Showing posts with label Cuban. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cuban. Show all posts

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Cuban Chicken Pie with Corn Crust

Cuban Chicken Pie with Corn Crust
Cuban Chicken Pie with Corn Crust

Lance is one of those rare individuals who does not like meat pies. I blame the horrible, gristle-filled soggy-pastried reheated things that often passed for pies when we were younger. But it’s something he’s carried with him in life and now he doesn’t like pies. He’ll quite happily eat fresh homemade pies with their delicious chunks of meat and flaky buttery pastry if we have dinner at someone elses’ house and that’s what is served, but he still ‘doesn’t like pies’. So I don’t cook pie. Except the other day, I cooked this pie.

So, how do you cook a pie for someone who doesn’t like pie? Step one. Don’t tell them you’re making pie. Step two. Make this pie.

This isn’t a pie in a traditional sense, as the ‘pastry’ contains no flour and isn’t really ‘pastry’ as we know it. So before you start imagining said buttery flaky goodness…stop. Instead, the ‘pastry’ part of this pie is made out of corn puree. When I read this recipe, I knew it was something I wanted to try. I love corn and was so intrigued by how this would turn out, that I made it a few days later. This is from one of my swag of Christmas cookbooks A Taste of Old Cuba, a book chosen to satisfy my obsession with Cuban food which is somewhat hard to indulge out in Perth. The filling is a chicken and tomato base, with flavours rounded out by the briny deliciousness of olives and capers, and the sweetness of prunes. I changed a few things in the making of it, but just barely.

The end result was remarkable. The ‘pastry’ puffs nicely in an almost cake-y way, with the delicious sweetness of corn and a sort of crisp top layer. The flavours of the filling are all perfectly balanced and so entirely comforting.

Cuban Chicken Pie with Corn Crust
Cuban Chicken Pie with Corn Crust
Cuban Chicken Pie with Corn Crust
Cuban Chicken Pie with Corn Crust
Cuban Chicken Pie with Corn Crust
Cuban Chicken Pie with Corn Crust
Cuban Chicken Pie with Corn Crust
Cuban Chicken Pie with Corn Crust
Cuban Chicken Pie with Corn Crust
Cuban Chicken Pie with Corn Crust

 Cuban Chicken Pie

(barely adapted from A Taste of Old Cuba)
4 cups corn kernels, (if using frozen, thaw in a colander and pat dry with paper towel)
8 tbsps butter (plus extra for greasing pie dish)
1 tbsp sugar
3 tsps salt
½ cup hot water
12 pitted prunes, cut into quarters
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1brown onion, diced
3 cups crushed tomatoes
1 tsp pepper
3 cups shredded cooked chicken
½ cup pimento stuffed olives, sliced
1 tbsp capers
4 egg yolks
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced
¼ cup slivered almonds

Puree corn kernels until smooth in a blender or food processor. Melt the butter in a large frypan over medium heat. Add the corn puree, sugar and 1 tsp of the salt. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 15 minutes or so, until the corn thickens, and pulls away easily from the pan, similar to the way it does when you cook polenta. Set it aside to cool.

Soak the prunes in the hot water for 15 minutes.

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium and cook the onion in the remaining 2 tsps salt until soft and translucent, 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, pepper, chicken, olives and capers and the prunes and their soaking liquid. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring to combine everything fully. Turn off the heat.

Preheat your oven to 170C. Grease a casserole dish with butter.

Spread just over half of the corn mixture on the bottom of the casserole dish, spreading evenly across the bottom and up the sides. Very gently pour the chicken mixture on top, then lay the boiled egg slices on top. Spread the remaining corn mixture over the top and smooth.

 Bake for 45 minutes, the top should be crisp and brown. Sprinkle the almonds on top and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the almonds are toasted.
Cuban Chicken Pie with Corn Crust
Cuban Chicken Pie with Corn Crust
Cuban Chicken Pie with Corn Crust
Cuban Chicken Pie with Corn Crust
Cuban Chicken Pie with Corn Crust
Cuban Chicken Pie with Corn Crust

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Fusion Food - Curried Mango and Black bean Pizzarepa.

Ok, let me preface this post by saying I know this whole thing sounds weird. Even when I was putting this dish together in my mind, I wasn’t 100% sure it was going to work. But it does. The original idea was born out of two things; one, what weird random things are left in the fridge (remedied this weekend gone after a hugely successful visit to the farmer’s markets). And two, Lance making an offhand comment that he thought I would’ve made something a bit more interesting with a few of the mangoes from our tree, like a curry. This was after about a week of mango salsa and tacos. So in my mind I’m picking up and rejecting ingredients and flavours and just the general ‘idea’ of what to cook for dinner. And I came up with this. So a Mexican-Cuban-Indian-Italian pizza. Fusion food at it’s most-fused!

I somehow settled on wanting pizzas. But I didn’t have any pizza bases, or Lebanese breads with which to make them. So I immediately went to making my own. But a lot of recipes for pizza dough are yeast driven, and I didn’t want to wait for it to proof. When I thought of arepas. These are flat breads made out of cornflour the same kind as you use for tortillas. I also remembered the half tin of black beans I had in the fridge leftover from tacos a few nights earlier. Add a little mango, a little curry powder (I went the lazy route and used a pre-made curry powder blend – feel free to mix your own). A little cayenne for an extra kick, then grilled chicken, sliced mushrooms and some cheddar cheese. The black beans I used were actually pre-seasoned frijoles, so in the recipe I’ve just put salt to taste for if you use plain cooked black beans which are so much easier to come across in Perth. And the saltiness also depends on what is in your curry powder, if you use a pre-made mix.

This sauce made more than required for the pizzas.

(makes 2 individual size pizzas)
1 cup corn flour (masa lista)
1 cup warm water
¼ tsp salt
oil to fry

Curried Mango and Black Bean Sauce
½ tin black beans
1 mango
3 tbs curry powder
¼ tsp ginger
½ tsp cayenne
¼ tsp turmeric
Salt to taste

2 mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 chicken thigh, grilled, then sliced
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
Baby kale leaves, olive oil and lemon juice to serve

Mix all of the arepa ingredients together, knead until a smooth dough forms, the set aside for 15 minutes.

Mash the black beans and mango together in a bowl until completely combined, add the curry powder, extra ginger, cayenne and turmeric then check for seasoning. Salt if needed, or add more cayenne or spice if desired.

Preheat the oven to 180C

Heat a tbsp of oil in a frypan to medium-hot. Divide the arepa dough into two, and roll each into a ball. Place between two sheets of baking paper and roll out to form a disc just under 1cm thick.

Carefully place into the hot pan, cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden on that side. Flip over and sprinkle arepa with black pepper. Cook for a further 3 minutes or until golden.

Slide onto a lined baking tray and repeat for the second arepa.

Spoon and spread the curried mango and black bean sauce, then layer the ingredients and sprinkle cheese on top. Pop in the oven for 15 minutes or until cheese is golden and melted.

Serve topped with baby kale leaves, a drizzle of olive oil and a wedge of lemon for squeezing.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Year's Easy Feast - Roasted Corn and Cashew Crema

Happy New Year Everyone!

I know, I know, I’m a little bit late. But better late than never! My husband doesn’t get much time off over the Christmas period. In fact, apart from Christmas Day, he doesn’t get any extra days. Which means that when the rest of the world has January 1st to recover from the revelry of New Year’s Eve – he has to get up and go to work. Because of this, we have started the tradition of New Year’s Eve Eves – on the Saturday before December 31st. Our actual NYE then can be a bit lower-key. But just because we aren’t partying, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t eat extremely well.

What does sort of prevent the good eating is that I’m not at work and therefore often have daytime plans. This year, I went with a few friends to watch Hopman Cup tennis, because I was lucky enough to score a few tickets in my company’s Corporate Suite. VIP, baby! This is where the slow cooker comes in handy. Before I left for the tennis, I put a pork leg in the slow cooker, so that when I came home I just had to shred it and we had Puerco Pibil. It is just this recipe here, but I used pork instead of the beef. And excitingly, I got a spice grinder for Christmas, so my spices were perfectly ground without slaving away with a mortar and pestle for ages (including annatto seeds this time!! I found some!). It was such an enticing smell to come home to!
Given that it's summer and also corn season, I decided to make a roast corn and cashew crema to go with it. Lance and I had a similar sauce in some pulled pork arepas at a restaurant in Atlantic City and it was so heavenly, we ordered a second lot! We spent the second round trying to break down the flavours we were tasting. It's creamy and rich, with a subtle nuttiness and just the perfect addition to the spice and salt of the pork. I was also a bit lazy in that I used my stick blender instead of my food processor, so it wasn't as smooth as it possibly should be.

Instead of the arepas which are time consuming, I simply grated a large sweet potato in the food processor, then fried it in a little of the pork fat that had rendered out until it was soft and crispy hash.
This also makes a delicious dip! You can even add a few tablespoons of greek yoghurt to make it smoother. And it was amazing with more pork pibil in tacos the next day, too.

Roasted Corn and Cashew Crema
kernels from 2 corn cobs (or about 1 cup frozen kernels)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
3/4 cup cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours.
30-60mL room temperature water
Heat a frypan up to medium heat and add the cumin seeds. Dry toast for a few seconds until fragrant and then put in the base of a food processor. Pulse to roughly chop
In the same frypan, add the corn kernels and toast for 10-15 minutes until brown patches start appearing and there's a distinct toasted corn smell about the pan. Take off the heat.
Rinse and drain the cashews, and add them, the toasted corn and the salt to food processor and then run until it becomes a smooth creamy looking mix. Add 30mL of water to loosen and make more sauce-like in it's consistency. I needed 60mL (two shots) to get the consistency I wanted.

And a few of our NYEEE backyard party shots. Looking forward to what 2014 brings!


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Recreating Deliciousness - Coppelia Calamari with Tamarind Dressing

On my recent holiday, I ate a lot of Cuban. A lot. It started at Bar Pulpo at the Melbourne Airport. And it was good. So rare to get good food at an airport! But I was really impressed. It made the 5 hour plane delay bearable! Then in the states, I went to a restaurant in New York that was recommended to me - Coppelia. And even though it's been two or so months since I've been there, I still consider it one of my favourite restaurants. It's a funky Latin diner style restaurant with ridiculously good, well-priced food. We went to another 4 Cuban restaurants in our trip and loved every single dish. So I came back and wishlisted a few Cuban cooking books on bookdepository (but if you have any recommendations for other good Latin and Cuban cookbooks to add to the list, I'd love to hear). So you can look forward to Skamp's versions of other Latin dishes!
Lance and I both fell in love with Coppelia's blue cornmeal crusted calamari with tamarind vinaigrette. We are haunted by it, so I am trying to create an "at-home" version. We don't get plantains in WA (or if you know of a place they're available, please, please, please let me know!!!) so I substituted bananas. Here's a photo of their version:

I couldn't find blue cornmeal, but I already had some blue corn flour (blue masa), which I used for the flour for the dusting as well as in the coating cornmeal. I get mine from one of my favourite shops in Perth - Kakulas. Using masa for the whole dish makes it naturally gluten free, if that's an issue for you.
To make the tamarind dressing, firstly you have to make tamarind syrup. There's a recipe here on my Kale Tamarind Salad recipe. You'll see in the pictures of my version, that it wasn't nearly saucy enough compared to theirs. When I heated the sauce, it reduced right down, so this recipe is double.

My verdict on it's similarity? Well, it's not quite the same, but it's still delicious. But my memory might also be failing me. I think the best thing to do would be to go back to New York to re-acquaint myself with the original!
200g squid rings
1 cup rice bran oil for frying
2 firm but ripe bananas, cut into 3cm chunks

Flour mix
1/4 cup blue corn flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

2 beaten eggs

Cornmeal mix
1/4 cup blue corn flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp ancho chilli powder
1/2 tsp chipotle chilli powder

Tamarind Dressing
16 tbsp tamarind syrup
8 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp cachaca
salt & pepper to taste

Have the flour mix, egg wash and cornmeal mix in three separate bowls, ready to go. Then an empty plate for the coated ring.

Dip each calamari ring in flour mix, shake to remove excess. Then the egg wash, shake to remove excess. Lastly coat with the cornmeal mix. Then coat the banana pieces in the same way.

Heat the rice bran oil in a wok or frypan - enough to create a shallow layer. Carefully splash a drop of water into the hot oil. If it sizzles, it's hot enough. Without crowding the pan, fry the calamari rings a few at a time, allowing to crispen and darken before turning over. It'll take a few minutes per side.

Place on paper towel lined plate and keep warm. Repeat with all rings until they're all cooked, then do the banana pieces, cooking each side until crispy.

In a separate pan, add all of the dressing ingredients and heat the pan to medium. Stir as it cooks for a minute or two until it reduces into a sticky sauce. carefully put the calamari and bananas in the sauce and stir to coat. Plate up, the drizzle the remaining sauce over the top.

Served here with a bean sprout, coriander, ginger and peanut salad.