Puerto Rico Restaurant Week

Puerto Rico Restaurant Week Returns!

Diners rejoice!  Puerto Rico Restaurant Week returns for the fifth year in a row.  Starting tomorrow, the best chefs in Puerto Rico will offer exclusive menus at a fixed price. ...

Carne Guisada

Carne Guisada – Puerto Rican Beef Stew

After searching for the best carne guisada in San Juan, I went back to my kitchen to cook up a worthy competitor. Here’s my recipe, featuring grass-fed beef from Cabo ...

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Farmers Market Finds – March 6, 2016

For the last few months, I had been going through the farmers market motions without giving it much thought.

Mixed greens?  Check.
More mixed greens? Check.
The occasional zucchini or eggplant?  Check.

Grab and go… grab and go…

An Instagram picture from Spoon Food ToursCaroline jolted me yesterday.  One of the vendors, La Cosecha, was offering a vegetable seldom seen in my regular market rounds. What got me out of the house at 8am ready to brave the feisty regulars?

Broccoli!

Farmers Market Broccoli

Broccoli from La Cosecha/Productos Sana

We just flew back from a quick trip to New Orleans (more on that later) and my fridge drawers were bare, other than for a few carrots and heads of garlic.  After the trip to the farmers market, we are stocked with the following greens and vegetables in addition to the elusive broccoli.

Farmers Market Mixed Kale

Mixed Kale

 

Farmers Market celery and parsley

Celery and flat leaf parsley

 

Black Beauty eggplant and cucumber

More Farmers Market Finds

I also picked up a large bottle of honey from Apiarios El Pancho, a sack of compost, and the adorable little bouquet adorning these pictures.  We’re ready to start gardening again.  It’s been a couple of years since our balcony planters have yielded anything other than recao and oregano.  Those herbs are hardy for the brownest, dried out green thumbs.

Farmers Market Compost

Compost from Desde Mi Cosecha

Sunday Fun Day at Old San Juan

After the farmers market, I had about two hours to kill before heading to my next grocery stop.  Old San Juan was hosting two events during the day: Circo Fest, circus performances in all major squares of the walled city, and the El Morro Pet Fest.  I had never seen so many adorable pooches in the same place.

Circo Fest Performer

Circo Fest Performer at the Plaza de Armas

I had to take off before the performances started to wrap up shopping for the week and begin planning the week’s meals.  Here’s what our dinners will look like for the next few days:

  • Gochujang pork chops, garlicky roasted broccoli
  • Eggplant, chunky marinara with charred tomatoes, aglio e oglio edamame noodles
  • Mahi mahi, green onion chimichurri, cauliflower and white bean mash
  • Cobb salad with market greens (arugula, tatsoi, red leaf lettuce)
  • Salmon, Gruyere creamed kale

Want to share ideas on what else to do with our market purchases? What do you think about this week’s planned meals?  Leave us a comment here or in our Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Virgin Coconut Mojito Popsicles

virgin coconut mojito popsicles

There’s a reason why mojitos are the perfect summer drink. Multiple reasons, actually.

Plenty of ice.
Tingly, fizzy soda bubbles.
The smell of freshly muddled spearmint
The zing of lime

The only way to make a mojito even more refreshing? Turn it into a popsicle. Read More…

Keeping Cool with Summer Strawberries

puerto rico summer

We are right in the middle of the dog days of summer.  It’s HOT in Puerto Rico right now. The 2015 incarnation of El Niño, the warming of the Pacific Ocean, has brought upon the Caribbean an uncharacteristically dry summer.  It has been twenty one years since the last time we had a drought this severe, aggravating the summer heat.  On the upside, there’s nothing but sunny days for those looking to have fun outdoors.  It’s also the perfect time to increase our intake of fruit and refreshing healthy treats. Sweet summer strawberries to the rescue! Read More…

Curried Grass-Fed Beef Shanks #CaboRojoSteaks

curried grass-fed beef shanks

It’s hard avoiding all the negative – and sadly true – news coming out of Puerto Rico this summer.  Countless articles explain how the government borrowed beyond its means during the last four decades and the reasoning behind many families leaving the island in record numbers since the 1950s.  Not as many articles have been written about the creative ways some Puerto Ricans are trying to solve some of our more pressing issues, like economic growth and sustainability.  And there are many people who are leading the way down that road through entrepreneurship and collaboration.  We – as a society – need to get through our thick skulls (and sluggish butts) that supporting these local products (and the businesses that consume them) is crucial for our economic recovery.

Let’s go to the mall Plaza del Mercado today

We found out about Cabo Rojo Steaks, a local grass-fed cattle ranch operation, through a friend.  Their Providencia Ranch is located in Cabo Rojo, a town in the Southwestern corner of the island, but they have a retail operation at the Santurce Plaza del Mercado.  Their cattle is fully grass-fed, free range, and humanely raised for eighteen months.  The Cabo Rojo Steaks product line includes everything – from the traditional steaks cuts, beef stew chunks, and churrascos to bones for stock, heart, tongue, liver… it’s all available at the Placita or by special order.  All of their cuts are portioned and vacuum sealed for easy selection and storage.

Cabo Rojo Steaks Ribeye Steaks

Cabo Rojo Steaks Grass Fed Ribeye Steak

Prior to cooking these steaks, I did not have experience working with grass-fed beef.  Beef from grass-fed, free range cattle is leaner than the varieties more commonly available in retail.  There is much less marbling, as you can see on the picture of the ribeye steak above.  To ensure the meat remains tender, it is best to cook it to medium temperature at most.  We coated these steaks in oil, salt and pepper just before tossing them over the hot coals.

Curry can’t be hurried

Grass-fed beef has a gamier flavor than corn fed varieties.  If you like lamb or goat, you would definitely enjoy the taste of grass-fed beef.  When we were looking at the different cuts at their counter at la Placita, I knew I wanted to marry the flavor of the beef with curry.  Curried goat stews are very popular all through the Caribbean.  Somewhere along curry’s journey from India (through Britain) to the West Indies its flavor mellowed out, it met a tomato or two, and obtained its own culinary identity.

curried grass-fed beef shanks

Browned beef shanks ready for braising in the coconut, curry and tomato sauce.

local organic cayenne peppers

Local organic cayenne peppers from Desde Mi Huerto. For a milder taste, scrape out the seeds and membranes. For full on heat add the whole chopped pepper to the pot while sweating the onions.

This curry recipe would work well with short ribs, beef stew chunks, boneless skinless chicken thighs, and of course the shanks (osso buco).   The smells that will come out of the oven while the beef braises… YUM!  Plan to make this recipe with plenty of time.  Prepping for the recipe and searing the beef takes approximately twenty minutes, and it the braising process requires two and a half hours.  It will be worth the time: the meat from the shanks will fall of the bone, and explode with flavor.  There will be plenty of sauce to soak up with white long grain rice, apio root puree, or mashed cauliflower.

curried grass fed beef shanks

Cabo Rojo Steaks has a retail outpost at the Placita de Santurce, operating at regular market hours from Monday through Saturdays.  All of the products featured in this article were purchased with our own funds.  We did not receive any compensation for writing this article or developing the curried grass-fed beef shanks recipe.

Flash Fried Green Cherry Tomatoes

Fried Green Cherry Tomatoes

I purchased a basket of assorted cherry tomatoes on a trip to the warehouse club last week.  It included every color under the sun, from striped brownish red, red, orange and yellow, to green.  I made a point of using every tomato during the week – except the green ones.  At the time I wasn’t sure to which dish I would be adding them to, but their destiny was clear.  I was going to flash fry those green cherries.   The last time I got my fried green tomato fix was back in November in DC. Seven months is a long time! Read More…

FFwD Epilogue: Around My Franco Rican Table

Four years and three months ago – I was blogging using Posterous, a platform that doesn’t exist anymore.  Foodbuzz was the place for sharing pictures of food and loading up blog posts.  And every Friday, French Fridays with Dorie posts took over their feed.  My curiosity got the best of me and in a matter of a few clicks I secured a copy of Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table.  My Dorista journey began with pancetta green beans on February of 2011.  While it doesn’t wrap up today for me (too many recipes to make up for), today we bid farewell to this weekly ritual. 

Cooking through Around My French Table has taken me many places.  I’ve been to all corners of France through Dorie’s recipe collection: from Paris to Alsace, Lyon, Nice, and the Basque country.  Other recipes were transportable to the flavors of Puerto Rico.  A tostón will always be at home next to a pot of mussels or that crab and grapefruit salad.  Guava sauce will be ready to top off crepes and rice pudding.  And without modification, some of those dishes surprised me for how much they just tasted like home.  That speaks volumes of the influence of French cookery in the Western world – and of the blessing of growing up around my Mother’s table. Read More…

Roast Pumpkin Salad with Romesco Vinaigrette #BarGitano

romesco vinaigrette

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to taste Bar Gitano’s rejuvenated menu.  Chef Carlos Vázquez has added delicious small plates to the tasca’s already popular dishes – and inspired a salad recipe that would be right at home with them.

Some of Bar Gitano’s new menu items developed by Chef Vázquez include:

  • Veal and pork meatballs braised in sherry with tomatoes, shallots and migas
  • Arugula salad w roasted beets, fried goat cheese nuggets and pistachio and fig jam vinaigrette
  • Brandada de Bacalao: Codfish croquettes with lime aioli
  • Goat cheese pizzeta with romesco, fig jam, truffle oil & arugula
  • Lamb skewers with mint salsa verde and fennel salad
  • Mussels with chorizo in a rich pimenton-wine broth & toasted bread
  • Medjool dates stuffed with Valdeón cheese wrapped in bacon
  • Coconut Cake Gitano with guava mousse and topped with  toasted meringue

Read More…

The Never-Doubt-Dorie Moment: Mme. Maman’s Chopped Liver

Mme Maman's Chopped LIver

The French Fridays with Dorie Celebrations continue!  This week we go over those Never-Doubt-Dorie moments.  FFwD cooks will reminisce about those recipe that made us raise our eyebrows while we went along for the ride.  I looked for the scariest ingredient I hadn’t worked with yet – chicken livers.  Here’s the account of my experience whipping up Mme. Maman’s Chopped Liver.   

(Law & Order style ‘Dun Dun!’)

Thursday June 4, 2015
8:00am

Green spots?

Veins?

It’s not the same to face the deep-sea creatures of the food world when they are breaded, fried or smothered in delicious sauces. And plated and prepared by professionals that bring out the best of these ingredients.   Read More…

French Fridays with Dorie: Curried Chicken with Lemongrass, AHA Moments and my Top 5

curried chicken with lemongrass and vegetables

The fearless Doristas have met their goal.  Last Friday, Mardi of Eat Live Travel Write and Cher The Dabbler cooked and blogged all 300+ recipes of Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table.  Most members of the group are a handful of recipes away from reaching this milestone.  While my participation in the group was inconsistent (to put it mildly), I rejoice and join the rest of them and toast to this accomplishment.  The following four weeks will allow us to reminisce and recap some of the lessons learned in these four years of cooking and friendship. Read More…

Roasted Eggplant Étouffée

Eggplant Etouffee

When May rolled in – particularly during third week of the month – my social networks swelled up with all the activities surrounding my alma mater’s commencement ceremony.  Lovely birrete art, the second lines and music that only come from New Orleans, and Maya Rudolph’s hilarious address.  It made me nostalgic for my own hectic graduation week, so I scoured the web and my own ‘archives’ for those memories from fifteen years ago. Read More…

Puerto Rico Restaurant Week is Back!

Puerto Rico Restaurant Week 2015

From May 27 until June 3rd, Puerto Rico will celebrate the fourth Puerto Rico Restaurant Week.  This highly anticipated event will take place from Wednesday, May 27th through Wednesday June 3rd.  As in previous years, restaurants throughout the Island will offer pre-fixe dinner menus for $28 or $38, with options for the appetizer, entrée and dessert. Several restaurants will also offer pre-fixe lunch menus for $20. Participants include more than twenty-five of the best eateries in San Juan, Santurce, Condado, Miramar, Ocean Park, Isla Verde, Hato Rey, Guaynabo and Humacao. Read More…

Harissa Turkey Chili

Harissa Turkey Chili

Is harissa the next sriracha?

It seems many blogs and food publications are ready to anoint the next big thing when it comes to hot sauces and spice flavors.  Sriracha’s supremacy has been challenged by condiments from all over the world.  Harissa – a north African blend of peppers and spices – has been floating around for a few years now as a contender.  What sets harissa apart from other pepper blends is that it includes a hint of mint. It doesn’t cut the heat, nor overpowers it.  I wish I had a better way to describe how the flavors complement each other.   In addition to hot red peppers and mint, harissa contains caraway, garlic, cumin, and coriander. Read More…

Mango Spiced Quick Oats

mango spiced oats

It feels good to be back after a break of a few weeks without doing much cooking or writing.  For most of February and March I was caught up in training for the Puerto Rico Marathon and Half Marathon.  Those focused weeks definitely paid off: I shaved off over six minutes over my previous half marathon personal best. Read More…

Saborea Puerto Rico 2015

Photo Credit: Joe Colon for Saborea Puerto Rico. All rights reserved.

Photo Credit: Joe Colon for Saborea Puerto Rico. All rights reserved.

Earlier this week we talked about my five lessons for best enjoying Saborea Puerto Rico.  I’ll show you today why you shouldn’t miss the most important culinary showcase in the Caribbean.

New restaurants for culinary adventures

My friends and I are already planning road trips to visit delicious “new for us” places like Asadura in Luquillo, and Asador San Miguel in Naranjito.

Straight from the smoker, ribs and smoked chicken marinated in pineapple from Asadura in Luquillo.

Glazed smoked pork with shoestring potatoes from Asador San Miguel

Winery Experience in Puerto Rico

We love to do wine tastings and visiting wine countries in general.  The Ambrosia Fine Wines area in the middle of the Tasting Pavillion brings the tasting room experience to Saborea Puerto Rico.  The delicious wines and knowledgeable pouring staff will guide you through the wines and suggest pairings from the featured Saborea restaurants and food artisans.

White wine flight, featuring European and Californian wines

New Products Showcased

Our favorite discoveries in the new product front were the versatile recipes from La Hacienda Foods, the micro-greens from Tropical Fresh, and the delicious Empanadillas Geometricas available to purchase by the dozen.  Those will come in especially handy next time we’re having a party.  The chicken curry and carnitas ones blew our minds.

Salmon bites with cilantro cream cheese and micro cilantro from Tropical Fresh.

Chef Talent for Sunday

I cannot stress this enough.  All the chefs we talked to yesterday are incredibly approachable.  We bumped into a few in the Tasting Pavillion and didn’t hesitate to ask questions about recipes and their restaurants.  Whatever your kitchen conondrum, take it to the experts.  And chances are you will learn a trick or five by sitting in the GE Monogram Demo Kitchen Theatre.

 

This is today’s GE Monogram Demo Kitchen Theatre schedule:

11:30 AM
Chef Alex Perichi-Instituto de Banca & Juan Nieves

12:00 AM
José Santos: presented by Dominican Republic Department of Tourism & Pedro Alvarez

12:30 PM
Denisse Oller & Maria Germania Diaz

1:00 PM
Chef Chango & Luis Piñeiro

1:30 PM
Jeremie Cruz & Chef Marilyn & Angel Santiago

2:00 PM
Chef Lorraine & Ana Parga

2:30 PM
Mayra Alejandra & Lorelei Carrión; presented by Splenda

3:00 PM
Juan José Cuevas & Luis Castillo & Rafael Barrera

3:30 PM
Ben Vaughn & Giovanna Huyke

4:00 PM
Puerto Rico National Culinary Team 2015
Johnattan Hernandez, Gerardo Lugo, Suzette Diaz Alberto Febo- Jorge Olivera, Elvin  Rosado: presented by Subway

4:30 PM
Victor Rosado & Kunal Chakrabarti

5:00 PM
Ventura Vivoni & Joel Rodriguez

5:30 PM
Josue Diaz & Hector Gonzalez

Need more reasons?

Browse through Twitter and Instagram using the #SaboreaPR hashtag to see all the great food and moments enjoyed by many.  And head out to El Escambrón to enjoy it for yourself!

Five Lessons: Saborea Puerto Rico

Saborea Puerto Rico

The Saborea season is finally here!  Saborea Puerto Rico kicks off this next Thursday, April 9th, celebrating the best of Puerto Rican gastronomy and hospitality.  For the eighth consecutive year, this culinary extravaganza takes over San Juan, showcasing local chefs, restaurants, produce and artisanal products.

We’d like to think we are Saborea veteranos after three years of enjoying this festival, so we will be sharing our top five tips to enjoy the Saborea experience.  Got any of your own?  Make sure to share them in the comments section below.

Read More…

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