Tag Archives: Local Produce

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!

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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.

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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…

Farmers Market Finds: January 19th, 2014

farmers market finds celery

It has been a while since I last visited the Cooperativa Organica Madre Tierra farmers market at la Placita Roosevelt in Hato Rey.  Today the stands were full of delicious greens, root vegetables, plantains and citrus.

This time around, I shopped most of my goods at a stand from some young farmers from Orocovis, a small mountain town right in the middle of the island.  They had a delicious stock of reasonably priced greens.  From their table, I picked out the impressive celery bunch in the top picture, a salad/stir fry mix that included rainbow chard and tatsoi among other greens, kale and arugula. 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…

The Perfect Fried Green Tomato Sandwich

The Perfect Fried Green Tomato Sandwich

One day, the stars aligned. The produce gods smiled upon me. Ten months later, I still have not been able to recreate the perfect fried green tomato sandwich.
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Sweet Plantain & Parmesan “Biscuits”

Yesterday I came home from work and made a huge batch of soup.  It was a “clean-up the fridge” soup with tofu noodles, veggies, chicken, and leftover home-smoked ribs that would make Chinese fast food places weep with jealousy.  After our dinner tonight, there was still enough for a generous serving today.  There were still other areas of my kitchen that needed the ‘cleanup’ treatment…  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…

Vegetable Broth

I’m playing catch up with the French Fridays with Dorie crowd , and for some reason I decided to group my efforts by topic.  During the last few weeks I’ve made the three soups I missed writing about: the creamy cauliflower soup sans creamcheating on winter pea soup, and the orange scented lentil soup.  The backbone for all three soups was a homemade vegetable broth.  I usually just use the bouillon cubes whenever a recipe calls for vegetable broth, but I wanted to make my own stock for these soups.  Vegetable broth gets the ugly duckling treatment in most cookbooks and kitchen reference books I have around.  It’s usually ignored or mentioned in a little blurb away from its chicken, beef, and veal counteparts. Read More…

Arugula Chimichurri

Arugula Chimichurri

As much as I love chimichurri – the Argentinean condiment for meats and potatoes – I don’t make it as often as I should.  Skirt steak is in our dinner rotation at least every other week.  Most of the time it is sliced and used to top salads, but when I don’t there’s always roasted potatoes or some other starch involved.  In those occasions, it’s always nice to have some sauce on the side.  This is part of the lore on how chimichurri came to be an Argentinean and Uruguayan staple. Read More…

Kale Sofrito Risotto

kale sofrito risotto

I don’t consider myself a slave to fashion and trends.  My favorite pair of jeans is a faded, soft as sweatpants boot cut I bought ten years ago.  I have never made a cake pop.  It takes us a while to actually visit new ‘it’ restaurants. Eating healthily should never be considered a trend, however, I’ve fallen deep and hard into the kale love train.

Kale chips

Kale smoothies

Kale pestos

Stir-fried kale

Kale, kale, kale. Read More…

Ketembilla Juice

Every other Sunday – the first and third of the month – local farmers pitch their tents at la Placita Roosevelt, on the Hato Rey neighborhood of San Juan.  I’ve tried to showcase their produce and baked goods on several posts, focusing on new (for me) items.  This time around, I would like to highlight one of those items that I’ve bought over and over again but never showed you before.  When in season, I usually grab a cup of “cranberry” juice to enjoy while browsing the tables and buy the fruits to add to smoothies or juice at home.  These “Puerto Rican cranberries” are actually ketembillas, a native Ceylon gooseberry that was brought to the UPR Experimental Station in 1930. Read More…

Farmers’ Market Finds – Placita Roosevelt (03JUN12)

I went to the farmers’ market yesterday, as I do most firsts and third Sundays of the month.  We made it home with our usual bounty of greens from Siembra Tres Vidas, arugula and tatsoi, plus bok choi from Fernando and Nancy’s stand.  This week we got to try a little piquant green that caught my eye just as we were moving on to the next stand.

Mustard greens!

Farmers' market mustard greens

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