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To the Caribbean!

Friday, January 21, 2011

January has been filled with a LOT of snow and ice, so we decided to warm up and take it to the tropics for this month’s Chefs’ Club! So, while dreaming of warm weather, sandy beaches, rum drinks, and sunshine, we decided to head to the Caribbean for the night!

JANUARY THEME: Caribbean Cuisine!

THE LINE-UP:

  • Cocktail: Laura and Stacey – Yo ho yo ho…and a bottle of rum.  It doesn’t seem like our ‘trip’ the Caribbean would be complete without a lovely Rum Cocktail.  Stacey and Laura provided us with just that, the Green Flash Cocktail. The Green Flash (link to a pic in the Bahamas!) is so named for a rare and special sunset phenomenon when there is a flash of green light on the horizon at sunset!!!  Laura and Stacey actually subbed out the vodka in this recipe for Malibu Coconut Rum. On the sweeter side for a cocktail (but, what beachy drink isn’t!?!?), and  BRIGHT GREEN! This drink has amazing flavor! Your taste buds will travel to the Caribbean, even if you are snowed in in Boston 🙂
  • Wine: Laura and Stacey!  (The cocktails were all the rage…I’m not sure we even broke into the wine tonight!)
  • Appetizer: MeredithCreole  Baked Goat Cheese. The cheese mixture is baked into the red peppers. These were great!
  • Appetizer: Kelly JGuacamole with Mango and Pomegranate.  This guacamole is a fantastic twist on a more traditional guacamole. The pomegranate seeds added a little burst of fruit juice flavor and this was a big hit!  Kel served this with both tortilla chips, as well as plantain chips. It had a really different flavor when eaten with the two different dippers! This is DEFINITELY worth bringing to a party the next time you make guacamole!
  • Salad: SarahPapaya and Avocado Salad. Light and refreshing….the dressing really makes these flavors pop!  A definite keeper.
  • Main: Kelly BGrilled Jerk Chicken with Scotch Bonnet Sauce and Mango Chutney. Whoa…we were NOT prepared for the fire in the Caribbean!!!!! This recipe called for “Scotch Bonnet Peppers” which I couldn’t find, but the guy at Whole Foods assured me that the “Habanero Peppers” were the same thing (and the tag at the store did mention that they were used in a lot of Caribbean cooking). This recipe warned me that it was spicy…incredibly spicy, but I did not realize that the real danger was not in EATING the chicken, but in PREPARING the dish!!! The Epicurious recipe warned that you should use gloves while handling the peppers, but I had no idea about the full on attack to our respiratory systems! Once I began grilling (we have a small, electric indoor grill) I started coughing…Kim was in the kitchen preparing the side and also had an attack! We could hardly breathe!!!!!!!!!!!!! We were running to the bathroom for tissues and coughing up our lungs as if we suffered from TB! Then the girls in the next room all started coughing, too! We thought we might have to abort the cooking process and go without the chicken for the night.  I tied a towel around my face and braved the grill, while Kim tied her scarf around her mouth and nose and continued frying up the plantains!  I have never had a cooking experience quite like this!  Everyone was afraid to eat the chicken (the paste included 5 habanero peppers) let alone the ‘scotch bonnet sauce’ (which had 7 raw, diced habaneros!).  In the end, I thought the flavor was delicious, but definitely a little intense.  Were I to do it again, I would definitely only use 1-2 peppers instead of 5. We each started with the tiniest bit of chicken and Kim and Mer were the bravest, opting for second and third portions (which, in reality were just little two bite pieces!).  Kim swears that if you chew it in your cheeks and avoid the tongue, it’s perfectly delicious 🙂 lol.  The standout, however, was the mango chutney! This dish was pepper-free and had incredible flavor! I would recommend the chutney recipe alongside a wide variety of meat options and I definitely plan to make that again.  If you ever try this dish BEWARE.  The recipe did say you could cut out some of the seeds to avoid the spice, but I LOVE spicy food, so I did not heed that note.  Make sure that you do! This was NOT a pleasant cooking experience! (Although, it does make for a good story and some odd pics for the night!)
  • Side: KimFried Plantains – this Caribbean specialty is one of Kim’s favorites to order at a restaurant – now we’ll finally know how to make them chez nous!  Kim even made the experience complete by visiting a specialty South American market in East Boston to buy her plantains.  She braved the kitchen and the crazy-pepper-fumes to man the frying pan and deliver a Caribbean specialty. Delicious!!
  • Dessert: ErinKey Lime Cheesecake with whipped cream and Mango Ribbons. WOW. Impressive. This was AMAZING!  This had so much flavor and richness!  I think Erin spent a LOT of time on this…from juicing an entire pound of key limes, to whipping the cream, to using a vegetable peeler to make the impressive “mango ribbons,” and finally placing them in beautiful curly-cues all along the top of the cake! The taste was incredible and it looked almost too beautiful to eat!   A+, well done 🙂
  • Not Present: Tara – Tara is at home, busy being a new mother! CONGRATS to Tara & Trevor and their new little baby, Levi!!

 

The Green Flash!!

The Green Flash!! It really was VERY green...and had such a cute little garnish! We really did feel like lounging on the beach.....

...even though we were in our sweaters in the middle of January!

 

Our bartenders for the evening 🙂

 

Sheilding her eyes from the onions!!! Never heard of the sunglass method before...but apparently it may help a little bit...but even if it doesn't, we're in the "Caribbean," so we might as well wear the shades!

 

The amazing MANGO POMEGRANATE GUACAMOLE served with plantain chips and tortilla chips!

 

Creole Baked Goat Cheese!

 

Avocado and Papaya Salad - the ginger, red onion, and mint in this dressing really brought out fantastic flavors in the avocado and papaya! Light and refreshing!

OK…taking a break to cook the main and the side….

Who knew that grilling would cause such a coughing epidemic!!!! We even have an epidemiologist in the house…but she doesn’t usually study respiratory issues from cooking with peppers!

 

Scarf protection!! Frying the plantains...but the fumes from the grilling chicken were getting to everyone!

Hilarious in restrospect, but admittedly concerning at the time!! I've never been doubled over coughing from somthing I've cooked before! I've had my eyes swell with tears while chopping onions and I've had my eyes sting a bit with the potency of a balsamic reduction, but this was a whole new level!!

The famously spicy Jerk Chicken....

The mango chutney accompaniment.

Fried plantains!

Everyone nervously staring down their chicken....wonderinf what it might do to our tongue/stomach after the havoc it has already wrecked on our lungs!!

The first bite....while everyone watched....I survived!!

Stunning! Key lime cheesecake with fresh whipped cream and mago riobbons!

Close up of the mango ribbons...beautiful! Erin - you have outdone yourself this time!

Stay tuned for next month!  We’re are getting more creativity and breaking from the “ingredient” path yet again….for February, we can create any dish, as long as it uses the color RED or would be considered ROMANTIC in some way.  Ideas?!?! Send them our way!

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January 23, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. That cheesecake looks amazing! What a great theme!

    Comment by Jenny Beck | January 27, 2011 | Reply


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