When it comes to Caribbean appetizers, it truly seems there's no accounting for taste. From cook to cook, an appetizer can mean just about anything. In general, though, Caribbean appetizers tend to emphasize flavor and color over stuffy formality. From patties, which require and repay a good bit of effort, to the little nibbles (fried green plantains), there's little attempt in these dishes to impress except through fresh ingredients and tasty and good flavors. Many of the Islands' favorite appetizers, as it turns out, are grown-up versions of "street food," things people became accostumed to munching as children and never forgot. This means, however you choose to make and present your appetizers, can be both memorable and authentic.
Ingredients: 1 tablespoon oil, 1 red onion, 1 clove garlic finely chopped/crushed, 9 ozs. ground lamb or beef, 1 green chili, finely chopped, 2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped 1-2 teaspoons medium curry powder, salt and freshly ground black pepper, beaten egg, for glazing Pastry: 3 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon ground turmeric, 1/4 cup butter.
Heat oil in a skillet, add onion and garlic, and cook for 10 minutes until soft. Add lamb or beef and stir until brown. Add chili, tomatoes, curry powder, and seasoning. Stir in 1/2 cup water and simmer gently, stirring frequently, for 15-20 minutes until liquid has evaporated. Leave to cool.
To make pastry, sift flour, turmeric, and salt into a bowl. Rub in butter and crumble to resemble bread crumbs. Add about 3 tablespoons water to make a firm dough. Cover and chill for 1 hour. (Also see "Useful Information" section.)
Preheat oven to 400F. Divide pastry into 8 and roll into 7" circles; place a spoonful of filling on one half of each circle. Moisten edges with water, fold pastry over, and press together firmly. Place on a baking sheet. Brush with egg and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.
2 tablespoons butter 1-1/2 tablespoons tomato paste 1 tablespoon water 1 tablespoon wine vinegar 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard 4 whole cloves 2 drops hot pepper sauce 1 tablespoon sugar 1 tablespoon dark rum 3 ripe avocados, chilled
Preparation: Combine all ingredients, except rum and avocados, in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then remove from heat, cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Remove whole cloves. Stir in rum and reheat, but do not boil. Cut avocados in halves in small dishes and spoon sauce into bowl-like centers. Serves 6.
Ingredients: 2 pounds cooked lump crabmeat, chilled
3 large tomatoes 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 cup Spanish-style green olives 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 6 large iceberg or butter lettuce leaves 6 lime halves
Preparation: Break crabmeat into large attractive chunks. Remove any shell or cartilage. Core and coarsely dice tomatoes, then combine them in a large bowl with lime juice, garlic, olives, green onions and crabmeat. Gently mix all ingredients together and season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, place lettuce leaf on each of 6 plates and spoon equal portions of crabmeat mixture onto each plate. Garnish with lime halves. Serves 6.
Ingredients: 1 cup self-rising flour, 1 egg beaten 3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon melted butter, 1 tablespoon oil 8 ozs. salt cod, soaked overnight 1 onion, freshly chopped 1 fresh red chili, remove seeds and finely chop, salt, vegetable oil for frying, lemon wedges to garnish.
Sift flour and salt into a bowl. Mix together egg, milk, and melted butter, and stir into flour. Mix well to a smooth batter; add a little more milk if necessary. Allow to stand. Meanwhile, drain and rinse salt cod. Place in a large saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes until tender. Drain and cool. Discard skin and any bones and flake flesh.
Heat oil in skillet, add onion, and cook for 10 minutes until soft. Allow to cool slightly.
Stir fish, onion and chili into the batter. Heat about 1/2 inch oil in a skillet. Drop spoonfuls of batter mixture into oil, a few at a time. Fry about 2 minutes on each side until crisp and golden.