Thursday, December 17, 2015

Cuban Black Bean Soup

     Black Bean Soup!
     Cuban style black bean soup is popular everywhere in Florida and the Caribbean!  I have sold this popular soup in nearly every restaurant that I have worked in.  Black beans have plenty of flavor.  Cumin compliments the flavor of black beans in a nice way.  Cuban style Black Bean Soup is very mild and savory.

     Black Beans:
     This recipe yields 2 to 3 large portions of beans!  (About 4 cups)
     A pressure cooker is best for cooking dried beans, but if too much water is added, the pressure cooked beans will end up being mushy soft.  If a pressure cooker is used, it is best to flavor the beans after they are cooked.
     Step 1:  Soak 1 1/2 cups of dried black beans in water overnight in a refrigerator.
     Drain off the soaking water and rinse the black beans under cold running water.
     Step 2:  Place the black beans in a pot.
     Add 1 cup of chicken broth.
     Add enough water to cover the beans with 2" of extra liquid.
     Step 3:  Add 1/2 tablespoon of cider vinegar.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or lard.
     Step 4:  Add 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder.
     Add 1 pinch of garlic powder.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste
     Step 5:  Bring the liquid to a boil over medium high heat for 17 minutes.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer the beans, till they are tender.  Add water as necessary to keep the beans covered with 1" of liquid.
     Step 7:  After the beans are tender, simmer and reduce till the level of liquid is slightly lower than the beans.
     Keep the black beans warm over low heat or chill them till they are needed. 
     Cuban Black Bean Soup:
     This recipe yields 2 servings of soup!  (About 4 cups)
     Step 1:  Place 2 cups of rinsed pre-cooked black beans or rinsed canned black beans in a mixing bowl.
     Mash 2/3 of the black beans.
     Set the prepared black beans aside.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of small chopped pork fat.
     Sauté till the pork fat is lightly browned and the grease is rendered.
     Step 3:  Add 1/4 cup of small chopped onion.
     Add 2 tablespoons of small chopped celery.
     Add 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped roasted poblano pepper.
     Sauté till the onions turn clear in color.
     Step 4:  Add 2 cups of chicken broth.
     Add 1 cup of water.
     Add the reserved black beans to the soup.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of cumin.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of coriander.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 5:  Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Bring the soup to a gentle boil.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat
     Slowly simmer and reduce till the soup is a medium thin consistency and the beans are very tender.  Whisk the soup occasionally.
     *The mashed beans will thicken the soup.  Add a splash of broth if the soup is too thick.  
     Use a ring mold to place a 1/4 cup portion of anatto seasoned rice in a soup bowl.  (Plain white rice is also traditional for this soup.)
     Ladle 2 cups of the black bean soup in the soup bowl around the rice.
     Sprinkle some fine chopped onion on the rice and soup.
     Serve with 2 ounces of sour cream on the side.
     Cuban Black Bean Soup is great source of nutrition!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wahoo Crostini

     Wahoo is the the largest member of the Mackerel fish family and they can weigh more than 150 pounds.  Wahoo are also the fastest swimming predators in the sea.  Wahoo are a warm salt water fish that are usually caught in tropical waters caught where billfish swim.  One of the best fisheries for wahoo is the east coast of Florida.
     Smoker King Mackeral?  The phrase "Smoker King Mackeral" refers to how hard and fast that a King Mackerel can strip the fishing line completely off of a fishing reel.   When using medium salt water tackle, the chances are that a King Mackerel will unwind the line so fast, that the fishing reel will literally start smoking!  Amazingly enough, a Wahoo can unwind a fishing reel even faster than a King Mackerel!  Wahoo can literally cause a heavy duty salt water fishing reel to go up in flames!

     Wahoo meat is a gourmet delicacy.  The meat is white in color and the flavor is lighter than Marlin or Swordfish.  Wahoo Steaks are perfect for chargrilling.
     Wahoo is usually sold fresh locally near the fishery where it was caught, but recently Wahoo has been marketed as a canned product, like tuna.  I purchased a can of Wahoo just to see what the quality was like.  Canned Wahoo is a very clean, nice looking canned fish. 
     All billfish are low in numbers.  Because certain Wahoo fisheries have serious sustainability issues, always check the source and the sustainability status before making a purchase.  There are seafood sustainability websites that make being a responsible consumer easy to do.

     Wahoo Salad is made like a fancy Tuna Salad.  Wahoo Salad is a nice topping for crostini and the name inspires guests to take interest.  When a tray of Wahoo crostini are passed around during a New Years Eve party, the guests naturally start yelling Wahoo!

     Wahoo Crostini:  
     This recipe yields about 6 crostini.
     If no canned Wahoo is available for today's recipe, then poach, chill and flake about 4 1/2 ounces of fresh Wahoo. 
     Step 1:  Drain the liquid off of 5 ounces of canned wahoo.
     Step 2:  Place the wahoo meat in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 teaspoons of minced shallot.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced Italian Parsley.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and white pepper .
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of virgin olive oil.
     Step 3:  Add just enough mayonnaise to bind the ingredients together.  (About 3 tablespoons.)
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Set the Wahoo Salad aside.
     Step 4:  Cut 6 slices of baguette bread that are 1/4" thick.
     Brush the bread with olive oil.
     Place the bread slices on a baking pan.
     Bake the crostini in a 300ºF oven till they are crisp and they are a light golden color.
     Remove the crostini from the oven.
     Step 5:  Place a dollop of the wahoo salad mixture on each crostini.  (About 1 1/2 tablespoons.)
     Return the pan to the oven.
     Bake for about 1 to 2 minutes, so the wahoo salad warms and becomes aromatic.
     Step 6:  Place the wahoo crostini on a serving platter.
     Garnish each crostini with an Italian Parsley leaf.
     A gourmet crostini appetizer with a funny name!  These are some nice tasting crostini.  Wahoo!