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Miami Spice : The New Florida Cuisine
The new star of the culinary galaxy is South Florida, declares The New York Times. And no wonder. Out of America's tropical melting pot comes an inventive cuisine bursting with flavor--and now Steven Raichlen, an award-winning food writer, shares the best of it in Miami Spice. With 200 recipes and firsthand reports from around the state, Miami Spice captures the irresistible convergence of Latin, Caribbean, and Cuban influences with Florida's cornucopia of stone crabs, snapper, plantains, star fruit, and other exotic native ingredients (most of which can be found today in supermarkets around the country).
Main selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club's HomeStyle Books. Winner of a 1993 IACP/Julia Child Cookbook Award.
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January 11, 1993
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Excerpt from Miami Spice by Steven Raichlen
Ropa Vieja This and the Vaca Frita on page 235 are mainstays of the Cuban-American diet. Both are made with skirt steak, a stingy cut of meat with the poetic name of fajita (girdle) in Spanish. Skirt steak can be found at Hispanic markets, Jewish butcher shops, and at an increasing number of supermarkets. Flank steak makes an acceptable substitute. Both recipes call for the meat to be boiled with aromatic vegetables. The resulting broth makes a fabulous soup--simply add cooked noodles or rice. Ropa vieja--literally means "old clothes," and is an apt description of the shredded appearance of the meant. It is traditionally served with white rice and fried plantains. SERVES 4 1 1/2 pounds skirt-steak 1 small onion, quartered 1 tomato, quartered 1 carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces 2 cloves garlic, peeled TO FINISH THE DISH: 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 small onion, thinly sliced 1/2 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced 1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste 1/3 cup tomato puree 3 tablespoons dry white wine Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 1. Combine the beef, quartered onion, tomato, carrot, and garlic cloves with 6 cups of water in a large pot. Bring to a boil over a high heat. Skim off the scum that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat and simmer the beef, uncovered, skimming often, until tender, 30 to 40 minutes. 2. Strain the meat, reserving the broth for soup. Let the meat cool. Tear it, along the grain, into pencil-thick strips. 3. Heat the oil in a large nonreactive frying pan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic, sliced onion, and bell peppers and cook until soft but not brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the meat, cumin, tomato puree, wine, and salt and pepper. Cook until the meat is well coated with the sauce and the sauce is reduced and flavorful, about 5 minutes. Correct the seasonings, adding salt and pepper to taste. Boniato Gratin The name boniato ( a Cuban sweet potato) comes from the Spanish word for "good" or "harmless." The early explorers of the Caribbean encountered a bewildering array of new plants--many of them poisonous. In a world of strange and sometimes toxic foods, the nourishing boniato must have made a welcome addition to the settlers' diet. The coffee liqueur brings out the sweetness of the boniato. SERVES 6 2 pounds boniatos, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice Salt 1/2 cup heavy (or whipping) cream 1/2 cup Chicken Stock (see page 329) or canned broth 1 tablespoon coffee liqueur Freshly ground black pepper Pinch of grated nutmeg 1/4 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs 2 tablespoons butter 1. Boil the boniato in salted water to cover (at least 2 quarts) until very tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain the boniato and return to the pan. 2. Mash the boniato to a coarse puree with a potato masher or fork. Work in the cream, stock, coffee liqueur, salt, pepper, an nutmeg. The mixture should be highly seasoned and moist. If necessary, add a little more stock. 3. Spoon the boniato mixture into a lightly buttered 8-inch gratin dish. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs and dot with the butter. (The recipe can be prepared several hours ahead to this stage.) 4. Preheat the oven to 400 F. 5. Just before serving, bake the gratin until crusty and golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Nontraditional Key Lime Pie Whipped cream or meringue? The question is hotly debated whenever the subject of key lime pie comes up. For example, I prefer meringue, while my wife, Barbara, favors whipped cream. So, this recipe offers both possibilities. Traditional key lime pie recipes call for the filling ingredients to be beaten but not cooked. Nowadays for safety's sake, we're better off cooking eggs rather than serving them raw. SERVES 8 TO 10 CRUST: 1 1/4 cups cinnamon graham cracker cr