Tag Archives: banana

Honduras…

Saturday, March 16 –

For this dinner we had: BestestFianceEver, Bestie Extraordinaire (wine), Mistress Whiskey (wine), Hot Momma (wine), Mr. Hero (baleadas), BabyBear, GrandpaBear, LittleBigBrother, ChinUp (mango, avocado photosalsa and chips), and MyBuddy (banana milkshakes). Later in the evening we also had LightsOn and WingWoman show up to hang out and drink some wine.

I started by adding oil to a pan and cooking the onion and bell pepper until they were just starting to brown. Then I added the garlic and let that heat up. While the veggies were cooking on the stove I added the rest of the ingredients to the crockpot. Once the veggies were done I added them in, stirred to mix, and let it simmer for a couple of hours. I did not use the sherry and I substituted a seeded habanero for the yellow pepper, which made it really, really spicy. Almost too spicy, really (which is really weird for me to say). After a few hours I blended the soup with an immersion blender and let it continue to simmer until everyone was ready to eat.

The sweet potato I substituted for a yam because I like their flavor better. Steamed, drained, crisped in hot oil, then drained. Put on a bed of baby arugula (which is what I had in the fridge) and feta, then tossed. I added the dressing in on top, made exactly as the recipe says, and gave that a good toss too.

ChinUp and MyBuddy had the salsa and chips out. Mr. Hero made the baleadas with all the toppings (basically tacos on soft corn tortillas), including beef, beans, onion, cheese, sour cream, and avocado. The wine was flowing freely, and dinner was served!

The soup was ok. I think I would have liked it better unblended. It was spicy but not terribly flavorful. Maybe it needed some ham or something to go with it? I’m not sure. The salad was good, the dressing was tangy and delightful. The beleadas were good and a great compliment to the other dishes. And the mango, avocado salsa was a perfect topping to chips and to all the rest of the food. Last we get to the milkshakes. They were good… and then they added rum. Banana rum milkshakes are pretty darn delicious. And dangerous, because you don’t really notice the rum!

Honduras
(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: http://sidewalkmystic.com)

Bahia Black Bean Soup

  • 1 Onion
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, finely diced
  • 2 garlic minced garlic cloves
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 3 15-oz cans black beans, drained
  • 2 C stock
  • 1 1/2 t. oregano
  • 1 yellow chili, seeded and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (brave souls leave the seeds)
  • 1 15-oz can whole tomatoes with liquid or 18-oz can sauce
  • 1/2 lime, squeezed for juice (critical)
  • 1/4 c. sherry (I use red wine)
  • fresh cilantro (1 1/2 t. if fresh isn’t available)

Directions:  [The website author says: my adjustments to the recipe include adding a smoked ham hock for flavor.  As well, if you find the soup too heavily favored by the tomatoes, merely back down on the amount of tomato and increase the stock proportionately]. Saute onion; bell pepper and garlic in oil until onion is translucent. Add beans, stock and oregano. Heat thoroughly. Seed and chop yellow and jalapeno chilies and put into blender. Add lime juice and tomato. Puree to finely mince the chilies. Add black bean mixture to blender (in batches) and puree. When everything is pureed, return it to the soup pot. Simmer at least 1.5 hours. Add wine and fresh cilantro to taste.

Garnishes: Rice, grated cheeses, diced onion, salsa, sour cream, plain yogurt, grilled sausages.

Mixed Greens with Sweet Potatoes and Feta Cheese

  • ¾ lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼ to ½ inch dice
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T fresh lime juice
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar (don’t pinch; buy the top shelf stuff)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • ½ t of Dijon mustard
  • ¼ C of buttermilk (you can use regular milk; just let it stand with a T of regular vinegar in it)
  • 8-10 oz of fresh greens (we use spinach and escarole – small slices of red cabbage add to the esthetic appeal)
  • 4 oz fresh feta cheese (I have used blue cheese when I make a fresh blue cheese dressing to accompany the salad)

Directions:  Steam the sweet potato for 5-8 minutes.  Just tender.  Remove and drain on paper towels.  Get the steamed potatoes very dry. Heat 2 t of olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat.  Add potatoes, shaking pan often for 15 minutes.  Remove when crisp and drain again on paper towels.  Mix together the lime juice, balsamic vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt pepper, and remaining olive oil and buttermilk.  Whisk in a blender (start to drool). Place greens and cheese in a salad bowl and toss with the dressing.  Top the salad with the sweet potatoes, serve, and call me.  Serve with tortillas.

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Burma (Myanmar)… {plus guest blogger!}

Wednesday, February 22 –

It has been a while, but we finally got Sassy Country Girl back as a guest (and a guest dessert chef!). As always we also had Wonderful Boyfriend and Roommate Extraordinaire, who brought the wine for everyone to share.

This recipe threw me off a little, mostly because I thought I was smarter than it… and I wasn’t. I thought for four people I should use two onions rather than three. I also thought that I’d use chicken breast tenders because they take less time to cook and they are easier to eat once they are in your bowl. But I didn’t think about the amount of broth that went into it. So other than the change in chicken meat type and the one less onion, I made the recipe exactly as it called for (ok, I maaaaaaaaaay have put in ” heavily rounded” teaspoons for the spices, but I did stay pretty close-ish!). I put all eight cups of broth in and I kept thinking it would simmer down. And it didn’t. So there I was with a HUGE pot of curry-flavored broth with some chicken in it.

Which means, I have to point out, that I boiled meat. *ahem* Weird, I know. I simmered the chicken in the broth and I didn’t even think twice. And it turned out pretty tasty! So maybe I have to amend my no-boiling-meat rule to occasionally let it happen. Maybe.

On the side we had the noodles (which I should have read as FRESH noodles, but didn’t) and the variety of toppings. It was like the best of curry and pho put together in one dish – different, but smelled amazing.

So into the bowl went the noodles, then ladled over the top was the chicken and broth, then on went the toppings with a squeeze of lime juice.

And it was amazingly JUST LIKE the idea of curry and pho together, in all the right ways. It was spicy without being too salty, it was soupy but let you slurp your noodles, it was the perfect warm-your-belly comfort food for a cold evening. However, if I had to do it all over again I would use four cups of broth instead of eight, but that’s just hind-sight. The flavors and toppings were perfect and I highly recommend warming your belly with them!

Things I have learned: I boiled meat and it was good. Need to rethink my rules about cooking, I guess! The recipe calls for fresh egg noodles but I used dry and they were still amazingly tasty. I need to add that type of noodle to my grocery list.

Now, on to the dessert. Sassy Country Girl made two different versions of the same thing, and I’m going to let her tell you all about it in her own words.

Banana Shwe Gye Cake ~ Sassy Country Girl

Hello Sassy Country Girl here, I joined in this week’s dinner and since I love dessert… I offered to bring Banana Shwe Gye Cake, a traditional Burmese Dessert (that and I was not able to find a good cocktail recipe!).  The first ingredient is Semolina… after a google search of Semolina I found that I could substitute Farina or better known in the US as Cream of Wheat, while I was at the store I checked the baking isle for Semolina and found Semolina Flour (my Safeway has yet to fail me)… not sure I bought both.  I split the recipe in half using each flour so we could see what the difference would be if any. Cream of Wheat is much more coarse then then Semolina Flour (which is commenly used to make pasta’s) however not as fine as flour.  I started by browning the Semolina Flour and Cream of Wheat, the flour browned very quickly while setting the smoke detectors off “Smoke Detected in the Kitchen, EVACUATE!” (Yes my smoke alarms talk to you!) The Cream of Wheat however took much longer to brown. Setting those aside I combined the milks, water, eggs, sugar and banana, brought to a simmer and added the Cream of Wheat to one pan and stirred till thick…. Looks like brown Cream of Wheat and was very sweet! Then added the butter, which just seemed strange, not how you would typically make a cake… placed this batch in a bread pan. Went back to the Semolina flour, added it to the banana mixture, this batch thickened up very fast and was much darker then the Cream of Wheat.  I added the butter and placed the mixture in another bread pan.  It says to put then pans on a baking sheet and good thing cause the butter bubbles over, the cakes did not rise and remained the same color while cooking. After an hour of baking I added the poppy seeds and broiled.  Cooled (they just looked like cream of wheat with butter, they appeared to have the same constancy as when they went in the over) covered to let them sit overnight. The next morning they had fallen about an inch, the tops were brown like the photos online and the centers were lighter, looked more like very moist bread.  So now it comes time to eat them…. Thankfully the Roommate Extraordinaire picked up ice cream because this was a flop! The Cream of Wheat was better than the Semolina Flour, but they were more like overly moistened Banana bread, not good.  The recipe calls for the cake to made in a 9×9 pan… there is no way this would have all fit in a 9×9 as they bread pans were full to the top.  However if made in a 9×13 maybe it would have baked out more of the moisture… Oh well always an adventure, until next time…

Much Love!
Sassy Country Girl

Burma
(recipe borrowed from the cooks at: www.asiarecipe.com and recipes.wikia.com)

Burmese Chicken Curry

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3 large onions, chopped finely
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoon ginger finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3 teaspoon garam masala
  • 4 whole chicken breasts and 3 whole chicken legs
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup chick pea flour or dried yellow split peas
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • salt to taste
  • 2 lbs fresh Chinese egg noodles

Condiments

  • Peel and slice 12 garlic cloves crosswise. Fry them in 4 tablespoon oil until they are golden. Remove and cool.
  • 3 hard cooked eggs quartered
  • 2 red onions slivered lengthwise
  • 3 green onions thinly sliced
  • 2 limes or lemons cut into wedges
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander sprigs, trimmed.
  • 2 tablespoon crushed dried Asian Chili peppers sauted in 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Directions

Heat the vegetable oil in an 8 to 12 quart pan or Dutch oven. Stir in the turmeric and cook it for one minute. Add the onions and cook on medium heat stirring occasionally, until the onions are limp but not browned, about 20 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, cayenne, cumin, coriander and garam masala. Cook and stir the mixture about 1 minute. Add the chicken pieces and stir to coat them with the onions and spices. Add the cinnamon, bay leaf, and chicken broth, and simmer for 25 minutes.

Mix the chick pea flour with 1 1/3 cups water, or grind the lentils to a flour in a blender or mortar and mix 3/4 cup of the resulting flour with 1 1/3 cups water. Stir the mixture into the soup. Add the coconut milk, cover and simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Thaw egg noodles if frozen. Put noodles in a large pot of boiling water and boil for 6-7 minutes. Drain noodles and stir in a couple of teaspoon of vegetable oil to keep them from sticking together and set aside.

Remove the pan from the heat and carefully lift out the chicken pieces. Remove the meat from the bones and return it to the sauce. Add fish sauce and salt to taste. Serve the noodles of a platter and the curry and condiments separately. Diners first serve themselves to noodles, then the curry, then to the condiments they like.

Banana Shwe Gye Cake

  •  2 cups semolina (shwe gye)
  •  2 cans (13.5 oz each) coconut milk
  •  1 can (5 oz) evaporated milk
  •  2 eggs, beaten
  •  1 1/2 cup Sugar
  •  4 ripe bananas, mashed
  •  1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
  •  1 tablespoons poppy seeds
  •  nonstick cooking spray
  •  water (as needed)

Directions
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set pan on foil-lined baking sheet. In a dry skillet, roast semolina over medium heat for 10 minutes. Remove from heat when semolina changes color. Next, combine the coconut milk, 1 1/2 cups water, evaporated milk, eggs, Sugar and bananas in a large pot and stir over medium heat for 4–5 minutes or until mixture starts simmering. Pour in the roasted semolina over the mixture and continue stirring slowly over medium heat until the mixture thickens. Add the butter or margarine and stir briefly. Pour the thick batter into the baking pan and bake for 1 hour, when the top is evenly golden brown. Sprinkle with poppy seeds. Place the cake under a broiler and broil for 2–3 minutes. Then let cool in room temperature, cover and leave overnight. Makes 6-10 servings.


American Samoa…

Thursday, August 4 –

American Samoa was perfect, in a way, for such a warm day. Almost no cooking involved. I did, however, happen to pick two recipes that were so similar to each other that it was like tasting variations of the same thing. I started with the tuna dish, to let it marinate. I had a small amount of fish (because of how expensive sashimi-grade fish is), so I only used part of a cucumber, part of a tomato, juice from two limes, coconut milk from a can, some chopped green onion, salt and pepper. I let that sit while I worked on the next dish.

This next dish, I have to say, made me nervous. Mostly because I don’t really like grapefruit or coconut. So I started with having my Wonderful Boyfriend hack open the coconut. Which required a how-to YouTube video and a cleaver. Then I took one grapefruit, the meat from the coconut, juice from two limes, one whole shallot, two shallots, coriander, chives, salt, one celery stalk, and part of a cucumber. I was still very skeptical about it, even seeing it mixed together. Then I just poured the “dressing” straight onto the mix, and used the juice from the coconut we hacked open, white vinegar (instead of coconut vinegar because I couldn’t find it), olive oil, sugar and salt. I just poured dollops into the bowl until it tasted right so I don’t have very good measurements to share. More oil than vinegar and more sugar than salt. Then – surprise, surprise – it actually tasted good! Even my Wonderful Boyfriend who feels the same way about coconut and grapefruit that I do liked it. Weird blend of flavors, but good.

We sat down to these two dishes and I realized that I didn’t have a starch, or a main dish, or anything else that would fill up a real “dinner plate”. I basically had two sides. But brave it we did (along with some fabulous wine that I’ll write about below) and it was pretty good. But not great. And I lost interest in it about 4 bites in. We sat there and looked at each other over empty plates and full serving bowls. It might have been a fail…

But then I hopped up and grabbed the soy sauce and wasabi about of the fridge and started pulling the tuna dish apart. Both my Wonderful Boyfriend and I are sushi fiends, so we started eating the tuna as if it was just sashimi and some cucumber, and it was amazing. It totally saved the day. The grapefruit dish sat there, forgotten, but not quite disliked.

After dinner I moved on to making the banana doughnuts. And… YUM! They were like homemade pillows of warm yumminess with a slight hint of banana. They made a whole pile of them, but they were worth it to save for the next day. I made them exactly as the recipe called for and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Things I have learned: Remember to make two different dishes. If they are too similar I will lose interest in them very, very quickly. Desserts are a fun part of this process and I should find more sweets to go with the dinners.

Thoughts about wine: I went on a hunt for the recommended wine from my friend Leigh Olson, Cracker Sommelier. The first wine I picked up was an Oregon wine and then I finally settled on an Italian wine, thanks to the handy guy at the grocery store. I opened the Italian wine as recommended, and didn’t get to the Oregon wine, so I’ll have to save it for this weekend. (shucks!) It was the perfect wine to go with the tuna and it even continued to drink well with the doughnuts.

Recommendations from our sommelier: This American Samoan meal, accented with citrus notes and grounded in the richness of Ahi Tuna demands a crisp, refreshing Pinot Grigio.

An Italian cousin to Pinot Gris (actually the very same grape just raised up in a different country) produces a light, crisp wine that will complement the bright citrus notes as well as create a lovely contrast to the luxuriously rich Ahi.  Exhibiting flavors of lemon ~ great compliment to all of the citrus in the recipes ~ minerality ~ think about the saltiness of seafood ~ and some subtle white pepper notes, this is Perfectly Paired with today’s Devouring the World Meal.

· For an everyday wine, pick up a Portia Pinot Gris.
· If you want to step it up a bit choose a Jermann from the Fruiuli-Veneze Giulia region of Italy.
· And if money is burning a hole in your pocket grab a Tiziano Pinot Grigio.
· Rely on your wine steward at your local grocer.  They are most usually a great resource.  Share the ingredients and let them show you the wines!

Fun Facts: Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio is mutant of Pinot Noir and retains a dark colored skin, but yes, produces a white wine.  It originated in France and spread to Switzerland ~ where it was allegedly the favorite of Emperor Charles IV ~ Germany and Italy.  California and Oregon are also producing some nice Pinot Gris/Grigios.  Pinot Gris means “Grey Pine Cone” grey for the skin and pine cone for the shape of the clusters.

Serving Temp: Mid 40’s.  No wine cooler, no problem.  Store your Pinot Grigio in the refrigerator and pull it out 45 minutes before serving. Forgot to do that?  Throw it in the frig 2 ¾ hours before serving.

Vessel of Choice:  Riedel Vinum Sauvignon Blanc Wine Glasses.  No budget for specialized wine glasses, a general purpose wine glass will be perfect. Just don’t pour this wine into a red wine glass, the subtle aromas will escape at an alarming rate.  No aromas, No taste…

American Samoa
(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: www.whats4eats.com, blog.aucklandmuseum.com, and www.allrecipes.com)

Poisson Cru, or E’ia Ota (Tahitian lime-marinated tuna)

  • Highest-quality ahi tuna, cut into 1/2-inch cubes — 1 1/2 pounds
  • Lime juice — 1/2 cup
  • Coconut milk — 1/4 cup
  • Cucumber, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch cubes — 1 small
  • Tomato, seeded and diced — 1
  • Scallions, chopped — 3 or 4
  • Kosher or sea salt — big pinch
  • Fresh ground pepper — pinch

Method: Mix all the ingredients together in a large, non-reactive bowl and set aside to marinate for 10 or 20 minutes. Drain excess liquid and adjust seasoning. Garnish with some freshly chopped scallions and serve in a decorate bowl or large clam shell.

Variations: Make sure to use very fresh, high-quality fish for this dish. Such fish is often marked “sushi grade” in the market. Use other fish — halibut, snapper, swordfish — if you like.
Other possible additions: cubed red peppers, grated carrots, diced red onion, minced garlic. Sometimes a pinch of sugar is added to take the edge off the acidity.

Samoan Vegetarian Ceviche

  • 1 green coconut
  • 2 pink grapefruit
  • 2 limes
  • 3 shallots finely sliced
  • 2 radishes sliced
  • Baby coriander
  • Chopped chives
  • Salt
  • Celery stalks, finely sliced
  • Cucumber, finely sliced

Method: Crack the coconut open, reserved some juice for the dressing, use a spoon and scoop out the flesh. Place flesh with the citrus in a bowl, add shallots, cucumber, celery and dressing, let stand for 5 min to marinade, add herbs adjust seasoning and serve garnish and coriander.

Dressing

  • 200ml (just under a cup) coconut juice
  • 100ml (just under a half cup) grapefruit juice
  • Lime juice
  • Coconut vinegar
  • 200ml (just under a cup) coconut oil or olive oil
  • Sugar
  • Salt to taste

Method for dressing: Mix juices with the vinegar, whisk in oil then season with sugar and salt.

Samoan Panikeke

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 6 cups vegetable oil for frying

Directions: Combine the flour, sugar, and baking powder in a bowl until thoroughly mixed, and stir in the bananas, vanilla extract, and water to make a smooth, sticky dough. Heat oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). The oil should be deep enough to completely cover the panikekes while frying, or at last 3 inches deep.  Scoop up a scant 1/4 cup of batter with a large spoon, and use another spoon to push it off into the oil. Fry in small batches of 4 or 5 until they float to the top and turn golden brown, about 3 minutes, then flip them to fry the other side. Remove from the fryer and let drain on paper towels.