The Caribbean

102. Jamaica: Jerk Chicken

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For me when I think about Jamaica, Bob Marley is the first thing that comes to mind. And I’m gonna guess I’m not the only one. What you didn’t know is that Jamaica is a divided country and has been divided since the days of slavery, there is a small minority that controls almost everything, and then there is poor majority, less connected and left out. Jamaican cuisine is a reflection of the conflicted history. Bread fruit, salt fish this used to be slave food, cheap long lasting filling. Still all these years later the division between rich and poor is still very very clear.

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Things you didn’t know about Jamaica:

  • African slaves imported to Jamaica brought their own form of religion, Obeahism. Obeahism is a form of voodoo that is still practiced on the island. However, it is kept quiet, since the practice of Obeahism is punishable by death. People who practice this form of voodoo believe that the Obeah man can use evil spirits to bring good or bad luck to others.
  • British writer, Ian Fleming is famous for his 007 James Bond character. After designing his dream home, Ian Fleming chooses to have it built in Jamaica and name it Goldeneye. In Jamaica, he wrote ten of his world renowned James Bond spy thrillers.
  • In 1988, Jamaica became the first tropical country to enter a Winter Olympic event. It was the bobsled event. The movie, Cool Runnings, tells the story of the Jamaica’s first foray into the Winter Olympics. Only the United States has won more Olympic and World medals than Jamaica.
  • Jamaica is one of only two countries in the world that has no colors in common with the flag of the United States of America. The other country is Mauritania
  • The stunning Blue Mountains in Jamaica are named for the mist that covers them. From a distance, the mist appears blue. The second moon in a month is called a blue moon; however, there have been half a dozen sightings of sapphire colored moons in the past 40 years.(green and yellow). Libya used to have a solid green flag but has since changed it to include red and white. The Jamaican flag is green, yellow, and black.

I was so looking forward to finally trying out the real  Jamaican Jerk Chicken, and it was everything I dreamed it would be! Perfectly balanced spice and sweetness! And no this chicken is NOT BURNED, people!!! That is simply the spice rub that is caramelizing, and the most delicious part of the entire dish

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87. Haiti: Diri Ak Pwa (Rice and Beans)

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Haiti, it’s impossible for anything you’ve seen on tv to prepare you for what Port-au-Prince (capital of Haiti) looks like after the earthquake in 2010 that killed about 300.000 people in a day in 2010. And it’s cliche the worst kind of cliche to say life goes on, but of course it does. This is a city of 2.000.000 people as in so many places in the world you do what you need to do get by, you fight to live. Six years after the earthquake many of the damage that the earthquake caused is still there. The main religion in Haiti is Voodoo, on of their gods in Baron Samedi he is the keeper of the gateway between this world and the next, to the believers certainly a creepy guy. Would it help you if I told you his also the saint of procreation and humor? On the day of Baron Samedi, parades are organized with the cemetery as a destination. Although I can’t imagine going to cemetery is a happy occasion, the Haitians see this differently. On the day of Baron Samedi they celebrate life and bring offers to their ancestors. Offers like food and coffee.

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 Things you didn’t know about Haiti:
  • Haiti produces Rhum Barbancourt, an award winning brand of rum that is referred to as “the rum of connoisseurs”.
  • Haiti issued free visas and passports to 70 Jewish families during the Holocaust, about 300 lives saved. It has been speculated that one of the reason they couldn’t give more was the debt Haiti was paying to France, which was basically money the French decided Haiti owed them for freeing themselves from slavery. Haiti’s debt was “forgiven” after the devastating earthquake that hit the country in 2010.
  • In 1791, Haitians began what became the only successful slave revolt in the history of the world. Yes, the only one.
  • The English word barbecue is that it’s a derivation from the Haitian word barbacoa. The Haitians were referring to the framework of sticks used to cook meat over fire, but Spanish explorers who encountered this cooking method also referred to the results – the cooked meat – as barbacoa.
  • Colorful busses called taptaps take you from place to place named after the tap a passenger makes on the bus when they would like to get on or off.

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81. Guadeloupe: Coconut Lime Shrimp Tartare

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The 2 main islands of Guadeloupe are separated by a 50 meter width sea channel. Although 50 meters doesn’t seem that much the landscape of the 2 islands is completely different. Grand Terre in the East consists mainly of limestone with long magnificent beaches. It has a dry climate and is the centre of the tourist industry. Meanwhile Basse Terre is a mountainous island with extensive rainforests. So close and yet sooo different. The volcano La Grande Soufrière towers over Base Terre and is 1600m, it is the highest point in the Eastern Caribbean. Guadeloupe has the highest standard of living in the entire Caribbean.

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Grand Terre
Basse Terre
Basse Terre

Things you didn’t know about Guadeloupe:

  • The famous dance of the island is called the biguine, which is still performed in traditional colourful Creole dress.
  • Guadeloupe boasts some of the best diving sites in the world thanks to the crystal clear waters, wonderful coral, stunning wildlife and captivating ship wrecks!
  • The people in Guadeloupe call their country Karukera, which means butterfly in Creole

I think this is literally the easiest recipe I ever made! It takes time to marinate yes. But no effort at all!

Shrimp Tartare

Ingredients: 12 jumbo uncooked shrimp, deveined, coarsely chopped, juice of 2 limes, 2 avocados, peeled and cubed, 4 small white onions, peeled and minced, ¼ cup coconut milk, chives (chopped), salt and pepper

  1. In a bowl, combine lime juice and shrimp. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill in refrigerator, 2 hours.
  2. Prior to serving, stir avocado and onion into shrimp mixture.
  3. Drizzle with coconut milk and garnish with chives. Serve.

80. Grenada: Curried Lamb

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Grenada, Spice Island! It is said you can basically smell the nutmeg in the air everywhere you go.  And it could be called the Fruit Island for the luscious bounty growing in the green hills. Then again it could be called the Beach Island for the idyllic sandy strands. Yes Grenada is another of those oh so dreamy destinations, you would go to in a heartbeat is someone offert you a ticket. I haven’t been there but like sooooo many other countries, it’s on my list!

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Things you didn’t know about Grenada:

  • Being on the southern edge of where hurricanes usually pass through, Grenada has only experienced three hurricanes in the last 50 years.
  • Grenada has an underwater sculpture park! Divers and snorkelers can visit it! The sculptures of this underwater gallery very much reflect Grenada’s culture.
  • The French arrived in Grenada on 20th June 1650 and got engaged in a bloody campaign to take control of the island from the Caribs. After an unsuccessful attack on the fort of St. George, the Carib were chased by the French to a steep sea side cliff. Once there, the Carib saw that they had no escape and jumped into the sea below. All those who jumped perished and that point got named ‘Le Morne des Sauteurs’ or ‘Jumpers Hill’.

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Ingredients: 2 pounds lamb shoulder (boneless and cubed), 1 large onion, diced small, ½ cup finely diced chile peppers, 1 bunch scallions (chopped), 3 tablespoons curry powder, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, 2-3 tablespoons coconut oil, 2 cloves garlic (minced), 1 can chicken stock, 1 can coconut milk, limes (for garnish) ,chopped cilantro  (for garnish)

  1. Combine lamb, onion, peppers, scallions, curry, salt and pepper together and toss to coat meat and vegetables with spices. Pour into a covered container or Ziploc bag and refrigerate overnight.
  2. After meat has marinated for 12-24 hours, heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the meat and vegetable mixture and brown for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more, then pour in stock and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, cover, and cook until very tender and thickened, about 2-3 hours. Adjust seasoning by adding more salt or curry powder as desired.
  3. Serve over fragrant rice and garnish with limes and cilantro.

56. Dominican Republic: Asopao de Mariscos

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Dominican Republic, we know it’s in the Caribbean somewhere and they speak Spanish right? Sharing an island with Haïti, the Dominican Republic has seen it’s fair share of good times and bad times. Most vacationers know the Dominican Republic simply as an island of pristine white beaches, all-inclusive resorts, tropical cocktails and ice cold beers. The capital Santo Domingo is the oldest European style city in the America’, with grand cathedrals and old fort walls. But know T-shirt shops or fast food restaurants in sight. No, the Dominicans know what’s good for them, they have their own food.

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Things you don’t know about Dominican Republic:

  • Dominicans love baseball, it’s their number 1 sport! Almost 40% of US baseball players are actually Dominican.
  • The Dominican Republic is the only place in the world where the blue, semi-precious stone called larimar is found. It most closely resembles turquoise.
  • The capital city, Santo Domingo, has a rich history. Founded in 1496, it’s the oldest European settlement in the Americas.
  • The Dominican Republic is the only country in the world to have a bible simble on it’s flag
  • The only place where 5000 humpback whales travel each year to mate

This dish is so delicious, it’s a little bit like a caribbean style paella. And I love paella! Definitely one I will make again to impress someone :D. It’s so easy and has just the right amount of spice! And the fact that you can eat it out of bowl makes me happy. I don’t know what it is with food in bowl but somehow it always gives me a very warm feeling when I eat food out of a bowl.

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Asopao De Mariscos

Ingredients: 2 lbs of shrimp, 1 1/2 cups of rice, 500 ml of fish stock,  2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons tomato paste,  1/2 green bell pepper, 1 red chili pepper, pinch oregano, 1 crushed clove of garlic, 1 pinch black pepper, 1/4 cup chopped seedless black olives,  1/4 cup chopped celery,  1 spoon finely chopped parsley, 1 spoon finely chopped coriander,  1/2 spoon of thyme leaves, salt

  1. In an iron pot heat the oil (reserve 2 spoons of oil).
  2. Add the herbs, olives, spices, tomato paste, peppers, garlic and salt.
  3. Add the shrimps and stir (be careful with hot oil splattering)
  4. Cover and wait two minutes, then stir again.
  5. Add the fishstock and bring to a boil.
  6. Add all remaining ingredients (including the rice)
  7. Stir regularly to avoid excessive sticking. Let 3/4 of the water evaporate, by then a grain of rice should be about 3 times its original size.
  8. Adjust salt to taste. Serve while hot, with a slice of lemon.

55. Dominica: Caribbean Reef Chicken

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Dominica a tropical island in the sun, very often confused with Dominican Republic but that’s on the other side of the Caribbean. Dominica was discovered by Christopher Columbus on the 3th November 1493 on his second trip. He thought he had arrived in India. Oh boy was he of by just a few miles… When he discovered Dominica the Arawak people were living there. Soon after Dominica was colonized by Spain these Arawak people started dying of the flue and smallpox. Nowadays there are only 3000 Arawak people left on the island.

Dominica

Things you didn’t know about Dominica:

  • Dominica is the youngest island in the Lesser Antilles and was formed by geothermal volcanic activity.
  •  The main industry is tourism, however the locals are proud of how well preserved their island is and they’re doing everything they can to avoid deforestation. 40% of local power is generated through hydro-electricity thanks to all the waterfalls and rivers. Conservation and eco-tourism aren’t buzzwords on Dominica, they’re a way of life. Even if tourism increases to Dominica, it will never be a high-rise hotel island. (that’s the way to go guys well done!)
  • Dominica is often described as ‘the anti-Caribbean’ and isn’t your average 2-week all-inclusive style island. Since there are now white sandy beaches to be found on Dominica.

This Caribbean Reef Chicken is Sweet and Spicy at the same time! So deliciously caramelized!

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Ingredients: 1 roast chicken,, ½ tsp salt , ¼ tsp. pepper , ½ cup dark brown sugar , 4 tbs. dark rum  (divided) , 1 tbs. lime juice, 2 tsp. lemon pepper , 1 tsp. ginger , ½ tsp ground cloves , ¼ tsp. cinnamon , ¼ tsp. garlic powder , 2 drops sriracha hot sauce , 4 tablespoons of mango chutney, lemon – sliced, lime – sliced

Sprinkle salt and pepper over washed and dried chicken. Set aside.

In a small bowl, make Caribbean paste by mixing together sugar, 2 tablespoons of the rum, lime juice, lemon pepper, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, garlic powder, and hot pepper sauce; set aside.

Place the chicken, skin side up, in a large shallow baking pan. Rub Caribbean paste evenly over the chicken. Bake in a 205 C oven for 75 minutes or until the chicken is fork tender. In a blender, place chutney and remaining 2 tablespoons of rum; process to blend. Spoon chutney mixture over chicken and bake about 10 minutes more or until chutney is warm.

 

 

 

50. Cuba: Cubano Sandwich

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50 countries, wow that’s a huge mile stone for me! And since Cuba has been in the news recently, I am very glad to just now cook a recipe from Cuba. When they hear Cuba most people think: cigars, classic cars, Ché Gueverra and Fidel Castro. The past 50 years the Cubans had to be very patient but finally there seems to be coming an end, to some of their problems, since President Obama shook hands with Raul Castro last week. They had to pretty inventive in the last decades for instance: The old cars that are so typical for Cuba they are not just a touristy thing. There are no other cars in Cuba, those old things are their actual vehicles to get from A to B. Imagine the car trouble they must have had?! How many reparations those cars must have had! Havana

Here are some things you didn’t know about Cuba:

  • Government vehicles in Cuba are legally required to pick up any hitchhikers.
  • Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the world: 99,8 % (education is free, so no excuse not to learn how to read!)
  • Only 2 countries in the world that are not allowed to sell Coca Cola officially: North Korea and Cuba.
  • President Kennedy bought 1200 cuban cigars just hours before signing the embargo against Cuba.
  • Coke and Rum is called a ‘Cuba Libre’ (Free Cuba) almost everywhere in the world except Cuba there it’s called ‘Little Lie’.
  • When Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba he ordered all game sets of monopoly to destroyed.

So because I really really really wanted to make 2 cuban recipes. This weekend I will make a Roja Viejo but I couldn’t wait to make this one, since I’ve heard and read so much about it! And I know a Cubano Sandwich isn’t actually Cuban but a lot of people think it is. Although the Mojo Pork is Cuban! This is a damn good sandwich! And it takes a while to make it with marinating the meat but it’s so worth it. My dad said: You could probably make a fortune by opening a sandwichbar and just selling these!

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Ingredients for the pork mojo: 160 ml of extra virgin olive oil, the zest of one orange, the juice of an orange, the juice of a lime, 7 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed, a bunch of fresh cilantro, a handful of chopped fresh mint, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, freshly ground pepper, 1 piece of a kilo of pork (I used pork loin)

Ingredients for the sandwiches: 250 g slices of leg ham cut knife, 12 thin slices of pork Mojo, 100 g of melted butter, for brushing, two baguettes or large loaves of bread each cut the in 3 parts, 12 slices of Swiss cheese emmental or gruyere, 12 dill pickles (the bigger the better), yellow mustard (the best to use is burgers mustard but you should not use Dijon or ancient mustard)

1. In a large bowl, whisk the oil, orange zest, juice of Orange, lemon juice, garlic, coriander, mint, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper.

2. Pour this mixture in a large frozen plastic bag. Place the piece of meat inside and make a knot to the bag. Let marinate in the refrigerator between 12 and 24 hours turning it upside down occasionally…

3. After this time, remove the meat from the bag and place it on a baking pan with the fat side up. Bake at 180 ° for one hour or until the meat does not show pink juice when pinched.

4 Remove from oven and cover with foil. Let stand 30 minutes before cutting.

5 Once past this half an hour, cut the meat into thin slices. Put side.

6 Turn on the grill or sandwich maker and heat it up.

7. On a hot griddle or large skillet, cook to golden both sides of the pork mojo slices and then the ham slices. Put them aside

8.Slice the dill pickles. The larger they are the better.

9 Brush both cut sides of bread with yellow mustard. Layer bottom of bread with two steaks and cover with the ham.

10 Put the pickles over the ham and cover with two slices of cheese.

11 Cover with the top cut of the bread and using a kitchen brush, paint well with melted butter all sides of the sandwich.

12 Put the sandwich on the grill and let it heat well until the bread is crispy on the outside. Enjoy!