In these tough economic times people are looking for quick and easy ways to cook more at home to save time, effort and money. Cooking fresh meals at home during the week doesn’t have to be difficult –one can create one-dish meals complemented by a salad in a heartbeat. Cooking at home and involving the family has an added bonus — we can spend extra quality time with our loved ones.
In this issue we give you some tips on taking advantage of local food trends to bring luscious, fresh and delicious meals to your table. More and more fruits and vegetables are being grown locally and the farmers markets and grocery stores are now carrying what’s in season. When you focus on what’s in season then you are bound to have a good product at a reasonable price because the supply will be higher than non-seasonal items.
Spring is that time of year that motivates people into not only cleaning routines, but into a fever of wanting to be outside to enjoy some long-awaited nice weather. This spring and summer enjoy the warm months and take the time to visit the many Farmers Markets in the Twin Cities and become familiar with what is available –you may discover a bounty of produce that you may not have realized is now grown locally. And, to say the least, buying local products (including organic) is good for everyone – you, the growers, and the environment!
This Month’s recipe focuses on using locally grown fresh ingredients that are easily accessible to everyone. We also give you tips on what you can do to make this easy recipe into a full wholesome meal for your family.
Before we go into the recipe and tips, we want to share some fun news of the many events we have and are planning for the spring and summer. Some highlights are our Guatemalan Cuisine Chronicles Series at the Midtown Global Market, which started last month and continuing into April; the Women’s Expo at Saint Paul Rivercentre “Spring Cooking Extravaganza “on Sunday, March 8, with 3 cooking demos starting at 11. a.m. – 1 & 3 p.m.; the Make a Wish Foundation Gala and main fundraiser for 2009 The Wish Ball Noche Para Los Niños , Amalia designed the menu and the cultural plan for the night – this event promises to be an elegant, hot and dazzling party at The Depot on May 2nd with live entertainment by recording artists Cuban Latin Jazz artist Nachito Herrera and his Orchestra, and Paraguayan Harpist Nicolas Carter, and Flamenco Master Michael Hauser. Lastly, Amalia is scheduled to appear on Twin Cities Live on March 9 (KSTP TV 5 from 3-4 p.m.).
Please check our Upcoming Events schedule at http://www.cookparty.com/events.htm for additional details of the events highlighted and to learn about the many more upcomings events not listed above. We are now in full speed to plan more exciting events for the next few months.
RECIPE OF THE MONTH
ARROZ CON ESPARRAGOS
I grew up watching my mother and grandmother cook all meals from scratch. As a child, I almost always knew when we were going to have guests for dinner because my mom made certain “fancy” recipes. One of my mom’s favorite rice dishes (and now one of my favorites too) is this rice dish that she complemented with other special dishes.
3 cups cooked white long grain rice**
1 tbsp. butter
2-3 tbsp. queso seco (powdered dry cheese) (substitute for Parmesan)
12 asparagus spears, cooked al dente, in cold salted water
Combine the warm fluffed rice with the butter and cheese and stir well. Taste and add more cheese if desired. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish rice with asparagus spears and sprinkle more cheese on top.
**How to make 3 cups of cooked rice:
Sauté 1 ½ cups of uncooked long grain white rice in ½ tbsp. Canola oil. Add 2 3/4 cups of hot chicken stock and bring to a boil, adjust heat to low, cover, and simmer until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid (but a little remains at the bottom of the skillet when tilted), about 10 minutes. Turn heat off, keep covered, and set aside until needed. Fluff with a fork before using.
Amalia’s Special Tips:
To make a complete meal add some lean protein to the rice dish as follows. Season 4-6 Tilapia filets seasoned generously with Kosher salt and pepper on both sides and sauté on a preheated non-stick skillet with one tablespoon of olive oil. Cook filets 4 minutes on one side to develop a crust at medium heat and 2 minutes on the other side. Sprinkle lime juice on top. To serve, place Tilapia on top of the rice dish and garnish with lime slices. Fish is cooked when it no longer appears translucent, is juicy and flakes easily when separated with a fork. Fish is overcooked if it looks dry and is tough to the touch.