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Caribbean Cooking: Tis the Season to be Jolly

…the busiest social season of the year and you want to entertain with style. Make your table enticing and your meal so delicious that your guests will beg for your recipes. Here are a few ideas …A side table (like the captain’s chart table) will provide more serving area and can be a focal point with festive decorations. Use a good quality linen table cloth, fine china, sparkling silverware and glassware. (For sparkling glasses put lemon juice in the rinsing water.) The right glassware not only makes a table pretty and proper but also makes the drink taste better.

Adjust the lighting. Create a glowing table with a centerpiece and low tea lights. This centerpiece can be decorated with local crotons, tropical flowers, holiday ornaments, or ribbons. Make it in any size or shape—oval, round, rectangular or square—to fit your table.  If you can find traditional evergreens in the Caribbean, they will last 4 weeks or longer if they do not dry out, so keep them watered. Soak them each day for the first week or so, every other day the second week, then taper off to twice a week.

Decorate the chairs: Wrap wide gold or colored ribbons around the top of each chair and tie in a big bow in the back and attach a sprig of greenery.  Let your imagination run free and make attractive, individual place cards or tiny table gifts.  You want to make this an affair to remember!

MENU:

*Island smoothies (mid morning)
*Caribbean eggnog (Coquito)
*Reggae chicken
*Shrimp paté
*Veal with pine nuts and sun dried tomatoes
Garlic mashed potatoes
Steamed carrots with orange and lemon slices
*Palace white chocolate mousse with strawberry purée

*indicates recipe provided    

ISLAND SMOOTHIES

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Serves: 2

1 ripe banana
1/2 cup ice
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup gold rum, optional

Directions:
Peel banana; break in 4 pieces.
Put banana, ice and juices (and rum) in blender.
Blend on high until smooth.
Pour smoothies into 2 glasses and enjoy!

CARIBBEAN EGGNOG (COQUITO)

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Serves: 12

6 egg yolks, coddled
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
Pinch of salt
2 cans evaporated milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 cans Coco Lopez (cream of coconut)
1/2 bottle white rum

Lightly beat the egg yolks with cinnamon, vanilla, salt and 1 can evaporated milk. When well mixed add the other can of evaporated milk, condensed milk, Coco Lopez and the rum. Pour into a large jar with an air tight lid. The longer it chills in the refrigerator, the better it gets. Serve in a nice stemmed white wine glass (about 1/2 full), or glass of your choice.

REGGAE CHICKEN

Cooking time: 55  minutes
Serves: 8

1 lb chicken pieces, your choice; wings, legs, thighs, cut-up breasts
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup water
2 tsp prepared mustard
6 scallions, cut in 1 inch pieces

Place all ingredients in saucepan.
Cover, bring to boil.
Turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Uncover and simmer 15 minutes more, stirring occasionally
Serve hot or room temperature.

SHRIMP PATE

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Chilling time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6

1/2 lb cooked shrimp
1 clove garlic
4 Tblsp butter
3 Tblsp cream
2 tsp dry sherry
1/2 tsp dill
Salt and pepper to taste

Process first 5 ingredients in processor or blender. Stir in dill, salt and pepper. Spoon into small ramekin, sprinkle with additional dill. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

VEAL WITH PINE NUTS AND SUN DRIED TOMATOES

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Serves: 6

4 Tblsp chopped shallots
1 Tblsp olive oil
2/3 cup pine nuts
1 Tblsp butter
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup beef broth
2 lbs veal scaloppine
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, divided
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tsp basil
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes

Sauté shallots in olive oil. Brown pine nuts in butter. Reduce broths to 1/2 cup by boiling uncovered 15 minutes. Pound veal to 1/8 inch/3 cm thick, coat in flour and sauté in 1/4 cup butter over medium heat 1-2 minutes per side. Transfer to plate. Add shallots, pine nuts, reduced broth, sun dried tomatoes and simmer 8 minutes. Whisk in additional butter and basil and spoon over veal. Serve with garlic mashed potatoes and carrots with orange and lemon slices.

PALACE WHITE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE WITH STRAWBERRY PUREE

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Chilling time: 4 hours
Serves: 8

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
4  large egg whites, beaten to form soft peaks
1 lb imported white chocolate, cut in small cubes or shaved
2 cups whipping cream, well chilled

Combine sugar and water in saucepan, bring to boil until sugar melts. Bring to hard ball stage (255°F/125°C.) and slowly add syrup to beaten egg whites. Beat in chocolate pieces. Whip cream until stiff and fold into mousse. Pour into a glass serving bowl. Chill at least 4 hours.

Strawberry Puree Sauce:
1 lb pkg frozen unsweetened strawberries
2 Tblsp triple sec or Amaretto
4 Tblsp sugar

Purée all ingredients together. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes. Pour over mousse and serve.

Hint:  As an alternative way to serve; the mousse may be placed in individual stem glasses to chill.  Spoon purée sauce over and serve.

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