Saturday, February 26, 2011

Quick Crab & Pasta Salad

I always have some canned lump meat crab in the pantry, and who doesn't have pasta? This is a quick and tasty salad... only 4 basic ingredients.

12 oz lump crab meat (2 cans)
1/2 lb small shell pasta (any pasta will do, even spaghetti)
12 medium sized black olives sliced
4-6 heaping tbsp mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste

Pimento for garnish

Boil your pasta according to directions, strain and let cool. Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate. Serve. That it!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Rerun: Croquetas de Jamon - Ham Croquettes

I prepared another batch of croquetas today. 

Here they are ready to be fried.

I'm reposting the recipe from April, 2010. 
  • 3 cups ham (ground or finely chopped in a food processor)
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped in a food processor)
  • 2 cloves garlic (pressed or chopped in a food processor)
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk, scalded
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the breading:
  • flour
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • very fine bread crumbs or cracker meal
vegetable oil for frying

In a large skillet melt the butter and whisk in the flour, gradually add the milk whisking until the mixture becomes a smooth paste. Add the remaining ingredients and continue cooking over low heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat. Place the mixture into a bowl and let it cool throughly. Refrigerate. It's best to work with this mixture when it's completely cold. Okay, now to form the croquetas. First, you will need to sprinkle a light layer of all purpose flour onto a work surface. Line up to 2 shallow bowls. In the first one beat an egg (you can add a little water to it), and in the second, pour the fine bread crumbs. Scoop up 1 tablespoon of the ham mixture and roll it on the floured surface to form a cylinder about 2 inches long and 3/4 inches in diameter. Dip it in the beaten egg and then in the bread crumbs. Repeat this process over and over renewing the flour/egg/crumbs when necessary. At this point you can freeze those that you will not consume right away.

In a large heavy-bottomed skillet bring 1 to 2 inches or oil to medium high heat. Fry 5 or 6 croquettes at a time until golden on all sides, turning with a slotted spoon. Transfer them to a paper-towel lined platter. Keep in a warm oven until you have fried all that you desire.

Yields 30.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Alcapurrias Attempt #2

While I was doing my grocery shopping yesterday I spotted some very green plantains in the produce department. This is very rare for the Midwest. Most of the time you cannot find plantains, and when you do they are yellow. Malanga is something you NEVER see here, but I had frozen some that had been shipped to me from Miami last summer. As fate would have it, I found in my hands the two main ingredients that I needed to make alcapurrias.  Now, here's the tricky part. I've never had an alcapurria.  I don't know what it's supposed to taste like, and although I had bought 3 large green plantains I did not want to sacrifice them in an attempt to make something I've never tasted!

What you're supposed to do: (basic recipe)

5 medium green plantain
1 pound yautía (taro root)
2 teaspoons salt

Peel the green plantains and place in a bowl of cold salted water.
Peel and wash the yautías and place in a bowl of cold salted water.
Grate the bananas and yautías. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and mix well. Set aside.

What I did:

1/2 medium green plantain
same amount of malanga
sprinkling of salt

Grate the plantain and malanga. Mix with a fork. Take about 1 tablespoon of the mixture and press it into the palm of your hand. Take a teaspoon of your filling (I made picadillo the night before) and place that in the center, then another tablespoon of the mixture on top, form it into a ball. Repeat. (I ended up with only 3 alcapurrias.... it was experimental!)

 Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a frying pan and drop in your alcapurrias. Lower heat to medium, you want to make sure that the inside cooks. Fry til golden brown, turning with a slotted spoon.

The taste test.
I called my daughter and her boyfriend who had eaten alcapurrias in Chicago last year to judge whether this concoction resembled what they had eaten. No, it didn't; it was better! Yay!

You may be wondering what I did with the other half of the plantain.  I grated it and mixed it with equal parts grated malanga, 2 cloves of crushed garlic and salt, and made tiny fritters, Yum!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Another Empanada Dough

Here is another recipe for empanada dough.  I used leftover filling that I had frozen from my last batch. You can click here.

For this dough
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup flour tortilla mix or Masa Harina
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (melted)
3/4 cups water

Mix your dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and pour in your melted vegetable shortening and your water. Mix well. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour. Cut into a dozen wedges, form small balls. Dust a working surface with flour. Roll out your empanada dough. Put a tablespoon or so of your filling in the center, fold over and seal the edges. This dough can be either fried or baked. If baking add an egg wash and bake in the oven at 350 for 25 minutes. If frying, heat vegetable oil in a deep skillet, drop in the empanadas turning them until golden. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate.

This dough was tasty and turned out more "puffy" than other recipes I have used.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Mussels in Garlic Wine Sauce

Funny how the mind works. I was thinking of Jack LaLanne; my thought process led me to muscles and then as logic would have you (lol) to mussels! I've made this recipe before, but since I made it again this afternoon, I thought I'd post today's picture with the link for the recipe. Here it is.