Diplomat in the kitchen - Consular for public affairs, US Embassy in Kingston, reveals talent
What started as curiosity, sparked at the tender age of five, evolved into an exciting desire to experience different cultures around the world through the art of flavour. Consular for public affairs at the United States Embassy in Kingston Jamaica, Jeremiah Knight, took Food, on a delicious American Thanksgiving journey, which involved a lot of prep for a few savoury, traditional staples.
"I started cooking when I was about five. My mom always wanted me to help her out in the kitchen, but that meant washing dishes," Knight laughed, as he recalled his earlier years in the kitchen.
"Whenever I went to my grandma or my aunt's house, I was allowed to actually cook."
Having both Jamaican and American heritage, Knight was encouraged to specialise in both styles of food, and so his desire to cook became rooted in his extensive experience with food within his family. Hailing from a family of chefs and restaurateurs, it is easy to say cooking is in his blood.
"My grandparents owned two restaurants, my aunt owned a Jamaican restaurant in Atlanta, and my uncle, who recently passed this year, was a chef at Buckingham Palace," said Knight.
His knack for combining ingredients to produce a variety of robust flavours is a self-taught art, based on observing and learning from his peers. The diplomat admits that during his travels, he makes time to learn how to create the traditional meals of whichever country he is visiting.
"When I was in Fiji, I took a few cooking classes so I could learn how to create traditional Fiji meals," he said.
Knight believes the best way to create cultural integration is through the art of food. Aside from his diplomatic duties, Knight writes for a food magazine called Manjar Food, which is the Spanish word for delicacy, published in the Dominican Republic.
"My column is called 'Flavours of the World', and I talk about my culinary travels and I share a dish from each country. I share my experience with that food and the culinary culture," he explained. After a number of culinary articles, Knight decided to finally create his own full-fledged cookbook, which is currently in its first draft.
Thanksgiving is one of Knight's favourite time of year.
"In America, this is where the entire family would come together around one table for an intimate dinner," explained Knight, who specialises in classic Southern Thanksgiving dinner.
Food, was able to indulge in the deliciously sweet yet savoury carrot souffle, expertly paired with baked potatoes, lightly dusted with one of the many imported clay salts collected by the consular himself, with gravy so rich and flavourful layered atop a moist and tender turkey. With the relaxing hum of Spanish music telling tales of adventure, love and loss, Knight looked at home as he waltz around the kitchen, showing our team a number of tips and tricks for the recreation of a true American Thanksgiving feast.
His top 5 tips and tricks for Thanksgiving are:
• Coat the turkey with a packet of Lipton Onion Soup Mix for a wonderful flavour and to make the turkey very moist.
• Never carve the turkey hot. By waiting until it cools, the turkey will not fall apart during carving.
• Always use fresh ingredients for the best flavour.
• Get to know your different salts. It makes a huge difference.
• Use an oven bag to retain moisture within the turkey.
Sage Butter Carrot Souffle
2 lb carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
4-5 large leaves of fresh sage
1/2 brown sugar, firmly packed
3 large eggs, whisked until fluffy
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla flavouring
1 tablespoon of molasses
1 cup raisins
Powdered sugar for dusting
1. Dice carrots and place in a medium saucepan and slightly cover with water. Cook about 20-25 minutes or until very soft.
2. When carrots are soft, drain. Add carrots to a food processor and blend until smooth. Alternatively, mash them until well blended.
3. Add all dry ingredients and blend.
4. In a separate saucepan, melt butter with sage leaves until leaves turn brown. Remove from heat and remove leaves from butter. Pour infused butter into carrot mixture.
5. Mix into carrots heavy cream and vanilla flavouring.
6. Beat eggs until light and fluffy, then add to mixture.
7. Add in carrots.
8. Pour mixture into a buttered nine inch round baking dish, or similar size.
9. Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 40 minutes or until set.
10. Dust with powdered sugar or fresh whipped cream before serving.
10 Irish potatoes (peeled and largely diced)
1 tablespoon of sea salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground white pepper
1/4 cup of freshly chopped parsley
1/4 cup of freshly chopped rosemary
1/4 cup of fresh thyme
1/4 cup of freshly chopped chives
2 tablespoons of melted butter
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 teaspoons of garlic powder
2 teaspoons of smoked paprika
1. Boil diced potatoes for approximately 15-20 minutes (potatoes should be firm). Remove from water and place in a large mixing bowl.
2. Add into bowl olive oil and butter. Mix until butter has melted.
3. Add in reminder of ingredients and mix.
4. Lightly grease a large glass with olive oil and then place potatoes in.
5. Roast in oven at a temperature of 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
Jeremiah's Thanksgiving turkey
1 14-15lb turkey
2 bottles of white wine (preferably a chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc)
1 bunch of fresh parsley
1 bunch of fresh rosemary
1 bunch of fresh thyme
1 bunch of fresh sage
5-6 cloves of garlic
4 tablespoons of sea salt ( or Himalayan pink salt)
2 tablespoons of coarsely ground white pepper
3 teaspoons of smoked paprika
1 large white onion
1 large sweet pepper
2 teaspoons of oregano
3 tablespoons of olive oil
3 teaspoons of flour
1 oven roasting bag
1. Fill cavity of turkey with fresh herbs, garlic (sliced in half), onions (chopped in quarters), and sweet pepper (sliced in quarters).
2. Place turkey in oven roasting bag and pour in white wine along with two tablespoons of salt.
3. Place turkey set in brine mixture in refrigerator for three days.
4. Remove turkey from brine and empty its cavity. Pour out brine, but reserve the oven-roasting bag.
5. Rub turkey inside and out with olive oil
6. Season turkey with remaining salt, pepper, oregano, paprika, inside and out.
7. Return fresh herbs, onions, garlic, and sweet pepper to the cavity of the turkey.
8. Dust oven roasting bag with flour and then place turkey inside.
9. Roast at a temperature of 350 degrees for 2-2.5 hours.
10. Remove from the oven and carefully open bag. Allow turkey to sit for one hour before removing from bag.