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Caribbean Cooking with Some Classic Caribbean Recipes

White sand beaches, palm trees dipping their fronds into clear turquoise waters, and sailboats lazily drifting to shore—this is our Caribbean, and readers often inquire about new ways to reflect its beauty in their cooking.

Local recipes combine African, French, East Indian, and Spanish styles of cooking, reflections of the early settlers. Peas and rice together is a staple, along with sweet potato, okra, cornmeal, and breads: Johnny cakes, tarts, and meat pates. There are many popular dishes, like the Kallaloo and Fish and Fungi. Fresh fish is also a favorite—varieties such as spiny lobster, yellowtail, grouper, and red snapper—served with a popular hot sauce. Some of the fruits and vegetables you will find are papaw, sugar apple, soursop, yams, guavas, plantains, peppers and cassava.

Send your suggestions of what you would like me to write about (and please send any special easy recipes that you may like to share) to Jan@allatsea.net. Happy cooking!

PEPPER BOTTLE

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Marinating time: 24 hours
Makes:  Five 5-oz bottles

1-1/2 cups white vinegar
2 dozen hot peppers
1 onion, finely chopped
2 or 3 drops of oil (will make the sauce even more fiery)

Remove stems and chop peppers with seeds. Fill glass bottles with some peppers, then some onion, repeat. Top with vinegar. Leave for 24 hours before using. Use glass bottles with plastic tops or use corks. Note: There are many variations to making hot sauce. The sauce will be fiery if seeds are left in. Less fiery? Remove seeds. Very important: Handle hot peppers with care. Use a knife and fork, and/or vinyl or latex gloves. Protect your skin, face and eyes.

CHICKEN ROTI

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Marinating time: 2 hours
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves:  6 – 8

5 cups boneless skinless chicken, cut in 1” pieces
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 scallion, finely chopped
2 tsp hot sauce or to taste
3 Tbsp curry powder
1 Tbsp cumin powder
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 potato peeled and diced
Vegetable cooking spray
1/3 cup water
6 large flour tortillas

Combine all ingredients in a bowl (except last three). Marinate 2 hours or overnight. Spray skillet. Stir-fry chicken over medium heat to brown about 5 minutes. Add water and continue cooking until chicken is no longer pink inside. Heat tortillas either in a skillet or in microwave. Fold chicken into warm tortillas and serve seam side down.

Hint: Serve with your favorite chutney, mango, ginger, etc., and with Peas and Rice.

PEAS AND RICE

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves:  6 – 8

1 (15 oz) can pigeon peas, drained
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, red or green, chopped
1 tsp. thyme, fresh rubbed
1/2 cup cooked bacon or chicken
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup coconut milk
1-1/2 cups rice
2 cups water
1/2 tsp hot sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan, heat butter and oil, and brown onion and pepper. Add thyme, bacon, and tomatoes; cook a couple of minutes. Add peas and rice, coconut milk, and water to onion mixture. Season. Bring to a boil, cover pot, turn to low and cook about 20 minutes or until done (liquid is absorbed and the grains are soft.)

BOILED FISH

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 2

Two 1-1/2 lb whole fish (snapper, grouper, etc) or 1 lb fish fillet
Salt and pepper
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. basil leaves, finely chopped
1 Tsp. thyme, finely chopped
1/2 cup butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 cup water
1/3 cup milk
1/4 tsp hot sauce or to taste
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice

Scale and wash the whole fish or use fillets. Season with salt and pepper. In a skillet, heat butter and sauté peppers, garlic, parsley, basil, and thyme.
Heat a little oil in a large heavy bottom pan, place fish in pan and sauté for 2 minutes, turn and cook another 2 minutes. Spoon vegetables and herb mixture over fish, then place onions on top. Add water, milk, and hot sauce. Cover and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes. Pour lime juice over all just before fish is cooked. Do NOT overcook; fish should be firm but flake easily.

SWEET POTATOES – VEGGIE OR DESSERT

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Serves:  6 – 8

2 sweet potatoes (1-1/2 lbs,) peeled, cooked and mashed
4 large eggs
1-1/2 cups packed grated fresh coconut
Pinch of salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp ground spice
1 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 molasses
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup dark rum

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix all of the ingredients together and put in oven to table baking dish for about 45 minutes or until the pudding is set. Note: Maybe served with main course or for dessert with whipped cream.

KALLALOO

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves:  8

1 cup water
1/4 pound salt pork chopped
Meat from 2 cooked crabs or 1 lb lump crab meat
1/2 lb grouper, snapper, cleaned, boned, and cut in small pieces
2 Tbsp butter, divided
4 green onions
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 okra, cleaned and diced or 1 pkg frozen, thawed, drained, and chopped
3 lbs dasheen leaves, cleaned and stripped from their stalks or 1/2 lbs fresh spinach, washed and torn
4 cups coconut milk
2 tsp vinegar

Pour 1 cup of water into a large saucepan. Add the salt pork, crabmeat, and fish; bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small frying pan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add chives, onion, and garlic and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add this mixture to the pot with the pork. Add the okra, dasheen or spinach, coconut milk, and vinegar and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of butter, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with rice or cornbread.

Note: Dasheen is a leafy green similar to spinach. It can be found in specialty stores or spinach may be substituted. Hint: Eat Kallaloo every “old year” night for good luck!

Note: There are many ways to spell Kallaloo/Callaloo and many ways to prepare it.

 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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