Category Archives: CARIBBEAN FOOD




OK, since I started 2017 by cancelling a brunch because of icy condition on the fair isle of Camano, I might as well go the whole way and offer up a fruitcake recipe to start 2017.

Now some people might see this as a bad sign for the coming year. But those of you who know me well, or don’t know me personally, but trust me none-the-less, realize that it is not in my nature to steer you wrong!

So, if you are one of the lucky people who have experienced a truly great fruitcake in your past, let me tell you without even a quarter ounce of equivocation, that this is a fruitcake not to be missed. It is full of flavor, with a lovely moist, dense, and tender crumb. Hints of orange and the taste of exotic spices fills your mouth, while the occasional crunch from the nuts is a pleasant offset to the soft texture of the cakey part. And the best thing about this fruitcake – you can make it yourself! You don’t ever again have to pay $39.95 plus tax and shipping to enjoy a high quality, fantastic tasting holiday treat. You can do it all fairly easily in your very own kitchen.

All you need is a modicum of planning, a few interesting ingredients, a visit to a grocery store for bulk dried fruits and nuts, an internet search for burnt sugar syrup (it’s what makes the fruitcake black), and an adventurous spirit! Put it all in the oven (not the planning, internet search, or adventurous spirit, of course, but all the rest) and share this little bit of heaven with your family and friends.

And in case you were wondering where I learned to make this delightful creation, it was during our vacation to Belize. My friend Vicki and I took a class from a local chef and this recipe is as close to her recipe as was reasonable. (You had to be there to understand why I couldn’t quite match her recipe ingredient for ingredient.) (If you want to know more about our adventure while in Belize, search under “Belize” and all will be revealed.)

So faithful readers, when you are planning your holiday goodies at the end of this year, please consider making fruitcake. I know some of your family will make jokes about receiving fruitcake, like – great, we can use a slice to balance our wobbly kitchen table, or it will work as a sandbag during flooding season, or my personal favorite – we can use it as a speed bump to slow down the drag racers in our neighborhood. But their verbal lampoon will swiftly disappear with their first bite. I’ve actually known grown men (not mentioning any names here Willie) who love fruitcake so much that they will actually hide or eat most of it themselves, thus preventing their wives (Eden – one of my daughters) from partaking of this treat meant for BOTH of them! But I digress…..

So please don’t hesitate to make this recipe or the Holiday Fruitcake recipe at the bottom of this post. Both are absolutely delicious. Even the most jaded connoisseur will become a devoted fan of fruitcake if given a chance. Sandbag, indeed!


  • 1 c. pecans, coarsely chopped
  • ¾ c. whole raw almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 3 c. dried fruit* (apricots, cherries, blueberries, pineapple, etc.), coarsely chopped
  • ½ c. pitted dates, coarsely chopped
  • ½ c. currants
  • 4 oz. container candied orange peel
  • 4 oz. container candied red or green cherries, halved
  • 2½ c. dark rum (I used half Cruzan Aged Rum and half Myer’s Original Dark Rum)
  • ½ c. Crème Sherry

Mix together all ingredients in a 3-quart glass container with a tightfitting lid. Cover and store in a cool, dark place for 1 week.

*I used ¾ cup golden raisins, ½ cup candied pineapple pieces, ½ cup dried blueberries, ½ cup chopped candied papaya, ½ cup chopped dried apricots, and ¼ cup chopped dried cherries

For the cake batter:

  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. espresso powder
  • 1 T. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1½ tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 tsp. ground clove
  • 1 lb. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2¼ c. packed light brown sugar
  • 6 lg. eggs, room temperature
  • zest of lg. orange
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¾ c. burnt sugar syrup (Blue Mountain Country is best) (it’s what makes the cake black)

Whisk flour, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves together in a large bowl. Set aside.

Place butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and beat on medium speed until light, fluffy, and pale yellow. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and return the mixer to medium speed. Add eggs one at a time, letting each mix in fully before adding the next. Add orange zest and vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and return the mixer to low speed.

Drain macerated fruit and nuts. Set aside. Do not discard the left over liquid!

Add flour mixture, any unabsorbed booze from macerating the fruit, and burnt sugar to butter mixture; mix until just combined. Let the batter rest for about 2 hours. Add the drained fruit and nut mixture to the batter. Divide batter evenly between 3 buttered 9 x 5-inch or 5 buttered 8 x 3 7/8-inch loaf pans. (I personally prefer the smaller pans.)

Place a large shallow pan of water on the lowest rack in your oven.

Bake fruitcakes on a rack in the middle of a pre-heated 300 degree oven until a cake tester comes out clean, about 2 hours for 9 X 5 loaf pans or 90 minutes for 8 x 3 7/8-inch loaf pans.  (The cake centers will be moist but not wet.)

Let cool completely. If you have baked the cakes in aluminum pans to give away, don’t remove the cakes from the pans. If you have baked them for your own consumption, you can leave the fruitcake in the pans or turn out of the pans and wrap in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. Best if aged for a couple of weeks.

To age, store each cooled cake in a re-sealable plastic bag or covered with aluminum foil at room temperature for up to 2 months. A dark cupboard or pantry is ideal, but do not refrigerate, as the moisture level will change the texture.


  • 1 lb. dried fruit medley (peaches, pears, apricots, apples, and golden raisins or currents)
  • ½ lb. dried Bing cherries
  • 1 lb. chopped dates
  • 1 lb. candied/glazed pineapple, coarsely chopped
  • 21-oz. container red candied/glazed cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 1 lb. coarsely chopped pecans
  • 3 c. spiced rum
  • 1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 c. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1½ tsp. ground allspice
  • 1½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 5 lg. eggs
  • 2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt

Combine fruit, nuts, and rum in a covered glass container for 3 to 7 days. 7 days is best.

Cream butter, sugar, and spices until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. In a separate bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Stir into butter mixture along with the macerated fruit, nuts, and any remaining liquid.

Place a large shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of your oven to prevent the cakes from baking too dry.

Line 3 greased 9×5-inch loaf pans or 1 greased 9×5-inch and 5 greased 7×4-inch loaf pans with parchment paper and grease paper lightly. Divide the batter evenly and bake in the middle of your pre-heated 275 degree oven for 2-2½ hours or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on racks for one hour. Remove cakes from pan, and carefully peel off the parchment paper. When completely cool, wrap in foil and store for at least 1 month.




When I was a child, my grandmother would make cornbread once in a while. I loved it. Of course it was liberally spread with home churned butter, so what’s not to like, right? But this was very plain cornbread and definitely not sweet. (Well it wasn’t sweet until my grandmother poured maple syrup all over it, that is.) And all my adult life, I baked cornbread for my family too. And if it had any sugar in at all, it was only a very small amount.

But in researching a cornbread to serve with other Caribbean dishes, I found most of the recipes to contain a fair amount of sugar, including this wonderful recipe from Blanchard’s Restaurant on Anguilla Island, British West Indies. But compared with other recipes I perused, even with the crushed pineapple, there was less sugar than in most.

Now something you should know – I don’t like canned pineapple. (Don’t much care for fresh pineapple either, if truth be told!) But this recipe received such good reviews, I just had to give it a try. And oh am I glad I did. You really can’t taste the pineapple, but it adds not only sweetness, but moisture and texture to the final product which is very desirable in a good cornbread. I served the cornbread to guests, and everyone loved it. In fact one of the guests told me it was the best cornbread she ever tasted and asked if she could take some home. Which of course she did.

Now that I have tasted this cornbread, regardless of the fact that it contains sugar and pineapple, it is now the house brand, so to speak. It is just too good to be true. Plus it freezes beautifully, so you can make it ahead, and freeze it until needed. (I suggest a double batch, because you are going to want more of this even before you finish the first pan.)

So go Caribbean on your family and friends, and fix them some of this cornbread to go along with Caribbean Pork Stew over basmati rice. (The stew recipe and rice recipe are on the site already.) Your family and friends will love you for it. And for dessert, vanilla ice cream topped with Caribbean Rum-Raisin Ice Cream Sauce – also on this site. And regardless of what you learned as a child, play with your food. Don’t like pork in your stew, use chicken. Don’t like basmati rice, use brown rice. Don’t like rum, forget the whole meal and go to McDonalds. (Just kidding.) Serve the ice cream with a chocolate sauce instead. People in the Caribbean like chocolate too, or so I’m told. Will let you know when I return from Belize.

  • 1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. cornmeal
  • 2 T. baking powder (yes tablespoons!)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • ¾ c. sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1½ c. canned cream-style corn
  • ½ c. canned crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese or cheddar cheese

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt; set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add corn, pineapple, and cheese; mix to blend. On low speed, add flour mixture and mix until well blended.

Pour batter into a butter and floured 9-inch glass* baking pan. Bake in a pre-heated 325 oven for 1 hour or until golden brown around the edges and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

*You can use a metal pan but glass works better. If you have to use metal, bake at 350 degrees and start watching after 45 minutes.



When it comes down to it, there really are no bad ice cream sauces. Well at least not if they are homemade. But once in a while a really amazing sauce comes along, and your taste buds go into overdrive. That’s what happened when I played with a basic caramel sauce recipe to serve with vanilla ice cream for the pre-concert JazzVox meal I served last weekend featuring Caribbean food. I knew that plain rum, both dark and light, were essential to Caribbean cuisine. But I like spice rum for desserts, so I used a combination of rums plus a bit of cinnamon to enhance the spice flavor. What I turned out was pretty darn good if I say so myself. Which of course I am saying. (Believe me, when I try new recipes and they are not worthy of your discerning palate, the paper they are printed on goes straight to the circular file and the “delete” button gets pushed sending the word document to “who knows where or cares”!)  

This recipe however, should find you running to your local emporium for all the ingredients you don’t already own and the largest container of really good vanilla ice cream you can carry. It is just that delicious and so different from other ice cream sauces. I also made a Kahlua Ice Cream Sauce (next recipe to be posted) that turned out great, but it’s more of a standard ice cream sauce. But it’s equally delicious, if you happen to like chocolate and Kahlua that is!               

And just because I care so much about all of you, I’ve included a couple other really delicious ice cream sauces for your edification – Spiced Rum Sauce and Bourbon Caramel Sauce. Both too are easy to prepare, economical, and far above any product sold on the market. (OK, there are some really good ice cream sauces available commercially. But they are really expensive, and you don’t get that happy feeling of a job well done when someone else builds a product you know you can do better, or at least equally as well.)

So enjoy the recipes and have fun with them. Believe me, there is nothing like this sauce out there. But beware. Once you have served this to family and friends, there will be no going back. If I weren’t so lazy, I would start a business selling this to local stores. But doing such a bizarre thing at my age a) sounds like way too much work, b) sounds like way too much of a monetary investment, and c) sounds like way too much work! So if you want rum-raisin sauce for your ice cream, you’re just going to have to make it yourself! At least now you have a recipe! Enjoy

  • ½ c. dark rum
  • ½ c. spice rum
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ c. golden raisins
  • ¼ c. dark raisins
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • ¼ lb. (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • pinch salt

Pour the rum into a bowl. Add the cinnamon and raisins, cover, and place in the refrigerator overnight. Just before making the sauce, drain the raisins reserving both the liquid and the raisins.

Whisk the brown sugar, butter, and salt together in a heavy sauce pan until the butter is melted and the mixture starts to go a darker color and develops big frothy bubbles. Usually takes 4-6 minutes.  

Remove from heat and gently pour in the reserved rum. Whisk for about 2 minutes and return the pan to the stove. (The alcohol should have all dissipated by now.) Stir or whisk continuously over low heat about 10 minutes while the mixture gently simmers to a slightly thicker consistency. (The sauce should display tiny bubbles on the surface the entire time the sauce is cooking.) Remove from heat and stir in the raisins.  Serve warm over vanilla ice cream, apple pie, bread pudding, gingerbread, crêpes, pound cake, pumpkin pie, or any other dessert item that takes your fancy. It would also be wonderful served over baked ham or pork tenderloin. And don’t get me started on what this sauce would add to a simple baked sweet potato!

Note: This is a very potent sauce. Use sparingly.


  • 1 c. packed brown sugar
  • ½ c. unsalted butter
  • ½ c. heavy cream
  • 2 T. spiced rum
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon

Combine brown sugar and butter in a medium sized heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes or until butter completely melted and mixture is smooth. Add heavy cream, spiced rum, and cinnamon. Bring to a simmer and cook for approximately 5 minutes or until mixture thickens and is reduced to about 1½ cups. Serve warm. Can be made ahead and refrigerated. Bring to a simmer again before serving or gently warm in your microwave.


  • ¼ c. unsalted butter
  • ½ c. brown sugar
  • ¼ c. heavy cream
  • 2 T. good bourbon
  • pinch freshly ground nutmeg, opt.

Whisk butter and brown sugar together over medium heat in a small heavy saucepan until brown sugar is dissolved completely. (This happens after the mixture comes to a boil and is allowed to burble for a couple of minutes or until it turns kind of shiny.) Continue whisking the whole time the mixture is on the heat. Remove from heat and gently whisk in the heavy cream, bourbon, and ground nutmeg. Serve warm, or allow to come to room temperature and refrigerate.








Just when you think you have tasted every possible way to dress up plain old romaine (my favorite salad green by-the-way), along comes another salad dressing recipe that is off the charts delicious. I found this recipe by Monica Matheny while I was looking for a dressing recipe that had all the essential elements of Caribbean cuisine, but didn’t contain hard to find or expensive ingredients. I mean really, who needs pineapple juice or mushed mangoes in their dressing anyway? Not me! Give me an easy to prepare dressing and some crisp romaine lettuce and I am one happy rabbit. And since Caribbean food can be a bit spicy, a nice simple salad slathered with this dressing is the perfect side dish.

So the other evening when I made Caribbean Pork Stew (on this site) and served it over rice, this delicious salad was a perfect addition to the meal. As Alfred Hitchcock once said to his wife Alma when she asked him before a party if she looked OK, he answered “very presentable my dear, very presentable”. (Not the answer a woman wants to hear, but if you apply it to a salad to serve with other Caribbean dishes, it’s a perfect response.) This salad is indeed – very presentable.

So as they say in the Caribbean – bon appétit. (You were expecting something else? Nope! Most languages spoken in the Caribbean are either European languages (namely English, Spanish, French and Dutch) or European language-based creoles. English is the first or second language in most Caribbean islands and is also the unofficial “language of tourism”, the dominant industry in the Caribbean region. So of course you are going to hear – bon appétit, even if it’s French. It’s still the universal toast for – have a happy meal!)

  • ¼ c. fresh lime juice
  • 2 T. honey
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp. granulated garlic
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ c. vegetable oil
  • 2 hearts of romaine, chopped

Shake the lime juice, honey, mustard, granulated garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper together in a covered jar. Add the oils and shake until well blended. Store in the refrigerator. When ready to assemble salad, place romaine in a salad bowl and pour on just enough dressing to lightly cover leaves.



We recently were invited to our good friends Tim and Susie’s home for an “after gig” dinner party. And Susie fixed just an amazing Caribbean dinner for us. And the main dish she served was a pork stew. So based on the gist of the recipe Susie gave me that evening, I immediately went on line and found (I’m pretty sure) the recipe she used. (Sometimes I get tired of bugging my friends for their recipes, so I just wing it.)

Anyway, the recipe below adapted from Cooking Light magazine, Valerie’s Kitchen blog, and brought to life by Susie is so melt in your mouth good as to be worthy of a literary mention, in say, a modern romance novel. And because I have an active imagination and sometimes (sometimes?!?!) can’t help myself, the first couple of paragraphs in this fictitious novel might read something like this:

“Kathryn could not have known on that late summer afternoon how the delicious smell of her Caribbean pork stew would completely turn her life around. As the stew quietly bubbled away in the slow cooker on the counter under her open kitchen window, she was completely unaware that a change in her life was in the wind. And even though the late afternoon was hot, quiet, and heavy with languor, tiny whiffs of the stew’s delicious aroma somehow found their way through her new neighbor Jeffrey’s open den window.

Jeffrey, who had lost his wife to his best friend a couple of years before, had only lived in his new home for a month. He had moved because everything in his old neighborhood had reminded him of how he had been deceived by the two people he had trusted most in life. He had needed to put his former life far behind. He had seen Kathryn come and go from her house and of course had noticed how beautiful she was. He also knew that she had been recently widowed. His realtor had been eager to share that tidbit of information when he was showing Jeffrey the house. But Jeffrey wasn’t looking for love. In fact he had no desire to ever again become involved with a gorgeous woman. But that afternoon, as he sat at his desk putting the final touches on the article he was writing, he sensed that there was something different in the air. He couldn’t quite define what it was that had awakened his senses. But he knew for a fact, that whatever it was, it was emanating from his neighbor’s home.”

So if you too want to awaken the senses of your family and friends, prepare this dish for them. It has a bit of heat to it, but it’s not overpowering. Just delicious. And thanks again Tim and Susie for another wonderful meal at your home and of course, your friendship.

(And lest you worry, I have no intention of becoming a romance novel writer.)

  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 lbs. lean pork, cut into bite sized pieces (a boneless pork roast is perfect)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper (lots)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 lg. red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 T. hoisin sauce
  • 2 T. lower-sodium GF Tamari or regular soy sauce
  • juice of one large, soft lime
  • 2 T. creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 c. chicken broth
  • basmati rice, cooked according to package directions or follow the recipe below
  • lime wedges

Add oil to a large skillet and place over medium-high heat. Add pork, salt, and pepper and sauté until the cubes are dark brown. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Place browned pork and garlic, red bell pepper, and green onions in an electric slow cooker coated with cooking spray.

Combine hoisin sauce, Tamari, lime juice, peanut butter, cumin, crushed red pepper flakes, and chicken broth in a small bowl. Pour mixture over the pork and stir well to combine.

Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 hour. Reduce heat to LOW, and cook for 90 minutes or until pork is fork tender. (Check after about an hour.)

Serve over rice with lime wedges.


  • 2 c. basmati rice
  • 1 T. unsalted butter
  • 3 1/3 c. water
  • 34/ tsp. kosher salt

Rinse rice in a fine mesh sieve under cold water until water runs clear. Drain well. Melt butter in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderate heat; add rice and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Scoop into your rice cooker. Add water and salt. Turn rice cooker on “go”. When rice cooker turns off, rice is done. Let stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with fork.

No rice cooker?  Rinse rice in a fine mesh sieve under cold water until water runs clear. Drain well. Melt butter in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderate heat; add rice and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in water and salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with fork.