Archive for August 2012

We leave the islands reluctantly, but with memories of Puerto Rico’s empanadillas de jueyes, Jamaica’s curried goat, and the tangy condiments that season Trinidad and Tobago’s bake and shark. We return home with taste memories and ideas that will serve as inspiration for a lifetime of good eating. For recipes, visit www.ciaprochef.com/WCA7

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No visit to the Caribbean would be complete without a sip or two of rum punch. Port of Spain in Trinidad is home to Angostura, internationally known for its bitters. Angostura’s Chief Mixologist Raymond Edwards, demonstrates to us how to make traditional rum punch. For recipes, visit www.ciaprochef.com/WCA7

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On Trinidad's sister Island Tobago, everyone's essential beach treat is crab and dumplings, and Miss Trim’s is the place to indulge. Here's we find a plate of curried crab atop a large, flat, oblong dumpling that is there to sop up some of the curry. It’s a perfect Creole dish: the curry is Indian, the crab comes from local waters, and the dense flour dumpling adds the African touch. Chef Debra Sardinha-Metivier demonstrates how to make crab and dumplings in her kitchen. For recipes, visit www.ciaprochef.com/WCA7

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No trip to Trinidad's Maracas Bay beach is complete without a taste of bake and shark. As one person put it, “bake and shark is to a beach outing what plum pudding is to Christmas – essential!” At Richard's Bake and Shark we get a sample and a lesson in preparing the fried bread known as bakes. Bake and shark sandwiches are topped with an assortment of condiments, including pineapple, garlic sauce, chutneys, tamarind sauce, and shaved mango seasoned with chile and mustard oil called kuchela. All are layered on the sandwich to the diner’s taste and then consumed with gusto. For recipes, visit www.ciaprochef.com/WCA7

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Roti is to Trinidad what jerk is to Jamaica. The street snack takes the name of the Indian flat bread that is filled with curry. The curry fillings can be prepared from a variety of ingredients, from chick peas to chicken. For recipes, visit www.ciaprochef.com/WCA7

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Trinindad's street food abounds with Indian names like sahina, aloo pie and baghani. Trinny’s, as Trinidadians call themselves, are born nibblers. Eating on the street is a way of life, and at times it seems as though everyone is munching away on a snack or sipping from a coconut, or lined up awaiting the next tasty tidbit. Chef Debra Sardinha-Metivier gives us a crash course in Trinidadian street food 101. For recipes, visit www.ciaprochef.com/WCA7

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Here at the market we get a first taste of Trinidad’s favorite street food snack: doubles. Doubles are flat fry breads known as bara, stuffed with channa, or curried chickpeas. Vendors serve the doubles with an array of condiments, such as pepper sauce, or mango, cucumber, coconut, and tamarind chutneys. For recipes, visit www.ciaprochef.com/WCA7

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In Port of Spain’s markets, ingredients from Europe, Africa, and the Indian subcontinent come together on vendor tables. Culantro here is known as shadow benny or chadon benni – a corruption of the French chardon benit or “blessed thistle.” It is a part of the green seasoning that is a Trinidad and Tobago culinary basic. Chef Debra Sardinha-Metivier of DSM Creative Cuisine, gives us our first look at the diversity of the Trinidadian market basket. For recipes, visit www.ciaprochef.com/WCA7

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The dual island nation of Trinidad and Tobago is a must stop on any Caribbean journey. Both Trinidad and Tobago were once prosperous sugar islands with enslaved Africans laboring under the oversight of Europeans. The Indian, African and European cultures that make up the islands’ histories gave birth to a unique multi-cultural cuisine. For recipes, visit www.ciaprochef.com/WCA7

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Chef Wilo Benet joins us to demonstrate some of the island’s classics. He starts with the sofrito, the foundation for many Puerto Rican recipes. His sofrito is made with culantro leaves, peppers, onions, garlic, olive oil and aji dulce. For recipes, visit www.ciaprochef.com/WCA7

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No Puerto Rican culinary voyage would be complete without a sample of the soupy rice and chicken stew that is a hallmark of the island’s cooking – asopao. Like a soupy paella, it can be made simply with few ingredients or glamorized with additions such as fresh asparagus spears and julienned pimientos. Chef Alfredo Ayala demonstrates how to make chicken asopao. For recipes, visit www.ciaprochef.com/WCA7

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It’s time to head into the kitchen, but before beginning to cook, we need a crash course in the tubers that abound in the cooking of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. There’s true yam that comes in multiple varieties. And then the fun starts. One man’s yucca is another’s cassava. And another’s yautia might also be called tannia, cocoyam, taro, dasheen, or malanga! Chef Alfredo Ayala walks us through the many varieties of tubers and tells us how each is used. For recipes, visit www.ciaprochef.com/WCA7

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At a beachside stand in the area of Piñones, we find fried tidbits known as bacalaitos and alcapurrias. Bacalaitos are fritters prepared from the salt codfish that is part of the island’s sea-faring heritage. The torpedo-shaped alcapurrias are made from either meat and taro, or taro alone. They are fried in cauldrons of bubbling lard, and served up piping hot. Fritters like alcapurrias and bacalaitos are found all over the island, but they are especially relished by beach-goers. For recipes, visit www.ciaprochef.com/WCA7

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Marí Dolores de Jesús, who goes by her nickname Lula, shows us how she prepares Puerto Rican Empanadillas de Jueyes at her roadside stand, El Buren de Lula. For recipes, visit www.ciaprochef.com/WCA7

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Loiza is a town on the north coast that is the African heart of Puerto Rico. Another of Puerto Rico’s traditional delights are empanadillas de jueyes. These banana leaf-wrapped treats are typical of the town of Loiza, and are prepared from land crabs that have been fed a diet of bread and coconut. They’re available in several small restaurants, but the woman who is the acknowledged master of empanadillas is Marí Dolores de Jesús, nicknamed Lula. At her small roadside spot, El Buren de Lula, we watch as she prepares them. For recipes, visit www.ciaprochef.com/WCA7

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Pasteles are a traditional Puerto Rican Christmas dish. Chef Alfredo Ayala explains that pastels are similar to tamales, but stuffed with pork stewed with rich sofrito. They are wrapped inside a banana leaf and boiled. For recipes, visit www.ciaprochef.com/WCA7

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Pique is traditional Puerto Rican hot sauce. Chef Alfredo Ayala explains how hot peppers are pickled in pineapple water, salt, sugar, and culantro. For recipes, visit www.ciaprochef.com/WCA7

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For lovers of pork, there is no greater Puerto Rican treat than a trip into the hills for a sampling of lechon, or roast suckling pig. Apa Ramos, owner of Lechonera La Ranchera, in the hills above San Juan at Agua Buena, Guaynabo, shows us the process. Pork here is sold with sides like pigeon peas and rice, morcilla, green bananas in vinaigrette, cassava in a garlicky sauce called mojo, or a good potato salad. For recipes, visit www.ciaprochef.com/WCA7

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Food is everywhere in Puerto Rico. Roadside truck stops offer hearty, stick-to-the-ribs workingman’s dishes such as cassava in vinaigrette, fricasseed rabbit, and blood sausage called morcilla. Guajo is a mixture of a pig’s innards served with rice and red beans. Green bananas known as guineos are boiled and provide an alternative starch to root vegetables and rice. For recipes, visit www.ciaprochef.com/WCA7

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When exploring culinary Puerto Rico, what better place to start than a market? And who better to serve as our guide than Chef Wilo Benet, A Culinary Institute of America graduate and one of the island’s premier chefs whose restaurant Pikayo is a beacon to all who visit in search of the tastes of Puerto Rico. He’ll give us a basic course in the Puerto Rican market basket at the Plaza del Mercado, a small, but lively market in the Santurce area of San Juan. Here, we get our first look at the bounty of this region where sometimes the freshest ingredients like bananas and avocados are growing outside the back door. For recipes, visit www.ciaprochef.com/WCA7

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