Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Dominica, aka "Nature Isle of the Caribbean", was named by Christopher Columbus after he spotted the island on a Sunday (dominica in Latin, domingo in Spanish...you get the idea). This lush island contains volcanoes, which are still forming the land, the second largest boiling lake and rain forests. Like most other Caribbean nations, Dominica's history includes a long spell of European rule that they became independent of in 1978.

In 1981, a particularly interesting event occurred in Dominica wherein an American named Perdue and a Canadian called Droege, attempted a coup. Now, it failed miserably and was stopped by the FBI before the ship even left American soil, but the plan involved overthrowing the government, misleading many mercenaries into going to Dominica, and, oh yeah, it was initiated by members of the KKK. It was called Operation Red Dog formally, but the media called it the "Bayou of Pigs" after the most notorious fail at the time, the "Bay of Pigs".

Now, the cuisine of Dominica is very similar to many other Caribbean nations we'll be covering. They do have a national dish known as mountain chicken, which is actually made of a giant toad indigenous to the island. Sadly we weren't able to legally purchase any large toads in the Chicago area. We did, however, have access to a goat butcher which provided us with the centerpiece of our meal.

Pigeon Pea Pumpkin Soup

This soup is easy to make and gave us probably one of our last tastes of fall (*sniff).

2 small onions, chopped
1 clove garlic
8 oz. can of tomato puree
1 medium size green pepper, chopped
1 lb. of pumpkin, cubed
2 pints water
1 1/2 pints of chicken stock
1 lb. can of green pigeon pea (with their liquid)

1. Throw a bit of butter in a large, heavy soup pan.
2. Add onions and garlic over moderate heat for 5 minutes to make them transparent, but not browned.
3. Add the tomato and green pepper and simmer for 5 minutes
4. Drop in the pumpkin, pigeon peas, chicken stock, and water.
5. Bring to a boil at a high heat, then reduce heat and cover for 20 minutes, or until pumpkin gets soft.
6. Puree the soup and season to taste.
7. Serve!

Shrimp Salad
We could not make an island country complete if we did not do some sort of seafood dish. This dish is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also has a wonderful blend of tangy, fresh and a little bit of spice in flavor.

1 lb medium shrimp shelled (reserve the shells for stock)
3 cloves garlic crushed and chopped
2 tbsps butter
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 lb fresh spinach (washed and dried)
8 radishes thinly sliced
1/2 red onion thinly sliced
1 mango cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 green bell pepper cut into strips
1/2 cup cilantro chopped
2 avocados
1 habanero seeded and thinly sliced (you may even want to run cold water over this for a bit to cut down the spice level)
1 tsp cumin
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tbsp soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Salt the shrimp and set aside for five minutes. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for two minutes being careful not to burn it. Toss in the shrimp and cook for 2-3 more minutes until the shrimp are firm and pink. Remove and dust shrimp with the paprika.
2. Make a dressing by whisking the olive oil, cumin, vingegar and soy sauce together. Salt and pepper it to taste. In a bowl combine the shrimp with everything but the avocado and spinach. Pour the dressing over the shrimp and vegetables and set aside to marinate for 30 minutes or until you are ready to serve.
3. When you are finally ready to serve. Slice the avocado thinly and gently toss with the marinated shrimp and vegetables.
4. On a large platter arrange the spinach in a ring and scoop the shrimp and vegetables in the center. Serve.

Goat Curry

Dominica is really into their lamb, goat and chicken dishes. Since we have not had a meal with goat yet during this project, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to make a dish with one of our favorite unsung meats.

3lbs cubed goat shoulder (easiest to have a butcher do this with a mechanical bone saw)
1/4 cup corn oil
2 medium yellow onions thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic
1 can coconut milk
1/2 pint water
2 tbsp curry powder or make your own for less heat: 1.5 tsp turmeric, 1.5 tsp cumin, 1 tsp peppercorn, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp cayenne, 1 tsp garlic powder
1.5 tsp allspice ground
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1. In a deep pot, gently fry the onions in the oil until they are translucent
2. Add the goat and saute for five minutes.
3. Add the spices and saute for yet another five minutes.
4. Add the water and coconut milk and cook over low heat covered for 3 hours.
5. Squeeze lime juice in at end. Serve curry in small individual bowls garnished with the cilantro.

Yellow Rice and Pigeon Pea Risotto

I think the best part of this dish was the utilization of our shrimp shells from the salad to make the stock. It added a nice note to the risotto and tied the meal together perfectly.

1.5 cups short grain rice
1 can pigeon peas drained
5 cups shrimp stock
2 tsp turmeric
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp butter

1. Make a stock by boiling the leftover shrimp shells in a large pot of water with a few carrots and an onion. Boil 30 minutes. Strain and reserve.
2. Melt half the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the rice and cook stirring frequently until the grains become translucent.
3. Add the turmeric and stir for another minute. Begin to add the stock 1/2 cup at a time maintaining a very low heat. Allow each half cup of stock to be absorbed by the rice before adding more. Stir frequently as you do this. This takes about 30-40 minutes so grab a beer and get comfortable by the rice. This can get very boring if you are by yourself so try and keep company around you as you tediously stir.
4. 2/3 of the way through this process add the pigeon peas.
5. When the rice is creamy and cooked to your preference (I like to have a bit of a bite to the center) add the rest of the butter and serve.

Ginger Beer

I must admit that when Tom mentioned he wanted to make ginger beer for this meal, I cringed a bit. The only exposure I've had to it in the past has been in commercially packaged 2 liters, which I have never enjoyed. Just remember this is a taste you cannot buy in the store, put the bias away and add rum if you like.

1 lb ginger chopped into 1/2 inch thick discs
1 stick cinnamon
2 cloves
1.5 cups sugar
1 gallon water
Juice of 4 limes

1. Boil everything except the lime for 30 minutes covered.
2. Pour into a large jug
3. Squeeze in the lime juice and refrigerate overnight or until ready (it gets stronger the longer you leave it)
4. Strain the brew and server chilled over ice.
5. We decided at the last second to make cocktails out of these and our good friend Carl ran to grab rum from the grocery. Pour in a couple shots of dark rum into each glass to make everyone a dark and stormy.

This being our first randomly picked country was in a way a cruel irony. Had we gone in alphabetical order, the Bahamas would have been next and we would have eaten Caribbean cuisine anyhow.

Either way, we enjoyed having a taste of the tropics, as we lose our sunlight around 4:30 these days. This meal also provided us with our very first ceremonial end of meal drawing of a random country. Tom is very excited that it will be Guatemala: the first country we'll have done that he's actually been to! We've already bought the turkey! Until then...uh...cheers!


  1. Yet another reminder that I need to get a giant food processor if I ever want to follow in your footsteps. You guys are balling - a pound of ginger!?!?!?

  2. Actually the food processor went unused for this meal. We used a hand held blender on the soup and mixed it in the pot. Everything else was cut by hand. So you see, Hudson, the magic has been inside of you all this time.