|Catherine gave me this rustic nutmeg grater from Dominica. I have a fetish for foreign kitchenalia.|
|Catherine Phipps in the kitchen|
My supper club with Catherine Phipps, cooking Dominican food, proved that Caribbean cookery is about more than jerk chicken. I discovered Bread Fruit, which, when roasted till blackened on the outside, infused the house with the signature smell of Dominica, a mixture of charcoal and marijuana. I also discovered Christophene, a fresh tasting gourd family plant, also known as the Chayote or Cho-Cho, which can be eaten raw or cooked. Catherine decided to prepare a gratin from Christophene, par-boiled then sliced into an oven dish, dotted with ginger butter then baked. I already knew salt fish, and the fritters were popular with the guests, along with a dipping sauce of Scotch Bonnet jelly with red wine. I must confess, I’m still not keen on salt fish however.
|Bread fruit being roasted on top of the Aga. Ideally it would be done over a fire.|
|Salt fish fritters|
The rum cocktails were a hit; along with hibiscus juice, and a traditional Planters punch, we served a lime, cinnamon and nutmeg punch. Caribbean tonic water is much sweeter than British so we hit upon the perfect recipe: half tonic, half lemonade. Catherine plans to write a Caribbean cookery book so this kind of on the job testing that a supper club makes possible is helpful.
|Lime, cinnamon rum punch with a grating of nutmeg on top.|
|The traditional Planter’s Punch is with Seville oranges (which are more bitter) but I used blood oranges. It was perhaps not as accurate but it was darn good. You feel like you are on holiday just drinking it.|
For the coconut callaloo (spinach) and plantain soup, we added something strange: palm nut purée, used in soups in Ghanaian cookery. It was more of a texture than a taste but not unpleasant.
|Stuffed crab back with parmesan and breadcrumbs
The crab backs were raved about by the guests, as was the soup and the trio of desserts (mini pavlovas with ginger marinated mango, ginger cake and home-made rum and raisin icecream).
We used dark orange mangos(probably from Pakistan) and marinated them in grated ginger and sugar syrup. It’s best to use a non-fibrous kind if possible. There are different kinds of mango; each one has a distinct flavour and texture.
|It’s worth making your own rum and raisin icecream. I only had currants, which I marinated in a whole bottle of dark rum until they were bulging with alcohol and syrup.|
Thanks Catherine, for sharing your love of Caribbean food with myself and my guests. I’m looking forward to your cookbook!
Mango painting by Margaret Rodgers