Tag Archives: Local Produce

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…

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…

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

Frustrated by not knowing how to do something in the kitchen?
Empathizing with the actor who is working too hard to make the task seem daunting?
INTRODUCING! The all new tool to put an end to all that misery for just $(1)9.99!
But WAIT! 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…

Five Lessons: Oliva Dieta Mediterranea

For many home cooks like me, a meal is an opportunity to be inspired. Ingredients we thought we were familiar with take on new shapes, or are paired in combinations that did not seem possible. Recently, I visited Oliva Dieta Mediterranea, the restaurant lodged in the Olive Boutique Hotel in Condado, Puerto Rico. Oliva – as it is often referred to – was acquired by its head chef, Argentine expat Nicolás Gómez. Chef Nico renewed its concept, opting to work directly with farmers and local food producers to bring a menu that’s as much fun for him to prepare as it is for the diner to enjoy.  Additionally, he lowered the prices in many items, making the restaurant more accessible to both locals and tourists. Read More…

Puerto Rico Restaurant Week 2014

Puerto Rico Restaurant Week 2014

Foodies in the island, rejoice!  For the third consecutive year, Puerto Rico Restaurant Week will take over some of the best restaurants in San Juan.  In addition to their regular menu offerings, the participating restaurants will offer pre-fixe dinner menus for $28 or $38 with options for the appetizer, entrée and dessert.  For the first time – and especially exciting for me, now that I’m back working in the metro area – several venues will also offer pre-fixe lunch menus for $14 or $19.  Close your kitchens from Wednesday, May 14th to Tuesday, May 20th!

Read More…

The High Food Holiday: Saborea Puerto Rico 2014

Looking for more Saborea 2014 coverage?  Click here for my Saturday recap and here for Sunday’s liveblog.

April and May are my “big” food months.  No offense to the traditional Thanksgiving-Christmas-Reyes trifecta, but when I think of the best months to celebrate Puerto Rican cuisine, spring time takes the cake.

Saborea Puerto Rico

Some of the awesome local chefs featured in Saborea Puerto Rico 2014, with Clarissa Jimenez, president of the PRHTA and the Secretary of Tourismo Ingrid I. Rivera Rocafort. (Photo credit: PRHTA)

Next weekend, the island’s premiere gastronomic event, Saborea Puerto Rico, will take place.  This culinary extravaganza is presented by the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association (PRHTA) and it celebrates its seventh year.  Saborea Puerto Rico 2014 is a weekend-long feast of food and beverages that showcases the local hospitality industry while raising money for the PRHTA educational programs and scholarship fund.

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…

UA-20793997-4