I resisted the urge to put the word “mon” at the end of this post’s title. You’re welcome.
J and I were married in Jamaica. Just the two of us, barefoot on a Caribbean beach. And a minister with a really cool accent.
It was perfect.
We returned from Jamaica with 60 SPF sunburns and a love (LOVE) of jerk. Seriously, we would have drunk shots of the stuff and chased it down with Red Stripe if we could have. Or maybe we did; the Jamaican rum was plentiful, too! Which led to our pledge to never drink fruity drinks again. That oath lasted exactly 6 months.
We have experimented with various jerk seasonings and marinades, but our current favorite is adapted from this Jamaican jerk paste recipe. I like to keep a jar of it in the fridge for quick meals.
Jamaican Jerk Paste
Makes about 1 cup
2 Scotch Bonnet peppers, seeds removed and discarded, minced (see note)
1 large clove garlic, minced
4 green onions chopped
1 small onion, diced
1/2 Tablespoon brown sugar or sucanat
4 teaspoons thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 Tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Place all ingredients in a food processor (I use a mini chopper) and blend until the desired consistency. Store in a jar with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator.
Note: Traditional jerk contains Scotch Bonnet peppers. I haven’t been able to find Scotch Bonnets in this mountain town, so I have been using Habanero peppers, which have the same heat unit rating on the Scoville scale.
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This delightful dinner comes together quickly when you already have the jerk paste on hand:
- In the morning (or the night before), press a block of organic tofu for 30 to 45 minutes.
- While the tofu is pressing, cut up the vegetables (onion, bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms and eggplant are all good choices) and place them in a covered dish with the prepared marinade. Stir well, and throughout the day, if you happen to be around.
- When the tofu is pressed, cut it into 8 pieces and brush the jerk paste on both sides of each piece of tofu and place the pieces in another covered dish.
- At dinner time, pre-heat the oven to 400F. Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray or place parchment paper in the bottom of the baking sheet.
- Wash the yams/sweet potatoes and prick the tops a few times with a fork. Rub the yams with coarse sea salt (optional) and place the yams on a baking sheet with the tofu pieces. Place the vegetables and the marinade on another baking sheet or in a small roasting pan.
- Place both pans in the oven and bake about 45 minutes, or until the yams are tender when pierced with a fork. Flip the tofu pieces and stir the vegetables halfway through the baking time.
- To serve, spoon a bit of the vegetable marinade over each piece of tofu. If you are feeling sentimental like J was, wash it all down with a Red Stripe lager!
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Tropical Upside Down Cake
12 Tablespoons non-dairy butter, divided
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
5 Tablespoons dark rum
9 whole pineapple rings (I used canned pineapple rings, packed in water, drained)
1 generous cup of fresh mango, peeled and cubed
1-1/2 cups flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (plus a splash more) unsweetened coconut milk
Ener-G egg replacer for 1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup dark rum
Pre-heat oven to 400F. Add 4 tablespoons of the non-dairy butter to a glass 8 x 8″ dish and place in the oven until the butter melts. Remove the dish from the oven and stir in the brown sugar until dissolved. Add the rum and stir well again.
Arrange the pineapple rings in the bottom of the dish and scatter the mango pieces over the top of the pineapple rings. Return the dish to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and let cool.
Meanwhile, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a medium bowl; set aside.
Melt the remaining 8 tablespoons of non-dairy butter and place in a large mixing bowl. Beat in the coconut milk and the egg replacer; add the almond extract. Slowly pour the flour mixture into the bowl and beat for about 2 minutes.
Pour the cake mixture over the fruit in the baking dish. Bake 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 15 minutes and then turn the cake over on a square serving plate, fruit side up. Drizzle the remaining rum over the top of the cake.
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