Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Roasted Pork Shoulder - Lechon Asado

If you ever saw the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", you'll remember that they would celebrate every occasion with lamb. Well, we will roast a pork for almost any occasion! On Christmas Eve we even roast an entire pig in a wooden contraption called a "caja china".

This is one of those recipes that it really is a matter of taste.  You can add more or less spices.  However, I will list what I used but you can adapt to your preference.

Roasted Pork - Lechon Asado 

6 lb. pork shoulder butt (blade roast)
sea salt*
black pepper*
garlic powder*
2 teaspoons crushed oregano*
1 teaspoon ground cumin*
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
mojo (store bought if available or mix 1 cup lemon juice, 1 cup bitter orange juice and 8 peeled and crushed garlic cloves.  Let sit for about 30 minutes before using for marinade)*

Score the thick skin or hide in a crosshatch pattern with a sharp knife.  Place in a roasting pan with the meaty side up to season.  With a sharp knife make deep slits into the meat. Season generously with salt, pepper, and garlic.  Add oregano, cumin, and the rest of the dry ingredients to taste and then rub well over meat. Pour the mojo over the pork especially into the slits.   Turn the meat over and season especially where the meat is exposed through the crosshatch cuts. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours, if possible overnight would be best.

Roast at 275°, for 5 hours or until internal temperature reaches 160°. The meat will fall off the bone and the skin will be toasty and crunchy.

*These ingredients are a must, the others are optional.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Dorie Greenspan's Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good

This was a featured recipe on French Friday's With Dorie a couple of weeks ago.  Due to a really hectic week I was not able to make it.  However, it got such rave reviews from everyone I just had to try it for myself.  I must say that everything you may have heard or read about this recipe is true. It makes a beautiful presentation and it is so savory that everyone that tried it has asked me for the recipe!! You can make exactly the way the recipes says with bacon, gruyere, scallions, etc., or make your own variation, you can't go wrong!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving in Princeton...

For several years now, we have been traveling to Princeton for Thanksgiving.  We stay with my husband's cousin Eddie, his wife Ana, and their kids. Ana has three sisters that also live in Miami which fly up with their families and their mom. The number of people staying at their house can vary anywhere from 2 families (11 persons), to 5 families (23 persons), during this holiday weekend, and more than half are children (ages ranging from 6 to 25)!
We traditionally go shopping at Wegman's together (we split up the grocery list), play street hockey together, cook and eat together!
Some of the younger crew.
 We can be quite a group, but we have a great time.  Breakfast time is crazy as Eddie makes homemade pancakes for everyone; he even gives you a choice of chocolate chips, blueberries, or plain.
Lunch is usually a smorgasbord of whatever is in the refrigerator or in the pantry and dinner is always a wonderful surprise made by Ana (one of the best cooks I know personally). 
This is Ana's Cheesebread.....Top secret recipe!
Turkey was seasoned Cuban style:.bitter oranges, garlic, oregano, etc....
 However, for Thanksgiving's dinner everyone contributes with either a traditional dish or a new recipe recently discovered.

 I always make Frida's Corn Pudding. I came across this recipe when I took a cooking class with Viviana Carballo many years ago. This corn pudding is delicious and has become a tradition at everyone's who has tried it. This was definitely a keeper!
CORN PUDDING Courtesy of Frida's Fiesta..Recipes and Reminiscences of Life withFrida Kahlo
(6-8 servings)

12 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
7 to 8 cups corn kernels, preferably a few days old
1/2 cup milk
5 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
5 eggs, separated
Cream the butter and sugar. Puree the corn kernels with the milk. Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt. Beat the egg yolks with the flour until well mixed. Thoroughly combine the butter, corn, and egg mixtures. Beat the egg whites until stiff and gently fold into the corn mixture. Butter a baking dish or ring mold. Fill with the batter and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Friday, November 18, 2011

50 Women Game Changers in Food - Week 24

Hey Y'all,  It's Paula Deen

I think we would all love to have her as a neighbor!  I know my husband would, he loves to watch her on the Food Network and he'll remark, "look at all that butter!"  I really admire how life's circumstances  just made her stronger and gave her the strength to succeed.  As she put it, "I hope my story will inspire others to accept the challenges that life offers.  My experience proves that whenever one door closes, another one always opens."  She has not only encouraged many to cook but she has made us laugh along the way!  

What to cook?  I could not decide.  So I asked my husband........FRIED CHICKEN!  A keeper for sure.  The chicken was crispy, moist, and so tender. A real treat even if it's only once in a while. Enjoy and "best dishes t'all!"

Bert's Southern Fried ChickenCourtesy of Paula Deen from Paula Deen and Friends

3-4 pounds of chicken, cut up into 8 pieces
Salt and pepper
2 cups all-purpose flour or self-rising flour
3 eggs
1/3 cup milk
Peanut oil for frying

Liberally sprinkle each piece of chicken with salt and pepper several hours before cooking.  Place it in a dish, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator.  Be sure to do this early enough in the day, otherwise the seasoning will not penetrate.

Place flour in a plastic kitchen storage bag.  When ready to cook, beat the eggs with the milk.  Dip the chicken pieces into the egg mixture, then place each piece in the bag.  Shake until the chicken is coated.  Set the floured chicken on a plate while you heat the oil.

Pour enough oil into a cast-iron skillet (I like to use my Dutch oven) to come only halfway up the sides of the pan.  This is important, as the oil rises when each piece of chicken is added .  (You must be careful not to let the oil spill out while the chicken is frying; it can cause serious burns or cause a grease fire if the grease lands on a gas flame or electric cooktop.)

Turn the heat to medium high; test by adding a drop of water to the oil.  If it sizzles, the oil is ready; this takes about 4-5 minutes.  Place about 4 pieces of chicken into the hot oil.  Allow to cook on the first side about 8 minutes, and on the second side about 6 minutes, until crispy brown.  Pieces with large bones, the legs and thighs, may need an additional minute per side to be completely done.  Remove the chicken from the oil and drain well on paper towels.  Cook the second batch of chicken.

Leave the chicken uncovered to remain crispy.  If you cover it, the crust will get soggy.  It's up to you on how you like to eat it.

For other great recipes by Paula Deen, please visit the rest of our group:

Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen
Annie - Most Lovely Things

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Madrina's Fritas - Cuban Style Sliders

My son, CJ, loves fritas (Cuban style sliders). There is a restaurant in Miami that is very known for theirs and he always thought those were the best.  That was until his godmother, Ana, made some for him this weekend.  OMG!! These ARE truly the best and easy to make! 

Madrina's Fritas

4 lbs ground beef
4 small spanish chorizo (remove casing)
4 medium onions
10 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
4 tablespoons Spanish paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

Add ground beef, chorizo, onions, and garlic to food processor and process until well blended, almost paste like. Remove beef mixture and season well with remaining ingredients.  Form into small burger patties.  You can cook them on the grill or fry them. If you don't have slider buns then adjust  patty size to the bun.  

This is traditionally served with very thin french fries.  Ketchup and mustard is totally optional, you really don't need it.   Enjoy!!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Daring Cooks

Sarah from Simply Cooked was our November Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to create something truly unique in both taste and technique! We learned how to cook using tea with recipes from Tea Cookbook by Tonia George and The New Tea Book by Sara Perry.

I had heard of cookies, cakes, even sweet breads made with TEA, but never a savory dish.  I searched through all my books and found a Tea Smoked Duck recipe.  Same grocery store again (can’t wait for Whole Foods to open): no duck available.  So I decided to make one of the dishes Sarah had suggested in her challenge – Beef Braised in Rooios Tea with Sweet Potatoes.  Not only was it surprisingly delicious, my boys comments were, “whatever you are cooking smells GREAT!”  The meat was so tender and the sauce was great over rice and for bread dipping: WE DID BOTH……….this is definitely a keeper!!

Beef Braised in Rooibos Tea with Sweet Potatoes
Servings: 4-6
Rooibos tea is an herbal infusion from South Africa. Also called red tea, redbush tea, or honeybush tea, it is honey-flavored and light colored. It is gaining popularity because it is low in bitter tannins and caffeine-free. It can be substituted in this recipe by black tea, or try another dark herbal tea such as one containing licorice.
1¼ pounds (600 gm) brisket or stewing beef, trimmed and cut into 2-inch (5 cm) chunks
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (18 gm) (⅔ oz) flour
1 tablespoon (15 m) oil
2 onions, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (8 gm) tomato concentrate
5 rooibos tea bags (or 2 tablespoons loose tea leaves)  **I used Earl Grey(black tea)**
1 quart (1 litre) just-boiled water
5 tablespoons (75 ml) red wine vinegar
4 strips unwaxed orange peel, pith removed (the peel of about half an orange)
2 cinnamon sticks
2 inches (5 cm) fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
4 small sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
¾ cup (175 ml) mild honey (optional)
cilantro (coriander) leaves, to garnish
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Season the beef and coat in the flour. Heat the oil in a large stock pot and then brown the beef on all sides.

2. Add the onions and celery. Put on a tight fitting lid and let soften for ten minutes.

3. Add the garlic and tomato concentrate and cook for one minute.

4. Meanwhile, place the tea bags in a heatproof pitcher and pour over the water. Allow to steep for four minutes. Then remove the tea bags (or strain out the tea leaves) and pour the tea into the stock pot. Add the red wine vinegar, orange peel, cinnamon sticks, and ginger.

5. Lower the heat and cover. Let the stew simmer for 2 hours, until the beef is tender.

6. Add the sweet potatoes, honey (if using), and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a further 30 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are soft.

7. Serve garnished with chopped cilantro.

Friday, November 11, 2011

FFWD Spiced Squash, Fennel, and Pear Soup

Delicious! Absolutely delicious!

It really is.... and if none of the other recipes that have been featured in French Fridays with Dorie so far have not enticed you to buy Around My French Table, this one to me is worth the whole book.

I have tried several different butternut squash soup recipes this season including Giada DeLaurentiis's recipe made by my great friend Bob. But this has to be the best one so far!

The ingredients alone intrigued me: butternut squash, fennel, pears, shallots, garlic, and the spices!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

50 Women Game Changer in Food, Week 23

Nancy Silverton, is a chef and author (7 cookbooks) with an impressive list of restaurants on her resume either as founder, former owner, or current owner;  La Brea Bakery, Restaurant Campanile, Pizzeria, Mozza, Osteria Mozza, Jar, La Terza and the latest Trattoria del Latte (co-owner with Mario Batali).  At number 23 on the 50 Women Game Changers in Food list she has truly made her mark.

I had made up my mind last week that I would be making her Tuscan Bean Soup with Prosciutto and Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.  However, as the week went on and life took place I changed my mind.  I got home late from work and I wanted something extremely simple to make and was in the mood for pasta.  I had all the ingredients for her Lemon Aioli and it was truly quick, simple, and delicious with angel hair pasta.  The most difficult part was "pulverizing" the garlic with a pestle, which I actually enjoy and find to be very therapeutic.

Lemon Aioli
by Nancy Silverton, with Teri Gelber.
from Nancy Silverton's Sandwich Book

Traditionally, an aioli should be made with lots of garlic and extra virgin olive oil. If you find the flavor too strong, you can use half olive oil and half vegetable oil (and a little less garlic if you must).

2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 extra large egg yolk
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon zest

Using a mortar and pestle, pulverize the garlic and salt to a smooth paste. (If you don't have a mortar and pestle, smash the garlic with the flat side of a chef's knife or a garlic press.) If your mortar is too small to whisk the entire amount of oil in (or you don't have one), transfer the mashed garlic and salt to the bowl of an electric mixer or a medium stainless-steel bowl, and whisk in the egg yolk by hand. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, drop by drop, whisking constantly. As the mixture begins to thicken, add a teaspoon of vinegar, a teaspoon of lemon juice, and a teaspoon of warm water. Once you've added almost half of the oil, place the bowl in the mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and mix on medium speed. Or continue to whisk in the oil by hand. Pour the oil in a slow, steady trickle, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. As the mixture thickens, add a little more of the lemon juice and water, and continue whisking until the remaining olive oil is completely incorporated and the sauce is thickened. Season with lemon juice and zest, and salt to taste.

For other great recipes by Nancy Silverton, please visit the rest of our group:
Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen

Friday, November 4, 2011

FFWD Twenty-minute Honey-glazed Duck (Chicken) Breast

This week for French Fridays with Dorie, the recipe as the name indicates called for duck breast. However, unfortunately my local grocery store does not always have it available so I used chicken instead.  And I'm really glad I was succulent and delicious!  This is really a quick and very simple recipe from Dorie Greenspan's cookbook Around My French Table.  Definitely a keeper!! 

This is a must have cookbook.


50 Women Game Changers in Food # 22

This week we honor Amanda Hesser, # 22 on the 50 Women Game Changers in Food list. I have been a fan of the blog co-founded by Amanda, FOOD52, for a while now.  It is a one stop smorgasbord of food news, recipes, shopping, articles about upcoming new chefs, and they even have a hotline in case you have any questions about one of their recipes.  She has written for The Washington Post, The New York Times (from 1997 through February of this year), and is currently a staff writer for The New Yorker.  She has written several books among them The Essential New York Times Cookbook, and the recently published The Food 52 Cookbook.

My kids influenced this week's pick, Chocolate Pudding, it is truly a chocoholic's dream.

Chocolate Pudding courtesy of Amanda Hesser

Serves 3 to 4

2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons tapioca flour
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces 66% cacao dark chocolate, chopped
Unsweetened whipped cream, for serving (optional)

Put the egg yolks and tapioca flour in a blender and blend on low speed until a light-colored paste forms.

Combine the sugar, cream, milk, salt, and vanilla in a saucepan set over medium heat.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove it from the heat.  Turn the blender containing the egg and tapioca mixture back on low.  Quickly and carefully, pour the hot milk mixture into the blender and increase the speed to medium.  The heat will cook the egg yolks and allow the tapioca to thicken to the consistency of thick mayonnaise. 

With the blender running add the chocolate in stages so it is emulsified into the pudding.  When all the chocolate is added, strain the pudding into a serving bowl (or 3 to 4 serving bowls) and let it cool to room temperature before transferring to the refrigerator to cool completely.  Top with whipped cream if you like.  


For other great recipes by Amanda Hesser, please visit the rest of our group:

Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen