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.
I remember how much chicken salad I would eat in college. If I had the opportunity, I would eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. With fresh Amish rolls, I had mini sandwiches, other times I would just grab a fork and dig in. Chicken has the ability to take on flavors, which makes it ideal for a variety of dishes. After all, in this week’s recipes, chicken has taken the place of lettuce in three dynamic and delicious salads.
Perhaps my love of chicken salad started long before college, but it was during those four years that I met new friends and learned how many ways chicken salad can be made. One friend and her mother introduced me to their family chicken salad recipe after I ate my serving in record time. I promptly made a few gallons of the Philadelphia Chicken Salad and it has been a staple in my summer salad rotation ever since. The classic salad of the Waldorf~Astoria Hotel in New York City is adapted to befriend chicken in the Waldorf Chicken Salad. It is such a well-known recipe in its original form and enjoying many variations in kitchens worldwide, so why not add this one to the list too. Apples once again make an appearance in Curry Chicken Salad. This too is one of those salads that had me hooked from the first bite. After eating an embarrassing amount, everyone at the table knew I would be asking for my friend’s recipe.
In the following recipes, I did not specify a particular marinade or method of cooking for the chicken used. Each recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of cooked chicken breast. I recommend using meat that has been either roasted or baked. If you wish to bake your own chicken for the dish, place the meat in an oven-safe dish with a pinch of salt and enough lemon juice to fill the bottom 1/2-inch of the dish. Bake it at 350 degrees for 30 to 50 minutes (depending on how much meat you are making at once). To make these recipes without heating up your kitchen by using the oven, I suggest you buy already roasted chicken from the grocery market. There are brand versions of this, but certainly local markets carry fresh roasts in the deli department.
This week marks what would have been my grandma’s 104th birthday. She is remembered for many things from her stubbornness to her cooking -- I am proud to have inherited both those attributes. Just as there is no way I can forget the warmth of her hugs, it is impossible to forget the comfort her cooking offered. She made even the simplest foods special.
I have shared her recipes in previous columns, most notably her corn pudding. Now, I am sharing her coveted baking recipes! Mary’s Pound Cake spares no calories to bring the true taste of pound cake to your kitchen. Grandma’s Brownies pays tribute to our family’s addiction to chocolate. Aunt Mary’s Bread Pudding is the essential comfort food that goes well as a fancy dessert or a get well soon snack. I named it “Aunt Mary” because this is a favorite of my cousins’.
These are almost verbatim from her recipe cards and much simpler than my own writing style. Since she only wrote them for herself she didn’t feel the need to include step-by-step instructions. I’ve supplied more detailed instructions to help you make these same delicious baked goods!
When Optimus was about five months old, we visited my hometown of Washington, D.C. and lunched with my friend Madeline. From Capitol Hill, it is a short walk to Eastern Market and many delectable restaurants, not to mention the Capitol itself. We...
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.
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.
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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.
When we were living in California, one of our favourite treats from the Italian deli markets was a flavour-filled orzo salad. They varied, but always went well with anything from roast chicken to grilled fish. After moving to Ireland, I...
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.
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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!
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We are on day 19 of being at home with our two sons, Optimus 8 and Bumblebee 3, so I feel I can reasonable post with some ideas on keeping kids engaged during this period of cocooning. These ideas are...
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Paddywackery has its place, but when you’re traveling to Ireland why not bring back something authentic? Having grown up in the States from Irish ancestry, I was used to thinking Irish was Beleek, Waterford Crystal, and Aran sweaters. Now, having...
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I’m thrilled to announce the release of my latest book, Ultraviolet Knits: Twelve knitting patterns featuring UV-reactive hand-dyed wool (Anchor and Bee, 2020). This collection features 12 original accessory knitting patterns designed with black light-reactive hand-dyed wool-based yarns. Inspiration This book...
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While it may seem like an eternity before your next sun holiday, why not explore the Irish landscape to satisfy the wanderlust in you! Experience our glorious heritage by visiting historical attractions and admiring our unrivalled coastal scenery. I’ve teamed...