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Devil’s Food Cake

Devil's Food Cake

My siblings and I are all doted with very different artistic talents.  My brother is musically inclined.  He was selected at a very young age to sing in a prestigious choir in Puerto Rico and later learned to play guitar on his own.  My sister always excelled in all different type of visual art.  She could sketch, paint, and sculpt.  I was the bookish one, either reading and writing poems and stories that would now make me blush on how lame they were.  If there was ever a weekend when I needed to channel my sister’s ability to make pretty things, it should have been this one. Read More…

Vegetable Broth

I’m playing catch up with the French Fridays with Dorie crowd , and for some reason I decided to group my efforts by topic.  During the last few weeks I’ve made the three soups I missed writing about: the creamy cauliflower soup sans creamcheating on winter pea soup, and the orange scented lentil soup.  The backbone for all three soups was a homemade vegetable broth.  I usually just use the bouillon cubes whenever a recipe calls for vegetable broth, but I wanted to make my own stock for these soups.  Vegetable broth gets the ugly duckling treatment in most cookbooks and kitchen reference books I have around.  It’s usually ignored or mentioned in a little blurb away from its chicken, beef, and veal counteparts. Read More…

Arugula Chimichurri

Arugula Chimichurri

As much as I love chimichurri – the Argentinean condiment for meats and potatoes – I don’t make it as often as I should.  Skirt steak is in our dinner rotation at least every other week.  Most of the time it is sliced and used to top salads, but when I don’t there’s always roasted potatoes or some other starch involved.  In those occasions, it’s always nice to have some sauce on the side.  This is part of the lore on how chimichurri came to be an Argentinean and Uruguayan staple. Read More…

Kale Sofrito Risotto

kale sofrito risotto

I don’t consider myself a slave to fashion and trends.  My favorite pair of jeans is a faded, soft as sweatpants boot cut I bought ten years ago.  I have never made a cake pop.  It takes us a while to actually visit new ‘it’ restaurants. Eating healthily should never be considered a trend, however, I’ve fallen deep and hard into the kale love train.

Kale chips

Kale smoothies

Kale pestos

Stir-fried kale

Kale, kale, kale. Read More…

Recipe Matchup: Chocolate Pudding

Chocolate pudding is the most comforting dessert I can think of.  Could it be the “ah, mine!” factor of the individual portions? The “feel good” chemical components in the chocolate? The silky texture?  While visiting Charleston last fall, E got to try Hominy Grill’s famous chocolate pudding.  I bought the restaurant’s recipe booklet, and after we returned home every other week I would hear “when are you making the pudding?”.  Last Sunday we had dinner over at our friends’ house and since it was my turn to bring dessert, I got around it.  I even splurged on “good” chocolate for them. Read More…

Kitchen Safety – Puncture Wounds

It is time for confessing… for acknowledging another bout of klutziness, of mindlessly doing things that required my full attention.  I’m not showing you my battle wound, but believe me, it was probably not even half as bad as I will make it sound.

Two months ago, we were over our friends’ house for an afternoon-long Sunday dinner, the kind where the conversations flow easily, the kitchen duties are seamlessly shared between hosts and overeager guests.  Most of the meal was ready – all we needed was to plate some avocado slices.

Gooey, slippery Haas avocado + unfamiliar knife that looked far more benign that what it actually was… you can tell where this story is going.  The knife did not make contact with the pit I was trying to remove.  It found the palm of my left hand.  I looked at the pooling blood in disbelief and looked helplessly at my hostess.

“Band Aid?”
“Coming right up.” Read More…

Blood Sausage Empanadas – Pastelillos de Morcilla

 Empanadas de Morcilla

Feliz día de Reyes!  Happy Epiphany day!  Today is technically the last day of the Puerto Rican holiday season.  My family is gathering at my sister’s place to celebrate.  This year we are forgoing the traditional Christmas menu of roast pork, rice with pigeon peas, and guineos en escabeche, so I dropped by my friendly neighborhood lechonera yesterday to pick up the “last” bit of lechón and morcillas, also known as blood sausage or black pudding.
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Cream of Crab and Saffron

After completing several projects for work during the spring, I was awarded points to redeem at a ‘rewards store’.  There were so many things to chose from!  My very inexpensive plastic immersion blender was already starting to show signs of age, so I opted to get a much powerful stainless steel one with my points.  I was so (vocally) excited about my new blender that Cynthia, a good friend from work, saved me a recipe feature from our local paper about soups.  This cream of crab and saffron is one of five recipes Chef Javier Menéndez shared with El Nuevo Día.  Chef Menéndez was one of the younger chefs featured in this year’s edition of Saborea Puerto Rico.  He’s also the Executive Chef at San Juan’s Texas de Brazil outpost. Read More…

Ketembilla Juice

Every other Sunday – the first and third of the month – local farmers pitch their tents at la Placita Roosevelt, on the Hato Rey neighborhood of San Juan.  I’ve tried to showcase their produce and baked goods on several posts, focusing on new (for me) items.  This time around, I would like to highlight one of those items that I’ve bought over and over again but never showed you before.  When in season, I usually grab a cup of “cranberry” juice to enjoy while browsing the tables and buy the fruits to add to smoothies or juice at home.  These “Puerto Rican cranberries” are actually ketembillas, a native Ceylon gooseberry that was brought to the UPR Experimental Station in 1930. Read More…

Mallorca Sandwiches

Pressed Mallorca with Ham and Cheese

Ham and cheese sandwiches are a culinary ‘given’ in the Western world. Ever since the fourth Earl of Sandwich refused to leave his spot in the poker table, we have been eating and improving upon the simple concept of placing meats and condiments between two pieces of bread. The simple ham and cheese combination evolved into some of the most popular sandwich varieties, from the French croque monsieur, to the (now retro) Montecristo, to the Cuban. Puerto Rico has its own take: ham and cheese pressed on a mallorca roll, with a mandatory sprinkle of powdered sugar. Read More…

Traditional King Cake

I feel I’m failing my dear Doristas by not posting today’s French Friday’s recipe, quatre-quarts.  I still have in my freezer bubble top brioche rolls, a piece of Mama’s cinnamon cake, biscuits made from the Baking book recipe, three boxes of Girl Scout cookies and up until very recently, a whole king cake.  It’s just too much starchy, floury goodness already at my fingertips to even consider baking another cake for a two-person household. Read More…

Guineos en Escabeche (Pickled Green Bananas)

 All rights reserved by Jose J Gonzalez

I believe that Puerto Rico has one of the longest Christmas seasons in the world.  It lasts almost two months!  While its official beginning cannot be tied to a specific date (the week leading up to Thanksgiving, perhaps?), the end of the season falls around January 14th.  If the first day of Christmas is December 25th, and it ends on the Twelfth Night (Epiphany/Día de Reyes), we tack on eight extra days.  In these eight days, known as las octavitas,  people are still open to the idea of holiday themed meals and parties.  The octavitas are then stretched until the third weekend of January, when the San Sebastian Street Festival takes place.  This Old San Juan festival is a celebration of Puerto Rican culture: music, crafts, and food – all which happen to be key components of our Christmas traditions.

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Saints Playoffs 2012 Cookies and New Orleans Recipe Roundup

I could not help myself.  Geaux Saints!

Fleur de Lis Shaped Sugar Cookies

For the holidays, I made four batches of Dorie Greenspan’s sugar cookies (Grandma’s All-Occasion Sugar Cookies), and froze a couple of rolled sheets for whenever I felt like enjoying a few.  I got a fleur-de-lis cutter at Sur La Table while on vacation in Miami and was itching to  use it.  What better time to enjoy some saintsational cookies than today before kick-off? Read More…

Tomato, Mozzarella, and Avocado Salad

Tomato, Mozzarella, and Avocado Salad

This is the second time I’ve featured a Caprese-like salad in the blog. The first one included strawberries in addition to the traditional tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. This time around, I assembled stacks of sliced small colored tomatoes (orange, yellow, red, and kumatos), fresh mozzarella, and avocado. The avocado season is winding down in the Caribbean, so we were lucky to find some great ones in the supermarket. I got some small scalloped cookie cutters at the baking supplies stores, and used them to shape cheese and avocado bits.  This is a perfect activity to engage friends and family at a gathering.  Who doesn’t like playing with food? Read More…

Beef Wellington

Sliced Beef Wellington Stuffed with Mushroom Duxelles and Jamon Serrano

My father is a big Beef Wellington fan.  There was a restaurant in Hato Rey back in the eighties, Maxim, that served filet mignons with a spread of mushrooms and paté, wrapped in puff pastry and baked until the pastry turned flaky and golden.  When we were planning my wedding, he suggested having it as the main course and we even tried it at the menu tasting.  When Papa’s birthday came up, I knew I had to give this dish a try even though I had never made it before.   Anyone can get by with a decent recipe and a healthy (?) dose of atrevimiento/chutzpah, right? Read More…