Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weekend Eatings

It was a busy but very lovely weekend, and full of food!  I hope everyone had as fabulous a weekend as I did, filled with food and laughter and lots of fun.

It started on Friday night with dinner at a place that is a pretty well kept secret in Lafayette.  I am a big fan of little hole in the wall restaurants.  The ambiance may not be anything to talk about, but the food is always good and cheap.  I feel like with smaller restaurants you're really much more aware of where your food is coming from.  At Mi Cabañita, you can experience essentially Mexican home cooking.  This is about as authentic Mexican as you can get (there are a couple other places, but I'll talk about them another time).  I am making assumptions here, but I believe the owners of the restaurant are from the state of Zacatecas, located in the central part of Mexico, on the elevated plateau.  Many of the other Mexican restaurants in town serve food that is Tex-Mex, or from the states of Jalisco or Oaxaca, so it's fairly rare to find cuisine from the heart of Mexico.

Mi Cabañita reflects the Mestizo cuisine, the blending of traditional indigenous flavors with European influence.  The Zacatecas region is famous for dishes made of the Nopales cactus, and that is a item that is certainly on this menu (as far as I can tell), though I didn't try it this time.  I tend to be a little more conservative with my first tries at a restaurant.  Bring your Spanish-English dictionary, because there isn't much in English on the menu, it's almost exclusively in Spanish.  I knew I had picked a good place to eat, because I felt out of place in the restaurant, being one of two people (the other being my hubby) who wasn't a native Spanish-speaker.

I ordered the Asada (steak) tacos and the Al Pastor (marinated pork) tacos.  Each taco had two very thin corn tortillas, soft, and obviously handmade.  There was a generous amount of meat in each taco, and topped with onion and cilantro.  I found it amusing that the server asked us if we wanted the cilantro and onion on our tacos, because I have noticed that many Americans find cilantro a little too strong for the average palate.  I love how fresh cilantro makes everything taste.

The steak in the Asada was a little overcooked, but still tasted great, but the real star of this show was the Al Pastor tacos.  Al Pastor is a rural dish - pork marinated over chiles for a day or two and then cooked with a piece of pineapple and onion.  This pork also had finely diced apples in the mix, which I think added an extra sweetness to the spicy marinated pork.  Next time I eat there, I'm going Al Pastor all the way!  There were some ingredients coming out on other people's plates that I didn't even recognize.  Maybe next time, I'll work up the courage to ask what they are.  Hubby and I each ate enough to fill us up and our total bill was $20.  I highly recommend Mi Cabañita, located at 2601 Teal Rd.  Right next door to the used car lot, and kitty corner from the Shell station. 

Well, one of these days I'll figure out why this blog insists on posting my pics sideways, but so far, no luck. No matter, you get the idea of how tasty this looks! 

The next stop was dinner with very good friends before a party.  They were grilling out for the first time, so I wanted to make something that went great with grilled food.  My brother-in-law is from South Africa, and the South African version of grilling out is called a Brai.  Meat is slow-cooked over white hot coals that started out as fruit wood like pear or apple. It's an all day affair.  But my friend did a fabulous job on his brand-new smoker/grill and I was happy to see that my Brai Salad disappeared.  It's one of my favorites, and is a great cold salad for summer or anytime, and it's so easy to make, it takes about 5 minutes to put together.

Brai Salad
2 cans french cut green beans, drained 
1/2 onion, diced
1 1/2 t. salt 
2 T. sugar 
1/4 c. mayonnaise 

1. In a medium size bowl, add the two cans of green beans.  Add the diced onions and mix together.

2. Add salt, let sit for two minutes.  Then add sugar and let sit for another couple minutes.  This is going to pull a lot of moisture from the beans. 

3.  Now, add the mayo and mix it in.  You can add a little less or a little more mayo to your taste. 

4. Adjust taste to your satisfaction, adding more salt or sugar.  It should be slightly sweet, to bring out the green bean flavor.  Chill for 30 minutes to an hour, serve, and watch it disappear! 

Whew!  I'm only halfway done with this weekend's cooking stuff.  I have two more recipes to share with you, but it's late, and Cupcake Wars is over, so I have to hit the sack.  I'll pick it up tomorrow and share more.  Sleep well darlings, and dream of good food! 

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