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

Sun-dried Cherry Tomatoes in Basil Oil

dried-tomatoesDrying tomatoes in the dessert sun is super economical and far more comfortable than turning on the oven in the kitchen when it’s 108° F. outside.  The process is simple and safe…the results are as good as store-bought and you know who, in what, and where they came from.  Sun-dried fruits and vegetables are intensely flavorful and healthy so long as they’re not treated with chemical preservatives.  The only thing drying does is evaporate the water content…the vitamins and flavors are still there and undiluted.

Cherry tomatoes are perfect for drying in the sun.  A solar-dehydrator works perfectly and can be made with a box painted black and piece of window glass to cover the top.  Cut a 2-inch hole in the bottom of the box and the top of  one side.  Cover holes with mesh or screen to keep the insects out.  This will allow air to flow in and out.  Place on a table or chair in the yard where direct sun will hit it throughout the day.

When the tomatoes are dry but still rubbery they’re ready to dress and preserve in oil.  You can add whatever herbs you’re fond of and olive oil or a combination of canola oil and olive oil.  If you add salt, dissolve it in a little lemon juice first or crush it with cloves of garlic before adding to the jar.

For best storage, pack in 8 oz. sterilized jars, pour hot oil up 1/2-inch from rim and immediately seal.  Store in a cool dry pantry for 1 week before using.  Refrigerate when opened and use within 6 weeks.  Bring to room temperature before using.  Use sun-dried tomatoes in salads, soups, sandwiches, hors d’eouvres and antipasto.


  • 12 oz fresh ripe cherry tomatoes
  • 6 or 7 dried basil leaves
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt in 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove of garlic bruised
  • 1/4 tsp dried pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil


  1. Wash tomatoes and slice in half.  Place on a icing screen or cake rack.  Make sure air can flow under the rack.
  2. Cover tomatoes with a single layer of cheesecloth and place in direct sunlight for the day.
  3. If tomatoes are not dry and rubbery by night-fall, remove tomatoes to indoors overnight.
  4. Turn each tomato half over and place back in the sun the following day.
  5. Pack dried, rubbery tomatoes in a sterile 8 oz. jar.  Add crushed garlic, salt, basil and pepper flakes.
  6. Heat oil to hot but not smoking and pour into jar up to 1/2 inch from top rim.  With a skewer or knife move the contents around a bit to release any air bubbles.  Wipe the rim and seal immediately.



Easy Paella for Two

04.03.2014 · Posted in Main Dishes, Recipes

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Running late today, no time to shop, driving home and thinking… dinner at 7:00…what do I have that’s fast and delicious.  Still have mixed seafood, 1 chicken breast, kielbasa, rice, canned tomatoes…hmmm…paella.  I have garlic, onions, saffron, cilantro, wine, stock.  Yes, paella it is…on the stove top…too hot to turn on the oven!   I made lavender lemonade Monday.  Add a little bubbly (or a lot of bubbly) to that and make a salad.  Enough!!!  Voila, romantic dinner for 2.  You’ve got to give this a try.


  •  4 inches of kielbasa sausage, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1/2 chicken breast, cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 Tbsp chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • pinch of saffron (or 1/2 tsp each turmeric and paprika)
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 small can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (or parsley flakes)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-2 dashes Tabasco sauce (or pinch cayenne pepper)
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup mixed seafood (or 8 prawns)


  1. In a 2-quart sauce pan over medium heat, fry sausage until fat is released.
  2. Add chicken pieces and fry for 5 or 6 minutes until they brown a little
  3. Add onion, garlic, and bell pepper.  Cook until wilted and fragrant.
  4. Add wine and stir to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Add rice, stock, tomatoes, saffron, cilantro, bay leaf, Tabasco, salt and pepper.  Stir.
  6. Cover pan and simmer for 14-15 minutes.
  7. Add seafood, continue simmering until rice is done and seafood is pink (about 5 minutes).


  1. If you haven’t got saffron, use annatto oil or turmeric and paprika.
  2. Use sweet Italian sausage or pieces of leftover pork chops instead of kielbasa.
  3. You can add peas, green beans, artichokes, or broccoli florets.
  4. Make this dish with just chicken or pork.

Mediterranean Black Bean Salad

03.27.2014 · Posted in Appetizers, Salads & Dressings

black bean saladYou can never have too many salad/salsa dishes in your culinary repertoire. This recipe is from my Jordanian friends in Seattle. It is a marinated bean salad that just gets better and better the longer it marinates. It has all the essential flavors of the Mediterranean with lemon, olive oil, cumin, cilantro and mint. The addition of chipotle chilies, capers, olives, artichokes or sun-dried tomatoes would give this dish a whole new dimension. Whatever you add to make this your own, it will be well received.

Serve it as part of your party hors d’oeuvres in baby hearts of romaine or endive. Or, serve it with tortilla chips like salsa, add it to tacos or enchiladas. Stuff it in hollowed out crusty rolls with deli meats and cheeses like a muffalatta. Its a great side dish for a dinner with roasted lamb, chicken or fish. Its also a light accompaniment to a vegetarian sandwich.


  • 3 1/2 cups cooked black turtle beans (or 2 cans 15oz each)
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallions
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chopped mint (1 tsp dried mint)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 or 2 dashes of Tabasco sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste


  1. Rince black beans in a collander. Place in a bowl.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and fold to combine.
  3. Marinate, covered, in the refrigerator overnight or at least 1 hour before serving in order to develop flavors.

Sumac Chicken & Cabbage Bake

03.27.2014 · Posted in Main Dishes

sumac-chicken1Sumac is available in Middle Eastern markets, Asian markets, and your better culinary shops.  Do not use sumac berries from native American bushes, they are poisonous.  Edible sumac closely resembles paprika and adds a decidely lemon flavor to most dishes.   This recipe is adapted from one given to me by a Jordanian friend in Seattle.  This would also work well on a bed of onions or bake it without the bed of cabbage and serve it over steamed spaghetti squash, pasta or rice.

  • 6 chicken thighs, skinless, boneless
  • 1 cup homemade yogurt
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp each sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 small head of cabbage, shredded coursely
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 green bell pepper, julienned
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped fine, divided
  • 1 Tbsp sumac

Generously salt and pepper chicken thighs, place in a zip-lock bag.  Stir sumac and cayenne  into yogurt and pour half of it on top of chicken, seal bag and massage.  Set in refrigerator to marinate for 40 minutes.  Sauté garlic, onion, red and green peppers, and 1/2 the cilantro in olive oil until wilted, remove from pan and set aside.  Place shredded cabbage in an oven-proof casserole dish.   Remove chicken from marinade, discard marinade, roll chicken in Panko bread crumbs and fry just until lightly browned on both sides.  Place on top of cabbage in casserole.  Heat the remaining half of the yogurt marinade in the same skillet over medium heat, whisking to blend with pan drippings.  Add the sauteed vegetables and simmer for 2 minutes then pour over chicken and cabbage. Sprinkle remaining sumac over top.  Cover and bake at 350° F. for 30 minutes.  Remove cover and continuing baking for 10 minutes more.   Top with remaining cilantro, serve with a black bean salad and warm lavash or pita bread.

Coconut Pistachio Tembleque with Guava Rum Sauce

03.21.2014 · Posted in Desserts

Egg-less, gluten-free, and milk-less this pudding is the perfect dessert for those with health restrictions.   Coconut Tembleque with Guava Sauce is the classic pudding of Puerto Rico.  It is made with only coconut milk, cornstarch, sugar and a pinch of salt… a blank palette that lends itself to a multitude of variations.   You can substitute cream of coconut and half-and-half to enrich the base, so long as the proportions of liquid to cornstarch remain the same, 8 parts liquid to 1 part cornstarch.  Cow’s milk alone or soy milk alone will also work in this pudding.  Adjust the amount of sugar according to taste but do add the pinch of salt no matter what.

This is a super-easy dessert to make.  It just requires constant stirring until boiled for 3 minutes.  Vanilla bean seeds may be added to the base before cooking.  Everything else is added after the cooking, including the flavorings such as extracts, citrus juice, liquor, flaked coconut, sliced almonds, chopped pistachios, or dried fruit.  The sauce can be made with anything from kumquats with Grand Marnier to raspberries with Chambord.   Get creative and make it a classic of your own.

Ingredients for Coconut Pistachio Tembleque:

  • 4 cups coconut milk (2 15-ounce cans)
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 3 Tbsp sweetened coconut, shredded or flaked
  • 1/3 cup salted pistachio nuts, chopped coarsely (set aside for bottom of molds)


  1. Measure the cornstarch, sugar and salt into a sauce pan.
  2. Place the sauce pan over medium high heat and add the coconut milk.  Whisk or stir with a wooden spoon until smooth.
  3. Continue stirring and bring to a boil.  Cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Take care to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan often to prevent burning.
  4. Remove from heat.  Fold in coconut extract and coconut flakes.
  5. Rinse 6 5-ounce molds with cold water.  Sprinkle the pistachio nuts evenly on the bottom of each mold.  Carefully pour the pudding over the nuts.
  6. Cool to room temperature.  Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled.
  7. To serve:  pour 1-2 Tbsp of guava rum sauce on each individual serving plate.  Using a knife dipped in cold water, loosen the pudding from the sides of the mold and place pudding in center of guava sauce.  Pass around the remaining sauce.

Ingredients for Guava Rum Sauce:

  • 1 11-ounce can guava paste
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp lime juice (or to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp dark rum (or to taste)


  1. Melt the guava paste with the water in a small sauce pan over medium heat.  Stir until smooth.
  2. Remove from heat, add the lime juice 1/2 tsp at a time until desired tartness and sparkle is achieved.
  3. Add the rum to taste.
  4. Cool to room temperature.