21 February 2010

Journey to Jamaica with FOODalogue..Jamaican Patties, Planter Martini's, Hypnotic Breezes and H2Ope for Haiti

Jamaican Patties and Planters Martini

Jamaica is the third largest island of the Caribbean. It lies aproximately 90 miles south of Cuba. It is a land of sharp contrast... mountains, lush green forest, wide rivers, cascading waterfalls, and breathtaking beaches. Jamaica has been a hot spot for sun-worship and water sports for years. The sand is clean, the water is undulating shades of turquoise and green, and the palm trees sway seductively. Maybe you're a fan of reggae, the island's national music. When it’s time to get away from it all, who can resist turquoise blue waters, warm, balmy days and powdery white sand beaches. Throw in a little bit of exiting nightlife and we were in paradise virtually. These are all of the elements for a great vacation. I spent some time in Negril in the 1980's and am very familiar with it's hypnotic ways.

Many people don't realize, however, that Jamaica has great food too. Famed for their wealth of fresh herbs and exotic spices, the islands of the West Indies offer a treasure trove of healthy ingredients, which you’ll put to good use in the dishes you create. Jamaican food is known to be healthy for many reasons, most notably the usage of beans, vegetables and fish, as well as a symphony of spices. With its roots based in African, European and even indigenous native Caribbean traditions, Jamaican cooking is as fiery, exciting, varied and beguiling as the island itself.

To immerse ourselves in island culture we joined Chef Freda our host for a 7 day culinary adventure with Jamaica Culinary Tours. Included were rum distillery tours, farm market tours, spa treatments, and cooking classes from locals and prominent local chefs.

A love of spicy foods is a must before you endeavor to sample Jamaican fare that has been traditionally cooked. Jamaican cuisine is known for many things, including its use of spices such as ginger, hot peppers and garlic. Jamaican food specializes in utilizing food staples such as plantains, scotch bonnet peppers, avocados, sweet potatoes and yams. These exotic foods add a certain zest and unique flavoring to your menu ideas, as their inclusion in meals has been longstanding. Perhaps it's the freshness and variety of Jamaica's food or the skill with which Jamaicans use herbs and spices to season the simplest recipes. Either way, the island's food, like Bob Marley's music, has an invigorating effect.

We dazzled all your senses during our weeklong stay with an eclectic spread that included such timeless Jamaican specialties as goat consomm√©, pepperpot soup, spicy pumpkin bisque, curried goat, escoveitch fish, oxtail stew and jerked pork, as well as a selection of home-baked, old-time Jamaican pastries and sweets. Jamacia is also famous for its blue mountain coffee, which is grown and harvested in the Blue mountain slopes of Jamaica.

Somewhere along the way we met Rita, an American living and working in Jamaica.  "People come from all over the world to sample Jamaican jerk," Rita said, referring to the method of grilling chicken, fish, pork and vegetables that have been marinated in a blend of scallions, Scotch bonnet chiles, thyme, pimento, allspice berries, cinnamon leaves, nutmeg and rum. Family jerk-sauce recipes are guarded secrets. Some of Jamaica's tastiest food is found at roadside stands, most of which serve scalding jerk dishes. Up until my first trip to Jamaica, I had only sampled a small quantity of jerk, toned down to accommodate feeble palates like mine, so, I was eager to experience the real thing at its source. I knew jerk was spicy. Jamaicans whom I had met back home spoke fondly of their national dish and I knew that they liked it with octane. Let me just say in my defense I was not prepared for the complete and utter annihilation of my taste buds. The first bite was spicy but not overwhelming. The second bite, hotter but still tolerable. By the third bite, the spices of the first two nibbles had settled across my tongue and in the back of my throat. My glands began to heat, and it radiated up through my head. I thought I was going to die. I shoveled globs of rice into my mouth. I sucked down half my Planters Punch in hopes of squelching the fire. After a minute, I felt better. Then I ate some more jerk and repeated the whole process...wink...wink.... For jerk in Kingston, Rita recommends Jolly's, in Portmore, and Wellington's, off Marcus Garvey Drive, near the Greenwich Farm neighborhood. Although these stands are well established, they have no phone numbers or official addresses. But any cab driver knows where to find them...and find them we did!!

We sailed along the dramatic cliffs and sandy coves of the enchanting coastline, late afternoon, in our own private boat. These were the same cliffs I dove from when I was there many years ago. We marveled at the play of shadow and colour, while we sipped effervescent bubbly and Planters Punch and nibbled on jumbo prawns. We watched the ocean waves ripple golden beneath the sun and gazed at the emerald Jamaican landscape, seemingly lit from within, as it slipped by before our eyes. A perfect ending to our Jamaican vacation!!!

Back in real time and to celebrate our stay in Jamaica with Joan and her group virtually I decided to offer an appetizer of Jamaican Patties with a chaser of my version of a Planters Punch in martini form. The patty recipe below is by Emeril Lagasse and makes larger hand pies. Just make them smaller and cut back the baking time accordingly. A Jamaican beef patty (also referred to as beef turnover or empanada) is a product consisting of lean ground beef filling seasoned with exotic Jamaican spices and wrapped in a flaky pastry crust.

Depending on whom you believe, Planter's punch was either created by the wife of a Jamaican plantation owner, or at the Planter Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri. Regardless, this fruity punch has become a popular beverage to serve to guests throughout the Caribbean. Recipes vary widely, but they all contain rum, lime juice and a sweetener or other fruit juices. Either way, the first mention in print of Planter’s Punch was in 1908 in the New York Times.

This recipe I give to thee,
Dear brother in the heat.
Take two of sour (lime let it be)
To one and a half of sweet,
Of Old Jamaica pour three strong,
And add four parts of weak.
Then mix and drink. I do no wrong –
I know whereof I speak

Before we move on to the recipe just a friendly reminder that the H2Ope for Haiti raffle begins today to raise funds for Concern Worldwide and their efforts to bring water and relief to the earthquake victims of Haiti.

One raffle ticket will give you the chance to win your choice of wonderful prizes donated by some fabulous bloggers. How's about an I-Pod Shuffle, an autographed copy of David Lebovitz's latest cookbook, Indian artwork or many more exciting prizes. I donated a child's backpack (16" x 12") featuring the official Olympic and Paralympic Games mascots Quatchi, Miga, Sumi and Mukmuk. In addition, there is a warm, snuggly micro fleece winter throw (39" x 60") with large print of official Olympic mascot Quatchi - perfect for brightening up any child's room. These make a perfect keepsake of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics for any boy or girl. PRIZE CODE: HFH16.

 Check out this site for a complete list of prizes and GOOD LUCK!!!! 

 Although each person's donation may be small, even single drops of water will eventually fill a swimming pool.

Many thanks!!!!!


**Planter’s Punch Martini**

1 oz. orange juice
1 oz. pineapple juice
1 oz. lime juice (substitute sour mix if necessary)
3 oz. dark rum
splash of grenadine
2 dashes of Angostura bitters (optional)

Combine the juices, rum, and bitters in a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a martini glass. Add a dash of grenadine. Serve garnished with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry.

The bitters are optional, but highly recommended. This recipe is a bit sweeter than the version in the original rhyme, and the bitters add a nice zip.

**Jamaican Meat Patties**
based on a recipe from Emeril Lagasse

For the pastry:

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons dried turmeric or annatto
2 teaspoons salt
8 tablespoons vegetable shortening
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold water

For the filling:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or butter
1 large onion, finely chopped (1 1/2 cups chopped)
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 pound ground beef
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric or annatto
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 scotch bonnet pepper, seeded and finely chopped, optional
2 sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped
3 scallions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1 pound ripe tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup water or beef stock
3 tablespoons Jamaican rum

To assemble the patties:
Flour for rolling out the dough
2 egg yolks, beaten with 1 teaspoon of rum

For the pastry: Sift the flour, turmeric, and salt into a large bowl. Using your fingers, two knives, or a pastry blender, cut in the shortening and butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Working quickly, add only enough water to form a firm dough. Do not overwork pastry. Form dough into a disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 1/2 hours or overnight.

In a large skillet, heat the oil until hot but not smoking. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute. Add the ground beef, turmeric, cumin, allspice, cardamom, hot peppers, and thyme and cook until the beef is browned and spices are fragrant, about 10 minutes. Add the scallions, parsley, tomatoes, and stock and simmer for about 25 minutes, until the flavors have come together and almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper, remove from the heat and stir in the rum. Set aside to cool before assembling the patties.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry and cut into circles about 6 to 7 inches in diameter. Spoon a scant 1/4 cup of the cooled filling onto the center of one side of each circle, and lightly brush the edges of the circle with a little of the beaten egg yolk mixture. Fold the other half of the pastry over so that the edges meet, and use a fork to crimp the edges together. Lightly brush the top of each patty with a little of the beaten egg yolk mixture. Place the patties on parchment-lined baking sheets and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

8 to 10 patties or up to 24 appetizer size

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. Oh Val, this is one of my fave fast foods, a quick bite on the road. I like'em spicy....nice recipe.

  2. Fabulous post! I was in Jamaica many years ago and have fond memories of the meat patties- unfortunately I am way too much of a wimp to try the jerk!
    xoxo Pattie

  3. I'd love to have a sip of that Martini and a bite of those patties! Holiday food!



  4. Love the recipes - especially the patties! I will HAVE to give those a go they really look delish.

  5. It's been a long laborious week for me, and that planter's punch martini looks so good right now!

  6. Your patties look perfect!
    Oh my, I need some of that punch too. :)

  7. And I 'know whereof I speak'...great post, Val. You are some storyteller!

  8. And I forgot to say that I thought your photo was beautifully staged.

  9. I love me some Jamaican meat patties. I Just bid on a Hope for Haiti item and will promote you guys this week.

  10. What a lot of great info on Jamaica! I would love to go someday! Those Scotch Bonnets can sneak up on you for sure!!

    Great recipes!

  11. keep your booze and give me the beef! i know it's terrible, but i always associate jamaica with 'cool runnings'...thanks for the informative post!

  12. Awesome post. Thanks for the journey, I enjoyed it.

  13. It is always nice to have punch recipes! Good for you for keeping on the tour all this time.

  14. Great recipes, especially the pastries!

  15. I would love to try those Jamaican patties, they sound scrumptious! And the drink is awesome!

  16. It sounds as though you had an amazing adventure in Jamaica! My mum grew up there until she was 14 and I have enjoyed many Jamaican dishes through her cooking. Believe it or not, I have never been there. Someday!

  17. What an interesting post! I really enjoyed reading it!


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