Friday, July 30, 2010


Fajitas for dinner. Leftover steak and chicken, a little taco seasoning, warm tortillas, sauteed onions and peppers. Salsa, sour cream, lettuce, tomato, jalapenos, guacamole. Easy to make. Good to eat. Good for parties since everything can be made ahead and just heated at the last moment.

Wonder how they get the sizzle in the restaurants? With cheap and plentiful ingredients presentation is everything. Cast iron skillets preheated in the oven and a little lime juice squeezed on at the last minute. Would that get the sizzle? I think about those little individual cast iron skillets you see sometimes. Decorated serving platters with little bowls for condiments. I can see where a few serving pieces could make a fajita party special. Here is one item I impulsively purchased at the grocery store. A beautiful clear pitcher (plastic) with a lid and even a cooling tube. Perfect for Sangria. And how about watermelon for desert?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Cuban Connection

After 30 some years of living in Tampa, Cuban food is part of me now. Chicken and yellow rice has become a staple in our diet, my grandson's favorite. It starts slowly when you come here. First you have a Cuban sandwich or Cuban toast and Cafe con Leche (strong coffee with hot milk). My son went to visit his relatives in Missouri when he was young and asked for black beans and yellow rice. At first they thought he was kidding, but his stepmother found the ingredients and made the black beans. The family wasn't impressed. No flavor. They didn't know the small touches, garlic, peppers, onions, vinegar, olive oil, bay leaf, pork jowl to season the beans just right. (Though no one can beat them at making great northern or pinto bean soup!)

It is different today. Black beans are much more popular than they were back then. It is hard for me to judge since I use them almost weekly. Anyway you gradually become more adventurous until you are a bit of a gourmet. I don't eat Cuban food as often as I would like since my husband is not a fan of garlic but I did go to a favorite little Cuban eatery last night and I thought you might like to hear about the offerings. Cuban food is famous for huge servings and cheap prices. I went to Pipo's which has been a favorite for years. The flavor was not what I remember though from the little hole in the wall I used to visit. This restaurant was much prettier but I think the food has been Americanized. The prices were a little higher, too.

I had the speciality, roast pork and yellow rice. It was good but not as brown and rich and garlicy as I remember. It is traditionally marinated with a mojo sauce of sour orange, onion and garlic and cooked until it falls apart. Here are some other offerings from the menu:

Boliche - eye of round stuffed with chirizo sausage
Palomilla Steak - breaded steak with garlic, onions and lime
Milanesa Steak - breaded steak with marinara, chopped eggs, peas, parsley, pimentos and cheese
Ropa Vieja - shredded flank steak in a rich stew with onions and peppers
Picadillo - ground beef with onions, peppers, capers and olives
Russian Trout - breaded fish filet with white wine and butter sauce with onions, chopped eggs, peas, pimentos and parsley
Caldo Gallego - rich spicy soup of navy beans, potato and turnip greans. (I think my old version used to have chirizo. I add a lot of hot sauce especially when I have a cold.)
Fried Plantains - Crispy, salty, slightly sweet banana-like chunks.

Ymmmm! All served with huge mounds of delicious yellow rice, black beans and chewy Cuban bread.
I have decided. When my neighbor, Sylvia, gets home from her travels I will buy the ingredients and have her make us a feast. She often brings down homemade black beans but I want to taste her Palomillo Steak and her Boliche. She also brings flan which is actually not a favorite even of mine. I usually like custard deserts, but flan is not one of my favorites. I don't know how to tell her though since it is made with love, expensive ingredients and a great deal of trouble. Have I made you hungry? I am eating yellow rice for breakfast! Would have cuban toast, too, but we don't have any.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Feast - Cleaning out the fridge for the end of the month

Well, here is our first Sunday supper. I had invited Karin and Alan for chicken Marsala but the reality of fixed income came into play. I changed the invite to next weekend and cooked what was in the freezer which happened to be the last two bacon-wrapped filets from Omaha Steak. I bought a bottle of wine (Inglenook Merlot) and a loaf of french bread, two fresh corn, a tomato and a watermelon which was too mushy to eat once we cut it open. The steaks were cooked under the broiler for 7 minutes on one side and 5 on the other. I baked two potatoes and made lettuce salad with half of the tomato. Fantastic dinner. Steak was medium rare, red and warm in the middle. I didn't find a recipe for the 1 cup of leftover ricotta still in the refrigerator. Promise to do better next week for originality though I doubt I could improve on the taste. My grandson, Jonah, flew to Tennessee today to visit his dad. Roger's sister, Mary, came to visit for a while with her little malty poo. Hope everyone had a happy Sunday. Don't worry. Nibbles got some, too.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

real family, real suppers

I have an idea for this blog. Sunday suppers -- more than just recipes. Comfort food. Family and friends. A last hurrah before the start of a new week. I plan to show our real suppers, try some new recipes, invite over friends and family or just have grilled cheese and soup in front of the TV. My favorite kind of food is simple to prepare, fills up a lot of folks and tastes great. In my Sunday supper fantasies I am in a great country house with a big wraparound porch or by a landscaped pool on a hot summer night or on a white sandy beach with a huge bonfire (not allowed any more on any Florida beaches I know) or in front of the fire in a cozy log cabin on a snowy night (snow not likely in Florida either). But we will make do. If you are reading this, you are welcome to join us. Maybe we can share some of your Sunday suppers, too.