Friday, June 18, 2010

ricky ricardo, eat your heart out!

Cuban Black Beans!
Just a splash of vinegar and a touch of sugar
make these a lively and festive
alternative to baked beans.
Beans are among my favorite foods of all; never met a bean that I didn't like. I especially love black beans, particularly in this Cuban Black Beans recipe. Like all beans, these are perfect with rice (I like to make a saffron and garlic rice) and I admit, I even like these served cold! Cuban Black Beans make a perfect picnic or party dish and they're so healthy, too; high in protein and fiber and low in fat.

You can start out with dried beans and perform a quick-soak to reconstitute them: boil for 10 minutes, change water and let sit for another hour; drain and use. Or you can use canned beans (which, honestly, I do a lot in the summer to avoid heating up the house with long cooking times). Either way, the beans will come out beautifully! (The "shortcut" version using canned beans is what will be featured today.)


  • Two 14 ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, chopped (I often use yellow, orange or red peppers just for a little color pizazz)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • One 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained (a little liquid is okay)
  • One 2-ounce jar diced pimentos
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Lots and lots of black pepper
  • Salt to taste
In a large saucepan, saute onion, bell pepper and garlic together in the olive oil, until tender. Gently stir in beans, tomatoes, pimentos, vinegar, sugar and pepper. Add a small amount of water to ensure that beans do not burn. Reduce heat and cover pan; heat gently for at least 30 minutes. Salt to taste.

(If using dried beans, prepare this recipe with 8 ounces of dried beans, reconstituted, and add 2-1/2 cups of water. Cook for 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until tender.)

Yield depends on whether Cuban Black Beans are served as the main dish, or as a side. Generally, this serves about 6.

Friday, June 4, 2010

fins to the left, fins to the right!

Fast, Fresh and Easy
Grilled Grouper Tacos!
I thought that "fish tacos" were a fast food restaurant invention... fried fish and some kind of mayonnaise-based slaw and ummmmm, "hey, let's put it in a tortilla instead of a sesame seed bun!" But I discovered that they have been around a long time; presumably for thousands of years as fishermen cooked their catch and ate it in a tortilla-like roll. In "recorded history" the fish taco became popular in Mexico in the 1950s; both Ensenada and San Felipe claim to be the home of the finned wonders. Through the years, the fish tacos have evolved from fried fish in a corn tortilla, to all sorts of variations including grilled, which I experimented with in the Lonesome Road Kitchen.
I loosely followed a couple of recipes in cookbooks and online recipe boards, and came up with this recipe, which I think is pretty awesome!
I chose to use Tumaro's Healthy 8" Jalapeno and Cilantro Flour Tortillas (I love the Garden Spinach and Vegetables variety also). The fish I chose was grouper; nice firm whitefish without a "fishy" taste. I simply brushed a bit of olive oil on the grouper fillets, sprinkled with a bit of garlic salt and chili powder. A couple of quick flips on the grill and it was perfectly cooked in about ten minutes. Use one fillet per taco and figure on one or even two tacos per person.
Typically fish tacos are accompanied by a shredded cabbage slaw or lettuce salad. This was the fun part, experimenting with flavors and textures. I started the slaw a couple of hours before grilling the fish (so the flavors would blend well) and began with:
  • a little more than two cups of shredded cabbage (cole slaw mix is fine)
and added
  • eight cherry tomatoes, seeded and quartered;
  • six pickled jalapeno slices, chopped;
  • 3 slices red onion, diced;
  • one green onion, sliced white and part of the green
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
The slaw is simply dressed with
  • the juice of two limes
  • three teaspoons of the jalapeno pickling juice.

Toss with the prepared vegetables; add salt to taste if you wish and chill for a while in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to blend.

For each taco, you may either chop up the grilled fish slightly and serve loosely, or serve fillets in one piece in a tortilla. Top with the tangy, crunchy slaw . I also like to add chopped avocado. The combination of the hot, smokey-grilled fish and the cold, crisp slaw is irresistible and it makes the perfect quick and healthy summer dinner al fresco with an ice-cold cerveza or of course, a frozen margarita.


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