Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Diet Update

Well, I  had cousins from Miami visiting last week, so my diet went out the window. I'm at 168 lbs. I had gone down to 164. It's a shame that foods that taste so good are so bad. I indulged in brownies, lemon pie, apple pie, mashed potatoes with butter, chorizo, ham, and countless other sinful delights.

Unfortunately, July is a bad month for dieting in my household, between the holiday and three birthdays in my immediate family, resisting temptation will be difficult. I am putting on my thinking cap, and hopefully I will be able to post interesting diet foods in the days ahead.  See you soon.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Salpicón: Cuban Meatloaf


My sister prepared this at my house a while back. I had photogrpahed the steps and sent them out to the family, as it is based on my grandmother's recipe. Since I've had a slow cooking week, I figured I'd post it here now.

This morning I googled salpicón and this is not at all what I found. Then I googled Cuban meatloaf and this is not what I found either. So, I'm not sure what this dish is called, only that it was called salpicon in our family and that it is delicious.

Ingredients:

1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 lb ground ham
Olive oil (Sensat)
1 large yellow onion
1 green bell pepper
1 head of garlic
4 cans tomato sauce (Del Monte)
4 eggs
bread crumbs (galleta molida)
salt to taste
oregano
2 cups dry white cooking wine (vino seco)
1 bay leaf

Preparation:

Chop onion, and slice green pepper.  Set aside.

Press the garlic head in a mortar with salt and shake in some oregano (about 1 tsp).

Combine all the meats in a large bowl with half the garlic mix. Make a well (dent) in the center of the meat mixture. Beat 3 of the eggs (our abuela would separate the yolks from the whites and beat separately) and pour into well, combine, then add about 1 to 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs. Add extra salt to taste (yes, she would taste the raw stuff, I would eyeball it). Form two separate loaves. 

Beat one egg.  In a large platter spread out a cup of bread crumbs.  Coat each loaf evenly and sculpt firmly.  Dip each breaded loaf in the beaten egg, then coat evenly once again with bread crumbs.

In a heavy skillet pour about 1/2 cup olive oil and bring to a medium high heat.  Brown the two loaves, evenly.  Remove loaves and put them aside.

In a large pot, pour another 1/3 cup olive oil and sauté onions with remaining garlic mixture over medium heat. When onions are translucent, add peppers and bay leaf. Cook for a few more minutes.  Slowly stir in 4 cups of tomato sauce and dry white cooking wine. 

Place the 2 browned meat loaves into sauce.  Spoon some sauce on the tops. Cook on low heat and check periodically to make sure they haven't stuck to the pot.  Spoon more sauce over the tops.  Cook for two hours turning over the loaves halfway through the cooking time.

Serve with white rice and tostones.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Garbanzo Frito

I'm not too sure how to describe this dish. It is called garbanzo frito which translates to fried chick peas even though the chick peas are not fried; actually non of it is fried. It resembles a stew but with less liquid. I think we should just call it delicious!

My guest contributor, Jenny, who prepared this dish for us says: I usually make this as an appetizer, although it is pretty great over white rice! Here is the recipe for a large amount; although it never seems to be enough!

Ingredients:
Olive Oil
2 Onions, chopped
1 whole Garlic Head, chopped
1 Green Pepper, chopped
6 Spanish Chorizos (Don Quixote)
Ham (One of those little ones they sell in the meat department) diced
Vino Seco (dry white wine)
2 - 15 oz cans Tomato sauce
2 or 3 large cans Garbanzo beans

Preparation:Make a "sofrito" by coating the bottom of a large pan or pot with olive oil, add the onions, garlic and peppers. Sautee at medium high heat. Peel and dice the chorizo and add to the pot. Peel and dice the ham and add to the pot. Allow to cook for 5 – 10 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and the garbanzos (strain the liquid).  Use one of the tomato sauce cans and add one can of vino seco. Cook uncovered for about 30 minutes at medium heat.

I tend not to season the garbanzos because the meat is salty. Taste them and you may want to add a little salt or pepper. I like to add some crushed red pepper for a little kick.

Serve with chips or over white rice & ENJOY!

Jenny's Homemade Brownies with Raspberry Syrup

 Jenny's brownies topped with vanilla ice cream and raspberry syrup.

I have two of my wonderful cousins from Miami visiting me this week. Jenny was gracious enough to cook for ten of us yesterday, and Steph managed to snap some pictures. These were the best brownies I've ever had, and I was barely able to salvage a last little square to take the photo above.

For the brownies:

1/2 cup butter (2 sticks)
4 tbsp cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
3 eggs
1 cup flour

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x11 glass pan.

Melt your butter in a saucepan set over low heat. Add the cocoa powder and the sugar. Dissolve completely. Add the vanilla and the salt. Carefully stir in your eggs – one at a time ***If the heat is too high or you take too long your eggs will scramble*** Add your flour; mix until creamy. Remove from heat. (If desired, at this point you can adds nuts, marshmallow sauce, chocolate chips, etc.)

Pour your mixture into your greased pan and place in the preheated oven for 40 minutes.



For the raspberry syrup:

1/2 pint fresh raspberries
1 tbsp sugar

Crush your raspberries in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add your sugar and stir until dissolved. Strain. That's it. The tartness of the raspberries really complements the sweetness of the brownies.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Congrí: Red Beans and Rice


Congrí in my family has always meant red beans and rice as opposed to Moros y Cristianos which is black beans and rice. In searching recipes for the dish, I learned that black beans and rice is often referred to as congrí as well. Live and learn. I have never made congrí although I have eaten it often. Another new adventure! I can say that I had to make adjustments to the recipe I was following, but it turned out terrific. This is what I did:

1 cup dry red kidney beans, soaked overnight (or a minimun of three hours)
8 cups water
a drizzle of olive oil



Bring your pre-soaked beans to a boil in 8 cups of water with 1 bay leaf and olive oil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, adding additional water if needed. Once the beans are tender turn off the burner and let sit for about one hour. At this point drain them and reserve 4 cups of the liquid (if you don't have enough liquid add water). Set aside.


5 strips of bacon cut into 1/2 inch slices
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium size onion, finely chopped
1 small green bell pepper, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 teaspoons salt
2 cups raw long grain white rice


In a large pot over medium heat cook the bacon until crisp. Remove it and discard the excess fat from the pot. In the same pot heat your olive oil, add the onion, bell pepper and garlic, stirring until tender. Return the bacon to the pot. Add the beans along with the reserved liquid. Turn the heat to high and add the oregano, cumin, bay leaf, salt and rice. Stir. Bring heat down to low and cover. Check in 15-20 mintues; fluff rice with a fork and determine if more liquid is necessary. Make any necessary adjustments and cover until done. Remove bay leaf and serve.

Masitas de Puerco: Fried Pork Chunks

I took this recipe from Epicurian. com. I only had a little over a pound of pork loin so I halved it. The proportions and instruction according to the site are as follows: (my notes are in blue)

Ingredients:
2-1/2 lb. fresh pork loin
12 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
1 large onion chopped
1/2 cup sour orange juice (or 1/4 cup unsweetened orange juice & 1/4 cup lime juice)
2 cups water
1 cup pure Spanish olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 fresh onion sliced into rings
lime wedges
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin




Directions:
Cut pork into 2 inch chunks. To prepare marinade: mix together garlic, chopped onion, orange juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, oregano, cumin and salt. Pour over pork chunks and marinate for at least 3 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.


Remove meat from marinade.  Place in pot with two cups of water and 1/2 cup olive oil. (I did not remove the meat from the marinade; I placed all of it in the pot) Simmer, uncovered until all water boils away -- about 30 to 45 minutes. (The pork became very tender during this process.) Brown the pork in the oil until crispy on the outside. Add onion slices and saute briefly. Garnish with lime wedges. (I skipped these last two directions since I placed the pork in the pot with the chopped onions from the marinade and it already had lime juice).

Tip from Maria: If in the end your masitas are pale in color, you can quick-fry them in a non-stick skillet with some olive oil on high (for a couple of minutes).

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Penne Puttanesca with Salmon Polpette


I'm stepping out of the Cuban zone and going Italian. I tried this recipe before and liked it, so I decided to do it again and post it. I have copied this recipe from Rachel Ray's Puttanesca with Tuna Polpette. Substituting salmon for the tuna. I'm going to cut this recipe in half for me, but listed are Rachel's proportions and instructions.

1 pound penne
Salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for tuna (salmon)
5 to 6 anchovies, in jars with red pepper, if plain anchovies add 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 large cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped
1 (28-ounce) can tomatoes
1 cup chicken or seafood stock
Freshly ground black pepper
A few tablespoons capers, drained
A handful pitted black olives, oil cured or kalamata, chopped
1 pound tuna steak (salmon fillets)
1 large egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs
A handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup basil leaves, shredded

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook to al dente. Drain and keep warm.


Heat extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add anchovies and stir into oil until melted. Add the garlic, turn heat to low and saute for a couple of minutes. Stir in the tomatoes crushing them up, then stir in stock. Season with a little black pepper, add capers and olives and simmer a few minutes.


While sauce simmers, cut salmon into chunks and grind in food processor into coarse mixture. Pulse in the egg, bread crumbs and parsley and season with a little salt and black pepper. Remove tuna mixture from the processor to a bowl and add a drizzle of olive oil. Stir to combine. (Adding the oil will prevent mixture from sticking to your hands as you roll the balls.) Roll the tuna into small balls and drop into the sauce. Cover the pot and simmer the tuna balls in the sauce, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Place the pasta into a serving bowl. Add the tuna (salmon) and sauce, toss to coat and garnish with shredded basil.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Diet Post #6




It's been two weeks since I started my diet and I'm stuck at 166 lbs. I wasn't very excited last week about losing 4 since I knew from experience that the first few pounds are easy to lose, then it's an uphill battle. This weekend, I went a few steps backwards. It was my daughter's 24th birthday, and you just can't stare at cake and not eat it!!
For her birthday I made bocaditos de tuna, croquetas de jamon, bbq chicken wings, and deviled eggs. The cake was from a bakery.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Deviled Eggs made with Deviled Ham


My mother always made devlied eggs with deviled ham. I assumed as a child that that was the way it was supposed to be; after all, it made sense. They are called deviled eggs because of the deviled ham. I didn't realize until I was in my thirties that my assumption was incorrect.

One dozen hardboiled eggs
4.25 oz can Underwood Deviled Ham
2 heaping tablespoons of mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste

Peel you hardboiled eggs and get lengthwise removing the yolk. With a fork press the yolk to crumble, add the deviled ham and mayonnaise; mix together. Fill your egg whites with spoonfuls of the mixture. If you want to get fancy, you can use a pastry bag.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Diet: Post #5


Empanada de Pollo Horneada: Baked Chicken Empanada


I remember years ago when we would have some sort of party at the house, my mother would order an empanada from the bakery. These cuban empanadas were pie size, not the fold-over kind that usually pops to mind. These pie-like empanadas were usually meat filled and served in wedges along with bocaditos and other party fare.






Before we start, I would like to thank all of you who gave me recipes for empanada dough the last time I made meat empanadas using Goya discs.  Considering that I am dieting, specifically on a low cholesterol diet, I decided to go with Nathan's empanada dough which requires olive oil and not butter. Please click here.

Following his instructions:
1 cup olive oil
1 cup water
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika (optional)
5 cups all purpose flour


In a large pot mix oil, water, salt, and sweet smoked Spanish paprika. Stir and bring to a simmer. When it starts to bubble turn off the burner and add your flour mixing it with a wooden spoon. At this point I removed the dough from the pot and kneaded it with my hands to form a ball, then I returned it to the warm pot and kneaded it further. This dough does not need refrigeration. Actually it is more pliable warm and you do not need to flour a surface to roll it out. Keep it in a ziplock bag while you work a bit of it at a time.


For the pie size empanada, take about a third of the of the dough and place it on a clean working surface, roll it out to the thickness of pie dough. Roll out a size larger than your pie pan, place this on the bottom and add your filling. Repeat for the top and cover. Crimp edges with your fingers. Cut four slits on top and brush with an egg wash.



For smaller fold-over empanadas, take a handful of the dough and place it on a clean working surface, roll it out to the thickness of pie dough. Choose a large round shape (I used an empty shipped cream tub), and cut the pie dough with a knife around it.  Add your filling; don't be skimpy, fold over and crimp the edges with a fork.

Place in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes

There are limitless possibilities for filling the empanadas,  I went with chicken. 

1 lb chicken breast, diced
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 green bell pepper, diced
1 medium sized potato, diced
1 carrot, diced
7-8 pimento stuffed olives, diced
salt / pepper / oregano / dash of cumin / dash of paprika
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 bouillon chicken broth
1 cup water
 olive oil

2 hard boiled eggs, cubed

Sautee your onions, garlic, and pepper in olive oil, add your chicken and spices and cook through. Add your potatoes, carrots and olives, water and bouillon. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender. Let cool. Spoon in your filling and sprinkle with boiled eggs on top.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Diet: Post #4


It's been a week since I started my diet. I cheated a little bit over the weekend – I made some ham croquetas and couldn't resist.  The good news is I lost 4 pounds. I'm down to 166 now; however, this makes me want to treat myself to something yummy. Then again, yummy doesn't mean fattening.

I bought some butternut squash over the weekend and pondered what to do with it (it makes more sense to know what to do then buy the squash). Soup? Puree? I went with a basic

Calabaza con Ajo: Butternut Squash with Garlic


butternut squash
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped

This was a large squash and I didn't want to use the whole thing so after peeling it, seeding it and cutting it into chunks, I froze half.

In a saucepan over medium heat, simmer the squash in salted water until tender.
Now, here's a little tip. Pour your olive oil in a microwave safe dish and heat for 45 seconds, add the garlic to the oil and heat for another 30 seconds.
While hot, drain your squash, put onto a plate and drizzle with the oil and garlic.

I decided to eat this as a side with salmon:

Crispy Salmon Skin 


I buy my salmon with the skin on because I like to fry the skin. This is very simple and really quite delish. (I don't believe it's bad for you if you fry it with olive oil.) Remove the skin from your salmon, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a skillet and drop in about 1 clove of minced garlic. Drop in your salmon skin, (be careful, it could splatter) turning 'til crisp. Remove from oil and place on paper-towel lined plate. Remove any of the garlic left in the oil, since it will be used for....

Salmon Fillets


I seasoned my fillets with lime juice, salt, pepper, parsley and pressed garlic. I dropped them into the skillet with the oil from the crispy salmon. Let the fillets cook through turning once or twice. Don't handle them too much or they can start falling apart.

I guess I was in the mood for garlic! You can skip it on the fillets.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Camarones al Ajillo: Garlic Shrimp


This didn't fit into my diet, so I'm not writing it as a diet post, but I did eat a little of it (2 shrimp and a little pasta). I mostly had salad.

1 lb shrimp deveined, tail on
3-4 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped
olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of your pan and then some)
1 tsp paprika
sprinking of cilantro
salt and pepper to taste


This is so simple, it's almost silly to post it. Heat your olive oil in a skillet with your pressed garlic until it becomes fragrant. Add your paprika and shrimp. Add your cilantro (I was going to originally use parsley which would have been the more "obvious" choice, but I only had cilantro and it was marvelous), salt and pepper. Toss back and forth. The shrimp cook rather quickly.


Serve on a layer of rice or as in my case fettucini. Accompany with a salad.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Diet: Post #3


Black bean veggie burger with sauteed onions / white rice with olive oil and garlic / avocado.
I was thinking, should I have this veggie burger on a bun or with rice? I prefer rice.


If Cubans had a veggie burger I think this would be it. It's a little spicy (as it says on the label) but not overpowering.

What you don't eat.

Dieting is not so much about what you eat, but about what you don't eat. For me, it's mostly about eliminating anything that is high in fat. Of course there's the good fat and the bad fat, for example, bacon – BAD, avocados – GOOD. The first thing I eliminate when I go on a diet is red meat (some of you are gasping, I know). Actually I don't miss it at all, I have gone years without eating red meat. Next thing to go is fried food, (this I miss), desserts, sugary drinks, etc.

I keep the starches! Yes, I  know that starches turn to sugar, but I'm eliminating fat, and how many food groups can I go without? Besides, rice and potatoes and pasta are good for you. (I know whole wheat pasta, brown or wild rice, yes... but I want to diet and be happy – is that an oxymoron?)

Now, here's the conundrum: how do I do this with Cuban food to stay faithful to my blog? I'm going to put on my thinking cap, any suggestions are welcome.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Diet: Post #2


Mixed salad with olive oil and vinegar, sweet corn and a couple of sardines in tomato sauce from a can. I always keep sardines in the pantry. Sardines are actually very good for you. They are high in nutrients and vitamins and are packed with protein. Unfortunately many people don't like the "fishiness" of them. I argue: They're fish for goodness sake, what are they supposed to taste like, chicken???

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Diet: Post #1

At 5'7" and 170 lbs, I'm feeling overweight. I always avoid the scale and judge my weight according to how my clothes fit. When the only way you can zip up your jeans is by creating bulging handles above the beltline, that's when it's time to go on a diet.

This is what I made for my family last night. Spanish omelet.



This is what I ate. Two scrambled egg whites with too many onions and peppers and a couple of slices of tomato. (I also had a little bowl of miso soup leftover from the weekend Japanese takeout).


And for dessert, strawberries and non-dairy whipped cream.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Picky Eaters

It took me a while to learn that picky eaters don't get invited to dinner parties. "You need to learn to eat everything," my mother would warn. "What do you think your future husband would say when he takes you to meet his parents and you don't like what they serve you?"  The thought of losing a possible husband over food was very distressing. "I'm doomed," I thought considering that as a child I hated all food.  There were three things I liked: chocolate ice cream, fried plantains and olives –not combined of course.  I would sit at the dinner table and stare at my food. Everyone would finish and walk away and I would sit there and stare, not allowed to get up until I was done. Most times it came down to endurance. How long could I sit? Out of sheer exasperation my mother would give in.  Later she would sneak me a bowl of ice cream before bed. (I know!)

Now, decades later, I'll eat almost anything, and probably too much of everything. Since I started this blog I've gained weight, so for the month of June, I plan to diet (I'm chuckling a bit as I write this, goes to show how confident I am). Cuban food and diet are never written in the same sentence, even the salads are fattening. So my posting will slow down a bit for the month, unless of course, you'd like pictures of my diet food.  Hmmm.