enjoy the sun dip into the horizon leaving a burst of red in the skies. The house itself is elegant and has the feeling of ocean everywhere, where the interiors are done up in sea and sand colors in blues and whites. Just like the ocean there is a lot of open space with the transition from one room to the other with as few walls and doors as possible. In my fantasy world I would probably be able to afford James Radin to do the interiors in one of his designs!
If I was asked where on the globe my fantasy house and beach is, I would probably say the Maldives or the Caribbean. I've never been to either of the places but from what I have seen I imagine it would the perfect place that fits into my fantasy world. They've got the lush green palm trees, the piercing turquoise seas and the white beaches - and they've got the food I crave for in both my worlds.
I have been smitten by the Caribbean cuisine, in particular, so I would probably decide to move there! It includes all my favorites, seafood, chicken and steak, all prepared with the flavorful and colorful ingredients of the islands. Popular dishes include coconut shrimp, jerk chicken pasta, chicken kabobs, ribs with guava BBQ sauce and Key Lime Pie.
Caribbean cuisine is like a cultural kaleidescope, each turn brings on a new flavorful dish, which represents the plentiful bounty of the islands' lush tropical vegetation, combined with the one or more diverse groups of people that have lived there. The cuisine is influenced by the Spanish, British, French, and Dutch settlers, as well as Africans, Indians and Chinese, so you see why I call it a kaleidescope!
My own dish for this session of Caribbean Cooking for the Monthly Mingle is of a dish I really love to prepare in the summer when the grill is out! The jerk style of cooking is native to Jamaica, where meats like beef, goat or chicken are dry-rubbed with a spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice. The jerk seasoning usually contains allspice and scotch bonnet peppers as the main spices and cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, thyme and garlic as additional flavors. The meat is typically barbecued over charcoal, which gives it that famous "burnt" look.
In my version I put the jerk spice mixture together myself and marinated the chicken breasts in the marinade overnight. As currently in my part of the world it is freezing and the grill has been stored away for the winter, I decided to pan fry the chicken - something I would not do in my fantasy world as I would always have the grill out! The chicken turned out simply fantastic and had all the moistness and gorgeous aromas of the spice seasoning. I used the marinade to make a thick sauce and served it with a side of roasted sweet potatoes, corn and bacon (recipe below).
The meal was more than delicious it was pure ecstasy and truly satisfying. The mixture of all the spices was powerful and by no means overkill - on the contrary they all were in perfect harmony. It's a fairly easy dish to whip up and for the incredible flavor we got, worth making the spice mixture from scratch.
Judging by the amount of entries I have gotten to date I am thinking that this mingle is a bit challenging for some, so I am extending the deadline to Friday 13th! I also made an effort to look through a few cooking sites to see what they had on offer for Caribbean cuisine. Here are the lists:
I hope that these recipe lists give you a few ideas to cook up some great Caribbean food and bring it over to the beach party for a great mingle. Right now the party food is looking good but we could use a lot more! Don't forget each entry has a chance to win Cynthia's first cookbook - My Caribbean Cookbook!
Recipe: Jamaican Jerk Chicken
Printable version of recipe here.
4 chicken breasts, fat trimmed
60 ml + 2 tablespoons olive oil
65 ml soy sauce
170 ml white vinegar
115 ml orange juice
Juice of 1 lime
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1 medium sized onion, chopped
1 Scotch bonnet pepper, finely chopped (I used a normal red chili)
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 spring onions, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
- In a large bowl combine thyme, allspice, black pepper, cinnamon, sage, cayenne pepper, salt, nutmeg, garlic powder and sugar.
- Using a wire whisk, slowly add 60 ml olive oil, soy sauce, vinegar, orange
juice along with the lime juice.
- Add the scotch bonnet pepper, onion and the green onions then mix well. Pour some of the marinade into a separate bowl, cover and refrigerate.
- Place the chicken breasts into the remaining marinade, cover and marinate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet on high. Remove the breasts from the marinade and cook on each side until dark brown, lower the heat and continue cooking until the chicken fully cooked. While you are cooking, baste the chicken with marinade. Season to taste.
- Heat the left over marinade and simmer until thickened and serve on the side for dipping.
Note: This recipe is not as hot as you would find in Jamaica. It is my variation of the traditional dish created for kitchens around the world.
Tip: If you want it more spicy hot, you may want to double up the quantity of the dry spices for a more authentic flavor.
Recipe: Roasted Sweet Potato with Corn and Bacon
Printable version of recipe here.
2 large sweet potatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
150g bacon cubes
200g sweet corn kernels
Small bunch of mint leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper
- Scrub potatoes well. Dry and brush with oil. Transfer the potatoes to a baking sheet and cook at 200 degrees C. for 45 - 60 minutes until done. Remove from oven, peel and cut into cubes and set aside.
- Fry the bacon in a skillet along with the onions until the bacon is nice and crispy and the onions are translucent.
- Add the corn kernels and heat through, then add the sweet potato cubes and toss to incorporate the ingredients, making sure not to mash the potatoes.
- Sprinkle with mint leaves and transfer to a serving bowl.
Serving tips: Enjoy with Jamaican Jerk Chicken.
I Just love the flavor of both dishes. The intense, sharp and hot flavors of the chicken pair so well with the slight sweetness of the sweet potato and corn side. I was surprised that Soeren really dug into this. I did make his chicken slightly milder in flavor but it still had a good bit of heat. Although this tastes just incredible off the grill I was extremely pleased with the results in the pan.
I also would like to thank all those who have sent their entries for your feedback on the new Monthly Mingle Form. Glad you are finding this process easier and more comfortable. It gives me too a better overview without loosing any of the entries to the spam folder. Should anyone have any trouble using the form please do not hesitate to contact me.
You might like these exotic chicken flavors from WFLH:
|South African Chicken Biryani||Chicken Tikka Masala||Spicy Arabian Chicken|
Caribbean Flavors From around the blogs:
- Caribbean Chickpea & Sweet Potato Casserole - Greedy Gourmet
- Grilled Sweet & Spicy Shrimp - Crabby Cook
- Arroz con Leche (Rice Pudding) - Coffee et Vanilla
Daily Tiffin Reading Tip:
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