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Caribbean Cooking: Sailing into Spring

New year’s resolutions came in and went out with the tide. We now sail in with the spring tide and the latest culinary mode…nouvelle cuisine.  Actually it has very little new about it. Nouvelle cuisine uses the same ingredients that have always been used, but now combines more ethnic flavors. The cuisine is also lighter, with less fat and fewer calories, the portions are much smaller, although in a restaurant they cost more, because they require special garnishing!

Spring break is also here. School is out – party time. People are heading for the beaches, their boats and the water for fun in the sun with some great boating, fishing and barbecues. To add extra flavor to the ribs use my Jerk marinade recipe. Set the table with brightly colored placemats and lots of napkins. Then turn on some good reggae music

MENU
• Caribbean Pumpkin Soup
• Salmon with Whiskey Dill Sauce over a Warm Salad
• Mango Flambé
• Or, for the boat or picnic …Jerk Barbecue Ribs
• Spicy Cole Slaw

CARIBBEAN PUMPKIN SOUP

Preparation time:  15 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4

1 lb. pumpkin or (1×16 oz can pumpkin)
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 small celery heart stalks, chopped
1 fresh tomato, chopped
1 Tblsp. butter
1 Tblsp. flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves (optional)
Black pepper
Pinch salt
2 tsp. cider vinegar
1 cup milk
Garnish:  chopped scallions

Cook and mash pumpkin (save stock). Or, one can pumpkin mashed plus six cups vegetable stock. In a large saucepan, sauté onion, celery, and tomato in butter. Blend in flour and seasonings. Add pumpkin and gradually add stock. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes. Purée in blender. Add vinegar and milk and reheat – do not boil. Serve in individual bowls and garnish with chopped scallions.

SALMON WITH WHISKEY DILL SAUCE OVER A WARM SALAD

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4

Sauce:
1/4 cup whiskey
1 Tblsp. chopped dill
1/4 cup sparkling (or white) wine
1 oz. butter

Put all ingredients in a saucepan, stir and simmer until blended. Set aside.

Salmon:
8 x 1-inch wide salmon fillets, skin on
freshly ground pepper, to taste
Flour

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Dust salmon with flour and place on grill in an oven dish. Bake until cooked, about 15 minutes.  Arrange on the Warm Salad and garnish with chives and lemon slice twists.

Salad:
Mixture of fancy lettuces
8 small red potatoes, boiled (still warm)
2 medium-size tomatoes cut in wedges
16 capers
8 thin slices each of red and green bell peppers, blanched

Wash and drain lettuce, tear in pieces. Cut potatoes in quarters, and tomatoes in wedges. In a bowl toss lettuce, potatoes, tomatoes, 16 capers and bell peppers. Toss with dressing (below), then divide salad and place in the center of each of the 4 warmed dinner plates.

Dressing: 
1/3 cup olive oil
1 Tblsp. cider vinegar
Black pepper
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
Pinch of sugar

Warm dressing in microwave and pour over salad.

MANGO FLAMBE’

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4

4 medium mangoes
Brown sugar
Butter
Cinnamon
Apricot Brandy (or a gold rum)
Garnish:  4 small bunches of black grapes

Peel mangoes carefully, then cut the meat off the stone in pieces as big as possible. Melt butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan. Very quickly sauté fruit until glazed. Pour on apricot brandy and flambé.  Serve immediately while flaming with a little of the sauce.  Garnish with a small bunch of grapes on each plate – makes this dish look very appetizing!

JERK MARINADE

Preparation time: 5 minutes                                             
Yields: About 1-1/2 cups

1 onion, finely chopped
3 scallions,  finely chopped
1 hot pepper, finely ground
2 Tblsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tblsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground pimento (allspice)
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1-1/2 Tblsp. white or cider vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1-1/2 Tblsp. olive oil
1-1/2 tsp. hot pepper sauce, or to taste

Mix all the ingredients together. This marinade is excellent for beef, chicken, or pork. Marinade in a tightly closed jar in the refrigerator. It will keep about 1 month.

JERK BARBECUED RIBS

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Marinating time: 4 hours                                             
Cooking time: 1-1/2 hours
Serves: 4

1-1/2 cups Jerk Marinade (see recipe above)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
4 lbs. pork spareribs
About 1-1/2 cups barbecue sauce (or your choice)

Combine the Jerk Marinade and vinegar. Pour over the ribs and coat thoroughly. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Prepare the grill. When the coals have burned down, rake the coals to the sides. Set a drip pan in the center. Place the ribs on the grill over the drip pan and cook for 1-1/2 hours, turning and brushing frequently with the marinade. Brush the ribs with barbecue sauce during the last 15 minutes of cooking.

SPICY COLE SLAW

Preparation time: 15 minutes                   
Chilling time: 1 hour
Serves: 4 – 6

3 cups shredded green cabbage
1 cup shredded red cabbage
4 scallions, finely chopped
3/4 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tblsp. sugar
1 Tblsp. cider vinegar
1 Tblsp. Dry Jerk seasoning (see recipe below)

Combine the cabbage, carrots and nuts in a large bowl; set aside. Mix together the mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, and seasoning. Spoon over the cabbage mixture and toss well. Cover and chill at least 1 hour before serving.

JERK DRY SEASONING

Preparation time: 15 minutes                 
Makes: About 1/4 cup

1 Tblsp. onion powder
1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Mix together all the ingredients. Store any leftovers in a tightly closed glass jar. It will keep its flavor for more than a month.

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