Hitting the Jackpot with Jackfruit

The name Jackfruit has been popping up lately. Do you know what a Jackfruit is? If not you should. Recent trend reports suggest it might become a staple at the breakfast and dinner tables. As someone who grew up eating Jackfruit like Americans eat apple, I can assure you if this trend holds true you’re hitting the jackpot with jackfruit. Big time! 

Jackfruit is an oversized fruit with a yellowish-green bumpy skin, with yellow fleshy pods on the inside. Both the flesh and seeds are edible. The flesh is firm, sweet and flavorful, and tastes like a bunch of tropical fruits rolled into one. The seeds are just as yummy when roasted.

But one thing stood out to me when I read a recent article. So many of the foods I grew up on are now all the rage. Avocado, Coconut, Pomegranate are fruits I devoured as a child. Every yard had some sort of fruit tree in it so there was easy access. As a matter of fact, these fruits were so plentiful that many times they had fallen off the tree and you were doing yourself or someone a favor picking them up off the ground. Seriously, that’s how abundant these superfoods were. And, no doubt, still are.

As I said, I grew up on these. Jackfruit is no different. I was so excited when I came across another article from Whole Foods that I contacted them immediately to see if they had it in store. And they do!

I will be updating this post as soon as I get my paws on some Jackfruit. Please post your comments if you’re trying it for the first time or if your first bite brings back memories of childhood days.

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Coconut Set to Sale Higher in 2017

There’s no shortage of predictions for 2017. From cool tech and funky fashion to moody color palettes, forecasters have weighed in on what we can all look forward to in the new year. On the culinary side, researchers and retailers are anticipating a rise for Coconut.

Given the coconut water craze of the last few years, one would think this hard-shelled fruit would have lost her luster by now. Not so. When it comes to food, apparently, there’s always room to grow, even in a seemingly saturated marketplace. The verdict: coconut set to sale higher in 2017!

Coconut

Consumers have had their eye on healthy, organic, cholesterol-free coconut for some time. But how familiar are most with edible coconut – that is, beyond the bars, water and infused products? Here’s a look at some that have been on store shelves for ever, some newer to the marketplace, and what’s projected to give foodies a run for their money.

Coconut Milk

Coconut Milk is a staple in Caribbean cooking. Made from the ‘meat’ of the coconut, the milk is creamy and rich in texture. In Jamaica for example, coconut has never been reserved just for drinking. Coconut milk is used in dishes like Rice & Peas, and in other savory delights of fish, stews, and more. Coconut milk is also a gem in Asian cuisine and is part and parcel in curry and other dishes.

Coconut Cream

Coconut Cream as the name suggests is a creamier, more concentrated version of coconut milk and is used for similar purposes. Both the milk and cream form of coconut has been around for a very long time.

Coconut Sugar

Although Coconut Sugar has been popular in other cultures, its rise in the United States is relatively recent. Also referred to as Coconut Palm Sugar, it is mild in taste, has slightly fewer calories than refined sugar, and is regarded as an alternative sweetener. Coconut Sugar is a good source of potassium, zinc and other vitamins and minerals, and goes great in tea, coffee and other beverages that require sweetening. It also serves as a sugar substitute in baking.

Coconut Flour

Although it doesn’t fully replace wheat and grain-based flours, coconut flour is a great partial substitute in baking. Made from the ‘dried’ coconut (oil and fat removed), the flour is high in fiber and protein. Best of all, it is naturally gluten-free.

Coconut Butter

Coconut butter – not to be confused with coco butter, is the smooth, creamy and spreadable finish of the flesh of the coconut. It can be used in place of butter, cream cheese and other spreads. It is decadent, adding amazing taste and texture to smoothies, shakes, and sauces.

What’s on tap for next year? Whole foods and exotic foods! Organic, raw, plant-based fruits and veggies like coconut!

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A Good Day to Air Things Out

Whenever you have the opportunity to share major news on air count it a good day. And that’s the day Jade Jamaican Grill enjoyed recently when I stopped by Good Day Philadelphia to dish about my company’s participation at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

This wasn’t my first time on television or at FOX 29 News for that matter. I’d been on with host Mike Jerrick and his colleagues numerous times over the years. But this particular appearance with Jerrick and his co-host Alex Holley took the cake!

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Here I was – one of a select group of small business food vendors chosen to provide tantalizing tastes at this major national event. And not just one event either. JADE was selected for two; the Media Party on Saturday, July 23rd at Citizens Bank Park and the Welcome Delegate Party at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday, July 24th.

So a few days prior to the start of the convention I took the opportunity to air things out on live television by showcasing the bites JADE would be serving at the DNC. Let’s just say our hosts could not keep their forks or fingers off the food. I mean chunks of spicy Jerk Pork and heaps of savory Rice and Peas disappearing in plain view. You can’t make this stuff up. See for yourself.

JADE Jamaican Grill at the DNC

It really was a good day to air things out!

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DNC Picks Jamaican Foodie for Events

Have you heard? JADE is heading to the DNC!

JADE Jamaican Grill has been selected to participate in the 2016 Democratic National Convention coming to Philadelphia. The DNC will be taking place July 25th through the 28th and our company is among a select group of food vendors chosen to satiate the palates of tens of thousands at this national event.

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We will be serving up some of our signature Full on Flavor fare at the Media Party on Saturday, July 23rd at Citizens Bank Park and at the Welcome Delegate Party on Sunday, July 24th at the Kimmel Center. How lucky are we? By luck I mean preparation, hard work, sacrifice and perseverance coming face to face with opportunity.

I thank the DNC for this tremendous honor and I look forward to taking part in what will be an amazing event.

For the latest news and to learn more about our company visit us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Seven Facts About Jamaican Rum Cake

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For Jamaicans, Christmas is synonymous with Rum Cake. You simply cannot get through the year end holiday season without enjoying at least one slice of this dessert. And chances are if you’re eating rum cake you are not stopping at just one slice. Here are seven food facts about Jamaican Rum Cake to chew on:

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  1. Referred to as Fruit Cake
    1. As the name suggests, the main ingredient is fruit; candied, chopped fruit consisting of orange peels and pineapple, along with raisins and cherries. But unlike other traditional fruit cakes, Jamaican Rum Cakes are made with grounded or pureed fruits for a smooth consistency.
  2. Also called Black Cake and Christmas Cake
  3. It is the choice for wedding cake in Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean. Because of its popularity at weddings, it is sometimes referred to as Wedding Cake.
  4. Dark in color
    1. Color ranges from dark brown to black. If you’re not careful, you’ll mistake it for a chocolate cake at first glance. In some cases, depending how it is cut, it can resemble brownie too.
  5. Traditionally a very dense cake
  6. Made with rum and wine
  7. Fruits are soaked in wine [and rum] for many weeks or even months prior to baking.

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Today, like most other products, rum cakes come in all shapes and sizes, including cupcake. For example our JADE cupcakes feature minis as well as standard cupcake size, and with a variety of icings.

When it comes to fruit cakes Jamaican Rum Cake takes the cake.

Merry Christmas!

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Fried Chicken Tenders with JADE Pickled Pepper Preserve

After a three-month, two-state round of spicy cooking demos at Williams-Sonoma stores in New York and New Jersey, my spring demos have come to an end. But, don’t worry about a thing. You can have your spice and eat it too all year long! The Spice of Life menu featured Jerk Salmon with a Citrus Garden Salad, Spicy Black Beans, and Fried Chicken Tenders with my JADE brand Pickled Pepper Preserve.

Some recipes – including the Spicy Black Beans and the Citrus Dressing were featured in earlier posts. Today, however, you get to feast on Fried Chicken Tenders with JADE Pickled Pepper Preserve – juicy white meat that’s tender on the inside, crispy on the outside, and hot and flavorful all over.

Frying Flour Mix

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour                                    

1 tsp paprika

2 tsp sea salt                                                              

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1 pinch ground ginger

  1. Combine ingredients in a 1-gallon food storage bag, seal tightly and shake until blended.

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Fried Chicken Tenders

2 pounds chicken tenders                                          

1 batch Frying Flour Mix (See above)

3 cups vegetable oil

  1. Add vegetable oil to medium frying pan and heat at medium temperature.
  2. Place half of chicken tenders into flour mix and shake to coat.
  3. Lay tenders into hot oil and let fry 4-5 minutes on each side.
  4. Remove tenders and lay on paper towel to drain and cool.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 to fry remaining tenders.
  6. Place fried tenders on a serving platter.

Spoon some JADE Pickled Pepper Preserve into a small bowl and serve alongside tender.  Or dress tenders directly with preserve.

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Enjoy this spicy bite when only a stiff kick will do! Get it at JADE Jamaican Grill.

 

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Citrus Dressing

I’ve been mixing things up at Williams-Sonoma stores in New York and New Jersey with this zesty Citrus Dressing. It’s fresh, fruity and savory using a few staple ingredients. Just another way to dress up a summer salad, grilled veggies, seafood and chicken!

Citrus_Dressing

1/4 cup orange juice, fresh squeezed

2 Tbsp. lime juice, fresh squeezed

3 Tbsp. honey mustard

1/4 cup vegetable oil­­

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 pinch ground black pepper

  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine ingredients and whisk vigorously until blended.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Servings: 4-6

Note: Tableware provided by Libbey Foodservice.

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Spicy Black Beans

These Spicy Black Beans were featured as part of my recent Spice of Life cooking demonstration at Williams-Sonoma in New York City. The audience absolutely loved it! I hope you’ll enjoy creating this zesty, spicy, flavorful dish at home!

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16 oz dried black beans

10 cups Water

1/2 cup red onion, minced

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

3 garlic clove, peeled

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 tsp sea salt

2 slices Habanero or Scotch Bonnet pepper

  1. Rinse beans and soak overnight.
  2. In a dutch oven (or stock pot), add beans, salt, garlic and water and simmer for 85 minutes over medium-hi heat.
  3. Add olive oil, red onion, habanero and most of the cilantro and cook an additional 3-5 minutes.
  4. Remove from stove and cool for a few minutes.
  5. Remove the garlic cloves and habanero slices.
  6. Spoon beans into medium flat bowl and dress with remaining cilantro.

Cooking time: 90 minutes

Servings: 12

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Avocado Salad

Avocado_Salad

3 whole avocado (Hass), peeled, seeded and sliced

1/3 cup red onion, minced

2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped

2 Tbsp. olive oil

4 tsp. lime juice

3/4 tsp. sea salt

1 dash black pepper

  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine red onions, cilantro, oil, lime juice and sea salt and toss together using a spoon.
  2. Place avocado slices on a platter and top with mixture.
  3. Sprinkle with ground black pepper.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Servings: 4

 

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The Art of Jamaican Cooking

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There’s a saying in Jamaica, “Tun Yuh Han Mek Fashion”. When translated it means Turn your hand and make a fashion. It’s the art of creating something amazing out of nothing. In the kitchen, it’s the ability to whip together a delightful dish or an entire meal out of scraps.

The field greens, granny smith apples, Craisins and chia seeds, topped with home-made Pomegranate-Balsamic Vinaigrette pictured here, are leftovers from a couple of recent events. It’s a scaled down version of my Winter Salad that I’ve been dishing up since the beginning of fall. Missing are avocado, cucumber and pomegranate seeds that serve to round out this crisp, tart, semi-sweet and seasonal salad course.

We can probably agree that an exceptional cook can turn up the heat in any situation. Jamaica has a history and culture built around that. So, while the essence of Jamaican cuisine delivers incredible flavor, the art of Jamaican cooking is being able to pull it all together tastefully.

 

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