Saturday, May 28, 2005

A Friend for Dinner

One of the things that I love about San Miguel is "breaking bread" with friends. I can't think of anything nicer than to sit at a table with friends and eat, talk, have some wine. It seems much easier to do here than in Houston and I've tried to figure out why that is. One of the main things is that everyone goes at such a fast pace in the USA, that in order to set up a dinner party with the people you want to bring together it may take several phone calls and then have to be scheduled two or three weeks later because of schedules. But another reason it is more difficult to entertain in Houston is a problem of my own making. I have "stuff" in Houston---lots of dishes and glasses that are used for entertaining and over the years I have built an expectation in my head of the "proper" dinner party. It just becomes a lot of before and work after.

But here in this little house we have limited storage so we have one set of dishes and glasses. The dining area is small so a dinner party for 6 is the limit. The kitchen and dining area kind of flow together so I can talk with friends as I cook. I've let go of my expectations and it is all very casual. I'm having so much fun cooking here because you have to be creative and cook what you find that looks the best that day in the market.

Since we came in March and the construction started, so much stuff is stored in the living area and we have so much construction dust, I haven't entertained. But this week I asked my good friend Meg for dinner. I wanted her to see how the work was progressing and also to have time to just visit.

At the meat market I asked for a filete de res sin cordon. The butcher cut it and held it up in his big hand, what I saw looked okay, I nodded yes. He weighed it up and I paid. But when I got home I was surprised to see the Cordon was still attached....a miscommunication or was he taking advantage of a gringa? In the future I will be more careful and ask to see all sides of the filete de res. Live and learn as the saying goes. I brought broccoli to have with dinner. I've been told that most of the organic broccoli in Whole Foods grocery stores is grown in this area. All I know is the broccoli here is delicious. I serve it often.

I prepared a recipe from "Food from my Heart" by Zarela Martinez. It is one of my favorites from the cookbook which is out of print but it has many wonderful recipes. I think you can still order it as a used book from Amazon. She also has a couple of more recent cookbooks and they are on my wish list. I made Arroz con Crema Y Poblanos or Creamy Rice Casserole with Poblano Chiles. She says the recipe makes six servings but I think it serves 8 to 10 people. I made 1/2 the recipe for the 3 of us and have plenty left over. It is a great recipe to make ahead and heat for a dinner party. I love the poblanos in the recipe and usually add extra.

I had a mango salsa that I wrote about in an earlier blog and chips prepared when Meg arrived. As we talked and snacked on the salsa, I put the filete and rice casserole in the oven and sauteed the broccoli with garlic. While the meat was resting after coming out of the oven, I made a mustard sauce to dress it. The good conversation continued.

After all of the food was cleared, I sliced tiny plaintains and sauteed them in butter, honey and Presidente brandy then served them with Santa Clara vanilla ice cream. I guess you could call it a version of Bananas Foster but the tiny plaintains make it even better in my opinion.

The food was good but the conversation and friendship is priceless.

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