Puerco Cubano

February 9th, 2013

You know those store-bought rice bowls in the prepared food aisles of the grocery store?  I hate them.  It seems to me that it is much easier to pull together a homemade version with less additives and less cost.   You can mix up all kinds of things with rice.  This Puerco Cubano is a good example.

I found this recipe in a book by Diane Mott Davidson called  Crunch Time.  She is the author of the Goldy Bear caterer mysteries.  Don’t know about you, but when I read a mystery I like it when the protagonist eats.  There is just so much of sleuthing, danger and mayhem that I can take before I am ready for my detective to retire to her or his lair for a little rejuvenation.  I relish those moments when a glass of wine is poured and water is brought to a boil for pasta,while cheese is grated and a salad is tossed.  These are moments of introspection for the sleuth.  A warm bed is waiting to lull the busy mind to rest and restore it to renewed vigor in the morning light.  So many thriller novels leave out the basics of life.  I’m sorry, but we all have to eat, bathe, sleep and use the bathroom.  It just makes me feel good when these incidents are included in a book, well maybe not the bathroom part.  Diane Mott Davidson does this  very well because her books are focused on food along with the mystery.  This makes me a happy reader.  In addition her recipes are included in the back of the book.


Puerco Cubano was meant as a quick comfort food in the book.  It was easy to prepare, using ground pork flavored with orange juice and lime juice.  It was served over simple cooked rice.  I like the idea of using fresh squeezed orange juice as the liquid in this dish.  Oranges are plentiful this time of year and, goodness knows, we all can use the hit of vitamin C in the winter.

This was a very satisfying meal.  Both easy and tasty.  You could add many things to the mix; black beans, avocados, green onions or pistachios.  I think it needed a little crunch.  Homemade rice bowls are flexible that way.


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 pound ground pork
2 tablespoons freshly minced or crushed garlic
2 teaspoons demi-glace de poulet or demi-glaze veau (chicken or veal demi-glace) I used a bouillon cube disolved in 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh or organic, not-from-concentrate lime juice
2 teaspoons (or more) granulated sugar
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a large (12-inch) nonstick saute’ pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the pork and the garlic, and cook, stirring and breaking up the pork, until the meat is just cooked. Add the demi-glace and stir well.

Add the flour, oregano, salt, and pepper, and cook stirring, until the flour is cooked and the mixture bubbles.

Stir in the juices and sugar and raise the heat to medium. Stir constantly until the mixture bubbles and is thickened. Taste and correct the seasoning.

Serve over hot cooked rice and sprinkled with cilantro.

Printable recipe


Pork Tacos with Spicy Black Beans and Pickled Onions

January 13th, 2013

While our family was visiting over the holidays my DIL Kristen made tacos for us one night.  She is a natural when it comes to flavorings and is especially fond of Mexican inspired dishes.  One of the condiments she made for us for her meal was pickled onions.  She marinated red onions in a combination of red wine vinegar, a little sugar and black peppercorns.  They make such a pretty addition to any number of dishes and look vibrant on tacos.

But the taco recipe I am using here is an adaptation of one that I saw in Food and Wine a long time ago.  It uses pork tenderloin which shreds nicely after only a short time in the oven.  It is flavored with lots of garlic, cumin, barbecue sauce and chicken broth.  The black beans make a flavorful topping and the red onions contribute their sweet and sour bite.  I wanted the tacos to look pretty and easy to pick up from a platter; perfect for those Super Bowl parties.  So I decided to form them into shapes by placing them in pieces of greased or sprayed foil.  About 10 minutes in the oven will ensure that they hold their shape, but will still be soft enough to eat.  Be sure you use a good quality corn tortilla.  I used Mission Artisan style Tortillas with Corn and Whole Wheat Blend.

When the taco shells are ready, you can either place just the meat in them and let everyone choose their own toppings, or go ahead and load them up with the onions, black beans, sour cream or any other condiment you wish.  We loved the flavor of these.  The barbecued pork makes them a little different.

I just remembered that I have some leftover pulled pork in the freezer from the holidays.  It would make a good alternative, although not as lean.  We are all about lean these days. Enjoy!  I am linking this to Tailgating Time-Super Bowl 2013 over at Seaside Simplicity.  Go on over and get some great ideas for the Super Bowl.



For the Pickled Red Onions:
1 large red onion
1/2 cup Red Wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
10 black peppercorns

In a small saucepan combine vinegar, water, sugar and peppercorns. Slice a peel red onion in half and then into strips.  Add to pan and bring mixture to boil.  Turn off burner and let onion sit in mixture for at least an hour.  Can be stored in a ball jar in the refrigerator until needed.

For the Black Beans:
2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic , minced
1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 tomato, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium skillet, heat the oil.  Add the onion, garlic and jalapeno and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 7 minutes.  Add the beans and the tomato, oregano and a little water to keep it moist.  Season with salt and pepper and simmer briefly until the ingredients are warmed through.

For the Pork:
1 pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin and fat. Cut in half
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup raspberry chipotle barbecue sauce or barbecue sauce of choice
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 habanero chile, seeded and minced (optional)
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

Corn tortillas and condiments of choice

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.  In a small enameled cast-iron casserole, combine the broth with the barbecue sauce, garlic, peppers, bay leaf, cumin and salt and pepper.  Bring to a simmer.  Add the pork tenderloin.  Cover and bake for about 1 hour, turning the pork once, until tender.  Transfer the pok to a plate and cover with plastic wrap until cool enough to handle.

Remove the bay leaf.  Shred the pork into strips and stir into the sauce.  Season with salt if needed.  Fill the tortillas with pork and serve with the black beans and red onions.

Printable recipe

Tortilla Pie

July 17th, 2012

I plan to continue my travel posts but decided to intersperse them with some recipes.  For you see, I am on a  mission.  We have a very busy Summer and Fall happening at the lake.  We have lots of company coming, including our large family for the Labor Day Weekend.  I am researching recipes that can be done ahead of time, can be frozen, are good in the crock pot, and just generally easy for me to prepare.  I am trying to eliminate chaos in the kitchen so that I can enjoy being with our guests as much as possible.

For an example, every Labor Day my DIL and I make BLTs for lunch.  When you have 14 plus people to feed that is a lot of bacon to fry, bread to toast and assembly to do.  This year I am making a big crock pot full of  pulled chicken with barbecue sauce.  Everyone can help themselves.  I will warm some buns and put out coleslaw and chips.  The  test chicken is in the crock pot right now.  I will post the recipe if it is a winner.

Another blogger is cooking for guests.  Mary of One Perfect Bite is visiting with her family which includes children.  This whole month she is featuring kid friendly, easy recipes to feed a crowd.  I have been following closely.  Mary always post great recipes.  This tortilla pie she featured on her blog is a winner.

This would make a great entree for the family coming with our Son and DIL later in September.  I can make several versions of the pie and pop them in the freezer.    This version is great with ground sirloin, corn, baby spinach and Monterey Jack cheese.   The Mom in the family is a vegetarian so I will make one of them with black beans instead of meat.   Served with sour cream, chopped tomatoes, shredded cheese and lettuce it will be easy to get on the table after a busy day on the lake.

Thanks for a great recipe Mary.

TORTILLA PIE (From One Perfect Bite inspired by Martha Stewart)

4 four tortillas (10-inch)
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for pan
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound ground beef sirloin
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 package (10 ounce) frozen corn kernels (shoepeg corn if possible)
1- 6 ounce package fresh baby spinach, torn into pieces
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey or Pepper Jack cheese
Fresh cilantro sprigs, for garnish (optional)
Sour cream (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Using a paring knife, trim tortillas to fit a 9-inch springform pan (use bottom of the pan as a guide).  For some reason my tortillas fit perfectly in the pan without trimming.  Lightly oil bottom and sides of pan.  Set aside.

2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion, cumin, and red pepper flakes; season with salt and pepper.  Cook until onion has softened, 3 to 5 minutes.  Stir in tomato paste.  Raise heat to medium-high; add beef and garlic.  Cook, breaking up meat with a spoon until no longer pink, 4 to 6 minutes.  Add corn and spinach; stir until spinach has wilted, about 2 minutes.

3. Place one tortilla in the prepared pan.  Spreading evenly, top with 1 1/2 packed cups beef mixture, then 1/2 cup cheese.  Repeat with two more layers.  Top with last tortilla, and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

4.  Bake pie until top is lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes.  Run knife around edge of pan; remove sides.  Using two wide metal spatulas, lift pie from bottom of pan, and transfer to a cutting board.  Cut into wedges.  If desired, serve with cilantro and sour cream.  Yield 4 to 5 servings.

Printable recipe

Albondigas Soup

December 12th, 2011

I have been on a quest for new soup ideas this Fall and Winter.  I did a Spanish Cocido here and a Tortilla Soup here.  Now I have tried an Albondigas soup.  It is a Mexican meatball soup.  Albondigas means meatballs in Spanish.  The meatballs can be made from  ground beef alone, a combination of ground beef and chorizo sausage, or in this case, ground beef and ground pork.   They have cooked rice and bread in them to stretch the portions.  According to some sources fresh mint is a necessary flavor in the soup.  The broth is made from chicken stock flavored with vegetables such as carrots, onions, zucchini and tomatoes.  It is a very satisfying combination.

Speaking of vegetables,  I am so happy to be in Florida right now.  I went to the Flagler Beach Farmers’ Market last Friday.  Here are some of the images.

Colorful Peppers.

Local Farmers.

Red Bell Peppers priced at 2 for $1.00.  I spent $10.00 total and came home with 2 peppers, 5 ears of corn, 1 head of lettuce, 1 pound of green beans, an acorn squash, 3 tomatoes, 2 zucchinis, 5 limes and 2 lemons. 

You can add any vegetables that you have to this soup, but in this case, I followed the recipe from My Recipes for Grandma Salazar’s Albondigas Soup.  My fennel breadsticks went very well with it.


1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup short-grain rice
Cooking spray
2 cups chopped onion, divided
1 1/4 cup white bread crumbed
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro, divided
1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 tespoon salt
1/2 pound lean ground pork
1/2 pound ground sirloin
2 large egg whites (or 1 whole egg)
1 cup chopped carrot
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup chopped seeded peeled tomato (or canned tomatoes, chopped)
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth  ( I used more )
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 cups chopped zucchini
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pour water over rice, and let stand 20 minutes.  Drain.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add 1/2 cup onion to pan; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

Place bread in a food processor; pulse until couarse crumbs form.  Measure out 1 1/4 cups.  Combine rice, cooked onion, breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup cilantro, oregano, and next 5 ingredients, stirring well.  Shape mixture into 29 (1 inch) meatballs.  Chill 20 minutes.

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add 10 meatballs, and cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides.  Remove meatballs from pan; drain well on paper towels.  Wipe drippings from pan with a paper towel.  Repeat procedure with cooking spray and remaining meatballs.  Return pan to heat.  Coat with cooking spray.  Add 1 1/2 cups onion, carrot and garlic to pan; saute 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Stir in tomato and broth, bring mixture to a boil.  Add meatballs and mint to pan.  Reduce heat, and simmer 35 minutes.  Add zucchini, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to pan.  Cook 10 minutes.  Garnish with cilantro.

Printable recipe

Taco Salad with a Difference

March 13th, 2010

This has got to be the most refreshing salad I have ever tasted. Most taco salads are loaded with fat from all the cheese and ground beef. There is no cheese in this salad and it calls for ground turkey instead of ground beef. To be honest with you, I can live without the cheese. I have never been a big cheese eater and most of the time I find myself in a distinct minority. In place of the cheese you have a wonderful yogurt dressing flavored with lime juice and cilantro. The salad is further enhanced with mango, black beans tomatoes and corn. Taco salads are usually served in a huge taco shell and although I love the taste of the shell it is usually way too much to eat. In this case, corn tortillas are cut into wedges and baked until crisp. They give just the right amount of bite to the dish.

The only complaint I got about the dish from David was that he would have preferred it for a lunch instead of Friday night dinner. He is kind of like Ina Garten’s Jeffery; Friday night dinner should be a roast chicken or some other special treat. He is getting his roast chicken tonight.

I found this recipe in The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook; The New Classics. The cookbook was $6.99 at T.J. Maxx. I’m glad I found the cookbook and the recipe. It is a keeper and I will definitely be making it often for lunch and light suppers . . . just not on Fridays.


1 cup of frozen corn, cooked
3 corn tortillas, each cut into 16 wedges
3/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
2 limes and their zests
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped and seeded jalapeno pepper
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 pound ground turkey
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 head of iceberg lettuce, torn into 2 inch pieces (about 3 cups)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 plum tomatoes, cut into 1/2 thick wedges
1/2 red onion, sliced ( I put the slices in ice water for a while to eliminate the strong onion taste)
1 mango, peeled, seeded, and cut into cubes

Cook the frozen corn in a small saucepan with a little water until done. Drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the tortilla wedges in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until crisp, turning once about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven; let cool, and set aside.

Make the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, juice from 1 lime, zest of 1 lime, cilantro, jalapeno, and salt. Set aside.

In a medium nonstick skillet, brown the turkey over medium heat, stirring frequently, until no longer pink, about 7 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, juice of other lime, and lime zest. I added a little salsa just to keep it moist.

Transfer the mixture to a large serving bowl. Add the lettuce, beans, tomatoes, onion, mango, and reserved corn. Toss to combine well. Drizzle with yogurt dressing and top with tortilla wedges. Serve immediately.

Serves 6. 233 calories. 4 Weight watchers points.

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.