Miami

Braised Beef Back Ribs With Glazed Baby Rainbow Carrots

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All chef’s, once in a while :

WTF did I come in here for ??? 🙂


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Once in a while, I come across an unbelievable food bargain that I just MUST buy; these ribs are a typical example.
I had to go downtown Miami this morning, so on the way back home, I stopped at my Argentinian butcher in Hialeah to get some empanadas for lunch. There I saw these beautiful beef ribs for $ 3.95, which is less than a pack of chicken wings of equal weight will cost me at my neighborhood grocery store – go figure 😦
So, I had the empanadas for lunch, then started the ribs for a full-fledged, big and yummy dinner 🙂
(My butcher’s empanadas are as close to Argentinian empanadas as can be, nothing like the crappy ones one can usually get around here. After all, he is Argentinian)
But now let’s talk a bit about today’s beef rib dinner.
If you look at the pics of the preparation below, you might notice that the ratio of onions to meat is very high, about 2 to 1 in quantity. The reason is that since I usually don’t use red wine (or any other alcohol) in my cooking anymore, I like to add additional flavor and color by increasing the amount of caramelized onions and add some apple cider. It does not replace the red wine taste, but rather substitute one great flavor with another one. Also, instead of using flour to thicken the sauce, once the meat is tender, I remove it and set it aside, then push the onions through a fine mesh sieve and simmer the sauce another few minutes to thicken it.
And there you have it – another day, another wonderful meal 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Beef Ribs  on  ChefsOpinion
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Click here for  Pork Ribs  on  ChefsOpinion
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Braised Beef Back Ribs With Glazed Baby Rainbow Carrots

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Braised Beef Back Ribs With Glazed Baby Rainbow Carrots

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Braised Beef Back Ribs With Glazed Baby Rainbow Carrots

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Braised Beef Back Ribs With Glazed Baby Rainbow Carrots

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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Potato Soup With Smoked Pork Shanks, Fried Shallots And BBQ’d Corn

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Am  I the only one who wishes dishes like this would widely be available in restaurants??
I am getting so very tired of seeing the same, mostly mediocre food on most restaurant menus. Of course there are a few exceptions, but these are mostly very high-end and not within reach of most of us on a regular basis. Then there are the ethnic restaurants, but most of them serve the same, “Westernized or Americanized fare. Same steaks, same salads, same sandwiches, same pasta dishes, same stews, etc, etc, etc.
I long for “the good old times” of food service, when restaurants had personality and the menu was a mirror of the chef’s ideas, passion, culinary abilities and standards, as well as the seasons and regions offerings and the owners personal and professional pride.
Going to a new restaurant used to be about discovering new dishes, new ingredients, new pairings, new preparations, new presentations. Most of all, it was about food – how it looked, smelled, tasted. People used to eat not one monster-sized dish, but a menu consisting of dishes of different textures, colors, fragrance, taste and presentation, harmoniously presented in logical order and appreciated for the effort that went into it to be as perfect a meal as possible. Most of all, one was able to identify the food that was presented, by its looks, aroma and taste. Customers appreciated any food that was prepared to a high standard, no matter how expensive and rare or how simple and ordinary the raw ingredients were. What counted was the mastery with which raw ingredients were transformed into food that could be enjoyed for its own sake.
My point, you ask?
A few days ago I was invited to one of the most famous, most expensive, most “in” restaurants in Miami, situated in one of the very  fancy and famous hotels down by the beach.
The surroundings were breathtakingly beautiful, the service excellent, the menu sounded exciting and alluring.
There were eight of us, mostly hospitality professionals and the host of our party who has traveled the world and is a food-fanatic. We ordered twelve appetizers,three different soups, twelve main courses, a variety of desserts and cheeses, all to be tasted and shared between us. Most folks had wine, a couple had beers and I had water. We had apéritif’s (OJ for me) and coffee.
The bill was $2330.00, plus tip.
While this seems reasonable for the location, the amount of food and the good wine, the quality of the food would have warranted a total bill of maybe $800.00 😦
While some of the dishes were complete misses, most of what we ate was decent and some of it was actually good, NONE of it was very good, let alone outstanding. Halfway through the meal we started talking longingly about really good food  we had in other restaurants, cities and countries (none of it in Miami).
I have read numerous reviews about this place, some good, some bad, some so so. But my own experience at this place has once more convinced me that the main reason we have so many mediocre restaurants around here is because most of the clientele at such “modern, popular dining establishments” are not handicapped by good taste, experience or common sense but rather solely interested to see and to be seen by like-minded folks for which the quality of the food is secondary. Therefore so many “Chefs” who are less than qualified to be at the helm of a great restaurant are heading a bunch of restaurants who exist only because of huge sums of money spend on PR instead of being spend on talent in the service and the kitchen.
Well folks, I had to vent a bit here……….
So, back down to earth and to the dish at hand, which I and most of my fellow diners in our group would have gladly exchanged for the offerings we received at said restaurant 🙂
And there you have it.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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P.S.
Please note that I am aware that there are many excellent restaurants to be found in this country (very few in Miami)
However, it usually takes a good amount of luck, insider knowledge and/or money to find and enjoy them.
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Click here for more  Soup  on  ChefsOpinion
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Potato Soup With Smoked Pork Shanks, Fried Shallots And BBQ'd Corn

Potato Soup With Smoked Pork Shanks, Fried Shallots And BBQ’d Corn

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Potato Soup With Smoked Pork Shanks, Fried Shallots And BBQ'd Corn

Potato Soup With Smoked Pork Shanks, Fried Shallots And BBQ’d Corn

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Potato Soup With Smoked Pork Shanks, Fried Shallots And BBQ'd Corn

Potato Soup With Smoked Pork Shanks, Fried Shallots And BBQ’d Corn

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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Sandwich Cubano

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Many  years ago, in the seventies and early eighties, whenever I was spending time in Florida, partying about town nightly in Fort Lauderdale (home port for RVL)  and Miami (home port for RCCL), the “Cubano” was a welcome midnight snack, when, many a night, its substantial mass and rustic deliciousness saved me and my friends from drowning in too many “Cuba Libres” and “Cervezas” 😦 🙂
The “Cubano” and its close cousin, the “Media Noche“, were omnipresent from morning until the wee-hours in small restaurants, food trucks and “Cantinas”, whereas nowadays it has been widely and sadly replaced by burgers and hot dogs and you can only find good “Cubanos” in local chains like “La Carreta” and a few remaining traditional Cuban restaurants and neighborhood dives.
Here now my tribute to this wonderful, simple, original sandwich.
“The Sandwich Cubano” – old-fashioned comfort food at its finest !
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Bon Appetit !   Life is Good !
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P.S.
If you don’t have a sandwich press, griddle or cast iron pan, wrap two bricks in alu-foil, preheat in oven at 500F, place sandwich between the bricks and bake in oven until golden and crisp, about 15 min.
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Click here for  Chicharones
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Click here for  Media Noche Sandwich
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Click here for all about  Sandwich Cubano
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Sandwich Cubano

Sandwich Cubano

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Sandwich Cubano

Sandwich Cubano

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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Lunch At The China Pavillion

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One  should think that living in a city like Miami will offer the opportunity for endless good food. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. Good restaurants are hard to come by around here, especially on a down to earth budget. ( Say $50 Per person for lunch, food only). While some  (few) great restaurants and a bunch of acceptable joints do exist, sadly, most folks around here still think seared mahi mahi with mango salsa or a breaded fish sandwich with coleslaw and fries is on the forefront of culinary innovation. Therefore, I usually stick to the handful of great ethnic restaurants I have grown to love and enjoy over the years. I know where to find great portuguese, italian, korean, vietnamese, russian and chinese food.
Last sunday I went to my favorite dim sum place, “China Pavillion ” in Pembroke Pines.
On weekends during lunch time the place is frequented by mostly chinese customers, which is usually an indicator of authentic food. Maria and I have been going there for many years, sometimes three times a week. The decor is your standard crappy shabbiness and most of the waitresses would not win awards for friendliness. But here is where “the bad” ends.
The food is extremely reasonable and very good, the service usually is fast and efficient. All in all a great lunch experience when the craving for authentic dim sum at a reasonable price level wins out on your lunch choice. I usually order ten to twelve portions for me, but that will then be my only meal for the day.
Great place to meat with friends and share the menu up and down again until somebody finally moans “enough” 🙂

Bon Appetit !   Life is Good !
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Steamed Honey Comb Tripe , Ginger, Scallions

Steamed Honey Comb Tripe , Ginger, Scallions

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Braised Veal Ribs, Fermented Black Beans

Braised Veal Ribs, Fermented Black Beans

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Fried Crab Balls

Fried Crab Balls

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Steamed Crab Dumplings

Steamed Crab Dumplings

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Roast Pork "Paste"

Roast Pork “Paste”

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Steamed Buns With BBQ'd Pork

Steamed Buns With BBQ’d Pork

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Steamed Buns With BBQ’d Pork

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My Kind Of ” Finger Food “

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Sunday night and monday evening was very cold here in Miami, so cold in fact I actually had to turn on the central heating system in order to be comfortable in the house. So, in order to help with the comforting process, I prepared two dishes which aided greatly in the warming of soul and belly :

Sunday afternoon :
Smoked pig’s tail’s”
with fresh horse radish and potatoes fried in rendered duck fat “.

Monday afternoon :
Spinach, Potato, Sausage & Cheese Casserole”
(I’ll post that in the next few day’s).
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Simmer the smoked pigs’ tails in salted water with kosher salt, lot’s of garlic and cayenne pepper until very tender but not falling apart. Grate the horseradish very fine and mix with salt and lemon juice. Fry the potatoes in rendered duck fat, starting with cold fat and slowly increasing the temperature to 375 F. The potatoes will be creamy on the inside and crispy on the outside. Add the sliced chilis and onions for the last few seconds of frying. Remove to absorbent paper and sprinkle with sea salt.
Enjoy a great , simple meal;  “Finger food”  at it’s finest  🙂
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Bon Appetit !   Keep Warm And Cozy 🙂

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Chicken / Noodle Soup

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Tonight  we have lousy weather here in Miami, rainy, cold, windy. What better way to feel cozy and warm at home than to enjoy a good, rich, flavorful  chicken noodle soup ! Chicken legs, gizzards, cabbage, bok choy, ginger, garlic, jalapenos, peppers, onions, carrots, celery, maggi and chinese  egg noodles. Afterwards a good glass of merlot and early to bed – Bliss !
Tomorrow will be a good day  🙂
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” Chicken / Noodle Soup “

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Bon Appetit !   Life is Good !

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Pollo Al Mojo & Moros Y Cristianos

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Cuban  Style Mojo Chicken with rice and beans and lettuce /avocado salad in honey & lime vinaigrette
Here is a dish which is very popular in Cuba and because of that, it is popular here in  Miami as well  🙂
It is prepared in many different variations,  since each region, family and restaurant have their very own special recipe for  “Mojo

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Pollo Al Mojo & Moros Y Cristianos

Pollo Al Mojo & Moros Y Cristianos


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Ingredient’s :

2 teaspoons cumin seed
6 large garlic cloves, minced
1 large serrano chili, stemmed, minced
3/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons sour orange juice
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
6 chicken legs
kosher salt to taste

Method :

Stir cumin seeds in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat until seeds are fragrant and slightly darker in color, about 2 minutes. Transfer seeds to medium bowl. Add minced garlic, minced chili and salt to seeds; mash mixture with back of fork to form coarse paste. Heat olive oil in same skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, about 2 minutes. Pour hot olive oil over garlic mixture; stir to blend. Let stand 15 minutes. Whisk in orange juice and lime juice. Add chicken to marinade; turn to coat. Cover chicken and refrigerate over night.
Put chicken on a baking rack an roast until internal temperature has reached 160 F, all the while basting with the marinade. When done, remove from oven, let rest for 15 minutes. Carry-over heat will take the temperature to a safe 165 F, while leaving the chicken very moist and tender. Serve with avocado and lettuce salad and  “Moros & Cristianos“.
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Bon Provecho !   Life is Good !
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