Miami steak: Cuba provides the kick, Colombia the side
When my wife and I moved to Key West, Fla., in the 1970s, we quickly adopted the customs of the locals, said Norman Van Aken in Norman Van Aken’s Florida Kitchen (Univ. Press of Florida). Of course, not all locals have the same customs. South Florida is a glorious mix of cultures—Puerto Rican, Cuban, Colombian. Throughout my career, I’ve taken inspiration from those many cuisines as I’ve developed the dishes served at my restaurants.
People in Miami and the Keys drink Cuban coffee every morning, a pick-me-up brewed in a sock-like open sieve, and I owe it to the sight of the loose grounds that I remembered, and created a variation on, a coffeebased spice rub that a Texas friend once whipped up. The thought of grilled steak in turn brought to mind Colombia’s papas chorreadas— potatoes in a creamy cheese sauce that might be put to even better use on the accompanying side of cauliflower, another vegetable that “adores cheese.”
Recipe of the week
Coffee-rubbed T-bone steaks
4 T-bone steaks, at least 1 inch thick, with about ½ inch of fat intact along the edge
Coffee rub (see below)
For ½ cup coffee rub, mix together:
2 tbsp finely ground coffee
1½ tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp granulated (white or raw) sugar
1 tbsp brown sugar
1½ tbsp granulated garlic
1 heaping tsp cracked black pepper
¼ tsp each ground cayenne, ground cumin, and smoked pimentón
About 1 hour before cooking, place steaks on a cutting board; with a sharp knife, make some incisions in the meat. Rub 2 tbsp coffee mixture all over each steak, working it into the slits. Season with more kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Let stand 1 hour. Heat outdoor grill to high.
Grill steaks about 4 minutes per side, until nicely crisp outside and medium-rare inside. Remove to a carving board; let rest 5 minutes. Cut along bone, then carve meat into slices crosswise to the bone. Serves 4.
Cauliflower in a ‘Cali’ way
3½ cups small cauliflower florets
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
3 tbsp butter
½ sweet onion, diced
½ cup diced ripe or canned tomatoes (drained if canned)
²∕3 cup heavy cream
5 oz Swiss cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 350. Put cauliflower in a mixing bowl, coat lightly with oil and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a nonstick baking pan. Roast 10 to 15 minutes, until florets are soft to the bite. Set aside.
While cauliflower is roasting, make sauce: Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When it foams, add onion and cook until lightly browned on edges, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes and heat through. Add cream and bring to a simmer. Season with a little salt and pepper. Stir in cheese. Allow to melt and cook another 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Mix in cauliflower. Serves 4.