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Make your taste buds celebrate

Ric Orlando of New World Home Cooking Restaurant has some fabulous Cuban, Latin, and Cajun-spiced dishes that are sure to add some spice to your holiday meals.
/ Source: Weekend Today

Bored of bland string bean casserole over the holidays? We're going to kick it up with some spicy dishes that will make your taste buds celebrate the season too! Ric Orlando of New World Home Cooking Restaurant has some fabulous Cuban, Latin, and Cajun-spiced dishes that are sure to add some spice to your holiday meals.

New World's Pan-Blackened String beans New World's Pan Blackened String beans are the single most ordered dish at the cafe. I receive requests for the recipe via mail, snail mail, by phone and in person.  I love when a diner walks right up to our open kitchen on a busy night  with their plate of blackened beans and exclaims that they need to know how to make them. Ironically, with proper ventilation, this dish is a breeze to prepare.

Essentially rooted in a classic, Szechuan Stringbeans, the idea of just cooked-still crunchy-nice and spicy beans with an essentially American twist is a hit at any party.

Serves four to six. 

2 pounds fresh string beans, stems picked off 2 tablespoons safflower, sunflower, or corn oil 2-3 oz. New World CAGE seasoning OR make your own seasoning -- here's the recipe:   1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne   4 teaspoons ancho chile powder   3 teaspoons cornmeal   1 teaspoon dry oregano   1 teaspoon dry thyme   3 teaspoons Kosher salt   3 teaspoons finely ground black pepper                                                  1 1/2 teaspoons paprika   1 teaspoon onion powder (not flakes)   1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder (not granules) Be sure that your kitchen is properly ventilated before you attempt to blacken any food indoors. Open the windows and doors and disable the smoke detectors. (Don't forget to hook them back up again afterwards!) If you don't want to smoke up the house, you can always prepare this dish outside. Heat the skillet to white-hot indoors, then, when you are ready to put the beans into the pan, bring everything outside. Scoot, though; the skillet should be kept hot enough to blacken the beans for full a minute or two.

Fold all the seasonings together thoroughly. Fill a medium-sized pot three-quarters full of water. Bring to a rolling boil while you preheat a cast-iron skillet or heavy wok until very hot, about ten minutes, over high heat. Plunge the string beans into the boiling water and cook them for 30 seconds, until they are bright green, forkable but still a bit crisp. Drain the beans but do not rinse them, and put them in a work bowl big enough to toss them around in. Add the oil and toss to coat them evenly. Sprinkle the seasonings over the beans and toss to coat evenly. When you are ready to blacken them, dump the beans into the hot skillet. If your skillet is small, this may need to be done in batches. Don't overload the skillet. Using tongs, move the beans around to blacken them evenly in the seasoning. The idea here is to char the spices, not the beans themselves.

Serve the beans mounded on fresh greens, garnished with lemon wedges.

Adobo Shrimp Cocktail
16-20 large shrimp, peeled & deveined 3 Limes 1/2 cup adobo seasoning 4 dashes tabasco 6 cups ice 8 cups water 1 head bright lettuce (bib or red leaf)

Contrary to traditional methods of cooking shrimp in a Court Bouillon and chilling in ice water, I like to cook the shrimp quickly in water then soak them in a highly seasoned ice broth.

The shrimp can soak while you make the sauce...or even longer if the ice doesn't melt!

So, Bring 6 cps of water top a rolling boil.  While that is happening, Put the ice in a large bow with 2 cups of water, the juice of the lime, 1/4 cup adobo and the juice of 1 lime. Plunge the shrimp in the boiling water and cook for 1 minute or until they are pink and firm but not overcooked. Use a trainer or slotted spoon to remove the shrimp from the hot water and get them into the ice water as soon as possible. Gently stir and let them soak in the seasoned ice water while you make the cocktail sauce.

Latino Cocktail Sauce
1 clove garlic 2 tbls minced onion 1 red bell pepper, diced 1 bunch cilantro Juice of one lime 2 cups ketchup 1/4 cup stuffed green olives 2 tbls capers

Put the garlic, onion, 1/4 cup cilantro and 2 tbls diced bell pepper into a food processor. Add the lime juice and pulse until it is  ground like pesto. Add the olives and pulse until the olives are medium finely minced. Remove to a large bowl and fold in the ketchup, capers and more cilantro.

To present:Line a platter with lettuce. Add the rest of the cilantro in small springs. Slice the remaining limes into thin wedges and sprinkle them around the plate. Arrange the chilled shrimp to you liking. Fill a fun bowl with cocktail sauce and sprinkle the entire plate with the rest of the adobo.