Gables High culinary students share Mother’s Day recipes



Yuca and Calabaza Salad

Jerry Delgado grates the hard-boiled eggs on the large holes of a box grater to give them just the texture that’s needed to make this salad extra creamy. We prefer boiling the tubers in separate pots to minimize the chance of overcooking.

1 pound yuca or cassava, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2 cups)

1 pound calabaza or winter squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2 cups)

Salt, to taste

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and grated

Put yuca in a large saucepan and the calabaza in a second pan. Fill both with enough salted water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes. Watch carefully that you cook just until vegetables are tender not mushy. Drain both pans well and let vegetables cool.

Meanwhile place mayonnaise, onions, salt and garlic in a small bowl. Whisk as you drizzle in the olive oil. Add half the grated eggs and fold into the dressing.

Place vegetables in a large bowl. Add mayonnaise mixture and gently toss until combined. Garnish with remaining grated eggs. Makes about 8 (1/2-cup) servings.

Source: Adapted from Jerry Delgado.

Per serving: 154 calories, 20 percent from fat, 3.5 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 2 g mono fat, 56 mg cholesterol, 3 g protein, 28 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 85 mg sodium.

Main dish

Cheddar and Green Chile Waffles with Thyme-Infused Syrup

These, like just about anything else, goes well with bacon, says Katie Callis. Teacher Mercy Vera suggests that if you want to “cheat” you can use a Belgian waffle mix. Follow the instructions to prepare it and then add the cayenne, maple syrup, cheese and chiles before baking as instructed below.

Thyme-Infused Syrup:

2 cups pure maple syrup

2 sprigs fresh thyme

Pinch salt

Waffle Batter:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornmeal

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk

2 medium eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon pure maple syrup

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 2/3 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese

2 serrano chiles, seeded and minced

To make syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the maple syrup, thyme sprigs and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat until fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside until serving time.

To make waffles: In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and cayenne. In a separate bowl, whisk the milk, eggs, maple syrup and oil. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and stir to combine. Do not overmix; batter may be lumpy. Fold in Cheddar and chiles.

Heat a Belgian waffle maker, spraying it with vegetable oil. Pour a scant 1 cup batter (or amount recommended by waffle iron manufacturer) into the hot iron, and cook until golden brown. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve immediately with Thyme-Maple Syrup. Makes about 4 waffles with 1/2 cup syrup for each.

Source: Adapted from Katie Callis.

Per serving: 975 calories, 31 percent from fat, 35 g fat, 14 g sat fat, 10g mono fat, 162 mg cholesterol, 22 g protein, 148 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 810 mg cholesterol.


Soufflé de Limon

Octavio Munoz leaves the milk in its can in the freezer overnight. We were concerned it might spill, so we transferred it to a covered container. Conchita Maria vanilla cookies are available in South Florida supermarkets.

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk

1 cup sugar

Juice of 4 lemons

About 9 Conchita Maria cookies, crushed

Open evaporated milk, pour into a freezer-safe container, cover and freeze overnight.

The next day, run container under hot water just long enough so that you can remove contents to blender. With blender running, slowly add sugar and lemon juice through the blender lid; puree until smooth.

Divide mixture among about individual dessert molds or place it all in a 9-inch glass pie pan. Freeze. Sprinkle with cookie crumbs and serve. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Source: Adapted from Octavio Munoz.

Per serving: 380 calories, 24 percent from fat, 10 g fat, 4 g sat fat, 4 g mono fat, 21 mg cholesterol, 6 g protein, 68 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 180 mg sodium.

Main dish

Sudado de Pescado (Fish Stewed in Spicy Wine Sauce)

Serve the light, tasty fish dish with a generous portion of boiled potatoes or yuca or white rice cooked with garlic, suggests Juan Mejia. We found ají amarillo (yellow pepper) and ají rojo (red pepper) pastes by Belmont Natural Products at Publix in the ethnic aisle.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 small onions, quartered

1/2 seeded yellow bell pepper, julienned

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

1/8 teaspoon ají rojo paste, or to taste

1/8 teaspoon ají amarillo paste, or to taste

Juice of 1 lime

1/4 cup white wine

1 large tomato, peeled, quartered top to bottom and each wedge quartered

2 (8-ounce) boneless fillets of white fish

1 tablespoon fine-chopped parsley

1 tablespoon fine-chopped cilantro

Salt and fresh-ground pepper, to taste

In a large nonreactive skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onions, peppers, garlic and ginger. Sauté until translucent; do not let garlic and ginger burn.

Add the chile pastes, lime juice and wine. Bring to a simmer. Add the tomatoes and then the fish in a single layer.

Cover the pan and simmer about 5 minutes or until fish is cooked through; periodically spoon sauce over fish as it cooks. Add the parsley, cilantro, salt and pepper. Makes 2 servings.

Source: Adapted from Juan Mejia.

Per serving: 320 calories, 43 percent from fat, 15 g fat, 2 g sat fat, 4 g mono fat, 42 mg cholesterol, 25 g protein, 16 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 81 mg sodium.

Special to The Miami Herald

“I want to make this for my mom on Mother’s Day,” says Juan Mejia, 17. He’s speaking of a spicy braised fish dish made from a recipe that was handed down from his grandmother. She used to make it back in Colombia for Mejia’s mother, who, in turn, taught it to him.

Mejia is one of 30 students in the third-level class of the culinary academy at Coral Gables Senior High School. At our urging, their teacher, Mercy Vera, asked them to share recipes they would like to make for their moms on Mother’s Day. The students didn’t have a problem with the assignment. After all, they have learned a lot from Vera.

“Although I have a passion for food and use it as an artistic outlet for myself, teaching is what I really love to do,” says the petite dynamo, who trained at Johnson & Wales University and worked in restaurant kitchens before coming to the high school 13 years ago.

Throughout the five-level program, she teaches her students the basics, from making mayonnaise to boning chickens. The students also get to work in an organic garden growing outside their classroom and in a restaurant kitchen through an internship program Vera created.

“It’s beautiful to see a kid who comes into your classroom with no interest in eating anything and then see how he develops,” she says.

She was happy to see that the students turned in a wide variety of creative yet simple recipes for their Mother’s Day assignment that would be perfect for any celebration. Here’s a sampling.

Wild waffles

Katie Callis, 17, says her mom likes to have “breakfast for dinner.” She remembers being 6 years old and helping her mother prepare pancakes. Back then she was also good at “making cereal.”

“That’s what my mom would say when I put milk on my Trix,” she says with a ready smile.

Callis wants to celebrate her mom by making Cheddar and Green Chile Waffles with Thyme-Infused Syrup. You won’t believe the flavor that a few sprigs of thyme can give to warm maple syrup.

Try serving these waffles with a side of bacon. “Dipped in the syrup, it’s just delicious,” she says.

Callis admits she took Vera’s course because she thought it would be an easy elective. “But now I realize how much I love cooking and how much we learn in class,” she says.

After graduation, she’s aiming for a degree in nutrition and a career helping athletes and performers eat better.

“I want to work with anyone famous,” she says.

Frozen souffle

Octavio Munoz, 17, plans to make his mother a Souffle de Limon.

“Mom has made it forever. I can’t remember her not making it,” he says of this frozen confection with its fresh, tart taste.

Growing up in Cuba, his mother learned the recipe from her own mother, and there’s some speculation that it may have been handed down from Munoz’s great-grandmother.

“This was the first dish that came to mind to make for Mother’s Day because it’s my favorite,” he says. He asked his mom for directions, and it turns out the recipe couldn’t be easier.

Freeze a can of evaporated milk overnight, then put the milk in a blender with lots of fresh lemon juice and enough sugar to fill that can.

“We use the juice of four lemons because that’s what my grandmother did,” Munoz says.

Pour the blended mixture into cups and freeze them again. Serve to your mom with crumbled Conchita Maria Cookies on top. “Those vanilla cookies are very popular in Cuba,” he says.

Munoz plans to attend college. “I want to get the basics done and then find my major while I’m there,” he says.

Tropical tubers

The recipe for Jerry Delgado’s Yuca and Calabaza Salad has been in his family for many years. It was his grandfather who first made it for his mother when she was 8 years old and living in Cuba.

“It’s my grandfather who is the cook in the family. That’s who got me interested in food,” says Delgado, 18, who doesn’t speak fluent English, so Vera translates for us.

Having decided to take this culinary elective, he finds “cooking comes easily and it’s a good avenue to express myself.”

Delgado, who was born in Cuba, remembers being 12 and helping his grandfather make this salad for the first time. “It was fun because I got to taste something I made and I got to work with my grandfather.”

It was also the first time his grandfather let him use a knife, he recalls with a mischievous smile.

The recipe is a combination of starchy yuca and sweet calabaza cubes boiled until just tender and mixed with a creamy garlic dressing.

He doesn’t plan on a culinary career, but says his cooking skills will still come in handy: “I want to be a policeman, and I’ll make it for all my fellow officers.”

Fish on his dish

Mejia’s Sudado de Pescado starts with mild fish fillets that are gently simmered in wine spiked with lime juice. Tomatoes, onions and yellow peppers are added to the tangy sauce that is nicely accented with spicy yellow and red pepper pastes as well as cilantro, parsley and fresh ginger.

“My mother taught me how to make this dish when I told her I wanted to become a chef,” says Mejia, , who emigrated from Colombia when he was 4.

He decided on his career path after attending one of Vera’s early classes. “I saw everybody being happy and friendly with each other while sharing food. That’s when I decided I wanted to be a chef and make people happy,” he says.

Since then he’s been cooking alongside his mom and recording her recipes in a composition notebook.

“She works 12 hours a day for me and my brother. And she tells me, ‘You are here in the United States so work hard and live the American dream,’ ” he says.

His dream is to open a restaurant that fuses the fast techniques of Asian food with the flavors of classical French cooking. “The idea really excites me,” he says.

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