Cook’s Corner

Mercadito chicken gets zing from sauce that’s chock-full of chiles


Sleuth’s Corner

Q: I grew up in the Miami in the ’60s, when going out to dinner usually meant visiting the local Harvest House Cafeteria at Northside Shopping Center. Harvest House made the most delicious chocolate pie. We always called it German chocolate pie because their recipe added coconut and pecans, which floated to the top when it was baked. I’ve searched for this recipe forever and have never been able to locate the original. Can anyone help?


Side dish

Olive-Oil braised Lima Beans with Lemon and Parmesan

The crispy garlic chip component is not to be missed. Use to add crunch to sautéed spinach or crumble over a steak or salad.

Fried garlic:

10 large garlic cloves (1 bulb), thinly sliced with a paring knife

1/4 cup canola oil

To finish:

2 (10-ounce) packages frozen lima beans, thawed (4 cups)

2 cups olive oil

1 lemon, thinly sliced

2 fresh rosemary sprigs

Juice of 1 lemon

1 cup shaved Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

To prepare garlic: Place a small skillet over medium heat and coat with the canola oil. When the oil is hot, add the sliced garlic and cook for only about 1 minute, until the garlic just begins to lightly brown and crisp. Take care not to burn the garlic; you must keep the slices moving around the pan. With a slotted spoon, transfer the fried garlic to a small plate. (The leftover oil is terrific for sautéing sliced potatoes.)

Put the lima beans in a 3-quart pot over medium heat. Add olive oil, lemon slices, rosemary and half the fried garlic. Cover and gently simmer until the beans are tender, about 15 minutes. Set the limas, along with the oil and aromatics, aside to cool. (The lima beans can be prepared in advance, covered and refrigerated in the olive oil mixture.)

Drain the lima bean mixture and place in a large mixing bowl. You may reserve the fragrant olive oil for cooking or bread dipping. To the cooked limas, add the lemon juice, cheese and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. To serve, garnish with the remaining crisp fried garlic chips. Makes 8 servings.

Source: Adapted from “The Lemonade Cookbook” (St. Martin’s Press, 2013)

Per serving: 203 calories, (40 percent from fat), 9.5g fat, (2.6 g sat fat, 5.3g mono fat), 8.8 mg cholesterol, 9.8 g protein, 22.0g carbohydrate, 5.1 g fiber, 316 mg.

Main dish

Mercadito’s Pollo a las Brasas (Adobo Chicken)

Unless you are adept at deboning a whole chicken (there’s a great Jacques Pepin tutorial on YouTube), I’d suggest simply breaking the breastbone with a mallet or using kitchen shears to cut the ribs along the breastbone, so you can flatten to sear and bake.

For the adobo:

20 dried guajillo chiles

3 onions, chopped

10 bay leaves

8 garlic cloves, peeled

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

For the chicken:

1 whole chicken, skin on, deboned

1 tablespoon olive oil

To finish:

Mayonnaise, as needed

Corn tortillas, to serve

Pico de gallo

Make the adobo: Place all the ingredients in a large pot, then add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook 45 minutes. Strain, reserving the cooking liquid. Puree the solids with 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking liquid. Add more cooking liquid as needed to get a thick puree. Press once more through a medium sieve, discarding any pulp that will not pass through. Weigh the adobo and add an equal amount of mayonnaise. Mix well.

To make the chicken: Rub the chicken with the adobo-mayonnaise mixture. Heat the oil in a sauté pan, sear the chicken on all sides and finish cooking in the oven at 350 degrees until thermometer reaches 165 degrees. (About 45 minutes for a 2.5-pound deboned chicken, 70 minutes for bone-in.)

Slice chicken and serve with corn tortillas and pico de gallo. Makes 4 servings.

Source: Adapted by Linda Cicero from Mercadito restaurant.

Per serving: 470 calories, (62 percent calories from fat), 32.0 g fat, (7.8g sat fat, 11.2g mono fat), 112 mg cholesterol, 29.0 g protein, 16.0g carbohydrate, 2.5 g fiber, 199 mg sodium.


Izzy’s Red Velvet Curly Cupcakes

21/2 cups flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups sugar

1 cup softened unsalted butter

4 large eggs

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons red food coloring

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 (4-ounce) white chocolate baking bars (12 ounces total)

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting:

11 ounces softened cream cheese

6 tablespoons softened unsalted butter

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

51/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Divide 30 paper liners among 3 (12-cup) muffin tins.

Whisk flour with cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.

Beat sugar and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Beat in sour cream and next 4 ingredients just until blended. Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed just until blended, stopping to scrape bowl as needed. Do not overbeat.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling two-thirds full. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 5 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 45 minutes).

To make frosting, beat first 3 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until smooth. Spoon into a zip-top freezer bag (do not seal). Snip 1 corner of bag to make a small hole. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Chill cupcakes 30 minutes or until frosting is firm.

Microwave white chocolate in microwave-safe bowl on high 1 minute or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals. Gently dip tops of cupcakes into melted white chocolate. Serve at room temperature. Makes 30.

Source: Chef Todd English.

Per cupcake: 363 calories, (43 percent calories from fat), 17.7 g fat, (10.4 g sat fat, 3.7g mono fat), 62 mg cholesterol, 3.8 g protein, 48.3 g carbohydrate, 0.5 fiber, 135 mg sodium.

Q: Can you get the recipe for the spicy chicken at Mercadito Midtown?


A: This is indeed spicy, slathered with homemade adobo sauce. I’d never tried making adobo before, but now I think I’ll make batches of it to add to my holiday gift baskets. It’s pretty simple, but don’t stand over the pot while it is cooking or the food processor while pureeing or you’ll end up with teary eyes. If you can’t find dried guajillo chiles, substitute chipotle or whatever large dried chile you prefer.

Sweets for a cause

One in five American children struggles with hunger. Top chefs contributed recipes to a Philadelphia cream cheese cookbook in exchange for a $50,000 contribution to Share our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. It includes favorite holiday desserts from Sandra Lee, David Burke, Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger and Todd English, who shared the red velvet cupcake recipe here.

You can download the cookbook free at For information on how you can help hungry children, visit

Donating cookbooks

Mariana of Key Biscayne has downsized, and turned to Cook’s Corner readers for suggestions about where, besides the library, to donate her much-loved cookbooks. Nancy Goldstein of Miami had an excellent suggestion: any of the local cooking schools. “They will be very happy to take them. I donated mine to Johnson and Wales and the students were thrilled!”

Rosita Remedios says she sends crates of cookbooks by sea mail to women’s clubs connected to churches in Mumbai. “They have lunches and dinners to collect funds for the poor.” As a member of the Legion of Mary, she also takes cookbooks when she visits shut-ins and nursing homes. “They may not cook anymore but they love to look through the recipes.”

Cookbook corner

Having grown up on the foods of fine Southern cafeterias like Morrison’s, I am quite taken with The Lemonade Cookbook: Southern California Comfort Food from L.A.'s Favorite Modern Cafeteria by Alan Jackson and JoAnn Cianciulli (St. Martin’s Press, $30). With its emphasis on bold global flavors and simple preparation, it would make a great gift for the imaginative cooks on your list.

My favorite recipes are like the one here for lima beans, burned into our childhood “no go” list by school-cafeteria succotash. The Lemonade treatment takes them in a new dimension with fresh lemon and zesty garlic chips. Also not to be missed are the desserts, from banana mascarpone layer cake to caramel fleur de sel macaroons to peanut butter-milk chocolate cookies.

Send questions and responses to or Food, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172. Replies cannot be guaranteed.

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