Summertime in the Cayman Islands is a time for lighter cuisine, easy-to-prepare dishes and outdoor cooking.
But summer does not mean months of eating just fruits and salads; with a little imagination, home cooks can prepare satisfying meals that go well with the heat.
The folks at Mise en Place Professional Catering have been preparing meals for various functions on Grand Cayman for more than 10 years and owner Sean Collins says the food requests they receive often reflect the season.
InsideOut asked Sean for advice on some simple dishes that are perfect for Cayman’s summertime heat.
Sometimes, even in the summer, a meal calls for a
bigger piece of meat. Sean says that one of Mise en Place’s preferred
cuts of meat right now is the tri-tip – or California roast – which is
very flavourful, lean and relatively low in cost. Although Mise en Place
uses a sous vide method where a tri-tip roast is put vacuum sealed and
placed in a hot water bath at 135F (58C) for seven hours before being
seared on a grill, this meat can be cooked as a roast over direct heat
on a grill for about 35 to 40 minutes and then sliced thin for a tasty
Chilled soups are great for the summer and make a perfect start to a meal. Sean recommends three chilled soups including gazpacho topped with lump crab meat or cocktail shrimp; avocado soup; and local mango and ginger. The latter can make use of Grand Cayman’s most abundant summer crop, mangoes. Made with pureed mangoes, lime juice, ginger and Scotch bonnet peppers and then served well chilled, this soup is both sweet and spicy, a perfect way to whet a summer appetite.
Roasted Vegetable Quiche
Although it requires some indoor cooking, quiche is one of those dishes that can be served warm, slightly chilled or at room temperature and still taste good. The roasted vegetables in the Mise en Place recipe give the beautiful-looking dish a rich, satisfying flavour that is perfect for summer meals at home or for picnics and boating activities.
Roasting meat in an oven for hours is no way to spend a summer day. For those who want some meat in their meal, Sean recommends meat brochettes – small pieces of chicken, beef or lamb skewered and cooked on a grill with pieces of red and green peppers and onions. Seasoned with herbs like rosemary, thyme and cumin and then served with a chilled tzatziki sauce, this full-flavoured dish can be served as an appetizer or as a main course with a side of potato salad.
Dessert is best served cold in the summertime. If ice cream or sorbet isn’t practical, you can literally throw together some Eton mess with strawberries, cream and meringue. You can even add in some raspberries if you wish.