Cuban Recipes | EvinOK

Muy Saborosa Cuban Cuisine

As I started to brainstorm topics for this column, I was visiting my parents. Once my mom learned that I had not yet decided on a topic, her trademark grin spread across her face. Enthusiastically, she said, “You never write about ethnic cuisine. Can I show you how I make Cuban food? It would be muy saborosa.” How could I refuse the chance?! My mother lived in south Florida during the 1960s, when more than 14,000 children were exiled to America from Cuba through operation Pedro Pan. She made many new friends and learned to speak Spanish with a Cuban accent. She also learned to appreciate Cuban cooking and prepare it herself. What appeals to me most about Cuban dishes is that they are flavorful, but not necessarily spicy. This column features my mother’s recipes for Picadillo and Tropical Salad. Picadillo is a comforting meat dish with sweet and savory flavors bursting from each bite. Her Tropical Salad seemed like an odd combination to me at first, but is refreshing and cool. If you are interested in learning more about Miami-Cuban life and cuisine, my mother raves about these books: Waiting for Snow in Havana by Carlos Eire, Memories of a Cuban Kitchen by Mary Urrutia Randelman, and Miami Spice by Steven Raichlen.
Guacamole atop tortilla chips

South of the Border Cuisine for Cinco de Mayo

Delicious Mexican cuisine helps make any meal feel like a fiesta. This week, however, we are focusing on a specific cause to celebrate --- the Mexican holiday, Cinco de Mayo. On May 5, 1862, Mexican soldiers won a pivotal battle and they’ve been honoring the day ever since. Bring flavors from south of the border into your own home with this week’s three recipes. Tyler’s Guacamole is a perfect example of a healthy food that tastes decadent. Tyler has spent years perfecting his cooking skills and enjoyed countless trips to Mexico to taste authentic cuisine. This now benefits you since he’s generously sharing his avocado secrets. You may double-check your kitchen for a gourmet chef after making my Fiesta Enchiladas. The recipe is inspired by traditional Mexican enchiladas, but with a bit of American convenience. You can make six large or 12 small enchiladas, but keep in mind that this dish is so delicious you might want to accommodate guests wanting second servings. Balance out the tangy and spicy flavors of the previous two dishes with the rich sweetness of Mexican Hot Cocoa. The Aztec and Mayan chocolate included spicy peppers to balance the flavors. Traditionally, the cocoa and other ingredients are used to create a paste, but my recipe has everything warming up on the stovetop with the milk included. It smells so good and offers instant gratification! I lost count of the number of tortilla chips I ate in the process of developing and testing these recipes, but my hips have not. Celebrate Mexican cuisine every day with these sweet, spicy south of the border treats.
Strawberry Salad | EvinOK

So Berry Good! Strawberry Adventures in Your Kitchen

Today marks the start of the 64th Annual West Virginia Strawberry Festival. So, when you are not having strawberry adventures on “Strawberry Lane” you can have them in your very own kitchen. After all, the festival only lasts for five sweet days, but the berries can be enjoyed for much longer. Conor (my fiancé) and I grow strawberries in our garden, which makes us choosy about how we use our berries. Provided, we grow two different kinds so some are small and others are like those in the grocery market. The smaller ones don’t lend as much visual punch to recipes, but work well if you use enough of them. The three recipes for this week have larger berries in mind. Each of these recipes is a good addition to any dinner, but they also transport well so spoil yourself and include them in your brown bag lunch next time you need something fun in the middle of the work day. Maureen’s Strawberry Green Salad has the unique distinction of being as quick to prepare as it is to devour. It brings new simplicity to making your own fresh salad dressing. You can almost picture high tea when you taste the Creamy Strawberry Pecan Spread on a warm biscuit. This recipe also works with frozen strawberries in a pinch. I couldn’t be happier with the Mascarpone & Strawberry Tart. This recipe is the result of my desire to combine the delicate texture of a tart with the comforting nature of pie. The result is perfection – or so Conor exclaimed after tasting a bite. I hope that you agree when you try these recipes when you have your own strawberry adventure.
Fettucine Alfredo | EvinOK

Pasta Sauces Without Tomatoes

There are few things more delicious than mom's spaghetti and meatballs, but sometimes tomatoes aren't what you're craving. This week's recipes are pasta sauces that are deliciously free of tomatoes. So, wear your favorite white shirt and dig in! The Chicken Soup Sauce is one of my favorites. It evolved as I tried to duplicate a taste I enjoyed in a restaurant a decade ago. I never did achieve the same flavors as I remember, but this came from my playing in the kitchen. If you are serving chicken or want to bring a bit of elegant to noodles, try the vegetarian Artichoke & Wine Sauce. Of course, if you are not fond of the slight bitterness in artichokes, you may wish to skip this recipe since I embrace it and go one step further by suggesting capers be added. I hope you enjoy these.
Homemade Chicken Tagine | EvinOK

Easy Bake Chicken: chicken + liquid + spices + vegetable + time/heat = dinner

Years ago, I got into the habit of making baked chicken for dinner rather often. To vary the flavors, I created an informal recipe of sorts that involved adding the chicken to a mix of liquid and spices to marinade then bake in that. Over time, I started eating other meats and all but forgot about this "recipe" I had created. Then I ran across it and thought it might be a good thing to share since it makes easy work of preparing and cooking chicken.
Bowl with beef chili topped with cheddar cheese and chopped scallions

Three Chili Recipes: Hearty, Vegan, and Cincinnati-style

Anyone who enjoys chili probably has a favorite recipe. The perfection of chili is that ingredients can be omitted, added, or doubled to suit your family’s preferences. Much like stew, chili is a hot, filling meal in itself. Its American origin is traced back to cowboys in the southwest. Lengthy cattle drives inspired the creation of what we now know as chili. After all, isn’t necessity the mother of invention? Rumor has it, the cowboys would plant the herbs, peppers, and onions used in the stew when headed in one direction, then harvest their plantings on their return trip. With chopped beef and a hot fire, chili was invented!
Cooking Asparagus

Green Asparagus – Sprouting In A Garden Near You

I am fascinated by foods, such as asparagus, that withstand the test of time and trends. Its existence in the Mediterranean during ancient times secured its popularity with ancient Greeks and Romans, and early Egyptians. The Greeks named the sprouting green for its tendency to be the first to shoot up from the ground each spring. The same goes for asparagus today, since we all know that its arrival in our local market means spring is here!
Corn Pudding | EvinOK

Three Recipes to Enjoy Corn with a Spoon

Summer has officially arrived when ears of corn are piled high at your local market. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been able to eat just one ear of corn. The summer before my orthodontist gave me braces, I ate corn on the cob like a girl on a mission. My Aunt Ruth made an amazing dinner one night and boasted that the farmers’ market had fresh corn so she bought “too many ears for just us”. As it turned out, she bought just enough. My father and I each ate at least six ears at each sitting, much to my aunt’s delight. To this day, I associate corn with the sound of a screen door slamming shut and the feel of plastic-covered furniture. As much as I love buttery corn on the cob, it can be a bit messy. With that in mind, I am suggesting three ways to enjoy corn without the mess. The sweetness of corn is ideal for a variety of dishes, from breads and puddings to chowders and casseroles. Mary’s Corn Pudding is my grandmother’s own recipe that tastes the same when I make it today as it did when she made it fifty years ago. The only drawback seems to be that every time I make it, my dad shows up at the stove with a spoon! For a refreshing side dish, try Tomato & Corn Salad. It is tangy and cool, which is ideal for a summer meal. When in a plastic container, it travels well so it can also be invited along on picnics or fishing trips. With hundreds of corn soup and chowder recipes in cookbooks worldwide, it is often nice to return to the basics. This column’s Corn Chowder is simple and comforting. It goes well with a glass of iced tea and a BLT sandwich, a recipe that will be featured in an upcoming column. Just because the best corn is available in summer and early fall doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy these dishes year-round. Each recipe includes the corresponding amount of canned corn as a substitute for kernels fresh from the ear.