Thursday, June 28, 2012

Domenica: Cooking Around the World Adventure

The final two countries in our Cooking Around the World adventure for the letter 'D' are Dominica and the Domenican Republic. Yes, those are two different countries. I had to look that up myself. I'm pretty sure that I, ignorantly, have used those names interchangeably. Whoops. But you can see from the map, above, that Domenica lies in the archipelago that begins with Anguilla in the north and ends with Trinidad and Tobago in the south while the Domenican Republic is further west, closer to Jamaica and Cuba.

So, first we're traveling to Domenica. Dominica was the last of the Caribbean islands to be colonized by Europeans due primarily to the fierce resistance of the native Caribs, finally falling under French control. France ceded possession to Great Britain in 1763 who, then, made the island a colony in 1805. Finally Domenica gained its independence in 1978.

Reading about the Domenican cuisine, they seem to have access to a variety of fruits and vegetables, including watermelon, pineapple, mango, citrus, coconut, banana, sugar cane, sorrel, paw paw, tamarind, guava, carambola, soursop, gooseberry, barbadine and passion fruit. Being a tiny Caribbean island, seafood also abounds with blue marlin, dolphinfish, grouper, kingfish, snapper and lobster in abundance. And two favorite local delicacies are: mountain chicken, one of the largest frogs in the world which is only found on Domenica, and manicou, the common opossum which is often curried or just roasted. And glancing at those recipes is when I realize that I'm not quite as adventurous as I would like to think I am...not that I would have access to those ingredients, even if I wanted to cook opossum tonight. I stuck with some less off-the-wall recipes for tonight's dinner.

Cream of Tannia Soup

Tannia is, apparently, a generic Domenican term for a number of food, including yams, cassava, breadfruit, and plantains. What do all of those have in common? Starch?!? Well, I happened to have two big white yams in my fridge and frozen breadfruit in my freezer. Perfect!

3 large tannias (your choice!)
1 small onion
freshly chopped herbs (Traditionally, they use chives, parsley and thyme. I used parsley, mint, and tarragon.)
1 C milk

Peel and cube the tannia. Boil in salted water, just covering the tannia, until soft and mashable. Do not drain; you will use the cooking liquid. Place two tablespoons of butter in a pan and cook the chopped onion and herbs till lightly brown. Make a roux. Then blend in hot milk to make a creamy base. Mash the tannia in its cooking water, then combine mixtures - the cream sauce, the tannia, and the browned onion-herbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Reheat the mixture and serve with some freshly chopped herbs sprinkled on top and some warm rolls.

Coconut Bake
Dylan put his, now, considerable bread-making skills to work tonight, making a Domenican leavened coconut bread. It turned out pillowy soft with just a bite of the coconut.

6 C white flour

4 t organic raw turbinado sugar
1 T sea salt
4 T olive oil
2 T active dry yeast
2 C warm water
1/2 C unsweetened coconut flakes

Place the salt, flour, and yeast in a large mixing bowl and slowly add warm water, mixing continually until the mixture forms a stiff dough, add more flour until you have a dough stiff enough to knead.

Lightly flour the work surface, and knead dough for 5 minutes. Add the coconut and knead for another 5 minutes until it is smooth and elastic, then place in a greased bowl. Place the bowl in a warm place for 40 minutes until it has doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll dough into fist-sized balls and place in a greased baking dish. Sprinkle with more salt then let rise for another 20 minutes or, again, until the dough has doubled in size.

Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until rolls are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.

Tomorrow we head to the Domenican Republic before attacking the 'E' countries on the list!

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