Monday, April 15, 2019

Cooking St. Kitts Caribbean, part 4

Mount Olivees and part of the botanical garden at Fairview Great House, St. Kitts.
Caribbean cuisine, thy name means jerk - spices, that is - for rubbing on any edible critters that go on a dinner plate. Every cook, neighborhood, village, city and island has a distinct version ranging from tingly to scalding.

Chef Cheviour Lake, instructor of Caribbean Cooks classes at Fairview Great House and Botanical Garden on St. Kitts, shared hers for pork and chicken. We had the chicken and it was delicious.

Jerk Pork Loin or Chicken Breasts

Six servings

2 lbs. pork loin or comparable amount large, boneless chicken breasts

Jerk rub for seasoning

1/4 cup ground allspice
1/2 cup brown sugar
8 cloves garlic
4 hot peppers (jalapeno or scotch bonnet peppers will work)*
2 bunches island herbs, garlic chives aka green onions
1 tsp. cinnamon powder
Grated nutmeg to taste
Lime juice

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender.

*To make a mild rub, use de-seeded jalapenos; for spicier, leave the seeds in. Scalding? Scotch bonnets. Not sure? Go mild and serve with a bottle of hot sauce.

Apply rub to meat.

Heat a non-stick pot/skillet on medium for 15 minutes. Place meat into pan and sear for 2 minutes per pound on each side.

Let meat sit for juices to settle then slice.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Cooking St. Kitts Caribbean 3

You can't have a Caribbean style meal without fish.

Chef Cheviour Lake, teacher for the Caribbean Cooks classes at Fairview Great House and Botanical Garden on St. Kitts, provided a recipe that can be used for almost any fish. Chef used grouper but any white fish will work.

West Indian Steamed Fish

Servings for six

3 large fish fillets of your choice (more if the only protein dish served)
1/2 cup diced fresh tomatoes (leave seeds in for extra juice)
1/2 cup  diced green bell peppers
1/2 clove garlic
tomato paste (optional)
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig parsley
1/4 cup grated carrot
1 TBS olive oil
1 TBS unsalted butter
1 TBS lime juice
1 cup water or stock
1 TBS vegetable oil

Seasoned fish with salt, pepper, herbs (thyme, bay leaf, garlic) one-half hour in advance.

In a hot pan add olive oil and vegetable oil. Lightly saute onions, garlic and green bell pepper until golden brown. Add grated carrots, water/stock and lime juice.

Bring to a boil and let simmer. Submerge fish fillets in pot and reduce liquid by half to intensify flavor. This should take 6-7 minutes. Add butter to finish.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Cooking St. Kitts Caribbean 2

In the second installment of Chef Cheviour Lake's menu from her Caribbean Cooks class at Fairview Great House and Botanical Garden we prepare Red Beans and Rice. It couldn't be easier, either.

Red Beans and Rice

 2 cups cooked white rice
1/2 cup red beans, soaked overnight and boiled with a pinch of cinnamon
1 medium onion, diced
1 stalk celery
4 small seasoning peppers
2 TBS unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste
2 TBS vegetable oil

Saute onion, peppers and celery in olive oil until lightly brown. Add butter, salt and pepper to taste, add rice and peas on low heat and stir, adding vegetable oil.

That pinch of cinnamon in the rice is Chef Cheviour's secret for a tastier dish.

Next post: West Indian Steamed Fish

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Cooking St. Kitts Caribbean

Fairview Great House, St. Kitts.
The view and the cooking lessons at Fairview Great House in St. Kitts are grand. Built in 1702, Fairview has sheltered French, Irish, Scottish, English, Portuguese, Spanish, American and West Indian owners in its long history.

The view is exceedingly fair.

Recently it welcomed American, Canadian, French and English visitors eager to learn more about Caribbean cuisine and how to prepare it.

After touring the home we took seats in the adjacent facility, a spacious, open, colorful room with raked seating and overhead mirrors so all could watch what the chef was doing at the stove top and prep area. Menu and recipe sheets were at each place making it easier to ask questions as the meal progressed.

Chef Cheviour Lake welcomed us and began to prepare the day's menu:

Jerk Chicken
West Indian Steamed Fish
Red Beans and Rice
Vegetable Escovitch
Coconut Butter Bread Pudding.

I will start where she did, the Vegetable Escovitch now, and feature each dish's recipe in the coming weeks.

Vegetable Escovitch

2 cups - cooked vegetables, your choice. Suggestions: carrots, butternut squash, green banana, pumpkin, chayote.
1 oz. olive oil or vegetable oil
1 onion diced
1/2 each green and red pepper, sliced
1 clove garlic
zest and juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cucumber peeled, seeded, diced or sliced
salt, pepper, thyme, pepper flakes to taste

Saute onions, peppers, garlic and thyme until lightly brown.
Add lime juice, cucumbers, wine and pepper flakes. Season to taste.
Add the vegetables and mix together.
Can be served hot or cold.

Serves six.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Can't resist Oatmeal Cookies

When you take the boat to Little St. Simons Island, a privately owned island off the coast of St. Simons Island, GA, you land on an 11,000-acres where only 32 guests at a time can walk its 7 miles of beach, bicycle its paths, observe eagles and roseate spoonbills nesting and enjoy naturalist-led excursions.

This all-inclusive escape provides guests with gourmet and seed-to-table fare, wine, beer, soft drinks, and use of all equipment from bikes to fishing tackle.

Even sun screen and bug repellent fill caddies outside your cabin door.

On a recent stay, Ashley Joyce, pastries and sous chef, kept us reaching into the cookie jar for her oatmeal cookies.

Naturally, I asked for the recipe, which doubles beautifully.

Little St. Simons Island Oatmeal Cookies

1 lb. butter
1 cup sugar
2 cups brown sugar

4 eggs
2 tsp.vanilla
3 cups flour
6 cups rolled oats
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
1 TBS. cinnamon
3 cups Craisons

Cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl down after each. Add vanilla and the dry ingredients until combined. Finally, fold in the Craisins.

Place an ice cream scoop or full tablespoon of batter on baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes until browned.

Cookies freeze well.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Pisco Perfect

Chile is a country of great beauty and delicious drinks. Photo © by Judy Wells.
Argentina and Chile have argued over who invented the Pisco Sour since the second one was served. I'm not about to get into that dispute, but while cleaning out files, I discovered a card from the general manager of the Chilean Tourism Promotion Corporation that included that country's recipe for the classic libation.

Here it is.

Photo courtesy of Hotel Portillo.
Chilean Pisco Sour

3 parts Pisco Brandy
1 1/2 parts lemon juice
1 to 2 TBS sugar
1/2 egg white
1 dash bitters

Shake first four ingredients vigorously with ice. Strain into a Champagne flute and add the bitters as an aromatic garnish.


Monday, August 27, 2018

Florida Glory with a Chinese Heritage

Chef Dennis Chan is known for the "hip Asian comfort food" he creates at Blue Bamboo in Jacksonville, FL. One taste of his Sunshine State Orange Crunch Cake, Grand Prize winner of the 2018 Neighborhood to Nation Recipe Contest, will have you lining up for reservations.  Sponsored by General Mills Foodservice, the competition was open to professional chefs at independent restaurants and food trucks.

Dennis not only wins $30,000 plus $5,000 for his local charity (the American Cancer Society's Real Men Wear Pink of Jacksonville campaign), in October he and his Sunshine Cake will take part in the Food Network & Cooking Channel New York Wine & Food Festival.

"The biggest joy that I will get out of winning this contest is that I get to share a little bit of my hometown of Jacksonville, Florida, and the flavors of my restaurant Blue Bamboo with the rest of the world."

                            Sunshine State Orange Crunch Cake

SERVINGS: 10 servings (1 serving = 1 piece)


Orange juice9 oz1 cup
Gold Medal™ Yellow Cake Mix (11152)1 lb 12 oz5 3/4 cups
Mandarin oranges, canned, undrained15 oz1 3/4 cups
Orange extract
2 Tbsp
Orange Sauce
Orange juice1 lb 2 oz2 cups
Granulated sugar
2 Tbsp
1 1/2 Tbsp
Puff Pastry Layers
Pillsbury's Best™ Puff Pastry Dough Sheet (05123)
1 each
Salt, kosher
1/2 tsp
Almond Lace Cookies
Butter, unsalted2 oz1/4 cup
Brown sugar, firmly packed2.5 oz6 Tbsp
Corn syrup3.5 oz1/4 cup
Gold Medal™ All-Purpose Flour (14323)1 oz3 Tbsp
Vanilla extract
1/2 tsp
Salt, kosher
1/4 tsp
Slivered almonds, ground2 oz1/2 cup
Butter, unsalted, softened1 lb2 cups
Powdered sugar1 lb3 1/2 cups
Cream cheese, softened1 lb 8 oz
Crushed pineapple, canned, drained12 oz1 1/3 cups
Orange extract
2 Tbsp
Powdered sugar
1 tsp


  1. Add orange juice and cake mix to bowl of mixer fitted with paddle attachment; mix on medium speed 2 minutes.
  2. Add mandarin oranges and orange extract; mix on low speed 30 seconds. 
  3. Stop mixer, scrape bowl and paddle; mix on low speed an additional 1 1/2 minutes.
  4. Deposit batter in 2 greased, parchment-lined 8-inch round cake pans; bake as directed below until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
  5. Allow to cool in pans 10 minutes; remove and cool completely.
Convection Oven*               300°F           33-38 minutes
Standard Oven                    350°F           38-43 minutes

*Rotate pans baked in convection oven one-half turn (180°) after 16 minutes of baking.

Orange Sauce
  1. Stir orange juice, sugar and cornstarch together in 2-quart saucepan; cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil, stir frequently.
  2. Remove from heat and cool completely; refrigerate until assembly.
Puff Pastry Layer
  1. Thaw frozen puff pastry dough sheet, covered, either at room temperature 15-30 minutes until flexible or refrigerated overnight.
  2. Roll out to 18x13-inch rectangle; cut 2, 8-inch diameter circles from opposite corners of sheet.
  3. Cut 2, half-moon shaped circles from remaining dough; transfer pieces to parchment-lined full sheet pan.
  4. Dock each piece and sprinkle with salt; cover with additional paper and place another full sheet pan on top to weigh down puff pastry dough.
  5. Bake as directed below until golden brown; cool completely. 
Convection Oven*          350°F         22-26 minutes
Standard Oven               400°F         26-30 minutes

*Rotate pans baked in convection oven one-half turn (180°) after 11 minutes of baking.

Almond Lace Cookies
  1. Add butter, brown sugar and corn syrup to 2-quart saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in flour, vanilla, salt and almonds until well combined.
  3. Line 2, full sheet pans with silpat or parchment paper and place 10, #70 scoops of dough on each.
  4. Bake as directed below until golden brown; cool completely. 
Convection Oven           350°F         4-6 minutes
Standard Oven                400°F         5-8 minutes

  1. Add butter and powdered sugar to mixer bowl fitted with paddle attachment; mix on low speed to combine.
  2. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed.
  3. Divide cream cheese into about 2 oz portions; add a few portions at a time to mixer bowl until combined.
  4. Beat until fluffy. Add pineapple and orange extract; mix until well blended.
  1. Cut the cake rounds in half, horizontally; spread 1/4 cup Orange Sauce on the cut side of each.
  2. Place 1 cake layer on cake plate, cut side UP; frost with approx. 1/2 cup frosting.
  3. Top with a full circle of the Puff Pastry Layer; frost with approx. 1/2 cup frosting.
  4. Place another cake layer on top, cut side DOWN; frost with approx. 1/2 cup frosting.
  5. Top with the other full circle of the Puff Pastry Layer; frost with approx. 1/2 cup frosting.
  6. Top with the third cake layer, cut side UP; frost with approx. 1/2 cup frosting.
  7. Arrange the 2, half-moon Puff Pastry Layer pieces on top; frost with approx. 1/2 cup frosting.
  8. Top with last cake layer, cut side DOWN; frost top and sides with remaining frosting.
  9. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  1. Garnish with Almond Lace Cookies and dust with powdered sugar.
  2. Serve with remaining Orange Sauce.
  1. Cake layers can be made ahead and frozen if desired. Allow to cool completely after baking. Wrap to seal and freeze; thaw about 20 minutes before assembly.
  2. Store Almond Lace Cookies in air-tight container.


Nutrition values are calculated using the weights of ingredients.

Serving Size: 1 piece
Calories from Fat
Total Fat
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
2 1/2g
Total Carbohydrate
Dietary Fiber
% Daily Value*:
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
4 1/2 Starch; 0 Fruit; 7 1/2 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Skim Milk; 0 Low-Fat Milk; 0 Milk; 0 Vegetable; 0 Very Lean Meat; 0 Lean Meat; 0 High-Fat Meat; 18 Fat;
Carbohydrate Choice
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.