Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cornbread Stuffing

I was really happy with how this stuffing turned out. I got the recipe from my local supermarket flyer, which, of course, is somewhere in the recycle bin now, but I remember how I made it.

1 lb sausage
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium onons, finely chopped
3 springs celery, finely chopped
2 eggs
1 cup cream
2 1/2 cups chicken or turkey broth
2 cups cornbread
3 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

Brown your sausage in a skillet breaking it up with a wooden spoon, remove the sausage with a slotted spatula and set aside to cool. Saute your celery, onions and garlic in the sausage drippings (you may add a little olive oil). In a very large bowl beat 2 eggs, mix in the cream and broth, add the corn bread and parsley, mix in the cooled sausage and the sauteed celery/onions/garlic. (I used the pre-packaged corn bread stuffing, if you desire you can make your cornbread a day before, and crumble it to add to the stuffing).

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  I laid my stuffing out on a cookie sheet to ensure that everyone got a bit of the browned crunchy top. Bake for about 20 minutes (I didn't really time it, but it didn't take long spread out flat like that. If you put it in a regular baking dish, then allow a bit more time).

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

I hope you have a wonderful day, and remember we can all find many things to be thankful for.

I will be posting pictures of my turkeys as they roast, in the meantime, my cousin down South has her Thanksgiving turkey ready for the oven ....

Basket weaved with 2 pounds of bacon, seasoned with 3 sticks of butter, lots of garlic and salt. She'll add some wine when she puts it in the oven.

The Butterflied Herb Glazed Turkey is done. Click here.

The Cuban style turkey is done. Click here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Turkey #2: Butterflied Turkey With Herb Glaze

I've never prepared a turkey like this, so I cannot say if it will taste good until Thursday, but from what I read it seemed worthy of the effort.

I followed this recipe directly from this November's House Beautiful pg.88. It calls for a butterflied turkey. Now I've never butterflied a turkey and I had some trepidation about doing this, but I managed although I recommend having your butcher do it for you.

12 lb whole turkey
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup shallots, minced
1/3 cup fred flat-leat parsley, minced
3 tbsp fresh oregano, minced
3 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

3 tbsp melted butter

To butterfly the turkey: Position the bird, breast side down on a cutting board. Using kitchen shears or a large knife, cut along one side of the backbone until the bird is split open. Pull open the halves of the bird and cut down the other side of the backbone to free it. Cut between the rib plates and remove any small pieces of bone. Turn the bird breast-side up, opening as flat as possible. Press it firmly with your hands to break the breastbone and flatten the bird. (I was unable to break the breastbone). Season the turkey with salt and pepper.

In a bowl, mix together the garlic, shallots, parsley, oregano, rosemary, lemon juice and olive oil. Use your fingers to push some of the herb mixture under the skin of the breat and legs. Rub the remaining herb mixture over the surface of the turkey. Place on a roasting pan and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 6 to 24 hours.

Remove turkey from the refrigerator one hour before roasting. Preheat oven to 375F. (This recipe calls for you to place a rack in the roasting pan under the turkey.) Brush the turkey with the melted butter (breast side up). Roast until the skin is deep brown and an instant thermometer (I don't have one of those) inserted into the thickest part of the thigh away from the bone registers 175 degrees. (about 3 hours)

Turkey #1: Turkey with Cuban Marinade (Mojo)

Now its done!

I bought two small turkeys this year. The first one I'm preparing Cuban style.

For this 12 lb turkey I prepared a mojo (marinade)

10-12 cloves garlic
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup lime juice
1 tbsp dry oregano
2 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp pepper

A store bought turkey usually brings a bag in the body cavity with the neck and giblets (check the opening on the neck, sometimes there's a bag in there as well). Remove those and rinse your turkey well with cold water.

Prepare your marinade in a bowl by mixing the above ingredients. Pour your marinade over the turkey and into the turkey, use your hand to rub the garlic on the skin. Sprinkle again with salt and paprika (if desired).

Now here's what I do. I put the turkey in a large bowl, breast side down, so that it fits slanted, and I make sure most of the marinade is inside the breast cavity. (If you lay it breast up, the mojo is just going to sit at the bottom of the pan and flavor the back)  Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate 'til Thursday.

Thursday, pre-heat your oven to 325 F. Place your turkey breast side up in a roasting pan. Bake for  approximately 4 hours (for 12 lbs).

The above turkey looks done, but it actually needs about one more hour to become tender. The skin is brown already so I covered the bird loosely with aluminum foil to finish cooking. I don't use thermometers, and although I usually stab the thickest part of the leg with a knife to make sure the liquid come out clear, that does not guarantee that the turkey is done. You have to taste it! I know you don't want to ruin the look of it, so steal a little slice from an inconspicuous place. If it's chewy, baste it with its drippings and put it back in the oven.

Click here for useful information on oven baking times for roasting a turkey

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Music in Another Dimension

My husband decided he was going to get back on the treadmill and needed to buy an iPod Shuffle to listen to music as he exercises.  He shows up with this thing.....

Now this is a man who has ruined two cell phones by not taking them out of his pocket before putting his jeans in the wash.  I know he can't see the little symbols on there without his reading glasses, and his fingers are probably too fat to handle the controls.  I give it less than a month before he loses it, sits on it, washes it or tries to use it as change at a drive through.

What is the purpose of making such tiny electronics?  Why even bother with headphones?  At this point, why not just put all the music on an actual ear piece, like a hearing aid?  Or have they done that already?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fabada Asturiana • White Bean Stew

Oh darn! Was this supposed to be Meatless Monday? ;)

This is a very hearty stew that originated in Asturias, Spain. The word Fabada comes from Fabes a type of white runner bean cultivated in the autonomous community of Asturias. They are also known as 'Judiones'. My first father-in-law was a Spaniard and he made this delicious stew, unfortunately, I never watched him make it and never wrote down the recipe, but I know what's it' supposed to taste like. I searched the internet and found a recipe in Spanish. I'm going to follow it to the best of my ability.

1 lb fava beans (I'm using great northern beans, didn't find fava)
2 smoked ham hocks
2 Spanish chorizo2
2 Morcilla sausage (I can't find this and I don't eat it anyway so I substituted with 3 slices of bacon)
2 small onions or 1 large one
4-6 cloves garlic
1 tsp paprika 
salt to taste at the end

Soak your beans overnight. The next morning pour your beans along with the water it sat in into a large pot, you will have to add more water to cover the beans to double the height.... does that make sense? (If your beans come to 1/3 the height of the pot, then add water to 2/3 the height of the pot). Okay turn the heat on high and start to boil the beans with a drizzle of olive oil. Soon foam will form at the top of the water, skim that out. Add all the ingredients to the pot, lower the heat to a low boil and cover for about 2-3 hours until the beans are tender. Check periodically to make sure the water level is sufficient. You can let it reduce at the end. Before serving remove the large pieces of onion, garlic and bacon. Cut your sausage into slices (remove any artificial casing). Pick out the ham from the ham hocks if you so desire. Grab your spoon a slice of crusty bread! (For a thicker stew, remove some beans and mash them, return to pot).

Note for those of us watching our fat intake: Refrigerate your finished
stew overnight and skim the fat off the top before reheating.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Why I Hate Santa Claus!

It seems that every year I start preparing for Christmas earlier and earlier. I'm not sure if it's because I'm living in a colder climate and it "feels" like Christmas or if it's the ever-so-early decorations in the mall, but I was inspired to tell you this story, early as it may be.

For Cubans, Christmas Day, other than being a religious holiday, is pretty much overlooked. Christmas Eve (Noche Buena) is the night to celebrate (and that we do in a BIG way). In Cuba, during my parent's era, presents were not exchanged until January 6th — Three Kings Day (El Dia de los Reyes Magos).

When we arrived in Florida in 1962, the idea of a fat man in a red suit secretly sneaking into one's home and leaving gifts under a tree on Christmas Day was a relatively new concept. My family knew of Santa Claus having been exposed to him in American movies, advertising, promotions and such, but the whole tradition just didn't click.

Although willing to plunge right into American culture, my parents just weren't quite sure how things worked. After all, it's not as if a handbook was passed out to newly arrived Cuban refugees to explain that (1) Santa Claus came from the North Pole, (2) he was transported on a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer, and (3) he entered people's homes through their chimneys.  I remember a conversation at the dinner table between my mother and my grandmother that went something like this:

Mom:  "You know in this country, the gifts are exchanged on Christmas day."
Grandma: "Really?"
Mom: "Yes and the children are taught that Santiclos brings gifts. He comes at night and leaves presents under el arbolito de Navidad (Christmas tree)."
Grandma: "Ah, we're going to have to go shopping early then."

My father in particular was quite pleased to learn that Santa (the stalker) was always watching, lurching in the bushes.  For at least one month before Christmas we were constantly threatened into good behavior.
"Eat all your dinner, Santiclos is watching you!"
"You'd better behave or Santiclos won't leave you any presents!"
Santa didn't seem very friendly, but hey, we only got toys once and year, and we didn't care whom they came from!

I remember the first time (Dec. 1964) I became excited about Santa Claus' impending arrival. That Christmas eve my sister and I assisted my mother in putting sugar in our shoes for the camels (I sigh, what can I say?)  and leaving Coca-Cola on the table for Santiclos.  I remember waking the next morning to several unwrapped presents (my poor parents hadn't a clue!) sitting under the tree. 

Skip to a very lean 1968.  We were living in Los Angeles. I had recently turned seven.  By this time my sister and I were quite knowledgeable of how the whole Santa thing worked.  My mother informed us that Santa would only be leaving one present for each of us that year, and that we could choose whichever toy we wanted. 

I remember sitting in my second grade classroom, my hand under my chin, thinking long and hard about my decision.  I watched television every day after school to pick out the toy I would select from the commercials shown.  Finally I decided that the ONE AND ONLY toy I would ask for was a talking doll whose name I could not pronounce.  I quickly wrote the letter to Santa explaining that it was a doll that could talk, and that I had seen it on tv.  I placed the letter in an envelope, addressed it to SNTA, NOR POLL, sealed it, and placed an S&H green stamp on it. The next day on our walk to school I dropped it in the street corner mailbox.

My sister had made up her mind as well; she wanted a doll that could be fed. She was quick to point it out to my mother as we passed the store window of the nearby Sears.  For several days, my mother asked me the name of the doll I wanted:
"I'm not sure mami, but don't worry. I already sent Santiclos the letter, and he'll know which one it is."
"Okay," she responded, "but show it to me on television the next time the commercial comes on."
"Don't wooooorry mami! Santiclos will know."

That Christmas morning my sister and I ran as quickly as we could into the living room, and there sitting atop two brand new desks that my grandfather had built us (the poor soul, like we wanted to do homework, duh), were two sets of black patent leather shoes (yeah, yeah, where are the dolls?) and then... there was the doll that my sister wanted (unwrapped).... and on the other desk.....the doll that my sister wanted!

"Twins!" my sister yelped with glee.
"But... but... but where is my doll?" I asked.
"No, no" my mom exclaimed, her eyes popped out and waving her hands, "there's one for your sister and one for you!"
"Nooooooooooooooooooo! But I've been a good girl! How could you do this to me Santa?!  I hate you! I hate you sooooooooo much! AHHHHHHHHHHHH!"

As I bawled unconsolably I threw that doll down on the ground and stomped on it to my heart's desire. As far as I was concerned I got NOTHING for Christmas!

From that day on I divorced myself of anything Santa. I tore him out of my coloring books, defaced any Christmas card with his wretched face on it and cursed his stupid reindeer!  He became my arch nemesis.

To this day I do not buy Santa Claus decorations or cards.  When my daughter was born I initially refused to teach her about mean ol' Santa but was outvoted by her father's side of the family. (My mother already knew better than to mention his name).  Ironically, my little daughter developed a fear of Santa (I had nothing to do with it, I swear!), and would pee her pants whenever she heard "HO! HO! HO!"

So there you have it.... why I hate Santa Claus.  I think I'll stick with Frosty.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

3 Days Later

On Wednesday I posted very colorful and bright pictures of the trees I see from my back/front yard. Here it is Saturday, three days later... rainy and gloomy.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Arroz al Horno con Chorizo

I love it when someone is inspired by one of my recipes. In this case my cousin took my "Meatless Monday" recipe which I posted a while back for
Arroz Al Horno • Oven Baked Rice
Oven Baked Rice and added chorizo. She made a much larger portion as she was entertaining that night. Along with 7 ripe fried plantains on the side, the rice was a hit!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Daughter's Meatloaf

This is the busiest time of the year for advertising, so I've gone on a mini-strike in the kitchen. Lots of sandwiches and take out for the household. If you want something more complicated make it yourself. Fortunately my daughter volunteered to make meatloaf one day this week. Here's her recipe:

1-1.5 lbs of ground beef (I used lean ground beef)
1 egg
¼ red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Bread crumbs, enough to coat the beef
A few shakes of seasoned salt
A dash of Paprika
1 squirt of mustard half the length of the ground beef
3 shakes of Heinz 57
1 shake of A1

Pre-heat oven to 350F. Blend all these ingredient together and place in a bread loaf. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Still colorful

I stepped out my front door and look at what I saw today! We've had very unusual weather for which I am very grateful. 70F for a high today! Can't beat that in the second week of November.

Spaghetti Carbonara

My daughter really likes this, but can't remember how to do it on her own, so I'm posting it here for her.  I don't really follow a recipe when making this; I adapt it to what my family likes (a lot of bacon), what I like (a lot of garlic) and what they can eat (we sprinkle the paremesan on the individual plates).

I made this with about
3/4 lb of spaghetti
6-7 slices of bacon, cut up into little pieces
3 large cloves of garlic, pressed
1/4 cup red wine
1 egg, beaten
olive oil
salt to taste

Get your water boiling for the pasta while you fry your bacon pieces 'til crisp. Transfer them onto a paper-towel lined plate. Reserve 1 tbsp of the bacon fat. Press your garlic and sautee it in the bacon fat (don't let it burn). Let the garlic cool in a bowl, add the egg, red wine and a good drizzle of olive oil.
Boil your pasta, strain it and put it back in the pot, add the contents of your bowl. Stir. The heat of the pasta will cook the egg. Add the bacon bits. Serve. Sprinkle with grated Paremesan Cheese.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Cleaning Frenzy

A while back I read an article in a home decorating magazine giving advice on how the change the look of a room.  CLEAN IT.  Yes, this is what the article said.  Well I was a little taken aback, and a bit insulted.  How dare they imply that their readers kept their homes messy or worse... dirty!  I continued to read the article and it said to start by throwing out/recycling all the "trash" that we let sit around, you know newspapers, unwanted mail, MAGAZINES; putting away all the stuff we let sit atop any surface... a notepad, pens, keys, a purse, reading glasses, etc.  Then the cleaning..... not just the vacuuming and the mopping, or the dusting and the polishing, but clean things we often ignore: the lampshades, the LIGHT BULBS, the dust the accumulates on the edges of the baseboards, the door knobs, etc.  I thought to myself  "It would take a team of OCD cleaning fanatics to get it all done."  Then I remembered my grandmother.

I don't know if this is just an old Cuban lady thing (my mother would do it too), but every few months my grandmother would get into a cleaning frenzy, usually on a Saturday morning.  She would start by demanding that all the furniture be taken outside so that she may properly clean the floors.  As children we knew to either grab a broom or get out of the way.  The terrazzo floors were scrubbed with Ajax and a stiff broom.  She would literally throw buckets of water on the floor and we would scrub the floors until bright and white, sweeping the water out the front door. We'd wait for the floor to dry, but this was not the end of it... next came the buffing and the waxing. (My grandmother was a Fuller Brush representative.  Eventually she discovered the machines that did this work, but it wasn't enough to know that you could rent one... she bought one!)  Many hours after that first bucket of water hit the floor the furniture would come back in, piece by piece, and we would plop ourselves down on the sofa with our coca-cola (to regain our strength) and glare at the shiny floors.

As the holidays approach I tend to get into a cleaning frenzy;  I recall that magazine article as I walk past the lampshades, but most of all, as I stack chairs atop the dining table, I remember my grandmother and the pride she took in her clean floors.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Where's the food?

I've been so uninspired to cook anything new. A couple of days ago I asked some friends/family what their signature dishes are.  The replies:  hamburgers, ribs, mac-n-cheese, meatloaf, chicken wings, cupcakes, brownies, arroz con pollo and shrimp wontons.  What did this little survey tell me? When given a choice, people prefer simple, no-nonsense food.  Aside from the arroz con pollo, which takes a bit of time to prepare, and the shrimp wontons (I must get the recipe)... it's all pretty standard.

In a little over 6 months I've posted close to 150 recipes. At this point, my husband is asking for a steak and baked potato already... jeez.  So for now I'm slowing it down to gather my resources and recipes for the holidays.  I've just about made anything Cuban that my family will eat (and a lot that they wouldn't), so I may have to venture once again into uncharted waters! I'll be back.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Still Hanging In There!

The leaves ares still hanging in there although they are dropping by fast. The green ones on the second picture taken yesterday are already yellow today.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Meatless Monday: Another Adventure • Sweet Potato Roulade

I tell it as it is. I spent a few hours of the afternoon making this, so I'm going to post it. Here's the story:

Have you ever scanned through a magazine or recipe book and seen a picture of something that looks really yummy and pretty? You think to yourself: I can do this, then you scroll down the page and start reading the ingredients. You start checking them off in your mind, I have that; don't have that; never heard of that; or that; oh, that one's too expensive... etc. Any logical person would turn the page and go on to the next recipe.... not I.

In red is the recipe I was following, in black are my notes:

1 cup low fat cream cheese (Low fat? Noooo that doesn't taste good, regular is better. I'll use half and then it will be half the calories.)
5 tablespoons plain yogurt (Did this say yogurt? Darn, I bought sour cream!)
6-8 scallions, finely chopped (I'll used 1/3 cup red onion instead.)
2 tablespoons Brazil nuts, chopped and roasted (What? I don't have that!)
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (Is it 1 lb before I cook it... I didn't weight the darn thing!)
12 allspice berries, crushed (What the heck is that?)
4 eggs, separated (I'm not wasting 4 eggs on this experiment, 2 will do.)
1/4 cup Edam cheese, finely grated (Edam cheese is expensive, I'm not putting it into a potato!)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (Don't have that either.)
salt and pepper (okay)

You get the drift?....

This is what I did:  Peel your sweet potato. Boil until tender and blend in a food processor until smooth. (I had 2 cups worth of pureed potatoes). Add the two egg yolks and season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Whip the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold the eggs whites into the sweet potatoes.

Preheat your oven to 375F. Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet and spread your potato mixture onto it in a thin layer. Bake for 15 mintues. Flip onto wax paper, removing the parchment, trim the sides and roll. (Once I flipped the potatoes I  realized they weren't sticking together very well, but I was in too deep already and had to keep going). Refrigerate.

In a bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, onions, (I also added red bell pepper) and spinkle with salt and pepper.

Remove your cooled potato roll from the refrigerator and unwind. Spread with with cream cheese mixture and roll again. Refrigerate for one hour and slice.

I didn't know what to expect from this, but all in all, it turned out okay. The cream cheese spread held the potato together and it even looked pretty when sliced, but the taste....not so good. (I should have followed the recipe!)