Home Food and Beverage trends news This 5-minute, rum-spiked fruit salad will transport you to a tropical island

This 5-minute, rum-spiked fruit salad will transport you to a tropical island

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This 5-minute, rum-spiked fruit salad will transport you to a tropical island


This Summer Breeze Fruit Salad is a favorite of mine because it brings back memories of my first trip to the Bahamas, of when I began to appreciate rum and the permeating flavors of island cooking — ginger, coconut and RUM! And it all tracks back to when I met my husband, Tom . . . 

It wasn’t until I met my husband that I spent any real time on a boat. Although I always loved the water and had friends with boats over the years, I never learned to sail or spent nights anchored out before knowing Tom. I had also never traveled in a small airplane before, but like boating, that too became a normal part of life as I married both a “boat guy” and a pilot.  

Tom grew up on boats and spent much of his younger adult years sailing around in the Caribbean, racing sailboats and delivering boats through all sorts of weather and conditions. Thankfully, he respects my less adventuresome spirit when it comes to the water, so our adventures are usually only as wild as jumping in the boat to go to dinner. But we have taken a few lengthier trips along the Intracoastal Waterway, a 3,000 mile, mostly inland (meaning it keeps you out of the Gulf of Mexico) water route that actually runs in front of our house and extends along the Gulf Coast from Carrabelle, Florida to Brownsville, Texas.


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But as beautiful as it is exploring around our local area, I was unprepared for the gorgeous, far-reaching, crystal-clear coastlines that I saw the first time when I flew with Tom to the Bahamas. Our destination was to be a little island called Staniel Cay and from the time we re-fueled his four-seater Cessna 182 and took off from Ft. Lauderdale heading out across the Atlantic, I stared out at the water below. It was mesmerizing from the start, but as we got closer to the island, the color of the water blossomed into the most breathtaking shades of sapphire-blue, turquoise and emerald-green I had ever seen. I was awe struck. 

Hidden, tucked away places — like Staniel Cay — which you can only get to via boat or airplane are Tom’s favorite. And if there is a runway alongside a body of water — be it a creek, a river, a marsh, an ocean, a bay or certainly on some remote island in the Caribbean, well . . . he’s landing there, regardless of pretty much anything. He is drawn to those airstrips like nothing I’ve ever seen and it is how many of our adventures have begun.

Staniel Cay is in the Exumas, an archipelago of hundreds of cays and islands in the outer Bahamas, beginning about thirty-five miles southeast of Nassau. And it was there that I began to understand Tom’s appreciation of rum and developed my own. It is absolutely the flavor of the islands and it tells the story of each island’s history, a unique and distinctive expression of its colonial background. Until going to Staniel Cay, I didn’t think much about rum at all. It was just the liquor used for fru-fru drinks, the ones usually artificially colored and often sickly sweet, served frozen out of big machines at local beach dives. The kind I usually avoid.  

I began to taste the subtleties of different rums in simple cocktails and began to see how special rum could be as a kitchen ingredient as well. By the time we departed for home, I had become well schooled on how rum is made, starting from the fermented sap of sugarcane aged in oak barrels and how it is truly a liquid spice that can be used just as broadly as wine for cooking. 

Light-bodied, white rum, which is colorless and clear, is only aged for one year. Golden rum is aged three years and dark rum five or more years. Once aged, rum is blended and may be darkened with caramel or molasses. According to the color of rum you choose, it will impart — on a scale from lighter to richer — a toasty, complex flavor. Used in everything from meats and seafood to desserts and, of course, cocktails; rum was just another thing I didn’t know I was missing.

I noticed when we went out to eat, at either of the two restaurants on the island, there was rum in nearly every single menu item, from main entrees to rum-soaked cakes to flambéed desserts. Aside from the ever-present conch fritters, [pidgeon] peas and rice and fried plantains, rum was listed proudly in most every item description on the menu. It seemed the breeze itself was scented with hints of ginger, coconut and rum, the quintessential flavors and aromas of the island.

Although this recipe has been around long before I ever visited the Bahamas, it brings it all back: Sunny days and lazy afternoons spent sun-soaked, reading and napping. Perfect after a light, fresh meal or as an afternoon pick-me-up with an iced coffee. It is wonderfully fresh and loaded with chunks of sweet, tropical fruits and lots of fresh grated ginger root. A real pleaser on a hot, sultry summer night, whether you’re anchored out under the stars or having just arrived on some far away island paradise . . . or settled in at home. Whatever the circumstances, the delightful flavors of this treat will bring the islands to you. 

Summer Breeze Fruit Salad

Prep Time

5 minutes (plus refrigeration time)

Ingredients

1 1/2 packages cream cheese (11 to 12 oz) or a combination of cream cheese, Neufchatel and/or soft goat cheese

1 1/2 cups frozen whipped topping, partially thawed

1/4 cup condensed milk

2 to 4 tablespoons dark rum or rum of choice (or a bit more if desired)

Pinch of cinnamon

Pinch of nutmeg

1/2 to 1 small knob (or to taste) of fresh ginger, grated (You can also use dried, powdered ginger, but I prefer fresh)

2 cups of small, bite-sized mixed fruit, canned and/or fresh, if possible, include fresh pineapple chunks, mango and very ripe papaya.

Toasted, flaked coconut, for topping

 

Directions

  1. Beat cream cheese, whipped topping, condensed milk, rum and spices until smooth.

  2. Gently incorporate fruit by hand and refrigerate until ready to serve. 

  3. Top with toasted coconut, if desired.


Cook’s Notes

Alcohol: If you need to remove the alcohol from the rum, simply heat it to a low boil in a small saucepan or flambé it. Allow it to cool, then add for flavor.

Dairy: There is now canned coconut milk based condensed milk and frozen coconut whipped topping available. If you don’t see them in your local grocery store, you should be able to find them at a health food store or specialty shop. –Non-dairy cream cheese is becoming easier and easier to find as well.

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