Tag Archives: Holiday

Puerto Rican Christmas Recipe Roundup

Puerto Rico

I think I have quizzed you on this important fact.  What country celebrates the longest holiday season?

If you answered anything other than a rousing “Puerto Rico!”, click here for my original tutorial on Puerto Rican Christmas.  One sentence summary?  Puerto Rican Christmas stretches from the day after Thanksgiving to mid January.  That gives you plenty of time to enjoy the delicacies of the season, cleanse your palate from the overdose of lechón, arroz con gandules, and coconut sweets, and then do it all over again before it is time for la Calle San Sebastián.

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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!”


“Freaky Friday!”


“Freeaky Friiiday!”

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

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Tuesdays with Dorie: Gingerbread Bûche de Noël

gingerbread buche de noel dorie greenspan

Buzzing Holidays!

Oh boy, am I frazzled!  Our holiday schedule kicked off last Saturday with a bang and at this point brunch with friends on Sunday is looking like the end of the rainbow.  We are lucky and blessed to have this whirlwind of activity, family and friends to spend this time of year.  I’m also thankful for this recipe – labor intensive for sure – but oh so delicious.  Baking Chez Moi’s Gingerbread Bûche de Noël, our pick this week for Tuesdays with Dorie, was the perfect way to cap our holiday dinner with our in-laws last Sunday.  A soft, spongy gingerbread cake is rolled with a cream cheese and candied pecan filling and frosted with soft vanilla flavored meringue.  Read More…

Tuesdays with Dorie: Cranberry Crackle Tart

cranberry crackle tart

Today is our second Baking Chez Moi Tuesdays with Dorie outing, and after the easy peasy Palets de Dames Lille Style, it’s time to show off our first tart.  The selection for November is the very seasonal and fantastic cranberry crackle tart.  The crackle part comes from the meringue topping that crisps up in the oven. 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…

Cassava Shepherd’s Pie (Pastelón de Yuca)

pastelon de yuca

Have you ever gotten so hooked on a recipe you’ve made it over and over in a very short period of time?   This holiday season I made not two but three pastelones de yuca.  A Caribbean interpretation of the shepherd’s pie, this pastelón is a layered casserole that combines yuca (cassava) and a savory filling – meat, soy, or veggies.   Pastelones are one of the most versatile pies that can be assembled.  The starches and the fillings are limited only by your imagination.  Any root vegetable or plantain that can be mashed into a soft but substantial puree can be used for pastelón.  Some of my favorites include ripe plantain (the classic!), malanga (taro), and potato.    Read More…

FFwD Valentine’s Day Cookie Swap: Cowboy Cookies

Happy Valentine’s Day!  I hope your day is filled with sweet surprises.  I certainly got one this week!  After the success of the French Fridays with Dorie holiday card exchange, the sweet and fearless Doristas stepped up a notch and organized a cookie swap for Valentine’s Day.  Like all good friends, IRL and online, my blogging friends overlooked my dwindling participation on our weekly assignments and allowed me to be someone’s secret cupid.  That’s how I found myself waiting patiently for a special delivery earlier this week.  I got wonderful cowboy cookies made from scratch.  Yes, by Karen P, our From Scratch girl. 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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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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French Fridays with Dorie: Bubble Top Brioche

It is a perfect holiday morning.  I’m taking a break from the preparations for today’s Día de Reyes (Epiphany) family gathering with one of these little bubble top brioche rolls and a cup of coffee.  The king cake dough rises in the oven, the dishwasher is running, and I still have over four hours before everybody gets here.

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French Fridays with Dorie: Pumpkin Stuffed with Cosas Ricas

“Cuando llega el mes de octubre corro al huerto de mi casa
Y busco con alegría tres o cuatro calabazas…”

Pumpkin patch at Chateaux de Versailles

There is no autumnal chill in the air, no backyard pumpkin patch like in the little song on top, but come October and November, it’s hard not to get in the mood for the holidays.  The Halloween candy is in the pantry (with a couple of missing pieces) ready for the kids who will show up at our doorstep.  We celebrate Thanksgiving in Puerto Rico with lots of local side dishes sharing the table with the turkey and cranberry sauce.  December and January will roll in, with their avalanche of lechónarroz con gandulesmorcilla…  pork, rice with pigeon peas, and blood sausage – and great parties to share them with family and friends.

There is one traditional Thanksgiving dish that I refused to wrap my head around  – and that brings us to today’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good. Read More…

Catching Up with Dorie – Speculoos

I skipped this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, cinnamon-crunch chicken, because I could not find the suggested spice cookies the recipe called for.  The LU selection at my everyday supermarket is limited to the chocolate Panky wafers – a childhood favorite!  I also thought about cinnamon graham crackers, but those didn’t seem buttery enough per the description from the recipe.  Instead I chose to play catch up with Dorie Greenspan’s speculoos recipe, baked and blogged about by the FFwD crowd during December 2010.  The recipe appeared in Dorie’s blog during the days Around My French Table was first available to the public. Read More…

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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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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