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Ask A Connecticut Chef: Easy 4th Of July Recipes

June 18, 2014 8:00 AM

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

There are many tried-and-true recipes that moms and dads trot out on the 4th of July. This year, why not try something a little different from the traditional burgers, dogs and three-bean salads? Chef Kashia Cave from Meriden’s My City Kitchen hails from Trinidad and Tobago and suggests this year that cooks should mark Independence Day by declaring their independence from the standard July 4th fare. Here are three easy, healthy and great-tasting recipes with a distinctly Caribbean flair that she believes will provide the culinary counterpart to the evening’s fireworks.

Kashia Cave
My City Kitchen
384 Pratt St.
Meriden, CT 06450
(203) 630-2870
www.mycitykitchen.org

Kashia Cave and the non-profit My City Kitchen she founded five years ago is dedicated to helping urban children learn not only how to eat properly, but also how to prepare healthy, smart and affordable meals for themselves and their families. A graduate of both the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners in Italy and the Lincoln Culinary Institute in Connecticut, Chef Cave has turned her talents and passions to helping others. A frequent guest on local Connecticut television talk shows, she has been honored for her cuisine and her charitable work by numerous community groups and by her native country. Here are her three recommendations for bringing a taste of the Caribbean to the Fourth of July picnic table.

Kashia Cave’s (Grilled Shrimp) Kabob
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 large green bell pepper seeded and cut into chunks
  • 1 cup sweet cherry tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger-root
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons of herb mix (chopped cilantro, rosemary and sage)
  • 8 wooden or metal skewers

Directions:

  1. Soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes before using.
  2. On the kabob skewer, alternate the shrimp with the pineapple, onion, green pepper and tomato.
  3. In a small saucepan combine pineapple juice, lemon and lime juices with the ginger, poblano pepper, soy sauce, honey and herb mix. Heat mixture over medium-high heat and simmer until liquid is reduced by half.
  4. Brush or drizzle the kabobs with the glaze. Cook off in a hot grill or over an outdoor grill. Grill for 3 minutes per side and brush occasionally with the glaze. Serve hot.

Related: Top Breakfast Sandwiches In Connecticut

My City Kitchen’s Shrimp Ceviche
Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound medium-small shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoon salt
  • 3/4 cup lime juice (juice from 4-6 limes)
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice (juice from 2-3 lemons)
  • 1 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 poblano chile pepper, ribs and seeds removed, minced
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 cucumber, remove the seeds and dice with the skin on into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 sweet mango, peeled, sliced and cut into small diced
  • 1 1/2 cup diced papaya (peeled and seeds removed)

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, bring to a boil 4 quarts of water with 2 tablespoons of salt. Add the shrimp and cook for 1 to 2 minutes depending on size of shrimp. Over-cooking the shrimp will make them rubbery. Drain and place into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
  2. Drain the shrimp from the ice bath. Cut each piece of shrimp in half or into inch-long pieces. Place shrimp in a glass bowl. Mix in the lime and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate for a half hour.
  3. Mix in the chopped red onion and poblano chile. Refrigerate until ready for use.
  4. Mix mango and papaya together and refrigerate.
  5. Right before serving, add the cilantro and cucumber to the shrimp mixture and season with salt and black pepper.
  6. Take a martini glass and place 1-2 tablespoons of the mango/papaya mixture on the bottom. Add the spoonful of the shrimp mixture on the top and garnish with chive. 

Kashia Cave’s Multi-Colored Stuffed Peppers
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 large bell peppers (used assorted colors)
  • 1 pound of lean ground turkey (could substitute with ground beef)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice (could substitute quinoa, millet or couscous)
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1 cup fresh diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 2 tablespoons fresh herb mix (sage, rosemary, oregano and thyme)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil or grape seed oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat grill.
  2. Wash and cut the top of the peppers. Remove the seeds and ribs inside the peppers.
  3. In hot skillet, sauté the ground meat, onion, garlic and diced top of peppers. Add together and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the barley, cheese, salsa, tomatoes, green onions, fresh herbs, salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes, mixing well.
  5. Rub the peppers with the oil and then stuff the mixture into the peppers.
  6. Place the stuffed peppers on the top rack of the grill, and grill for 10-15 minutes. Remove the peppers from the grill and serve immediately.

Related: Top Spring Salads In Connecticut

Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.

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