Latest review on my cookbook, “In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks”.

Bimini Boatyard Chef Dishes Up a Pair of Cookbooks
By Bill Citara in Restaurant NewsTue., Jan. 5 2010 @ 6:34AM

Yellowtail dish
Snapper Viaquez

Put the eclectic flavors of South Florida — the “New American Riviera” — on your own kitchen table with pair of new cookbooks from a Fort Lauderdale chef.

Michael Bennett, top toque at Bimini Boatyard, dishes the tricks and techniques of his “Caribb-ican” cuisine in his just-released In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks, then continues exploring the melding of Caribbean and American cuisines in the soon-to-debut Underneath a Cloudless Sky.

The books are the product of four years of traveling the Caribbean and soaking up
its culinary heritage before taking over the Boatyard’s kitchen in 2008. In addition to putting a more healthful spin on Caribbean-esque cookery, the books serve up a roster of sauces, marinades, glazes, mops, and rubs that can be matched to a variety of meats, fish, and poultry.

As Bennett puts it, “These recipes are open to experimentation and are only limited by the vastness of your imagination. I organized the book so you don’t think you have to use a certain sauce with a certain entree. The recipes are separated in a multitude of combinations — with your taste buds being the only decisive restriction.”

Misfits and Sky are both available here, as well as at, Johnson & Wales, Epicure Market in Miami, and L’Hermitage in Fort Lauderdale.

Yellowtail dish
Snapper Viaquez

Amazon review of this book:

For a “staycation” in the Caribbean on your dining room table or deck, January 11, 2010
By A. Chandler “ArtistAlana” (Austin, TX) – See all my reviews

With the majority of my cookbooks, I seek out books that have ingredients that are easy to find, insructions that are uninvolved, and comfort foods. However, there are a few standout cookbooks that might throw in some ingredients I need to make a special trip to find, and are worth it.

This is one and it is worth it. But don’t get me wrong, you’ll have many of the ingredients in your pantry and fridge now. But you’ll also discover dishes that might require a jaunt to the Asian food market or the internet and are worth the work to “make it happen” such as the ingredients “Annona Puree” or “Cherimoya” for the goat cheese spread. But these are recipes that bring the taste of fine dining to your home in my opinion. The book notes that the author is a chef and that shows…the dishes burst with many flavors and sauces and that is the reason I gave the book 5 stars. This is a unique cookbook but it stands true to the flavors of the Caribbean.

We recently got a “Big Green Egg” for our deck which is an odd cross between a grill, clay cookery, and a smoker. In spite of it being freezing outside, we’ve been keeping it busy a couple nights a week ever since. This cookbook made me happy with great choices of island style sauces and rubs and seasonings such as the Jack Daniels basting glaze, jerk seasoning, mojo marinade, sun coast seafood spice rub, etc. which was my goal for this island cookbook addition to my already massive cookbook collection.

But don’t think it’s a sauce or seasoning cookbook. That is just one of the many components. Granted, many of the recipes call for sauces that are made from other recipes in the book, but that’s the beauty of it. You can make a sauce to baste on chicken one night and then utilize the sauce another night as the base of an entire recipe. As one would expect in a Caribbean inspired cookbook, there are several combos of fish with the sweetness of island sauces or fruit, such as the pineapple coconut salmon, which is nothing short of gorgeous and a wealth of flavors that fuse perfectly. There are also meat and chicken dishes that pop with the heat of chiles which is always welcome in this Austin home.

There are recipes for grill basting, oven recipes, and stovetop dishes. There is everything from salads to kabobs to towering sculptural main dishes and some of the most unique side dishes packed with flavor I’ve seen.

There are photos interspersed throughout the book on some of the dishes that give ideas of serving them truly “5 star restaurant style”.

Though there is no nutritional info in the book, as a weight loss coach I can say that one of the good things about the book is that flavor is infused in dishes without needing to smother proteins in anything artificial or unhealthy in most cases.

Bottom line: yeah, I had to buy some ingredients like “Caribbean oil” or “pickled ginger” but once in a blue moon I consider recipe collections worth a few special trips or internet searches to get the right flavors and this one, in my opinion, is. These are original recipes but they concentrate on solid bursts of flavor combos that make dinner time truly a Caribbean “staycation”.

The book is almost 200 pages lon