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Caribbean Cooking: The Last Blast of Summer

September is the last blast of summer! The best way to get through these busy days is to avoid fatigue, which means eating small meals and snacks every three to four hours. At lunch a light, low-fat meal improves midday alertness.

Iron is a good nutrient to include. If you must drink caffeine, drink it between meals, not with meals. Compounds in coffee and tea called tannins block the absorption of iron, a mineral that’s essential for carrying oxygen to your brain and muscles. To help you get through busy times here are some snacks and dishes designed to raise your energy level.

Please send me your suggestions of what you would like to read about and send any special easy recipes that you may like to share to:  Jan@allatsea.net.  Happy cooking!

CHICKEN AND SPINACH PANINI

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4

Nonstick olive-oil cooking spray
4 (6-inch) whole-wheat hoagie rolls, split; 8 slices whole-wheat bread; or 2 whole-wheat pita bread rounds, halved crosswise and split horizontally
4 cups fresh baby-spinach leaves
2 cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced thin
8 thin tomato slices (1 medium tomato)
1/4 tsp. celery salt
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 Tbsp shredded fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (2 ounces)

Lightly coat an unheated panini griddle, covered indoor electric grill, or large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

Place hoagie-roll bottoms or other bread choices on a work surface; divide half of the spinach leaves among these roll bottoms. Top spinach with chicken, tomato, and sprinkle lightly with celery salt, kosher salt and pepper. Add red onion slices and basil; add feta and remaining spinach. Top with hoagie-roll tops. Press down firmly.

Preheat griddle, grill, or skillet over medium heat. Add sandwiches, in batches if necessary. If using griddle or grill, close lid and grill for 2 to 3 minutes or until bread is toasted. (If using skillet, place a heavy plate on top of sandwiches. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until bottoms are toasted. Carefully remove plate, which may be hot. Turn sandwiches and top with the plate. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes more or until bread is toasted.)

ENDIVE AND BEET SALAD

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Chilling time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4

2 cups chopped Begian endives*
1-1/2 cups beet slices, drained
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 Tbsp honey
1/8 tsp Tabasco
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil

Mix all ingredients and chill at least 30 minutes before serving.
*Note: buy the whitest endives as traces of green at tips indicates the endive has been exposed to the light and will be excessively bitter.

BLACK BEAN  BURRITOS

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes (microwave)
Serves: 4

1/4 cup water
1-1/2 cups chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cooked black beans
1-1/2 cups chopped unpeeled tomato
1 Tbsp lime juice
1-1/2 ground cumin
2 Tbsp jalapeno chilies, chopped
2 Tsp chopped fresh cilantro

In a 2-quart casserole combine 1/4 cup water, onion, and garlic. Cover and microwave on HIGH 5 minutes, until softened, stirring once or twice. Mash beans. Add beans, tomato, lime juice, cumin, and chilies to onion mixture; stir well. Microwave on HIGH 10 minutes or until thickened, stirring every 5 minutes. Add cilantro, let stand a few minutes while heating tortillas. Wrap tortillas in damp paper towels; microwave on HIGH 45 seconds to heat. Divide mixture evenly between tortillas. Spoon down center of each and roll up. Serve with Salsa (recipe below)

MANGO AND ONION SALSA

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4

1 large ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and diced
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 Jalapeno chili, minced (include ribs and seeds for a hotter taste)
1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
4 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro leaves
3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
Salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Should the salsa be a little too hot or acidic for your taste, you can temper it by adding diced avocado.

CLAMS GOURMET

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
Serves: 8

1 lb Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
3 (6-1/2oz) cans chopped clams, drained
2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
2 Tbsp chopped chives
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 ground red pepper
1/4 of freshly ground black
8 slices pumpernickel bread

Combine cheese, clams, parsley, chives, garlic, pepper, and mix until well blended. For each serving, place bread slices in 4 oz soufflé dish, scallop shell (or any other ovenproof dish). Divide clam mixture among dishes. Broil until golden brown and bubbly. Garnish with parsley sprig and lemon wedges. Serve immediately.

FISH TACOS

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Marinating time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
Resting time: 5 minutes
Serves: 8

1 lb white flaky fish e.g. mahi mahi or tilapia
1/4 cup canola oil
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 jalapeno, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
8 flour tortillas

Garnish:
1 shredded white cabbage
Hot sauce
Sour Cream
Thinly sliced red onion
Chopped cilantro leaves
Pureed Tomato Salsa, recipe follows:

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Place fish in a medium size dish. In another bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice, chili powder, jalapeno, and cilantro and pour over the fish. Let marinate for 20 minutes.

Remove the fish from the marinade place onto a hot grill, flesh side down. Grill the fish for 4 minutes on the first side and then flip for 30 seconds and remove. Let rest for 5 minutes then flake the fish with a fork.
Place the tortillas on the grill and grill for 20 seconds. Divide the fish among the tortillas and garnish with any or all of the garnishes.

PUREED TOMATO SALSA

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Serves: 8

2 Tbsp peanut or olive oil
1 small red onion, coarsely chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
4 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 serrano chili
1 jalapeno, sliced
1 Tbsp chipotle hot sauce
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Salt and pepper

Heat oil in medium saucepan, add onions and garlic; cook until soft. Add tomatoes, Serrano, and jalapeno and cook until tomatoes are soft, about 15 minutes. Puree mixture until smooth and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Add the hot sauce, oregano, cilantro, and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Capt. Jan Robinson holds certificates from the Culinary Institute of America, The Ritz Cooking School, and the Cordon Bleu. Her Ship to Shore Cookbook Collection is available at your local marine or bookstore. Or visit www.shiptoshoreINC.com, email CapJan@aol.com or call 1-800-338-6072 and mention All at Sea to receive a discount.

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