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Fresh recipes for Spring

Now that spring officially arrives this month, it is a wonderful time to scan the produce aisles of your local market to find a bounty of colourful spring ingredients like fresh mint, chives, beans, peas, asparagus, carrots and beets.

You can use these delicious ingredients to accompany your choice of protein, or they can happily take the spotlight on your table as the main course.

Celebrate these bright, refreshing and enticing spring flavours with the following two recipes. 

Grilled Fava Beans with Minted Ricotta

  • 1 pound ricotta cheese
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 12 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 ounces of fresh chives
  • 1 pound whole fresh fava beans, washed
  • Fresh-ground pepper to taste
  • Sea salt to taste

Method

Light the BBQ grill on high and heat for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, add the ricotta, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, granulated garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Using a whisk, mix everything until smooth.

Chop the mint, and then gently fold into the ricotta mixture.

Chop the chives and set aside.

Toss the whole fava beans with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with some salt. 

Char the beans on the grill for 4 to 6 minutes on each side. Cool. Open shell and sprinkle with salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

On a serving platter, place the whipped ricotta mixture in the center of the plate and arrange the whole fava beans around it. Sprinkle with more olive oil and chives. Serves 3-5 people.

Spring Vegetable Soup

  • 8 ounces of fresh (or canned) artichokes, peeled, stemmed, choke removed and submerged in lemon water.
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 6 ounces olive oil
  • 2 medium red onions, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 6 celery sticks, cleaned and chopped
  • 8 ounces fresh (or canned) red-eyed beans
  • 4 fresh plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 cups  fresh (or frozen) shelled peas 
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, washed and chopped
  • 1 gallon  vegetable broth or water
  • 2 ounces fresh parsley, washed and chopped
  • 2 ounces fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 2 ounces fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 ounces scallions, cleaned, chopped
  • fine sea salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste

Method

Strain the artichokes then chop them and set aside.

In a medium pot, add garlic, olive oil, onion, carrots, celery, artichokes and the beans. Add salt and pepper to taste and sauté on medium heat for 10 minutes. 

Add the chopped tomatoes and sauté for 5 additional minutes.

Add the vegetable broth or water.

Bring soup to boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer.

After 1 hour, add the chopped Swiss chard, peas and all the chopped herbs. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Shut off heat and let soup stand for 10 more minutes.

Using a ladle, remove one third of the soup’s volume and add to a blender in stages.

Slowly blend soup until smooth and pour back into the original pot. This naturally thickens the soup while maintaining texture.

Taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking.

Serve with salty crackers or toasted crispy sourdough croutons. Serves 5-8 people. 

 

Massimo De Francesca is the executive chef at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa.

 

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This article appears in print in the March 2020 edition of Camana Bay Times.

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A definition-defying lunch

The Oxford Dictionary defines brunch as "a late morning meal eaten instead of breakfast and lunch."

Those supplying the definitions to The Oxford Dictionary have clearly never indulged in Sunday brunch at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. Sure, the brunch at the resort's Seven restaurant offers a meal, just as the dictionary definition suggests, but this is no ordinary meal. In fact, this brunch is really an extravagant event.

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Raising the bar: Cocktails of love for Valentine's Day

Written by: Jim Wrigley

"The great grey beast February had eaten Harvey Swick alive."

The opening sentence of Clive Barker's entrancing children’s book, "The Thief of Always," echoed back to me every January as it passed into February when I lived in the United Kingdom. The new month comes with cold, gloomy, short, rainy days. Christmas sparkles are already a distant memory, and sweet summer is still far hence. Short and cold though it is, February is also, however, the month of love. 

Wherever you are in the world, whether you’re single, in a relationship, “it’s complicated” or maybe a resolute non-believer in the undoubtedly monetised Valentine's Day, you’ll know that it is also one of the busiest nights of the year in the restaurant and bar world. Myriad drinks with puns aplenty cover every chalkboard menu, last-minute bookings are like gold dust, and woe betide anyone who wants a table for more than two, or who asks for the à la carte menu. 

Back in England, a typical colder clime Cupidian Cocktail would often consist of rich, boozy, cosy, decadent chocolate concoctions, usually creamy in some way and festooned with heart-shaped red things. They are often shareable — like "Lady and the Tramp" with liquid spaghetti. 

This year I find myself in the beautiful, tropical surroundings of Grand Cayman, where Valentine’s Day can be spent outside, sandy-toed strolling or swimming, and then after sunset, Champagne flute clinking on a veranda with nary a jacket in sight. With such a backdrop, it’s high time to look at some different options for lover’s libations. 

The amorous inspiration for the drinks below came from recently having read Stephen Fry’s "Mythos," wherein he retells the stories of the Greek myths and their gods and goddesses, monsters, loves and lovers. 

Adonis 

The Greek goddess of love and beauty was Aphrodite. One of her (many) lovers was the famed Adonis, and this namesake drink is a perfect mix of decadent and delectable. It is simple to make and elegantly complex in structure.

Ingredients:

2 ounces Fino or Manzanilla (dry) Sherry 
1 ounce sweet vermouth (Martini Riserva Speciale Rubino or Cocchi di Torino for preference)
Dash orange bitters

Method:

Add all ingredients to a chilled mixing glass filled with ice. Stir briskly for 15-20 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 
Garnish with a thin twist of orange peel.

From the Sea

This classic 1880s sipper, named for Aphrodite herself, is suited to all lovers, whether for Valentine’s Day or any other romantic occasion.

Ingredients:

1 ounce Ambrosia 
0.75 ounce local guava juice (Guava is a member of the myrtle family, which is one of Aphrodite’s symbols.)
0.5 ounce Lillet Blanc
0.5 ounce fresh lemon juice
5 ml (teaspoon) honey, preferably locally made
High quality Rosé bubbles

Method: 

Add all ingredients except bubbles to an iced-filled cocktail shaker. Shake hard for 10 seconds, then fine strain into a chilled champagne flute. Top with bubbles. Garnish with a couple of small flowers.

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This article appears in print in the February 2020 edition of Camana Bay Times.

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Forbes Five-Star for Cayman

If it were easy for hotels to earn Forbes Travel Guide's Five-Star awards, there would be more than seven in the Caribbean and 210 in the entire world with that accolade.

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Farming meets luxury on the Brac

It's called agriturismo in Italy, agritainment in North America and agritourism in other places. In Cayman Brac, it's simply called Le Soleil d'Or. 

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