(Happy-Go-Lucky Memoirs of a Foodie and her Husband)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Sayonara, February -- Dominican style!

February really kind of sucked for us.  Due to the insane amounts of snow we got (we are currently sitting just 3-4" away from the all-time tally, with February in particular being the snowiest on record ever), we weren't able to attend our weekly potluck dinner for four weeks in a row.  In addition to that, on February 18th, one of our cats died after a very long battle with cancer.  =(

RIP, you big goof.  <3
Fortunately, however, we finished off the month by taking an amazing trip, with awesome people, to the Dominican Republic.  Therefore, today's blog is dedicated to two Dominican specialties that we prepared for tonight's much-anticipated and long-awaited return to the weekly potluck -- Chivo Guisado (a traditional braised goat dish) and Mangú (mashed plantains).  Mangú is usually served as a breakfast food, but I say we can eat it anytime.

The original recipes that we worked from can be found by clicking on the links above, but really, we only strayed slightly from them.  We altered the Chivo Guisado recipe for crock pot cooking due to us not having as much time for meat marinating as we would have liked, plus we had to make one ingredient substitution.  We also doubled everything so there would be enough to go around at dinner.  The Mangú recipe we stuck to exactly, except again, for doubling it up.  Here they are....

Chivo Guisado

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 lbs of cubed goat meat, bone-in
  • The juice of 2 large (or 6 small) sour oranges - we couldn't find these, so thanks to some research at The Cook's Thesaurus, we substituted in 2 large regular oranges plus 2 limes.
  • 4 Tbs of Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 bay leaves, cut in half
  • 2 large white onions
  • a bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 2 bunches of green onions
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 Tbs of dried oregano 
  • 4 Tbs of oil
  • 2 Tbs of light brown sugar
  • 4 Tbs of tomato paste
DIRECTIONS:

1.  Chop up the green onions, cilantro and white onions.

2.  Ground the garlic, oregano and salt into a paste-like state (we used the food processor for this, but you can also use a mortar and pestle).

3.  Mix together the citrus juice, green onions, cilantro, white onions, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, oregano/salt/garlic paste plus an extra teaspoon of salt.

4.  Add the goat meat pieces, cover and let it rest for a few hours to overnight.  (We only had about three hours to let this sit, so here is where the recipe will veer into Crock Pot territory for flavor maximization.)

5.  After the meat is marinated, in a heavy skillet, heat up the oil and cook the sugar until it turns a caramel color but not burnt.

6.  Sear the goat pieces, reserving any marinate that falls off in the process.

7.  While you are searing the meat cubes, add the tomato paste to the remaining marinade and stir to combine.

8.  Add the seared meat and the entirety of the marinade/tomato paste mixture to your Crock Pot.  Stir to combine.

9.  Pour in a pint of water, and cook on low for about 6 hours (we let ours cook overnight while we slept).

10.  Remove the meat chunks, then pour everything else left in the Crock Pot (liquid, leftover marinade) back into the same pan you used to sear the meat chunks before.  Bring it to a boil and reduce it down until it starts to look like a paste.

Reducing the sauce - start.

Reducing the sauce -middle.

Reducing the sauce -finished.
 11.  Pour the paste over the meat and stir gently to coat.


Cooked meat chunks - before adding the reduced sauce.
Cooked meat chunks - after stirring in the reduced sauce.
That's it.  It's done.  And it's delicious!!!

Mangú

INGREDIENTS:
  • 8 plantains
  • 1 Tbs Salt
  • 10 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup of room temperature water (this isn't the water for boiling, but for mixing into the mash later)
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced fairly thinly
  • 2 Tbs fruit vinegar (we found Raspberry Wine Vinegar at Wegmans, so that's what we used)
DIRECTIONS:

1.  Cut the plantains lengthwise, remove the seeds, peel, and cut the flesh into chunks.

2.  Boil the plantains in water (with the 1 Tbs of salt added) until they are very tender.

3.  Remove from the water and mash them (we used a regular old potato masher).  Add 8 Tbs of the olive oil and mix.  Then add the 1 cup of room temperature water and keep mashing until it's all a pretty smooth puree.

4.  Move the plantain mash into a serving bowl.

5.  Heat the remaining 2 Tbs of olive oil in a pan.  Add the onions and cook on low-to-medium heat until they become transparent.  Then add the vinegar and a little salt to taste, and cook a few minutes more until the onions absorb the vinegar.

6.  Spoon the cooked onions on top of the plantains in the serving bowl, and you're done!


Ready to eat.
We hope you will enjoy trying out these recipes.  We certainly have loved just the few test tastes we've had so far, and can't wait until potluck tonight to really dig in.  And I'll tell ya -- sleeping all night with those wonderful smells permeating the house was a challenge.  =)


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

German Chocolate Cake with Ooey-Gooey Caramely Coconut Frosting


I know, I know -- I haven’t posted here in f.o.r.e.v.e.r.  But I want to get back to it, at least once in a while; if not to share recipes and adventures with others, but also to have a record of things that I want to do again (i.e. a place to easily find them).

And away we go….

This week, on Monday night in fact, I made a German Chocolate Cake for an awesome friend’s birthday on Tuesday night.  It was only the second or third time I’d ever made a cake from scratch at home.  I had hesitated to make scratch cakes because they just aren’t the same as boxed ones, and we (the collective we of society) have become so accustomed to what comes out of those boxes that the texture, and even the color, of homemade cakes can seem….odd.  Right?  But Jason reminded me that this is what cakes are *supposed* to be like, and being a food purist/snob/=P, I realize that this is the way I should have been making cakes all along, and it’s also how I *will* make cakes from now on.  From scratch.

The recipe looks complicated at first, but it really wasn’t.  A little time-consuming?  Yes.  But totally worth it.  And like I said to the group before we cut into this thing: “It isn’t the prettiest cake, but hell if it ain’t gonna taste good; between the cake and frosting it contains almost a full pound of butter!"

I Googled as I usually do to find a recipe that I thought looked good, and settled on this one because it calls for buttermilk, which we just happened to have some leftover from making pancakes with no real ideas in sight as to how else to use it up.

The very few inconsequential changes that I made to the recipe I have marked in red.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 pkg.  (4 oz.) BAKER'S GERMAN'S Sweet Chocolate
  • ½ cup  water
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2 cups  flour
  • 1 tsp.  baking soda
  • ¼ tsp.  salt
  • 1 cup  butter, softened
  • 2 cups  sugar
  • 1 tsp.  vanilla
  • 1 cup  buttermilk

DIRECTIONS:

HEAT oven to 350°F.

COVER bottoms of 3 (9-inch) -- I only used two -- round pans with waxed paper; spray sides with cooking spray. Microwave chocolate and water in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1-1/2 to 2 min. or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 1 min. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.

BEAT egg whites in small bowl with mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form; set aside. Mix flour, baking soda and salt. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating until well blended after each addition.

ADD egg whites; stir gently until well blended. Pour into prepared pans.

BAKE 30 min -- I had to bake mine longer because I was using fewer pans -- or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Immediately run small spatula around cakes in pans. Cool cakes in pans 15 min.; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

While the cakes are baking, prepare the frosting….

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 can  (12 oz.) evaporated milk
  •   tsp.  vanilla
  •  cups  sugar
  • ¾ cup  butter or margarine
  • 1 pkg.  (7 oz.) BAKER'S ANGEL FLAKE Coconut (2-2/3 cups)
  • 1-1/2 cups  chopped PLANTERS Pecans (I omitted the nuts due to a guest's allergy)
DIRECTIONS:

BEAT egg yolks, milk and vanilla in large saucepan with whisk until well blended. Add sugar and butter; cook on medium heat 12 min. or until thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. (I found that I had to cook it for a lot longer than 12 minutes to get a good, thick consistency suitable for spreading as a frosting that wouldn't run off the cake.  I probably hit 25 minutes.  I also didn't stir it constantly, and alternated down to low heat during the times I wasn't actively stirring it.  But beware, it will build up hidden bubbles if you don't stir constantly, and then explode/splash very hot caramel sugar onto you when you being stirring again.)  Remove from heat.

ADD coconut and nuts; mix well. Cool to desired spreading consistency.

Finally, spread the frosting between the cake layers and onto top of cake.

This was a very heavy cake.  I was actually surprised at how literally heavy it came out, given that it seemed very fluffy (whipped egg whites) when it went into the oven.  I suppose a lot of the weight comes from the frosting.  Just beware when cutting slices -- go thin.  It's quite a substantial dessert.