This is a great Bahamian recipe given to me by a friend of mine who was raised in the Bahamas and whom I’ve known for nearly 18 years.

Much like Tiki Pop Culture, Bahamian cuisine is a fusion of many things – African, British, Spanish, French, Dutch and Indian to name a few. Over time, food creations evolved that are unique to the region. The Bahamas are particularly known for foods such as conch, Johnny cakes, tomato-based stews, breadfruit, callaloo, alot of great sea food and great rum drinks.

Bahamians were among the first Caribbeans to migrate to the mainland US. This happened in the late nineteenth century as many Bahamians went to Florida to work in agriculture, especially in Key West to work in fishing, sponging, and turtling industries. Thus, this great culture became infused into America’s melting pot and brought awareness to another great tropical culture.

In regards to this recipe, Grouper is a wonderful fish that is abundant in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Many in the area regard it as the best fish you could possibly eat. They are actually part of the sea bass family and there are many varieties. The Goliath Grouper may be the most fascinating as they can grow to about 8 ft and there have been many reports of them swallowing small sharks as food.. The Black Grouper is probably the most common for humans to eat.

One other interesting thing about grouper is that the are almost all born as females and later transform into males as they grow larger.

As for the coconut… it’s the tropics!

Ingredients 2 Grouper fillets Meat from one coconut 5 Tablespoons oil Flour Salt 1 teaspoon curry powder 1 clove of garlic (crushed)

Prep Grate the coconut, soak in water and then squeeze the coconut shavings over a bowl to make “milk”.

Mix the salt and flour together to make a simple coating for the grouper. Cut the fillets into strips and coat with the flour/salt mix. Fry the cutlets in hot oil just to seal in flavor, then stir in the curry and garlic. Add in the coconut milk and reduce heat to simmer. After 10 minutes, remove the fish and add flour and coconut shavings to the pan to create a sauce. Stir for a few minutes and allow to thicken.

Use Illy ground espresso. Dark or medium roast.

Fill your espresso mug 3/4 full with espresso.

Top to rim with 1 part Sambuca, 1 part Seven Tiki Rum.

Garnish with three espresso beans – an Italian tradition that represents love, luck and happiness.

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Tiramisu is Italian for “pull me up”.

It is a very popular Italian cake and for good reason. When you take a bite, the flavors just jump in your mouth, wake you up and bring you to life. Tiramisu is awesome.

There are also some terrific variations of Tiramisu… including this Tikified variation.

Tiramisu is made of biscuits (usually lady fingers) dipped in espresso and layered with a whipped mixture of egg yolks and mascarpone cheese. Extra flavoring is provided with liquor and cocoa.

To prepare the biscuit/ladyfinger layer (Savoiardi in Italy), you use espresso to soak them and add in some coffee flavored liqueur along with some sweet marsala wine.

Rare variations add in some dark rum and if you haven’t guessed by now, this is where my Tiki variation comes in… I use Marsala as well as some of my favorite Seven Tiki rum.

Here’s the ingredients and instructions. Enjoy:

Read more…

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Another tiki bar tradition for the holidays.

Rum is a quintessential ingredient of island food and celebration. For this recipe, the ingredients are simple, they are easy to make and full of flavor. They are sure to fill your holidays with cheer and each bite will feel like an island escape. Best of all, they require no baking! Read more…

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It’s one of the oldest cooking methods in the world… somewhat tribal, actually.

Dig a hole in the ground (a pit), light a fire, add some meat (usually a large mammal), cover it and let it cook. Read more…

For the cocktails and recipes mentioned on TheTikiBarIsOpen.com, I’ll often say, “accept no substitutes”.

Well, here’s a case where a substitute is actually better. Instead of sugar or simple syrup, use agave syrup. Yes… agave. The stuff tequila comes from.

Not only does it taste better… you use less. It has fewer calories, is better for you, saves you time and has a long shelf life.

This is especially true with Margaritas and Mojitos, but you can substitute it for anything that calls for sugar. Just be sure to use 1/2 to no more than 3/4 the amount of sugar called for in your concoction.

Get some. Use it often. Enjoy!

This sandwich has been a Cuban tradition since the early 1500's. The spread of it's tradition outside of Cuba actually begins with cigars.

With Cuba being only 90 miles from Key West, Florida many Cubans moved to Key West in the late 1800s to avoid Spanish rule. The beginning of a significant Cuban influence in Key West began in this time as numerous cigar manufacturers set up shop there. One of the larger cigar factories to come to Key West and eventually find its way to Tampa was owned byVincente Martinez Ybor. Ybor moved to Tampa after his Keys factory was destroyed by a fire. This was the beginning of the incredible Ybor City in Tampa. It was also the end of the cigar industry in Key West, but integral in spreading the great food, drink (see The Mojito) and culture of Cuba. Ybor became the "Cigar Capital of the World" as depression in Cuba forced thousands to leave and come to Florida, especially Ybor as the cigar factory was large enough to employ the Cuban immigrants. The Cuban sandwiches were very popular with the immigrants and soon became something the rest of us in the states would learn of, enjoy, and find to be means to escape to the tropics.This influence and incredible, tropical culture is felt in the Keys and throughout the rest of Florida even today.

As a tribute to just how great this sandwich and it's heritage is, the oldest Cuban sandwich shop in Tampa is still in business today - The Silver Ring Cafe, since 1947. It started as a fisherman's bar in 1929.Today, the Cuban sandwich is extremely popular in the areas of Tampa Bay and South Florida where many descendants of Cuban immigrants still remain (and of course a few native Floridans and slew of others who have dared to move away from America's rat race to a place that is a little more laid back than the rest).

Many restaurants in these cities offer Cubans. The best places to buy them are from smaller Cuban-run restaurants and sandwich shops throughout the Tampa Bay area, or on the street corner-snack bars (loncherias) in South Florida.

For many, one taste of this sandwich makes it their favorite. The flavor instantly instills a sense of an old island culture and brings forth a sensory escape that is hard to rival. Anyone who visits Tampa or Miami would not have a complete visit without sampling a Cuban Sandwich. Those who have had a true Cuban sandwich often become so passionate about how it is made and will accept no substitutes.

The true Cuban sandwiches consist of layers of ham, roast pork, cheese, pickle and mustard between a sliced length of Cuban bread. The sandwich is then pressed until the ham, pork, and pickles have warmed through. A truly great sandwich is an art form - pressed nearly flat and to where the meat, cheese, and bread have fused together to form a unique culinary sensation.

The two most important ingredients that ensure the authenticity of a Cuban sandwich are the bread and the roast pork. The "Tampa Cuban" also can contain salami... likely influenced by the heavy Italian culture that was part of Tampa at the same time Ybor made his mark on the city.

Regarding the roast pork... just remember that "pork" does not equal "pork". The difference between using a quality tavern style ham along with a Spanish roast pork is important to the flavor and honored history of this sandwich. Don't use just any old meat labeled as "pork".

As for the bread... Cuban bread is not ordinary bread. The true formula is believed to come from a specific town in Cuba producing 3-foot long loaves with a crisp, flakey crust and baked while placing a palmetto frond on top center of the dough after proofing. Beautiful!!!

Although that story is hard to compete with... Italian bread or French bread are acceptable substitutions... but ONLY if you are in other parts of the country where true Cuban bread may not be available.

Surely this story was enough to help take you away to somewhere distant and tropical. Just wait until you taste it. Even if you've had a cuban sandwich before, you might find this one take things to another level. Through our own experiences and research, TheTikiBarIsOpen.com brings you only truly authentic recipes.

Recipe:
3 thin slices of ham
3 thin slices roast pork hot or cold (I use hot, slow roasted pork)
3 thin slices of salami
3 thin slices of Swiss cheese
3 or 4 slices of pickles
1/3 cut Cuban bread hard crust (or french bread)
Dijon Mustard

Preparation:
You should be using fresh, crusty Cuban bread, but you can always use an 12" loaf of french bread cut in half. Slice the bread open face so that both halves are still barely connected and spread mustard on both halves. Add the ham, and then the roasted pork. When in a hurry, you can use one whole piece of roasted pork. Add your swiss cheese and then a few pickle slices. Make sure to spray your sandwich press with a little butter flavored Pam. Place the sandwich in a sandwich press and press down until the cheese is melted and the bread is slightly hard to the touch. For those of you without a press, you can also place the sandwich in a hot skillet and press down on it with a heavy kitchen object. (some, believe it or not, use a brick wrapped in tin foil when nothing else is available). When finished, slice the sandwich diagonally across the middle so that you have two triangle shaped wedges.

History:

This recipe is a tribute to Tiki Pop Culture… the phenomena that started in the early 50’s and has never really quite ended. In fact, its making an exciting resurgence!

Tiki Pop Culture was simply about escapism. The days when the average Joe came home from a hard week at work and needed a way to escape and let loose. What better way than a backyard luau! Friends, family and neighbors join in for a barbecue, some south island decor… including tiki torches… and some exotic drink such as a Mai Tai.

Polynesian ribs celebrate this classic American era and are also inspired by the timeless South Seas tradition of roasting a pig in a fire-pit and wrapping it in banana leaves with several other ingredients to add flavor. For this recipe, you’ll conjure up your own BBQ sauce for that tropical flavor. It’s sweet flavor tells a tropical tale all its own. Time to escape!!!

Recipe:

4 lbs. pork ribs

2 tbsp. cornstarch

1 c. brown sugar

1 tsp. celery salt

8 oz. can crushed pineapple & juice

1/4 c. minced onion or 1 sm.

1/2 c. water chestnuts

Peel & juice of 1 orange

1/2 c. water

1/3 c. dry sherry

1/4 c. soy sauce

2 tbsp. Worcestershire

Dash of hot sauce

Preparation:

Grill ribs at a low heat for 1 hour (about 375 degrees… do not sear the ribs). Turn the ribs every 15 minutes to ensure they cook evenly. Mix all other ingredients and heat until thick over medium heat. Remove ribs after 1 hour and place into a pan. Pour sauce over ribs and place foil over top. Grill for an additional 1/2 hour at about 350 degrees then remove foil and brown.

History:

This recipe is based on a customary combination of flavors… an age old meal enjoyed by boaters and by couples on a romantic beach excursions for more than a century. It really traces back to European influence as it strongly based on pairing with a fine white wine. White wine has become renowned over the years as a favorite accompaniment to help relax and enjoy a sunny day. White wines are especially refreshing when served to compliment to many seafoods.

Our fish recipe is simple, and you can probably substitute just about any other white fish you’d like. Beside selecting a fine bottle of Bordeaux, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling or Pinot Grigio the real key to this Island Time meal is the vinaigrette recipe which comes from the Culinary Institute of America.

Sail away on a romantic tropical getaway… for real or only in your mind. Uncork some wine… Island time begins now!

Recipe:

Vinaigrette

1 egg yolk (or equivalent egg yolk substitute)

2 TBS lemon juice

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt

Fish

1 1/2 pounds marlin filet

1/2 cup lime juice

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

Lime wedges for garnish

Instructions:

Prepare fish ahead of time by creating a marinade from the lime, ginger, soy sauce and vegetable oil. Allow fish to marinade for 30 minutes or longer. While Grilling or sautéing the fish, prepare the vinaigrette by whisking vinaigrette contents together. Serve fish on bed of sweet greens and drizzle with vinaigrette. Serve with you choice of white wine

History:

Sweetened condensed milk was a staple on the Keys before fresh milk could be trucked in via the Overseas Highway which wasn’t opened until the 1930s. Even up through the late 1940s, condensed milk specialties, including Key Lime Pie were consumed by it’s inhabitants. Since fresh milk was hard to come by, this provided the the health same benefits the rest of us took for granted from fresh milk at the time. With this “limitation” countered by the fact that Key lime trees were in every yard, the creation of this unique treat was only naturally.

True to our mantra and true to our passion… our recipe is authentic. Authentic Florida Keys in this case. A hand made graham cracker crust and pure, traditional ingredients: Key lime juice, sweetened condensed milk and NO FOOD COLORING. Ever had one of those green “Key Lime” Pies? You probably didn’t like it. If you already know what we’re talking about, you wouldn’t even touch one. True, natural Key Lime Pie is a creamy yellow hue.

We do leave you with a choice of toppings, however. Over the years, many pie makers deviated from the original meringue topping (which made sure the egg whites did not go to waste) and developed a preference for whipped cream topping. Both are considered in compliance to the “old-time rules”. For a boater’s version of this recipe that honors the wives from the old fishing villages… just leave out the eggs. This was done so there was less worry of spoiling for the fisherman who brought this treat with them as they left their loved ones behind and set out for sea to make their living… not to return home for weeks or more.

No matter what… don’t ever fall for substitutes!

Recipe:

Graham Cracker Crust

1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup softened unsalted butter

Key Lime Pie

3 to 4 eggs, separated (more eggs = more thickness)

14 ounces sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup Key lime juice (more to taste if you like it tart!)

Pinch cream of tartar or 1/2 tsp lime juice

6 to 8 tablespoons sugar

Preparation:

Prepare pie crust by blending all Graham Cracker Crust ingredients in a medium bowl with a fork. Using back of large spoon, press mixture firmly inside a 9″ pie plate. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes and cool in refrigerator.

If you want to go with the meringue topping, beat the egg whites until foamy while the pie is baking. Add the cream of tartar or 1/2 teaspoon lime juice and continue beating. Add 6 tablespoons of sugar for 3 egg whites, 8 for 4 egg whites, 2 tablespoons at a time and beat until mixture is stiff. In a separate mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks slightly, then stir in the condensed milk and lime juice. Stir until thickened (2 or 3 minutes). Pour into pie shell. Swirl the meringue of the pie filling and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool before serving.

If you go with a whip cream topping (as we would recommend!)… in a mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks slightly, then stir in the condensed milk and lime juice. Stir until thickened (2 or 3 minutes). Pour into pie shell and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Allow to cool and add whip cream when serving.