Monday, April 21, 2008

A salute to Caribbean flavors

Seismic sounds, fiery flavors, an array of vibrant colors, exotic fruits and vegetables- these trademarks of Caribbean culture are as diverse as the islands that make up the Caribbean.
From Jamaica and Haiti to Cuba and Puerto Rico, the Caribbean culture is a fusion of high energy,colorful music, customs, and foods. In acknowledgement of this rich culture, Lawry's yearlong Cooking Up Culture program proudly celebrates the influence of Caribbean cuisine on American dishes,and just in time to celebrate the 2nd annual Caribbean-American Heritage Month in the U.S.
"Caribbean cuisine is one of the most flavorful and festive cuisines that we love here in America," says Lawry's spokesperson B. Smith. "With a mélange of cultural influences from Spain, France, India and Africa, and even Mexico, Caribbean foods marry tropical flavors with delicious spices to create unique and exciting dishes. That's why America has been known to celebrate Caribbean cuisine, whether through take-out jerk chicken restaurants or more upscale, sit-down establishments that offer Caribbean fare."
The foods of the Caribbean are marked by a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, meats, grains, and spices, all of which contribute to the area's unique cuisine. European colonists, including the Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, British, French and the Swedes, brought oranges, limes, mangoes, rice and coffee to the Caribbean.
They also introduced sugarcane, which was later fermented to make rum, a drink that remains the ultimate tropical Caribbean beverage. Spaniards introduced other foods, notably coconut, chick-peas, cilantro, eggplant, onions, and garlic. West Africans introduced okra, pigeon peas, plantains, callaloo, taro, breadfruit and ackee.
Mexico's donations include papaya, avocado, chayote, and cocoa. In addition, laborers from India and China came to work in the fields and plantations of the Caribbean, adding two very different culinary influences to the already robust melting pot of Caribbean flavors. Since many of the Caribbean islands had wild pigs and cattle, spiced and smoked meats became an integral part of the people's diet, the most popular being jerk meat.
Many of the foods and spices from the Caribbean's island cooking have been exported to other continents around the world, becoming a familiar mainstay in many kitchens. Try these easy-to-make, Caribbean-inspired recipes during your next family meal. These, and other Caribbean recipes, are available through the end of April.
4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Marinate Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
3/4 cup Lawry's Mexican Chile & Lime Marinade With Lime Juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1- lb. boneless sirloin steak, about 1 inch thick
1 medium ripe mango, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium tomato, chopped1/2 cup chopped red onion1 tsp. Lawry's® Garlic Salto In small bowl, combine Chile & Lime Marinade With Lime Juice with cilantro; set aside.o In large resealable plastic bag, pour 1/2 cup marinade mixture over steak; turn to coat. Close bag and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes. Reserve remaining marinade mixture.
Remove steak from marinade, discarding marinade. Grill or broil steak, turning once and brushing with 2 tablespoons reserved marinade mixture, 10 minutes or until desired doneness.o Meanwhile, in large bowl, toss remaining reserved marinade mixture with remaining ingredients. Chill, if desired. To serve, top steak with salsa.
10 cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 large boniatos or sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes (about 1 pound)
1 large red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
4 cups seafood or vegetable broth
1/2 cup Lawry's Caribbean Jerk Marinade With Papaya Juice
1 dozen clams, well scrubbed
1 lb. Grouper fillets, skinned and cut into large chunks
1/2 lb. uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined.
In large stock pot, heat Olive Oil over medium heat and cook boniato, bell pepper and onion, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender and boniato is starting to stick to pan. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes, then add seafood broth and Caribbean Jerk Marinade With Papaya Juice. Bring to a boil over high heat.
Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 25 minutes or until boniatos are tender. Add remaining ingredients and simmer, covered, an additional 5 minutes or until fish is done and clams open. Garnish, if desired, with chopped fresh cilantro.
4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Marinate Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
3/4 cup Lawry's Mexican Chile & Lime Marinade With Lime Juice
1 lb. tilapia fillets
1/2 cup sour cream
1 medium ripe avocado
1/2 tsp. Garlic Salt
8 corn or flour tortillas, heated according to package directions.
In large resealable plastic bag, pour 1/2 cup Mexican Chile & Lime Marinade With Lime Juice over fillets; turn to coat. Close bag and marinate in refrigerator 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine sour cream with 2 tablespoons Marinade. In another bowl, mash avocado with Garlic Salt; cover and chill until ready to serve.
Remove fillets from Marinade, discarding Marinade. Grill or broil fillets, turning once and brushing with remaining 2 tablespoons Marinade, 6 minutes or until fillets flake with a fork.o To serve, evenly spread avocado mixture on tortillas, then top with fillets and sour cream mixture. Garnish, if desired, with salsa, shredded Mexican blend cheese and/or shredded cabbage.