Tag Archives: Eating

2011 New York Trip Report (Part 2)

Welcome to the second part of my New York trip report!  This time around, I’m sharing our dinner recommendations and experiences, some other fun things we did around the city, and an account of the lovely evening we shared with Norma of Platanos, Mangoes, and Me and her family.  I’ve spent Christmas and New Year’s Eve in New York twice, so it seems fitting to wrap up my summary today.  The city is truly magical during the holidays. Read More…

Frituras 101 – Navigating the Puerto Rican Appetizer Sampler Platter

Fritters are universal.  I have yet to come across a culture that does not embrace cooking some foods in blistering hot fat.  From delicate tempura vegetables, to the universally loved French fry, fried foods entice us with their crisped crusts, their savory or sweet fillings, and a sense of indulgence (or is it temporary guilt?).  The dipping sauces are usually fun, too.

Puerto Rico is a fritter lover’s paradise.   Almost every restaurant, hole in the wall cafetín or beachside shack will have a variety of frituras sitting under the glare of a heating lamp.   Some people even start their day with a pastelillo and a cup of coffee!  Here’s a little tour of the most ubiquitous frituras –  based on an appetizer platter ordered with some friends during a recent day trip to Aibonito, a town nestled in the mountain range that crosses the island.  This list is definitely not all-inclusive.

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Pernil – Roast Pork

Pernil Roast Pork

This picture might look strange – even unappetizing – but do not be afraid.

We lucked out when we moved into our house four years ago.  Most of our neighbors are around our age, and some of them even went to high school and college with my husband or we know them from our professional settings.  Every other month we meet with two other families of the college/accounting group, cook and eat a great meal, and play with their adorable little girls.  On previous gatherings, we made French and Mexican inspired feasts. This time we planned a “Christmas in July” menu around one of PR’s best known culinary traditions: roast pork shoulder (pernil).

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French Fridays with Dorie: Beets



About a month ago, I bought my first bunch of fresh beets. It was my first time consciously eating beets in thirty-plus years. Around My French Table proved to be a great resource – I had no idea what to do with them and Dorie Greenspan provided not one but four methods for cooking this inky root vegetable. The leaves went into stir fry earlier in the week (as kindly suggested over Twitter), and I roasted the roots in my toaster oven. This seemed to be the preferred cooking method from what I read in some blogs. Read More…

Catching Up with @FFwDorie – Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Sauce

Food tragedies come in many forms.  Ingredients can be so elusive they are never found.  The soufflé stays flat and undercooked.  Favorite restaurants close.  Sometimes we need to accept these facts, make the best of what we have or know, and move on.


Despite being a vegetable that grows in all the different US Hardiness Zones, rhubarb is not readily available in the Caribbean.  I’ve never tried it, but wish I had based on what I’ve read about it (and the onslaught of strawberry rhubarb goodies popping all over the food blogosphere).   This week, instead of joining the French Fridays with Dorie crowd in their roasted rhubarb experience, I decided to play catch-up with one of the recipes completed before I joined the group – the spicy Vietnamese chicken noodle soup.  Dorie Greenspan’s award winning Around My French Table is a book that doesn’t shy away from modern influences in French cooking, as you can tell by this and last week’s rib recipes.  Read More…

French Fridays with Dorie – Cola and Jam Spare Ribs

The events depicted in this post are a figment of my imagination, inspired by back to back weekends of cooking and eating spareribs. Let’s imagine this is a bizarre dream induced by falling asleep right after eating, in porky stupor. In a world where a couple buys seven pounds worth of ribs at their local Costco, watches too much Food Network, and the blogging half can’t keep her eyes open past 10:30pm most evenings, this might not be too much of a stretch.


Dorie Greenspan, are you ready for a throwdown? Read More…

French Fridays with Dorie – Warm Weather Vegetable Pot Au Feu

Memorial Day weekend was crammed with cooking, eating, and struggling with the weather’s unpredictability.  For the last couple of weeks, it has rained almost every day and mostly in the afternoon, driven by the rising temperatures and the lingering humidity in the atmosphere.  Luckily, we squeezed two rounds of grilling towards the end of the weekend.  Knowing that we would overindulge in a slab of large, meaty ribs on Monday evening, I decided that the perfect lunch to feel nutritionally virtuous for a little while was Dorie Greenspan’s warm weather vegetable pot-au-feu. Read More…

French Fridays with Dorie – Cardamom Rice Pilaf

There are no quotes floating around the Internet about cardamom, other than trade quotes for its price in the commodity markets.  I hesitated before plunking down over twelve dollars for an ounce of green cardamom pods because I have ground cardamom in my cupboard.  After making this rice pilaf, I decided that the expense was worth it, even if the specialty food store took quite a premium on my purchase.  That’s the laws of supply and demand for you… limited supply, higher prices!  I might be able to recoup my initial investment as soon as I find a good chai recipe.

(I will remove my Finance person hat before you start missing my writer’s block from last week.)

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Harina de Maiz – Breakfast Cornmeal Cereal

Harina de Maiz Breakfast Cereal

Back in the late eighties, before the Internet and Wikipedia, most facts and figures were collected in almanacs or books like the Guiness Book of World Records. Through one of these unforgettable book club flyers, I bought a copy of the Second Kids World Almanac when I was an impressionable nine year-old. I credit (blame?) that book for turning me into a trivia and general knowledge junkie. How did I know that this book was to be trusted as a veritable source for listings of popular haircuts, the true name of pop stars and the origins of unusual animals? In the food chapter, it featured popular breakfast foods around the world. Under Puerto Rico, the listing said something akin to “oatmeal or cooked cornmeal with milk poured over it, coffee”. Clearly these people knew what they were talking about.

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French Fridays with Dorie – Bacon, Egg, and Asparagus Salad


I stare at the picture of this week’s entry for French Fridays with Dorie wishing it would help me flesh out this post.  For the first time in a couple of weeks I find myself without recipe-twisting produce, decent quotes about the ingredients, or a story to frame the simple exquisiteness of this salad.  I added tiny tomatoes to the mixed greens, marveled at the soft-boiled egg technique, and found the meal very satisfying.  DH liked it too.

I had to play a bit with the dressing because I do not have any nut oils or sherry vinegar in the house at this time.  It turned out okay, which means the ‘real’ version must be incredible.  My attempt at a nutty oil consisted of a tablespoon of grapeseed oil mixed with a couple of drops of dark sesame oil.  For the sherry vinegar, I used equal parts of regular sherry and lemon juice.

My loquacious self will be back soon!  In the meantime, please do check out how the rest of the French Fridays crowd did with this salad.

Black Refried Beans with Chorizo

On Sunday, we met with two other families for a leisurely afternoon of catching up, playing with the kids, and enjoying a couple of margaritas.  These are the friends that we hosted for the FFwD short ribs with everything else made from scratch back in February – and we’re happy that we’ve learned to let our hair down and have more laid back gatherings since then.  Back when we scheduled last weekend’s gathering, we agreed from the get-go that we would make Mexican fare.  My contribution to the party was a big bowl of black refried beans.  I grew up eating pink/red refried beans, and when I first had black refritos it was love at first bite.  Read More…

Sunday Brunch with Dorie – Rainbow Chard and Bacon Quiche

“Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday”

Rainbow Chard and Bacon Quiche

Welcome to the first Sunday Brunch with Dorie!  That’s my coping mechanism for “missing” the French Fridays deadline this week.  The tart crust chilled in the refrigerator for a few days per Dorie Greenspan’s recommendation, while the rest of the ingredients just stared back at me day in and day out.  They did have some fierce competition from the Mothers’ Day leftovers for the first half of the week.  Read More…

Braised Beef Tacos

Braised Beef Tacos

This year, I took over the Mother’s Day hosting duties and had the family over for a Mexican-inspired lunch.  For some time now and inspired by shows on TV about food trucks, I wanted to try a shredded beef filling for tacos.  Although I love short ribs and considered splurging on some, I decided to go with boneless beef stew instead.  The method I followed is the classic preparation for braises: brown the meat, deglace the pan, submerge in yummy liquids and aromatics, and cook long and slow. The broth that this recipe produced is the best beef soup base I’ve ever had.  Whatever you do, please don’t throw these magic leftovers out!  Next time I make this, I’m definitely reserving all the liquid and some of the beef to make a hearty soup with potatoes, carrots and rice.

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French Fridays with Dorie – Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak

I’ve been a ‘good girl’ for most of my life, or at least during those crucial childhood and teenage years.  Sure, I dropped a couple of breakables (and a fib here and there) and engaged in sibling rivalry bouts, but there were no major episodes of rebellious, teenage acting-out.  I would even put a stirrer and a lime in my Sprite in the years of quinceañeros when my classmates poured stronger libations into their sodas.  Some of these suppressed bad girl behaviors surfaced slightly belatedly – well over fifteen years later and at this year’s Semana Santa to top it off.  While looking through the kitchen in the Humacao apartment, we came across the liquor cabinets. Yes, there were two liquor cabinets.

‘Dude… there’s cognac here for Dorie’s steaks!  Let’s take that bottle home, they’ll never know!”

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Salt Cod Salad – Ensalada de Bacalao

ensalada de bacalao serenata puerto rico


Ah… back to reality.  The Easter holiday came and went quickly, but we got some much needed R&R.   DH and I usually make a weekend getaway to Humacao, a town in the Eastern coast of Puerto Rico from Thursday until Sunday.  Each day of our mini vacation is punctuated by food, starting on Thursday with Asian food from a nearby restaurant that makes some of the best egg rolls I’ve had.  On Good Friday, we have bacalao (salt cod or salt fish) salad with boiled root vegetables and avocado, and on Saturday a pre-assembled casserole (usually a lasagna) makes its way into the oven.   Since we have to clean out the fridge on Sunday, we have a ‘best of the weekend’ lunch before heading back out to the greater San Juan area.  I also usually take a batch of sweets and DHs beloved mezcla for sandwiches to take to the beach.  The menu has become predictable, but many of these foods are favorites that we don’t seem to tire of.  Funny how before I met my husband, I had never had bacalao salad before… now I can’t get enough of it!

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