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.

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 caramelising, 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.

Rice and beans a classic dish from Haiti but also from the entire Caribbean! So o easy to make, so simple yet soon delicious!

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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

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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 soooo 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’.

Curried lamb is truly a Caribbean dish! You can also make it with goat!

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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

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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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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!

36. Cayman Islands: Mango Chicken Bean & Rice Bake

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The Cayman Islands are know for 2 things tax haven and beach holiday destination. With it’s white beaches, clear waters and colorful marine life it’s the perfect relaxing holiday. The most famous beach is called Seven Mile Beach, it is said to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Diving is a very popular activity around the Cayman Islands just like all the other watersports. The biggest income for the Cayman Islands is the financial market. There are about 70.000 international enterprises, just because of the low taxes, this is also the reason why there are so many luxurious hotels, shops and restaurants to be found.

So here are a few things you probably didn’t know about the Cayman Islands

  • Cayman Islands Law prohibits topless sunbathing.
  •  The Cayman Island Turtle Farm is home to 16,000 green sea turtles at any given time
  • The Pirates Week Festival, the island’s largest festival, held each fall is a reminder of Islands’ legendary pirate occupation in the 18th Century which the tales of treasure caches left behind by Edward Blackbeard, Neal Walker, and Henry Morgan. (Blackbeard actually existed!!! WOW)
  • The world-famous ‘Seven Mile Beach’ is actually only 5.2 miles long (Why is called 7 mile beach? Anyone?)
  • The Batabano Carnival held each spring offers a Caribbean flavor with costumed bands taking to the streets to the sound of steelpan music

This recipe is fantastic, it’s one of the best dishes I have cooked until now! It is a great family style dish! My family suggested to add starts to my recipes: so here we go

– Difficulty: **

– Taste: *****

– Time: 1 1/2 hour

– This recipe is for 6 people

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Ingredients: small bunch of spring onions (chopped), thumb-sized piece of ginger (chopped), 4 cloves of garlic, 1 red chili (chopped and seeds removed if you don’t want it to spicy), handful of cilantro stalks (chopped), tbsp of thyme, zest and juice of 1 lime (+extra lime wedges to serve), 2 tbsp of all spice, 2 tbsp of sunflower oil, 12 drumsticks (2 per person), 400 gram long grain rice, can of kidney beans (400 gr), 1l of chicken stock, 1 ripe mango peeled stone cut out and cut in to bit size chunks, 300 grams of mango chutney

Put the spring onions, ginger, garlic, chilli, coriander stalks, thyme, lime zest and juice, allspice and oil in a food processor, then blend to a paste. Pour over the chicken drumsticks and leave to marinate for at least 1 hr, or preferably up to 1 day. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Tip the rice and beans into a large roasting tin with deep sides. Remove the chicken from the marinade and set aside. Mix the stock into the marinade in the bowl and stir well. Pour the stock over the rice and beans, then put the chicken drumsticks and the mango pieces on top. Cover the tray tightly with foil and bake for 30 mins. Take the tray out of the oven and remove the foil. Increase the temperature to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Spoon the mango chutney over the drumsticks and return to the oven, uncovered, for 50-60 mins, to brown the chicken pieces and allow the rice to absorb all the liquid. Before serving, fluff up the rice a little with a fork and scatter with the coriander leaves. Serve with lime wedges and extra mango chutney, if you like.

 

22. Bermuda: Curried Mussel Pie

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Bermuda an isolated islandgroup in the Atlantic Ocean, the closed land is a island in the Caribbean about 1600 km south.  A place that borrowed traditions from both the U.S and Great Britain. Traditions that haven’t seemed to change since the time of  Queen Victoria. Tea time is still an actual thing! Off course you have heard of the mysterious Bermuda triangle, the place where so many ships sink and planes just fall out of the sky! It is called the Bermuda triangle because  Bermuda was once known as the “Isle of Devils.” Dangerous reefs that have sunk ships sailing too close to its shores surround Bermuda, and there are hundreds of shipwrecks in the waters that surround it. This is amazing for diving there are about 400 ships you can visit while scuba diving! But here is the real scientific explanation: The presence of methane hydrates indicates enormous eruptions of methane bubbles that would swamp a ship, and projected high into the air- take out flying airplanes, as well.

  • Bermuda has a dress code. You cannot walk around in your bathing suit and men must wear shirts at all times.
  • The rainfall is the only fresh water source of Bermuda.
  • Bermuda is home to more golf courses per square mile than anywhere in the world!

So overall Bermuda is a really popular wedding and diving destination! Here is the recipe! Make sure your filling is thick enough and you let it cool down before putting the dough on top.

musselpieIngredients:1/4 bushel small mussels, scrubbed, 2 lbs potatoes, cut in small dice, 2 medium onions, chopped fine, 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, 1 tablespoon minced parsley, 2 tablespoons curry powder, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon of magi, salt, to taste, pepper, to taste, 1/4 cup water, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, frozen pie crust 

Steam the mussels in 3/4 cup of water and reserve the broth. Remove the mussels from their shells and keep ready. Strain the broth of all grit and reheat. Boil the onions, potatoes, thyme and parsley together in the water until the potatoes are tender. Add the curry powder, worcestershire sauce, gravy browning, and mussels and bring to a boil. Thicken with cornstarch mixed with cold water, added while the mixture is boiling. If it’s not thick enough, repeat with more cornstarch and water. Allow the filling to cool before proceeding. Fill pans or ramekins, cut and fit dough to top of pie. Bake at 350, 30 to 45 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly within. (Please note that the cooking times are merely an estimate, depending on the size of your pans or ramekins and the heat of your oven, as is the amount of pie.).

20.Belize: Oxtail Stew

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Belize! My first central american country! Belize associates itself more with the Caribbean then with the Latin American Culture. Nowadays most of Belize is Christian it hasn’t always been like that! They used be a part of great ancient Mayan culture!

Belizeans like to scare their children! I found at least 3 “monsters” the adults try to scare there children with ancient legends and old stories! Let me give you a summary of the scariest things that can happen to Belizean kids.

  1. El Duende: El Duende is an evil thumbless dwarf who hangs out in the forest and punishes children who kill animals (I never used to kill animals as a kid, but hey every kid is different!)
  2. El Sisimito: A version of Big Foot/ Sasquatch but without knees and it’s feet backwards oh yeah I forgot to mention he eats human flesh especially naughty children!
  3. Fish:  Many Belizeans avoid swimming in the ocean or rivers on Good Friday; it is viewed as bad luck. Local Mothers can often be heard telling their kids “YOU WILL TURN INTO FISH!” if they swim on this day.
  4. Xtabai: The Xtabai might look gorgeous, but don’t be charmed by her striking good looks. This mythical, malicious creature preys on Belizean men. She lures them back to her Ceiba tree home, where they meet a grisly end. (Sounds an awful lot like a excuse that men came up with, when cheating on their wives)

Here are some other really cool facts about Belize:

  • Belize is one of the best places in the world for shark viewing. The best times to go are during the months of April – July.
  • The locals in Belize have created some unique names for its natural wonders including Owl eye butterfly, the Swallow Tail Cattle Heart Butterfly, and the Red Footed Booby Bird, and the False Vampire Bat
  • Outside the Belize mainland is one of the world’s natural reefs known as the Belize natural reefs with 200 separate islands. (Sounds like paradise to me!)

So here we go a Belizean recipe! This week I made oxtail stew! Every Monday I eat with a group of friends, every week it’s at someone else’s place this week it was at mine! I bought WAY to much oxtail seriously it was ridiculous, but when the butcher came out with that much meat I couldn’t just simply give it back so I cooked food 10 people instead of 7. I froze my leftovers so next week it will be oxtail week! I don’t mind because it was delicious! Seriously amazing! It takes you a while but you’ll be ecstatic with the result!

oxtail stew
oxtail stew

WARNING THIS RECIPE IS FOR 10 PEOPLE!

Ingredients: 3,5kg of oxtail, 2 onions, 4 cloves of garlic, vegetable oil, 8 potatoes, 1 yellow chili pepper, 2 red chili peppers, 2 carrots, soy sauce (to taste), salt to tast, black pepper to tast, 4 stalks of celery, 5 scallions, sprigs of thyme (to taste), water, tomato paste (to taste), brown sugar (to taste), 2 red, 1 yellow and 1 green bell pepper. 

Wash and dry the pieces of oxtail (ask your butcher to cut them into pieces for you as the bones can be very HARD), then heat the oil in a deep pan on med/high heat and brown the pieces of oxtail. Takes about 10 minutes or so. Remove the now browned pieces of oxtail from the pot, turn the heat down to low and add the onion, garlic and celery (diced) and allow to cook gently for 3 minutes. Then add the pimento berries and black pepper and give it a good stir, followed by the tomato paste. Allow the tomato paste to cook for a minute or so to allow the natural sugars in the tomato to caramelize a bit. The tomato paste will add a lovely acidic twist to the dish. Add the pieces of oxtail back to the pot and all the other ingredients except the carrots, potatoes and bell peppers. Turn the heat up, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and let it cook with the lid on for about 2 hours.Remember to stir every 20 minutes. The all spice (pimento berries) will add a lovely warm and homey taste to this dish. If you find that your oxtail is not tender after the 2 hrs of braising, add a bit more water and let it cook for another 30 minutes or so. Then add the chopped carrots, potatoes and bell peppers (try to leave the potato in big pieces so it does not dissolve when cooked), bring to a boil (turn up the heat), then reduce to a rolling boil and cook for about 30 minutes or until the potato and carrot are tender. I served it with rice but you can just eat it by itself of course!