Food unites us, no matter where you live. If you love to travel, you know the joy of discovering a local delicacy that you never even knew existed — like egg waffles in Hong Kong! Jenni Killam knows that joy. Caribbean-born and extensively traveled, Killam recently opened Spices Cooking Studio in the island’s tony Cap Estate region in the ground floor of her own gorgeous home. The studio features modern cooking stations with an unbelievable view (see that photo above? That’s from the back patio) and classes contain everything you need to take your St. Lucia experience home with you.
While some cooking classes enforce the militarism of the French brigade system, Killam’s classes are laid-back affairs where you go at your own pace and lime, which is to say you enjoy yourself. These are not so much classes as they are a chance to kick back and cook some good island food with friends. She can accomodate 4-10 people, but 6-8 make for the best class size.
On the day I visited, we made two different dishes and with everything already pre-measured, it was merely a matter of assembly. Below, find a recipe for a wonderfully light Lucian fish soup as well as a flan made with island favorite “cocoa tea” and rum whipped cream. I added my own little flair during the class and grated some lime peel onto the dish to balance out the rum, but it’s certainly not a requirement.
So fire up your stoves and get to work. Turn on some calypso, drink some rum punch, and pretend you’re in Jenni’s private studio with the Caribbean breeze floating through the air.
Lucian Fish Broth
Making the Fish Stock
2 lbs fish heads cleaned to remove gills, rinsed well with lime juice and water and drained
2 large onions chopped
4 cloves garlic
3 stalks celery
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
6 stems green onion
5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 large bay leaves
1 cup white wine
1 medium sized bell pepper, coarsely chopped
4 large seasoning peppers, coarsely chopped
3 sprigs parsley
5 small stems or 1 large leek
Water to cover
Bring to boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes.
Cook uncovered, skimming the scum from the surface occasionally. Add water as necessary to cover.
Strain into a clean container using a large strainer lined with cheesecloth. Discard solids.
Let stock cool, pour into tightly covered containers and refrigerate.
Use within 1-2 days, or store in freezer for up to 6 months.
Seasoning the Fish
1 lb boneless dolphin or kingfish, cut into roughly bite sized pieces
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 piece ginger, about 1 inch long and grated
2 seasoning peppers, coarsely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper
Put onion, garlic, seasoning pepper and grated ginger into mini food processer and pulse until finely chopped.
Add lime juice, salt and pepper and rub thoroughly into fish.
Cover and set aside in fridge for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, begin preparing the fish broth.
Putting it all Together
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup onion, coarsely diced
1/2 cup seasoning peppers, deseeded and cut into strips
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 bouquet garni (4 sprigs each of parsley and thyme, 2 bay leaves, 3 stems celery, 2 leaves chadon beni) rolled together and tied securely with kitchen string.
4 green bananas, peeled and each cut into 4 pieces
1-1lb piece of white yam, peeled and cut into cubes roughly the same size as the bananas
4 baby carrots, peeled and sliced in half, lengthwise
1/2 cup local spinach, washed and roughly shredded into thick strips
2 tsp turmeric powder
8 cups fish stock
Peel and cut up green bananas and yams. Place in separate bowls with water to cover. Squeeze 1/2 lime into each bowl and let sit until needed.
Sauté diced onion and seasoning peppers in olive oil until onions are translucent.
Add grated garlic and turmeric powder to the pot and continue to sauté for about 1 minute.
Add the bouquet garni, and fish stock, drained green bananas and yam. Bring to a boil and lower heat to medium until vegetables are almost cooked.
Add the fish and cook for 5-7 minutes until fish is cooked through.
Add spinach, stir, check broth for seasoning, and remove from heat and cover.
Serve in deep bowls with a drizzle of olive oil and chopped parsley for garnish.
Cocoa Tea Flan
1/4 cup local cocoa, grated [note: you can use unsweetened cocoa powder for this if you don’t happen to have an authentic Lucian cocoa stick lying around]
1/2 cup water
1 star anise
6 whole cloves
1 bay leaf, medium sized
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/4 vanilla bean
1/8 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup condensed milk
1 tbsp coffee liqueur –Kahlua
1 egg, beaten
Put water, grated cocoa, star anise, cinnamon stick, nutmeg, cloves, bay leaf and vanilla bean into a small pot and bring to boil over medium heat. Cover pot, reduce heat to low and let boil for 5 minutes . Turn off heat and allow the contents of the pot to steep for an additional 5 minutes. Remove pot cover, allow contents to cool and strain contents into a small bowl.
In a medium sized bowl, mix evaporated milk, coconut milk, condensed milk, and coffee liqueur
Add strained cocoa mixture to the milk mixture and stir to combine well. Add beaten eggs and whisk gently.
Pour cocoa mixture into small ramekins and place in baking pan. Put baking pan in a larger pan, fill with water to a depth of about 1 inch.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center of a flan comes out clean.
Remove flans from baking pan and let cool for 1/2 hour. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refridgerate until well chilled. Sprinkle with grated cocoa or roasted coconut. Serve with Rum Cream.
1/2 cup heavy cream, cold
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp dark rum
Whip the cream in the bowl with an electric mixer. When the cream starts to thicken, add sugar, vanilla and rum. Continue to whip until stiff peaks form.