The Makings of A West Indian Feast: The Beginning and The End

by Emily on March 2, 2011 · 0 comments

in Booze Without Borders,Food,Recipes

Happy March, folks! I keep meaning to bring us back to our Russian travels, but we need to veer off here and talk recipes. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Prepping peppers for the Gujarati Carrot Salad, iPad nearby."]DSC01934[/caption] Two of my favorite dishes on the menu for last month's Midnight Brunch were the first seated course and the dessert. They were all favorite courses, but if I had to choose the two easiest dishes to put together these would be the ones. Part of the fun of Midnight Brunch is showing people that cooking delicious ethnic food can be easy, even when entertaining a large crowd.

Gujarati Carrot and Peanut Salad

Background: Originally, I had planned a simple citrus-based fruit salad between the cocktail hour and the main meal to break up the boozy-ness of the drinks we were serving and the planned onslaught of flavor in the jerk fried chicken and waffle course. I quickly realized during the test run that if I didn't serve something a wee more substantial, flavor-wise, there wouldn't be an emotional break between cocktails and dinner. We needed something to wake up the palate that said, "Hey. We gon' eat now." This was that dish. Light and simple, but assertive on the tongue. Just the way we like it. Gujarati refers to a region in India. You can't have West Indian without the Indian, so this was a layup to the rest of our menu: Sweet with the carrots and sugar, warm weather-inspired with the inclusion of cilantro and spicy with the peppers. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Gujarati Carrot and Peanut Salad"]Midnight Brunch[/caption] Gujarati Carrot and Peanut Salad Recipe courtesy of Serves 4 Ingredients 2 cups grated carrots 1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts 3 tablespoons lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon white sugar 1 green chile pepper, seeded and diced 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro Directions In a medium serving bowl, toss together the carrots and peanuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, salt, sugar, chile pepper and cilantro. Pour over the carrots and stir gently to coat. Serve immediately.  

Pineapple Ice Box Cake

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Pineapple Ice Box Cake"]Midnight Brunch[/caption]


Background: The final bite of any meal is as important, if not more so, than the first. Your guests will remember your dessert, so be sure to put time into it if you plan to serve it at all. This cake can be (actually, has to be) made ahead - a big plus when serving a crowd. Because you make this ahead of time, this dessert also allows you to mingle with your guests at the end of the night instead of spending 30 minutes away from them putting all the pieces together. I pulled this recipe from a special cookbook named Naparima Girls' High School Cookbook. My former roommate, a Trinidadian who has since returned home, told me two years ago that high school graduates usually receive a copy of this book. That beats "Oh, The Places You'll Go," if you ask me. I ordered the book online and have cooked several recipes from it. Pineapple Ice Box Cake Serves 12 Ingredients 3/4 c butter 1.5 c powdered sugar 4 eggs 1 tsp vanilla 2 c. drained crushed pineapple, drained 1 tbsp lemon juice 1 c blanched, sliced almonds 1 sponge cake (you can buy or make these, or can substitute pound cake if in a real pinch) 1 tsp grated lime peel Directions
  1. Using a hand mixer, cream together butter and powdered sugar until combined.
  2. Mix the pineapple, eggs, lemon juice, half of the almonds and vanilla into the butter mixture and blend until combined.
  3. Slice cake into pieces about two inches long and one inch wide. Thickness is up to you.
  4. In a pie plate or cake pan, layer pieces of the sponge cake to fill the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle the lime zest on the layer of cake.
  5. Spread the butter pineapple mixture on top of the cake, using about 1/3 of the total amount. Repeat two times, ending with cake on top.
  6. Wrap the whole thing in foil or plastic wrap and freeze for 6-12 hours.
  7. One hour before serving, take the cake out of the freezer. Invert onto a cake plate or serving plate.
  8. Decorate the cake with fresh whipped cream, and then top with remaining sliced almonds. Eat it!
Use these recipes to mix it up a little bit. Have a couple friends over for movie night or beers. Order Thai or Indian takeout, and serve this as an unexpected first course while waiting for the delivery guy to show up. Or invite people back to your place after Sunday brunch and serve up champagne or rum punch to keep the buzz going. Just as people start winding down, bust out the pineapple cake and watch them melt. The only downside is they may never leave. I hope you enjoy these recipes! I'll share an appetizer recipe and custom cocktail concoctions in coming posts. I hope to host one Midnight Brunch a month, but March is throwing me for a bit of a loop with an unexpected trip to San Diego right after next week's trip to Austin for SXSW. I can't wait to share more about both adventures. Want to join me for a Midnight Brunch? The next one is tentatively slated for the weekend of April 16. Request to be added to the list by emailing me at Emily {at} Cheers!


I love sharing details about upcoming tasty trips and adventures, so you won't want to miss a bite. As always, please feel free to chat with me on Twitter, join our group on Facebook and keep up with new posts here by subscribing.


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