Tag Archives: Puerto Rico

Spicy Eggplant Pasta Bake… and a bit of Housekeeping!

Oh boy… it has been a while, hasn’t it?   You know you’ve let your blogging-self go when you log back in and find that your blog needs all these updates for security, looks and what not.  

Spicy Eggplant Caponata Pasta Bake - Great Food 360


Double authentication settings? Check.  Shiny new WordPress plugins? Check. A whole new Cook the Book Fridays adventure?  Ohmygod, yes. I mean, check. 

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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.

Chunky Mojo Isleño

Salinas Puerto Rico

Photo Credit – Angel Figueroa. All rights reserved.

On Sundays, people pile up their families in their cars and take off to explore the island and every corner’s signature flavors.  On today’s Domingo Criollo feature, we ‘visit’ the Southern Puerto Rico town of Salinas through this recipe for chunky mojo isleño.

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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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GF360˚ Top 5 Posts of 2014

top five posts 2014

Un año que viene y otro que se va…

I love putting together the now traditional GF360˚ top 5 new posts of each year.  For starters, it reinforces the kind of writing and experiences I want to continue having and sharing with all of you.  There is a lesson learned for each of these posts.

Drumroll please!  GF360˚ Top 5 posts of 2014 are… Read More…

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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Puerto Rican Roast Chicken

Puerto Rican Style Roast Chicken

Last week, after a late night at the office, I found myself scrambling to get to the supermarket on time to grab a rotisserie chicken.  At one of the grocery stores I shop at, if you get there after 8pm chances are you’ll find the chickens no one wanted – if you are lucky.  Burnt wings, torn skin, just sad looking chickens that have been sitting around for a while.  Although everyone needs a good standby place to go grab one, many publications and renowned chefs agree that learning to roast a chicken is an essential kitchen skill. Read More…

Mofongo Mashing

Necessity is the mother of invention.  Or at least of managing your kitchen with what you have.

While mortars and pestles – pilones as they are known in Spanish – are essential kitchen equipment, sometimes even your best meaning friends do not have one in their house when those cravings for mofongo hit.  Mofongo – one of Puerto Rico’s signature dishes – consists of fried plantain chunks that are smashed with fresh garlic, olive oil, a little bit of chicken stock, and crackly pork rinds or bacon. Read More…

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…

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…

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