Saturday, December 28, 2013

Fish Wrapped in Banana Leaves

The only thing that makes the dish cool and tropical is the banana leaves.  It is just your everyday, normally cooked fish, but because it is wrapped in banana leaves, it is like opening a present.  Banana leaves are cool; but the fish is just normal.  So, if you like normal fish, you will have no problem at all with the taste of this recipe!

1 lemongrass stalk (or about a tablespoon of the kind that comes in a tube)
2 green onions (chopped)
2 garlic cloves
1 Tb cilantro (fresh, or 1 tsp. dried)
1 Tb ginger (fresh, the wet kind in the jar)
1/2 tsp hot sesame oil
1 Tb lime juice
1 Tb salt
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp pepper
4 fish fillets
banana leaves

Put everything except the fish & leaves into a food processor and blend until fairly smooth.  If using lemongrass stalk, just use the bottom few inches & bulb, tearing away the outer leaves.

Put the fish in a tray (see picture above).  Score the fish, spread the marinade over it, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

How to wrap:
With two pieces of the banana leaf, make a cross, like this: + and then put the fish on top of the cross.  Each of the ends sticking out from under the fish should be about 1 foot long.  Then, fold up the vertical part first to make a little package out of the fillet.  Then wrap that part up in the horizontal sticky-outy parts.  You want to wind up with a package that is several layers thick, so that it's hard for the juices to escape.

Heat a grill to medium-high (whatever that means for your type of grill.)  Cook on one side for five minutes.  Flip over (this can be tricky; we've used both tongs and spatulas--neither one seems better than the other, but the main point is to do it quickly so that you don't spill too much juice.)  Cook for another five minutes.

Unwrapping can be a little messy to do on a dinner plate.  We usually unwrap it in a baking dish (but at the table so people can see how cool the leaves are) and then serve it up.

Daikon Apple Slaw

This was a very flavorful dish!  For those who don't know what a daikon radish is, here is a very simple definition: a special kind of radish that is larger than normal.  I liked this, especially the apple pieces.

1 large red apple
1 daikon radish
1 T toasted sesame seeds
3 T rice vinegar
2 T soy sauce or substitute
1 T sugar
1 T oil
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp hot oil or Tobasco
1 tsp salt
2 green onions

Grind the sesame seeds with mortar & pestle or electric grinder (my dad uses a coffee grinder for seeds like flax & sesame.)  In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients except apple and daikon.

Peel and core the apple.  Slice it into sticks about 3" long and 1/4" wide.  Dump these into the sauce as you slice them so that they don't brown.  Peel the daikon and chop it into sticks roughly the same size (or make them different so they are easily identifiable by picky eaters!)  Add to the bowl, stir it all up.  Refrigerate for a while so that it's cold when served.

(adapted from Roots by Diane Morgan.)

Chicken Chichen Itza

This is a really good meal that is made from a lot of leftover ingredients!  It was a little mushy as a leftover, but still very good!

1 chicken, or 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup rice flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 tomatoes
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
1 T oregano
1 T cumin
1/4 cup butter or margarine, plus more to saute
Banana leaves (or aluminum foil)
Rice, brown or wild

Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag.  Stick the chicken in and shake to thoroughly coat.

Heat some butter or margarine in a skillet and brown the chicken on both sides.  Cover and continue cooking on low for 20 minutes, until done.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce.  Heat a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of oil in a pan.  Chop up the tomatoes, onion and garlic, and throw them all in.  Saute for 3 minutes.  Sprinkle with the oregano and cumin, cover the pan and cook over moderate heat for about ten minutes.  Uncover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Finally, put it all into a food processor and blend.

Preheat oven to 350.

Beat 1/4 cup butter into the tomato sauce.

Place a piece of chicken either on a plus-sign shape of crossed banana leaves, or in the middle of a square of foil.  (Foil is certainly less messy, but leaves add a nice flavor and look very cool.)  Spoon at least 1/4 cup of tomato sauce over the chicken.  Wrap it up.  Repeat with the other pieces of chicken, place all of them in a baking pan (in case of leakage), and bake for 20 minutes.

Serve with rice.

Any leftovers are excellent as taco meat for tomorrow's dinner!

Rainbow Salad

This salad was really cool looking!  Also, it tasted good because it wasn't one of the lettuce and one piece of carrot and one olive salads.  Also, if you find something blue to put in the salad, please post a comment and tell us what it is!

RED: Tomatoes & red bell pepper
ORANGE: Orange bell pepper
YELLOW: Canned corn & yellow bell pepper
GREEN: Lettuce & spinach
BLUE: Good luck.
BURGUNDY: Red quinoa, boiled about 15 minutes in 2 parts water for 1 part quinoa.
VIOLET: Red onion
BROWN: beans (these can actually be a variety of colors!)
BLACK: Olives

Dressing: Mix vinegar, oil, Tobasco, sugar, herbs, and bullion powder as desired.

Chicken Satay

This is an unlikely place to find a really amazing recipe, but we got this from the Family Fun magazine!  It is my mom's big achievement because it is a recipe that she made that was a big hit!  I think it is the best meal that I've had since September.  My sister, who now will comment on all recipe posts says: "It is very yummy, but it is chewy."  


1 pound boneless chicken breast
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 Tb light brown sugar
2 Tb fish sauce
1 Tb ground coriander seed
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. turmeric
Wooden skewers, soaked in water for 1 hour (this actually really helps the meat come of the stick easier.)


1.  For easier slicing, place the meat in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes.
2.  Combine coconut milk, brown sugar, fish sauce, coriander, cumin, and turmeric in a large bowl and stir well to dissolve the sugar.
3.  Slice the meat into thin strips about 3/4 inch thick and 3 inches long.  Add the meat to the coconut milk marinade and refrigerate covered for at least 2 hours.
4.  Preheat the broiler or the grill.  Thread 1 or 2 pieces of meat onto each skewer.  Grill or broil the meat for 4 to 6 minutes per side, or until it's cooked through.  Makes about 10 skewers.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Shrimp Cocktail in a Pineapple (Pineapple Monte Carlo)

 Another weird recipe from Vincent Price's cookbook.  I don't know why, but my dad always goes for the weird, tropical recipes.  Pineapple, banana leaves you name it!  I really liked the apples in this one.  The shrimp was a little tough, but that might have just been our old in-the-freezer-forever shrimp.  My sister says: "It looks awesome but it doesn't taste good."  Don't listen to her, she doesn't like shrimp or fruit!


1 pineapple (refrigerated)
2 pound salad shrimp
2 apples
1 T tarragon
1 T fresh parsley
3 T mayonnaise
6 T ketchup
1/4 ounce Cointreau (brandy, rum, or white wine)
1/4 ounce port


1. Cut the top off the pineapple and save it.  Scoop out the meat, toss the core, chop up the rest, saving the hollowed-out pineapple in the fridge.  (This is harder than it sounds, be patient.)  Peel the apples and chop them up. Put the pineapple, apple, shrimp, tarragon, and parsely in a big bowl and toss to coat with the pineapple juice.  Put the bowl in the fridge.

2. Prepare the sauce.  Mix the mayo, catsup, Cointreau (or whatever), and port.  Pour this over the fruit mixture, and put back in the fridge.

3. When you're ready to serve it, put the mixture into the hollowed-out pineapple.  Put the lid back on top.  The Rivoli in Mexico City (from where this recipe originates, via Vincent Price) twines fresh flowers amongst the leaves.  You can do that, or just serve it up as-is.  You will probably have extra which you can use to refill the pineapple after the first course.

The shrimp becomes totally nasty as a leftover, so eat everything!  Delicious, but only when fresh!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Pumpkin Corn Bread

This was our version of Thanksgiving corn bread.  It was a good blend of pumpkin and normal bread flavor.  I didn't like it as much as some of our other breads, but it was still yummy!


1-1/2 cups cornmeal
1 cup brown rice flour
1 T baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup milk or substitute (hemp, coconut, etc.)
1/3 cup melted butter
1/3 cup honey
2 eggs


1. Preheat over to 350.  Oil a baking dish (9" x 9" or 7" by 11" or whatever you have.)

2. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients thoroughly.  In another bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together.  Mix the wet and dry together, but do not overmix.  Pour into the baking dish, smooth the top with a spoon so it looks pretty.

3. Bake for 35 minutes or until done; test with a toothpick.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Skewered Chicken in Sesame Soy Sauce

This is a really great dinner that my dad made, straight from Vincent Price's A Treasury of Great Recipes.  It was super flavorful and filling.  Even my sister liked it.  She says: "The sauce is delicious, especially good with mashed potato."  The mashed potato part has nothing to do with the recipe, but she likes mashed potato with anything! :)


2 cubes         {  -about 1 1/2 cups boned cooked chicken
of each on     {  -pineapple
each skewer  {  -apple(s)
for marinating  -1/2 soy sauce or substitute

 for sauce          -1 clove garlic, crushed
                          -1/2 Tb sugar
                          -1/4 cup wine vinegar
                          -1/4 cup sherry
                          -1/2 large apple, finely grated
                          -3 drops sesame oil



1.  Cut chicken into cubes.
2.  Put on each skewer: 1 chunk pineapple, 1 cube chicken, 1 cube apple dipped in lemon juice, and repeat again.  
3.  Marinate skewers in sesame soy sauce (which you will make) for fifteen minutes, and then remove and drain.


1.  Mix all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl.