Month: January 2011

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Caribbean Tres Leches Cake

A proper Tres Leches cake is thirsty. Really thirsty. Each dry, pocket of cake crumb soaks up more milk than a stray kitten. Our version soaks up a little over 3 cups (!) of liquid as it sits in the fridge over night. While the texture is moist, a good Tres Leches cake will never be soggy or mushy. It will – against all odds – retain a discernible crumb in spite of the milk within. NOTE: See my recipe and associated feature story about Global Table Adventure in the Tulsa World. They probably learn about this cake in engineering school. If not, they should. Tres Leches cakes are primarily thought of as a Latin American/Mexican dessert. Q: What’s in the three milk mixture? A: It depends… Traditional Central American Tres Leches Cakes: – sweetened condensed milk – evaporated milk – heavy cream Drunken Tres Leches Cakes (Pastel Borracho): – water – rum/brandy – sugar Caribbean Tres Leches Cakes: – coconut milk – evaporated milk – heavy cream or sweetened condensed milk – sometimes rum RECIPE Makes …

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Menu: Dominican Republic

What would you serve if a special guest was coming to your house? Someone who you desperately want to impress? I’ll tell you what: serve them something simple, flavorful and – most importantly – something that practically cooks itself. You know, so you have time to brush your hair and change your clothes. Our Dominican menu is the exact menu I would suggest – after all, it was good enough to tempt the taste buds of Natalie Mikles, from a little paper that starts with Tulsa and ends with World! NOTE: The beans and chicken, when served with a side of rice make up “La Bandera” or “The Flag,” which is one of the national dishes of the Dominican Republic! Sazon/Sofrito [Recipe] Every cook in the Dominican Republic has a batch of Sazon or Sofrito – a traditional seasoning base – ready to go. Our version is made with peppers, cilantro, tomatoes, tomatillos, parsley, garlic, red onion, and more. Dominican Stew Chicken (Pollo Guisado) [Recipe] Tender chicken sautéed in a teaspoon of sugar, then slowly …

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About the Food of the Dominican Republic

Fancy a trip to the Alps? The Dominican Alps? That’s right. Smack dab in the heart of the Dominican Republic, far away from the ‘all inclusive’ resorts and pristine beaches,  are the tallest peaks in the Caribbean. Clinging to their sides are cool wooded forests composed, primarily, of pine trees. In the spring, a dedicated hiker may even be rewarded with clusters of sweet strawberries. I never thought learning about the D.R. – situated on a tropical island – would make me homesick for New England, but there it is. I’m ready for the first flight back. In case you aren’t a fan of fresh evergreen scents, you can swim in the billowing pools of Dominca’s waterfalls, or simply sit back and do nothing but sip on a cup of café con leche (coffee with milk) – a dream to end all dreams, as I sit here in a wool sweater, toes frozen, watching snow roll past my window. Speaking of coffee, let’s talk about food. If you look in any Domincan’s fridge you’ll find …

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Monday Meal Review: Dominica

I scanned the sky, holding my breath, waiting. A clammy draft met my face an inch from window. “I can’t tell.” I said, “Is it?” “No, I think that’s ice rain.” Keith said. I looked at the gray sky and saw nothing. I turned my head to the yellow streetlight hoping it would illuminate a few fluffy snowflakes. Instead, all I saw was spittle falling on a wet road. “Let’s go anyway. We could use the fresh air. And perhaps it’ll start while we’re out.” We bundled Ava in 4 layers, a hat, a hood, and a pair of purple thumbless mittens. We secured her in the stroller with a giant blanket and were off. “Wow. It must be 20 degrees out here. ”  he muttered. I pulled my coat tighter. “We’ll warm up when we get home,” I replied. Thirty minutes later we walked into the house, the frost still clinging to our limbs. I breathed in deeply and smelled the hot Callaloo. Green and smoky. Mmm, that ham bone was a great addition. …

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Grapefruit & Avocado Smoothie

Makes a quart Want a smoothie, but tired of all the “normal” options? Try this Domincan treat – a tantalizing blend of grapefruit juice and creamy avocado. The “ice” green color will have you cooled off in no time. (Thanks to the Facebook Fans who voted for this recipe) Ingredients: 3 avocados 2 1/2 cups grapefruit juice 1/2 cup sugar water (or extra grapefruit juice) for thinning to desired consistency Method: Take yourself to that special place, where the sun is shiny (shiny is one degree better than shining), the air is warm, and avocados are perfectly ripe and creamy. Now, wait a day. On this day the sun might or might not be shiny, but your avocados are really, really soft. Which is exactly what we need for this smoothie. See? Toss them in a blender (after removing the pits and the skins, of course). Splash on the grapefruit juice. Avalanche some sugar on top.  You might need more than me if you have a big sweet tooth. You might need less, if you like things …

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Fried Frog Legs

Makes 8 legs – Serves 2 What you are about to see is really, really strange. Some of you might be bothered by it. But, I promise, if you stay by my side, we’ll get past all the strangeness and enter the amazing world of deep fried food. And, let’s be honest, it’s hard to go wrong with deep fried food. Ingredients: 8 frog legs (4 pair) For the coating: milk 1/2 cup flour 1 tsp ground thyme 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp pepper Method: First, fill a pot half way with vegetable oil and bring to 335F. Then, set out a shallow bowl of milk. In a second shallow bowl, mix together the flour, ground thyme, salt, and pepper. Oh, and put on some sunglasses. I forgot to put a censor over these froggy legs. They make me blush. Thankfully, rolling them around in flour helps with the awkwardness. I feel much better. Don’t you? Deep fry at 335F until golden brown. Even better – no need for a censor here… Drain on a …

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Caribbean Bakes | Fried Biscuits

Makes 8 These biscuits don’t need butter and jelly. They don’t need gravy. Just eat them straight up, with a smile. Crispy and golden, they get their color from a boiling oil bath. Great for plunking into soups and stews, or alongside rice and beans. Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups flour 1 1/2 tsp sugar 1 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt 1 Tbsp butter 1/3 cup milk (a few drops more, if needed) 1/4 inch oil Method: Are you wearing a black shirt? You might want to switch it for a white one – this could get a little messy. First of all, there’s going to be white powder flying around everywhere when you whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Unless you choose a big enough bowl. After whisking furiously, add a lump of butter. There’s nothing better than a lump of butter. Unless you get grease stains on your shirt. Then, I suppose it won’t matter what color it is. Use a pastry cutter or fork to break the butter up …

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Dominican Hard-Boiled Eggs (w/ Poll)

What are you doing right this minute? Nothing? Ok, let’s go to Dominica for hard boiled eggs. What? That doesn’t sound very exciting? Just wait. Listen up. This is no ordinary hard-boiled egg. This is an experience. Here’s the “recipe”: 1. Fly to Dominica. Buy a carton of eggs. Carefully pack the eggs in bubble wrap or an old t-shirt. 2. Lace up your hiking shoes. Place eggs, water and other snacks in backpack. 3. Hike muddy, mountainous terrain to “Boiling Lake.” This will take about 3 hours. Be sure to bring a guide – the Valley of Desolation, full of loose gravel and other rocks, can be particularly treacherous to navigate. 4. Once at the lake, place eggs, possibly with the help of your guide, into a boiling puddle. There will be several on the edges of Boiling Lake. Let boil about 10-12 minutes. NOTE: Do not place egg in the actual lake. It is several hundred feet wide. And mega hot. Your eggs would be lost forever. And, not that it would matter, but also …

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Callaloo

Serves 4-6 Callaloo, a luscious green stew made all over the Caribbean, is one of *those* recipes. It’s like chili in the US; everyone lays claim to having the “best” version. And every version was made by someone’s mama, so you best not mess with it. This version is made by Ava’s mamma – me. But.. unlike those other recipes, feel free to mess with mine. After all, I’m a novice Callaloo maker and still have a lot to learn. Given the limitations of supplies around these parts, I went ahead and made a few substitutions, all clearly noted. Ingredients: 1 large onion, chopped 4 cloves garlic, crushed 4 green onions, sliced vegetable oil ham bone (salted pig tails are traditional, but I had a bone leftover from my Christmas ham) 1 lb baby spinach (use dasheen/taro leaves, if you can find them) 1 can coconut milk 1 coconut can of water 1/2 lb okra 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (about a sprig) 1/2 lb lump crabmeat (whole crab is traditional) Method: Add coconut milk …

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Menu: Dominica

Dominica, you reveal my dark side. The scheming, cruel woman within. You see, I had ulterior motives for putting “Mountain Chicken” our menu this week. Although I was a little nervous to try this strange creature, I really wanted to see Mr. Picky’s reaction. I imagined him gleefully exclaiming “Mmm, fried chicken.” Then I played out the moment when,  just as he took a big bite, I would mutter “ribbit” under my breath. When he questioned me I would burst out “Mountain chicken is frog!” and laugh like a mad woman. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite play out that way. The secret slipped. The worst part? When he found out, he nonchalantly replied… “Oh, frogs? Cool. I used to catch those in the creek with my buddies and cook them on a campfire.” You should of seen my face. So much for Mr. Picky. Callaloo (Caribbean Green Soup) [Recipe] This thick soup often includes dark green callaloo and pig tails but our version substitutes readily available spinach and ham bone. Slowly simmered with okra, habenero pepper, coconut …

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About the food of Dominica

A-hoy mate… raaawr… huh? What? No, really. Combine Pirates of the Caribbean and Jurassic Park and you’ve got a fair charicature of Dominca. This Caribbean island (with zero relation to the Dominican Republic) is odd as far as the Caribbean goes. The island looks like a “land-before-time,” filled with colossal green mountains, sky-scraper trees, and waterfalls that dangle like crystal chandeliers. There’s not much in the way of soft sandy beaches but there’s no shortage of mind-blowing outdoor excursions either, hence the nickname “Nature Lover’s Island.” So where do the pirates come in? Well, for starters real pirates loved to hang out in Dominca because, as the last island to be colonized (due to the difficult mountain terrain), it was considered “no-man’s-land.” That’s right folks. Once upon a time there was looting and shooting and merriment around the town.  More recently, Pirates of the Caribbean was shot on Dominca, utilizing the extraordinary backdrop of stringy, drippy tree-trunks and swampy waterways. So what about the food? One “jumpy” contender stands out thanks to the lush vegetation …

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Monday Meal Review: Djibouti

I ladled the thick batter into the pan and pushed it around. Sizzle-sounds swizzled through the air. A few moments later air bubbles sluggishly began to push their way through the batter. Pop. Pop…. pop. Mr Picky walked over and sniffed the batter. “What is this stuff? It smells weird.” “Laxoox, from Djibouti, but I’m not sure how to pronounce it. It’s got yeast in it. Like, for bread.” “Oh,” he said, perking up at the word bread. We leaned against the counter and watched as the bubbles slowly dried out. Tick, tick, tick. I shifted my weight around a bit. This was a lot like watching paint dry, but without the noxious fumes and I was a lot hungrier. Eventually the glossy sheen was replaced by a soft, dull surface. Perfect, I said, scooping the finished flatbread up and taking a giant bite. Mr. Picky’s eyes got huge. “You’ll burn your …” “Tongue..?” I interrupted, “Nah. Want a bite?” He looked at the pocked surface carefully. “Is it good?” “Yeah, dip it in honey.”I said, as I swooped it …