For a tiny island, Little Cayman certainly has its fair share of top-notch chefs. Many can be found at Pirates Point Resort – headed by owner and chef extraordinaire Gladys Howard.
The Texas-born dynamo is a Cordon Bleu chef, having studied with the likes of Julia Child and James Beard.
She’s come out with several cookbooks, with the latest titled: “Recipes and Remembrances: Cookin’ with the Chefs in Little Cayman.” It’s an updated version of “Cookin’ in Little Cayman,” published in 1996.
The cookbook came out last December and features new recipes alongside tried-and-true favorites from the previous one. Along with Howard, contributing chefs include Dianne Sherer Fite, Jeff Papendick and Debbi Truchan.
The collection of recipes is varied and inviting – much like the gourmet delights served at the beach-side dive resort. The recipes span the spectrum: from appetizers and snacks, to soup and salads, to entrees, breakfast fare, cocktails and desserts. Some have a Caribbean twist emphasizing local flavors and many are approachable for the home cook – they don’t require a whole lot of fuss. Each chef shares some of his or her favorite recipes, including comfort foods, as well as several award-winning entries from the annual Sister Islands Cook-off.
“Cookin’ with the Chefs in Little Cayman” also includes handy kitchen tips and guides, such as microwave hints, a spice and herb guide, ingredient substitutions and a meat and poultry roasting guide.
Here are some recipes from the chefs at Pirates Point:
Mango Champagne Soup
4 mangos, chopped
1 cup chicken stock
2 cups champagne (or non-alcoholic champagne)
This is a blender soup. Blend mangos to a liquid, add stock, then champagne just before serving.
“This soup recipe I tested with the National Trust Board members meeting in Little Cayman, then as an entry for the Sister Islands Cook-off; it is best served in a champagne glass and garnished with fresh picked mint.”
– Chef Debbi
This is one of the most-requested recipes from Pirates Point. Similar to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, the recipe was originally included in the cookbook Chef Gladys put together for the University of Texas centennial celebrations called “Cook ’Em Horns.” When she moved to Little Cayman nearly 30 years ago, she named them Scuba Bars, serving them to guests at lunch after their dives.
3 cups powdered sugar
3 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
16 oz chocolate chips
Combine powered sugar and crumbs until everything is mixed, then add peanut butter and melted butter. Mix everything together until combined well. Spray 9×13-inch pan with nonstick spray. Spread the mixture evenly using a small rolling pin, then chill in the refrigerator. Melt the chocolate chips in microwave at half power for 1 minute. Stir, cook for 30 seconds, stir again – do not overcook or chocolate will get hard. Spread on chilled mixture. Chill again for 10 minutes; you want the chocolate to set, but not get hard, because you need to cut the bars into squares before they are completely firm.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Generously spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place pan on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. In a mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar until well blended. Add eggs, banana, sour cream and vanilla. Fold in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, scraping bowl often. Mix on low speed; then fold in walnuts. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake until bread springs back when gently pressed with fingertips, 50 to 55 minutes. It may have a crack in the center. This is perfectly wonderful and common. If bread seems not quite done reduce oven temperature to 325 F and bake 10 to 15 minutes more.
“We make this at Christmastime and give as gifts.”
– Chef Dianne
Sorrel Glazed Shrimp
1/8 tsp ground allspice (pimento)
1 cup sorrel
2 rounded tbsp dry ginger
2 cups water
3/4 cups white sugar
Corn starch to thicken
40 deveined shrimp (sautéed with butter and 1 tbsp minced garlic)
Spread the sorrel out on aluminum foil or a white cloth, which will make it easy to spot and remove any debris or unfit sorrel pieces. After you have cleaned the sorrel, pour it into a large cooking pot with water. Add the two rounded tablespoons of ginger. Boil the mixture for 10 minutes after it begins to boil. Remove immediately and pour through a strainer into a suitable container if clear sauce is wanted. Strain the mixture and discard the residue. Sweeten with white sugar to taste. Thicken with the cornstarch paste. Toss prepared shrimp in sauce, with extra sauce reserved for the side. Serve with rice or noodles. Yields 3 cups of sauce.
“Jamaican sorrel is high in vitamins and minerals with powerful antioxidant properties. It helps lower elevated blood pressure, bad cholesterol and detoxify the entire body. It is also used as a diuretic.”
– Chef Debbi