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Patriotic recipes from the chefs of Camana Bay

By Christy Whittaker

July is the height of summer, a month when people flock to the beach, enjoy lazy evening meals and curl up in a hammock with a good summer read. It is also the month where three national holidays are celebrated, in quick succession, by Canadians, Americans and Caymanians. With over 120 nationalities residing in the Cayman Islands (source), this diverse community always has a reason to celebrate! Join in the patriotic pride this summer by indulging in these delicious recipes brought to you by the chefs of Camana Bay.

Canada Day, celebrated on 1 July, is a day which commemorates the joining of Canada’s original three provinces as one nation. Celebrations for Canadians usually include fireworks, parades, picnics, fairs and more. You can mark this momentous day right here in paradise with Agua bartenders Cory Scruggs and Juan Martinez’ maple syrup-inspired Canadian cocktail and Bon Vivant chef Maureen Cubbon’s wild salmon flavourful dish.  

The Sixth cocktail

From Agua

Ingredients (serves one):

  • Canadian club
  • Lemon juice
  • Maple syrup
  • Averna
  • Fresh lavender
  • Mint

Method:

Add all ingredients to a glass (quantities to taste), stir and serve.

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Bon Vivant’s Maureen Cubbon, who is originally from British Columbia, says her favourite thing to eat (besides her mom’s cooking) is wild Pacific salmon. She says “even though it does have a higher price point, it is well worth the price for flavour and quality purposes. If salmon is not your thing, you can substitute snapper, cod or mahi for best results.” See recipe below.

Potato-crusted wild salmon with roasted garlicky broccolini

From Chef Maureen Cubbon, Bon Vivant

Ingredients (serves four):

  • 2 medium Yukon Gold or russet potatoes, skins on
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 4 x 6-oz wild salmon fillets (cod, snapper or mahi will do well here as substitutes)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-3 bundles of broccolini
  • 1 lemon, zested and cut into quarters
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped

Method:

Preheat oven to 425°F.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, parboil the whole potatoes for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

In the meantime, prepare broccolini. Spread broccolini out on a sheet pan ensuring it is not crowded (use two pans if needed). Season with salt, pepper, finely chopped garlic and lemon zest, a big drizzle of olive oil and toss together well directly on the sheet pan. Roast for 15 minutes or until your desired tenderness.

Once potatoes have cooled, remove skins from the potatoes. In a medium bowl, grate the potatoes, then combine with the green onions, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Season the salmon with salt and pepper. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the oil on medium-high. Sear the salmon skin-side up for two minutes, until browned.

Remove salmon from the pan and brush the seared side of the salmon with the mustard. Spread 1/4 cup of the potato and onion mixture on top of each fillet.

Return the salmon back to the skillet, potato side down. Cook until the crust is golden brown. Flip the salmon over and place the pan into the oven for three to four minutes, or until the fish is slightly pink in the middle. Serve with broccolini and lemon wedge.

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Regal Eagle cocktail

From Agua

Ingredients (serves one):

  • Blanton's original
  • Orange cardamom marmalade
  • Chocolate mole bitters

Method:

Add all ingredients to a glass (quantities to taste), stir and serve.

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Nothing screams Americana more than a classic New York-style cheesecake, complete with fixings to depict the colours of the American flag! Learn how to make the perfect dense yet delicious cheesecake from Foster’s pastry chef Paula Stonoga, who is known for her delightful, picture-perfect, made-with-love pastries and sweet treats.

New York style cheesecake

From Chef Paula Stonoga, Foster’s

Ingredients (serves 10):

  • 15 graham crackers, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Method:

(Preparation time 30 minutes | Cooking time 90 minutes)

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

Grease a nine-inch springform pan.

In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter. Press onto bottom of springform pan.

In a large bowl, mix cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Blend in milk, and then mix in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in sour cream, vanilla and flour until smooth. Pour filling into prepared crust.

Bake in preheated oven for one hour. Turn the oven off, and let cake cool in oven with the door closed for five to six hours; this prevents cracking. Chill in refrigerator until serving.

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Constitution Day for the Cayman Islands is celebrated on the first Monday of July each year (this year, the holiday falls on 6 July), and it commemorates the passing of the Islands’ first constitution in 1959. Across the islands you’ll find beach and boat-goers, families enjoying quality time, fireworks and, of course, a good meal to celebrate this holiday. No matter what you are choosing to do, this cocktail recipe from Agua and banana leaf-wrapped snapper from chef Thomas Tennant of Tomfoodery are the perfect additions to your celebrations.

Under the mango tree cocktail

From Agua

Ingredients (serves one):

  • Appleton Signature
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Mango/coconut liquor
  • Banana du Brasil
  • Vanilla syrup
  • Pineapple juice

Method:

Add all ingredients to a glass (quantities to taste), stir and serve.

Married to a Caymanian, Thomas Tennant has made the Cayman Islands his home for many years and he is known for his passion for including locally sourced produce in his dishes so they are authentic to Cayman. Tomfoodery, his new restaurant set to open in Camana Bay this fall, will no doubt have dishes made with local ingredients just like this banana leaf-wrapped snapper recipe! 

Banana leaf-steamed snapper with tomato, okra and coconut

From Chef Thomas Tennant, Tomfoodery

Ingredients (serves one to two):

For the snapper:

  • 1 whole snapper, scales and gills removed
  • Kosher salt
  • Coconut oil
  • 1 lime, for juicing
  • 1 bunch callaloo, chopped
  • 4 okra, tops removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 banana leaf
  • 3 tablespoons coconut milk

For the stew:

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 seasoning peppers, chopped
  • 1 scotch bonnet, chopped
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 3 sprig thyme
  • 1 teaspoon allspice, ground
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup fish stock (or vegetable or chicken stock)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 5 okra, chopped

Optional ingredients to enhance: Season-all, local greens, bammie, limes

Method:

For the snapper:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, or prepare your grill at a medium heat.

Start by rinsing the fish under water, and pat dry with a towel. You may choose to de-bone the fish while keeping it whole for more stuffing, if not, just score the fish to the spine. Season heavily with salt, making sure you season inside the fish as well. Rub the fish with the coconut oil and lime juice. Stuff the fish with the callaloo, okra and tomatoes.

Place the banana leaf on a baking pan (optional: you can line the pan with aluminium foil). Place the snapper in the leaf, sprinkle with the coconut milk. Wrap the fish with the banana leaf and reinforce with twine or foil so that it stays wrapped. If using the grill, wrap with both leaf and foil and place directly on the grill.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. Meanwhile, make the stew.

For the stew:

In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Sweat the onions, garlic, seasoning peppers and scotch bonnet until soft, about four minutes. Add the scallions and bell pepper and season with salt and pepper. Add the thyme, allspice, and bay leaf, cook for one minute. Then add the fish stock and coconut milk. Bring to a boil.

Once boiling, reduce heat and add the tomato and okra. Simmer for 20 minutes or until everything is soft and the sauce is thick. Remove from the heat and wait for the whole snapper to be cooked.

Once the snapper is cooked, remove from the oven and open the banana leaf. Pour the stew over the fish and you may cook opened for five more minutes or serve. Enjoy with coconut rice, breadkind and or fry bread.

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About the author

Christy Whittaker is a Marketing Manager for Dart, focusing on the company’s flagship development, Camana Bay, and Dart Real Estate’s commercial real estate offerings. Christy joined the team in 2019 with nine years in marketing under her belt and holds an MSc in Global Marketing from the University of Liverpool. Born and raised in the Cayman Islands, Christy has the acclaim of being a member of the first Cayman Islands gymnastics team to compete abroad!