I am an avid follower of Robert Irvine’s Restaurant: Impossible on the Food Network. I love how this big, tough, fit guy grouses and slams but in the end does all he can to save a failing restaurant and rescue dreams.
So I was intrigued when he teamed with Gold’s Gym to offer recipes that could make backyard barbecue meals less calorie-dense (he says on average we each consume a whopping 3,000 calories in a single BBQ sitting).
Of course, I was drawn to his “Cuban” chicken, which is quite delicious and has some resemblance to Cuban cooking with the lime and grilled onions, though the Cajun seasoning is another matter. You can find more of his recipes at goldsgym.com.
Q: What is dukkah? I saw it mentioned casually in a story that said it was good party food.
J. J., Miami Beach
A: Dukkah is another ancient taste that has been rediscovered by trend-setters. It is from Egypt and is an aromatic blend of roasted nuts and seeds, usually hazelnuts plus sesame seeds, coriander and cumin.
Street vendors in Egypt sell paper cones of it along with strips of flatbread brushed with olive oil to be dipped in the mixture. The word comes from the Arabic word for “to pound,” as the mix traditionally was pounded to a consistency that is more crunchy than powder.
You can find dukkah at specialty markets or online, or make your own. The recipe here is influenced by two I found, one by New York Times columnist Martha Rose Shulman and one published in Bon Appetit magazine, but I would encourage experimentation that fits your own tastes.
• Martha Stewart has a refreshingly light remake on the Bloody Mary for summer parties or Father’s Day brunch: Pour vodka, preferably Crop Tomato ($25, cropvodka.com), a third of the way up an ice-filled highball glass. Squeeze a few cherry tomatoes over the ice, then drop them in. Top with seltzer, and tuck in some fresh basil sprigs. Grind in fresh pepper if you want Mary to be a little spicy. Find more summer entertaining tips in the June issue of Martha Stewart Living.
• Adult snow cones are a great way to beat the heat: Place 6 to 12 ice cubes in a blender or food processor with 1 cup of your preferred chopped fruit (I am partial to mangoes this time of year) and pulse till ice and fruit is broken up into tiny bits, like a granita. Transfer into an appropriate glass and add garnishes and a lacing of spirits if desired.
• Chicago chef Diana Dávila Boldin makes a chamoyada — a Mexican dessert somewhat like a snowcone — in which habanero-spiced rum syrup, orange preserves and fresh strawberries are served over shaved ice with a lacing of horchata and sprinkling of black sea salt.
To make her rum syrup: Place 4 cups rum, 2 cups brown sugar and 1 sun-dried habanero in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then lower to a hard simmer until reduced by half. Chill and keep refrigerated until ready to use. Makes about 1 cup. To use: Fill a cup with shaved or crushed ice, pour rum syrup on top, add pureed fruit or preserves and add horchata. Serve with a spoon and a straw.
Dávila Boldin also makes her own orange preserves and horchata, made with rice, cinnamon and sugar. You can buy it already made in Latin markets or email me for the full recipe.
Does anyone have the recipe for the chicken at the old Cye’s Rivergate in downtown Miami, maybe 30 to 40 years ago? There are many of us who remember it being the best.
Send questions and responses to LindaCiceroCooks@aol.com or Food, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172. Replies cannot be guaranteed.