Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Camarones En Salsa Criolla (Shrimp in Cuban Creole Sauce)

This recipe makes a massive portion it makes about 12 servings more or less. Cut amounts in half if you wish.

This is my grandmothers recipe. It is full of her flavors and seasoning in cooking. To me any cuban dish is comfort food. Especially one's in hot, steamy tomato based sauces served with lots of rice to soak it up.

I don't know how others make this but I know this is how my grandmother taught my mother and how I learned it from both of them.

-3 lbs. shrimp (deviened, peeled, washed, reserve shrimp shells for stock used in this recipe it is a key component)
-water (to make shrimp stock)
-1 red bell pepper julienned
-1 green bell pepper julienned
-1 whole onion cut in half ten julienned
-8-12 garlic cloves crushed and minced (I use a garlic press or a mortar and pestle.)
-2-4 potatoes, peeled cut into small cubes (optional this is usually done to stretch out the dish and also because the little potato cubes soak up delicous shrimp flavors and are nice, starchy, and comforting )
-1 dry white wine (optional my grandmother doesn't add it)
-2 cans 15 oz of tomato sauce
-Salt ot taste
-2 teaspoons of ground cumin
-1 teaspoons of dried oregano crumbled
-2 dried bay leaves(optional)
-Lots of extra-virgin olive oil
-1 bunch of cilantro or parsley minced

(1) Get shrimp shells and boil in water until shrimp shells turn orange in color and water changes color and gets shrimp flavor

(2)Later on medium high heat sautee red & green bell peppers, onions, and garlic until fragrant. Pour in white wine (optional you may skip that my grandmother doesnt do that) bring wine to a boil.

Add tomato puree, some shrimp stock (as much as you'd like depends how thick you want the sauce 2 cups will make it nice and thick 3 kinda loose 4 more watery with little body again your preference), cubed potatoes, cumin, oregano, bay leaf and salt to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer on low covered for awhile so the flavors get infused and potato pieces are fully cooked.

(4)Mix in shrimp until they change color
(5) Garnish with cilantro

Mole Poblano (A type of Mexican Curry?)

Mole Poblano is the most popular of ALL the Mexican mole sauces atleast that’s the case here in USA. Mole pronounced “Mol-ay” is a category of complex Mexican sauces made from many ingredients processed into a smooth creamy sauce with chicken or turkey meat.
Mole Poblano is slightly spicy, has hints of chocolate and a nutty flavor. It is delicious despite having chocolate it is savory. Give it a try.
I came up with this recipe from reading many recipes and taking the best out of all of them and combining it with my style of cooking.
AND YES I BELIEVE I HAVE MADE ONE OF THE BEST AND MOST FLAVORFUL Mole Poblanos. It is labor intensive but worth it.

Ingredients for stock:
-1 whole chicken skin removed, washed, cut into segments rubbed and cleaned with limes
-2 whole roma tomatoes
-4 cloves garlic
-1 whole bell pepper
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1 teaspoon ground black pepper
-1 teaspoon dried ground oregano
-2 dried bay leaves
-juice of 1 lime
-2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
-salt to taste
-about 16 cups of water (enough to kinda fill a kinda large but not super large pot)

Ingredients for Mole Sauce:
-4 chiles Mulatos (dried) stem removed, cut in half, remove seeds and veins
-4 chiles Anchos (dried) stem removed, cut in half, remove seeds and veins
-4 chiles Guajillos (dried) stem removed, cut in half, remove seeds and veins
-4 chiles Pasillas (dried) stem removed, cut in half, remove seeds and veins
-4 whole roma tomatoes chopped
-1 large onion minced
-4 peeled crushed cloves garlic
-1 large ripe plantain, peeled and sliced
-½ cup unsalted almonds
-½ cup unsalted peanuts
-2 tablespoons sesame seeds
-1 slice toasted bread
-2 toasted corn tortillas
-1 tablet Mexican chocolate (Chocolate Abuelita or Ibarra chocolate)
-4 whole cloves (or 1/8 tsp. ground)
-10 black peppercorns (or ½ tsp. Ground)
-1 cinnamon stick (or ½ tsp. ground)
-½ tsp. coriander seeds (or ¼ tsp. ground)
-½ tsp. anise seeds (or ¼ ground)
-About 4 teaspoons salt
-½- 1 cup Cooking Oil (I used Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. Lard would taste wonderful to.)

Directions for stock:
- Place all stock ingredients with water in a large pot, bring to a boil and cover on low for atleast 1-2 hours.
-When done take out chicken pieces and set aside, and drain the stock into another pot or a really large bowl to remove all the stuff it has. Discard the leftover stuff.
-The stock will b used to make the mole sauce to help blend everything.

Directions for Mole Sauce:
(1)Grind all the spices (cinnamon, coriander seeds, anise seeds, peppercorns) to a powder in a spice grinder, coffee grinder, malachite, or mortar depends on what you have or use
(2)Prepare all your ingredients and lay them out prepared for you. Cut dried chiles into bite size pieces.
(3)Now heat ½- 1 cup oil in a deep shallow pan on medium high and add almonds, sesame seeds, peanuts, onion, garlic, dried chilies, & plantain and sautee and fry evenly all until everything is browned or kinda toasted and cooked. Add roma tomatoes until cooked and release some juices. Stir everything to cook evenly. Add pieces of bread and tortilla.
(4)In a blender blend in batches until smooth thinning out with chicken stock as much as necessary to make into a smooth sauce along with little amount of spices.
(5)Pour each batch into a large pot add all the spices if you forgot and also add 1 whole tablet of Mexican chocolate.
(6)Bring to a boil season with salt to taste then lower heat to medium low and simmer uncovered for 2 hours stirring every 20-30 minutes scraping the bottom so it doesn’t stick until thickened and it gets a rich brown color. If to thick dilute with some of the stock. I ended up using all the stock.
(7)When ready to serve put chicken on persons plate and throw generous amount mole sauce on top serve with rice and tortillas.

You will have leftover sauce, plenty of it. This sauce freezes very well for later use, the longer it sits in the fridge the more flavorful. Also it is delicious for breakfast with some rice topped with fried eggs and some mole sauce over it YUM or with anything else smothered in this.
This makes about 8 servings or more?

Higado a la Vizcaina (Liver a la Vizcaina)

This is a delicious liver dish. It’s liver which is marinaded, browned and cooked on high heat then sautéed with tons of onions tossed with cubed deep-fried potato pieces.

If your feeling weak I gaurantee that a large portion of this and a small mountain of rice with some savory black or red cuban beans will revive you.
-1 ½ lbs. beef liver
-12 cloves garlic (pressed through a garlic press or mashed in a mortar to a paste)
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1- 2 teaspoons salt
-2 tablespoons white vinegar
-2 medium onions sliced into thin rings or julienne
-5 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch or ½ inch cubes
-salt to taste
-Oil to deep-fry, brown and sautee stuff
-4 limes

(1) Beef liver washed, cleaned, remove nerves, silver skin, and fat leave as clean as possible even if you must waste some of the liver meat. I buy 1 ½ lbs because I end up throwing ½ after cleaning. HUGE TIP when buying liver make sure your butcher shows you all sides of it because if the entire back area or not seen area has lots of nerves and holes IT IS NO GOOD tell him to get you another because nerves and other bad parts curl and give a very hard texture sometimes. UNLESS YOU ARE POOR PLEASE JJUST CLEAN IT WELL AND REMOVE ANY QUESTIONABLE AREAS THE FINAL RESULT IS WORTH IT.

(2)Now cut liver into BITE sizes and toss with vinegar, cumin, salt, and garlic.

(3)Meanwhile as the liver marinades slice onions and set them aside

(4)While liver marinades deep fry the potatoes until golden and cooked drain out into a plate and salt set aside.

(5)Heat a heavy skillet or wok on HIGH HEAT with generous amounts of oil ALMOST enough to pan fry you need really hot nearly smoking temperature.

(6)Add liver in one layer leave alone a couple minutes until browned then toss to flip or move around until it is almost cooked and not pink.

(7)Add onions and cook until onions pic up drippings and get rid of raw taste of onion.

(8)Fold in/ toss in potatoes and turn of heat.


(10)Squeeze some limes over it when served individually.

Salsa de Chile de Arbol (Chile de Arbol Hot Sauce)

There are SO MANY types and way's of making a hot sauces in Mexico. Every individual who cooks usually does it different.
This sauce is a light red. It is mildly spicy (to me) and this is my mom's way of making this hot sauce.

-½ cup about a HUGE palm full of dry "chile de arbor" peppers. Remove it's tail.
-10 medium Tomatillos diced if they are big. One may use the more expensive and superior "Tomatillo Milpero" which is a really tiny berry like version of the tomatillo.
-1 canned in adobo Chipotle pepper
-Salt and Pepper to taste
-Some chicken bouillon to taste (optional but we use it it's like our MSG)
-White distilled vinegar
-Cooking oil (traditionally lard or corn oil are the only cooking oils in Mexican cooking but the Cuban /Spaniard and health conscience in me makes me do most things with EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL when possible If Im not cooking with extremely high wok cooking heat or deep frying you bet I will use extra-virgin olive oil)

-Heat a generous amount oil on medium in any type of pan and toast the red chilies until well they look toasted but not BLACK set aside and throw in the blender

-Add tomatillos season with salt and pepper and let them sit stirring occasionally until they release their juices and look cooked (about 5-10 minutes.) PLEASE NO HIGH HEAT! Then set aside and throw in blender

-Add about 1 teaspoon or more to taste chicken bouillon in the blender
-Add 1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo
-Turn on the blender and only add enough water to let everything blend. DON'T ADD TO MUCH WATER YOU WANT IT KINDA THICK! NOT WATERED DOWN AND POOR LOOKING.

-Heat oil in a pan again and poor the blended content you may add a teeny bit of water to the blender with some water to get all the sauce out.
-Bring to a boil on medium heat
-Add a splash of vinegar.

-Stir and then turn of heat, put in a bowl and it's down. Store in a container or in bowl with plastic wrap.

-The VINEGAR is ESSENTIAL the VINEGAR is meant to keep it from SPOILING it can last about 1-2 weeks in the fridge.
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Tostadas (Fried Round Corn Tortilla)

Most people buy it already made. Almost no one does it at home. But I do, it's just better to me at home and healthier to. I don't want no preservative laden, fried in dirty re-used oil, etc. tostadas. But of course sometimes I'm guilty of eating pre-packaged one's.
Tostadas are used to add toppings to. Common ones are cold seafood dishes like "Ceviche" and "Ensalada de Jaiva" or "Carne Apache" it can be used to spread or scoop certain dips like Guacamole or refried beans, etc.

-Corn tortillas

-Oil to deep or pan-fry

-salt to dust/ sprinkle.

-Fill a small pan half-way with oil. Heat on medium high. Check if it's hot enough by dropping a piece of the tortilla in if it sizzles and bubbles it's ready. Be patient oil takes like 5- 8 minutes to heat up in large amounts. You can test it with a wooden spoon.
-Put 1 tortilla in and swish it around until it turns golden on one side then flip and do the same.

-Take out salt it lightly and repeat.

Carne Apache (Pickled Ground Beef Cold Dish)

The ground beef is cooked in ACIDIC FRESH LIME JUICE. Then mixed with other fresh ingredients. PERFECT for the summer heat. Don't worry about e coli or undercooked the acid will do it's job as well as the proper waiting time.
This is served with TOSTADAS aka lighly fried corn tortillas that are like a big round crisp corn chip and you spread this on top.
You can buy tostadas pre-packaged and made. I choose to make my own at home. I'll post that up shortly.

-About 1 ½ to 1 lbs. ground beef (USE A REALLY LEAN ground beef for this I recommend it)
-2 Cups freshly squeezed LIME juice (about the juice of 13 juicy limes)
-4 small or 2 large ripe Tomato cut in little cubes
-1/2 onion Onions minced into little tiny cubes
-1 cup finely chopped cilantro
-3 Serrano chili peppers (minced VERY tiny seeds and all)
-About 1 ½ tablespoons salt or salt to taste
-1 tsp. of ground black pepper or to taste
-1-2 tsp. garlic powder (optional but for me it makes a HUGE difference)

-Mix ground beef with lime juice in a bowl. Cover bowl in plastic wrap and refridgerate for about 3-4 hours or until beef loses all it's pink color and if grey or cooked. Some people rather leave it overnight to cook like 6-12 hours. Honestly for me 3-4 is enough.

-When beef is cooked mix well with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
-Then add the rest of the ingredients and incorporate. Taste it to adjust salt to your taste.

ENJOY as a spread over your tostada on a HOT DAY!


IT"S MY FAVORITE SALAD I think Cactus Pads are my FAVORITE VEGETABLE no kidding. We devour this at home when in our reach. Everyone has to be all conscience not to finish it all and leave others with nothing. Some people buy it cleaned and presliced I DO NOT I think it taste better if one cleans and prepares it from scratch. Also the pre-sliced ones are to thick to me.

It is refreshing, citrusy in an acidic way and kinda slippery and wet in a good way. (Yeah yeah sounds odd…)

The cactus raw will look like to much but it shrinks.

PLEASE NOTE: Some people like adding diced avocado and salty hard cheeses crumbed like "Cotija" or "Feta" also another cheese that works well is "fresh Mexican cheese" All these are optional and one can use one or the other or both it's really personal preferance.

Ingredients to prepare the cactus:
-Water (to boil)
-½ cup or more cilantro
-palm full of salt (for salting water)
-6-7 cloves garlic peeled and whole.
-About 1 ½ lbs. to 2 lbs,Cactus Pads, cleaned, spines removed, edges trimmed, sliced REALLY THINLY as thin as humanly possible.

Ingredients to dress the cactus up :)
-Juice of 3 limes or about 1/3 to ½ cup fresh lime juice,
-3 tomatoes diced into small cubes
onion minced into teeny cubes
-1 cup or ½ cup minced cilantro
-2 Avocadoes diced (optional
-1/3 cup Crumbled salty or fresh cheese (optional)
-1 tablespoon of salt or to taste
-2 tsp. garlic powder (optional)
-1 tsp. ground black pepper or to taste.
-salt to taste

-In a large pot put ½ cup whole cilantro, palm full or more salt, and ½ whole onion, and garlic cloves with plenty water to bring to a boil.

-Meanwhile prepare the cactus (cleaning it, etc.) then add it to boiling water UNCOVERED if you cover it will overflow and turn to a GOOEY mess. The cactus well release pectins and all that shit if you do that. YOU'LL RUIN IT.

-Boil for 20 minutes.

-Drain the liquid, discard cilantro, onion, and garlic (the garlic discarding is optional I like it many don't)
-Let it cool to room temperature.

-Now combine with rest of ingredients. And it's ready you can leave it in the fridge to chill. Eat at room temperature or cold. Your choice.

Carne de Puerco Con Calabasitas (Pork with Squash)

This is one of my FAVORITE dishes. It is well seasoned cubed pork-butt/ shoulder cubed or you can use any other cubed cut of pork with little cubes of Italian Squash or Mexican Squash your choice I prefer the Italian Squash it's larger and I think the color is prettier.

-1 ½ pounds cubed pork (I use pork butt or shoulder it's my fave)
-6 large Italian Squashes or 12 medium to small Mexican Squashes (cut into small bite sizes by slicing the squash in half then cutting 3 long thick strips down and then cuting ½ inch thick slices across)
-4 large ripe tomatoes or 6 small roma tomatoes diced
-½ onion minced
-3 Serrano chili peppers minced finely and teeny
-2 cloves garlic minced finely and teeny
-Salt and Pepper to taste
-Cooking Oil (I use Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, Canola Oil, or Lard (only for certain Mexican dishes that really need it) in my cooking traditionally one would use lard or corn oil you can use any edible oil you like)
-1 Cup chopped Cilantro

-Heat a deep large pan. Add pork cubes directly WITHOUT adding oil. Salt and pepper it. Then add water enough to cover pork NOT TO DROWN. Now add a generous drizzle or amount of oil.
-Bring to a boil uncovered let the water evaporate then only the oil will be left and the pork will have releases some grease and it will fry up a little bit let it brown. Bring to a medium high,
-While waiting for the water to evaporate you can chop everything needed and set aside all the condiments
-Now add the minced onion and Serrano chili peppers and sautee until translucent and fragrant now add garlic until fragrant then chopped tomato and add some more salt. When the tomato releases it juices add the squash and mix well.
-And more salt if necessary then cover and simmer on low for abut 10-15 minutes (depends how cooked you like the sqaush)
-Uncover, stir in cilantro and turn of heat you are done.

Verdolagas Guisadas (Sauteed Purslane)

"Verdolagas" are one of my favorite vegetables. Available mostly in summer, my mother makes this very healthy dish with them.
I didn't know the English name for this so I googled it and apparently it's called "Purslane"
It is sautéed in a typical Mexican "guisado" (which is frying in oil onion, garlic, chilies, and tomatoes).
If you have leftovers the next day it makes a great breakfast scrambled with eggs J

-6 bunches of "Verdolagas"
-4 small ripe roma tomatoes
-½ onion
-1-2 Serrano chili peppers
-1 garlic clove minced
-½ cup chopped Cilantro
-Salt and Pepper
-Cooking oil

-Wash the "Verdolagas well. Pat dry and chop (stems and all) in about 1 inch pieces.
-Heat oil in pan on medium high. Sautee onions and chili peppers until fragrant. Then add garlic until fragrant and lastly tomato until it begins to release juices. Salt and pepper the sautee.
-Add the "Verdolagas" mix well and cover for about 5 minutes or low heat.
-Uncover and stir in cilantro. Turn of heat and you done.

Frijoles Fritos Con Chile Negro o Chile Guajillo (Refried Beans with Black Chile or Guajillo Chili)

There are many way's to do refried beans. You can simply heat oil and directly add cooked beans, you can sautee onion before adding the beans, or you can sautee whatever type of dry chilies you like.
Depending on the choice of fat you use the flavor can be slightly altered. Lard will give it a slight velvety porky hint. Brown lard will make it taste like fried pork rinds. Corn oil will give it a greasy pasty feel. Olive Oil will make it complex and deep.
Here I fry them with "Chile Negro" you can use your favorite dry chilies but "Chile Negro" has a really good smoked flavor.
Also in defense of LARD guess what LARD has less saturated fat than butter. Butter has 7 grams Lard has 5 grams. Also lard has more monounsaturated fat than butter.
Also there are many old people in Mexico that grew of lard and they are healthy.
May I add LARD is WAY BETTER and healthier than CRISCO and all those HYDROGENATED and PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED Margarines becasue those harbor trans-fat. Hmm what else DO NOT BUY a HYDROGENATED LARD that is really bad for you. Look for a lard that doesnt have the word "hydrogenated" on it. Hmm what else in defense of lard, lard has the same amount of calories as any other cooking oil and is very stable at high heat. Look at me Im FREAKEN THIN AND NOT FAT and I occasionally eat animal fats, and Im healthy. END OF STORY Natural good quality fats aren't bad for you go do some research.

-4 cups cooked pinto beans (pinto beans that have been boiled 2 hours with garlic cloves and half an onion and when just about done boiling)
-2 large dried "Chile Negro" peppers or Guajillo
-2 tablespoons lard or bacon grease or brown lard aka "Manteca Morena" (the brown lard is so flavorful it is brown because lots of pork rinds and meats have been fried over and over in it and then it is sold when they are done using it and it taste AWESOME)
(you may use regular cooking oil if your paranoid but it won't taste the same the lard gives it a velvety texture and a slight porky flavor)

-Heat your choice of fat in a pan on medium low then add dried chilies and sautee until oil is infused and fragrant.
-Add beans and bring to a boil on medium low still
-Mash beans with the bottom of a cup or a masher until desired consistency.
-Stir to reduce to your liking and until chili's are soft and moist.
-Turn of heat you done.

Agua de Papaya (Refreshing Papaya Drink)

It's pretty typical in Mexican cuisine/ food to have fresh fruit drinks made of fruit blended with water and sugar then chilled. The consistency depends on how watered down or thick you want it.
Drinks like this are common also in other Spanish speaking countries. PLEASE if among Cubans don't call it "Agua de Papaya" call it "Agua de Frutabomba" or "Jugo de Frutabomba" because Papaya to some Cubans can mean a WOMANS PRIVATE so often times they call it "FRUTABOMBA" instead and to me "Frutabomba" sounds more catchy and nice. It translates to "fruit bomb" I don't know why.
So here goes the recipe quiet simple you can do it with strawberries, melon, watermelon, cantaloupe, mamey, peaches, bananas, WHATEVER you'd like just use common sense.
This is to simple don't know if worth writing the recipe but just in case.

-1 large Papaya cut in half seeds scooped out and diced

-Water (enough to blend and thin out to your liking)
-sugar to taste I use about ¼ -½ cup for this depends on your sweet tooth or the sweet tooth of your guest or whomever your cooking for.

-Blend everything in small batches in a blender until smooth.

-Put in a pitcher-Cool in the fridge or stir some ice cubes to chill faster.