Saturday, July 19, 2008

Col Con Mojo (Cabbage Smothered in Garlic Lime Sauce)

"Mojo de Ajo" a really sour, garlicky sauce in Cuban cuisine used for a variety of foods, to smother different types of starchy tubers, salads, and steamed vegetables etc. There's different kinds of "Mojo's" mainly "Mojo Criollo" and "Mojo de Ajo" and many marinades for meats in Cuban cooking are super similar or identical to Mojo sauces.

This is a quick ,HEALTHY, Cuban vegetable side dish.

- Make "Mojo de Ajo" while the cabbage steams here is the link:

-1 whole Cabbage cut into 4, 6, or 7 large segments (I cut it into 4 pieces because we love huge servings of this in my house)

-A little water enough to cover 1-2 inches of cabbage

(1)Cut cabbage in half directly from the hard stem, then cut those halves in half (make sure they all have the hard stem so it can hold it's shape) you may cut those halves in half if you want smaller servings.

(2)Re-arrange cabbage in pot like a puzzle, add water enough to cover 1-2 inches of cabbage.

(3)Cover and bring to a boil on high, then lower to medium low for about 20-30 minutes

(4)When cabbage is done, arrange each slice one by one make sure you individually smother each chunk with mojo de ajo.

(5)Serve with large bowl of Mojo de Ajo on the tabel for those that want to smother more on it.

Ropa Vieja (Shredded Beef In Tomato Sauce)

"Ropa Vieja" literally means "Old Clothes". It is called that because it is made from shredded beef therefore resembling shredded old clothes? I'm guessing here. "Ropa Vieja" is a very popular Cuban meat dish in Cuban households in USA, restaurants and it's over all cuisine.
"Ropa Vieja" is found in other Spanish speaking countries cuisines and can go under different names in other countries.

But I will show you the only version I know which is the Cuban version taught to me by grandmother and slightly adjusted because one of her Cuban friends seasons the stock differently and uses oregano. So this is like a mixture of her friends and my grandmas recipe along with my mom's take on it.

I LOVE IT! If there are any CUBANS reading this, please tell me how your family or you make Ropa Vieja, maybe I can make the ultimate Ropa Vieja some day LOL. I've noticed everyone does it slightly different.

Ingredients for boiling meat:
- 1 1/2 lbs. flank steak (essential_
-salt to taste (essential)
-water (enough to cover meat 1 inch or a little more)
-1-2 bay leaves (optional but I love it)
-1/2 Onion (optional)
-1/2 green bell pepper (optional)
-4 cloves of garlic peeled (optional
-1/2 tsp. oregano (optional)
-1/4- 1/2 tsp. black peppercorns (optional)

Ingredients for the rest of the dish:
-1/2 onion minced
-1/2 bell pepper minced
-4 cloves of garlic crushed and minced
-1 can 8 oz. tomato puree
-1 tsp. cumin (yes again I love cumin and so does my grandma)
-1/2 tsp. black pepper
-1 cups of beef broth (from where you boiled the meat for this dish)
-1/4- 1/2 cup minced cilantro or parsley (I had none but it makes the dish look very pretty)
-1/4-1/2 cup sliced black olives or spanish olives stuffed with Pimientos (optional)
-2 tablespoons capers (optional)

Directions for boiling meat:
(1)Add beef flank steak to a large pot, throw in water (enough to cover beef 1/2 to 1 inch deep into the water), and all the ingredients on the "Ingredients to boil meat"

(2)Bring to a boil, cover and simmer on low for ATLEAST 1 hour I leave it anywhere from 1-2 hours. Take of the skum on top when nearly done.

(3)When time has passed, take the beef out, wait for it to cool a bit then cut into 3 inch tall steaks and shredd by hand or use 2 forks one to pull in one direction and one to pull the other direction so it comes out nicely. Set aside.
(4)Reserve liquid you cooked broth in, I suggest to strain the broth so it's pure and cleaner (I was to lazy to strain I just ladled it carefully later.

Directions for the rest of recipe:

(1)In a large pan heat generous amounts of olive oil on medium high heat. Sautee minced bell pepper, onion, and garlic until fragrant and onions are translucent about 5 more or less minutes.

(2)Add tomato puree stir well until it thickens. Add beef broth bring to a boil, add shredded beef, add small palm full of cumin, some salt to taste if needed. You can add sliced olives now so they give their flavor a bit to the dish. OR YOU CAN CHOOSE TO RESERVE THEM STRICTLY FOR MIXING IN TOWARDS END YOUR CHOICE
(3)Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.
(4)Uncover stir and check if the sauce is to loose for your taste have no fear simply let it boil a little longer uncovered until it reaches the consistency you like.
(5)Sprinkle with cilantro or parsley fresh, cleaned and minced (optional I didnt have any in my fridge unfortunately.)

I ate my Ropa Vieja with some Rice to soak sauce and a large serving of "Col Con Mojo" (steamed cabbage smothered in Mojo de Ajo a type of garlic lime sauce)

Huevo Frito Con Arroz (Fried Eggs with Rice)

Okay this is one of my favorite breakfasts and comfort foods. It is simply fried eggs over hot white rice (steamed the cuban way, with some olive oil and salt. I'll teach you guys how to make the perfect Cuban steamed white rice another day.) This can be eaten alone or with fried plantains or deep- fried cubed potatoes on the side. It's good for breakfast, lunch, dinner any time but I like it for breakfast.

On a busy day with no time to cook sometimes we just fry eggs and eat with rice and nothing else. It's quick and filling.

Usually Cubans eat very light breakfasts consisting of butter and sugar spread on cuban bread with "Cafe Con Leche" (a shot of cuban coffee diluted in a glass of hot milk). Sometimes it is just a sweet pastry "Pastelito de Guayaba Con Queso" (Guava and Cheese Strudel) with a "Cafe Con Leche"

On occasions with more time sometimes a "Tortilla Cubana o Española" is made. Which is like a really dense, large (the size of the pan your frying it in), egg cake similar to Frittata but very thick and dense, fried in oil. Kind of like a open faced omelette? What we love about "Tortilla" is that it is perfect for any time Breakfast, Lunch, Snack, Dinner, late night indulgence whatever and it can stand alone with no side dishes.

Ingredients for 1 serving:

-2 eggs

-1 cup cooked white rice (or more)

-1 russet potato or 2 small brown potatoes (depends how much potatos you wanna eat)

-salt to taste

-oil to deep-fry or pan fry (I use Canola Oil it has a high-smoking point, clean taste, and doesnt get absorbed as easily plus it's considered heart healthy of course I have been tempted to use LARD I'll try it next time it might give a unique rich taste to the dish)


(1)Heat oil in a pan on medium high heat (enough oil to submerge cubed potatoes)

(2) Peeled potatoes, cut in half, then lay flat cut in 3 long segments then cut across into cubes. Put them in cold water in a bowl

(3)Drain potatoes and carefully with a large spoon or something put them in the hot oil (the reason I wet the potatoes first is so that they become really crispy but you need to be careful because they will jump a bit so don't dump it with your hands)

(4)Fry potatoes for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown, after like 5-8 minutes you may need to flip them around so other sides can brown nicely. Set potatoes aside in a plate with a towel to drain and sprinkle them with salt to taste.

(5)Heat rice in microwave or have fresh rice thats hot from rice cooker. If using 1 day old rice sprinkle rice with some water, cover well and put in microwave for 2 minutes on high to get it really hot. Have hot plate of rice ready for you this is important.

(6)In same oil you fried potatoes, add 2 cracked eggs whole and deep-fry it will cook quickly, you want them over easy, so the yolk is nice and kinda runny to wet your rice or dip your potatoes..

(7)When done scoop out, put over rice, sprinkle with salt, serve potatoes on the side and eat while hot because yolk will firm up after a while. We love to break the yolk with a fork and mix it all up the the rice. YUM!