Cook the Books: An Embarrassment of Mangoes~

20 03 2011

February and March found us taking an imaginary trip to the tropics…to the Caribbean!  We followed Ann Vanderhoof and her husband, Steve, as they ventured out from their home port of Toronto, CAN and headed south…south…south…to An Embarrassment of Mangoes!  Dining options and weather change along the way.  We follow the couple from one harbor to the next as they explore their ports, meet the locals and learn about the local foods.  Ann tells it like it is…there’s no sugar coating her trepidations, or rain on her delights.  I hadn’t gotten far into the book at all when I started craving conch.  Now, how I’m going to satisfy THAT yen, I have no idea!  LOL!

Together the couple weather a few storms, including coming very close to a hurricane.  We get to see inside the cockpit and learn the pitfalls and joys of sailing and cooking the Caribbean.  There are a number of recipes in the book…many appealed to me greatly, but…acquiring unique items where I live is a little difficult, so I searched the internet for recipes from the areas visited that appealed to me.

That’s how we ended up in Jamaica.  I love the combinations of spice and savory in Jamaican cooking.  I’m just a bit timid about stepping out on my own with those seasonings.  I’d also gotten the notion that all Jamaican food was searingly hot as well.  Not necessarily so!  The recipes I found at Caribbean Choice weren’t all hot and spicy.  There were so many variations!  I settled on ~

Five Spice Roasted Chicken

Paired with…

Coconut Rice


Tangy Pineapple Cabbage

Everything came together very nicely.  I marinated the chicken for about 45 minutes to allow the flavor to get into the meat some.  The cabbage dish was interesting.  I selected it at first thinking it was a salad with a cooked dressing…I may reconstruct it as one.  The cabbage dish was ok, but not something I’d enjoy a lot of.  It did go quite well with the chicken and the rice though.  The rice is so mildly seasoned!  A bit of onion, curry, and the unctuous smooth taste of coconut milk.  This was a perfect backdrop for the spiced chicken.  The glaze for the chicken was just about good enough to lick the plate over, and the rice helped soak up every drop.

Last, but not least, we have dessert…A Lime and Coconut Pie.  Ok…this one isn’t exactly Caribbean for certain, but it sure topped off our dinner nicely.  The recipe calls for 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks…which made me think of topping the pie with meringue.  It really made a great little pie out of a simple buttermilk pie.  Ok, a coconut milk laced buttermilk pie.  This was my first experience with a pie made with buttermilk…it came out much like a custard, but yet a bit like a pudding as well.  The lime and the coconut go very well together, although I could handle more of the lime flavor.  Darn…we may have to try this pie again…

I really enjoyed An Embarrassment of Mangoes.  It was a gentle read that opened my eyes to another cuisine!  I love the recipes from this area, and am anxious to try others!  Thank you Jamaica!  And thank you to Deb from Kahakai Kitchen for hosting and Ann Vanderhoof for a great book!