Fish and bananas

This became a great favorite of mine in Bermuda, and is still my first choice for a festive solo dinner. It’s quite easy to make for one or two, but gets more complicated if you try to make a lot. Also, the bananas tend to stick and make a mess, so if possible choose a skillet that you can leave to soak overnight.

for each serving:
1/3-1/2 lb. mild white fish fillet*
butter or oil for cooking
1 Tbsp. slivered almonds (optional)
1-2 bananas, cut into 1/4 inch slices

Saute the fish in just enough butter or oil to prevent sticking over medium or medium-low heat, about 2 minutes per side or until lightly browned on the outside and opaque and cooked through inside. Remove to a plate and keep warm (i.e. drop a lid over it if the kitchen’s cold or the cat seems too interested).

Add more butter or oil to the skillet and cook the almonds (if using), stirring, for 2-3 minutes to brown lightly. Add the banana slices; cook, turning frequently and gently, until the bananas are softened and lightly browned, about 1 min. The bananas tend to stick as they cook, so use plenty of butter or oil. They will take on a golden color when done. Top the fish with the bananas. Garnish with snipped parsley or a sprig of cilantro if desired.

*Wahoo, snapper, or dolphinfish (mahi mahi) are common in Bermuda, but I’ve had good results with cod or halibut. It’s best to get a nice thick fillet; thinner fillets such as sole tend to break up when cooked, making a sort of hash (which is still good but not as pretty).

Adapted from:″ target=”_blank”>The 15-minute single gourmet / Paulette Mitchell. 1994. 0028609972.

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Ginger kale soup

4 cups kale, heavy stems removed, washed well and chopped
2 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. ginger, peeled and mashed
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. chopped onion
2 Tbsp. flour
4 cups skim milk
1/4 Tbsp. cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp. sherry per bowl
freshly grated nutmeg

Place kale in a heavy saucepan with the water; cover and cook on med-low for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more water as needed. When kale is almost limp, remove it from the pot. In food processor or blender, blend with ginger until very fine. Heat oil in the saucepan; add onion and saute for about 2 minutes. Whisk in the flour, being careful to keep mixture smooth. Gradually add milk and continue to stir. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Add kale mixture; heat until almost boiling. Just before serving add 1 tsp. sherry to each bowl and mix gently. Grate nutmeg over each bowl.

From: The Left Foot Organics cookbook : recipes for great food and a healthy community. Gateway, [2008].

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Another recipe from gourmet Kelly, less complex this time. She tells me that despite the milk in it, this soup can be frozen as long as you squish or shake it every 15 minutes while thawing to keep the milk from separating.

1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup green onions, chopped
2 cups mushrooms, chopped
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup half & half
1 cup chicken broth
salt & pepper to taste

Cook green onions in butter in a large skillet or stock pot over low heat for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook another 2 minutes. Stir in flour and continue to cook 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat; whisk in chicken broth and half & half. Continue whisking until smooth. Bring to a boil over moderate heat and simmer, stirring, for 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings and serve.

quantities for 34 cups:
3 cups butter
9 cups green onions, chopped
24 cups mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup flour
12 cups half & half
12 cups chicken broth
salt & pepper to taste

Freeze in 2-cup packages; mix frequently while thawing.

Adapted from

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Just in time to help you break your new resolutions, here is my grandmother’s best chocolate recipe. It’s not difficult, but it is fiddly and can’t be rushed. If you haven’t worked with chocolate before, you may want to read up on it a little before you start.

6 oz. milk chocolate (Hershey’s quality) + about 3-4 oz. for coating
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp. butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla
finely chopped nuts (walnuts are traditional, but almonds or filberts are also good)

Melt chocolate and butter over hot water. Blend in milk and vanilla (it will go a little grainy, but will smooth out again). Pour into a shallow pan lined with foil and chill for at least 2 hours (if chilling overnight, cover it closely to prevent the top drying out). Roll into balls and rechill briefly while melting chocolate for dipping. Dip balls into melted chocolate (for best results, keep half the batch in the fridge while dipping the other half) and roll in chopped nuts. Place on waxed paper to cool. If your kitchen is warm, they may flatten a little while cooling; to prevent this, return them to fridge to cool.

Yield: not nearly enough. I recommend making a double batch.

If you find some dry, crunchy edges when you roll the centers, you can melt the hard bits between your fingers a little to soften them (or, of course, you can pick them out and eat them, but you may actually not want any chocolate for a few hours after making these).

Avoid subjecting the finished butterboos to sudden temperature changes, especially if you have omitted the nuts; the chocolate may bloom. If you need to ship them, you’ll want to use special coating chocolate (which mostly isn’t really chocolate anymore) or temper the chocolate before dipping (which is better but makes the process even more fiddly).

This recipe has a history:
My father’s parents lived in the little town of Davenport, WA. My grandfather had a gas station and car dealership and for many years they gave out boxes of my grandmother’s handmade candy to their regular customers at Christmas — they finally stopped in the late 1960s, I think because of a new law. By that time she was making something like 100 lbs. of the stuff: peanut brittle, peppermint bark, fudge, divinity, turtles…. She would start right after Thanksgiving and by mid-December her pantry was full of it all. The whole family would help to pack the gift boxes, thousands of little paper cups all over.

By the time Grandma died, my mother had many of her recipes, but not this one. For several years we thought butterboos were out of our lives forever. When I came across it at last, I started giving it to anyone who would take it, to ensure that I would be able to get it back if I ever misplaced my copy.

Yes, there’s a moral to this story:
This slow time of the year is perfect for making sure your children and grandchildren have all those recipes you’re so famous for, and for making sure you have all your favorites from your grandparents and parents while they’re still around to find them for you. In fact, why not get a recorder out and do a whole oral history project while you’re at it?

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.