Salvadorian-Style Red Bean & Short Rib Stew with Salsa Cruda

This is an adapted version of the Salvadorian classic, made with ingredients more readily available to American cooks. The stew is rich and saucy, and the salsa cruda (“raw sauce”) is fresh and a perfect flavor compliment.

In the original version, several hard-to-find vegetables are called for, as well as much less meat. I also add onion and garlic when cooking the chicken. Chayote is a fruit that tastes like a cross between a papaya, avocado, and squash; it’s available in my grocery store, but if you can’t find it, leave it out or substitute yellow crookneck squash.

I like to serve this stew over white rice, with one short rib per person. Give everyone a small bowl of salsa cruda for topping, and you’re all set. ¡Muy delicioso!

Red Bean Stew Closeup

Salvadorian-Style

  • 2 pounds short ribs
  • 3 cans undrained red beans
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 6 whole peeled garlic cloves
  •  3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 green plantains, peeled and cut into 1-inch rounds
  • 1 light or dark green chayote (1 pound), pitted, peeled and cut into a 1-inch dice (peel skin with a vegetable peeler, taking off just the top layer of skin)
  • 1/2 medium green cabbage, cut into 1-inch strips
  • salt to taste

for the salsa cruda:

  • 1 pound plum (Roma) tomatoes (4-6 count), seeded and cut into cubes
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 small green pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large cooking pot; simmer 1 hour covered.

When ribs are tender, remove them along with the garlic cloves. In a fry pan, heat oil over medium heat and brown garlic and ribs on all sides (keep pot of beans simmering while you do this).

While the ribs brown, add parsley, cilantro, plantains, chayote, and salt (if needed) to beans; stir. Add ribs and garlic back to pot. Simmer 20 more minutes or until vegetables are getting tender, then add cabbage and cook another 10-15 minutes until all vegetables are done.

Make the salsa while the pot finishes cooking: combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

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Mandarin Orange & Candied Pecan Salad

This is my mom’s yummy salad that is so easy to make! She made it for my sister’s wedding shower last weekend and I had to share it!

Mandarin Orange & Candied Pecan Salad

  • 2 heads Boston or Bibb lettuce
  • 22 ounce can Mandarin oranges
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus more if needed

white balsamic dressing:

  • 3/4 cups olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • pepper to taste (around 1 teaspoon for me)
  • fresh parsley, chopped
  • sugar to taste

To make the candied pecans, heat pecans and 1/4 cup sugar over medium-low heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon. When sugar has melted, add other 1/4 cup. Keep adding sugar until pecans have formed a “crust” of hardened sugar on them. Don’t walk away! Lay them on parchment paper or other nonstick surface to cool.

For the dressing, whisk all ingredients together, adding sugar to taste (if you don’t like it sweet, add a teaspoon or two; if you do, add a lot more).

Break the pecans apart once cooled.

Tear the lettuce into pieces. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat. Top with drained oranges and candied pecans. Enjoy!


Curried Pork Loin Chops with Brown Butter & Coconut Rice

Featured on Food & Wine Magazine’s Instagram account for #thisisfall, September 2014

When I made these chops, Mike took one look and asked, “Are those steaks?”

Ah, dear friends, the power of a good sear.

These are so flavorful, you’ll fall over when you take your first bite.

And they’re so easy, you’ll never get back up. (But you should, so you can make them again.)

I brine the meat first to make sure it’s extra tender (directions below).

Melt the butter over medium heat. Add the pork chops.

Don’t touch ’em. Don’t disturb ’em. For like 10 minutes.

When the meat is nice and golden, flip them. I strongly suggest using a meat thermometer to get these babies to just the right temperature (135°F). After your first flip, stick the thermometer into the middle of one of the chops and watch the temperature. Overcooking is the death of pork chops!

Pork loin chops have a nice big medallion of meat attached to the bone – get them if you can. They might be called “center cut” – same thing. 1/2-inch or thicker, please.

For reference, these three chops weighed 1 3/4 pounds uncooked; so they were a little over 9 ounces each.

This is one instance where a little crowding in the pan is a good thing, to keep the butter bubbling around the meat (this was a 10-inch nonstick Scanpan). I don’t have a cast iron fry pan, or I’d have used it!

Once the proper temperature is reached, spoon the butter over the chops (it will be nice and browned by this point).

I served these with coconut rice and a Caesar salad. The rice recipe is in the notes below.

Super, extra, mondo deliciousness.

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Curried Pork Loin Chops with Brown Butter & Coconut Rice

  • 3 thick cut (1/2-3/4 inch) pork loin chops, bone-in
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 lemon
  • salt

for the brine:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup salt

for the spice rub:

  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (or substitute paprika if you don’t want the heat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

coconut rice:

  • 1 cup uncooked white rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (if you don’t have this, use 2 cups of coconut milk and omit the water)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Dissolve the salt in water for the brine in a dish big enough to submerge the pork chops completely. Add the chops, cover, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes – an hour or two is ideal.

Just before removing the chops from the fridge: mix the uncooked rice, water, coconut milk, coconut oil and salt in a pan. Heat to boiling, reduce to low, cover, and let simmer 20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. (You can also heat the coconut oil in the pan, lightly brown the rice, then add the water, coconut milk, and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to low, simmering 20 minutes. This adds a nice flavor to the rice.)

Remove the chops from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt.

Mix the curry powder, chili powder, salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Put about 1/2 teaspoon of this mix on each chop and rub all over with your fingers. Flip them over and do the same on the other side.

Heat a 10-inch pan over medium heat, and melt the butter. When the butter begins to bubble, add the chops.

Squeeze the lemon over the chops (not a lot, just a sprinkling). Let the chops cook for about 10 minutes (don’t touch!).

Check to make sure they are browned on the bottom, then flip. Insert a meat thermometer into one of the chops to monitor internal temperature.

Squeeze the lemon over the chops again. Cook another 5-10 minutes, or until thermometer reads 135°F. Spoon butter over chops.

Stir the chopped cilantro into the rice, and serve the chops over the rice. Enjoy!


No-Mayo Costa Rican Coleslaw

So I know this recipe is not unique to Costa Rica, but it’s where we first ate coleslaw mayo-free more than 10 years ago. So I’m stickin’ to my title!

I was never a fan of regular coleslaw. Too much mayo. But this is recipe is perfect…tangy, crunchy, and you can eat as much as you want guilt-free. The fresh cilantro adds a nice flavor, but you could leave it out. Sometimes I add it, sometimes not.

I made this coleslaw today for dinner at my parent’s house tonight. Yum!

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[recipe recipe title=”Costa Rican Coleslaw” servings=5]

  • 1 bag (16 ounces) shredded coleslaw mix (green cabbage, red cabbage, carrots)
  • 1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (more if you like it extra tangy)
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • juice of half a lime
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro, optional

Mix first 5 ingredients together in a large bowl. Add a generous amount of fresh ground pepper; cover and refrigerate. Sprinkle with the chopped cilantro right before serving. Enjoy![/recipe]


Mini Blue Cheese Wedge Salads

Recipe by Amy Grossi. See my blog post about this event here.

Mini Blue Cheese Wedge Salads

  • 1 head iceburg lettuce
  • 1/2 cup crumbled cooked bacon
  • 1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, diced small
  • blue cheese dressing (Amy favorite is Bolthouse Yogurt Blue Cheese dressing)

Core the end of the iceberg, then chop in half lengthwise.  Cut each half into 4 wedges.

Arrange on a platter and drizzle with dressing.

Sprinkle remaining toppings over lettuce wedges and serve. Enjoy!


Bubble Toast

Bubble toast. This is the garlic bread of my childhood.

There used to be a restaurant we’d go to that served this bread, but it’s long since closed.  They called it Bubble Toast.  My mom sought to replicate it at home.

It’s so simple, yet so good.  A delicious variation on classic garlic bread!

The sour cream is unexpected, but it’s like the sauce on a pizza.  It just has to be there.

Use any cheese you like – cheddar, colby jack, even provolone.  But make sure you use a thick, crusty bread, or it will never get toasty – it’ll just be soggy.

Bubble Toast!  Yum!

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Bubble Toast

Servings vary.

  • crusty bread, such as Cuban or French
  • shredded cheese of your choice (cheddar, colby jack, etc)
  • sour cream
  • garlic powder

Cut the bread loaf in half lengthwise and spread a layer of cream cheese on it.  About as much as you’d put cream cheese on your bagel.

Sprinkle with a little garlic powder to taste.  Top with shredded cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees until the cheese is melted (about 10 minutes), then use the broil function to brown the cheese.  Dive in immediately!

Enjoy!


Hash Brown Casserole

Oohhh, hash brown casserole, how we love thee!  This is my mom’s recipe, and one of the most delicious versions I’ve ever had.  A double batch is on the table every Thanksgiving and there’s never any left (gotta start making a triple batch!).  It’s not the healthiest recipe….but it’s worth the caloric compromise!

Since most canned soup is a no-no, we had to find a certified gluten free brand for my sister. You can’t tell the difference at all.  I’ve seen a few different GF brands pop up over the years, so look in the soup aisle first, or specialty foods aisle second (in our grocery store, it’s in both places).  It might be in a can or a carton (like shelf-stable milk or boxed tomatoes).  Of course, you can just use Campbell’s soup too.  It’ll be delicious either way!

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Hash Brown Casserole

  • 1 bag (about 2 pounds) frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed slightly
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
  • 1 pint (16 ounces) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup whipped cream cheese
  • 1 can (12-15 ounces) gluten free cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 1/2 cups (more if you like!) grated cheese – cheddar, colby jack, etc.
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir gently until well combined.  Grease a 2-2 1/2 quart baking dish and spoon in the mixture, smoothing over the top.   Bake for about an hour or until browned on top and bubbling on the sides.  Enjoy!