Thursday, July 6, 2017

Cuban Flair

Living in Florida, the food has a lot of Spanish influence.  Once of the biggest influences we see is Cuban.  I LOVE a good Cuban sandwich but I was never brave enough to make one myself.  That is, until I was watching Food Network one day (what else is new) and I saw a recipe I knew I could handle.  So I whipped it up along with a soup I saw on the same episode and it immediately went into the meal rotation.

Cuban Sandwich and Black Bean Soup

3 pounds boneless pork shoulder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice 
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice 
Four 6-inch-long soft sub loaves, split 
About 3 tablespoons mayonnaise 
About 3 tablespoons yellow mustard 
4 ounces thinly sliced ham 
6 ounces sliced Swiss cheese 
1 cup dill pickle chips 
About 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 

Rub the pork all over with the cumin, garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place in a slow cooker and drizzle with the orange and lime juices. Cook on high heat until the meat is tender and falling apart, 6 hours. Transfer to a cutting board and coarsely shred.

Spread one side of each loaf with mayonnaise and the other with mustard. Build the sandwiches with the pulled pork, ham, Swiss and pickles (you will have some pulled pork left over).

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Place 2 of the sandwiches in the skillet and cover with another skillet, weighing it down with a heavy can or pot. Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Turn the sandwiches over, replace the top skillet and continue to cook until the other side is golden brown and the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes more. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches, adding the remaining butter to the skillet.  

Note:  I used a sandwich press instead of a skillet.

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
1 medium onion, chopped 
1/2 jalapeno, finely chopped 
Kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin 
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander 
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth 
Two 15-ounce cans black beans, not drained
Fresh cilantro sprigs, for serving
Sour cream, for serving

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, onions, jalapenos and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the cumin and coriander and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chicken broth and black beans with their liquid. Increase the heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Transfer about three-quarters of the soup to a blender and blend until smooth (be careful when blending hot liquids). Return the soup to the saucepan and season with salt. Serve topped with cilantro and sour cream.

Note:  I used an immersion blender to puree the soup.  However, if yo DO use a blender, first let the soup cool for five minutes or so, then transfer it to a blender, filling only halfway. Put the lid on, leaving one corner open. Cover the lid with a kitchen towel to catch splatters, and pulse until smooth.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Cool Summer Treats

Summer in Florida is HOT.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out.  One way to stay cool, besides AC, is to enjoy a cool treat.  I got my ice cream maker when I lived up north and I used it maybe once or twice.  Once I moved down here, I used it a little more to make ice cream and frozen yogurt but they are kind of a pain to make.  Then I started looking at Sorbet recipes.  Sorbet is MUCH easier to make so now that is my go-to cool summer treat.  Below are 2 of my favorite recipes.

Pomegranate Mint Sorbet

1 cup Mint Simple Syrup, recipe follows
2 cups 100 percent pomegranate juice (recommended: Pom Wonderful)
1 cup orange juice
Fresh mint sprigs, for garnish
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

1 packed cup packed fresh mint leaves

In a glass pitcher, combine the Mint Simple Syrup, pomegranate juice, and orange juice. Pour the pomegranate mixture in an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Spoon the sorbet into a freezer-safe container and freeze for several hours.

When ready to serve, scoop the sorbet into dessert bowls and garnish with fresh mint sprigs.

Mint Simple Syrup

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and mint leaves over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool for 20 minutes. Strain before using.

Yield: 1 cup

Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Limoncello Sorbet

1 1/2 cups (12 oz./375 g) sugar
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) fresh lemon juice
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) limoncello

In a saucepan, combine the sugar and 2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml) water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved and a syrup has formed, about 5 minutes. Let the syrup cool to room temperature.

Pour the syrup into a bowl and stir in the lemon zest and juice, salt and limoncello. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 2 hours or up to 1 day.

Pour the cold lemon mixture into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Spoon the sorbet into a freezer-safe container and place parchment or waxed paper directly on the surface. Cover tightly and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

Optional Lemon Bowls

Using a paring knife, trim off about 3/4 inch (2 cm) from the stem end of 8 lemons. You need an opening about 1 1/4 inches (3 cm) in diameter. Using a teaspoon, hollow out the flesh and membranes from each lemon, capturing the juice in the bowl. Put the removed lemon flesh in a fine-mesh sieve and press against it with the back of a spoon to extract the juice. Use the juice for making the sorbet or reserve for another use.

Trim a thin slice from the bottom end of each lemon so it will stand upright.

Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper, transfer the hollowed-out lemons to the baking sheet and freeze until cold, at least 20 minutes. Fill each chilled lemon bowl with about 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) of the sorbet, mounding it on top and pressing firmly with a teaspoon. The filled bowls will keep in the freezer for up to 1 day. Makes about 1 quart (1 l).

Recipe from Williams-Sonoma

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bacon Apple Cheddar Quiche With No Roll Pie Crust

1 ½ C flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar (I omit this for savory crusts)
1/2 Canola oil ( any neutral flavored oil would work)
2 tbs. milk

Mix dry ingredient with a fork in a pie pan.

Make a well in the center and add the oil and milk.  Mix with a fork until it forms a ball.  Flatten and press into the pan and up the sides.  Flute or fork the edges.  Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes or follow directions in the recipe you are making.  Makes a 9 inch pie crust.

Bacon Apple Cheddar Quiche

9 inch pie crust
1 apple, sliced thin (I used a large Honeycrisp and did not use the entire apple)
8 slices of bacon cooked and crumbled
6 oz. of sharp cheddar, shredded
4 eggs
¾ C half and half (I used fat free)
Salt and pepper

Layer the apple slices, bacon and cheese into the pie sheet.  Whisk together the eggs and half and half.  Season with salt and pepper (remember the bacon and cheese will also add salt).  Pout the egg mixture over the apples, bacon and cheese and spread evenly.  Bake at 375 for 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Penne With Butternut Squash, Parsley And Capers

I adapted this recipe after seeing a similar one on an episode of Lidia's Italy. I replaced the sweet potatoes with butternut squash and added some white wine. It came I out great and will definitely go into our winter dinner rotation.


2 tablespoons extra--virgin olive oil
4 ounces thick--sliced bacon or pancetta, diced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
4 fresh sage leaves
1 pound butternut squash, peeled, cut into -½--inch cubes
2 leeks, white and -light--green parts only, sliced, (about 2 cups)
¼ cup rinsed small capers (optional)
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the pot
¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
1 cup dry white wine
1 pound penne pasta
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for pasta. In a large skillet, over -medium--high heat, heat the olive oil and add the bacon or pancetta, the garlic, and the sage. Cook until fat has rendered, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the squash and leeks, and cook, stirring continuously, until both begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the capers, if using. Season with the salt and crushed red pepper. Ladle in 1 cup of pasta water, and simmer rapidly until the squash and leeks are very tender but the squash retains its shape, about 7 to 8 minutes, adding more pasta water if necessary to keep it saucy.

Meanwhile, cook the pennee until al dente. When the penne are done, remove with a spider directly to the sauce. Add the parsley, and toss to coat the pasta with the sauce. Increase the heat and boil a minute if the sauce is too thin, or add a little more pasta water if it is too thick. Remove the skillet from the heat, sprinkle with the grated cheese, toss, and serve.

Adapted from Lidia's Italy

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Erin's Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

This took a while to perfect, but I finally got it.  I'm working on a bourbon version right now!

Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

2 C ketchup
1 C water (you can also use 1/2 C water and 1/2 C bourbon)
1/2 C apple cider vinegar
1/4 C molasses
1/4 C honey
3/4 C sugar
1/2 tbs black pepper
1/2 tbs. onion powder
1/2 tbs. mustard
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1-2 tbs pureed chipotle in adobo (more or less depending on your taste and spice tolerance)
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and mix well (I whisk).  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Yields about 3 1/2 cups

Monday, August 18, 2014

Dessert In A Glass

Every summer, right after school gets out, my family takes a weeklong trip the Gulf Coast of Florida.  We have 2 restaurants that we always go to at least once while we are there.  It was at one of these restaurant that I found one of my favorite cocktails...a key lime pie martini.  After drinking them for a couple of years, I decided to try my hand at duplicating it at home. We have a lime tree so I had plenty to practice with.  I made note of the ingredients from the restaurant's menu but I still had to figure out the proportions.  After a couple of tries, I mastered it and now I can have my favorite cocktail whenever I want.  Here is what I came up with:

Key Lime Pie Martini

2 oz. Vanilla Vodka
1 oz. Licor 43 (Spanish Vanilla liquer)
3/4 oz. Midori
1/2 oz. Lime juice
Splash of half and half or cream
Graham cracker crumbs

Rim a frozen martini glass with the graham cracker crumbs.  Combine the rest of the ingredients in a shaker with ice.  Shake for 30 seconds and then strain into the glass.  Voila...key lime pie in a glass!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Slow Cooker Ham and White Beans

1 lb package dried northern beans
Ham bone, hocks, shanks or diced ham (about 1 pound)
2 tsp. onion powder
6 cups water
Salt & pepper to taste

Rinse and sort the beans for any pebbles. Add the the rinsed beans, onion powder, salt, pepper, and ham to the crock pot. Add water.

Cover and cook on low about 8 hours, until beans are tender.

Remove ham bone, shanks or hocks and pull off the meat.

Add meat to the crock pot and mix.

Serve with cornbread.