Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Chocolate for lunch! Cook the Book July

If you know one thing about the Tea Time Adventurers it should be that we Love Chocolate*. So lunch this month shouldn't be a surprise. I will admit that this months tome is the most daunting one we've perused for Cook the Book thus far. First of all,  Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America is big (even the name). Oversized and Thick. This plus the fact that the print is sepia tone (not a sharp contrasting black) and there are few full color photos meant I had to delve deeper to find recipes that spoke to me. But they are there!!

You'll see from our photos below that we ate well and heartily. Our drink from Costa Rica (Costa Rican Hibiscus Wine p339), our meat from Argentina (Short Ribs in Black Sauce with Chocolate and Cacao p713), San Salvador style pupusas (Basic Pupusas p402), Rolls inspired by tropical flavors (Garifuna Coconut Bread p593/4), and a cocktail "dessert" from Mexico (Spicy Prickly Pear Cocktail p376). Stephanie rounded out our meal with a Shrimp Louie salad and Gabi brought some wine. The four of us talked and ate, savoring both the meal and each other's company.

Ribby Ribs Ribs. Chocolate Ribs! Lots of tender meat with rich flavorful sauce perfect for dipping.
HIbiscus wine
Coconut bread rolls baked, not grilled.
Frying up the cheese Pupusas--second batch
I learned several things cooking these recipes. Highlights below:

1. Meat can be expensive! (but there was lots of leftovers for lunches)
2. Pupusas fry better after the batter has set up for a while. (I made the rest of the batch after our meal had ended and the rested batter did not leak the cheese like the first go round.)
2a. Latin America makes some good cheese. (Also, I am glad to have the big bag of Masa, because making pupusas is so simple, just add cheese/veggies, fry, eat!)
3. The Hibiscus wine recipe will go in my recipe file so I can use it to mull my wines and make sangrias! (This recipe is a keeper!!)
4. I have now "mastered" the cactus plant as food. Next challenge vegetable please! (Last month we ate the leaf and this month the fruit as dessert.)
5. I like an unknown cookbook to have photos. (This seems not to apply when I buy them from library book sales or thrift stores though–perhaps it is a time frame connundrum?)

Lunch plated pre salad.
I was particularly excited to try this Prickly Pear "cocktail," but I decided to serve it as dessert instead of an appetizer (Maricel E. Presilla, the cookbook author, suggests serving this with a shot of aged tequila.) I felt like it needed a little jazz added in order to pass the dessert muster, so I garnished the martini glass with fresh ripe blueberries and a dollop of honeyed greek yogurt. The sweetness of the blueberries and the smooth dairy contrasted perfectly with the slightly spicy, slightly crunchy, and very limey cactus fruit. This dessert would be great for a special occasion as it's simple to prepare, but looks beautiful. If you wanted to add a Mexican cookie I think it would be a tasty addition too.

Dessert 2.0


We've become the ladies who lunch, thanks to Cook the Book. Are you ready to get together with a group of friends over food? Do you plan potlucks or take turns hosting the meals? You can join us in cooking the book next month if you need some food for thought and inspiration!

Grab some salad and a glass of wine.

*Although considering our recent eating habits, perhaps we should rename our blog "Anything Fried with Cheese is Good" Opinions?