A Caribbean Christmas

caribbean-sorrel
Sorrel is a must at Christmas for Caribbeans.
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caribbean-sorrel
Sorrel is a must at Christmas for Caribbeans.

By Minna La Fortune

 News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Dec. 18, 2015: The month of December is a very busy month for Caribbean Nationals the world over because December 25th – Christmas Day; December 26th – Boxing Day in England and the Caribbean region and of course December 31st – New Years Eve!

All these dates are special not only for what they represent as major holidays but also for the special foods that Caribbean chefs and cooks prepare and serve to their clients, family, friends and special guests.

To start, fruits – raisins, currants, candied citrus, prune and cherries – soaked in port wine and rum begins at least three months before December. For those who raise live stock such as pigs, chickens, goats, and cows, each fatted livestock is identified for the Christmas meal and they are usually killed a day or two before Christmas  Day and are seasoned with specially selected herbs and spices and are marinated before being cooked.

For those who purchase their meats from the butcher or supermarket, meats are carefully selected for weight and freshness. The food bill for meats, grains, flour , sugar, herbs and spices, rums and wines, beers and soft drinks increases almost tenfold in some cases at Christmas time for most Caribbean nationals, depending on the guest list.

In the Caribbean community, while a lot of fuss is made about decorating the house with new curtains, bedspreads and furniture, the emphasis is on the specially made foods and drinks and desserts which are made and shared with friends and family than on gifts.

In The Caribbean community, Christmas is  a time for love and merriment with friends, family, neighbor and strangers. Some of the special Caribbean delicacies include:  Ham, roast beef, curried goat, Pot roasted pork leg, stewed rooster, Mannish Water, green Pigeon Peas- Rice and peas, Irish Potato Salad, Yuca and Banana salad, Macaroni cheese, tamales and Fresh green Salad as well as Black Cake, Prune Cake, Sorrell, Ginger Beer, Egg Nog, Punche Creme, Sweet Potato Pudding, Cornmeal Pudding and Cassava Pudding .

Cooking these dishes require care and focus. With the exception of the ham, cake, puddings, sorrel,  Punche Creame, Coquito and  Ginger Beer – all dishes served on Christmas Day must be cooked and served the same day!

Because it is important to have the special drinks and cake/desserts to offer your guest throughout the Holiday Season, starting the first week of December, the preparation and bottling of Sorrel, Ginger beer, Punche Cream and the baking of Caribbean Black Cakes must be completed by the first Saturday of December!

So that when family, friends and special guests come to visit they are given these treats in celebration of the season.

Below are the recipes for a few of these important items! Enjoy!

Next week I will focus on the big Caribbean Christmas meal. Compliments of the season to you and yours!

Sorrel Drink Recipe

Ingredients

2 lbs dried or fresh sorrel

1 lb fresh grated ginger,

12 whole pimento

3 sticks of Cinnamon

2 gals water

3-4lbs granulated Sugar

1 1/2 cups White rum

Preparation

In a deep pot bring two gals of water to a boil; add sorrel and fresh grated ginger.

Add 12 whole pimento and three sticks of Cinnamon mixture.

Remove from the fire and allow the mixture to steep overnight. Strain the sorrel liquid into a pitcher, discarding the solids except pimento and cinnamon sticks, add rum and sweeten to taste.

Pour mixture in bottles and refrigerate.

Serve with ice.

Caribbean-ginger-beer
Ginger beer is another Caribbean Christmas favorite.

Ginger Beer

3 lbs fresh grated ginger,

12 whole pimento

3 sticks of Cinnamon

2 gallons water

3-4 lbs granulated Sugar

 Preparation

In a deep pot bring two gallons of water to a boil.

Add freshly grated ginger and 12 whole pimento.

Remove from the fire and allow the mixture to steep overnight.

Strain the ginger mixture into a pitcher, discarding the solids except pimento.

Sweeten to taste.

Pour mixture in bottles and refrigerate.

Serve with ice.

Caribbean-christmas-cake
Caribbean Christmas cake.

Caribbean Dark Fruit Cake

Ingredients For the fruit:

1 1/2 cups finely chopped cherries

1 cup finely chopped prunes

2 cups raisins

1 1/2 cups ruby port

1 cup Jamaican White Rum

1 1/2 cups currants

1/2 cup candied finely chopped citrus peel.

Note: Let the macerated fruit sit together for 1 week in a large Jar before baking the cake.

 

Ingredients For the cake:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup Plain Bread Crumbs

3 teaspoons kosher salt

4 tablespoon baking powder

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3 teaspoon ground All Spice

3 teaspoon ground nutmeg

4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 cups packed Dark brown sugar

6 large eggs, at room temperature

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup Lime Juice

3/4 cup Browning

1 cup Port Wine

1 cup Jamaican White Rum

Instructions

1. Heat the oven to 350 F. Grease two 9 inch round pans with butter and coat with flour and put to the side.

2. Combine all dry ingredients- flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg in a large bowl and whisk to aerate and break up any lumps add plain bread crumbs. Put to the side.

3. Cream butter and sugar in the bowl with electric mixer until creamy and sugar is dissolved. Add eggs one at a time, letting each mix in fully before adding the next. Add vanilla and Browning, mix thoroughly until color is consistent.

4. Sift in all dry ingredients mixture slowly. Mix batter thoroughly, Add soaked fruits, Mix into batter. Add lime juice, then add wine and rum, combined slowly, until batter is consistent.

5. Pour batter evenly in the prepared pans fill pans to the top.

6. Bake for 1–to-2  hours and until a cake tester comes out clean from the middle of the cake.

7. Allow cakes to cool. Turn cakes out on cake stand and brush with port wine.

minna-la-fortune
EDITOR’S NOTE: Minna LaFortune is a trained Caribbean caterer and also president, Society for the Advancement of the Caribbean Diaspora (SACD). Check out her food group on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/bestfoodscaribbean/