jerk pork tenderloin with mango-avocado-tomato salsa

jerk pork tenderloin with mango-avocado-tomato salsa

This juicy pork tenderloin recipe was inspired by Gina at skinnytaste. com.  To me it is mildly spicy, and the cool slightly sweet salsa accompaniment just soothes the tongue!
P.S. I wanted to add this note to anyone concerned about the safety of pink pork. Pork is safe to eat when the internal temperature rises to 150˚F. For more information visit this link by America’s Test Kitchen/Shine Food.

Jerk Pork Tenderloin with Mango-Avocado-Tomato Salsa

Prep time: 5 hours (or overnight) plus 15 minutes
Cook time: 25-35 minutes depending on the weight
Servings: 6-8 as appetizer, 2-4 as main course

Ingredients:
• 1 lb lean pork tenderloin, all fat and silver removed
• 3 cloves garlic, crushed
• 2 – 3 tablespoons Walkerswood Jerk Seasoning
• 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
• 1 lime, squeezed
• 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
• 1/4 -1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth

For the salsa:
• 2 Haas avocadoes, diced
• 1 tomato, chopped
• 2 large ripe mangos, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
• 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped red onion
• 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
• 2-3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
• salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Combine the garlic, jerk seasoning, and salt, rub all over pork (wear gloves if you wish). Place in a 8 inch square pan, then pour the lime and orange juices over the pork. Turn so that the juices cover all the meat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 5 hours or overnight, turning pork occasionally.

The next day (or 5 hours later), preheat the oven to 350˚F. Remove pork from the marinade and discard the marinade. Bake the pork 25 minutes for 3/4 pound roast or up to 35 minutes for at 1 pound roast. When it has reached an internal temperature of 155˚F (check it 5 minutes before time is up), remove it from the oven and let it rest on the stovetop. The tenderloin should come to 160˚F during resting, about 5-10 minutes. Slice and serve.

Meanwhile make the salsa: combine all the ingredients in a bowl, season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate salsa until ready to serve.

plantain tartelettes

I’m on a mission. A mission to make morsels of dessert that satisfy a sweet tooth without causing serious  overindulgence! After getting a plantain tart recipe at Easter from my cousins Peter and Karen, I was anxious to try it out. I had an idea to make tartelettes, mini-tarts filled with plantain. So I patiently waited for a plantain to ripen. Diana says they ripen on Jamaica time–it takes 7-10 days in a paper bag. My patience paid off and I finally got a ripe one.

Traditionally, the filling for plantain tarts is bright red. Unfortunately, the recipe  did not say how much red food coloring to use, so I decided to be conservative and try for a “dusty rose” shade. I merely succeeded in making it brown. Still, if it tastes like a plantain, then it must be a plantain. I did leave out the raisins–to me it’s sacrilegious to add any to a plantain tart.  The pastry, I must say,  is exquisite. It came out tender and flaky. However, I think  this filling could be more flavorful to go head to head with this pastry.

Plantain Tartelettes

Pastry
2 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable shortening
2-4 tablespoons iced water

Filling
1 cup ripe plantain, peeled and cut up
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon chopped raisins, optional
Red food coloring, optional

To make the filling:

  1. In a saucepan combine plantain, sugar, and water
  2. Cook over low heat until plantain is cooked through, about 5 minutes. The plantains will change from pinkish-orange when raw to deep yellow when cooked.
  3. Remove from heat and mash lightly. Add nutmeg, vanilla, butter, raisins if using, and red food coloring, if using. After adding 12 drops red and 4 drops blue, the plantain mixture turned dark brown.
  4. Allow filling to cool before filling tartelettes.

To make the pastry:

  1. Combine flour and salt with shortening and cut into pastry until flaky. Add iced water to bind together. [I used 2 tablespoons iced water.] Form dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate, about 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 450˚F.
  3. Roll out chilled dough on a lightly floured board to about 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into 40 two-inch rounds. Cake Baker’s Tip: If the dough warms it may become difficult to handle. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate it for at least 15 minutes. Use a flat blade spatula to lift each round off the cutting board.
  4. Spoon about 1/2  tablespoon cooled filling in the center of each round. Top with another pastry round and gently press the edges together. Crimp one side with the tines of a fork.
  5. Place tartelettes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  6. Brush tops of tartelettes  with a little milk.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes at 450˚F. Reduce heat to 350˚F and bake for 15-20 minutes. Pastry should be delicately brown.  Makes 20 tartelettes.

night of the spiderman

Spiderman the musical. What a concept. With Gotham City’s tilted perspectives, conflicted mutant superhero and super-evil villain, and great acrobatics mimicking computer generated special effects, this Spidey even got angst. Unlike another Gotham superhero, this one also got the girl.  There was never any doubt that the good guy would vanquish evil. It was great escapist fantasy for a couple of hours!

After we got back to the apartment I decided to make a post-show treat. Bulla! In Jamaica, a common shout on the playground was “yu get bulla!” meaning, zero, zip, zilch, nada, nothing. I got this recipe from Peter and Karen’s copy of Traditional Jamaican Cookery by Norma Benghiat (pronounced ben-gate). Besides a playground taunt, bulla is a quick bread made from flour and spices. It is always baked as a round loaf. I’ve begun to wonder if “bulla” is derived from the French boule which means “ball” and is a round loaf of bread.  It reminded me of an Irish soda bread and I wondered if this might be another ancestor of the bulla. Its etymology notwithstanding, this bulla came out dense, slightly sweet and delicately spicy.

3 cups flour plus extra for rolling and dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon grated ginger
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 /2 cup sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup water (originally 1:1)

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Melt a tablespoon of butter and add 1/2 tablespoon of flour. Use a pastry brush to apply the butter mixture to the bottom and sides of a 9″ round pan. If using a pan with a dark nonstick finish, reduce the heat to 350 and remove the bulla from the oven 5 minutes before cooking time is up.

In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, allspice. Mix in ginger and  melted butter. Gradually add the sugar water to make a firm dough.

Knead the dough until the sides of the bowl are clean and the ball of dough not sticky. Roll out dough on lightly floured board until it is 1/2 inch thick. Roll the dough into a 9” circle. Dust both sides lightly with flour. Put the dough in the prepared pan and bake 25-30 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Eat the bulla warm with butter and jam.

mate chocolate tea with Jamaican bun and cheese

I had read about drinking chocolate tea to satisfy food cravings–especially the late-night kind! To me, anything chocolate is good. I noticed that a new gourmet spice and tea shop opened on Broadway called Spices and Tease (between 97th  and 98th Streets) so I wandered in to check it out. Maxim, the proprietor, introduced me to mate chocolate tea. It was his last stash for the next two weeks but he sold it to me. He promised me that it would get darker the longer it steeped but it would not get bitter. He’s right. It has the most wonderful guilt-free chocolate smell and a slight bitter taste reminiscent of dark chocolate. A mate (pronounced ma-teh) is a South American herbal tea made from the leaves of the yerba mate. And I discovered it’s a wonderful accompaniment to bun and cheese, an Easter tradition in Jamaica.

Speaking of which, my cousin Anne Marie contributed this recipe for a stout bun. She writes: “SweetPea LOVES this bun recipe which I got from my cousin Debbie, so I have not made it in several years because he tends to eat all but the one or two slices I manage to save for myself!!!  Sweetie says that if I don’t make it, he won’t be tempted but you know, I think I’ll surprise him with it next month for his 65th!!!!!!!!! Birthday.” So, as an added bonus, here is Anne Marie’s recipe for

Jamaican Spice Bun

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar;
2 teaspoons melted butter;
2 teaspoons golden syrup or honey;
2 teaspoons mixed spice (cinnamon, nutmeg & mace in equal parts.  I made up a small jar to save myself the trouble for future buns);
1 cup of stout (I love Guinness);
3 cups all purpose flour;
3 tsp baking powder;
1 cup mixed glacé fruits (I add extra glacé cherries);
1 large egg (or 2 medium eggs)

Preparation

1.  Preheat oven to 400˚F
2.  In a small saucepan, dissolve sugar, butter, syrup/honey & spices in the stout on low heat
3.  Mix flour, baking powder and fruit
4.  Beat eggs & mix all ingredients together
5.  Put in greased and parchment lined (9×5 inch) loaf tin
6.  Bake approximately 1 hour

This recipe makes one loaf of spice bun. Sam, I hope Anne Marie makes this for your birthday next month– and for any other occasion.

Jamaican Easter bun and cheese

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What you don’t eat, you miss. I never really liked bun and cheese when I lived in Jamaica but now that I’m no longer living there, I miss it. I miss the sticky sweetness of the raisins and cherries contrasting with the salty tang of cheddar cheese. So I decided to try my hand at a stout bun; a quick bread, really. It seemed the easiest one to make, requiring no yeast. However, I did face a couple of challenges. First of all, I had to hunt around liquor stores on the Upper West Side for stout, a dark beer. To be truly patriotic, I should have looked for Dragon Stout but I settled for Guinness. After the fourth liquor store I was glad to find any stout. The second problem was that I couldn’t find mixed peel, the sugared citrus rind that is used in making fruitcakes. Well, this is the wrong holiday for that, so I did without.

How did the Jamaican Easter Bun come about? Some writers say it is a variation on the hot cross bun that is traditionally eaten at Easter in Europe. If so, that hot cross bun has undergone quite a transformation. No longer decorated with a cross, the Easter Bun in Jamaica is a spice bread redolent of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. In the case of the stout bun, it has a cup of dark beer added to it. It also gets its distinctive dark color from molasses.

I adapted this recipe for Jamaican Easter Bun from one I found on keepitjiggy.com.

Jamaican Easter Bun

Ingredients

6 oz or 3/4 cup stout (It must be fresh not flat stout)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons unsulphured molasses
2 tablespoons softened butter + 2 tablespoons butter for melting
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour + 1 tablespoon flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon allspice or mixed spice (e.g. apple pie)
2 eggs beaten
1 cup milk
1/2 cup raisins, softened in enough water or rum to cover, drained
1/2 cup mixed peel, chopped (increase raisins to 1 cup if mixed peel is unavailable)
1/3 cup maraschino cherries, drained and stems removed, coarsely chopped

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300˚F. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and mix it with 1 tablespoon flour.  Brush butter-flour mixture onto the bottom and sides of the loaf pan(s). Use one 9×5 inch (8 cup capacity) loaf pan or two 8.5×4.5 inch (4 cup capacity each) loaf pans. If using non-stick pans with a dark finish, reduce the oven temperature to 275˚F and test for doneness five minutes sooner than the recommended baking time.

Warm the stout on a low flame. Add brown sugar, molasses and softened butter. Stir until dissolved. Cool.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and spices. Mix in the fruit. In a medium bowl, mix together the beaten eggs and milk.  Add to the flour-fruit mixture. The mixture will be the texture of coarse crumbs. Add the cooled stout mixture. Blend until all dry ingredients are just moistened.

Scrape batter into prepared pan(s). Tap pan(s) lightly on the kitchen counter to eliminate air bubbles. Bake for 1 to 1 ¼ hours. I used two 8.5 inch loaf pans, so mine were done in 55 minutes. Remove from oven when a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Invert the bun(s) onto the wire rack. Re-invert and cool thoroughly. When cooled, cut the loaf in ½ inch thick slices. Serve with cheddar cheese slices sandwiched between two slices of bun. Mm-m! It takes me home again!

jerk beef and beans

My cousin Anne Marie is a wonderful cook. Because of our Chinese-Jamaican heritage we both share this obsession with food and its preparation. Anne Marie also loves animals. At last count she has five dogs (mostly pugs) and two cats. Anne Marie lives in South Carolina with her husband Sam, affectionately called Sweetie Pie. She shared this recipe with us, her cousins, and I am sharing it with you.  Anne Marie notes: “Because Sweetie watches his carb intake, lots of times I do not serve this with white rice but with raw [ripe] bananas and roasted veggies.  Tonight’s roasted veggies were carrots and turnips.”  Cut the veggies into 1/4 inch rounds. Roll the veggies in olive oil and season with garlic powder, black pepper, and dill.  Spread on a baking tray and bake until browned and caramelized. I think 30 minutes on the upper rack of the oven ought to do it while the casserole is bubbling beneath it. This is a hearty dish, very filling, and a tad spicy if you aren’t used to jerk seasoning. A note about jerk seasoning:  jerk seasoning is available from West Indian markets but some supermarkets in urban areas do carry it. I am partial to the Walkers Wood brand. Jerk seasoning key ingredients are  allspice (called pimento in Jamaica) and  Scotch Bonnet pepper, a relative of the better known habeñero pepper. If you love the strong earthy flavors of Jamaican cooking, try this. You’ll love it!

Ingredients

3 lb beef shin with bone in, trimmed of excess fat
2 tins black beans with liquid
1 can butter beans, drained
1 large onion, chopped
1 scant teaspoon Walkers Wood Jerk Seasoning plus 1-2 teaspoons more for seasoning meat
2 sprigs thyme, fresh or dried
Salt and pepper

Preparation

Wipe meat clean with a paper towel.  Set aside.  In a large casserole pot with a lid, add two tins of black beans with liquid, chopped onions,  and a scant teaspoon of Walkers Wood Jerk Seasoning.  Sprinkle moderately with salt, black pepper and thyme.  Mix it up.  With rubber gloves on, smear meat on both sides with additional jerk seasoning.  Push down into the black bean mixture.  Cover and place in 350 degree oven for two hours.  Remove casserole from oven when the two hours are up and add drained butter beans. Gently stir into and over the meat.  Cover again and cook another hour. [Cook’s Tip: if you prefer a thinner sauce, add a 1/4 cup of water to the bean mixture and stir.]

ackee and salt fish

Ackee and Salt Fish is undeniably Jamaica’s national dish. Whenever I go to my mother’s house, I will eat this dish. I think she makes the best ackee and salt fish. Now, ackee is a very strange fruit that was imported to the island from West Africa. The closest I can describe its look and taste is resembling scrambled eggs but without any salt or flavor.  The ackee has a history. Indeed, when I was growing up stories would pop up occasionally in the Daily Gleaner about so-and-so getting sick from eating unripe ackee. The pods must be allowed to open naturally otherwise the fruit is poisonous. There is even a book titled The Deadly Ackee and Other Stories by Joan Hess.

In days gone by, my mother used to have to prepare fresh ackee because the convenience of tinned ackee wasn’t available. Now, tinned ackee is available at Caribbean grocery stores all over the US and Canada. I just discovered that it’s available on Amazon.com. too. You can get everything from Amazon! I’m glad because now I don’t have to take two trains and a bus to get to the Caribbean store in Brooklyn! I can have my ackee fix without leaving Manhattan.  I brought two tins of ackee with me from Canada to make this, my mother’s recipe. I’ve put up the other one for when the craving hits me again.

Ingredients:
1 18 oz tin of ackees, drained
2 small tomatoes, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup bacon, diced
1/4 cup salted fish (bacalao is okay, cod is recommended)
1 whole scotch bonnet pepper, finely diced with seeds
Black pepper
1 Scallion, sliced thinly,  for garnish

In a small saucepan, put the salted fish and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and drain the fish. Let it cool slightly. When it is cool enough to handle, shred the fish with a fork. Set aside.

In a 10 inch skillet fry the bacon until crisp. Drain bacon on a paper towel. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon oil. Over medium high heat, fry the tomatoes and onion in the oil in the pan until wilted, about 3-5 minutes. Add the shredded fish and the scotch bonnet pepper, stirring to heat through. You can use less pepper if you wish but in my experience, the scotch bonnets here do not have the heat of the “country peppers” at home.  So don’t be afraid to use the whole thing. It will add flavor to the dish.

Sprinkle the drained ackees straight from the tin all over the top of the tomato mixture. Turn the ackees and the salt fish to heat through, being careful not to break up the pieces of the fruit as much as possible. Sprinkle black pepper generously over everything. Sprinkle the scallion on top.


In Jamaica, we eat ackee and salt fish with johnny cakes (a kind of fried biscuit) or bammie (cassava cake). It was so hot today I didn’t want to fry up any johnny cakes, so I baked scones. They were slightly sweet. Biscuits would have been better. Toasted bread would do if you didn’t want to wait for the biscuits.