Friday, April 29, 2011

Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork

I saw this on Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen blog and I knew I just HAD to make it.

If you like hot stuff, you'll love this recipe! It's very simple to prepare, but of course, I didn't do as I was told. The first thing I did wrong was get a 3.8 lb. pork shoulder instead of 5-7 pounder. Minor infraction. I also used half a large onion instead of a whole one. I did make the same amount of sauce, though, because I didn't want to risk losing any juiciness and I knew I could always remove some sauce before serving. The second flub was using the DIET Dr. Pepper I had at home, rather than going out and grabbing the real thing. The third thing I didn't do was "generously salt and pepper the pork" before cooking. That was just a brain fart, frankly. (Good thing both salt and pepper can be added later!) Oh and one more thing: I didn't use a dutch oven, or an oven at all, as a matter of fact. It worked out best for me to use the slow cooker, so I cooked it on low for 7 hours and didn't turn it at all. Worked out very well because it was the perfect size for my crock pot and for the sauce to cover completely.

Despite all those mistakes/omissions/changes, I still managed to make a pretty good dish, although I couldn't get a very attractive photo. It is a good thing I removed some sauce, because this stuff was HOT. (I about choked the life outta my husband when I gave him first taste.) I actually used it in burritos with the beans I made the other night and cheese, which helped soften of the kick. As I mentioned in my previous post, Miranda ate it with the fried plantains, which I wish I would have done. Oh well--next time!

Plátanos Maduros y Plátanos Dulce

I wouldn't be me if I didn't mess something up, right? I hope y'all are learning this. Here's what happened:

First of all, my plantains weren't quite ripe enough. They were ripe, but not as sweet as they could and should have been. And I didn't serve them as a side, because they were an afterthought. Our cousin, Miranda, ate them as a side to the Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork I made for dinner, though. She said the sweetness/starchiness balanced out the spiciness of the meat really well, so I was glad that she ate so much later than I did. 

You can find the recipe here. So simple. And actually I tweaked it a bit--duh--because I wanted to make it sweet. Taking a cue from the recipe for Plátanos Dulce, I added some rum and brown sugar to the butter for the last minute or two of cooking. ¡Qué bueno!

Second, I didn't take any photos of the Plátanos Dulce because I made them wrong. But it's NOT my fault. The recipe NEVER said to slice the plantain. The first one did say to slice them in 1-inch segments, so I did exactly as I was directed in this recipe, and placed the entire plantain in the baking dish. I was 99.99% positive it was incorrect, but I did what the recipe told me to. Next time, I need to trust Fabio (and my instincts) and use a little common sense. Here's another photo of the Plátanos Maduros, since they're so pretty!

By the way, even though I didn't make the second set of plantains correctly, the flavor was amazing. Can't wait to do them the RIGHT way and serve with vanilla bean ice cream!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Frijoles Fritos, and a Poll

Okay, so refried pinto beans aren't necessarily Cuban (although they could be if they were black), which means this doesn't count as this week's official post. But I made refried beans last night for the first time and I wanted to share. And actually, I followed the recipe correctly! The only change I made was doubling it--well, sort of (which was probably a mistake, but I'll get to that).
Here's the recipe I found.  When I first saw it, I knew it wasn't like my mother-in-law's, but I considered the source and decided it would probably be a good bet, nonetheless. What I didn't consider was the time I SHOULD have started them. This recipe calls for 12 hours of cook time. First the beans soak for at least 6 hours, then simmer on the stove for 4-6. So since I get home from work around 5pm, you can guess that I was up in the wee hours of the morning stirring and mashing. Not so bright, this one.

As far as the flavor goes, they seem just a tad too salty. And I didn't even double the amount of bouillon. I also didn't double the amount of chili powder because I didn't want too much kick.  The main reason I'm going to start making beans is for Logan (our 7-year-old) and he wouldn't like them if they were too "hot". He loves Grandma Lety's beans, and her's aren't spicy at all. Quick aside: Logan stays with Grandma Lety and Grandpa Mark on occasion, and during the most recent visit, he said while eating dinner, "Grandma, my house is lame. There are no beans there." Hence this post. That means this was definitely a gamble, and I probably should have just cooked 1 pound of beans rather than doubling a brand new recipe. But hey, they'll freeze, and I'll eat them eventually, even if no one else will.

While searching for a recipe, I discovered that many label themselves as "authentic". Who knows what that could mean! Next time for any Mexican cuisine, I'm defaulting to my mother-in-law! But I'd like to know: what is your favorite recipe for refried beans? Or if you don't make them who or which restaurant makes the best?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Pork Adobo with Corn Fritters

I gotta tell ya: I'm starting to bug myself with this whole not-following-the-recipe thing. I'm never gonna be able to properly review a recipe because I almost never do as I'm directed! RAWR!

The reviews of this week's 2 dishes were split; the main dish was a hit and the side dish was a bust. So I'll start with the main dish, pork adobo. This was very simple, and I actually cooked it just a little too long. The boys both liked it, but I wouldn't have minded it being a little more tender. You can click on the link in this paragraph to see the full recipe, but here are the flavors that were used on the cubed pork shoulder: vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, salt, pepper, sugar and a bay leaf. The meat marinates for at least 30 minutes and then simmers on the stove for an hour. After it's cooked through, the meat gets browned on all sides in a skillet and then it's ready to go. I cooked the sauce in the skillet hoping it would reduce a bit, but it didn't.

Next up are the frituras de maiz. This appetizer did not turn out well. Main reason: it's not corn season. The recipe calls for fresh corn kernels and I could only find canned. I thought I drained and dried the corn enough but the photo below begs to differ. The recipe says to add a little bit of flour if the mixture of ground corn, egg, sugar and salt is "too wet," but I added at least a cup of flour in order to get decent fritters to photograph and it was STILL too wet. 

Lesson learned!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Beef Picadillo

I think I should rename this blog, "What Happens When You Screw Up the Recipe". I somehow manage to do something in the wrong order or forget a crucial ingredient while shopping every week. In this recipe, I made one purposeful substitution--don't say it!--and then also a mistake. 

This recipe isn't even hard at ALL. It is, in fact, super simple. Where I screwed up was the vinegar. It called for red wine and I only had apple cider (because I somehow missed it when creating my shopping list). I also thought substituting cherries for the raisins wouldn't make THAT big of a deal. did. Don't do that.

I didn't mind the dish, but I'm sure it would have been better had I done it right. I served it with corn tortillas, but it could be served with white rice or even cornbread (if you like things pretty sweet). In case you didn't notice, I linked the recipe above, so you can check it out to see the flavors involved. I personally would use less all spice next time and more chili powder. I'd also try it with raisins once, just to keep it authentic. For some people, the idea of having cinnamon in a main course is unacceptable--I won't name any names--but it didn't bother me. I'll eat and like just about anything! ;^}

Monday, April 4, 2011

Huevos Cubanos

I’m entirely too enamored with Top Chef. This month’s theme is Cuban food. Whose dish did I create first? Top Chef Michael Voltaggio’s. *sigh* I might be hopeless. As far as I know, though, there will be no more Top Chef recipes appearing in April. I just REALLY love my How to Cook Like a Top Chef cookbook. That I won. For loving Top Chef.

I’m not sure how authentically Cuban this recipe is. From what I can tell, the banana is what makes it Cuban. (But I haven’t done much research.) The dish is layered as follows: banana puree, rice patty, fried egg, garnish. And before I go any further, I’d like to apologize. I was rushed in making this and had no photo to reference, so everything about this dish/post is pretty sloppy (except for my writing. My writing is NEVER sloppy :^P). 

This was another Quickfire recipe, which means Chef Michael V had only 30 minutes for its entire creation. I didn’t time it, but I know it didn’t take me much longer than that, either. The first thing I did was make the jasmine rice and the bacon (garnish). While it was simmering, I made the banana puree, which consists of 2 bananas, sliced and browned in butter, simmered with heavy cream until tender, then pureed. (SO glad Sur la Table has a Cuisinart sale so that I had a mini processor to use.) And like I said, I have no image of the final product and therefore no clue what the consistency should be, other than smooth. Mine may very well be too thick. Dunno.

Next I made the rice patties. I thought these were going to be more difficult than they were. The recipe said you could use your hands to form the patties if you didn’t have a certain tool but I thought the rice would be way too sticky. I decided to use an ice cream scoop. Lame idea. I should have used my hands. Below are the rejects (one of which I decided to fry in the bacon grease instead of the EVOO. I think it’s a great idea, because it adds a little more salt to the dish, which would have helped the flavor. But I’ll get to that). They were SUPPOSED to be 3 inches in diameter; the scoop, however, doesn’t grab much rice.

The last step was frying an egg for each patty. Mmm, more butter... . The eggs should’ve been over easy, but I got a little distracted so they ended up being over medium. Once I assembled the towers, I added the chives and crumbled bacon as garnish. The large diced tomatoes can also be a “tomato jam”—the recipe is in the book—but, like I said before, I was rushed.

This dish was simple to make and it looks fancy. But it tasted a little weird to me. The sweet bananas just seemed…out of place. And it needed some pepper and another dash of salt. I didn’t even try adding it because I just gobbled and ran!

I doubt I’ll make this again, just because the flavors didn’t wow me. And what’s the point of making something that just tastes “okay”?