I consider Chilean Sea Bass the king of the sea with its thick white flaky texture and delicate flavor almost reminiscent of King Crab but not as rich. This easy recipe uses banana leaves that create steam and lock in the flavor of the fish, herbs and spices.
We have several banana trees in the yard. They are easy to grow but are hard to get to fruit before the first freeze comes along. They die back in the winter but come back up in the spring. I did get one to flower last summer but the blossoms eventually dropped off.
If you don’t have banana leaves available, you can usually get some from a Latin market.
Cook / Prep Time – about 30 minutes
Servings – 2
2 – 6 oz. Chilean Sea Bass Filets, fresh or frozen
1 lb fresh asparagus
3 large banana leaves
1 small bunch baby leeks (or green onions)
2 sprigs fresh Rosemary
3 tbsp herb butter
1 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
1 tsp Cajun seasoning (or something similar)
1/2 lemon, quartered
For the herb butter:
3 tbsp butter, softened
1 tbsp fresh herbs, chopped
1/4 tsp kosher salt
I mixed fresh dill, chives, thyme, rosemary and tarragon from my herb garden, but feel free to use any of your favorite herbs.
Step # 1 – If using frozen fish filets, thaw overnight in the refrigerator or under cold running water. Prepare the herb butter by adding the chopped herbs and salt to the softened butter and mix well. Spoon the ball into wax paper and roll up into a tube shape. Place back in the refrigerator to harden.
Step # 2 – clean and trim the asparagus then parboil it in boiling water for just a few seconds until it turns bright green. Rinse with cold water and set aside.
Step # 3 – rinse the banana leaves and dry them with a paper towel. rinse the sea bass and pat dry with a paper towel. Set the three banana leaves on the counter and set the asparagus in the middle of one, and the fish filets in the middle of the other two.
Step # 4 – if you are using a charcoal grill, get the coals started. Season the fish and the asparagus with the lemon pepper and Cajun seasoning. Unroll the herb butter and add a tablespoon slice to each fish filet and the asparagus. Add the baby leeks, lemon wedge and rosemary sprigs to the fish and wrap each fish filet and the asparagus tightly with the banana leaves. Secure with toothpicks or use these ovenproof rubber bands like I used.
Step # 5 – if using a gas grill, turn on medium heat and preheat you oven to 400 degrees. Place the fish and asparagus in the banana leaves on the grill. Grill the asparagus for two minutes on each side and remove from the grill. Grill the fish for about 8 minutes per side and put all three leaf packages on an ovenproof tray and place in the oven for about 6 more minutes until the flesh of the fish is tender, white and flaky.
Unwrap the fish and asparagus and serve immediately. Enjoy!
Suggested music to listen to while preparing the Sea Bass…..
This is a sort of a tropical dish, so how about some reggae? It doesn’t get much better than Bob Marley and the Wailer’s “Legend” featuring all of his best songs on one album, recorded from 1972 – 1983.
And “The Name Game“ by Shirley Ellis from 1964. “ Banana nana fo fana fee fi mo mana – banana” !!
For the past couple of years, we have been taking elderberry syrup during the flu season. It is supposed to lessen flu symptoms and boost the immune system, but the price of is almost $2.50 per ounce, Ouch! So early last spring, we bought a small elderberry bush from a local nursery. We brought it home and planted it in our front flowerbed.
The plant took off like a rocket! Over the summer, it grew to about 12 feet and flowered like crazy! The flowers turned into berries, and we netted the berries to keep the birds away. We harvested the berries in the late summer and put them in the freezer to be used during the winter to make our own elderberry syrup, so here we are…..
In the early fall, we (or I should say my wife Susan) dug the plant up and transplanted it to the backyard down by the woods because it was getting too big and quite invasive and sending suckers up around it. The good news is that it seemed to take in the backyard and can grow like crazy next summer.
Cook/Prep Time – about an hour
Yield – about 10 ounces of syrup
1 cup fresh frozen elderberries
1 tsp dried ginger
1 tsp dried orange peel
3 cinnamon sticks
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 cup maple sugar
1/2 cup raw honey
1 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cup purified water
***You can also use dried elderberries. If you do, double the amount of purified water.
Wash and rinse the elderberries and remove all stems. Add one cup of the purified water to a saucepan. Add the elderberries, cinnamon, ginger, orange peel,cloves, lemon juice and maple sugar. Turn on high until the mixture boils, then turn down and simmer for about 30 minutes.
Drain the berries and liquid into a colander and let cool. Using gloves, remove the cinnamon sticks andsmash and push all the liquid out of the berries.
Then strain the juice through a sieve or cheesecloth. Stir in the raw honey, and place in a bottle or jar. That’s it!
Take one teaspoon daily during flu season or add to hot tea or a cocktail!
Suggested music to listen to while preparing the syrup…..
The 1973 album by Elton John, “Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player” which features the song “Elderberry Wine” this song was also the B-Side to the single “Crocodile Rock”
These sweet and spicy slow cooked Korean Style Chicken Wings are lip smacking good, especially when snacking on them while watching college football!
The pink celery in the picture was picked from our garden! You can find pink celery seeds at www.rareseeds.com
Cook / Prep Time – 36 hours
Servings – 1 – 2
8 split chicken wings
1 tbsp aluminum free baking powder ( not baking soda)
1 tsp smoked sea salt
6 ounces gochujang
1 tbsp mirin
1 tsp soy sauce
I tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1 1/2 tsp cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp Terry Ho’s Original Yum Yum Sauce
1 tbsp pure maple sugar
The day before, pat the chicken wings dry and in a mixing bowl, coat the wings with a mixture of the smoked sea salt and baking powder. ** Set them on a rack over a sheet pan and let them dry out overnight. The smoked salt/baking powder mixture will dry them out to help them get super crispy.
** Be sure to use an aluminum free baking powder, as the aluminum may cause the wings to have a metallic taste.
The next day…
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Place the wings in the oven and let them cook for 30 minutes, then turn the wings over and let them cook for an additional 30 minutes.
While the wings are cooking, mix all the other ingredients together for the marinade.
Remove the wings from the oven. Brush both sides of the wings with the marinade. Turn the oven up to 325 degrees. Put the wings back in the oven and cook for 15 minutes. Turn the wings over and cook for another 15 minutes.
Remove the wings from the oven again. Brush both sides of the wings with the marinade again and return to the oven and cook for another 15 minutes on one side, turn, and cook another 15 minutes on the other side.
Continue to cook the wings until they are nicely browned and have reached a temperature of at least 165 degrees.
Place the wings on a serving platter and top with a little yum yum sauce or ranch dressing. Serve them with a few crunchy celery sticks and your favorite dipping sauce.
Suggested music to listen to while preparing the wings…
“Wings over America” a triple live album released in 1976 by Wings featuring Paul McCartney, which features live recordings of Beatles, Wings and Paul McCartney songs.
Being Iowa born and bred, I have always had a love for fresh sweet corn. This year we planted the White Shoepeg variety, which is one of the sweetest varieties out there. Although we did not have a great crop due to late planting and an extremely hot and dry summer, we still will be able to harvest enough to have this yummy dishes a few times.
Our homegrown white shoepeg corn.
Cook / Prep Time – About an hour
Servings – 2
3 ears of fresh corn
1 strip of bacon
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup milk
Clean corn by removing husks and silks. Using a sharp knife, strip the tender kernels off of the cobs.
Dice the bacon and fry it in a cast iron skillet. When the bacon is crisp, add the butter and melt. Add the corn, salt and pepper to the skillet. If you corn is not real sweet, you can add a teaspoon of sugar to it. Cook on medium heat while stirring, for about 10 – 15 minutes. Add the milk and stir in well.
Turn to low heat and stir until thickened. The natural starch in the corn will serve as the thickening agent. Serve immediately with you favorite entree! That’s it!
A few songs by Woody Gruthrie to jam to while fixing the corn….
It’s that time of year when our herb garden starts to get a little overgrown, so it’s time to make some Basil Pesto!
Pesto generally has pine nuts in the recipe, so this recipe is technically Pistou, which is a French version of Italian Pesto. I did actually price pine nuts at our local Kroger, and they were $4.49 for 2 1/2 ounces, which comes to around $28.00 per pound. Yikes! Who needs pine nuts in their Pesto? Not me!
Prep Time – about 30 minutes
Yield: About 2 cups
2 cups fresh basil (I used half green and half purple basil)
1 cup chopped parsley
1 cup grated Romano cheese
1 1/3 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
4 fresh garlic cloves
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg*
*Why Nutmeg? Nutmeg is optional, but I find that nutmeg (especially fresh grated nutmeg) sweetens, enhances and improves certain dishes and sauces, especially cream sauces.
Wash and sort the fresh basil and parsley, and let them dry out. Slice the garlic cloves. Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until well mixed.
And Presto! You now have Pistou!
Store in jars, freeze in freezer bags, or portion out by the tablespoon in ice cube trays and re- bag into freezer bags when frozen to use in your favorite soups or sauces or make some Pesto Parmesan Air Fries using my recipe from a previous post on this blog.
Suggested songs for your listening pleasure while preparingthe Pistou…
“The Pesto Song” by Tom Torriglia from his 2017 album “Antipasto Rock”
“Mama Mia” by ABBA from their album “ABBA” released in September 1975.
Chinese long beans, also known as yard long beans because they can get a yard long or asparagus beans due to a slight asparagus flavor, are easy to grow and make a tender, delightful summer side dish.
Growing Chinese long beans
These are very easy to grow. Just soak them overnight before planting them a depth of about an inch in rich garden soil. They will come up in about a week, and you will have beans 4-6 weeks later! You will also need to provide a trellis for them to grow on because they love to climb.
Their is also a purple colored variety. While they can grow a yard long, I like to pick them when they are young and tender at around 12 – 18 inches.
The blossoms are a pretty light purple in the morning and then later in the afternoon the flowers close up. Each flower will have 2 or 3 beans coming off the blossom.
These are best steamed, sautéed or stir fried. I stir fried them with onions and garlic and they were awesome!
Stir Fried Chinese Long Beans with Onions and Garlic
Prep / Cook time – about 15 minutes
Servings – 2
1 pound fresh Chinese long beans
1 small sweet onion
1 clove fresh garlic, slivered
1 tsp lemon pepper
1 tbsp high heat oil such as grapeseed or peanut oil
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
Clean and wash the long beans and trim the ends off. Drain well. Add the oil to a heavy bottom skillet or wok. Turn on high heat and add the beans and garlic, stirring constantly. After a minute or two, add the slivered garlic and stir until browned and tender, just a couple of minutes. Remove from heat. Add the lemon pepper and mix in. Add the mirin and soy sauce. Serve immediately. That’s it!
Note to my readers: This is my 60th blog post since I started my blog in January. Thanks for reading, following and sharing!
Suggested songs for your listening pleasure while stir frying the beans…
How about “Beans in My Ears” (don’t try this at home) a single by The Serendipity Singers released in 1964.
Or for you Luke Bryan fans (of which I am not), anything by him because it is his birthday today.
These fresh, tender little morsels are a delicacy and they have a natural sweetness to them that pops in your mouth!
When most people think of baby carrots, they think about a bag like this….
Those things in the bag may or may not be baby carrots. Yes, they are small carrots, but in many instances, the bagged carrots are bits and pieces of larger carrots that were broken or didn’t make the grade and were placed in a sandpaper like electric potato peeler and peeled until they got to the desired size. They even say “cut and peeled” on the bag! If you have tasted true fresh baby carrots like these I pulled out of my garden, there is no comparison.
Because I was craving some fresh grown carrots, I pulled a row maybe a little prematurely and thats why I call these baby baby carrots. They could have stayed in the ground a few more weeks but like most fresh vegetables, the younger and smaller they are, they tend to be even more sweet and tender so after preparing and tasting these, I had absolutely no regrets!
Notice the green tops on the carrots that I harvested. Those are edible and delicious, too. When you buy fresh carrots in the store, you normally have to cut the green tops off because it is impossible to get the dirt out of the cracks and crevices. I was able to wash and scrub these clean.
(I also like to pull beets and potatoes in the baby stage….)
6-8 ounces fresh baby carrots
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 tsp fresh chopped parsley
Wash and scrub the carrots, leaving part of the green tops on. Place them in a saucepan with 1/2 cup of water. Add the carrots, cover the pan and bring to a boil for a few minutes until tender. Drain the water from the pan and add the butter, honey and salt and pepper and cook on low until the butter melts. Top with the fresh chopped parsley. That’s it!
Suggested music for your listening pleasure while preparing the carrots…
“Baby Baby” by Amy Grant from her album “Heart in Motion” released in January 1991.
Since Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas turns 75 today, lets go with the classic “California Dreamin” released as a single in 1965 from their album “If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears” and another of my favorites by the late Papa John Phillips, Michelle’s former husband, “Mississippi” from his solo album “John, the Wolf King of L.A.” released in 1970.