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Christmas Menu: Caribbean Theme

Every year we do a different themed menu for Christmas Eve and Christmas Dinner. Last year we did New Orleans. This year we are doing the Caribbean. Would you all mind taking a look at our menu and giving us your suggestions? We would also like to make a rum cake for dessert. Most of the ones out there start with a box cake mix. Anyone have a tried and true scratch recipe?

Here are the menus-

Christmas Eve Appetizers:

Ginger Beer Cocktails
Red Stripe Beer
Fried Plantains w/ Garlic Sauce and a Cilantro Sauce
Salt Cod Fritters
Mini Jamaican Beef Patties

Christmas Dinner:

Jerk Leg of Lamb (Grilled)
Fish in Escovitch
Coconut Lime Rice
Pigeon Peas
Sweet Plantain

Rum Cake


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  1. i make a habanero/mango salsa for grilled swordfish. you can also use it on grilled shrimp. if the habs are too much, you can use jalapenos but fresh habs have a fruity flavor. i have made this salsa many times and it's always a hit.

    1. Maybe a cold Christmas Eve appetizer as well? Cooked then chilled spiny lobster tails, sliced into medallions and fanned out on a plate, with a light mustard-mayo-key lime dipping sauce. Very Caribbean, never a leftover.

      1. Nice menu!
        My co-workers and I did a similar thing last year, for the year anniversary of our amazing business trip to the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua.
        More suggestions.....
        ~Deep fry the appetizer plantains like french fries and dip in davmar77's habeñero mango salsa instead of ketchup...or make mango ketchup.
        ~Coconut bread dinner rolls. I will never forget Pearl Lagoon, Nica, because of these!
        ~I don't see much for greens or salads in your menus. Curtido de Repollo is awesome, I'd be happy to send or post my recipe. Beats American cole slaw all to heck.
        ~cold Seviché with lobster, shrimp and/or scallops.
        ~fresh fruit juices
        ~almost forgot.........a bag of limes, ice (!!) and Flor de Caña rum! 7-year is the best. I don't even drink Myers anymore after trying Flo.

        You putcha booka to de bench an eat, mon!


        3 Replies
        1. re: danbob

          Some nice Garifuna touches...

          1. re: Veggo

            I'd have suggested boiled yucca root, but I hate it.
            And the seared endangered sea turtle cubes in hot pepper and corn meal isn't legal here, though it was pretty good.

          2. re: danbob


            Thanks for the suggestions. The Curtido de Repollo sounds really good! Please post the recipe.

            Do you have a recipe for the coconut dinner rolls as well?


          3. As a person who grows the hottest chiles on the planet, the ghost pepper also know as Bhut Jolokia, I suggest that you find out if any of your guests cannot tolerate extremely incendiary chiles before you add them to any dish you prepare. The ghost pepper is of the same species as the habanero and the Scotch bonnet. I've also grown the habanero. These chiles are not to be trifled with.

            One thing that can spoil a great feast is someone having an extreme adverse reaction to a big load of capsaicin.

            Buon Natale e buon anno nuovo, e mangia bene!

            2 Replies
            1. re: ChiliDude


              I have a bottle of homemade ghost pepper sauce in the fridge right now. I would like to make more when my current batch runs out. Do you know where I can find fresh ghost peppers? I am in Nothern Virginia.


              1. re: danagrace

                I apologize for the delay in replying to your request. I have 2 suggestions. One is to google for the info using the following keywords...'fresh ghost peppers for sale.' I did that and found a number of websites vending the chile.

                Another source is Pendery's of Fort Worth, TX. See page 53 of the hard copy catalog or go to their website at penderys.com

                I have purchased ground chile powder from Pendery's several times. The ghost peppers that they sell have been dried, but they can be rehydrated.

                Buona fortuna!

            2. Your menu sonds really good. I am serving a Jamaican rum cake this year. This is the recipe I used:


              I soaked the ground fruits for a month in rum and port and then baked the cakes and steamed the pudding on Thanksgiving weekend. They are now aging until Christmas. The finished texture was really good and the aroma while the cakes were baking was amazing. I bet it would taste good even if you did not soak the fruits for that long.

              1. What kind of rum cake do you mean - the kind that's like a bundt cake with a glaze? I've only ever seen packaged based recipes for that (even the "official" bacardi recipe starts with a cake mix). But there is always a different kind of rum cake. Try Trinidadian Black Cake - a very traditional xmas dessert. It's a lot of fruit soaked in rum (and other stuff). Check out this recipe -- http://www.trinigourmet.com/index.php... .

                Also if you'd like a little dessert-y drink try Trinidad's Ponche de Crema or Puerto Rican Coquito. Both are delicious. Both are sort of like Caribbean Eggnog. Ponche de Crema -- http://www.trinigourmet.com/index.php... . And Coquito -- http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/coquito... . As with any drink recipes, you can vary the spicing and the alcohol strength to suit you and your guests.

                Sounds like a great idea to do for Christmas. I'm jealous and I might suggest to my family doing something like that in the future.

                1 Reply
                1. re: LNG212

                  I would second the black cake suggestion. I'm planning on making on it this Christmas - I've been fascinated to try it after reading Laurie Colwin rhapsodizing about it in her book "Home Cooking". The whole burnt sugar thing may be a bit daunting, but you can buy it if you live in an urban area with an ethnic population. I bought a product called "West Indian Pride" at Kalyustan's in New York. Whichever cake you make, you should immediately start soaking the fruit. The longer, the better.

                2. 2 more ideas for Xmas Eve:

                  Guinness punch http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/602561

                  Jerk chicken wings - make it easy and just get a premade jerk - I like the Walkerswood brand from Jamaica

                  Sounds like a fun Xmas!

                  1. what a wonderful menu. terrific compatability of dishes.
                    Unfortunately your apps, and my app. suggestions, are all hot.
                    some thoughts from my fav recipes:
                    --oven baked clam and jalapeno fritters with minted vinaigrette
                    -- jamaican chicken cracklings

                    for dessert, you might consider also one of their sweet tuber pies (yam is most common)
                    and/or something refreshing, fruit based (maybe frozen or creamy).

                    1. Dana;

                      Here's my Curtido de Repollo recipe, from a hospedaje in Bluefields, Nicaragua. Thanks for the recipe, Rosa!

                      1 head finely shredded cabbage
                      1 fresh habeñero pepper, remove stem
                      3 fresh serrano peppers, remove stems
                      2 cups cider vinegar
                      1 cup water
                      salt to taste (I use 2 teaspoons)
                      1 tsp fresh crushed cumin
                      at serving time:
                      minced fresh serranos, jalapeños and / or habeñero peppers
                      4 diced Roma tomatoes
                      1 medium sweet maya onion minced

                      Put chili peppers, cumin, water, vinegar, and salt into a blender and pureé into a glowing green liquid mush. Put shredded cabbage into a big stainless steel or plastic bowl, and pour blender mix over it and stir. Cover and refrigerate at *least* overnight, 24 hours is better as you can stir the mix every few hours when you are awake.

                      Mix in tomato and onion right before serving. Serve with slotted spoon so there's not so much liquid. Top with minced chilis if you want more heat.

                      Note that I tend to use less salt and more chilis than many people. Use only jalapeños and reduce the amount if your guests are capsaicin-averse. And wear latex gloves for mincing the peppers! I was told that the long pickling time blends the flavors and is critical. Never saw a single piece of lettuce down there, they said it doesn't grow well, too hot and humid. All the salads were cabbage.