A new spin on Yam using wonderful ingredients.
By Nigel Spence
The hurricane season officially ended this past month and not a moment too soon. Who would have thought living in New York we still had to worry about being hit?! It seems like all of a sudden every storm that gets spit off the Cape is not only visiting the Tropics but somehow inching its way up the East Coast as well – what’s up with that?
For a good while, even Hurricane Matthew had its “eye” on us (no pun intended) but thankfully decided to cut its trip short. I extend my deepest sympathies to the families that lost loved ones and to those who were displaced as a result of this powerful storm.
For me, I felt like some kind of storm “chasee” instead of storm chaser. There I was getting ready to party on down in the Bahamas only to find out two days before that they were going to be hit with Category 4 winds from Matthew. I figured to continue the trip might not be such a wise idea and that maybe I should make alternate arrangements. So I did. A day later I was headed to South Beach, Miami, Florida to soak in some sun and fun living it up on the beach.
Well I was totally getting my relax on – sunning, funning, eating, drinking – you know, the important stuff when I found out Matthew, while on its way to the Bahamas, would take a slight detour via Miami and would be on our door step in just hours – argh!! Once again I had to pack up and move – this time the move was to higher ground – inland to West Fort Lauderdale where family awaited. That’s where the party went into high gear!
Within the safety of hurricane shutters, the kitchen became the main thoroughfare of action. With the possibility of loss of power, anything and everything in the freezer or fridge we thought would spoil was pulled out and assessed for cooking. We landed up with a cornucopia of ingredients with which to work – eggs, mackerel, turkey legs, goat meat, chicken and more. In just a few hours we had a huge variety spread for the feasting.
People – me nuh know what kinda winds Matthew was blowing up outside, but one thing I know seh, it coulda neva match the family force winds that tore through all of the food that night! Ha! It’s a good thing the hurricane never lingered or we might have had a slight problem finding food to eat the next day!
Well, finally, I stopped being chased and was able to recoup a day or two of beach life before returning home to the Big Apple. Isn’t it funny though, how even when faced with terrifying situations, sharing a pot of good food can serve to calm the spirit making us feel safe and warm inside?
On the other hand, if there is any kind of alien life on the planet Jupiter I’m not so sure they would agree. According to the scientists, there is a hurricane on the planet that has been going on for the past 300 years and is bigger than Earth! Apparently it shows as some kind of red spot. Try stocking groceries for THAT affair…
Speaking of hurricanes, Thanksgiving is next on the agenda and you can bet I will be cooking up a storm (again no pun intended) in the kitchen. My focus this year is on side dishes, as they tend to be an afterthought while the big bird always takes center stage. I’ve been working on a very special dish for the occasion and wanted to share it with you. Be warned though – it’s known to produce tornadic activity wherever it’s served. Enjoy! Here’s wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving!
I find that Caribbean root vegetables tend to be underutilized and remain one dimensional in their role at the table. This recipe is my attempt to add an exciting new side dish to the thanksgiving table and to have root vegetables play a different role on the plate.
Yam & Green Banana Salad
1 Cup Yellow Yam, boiled, med dice
1 Cup White Yam, Boiled, med dice
1 Cup Green Banana, Boiled, med dice
1/2 Cup Sweet potato, med dice
1/2 Cup Yellow bell Peppers, med dice
1/2 Cup Green bell peppers, med dice
1/2 Cup Red Bell Peppers, med dice
1/2 large Avocado, med dice
3 Eggs, hard boiled, med dice
1 bunch Culantro, rough chopped, (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon yellow Mustard
2 tablespoons sweet spicy Relish
1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
2 dashes Pepper sauce
Incorporate all in a large bowl and fold all ingredients together and serve cold or at room temperature.
You may use some of the eggs, avocado and cilantro for garnish.
Nigel Spence, a Culinary Institute of America alumnus, was born in Kingston, Jamaica. Nigel freelanced at the Television Food Network for 3 years where he worked with culinary luminaries such as Mario Batali, Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse. Chef Spence has appeared twice on Throwdown with Bobby Flay where he emerged the victor in cook offs against the Food Network star and was featured on CBS when he appeared on Tony’s Table as well as ABC’s Neighborhood Eats, NBC’s The Today Show , Sirius’ Everyday Living with Martha Stewart and TVFN’s Chopped. The acclaimed and New York Times-reviewed Ripe Kitchen and Bar is Mr Spence’s first entrepreneurial endeavour.