Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top 7 Most Viewed, Liked and Shared Recipes of 2013 at The Fork Ran Away with the Spoon

I thought it would be fun to share The Fork Ran Away with the Spoon's "Top 7 Most Viewed, Liked and Shared Recipes of 2013". Why seven? Simple it's my favorite number  so why not. I'm still surprised at what made the top 7, especially number three "Baking Soda  as a Tenderizer".  It's funny how some of the recipes I think will gander lots of views, likes and shares, don't and those that I think won't, do.  You just never know. It's been a heck of ride creating this blog, some days it was such a drag, other days so frustrating but most days it's been fun, exciting and yes even thrilling. I learn something new everyday and I still get over-joyed when I see a "like", a "Plus", a comment and especially a "share". That never grows old. I've made a lot great friends along the way too, many other food bloggers who have supported and helped me along the way. That is priceless.

 And without further ado (drum roll please)... let's get started!

Number 1 Most Viewed Recipe:
5,326 Pageviews

Stuffed French Bread with Chicken, Bacon, Cheddar and Caramelized Onions

My Stuffed French Bread hits the flavor jackpot. The caramelized onions added the sweetness, the bacon the smokiness, the creamy ranch chicken was just that ... creamy and the cheese? Well it's cheese, does it really need any explanation or justification? I didn't think so!

Number 2 Most Viewed Recipe:
 3,035 Pageviews

Garlicky Tequila-Lime Grilled Shrimp-Kebabs with Cilantro-Garlic Aioli Sauce
My Garlicky Tequila-Lime Grilled Shrimp-Kebabs with Cilantro-Garlic Aioli Sauce is great for when you want to serve up something a little more special than just burger at your next BBQ. The shrimp in this recipe is marinaded in tequila, lots of garlic, cumin and of course lime. Kick up the spice level and add a one or more minced Thai chilies to set the stage for one sizzling hot shrimp! Served alongside my cilantro-garlic aioli sauce, it's a home run.

Number 3 Most Viewed Recipe:
2,836 Pageviews

Baking Soda  as a Tenderizer
Ever notice how Chinese restaurants get even the toughest cuts of meat to a level of tenderness no amount of mallet pounding could ever achieve at home? Or how the shrimp has an almost "velvety" texture to it? You can get the same results at home using their secret ... baking soda.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Creamy Turkey & Spinach Stuffed Crepes

The first time I made crepe was in November of  1987.  I can remember the date because I made 200 hundred chicken crepes for my own baby shower. Why did I decided to make my own food? Simple, I didn't really care for the alternative ... a catering company, of which there weren't that many decent affordable ones at the time.  I had an assembly line at my mom's house the night before the shower.  In attendance were my mom, my sister-in-law Sandra, my niece Aylin and of course ... me. We worked for several hours, talking, laughing, talking some more about ... what else, the baby.
It's an evening I will never forget and from then on crepes became a frequent meal at my home. That's how good those very first crepes were. Several years later, as the baby grew into a little girl, I use to make orange crepes for breakfast. To this day my daughter, Eryka, still remembers those breakfasts.
I use a basic crepe recipe for the crepe, which you can find at the end of the recipe.  The ingredients for the stuffing are fairly straightforward but when put together they create a creamy, luscious meal that your family will want often. The use of ground turkey really lightens up the crepes and keeps the meal feeling light. Pair it with a light salad, a glass of white wine and you have a well-rounded and satisfying meal.

Serves 4

1 lb ground turkey
2 tablespoons of butter
1 large frond of fresh dill,
2 large handfuls of spinach, kale, or whatever greens you have on hand.
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
1/2 cup of room temperature cream cheese
1/4 of half & half
2-4 grates of fresh nutmeg
8 crepes (basic recipe below)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Wine-Braised Beef Shanks in Garlic-Tomato Broth


I've gotten into buying beef shanks, probably not the most popular cut of meat but I can tell you it's amazingly rich in flavor. It's a cut of meat that lends itself to being braised and slow cooked. It's intensely beefy in flavor and oh so tender when cooked right. This recipe couldn't be easier. You marinate everything in a zip bag overnight and by everything I mean Burgundy wine, thyme, a whole head of garlic, shallots, and tomatoes. The next morning chuck the contents of the bag into your slow cooker and let it braise slowly all day. What you get is the most mouth-watering, tender and juicy beef, that's perfect over mashed potatoes,  rice or even ladled over large pieces of toasted, crusty, french bread. Next time you are at the market and see these under-appreciated and often overlooked beefy cuts, pick up a couple of packs, I promise you won't be disappointed and they are budget friendly too!

Serves 2-4

2-3 lbs beef shanks
1 1/2 cups Burgundy wine (or any red wine you have at home)
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 head of garlic, unpeeled, sliced in half
5-6 shallots, unpeeled, opposite end of the root cut off
1 28 oz whole tomatoes, undrained
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Place all the ingredients in a zip bag and allow to marinate, in the fridge, overnight or 24 hours if time permits. If marinating for 24 hours, turn bag often to distribute marinde, if overnight turn bag once.

Add all the ingredients to a slow cooker and cook on low for 8-9 hours, or on hi for 4-5 hours. Remove remove beef shanks set-aside. Remove shallots and garlic, allow to cool enough to handle. Remove peel from shallots, and squeeze garlic to expel the soft garlic paste. Strain liquid, reserve tomatoes and run liquid through a fat separator*. Return liquid, tomatoes, garlic paste to slow cooker and blend through using an immersion blender (or a regular blender if you don't have one).
Add shanks and peeled shallots back into the blended liquid. Beef will be tender and will probably have already fallen off the shank bones, you can discard bones or save them for your pooch or a beef stock.

Serve with mashed potatoes, egg noodles or rice. Or do what I do and toast up some crusty French bread, tear it off into big pieces and then ladle the meat, shallots and garlicky-tomato broth over the bread.  Yes, that is decadently delicious! Enjoy!

*Recipe note:  Personally, I think this meal tastes even better the next day, so I skip the fat separator part place everything in a large glass bowl in the fridge overnight. The next evening I just remove all the fat which will have solidified. Easier, less mess to clean up and I think much more effective way to remove the fat.  I then follow the rest of the steps in the recipe.

Monday, December 23, 2013

My Parent's Authentic Cuban Roast Pork

When I was a child, then a teenager and into my late 20's, I would watch my parents prepare Cuban Roast Pork for our Christmas eve dinner celebration. It led, on many occasions, to little friendly battles between my parents (Aida & Eloy) about how much of any one ingredient to add to the Mojo Sauce (pronounced "moe-ho"). When one parent would leave the kitchen, the other parent would sneak in more of the ingredient he or she thought the sauce needed more of. Believe me, this was funny and pretty darn entertaining to watch. In the end though they managed to pull off the most crazy good and delicious Cuban Roast Pork ever. It was so good that their friends would actually call them to make it for parties that they were hosting or going to. It took me many years to figure out the right ratio of garlic, spices and seasonings, because of course nothing was ever written down or measured. It was always a bit of this, a bunch of that, a palm full of this and that. I do have a few of my own tweaks that I think elevate the flavor, like the brine process, but the flavor is the beyond delicious, and the memories those flavor and smells evoke are always welcome and priceless. My brother and I carry on their tradition of celebrating on Christmas eve with roast pork, Cuban black beans, and yucca drenched in garlic-mojo sauce, it's how we pay respect and honor our cultural traditions.  So ... Feliz Navidad to all our readers and followers!

A few recipe notes: Prep time is at least 72 hours before the actual cooking time, so be sure to plan ahead.  This is one recipe where the brine and the  marinade (the Mojo sauce), need  time to do their thing, which is what makes the pork juicy, tender and divinely flavorful. Don't skip or rush any part of this recipe. The time investment is well worth it.

1 - 10 pound pork shoulder

For the Brine:
6 tablespoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 head of garlic smashed up (no need to remove peel)

In a microwave safe bowl, add four cups of water, heat until the water boils (about 3-4 minutes). Add salt and sugar, stir until dissolved, then add garlic. Allow to come to room temperature. Place your pork shoulder in a small Styrofoam cooler, add ice, the cooled brine solution and enough water to cover the pork shoulder. Brine for 12 - 24 hours, adding ice, if needed. Once the brine time is up, discard solution and go to the next step.

Tip: I have found that plain old Styrofoam coolers stay colder and the ice lasts way longer then insulated plastic coolers. If you don't have or want to buy a Styrofoam cooler and you have the space in your fridge then by all means use your fridge.  Space is a premium in my fridge so it's hard to have a large piece of pork, in a brine solution, in the fridge.

For Mojo (pronounced "moe-ho") Sauce 
30 cloves of garlic
3 teaspoons Kosher salt
3 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 onion chopped, finely
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons cumin
2 cups of sour orange juice
3 limes juiced
2 1/2 cups olive oil

Using a mortar and pestle, crush and mash up the garlic, salt and peppercorns.
Add the next 5 ingredients to a blender or food processor and the garlic mash from the pestle. Blend or pulse until smooth and all ingredients have been liquefied. Heat the olive oil until it reaches a temperature of about 220-225 degrees. We aren't frying here, we are infusing the flavors into the olive oil. Add in the liquefied ingredients, stir and gently heat through for 1 minute, then take it off the heat and let it cool completely.

Tip: Make the Mojo sauce the same day you begin the brine process, because the longer it sits, the more the spices, herbs and seasoning will meld!  Be sure to store it in the fridge. Take out a few hours before using so that it comes to room temperature.

To Prepare the Pork:
1-2 heads of garlic, cloves separated and skins removed.
Mojo Sauce
1 Large heavy duty turkey injector

Begin by straining the Mojo sauce to remove any bits that may clog your injector.  Do NOT throw out the bits captured by the strainer. Set aside.
Score the skin in 2 to 3 places. Do not remove the skin. The scoring will allow the fat underneath the skin to baste the pork as it cook and it makes for the most heavenly crackling you will ever taste. (Fights have broken out over the crispy crackling at my home!) With a very sharp pairing knife, deeply puncture the pork meat in several places and insert a garlic clove or two as you go. Once you have used up the garlic cloves move on to the flavor injector. Think of the surface of your pork as a grid and starting on the skin side begin injecting the Mojo into the pork. Turn it over and continue injecting until you have used up all the sauce. Remember this captured bits? Rub them all over the skin side.
Place the pork in a large container, skin side up and allow to sit in the fridge, covered, from 12-24 hours. The longer it sits, the better the flavor.

To Cook:
Remove from fridge at least 2 hours before cooking so that it comes to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 475 degrees. Remove pork from container, reserving the Mojo sauce that will have oozed out during the marinating process. Pat pork dry, and season generously with kosher salt and pepper to taste. Place pork skin side up on a roasting rack inside a roasting pan. Place in oven and cook at high temperature for 30 minutes, then lower temperature to 325 degrees for 3 - 4 hours or until internal temperature reads 170 degrees. Use the reserved Mojo sauce to baste the pork as it cooks. Be sure to boil the Mojo sauce for a few minutes, so as not to contaminate the pork with raw pork juices, as you baste.
Once cooked, take out of the oven and allow to rest, uncovered, for about 20 minutes. Break apart the crispy crackling and set aside and then begin to break up
the pork meat into long thick shreds or chunks. Now, it's time to party!

Serve with Aida's Cuban Black Beans, white rice, yucca* and fried sweet plantains*, Cuban (preferably) bread, and your favorite beer and wine and of course ... Cuban Flan* (*Recipes coming within the next week). ENJOY!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Eryka's One-Pot Chili & Rice

On the rare occasion that it is "cold" in Miami we all take advantage and wear boots, scarves, gloves, hats you name it. I also take advantage of the weather in a culinary sense and take the opportunity to make a meal that is usually extra yummy when it's cold outside. One of my favorite things to make when it's cold is chili. My mom made chili every year around this time, when the weather gods allowed it to get chilly (no pun intended!). So I grew up on it; I was always excited to have it. I would add a lot of cheese or sour cream or both. It would always warm me up because us Floridians think 60 degrees is freezing! Miami hasn't been too cold, unfortunately, but a few days ago and even today it was and I decided to make chili but with a slight twist. This one-pot meal is yet again excellent for weeknight meals. It is hearty with the energy packed carbs from the rice, the protein from the beef and beans and fiber from the veggies. The spices, cumin, chili, garlic warm it up nicely, providing just a little bit of heat. It was a hit at home. A dollop of good ol' sour cream takes it to the new level of super creamy flavor. I personally didn't add any cheese to this recipe, but of course you can if you choose to; you can also add as many veggies or  change up the protein as you'd to as well. Enjoy!

1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/4 cup rice
1-14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups beef broth
1-14 1/2 ounce can black beans, drained
salt and pepper

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet until starting to brown. Add the onion, bell pepper and garlic and cook together for about 3 minutes. Add the chili powder and cumin seeds and cook for 2 minutes.

2. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minutes, stirring. Stir in the rice, diced tomatoes, cocoa powder, stock and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in the beans and continue to cook for an extra 10 minutes or until rice is done. Serve with sour cream. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Cuban Bistec en Cazuela (Braised Steak in a Pot)


A Wednesdays with Eryka Recipe

Cuban Bistec en Cazuela is basically a braised steak in a pot. As most of you know Cuban food is one of my favorite foods of all time. It is food I could eat everyday and be content. Most, if not all Cuban food, is peasant food, which makes for very simple and cheap ingredients. My grandmother used to make this dish, however, I don't remember it much anymore, so this recipe is for her. As you may remember from a previous post, I now live in her house and any time I cook up a traditional Cuban meal I think of her because I want to make her proud. The steaks used in this recipe are very thin thus they cook up rather quickly. Make sure you are watching them, counting the minutes per side because an extra minute or 30 seconds can make a difference! That being said this recipe is another great weeknight meal due to how quickly it cooks. The sauce produced from the steak and the marinade is amazing when served over rice. I think you will fully enjoy this meal!

1 1/2 top round steaks, in 4 long thin strips or 8 smaller thin pieces
1 onion, sliced in rings
1 green pepper, sliced length wise
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup sour orange juice
1/2 cup white wine
1 teaspoon Adobo seasoning
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup chicken stock

1. Combine the steak, onion, pepper, garlic, sour orange, wine, adobo salt and pepper in a dish or zip bag to marinate for at least 1 hour or more. Take out about an hour before planning to cook to let the meat come to room temperature.

2. In in large skillet over medium high heat, heat up the oil and brown the steaks. Brown the steaks in batches. When finished browning all the steaks place all the steak pieces back into the pan.

3. Add to the pan the marinade, juices and vegetables. Cook together for about 3 minutes then add the tomato paste. Stir until paste has dissolve into the vegetables. Cook everything together until the liquid from the marinate starts to evaporate then add the chicken broth. Simmer for 3 minutes. Serve over white rice with sweet fried plantains. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes:
Can't find sour oranges or juice in your local market? Make your own by following our simple recipe for home-made sour orange juice.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Weekly Recipe Round-Up Week of December 2 - 7

Another week closer to the holidays! Is it me or is December just flying by at break neck speed?  I've done absolutely no shopping and I am not quite sure how I am going to get it done. The next few weeks are just packed with things to do, and places to go!  This week we had some really great recipes starting with a yummy soup, to a delicious dessert and ending with a fabulous bacon-wrapped roasted and stuffed Pork Tenderloin.

This week's Recipe of the Week was featured on Wednesdays with Eryka,
Individual Apple Pie Stuffed Pastry Shells .  It had the most shares and likes by our awesome followers and for that we Thank You!  Here's what was cooking in the kitchens of The Fork Ran Away with the Spoon this past week.

Featured on Monday:

Perfect for the cooling temperatures we are all experiencing no. Great Northern White Beans! I am completely enamored of these dusty white little gems.  When cooked they are soft and creamy, and have a rich buttery flavor. The addition of the Spanish chorizo adds an extra depth of flavor.

Featured on Wednesdays with Eryka:

These are the perfect individual serving sized dessert. Sweet and savory apples with warm cinnamon and sweet brown sugar melt together and offer up the perfect little dessert. Great for the holidays.

Featured on Friday: 

In my Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Onion and Apricot the stuffing consists of apricots soaked in orange liqueur, caramelized onion that are cooked down in brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and orange liqueur and juice. Drooling yet? Then the pork tenderloin is wrapped in bacon and roasted off to tender perfection. I am pretty sure you are drooling now!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Onion and Apricot


I hadn't made pork tenderloin in a long time and this past weekend I decided it was time to bring it out and prepare one of my own favorite stuffed pork tenderloin recipes. Yes, stuffed and you all know how much I like stuffed foods. Tenderloin can be pretty dry because of it's leanness but if you follow my steps, you will have the most juiciest and flavorful pork tenderloin ever. The stuffing consists of apricots soaked in orange liqueur, caramelized onion that are cooked down in brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and orange juice and liqueur. Drooling yet? Then the pork tenderloin is wrapped in bacon and roasted off to tender perfection. I am pretty sure you are drooling now! This recipe surpassed the Hubs flavor barometer with  very speedy requests for seconds. The best part is because I made two tenderloins at once, I had a meal for later in the week that because of the brine process allowed me to heat up it up without lost of moisture. This meal was superb!

2 pork tenderloins (1 pound each), brined (*See recipe note)
1/2  - 3/4 cups orange liqueur
1 cup dried apricots*
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 large yellow onions. thinly sliced
2 teaspoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 large oranges, zest grated and juiced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
24 slices of center cut or turkey bacon
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
2 teaspoon, fresh rosemary, minced
2 tablespoons of very cold butter, cut into small cubes*

Heat the orange liqueur and add in cup of dried apricots, taking care that they are
all covered. Set aside to soak while the onions cook.
Heat a large deep 12" oven-safe skillet (preferably stainless steel) over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the onions. Cook for 10-15 minutes or till tender and golden. Add the sugar, vinegar and orange juice and cook covered, over low heat for 20 minutes. Take apricots out of the liqueur and chop, add, along with liqueur, to the onions during the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Remove lid and continue to cook until all liquid is evaporated. Remove from pan and allow to cool.

Mix 1 tablespoon olive oil, cloves, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside. Butterfly the tenderloins.  Here is a great "how to" video that takes you step-by-step  through the process . Once butterflied, place the pork between two pieces of plastic and using the flat side of a meat mallet, pound gently until roughly 3/8 of an inch thick. Rub both sides of the tenderloins with the olive oil mixture.

On the work surface overlap 12 slices of bacon, lengthwise, per tenderloin. Lay  tenderloin over bacon and spread half the apricot-onion mixture over each  tenderloin. Roll pork and bacon at the same time and then tie with kitchen twine (see video link shared above).

Heat over to 425 degrees F.

In the oven safe skillet used to cook onion, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and brown all sides of each tenderloin. Place in preheated oven and roast until internal temperature reaches 150 degrees (about 20 minutes +/-). remove from pan and tent with foil.
To the pan add the broth, wine and rosemary and bring to a boil. Continue to boil until liquid is reduced by half. Reduce heat to low and whisk in butter, one piece at a time. Allow one piece to melt before adding the next one. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed.

Remove strings from pork and slice about 3/4 to 1 inch thick, drizzle slices with sauce.

Serve with buttery mashed potatoes and garlic-butter sauteed green beans. ENJOY!

*Recipe Notes:
I highly recommend that you brine your pork tenderloin.  It will keep it moist and flavorful during the cooking process.  See my post "To Brine or Not to Brine?  That Shouldn't Even Be a Question " on how to brine.
For the liqueur soaked apricots, if time permits, soak for a few hours prior, it really kicks up the flavor.
Place the cubed butter in the freezer to guarantee it is extra cold.
If you don't polish off the two tenderloins and have a whole one left over, carefully wrap in foil and store in fridge. On the day you want to eat, take it out of the fridge at least 1 hour before eating. Heat in a 300 degree Fahrenheit oven, tightly wrapped in it's foil for about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Individual Apple Pie Stuffed Pastry Shells

This week is another tasty, sweet recipe. For Thanksgiving, I made the traditional Pumpkin Pie since it is in fact traditional and my boyfriend loves it; however, I wanted to try something new as well. Another American classic is Apple Pie. I did not, however, want to go through the hassle of making the whole pie, so I sat and thought about how I personally like bite sized desserts or individual servings. I came up with using puff pastry shells instead of the pie itself. The apple pie filling would be the same recipe just in small, individual shells! The shells are topped with a glaze that add the right amount of sweetness because I consider apple pie more of a savory than complete sweet pie. You can serve this warm, which of course would be best, but it will taste just as good at room temperature. You can use real apples, but again I chose to save time and bought the canned, peeled, ready to use apples. Some skipped steps just make life in the kitchen that much easier, especially during the holidays where there are a whirlwind of things going on. I hope you'll enjoy this recipe and find it on your holiday table this year!

1 box puff pastry shells (6 count), thawed
1 3/4 cups peeled, chopped apples (or canned)
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon butter

1. Prepare the puff pastry shells as indicated on package. 

2. Cook the apples and water in a small sauce pan on high heat until it comes to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce to a simmer for about 5 minutes.

3. Stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg; simmer for another 5 minutes. Stir frequently.

4. In a small bowl, combine flour and sugar. Stir into apple mixture. Bring to boil and boil for 1 minute. Stir in the butter.

5. After the puff pastries have cooled to touch, fill the shells with the cooked apple filling. Serve warm as is or at room temperature. The glaze is optional; recipe as follows.

Glaze Recipe:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/4 vanilla extract

1. Combine all three ingredients in a small bowl and stir until combined.

2. Take a spoon a drizzle over the pastries. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!