A Taste Of The Tropics

Hungry for some sunshine? New Orleans chef Dominique Macquet brings a taste of the tropics to "Chef on a Shoestring."

Born on the tiny island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, Chef Dominique brings a world of experience to his kitchen, having honed his culinary style working all over the globe before finding his place in New Orleans. Chef Dominique describes his style as "light, fresh, flavorful" contemporary French with an Asian influence.

Macquet opened his French restaurant at the Maison Dupuy Hotel in the French Quarter in March 1997, and received a banquet of awards and acclamation from the Times-Picayune, Wine Spectator Magazine, New Orleans Magazine, Esquire and Bon Appetit. Among his other honors: cooking the first meal Nelson Mandela enjoyed after his release from prison, cooking on the QE2, and serving as a guest chef at the White House.

Two years ago he reinvented both his restaurant and himself by first showcasing the multi-ethnic "tropical" flavors he first tasted on his home island. Many of these recipes have now made it into his first cookbook, "Dominique's Tropical Latitudes" (Bright Sky Press).

What is true of Mauritius cuisine is true of most island cuisines, the chef explains. It evolves from a mix of original native people using only those ingredients indigenous to the island, adapting their diet to the foods they found on hand, then later being introduced to the flavors and spices of other areas through colonization, linking its cuisine to the rest of the world.

Trained in classic French cooking and well-versed in California cuisine, Macquet has now easily embraced the use of Louisiana ingredients to create dishes that blend the robust flavors of the West with the more subtle ones of the East.

For his "Chef on a Shoestring" menu he has prepared Cool Watercress-Romaine Salad, Jerk Pork Loin, and Floating Islands with Crème Anglaise.

FOOD FACTS:

Watercress: This peppery green has a slightly bitter, pungent flavor and small, crisp, dark green leaves.

Tomatoes: Good-quality Roma tomatoes will be firm, smooth-skinned and light red.

Jerk Pork - The word "Jerk" is a Jamaican term used to describe a seasoning applied primarily to grilled foods. It's generally a mixture of chiles, thyme, cinnamon, ginger, garlic and onions.

Jicama - This large bulbous root vegetable has a sweet crunchy flesh that's good both raw and cooked.

Crème Anglaise - French for English Cream, this is a light custard used as a dessert cream or sauce.

RECIPES:

Cool Watercress-Romaine Salad

Oven-Dried Tomatoes

4 Roma tomatoes, peeled
2 Tbls. fresh thyme
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup Pomace olive oil

Citrus-Mustard Vinaigrette

Juice from ½ orange
Juice from 1 lemon
Juice from 1 lime
Juice from ½ grapefruit
½ Tbl. Dijon mustard
1 cup Pomace olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Salad

2 hearts of romaine, broken into bite-sized leaves
2 bunches baby watercress, trimmed
3 white corn on the cob, roasted and kernels removed (see method below)

Method:

Combine the oven-dried tomato ingredients; spread in single layer on a baking sheet. Place in a 150º F oven for 8 hours.

To make the vinaigrette, combine the juices and mustard with a hand blender. Slowly add oil, blending to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine the romaine, watercress and corn; add vinaigrette and toss lightly. Top with oven-dried tomatoes.

Method for roasting corn on the cob:

Preheat oven to 400º F. Brush corn with olive oil. Place ears of corn on a baking sheet. Roast 15 to 20 minutes until ears start to turn a light golden brown. Let corn cool at room temperature before removing the kernels.

For the rest of the recipes turn to Page Two.

  • David Morgan

    David Morgan is a senior editor at CBSNews.com and cbssundaymorning.com.