Hana Bay Banana Cream Pie

We do have a Hana here in Hawaii, on the island of Maui, however this is a Carabbean Hana, as in the rum, used in this pie for flavor.  Don't worry you tee totallers, it's cooked out.  Totally.  Trust me.

The trick with my version of Banana Cream Pie is actually not the rum, but lies in caramelizing the bananas first in butter and palm sugar.  Then you set that aside and make the custard, into which you stir all those lovely bananas.  The cream is in the custard and extra goes on top.  Yum.


Curried Chicken Salad on Watercress for Cook the Books Club

Our latest (Aug/Sept) Cook the Books Club selection was the lovely, and entertainingly intimate, foodie memoir by the late Laurie Colwin, Home Cooking.

The book reads like an extended, laid back conversation between a couple of good friends. You won't agree with everything anyone says, but the dialogue is never boring.  

For instance, I happen to love stuffing.  (She hates it) Prefer it to the turkey, in fact.  And a rolled stuffed flank steak, can be delicious, albeit like anything else, if done correctly.  Not haveing had a "gray and stringy" or overcooked one, perhaps I'm biased.  Still, reading that chapter gave me the impetus to try it her way, marinated and grilled fast, then sliced paper thin.  An excellent idea, especially as it is a much easier way of treating a good inexpensive cut of meat.

The chapter on "Repulsive Dinners" was especially reminiscent of that give and take sharing of experiences, between a few close friends, each outdoing the others with their most horrid dinner experience.  So freaking funny.  It begins:
"There is something triumphant about a really disgusting meal.  It lingers in the memory with a lurid glow, just as something exalted is remembered with a kind of mellow brilliance.....My life has been much enriched by ghastly meals..."
"For dessert we had a packaged cheesecake with iridescent cherries embedded in a topping of cerise gum and light tan coffee."


Spanish Paella with the Daring Cooks

Do you know, Paella is one of those dishes that has been on my cooking "bucket list" for a long time.  And, I finally got the kick in the pants that was needed to go ahead with the program..

Our Daring Cooks’ September 2012 hostess was Inma of la Galletika. Inma brought us a taste of Spain and challenged us to make our very own delicious Paella!

Being as Bob does not care for shellfish, a typical Paella was not on the menu, neither was I into doing a strictly vegetarian version. So I went out into the wilds of the interweb and did a bit of Spanish Paella researching.  It seems the original Valencian recipes didn't have fish, but did include rabbit, snails and beans. Ooookay, snails are plentiful here but again, Bob won't touch them, and doesn't much like rabbit either.  Beans are good, and some folks say rabbit tastes like chicken, so we are submitting a version of our own.  Based on what is available that Bob will eat.  Don't worry folks, I eat out often enough to get in my quota of all that other good stuff.

Paella is a bit like Risotto, except that the liquid is added all at once.  The rice is, ideally Calasparra or Bomba, similar to Arborio.  You want a nice starchy variety and Arborio, which I used, works fine.  Also it is briefly sauteed in olive oil first, as you would for a risotto.  I caramelized some onion, added lots of garlic, the diced chicken and ham, then the rice, before adding tomatoes, veggies and finally stock and herbs.  That, in brief, is the procedure.