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Monday, October 07, 2013

Jamaica's Tasty Best

My daughter and her husband (Bob) with Claire just returned from a missions trip to the children of Jamaica. So here are a few of the tastiest food Jamaica has given to the world. Enjoy.

For 4 Servings                                                            
1 tbsp              ground allspice                                  
1 tbsp              dried thyme                            
1 ½ tsp            cayenne pepper                                  
1 ½ tsp            freshly ground black pepper              
1 ½ tsp            ground sage                                        
¾ tsp               ground nutmeg                                   
¾ tsp               ground cinnamon                               
2 tbsp              salt                                          
2 tbsp              garlic powder                         
1 tbsp              sugar                                       
¼ cup              olive oil                                              
¼ cup              soy sauce                                            
¾ cup              white vinegar                         
½ cup              fresh orange juice                               
3 tbsp              fresh lime juice                                               
1                      chopped Haberarno pepper                
1 cup               chopped Bermuda onion                    
3                      finely chopped scallions                                 
4-8 oz              chicken quarters (Marylands) 
In  a large mixing bowl, combine the allspice, thyme, cayenne pepper, black pepper, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, garlic powder and sugar. With a wire whisk, slowly add the olive oil, soy sauce, vinegar, orange juice, and lime juice. Add the Scotch bonnet pepper, onion, and scallions and mix well.
Add the chicken breasts, cover and marinate for at least 6 hours, better over night.
Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse and pat dry. Preheat the grill to medium-high. Turn one side of the grill off and place the chicken skin-side down over the indirect heat. Cook for 10 minutes, turn, cook another 10 minutes and then brush with a thick coating of basting sauce. Turn, cook another 10 minutes, baste and cook a final 10 minutes for a total of 40 minutes on the grill. The chicken should register at least 160 degrees F and the juices should run clear. Serve immediately.
If you can get Allspice wood charcoal to grill the chicken over, this will add a true Jamaican dimension to the chicken.
Rice & Peas
The peas are actually red kidney beans, but wow is this dish good.
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups long-grain rice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 cup chicken stock
2 cups coconut milk
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 whole Scotch bonnet chile (can substitute a whole habanero)
Lime (optional)
Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 4-5 minutes, until they begin to brown on the edges.
Add the garlic and rice, stir well and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
Add the grated ginger, salt, water, stock and coconut milk and stir well. Add the kidney beans and sprinkle the thyme over everything. Add the whole Scotch bonnet chile (or habanero); it will season the rice much like a bay leaf would. Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat to low and cover.
The rice should be done in about 15-20 minutes, depending on the type of rice you are using (some long grained rice takes longer to cook). Check after 15 minutes. Once done, remove from heat and cover for 10 minutes. To serve, fluff with a fork. Sprinkle with a little lime juice.
Jamaican Curried Goat
2 lbs goat cut into 1-2 inch pieces
3/4 teaspoon salt
dash black pepper
1 medium onion sliced
3 cloves garlic crushed or sliced thin
3 sprigs thyme
1 tomato sliced
1/2 scotch bonnet pepper
2 scallions
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 1/2 tablespoon curry powder for cooking
1/4 teaspoon geera powder (cumin)
1/4 teaspoon amchar masala
1 leaf Spanish thyme crushed
4 chadon beni leaves (aka cilantro extranjero or Thai pak pai)
1/2 teaspoon ketchup
3 tablespoon oil
6 1/4 cups water
Wash and drain the meat, then season with everything listed above except the water, oil, onion, garlic, pepper and 1 1/2 tablespoons of curry powder. Mix well, cover and put in the fridge to marinate for at least 8 hours. Try to seal tight as the smell can easily overwhelm the inside of your fridge..
In a heavy pot heat the oil on medium/high, add the onion and garlic and allow to cook for a few minutes until soft. Add the hot pepper and curry powder to the onion and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes..Add a 1/4 cup of water and allow this to cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Stirring constantly..
Add the seasoned goat a few pieces at a time and stir between each batch you add. Cover the pot and bring to a gentle simmer.
Add 3 cups of water
Simmer for 25 minutes, then remove the lid and turn up the heat.. Add the remaining water bring to a boil, turn down the heat to low covered and stir every 15 minutes or so. Braise for 2 hours.

Serve with rice & peas.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

National Coffee Day

When Frank Sinatra recorded The Coffee Song coffee had yet to reach the levels of esteem it enjoys today. The song tells about Brazils huge problem of what to do with all the coffee it produced, what to do? We will get back to this in a moment.

Coffee began global spread from the Ethiopian region or province called Kaffa. Nearly all plants of the species Coffea arabica are thought to be descendants of plants from Kaffa. The word coffee dates to the late 16th-century, and is derived from the Dutch word koffie, this word was derived from the Turkish word kahve, the Turkish pronunciation in Arabic is qahwa. Legend has it that a goat herded watched his animals acting strangely after consuming small red cherries from a bush. Forbidden from eating the berries he threw them into a fire to destroy them, but he had a change of heart and scooped the burned berries up and placed into a pot of water to cool. The resulting liquid was aromatic and flavorful and so the first cup of coffee was born. Coffee was certainly being brewed for enjoyment by the 11th century and became a stable in Muslim lives by the 13th century.

By the 15th century coffee from Sudan, Arabia, Yemen was being traded and shipped through the great Yemen port of Mocha. The the 16th century the Dutch brought live "mocha" plants back to the Netherlands to be cultivated in greenhouses and were soon shipped to lands where the bushes could flourish such as Malabar in India and in 1699 they took some plants to Batavia in Java.

The first coffeehouses or kaveh kanes opened in Mecca, first European coffeehouse opened in Venice in 1683 and quickly spread throughout Europe and into Great Britan. The oldest coffee house in the world still brewing coffee today is Caffe Florian in Piazza San Marco Venice. Like the modern day Starbucks coffee houses became gathering houses for social and political and business ventures, the international insurance corporation Lloyd's of London began a humble beginning in a coffee house in 1688. The Boston Tea party began in a coffeehouse (The Green Dragon) as did the New York Stock exchange and the bank of New York in a Wall St. coffeehouse.

The Dutch first brought the plant to Surinam the smallest sovereign state in South America in 1718 from which coffee soon spread to Brazil and other South and Central America countries. Then quickly into the islands of Cuba and Jamaica, where today some of the world's most expensive coffee is grown (Jamaican Blue Mountain.)

Along with coffee, two other beverages began to imported into Europe from the Americas and India during the 17th century, tea and cocoa. All three struggled for a place in the hot beverage consuming public eventually all sharing differing markets and all becoming worldwide favorites but it was the demand for coffee that gave the other two their beginnings.

In 1930 the Brazilian government approached a small baby food producing company from Switzerland  to create a new instant coffee that increased the dwindling coffee exports of Brazil, while production was high exports were low . It took eight years but in 1938 Nestle introduced Nescafe.

Instant coffee was not a new idea; it was originally invented by a Japanese chemist named Satori Kato in 1901 and had been marketed and sold by various companies with disappointing results. Nescafe revolutionized the way instant coffee was made. Nestle developed a new process for dehydrating the concentrated coffee which vastly improved the quality.  On my last trip to Africa I visited the King in Cameroon to discuss with him his coffee exports to Italy, together we shared a cup of Nescafe freeze dried coffee which was the only way  the King drank his coffee.

The two main types of coffee beans are Robusta and Arabica, when green the beans of Robusta will have a smell of raw peanut while Arabica beans will very much like blueberries. Once roasted both coffees takes on other more complex aromas and of  course flavors.

While most Arabica beans must be grown in higher mountainous regions of 600 meters above sea level  or higher Robusta beans are harvested from areas under 600 meters . Robusta beans have higher yields in the harvest and the finished product tends to be far more bitter than the Arabica cousin. Most store shelf blends will contain a mixture of both of the two types of beans. The best blends are 100 percent Arabica, the Chef K blend is a blend of green Arabica beans from Brazil, Ethiopia, Sumatra and Cameroon then dry air roasted to a medium dark color and quickly cooled to prevent the beans from continuing to cook after they are removed from  the roaster.

Green coffee beans have an amazing ability to retain their freshness  for months, some even for years, when you consider the storage facilities of the major manufacturers  green beans must be able to maintain quality. While true for green beans the same does not hold true for roasted beans. Once coffee has been roasted the process of breakdown begins, the beans will deteriorate quickly,  oxygen, light, heat and moisture are all enemies of the roasted bean. Keep your beans in an air tight container in a cool dark place away from any heat source (cabinets above stove tops.) You may store your beans in the freezer but never in the refrigerator. Refrigerating the beans will cause them to absorb odors and moisture from other things stored within the area. While freezing allows the bean's to maintain most of their flavor be sure to use only what you require and never allow the frozen beans to thaw which causes them to take in unwanted moisture.  It is best to portion out what you require and then freeze the portion packets thus you may only use exactly what you need as you need it.

The hoax of vacuum sealed packages for freshness should also be discussed here. Large companies know that fresh roasted coffee releases carbon dioxide and therefore the beans would damage any container they may be packed into therefore the roaster must allow a time period of 12 hours to several days for these gases to dissipate. As we have seen the beans would now be stale and vacuum sealing would be to seal the stale beans in the container not freshness.

 Coffee should be ground just prior to use, ground coffee keeps it fresh taste for a very short time (two days at most) after that oils within the beans leach out and the brewed result is bitter in taste. Stale coffee will always produce an inferior cup.

 Grind your coffee to the requirements of your brewer, very fine for an espresso, medium grind for drip brewers and French presses.  Using a very fine grind for your everyday coffee will produce an inferior cup of coffee and will be more expensive as you will use more coffee than what is required to brew a very good cup.

While all people enjoy differing strengths  in their brew and prefect that cup of "Joe" is an art,  you cannot  ignore the basic formulation of a great cup of coffee from which you can experiment and prefect your art. The requirements for a very good drip brewed coffee in first your water, pure water must be used, straight tap water is a definite "NO", tap water of course contains minerals, sodiums, chemicals and fluoride. The purer the water the better the coffee. Next grind the coffee that you require to a medium grind using 11/2 to 2 tablespoons for each 8oz of water. Here is where you get to experiment, ideally your brewer should be producing water at a temperature of 190F for drip brewers and 200F for espresso so use a little more or less grounds to create your preferred blend.

Let your coffee be coffee macchiatos, cappuccinos, and lattes are just teases to the great coffee which be found within.

Brazil Nut Coffee Cheesecake

2 1/2 cups crushed chocolate cookie crumbs
1/2 cup crushed roasted Brazil nuts
1/2 cup butter, melted
Non-Stick Cooking Spray
32 oz Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup Sugar
1/4 cup coffee liqueur
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
 4 (1-ounce) bittersweet baking chocolate squares
Mocha Sauce follows

1. Stir together cookie crumbs, Brazil nuts and butter; press mixture into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray.

2. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Cool crust in pan on a wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 325°.

3. Beat cream cheese and 1 cup sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add coffee liqueur, coffee granules, and 1 teaspoon vanilla, beating at low speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears after each addition.

4. Remove and reserve 1 cup cream cheese mixture. Pour remaining batter into prepared crust.

5. Microwave chocolate squares in a medium-size glass bowl 1 minute or until melted, stirring after 30 seconds; let cool slightly. Stir reserved 1 cup cream cheese mixture into melted chocolate, blending well. Spoon chocolate mixture in lines on top of batter in springform pan; gently swirl with a knife.

6. Bake at 325° for 1 hour or until almost set. Turn oven off. Let cheesecake stand in oven, with door closed, 30 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven, and gently run a knife around outer edge of cheesecake to loosen from sides of pan. (Do not remove sides of pan.) Cool on a wire rack. Cover and chill at least 6 hours.

7. Remove sides of springform pan.

 Mocha Sauce

1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup espresso


Cook chocolate morsels, whipping cream, and butter in a small heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring often, 2 to 3 minutes or until smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in the brewed coffee. Serve sauce warm

Coffee Crusted Steak
2 (8 oz) ribeye steaks
2 tbsp Chef K steak seasoning or Montreal Steak Seasonings
super fine ground coffee
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp butter

Mix the seasonings with ground coffee. Coat the  steaks heavily with the mix and allow to set at room temperature for 30 minutes. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, and add the butter and olive oil, and heat until the butter is just browned. Cook steaks for 3 mins on each side. Let rest on a plate covered with foil for 5-10 mins before serving.

Coffee Crusted Ahi Tuna With Cilantro Sauce

2 lbs Yellowfin tuna steaks
1/4 cup Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee ground fine
3 tbsp Chef K Creole seasonings
2 tbsp clarified butter

Cut the fish into 4-8 oz or 6-6 oz portions
Mix the coffee with the seasonings and coat the fish.
Heat the butter in a skillet and sear the tuna for 1 minute per side or to rare depending on the thickness of the steaks.


½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 jalapeño, seeded, de-ribbed, minced
4 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated (use a microplane grater)
4 garlic cloves, grated
Juice of 4 limes
⅓ cup soy sauce
¼ teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a mixing bowl, combine the cilantro, jalapeno, ginger, garlic, lime juice, soy sauce, sugar, salt, pepper, and ¼ cup of olive oil.

Drizzle half the sauce over tuna and serve remaining sauce on the table. Either serve as whole tuna steaks or sliced