Costa Del Sol Carnitas Tacos

Cloud and Mukki in Costa Del Sol“Damn! Sure is hot here! But I sure feel better now that I can say good-bye to this sailor suit.”

—Barret Wallace, FFVII

  • 4 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 32 corn tortillas
  • 1 red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 4 ripe avocados, peeled and sliced
  • 4 thinly sliced red radishes
  • 8 limes, cut into wedges
  • Flaky sea salt

Place the pork in a casserole dish. Combine the salt, pepper, cumin, and oregano and sprinkle all over the pork. Marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for about 90 minutes.

Peel most of the papery outer skin from a whole head of garlic, leaving the bulb intact. Trim a half-inch off the top to expose the cloves inside. Repeat with the second bulb. Tuck the bulbs between the pork pieces, cut sides facing up, and drizzle with olive oil.

Reduce heat to 300 degrees. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Turn the pork pieces and bake for 30 more minutes, until internal temperature reaches about 200 degrees.

Remove the casserole dish from the oven and allow the pork to cool. When it’s cool enough to handle, shred the meat, removing bits of fat. Warm the tortillas over the stove.

Serve tacos with cabbage, avocado, and radishes. Squeeze a lime wedge and some soft garlic on top before eating and sprinkle with sea salt. Makes 32 tacos, enough to serve 8–10 people.

Cosmo Canyon Chicken and Rice

Cosmo Candle“Bonfires are funny, aren’t they? They make you remember all sorts of things.”

—Tifa Lockhart, FFVII

For the chicken:

  • ¼ cup lime juice (about 1 or 2 limes)
  • ¼ cup organic tamari soy sauce
  • ½ tablespoon hot chili powder
  • ½ tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed
  • 4 skinless, boneless organic free-range chicken breasts
  • ¼ cup white wine

For the rice:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 10½ oz. long-grain brown rice, jasmine or basmati (about 1½ cups)
  • 8 oz. raw tomatoes, washed and chopped
  • 1 carrot, scrubbed and chopped (about ½ cup)
  • ¼ yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 4 cups chicken broth

Mix together lime juice, soy sauce, cumin, coriander, chili powder, olive oil, honey, and garlic in a shallow baking pan, stirring thoroughly. Lay the chicken breasts in, breast-side up, then flip to breast-side down. Cover and refrigerate for an hour, turning the breasts over halfway through.

While the chicken is marinating, heat the butter and oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the rice and saute until it starts to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, carrot, onion, garlic, and salt. Stir and continue cooking for about 10 more minutes, until onions are translucent.

Slowly pour in broth, bringing to a simmer. Continue cooking until all the broth has been absorbed. Lower heat to very low and cover for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside for 15 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Turn the chicken breasts to breast-side down and pour the white wine over them. Bake for 20-30 minutes, flipping the breasts after about 10 or 15 minutes. Check that the internal temperature has reached at least 160 degrees.

Arrange 4 plates. Put a half-cup scoop of rice on each plate and pat it down to make a nest for the chicken. (You’ll have rice left over; save it to serve at another meal with Ifrit’s Adobo-Achiote Chicken.) Place each breast on a plate and top with the pan juices. Serves 4.

Vincent’s Red Juice

Vincent Valentine in Nibelheim“Cool? Hmmm… I guess that’s just how I am, sorry.”

—Vincent Valentine, FFVII

He wants you to know that the stuff you hear about garlic is total fiction.

  • 1 lb. organic Roma tomatoes
  • 6 oz. organic spinach
  • 10 oz. organic kale
  • 1 organic beet (root and leaves), scrubbed well
  • 3 raw garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 lb. organic carrots (about 6 carrots)
  • 5 oz. organic celery (about 2 to 4 stalks)
  • 1 fresh lime, quartered
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt

Start your multispeed juicer on setting 1 and add tomatoes. Increase speed to setting 3 and add spinach. Increase speed to setting 4 and add kale. Increase speed to setting 5 and add beet root, beet leaves, garlic cloves, carrots, and celery.

Remove pitcher from the juicer. Squeeze the lime quarters into the pitcher and and stir in salt. Juice can be stored overnight in the refrigerator if necessary, but is best when served immediately.

Makes about 24 to 32 ounces of juice, depending on the size of the beet: 570 calories, 5.3 g. fat, 0.8 g. saturated fat, 2.4 g. poly. fat, 0.5 g. mono. fat, 1427.2 mg. sodium, 5767.9 mg. potassium, 123.1 g. carbohydrates, 27 g. protein, vitamin A 1003%, vitamin C 666%, calcium 85%, iron 77%

Total cost for all ingredients is about $9 at Trader Joe’s.

Gaia’s Green Trees

Bugenhagen's observatory in Cosmo Canyon“Spirit energy makes all things possible, trees, birds, and humans.”

—Bugenhagen, FFVII

  • 4 oz. whole-wheat penne or rice pasta, uncooked
  • Large bunch of broccoli
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Several cloves of garlic, chopped or mashed
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup water
  • Salt to taste
  • Grated Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast (optional)

Cook the pasta in rapidly boiling water until al dente, about ten minutes.  Drain and set aside.

Trim the ends of the broccoli stems and cut off the flowers. Peel the outer fibrous layer off the main stalks and cut the stalks into bite-sized pieces.  Separate the flowers of the broccoli into bite-sized pieces.

Place the broccoli in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Put it in a saucepan with the olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, water and salt. Bring to a boil, cover tightly, reduce heat to medium-low, and steam until the broccoli is bright green and very crunchy-tender, no more than 5 minutes. Remove the lid and boil off most of the remaining liquid.

Toss the broccoli with the cooked pasta. Top with Parmesan cheese, if desired.  Serves two.

Cosmo Canyon Squash Soup

Cosmo Canyon and the buggy“I promised my guys someday… when we saved the planet from the Shinra, that we’d all go to Cosmo Canyon and celebrate…”

—Barret Wallace, FFVII

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 medium onions or 6 small onions, peeled and diced (about 3 cups)
  • 3 medium carrots or 6 small carrots, washed and chopped (about 1.5 cups)
  • 1 8-oz. package of crimini mushrooms, stems removed, washed and sliced (about 2.5 cups)
  • 1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes (fire-roasted variety preferred)
  • ½ tbsp. salt
  • ½ tbsp. turmeric
  • ½ tbsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning, crushed
  • 1 14-oz. can pureed pumpkin or other squash
  • 1 14-oz. can black beans
  • 8 c. chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 14-oz. can corn
  • 8 oz. whole-wheat rotelle pasta

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add onions and cook for 10 minutes, covered. Stir frequently and reduce heat if the onions are browning too quickly.  Add carrots and mushrooms and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes.  Add tomatoes and seasonings and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Add pumpkin, beans, and chicken or vegetable stock, and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.  Stir in corn and return to a boil.  Add pasta and cook, uncovered, until pasta is tender, about ten minutes.

Makes about 8 heaping 1-cup servings.  Per serving: 290 calories, 6 g. fat, 0.5 g. saturated fat, 0.4 g. poly. fat, 2.5 g. mono. fat, 0 mg. cholesterol, 1315.2 mg. sodium (this will be less if you use homemade chicken stock instead of storebought), 6 mg. potassium, 48.9 g. carbohydrates, 9.6 g. fiber, 10.4 g. protein, vitamin A 177%, vitamin C 21%, calcium 6%, iron 21%