Tag Archives: salsa

Jamaica…

Saturday, June 15 –

Looks like I fell behind on posting again. Sorry guys! I will try to catch back up again. The summer has just stolen my attention away from sitting and writing at a computer.

I took the slow cooked jerk chicken recipe and instead of the taco recipe, hoping that the chicken would be tender and juicy. I slow cooked the chicken, using the exact amounts listed below, and let it cook in the crock pot for about 6 hours. Then I took it out, shredded it, and put it in a serving bowl. I put the reserved sauce in a bowl on the side so that people could control how spicy their tacos were. Then I used the mango salsa recipe as it is below and set that out along with the taco shells.

We had a bunch of people over for this dinner, but because I waited so long to write it, I forget who all brought what. MyBuddy and ChinUp brought an orange rum cake and a hibiscus punch. Mr. Hero brought booze. And I believe that LightsOn brought coleslaw and a bunch of meat that we grilled. I think we also had BabyBear, GrandpaBear, Missing Man, Texan Boy, and CannonBall. If I missed anyone, I sincerely apologize!

Jamaica
(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: www.jamaicans.com and www.bakersroyale.com)

Jerk Chicken Tacos with Mango Salsa

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 4  tablespoons Jerk Seasoning/Sauce/Paste (We recommend Jamaican brands Jerk Seasoning, Sauces/paste – Walkerwood, Jamaica Country Style etc)
  • 3 shredded cups cheddar cheese,
  • 12 taco shells
  • 1 cup diced mango
  • 1 small red bell peppers (diced)
  • 1 small red onion diced red onion (diced)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper (de-seeded and  minced)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

METHOD:    Rub each breast half with jerk sauce/paste, and place in a shallow dish.    Cover, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.    Cook chicken on a low fire on the barbeque grill.    Mango Salsa Sauce: Combine mango, red bell peppers, onion, jalapeno pepper, cilantro leaves and lime juice. Put in the refrigerator and chill.    Warm up the shells.    Once the chicken is cooked dice them into thin slices.     Layer the 12 tacos in this order: cheese, Jerk chicken (Optional: Add more Jerk Sauce), Mango Salsa.    Optional: Garnish with shredded lettuce. Serving size 6-8

Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken

  •     8 scallions, chopped coarse
  •     1/4 cup vegetable oil
  •     2 habanero chilies, stemmed and seeded
  •     1 (1-inch) fresh ginger, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  •     2 tablespoons molasses
  •     3 garlic cloves, peeled
  •     1 tablespoon thyme
  •     2 teaspoons allspice
  •     1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  •     1 teaspoon coarse salt
  •     4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (split breasts, thighs)
  •     lime wedges for serving

Directions:
Place scallion, oil, habaneros, ginger, molasses, garlic, thyme, all spice, cardamom, and salt in a food processor or blender and puree. Transfer 1/2 cup mixture to slow cooker; reserve remaining mixture.
Add chicken to slow cooker and coat evenly with scallion mixture. cover and cook until chick is tender, about 4- 6 hours on low.
Position oven rack 10 inches from broiler element and start broiler. Place a wire rack in a foil lined bake sheet and coat with vegetable spray. Transfer chicken, skin side down onto rack. Brush chicken with half of reserved scallion mixture and broil until lightly charge and and crisp, about 10-15 minutes. Flip chicken over, brush with remaining scallion mixture and continue to broil until lightly charred and crisp on second side, about 5-10 minutes. Serve with lime wedges.


Honduras…

Saturday, March 16 –

For this dinner we had: BestestFianceEver, Bestie Extraordinaire (wine), Mistress Whiskey (wine), Hot Momma (wine), Mr. Hero (baleadas), BabyBear, GrandpaBear, LittleBigBrother, ChinUp (mango, avocado photosalsa and chips), and MyBuddy (banana milkshakes). Later in the evening we also had LightsOn and WingWoman show up to hang out and drink some wine.

I started by adding oil to a pan and cooking the onion and bell pepper until they were just starting to brown. Then I added the garlic and let that heat up. While the veggies were cooking on the stove I added the rest of the ingredients to the crockpot. Once the veggies were done I added them in, stirred to mix, and let it simmer for a couple of hours. I did not use the sherry and I substituted a seeded habanero for the yellow pepper, which made it really, really spicy. Almost too spicy, really (which is really weird for me to say). After a few hours I blended the soup with an immersion blender and let it continue to simmer until everyone was ready to eat.

The sweet potato I substituted for a yam because I like their flavor better. Steamed, drained, crisped in hot oil, then drained. Put on a bed of baby arugula (which is what I had in the fridge) and feta, then tossed. I added the dressing in on top, made exactly as the recipe says, and gave that a good toss too.

ChinUp and MyBuddy had the salsa and chips out. Mr. Hero made the baleadas with all the toppings (basically tacos on soft corn tortillas), including beef, beans, onion, cheese, sour cream, and avocado. The wine was flowing freely, and dinner was served!

The soup was ok. I think I would have liked it better unblended. It was spicy but not terribly flavorful. Maybe it needed some ham or something to go with it? I’m not sure. The salad was good, the dressing was tangy and delightful. The beleadas were good and a great compliment to the other dishes. And the mango, avocado salsa was a perfect topping to chips and to all the rest of the food. Last we get to the milkshakes. They were good… and then they added rum. Banana rum milkshakes are pretty darn delicious. And dangerous, because you don’t really notice the rum!

Honduras
(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: http://sidewalkmystic.com)

Bahia Black Bean Soup

  • 1 Onion
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, finely diced
  • 2 garlic minced garlic cloves
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 3 15-oz cans black beans, drained
  • 2 C stock
  • 1 1/2 t. oregano
  • 1 yellow chili, seeded and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (brave souls leave the seeds)
  • 1 15-oz can whole tomatoes with liquid or 18-oz can sauce
  • 1/2 lime, squeezed for juice (critical)
  • 1/4 c. sherry (I use red wine)
  • fresh cilantro (1 1/2 t. if fresh isn’t available)

Directions:  [The website author says: my adjustments to the recipe include adding a smoked ham hock for flavor.  As well, if you find the soup too heavily favored by the tomatoes, merely back down on the amount of tomato and increase the stock proportionately]. Saute onion; bell pepper and garlic in oil until onion is translucent. Add beans, stock and oregano. Heat thoroughly. Seed and chop yellow and jalapeno chilies and put into blender. Add lime juice and tomato. Puree to finely mince the chilies. Add black bean mixture to blender (in batches) and puree. When everything is pureed, return it to the soup pot. Simmer at least 1.5 hours. Add wine and fresh cilantro to taste.

Garnishes: Rice, grated cheeses, diced onion, salsa, sour cream, plain yogurt, grilled sausages.

Mixed Greens with Sweet Potatoes and Feta Cheese

  • ¾ lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼ to ½ inch dice
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T fresh lime juice
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar (don’t pinch; buy the top shelf stuff)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • ½ t of Dijon mustard
  • ¼ C of buttermilk (you can use regular milk; just let it stand with a T of regular vinegar in it)
  • 8-10 oz of fresh greens (we use spinach and escarole – small slices of red cabbage add to the esthetic appeal)
  • 4 oz fresh feta cheese (I have used blue cheese when I make a fresh blue cheese dressing to accompany the salad)

Directions:  Steam the sweet potato for 5-8 minutes.  Just tender.  Remove and drain on paper towels.  Get the steamed potatoes very dry. Heat 2 t of olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat.  Add potatoes, shaking pan often for 15 minutes.  Remove when crisp and drain again on paper towels.  Mix together the lime juice, balsamic vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt pepper, and remaining olive oil and buttermilk.  Whisk in a blender (start to drool). Place greens and cheese in a salad bowl and toss with the dressing.  Top the salad with the sweet potatoes, serve, and call me.  Serve with tortillas.


El Salvador…

Wednesday, August 22 –

Slow. Cooked. Pork. Need I say more? Yum.

This dinner we had BestestFianceEver, Bestie Extraordinaire (salad and wine), Hot Momma, Mr. Hero (wine, mead, and tortillas), BabyBear, and LightsOn (wine). It was still nice enough to eat outside, but not so imagehot that it was miserable to cook dinner. Win all around.

I started with pork early in the morning. I put 3.6 pounds of pork shoulder (the only good pork cut I could find at the late-night hour I was out shopping at the night before) into the crock pot and poured on top one can of pureed tomato sauce. Then I sprinkled the salt and pepper and the teaspoon of cumin. Set on 6 hours on low, I left for work and let it simmer all day. When I got home I shredded the pork and left it to simmer on warm.

Next I made the flan, which was something that I had never made before. I made it exactly as it’s written – and ended up baking it for about 1 hour and 25 minutes. I tried testing it with a knife like it says, but custard sticks to a knife anyway, so I switched to the toothpick test and had much better luck.

While that was baking I made the salsa, which simmer on the stove for a while and then I blended it with an immersion blender. I set that aside while I finished the rest. I put the rice in the rice cooker without anything fancy in it. I made the veggie and bean mix in a separate pot and then mixed it altogether in the rice cooker to serve.

We plated the salad and dressing on the side, then piled the pork, rice and beans, and salsa into fresh-made tortillas from the store. The pork was absolutely heavenly. Theimage mix together as a burrito was pretty delicious, and overall the food disappeared quickly. The flan was good, the texture was good, but it wasn’t everyone’s favorite dessert. Apparently flan is “no cheesecake!”

Successful dinner and I’m happy everyone could join us!

 

El Salvador
(recipe borrowed from the cooks at: www.catholicreview.orgsouthamericanfood.about.com, and www.whats4eats.com)

Salvadorian-style Chicharrón – Chicharrón Salvadoreño

  • 3-5 pound pork butt
  • 1-2 cups salsa
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon saltimage
  • Black pepper
  • tortillas to serve

Preparation:  Cut the pork into several large pieces and place the meat in the slow cooker with 1 cup salsa, the cumin, salt, and pepper to taste. Cook on low for 6-8 hours (or 4 hours on high) or until pork is fork tender. Remove pork from slow cooker, reserving liquid, and shred finely with fork or using a food processor (fitted with the plastic blade). Place shredded pork and reserved liquid in a large skillet and saute until liquid evaporates and pork starts to brown slightly. Stir in remaining salsa until desired consistency. For making pupusas, add pork and salsa back to food processor, fitted with metal blade, and process with short pulses until finely ground.

Casamiento

  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can black beans, drained, liquid reserved
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups cooked rice

Directions:  Heat oil in a large pot. Add the onions, bell pepper, and garlic. Sauté for two to three minutes, until tender. Stir in the drained beans, some of the bean liquid, and salt and pepper. Cook at medium-low until heated through. Add rice and stir until cooked through. Adjust seasoning and add a little more bean liquid if necessary. Serve hot.

Salsa Roja

  •     Olive oil — 3 tablespoons
  •     Onion, chopped — 1/4 cup
  •     Garlic, chopped — 1 clove
  •     Serrano or jalapeño chile pepper, chopped — 1
  •     Tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped — 2 cups
  •     Dried oregano — 2 teaspoons
  •     Salt and pepper — to taste
  •     Cilantro (optional), chopped — 1/4 cup

Method:
Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium flame. Add the onion, garlic and chile and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.
Stir in the tomatoes and oregano and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool a bit.
Puree the tomato sauce in a blender until smooth, adding a little water if needed. Add salt and pepper to taste, stir in cilantro if using and serve.

Flan de Leche (Latin caramel custard)

  • Sugar — 1 cup
  • Water — 1/4 cup
  • Eggs, beaten — 4
  • Sweetened, condensed milk — 1 (14-ounce) can
  • Whole milk or water — 2 cups
  • Vanilla — 1/2 teaspoon
  • Sugar — 1/2 cup

Method

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the 1 cup sugar and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir to dissolve the sugar. Place over medium heat and boil the sugar, without stirring, until it just starts to turn a honey brown, around 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove the caramelized sugar from heat and pour into a 9-inch cake pan or in equal amounts into each of 6 individual ramekins, swirling to coat the bottom. You may not need all the sugar. Place the cake pan or ramekins in a baking pan large enough to hold them without touching.
  • In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, condensed milk, whole milk or water, vanilla and 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. Pour into the cake pan or into each of the ramekins.
  • Fill the baking pan with enough warm water to come about 2/3 of the way up sides of the containers. Place in the oven and cook until a knife inserted into the center of the custard comes out clean, anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour. Do not overcook your flan or it may curdle.
  • Remove the custard(s) from the water bath and chill well. Run a knife around the edges of the custard, invert over a serving dish and serve.

Variations

  • Flan de Café (Coffee flan): add 3-4 teaspoons of instant coffee granules to the milk-egg mixture.
  • Flan de Coco (Coconut flan): substitute 2 cups of coconut milk for the sweetened condensed milk. Or simply stir 1/2 cup shredded coconut into the milk and egg mixture.
  • Flan de Piña (Pineapple flan): Makes 4 servings. Caramelize the sugar and pour into containers as above. For the liquid, boil one cup of pineapple juice with 1 cup of sugar until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is reduced to about 1 cup. Allow the the juice to cool, then beat in 4 eggs until smooth. Pour into individual ramekins and proceed with the recipe. Popular in Puerto Rico.
  • Pumpkin Flan: increase to 5 eggs and add 1 cup pureed pumpkin, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger.
  • The basic ratio for a custard is 1 egg to 1 cup liquid with sugar added to taste. The liquid used in most recipes varies widely and can be heavy cream, half-and-half, whole milk, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk or coconut milk. Mixing these liquids in different amounts is also common. Experiment to find the flavor and richness you like best.
  • For a richer, thicker flan, substitute one of the eggs with two egg yolks.
  • In Argentina, flan is often accompanied by dulce de leche.

Costa Rica…

Sunday, June 10 –

Let me start this off by saying that usually I’m not a big fan of tilapia. This recipe, however, was an incredible way to serve it. I would definitely make it again, should I randomly have tilapia in my fridge. I suppose I could even make it with other kinds of white fish and be just as happy with it. There were only four of us for dinner this time, with Bestie Extraordinaire and Mistress Whiskey making raspberry and mango mojitos to share.

I started by making guacamole to serve as an appetizer and setting it on the table for people to snack while I was cooking. Then I moved on to getting the rice cooking on the stove with the chicken broth as the liquid. While that simmered I started on the marinade for the fish. Once the fish was soaking in the marinade in the fridge I started on the rice pudding. After I got all of the ingredients into the rice pudding and it was starting to simmer, I moved onto getting the rice and beans mixed together and spread out in a baking dish. On top went the fish, the marinade, and the sliced limes. Simple, straight forward, and easy to follow instructions for both of the recipes this week. As the fish baked in the oven I kept an eye on the rice pudding, stirring every few minutes to make sure it wasn’t sticking to the bottom of the pan.

The fish came out of the oven juicy and easily flaked with a fork. The rice mixture was bubbling and very hot. The flavor of the marinade soaked into the fish so that it was gently flavored but not overwhelmingly so. The pineapple, beans, rice, and salsa mix was genius and I will definitely be making it again!

The rice pudding cooked the whole time we were eating (I got up to stir it a couple of times). And I served it warm, right out of the pot just like my mom used to do when she made this type of dessert. I know the recipe says to serve it at room temp or cold, but if you want to try something decadent and filling, serve it warm.

This dinner gets a gold star for both recipes!

Costa Rica
(recipes borrowed from the cooks at:  www.foodnetwork.com and www.guiascostarica.com)

Baked Costa Rican-Style Tilapia with Pineapples, Black Beans and Rice

  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 (5 to 7-ounce) tilapia fillets, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 cups jarred or homemade tomato salsa
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups diced fresh pineapple
  • 2 limes, thinly sliced

Directions:  Combine the rice and chicken broth in a pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the rice is tender and has absorbed all of the liquid, about 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the orange juice, lime juice, oil, 2 tablespoons of the cilantro, the garlic, and sugar; season with salt and pepper. Add the tilapia fillets to the marinade, turning to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for 20 minutes, turning occasionally.

Stir together the cooked rice, salsa, beans, pineapple, and remaining 2 tablespoons of the cilantro in a 2 or 3-quart baking dish. Remove the tilapia from the marinade, reserve the marinade, and lay the fish fillets over the rice mixture, overlapping if necessary. Pour the reserved marinade over the fish. Shingle the lime slices over the fish. Bake until the fish flakes easily, is opaque, and cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro before serving

Rice Pudding

  • 1 small can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup of uncooked rice
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon cracked
  • 1 cup of evaporated milk
  • 6 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of raisins
  • 1 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation:  First, in a large cooking pot, add the water, 4 cups of milk, uncooked rice, cinnamon, evaporated milk, vanilla and nutmeg. Once on the stove, bring the liquid to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes. Then, add the sweetened condensed milk. Add a little water to the milk can and empty its contents into the pot, by this time the liquid should be simmering, on low heat. The milk should just barely simmer, with bubbles breaking only the outside edge of the surface. As the liquid begins to reduce, add the remaining milk in small increments as you continue to stir. As you add the milk stir the mixture so that it cooks evenly. Continue to stir intermittently, until the liquid has become a gooy paste. Then add raisins and cook for an additional 10 minutes on. Total cooking time 1:15 minutes. Serve chilled or room temperature.


Chile… {potluck!}

Saturday, April 28 –

Chile was done as a potluck because there were too many delicious recipes to even begin to only choose one. So there were twelve of us total for this dinner, and everyone brought something to eat and/or drink: ZombieMode (aka Wonderful Boyfriend) {prosciutto wrapped kiwi and cucumber}, Roommate Extraordinaire {rabbit in orange sauce}, Mr. Hero {cilantro chicken}, BabyBear, MoneyShot {naan}, SlotMachine {wine}, WingWoman {salmon with lemon butter sauce}, LightsOn {fish with mango habanero sauce and corn salsa}, RubsWithLove {sangria}, Ser VJ {Chilean sea bass ceviche}, SpicyLady {salsa and chips}, and me {pork empanadas and lemon dill yogurt sauce}.

The prosciutto wrapped kiwi and cucumber was an interesting combination of flavors, slightly salty with the sweet and crunchy textures in the middle. I’m not sure I’d chose to make them again, but they were fun to try. The rabbit in orange sauce was rich, sinful, and delicious. The rabbit was salty but tender and the sauce was a creamy gravy with orange tones. While he was making it our whole house smelled amazing and it didn’t disappoint when it was done. The cilantro chicken is a dish I would make for dinner any time. The chicken was tender, the sauce was the happy medium between thick and thin – just gooey enough to want to smack your lips while you’re eating it. So were the salmon, corn salsa, and the fish with mango habanero sauce. The salmon was buttery and flaky. The fish with mango habanero sauce was surprisingly spicy (in a good way) but if you weren’t ready for it the sauce probably would have been too much. The corn was a good cut to the sweet and hot flavors. The sangria was sweet with a bite at the end – just the way I hope sangria will be every time. The ceviche was ridiculously good. The fish was buttery with buttery avocado with hints of other veggies and flavors. The homemade salsa was super spicy but I kept going back for more. My empanadas were on the dry side but the flavors were ok. If I had to do it over again I would slow cook the pork and cook them for slightly less time. Once I had made the yogurt sauce to go with them they were much better.

At the end of the evening, Sir VJ inspired everyone to try a Chilean specialty – tiger’s milk. This is where you take vodka and the juice from the ceviche and you make a shot out of it (picture is below). I didn’t work up the courage to try it, but they kept going back for more so it couldn’t have been too awful!

I know the photos below don’t do this dinner justice, but I was trying to take them quickly before everything was devoured! The next two dinners will also be potlucks: China (Fri. 5/4) and Columbia (Sat. 5/12). So stay tuned for more amazing dishes!

{Chilean sea bass ceviche}

{tiger’s milk – vodka with ceviche juice}

{salmon with lemon butter sauce}

{corn salsa}

{rabbit in orange sauce}

{mango habanero sauce}

{spicy salsa}

{cilantro chicken}

{pork empanadas}

{prosciutto wrapped kiwi and cucumber}

Chile

(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: www.foodnetwork.com and chileanrecipe.com)

Piggy Pie Spicy Pork Empanadas

Filling:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (12-ounce) pork tenderloin, trimmed, cut into 1/3-inch medallions
  • 1 serrano chile, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 6 tablespoons chopped toasted almonds
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder

Dough:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup masa harina (cornmeal)*
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick)unsalted butter, melted, cooled
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 large eggs

Directions:

For filling: Heat oil in large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add pork, serrano, chili powder, cumin, chipotle powder, cinnamon, and allspice to the skillet and stir for 3 minutes. Add raisins and lime juice, bring to a boil and cook until almost all liquid evaporates, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Mix in the almonds and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper. Cool.

For dough: Butter 2 large baking sheets. Mix flour, masa harina, baking powder, and salt in large bowl. Stir in melted butter. Whisk water and 1 egg in a small bowl to blend. Add to flour mixture; knead in bowl until smooth pliable dough forms, about 2 minutes. Working with half of dough at a time, roll out on floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch diameter biscuit cutter, cut out rounds. Reroll scraps and cut out additional rounds for a total of 12 rounds per dough half. Whisk remaining egg in a small bowl to blend. Place 1 tablespoon filling in center of each dough round. Lightly brush edges with egg. Fold dough over, pressing edges with fork to seal. Place on prepared baking sheets. Cover with plastic wrap; chill. Note: dough can be made 1 day ahead.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Brush empanadas with beaten egg. Bake until light golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Kiwi-on-a-Stick

  • 4 large kiwi fruit,peeled
  • 1 small diameter cucumber (yield 12 slices) washed with end removed
  • 3 oz. Proscuitto, 6thin slices, cut in half lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 garlic powder
  • 12 short 5 or 6-inch skewers

Methods:

1. Stroke kiwi fruit and cucumber lengthwise with fork to decorate. Carefully slice in slices of equal thickness. Kiwi should yield 6 slices each, cucumber 12 slices.

2. Stack one slice of cucumber in between two slices of kiwi fruit, matching diameter of slices. Carefully wrap each kiwi stack with a half-slice of proscuitto and mount diagonally on the tip of a skewer. Proceed with remaining skewers.

3. Brush all with combined lemon juice and garlic powder mixture and allow to chill, covered, until ready to serve.


Barbados…

Monday, November 7 –

This dinner was a wonderful success and attended by friends that are new to my blog! So exciting! We had a total of 7 people: Hot Momma, Mr. Hero, Baby Bear, WingWoman, Roommate Extraordinaire, Wonderful Boyfriend, and myself. (At this rate, the names I’m coming up for people will be one of the biggest highlights of this project!)

I started with the marinade for the tuna steaks (minus one for my WingWoman because of the soy – I made her a custom marinade) and let them soak in the sauce while I put together the rest of the dishes. I actually got 2 papayas and a mango, because I thought it would be a good idea to tie all of the flavors together with something sharp, bright, and citrus-y. The salsa was made with: papaya, mango, lime juice, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, cilantro, and seeded jalapenos. I let that sit in the fridge to let the flavors mingle while I put the rest of the dinner together. I put rice in the rice cooker for this dinner, and knowing that most of us like white rice more than brown rice I picked that instead of what the recipe called for.

Next I made the papaya and black bean recipe exactly as it was written (which required much Quality Control by Hot Momma, to make sure it was perfect…). I let that continue to simmer on the stove while I got a pan nice and hot for the tuna steaks. I quick seared the steaks so that there was the lightest of brown searing on each side of the fish, and then dished it up with each of the sides. It was quickly decided by most everyone that the flavors were best when smooshed altogether onto one forkful. So if any of you decide to make this dinner, make sure that you take at least one bite with the 4 different flavors in one bite. I would definitely make any of these recipes again, and probably will!

Things I have learned: Serving something like seared tuna to a whole bunch of people requires a big enough pan to fire them all at the same time, or else some people end up with cold/lukewarm fish. Fortunately I had a pan big enough, so it worked out just fine, but it is definitely good to keep in mind. Also, the more the merrier, and the more the mmmmmmms and aaaaaaaahhhhhs I get the more successful I feel about this project. I hope that all of the people who would like to try a dinner get a chance to. So please, check out the upcoming countries and let me know if you want to join us!

Also, I will try to remember to get an updated map photo for you next time. The lines are starting to show how much fun we are having with this, and I can’t wait to see what it looks like when I’m all done.

Barbados
(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: www.islandflave.com)

Grilled Tuna Steaks

  • 4 Tuna steaks
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

Directions:  Place tuna in dish in a single layer. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mustard & sugar Pour marinade over tuna, turn steaks until well-coated on each side. Cover, let stand in refrigerate for at least 30 minutes up to 2 hours. Heat the grill. Remove tuna and reserve marinade for basting. Grill tuna for about 5-10 on each side and basting often with reserved marinade.

Papaya Black Beans Rice

  • 1 Medium papaya, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 Large finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 Large finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 6 cups brown rice, cooked

Directions:  In large skillet heat oil over medium heat, add the onion, red, and green peppers. Add remaining ingredients except beans and rice. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the beans, stir and cook about 5 minutes. Serve over rice.


Aruba…

Saturday, September 24 –

This meal was actually made for lunch instead of dinner, and happened to land on one of the last beautiful days of summer here in Seattle. It was a simple, easy to throw together meal, and I would definitely make it again. I had never made (or even eaten) swordfish before this, so I was very excited to see how it would turn out.

The directions for the swordfish were well written and the marinade was easy to make. I took one can of sliced pineapple rings and put them in the dish, then the three swordfish steaks, then topped them with one medium sized yam that was peeled and thinly sliced and a half of a red onion that I sliced and separated into rings. I poured the marinade on top and then added a little bit of salt and pepper because I thought it would add a little depth of flavor to the dish (and I have a hard time making dishes with no seasonings at all). Then I sent the dish out to my Wonderful Boyfriend to get all of the ingredients onto the grill.

I made rice and the salsa while the fish was cooking outside. I did take a little liberty with the salsa and added mango to it and left out the beer (which my crohn’s wouldn’t have liked much). It made a beautiful side to the fish and brightened up the flavors on the plate.

Roommate Extraordinaire made blended drinks to go with this meal, which included mango, nectarine, two different kinds of rum, and ice. They were cold, refreshing, and just sweet enough to go well with the fish and veggies. We were throwing a party at our house later that evening, so that’s why you’ll see the drink pictured in a plastic keg cup.

The swordfish turned out thick and meaty, which is apparently how it’s supposed to be. The flavors were mild and let the taste of the fish still shine through. The grilled pineapple was amazing, as it always is. The grilled onions were tender and slightly charred (in a very good way). The grilled yam sliced didn’t have enough time on the grill and so turned out mostly undercooked. The salsa turned out bright, sweet, and delicious. The rice was a good side for the flavors. And the drinks were fruity and delicious.

Things I have learned: When grilling sweet potatoes or yams, make sure you cook them for a much longer time than you originally think. They were charred on the grill lines but uncooked in the middles, so lower, longer heat. These meals make great lunches as long as I have everything prepped ahead of time. Might have to switch out every so often.

Recommendations from our sommelier, Leigh Olson: As I was perusing the recipes to decide on the perfect pairing, one word kept echoing in the back of my wine-soaked brain ~ beer.  OK, beer it is.

Did you know that Aruba has its own national beer?  A beer whose malt is imported from Scotland and Hops from Germany. It is also the only beer brewed on the Island of Aruba.  It is a Pilsner-style beer which kinda makes sense since the brewmaster’s name is Klaus Eckart.  The beer ~ Balashi, which has  won several awards. Now, we are not able to purchase Balashi here in the states but we are fortunate to have several Pilsners available.
My Recommendations:
  • Sierra Nevada Summerfest
  • Becks
  • St Pauli Girl
These will offer a nice crispness, some floral notes as well as the perfect hoppy kick to complement the citrus notes in the recipes.
Fun Facts : Pilsner was first brewed in Bohemia.
Vessel of choice: A Pilsner glass of course!

Aruba
(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: www.visitaruba.com and www.caribbeanchoice.com)

Paradise Salsa

  • 2 Tbs. sliced onion
  • 2 cups tomatoes, chopped into1/4″ cubes
  • 2 Serrano chilies, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs. Cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. sugar (more sugar may be added if tomatoes are acidic)
  • 1/4 cup Mexican beer
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • Juice of 2 limes

Directions: Combine all ingredients and mix well. Let sit in refrigerator for at least 30 min. before serving Oh, feel free to consume the rest of the beer while waiting!

Antillean-Style grilled Swordfish or Shark

  • 1-8 ounce can Del Monte unsweetened pineapple slices, juice reserved
  • 4-4 ounce fish steaks, each about 3/4″ thick
  • 8-1/4″ slices peeled sweet potato or yam
  • 4-1/2″ slices purple onion
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh lime rind
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco, or to taste

Directions: Arrange pineapple slices on bottom of large shallow baking dish. Place fish steaks on top of pineapple. In bowl, mix together sweet potato and onion slices. Place on top of fish steaks. In small bowl, stir together 2 teaspoons reserved pineapple juice, lime juice, vegetable oil, sugar, grated rind and tabasco. Pour over pineapple, fish and vegetables, coating well. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour. Prepare grill and brush grill rack with vegetable oil. Place fish and onion slices on rack. Cook, covered, 4 minutes each side or until fish is done basting occasionally with reserved marinade in baking dish. Remove to warm platter. Place pineapple and sweet potato slices on grill. Cook, covered, 2 minutes each side, basting occasionally with reserved marinade. Add decoratively to platter. Serve immediately.