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Caribbean Cooking: Fun in the Summer Sun

Here are some great ideas for making the most of the season’s plentiful fresh produce: ripe tomatoes, asparagus, and string beans—just a few of the vegetables available—and then there are all the stone fruits: peaches, apricots, nectarines, and plums. A little heat, a little sizzle!

ASPARAGUS SPEARS WITH CITRUS-GINGER DIP
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4 – 6

1 lb. asparagus
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 sour cream
2 tsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. orange juice
1 tsp. grated orange zest
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp. Dijon-style mustard
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger root
1 tsp. soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Snap tough ends off asparagus. In a large skillet, bring about one inch of water to a boil. Add asparagus and simmer, uncovered, until barely tender, about four minutes. Drain and dunk in ice water until cold; drain, cover, and keep in refrigerator until serving.

In a medium size bowl, combine all remaining ingredients. Transfer to an attractive serving bowl, serve with asparagus spears or cover and chill until ready to serve.

STUFFED TOMATOES WITH PEACHES, CORN, CUCUMBER, AND BASIL
 Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4

4 ripe medium beefsteak tomatoes
2 ripe peaches, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup corn kernels
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/3 cup shredded basil leaves
Garnish: sprigs of basil leaves

Slice off tops of tomatoes (about 1/2 inch). Scoop out the seeds and ribs and coarsely chop. Stir together chopped tomatoes, peaches, cucumbers, corn, oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Let stand for 15 minutes. Taste, add more lime juice if necessary. Stir in basil. Season inside of tomato shells with salt and pepper. Fill tomatoes with tomato mixture and garnish. Serve immediately.

MEDITERRANEAN TURKEY BURGERS
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10- 14 minutes
Serves: 4 – 6

1-1/2 lbs lean ground turkey
1 medium-size firm Bosc pear, peeled, cored, and coarsely grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, very finely minced
1-1/2 tsp fresh sage, finely chopped
1-1/2 tsp rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl mix together the turkey, pear, egg, panko, parsley, garlic, sage, rosemary, and allspice; until well combined. Add salt and pepper, or more to taste.

Divide the mixture into six equal portions and shape them into patties, gently pressing the center of each to create a slight indentation. This will prevent the patty from bulging in the center, so that you end up with a flat, evenly cooked burger. Refrigerate the patties until the grill is ready.

Prepare a charcoal fire or a gas grill to medium-hot. Wipe the rack with canola oil and lay the burgers on it indentation-side up. Let them cook, without pressing down on them, until the bottoms are well seared, about five minutes. Flip the burgers and continue grilling until they are completely cooked through (the juices will run clear), about another six minutes.

Prepare your hamburger buns (I like toasted Kaiser rolls or English muffins). Add lettuce, sliced fresh tomatoes and onions, and whatever else you like to add to your burger.

PARMESAN, CHICKEN AND BROCCOLI PASTA
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4 (2-1/2 cups each)

8 oz (1/2 of 16 oz pkg) whole wheat spaghetti, uncooked
1/2 cup Light Zesty Italian Reduced Fat Dressing
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. Boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
4 cups broccoli florets
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook spaghetti as directed on package.

Heat dressing and garlic in large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and broccoli; cook and stir five to seven minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Stir in tomatoes and half of the mozzarella cheese; cook one to two minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally.

Drain spaghetti; place on serving plate. Top with chicken mixture, remaining mozzarella cheese and the Parmesan cheese.

SPINACH, RED PEPPER AND MANGO SALAD
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

2 red bell peppers
2 tsp + 2 Tbsp olive oil
10 oz (6 cups) baby spinach, trimmed
2 cups mango, peeled, pitted and cut into cubes
1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
4 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut sides from bell pepper and brush with olive oil. Heat a lightly oiled well-seasoned ridged grill pan over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking then grill bell pepper, turning once, until just tender, about 4 minutes. Cut bell pepper into strips. Toss together bell pepper, spinach, mango, onion, lime juice and remaining 4 Tbsp oil, salt and pepper.

NO-BAKE BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Chilling time: 40 minutes
Serves: 8-12

2 cups (1 pkg) crushed graham crackers
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup plus 4 more cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 Tbsp cornstarch
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 carton whipped topping, thawed

Stir together crumbs, butter, and sugar. Press into a 13 x 9 pan (not metal). Chill thoroughly OR bake in 300ªF oven for 15 minutes and cool completely. Whip cream cheese and confectioner’s sugar together. Spread over cooled crust. Cook one cup blueberries with water, sugar, cornstarch and egg until thickened. Cool. Add four cups fresh berries when completely cool. Pour over crust and cream cheese layers. Cover and chill. Top with whipped topping.

Note: Instead of the first three ingredients, you can use a prepared graham pie crust

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