I STOLE THE CHEESE DIP FROM BAHAMA BREEZE!!!!!!

HAH! That’s what they get for taking it off the menu. It is now CMvsCF’s DIP!

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When we want happy hour, we go to Bahama Breeze (yes there is one in  Atlanta! On Pleasant Hill Road of off I-85, GO! Today! you’re missing out my friend.) Anyhow, we used to be able to order this amazing goat cheese dip that came served with inside a red bell pepper and with sliced Cuban bread for dipping. I don’t know what they were thinking removing it from the menu. Seriously, sometimes I wonder what are restaurants thinking? Like why the heck did Outback get rid off their onion soup.

Well my friends, I have made it a dozen times this year to perfection. Here is the recipe. It’s so damn good we have it for dinner some days. OK, we have it like once a week, for dinner. lol.

CUBAN MAN’s vs CUBAN FOOD GOAT CHEESE DIP:

4oz Cream Cheese (half a block)

4oz Goat Cheese (Publix gourmet cheese area)

2 tbl spoons Shredded Parmesan

1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp minced garlic

1/2 tsp crushed black pepper.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all of the above in a bowl, stirring and mixing well together. Takes a bit of strength without a mixer or if refrigerated.

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Cut and clean a bell pepper in half. Fill it with this heavenly mixture. Place on a pan and into oven.

Slice a Cuban bread, and this will knock out about 5 minutes. Place into the oven above you magic dip. Wait another 5 minutes and take out the bread. The cheese has now been in 10 minutes. Put the bread in a basket or into a bowl wrapped with a napkin to keep it warm. In a couple of more minutes the cheese will show a few brown spots at the surface. Time to dip!

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“Fricase de Pollo” Atlanta Recipe

  
My grandfather was a Cuban chef who continued his culinary career in the U.S. with Little Havana’s inaguration of Casa Juancho in the early 1980’s. He went on to directing kitchens on Washington Avenue in Miami Beach in the later part of his life. My grandmother learned what she could and perfected a few dishes, but I have to give my mom the credit for truly capturing the essence of his pallete.

This recipe comes as a response to a special request from a neighbor here in Atlanta, with a longing for the authentic taste of this Cuban adaptation to what seems to be originally a French dish “fricassée”. A common Cuban household dish, I could not just jot down what I know we usually put together. This required a call to Miami, to my mom, who of course claims that she had learned to make this better than both my grandparents, and well friends…you’ll just have to taste for yourself. 

Now I’ve claimed this to be an Atlanta recipe, because the only way you’re getting this in Miami is at my moms house, and I’ve added a secret ingredient, replacing the usual cooking wine with Martini&Rossi’s extra dry Vermouth. So when you make this and love it, remember the recipe came from the ATL! Lol. And that’s Cuban food in and from Atlanta.

Here’s what you’ll need:

5-6 chicken drumsticks

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/3 green bell pepper chopped

1/3 yellow bell pepper chopped

1/4 yellow sweet onion chopped

1 teaspoon minced garlic

3 tablespoons tomato sauce

1 cup extra dry vermouth

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 red potato

Rinse/wash the chicken well and place in a large bowl. Chop the veggies (peppers, onion, and garlic) and throw over the chicken along with the salt, pepper, and olive oil. Peel the potato and toss in with the chicken. Add the tomato sauce. You should now have all the ingredients except the vermouth in the bowl.

  
Bring a big enough pan to medium heat. Once hot, toss in everything together and move around to make sure all ingredients are well mixed. Then pour in half of the vermouth (1/2 cup). 

 
   

The foods should be about halfway covered by the sauce. Cover the pan and allow to cook for 15 minutes, occasionally turning the chicken to cook on all sides. After 10 minutes, add the remaining vermouth and make sure the heat is medium ( high enough to slowly boil, but not dry out, and low enough that it should not sizzle). The chicken is done and cooked thoroughly once the back end of the drumstick breaks away from the bone. The potatoes will also be very soft at this point so avoid them when turning the chicken. Once done, bring the heat to high for 2 minutes to give the sauce and chicken a good serving temperature. “¡ A chuparse los dedos!” (Finger lickin’ good!)

  
 

Cuban Picadillo (Ground Beef)

Here is my family recipe for Picadillo, which I have slightly adapted over the years to my wife’s taste (she’s Cuban-American). And I will say it’s a better taste now. I used to not like Picadillo, and had to eat it with bananas or crackers to mask the taste. Now, it’s a family favorite.

1 lb ground beef (non lean) get the one with some fat for more taste. 

1 small can of tomato sauce, I recommend hunts, no salt added. 

1/4 chopped green bell pepper

1/4 chopped red bell pepper

1/4 chopped yellow onion (vidalia onions are hard to find but are the best) if you get the tiny Spanish ones use half. 

1 teaspoon of minced garlic. I buy the one that comes minced in oil in a small jar. No point in buying whole garlic. 

1 bay leave. 

Salt to taste, probably half to 1 teaspoon. 

1/2 teaspoon black pepper. 

6 olives

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin. 

1 teaspoon Sazon Completa (complete seasoning)

1/4 cup white wine (pick your favorite ), dry vermouth is good

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 tablespoon olive oil
First make what we call the sofrito. Sauté the veggies in the canola oil along with the spices, some salt and pepper and just a dab of the tomato sauce so it absorbs the tastes. Don’t let it dry with too much heat but it should summer like a fajita. Once it starts to turn slightly brown or the garlic starts to look roasted, lower the heat just keep it warm for now. Toss in the beef, bay leaves, olive oil, the rest of the tomatoe sauce and keep to a slow boil, turning and breaking up the meat as necessary, so that there are no chucks. And then leave at medium heat ( a very low boil). Stir occasionally. Now add the white wine, the rest of the tomato sauce and the Spanish olives. Let it cook on medium to low heat (too much heat will dry it) for about 15 minutes. A little goes a long way. Also, don’t add more salt, once it’s cooked and not as watery it will be salty. Let me know how it goes 🙂

 

photo credit: Margia Arguello
 
PS. I created this for a special friend 😉 and she said it came out great. She also added capers and ginger which I have never thought of. Cubans aren’t big on ginger. Capers are usually included in the recipe, so props to her for putting that in too. I don’t use capers though, I think it is more of a Spanish thing than it is Cuban. Enjoy! And please comment below if you try it.

Cuban Man v. Cuban Food