Friday, May 7, 2010

Floribbean Cuisine

Our hometown cuisine was what we focused on this week in class. Of course on my mind all I could think of was not screwing up something I am good at...

The food turned out to be amazing!!!

In fact here is the link for you to see yourself... great camerawork by Chef Bill.

There are many different varieties to Floribbean dishes; and it is influenced by so many cultures. Of course the biggest culture comes from the immigrants of Cuba and the Caribbean islands.

This week we made conch chowder, golden gazpacho, hearts of palm salad, pan seared (coconut crusted) grouper, cube steak, key lime pie, corn custard, white bean salad, tostones, and roasted pork loin with mango mojo. We also made various mango chutneys and mango salsas.

I made the key west conch chowder which came out awesome! The taste was spot on and authentic; reminded me of being in a small shack in the keys with fresh conch. We ended up using frozen conch of course but the taste was right there evident of using clam juice to make the soup. The only thing I needed to do was to cook the potatoes a little longer; probably about five minutes. I served the soup with a side of sherry (again very authentic) and it gave it just enough heat. I can't wait to make this soup again at home for the family...

The Key Lime pie was made too late in the night and it turned out runny; which of course led to some crazy ideas to plate. This was not a bright spot on the menu; which was very disappointing. The hearts of palm salad and white bean salad were very different. The hearts of palm which comes from an indigenous palm bush in Florida; called "swamp cabbage"; was very easy to make. The white beans needed to be cooked a little longer; otherwise the taste was spot on. I noticed in the making of most of these dishes they have a lot of acidic qualities. Such as the chutneys and vinaigrette we made for the salads and proteins.

The golden gazpacho was a hit with Chef and the taste was perfect. We minced some jalapeno into the mixture along with the called for Tabasco. If you are not a fan of cold soups; then this is not for you. But I will say it was extremely tasty and worth the very easy process. The most time you will put into this soup is when you roast the peppers and peel off the skin. The rest of the way you are pureeing the vegetables and then chilling the soup. We accompanied the soup with twisty puff pastry straws.

The coconut crusted grouper was killer; chef said we could use shredded coconut so we did. The breading consisted of panko bread crumbs, shredded coconut, sugar, salt, pepper and then we used the traditional breading method. After you fry the fish, dry it on paper towels and finish off with an accompaniment of mango salsa.

The roasted pork loin with Al Cacace Floribbean marinade was stupendous! The rub was a mixture of traditional jerk spices along with traditional mojo ingredients. Shhhh it's a secret...
After trussing the pork loin I rubbed it down with the marinade and roasted it for about 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven. I topped the finished sliced pork with a mango mojo I mage by cooking and pureeing jalapeno, cilantro, mango, and white wine. We accompanied the pork and mojo with mango chutney and black beans.

The star of the night was the tostones. We made them both nights, but the second night we made them three different ways. In the video posted above you can see how I made them. Maria made the plantains into spiders and we dipped all of these yummy, crunchy bananas into a ketchup/lime/mayo dip. The other tostones got tossed a mojo of olive oil, minced garlic, salt and white pepper.

Overall amazing week and awesome menus...we should just have a class of Floribbean cuisine...

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