The weather was devine this past weekend.  We enjoyed three consecutive lovely outdoor backyard barbecues!  The third BBQ was at our place with some old friends from Toronto.

I planned the food around the theme of a summery Caribbean meal.  For the starter, I made my first attempt at coconut shrimp.  It was pretty easy, just shell and clean the shrimp, pat dry, salt and pepper liberally, coat in flour, dip into egg and then cover with unsweetened shredded coconut and deep fry.  I used a hot pepper jelly as a dipping sauce.  Overall I was pretty pleased with the turn out -crispy, quick and savoury sweet.

deep-fried coconut shrimp

I had to do a bit of research on how to make jerk-chicken (another culinary first for me).  I combined two recipes (recipe one & two) and did a trial run once with a few tweaks and improvements.  As a base I marinated the chicken in a homemade jerk-chicken paste of green onions tops, red onion, garlic, all spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, scotch-bonnet peppers, molasses, brown sugar, a splash of dark rum, and fresh ground black pepper, and thyme leaves.  I ground up the ingredients into a paste and let chicken marinade for 24+ hours.

jerk chicken marinade ingredients

We cooked the chicken on low heat on the barbecue but with all the marinade and chicken juices dripping into the flames, there was some serious blackening of the chicken.   In the end this worked perfect for the look and taste of a proper jerk chicken.

The scotch bonnet peppers in the marinade were pretty hot!  So for a nice complement I made a cool mango, papaya, avocado, cucumber, coriander, mint and lime salsa.  I had a bean salad left over from the day before’s BBQ, and just added some potatoes to make another cooling side dish.

mango salsa homemade

mango salsa & bean potato salad

For this meal I had to plan in advance to make sure I had ripe mangos, avocados, and plantains.  Plantains take some time to ripen nicely and I wanted them to be in their optimal pan-frying condition.  I discovered that the riper they are the faster they brown and the easier they are squish (with a fork or rolling pin) for a tasty pan-fried delight.  All this was served along side a pot of hot coconut rice.

pan fried plantains

The first dessert, made by our friend Andrea, was a gorgeous flan with raspberries, and blackberries on top of a layer of custard.  Note the letter “S” on the cake (for the S’s of Steve and Seema). So cute!  The dessert was perfect -fresh, light and summery!

Our friend Vern brought some homemade butter-tart squares which were gooey, and amazing.  You need to take a peak at Vern’s blog!  She has some mouth watering recipes and great posts about her dining discoveries plus her all time restaurant favourites.

butter tart squares

A gorgeous weekend enjoyed with friends and family!  I’m looking forward to many more culinary delights this summer in our backyard!

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