Hola!! Cuban Shredded Beef

It's just terrific when I'm reading along, minding my own (or actually the character's) business and they hit you with food that absolutely needs to be tried.  Now!  So, it was whilst reading one of my favorite authors' cozy mysteries, Death at the Door, by Carolyn Hart, that I came upon this: 
She opened the door and was greeted by a delectable scent.  She paused.  "Mmm, something smells wonderful."
"Flank steak simmering with onion and bay leaf, soon to be Cuban shredded beef seasoned with sauterne and Burgundy."  Max emptied the contents of a bowl into the skillet...
 You see what I mean.  That cries out to be made.  And, so I did.  Unfortunately, my husband has messed up sinuses, so never walks in and says "Mmm, something smells wonderful."  Sigh.  But, at least I get to savor it the whole time it's cooking.  In this case, four hours.

Annie, the heroine, and owner of a mystery book store, is often involved in helping to solve crimes on the island, off the South Carolina coast where she lives with her husband Max (also a good cook).  I love that they are happily married, besides being fully developed and interesting characters.  So many literary detectives and amateur crime solvers are riddled with angst, messed up and otherwise generally not fun to be around.

Anyway, off I went to procure the necessary ingredients, after searching Google for a righteous sounding recipe.  Which I adapted slightly.  You might think, 4 hours, oh boy, that's a lot of cooking.  But, the nice thing is, you can put it in a slow cooker or skillet on very low, early in the day, and forget about cooking dinner.  It's in the pot. 


Texas Style Chipotle Chicken, Oven-fried

This recipe was inspired by a book I just finished, Susan Wittig Albert's, Cat's Claw, one of her Pecan Springs Mysteries, set in the Texas hill country.  Fun, not too nasty who-done-its.  The publisher's blurb on this states:
 As the first female police chief in Pecan Springs, Texas, Sheila Dawson has cracked many a mystery in collaboration with local sleuth China Bayles. Now Sheila puts her smarts to work, sifting through secrets to find a killer on the prowl…

Larry Kirk, Pecan Springs’ computer guru, has been shot dead in his kitchen. At first Sheila believes it to be suicide, but further investigation reveals that Kirk’s death wasn’t self-inflicted. And the truth is reinforced by her friend China Bayles’ news—Larry recently asked her for legal advice in regards to a stalker.

As a police chief in a male-dominated force, Sheila meets many challenges, especially when her theories rock the boat in high-profile cases like that of George Timms, who was caught breaking into Larry’s shop. Now that Larry is dead, Sheila is sure the burglary is connected to the murder. But when Timms disappears instead of turning himself in, Sheila must prove she’s got what it takes to hunt down a predator who’s loose on the streets of Pecan Springs…
I enjoyed Albert's recent approach to character voice, shifting between the various leads, which brings more depth and insight to the story.  She also includes her usual interesting segues into different local and cultivated herbs, as Cat's Claw, which give each book its title.


Shaved Asparagus Meets Cast Iron Skillet Pizza

 Some of you may have noticed the Buzz Feed video being passed around on Facebook recently.  A rather speedy tutorial on quick pizza in a cast iron skillet.  Well, I wanted to try that.  Then the idea expanded.  One of you, likely on Beth Fish's Weekend cooking, recommended the Smitten Kitchen cookbook, and I got that from the library (to test out prior to buying, of course).  In it there is, among all the gorgeous food photography, a very tempting looking, shaved asparagus pizza.  You can see where this is going.  I did not care to use the packaged sauce and packaged pizza dough in the video.  I wanted to use some of my own bread dough with Deb's directions and  toppings.  It's a merger.

And that merger was spectacular!  I would buy shares for sure.  Baking bread about once a week or so, it is very easy to slightly increase the amounts, to have enough for some pizza.  I have done this in the past, however not nearly as successfully; was on the cusp of buying a pizza stone in fact.

My sponge would be started the night before, and in the morning the remaining flour added, the dough kneaded, and set to rise.

Going with Deb's "leisurely pizza dough" suggestion, I made the amount for a 10" pizza (the size of my skillet) (eyeballing here), put it in an oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap and set in the fridge to do a very slow rise for 8 hours. Less is okay.  Off to do other stuff.