Archive for October, 2010

Grilled Salmon with Lime Habanero Butter

This recipe is for everybody, not only habanero lovers. Prepared properly, it’s not spicy.

I love using chiles in different dishes. I was afraid of habaneros for a long time, until I discovered that they have an extraordinary flavor when cleaned of the seeds and veins. This helps to curb the heat and bring out the true flavor of the pepper. Even Armando, who is Mexican and loves habaneros, was surprised at how flavorful they can be without those nasty seeds that carry all that heat. Remember the veins also carry lots of heat, so you’ll want to get rid of them too. I recommend that you use gloves when working with chiles.

The lime habanero butter is so addictive, you’ll probably find lots of uses for it as well.

I usually serve this salmon dish with a baked potato and some kind of salad, avocado salad goes great on the side. The butter is fantastic on the potato, so you might want to double the butter recipe and serve some on the side.

Many people think fish is difficult to cook and that salmon is expensive. Per kilo (pound) it’s a bit higher than other fish, but the portion you need in order to be satisfied is much smaller than with other fish. A whole fillet is really not necessary, only a slice about 1 ½ inches thick per person.

Also, salmon may be cooked rare, medium and well done, just like a steak. Rare is delicious!

Ingredients:

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon tequila
1 tablespoon grated lime zest
1 tablespoon seeded, deveined and minced habanero pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
4 (5 ounce) salmon steaks
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons seeded, deveined and minced habanero pepper
2 teaspoons grated lime zest

DIRECTIONS

1. In a bowl, stir together vegetable oil, orange juice, 3 tablespoons lime juice, tequila, 1 tablespoon lime zest, 1 tablespoon habanero pepper, and garlic. Reserve a small amount to use as a basting sauce, and pour the remainder into a shallow baking dish. Place the salmon in the shallow dish, and turn to coat. Cover, and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours, turning frequently.

2. In a small bowl, mix together softened butter, garlic salt, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 2 teaspoons habanero pepper, and 2 teaspoons lime zest. Cover, and refrigerate.

3. Preheat grill for medium heat. May also be sautéed in a hot skillet.

4. Lightly oil grill grate, and place salmon on the grill. Cook salmon for 5 to 8 minutes per side, or until the fish can be easily flaked with a fork.

5. Transfer to a serving dish, top with habanero butter, and serve.

Serves 4 persons with 5-ounce portions
Calories per portion: 480

 

Originally published by Mexican Caribbean Today. Local News Coverage for the Mexican Caribbean Today and media content is written by Cynthia Nolan and Armando Elizalde, from Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo.

The little guy doesn’t always come last in Playa del Carmen

As a second year sponsor for Taste of Playa, we can say that our support has helped us two fold while supporting the community and supporting the Riviera Maya.

The Abyss Dive Center opened in 1995 on the beaches of Playa del Carmen.  As the dive center grew, the coast of the Mayan Riviera grew and we are happy to say that we have stretched our business along the coast from Playa to Tulum in an effort to support the interest in the area.

When the Taste of Playa sponsorship opportunity came our way we jumped at it, as we think that supporting the Riviera Maya, the small businesses that have built the Riviera Maya and those who took the risk to set up shop in the early years, should all have an opportunity to shine and ‘shout about’ what they do and how well they do it.  Being a small business it is important to support our counterparts, in every way that we can.

The event day was spectacular and it was nice to see old faces, new faces, our customers, our staff and our friends gathered in one place.  Stories and food were shared, restaurants that we have supported for many years through client referrals, through their support of our dive events and through just sharing business experiences made this for us, a very special day.

For our dive instructors, they were able to taste some restaurants that they had never gone to, for my family we were able to taste and then plan where we wanted to go for our next family dinner.   It was a great way to learn about the new players in town and introduce ourselves as their neighbour and supporter.

Supporting the Taste of Playa was a great addition to our community events, and we hope to be there in 2010 with more of our customers, more of our friends and most of all, more tickets so we can have more tastes and food experiences!  Ask the committee how you can support as we, as a little guy, felt that our support had a huge impact!

Meatless Mondays at Era Ora, Bellisimo!

You have many options for Meatless Mondays at Era Ora, and will enjoy the Italian flavors.  Owned by an Italian and Swiss Couple, their focus is Italian Food with foodie slant on Pizza and Pasta.

The fettuccine is hand rolled and when combined with a light sauce of tomato and basil, you will be in heaven.  There is also the 3 cheese pasta and if you ask nicely I am sure you can request an easy olive oil and mixed vegetable pasta done al dente, siempre, and fresh ground pepper.

The pizzas are endless and if you don’t see the combination you want to have, or wish to delete the meat from a pizza, the chef is happy to comply.  Fresh cheese, thin crusts, great tomato sauce and wonderful herbs makes these pizzas one of the best in town!  Great care is taken to make the perfect crust and it is big enough to share with your dinner partner.  If you are really hungry, it is not unusual to eat their personal pan pizzas solo.

Located on 1 Av between 14th and 16th Street, you will find yourself in a quiet area of Playa with some dinner music and a second floor terrace that provides an ocean breeze.  The owners are lovely and will welcome you with open arms into their restaurant/home.

 

Written by Nicola Inwood, the Executive Chairperson of Taste of Playa 2010.  She writes for numerous blogs, one being www.lifejustbecamesimpler.wordpress.com and is the owner of various businesses in the Riviera Maya.

Meatless Monday is an international campaign that encourages people to not eat meat on Mondays to improve their health and the health of the planet. Reducing meat consumption by 15% (the equivalent of one day a week) lessens the risk of chronic preventable illness and has a strong positive impact on the environment.

Meatless Mondays – Cocina 38

Gourmet Meatless Mondays?  It is possible and available here in Playa del Carmen in the Riviera Maya.  At Cocina 38, Chef Juan Diego can cook up an excellent meal made of veggies and salsas that will knock your socks off.

The printed menu is mainly fish and meat, so if you want to participate in Meatless Mondays, just ask the waiter and you will have a special meal or a meal off the menu adapted to your dietary needs.  A favorite starter is mixed greens with passion fruit, couscous, dices tomatoes and avocado, sauteed mushrooms and roasted asparagus with a jamaica  dressing.  For a main course there could be a roasted vegetable plate with shaved Parmesan or a vegetable lasagna with no pasta which is fabulous or a grilled mushroom risotto with truffle oil.

Meat will not be missed and the explosion of flavors will make you happy and full.  If you order a coffee or aperitif, you will find the meatless truffles to be a delicacy.  These are hand rolled dark chocolate truffles that are the signature after dinner treat that Cocina 38 serves up to all of its guests.

Cocina 38 rated in the top 3 on TripAdvisor and number 1 in many eyes of the Foodies here in Playa del Carmen, is open 6 days a week from 6 pm to 11 pm, and is a must visit while in Playa.

Written by Nicola Inwood. Nicola is the Executive Chairperson of Taste of Playa 2010.  She writes for numerous blogs, one being www.lifejustbecamesimpler.wordpress.com and is the owner of various businesses in the Riviera Maya.

Meatless Monday is an international campaign that encourages people to not eat meat on Mondays to improve their health and the health of the planet. Reducing meat consumption by 15% (the equivalent of one day a week) lessens the risk of chronic preventable illness and has a strong positive impact on the environment.

Dragon Fruit (Pitaya) Muffins

From The Cozumel Chef for #FoodieFriday!

Part of my daily routine since I moved to Cozumel is going to the grocery store or the local market each morning to shop for my next culinary project (also known as that evenings dinner). The slow, go with the flow pace of life in Cozumel has changed the way I grocery shop. No longer dealing with the constant hustle and bustle of suburban mania at Wegman’s or Whole Foods my grocery shopping has become a more holistic experience. I no longer plan a weeks worth of meals or how I will manage getting through Wegman’s without running over a soccer mom with a grocery cart or backing into a fancy Mercedes in the over crowded parking lot (yes that actually happened). Instead, I write a brief list of the basic supplies that need replenishment (diet coke, yogurt, fruit & coffee) and the ingredients for a meal that inspires me that day.

The markets and local grocery store are filled with exotic and unfamiliar fruits and vegetables. Even basic lettuce (lechuga) is exotic simply because the name is in Spanish and it sounds beautiful when it rolls off your tongue. I have even managed to communicate and ask for things in basic Spanish, though I am constantly stumbling upon proper pronunciation and I have much more to learn before I can actually have a “real” conversation.

Recently on one my daily shopping trips, this time for the ingredients for mushroom and onion lasagna, as I am starting to crave non-Mexican food (although I did manage to add chorizo to this dish), I was struck by a fruit that looked like it was on fire. This fruit was not only hot pink, but it had petal like spikes outlined in yellow that looked like flames. What made the fruit even more striking was the inside. Pure whiteness spotted with seeds likened to those of poppy seeds.  I had to buy it.

So I took two and jotted in my iPhone notes the word Pitaya. As soon as I got home I looked up my purchase and how it is used. Pitaya, also known as Dragon Fruit (it does look like a fireball from a dragon) is native to Mexico and South America. Pitaya is a fruit of a cactus and not only a typical cactus, but a cactus that only flowers at night. I tried looking up recipes, but my research was “fruitless” (sorry I had to say it). People described it as tasteless, or similar to the texture of a kiwi because of the little black seeds. Essentially the only interesting recipe I found was use it to make Dragon Fruit ice cream, but most results were either eat it alone or use it as an addition to a fruit salad. This was no good as one; I do not have an ice cream maker (hint hint hubby) and two I wanted to make something more interesting than fruit salad.

I did some thinking. It’s fruit right? Why not make muffins? I have been craving for some variety in my breakfast. Here is my recipe for golden brown top, moist Dragon Fruit Muffins:

Dragon Fruit Muffins Recipe

2 cups flour – sifted

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda (I didn’t have baking soda so I substituted 2 tsp of baking powder, this worked fine)

1 ½ cups sugar

1 ½ Drag Fruit – diced/ cut in small macédoine (0.5 cm cube) (See How to Eat Dragon Fruit to remove the edible part from the skin)

2 eggs

¾ cups oil (I used regular canola oil)

¾ cups milk (I used fat free milk)

Butter for greasing muffin pan

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a muffin pan (I used a pan for 6 large muffins, but this recipe can make up to 18 medium sized muffins). You can also use foil/paper liners if desired.

2. Combine flour and baking powder in a bowl.

3. Beat eggs with handheld mixer or stand mixer. Add sugar and beat until pale yellow. Add oil and milk and mix thoroughly until frothy.

4. Gently fold in dry ingredients. Do not over mix. Fold in Dragon Fruit.

5. Spoon mixture into muffin pan and bake for approximately 15 min or until tops of muffins are golden. Cool on a wire rack.

6. Serve lightly dusted with powder sugar and butter.

Submitted by Emily Egg – the “Cozumel Chef”. Emily is a classically trained French Chef. She has apprenticed at a number of French and New American restaurants in New York and New Jersey. Now on Cozumel Island, Emily is pursuing a passion for food and life. She is bringing a new spin to Mexican flavor and “home away from home” dining. Modernizing classic Mexican with a French technique flare Emily provides a unique culinary experience to remember on your vacation. Recipe originally published on the Cozumel Chef Blog.

La Ranita by Night!

Check out this sexy promotional video from Taste of Playa 2010 Participant, La Ranita, in Playa del Carmen! Can you spot any of your friends?

Spicy Cream of Kohlrabi Soup & Ode to One of the Masters of French Cooking

So I admit it…I went to French Culinary School without ever cooking a Julia Child recipe. Sure, I made many classic French dishes, bouillabaisse, boeuf bourguignon, etc. but not once did I pick up Julie Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. In fact, I actually didn’t even own the cookbook until my parents purchased it as a gift for me at Christmas in the middle of my culinary school program.

I must admit I became obsessed with Julia Child without cooking her recipes or watching her cooking show. I have to sadly say it is thanks to that adorable movie Julie & Julia staring Meryl Streep that inspired this obsession. I watched this movie numerous times (as this too was gift at Christmas) and during my two-week road trip to Mexico I read the novel as well as Julia Child’s biography My Life in France.

Well, I guess it took a move to Cozumel to motivate me to look back at the roots of my French Cooking and to actually break the binding of MTAOFC. As I am sure you are aware, Cozumel is an island and I no longer have the convenience of purchasing the newest Food & Wine Magazine or the next hot cookbook. And again craving something other than Mexican food I decided to look at an oldie, but goodie…newbie to me since I never actually cooked from the “bible”.

Craving mushrooms for some reason I decided to make “Potage aux Champions” (note: this dish is not for dieters as this recipe calls for ¼ cup of butter, cream and three egg yolks. Oh, did I mention more butter, an additional 2-3 Tbsp is needed to finish off the soup…to tamponner the final result J). We enjoyed this dish simply as the main course as Julia stipulates in MTAOFC; “Here is a fine, rich, mushroom soup either for grand occasions or as the main course for a Sunday Supper”. We chose our “grand occasion” as a regular weeknight, but ate the soup as the main course with some fresh bread.  As it turns out this dish was superb and Julia Child is everything people say she was…duly noted from comments on my Facebook Post too:

Emily Egge I watched the movie Julie & Julia, I even read the book. I also read the Julia Child biography and now I am truly a believer…I just made my first Julia Child dish…Potage Veloute Aux Champignons (Cream of Mushroom Soup). Words can’t even describe….

Krista Love her: “The only time to eat diet food is when you’re waiting for the steak to cook.”

Clifford she is the truth.

With most of my cooking I had to take this dish one more level…try something with a Mexican spin to it. During my visit to the grocery store for the ingredients of Potage aux Champions I came across a limey green root-like vegetable that I have never seen (though it turns out this is a common Polish vegetable as my fiancé mentioned his babcia use to cook with it in Poland). I asked in my poor broken Spanish to the woman “¿Cómo se dice?” She responded: “Keabo” which translates to “Kohlrabi” a.k.a. German turnip.

The German turnip is not a root vegetable. In fact, this green bulb is a swollen stem that grows above ground. This vegetable is common in Central Europe, which explains why I never saw it on my dinner table as I grew up in the Michigan where our staple vegetable was corn. Although, it was difficult for my mother to get me to eat ANY vegetable for that matter unless it came with melted cheese whiz. Kohlrabi and a side of whiz please! Not sure if Julia used Kohlrabi back in the day, but I wanted to pay tribute to her “Potage aux Champions” by creating a Spicy Cream of Kohlrabi Soup.

Spicy Cream of Kohlrabi Soup

Note on the heat level: I stewed the soup with 2 habanero chilies. If you don’t like heat as my fiancé clearly didn’t…I quote “it really gets to my head”, kick it back a notch. Try other chili varieties or maybe just use one habanero. Experiment with it.

2 habanero chilies – whole

¼ cup onions – ciesler

1 lb Kohlrabi – diced/ cut in small macédoine (0.5 cm cube)

3 Tbsp butter

3 Tbsp flour

6 cups of boiling white stock or chicken stock (I didn’t have stock on hand and in Mexico often your stock comes from a boullion cube and water, so I used a chicken boullion cube with 6 cups of water).

3 parsley sprigs

3 thyme sprigs

Bay leaf

2 Tbsp butter

1 tsp lemon juice

2 egg yolks

½ to ¾ cup heavy cream (another item that can be difficult to find in Cozumel, so I substituted a mix of milk and Mexican crèma).

Freshly ground pepper & salt to taste

  1. In a heavy bottom 2½-quart stockpot sweat onions in 3 Tbsp of butter until softened. Add kohlrabi, sweating for 3 minutes.
  2. Singer (dust) onions, kohlrabi and butter with flour and cook off the flour…this is creating a roux and helps thicken the soup.
  3. Add boiling stock to pot along with the parsley, thyme, bay leaf and habanero chilies. Cover pot partially and simmer for 20 minutes, skimming occasionally. Strain soup reserving the liquid.
  4. In a medium-mixing bowl, beat egg yolks and cream together with a wire whisk. Tamper the mixture with hot soup. Gradually stir in the rest. Season to taste.
  5. Return soup to stockpot and heat for a minute or two (do not let the soup boil).
  6. Before serving, stir in butter. Pour soup in bowls and enjoy with some fresh bread.

Submitted by Emily Egg – the “Cozumel Chef”. Emily is a classically trained French Chef. She has apprenticed at a number of French and New American restaurants in New York and New Jersey. Now on Cozumel Island, Emily is pursuing a passion for food and life. She is bringing a new spin to Mexican flavor and “home away from home” dining. Modernizing classic Mexican with a French technique flare Emily provides a unique culinary experience to remember on your vacation. Recipe originally published on the Cozumel Chef Blog.


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