April 3rd, 2004

(no subject)

Tonight I'm cooking Jamaican food. I made Jerk sauce yesterday, and the chicken I'm grilling this evening has been soaking it up since I got home from Jennifer's party last night. I have three fat plaintains that are ripening in the sun as I type this, that will either be fried as maduros or tostones. I cooked a vat of black beans this morning, and will be making jasmine rice to go along with them. I have shredded and chopped the vegetables that are going into the curried vegetable patties I'm also making pastry for, and I have made the raspberry vinaigrette for the island salad I'm going to be making later. Our friends Ken & Chris (the couple I have mentioned before) are coming over for dinner this evening, and I'm looking forward to it.

I'll add all of the recipes I'm mentioning here to the cookbook website I'm working on. True Jerk is intensely flavored and in keeping with Jamaican tradition is also very hot. It's made with green onions, scotch bonnet peppers, pimiento berries (whole allspice), garlic, a little soy sauce, lots of fresh thyme, and a little brown sugar. Jerk chicken is best marinated in it for a day before grilling. My vegetable patties are a meatless variation on regular Jamaican beef patties, which are a favorite also. For those I make a thin pastry crust that is fillied with curried carrots, onions, celery, and cabbage and baked. I make the raspberry sauce to go along with both items because I like a sweet and tart counterpoint to the spicy, savory, and hot flavors from the chicken and vegetable patties. Plaintains are one of my favorite snacks, kind of an island comfort food. Maduros are sweet, overripened plaintains that are fried once, whereas tostones are green unripe plaintains that are fried twice and are crisper than maduros. They're popular all over Jamaica, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and many other tropical places. Black beans and rice are staples of island cooking, but are actually more a Cuban thing than Jamaican. In Jamaica they would traditionally make a pot of pigeon peas and rice with garlic and coconut milk, but I think that is a little too involved for what I want to make tonight. Plus, we all love black beans. Island salad is the cool part of the meal with cucumbers, red Bermuda onions, Roma tomatoes, all in a light raspberry or red wine vinaigrette.

Our guests are coming at 5:30, and we have a lot more to do today, so I started preparing early. I'm about to head out to help Damien - his recently married cousin is moving into a new apartment today and we're helping them. Then stopping by a grocery store to get the one thing I forgot yesterday, then back here to get dinner started. I really love little dinner parties, I really do.