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Cubano Sandwich Served Toasted

By Merri Lou Dobler The Spokesman-R

Dear Merri Lou: We were in Florida this past winter and heard Cuban sandwiches mentioned. However, we didn’t get a chance to sample one. What are they? What are the ingredients and how do you prepare them? Thank you. Bonnie, Spokane

Dear Bonnie: At Miami’s street-corner snack bars, called loncherias, you’ll find the Cuban sandwich. Typically, it’s a soft Italian or a crusty loaf of bread that’s filled with salami, dill pickle, roast pork and cheese. The sandwich is buttered and toasted under a weighted grill for a thin, warm treat.

The following book I found at the Spokane Public Library offers traditional recipes from Cuba, including a bread called Pan de Manteca, for a truly authentic sandwich. For an easier version, experiment with breads such as sandwich rolls or French bread, found in your supermarket deli section.

Sandwich Cubano (Cuban Sandwich)

From “The Flavor of Cuba, Traditional Recipes From the Cuban Kitchen,” by Laura Milera (Royal Palm Press, 1995).

1/2 loaf Cuban bread, or soft Italian bread or roll

Mustard, to taste

Butter, to taste

2 slices turkey breast

1-2 slices cooked roast pork

1-2 slices deli ham

1 slice Swiss cheese

Slit the bread in half, lengthwise. Butter the inside of one half and spread mustard on the other. Layer the meats and cheese between the bread halves. If you wish, lightly butter the outside of the sandwich.

Wrap the sandwich in aluminum foil and place it in a heated skillet over low heat. Place a second, heavier skillet on top of the sandwich and allow it to crisp for 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the sandwich over and repeat on the other side for another 1 to 2 minutes. Unwrap and serve.

Yield: 1 sandwich.

Nutrition information per sandwich: 452 calories, 25 grams fat (50 percent fat calories), 225 milligrams cholesterol, 15 grams carbohydrate, 45 grams protein, 796 milligrams sodium.

Note: If you have a sandwich iron, cook until the bread is hot and crispy and the cheese has slightly melted.

Dear Merri Lou: I would like to find a recipe for dry taco seasoning mix that could be added to cooked ground beef. Thank you. - Jill, Spokane

Dear Jill: Here’s a seasoning mix that’s similar to store brands, without the whey or lactose, artificial flavors and MSG. These two recipes come from “Make-A-Mix Cookery” (H.P. Books, 1978). To spice up taco filling, mix in your favorite salsa or taco sauce.

Taco Seasoning Mix

4 teaspoons instant minced onion

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper

1 teaspoon instant minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl until evenly distributed. Spoon mixture onto 2 (6-inch) squares of aluminum foil and fold to make airtight. Label. Store in a cool, dry place. Use within 6 months.

Yield: 2 packages (about 2 tablespoons each).

Nutrition information per package: 28 calories, .7 grams fat (23 percent fat calories), no cholesterol, 57 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram protein, 2,160 milligrams sodium.

Taco Filling

1 pound ground beef, lean or extra lean

1/2 cup water

1 package Taco Seasoning

Mix Brown ground beef in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Drain excess grease. Add water and seasoning mix. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Yield: Filling for 8 to 10 tacos.

Nutrition information per (2-taco) serving: 234 calories, 8.9 grams fat (34 percent fat calories), 34 grams protein, 71 grams carbohydrate, 615 milligrams sodium.

Dear Merri Lou: My father’s birthday is coming up next month and I’d like to make him a Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie. Hope you can find a super recipe for me. Also, you published a recipe for Cinnamon Walnut Scones (on May 21). Not only are they great for breakfast, but for dessert. I topped them with apple pie filling and whipped cream and everyone loved them. Thanks. - Colleen, Spokane

Dear Colleen: I’ve got a great recipe for you that’s not loaded with fat and calories. A typical peanut butter pie recipe has about 700 calories and 39 fat grams (52 percent fat calories). This one’s just over 300 calories, with only 8 grams of fat. It’s a great pie and perfect for hot August days.

Frozen Peanut Butter Fudge Pie

From “Healthy Homestyle Desserts,” by Evelyn Tribole (Penguin Books, 1996).

1 prepared, reduced-fat graham cracker crust

Peanut Butter Filling:

1/4 cup tub-style light cream cheese

1/4 cup tub-style fat-free cream cheese

1/4 cup chunky natural-style peanut butter

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup evaporated skim milk

1/2 cup fat-free fudge topping (see note)

Topping:

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chilled evaporated skim milk

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

3 tablespoons boiling water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup light corn syrup

3 tablespoons peanut butter chips

In a small bowl, cream together the light and fat-free cream cheese, peanut butter, powdered sugar, evaporated skim milk and fudge topping. Pour into the prepared pie crust.

Put 2 tablespoons of the chilled evaporated skim milk in a large bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Add the boiling water to the gelatin mixture and mix well until gelatin is dissolved.

Add the remaining 1/2 cup chilled evaporated skim milk and vanilla to the dissolved gelatin mixture. Using an electric mixer, beat until there’s a foamy and opaque consistency. Gradually drizzle in the corn syrup while beating for 2-3 minutes. Let sit for 1-2 minutes and then pour over pie filling.

Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, grind peanut butter chips until they resemble coarse bread crumbs and sprinkle over the pie topping. Freeze until firm. Before slicing and serving, let stand 15 minutes in the refrigerator.

Yield: 8 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 338 calories, 8 grams fat (21 percent fat calories), 5 milligrams cholesterol.

Note: Look for Mrs. Richardson’s Fat-Free Hot Fudge Topping in your grocery store.

Dear Merri Lou: Here’s how to store Walla Walla Sweet Onions successfully. Pick firm onions. Wrap each one individually in newspaper. Store in vegetable bin in lower part of your refrigerator. These will last until November unless you have an onion sandwich every day. Hope you can use this information, as I have used this method for years. Thanks. - Margaret, Spokane

Dear Margaret: The season for Walla Walla Sweets seems to come and go so fast. Thanks for the tip on keeping them around for a little longer.

, DataTimes MEMO: Have a food question? Looking for a recipe? Merri Lou Dobler, a registered dietitian in Spokane, would like to hear from you. Write to Cook’s Notebook, Features Department, The Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210, or e-mail to merrid@spokesman.com. As many letters as possible will be answered in this column; sorry, no individual replies.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Merri Lou Dobler The Spokesman-Review

Have a food question? Looking for a recipe? Merri Lou Dobler, a registered dietitian in Spokane, would like to hear from you. Write to Cook’s Notebook, Features Department, The Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210, or e-mail to merrid@spokesman.com. As many letters as possible will be answered in this column; sorry, no individual replies.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Merri Lou Dobler The Spokesman-Review

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