Friday, September 30, 2011

One Skillet Fajitas

We love to eat fajitas.  They are easy to make, tasty, and you can add whatever you want to them!
Tonight I decided to try cooking everything in one skillet on a portable gas burner fueled with butane.  This one-burner set-up is actually intended for use as a steamer for dyed fabric, but that is another story.
I took my supplies outside and set the burner on our wrought iron patio table.

Using a large, cast-iron skillet I preheated it on the burner before adding 2 Tablespoons of grapeseed oil to the skillet.
First, I sauteed some squash blossoms.  Why squash blossoms?  Because I had some!

Next up were several pre-roasted Hatch chilies.  I simply sauteed them long enough to heat through.

These were removed to a serving dish and put into a warm oven until serving.
Next, I put a piece of marinated skirt steak into the hot pan, allowing it to cook until the meat was caramelized so it would release from the skillet, then turned and cooked the other side.  Because the skirt steak was so thick on one end I placed it in a 450 degree oven for about 5 minutes to finish it before slicing into thin strips.

The other accompaniments to the meal were some arugula, shredded cheese, sliced avocados, and salsa.  Frozen corn tortillas were quick heated in the skillet to warm them through.
Delicious, and super-simple!  Try it!

PS-fajitas can be made with steak, chicken, fish, and an assortment of sauteed veggies.  If serving a large group, simple place all the ingredients on the counter or table, buffet-style, and allow people to "build" whatever type fajita they prefer.  I normally include sauteed onions but I was so spontaneous I didn't take the time to cut one up!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cuban Dinner

Once again, I can say that artists make GREAT cooks!  Our good friend, Judy Coates Perez, has kindly offered to share this wonderful meal with you.  Please stop by her blog to see her equally wonderful art!  Thank you, Judy, for allowing us to share this wonderful meal with our readers!

Cuban Dinner

Last night I prepared one of my favorite meals with friends; Cuban black beans, rice, roast pork and pickled red onions for garnish. My friend Alexa came over and made mojitos and brought a cabbage slaw with avocado and jalepeƱo and a mango sorbet for dessert. Everything was delicious, so I thought I would share a few recipes with you. My daughter Indigo took the photos.

Cuban Black Beans

1 pound black beans, washed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
5 cups water
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 (4 ounce) jar diced pimentos, drained
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper

1. Place beans in a large saucepan with enough water to cover, and soak 8 hours, or overnight; drain. Or do a quick soak method bring beans and water to a boil for 2 minutes, turn off heat, cover and sit for 1 hour.
 2. Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat, and saute onion, green bell pepper, and garlic until tender.

3. Into the onion mixture, stir the drained beans, water, tomato paste, pimentos, and vinegar. Season with salt, sugar, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender.
The easiest way to tell if beans are done is lift a spoonful out of the pot and blow on them, if the skin splits and peel away from the beans they’re done.

Cuban Pork Roast

2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup dry sherry
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 pounds pork shoulder

I had a 7 1/2 pound bone in shoulder so I doubled the marinade.

Heat a small, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and peppercorns to the pan; stir constantly until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Cool.

Using a mortar and pestle, crush toasted spices with garlic, salt, and oregano to make a paste. You can also do this in a food processor. Add orange juice, lime juice, lemon juice, sherry, and olive oil.

With a sharp knife cut slits in the roast to help marinade penetrate the meat. Place the pork in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour citrus marinade over meat, and seal. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours, turning the bag over occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).

Transfer pork to a roasting pan, and place in the oven. Baste pork with marinade every hour until meat is fork tender, about 4+ hours. I had a 7 1/2 pound shoulder and cooked it for just over 5 hours. It's possible you may need to loosely tent the roast with foil if the top starts to get too brown.

Transfer the pork to a carving board, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for 15 minutes. Carve, and serve. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Park Avenue Restaurant in Stanton, California

These beautiful gardens are located at Park Ave restaurant in Stanton, California.  Herbs, veggies, flowers...amazing!

The restaurant has a fabulous menu, and I would highly recommend that you make reservations if you live in Orange County, California.  They begin the dinner experience with h their special "Swiss Chard"  which is amazing!

Imagine yourself drinking a glass of wine and soaking in all of this beauty around you

Fresh flowers are on every table

il Garage (Italian restaurant) which is a short walk across the lawn, between the two restaurants - opens up onto this lovely view of this garden.

The have intriguing old tools in the garden

I would recommend the mascarpone cheese cake for dessert

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tortellini with pumpkin, arugula, and celery "foam"

I must admit, I'm unsure how I feel about all this "foam" business in the culinary world.  It seems pretentious to me.  Then, I get to sample something really amazing.
Today I had a small lunch at our hotel in Amsterdam before taking a tram to the Van Gogh museum.
I'm tagging along with my husband, who is here on business.
This small dish was exquisite.  There were 4 tortellinis.  It was the perfect amount of food.
First, a small round of rustic whole grain bread.
And, that wonderful European butter.  Yum.
A lovely dish.  A few shavings of romano cheese over the top.
The seasonings were delicate and did not overpower the pumpkin or the celery foam.

The pasta was thin and tender.  Oh my.

This foam doesn't look like much, but it really made the dish special.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Refreshing Citrus Water

I often make this for family gatherings, and it is always a hit with everyone!  3 lemons, 3 limes, 3 oranges - sliced thin and thrown into a container with a spigot.  Add ice and water to fill.

Ice added.  For an extra bonus, you can add sparkling water too!
It looks beautiful on the counter, and I add water and ice to it throughout the party.  At the end of the party, you can fill it up with more water, stir and then put the water into a separate container to have the next day.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Culture Kitchen

I just read about this organization on Pinterest.  I encourage you to drop by their website and check them out.  For those of you in the SF Bay area, this could be a very cool discovery. The following are a couple of YouTube videos that you might enjoy, and also, be sure to check out their blog!
Culture Kitchen - YouTube'