Thursday, June 5, 2008

Cuba Libre!

Ok, these are not the most appetizing pictures. I forgot my camera so I had to use a cell phone. HOWEVER... the food was DELICIOSO at Cafe Habana, where these lovely shots were taken. The top is a view of the ropa vieja (literally "old clothes" but don't let that put you off), which was a spicy stew-like wonder with beef, tomatoes, peppers, etc. and served with yellow rice and fried plantains...mmmm. The bottom picture shows a fish taco (on top of my ropa vieja) which was AWESOME, for lack of a more sophisticated word. Really good, and the first fish taco I've seen since on a menu since California. So, so good, and served with "lime crema" which was the perfect tangy companion. One more reason to go to Cafe Habana....perfect mojitos.
If this put you in the mood for Cuban food, here's a recipe for cuban-style black beans that I made the other day. Actually, I can't really vouch for their authenticity but they do the job.
1 bag dried black beans
2 onions
several cloves of garlic
1 can diced tomatoes, or several non-canned tomatos that you have diced
bell pepper, if you have one
olive oil
dried cumin
salt and pepper
(Start the day before you want to eat)
1. Rinse the beans and discard any with odd appearance. This is no time to be accepting of those who are different.
2. Boil a kettle of water. Put the beans in a big heavy pot, and pour the boiling water over to cover them by several inches. Leave overnight.
3. Drain and recover with water, or don't bother.
4. Quarter one of the onions, add to the pot, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for several hours until the beans are tender and NOT al dente.
5. Take out the big onion chunks. Dice the other onion, and the pepper if you have it, and saute these with the tomato in some olive oil, in a different pan. If you wanted, you could use bacon fat instead of olive oil, I bet it would be yummy. Add the garlic, minced, and saute until soft, but don't let it burn!
6. Add a scoop or two of beans to the onion/tomato mix and saute away for a minute or two. I think I may be abusing the word "saute", but you know what I mean. Cook it in a pan.
7. If you have people around you who object to visible chunks of tomatoes or onions, you should now put the contents of the pan (onion/tomato mixture) into a blender and blend until smooth. If noone objects to the chunks, you should just mash the mixture with the back of a spoon until the beans are nice and pasty.
8. Now add the onion/tomato mash or puree back into the big pot of beans and continue to cook for a spell, until nicely thickened.
9. Serve it with rice, baby
I'll mention here that this is a good thing to make on the weekend and then eat during the following week because a) while incredibly easy, it takes forever to make, and b) it gets better the next day and the next. Now that I think about it, you could probably make these in a Crock Pot if that is your bag