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September 14, 2014

Slow cooker Caribbean pepper pot {gluten-free}

Caribbean pepper pot, filled with chicken, shrimp, squash and kale.

A few weeks ago, I awoke in the middle of the night, craving Caribbean pepper pot. Can you imagine what I was dreaming about? Adventures on the high seas? Salsa dancing on the beach? Bright colored head scarves and flowing tunics? Johnny Depp? I wish I could remember. Not to worry, though: I remembered the important part: spicy stew, filled with the goodness of the islands, and I absolutely had to make it. In my dream there was shrimp and rice and callaloo, a typical dark leafy green grown throughout the Caribbean. It's not impossible to find callaloo at specialty supermarkets, but I swapped kale, which was perfect. Most pepper pot recipes call for fiery hot habañero peppers in terrifying quantities. I substituted several milder jalapeños, and there was still plenty of kick. Please do not omit the pepper. If you don't like spicy food, make another dish. After all, this one is called pepper pot for a reason. I made enough for Ted, Christine, Rebecca, Shweta and Robby, who had his portion for breakfast, and when they polished it off, I regretted I hadn't made more. May the recipe bring you amazing food-filled dreams.

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June 4, 2013

Recipe for Jamaican run down (fish stew with tomato, peppers and coconut milk) {gluten-free}

Jamaican run down, a robust fish stew. #glutenfree

Jamaican cooks make magic with fish. Dishes like run down aren't complicated, but they are definitely more than the sum of their parts. (The name originates from the way the fish is cooked until it falls apart, or "runs down.") When big chunks of fresh-caught fish, tomato, peppers, onion, lime juice, and a bit of hot chile pepper, distinctively Caribbean ingredients that you probably have in your pantry, come together in a coconut milk base, you end up with a fish stew that's hearty but not heavy. Here in New England the fishmongers sell cod loin, a thick cut of white fish; if you don't like cod, or can't find the loin cut, use salmon, halibut, red snapper or mackerel, whichever looks best at the market. Serve run down as a main course, with rice (for a gluten-free dish) or some crusty bread to mop the bottom of the bowl. Remember: food that comes from hot climates really does cool you down in the summer.

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April 23, 2013

Caribbean orange-spiced carrots recipe {vegan}

Caribbean orange-spiced carrots, great with grilled chicken.

Although this recipe originated in Jamaica, it's popular throughout the Caribbean, and you can see why, can't you? These orange-spiced carrots look happy. That's because they are happy, after bathing in sugar, ginger, and orange or mango juice. The recipe couldn't be easier: Shred some carrots, using a food processor fitted with a shredding disk; cook the liquid and aromatics; dunk the carrots in the liquid; let everything get happy together for a quick few minutes. This dish tastes just as good cold as hot, so you can make it a day in advance. Serve as a side dish to not-too-spicy jerk chicken.

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April 21, 2013

Recipe for grilled not-too-spicy jerk chicken {gluten-free}

Grilled Jamaican jerk chicken, a slightly milder version.

Good news: you don't have to be a jerk to love this Jamaican jerk chicken. In fact, the name jerk doesn't have anything to do with obnoxiousness, or that Steve Martin character. The term might have originated with the Spanish word charqui, used to describe dried meat, that later evolved to jerky and then jerk. Or, it might have come from the practice of jerking (poking) holes in the meat to fill with spices prior to cooking. The hallmark of jerk chicken, most popular in Jamaica but also found in other parts of the Caribbean, is a spicy dry rub that includes fiery Scotch Bonnet peppers and aromatic allspice. From there, the recipe varies, but always includes other spices, such as thyme or nutmeg. Scotch Bonnets lend authenticity, but the jalapeños in this recipe tone down the fire a bit while still evoking the heat of the islands. The chicken tastes best when marinated overnight, so plan ahead when you can. Store cooked jerk chicken in the refrigerator for several days, or make ahead and freeze. Serve hot, over rice, or cold, sliced and stuffed into pita sandwiches.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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