Carambola (Star Fruit) and Serrano Ham Saladspon-post

As a denizen of this little tropical corner of the world, I am very spoiled when it comes to fruits. We have the juiciest, sweetest mangoes, delectable and fragrant papayas, blissfully sweet watermelons, and… well, it’s too long a list to mention. We are also in the unique position to grow fruits that don’t normally grow in the tropics, thanks to Constanza (the Caribbean Refrigerator). Yeah, life is good.

We also have carambola (starfruit).

Compared to mangoes, or bananas, carambolas are a very mild fruit, with only a hint of sweet. It is mostly appreciated for its stunning shape, a case of beauty over form. Eating carambola feels… underwhelming. I love it for decorating drinks though, and whenever I see it in the supermarket I can barely contain myself from buying it. I had to find a good use for this beautiful fruit. Enter Carambola (Starfruit) and Serrano Salad. Why didn’t I think of this before?

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Mild and Easy Gazpacho

Mild and Easy Gazpacho

It shouldn’t be cause for surprise that both Ilana and I are very big fans of Spanish food: We both have a cultural connection to the country, albeit from very different perspectives. Spanish cuisine is one of the cornerstones of our own culinary traditions, and many dishes are common or similar.

My visits to Spain proved just how much I love its food, and it’s in my list of countries where I intend to spend  more time at some point in the future.

Gazpacho, however, has no equivalent in our cuisine, and never was amongst my favorite dishes. That was until a few years ago when I came across a version of a mild and easy gazpacho that made me a convert. I have long forgotten where I tried it, but I still have great memories of it. Let me share it with you.

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Baked Vegan Kibbeh

Baked Vegan Kibbeh

A few weeks ago I was trying my recipe for baked kipes (baked kibbeh) and had my yoga friends and Ilana’s son try them. The reviews couldn’t have been better. Unfortunately Ilana couldn’t try it (she follows a meatless diet), and I had just one bite (I prefer not to eat meat, but taste some of my recipes). We felt a bit left out.

It occurred to me that compared to the many dishes I’ve adapted to make them vegetarian or vegan-friendly, making a vegan kibbeh would be pretty easy. I just needed to find a combination of ingredients that worked. To the bat-kitchen, Robin!

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Batidas de Zapote/Granadillo/Níspero (Fruit Shakes)

A heat wave is hitting us hard down here in PuntaCana, just like it does this time of the year. And I start whining about it just like I do every year. Like every year, I start sharing my famous (infamous?) summer dishes, drinks and paletas (popsicles), some of our preferred weapons against the heat.

Along with some heat-busting batidas de zapote / granadillo / níspero (fruit shakes) I am going to tell you about these unusual fruits that we Dominicans love so much. Better yet, I’ll also give you ideas to make your shakes without sugar or milk, and still love them.

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Baked Kipe (Kibbeh)

Baked Kipe (Kibbeh)

Nearly two centuries ago a wave of immigrants from the former Ottoman Empire found its way to America (the continent), fleeing persecution and economic hardship. With them they brought bits and pieces of the rich cuisines from a territory that surrounded most of the Mediterranean, and the Red and Black seas.

Kipe / quipe, as we Dominicans call it, is one of those culinary treasures. You can find kibbeh from Northern Africa to the Middle East, and everywhere where their inhabitants have emigrated to, which includes most of Latin America. The most common version in our country is the fried, bullet-shaped one; but the fact that I have been asked many times to include this one in our recipe collection tells you that the love for the baked kibbeh has not been lost.

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