Entree

Cuban Oxtails with Okra and Rice

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Give me a plate of oxtails and my face will light up like new year fireworks! It’s something about the tender flavored meat that gets me every time.

This is one of those dishes where you need a pressure cooker or a lazy Sunday to take time out to put some amor in your food. Here is my recipe for Cuban oxtails with okra and rice.

4lbs of disjointed oxtails (Hint: Purchase at your local butcher or Latin/Caribbean grocery store)
1/2 cup of dry red wine
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 tbs. of dried oregano
1 tsp. of sea salt
1 tsp. of ground cumin
1 tsp. of fresh black ground pepper
1 packet of Goya sazon with achiote
3 8oz. cans of Spanish Tomato Sauce (Goya)
1 minced large yellow onion
8 minced garlic cloves
1 minced roasted red bell pepper
2 bay leaves
2 cups of beef broth
1 lb. of fresh okra cut into bite sizes
Cooked white rice

Preparation:

You will need to marinate your oxtails overnight with wine and olive oil. Make sure you season your oxtails with oregano and sea salt. In a Dutch oven or pressure cooker brown your oxtails. Remove and set aside. Sauté onions, garlic and red bell peppers. Season with cumin, bay leaves, sazon packet and fresh black ground pepper. Add tomato sauce and beef broth. Bring to a boil on medium low heat and add oxtails.

If you have a pressure cooker add okra and cook for 45 minutes. If you have a Dutch oven pot you will cook the oxtails until fork tender for 2 1/2 to 3 hours and then add okra for another 30 minutes. Make sure you stir the meat occasionally so it won’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Serve with cooked white rice.

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Entree

Isleños Paella

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I love paella! Every year the Isleños of Louisiana celebrate their culture and food in St. Bernard Parish. I try to attend every year to eat fresh charbroiled oysters, empanadas, Isleños plantains with wrapped bacon and of course paella. My friends, Mike and Donna Martin who are in my cookbook invite me every year. They have the most amazing story of triumph, love and family. Their recipes, stories, history of the Isleños and how they came to Louisiana are shared in my cookbook New Orleans con Sabor Latino: The History and Passion of Latino Cooking.

Update: I added two sneak peak pictures of Mike and Donna Martin’s Isleños gulf fish served with roasted potatoes and the most amazing arroz con leche I have tried!

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Soup

L’Chaim Puerto Rican Matzo Ball Soup

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So I never told you my story and how I published my book did I? Well I was a summer intern at the Southern Food & Beverage Museum in New Orleans from the University of Toronto and going through a divorce. Imagínate! and I was doing research for some exhibits I was curating and after finally listening to that inner voice I made an observation. Why isn’t there any research on the culinary history of Latinos in New Orleans? They are here and New Orleans is right at the Gulf of México….hmmmm so my nerdy journey began. When I finally published the book my dad said call your Godfather and ask for advice. So he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse lol.

My Uncle Rich gave me the best advice on negotiating my first book contract and is currently helping me to schedule a book signing at Busboy & Poets in Washington D.C. and some extra events that I am excited about! So I am dedicating this recipe to my Jewish Godfather who loves Matzo Ball Soup! I love it too but who doesn’t?

Lagniappe: In Ecuador and Puerto Rico they make a Caldo de Bolitas de Platanos that is riquísimo! Thanks Uncle Rich for your advice and making phone calls to help me promote my book!

Ingredients:

4 green plantains (unripe)
1/2 cup of Sofrito (Pesto a lo Latino, will post recipe)
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 whole cut chicken in 1/4
1 tbs. of Tomato Paste
1 lb of medium peeled shrimp
1/2 cup of Annatto Seeds
Olive Oil
1tbs. of Adobo Seasoning
1tbs. of Cumin
1tbs. of Paprika
1 tsp. of Sea Salt
1 ripe avocado
4 limes

Preparation:

Season chicken with adobo seasoning, paprika and cumin. In a large stockpot, sauté 2 cloves of minced garlic, sofrito and 2 tbs. of olive oil. Add chicken and brown for 5 minutes. Cover chicken with water and boil on medium low heat.

Peel plantains and cut plantains in half. In a sauté pan fry plantains until golden brown. Set aside on a paper towel and put in a large mortar.

In the same oil, lower the heat and add annatto seeds. Cook for less than one minute until the oil turns red. Drain oil in a fine colander. Cool. Add 1/3 cup of the Annatto oil to the plantains and 2 minced garlic cloves. Season with adobo seasoning, salt, paprika and cumin. Mash plantains with a pestle or with hands. Roll plantain mixture into medium size balls. Set aside.

Re-season soup and add shrimp. Cook for another 5 minutes. Cut avocado into slices and limes into wedges. In each bowl, add 4 plantain balls and pour soup over the balls. Serve with avocado slices and lime. L’Chaim!

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Soup

I love Gumbo Z’Herbes!!

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I first had Gumbo Z’Herbes at the famous Dooky Chase Restaurant in New Orleans made by the culinary legend Leah Chase. I had the pleasure of working with Mrs. Chase when I curated an exhibit about her life, faith, family and career for the Southern Food & Beverage Museum. Mrs. Chase is now 91 years old and she is still a force to reckon with. If you are ever in New Orleans you must go to the Treme and try this mouthwatering Creole gumbo that is served on Holy Thursday before Good Friday. But of course you have to go to Mass first to confess all of your sins before Lent season! 😉

Now this is a very hearty gumbo filled with yummy greens. The recipe calls for 9 different greens to celebrate the 9 different churches visited during Jesus’ walk when he was crucified. Also, as many greens go in the gumbo so does the meat. Most Creoles use chaurice (creole sausage) and other pork meats to flavor the gumbo but for this recipe I substituted pork with smoked turkey tails. I love pork! But today I wanted something a little bit nicer to my waistline. I also put some Latino Who Dat Nation in the gumbo by adding culantro (stronger cilantro herb) and Navy beans based on my love for Cuban Caldo Gallego……Tomaaa!!!!

Ingredients:

1 bunch of collard greens
1 bunch of mustard greens
1bunch of turnip greens
1 bunch of culantro
1 bunch of kale
2 cups of chopped cabbage
1 bunch of Swiss chard
Top leafs of beets
6 stalks of green onions
2 lbs of smoked turkey tails
1 finely diced onion
1 finely diced bell pepper
1 finely diced celery stalk
1 stick of salted butter
1 cup of flour
1 chicken bouillon cube
2 cans of Navy beans (rinse canned liquid from the beans and drain)
Gumbo File for thickening

Preparation:

In a stock pot cover your smoked turkey tails with enough water to cover until tender. Boil on a medium low heat until tender. Once they are tender reserve the liquid and remove the turkey tails from the pot. Chop into small pieces and remove any bones. Put the chopped smoked turkey tails back into the pot.

Wash, drain and finely chop all greens and green onions. Add the greens to the pot and boil at a medium-low heat for 40 minutes.

Make a roux. Finely mince your onion, bell pepper and celery. Sauté in a small pan with a stick of salted butter until translucent. Add bouillon cube and fresh ground black pepper. Add flour and stir to make a blond roux. Add the roux to the gumbo and stir well. Add Navy beans and your bouillon cube. Cook for another 20 minutes. Serve with toasted baguettes and Gumbo File to thicken. Le Bon Temps Rouler a lo Latino!

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