Friday, November 28, 2008

Salmon a la Vizcaina (Salmon in Vizcaina Sauce)

I got the idea to make this from one of my readers whom calls himself "Mamey" (his name is Omar) he was kind enough to comment my "Boniatillo" and share a recipe he made of Salmon in a Vizcaina type sauce. It sounded delicious, he pan-fried the salmon and added it to a delicous tomato based sauce served over sliced "Boniato" (a type of white sweet potato).

So today I made it, I kind of just followed my instincts and tried to imagine how it was done, and made the type of sauce my grandmother would use for "Bacalao a la Vizcaina" and just replaced the Bacalao with a well seasoned, pan-fried salmon it was wonderful try it you won't regret.

Oh I forgot I had a wonderful Boniato in my kitchen but half of it spoiled as I forgot about it and it was a couple weeks old (ooops) so I used regular brown potatoes instead.

Ingredients for Salmon:

-1 1/2 pounds salmon filets cut into medium large serving pieces
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1 teaspoon paprika (sweet smoked I like)
-1 teaspoon ground black pepper
-1 teaspoon of sea salt (more or less to taste)
-4 cloves of fresh garlic mashed to a paste (more to taste)
Ingredients for Sauce:
-1 small green bell pepper finely minced
-1 small red bell pepper finely minced
-1 medium onion cut into thin rings
-5-6 cloves garlic mashed to a paste (garlic press or mortar and pestle)
-1 cup crushed tomatoes
-1 cup tomato sauce
-1/2 cup dry white wine
-1 cup water
-2 bay leaves
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
-sea salt to taste

Ingredients for "bed":
-2 large Boniatos (white sweet potatoes) or in it's place substitute it for 4 potatoes (boiled, peeled, cut into thin rounds)
(1)In a mortar mash garlic to a paste with sea salt, cumin, paprika, and pepper. Rub it all over the fish filets.

(2)Heat some olive oil on medium high in a pan, brown the salmon filets on both sides. Set aside.

(3)In the same pan let's start making the sauce, sautee onions and minced bell peppers for 5 minutes, add garlic sautee another 2 minutes, add cumin, oregano, bay leaf sautee 1 minute, now add crushed tomato, stir until it mixes well and higher heat, now add tomato sauce, stir and bring to boil, add 1 cup water, and 1/2 cup dry white wine, sea salt to taste bring to a boil and and simmer on medium low for atleast 10 minutes.

(4)Add salmon filets in carefully along with drippings, in a big dish make a bed with peeled sliced into thin rounds potatoes or boniatos and carefully place the salmon filets in the sauce over this bed with the rest of the sauce.

(5)Served it with rice and a wonderful salad my mom made marinaded in white wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic and salt. (It was delicious it has orange cauliflower, broccoflower, red onion, aspuragus, and minced cilantro)

"Mamey" (aka Omar) served it with "Harina de Maiz" (Polenta I'm assuming it was simply cornmeal, salted, and boiled with water but even though it sounds simple it goes well with most stuff atleast these types of food, I would've made it but I was tired and had leftover cold rice which I decided to make a "Garlic Fried Rice" with which was simply rice sauteed with minced garlic and salt I learned it from a Filipino friend, simple and delicious), and a watercress, tomato, avocado salad (I think)

-You can skip the whole "bed of potatoes" and or "boniato" and simply throw the over the salmon and sauce. Or you can while making the sauce when you cover it to boil let it cook 15- 20 minutes with chunks of potatoes or boniato and then when done you add the salmon in for a more "home-style" approach I guess.

-Some other time I will show my families way of preparing the "Bacalao" (salted dry cod) with this sauce.

-Don't worry if you don't have sea salt just use regular salt it will still be good.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Frituritas de Camote (Sweet Potato Fritters)

This is not a traditional "Cuban" recipe, but my grandmother makes these beautiful tasty sinful fritters made of "Sweet Potato" I think this would make a nice addition to a "Thanksgiving" meal here in America (or Canada)

Main Ingredients:
-3 medium fat sweet potatoes
-2 large eggs
-1/2 cup white flour
-1 tablespoon baking powder
-sugar to taste (also optional but see note below)
-1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon (optional)
-oil to deep fry
(1)Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees, get sweet potatoes and lightly rub them with oil, put in a baking dish uncovered to bake about 40 minutes- 1 hour.

(2)Let cool, peel and mash to a paste (don't be picky just mash it it doesn't have to be super smooth or anything)

(3)Add beaten eggs, flour, baking soda, cinnamon and sugar to taste. Mix batter it should be a thick batter than you can scoop and it can sorta hold it shape like "gloppy"

(4)Let batter rest for 1 hour. Now heat oil on medium high heat enough to pan-fry/ deep-fry. When ready drop the batter by the spoonfuls and and brown on each side, set aside on a plate with paper towels.

If you wish you can skip the cinnamon and sugar BUT you will need to make a heavy syrup to drizzle over the fritters when they are done. My grandmother for this makes a syrup with equal dark brown sugar to water with 1 cinnamon stick to flavor it. She brings it to a boil, when it reaches desired consistency it's ready to use.

ALSO do not try to steam or boil it to make the batter, it will make the batter to loose and watery, the reason the sweet potatoes are baked uncovered is so that they release a lot of their liquid and are nice and starchy for the batter.

LASTLY VERY IMPORTANT don't try to be healthy and make these " sugar free" or any of that may I say "crap" or they'll taste NASTY, if you wanna do that just steam, bake, or boil the sweet potato and eat it by itself :)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ensalada de Papa (My Grandmas Potato Salad)

My grandmother from my fathers side (Spanish/ Cuban) whom I call "Tata" makes a wonderful potato salad. It has very Spanish flavors she dresses it in a "Alioli" a type of garlic mayonnaise popular in Spain (don't worry you won't have to make it from scratch she never did and I'm keeping this recipe true to how she made it) and some Spanish or Black olives which is what makes it special.

In my household this use to be prepared once a week and everyone loved it, I hope you love it just as much to, though I must warn you if you dislike garlic and olives you won't like this one.

Main Ingredients:
-10 medium russet potatoes
-4 hard boiled eggs
-1 red onion finely minced
-4 celery stalks julienned then finely minced
-1 bunch of parsley or cilantro washed, and very finely minced
-1/2-1 cup Spanish Pimiento stuffed olives or Black Olives sliced (whatever you have on hand)
Ingredients for dressing (alioli)
-2 cups prepared regular premium Mayonnaise
-4 cloves garlic
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 tablespoon white vinegar
Directions for alioli:
(1)Mash garlic to a paste with salt in a mortar and pestle, in a medium bowl add mayonnaise, whisk garlic paste well into the mayonnaise with a fork, add tablespoon of white vinegar and whisk in, your done, there's your short cut for alioli.

(1)Boil the potatoes until a fork or knife can go through them, when cooled, peel them by hand, cube them into medium sized chunks (your choice what size you want it) set aside.

(2)Meanwhile also boil the eggs until "hard boiled" run through cold water and carefully peel. Cut into cubes (by halving egg, then halving those halves and cutting those halves into 3 sections) set aside.

(3)Now get your potatoes, toss them with minced onion, parsley, celery, and sliced olives.

(4)Add the dressing, toss well, now gently fold in eggs. (You add them last so you don't crush them). Now your done, serve cold.

(5)In my house we serve it as we would any salad, or sometimes we will serve that, a cold leafy salad, some grilled meats, some homemade chilled fruit drinks and simple desserts (usually fruits in syrup paired with cream cheese, or custards)

(1)Feel free to make your own alioli from scratch, no need to for this, I learned to make one from scratch from Nikki's blog "Canary Girl" which I served her alioli with "Churros de Pescados" (she has the recipe on her blog I made a slightly adjusted version because I used "Bijol instead of saffron)

(2)In Spain they make a salad similar to this they call "Ensaladilla Rusa" which is similar but not really because "Ensaladilla Rusa" has tuna packed in olive oil drained added to it.

Salsa de Chile Habanero (Habanero Hot Sauce)

This weekend I went to go visit my good friend Shantall and helped her with her yard. It was fun (because I'm a dork like that) we went to the out skirts of the San Fernando Valley to get "horse manuer" to fertilize the soil. It was hilarious the truck used to drive us up there was literally over a huge mountain of horse doo-doo ha ha. (Yes yes not what a typical teenager would do on his weekends for fun.)

Anyways, towards the end of the day after some yard work, talking, biking and lots of wonderful food and fun I she gave me a small bag with Habanero peppers from her yard.

I was wondering, "What should I do with them?" I was even thinking of adding 1 habanero pepper to a Cuban dish and see what happens since it tastes like a very spicy green bell pepper. (No kidding I've had them raw with food, I take little nibbles and eat along with my food) Well after some thinking and reading other's opinions on a forum I decided to make a spicy Mexican hot sauce.

For those that haven't heard of these peppers they are claimed to be the most "spiciest" pepper in the world. Along with a Scotch Bonnet (both from the same species)

I highly recommend this sauce, it has the flavor of a crisp, sweet bell pepper with strong heat, although for me the sauce isn't so hot it's hot but can be consumed fine. (My mother actually makes hotter sauces combining lot's of dry "Chile de Arbol" peppers and "Chipotles in Adobo" those will burn stronger)

-9 Habanero Chili Peppers
-20 small to medium Tomatillos (about 1 1/2 pounds)
-4 cloves of garlic (skin left on)
-1 medium onion minced
-1/2 a bunch of cilantro washed trimmed and minced
-1 1/2 or 2 teaspoons salt (to taste)
-1/2 cup water (more or less)
-1 tablespoon white vinegar (optional this is only added to make it last longer)

(1)In a large griddle covered with aluminum foil grill the tomatillos, habaneros, and garlic until blackened on both sides and they release some liquid and it evaporates. Now set aside and let it cool so you can handle with your hands.

(2)Once cooled remove as much of the black charred parts as you can, add to a blender or food processor. Now add salt, and a little water (only enough to blend not to water down a bunch JUST TO BLEND)

(3)Now set in a bowl and stir in minced cilantro and onion, taste for salt and more if needed and if desired stir in vinegar (typically vinegar is only added to red sauces not green we didn't add it but it's your choice)

-If you cannot find "tomatillos" in your area you may substitute them for regular fresh tomatoes (preferably roma).
-This is to be used as a condiment, you add a little bit to your food when eating to make it more spicy/ give it a kick.
-I had some unripe one's in my fridge from the last time I recieved some Okra, there was unripe Habaneros which are still pretty damn good :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Arroz Verde a Mi Manera (Green Rice my Way)

This is my recipe, I made it up myself. I have a Peruvian friend who would make "Arroz Verde", I really liked it so I would make her's sometimes, but I decided to completely adjust it to the taste of my household and make it "Cubanized" I guess one could call it "Arroz Verde Estilo Cubano" (Cuban style green rice?) It is very flavorful and delicous, it's a very simple side dish.

I do mine in a rice cooker you can adjust it to do it stove top.

-3 cups long grain white rice
-1 big bunch of cilantro (cleaned well, but with stems and all)
-1 onion finely minced
-1 green bell pepper finely minced
-5-6 cloves garlic finely minced (I use a mortar and pestle most of the time or garlic press)
-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1/2 teaspoon finely ground fresh black pepper
-2 teaspoons salt
-1/4-1/2 tsp. monosodium glutamine (msg... it's optional popular brand is Ajinamoto)

Heat olive oil on medium high heat, sautee onion and bell pepper 5 minutes, add garlic sautee 2 minutes. Meanwhile blend cilantro in a blender with 1 cup water. When garlic is fragrant, add the blended cilantro and stir well bring to boil.

(2)Meanwhile, now wash rice well drain, and add to rice cooker, throw in the stuff you sauteed, add salt, cumin, pepper, and msg stir well, add water necessary to cook rice.

Water may vary I use a long-grain jasmine rice that is new crop it only needs equal water to rice. Regular long-grain white rice needs no more than 1 1/2 cups water per cup. Also don't forget the water in the blended cilantro counts to.

For the original "Peruvian version" you only use cilantro ,garlic, onion, and Peruvian yellow pepper, and season with only salt, black pepper, and msg. Sometimes they will use chicken stock.

(3)This rice tastes fabulous with some fried eggs on top.

If doing on stove top, make the sautee in a large pot, and add blended cilantro, spices and water, bring to a boil and add washed, add drained clean rice stir once, cover and simmer on low for 30 minutes.

Ruedas de Camote Frito (Fried Sweet Potato Rounds)

Title is explains most of it. This is a very simple dish my grandmother makes with either regular "Camote" (orange fleshed sweet potato) or "Boniato" (cuban white sweet potato), more often than not we use "Camote" (orange fleshed sweet potato) because it is very abundant in the USA and popular, right now in late November the price dropped to 7 lbs. for 99 cents US. Sometimes it drops to 10 lbs for 99 cents US. So I take advantage and buy tons of them (about 40 pounds) we can eat through them fast and know how to prepare them in many ways (both healthy and unhealthy)

-Sweet Potato (washed very well, NOT peeled, cut into 1/4 inch rounds)
-salt to taste or sugar (depends see note)
-oil to deep-fry (I use canola oil, other good choices I like are sunflower oil and peanut oil)

(1)Heat oil on medium high heat for about 5 minutes, when hot enough fry the sweet potato in small batches, in one layer, each one fry's for about 5-7 minutes per side until they are lighter in color and lightly browned.

(2)Afterwards set in a plate with papertowels to drain and sprinkle with salt while hot, or sugar.

(1)If we are eating them as appetizers for dinner we sprinkle some salt on them, if we want it as a snack or dessert usually we dust them in regular white sugar.

These are not suppose to be crisp and dry, they are firm, but soft when you bite into them, the peel is left on to let it hold it's shape, when eating after cooked you have the option to either eat the peel, or remove when eating with your hands easily :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pollo Frito a la Criolla (Fried Chicken Creole)

Well this is not my families recipe or anything like that. The title it's deceiving it isn't really "Fried Chicken" it's just chicken marinaded in a garlic citrus marinade with spices, then browned, smothered in onions and simmered in the garlic citrus marinade.

My grandmother does make a fried chicken though that is Cuban but it's different (she just rubs chicken thighs and drumsticks with some cumin, lots of garlic, fresh lime, and salt then she deep-fried it until the skin is crisp, her procedure makes it juicy and tender, she fry's it on medium high, and covers it to simmer fry and at the same time steam in the oil it's a little tricky I'll share that some other time)

Back to this recipe, I got the recipe online, I was surfing through the Internet and bumped into a bunch of sited with a recipe they called "Pollo Frito a la Criolla" I have never consumed that, but the ingredients and procedures are very typical of Cuban cooking so I thought I'd give it a try. I have made this recipe before successfully once and it was a hit in my home, so I am doing it for the second time.

I did alter the recipe to suit my families taste, the recipe called for too little garlic (only 3 cloves for 1 chicken that's ridiculous it's Cuban cooking for crying out loud we use at least double of that in most dishes especially for a "Mojo" (pronounced mo-ho) type marinade) I also went heavier on the pepper (but that is to taste).

-1 whole chicken, skin left on, washed cleaned, cut into medium sections I did 16 sections)
-6-12 cloves of garlic (I used a whole head which is 12-13?)
-2 teaspoons salt
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1 teaspoon dried oregano
-1/2-1 teaspoon ground black pepper (to taste your choice how much)
-1 cup freshly squeezed bitter orange juice (if you don't have it substitute it for 1/2 freshly squeezed lime juice and 1/2 freshly squeezed orange juice)
-1 large onion cut into rings

-After the chicken is cleaned, washed, and drained due the following: in a mortar and pestle add peeled garlic cloves and salt, mash it to a paste, add pepper, oregano, and mash to a until everything is finely ground, now add cumin and mash more, now incorporate the bitter orange juice.

(2)Mix the chicken in a large bowl with the marinade, let it marinade around 2-12 hours or even more, up to you.

(3)Slice the onions into rings and lay over the chicken, cover well with a plastic wrap or whatever. Then let it marinade in the fridge.

(4)When ready to cook, heat a pan on high heat until really hot, add olive oil and lower to medium high, add chicken do not overcrowd pan and let it brown 5-7 minutes on each side, remove from heat, now add all the reserved marinade and onions, deglaze by bringing to a boil and scraping with a wooden spoon. Now simple add chicken back into pan with sauce, coat and spoon over some of the sauce.

(5)Cover and simmer for about 20-35 minutes until l chicken is cooked through.

Enjoy with any type of Cuban dishes but don't forget eat it with some rice :) and black beans wouldn't hurt either.

NOTE: You can do this with any cut of chicken, like skinless boneless chicken breast just make sure to simmer for less time because you don't want to dry it out :) Also I don't know why but I felt like adding 2 tablespoons of white vinegar. You can also do it with all lime juice if you want my family prefers more acidic pungent flavors.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Pozolé Rojo (Red Mexican Hominy & Pork Stew)

Pozole is a popular Mexican stew with Hominy and Pork. The most traditional common one is the red one, but there is a green version "Pozole Verde" (colored with tomatillos and other stuff) and "Pozole Blanco" which has a clear broth. Even though there are different versions it's generally called "Pozole" and when people refer to "Pozole" they are usually thinking of the red version which in my opinion is the most delicious. Other variation use purple hominy. In Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico the popular Pozole is "Pozole Verde" and "Pozole Blanco" in the rest of Mexico I think the red is the most popular. My mother's family is from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, but my mother was born in Michoacan (her mom was on vacation there) and spent much there although she also spent time in Guadalajara, Jalisco, but she is more fond of the red one.

My mother makes the best "Pozole", other people's Pozole (usually the one's from the store and some other's I've tried) are very bland, and some use Chicken and let me tell you Pozole with Chicken is not Pozole it is inferior to the pork kind. I like Chicken but not in Pozole. Real Pozole should be made with pork. I hear some say, "Vamos acer Pozole de Pollo" me and some others say, "Que eso no es Pozole yo no se que es eso" just look around at other Pozole recipes and look at mine... it'll be obvious mine is best ;) (hate to sound cocky but it's really delicious compared to other peoples Pozole's trust me if you like Pozole this will make you love it more, if you don't like Pozole this will change your mind, if you don't like this Pozole your crazy :)

-2 6 lbs. can of Hominy
-1 1/2 lbs. meaty pork neck bone (Espinazo de Puerco) cut into large chunks
-1 lbs. pork spare ribs medium chunks
-3 lbs. pork butt/ or pork shoulder big large chunks
-2 lbs. pork feet
-1 tbsp. dried oregano
-1 tbsp. ground black pepper
-2 medium onions (peeled, and left whole)
-2 whole garlic heads (ugly outer layer removed but clean layer left, and stab it a bit)
-4 large bay leaves
-1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon salt
-12 dried California Chilies (Chile California also known as Anaheim Pepper, California Chile, it has to be dried, it has very mild almost to now heat)
-6 cloves of garlic peeled
-3 large tomatoes (or 6 canned whole peeled seeded tomatoes)
-2 tablespoons ground cumin

Sides and garnishes: (prepare the sides while the stew is cooking)
-Tostadas (crispy deep-fried corn tortilla)
-Hot sauce (any type of red colored one such as "Salsa de Chile de Arbol")
-thinly sliced shredded cabbage (soaked in water chilled)
-minced onion
-radishes cut into flowers (soaked in water chilled)
-dried oregano
-avocado (optional)
-fresh wedged limes

(1)Soak the "Chile California" overnight to rehydrate them, set them, or boil them until tender)

(2)Blend them in a blender in small batches with the tomato and garlic cloves until you obtain a thick loose sauce use some of the water from boiling to help it blend, stir in ground cumin. Set aside.

(3)Meanwhile bring one medium pot of water to a boil (to clean pork feet), and 1 large pot of water to a boil (for the rest of the stew)

(4)While waiting for pots to boil do all prep. work.

(5) Wash all the meats well, rub them with salt and fresh limes and lime juice, rinse and drain several times.

(6)In the medium pot bring pork feet and water to a boil until the nasty foam rises, now drain it and set aside the pork feet.

(7)In the LARGE POT really big, filled half way with water I would say 6 liters or more (use common sense I'm not sure), add oregano, pepper, onion, garlic, bay leaves, and salt. Add pork spare rib, meaty pork neck bone, pork shoulder, and pork feet. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer 1 hour and 30 minutes.

(8)During the time it's cooking, open the two large cans of Hominy and drain and rinse, when 1 hour and 30 minutes pass remove the onion and garlic (fish them out ha ha), add the hominy, and the California Chile sauce add it BUT STRAIN IT, using some of the hot broth to help you strain out as much sauce as possible throw away the leftover, let it boil uncovered.

(9)While boiling in a seperate pot without water, remove pork feet, neck bones, and ribs because they should be very tender, but let the pork shoulder meat stay in there 30 more minutes uncovered to intensify the flavor, turn of heat, pour some broth into the seperate pot (ladle it in) to keep meat warm in the other one, and when you want to re-heat just let it simmer.

(10)When serving serve in large bowls, everyone can get the boneless pork meat in the stew with hominy and the seperate cut of meats they can choose whatever they want.

(11)Serve with the sides to taste (as much or as little as you want of any side) like some shredded cabbage on top, then a little minced onion, some ground oregano over it to taste, and hot sauce to taste, lastly some avocado if desired scooped over it.

IMPORTANT NOTE: When buying canned cooked Hominy do NOT BUY the brand "Juanita's" it is the absolute worse. Juanitas brand comes with these little heads on the corn that doesn't let it puff or soften well and it's sharp. Make sure it has no heads. I forgot the name of the brand we bought but it starts with a "Z" if you buy a brand with heads you'll have to remove em to get the best Pozole :)

ALSO: This makes a really large portion feel free to cut recipe in half, the next day it can be consumed for breakfast, my mother will seperate the hominy from the broth, heat a couple spoonfuls of pork lard on high heat until almost smoke point and sautee the hominy then pour the hot broth and meat into the pot this is called "Pozole Guisado" and is really good for breakfast the smokey pork fat gives great taste and the nutty sautee's hominy YUM!

P.S. This post was for everyone but more for one of my blog reader's who calls himself "Mamey" whom wanted a good Pozole recipe, so here it is enjoy :)