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

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.

Chicken and Rice Leftovers Make a Quick Casserole

02.27.2014 · Posted in Main Dishes

Need a easy potluck dish.  This is it, spicy, filling and deliciously Tex-Mex.

This casserole is made with leftover Spanish rice and leftover roasted chicken.  Just mix 3 cups of cooked rice with 1 cup of  shredded chicken, add 1/4 cup pickled jalapeno pepper slices and 4 oz of Philadelphia cream cheese blended with 1/2 cup sour cream.  Place in a casserole dish and smooth top. Sprinkle top with 1 cup of Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese.  Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees F. until the top is nicely melted and bubbly.  Let set 10 minutes before serving.


  1. Add 1/2 cup of frozen sweet peas
  2. Add pulled pork instead of shredded chicken
  3. Use banana peppers instead of pickled jalapeno peppers
  4. Cook rice with sofrito, sazon with achiote and chicken stock for a Puerto Rican twist


The Wonders of Menu Plan Bingo “See your culinary dreams come to life in creatively new way”

02.05.2014 · Posted in Events and Reviews, Menus

hospital-food-bingo-001A lot of people settle on having the same type of meals every week because coming up with a completely different set requires a lot of time not just in the kitchen, but also during the preparation of meals. Based on a study published by Well Commons, adult Americans spend an average of 33 minutes for food preparation. For some, the in-between processes that doesn’t involve feasting on that sumptuous dish can be a bit tedious, that’s why it’s important to squeeze out some of your creative juice inside the kitchen into your pre-planning phase, and add a dash of excitement by incorporating a classic game like bingo into the pot.

Planning a new dish elevates the whole cooking experience to another level. It’s extremely fun and satisfying to learn new recipes and cooking techniques. However, cooking doesn’t always have to be following the step-by-step process of an award-winning cookbook; because sometimes, you’ll get a kick and even surprise yourself after playing Menu Plan Bingo. Basically, the gist of this game is to help you bring out your creativity in the kitchen, and expand your knowledge in the process. Menu Plan Bingo is as simple as the classic game itself, but instead of the traditional letters and numbers, you’ll use different ingredients/meals for Breakfast, Snack, Lunch, Dinner, and everyone’s favorite, Dessert. By selecting choices at random, not only will it spice up your preparation time drastically, you’ll also challenge yourself by coming up with new and exciting dishes – just make sure that it creates harmony in the palette as well.

In essence, bingo is not only used to add a generous serving of good, clean fun to the mix, but also for educational purposes; as this classic game is used to teach Food Groups to students. Anyone can integrate bingo when choosing ingredients – or meals, and it will be more fun if you let the whole family join in the kitchen festivity. To add to the vibe of a real bingo game, you can even put food selections on bingo balls and draw them from a ball cage. And by simulating the booming voice of Bingogodz resident caller Brian Blessed, everyone will surely have a blast as you shout out each food item with its corresponding bingo lingo in the same way as the renowned Blessed.

Now to help you start with the whole process of Menu Plan Bingo, here are some suggested items to put under each category:

Breakfast:                                                          Lunch:

Breadfruit                                                          Pork Curry with Taro
Jamaican Patties                                              Barbados Tomato and Corn Soup
Bannock                                                             Aloo Pie
Pancakes                                                            Eggplant Parmigiano

Appetizer/Snack:                                             Dinner:

Spice Island Vegetables                                  Oxtail Stew
Pholourie                                                            Jerk Chicken
Saltfish Frittters                                                Grilled Halibut
Roti                                                                      Baked Salmon Patties


Banana Poe
Fruit Lote
Bread Pudding

These are just examples of Alaskan, Caribbean, and South Pacific cuisines. Remember: sky’s the limit when it comes to cooking and having fun. So hop on the bingo bandwagon and start to see your culinary dreams come to life in a cool and creatively new way.