See you all tomorrow on the other side of the world…
A true Type A personality, I tend to get pretty disappointed when a recipe doesn’t turn out. But sometimes it leads to something even better. Case in point: the gizzadas (Jamaican chewy coconut tartlettes) I attempted were a total failure. The filling was too watery and the pinched dough of the crust didn’t hold up. The good part is that I only tested half a batch, leaving a good amount of frozen young coconut left over and so back to the drawing board, i.e., my stack of Jamaican cookbooks, I went.
I kept coming back to a super simple drink recipe… coconut water with rum. The cookbook author kept referring to it as the “man’s drink” of Jamaica. Well fellas, thanks for the idea but we ladies like to do it up a little bit. And so this simple pairing of rum and coconut morphed into a gorgeous, pure and dazzling white frozen drink. Sweetened with condensed milk, the coconut shreds and ice give the drink body while the rum gives it just a little kick. I’m seriously wondering how these things aren’t a staple at tropical beachside bars around the world.
The only thing in its way? The lack of snazzy name. Perhaps the Coconut Rum Blizzard? Or the Whiteout?
Frozen Coconut Rum Drink
Yield: 2 servings
* 1 cup frozen young coconut, partially thawed
* 3 Tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
* 2 Tablespoons rum, your choice of white, gold, or coconut
* 2 cups ice
* Toasted coconut, for garnish (optional)
In a blender, combine the coconut, sweetened condensed milk, rum and ice and blend until smooth. Top with toasted coconut, if desired.
Note: frozen young coconut can be found at many Asian grocery stores.
Considering my love of all things pork, it’s surprising that I don’t cook it more often. Baked breaded pork chops served with mashed potatoes and applesauce was a frequent meal when I was growing up. I think the applesauce, besides being a good flavor match for the pork, was sort of essential for moisture because the oven dried out those chops like nobody’s business. That’s no need to worry about dryness with this recipe- the quick pan fry keeps the chops nice and juicy. With Jamaican jerk spices and a little bit of curry powder (a nod to the Indian influence and population in Jamaica) the pork is great even as a standalone item, but a little mango salsa gives it some extra island flair.
Pan Fried Curried Jerk Pork Chops with Mango Salsa
Yield: 4 servings
* 4 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 teaspoons thyme
* 1 teaspoon brown sugar
* 1 teaspoon allspice
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
* 1 teaspoon curry powder
* 4 pork chops, approximately 3/4 inch thick
* Vegetable oil, for frying
* 1 mango, peeled, seeded and chopped
* 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
* 1 Tablespoon cilantro, chopped
* 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
* 1 Tablespoon lime juice
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
To make the pork chops combine the garlic, thyme, brown sugar, allspice salt, pepper, cayenne, and curry powder in a large bowl or plastic ziplock bag. Add pork chops and rub the seasoning in. Marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes to one hour. Heat about 1 tablespoon in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork chops and sear, about 3 minutes. Flip and repeat on the other side. Remove from heat, and cover, allowing the residual heat to cook the chops through, about three to five minutes, depending on the thickness of the pork chops. Test the thickest chop to ensure that there’s no pink. Top with mango salsa.
To make the salsa, combine all ingredients in a bowl and chill for at least 15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
This dessert is about as sophisticated as a Snack Pack Pudding cup. I don’t necessarily mean that as a bad thing- I was eating those Hunt’s snack pack puddings well into my adult working years. Hunt’s doesn’t make (to my knowledge) a coconut pudding, but I imagine this is exactly what it would taste like should they ever add it to their line-up.
It’s a fast recipe using a bunch of unfussy ingredients that you probably already have in the pantry. Perfect for when you want to reminisce about the days when you’d get excited that your mom remembered to pack you a dessert.
Coconut Cream Pudding
Yield: 4 servings
* 1 packet unflavored gelatin (approximately 1 Tablespoon)
* 1/4 cup water
* 1 can coconut milk
* 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
* Pinch salt
* 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
* Whipped cream, for garnish
* Toasted coconut, for garnish
In a medium saucepan, dissolve gelatin in water over low heat. Stir in coconut milk and remove from heat. Add sweetened condensed milk and salt. Pour into dessert dishes and chill. Top with whipped cream, nutmeg and toasted coconut to serve.