Ashley Farnell, The Culinary Magician
Last winter I had the pleasure of visiting the Dutch influenced Caribbean island of Aruba.
It is situated about 15 miles off the northern coast of Venezuela, but belongs to the group of islands known as “The Netherlands Antilles” which includes Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, also known as the ABC islands.
It is a very warm climate with a temperature range from 82 - 92F all year round. The climate is very dry and with the constant trade winds that bring a nice breeze it could not be more perfect. It also lies outside the Hurricane belt and gets less than 24 inches of rain per year, so you’re pretty much guaranteed a beautiful day.
The Divi TreeIts roots are a mix of Spanish, British and more recently Dutch, to whom it still belongs (although independent it is ruled by the Dutch government). The two official languages are the Dutch language and Papiamento. Papiamento is a language that has evolved through the centuries and absorbed many words from other languages like Dutch, English, diverse African dialects, and most importantly, from Portuguese and Spanish. However, like many islands in the region, Spanish is also often spoken.
The famous emblem of Aruba is the Divi Tree, which adorns many pictures and postcards. Because of the constant trade winds blowing, the branches and leaves normally sit to one side , making for a unique tree.
Dutch influenced architecture, with an island touch in the brightly colored buildings.The Dutch influence can be seen in the buildings of the Capital city Oranjestad (orange town). They are very similar to the buildings you see in Amsterdam, tall and narrow, but here they are very brightly painted.
Aruba synagogueThere is one Synagogue in Aruba called the Beth Israel Synagogue. Jews, mostly merchants, arrived in Aruba at the beginning of the 20th century, when the oil refinery drew people from the Caribbean and Europe. The Jewish population today is small, but this synagogue endures with a membership of about 35 families. Most congregants at Friday night services are visitors, tourists on vacation. The synagogue is Conservative in style with full participation of both men and women. The small gift shop has one of a kind Aruban Judaica.
Dutch influenced architecture, with an island touch in the brightly colored buildings.The grocery stores stock many products from the United States so getting kosher food is not a problem, but there is no meat or breads visible, although there was supposedly a kosher store (Kineret Aruba Glatt Kosher Deli at the Playa Linda Beach Resort, amidst the high-rise resort hotels) but rumor has it that it as closed.
While kosher can be sparse there, we can bring a little of Aruba home. Many delicacies can be found on the island, here are a few I can find here.
Tert di Pruim (Prune Tart)
1 cup (1/2 lb) butter or margarine for parve
3/4 cup cold milk or soy milk for parve
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups white cornmeal flour
1 pound pitted prune
2 cups water
2 cups (1 lb) brown sugar
3 tablespoons white cornmeal flour
1/4 teaspoon of mace
1/4 teaspoon cloves powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
Preparation of the dough:
Mix together the cornmeal flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Add the margarine, pour the cold milk little by little, and start kneading with your fingers. Keep on kneading until it smooths out.
Cut the dough into 2/3 for the crust and 1/3 for the top. Take the 2/3 portion and in an 8" pie form, press the dough firmly against the bottom and the sides. Keep the rest of the dough (1/3 portion) in the fridge.
After cutting the pitted prunes into small pieces, add prunes and water to a pan and slowly bring to a simmer (the prunes with start to absorb the liquid). Mix the brown sugar and the flour, and with a wooden spoon add it a little at a time into the prunes and liquid and mix in. Keep on mixing with the spoon so it does not stick to the pan, and until it solidifies. Lower the fire, add and add the spices (cloves powder, mace and cinnamon powder) to the mixture. Remove from heat and let the filling cool completely.
Add the prune filling into the pie form and spread it evenly to the top. Take the kept dough from the fridge and create long strips to cover the prune mixture with it.
Set the pie in the oven and bake at 400° for 45 or 50 minutes.
Chill. Slice and serve.
Bollo Borracho (Tipsy Rum Cake)
2 cups (1 lb) margarine
2 cups (1 lb) flour
2 cups (1 lb) sugar
1-tablespoon baking powder
1-teaspoon almond essence (artificial almond extract)
1/4 cup white rum
Whipped cream - dairy or Parve
3-cups milk or soya milk
3 packs of vanilla pudding
Prepare the pudding using the 3 cups of milk and set aside.
Mix the margarine and sugar well, add eggs and stir. Mix well. Little by little add the flour to the mix while stirring. Add the baking powder and almond essence to the mix and blend well.
Butter and line bottom of two 9" round pans.
Pour batter into pans and bake at 375 degrees F for about an 1 hour.
When the cake is ready remove it from the oven and let it cool down.
Cut the 2 cakes in half slices so that you have four round slices. Put one slice on a round form and sprinkle rum on the cake until moist then some of the set aside pudding as filling and sprinkle with the sprinkles candy on top. Cover it with another slice and repeat with the rum, filling and sprinkles. Repeat until the last layer.
Cover the cake with whip cream and decorate it with sprinkles and maraschino cherries.
WARNING: Do not, decorate with candles. Highly flammable.