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Arborio Rice Pudding with Guava Sauce

Arborio Rice Pudding with Guava Sauce

Guava season is here!  A couple of weeks ago, I stopped at Freshmart, the local health food/market chain to pick up a few items on the way back home.  Once I stepped into the store, the smell of ripe guavas stopped me on my tracks. It’s no coincidence these sweet, fragrant fruits were placed right by the entrance… and that I fell prey to the supermarket’s logistics game.
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Pumpkin Stuffed with Beans and Ham (Habichuelas Guisadas en Calabaza)

 Pumpkin Stuffed with Beans and Ham

It’s fall, aka pumpkin season!  I had so much fun a few years ago when I made the Pumpkin Stuffed with Cosas Ricas, and wanted to reinvent that dish, but with Puerto Rican flavors.  Rice and beans are staples in the island, and since beans are often stewed with pieces of pumpkin, I thought of flipping the equation: beans cooked inside a pumpkin. The pumpkin imparts not only a little sweetness, but also adds body to the sauce or caldito.  I am not the biggest fan of beans, but E is and I hadn’t made any since we came back from our trip to Seattle.  The timing was perfect for putting together this pumpkin stuffed with beans and ham.

Local inspiration at the farmers’ market

Today I was lucky  to find a gorgeous pumpkin at the farmers’ market at la Placita Roosevelt.  Coming in at six pounds, it was the perfect size to stuff and roast inside my five-quart Dutch oven. This type of pumpkin is called “taína dorada” (golden taína – native Puerto Rican).  `Taina Dorada’ is a relatively new variety of pumpkin bred to produce a tastier, smaller fruit.  Read More…

Cauliflower-White Bean Mash

mashed cauliflower and white beans

I need time savers for practically everything in my life right now.  At work, I rely on magic pivot tables, having two monitors to reduce going back and forth between applications, and many reports that arrive straight to my inbox.  For the blog, I use a dictation application and try to talk my way into posts while stuck in traffic.  In the kitchen, I keep canned beans, seafood, and tomatoes in the pantry and frozen vegetables in the freezer.  There’s almost always something thawing in the refrigerator while I’m out in the office.  I have been hearing about more things that can be precooked and stored in the refrigerator like potatoes and grains.  This mashed cauliflower and white beans recipe came out one of those ‘it’s 8pm – what do I do?” moments.  It was inspired by more elaborate recipes that combine these two ingredients.

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Coconut Mango Bars (Panetela de Mango)

Coconut Mango Bars

Some things need time to come on their own.
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White Chocolate Strawberry Popsicles

White Chocolate Strawberry Popsicles

White Chocolate Strawberry Popsicles

As summers go, I don’t think I can complain too much about this one.  Sure, we’ve had our share of rain, but it has not been as unbearably hot as other years.  Hurricane season has also gotten a slow start.  Usually by this time of the year we’ve had a storm scare or two, but things are kind of quiet in the Atlantic ocean.  I try to keep the contents of my freezer to a minimum during hurricane season, which is easier said than done.  One of the upsides of having extra freezer space is that there is room now for popsicle molds.  I finally got around buying a set of pop molds after years of oohing over so many pretty and tasty recipes on the internet.  Freezing pops is a great way to use overripe fruit, leftover desserts, and even that last bit of silken tofu.  Some experiments were more successful than others (coconut pops from leftover creme anglaise!), and these white chocolate strawberry popsicles were definitely my favorite from the bunch. Read More…

Boquerones (Marinated smelt)

Boquerones Marinated Smelt

My first trip to Spain was in 2005.   My family, including then-boyfriend E, traveled across el charco (the pond) to take a cruise around the Mediterranean.  We spent the days leading to and after the cruise in Barcelona and Madrid.  My sister had already lived in Spain for a summer, so she was well versed in the art of enjoying cañas (small draft beers) and tapas.  I tasted my first boquerones in vinegar marinated white anchovies, in Barcelona  under her tutelage.  Did she create a monster!  As soon as we made it back to the ship from the shore excursions, Eduardo and I would make a beeline to the tapas buffet and load up our plates with tasty marinated vegetables and ridiculous amounts of boquerones.  When we visit the Spanish/Cuban panaderías in the island, we sometimes order some.  They are definitely a treat: an order usually costs at least $1.00 per little fish.  I know now why! Read More…

Mallorca Bread Pudding

Mallorca Bread Pudding

When I visited En Boga Gastrobar for Puerto Rico Restaurant Week, one of their featured desserts was a bread pudding made with mallorcas (ensaimadas) – a sweet enriched bread.  I didn’t get to try it but my sister did and gave it rave reviews.  It became an item in my  unofficial to-cook list until last Sunday.  I made a stop on a whim on my way back from the farmers market to our friendly neighborhood panadería, Moncho Pan.  They bake the largest mallorcas I had ever seen.  It’s impossible for these pastries not to catch your eye – they are right by the register and they are just so big when compared to the other mallorcas in the area. Read More…

My Favorite Garbanzos

My favorite garbanzos

I’ve always been the health nut in my family – or the closest thing to one.  Exercise regimen, check.  Regular salad chomping, check. Stashing weird ingredients in my parents’ refrigerator and pantry before moving out, check.  It has been rewarding seeing some of those good habits kick the bad ones’ butts.  That’s literal!  I smoked cigarettes casually through most of my twenties.  When I took up running almost six years ago, I completely lost the taste for them.

Much has been written about how consistently consuming healthy foods can help replace those cravings for items that are not as nourishing.  Food guru Mark Bittman recently published VB6, a book on how keeping a vegan diet before 6pm can help combat many health conditions brought upon by the standard American diet (and a career in food writing!).  Eating plant-based foods  for the first 2/3 of the day seemed like a worthy tradeoff for a “free pass” for the rest of the day.  Although I’m not formally following a VB6 type plan, I have been incorporating more vegan meals into the packed lunch repertoire, like Dorie Greenspan’s orange scented lentil soup and this garbanzo (chickpea) stew. Read More…

Sweet Plantain & Parmesan “Biscuits”

Yesterday I came home from work and made a huge batch of soup.  It was a “clean-up the fridge” soup with tofu noodles, veggies, chicken, and leftover home-smoked ribs that would make Chinese fast food places weep with jealousy.  After our dinner tonight, there was still enough for a generous serving today.  There were still other areas of my kitchen that needed the ‘cleanup’ treatment…  Read More…

Mahi Mahi with Aji Cream Sauce and Celery Root Puree

I confess I did a little last minute shopping this year for Mother’s Day.  Early Saturday morning I was already at Plaza las Américas, the largest mall in Puerto Rico (if not the Caribbean) getting gifts for my dear comadres and ordering a much needed pair of eyeglasses.  I also left the mall with plantains, soursop, eggplant, celery root and ajicitos.   Yes… at the mall!  On the second and fourth weekends of each month, farmers and artisanal food preparers take over  the third level of Plaza.  I missed ‘my’ farmers’ market last week so I really needed to stock up on staples like plantain and eggplant. Read More…

Apple Five-Spice Pancakes

Instagrammy!

I liked the Instagramed picture of the apple five-spice pancakes better than the regular shots.

The weekend is here!  The weekend is almost here!

Who am I kidding?  Although tomorrow I’ll have a chance to sleep in a little, I’ll still have to trek to the office to wrap up a pile or two of work that needs to get done by Monday.   However, sleeping won’t be the only way I’ll get to differentiate tomorrow from the rest of the work week.  Saturdays and Sundays call for longer runs and and enjoying breakfast beyond the usual cereal/juice/coffee combo.   Last week I made these apple five-spice pancakes that are begging for an encore. Read More…

Very Simple Pico de Gallo

I’m itching to go to the beach.  I don’t think I’ve been to the beach since my friends D&D got married in Cancún last September.  It’s a pity and a shame, considering I have one of the nicest strips of beach in Puerto Rico – the Isla Verde public beach – at a mere twenty minutes from my home.  Feel free to insult me in the comments.  I am planning to make up for lost time soon. Read More…

Creamy Caldo Gallego

Happy New Year!

Creamy Caldo Gallego

Many people around the world are nursing hangovers this morning with some tried and true “remedy foods” – greasy spoon burgers and fries, cool citrusy ceviche, or fruit loaded smoothies.  If you happen to be in Puerto Rico and drop by a Spanish bakery in the morning, chances are you will find a few dehydrated  faces recovering with a steamy bowl of caldo gallego – Galician broth – in front of them.  Caldo gallego is a rustic soup built on a ham hock broth, with large chunks of potato and turnips, white beans, chard (acelga), and bits of ham and chorizo.   This creamy caldo gallego has all the same ingredients and proportions as the traditional version – you could leave it chunky and it would be just as good.  I pureed it because I wanted to create a contrast with fun garnishes: dehydrated chard and crisped chorizo and ham. Read More…

Chili con Todo

Chili con Todo

Sundays beg for easy recipes that allow me to be lazy or to focus on other things.  Unfortunately I can’t be 100% lazy today because I have to do some work before another hectic week starts, but it feels good to have dinner in the Dutch oven ready until whenever we are.   Today that’s chili con todo – that would be chili with everything: beef, beans, and tomato.  It is an especially comforting meal in this rainy and windy weekend.  Right after Easter, we have been assaulted by a cold front that doesn’t want to end its Caribbean vacation. Read More…

Arugula Caesar Salad

Arugula Caesar Salad Churrasco

I am a pack rat, especially when it comes to reading materials.  Not unlike many food bloggers and their readers, I have a collection of cookbooks and magazines that threatens to take over cupboards, shelves and closet space.  Lately, despite having all these great references at my disposal, I keep coming back to my Kindle to search through two e-books:  Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” and “The Flavor Bible” by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg.  After reading so much about them through other food blogs, I decided it was time to get my own copies.  I can’t believe I went for as long as I did without them.   Read More…

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