I was in another Latin mood last week when I decided to make this recipe. I had a taste in my mouth for that combination of vinegar, olive oil, garlic and fresh herbs that chimichurri possesses and was simply looking for an excuse to make it, and a vehicle on which to consume it. Chimichurri is a traditional, uncooked condiment from Argentina that is used on grilled meats and fish. I could eat it on almost anything.

My inspiration for this came from a dish I’d eaten recently, grilled flank steak with chimichurri, at Cafe Dufrain in Harbour Island. Flank steak can be tough and needs to be marinated for a long time and I wanted a tender, thick and juicy hunk of meat, so I opted for a New York strip instead (my cut of choice). This cut of meat really doesn’t need to be marinated because it’s tender enough already, but I wanted to infuse a bit more flavor before throwing it on the grill. You can use any beer you’d like for the marinade (I used Dos Equis Amber) but I’d suggest a somewhat dark beer, like a Mexican amber beer or a medium ale, nothing too light or fruity. (more…)

tableside_guac

Forget tableside Caesar salad (so ’80s), it seems the hot new trend is tableside guacamole. Right in front of your eyes, your server will whip up a batch of fresh guacamole with your choice of mix-ins: onions, peppers, jalapenos, tropical fruit, cilantro, etc.

I’ve seen this trend at higher-end Mexican and Latin restaurants lately, like the renowned Boudro’s Texas Bistro in San Antonio, TX (read about my culinary adventure), and Cantina Laredo in Wesley Chapel, FL. But be prepared to shell out around 10 bucks for it, which seems to be the average. It’s all for the novelty and the show, I suppose. (more…)

paella

Every ethnic cuisine has their form of a one pot, rice-based dish that usually includes some form of meat and/or seafood with vegetables. One of my favorite versions of this is Spanish paella. Paella is traditionally made in a large pan called a “paellera” (go figure) with short- or medium-grain rice and given its characteristic yellow color from saffron threads, as well as its distinct flavor. Paella varies from region to region in Spain, the coastal areas include mostly seafood in theirs, such as mussels, clams and shrimp. Other traditional versions feature Spanish dry chorizo and even snails. While traditonal versions of paella are absolutely wonderful (definitely a must-try ethnic dish), I am hardly a traditionalist so I felt I had to put my own spin on it.

First of all, I didn’t feel like slaving over a hot stove to make my paella and I hadn’t used my fabulous rice cooker in ages, so I busted that bad boy out and got to work. I know I’ve already raved about all of the amazing things a rice cooker can do in a short amount of time, but I feel I must again and pay homage to my dear friend and kitchen appliance. Did I also mention it can cook rice perfectly? (more…)

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