Thursday, September 25, 2008

Potaje de Frijoles Colorados (Cuban Red Bean Stew)

This is my grandmothers recipe for "Potaje de Frijoles Colorados" (Cuban Red Beans Stew), this is a heavy thick stew made of red beans with pork, potatoes, winter squash, Cuban sofrito made in bacon grease heavy on the garlic seasoned with Cuban spices predominantly cumin and a hint of oregano and or bay leaves.

It can be served in a large bowl over white rice, or the rice can be on the side. If you don't want rice you can eat it with crusty bread or bread with garlic and olive oil or another way make "Pan Frito" (heat olive oil with a bit of garlic and toast it in the oil) this with a nice raw salad on the side and a sweet desserts to top it of closing the meal with a shot of Cuban coffee is comfort.

This stew is anti-kosher as it relies heavily on pork for great flavor.

-2 cups large red kidney beans
-1 1/2 pounds pork stew meat well cleaned rinsed well in water and maybe cleaned with some lime juice then rinsed again
-1 small pork bone (optional) clean same way as pork meat
-salt to taste at least 2-3 teaspoons
-2 heaping tablespoonfuls of bacon grease or lard or about 1/4 cup olive oil
-1 large green bell pepper (or 1/2 red bell pepper and 1/2 green bell pepper)
-1 onion minced
-6-12 cloves of garlic finely minced (mashed or through a garlic press)
-1 can 8 oz. tomato sauce
-1 teaspoons cumin
-1/2 teaspoon oregano or 2 bay leaves (one or the other not both)
-1 lbs. Calabaza, peeled and cut into medium chunks (may substitute for "Kabucha" squash, "Butternut Squash", or other orange colored winter squashes)
-2-4 small potatoes cut into chunks peeled

(1)Wash beans well and soak over night in enough water to cover beans and pork 2 inches.

(4) Boil beans, with pork and two bay leaves, add about 3 teaspoons salt (or else your pork may be bland) cook together until tender.
(3 ) Make a sofrito heat 1/2 lbs bacon chopped or bacon grease or lard. Make sofrito by sauteeing onion and bell pepper til tender and translucent, then add garlic and sautee til fragrant. If using tomato sauce add and stir in now.

(4) Add the sofrito (sauteed onion, garlic, bell pepper, and tomato if used) to the beans along with calabaza and potatoes. Season with more salt if needed, add cumin. Allow everything to boil together for about 25- 30 minutes until potatoes and calabaza are tender
(5)Uncover, your done. It should be somewhat thick if it isn't you added to much water or you can thicken by mashing some of the beans in it.
-You can add Spanish Chorizo if desired my grandma always made it without for some reason.

Flan de Queso (Cheese Flan)

Almost all Spanish speaking countries and others in their cuisine have the dessert "Flan", Mexicans, Central Americans, South Americans, Cubans and other Carribean nations, Spain, France calls it "Creme Caramel", Filipinos call it "Leche Flan" etc. it is very popular.

The recipe I am making is from a Mexican woman who is very elderly that my mother takes care of, she was in the mood for some dessert one day and shared the recipe with my mother, and so my mother shared it with me, today was a scorching hot day here in Californias south so I actually went with my mother to work (again her work is taking care of this lady and since her oven is electric and doesn't heat the house I borrowed her kitchen to make the flan and then came back home that way my house wouldn't over heat.

This is my first attempt at making a type of flan on my own. "Flan" is a firm caramel custurd. Flan has many variations, but usually the basic one is condensed milk, evaporated milk, eggs, and vanilla extract with a light caramel syrup on it.

Other variations are fruit flavored, or there is a more elaborate one called "Choco Flan" which is deviles food cake with a layer of flan on top. (My aunt taught me the "Choco Flan" she calls it "Pan Impossible" but that will be reserved for a later blog post.)

Again the flan I am posting today is my mother's friend recipe. It has cream cheese incorporated into it, the cream cheese makes it more dense and heavy flan, which feels like a cross between a traditional flan and cream cheese. I suggest you try it out. She simply calls it "Flan" but I call it "Flan de Queso" because well regular flan has no cream cheese.

Unfortunately I really don't have my own family recipe for many Cuban desserts since my grandmother never made the elaborate desserts (well my Dad say's she used to when he was young but she lost practice with age) but what she did teach me was stuff like "Majarete" (sweet type of corn pudding), "Natilla" (cuban rich vanilla pudding infused with cinnamon and lime peel), "Pudin de Pan"(bread pudding), "Frituritas de Malanga Dulces En Almibar" (Malanga Fritters in Cane Sugar Syrup and just about any fruit and certain things in heavy cane syrup), "Arroz Con Leche" (rice pudding), Frituritas de Guayba Con Queso (deep-fried wontons stuffed with cream cheese and guava paste) those will all have their own posts later on, can't make them all to often or at once or I'd gain a bunch of weight.

Main Ingredients:
5 eggs (both whites and yolks) (I used 8 originally but re-did it with 5 it's better that way)
1 can evaporated milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 package 8 oz. Cream Cheese (Philadelphia cream cheese)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ingredients for caramel coating:
1 cup white sugar

(1)Blend all main ingredients in a blender in 2 seperate batches or 1 each batch blend just until incorporated

(2)Put sugar in a metal pan on medium heat stirring occasionally until it darkens and reaches it's caramel point.

(3)Immediately pour into mould and move around gently to make sure it coats the mold well it will harden fast

(4)Now when it hardens add main ingredient mixture, but pass it through a strainer
(5)Cover tightly with foil and put a top if your mold has it.
(6)You need a deep large pot filled with hot water that you boiled in it, add the flan mold that is well sealed, put in a oven that is heated to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Or just a cake pan that your flan mold can fit in.
(7)Leave in oven about 45-60 minutes, check it occasionally and poke with a knife to check if it is done, if it comes out clean it is ready to remove.
(8)Now cool it completely (this may take a while) when refridgerate when it's cool, when ready to present, put a plate on top and invert it, it will fall flat upside down and now the caramel coating will be exposed.

P.S. You can add sugar to the batter if you want but we don't like it overly sweet in my house it's already sweet enough from the caramel and the sweetened condensed milk but feel free to add more sugar to the blended ingredients if it suits your taste more.