|Clockwise from left to right: Curried Vegetable and Cashew Patties, Painkiller (cocktail), Carrot Salad, Curried Citrus Rice|
I have recently been experimenting with some Caribbean cooking in my kitchen. Missing the islands, it's the closest I can get to the experience right now... allowing the flavors to transport be back to paradise. The funny thing about the Caribbean is that although so many of the islands may seem alike in many ways (gorgeous beaches, rum-based cocktails, sunny weather year-round), their cuisines can actually differ greatly based on who colonized them years ago.
I purchased a couple Caribbean cookbooks and have really enjoyed not only the recipes but the insight they offered on the cultures and their culinary influence. I'm really excited to share components of some of my Caribbean cooking! There were definitely some dishes that blew me away more than others, and I'm really looking forward to bringing the tropical vacation to Mission: Food in case any of you would like to take a trip from the comfort of your own kitchen.
|Clockwise from left to right: Jerk Ribs, Carrot Salad, Curried Vegetable and Cashew Patties, Curried Citrus Rice|
First up I'm sharing a clear-cut favorite in the side dish department. Although it seems quite simple (and really it is), it was such a highlight! I would have never thought to incorporate orange juice into a rice dish, but it was really amazing. The citrus flavor wasn't strong, but it really just added a bit of brightness to the dish, along with the spice isles influence of curry powder (along with it's yellow color), and some nicely softened sweet onion flavor. I'd serve this rice with so many creations, and not all Caribbean in nature. It's a really nice and impressive rice dish that I look forward to making again! I used basmati rice but you can use your favorite.
I also made a really simple carrot salad with a bright citrus vinaigrette. Its vibrant orange hue was a lovely addition to our meal, and the slight crunch of the shredded carrots also added a nice texture. Although it comes from a Caribbean cookbook, it definitely is not indigenous to that region, and can easily accompany any dish that would benefit from a little color, texture, and bright flavor.
The island cocktail I decided to make is a riff on the classic Painkiller, a drink invented at the Soggy Dollar Bar on the island of Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands. Traditionally, it is served over ice and features a ratio of 2 parts (or ounces per drink) dark rum, 1 part cream of coconut, 4 parts pineapple juice, and 1 part orange juice. The drink is then garnished with freshly grated nutmeg. The version I made was blended with ice instead and had a slightly different ratio of ingredients. It also lacked the nutmeg finish, but I can assure you, traditional or not, it was utterly fantastic and definitely the next cocktail I plan on making when I want a tropical drink fix. Move over, Piña Colada, there's a new sheriff in town!
These recipes come from The Sugar Mill Caribbean Cookbook, which is the official cookbook from the Sugar Mill Restaurant at its namesake resort on the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. The restaurant is well-known for its amazing cuisine, and the book is really fantastic. Although it has no pictures, they aren't missed. Tortola was one of the ports of call on my Disney cruise last fall. I didn't get to visit the Sugar Mill, but I loved the island and was very excited to try some recipes that could remind me of my visit.
Curried Citrus Rice
(From The Sugar Mill Caribbean Cookbook)
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp. curry powder
1 cup rice (such as basmati)
1 cup orange juice
1 cup chicken broth
1 tsp. kosher salt, or more as needed
1 bay leaf
Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan, and saute the onion until it is translucent. Stir in the curry powder and rice. Cook the mixture 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the remaining ingredients, and stir. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat, and cover the saucepan. Simmer the rice for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it is tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Remove the bay leaf before serving.
(Adapted from The Sugar Mill Caribbean Cookbook)
10 large carrots, peeled and grated*
4 scallions, chopped
2 T. finely chopped parsley
2 T. grated lemon zest
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 T. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Mix the carrots, scallions, parsley and zest together in a bowl. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the carrots, and toss together. Serve at room temperature.
*The shredding disc of a food processor makes grating the carrots fast and easy.
Makes 1 drink
(From The Sugar Mill Caribbean Cookbook)
1 cup crushed ice
1 1/2 oz. dark rum
3 oz. pineapple juice
3 oz. orange juice
2 oz. sweetened cream of coconut (such as Coco Lopez)
Orange slices, for garnish
Put the ice into a blender. Add the remaining ingredients (minus the orange slices), and blend until the mixture is frothy. Serve in a 12-ounce glass garnished with orange slices.
*Note* The Painkiller was invented on the island of Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands. It was made famous at the Soggy Dollar Bar. Traditionally it is served over ice and is typically 4 parts pineapple juice, 2 parts rum, 1 part orange juice and 1 part cream of coconut, with a garnish of grated nutmeg.