The most wonderful time of year is upon us — the holiday festive season.

Spending time with family and friends lends the opportunity to entertain and be entertained by good company, all of course with delicious food and beverages.

Add some tropical flair to your holiday menus by bringing in a bit of sweet, spice and a kick of Island heat.

Here are a couple of traditional holiday recipes that can be enhanced with Caribbean flavours of rum, coconut, citrus and hot peppers — for those who need a little culinary warmth this season.

Pineapple Rum Glaze (will glaze a ham of 5 to 8 pounds)

Ingredients

1 tablespoon salted butter
1 small shallot, peeled and diced small
5 ounces of your favourite Caribbean dark rum
2 cups brown sugar
1 small can diced pineapple, strained of liquid 
¼ piece Scotch bonnet pepper, de-seeded and finely chopped 
½ cup Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves 
Sea salt to taste

Method

  • In a medium sauce pot, heat butter over medium heat and fry shallots for 5 minutes.
  • Add rum and continue heating until liquid is reduced by half.
  • Stir in mustard and all other ingredients.
  • Heat for a few minutes until mixture reduces enough to stick to the back of a spoon.
  • Use glaze to coat your roasted ham and enjoy.

Caribbean Sweet Potatoes (4-6 servings)

Ingredients

6 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into ½ inch pieces
1 medium shallot, peeled and diced small
2 cups frozen green peas, thawed
2 cups frozen corn, thawed  
1 tablespoon dried jerk spice mix
1 tablespoon of your favourite Caribbean hot sauce 
2 ounces maple syrup 
2 cups mayonnaise 
Juice of one lime
Juice and zest of one lemon
5 chilled hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped in rough pieces
½ toasted and salted pumpkin seeds 
1 bunch fresh chopped chives
¼ bunch of Italian parsley, washed and chopped fine
1 bunch green onion, chopped fine
Sea salt to taste
Fresh-ground white/black pepper

Method

  • Place sweet potatoes in boiling salted water. Boil until fork tender — 12 to 15 minutes — and then strain and cool completely.
  • In a large, bowl add all other ingredients and stir well.
  • Gently fold in the sweet potatoes to coat dressing evenly and season with emotion.
  • Serve on a platter and enjoy.

Massimo De Francesca is the executive chef at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa.