Sunday, September 4, 2011

Spicy Dinner With Friends

It all started with a pork shoulder. I had one in the freezer from our poultry CSA and it was too big for just James so I needed friends to help us eat it -- time to call K&D. I decided to stew the meat, New Mexico style with chili powder for a crock pot batch of carne adovado, a staple in the Land of Enchantment but little known elsewhere.
Once I had started on that path I naturally came to beans. Although the occasional bowl of posole fits the bill it's kind of hard to imagine spicy food without beans and so I went from New Mexico to old Mexico with a pot of drunken beans, pintos cooked with bacon, onion, oregano, garlic, jalapenos, and beer. You saute the aromatics first (can bacon be considered and aromatic, I wonder) add in the beans, peppers, and beer, water and bring to a boil The beans bake in the over (300ยบ) for about an hour and a half leaving the stovetop free for other dishes.
One of our favorite salads isn't a salad at all, really. It's a cuban style platter of avocado and red onion dressed with red wine vinegar and olive oil. A perfect cooling side dish.
Pork, chili powder, crock pot . . . main dish for company.
Cilantro rice, based on a recipe from Rick Bayless (he's my go to guy for Mexican). I heated chili peppers (Rick called for poblanos but I have these darling peroncicni in the garden and tossed 3 -- seeded and stemmed -- in) in chicken broth (3 1/2 cups) along with a handful of cilantro -- stems and all. I brought the liquid up to a boil and let it simmer, covered for 10 minutes. When the peppers were softened I transferred the liquid to the blend and pureed it all until smooth. Next I sauteed rice (2 cups) and chopped onion (1/2 medium) in olive oil until the rice was chalky and the onions starting to soften. I added the liquid from the blender and the rice from the pan to my rice cooker. With company coming it's nice to have a dish, or two, that doesn't need last minute attention from the cook. When the rice was finished I gave it a fluff with a fork and let it stay in the cooker staying warm until dinner was served. Because my peppers were a bit more red than green my rice didn't have the vibrant color this celebratory dish is famous for but the flavor --and the aroma -- were all there.
I could call this cake cuatro leches I suppose. The super sweet, creamy Latin favorite is basically a spongy light cake soaked in 3 kinds of milk -- condensed, evaporated, and heavy cream. Following a recipe from Saveur magazine I added a topping of dulce de leche -- a caramelized milk topping popular pretty much throughout the Spanish speaking world. I had a jar I brought home from Uruguay a while back. I love that this recipe offers the airiness of beaten egg whites but only uses one beater and one bowl to get ready. I topped our cakes with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Dreamy texture, sweet topping, the perfect dessert.

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