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Archive for the ‘Beef’ Category

As I have mentioned before, lasagnas are great alternatives for boat and fishing trips.  Last week, it was Club Nautico de San Juan‘s International Billfish Tournament, the longest consecutive fishing tournament in the world (57 years).  Anglers from all over the world come to Puerto Rico to this tag-and-release tournament and its a week full of action, fun and camaraderie. My husband Emilio has been involved in this tournament for over 20 years and is currently a board member.  Actually, I met him during the week of a tournament in August 1997 and we were married by June 1998.  So, I have been a “fishing widow” ever since…Ja!, although I join him fishing once in I while, like I did for Club Deportivo de Mayaguez’s Blue Marlin Tournament in the western part of the island, where I witnessed the most beautiful sunsets in my life and placed 1st in the women’s division and 3rd overall (among 500 fishermen, not bad!!)

This is me fishing at Club Deportivo de Mayaguez Blue Marlin Tournament October 2009

The week of the tournament is filled with fun events like the flag ceremony, excursions for the wives of the anglers, fashion shows, the Billfish Foundation’s Auction and of course the themed party.  This year the theme was Disco Night and I must tell you it has been the best party at the tournament yet!  Some members of the board along with other volunteers did a choreography to Dancing Queen and Fever Night mix which turned out to be spectacular and got everyone in dancing mode! There were also Donna Summer and Boy George impersonators.

The Marlin Dancers (I am the 6th one from the left)

Fishing goes on for 4 days with a rest day in between.  Emilio was assigned to bring lunch for two of the four days of fishing, so for one day I sent my Meat Lasagna with green salad and Amarillos en Almíbar (sweet plantains sauted in butter, brown sugar and cinnamon).  The boys (Frankie, Joe, Emilio and Ricky) loved it and left nothing on the plate!  To comply to their requests, I am posting this recipe today.  Here is my version of Meat Lasagna.

Enjoy!

Meat Lasagna

Ingredients

Picadillo Recipe

Basic Tomato Sauce Recipe (yields 3 cups)

8 ounces ricotta cheese or mascarpone

about 15 pieces of lasagna strips

12 fresh basil leaves coarsely chopped

4 cups of shredded mozzarella

Procedure


top layer has tomato sauce, cheese and basil only


1.  In a 13×9 baking dish, place one layer of lasagna strips. (I use the oven ready strips which do not need to be boiled but you may also use the traditional boiled ones.)  Spread 4 ounces of cheese, half of the picadillo-ground beef recipe (remove excess fat and liquid), 1 cup of basic tomato sauce and 1 cup of shredded mozzarella.  Cover again with lasagna strips and repeat procedure.  Place third layer of lasagna strips and cover with remaining cup of tomato sauce, chopped fresh basil and remaining mozzarella. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes at 390ºF. Uncover and broil until cheese on top is golden (about 7-10 minutes).  Serve with garlic bread, amarillos en almíbar, white rice or salad.

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Argentinian Empanadas are filled dumplings or turnovers made of wheat flour and lard  that can be fried or baked. I have found a brand of dough that has both options called Fargo.  Fillings vary from region to region and they may include sauteed and cubed churrasco, cheese, ground beef, chorizo, fish or spinach among others.   They are very similar to Puertorican “empanadillas” or “pastelillos” which are always fried.  Here I am including two versions: 1. cheese with sweet onion and 2. beef.  The cheese with sweet onions takes a little time to make the filling but its worth it because they turn out so good. Be generous with the cheese.  I have read that in order for the empanadas not to open while they are being baked, besides closing them properly, is to cook them cold, as from the refrigerator. The beef empanadas are made of picadillo with raisins and you will probably have left overs when you fill the 16 dough disks that come in the package.  The left overs can be used for more empanadas or serve as a side dish to white or brown rice. I personally don’t like to add the hard boiled eggs, but I know a lot of people that love it, so thats why I include it as optional.  Empanadas are great appetizers or snacks. Here is my version of Empanada Argentina.

Enjoy!

Cheese and Onion Empanada

Ingredients

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 large vidalia or sweet onion

2 cups shredded mozzarella

1 tbsp dry marsala wine

1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar

1 tbsp finely chopped parsley

16 empanada/turnover dough disks for oven (5 inches in diameter) I use Fargo brand

1 egg (beaten for egg wash)

Procedure

1. Pre-heat oven 400º F. (or follow turnovers dough manufacturer instructions)

2.  Cut onion in half and thinly slice it. Cut slices in half.

3.  In a small frying pan, heat extra-virgin olive oil (medium) and sauté onions with salt and pepper to taste. Once they start to become translucent, add Marsala wine and sugar and continue to saute until liquid is reduced and almost gone. Set aside and let cool.

4.  Place about 1 tbsp of onion, a little over 1 tbsp of shredded mozzarella cheese and sprinkle of parsley in middle of empanada dough disc.

5.  Close empanada to form a half moon bringing sides up and pressing with your fingers to crumple from the outside in, like a hobo bag or to form “pleats”.  Another way to close empanada is to lay half moon flat and by pressing with a fork.

6.  Place empanadas in a jelly roll pan that has been greased with a little of olive oil. I have an olive oil sprayer.  Place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.

7.  Just before placing in the oven, apply the egg wash and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Beef Empanada

Ingredients

Picadillo recipe

1/2 cup of raisins

optional: 2 hard boiled eggs finely chopped

Procedure

1.  Make picadillo with raisins.  When done, mix in finely chopped hard boiled eggs.  Let cool picadillo mixture and start to fill empanadas.

2.  Follow steps 5, 6 and 7 from Cheese and sweet onion empanada recipe.

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This is my 50th posting, so I have decided to take this opportunity to start a series of “guest appearances” in my blog with my husband’s Prime Rib recipe.

A few weeks ago, my youngest brother Manolo surprised us with the news that he was engaged to be married.  My parents invited Janitza’s immediate family over for dinner to celebrate the occasion.  My mother asked Emilio and I to prepare an informal meal for their guests. Emilio immediately suggested that the main course be his version of prime rib because it can be made with very little effort and would give us a chance to spend some time with the guests instead of being sequestered in the kitchen.  All you need is an oven and a thermometer.  He feels very confident making this cut of meat since he has been preparing it for many years influenced first by his foodie friend Carlos as well as the guidelines in Dean and Deluca’s Cookbook, which I bought over 15 years ago.  This cookbook is amazing and one of our favorites!  It is 535 pages of recipes, history and cooking tips (but no pictures or illustrations).

Prime Rib gets its name because it is a “primal” cut, that is, one whole natural section of the steer.  In this whole section there are 7 ribs in total (Standing rib roast), but any smaller portion of this cut is still called a Prime Rib.  Emilio uses a digital thermometer to keep track of the meat’s doneness, but you may also use the quick read traditional ones.    Many times he uses a boneless cut. The meat of Prime Rib is very flavorful so all Emilio uses is coarse grain sea salt, pepper and fresh thyme to season it (he uses whole sprigs and then removes the sticks when done, but you can also use dried leaves). He even makes this dish on fishing trips since our boat has a small but potent oven.  The smell of this roast is succulent and inviting and fishermen from other boats gravitate towards ours for a taste.

According to the advice of Mr. Rosengarten, Mr. Dean, Mr. DeLuca AND Mr. Emilio ,  the best way to cook a prime rib is as follows:

1.  Bring prime ribs to room temperature (about 1 1/2 hours out of the refrigerator).

2.  Preheat oven at 275º F.  These guidelines are ideal for a medium to large 5-7 rib roast. Some recipes will favor a higher temperature, but cooking at lower temperature you will get evenness of color from outside to center when you cut it. You will get that desired savory, crunchy, brown crust.(smaller cuts need another set of rules)

3.  Remove some of the excess fat in the Prime Rib and place in rack of a roasting pan fatty side up (Emilio takes away excess fat and only leaves a fine lining of fat in the top). Place digital thermometer at this time.

this is the largest prime rib emilio has cooked. boneless

4.  Season Prime Rib with coarse sea salt (encrust it with your hands on the meat), fresh ground pepper and generously cover with fresh thyme leaves.

5. Instructions for quick read thermometers:

For a rare meat roast, calculate about 20 minutes per pound.  When you are about half an hour of your estimated finishing time, remove roasting pan from oven and insert a quick read thermometer into a fleshy part of the meat near the center (not near bone). Then follow to steps 6, 7 and 8.

6.  Instructions for digital thermometer:

For an extremely rare meat outcome, stop cooking once it has reached 115ºF.  For  rare meat, stop cooking at 120º and for medium-rare at 125º.

7.  Place roast in cutting board and let rest for about 15 minutes.  The roast will continue to cook outside oven going up 5-10 degrees.

8.  When ready to serve,  if your cut has bones, cut the meat away from bone in one huge chunk.  Then cut the filet of meat into approximately 1 inch slices to serve immediately.  Cut through the bones and serve them separately. Accompany with rice or your favorite style potatoes.

Note:  Cut into small pieces to eat and chew!!!! to prevent choking.

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In many cultures around the world it is said that to get to a man’s heart you first have to get to his stomach, so when I got married 12 years ago I set a goal for myself to learn to cook cuban food like a cuban. My husband Emilio is the son of cuban immigrants that moved to Puerto Rico in the late 1960’s.  Puerto Rican and Cuban food have many similarities since they are both a fusion of mainly Spanish and African influences along with the ingredients the tropical climate of the Caribbean region has to offer.  However, the cuban staple dish of white rice (long grain), black beans, breaded beefsteak (carne empanada) and yuca al mojo (boiled yuca with a dressing made of garlic, onions, oil and lime juice) is different form the Puerto Rican staple dish of white rice (medium grain), red beans, sauted beefsteak with onions and tostones (fried green plantains).  Probably these differences come from availability of the products or varying tastes from immigrants from different regions, but in order to impress my husband with the food he grew up with I had to give it try.

Of course, the first step was getting a cuban cooking cookbook.  My mother in law, Doña Martha gave me Nitza Villapol’s Cocina Criolla (not to be confused with Puerto Rico’s Mrs. Carmen Valdejully Cocina Criolla).  In this book, which has no pictures and is printed in old fashioned type writer font, I have found all of the recipes that are trademarks of cuban cuisine and more.  This book along with cooking tips from dear cuban family and friends like Doña Martha, Nene, Lilly, and of course Emilio, have been the wind beneath my wings to discover the pleasures and savour of cuban cuisine.  Arroz con leche, frijoles negros, yuca al mojo, arroz con pollo, maduros, ropa vieja, picadillo, carne empanada, mojito, congri and cafe batido have become part of my recipe repertoire and in my family’s dinner table for many years.  I must mention  there is another version of cuban picadillo which has raisins and or cubed potatoes if you like it.  It is also delicious!

Picadillo, which means to cut or mince in spanish, is the best way to make ground beef in my opinion.  As I have mentioned before in other blog posts, I don’t eat a lot of meat but I like to make Picadillo with organic ground beef and use as a filling for tacos, burritos, empanadillas, empanada gallega, relleno de papa (potato fritters filled with ground beef), pastelón, lasagna, alcapurrias, ravioli, Bolognese Sauce or just as a side dish with white rice.  Some people like to add Bijol powder or annato oil to give it more color but I don’t think its necessary. This recipe makes a large amount because it is generous enough to make a meat lasagna but if I only need half of it I have the option of freezing it or using it as a filling for argentinian oven empanadillas (which can also be frozen once assembled) or whatever dish comes to my mind.  I also use it for my mother’s recipe of one-pot-spaghetti in which the pasta is cooked in the meat sauce. Super delicious!  Here is my version of Picadillo.

Buen provecho!

Picadillo (cuban style ground beef)

Ingredients

1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil

1 cup of yellow onion finely chopped

1/2 cup of green cubanel pepper (pimiento de cocinar)

3 cloves of garlic minced

2 pounds approximately of organic ground beef (lean)

8 oz. tomato sauce

2 tsp fine sea salt

1  tsp homemade adobo (if you don’t have then use salt with a pinch of cumin)

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp dried thyme

2 recaito “ice cubes” = 3 tbsps

4 dried bay leaves

3 tbsp “alcaparrado” (mixture of capers and manzanilla olives)  or just manzanilla olives

1/4  cup dry white wine

Procedure

1.  In a heavy bottom sauce pan heat oil (med or med-low depending on your stove) and add onions, cubanel pepper and garlic.  Saute for about 5 minutes until transluscent (not browned or burned).

2.  Add rest of ingredients, except ground beef, and let simmer to make “sofrito”.  Stir occasionally.

3.  Add ground beef.  Mix well and cook uncovered for approximately 20 minutes stirring frequently so that the beef doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.  Take out excess fat with spoon.

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