The Book: The Sugar Mill Caribbean Cookbook: Casual and Elegant Recipes Inspired by the Islands (1996, Harvard Common Press)
July being National Ice Cream Month, I was happy to find a recipe for Soursop Ice Cream on page 227 of this fun cookbook; also happy that the recipe suggested Tamarind Ice Cream as an alternative to soursop. The latter fruit—described as lumpy green, with creamy flesh, black seeds and a sweet, slightly acidic flavor—isn’t exactly easy to find. (Too bad I didn’t have some of the frozen pulp that Kate stumbled upon recently. But that was put into service for cocktails.)
Fortunately, I’d just picked up some tamarind paste at a nearby Asian grocery, where the owner assured me, “very good tamarind.” Unfortunately, she didn’t tell me that this block of paste came with seeds. Tamarind paste has a texture somewhat like dates or figs, but with many, many fairly large black seeds. Separating them from the flesh required addition of some water and patient squeezing and sieving. Next time, I’ll look for the jarred paste, sans seeds, that I’ve picked up before at Indian markets.
The effort was worth it, though, for this marvelous ice cream, which has a creamy, kind of citrusy tartness that’s utterly refreshing. It would be perfect paired with a scoop of vanilla for a Caribbean Creamsicle.
The process was also worthwhile for a more thorough review of this cookbook, which I’d scavenged from a neighbor’s discard pile but had never cracked open. Authors Jinx and Jefferson Morgan are familiar names from their days writing a column for Bon Appetit. Here, the owners of Tortola’s Sugar Mill hotel provide lots of info on cuisines from the different Caribbean islands, tips on native ingredients and substitutions, and inspiring recipe ideas for our current tropical weather here in the East. Looking forward to trying recipes that incorporate great summer tastes but are usually off my radar, like Banana Chutney, Roasted Corn Soup, Fish Baked in Banana Leaves, or Tamarind and Orange Braised Brisket (since there’s lots of tamarind left over.)
The Morgans have also inspired me to try things like storing fresh ginger in sherry, and making coconut cream from dried coconut. That technique, used for the Baked Fish in Banana Leaves, is also included, with a few other recipes, on the Sugar Mill restaurant web site. To complete the armchair island getaway, check out Jinx Morgan’s tropical watercolors.