While I know quite a lot about vegan cooking, I know pretty much nothing about Caribbean cooking, so when I was offered a review copy of Taymer Mason’s Caribbean Vegan, and I jumped at the opportunity. I love trying new-to-me cuisines and experimenting with different ingredients, and I knew this book would full of wonderful new recipes for me to try.
As you have probably guessed by the title, Caribbean Vegan: Meat-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free, Authentic Island Cuisine for Every Occasion by Taymer Mason is chock full of veganized traditional Caribbean dishes. African, French, Asian, and Spanish influences are combined with the local flavors of Barbados, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Jamaica in these recipes. This is an expanded and updated second edition of the book, with 75 new recipes.
Taymer begins Caribbean Vegan with the ins and outs of island cooking and a glossary of ingredients. I’ve seen quite a lot of exotic-looking fruits and veggies while grocery shopping, and I’ve always wanted to pick a few up and experiment with them, but I’ve always been afraid of making a giant mess. Fortunately, I now know what do with breadfruit, soursop, and cassava.
Because most of Caribbean cooking uses vegetable flour, rather than wheat flour, Taymer gives instructions for making various flours at home. I got lazy, and I bought cassava flour from Amazon, but I’d love to give homemade flour a try at some point. There are also recipes for making your own spice blends and sauces.
The recipes in Caribbean Vegan start with breakfast and then take you throughout the day with appetizers, soups and stews, mains and side dishes. There are also plenty of teas, biscuits and breads, and desserts, as well. Some recipes might look familiar, like Lentil Stew, Eggy Tofu Open-Faced Sandwiches, and Beachside “Fish” Tacos, while others may be new to you, such as Steamed Plantains with Sauce Chien, Breadfruit Chips, and Conkies. Others are Caribbean versions of old favorites, including Breadfruit Ravioli with Calabaza Squash Stuffing, Jerk Pizza with Sweet Potato Crust, and Bajan Macaroni Pie with Tofu Cheddar.
I decided to ease myself into island cooking with La Quiche, which is a veganized and Caribbeanized quiche. This was easy to make, and it was perfect for weekend brunch. I then made Caribbean Kale Salad, which was topped with perfectly caramelized pineapple pieces and roasted tomatoes. Next up was Cassava Pancakes with Bittersweet “Honey Butter.” I’m actually not a very big pancake fan, but I wanted to give cassava flour a try. It had a nice, light flavor, and they kept me full for a few hours, which wheat flour pancakes never do. Finally, I made Classic Barbadian Sweet Potato Pie. Although it does have a hint of sweetness, this isn’t the kind of pie you would serve for dessert, but rather as a side dish, probably for a special meal. I served it with savory onion gravy, which gives it an amazing depth of flavor.
I’m looking forward to doing more cooking with Caribbean Vegan and trying more new-to-me ingredients. Caribbean Vegan is for anyone who wants to expand their recipe repertoire.
Classic Barbadian Sweet Potato Pie
- 1 pound 6 ounces (620 g) white- or yellow-fleshed sweet potatoes, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons vegan margarine
- ½ cup 120 ml pineapple juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or cassia
- Pink or sea salt
- 2 pineapple slices
- 2 cherries
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
Cook the sweet potatoes in boiling salted water until tender.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease two 8-ounce (240 ml) ramekins.
Drain the sweet potatoes, add the margarine, pineapple juice, and cinnamon, and mash until smooth. Season with salt to taste.
Transfer to the prepared ramekins. Top each pie with a pineapple slice and a cherry and sprinkle with sugar. Broil for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Serve warm.
Recipe from Caribbean Vegan: Meat-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free, Authentic Island Cuisine for Every Occasion, Expanded Second Edition © Taymer Mason, 2016. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. theexperimentpublishing.com
- 1 tablespoon vegan margarine or olive oil
- 1 medium-large onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tomato, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1 teaspoon fresh marjoram minced, or a scant ½ teaspoon dried
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme minced, or ¼ teaspoon dried
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon adobo seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon mild paprika
- 1 cup (240 ml) water
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon Caribbean Caramel or browning
- ¼ teaspoon cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon American-style prepared mustard
- Heat the margarine in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, tomato, and garlic and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, until the onion is slightly tender.
- Add the marjoram, thyme, onion powder, adobo seasoning, and paprika, then stir in the water. Cook for another 5 minutes, then stir in the ketchup, soy sauce, Caribbean Caramel, cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon of water, and the mustard.
- Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, until the sauce starts to get slightly thick. Serve hot.
I have a copy of Caribbean Vegan for one lucky winner. Follow the directions below to enter. U.S. and Canada residents only, please. Contest ends at midnight on December 18th. Good luck!
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