Month: June 2011


Jicama & Chayote Salad

Makes 1 large bowl If you’ve never had jicama or chayote, you’re in for a real treat. Jicama is watery and crunchy, a lot like water chesnuts, but mildly sweet. Chayote is in the squash family, and you can taste it. When dressed with a splash of lime and orange juice, the salad brings together the tropical flavors of Central America. Ingredients: 1 jicama, peeled and sliced into matchsticks 1 chayote, sliced into matchsticks 2-3 large oranges, segmented 1/2 large red onion, sliced thinly 1-2 limes, juiced fresh cilantro, to taste olive oil salt & pepper Method: Welcome to a pantry of fresh flavor. Of deliciousness. Of happy salads just waiting to be made. Slice everything up, nice and thin. Segment the orange – meaning cut off the skin and use a sharp knife to cut wedges out from between the segments. Sprinkle with plenty of lime juice. Realize your salad bowl is much too small to do any ingredient tossing. Pile everything into the largest, reddest bowl you can find. Douse with a splash …

Read More

Caribbean Coconut Ice Cream

Makes 5 cups I like to float around in easy, breezy sundresses all summer long. I also like to wear my hair short and laugh really loud at silly jokes. Finally, I like to eat ice cream by the gallon while squeezing my eyes really tight and imagining I’m on a Caribbean island. This is best done while nibbling on a cold spoonful of creamy coconut ice cream, made even sweeter by the fact that I didn’t have to turn on the stove – not even for one second – to make it. Call me a glutton for punishment, but I think this ice cream should be served with warm Baked Brown Sugar Bananas, another wonderful Caribbean treat. Ingredients: 2 1/2 cups half and half 1 1/4 cups sweetened condensed milk 1 1/4 cups coconut milk Garnish: Toasted, shredded coconut Method: Before we get started, let’s give a nod to how coconut ice cream is traditionally made in the Caribbean. First, a beautiful coconut would be hacked open and shredded for deeply rich coconut ice …

Read More

There’s *what* in my drink?

Welcome to the wonderful world of “I didn’t know that!” Haiti Take a stroll through the Haitian markets. Soak up the sights and smells. See that lady selling jars of brightly colored liquid? She’ll tell you “All the medicine you’ll ever need is in a jar of rum.” She’s not selling just any rum, this is the Klerin pharmacy, a.k.a. the white rum pharmacy. All manner of goodies are added to her jars – from spices to bark, fruit to leaves. A few sips of this trempé and you just might find your tummy woes gone.  Or eyes feeling better. Or that growth on your face suddenly shrinking. Who knew? Honduras Honduras, like many countries in the Americas, enjoys a good smoothie. Pineapples and melons, outrageously heavy with sweet juices, get whirred up into licuados, meaning latin smoothie. The fun thing about licuados  is you can have your breakfast cereal right in your drink. Locals particularly love granola, oatmeal, and cornflakes. Try it with your next drink – toss in a small handful and give it …

Read More

Plantain & Cheese Turnovers | Tortas de Plátano

Makes 8-10 Imagine. It’s the height of summer. You spend all day roughhousing with the ocean. When every muscle in your body is heavy, you lay down in the sand for an impromptu picnic with a package of street food – tortas. In less than a minute you make several cheesy, crispy, fried plantain tortas disappear into your happy belly.  After the last bite, you lick the salt from your fingers and drink a tall glass of water. You stretch out for a nap, still warm from the glow of a little too much sun. Did I just find one of the secrets to a happy Honduran childhood by the seashore? I sure hope so. What is it about summer and fried food? While I don’t normally include loads of oil in my daily line-up, there’s nothing like a big bite of crispy fried goodness to cap off a great day in the sun.  Play around with this recipe – make it your own. Our tortas simply contain cheese, although beans are traditional as well. Ingredients: 4 …

Read More

Menu: Haiti & Honduras

Hi friends. I have something to tell you. There were some questions yesterday about why I was combining Haiti and Honduras this week. I told you it was because I was building in sick time and vacation. That’s true. What is also true is that my mom is coming this weekend, all the way from Boston. She’d like to help with our Hungarian menu. I’d like her to help with our Hungarian menu. It’s our heritage. Hungary runs through our veins. We’re also hungry all the time, but that’s a story for another day. The problem?  Mom accidentally booked her flight a week too soon – thus, I had to double up Haiti and Honduras to make her dream come true. Either that or pay hundreds of dollars to rebook her flight. She hasn’t seen Miss Ava since last August (!!), so we’re very excited for her visit. So there you have it. The whole truth. Doesn’t that feel good? Meanwhile, let’s dabble in our happy little menu for Haiti and Honduras. First off, just look …

Read More

About the Food of Haiti & Honduras

This week we’re tackling Haiti and Honduras so as to build in a little vacation time later this summer. First up, Haiti. I have a new neighbor. His name is Jonathan. Five minutes into our first conversation I learn that he has been to Haiti. A pretty great stroke of fortune, if you ask me – right up there with the lady from Belarus working at Dillards, the door-to-door salesman from Bulgaria, and Ava’s playmate who’s daddy has been to Ghana. Most excellent. Well, the first Hatian dish Jonathan suggested was spaghetti with ketchup and mayo on top. Suddenly, I wasn’t so excited. I begged him to dig deeper. The thing is, food in Haiti is really simple. Spaghetti with ketchup and mayo on top is about as typical as it gets. Other than that, street food includes basic, affordable dishes like beans and rice (a.k.a. peas n’ rice) [recipe] or plantains – fried, mashed, boiled. Jonathan states: I remember the fried plantain fondly.  You would buy them from street vendors (well, you bought everything from …

Read More

Monday Meal Review: Guyana

THE SCENE From across the store I could see them – orange habaneros, piled high, glowing like the summer sun. They were small and tender in appearance but, I knew all too well, scary hot on the inside.  Like a crab, I sidestepped across the room, handling several cases of produce before I made my way to the peppers. “Ouch,” I thought, thinking of the meal to come. “This is gonna hurt.” I scooped up three small beauties, reasoning that if they can eat six in Guyana, surely I can stretch myself to try three. By the time I got home, I’d lost my resolve. I’d try one, maybe two habaneros in the Caribbean Green Seasoning. I cut up the celery, onions, garlic, and herbs – tossed them into the blender, and plugged the machine in. No more avoiding it. Time for the peppers. I split a habanero down the middle, taking care to avoid the hot juices, and threw one half in. I didn’t so much look at the second half. So much for bravery. …

Read More

Curried Caribbean Chicken Kabobs

Serves 4 Guyanese love a good curry. Since we’re in the middle of intense summer, I’ve adapted a traditional curry recipe for the grill. Instead of stewing the chicken with the curried Green Seasoning, I simply marinated the chicken in it and threw it on the grill. An easy way to get the heat out of the kitchen, although you’ll still feel it in your mouth. Big time. P.S. To eat this like you’re in Guyana, serve with Chow Mein. Seriously. Ingredients: 4 chicken breasts, sliced into strips 1 cup Caribbean Green Seasoning 1 heaping Tbsp homemade curry powder salt & pepper to taste Method: Ask your butcher for four chicken breasts. The friendship between a woman and her butcher is a thing of beauty. Make friends with your butcher and they’ll give you all the good cuts. I promise. Slice the chicken into strips and place on skewers. The best way to do this is to cut the breast diagonally. If you don’t feel like messing with it, feel free to just marinate the …

Read More

Caribbean Green Seasoning

Makes about 1 1/2 cups Ouch and yum. This seasoning blend should feel like molten lava as it slides down your throat; Guyanese use up to six habaneros in a recipe like this one. However, if you don’t have Caribbean friends coming over for dinner – or the time to replace your throat – feel free to make a mild version. For example, mine (certainly laughable to Caribbeans), uses only a 1/4 of a habanero. In my defense I have a two year-old. Call me crazy, but I don’t have the heart to feed her a paste made with six scorching habaneros, even if she does like a little spice from time to time. Plus, I’m pretty wimpy, myself. So whether you like it hot, or not, just be sure to whip up a batch – you can use it on almost anything, from curries, to stews to grill marinades. Totally flexible and totally tasty – this is the Caribbean’s take on the French mirepoix or the Dominican sazon (a.k.a. sofrito). Makes a really nice …

Read More

Chilled Coco-Mango Soup

Serves 4 Hello summer, nice to see you again. This year let’s stay cool, no overheating, no frustration, no sweaty t-shirts. I have to admit I don’t think you’re playing fair – soaring above 100F in June, but I’ll take drastic measures to keep the peace, if need be. I can curl up in an ice bath. Thankfully, however, there’s something better and tastier: cold soup. Inspired by the Guyanese in South America and their love of Caribbean flavors, today’s special is mango and coconut-tastic. I’m ready to do laps in this chill goodness. The flavor is light – thanks to the coconut water – silky, even. This is high class – good for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Eat it by itself or eat it as a starter or eat it as dessert. Just eat it. Ingredients: 4 medium ripe mangoes (about 3.5 cups chopped) 1 1/3 cup coconut water (1 can) 1 cup yogurt 1/2 cup coconut milk 1/2 cup milk 1 Tbsp rum (white or dark) honey, if necessary ( I didn’t use …

Read More

Guyana for the win (w/ poll)

For a long time now I’ve wanted live with goats. But it doesn’t end there. I want to eat thick, hearty cheese sandwiches made with rustic, country bread. I want to eat them every day. All day. While smelling wildflowers and wearing a frock. It all started when I read Heidi, the story of a little girl who does, well, almost exactly that. Enter Guyana. They do it. They eat cheddar-cheesy bread sandwiches for snacks. For dinner. Whenever, really. Winning. Just imagine this after school snack: … visions of a warm, hearty Tennis Roll, sliced in half and protecting thick slices of cheddar cheese … To wash it down, an ice-cold glass of cream soda made creamy with carnation milk. Ooo la la! Childhood memories of this after school snack thrilled me. Cynthia Nelson, Starbroek News. I’m thinking I can somehow combine my Heidi daydream with these tennis rolls for an outrageously awesome fantasy. And in this daydream my frock will never get too small because I ate too much cheese and bread. So what …

Read More

Guyanese Chow Mein

Serves 4 Hello. I realize it’s summer, but let’s shut our eyes for a moment and daydream about winter. In Guyana. Are you ready for Christmas? Shall we deck the halls? (do people really do that?). Ready or not, today’s recipe is going to take you to December 25th, Guyanese-style. Read this: The kids got their little presents, got their pictures taken on my lap, and everyone ate fried rice, chow mein, and chicken curry. You know, traditional Christmas food. From Mark Hejinian’s travel blog Guyanese Mark My first reaction? I want to spend Christmas in Guyana. Immediately. It doesn’t help that it’s a zillion degrees here, but a nice cool winter day would be welcome right about now. And that menu? Yes, yes, yes. So let’s dig into what this dish is all about. While Chow Mein might sound like a stretch for the South American dinner table, Guyanese love this dish with a passion. It’s not a straight up copycat operation, however – they add plenty of unique touches, to make Chow Mein …

Read More