Tag Archives: On the Side

Flash Fried Green Cherry Tomatoes

Fried Green Cherry Tomatoes

I purchased a basket of assorted cherry tomatoes on a trip to the warehouse club last week.  It included every color under the sun, from striped brownish red, red, orange and yellow, to green.  I made a point of using every tomato during the week – except the green ones.  At the time I wasn’t sure to which dish I would be adding them to, but their destiny was clear.  I was going to flash fry those green cherries.   The last time I got my fried green tomato fix was back in November in DC. Seven months is a long time! Read More…

How to Make Mofongo

how to make mofongo

Mofongo is of Puerto Rico’s signature dishes.  It can be found in every corner of the island, from the humblest cafeteria to white tablecloth establishments.  This mash is traditionally prepared with green plantains, garlic, pork cracklings, and olive oil.  Although versions that feature ripe plantain, yuca, breadfruit or some combination of these are becoming more popular, the classic version will always be green plantain.  Plantains were brought over from Africa during the 16th century and were a staple of the slaves’ diet.  The mofongo we know today evolved from fufú, a root vegetable mash also from African origin.

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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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Arroz con Maiz – Puerto Rican Style Rice with Corn

Arroz con maíz puerto rican style

On the blog’s homepage mini slide show, you may have noticed a new tag floating with the pictures of the recent posts.  Domingo Criollo is a new section I am developing to share some of my favorite Puerto Rican or Puerto Rico influenced recipes.  These recipes are easy and a great introduction to the flavors of the island.  Truth be told, you can add sofrito to many of your own favorites soups and stews and they will instantly warm up with that touch of onion, garlic, peppers, cilantro and recap that’s so distinctive to the island’s cooking.  Puerto Rican food is not spicy, but rather savory and bursting with the taste of all those delicious aromatics. 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…

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…

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…

Whipped Potatoes with Olive Oil and Pesto

 

Whipped Potatoes with Olive Oil and Pesto

Countertop Ornaments

Storage space is a touchy subject in our kitchen.  While a cluttered countertop doesn’t bother me on most days, sometimes I wish I had enough storage space in the cupboards to stash the kitchen gadgets that are scattered around.  Even if I could, there are two larger pieces of equipment I definitely can’t fit in the cabinet.  One is the toaster oven, a key appliance when cooking for two.  I use it almost every day and it wouldn’t be practical to stash it away.  The other is the stand mixer.  Every time I see it, it begs to be used.  I usually take it out for a spin once or twice a month, but know I should be taking advantage of it for more ‘everyday’ cooking.  My favorite of those cooking tasks is whipping potatoes.  Nothing against the humble potato masher, but if in a minute or two I can have perfectly smooth potatoes ready for dinner… 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…

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…

Cauliflower-White Bean Mash

mashed cauliflower and white beans

I need time savers for practically everything in my life right now.  At work, I rely on magic pivot tables, having two monitors to reduce going back and forth between applications, and many reports that arrive straight to my inbox.  For the blog, I use a dictation application and try to talk my way into posts while stuck in traffic.  In the kitchen, I keep canned beans, seafood, and tomatoes in the pantry and frozen vegetables in the freezer.  There’s almost always something thawing in the refrigerator while I’m out in the office.  I have been hearing about more things that can be precooked and stored in the refrigerator like potatoes and grains.  This mashed cauliflower and white beans recipe came out one of those ‘it’s 8pm – what do I do?” moments.  It was inspired by more elaborate recipes that combine these two ingredients.

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French Fridays with Dorie: Veal Chops with Rosemary Butter

Veal Chops with Rosemary Butter

A few years ago, I was over at my friend B’s house.  We were talking, silly girls that we are sometimes, about diets and supermodels.  B shared these personal maxims she had arrived to after finishing a book about the reality of extreme dieting:

  • The chemicals in diet soda will embalm you while alive
  • You do not eat veal or other baby animals.

Her words came back to haunt me last Sunday when I prepared this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Veal Chops with Rosemary Butter. Read More…

Catching Up with Dorie: Summer Vegetables

Palomino Island

Palomino Island, off the coast of Fajardo, Puerto Rico

And I present you my version of floating islands for this weekend!  ¡Hola Palomino!
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My Favorite Garbanzos

My favorite garbanzos

I’ve always been the health nut in my family – or the closest thing to one.  Exercise regimen, check.  Regular salad chomping, check. Stashing weird ingredients in my parents’ refrigerator and pantry before moving out, check.  It has been rewarding seeing some of those good habits kick the bad ones’ butts.  That’s literal!  I smoked cigarettes casually through most of my twenties.  When I took up running almost six years ago, I completely lost the taste for them.

Much has been written about how consistently consuming healthy foods can help replace those cravings for items that are not as nourishing.  Food guru Mark Bittman recently published VB6, a book on how keeping a vegan diet before 6pm can help combat many health conditions brought upon by the standard American diet (and a career in food writing!).  Eating plant-based foods  for the first 2/3 of the day seemed like a worthy tradeoff for a “free pass” for the rest of the day.  Although I’m not formally following a VB6 type plan, I have been incorporating more vegan meals into the packed lunch repertoire, like Dorie Greenspan’s orange scented lentil soup and this garbanzo (chickpea) stew. Read More…

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…

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