This Dame Cooks A Collection of Recipes from Alaska to the South Pacific and Caribbean

Sausages and Balsamic Grapes with Mash

03.27.2015 · Posted in Main Dishes

sausages-and-grapesThis dish is a take-off on “bangers and mash” or sausages and mashed potatoes.  It has its origins in London and Dublin public houses or pubs going back to 1919…the ultimate pub-grub for the working class.   However, bangers and mash is immensely popular in all Common Wealth countries around the world.   Its cheap comfort food that can be made in quantity.  Normally served with caramelized onion gravy, some gastropubs today have kicked up the traditional recipe with mushrooms, garlic potatoes and some fairly sophisticated sauces.

Seedless red grapes and onions stewed in balsamic vinegar is surprisingly not tart and adds delightful richness to a spicy Italian sausage or traditional Cumberland sausages.  The new potatoes are boiled in their jackets (not peeled) slightly mashed with buttermilk and seasoned with salt and pepper.  The whole affair needs only a salad or other slightly blanched green vegetable such as haricot verts (French green beans) or asparagus.  The next time you need comfort food for a gang on football Sunday try this dish.  Serve with a pint of ale and you’ll score for sure.


  • 4 oz sausage per person
  • 1/2 cup red or green seedless grapes per person
  • 1/2 onion per person, chopped
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar per person
  • 1 Tbsp cold butter to bind sauce
  • 1 large new potato per person, scrubbed and boiled until fork tender
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 scallion sliced for garnish


  1. Place sausages in 1-inch of water in a sauce pan over medium high heat.  Cook until nearly all water dissipates and sausages begin to brown.
  2. Add onions and cook until wilted and fragrant.
  3. Add grapes and balsamic vinegar and cook until  sausages are browned on all sides.  (Turn sausages to brown as sauce stews.)
  4. Meanwhile, boil potatoes until fork tender, drain and mash until broken up.  Add buttermilk and mash until lumpy.  (You want texture here.)
  5. Season potatoes with salt and pepper.  Keep warm over simmering water until serving time.
  6. When sausages are done, remove from pan, swirl cold butter into grape and onion sauce until smooth and thickened sauce results.
  7. Plate mashed potatoes, top with sausages, spoon grape and onion sauce over all.
  8. Garnish with sliced scallion threads.

Mojo Isleño – Red Snapper with Islander Sauce

08.29.2014 · Posted in Main Dishes

Salinas is a little town on the Caribbean side of Puerto Rico famous for their Festival del Mojo Isleño.  The festival celebrates the largess of Caribbean fish and mojo varieties of the island.  Literally, Mojo Isleño means “islander sauce” and Pargo (red snapper) is the traditional fish for this recipe, though grouper, cod, tilapia or any white-flesh fish will do.    This sauce is very close to a Sofrito with the usual Puerto Rican ingredients:  garlic, onion, sweet red and green peppers, tomatoes, green olives, capers, vinegar and olive oil.   Mojo has its origins in the Canary Islands and is a superb condiment for mofongo (mashed plantains), fried plantain chips, rice or chicken.   Substitute lime juice for the vinegar and smother sauteed shrimp or scallops.  Substitute a jar of roasted red peppers for the bell peppers and serve as a dip with conch fritters.

Mojo is easy to make and any left-overs will keep in the refrigerator for a month and in the freezer for 4 months.  Try this the next time you want to throw a Latin party or serve a tasty seafood dish.  As I’ve mentioned in my last posts on Puerto Rican cuisine, Puerto Ricans do not cook with spicy hot chilies but that shouldn’t stop you from adding chili sauce or chilies to taste to any Puerto Rican recipe.  What you’ll end up with is your version of a great Puerto Rican dish.  Bueno!  Muy delicioso por tu.


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 Anaheim chili chopped (or green bell pepper)
  • 4-6 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cups tomatoes diced (15 oz can Roma tomatoes diced and drained)
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar (or lime juice)
  • 1/4 cup pimento stuffed green olives chopped
  • 1 Tbsp capers rinsed
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 2 lbs fish fillets cut into serving portions
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice and 1 tsp minced garlic
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • olive oil for frying


  1. Heat olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Saute onions and peppers until translucent.
  2. Add garlic and saute 1-2 minutes more.
  3. Add tomatoes, vinegar, olives, capers and bay leaves.  Simmer 10-12 minutes until somewhat reduced.
  4. Mix 3 Tbsp lime juice with 1 tsp of garlic and rub the fish fillets to marinate while sauce reduces.
  5. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat, coat bottom of skillet with olive oil.
  6. Salt and pepper fish fillets and saute until lightly browned on both sides.
  7. Spoon sauce over fish and continue to cook for 6-8 minutes until fish is flaky done.

Roasted Chicken and Fresh Fig Salad

08.22.2014 · Posted in Salads & Dressings


Figs are in season now and they are sweet reminders that fall is just around the corner.  Figs were the first fruit cultivated by ancient civilizations.  They were used for sweeteners before sugar cane was discovered and are still used in Northern Africa and the Middle East to sweeten confections and savory dishes.  Its been proposed that Eve tempted Adam not with an apple but with a fig.

The explorers brought figs to the new world in 1520.  Black California Mission figs and a white variety make excellent preserves.  They are dripping with syrup when ripe and add elegant flavor to meats, make delightful confections such as clafoutis and cookies and wonderfully smooth butter like apple butter.  Walnuts and fresh figs go well together as stuffing for chicken breasts.  Figs with Gorgonzola cheese and fresh tomatoes, or with fresh mozzarella make great bruschetta.  Figs wrapped in prosciutto with goats cheese and arugula make perfect hors d’oeuvres.   Fresh or dried, figs make great out-of-hand snacks and are good for you.

This salad will satisfy your hunger pangs for something sweet, meaty and crunchy.  Dress it with your favorite vinaigrette or just a little extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, fresh ground black pepper and sea salt.  Serve with crusty French bread and a glass of wine for a light dinner.


  • 1 package of baby spring lettuce greens
  • 1 roasted chicken breast, chilled and sliced
  • 1/2 ripe avocado, sliced
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 fresh button mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 6 fresh white figs, halved or quartered
  • 2 scallions sliced thin
  • 6 bocconcini (mini mozzarella cheese balls)
  • vinaigrette of choice
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

Arrange everything on top of lettuce greens,  drizzle with vinaigrette, season and enjoy.

Quick Pickled Green Beans

07.28.2014 · Posted in Preserves & Condiments

“From vine to brine in less than 12 hours” is the rule of thumb for home pickling.  This brine is so simple to make and can be made in large volumes so you can pickle as you pick those young tender beans, baby cukes and okra.   Add a slice of garlic, a tiny dried chile, and dill weed to the jar for real zing.

According to the Pickle History Timeline ( pickling is one of the oldest food preservation methods known to man.   In the fifteenth century A.D.: ”Before Amerigo Vespucci set out to explore the New World, he was a pickle peddler in Seville, Spain. Since food spoilage and the lack of healthy meals were such concerns on long voyages, he loaded up barrels of pickled vegetables onto explorer ships. Hundreds of sailors were spared the ravages of scurvy because of Vespucci’s understanding of the nutritional benefits of pickles.”  It’s interesting to note that the cucumber came from India in 2030 B.C. and dill weed was introduced to Western Europe from Sumatra in 900 A.D.  Nearly 50% of all cucumbers grown in the United States are pickled.  And while a pickle is a cucumber, any vegetable or fruit can be pickled.   Generally pickles are a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Calcium and Iron.

Pickled green beans are super in Bloody Mary’s and Salad Niçoise.  Add them to a relish tray with other pickles and olives or toss them in a salad with purple potatoes and boiled eggs.  You’ll find a lot ways to utilize pickles from your garden.  They also make a terrific gift.  Nothing is more appreciated than a basket of homemade preserves, condiments and pickles.

This recipe works for cucumbers and okra too.  Add yellow mustard seeds instead of chile peppers.  You can substitute dill seeds if fresh dill weed is not available.  Just double or triple the amount of vinegar, water and salt to make a big batch of brine ready to use.

Ingredients for 3 pints:

  • 2-1/2 pounds freshly picked green beans (Haricot Verts recommended), washed and vine-end trimmed
  • 2 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup canning salt (Kosher salt or sea salt)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced in half
  • 1 bunch dill weed (seed heads included) divided into 3
  • 3 tiny red chile peppers or 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes in each jar


  1. Sterilize 3 pint jars with rings and lids.  Keep warm.  Trim green beans to 1/2 inch shorter than the jar.
  2. Drop a chile and a garlic (2 halves) into each jar.  Arrange beans in jar with cut ends toward the top, packing beans in fairly tight so they won’t float up to the lid.
  3. Tuck dill weed into the center of the beans.
  4. In a stainless steel pot, combine vinegar, water and salt.  Bring to a boil and stir until salt is dissolved
  5. Pour boiling brine over beans up to 1/4-inch from top of jar.  Wipe the lip of the jar and seal with lid and ring.
  6. Let rest in a draft-free area.  Beans will ferment in the refrigerator in about 2 weeks.
  7. For longer storage, place hot jars into a boiling water bath with 1 inch of water covering the tops.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove to a draft-free area and once cooled check that lids have properly sealed.  If the lids do not spring back when pressed they are sealed.  Refrigerate any jars that have not sealed.
  8. Store sealed jars in cool, dark pantry for 1 year or longer.

Homemade V-8 Juice and Other Preserved Tomatoes

V-8 juicecanned tomatoesTomatoes are abundant now and inexpensive especially if purchased in quantity.  Unlike hot-house tomatoes that the supermarkets carry in the winter,  fresh summer tomatoes are full of flavor that you can smell.   They’re a good source of vitamins A and C, and lycopene, a powerful antioxidant.   Cooked tomatoes actually have more antioxidants than fresh tomatoes, the exact opposite of other antioxidant rich foods which lose their potency when cooked.  Researchers believe a person who drinks one glass of tomato juice everyday will live a very long healthy life.

Tomato pulp with milk powder makes a wonderful facial mask that will actually help heal acne and defoliate skin.  Idea of Beauty claims vitamin C and potassium found in tomatoes help heal the skin.  We know the vitamins and minerals in tomatoes are internally good for our bodies so if you’d rather absorb  those nutrients in a pampered facial mask than eat them, so be it.  Certainly anything good to eat will not harm your skin unless you’re allergic to it.

There are dozens of varieties of tomatoes.  Beef steak tomatoes are good for salads, sandwiches, salsas, and stuffed with chicken salad, tuna salad, herbed cottage cheese, tabbouleh or couscous.

Roma tomatoes are more fleshy and make excellent Italian sauces, canned whole tomatoes, or dried tomatoes.  Even the sauce can be dehydrated for tomato paste.

Cherry tomatoes and salad tomatoes on the vine are wonderful roasted and preserved with olive oil for antipasto, meze plates, and everything in between.

There has got to be at least one new dish created everyday that uses tomatoes.  Try a few of the recipes given here.  Add your own herbs and spices, make them your own.  And while tomatoes are at their peak, preserve some for winter.

Homemade V-8 Juice:

  • 2 lb tomatoes, washed, cored, and chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, washed and chopped with leaves
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small red beet, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, washed, seeded and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  •  2 tsp of Old Bay Spice
  • 1 Tbsp horseradish


  1. In a stainless steel pan, cook vegetables about 20 minutes or until they are tender.
  2. Puree in a food processor.
  3. Add sea salt and sugar to taste.  Chill.
  4. Follow the method for Canned Tomato Juice for larger quantities.

Here are a few ways to preserve them:

  1. Frozen Tomatoes:  Wash and core, place in freezer bags whole and freeze.  They thaw out in a flash and are excellent in bolognese sauce and stews or soups.
  2. Canned Tomato Juice:  Wash, core, quarter and cook (without added water) over medium heat in a stainless steel pan just until tender and juicy.  Run through a food mill or press through a fine mesh sieve (chinoise) to remove skins and seeds.  Add salt to taste and 1/2 tsp of citric acid to sterilized jars.  Pour tomato juice into hot jars up to 1/2 inch from the rims, seal and process in a pressure cooker for 35 minutes.  (see video below)
  3. Canned Whole or Diced Tomatoes:  Wash and core tomatoes, slice an X into bottom of each tomato, dip into boiling water for 2 minutes then remove the skins.  Pack whole tomatoes or diced tomatoes into sterilized jars with salt to taste and 1/2 tsp citric acid.  Pour hot tomato juice into jar up to 1/2 inch from rim of jar, seal, and process in pressure cooker for 35 minutes.
  4. Dried Tomatoes:  Use Roma or cherry tomatoes.  Wash and slice in half.  Place on trays in an electric dehydrator and dry per manufacturer’s instructions.  Or, place on racks over cookie sheets and dry in a 250° F. oven, turning ocassionally, until tomatoes are leathery.  Place dried tomatoes in sterile jars and store in a cool, dark pantry.  Or, add basil leaves, garlic, salt, and pour in hot olive oil up to 1/2 inch from the rims.  Seal immediately and place in a cool, dark  pantry for 1 week before using.  Refrigerate, after opening, up to 6 weeks.
  5. Tomato Paste:  Use Roma or beef stake tomatoes.  Dry the tomatoes in a dehydrator until they are crisp (see video below), grind to a powder in a food processor or coffee mill and reconstitute with just enough water to make a paste.  To make a sauce, add a bit more water to the paste along with herbs, spices (salt, pepper, sugar, cinnamon, cloves etc.), onions, garlic, or mushrooms.
  6. Tomato Caper Tapenade:  3/4 cup of dried tomatoes in oil, 1/4 cup drained capers, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tsp lemon zest, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves.  Process all ingredients until smooth.  Spoon into an 8 oz hot-sterilized- jar, top with 1/4 cup hot olive oil, seal immediately.  Refrigerate, after opening, up to 6 weeks.

Dehydrating tomatoes video


Canning tomatoes video