Cookbook of the Week: 'Caribbean Potluck'

·Food Editor
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Yahoo Food’s Cookbook of the Week: Caribbean Potluck: Modern Recipes From Our Family Kitchen (Kyle Books) by Suzanne and Michelle Rousseau, the Kingston, Jamaica-based sisters from cooking show Two Sisters and a Meal. The two women, who write that their friends refer to as “balls of fire,” are proud of their Jamaican heritage, and celebrate its cuisine and way of life in this book. They write, “We have always believed in promoting the best of Caribbean living, in spite of the many challenges faced by what many consider a ‘Third World lifestyle.’”

Noteworthy: You’ll learn some Caribbean lingo in this book! “Fetin’”, for example, means gathering around together, usually for a meal. As the Rousseaus write: “Our time living in Trinidad in the 1970s was defined by what the Trinis call ‘fetin’ and limin’ (that’s Trini speak for partying and socializing).” Another one is “mix-up and blenda.” “Our family is a perfect example of what we call the ‘mix-up and blenda’ (a Jamaican patois expression meaning ‘a diverse mixture and blend of things’) that is Caribbean history; complete with our own unique blend of African, French, German, Indian, Scottish, Haitian, Cuban, and British heritage.”

The Team: Writers Suzanne and Michelle Rousseau are the former chefs and owners of Café Bella, Ciao Bella Caterers, and Bellefield Great House in Kingston. They’re currently airing the second season of their cooking show, Two Sisters and a Meal, and they are the official culinary hostesses for the Jamaica Tourist Board. That means they’ve thrown parties for both the Prime Minister of Jamaica and the Prince of Wales. Food photographer Ellen Silverman, who also shot The Cuban Table, another Yahoo Food Cookbook of the Week, took the joyful, drool-worthy photos.

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The Cuisine: The book contains over 100 “modern Caribbean” recipes. What does that mean? Sure, there are your classic Jamaican stewed dishes such as curried goat, but there are also Mediterranean-influenced dishes that the Rousseau sisters developed during their time operating restaurants and a catering business. While many would not consider, for example, a penne pasta dish “Caribbean,” these ladies do because they serve it with ackee and coconut cream sauce, which are favorite local ingredients. Both Caribbean standbys and Caribbean twists on their Italian favorites appear throughout the book.

Who Should Buy It: Those who want to get to fetin’! And those who want to learn how to cook using gungo peas, guava jelly, salt cod, and callaloo.

Must-Make Recipes: Grilled Shrimp Salad; Flatbread with Arugula, Prosciutto, Mango, and Manchego; Roast Salmon with Citrus-Ginger Aioli; Creole-Spiced Slaw.

A Note on Geography: Even classic Caribbean food is made up of a multitude of regional flavors: there are the islands, of course, but also parts of Belize, Suriname, Guyana, and French Guiana. That said, these cultures are “far more alike than we are different,” write the Rousseau ladies. “One effective way to celebrate Caribbean identity is through our cuisine, which is influenced not only by our cultural history and our geography, but also by the subtle nuances, complexities, and paradoxes that make up daily Caribbean life.”

Check out more cookbooks we like:

Another family cookbook: Soul Food Love, by a mother-daughter pair

A snapshot of Cuban food today

In Her Kitchen, recipes from grandmothers around the world