Carne Guisada – Puerto Rican Beef Stew

Carne Guisada

When I was a kid, I did not show much love for my mother’s beef stew, carne guisada.  I was told once by a family friend that my mother made the best beef stew and I shrugged it off.  Teenagers are stupid.  I didn’t really get the alchemy behind sofrito, tomato, potatoes, carrots, bay and beef.  My siblings and I would get home back from school and basically ignore the large pot where the beef stew, stuffed pot roast and carne a la catalana would simmer for hours before dinnertime. It was just… there.  It took going away for college and coming back home to appreciate the comforting magic of these slow cooked dishes.   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…

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…

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…

Chunky Mojo Isleño

Salinas Puerto Rico

Photo Credit – Angel Figueroa. All rights reserved.

On Sundays, people pile up their families in their cars and take off to explore the island and every corner’s signature flavors.  On today’s Domingo Criollo feature, we ‘visit’ the Southern Puerto Rico town of Salinas through this recipe for chunky mojo isleño.

Read More…

How to Make Mofongo

how to make mofongo

Mofongo is of Puerto Rico’s signature dishes.  It can be found in every corner of the island, from the humblest cafeteria to white tablecloth establishments.  This mash is traditionally prepared with green plantains, garlic, pork cracklings, and olive oil.  Although versions that feature ripe plantain, yuca, breadfruit or some combination of these are becoming more popular, the classic version will always be green plantain.  Plantains were brought over from Africa during the 16th century and were a staple of the slaves’ diet.  The mofongo we know today evolved from fufú, a root vegetable mash also from African origin.

Read More…

Puerto Rican Roast Chicken

Puerto Rican Style Roast Chicken

Last week, after a late night at the office, I found myself scrambling to get to the supermarket on time to grab a rotisserie chicken.  At one of the grocery stores I shop at, if you get there after 8pm chances are you’ll find the chickens no one wanted – if you are lucky.  Burnt wings, torn skin, just sad looking chickens that have been sitting around for a while.  Although everyone needs a good standby place to go grab one, many publications and renowned chefs agree that learning to roast a chicken is an essential kitchen skill. Read More…

French Fridays with Dorie: Sangria Chicken

sangria chicken

The best kind of challenge

Every so often, a French Fridays with Dorie recipe pops up that makes you wish you had access to great ingredients. This week’s recipe, Seared Duck Breasts with Kumquats, is one of those. Duck breasts?  Not on my radar unless I call “my” friendly restaurant supplier.  Kumquats?  If my fellow Doristas couldn’t find them state/Canada-side, you can imagine there’s little hope for this island girl.  Not that it bothered me.  Au contraire, it was time to improvise and have fun with this challenge.

What do we always have on hand?  Boneless, skinless chicken thighs.  The dark chicken meat will never be an apples to apples substitute for gamey duck breasts, but it is as close as it gets.  Orange zest syrup replaces the not-yet-in season kumquats.  A bottle of $4 merlot fills the fruity wine quota.  If the recipe from Around My French Table is your woo-food, dinner date at home recipe, this is the weekday version for whenever the cravings hit for citrus and wine sauce.  This is no impostor fragrance version of the recipe.  It’s good on its own merits. Read More…

Green Pigeon Pea Escabeche (Gandules en Escabeche)

green pigeon pea escabeche

A Holiday Tradition

Gandules – also known in the rest of the Caribbean as guandules or just peas – are the traditional Puerto Rican legume of the holiday season.  I dare you to go to a Christmas party in Puerto Rico without arroz con gandules.  These days, I might even extend that dare to Thanksgiving meals in the island.  The minute you taste the sofrito laced rice and peas, you know it’s Christmas or you are reminded of the season.

Green pigeon peas can be found either canned or frozen, with fresh peas being a little harder to come by.  I was extremely lucky a few years ago.  I had a co-worker that grew them on her backyard.  When the holiday season was around the corner, she would start taking orders for her cosecha, the harvest.  Although there are few things better dishes than arroz con gandules made with fresh peas,  the convenience of canned gandules cannot be denied, especially for recipes like this one. Read More…

French Fridays with Dorie: Roasted Chayote with Garlic

 

Jerusalem Artichokes Redmond Farmers Market

Last year E and I spent a week frolicking in the Pacific US Northwest/Canadian Southwest after IFBC wrapped up.  On our last day and a half before returning to Puerto Rico, we hung out around Redmond, a Seattle suburb famous for its proximity to the Woodinville wine tasting rooms, the Microsoft campus, and The Herbfarm.  After spending about an hour in the Redmond farmers’ market that Saturday, I decided the next time I visited that area I would rent an apartment with a good kitchen.  We were wowed by the wonderful produce we saw at the market, stand after stand.  I took an especially good look at the Jerusalem artichokes, aka sunchokes, knowing that I’d likely wouldn’t be seeing them again in the (near) future. Read More…

Whipped Potatoes with Olive Oil and Pesto

 

Whipped Potatoes with Olive Oil and Pesto

Countertop Ornaments

Storage space is a touchy subject in our kitchen.  While a cluttered countertop doesn’t bother me on most days, sometimes I wish I had enough storage space in the cupboards to stash the kitchen gadgets that are scattered around.  Even if I could, there are two larger pieces of equipment I definitely can’t fit in the cabinet.  One is the toaster oven, a key appliance when cooking for two.  I use it almost every day and it wouldn’t be practical to stash it away.  The other is the stand mixer.  Every time I see it, it begs to be used.  I usually take it out for a spin once or twice a month, but know I should be taking advantage of it for more ‘everyday’ cooking.  My favorite of those cooking tasks is whipping potatoes.  Nothing against the humble potato masher, but if in a minute or two I can have perfectly smooth potatoes ready for dinner… Read More…

Sweet Potatoes Stuffed with Lamb and Eggplant Picadillo

Picture courtesy of Lala López – a fashion and art blogger that should be in your radar!

I have a confession to make.

I live in Puerto Rico and I visited José Enrique’s flagship restaurant at la Placita de Santurce for the first time a month ago.  The restaurant has been operating non stop since 2007.  The lines have not thinned out since then.  It took friends visiting from Boston and the ‘it’s Tuesday, how bad can the wait be’ reasoning to get me to Calle Duffaut. Read More…

French Fridays with Dorie: Dressy Penne Pasta

Dressy Penne Pasta

It’s the first French Friday of 2014!  Mon Dieu, where does time go?

Today’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe is a Dressy Pasta Risotto, a take on macaroni and cheese where small-shaped pasta is cooked with chicken stock and aromatics and finished with a cream and Parmesan and Mascarpone cheeses.  Instead of a side dish, I prepared two main dish servings of dressy penne pasta with mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and a dash of truffle oil.  We eat a lot of pasta on weeknights and this technique creates a lot of depth in the taste.  That is no small feat when cooking whole wheat pasta. 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.

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…

UA-20793997-4