What SheSays: Caribbean Sun Buffet

Caribbean Sun Buffet (serves approx. 12)
Spanish Wines
Caribbean or Mexican Beers (Red Stripe, Corona etc.)
Assorted Tortilla & Plantain Chips
*Mango Salsa
*Corn, Black Bean, Avocado & Tomato Salad with Chipotle-Lime Dressing
*Spicy Cole Slaw
*Cuban Roasted Pork with Mojo
Corn & Flour Tortillas
*Cuban Sandwiches
*Orange cupcakes with anisette-orange syrup or orange-amaretto syrup
Spicy dark chocolate

Mojito (makes 1) (can be made up to two weeks in advance)
Over crushed ice add 2 ½ tbsp. **minted syrup, 1 jigger rum, juice from ½ lime & splash of club soda
**Minted Syrup (can be made ahead) Bring to boil then simmer, 1 cup sugar and 1cup of water until sugar is dissolved. Take off heat and throw in a 1 ½ cups mint leaves and steep for an hour. Strain and store in a covered container in the refrigerator until ready to use (may keep up to two weeks). Besides mojitos, I love using mint syrup on fresh melon and berries!

Mango Salsa (can be made up to a week in advance). This is a family favorite!
2 mangoes diced
1 red pepper diced
4 plum tomatoes diced (or 2 large tomatoes) – whatever looks best!
½ red onion diced (Or more if you like onion)
½ jalapeno pepper, seeded & finely diced
2 tbsp. Olive oil
2 tbsp. Apple cider vinegar
Juice of one lemon & juice of two limes
1/2 to 1 tsp. of red pepper flakes (adjust to your desire of heat) & 2 tsp. ground cumin
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
-Combine all ingredients except cilantro, cover and let sit one to two hours. Add cilantro before serving. May be refrigerated up to one week (It won’t last that long though because it’s yummy)!!

Corn, Black Bean, Tomato & Avocado Salad (can be made the day before but add avocado right before serving)
2 cans black beans rinsed and drained
2 cups frozen corn, thawed (fresh corn taken from ear then sautéed in a bit of olive oil is very yummy if you have time)!
1 cup sliced grape tomatoes
½ a finely diced chipotle from canned chipotle in adobo sauce (I added this to dressing below)
One to two avocadoes, large diced (if making ahead, add avocado right before serving)

Mix ingredients with Chipotle-Lime Vinaigrette (adapted from Recipe by alaskafromscratch)
Juice of two limes 1 ½ tbsp. honey
1tblsp apple cider vinegar 1 ½ tbsp. adobo sauce
2 tbsp. olive oil
-Whisk together dressing ingredients then toss with all salad ingredients except avocado up to day before. Add diced avocado before serving.

Spicy Cole Slaw (Can dice and shred carrots the day before but slice cabbage fresh)
3 cups thinly sliced cabbage (I love purple for the color)
¼ cup finely diced yellow onion
3 grated carrots
Mix with dressing (can be made the day before and refrigerated)
1/3 cup mayo ½ tsp. celery seed
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. sugar
-whisk dressing ingredients together and store covered in refrigerator until use
-toss dressing, sliced cabbage, onion and carrot before serving.

Cuban Roasted Pork with Mojo Sauce (Cuban Pork Pernil adapted from justapinch.com Pernil O Pierna Asada Estilo Cubano) (May be roasted the day before and reheated)
5-6 pound pork roast shoulder
1 ½ tbsp. kosher salt
*2 cups mojo sauce
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 large yellow onion
-The night before roasting cut several slits around pork roast and rub with kosher salt. Next massage in 1 cup of mojo sauce into pork then sprinkle oregano, ground cumin and freshly ground pepper. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
-Take out of refrigerator and let sit on counter for one hour before roasting.
-Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
-Roast in preheated oven four to five hours until juices are clear and meat is fall apart tender. Baste with ½ cup of mojo sauce.
-Remove roast when done and let rest. Let pork cool to touch then shred or slice.
-Remove quite a bit of fat from pan drippings. (I put pan drippings in refrigerator to cool. Fat then hardens making it very easy to removes).
-To pan drippings, add thinly sliced yellow onion and sauté until onions are tender, and then add remaining ½ cup mojo sauce
– Add reserved pork back into onion mixture.
**Pork can either be shredded or sliced. Serve sliced pork over black beans and rice. Shredded pork can be served on tortillas with slaw and various salsas. Pork can also be used for traditional Cuban sandwiches.
Mojo Sauce
There are many variations for mojo sauce, some with oil and some without. When using the marinade for roast pork you really don’t need the oil as pork has enough fat. If using the marinade for poultry, fish or beef the oil helps to keep the meat from drying out. Mojo sauce calls for sour oranges. Typically around here we can’t find sour oranges, therefore a combination of orange and lime juice is used. Here is the sauce that I used.
Juice of three oranges Cloves from one head of garlic, peeled
Juice of one lemon 2 tbsp. fresh oregano (or 2 tsp. dried oregano)
Juice of two limes 1 tsp. ground cumin 1 tsp. salt
Freshly ground pepper
-Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until liquefied. This should yield approximately two cups.

Cubano Sandwich
I had a sandwich like this for the first time in the airport in Port au Prince, Haiti so although not in Cuba, the sandwich I had was a take on the recipe below!

2- 16 in French bread (not baguette) or hoagie loaves (unless you can find Cuban bread…)
Yellow mustard- like good ol’ French’s (some sites argue that a traditional Cubano does not have mustard but only butter, so if you don’t like mustard, leave it off)!
Shredded or sliced pork
Deli ham (traditional cubano) or deli smoked turkey (because I have a lot of pork here)!
Mild Swiss cheese
Sliced dill pickles – sliced lengthwise makes it easy
-Bring ingredients to room temperature so that when grilling sandwiches the bread doesn’t burn before the cheese melts!
-Slice loaves lengthwise.
-Spread yellow mustard on each side of bread
-Layer 3-4 slices of ham or turkey on one side of bread
-Follow with a nice heap of sliced or shredded pork
-Lay pickle slices on top of pork
-Layer 3-4 slices of Swiss cheese
-Close and butter the outside of bread
-Use either a sandwich press or a griddle.
-Grill approx. 8-10 minutes with sandwich press, until cheese melts.
-If using a griddle, place a cast iron skillet or a heavy brick wrapped in tin foil to provide the “press” and grill on both sides (approx. 4-5 minutes per side until cheese melts).
– Since I’m serving as part of a buffet, I slice each sandwich diagonally into 2-3 inch slices.

Orange Cupcakes with Orange-Anisette syrup or Orange-Amaretto syrup
I have yet to duplicate a yummy yellow, citrus flavored cake we were served at the celebration dinner as we ended our work in Pignon, Haiti. The recipe below is a variation on an orange cupcake but uses syrup traditionally used for a Cuban Capuchino Cake (not to be confused with the coffee drink).
Cupcake recipe (adapted from recipe by Diane Rattray, southernfood.about.com)
1 cup softened unsalted butter
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. Vanilla
1 tbsp. orange zest
½ cup orange juice
3 cups all-purpose flour (I used unbleached)
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Line 20-22 muffin tin with paper liners. I also lightly spray the paper liners
-Sift together dry ingredients (flour, baking soda & salt) in one bowl.
– In separate bowl, beat softened butter and sugar until light, then beat in eggs one at a time.
-Add vanilla, orange juice and zest to sugar-egg mixture until blended.
-Slowly beat in half of flour mixture.
-Blend in Buttermilk then beat in remaining flour mixture until smooth and blended.
-Fill muffin cups about ¾ full.
-Bake 20-25 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
-While warm and still in pan, spoon approximately 1 tsp. of orange based syrup on each cupcake.
-Serve warm or cold.
*Orange-Anisette syrup (found in some Cuban sites – anisette has a licorice flavor)
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup orange juice
½ cup water
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp. Anisette liquor
Bring first four ingredients to a boil then simmer until sugar is dissolved. Add anisette. Keep warm.
*Orange-Amaretto syrup (because I like an almond flavor better than a licorice flavor)!
1 ½ cups orange juice
½ cup sugar
1 tbsp. orange zest
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. amaretto
Bring first three ingredients to a boil then simmer until sugar is dissolved. Add butter and amaretto. Keep warm.

**Since I used two different syrups, I cut the syrup recipes in half and still had plenty of syrup!!

The Lost Italian: Rhubarb granita

Tony Nasello shows us a thirst-quenching Sicilian dessert with a local twist that’s perfect for those hot summer days

Rhubarb Granita

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 pound rhubarb, cut into ½-inch slices
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
Juice of half a lemon, freshly squeezed

1. Combine all ingredients in a sauce pot, and cook over medium-high for at least 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. All the sugar should be dissolved and the rhubarb will begin breaking down in texture. For a more intense flavor, cook for 40 to 45 minutes.
2. When ready, place a large fine-mesh strainer over a shallow baking dish (9-by-13-inch glass or metal pan). Use a ladle to transfer the rhubarb liquid to the strainer, a spoonful at a time. Gently use the back of the ladle to push the liquid through the sieve, while keeping the pulp of the rhubarb out of the mixture. Remove the rhubarb mush periodically from the strainer and discard.
When finished straining the liquid, the mixture should be clear and pink, and no higher than one inch of the dish. If there are any particles in the mixture, you will need to strain again until it is clear.
3. Place the dish in the freezer – do not cover. To achieve the proper texture of a granita, the liquid must be scraped with a force every 30 minutes for 2 to 3 hours. Scrape the length of the pan (not the width) back and forth with a fork, about 10 times each way. Once you’ve completed all the scraping, cover with plastic wrap or tin foil and freeze until serving.
4. To serve, use a round ice cream scoop and garnish with fresh mint or lemon balm. To vary this recipe, you can add strawberries, fresh mint, raspberries, nutmeg or ginger to the rhubarb while it’s cooking.

Keep in the freezer up to one week.

Hungry for More: Oysters Rockefeller

What better way to spend a day than slurping down some oysters?
JT Cigarro’s Chef Anthony Bachmann shows “Hungry for More” host Jim Manney just how it’s done but takes it a step further and whips up the famous “Oysters Rockefeller.”
With simple ingredients such as olive oil, spinach and a shallot, it doesn’t take much. But a hint of Sambuca is what really sends this dish over the edge.
Sambuca is an anise-flavored Italian liqueur, giving a dish a taste of fennel or black licorice.
Just top with bread crumbs and bake, easy as that.

Oysters Rockefeller
6 oysters
1 shallot
Olive oil
2 cups spinach
1 tablespoon clear Sambuca
Bread crumbs

-Shuck oysters.
-Chop shallot and sauté in olive oil. When shallots are translucent, add spinach. Once cooked down, deglaze with Sambuca. Place spinach mixture over oysters and top with bread crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees until bread crumbs are golden brown.

Minnesota Lake Afternoon Buffet

They are the afternoons we dream about on cold January days. A light breeze blows off the lake, the warm sun beating down on the dock, and a group of friends coming over to your lake place for dinner. It’s always fun to throw some steaks, burgers or hot dogs on the grill. But why not celebrate all that is Minnesota with a Minnesota Lake Afternoon cookout? This spread was created by lake lover Cheryl Lausch and includes walleye, wild rice, and rhubarb. All Minnesota staples. All that’s missing is a loon calling in the distance. For a complete listing of recipes including rhubarb cake and lemonade with blueberry ice cubes, go to shesaystv.areavoices.com.

Pan-fried Walleye Almandine (adapted from ricardocuisine.com)

4 Walleye Fillets
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. butter
Juice of ¼ lemon
Splash of White wine
¼ cup slivered almonds
2 tsp. chopped capers (optional)

Bring walleye fillets to room temperature & season with salt & pepper.In a large non-stick skillet, heat pan over high heat until hot.Reduce heat to medium hot and add oil & half the butter.Add fish to pan so they are not crowded.Fry approximately three to four minutes a side until brown and center is flaky.Remove fish from pan to a warmed platter.Add remaining butter, juice of lemon, splash of wine, almonds and capers if desired.Poor sauce over fish and serve!

Wild Rice Salad

1 1/3 cup wild rice (preferably from Minnesota)!
3 ½ cups vegetable broth
2-3 stalks celery
1 red pepper
1 cup dried apricots
1/3 yellow onion
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt & pepper
¾ – 1 cup chopped parsley

Add wild rice & broth to pan and bring to a boil. Then simmer 35-40 minutes covered. Uncover to let liquid evaporate. Cook until al dente. You may need to drain rice. Set aside to cool.While rice cooks, dice celery, red pepper, apricots & onions.Wisk vinegar & olive oil then season to taste with salt & pepper.Toss together rice, chopped vegetables and dressing. If needed, add a squeeze of lemon juice to taste instead of salt. Mix in chopped parsley.Serve at room temperature.

Erma Mabel’s Rhubarb Cake, from The Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York.

½ cup butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 ½ cups chopped rhubarb (about 4 stalks)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Butter and flour 11 x 7 non-reactive baking dish.Cream butter and sugar until light, then mix in eggs one at a time.In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.Combine the milk and vanilla in another separate bowl.Alternate adding dry ingredients and milk/vanilla to butter mixture.Spread 2/3 of the batter in the prepared pan, and then sprinkle the rhubarb over batter.Spread remaining 1/3 of batter on top of rhubarb, spreading evenly but lightly so that rhubarb isn’t
pushed to bottom.Bake 35-40 minutes until golden brown and a knife inserted into center comes out clean.

Serve food with cold lemonade and blueberry ice cubes (made by pouring lemonade and two or three blueberries into ice cube trays).

Hungry for More: Bolognese sauce

Last week on “Hungry for More,” we brought you Homemade Roasted Garlic Spinach Pasta, and this week we bring you the perfect sauce to go along with it.
Host Jim Manney is back at the Beefsteak Club with Chef Scott Motschenbacher to show us a Bolognese Sauce.
This sauce is made with fresh garlic, red wine, stewed tomatoes and a crowd favorite – bacon.
Chef Motschenbacher also uses a homemade demi-glace, but says beef stock will do the trick as well.
With just 10 minutes max cooking time, paired with the easy-to-make fresh pasta, it’ll be hard to go back to the boxed and jarred stuff.
A little extra effort goes a long way.

Bolognese Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh garlic
¼ cup red wine
4 ounces applewood bacon (diced)
2 cups stewed tomatoes
1 cup demi-glace or beef stock

Sauté garlic in butter and oil just until roasted. Deglaze with red wine. Add bacon. Cook for three to five minutes. Add tomatoes and demi-glace, and reduce by a third. Add fresh pasta and toss; garnish with fresh Parmesan.

The Great Indoors: How to make sure vintage doesn’t equal junky

It’s been almost a month since cleanup week found antique lovers and bargain hunters rummaging through piles of would-be garbage on the city’s curbs. Perhaps you’re one of them; excited at first by what you found, now looking at it and wondering “what am I going to do with this thing?”

It’s something vintage decorators like Shannon Olson and Carrie Brusven understand. Olson writes a blog (vintagenorthdakotakitchen.areavoices.com) on her love of vintage decorating and baking. Brusven owns Rustic Trunk, a business which specializes in decorating for events using vintage or rustic pieces.

Both of their homes are covered in vintage pieces from the 19th and 20th century, much of it acquired from clean-up week, garage sales and discount bins. The rooms are full of conversation pieces. They feel warm and welcoming and you don’t feel like you’re sitting in the middle of a junk pile. But how do they do it? How do you avoid having your collections and vintage pieces from making your house feel cluttered? Here are their tips.

1. Find what you love and stick to it. Olson says she’s always loved enamel ware and old coffee pots. So when she sees one she picks it up. She doesn’t bother with something that’s close, but not quite right. All that will do is add to the clutter and it won’t ever be a favorite piece. The item should really speak to you. If it’s nice, but not quite right pass it up. Brusven especially likes pieces that have a story with them. That way it’s not just a knick knack on a shelf, it’s history.

2. A collection can be three items not 30. Collectors get obsessed. They see something they like and they think they need to have every one ever made. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to buy it. Or consider buying it, but only displaying a handful. Brusven agrees. “When you have too many items on display, nothing stands out.” Less can be more.

3. While shopping at garage sales or on the curb consider the strategy of one in/one out. If you bring something home to use in decorating your home, consider taking something else away and putting it on your own curb for clean up week.

4. Vintage can be practical. There’s no reason vintage decorations can’t be functional too. Olson found an old rake handle in her neighbor’s garbage. She attached it to an old wooden cabinet door and uses it to hang necklaces in her bathroom. Her photo from the project has been a hit on Pinterest. Brusven found an old beat up cabinet that she repurposed into a lemonade stand or guest book stand for use at weddings or other events.

“No one would have wanted this thing. But we worked with it and it’s really a cute and fun piece now,” she says.

5. You’d be surprised what a little TLC can do. If you see something that’s really beat up, give it a little tender loving care and it can come back to life. Olson found an old dresser like one her grandmother once owned. It brought back so many memories but the top of the dresser was trashed. But Olson took it and gave it new life. She found old sheet music and covered the top of the dresser in it. That piece has become the primary dresser in her master bedroom.

For more ideas on vintage decorating and baking, visit Shannon Olson’s blog at vintagenorthdakotakitchen.areavoices.com and for more information on decorating for events go to rustictrunk.com.

The Lost Italian: Mojita chicken with corn salsa

Mojito Chicken

Serves 4-6
6 boneless, skinless split chicken breasts (if using whole breasts, cut in half, lengthwise)
½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
zest from one lime
½ cup light rum (can also use coconut, dark, or spiced rum)
15 to 20 fresh mint leaves, cut chiffonade style
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
½ cup olive oil

-Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl or baking dish first, then toss the chicken in the mixture, making sure each piece is evenly coated. Cover the dish and refrigerate for two to four hours.
-When ready, grill the chicken on a hot, clean and lubricated grill. Grill on one side over direct heat for about five minutes until grill marks set in. Turn and grill on other side and grill over indirect heat for at least 10 minutes, until fully cooked. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness at 180 degrees.
-When chicken is done, transfer to plates or serving platter and enjoy. Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to two days.

Grilled Corn Salsa

Serves 4-6
8 ears of grilled corn (remove the kernels after grilling)
1 red bell pepper, small dice
1 orange bell pepper, small dice
1 red onion, small dice
1 cup grape tomatoes, small dice
8 to 10 leaves of mint, cut into thin strips, chiffonade-style
8 leaves of sweet basil, cut into thin strips, chiffonade-style
1 jalapeno, small dice
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

-Mix ingredients together, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be prepared up to two days in advance.

Hungry for More: Homemade spinach & roasted garlic pasta

Why make your own pasta when you can easily just pour a box of store-bought noodles into a pot of boiling water?
As Chef Scott Motschenbacher shows “Hungry for More” host Jim Manney, the difference between the two leaves no competition.
Plus, you probably have most all the ingredients sitting right in your home.
The only hitch may be the pasta roller, which you can find at any cooking supplies store for a very reasonable price.
Chef Motschenbacher demonstrates how to ramp up your homemade pasta with spinach and roasted garlic.
You can add a little spice to yours too with a variety of different flavors, like sun-dried tomatoes, roasted bell peppers and a variety of spices.
Don’t wait for a special occasion, try this spinach and roasted garlic pasta or add your own twist to blow that box pasta right out of the water.

Spinach and roasted garlic pasta
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon roasted garlic
1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
2 ounces fresh spinach
2 cups all-purpose flour

-Blend in food processor and knead with extra flour. Set for 1 hour.
-Put through pasta roller until you get to the smallest setting, then put through as whichever pasta you desire.
-Cook in salted boiling water until a minute after floating.