Cook Caribbean gourmet on a budget

Dreaming of a getaway vacation to the Caribbean? Why not give yourself a quick escape to the Islands in the comfort of your own kitchen? Cooking Caribbean inspired gourmet dishes can give you a lift while leaving your wallet intact. You can transform your kitchen into the next best thing to a beach-side hammock. Let's take a look at a few methods to set an Island cuisine mood:

Make your own seasonings

Many of the store bought seasonings are not only overpriced, but are also not authentically accurate. These prepackaged seasonings are often watered-down versions which cater to a mediocre palate. But, you want to cook gourmet and authentic! Your palate does not want to be babied.

Making a blend of authentic Caribbean seasonings is simple. With your own perfect blend, you can transform a basic Caribbean inspired dish into the gourmet meal it was meant to be. Do the research before you start shopping. Stick with authentic spices. You'll find many recipes for Carribean spice blends, and it will take some time to sift through them.

In order to stay within your budget, it is usually best to buy spices in bulk. Spices will last a long time when stored properly, so consider a higher investment in the beginning and it will even out over the long haul.

It's well worth the time and trouble researching and creating your own spice blends. When you find that perfect blend that suits your taste, you are well on your way to turning ordinary island fare into Carribean gourmet cuisine.

Use traditional cooking techniques

The best way to achieve gourmet greatness is to use the same techniques as the gourmet chefs. Learning techniques doesn't mean you have to go out and buy the same equipment; there are ways to use what you already have and modify your cooking style. For instance, if you don't have a large cast iron pot to help sear meats, a large stock pot will often do the trick.

Learning techniques straight from the culture you are trying to emulate is a great way to capture the authentic and gourmet flavors of the Caribbean islands. And while there are so many islands, you can pull from a wealth of different styles to accommodate your taste buds. When you begin to cook like the culture you are trying to copy, your food begins to taste more and more like it should.

Expand your research into cooking techniques beyond the cooking channel and recipe books. Oftentimes, travel shows and books give a more well-rounded look at cooking authentic dishes. As a matter of fact, you may want to start your research in the travel section of the library before you even choose recipes. Many travel writers intersperse their travel-logs with very colorful descriptions of the local cuisine, usually based on the streets of a village, that will give you a basis for your understanding of a region's cultural style and taste.

Serve your meal authentically

Many Caribbean meals are served in the center of a large table surrounded by a large group of family and friends. In order to gain some similarity to this style of gourmet dining at your next large gathering, why not plan a pot luck style dinner?

Gather your hungry friends and family together for a pot luck meal with huge bowls and platters of Caribbean inspired food in the center of a large table. This shared meal is a great way for many people to enjoy a gourmet meal without any one person spending too much money. And, this method of dining emulates the Caribbean lifestyle very well.

This type of meal also lends itself well to a wide variety of dishes from various regions. While one person brings arroz con pollo, another person may bring jerk chicken, and yet another person may try their hand at fried plantains. This will give you and your guests the truest experience of Caribbean gourmet. You'll be enjoying this wonderful island treat in a typical Caribbean fashion, with many people sharing a large meal filled with a variety of spicy, delicious, gourmet dishes.