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…

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…

French Fridays with Dorie: Caramel-Topped Semolina Cake

caramel topped semolina cake flan de farina

Today’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe is not the Caramel Topped Semolina Cake.  There’s a little more backstory as to why I chose not to make Arman’s Caviar in Aspic, but the gist of it is that it is not a recipe I can pull off for breakfast on the same day the post is due.  I’m happy there are a few more recipes I can rationalize preparing and serving before the sun is fully up.

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FFwD Christmas Card Exchange: Almond Toffee Bark

almond toffee bark

I just had E snooping over at my laptop screen, and he noticed that I abbreviated the ‘French Fridays’ into our shorthand FFwD for this post’s title.

“FFwD… its Freaky Friday!”

“Uh-huh.”

“Freaky Friday!”

“Okay!”

“Freeaky Friiiday!”

And then it hit me.  It WAS Freaky Friday with Doristas!

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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…

Whole Wheat Rolls for Montaditos

Whole Wheat Rolls for Montaditos

One of my in-laws favorite spots to out and enjoy a fun meal in Miami is 100 Montaditos.  100 Montaditos is a chain hailing from Spain that sells small, inexpensive and tasty sandwiches filled with pretty much any combination of meat, cheeses, veggies and even tortilla española.  Their Wednesday specials are notorious – all sandwiches are priced at a dollar, and cañas  (small draft beers) sell for two.   The montaditos main draw is the tiny, crusty baguette they are served in.  These sandwiches can be finished in a couple of bites, allowing you to taste many different combinations in one sitting.  Their menu literally contains a hundred options. Read More…

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…

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…

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