Tag Archives: Local Produce

Puerto Rico Restaurant Week Returns!

Puerto Rico Restaurant Week 2016

Diners rejoice!  Puerto Rico Restaurant Week returns for the fifth year in a row.  Starting tomorrow, the best chefs in Puerto Rico will offer exclusive menus at a fixed price.  While some restaurants will tote out some of their best known dishes, others will take this chance to showcase specials filled with whimsy and local ingredients.  Lunch menus include two or three courses for $20.00 and dinner experiences consist of at least three courses for $28 or $38 per person.

The participating restaurants this year include:

Read More…

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…

Farmers Market Finds – March 6, 2016

For the last few months, I had been going through the farmers market motions without giving it much thought.

Mixed greens?  Check.
More mixed greens? Check.
The occasional zucchini or eggplant?  Check.

Grab and go… grab and go…

An Instagram picture from Spoon Food ToursCaroline jolted me yesterday.  One of the vendors, La Cosecha, was offering a vegetable seldom seen in my regular market rounds. What got me out of the house at 8am ready to brave the feisty regulars?

Broccoli!

Farmers Market Broccoli

Broccoli from La Cosecha/Productos Sana

We just flew back from a quick trip to New Orleans (more on that later) and my fridge drawers were bare, other than for a few carrots and heads of garlic.  After the trip to the farmers market, we are stocked with the following greens and vegetables in addition to the elusive broccoli.

Farmers Market Mixed Kale

Mixed Kale

 

Farmers Market celery and parsley

Celery and flat leaf parsley

 

Black Beauty eggplant and cucumber

More Farmers Market Finds

I also picked up a large bottle of honey from Apiarios El Pancho, a sack of compost, and the adorable little bouquet adorning these pictures.  We’re ready to start gardening again.  It’s been a couple of years since our balcony planters have yielded anything other than recao and oregano.  Those herbs are hardy for the brownest, dried out green thumbs.

Farmers Market Compost

Compost from Desde Mi Cosecha

Sunday Fun Day at Old San Juan

After the farmers market, I had about two hours to kill before heading to my next grocery stop.  Old San Juan was hosting two events during the day: Circo Fest, circus performances in all major squares of the walled city, and the El Morro Pet Fest.  I had never seen so many adorable pooches in the same place.

Circo Fest Performer

Circo Fest Performer at the Plaza de Armas

I had to take off before the performances started to wrap up shopping for the week and begin planning the week’s meals.  Here’s what our dinners will look like for the next few days:

  • Gochujang pork chops, garlicky roasted broccoli
  • Eggplant, chunky marinara with charred tomatoes, aglio e oglio edamame noodles
  • Mahi mahi, green onion chimichurri, cauliflower and white bean mash
  • Cobb salad with market greens (arugula, tatsoi, red leaf lettuce)
  • Salmon, Gruyere creamed kale

Want to share ideas on what else to do with our market purchases? What do you think about this week’s planned meals?  Leave us a comment here or in our Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Virgin Coconut Mojito Popsicles

virgin coconut mojito popsicles

There’s a reason why mojitos are the perfect summer drink. Multiple reasons, actually.

Plenty of ice.
Tingly, fizzy soda bubbles.
The smell of freshly muddled spearmint
The zing of lime

The only way to make a mojito even more refreshing? Turn it into a popsicle. Read More…

Curried Grass-Fed Beef Shanks #CaboRojoSteaks

curried grass-fed beef shanks

It’s hard avoiding all the negative – and sadly true – news coming out of Puerto Rico this summer.  Countless articles explain how the government borrowed beyond its means during the last four decades and the reasoning behind many families leaving the island in record numbers since the 1950s.  Not as many articles have been written about the creative ways some Puerto Ricans are trying to solve some of our more pressing issues, like economic growth and sustainability.  And there are many people who are leading the way down that road through entrepreneurship and collaboration.  We – as a society – need to get through our thick skulls (and sluggish butts) that supporting these local products (and the businesses that consume them) is crucial for our economic recovery.

Let’s go to the mall Plaza del Mercado today

We found out about Cabo Rojo Steaks, a local grass-fed cattle ranch operation, through a friend.  Their Providencia Ranch is located in Cabo Rojo, a town in the Southwestern corner of the island, but they have a retail operation at the Santurce Plaza del Mercado.  Their cattle is fully grass-fed, free range, and humanely raised for eighteen months.  The Cabo Rojo Steaks product line includes everything – from the traditional steaks cuts, beef stew chunks, and churrascos to bones for stock, heart, tongue, liver… it’s all available at the Placita or by special order.  All of their cuts are portioned and vacuum sealed for easy selection and storage.

Cabo Rojo Steaks Ribeye Steaks

Cabo Rojo Steaks Grass Fed Ribeye Steak

Prior to cooking these steaks, I did not have experience working with grass-fed beef.  Beef from grass-fed, free range cattle is leaner than the varieties more commonly available in retail.  There is much less marbling, as you can see on the picture of the ribeye steak above.  To ensure the meat remains tender, it is best to cook it to medium temperature at most.  We coated these steaks in oil, salt and pepper just before tossing them over the hot coals.

Curry can’t be hurried

Grass-fed beef has a gamier flavor than corn fed varieties.  If you like lamb or goat, you would definitely enjoy the taste of grass-fed beef.  When we were looking at the different cuts at their counter at la Placita, I knew I wanted to marry the flavor of the beef with curry.  Curried goat stews are very popular all through the Caribbean.  Somewhere along curry’s journey from India (through Britain) to the West Indies its flavor mellowed out, it met a tomato or two, and obtained its own culinary identity.

curried grass-fed beef shanks

Browned beef shanks ready for braising in the coconut, curry and tomato sauce.

local organic cayenne peppers

Local organic cayenne peppers from Desde Mi Huerto. For a milder taste, scrape out the seeds and membranes. For full on heat add the whole chopped pepper to the pot while sweating the onions.

This curry recipe would work well with short ribs, beef stew chunks, boneless skinless chicken thighs, and of course the shanks (osso buco).   The smells that will come out of the oven while the beef braises… YUM!  Plan to make this recipe with plenty of time.  Prepping for the recipe and searing the beef takes approximately twenty minutes, and it the braising process requires two and a half hours.  It will be worth the time: the meat from the shanks will fall of the bone, and explode with flavor.  There will be plenty of sauce to soak up with white long grain rice, apio root puree, or mashed cauliflower.

curried grass fed beef shanks

Cabo Rojo Steaks has a retail outpost at the Placita de Santurce, operating at regular market hours from Monday through Saturdays.  All of the products featured in this article were purchased with our own funds.  We did not receive any compensation for writing this article or developing the curried grass-fed beef shanks recipe.

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…

Puerto Rico Restaurant Week is Back!

Puerto Rico Restaurant Week 2015

From May 27 until June 3rd, Puerto Rico will celebrate the fourth Puerto Rico Restaurant Week.  This highly anticipated event will take place from Wednesday, May 27th through Wednesday June 3rd.  As in previous years, restaurants throughout the Island will offer pre-fixe dinner menus for $28 or $38, with options for the appetizer, entrée and dessert. Several restaurants will also offer pre-fixe lunch menus for $20. Participants include more than twenty-five of the best eateries in San Juan, Santurce, Condado, Miramar, Ocean Park, Isla Verde, Hato Rey, Guaynabo and Humacao. Read More…

Mango Spiced Quick Oats

mango spiced oats

It feels good to be back after a break of a few weeks without doing much cooking or writing.  For most of February and March I was caught up in training for the Puerto Rico Marathon and Half Marathon.  Those focused weeks definitely paid off: I shaved off over six minutes over my previous half marathon personal best. Read More…

Plantain Spiders – Arañitas de Platano

plantain spiders arañitas de platano

Food is a feast for the senses.  The first point of attraction is the way a dish looks and how it is presented.  Smell wafts through the nose.  Fingers and mouth take on texture and temperature.  Before the taste buds can have their way, it all explodes with a deafening CRUNCH.

I love plantain spiders – aka. arañitas de platano.  They are bites that truly engage all five senses.  Eating them is a loud experience.  That crunch, the hit of salt, the unmistakable smell of fried plantain. Read More…

Chicken and Pumpkin Green Curry

Chicken and Pumpkin Green Curry

October couldn’t wrap up without a pumpkin recipe!

I started dating E ten years ago.  During those first months of courtship, he made sure I knew that he could cook. Pastas? Check. Steaks? Check. Composed salads?  Oh, please.  A whole Thanksgiving feast?  That too.  This year, E took off most of the month of September off from work, and on several days I came home to find dinner waiting for me.  Just when I was getting used to arriving to a tasty meal, it was time for him to head back to the office. 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…

French Fridays with Dorie: Celery-Celery Soup

Celery-Celery Soup Dorie Greenspan

“I’m doing the Friday recipe today!”

“Cool.  What is it?”

“It’s soup.  A celery root and green celery soup. But it has apples in it.”

“Okay.”

“I can go the criollo route and do it with garlic and sofrito and cilantro if you want.”

“Whatever way you choose is fine.  But the recipe says it has apples you should probably make it as it is written.”

“Yeah… I guess.”

And that’s how I ended up cooking the recipe, exactly as written.  Two Fuji apples joined a mountain of onions, a couple of stalks of celery, and chunks of the root vegetable we call apio, which translates to celery. Read More…

French Fridays with Dorie: Vanilla Vegetable Salad

Vanilla Vegetable Salad Dorie Greenspan

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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…

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