Like most people, when I travel I’m on the lookout for a couple of souvenirs.
On my trip to Belize, every store I went into had a paperback book Silly Bug and Bittle Recipes, published by the Crooked Tree Women’s Group. The cookbook included the history of this isolated village and had traditional recipes that included very unusual recipes…there were a few that called for tiger’s paw!
Photo Credits (map & woman cooking): Tillett’s Village Lodge
Tillett’s Village Lodge provides tours and accommodations in this historically isolated part of Belize:
The village’s recent history dates back to the mid 18th century, when Crooked Tree was discovered by European settlers, navigating up the Belize river and its tributaries in search of logwood used in dye production. Its name ‘Crooked Tree’ quite probably could be the result of the exageratedly crooked logwoods which lined the shorelines of the ‘island’ village. Being accessible only by boat until 1984, Crooked Tree’s population grew with limited invasion by ‘outsiders’…
I decided to buy the book for my favorite summer camp, Sherwood Forest Camp, whose mission is to break the cycle of poverty through camping experiences. Since the Crooked Tree residents all cooked over open hearths and the kids spend a lot of time cooking over campfires, I thought it was a perfect fit. The book even included instructions on how to make a traditional open hearth for cooking. I thought it would be fun for the campers and counselors to try some recipes from a far away corner of the world.
Before I turned the book over to the camp, I went through all of the recipes and added the ones I wanted to try to my Food.com account. So far I have only tried 2 of them, but I definitely plan to get around to the others.
I love plantains and I love mashed sweet potatoes, so I’m guessed I would like these mashed plaintains. The original recipe calls for just the plantain but I ended up adding some butter and salt. The recipe is sweet enough just as it stands, so taste it before you add any butter or salt to it to decide if you think you need it.
1 ripe plantain
- Plantains are ripe when the skin turns black and they are soft to the touch. Peel the plantain and cut in half. (I’ve found it easiest to peel by scoring the skin with a knife in several spots before attempting to peel).
- Put plantain in a pot covered with water and boil until soft.
- Drain and mash with potato masher.
- Optional (not part of the original recipe)…add butter or salt to taste.
Belize Baked Rice Pudding:
Photo Credit: J Long (Food.com member)
I’ve tried a few rice pudding recipes before, but never had it baked. The recipe says you can serve it warm or after cooling. There have been 2 reviews on Food.com so far (I haven’t tried it yet). J Long, the reviewer who took the picture above, said it came out like a custard and she recommended stirring it halfway since the rice settles to the bottom. She also soaked some raisins to plump them up and added them to the mix before baking.
The other reviewer also liked it. She commented:
My can of sweetened condensed milk was 14 oz so instead of adding the half cup of milk and half of the can, I just used the entire can and no sugar. It was plenty sweet.
1 cup uncooked rice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
14 1/2 ounces evaporated milk
6 ounces sweetened condensed milk
3 eggs, whipped until fluffy
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract or 1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 nutmeg, grated
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 ounces raisins (optional)
- Cook rice in plain water until rice is very soft (do not add oil or salt to water when cooking).
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Drain hot rice and place in bowl. While stirring, add all other ingredients. Continue stirring until butter is melted and all ingredients are incorporated.
- Pour into pan that you have greased or sprayed with cooking spray. Rice mixture should be around 2 inches deep in the pan.
- Bake approximately 60 minutes, or until firm and knife inserted in center comes out clean. (NOTE: the recipe did not include cooking time. I based this time on reviews by people who tried it on Food.com).
Belize Bread Pudding:
I love bread pudding and this looks easy and tasty. The original recipe called for condensed milk but wikipedia says that it’s the same thing as sweetened condensed milk. The recipe did not include baking time. If you try the recipe, let me know and I’ll add it to the directions.
I posted the recipe on Food.com, and one review of the recipe has been posted:
love this recipe, just how my mom use to make it…. yam yam, love when it sticks on the baking pan… an crispy..”dont grease pan”
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg, grated
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1 loaf white bread
1/2 cup butter, melted
6 ounces sweetened condensed milk
14 1/2 ounces evaporated milk
1 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup raisins
2 eggs, beaten
- In a small bowl, combine sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon.
- Tear bread into pieces and place in large bowl.
- Pour butter over bread, then add both types of milk, vanilla, eggs and water. Mix well.
- Add sugar mixture and mix well with hands. Stir raisins into mixture.
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
- Pour mixture into 9×13 pan coated with cooking spray and bake until brown on top.
NOTE: The original recipe calls for an ungreased 9×12 pan, but it seems to me that a pan coated in cooking spray would be much easier to work with when serving.
Belize Steamed Fish:
Fish is one of those things that I like but rarely make. I tried this recipe and it was good and easy. I made it with fresh lemon instead of lime since that’s what I had in the house, and left out the green pepper (can’t stand it).
1 lb white fish fillet
2 limes, juiced
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
1 large green pepper, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
1/4 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon coconut oil or butter
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Rinse and dry fish, then drench with juice of limes.
- Drain and season with salt and pepper.
- Place 1 layer of fish in a shallow pan.
- Cover with green pepper and onion, then sprinkle with curry powder.
- Drizzle with coconut oil or melted butter.
- Squeeze remaining lime juice on fish.
- Cover tightly with lid or foil and bake for 10 minutes, then baste with liquid. Fish is done when it flakes easily with fork (total cooking time was not offered in recipe, but I’ve often heard 10 minutes per inch of thickness).
If you try any of these recipes, please let me know how they turned out!
Those recipes look amazing. I would like all of them I think. Thanks for sharing with Real Food Fridays 🙂
Glad you like them!
Oh my love rice pudding what brand of condensed milk and evaporated milk do you use? I have not seen any that is organic, I have been using coconut milk. If I use coconut milk would it come out the same, and how much do you think I should use? Pinning to my everything yummy board, thanks for sharing on Real Food Fridays, come by tonight and share some more, I’m enjoying them.
I’ve never actually tried this rice pudding recipe, thought I keep meaning to get around to it. I pulled it out of the book I bought when I was in Belize. I would think you can use any brand of condensed or evaporated milk. I have never used coconut milk other than in curry recipes, so I’m not much help on how it affects recipes that call for other types of milk. Sorry I can’t be of more help!
Thanks for sharing these delicious Belizean recipes, I am from belize I grew up with these delious dishes, I still cook these dishes in the states my children enjoy all my dishes I use coconut milk in my bread pudding and my rice pudding I find that coconut gives food more flavor so you guys should give it a try.
When making Fu Fu use plantains with light yellow skins (black or deep yellow skins means too ripe for this) and is best for for soups and stews, especially fish soups
The really ripe and softer plantains are used to make “Tuskee”, an old Mayan dish eaten with corn tortillas.
Green plantains are grated and used as dumplings in stews an soups, again especially fish soups and in a white (due to cocoanut milk used) Conch soup. There is a red version of Conch soup, coloured with Annatto wherein corn dumplings (made from masa) are used. Plantains,
ripe and green are used in our “Boil Up” dish, depending on your tastes as well as young green bananas. After hurricane Hattie when rice and flour were limited or unavailable, my
Grannie Mary would make stewed
Pork to which she would add young
green bananas and fresh cocoanut milk. Most delicious and I still make it. She would also make Pullet Soup with plantain balls (dumplings) instead of potatoes & lots of culantro (not the thick leaved
Mayan culantro nor cilantro). Here I can find culantro at Vietnamese markets. If you like Crab soups or stews, think plantain too and if U fish here is what my aunt would do
After cleaning her fish she would squeeze a little lemon juice inside, pack it with fresh herbs, score the body 2 or three times then rub with a little salt and peppper, wrap it in
Banana leaves and cook directly on some hot coals. That she would serve with green banana chips or
Plantain Tostones ( similar to Cuban and Puerto Rican) using plantains that were just beginning to yellow at the tips. Served with Mayan salsa made from roasted peppers and roasted tomatoes. Sad that some of these recipes are being lost because we are not growing our own foods and relying on mass produced processed foods
Thanks for all of the authentic Belize tips!
By the way Pullet soup is made of a young chicken which can be bought at Latin or Asian markets where they butcher and dress (meaning) clean up the chicken for you