Here’s the perfect Cinco de Mayo breakfast! Arepas (my favorite thing ever since I made these), eggs, and guacamole. These are pretty quick to throw together, and very filling and satisfying. Plus, who doesn’t love a chance to make guacamole first thing in the morning? I know I do!
I was excited to try arepas with some shredded cheese mixed into the batter, but once they were cooked I didn’t really notice the cheese. Oh well. Next up in my all-arepas-all-the-time series, I’ll be trying arepas with a big chunk of cheese stuffed in the middle. Cheese-bellied arepas, if you will. Stay tuned! I won’t make you wait long, I promise.
Ingredients (serves four):
For the arepas:
1 cup masarepa
(precooked fine yellow or white cornmeal)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup shredded cheese (optional)
Butter for cooking
For the guacamole:
1 ripe avocado
1 clove garlic, minced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of one lime
Salt and pepper to taste
4 eggs, poached or fried
Salt and pepper
To make the guacamole, place all ingredients in a bowl and mash with a fork until combined but still chunky.
For the arepas, mix the masarepa, salt, and water and let sit for 5 minutes. Heat some butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Mix the cheese into the batter, then form patties about four inches across and half an inch thick. Fry until golden and crisped on both sides, about 10 minutes.
Spoon a generous layer of guacamole on top of a hot arepa, then top with an egg. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve hot.
I LOVE curry made with coconut milk. It’s the most delicious thing ever. But, I am not the biggest fan of rice. I mean, rice is fine, but for me it’s nothing to write home about.
But, noodles? Noodles are my jam. All kinds of noodles. Italian noodles, Asian noodles…where are the noodles in Indian and Mexican cuisines? Big problem. Someone get on that quick.
Anyway, whenever I see noodles, I’m interested. Even in places where noodles might not seem to belong–bring on the noodles! One of my favorite Thai restaurants has a dish called Noodle Curry, which is a delicious yellow curry served over udon noodles. Genius! Curry and noodles are a match made in heaven. Watch out, rice. You ain’t got nothing on noodles.
Ingredients (adapted from The Little Foodie):
1 pound rice noodles
1/3 cup coconut cream (scrape off the top of a can of coconut milk that has not been shaken)
3 tablespoons red curry paste
2 Japanese eggplants, halved lengthwise and sliced into half-moons
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1/2 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3-4 tablespoons fish sauce (omit for a vegan or vegetarian dish–you may need to add some salt)
1 can coconut milk (Not the same can you scraped the cream off of! We need a lot of coconut love here. Save the other can for smoothies!)
1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 pound snow peas
Sliced scallions and chopped fresh cilantro for serving
Boil water and cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
Heat the coconut cream in a skillet over medium-high heat. When it bubbles, add the curry paste and stir to mix. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes.
Add the pepper and onion and mix well. Cook for five more minutes. Add the garlic, fish sauce, coconut milk, brown sugar, and snow peas. Cover the pot, and turn the heat down so the mixture simmers. Cook for about five more minutes, or until the snow peas are cooked but still crunchy and bright green.
Serve noodles in a bowl with vegetables and curry spooned on top. Garnish with chopped scallions and cilantro and serve hot.
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caught my eye, and guess what? It had a super easy recipe for arepas right on the back.
(fine yellow cornmeal)
Ingredients (from The Year in Food):
8-10 organic lemons (depending on how big your jar is)
about 1/2 cup sea salt (I used Maldon)
In the Jamaican airport I bought myself a cookbook called Eat Caribbean by Virginia Burke to read on the plane. It’s fabulous–full of colorful photographs and delicious recipes. I read the whole thing by the end of the second flight, and already knew I wanted to try jerk chicken right away. Since Ben and I are trying to eat more lightly for spring, I decided to opt for the recipe with jerk chicken on top of a tropical avocado and papaya salad. (Have I mentioned how much I love papayas? If you don’t, or you can’t find one, I bet this would be great with grapefruit, too.)
The jerk seasoning has a lot of ingredients, but is super quick to make. This recipe makes about 2/3 of a cup, so you can store the extra in your fridge and try it on other meats or seafood. I am pretty much dying to try jerk everything. The cookbook even has a recipe for jerk hamburgers! How fabulous does that sound?
This salad was a wonderful light dinner. The citrusy dressing, creamy avocado, sweet papaya, and spiced chicken complement each other perfectly. I will definitely be making this again soon!
This recipe is adapted from Eat Caribbean and serves 3-4.
Ingredients for the jerk seasoning:
6 scallions, trimmed
1-3 scotch bonnet or habanero peppers, seeded and trimmed (I chickened out and used half a pepper, and it wasn’t hot at all. So I recommend using at least one whole pepper!)
1 teaspoon allspice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup cane, malt, or apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon oil
Blend all ingredients in the food processor to form a paste. Store in the refrigerator.
Ingredients for the jerk chicken:
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1.5 pounds)
Salt or lime juice
1-2 tablespoons jerk seasoning (The recipe called for 1, but I thought the chicken could have used more flavor)
1 tablespoon oil, plus some for cooking
Prepare a bowl of salt water, or water with the juice of 1 lime, and rinse the chicken pieces in it. Pat dry. Rub the chicken with the jerk seasoning and oil, and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
Heat a bit of oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook, turning occasionally, until well-browned on both sides and cooked through, about 15 minutes total.
Next up was the Appleton Estate Rum Tour. The best part was when they opened up the bar after the tour–we got to serve ourselves shots of as many different kinds of rum as we wanted. My favorite was the rum cream, which is featured in my new favorite Jamaican cocktail (see recipe below). It’s like a better version of Bailey’s. I also liked the Berry Hill Pimento Allspice liqueur, which has a pleasant double burn from the alcohol and spice.
I bought an adorable mini-bundt rum cake at the Appleton gift shop, which was a deliciously buttery, rum-soaked cake. My mom has a mini bundt pan, so I am totally planning on making my own version when I get home. Maybe with a glaze involving rum cream? I love that stuff.
|Caves at Xtabi|
So, yesterday was jam-packed with tours, and today we decided to just take it easy by the cliffs. We walked about 15 minutes down the road from our hotel to Xtabi, a resort that we’d heard serves great breakfast. We could smell delicious baked goods even before we rounded the corner and saw the place. Right away, we knew we just wanted to spend the entire day there. The tables for the restaurant are in a large round gazebo and porch perched on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. Two sets of stairs lead down to the lagoon, where you can swim or catch a ride on a glass-bottom boat. Another set of stairs lead to the caves, where stone benches invite you to sit and relax in the dark coolness by the grotto. I, however, left in a bit of a hurry after a couple of bats zoomed by uncomfortably close to my head.
Turns out the food is just as fabulous as the surroundings. I ordered the bread basket (hello, carbs do not count when you’re on vacation). It came with a corn muffin, banana bread, and a cinnamon roll, all split open, buttered, and grilled to crispy perfection. Ben ordered an ackee and callaloo omelette, which featured ackee from the tree right outside. It was also delicious, but I did not get a chance to snap a picture before he started eating (I guess it’s kind of annoying if someone is always trying to photograph your food from a few different angles before you can even get a bite in).
We lounged by the cliffs all morning, watching small rainstorms come and go. When it got to be a respectable hour (ahem, 11:30 am), we ordered drinks. I got one called a Dirty Banana–I was sold by the name and the fact that it had rum cream in it. This is my new favorite cocktail! I’m sharing a recipe here based on the ingredients Xtabi uses, so you can try it right away. You might have to tweak some of the quantities to get it just how you like it. Let me know what you think!
Recipe (serves one):
2 ounces Tia Maria
2 ounces rum cream or Bailey’s
1 scoop vanilla ice cream
Drizzle chocolate syrup all over the inside of a tall, frosted glass. Blend the remaining ingredients until smooth. Serve in the chocolaty glass. If you want it extra boozy, top with another splash of Tia Maria. Enjoy!
|A woman selling fruit on Negril Beach|
We got into Jamaica yesterday afternoon. It took a while to get to our hotel in Negril. We took a shuttle that drops people off at several different hotels, and ours was last. Our bus driver, Bob, told us sometimes Americans find it scary riding on the left side of the road, and told us that if it we got scared, to just close our eyes and say, “No problem.”
Well, that is the theme here. We went to the beach today and sat down at a seaside bar. Ben asked the bartender what mixed drink she would recommend, and she said she liked one called “No problem” that wasn’t on the menu. I ordered it–no problem. It was a mix of rum cream, coconut rum, and pineapple juice. Delicious!
Last night we had dinner at our hotel. We both ordered the special, which was a stuffed chicken breast. It was excellent! The chicken was filled with vegetables, beans, and sausage, rolled up and grilled, and topped with a savory creole-style sauce. The chef came out to see how our meals had been, and I asked him for the recipe. He said he would get me a copy, so we’ll see! If he does I promise I’ll share it with you. We finished our dinner with a scoop of ice cream with Bailey’s poured on top.
|Stuffed Grilled Chicken|
Today for lunch we went to a place called Cosmo’s right on the beach that’s famous for its seafood. I got a perfectly spicy conch curry with festivals, which are slightly sweet, doughy fried dumplings. Delicious again. So far I have loved everything I’ve eaten (and drank) in this country.
|Conch Curry with Festival|
Tonight we decided to walk from our hotel to one of the nearby restaurants. We walked a block down to the corner, and saw a tiny place called Erica’s Cafe. It was basically a one-room shack with an big front porch. Out front a few guys were sitting around a Weber grill with a big soup pot sitting on top. Making conch soup on the barbecue, turns out. No problem!