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.