Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Our Favorite Jamaican Recipes - Book Review

I love reading and with this blog writing reviews has been a treat, but in this case the review was very yummy. I formatted "Our Favorite Jamaican Recipes" by Trudy Hanks nee Pilliner, Maureen Tapper nee Pilliner, and Rebecca Marshall nee Tapper and I was so interested in the recipes that I decided to cook several of them and invite friends over.

"Our Favorite Jamaican Recipes" was created by three Jamaican daughters remembering their Mothers' cooking. The book is filled with family anecdotes, cultural tidbits, and traditional recipes. The recipes themselves are explained very clearly and, in my case, even though I knew nothing about Jamaican food, I was able to follow the instructions and make delicious food.

My favorite anecdote is the one that accompanies the pig trotter's recipe:
The only son in the Tapper family was very mischievous and cunning as a boy. He somehow convinced his youngest sister that pig's trotters were not good eating, and that he would "help her" by eating her share.
Sister was happy that he was so nice to her, and it was almost a year before she wised up and noticed how much he enjoyed this food that he claimed was neither delicious, nor good for her. She decided to make the sacrifice and try a piece herself...and that was the day his double portion of pig's trotters ended!
A Tapper Family Memory
The cookbook contains Soups (beef soup, pepper pot soup, red peas soup), Entrees (curried shrimp, callaloo and salt fish, oxtail and butter beans, and many more), Side Dishes (corn fritters, macaroni and cheese, fried dumplings, and more), Desserts (bread pudding, egg custard, sweet potato pudding, and more), Beverages (ginger beer, sorrel drink, rum punch, and more), Misc (jerk seasoning, solomon gundy) and Notes. The notes section describes the uncommon ingredients like ackee, bammy, breadfruit, etc.

Each recipe and note has a photo, which came in very handy when I went to the grocery store to buy the ingredients. I live in San Diego, which doesn't have a large Jamaican community, but I was able to find all the ingredients at my local Mexican grocery store.

I went wild making eleven recipes, most of the ingredients were inexpensive and easy to find at a good price. I selected recipes that my guests and I would be able to recognize and one of my guests is very sensitive to spicy food so I went light on the scotch bonnet pepper. Now let me show you my cooking:

Crayfish (Janga) Soup
Made with crayfish - I used large shrimp for this recipe - chicken, vegetables and dumplings. I made the recipe early that day and put it on a crockpot to keep it warm until dinner time.

Cook-Up Rice with Bully Beef and Cabbage
Made with cabbage, white rice, corned beef and vegetables. This was one of my favorites! Very easy to do and satisfying, after the dinner party I had this dish for lunch, super yummy.

Escoveitch Fish
Made with red snapper - yellow tail and flounder can also be used - the fried fish is marinated with onion, juliened carrots, allspice seeds and vinegar. The acidity of this dish complemented the other ones perfectly.

Fricassee Chicken (brown stew chicken)
Another favorite! The chicken is marinated in soy sauce, scallions, tomatoes, and more. The dish has a very rich savory flavor, this is a recipe I know I will be doing more than once.

Jerk Chicken
This was last minute - as if I wasn't cooking enough things! - I made the jerk seasoning, marinated the chicken and roasted it. So good!

Banana Fritters
So easy to do! I was fortunate to have eaten one when I made them, by the time I served my plate there was only one left. No leftovers here.

Cabbage, Carrot and Tomato Salad
One of my guests made the comment that this salad was very refreshing to the palate. I forgot to take a photo of this salad, the image below is from the cookbook, but mine looked just like it!

Rice and Peas
Made with red kidney beans, bacon, coconut milk, veggies and white rice. The red coloring comes from the red kidney beans. Very tasty side dish!

Coconut with sweet spices baked on top of pastry dough. I cut these in half so more people could try them.

Plantain Tarts
I thought this recipe would be hard, but even though it was a little time consuming, it was very simple to follow and the tarts came out great!

Ice-Box Cake
Super easy to do. Layers of pound cake and a buttery fruity mixture. The whipped cream on top wasn't sweetened so it balanced out the sweetness of the bottom making it taste just right.

Nine of us ate that night, everyone had seconds and I still had some leftovers to eat during the week. This is an excellent cookbook done from the heart.

You can find "Our Favorite Jamaican Recipes" at Amazon.com in print and digital format.

1 comment:

  1. Everything looks good. I'm glad you and your friends enjoyed eating the food you made from the recipes in our Cookbook.
    Thanks for all you have done to make 'Our Favorite Jamaican Recipes' the success that I am hoping it will become.