Ivonne's Food Blog
Welcome to my Food Blog. I am the Editor-in-Chief of El Boricua, 100% Puerto Rican, born in Río Piedras and raised between there and Cayey.
I'm a very busy person. I have a 'real' 9 to 5 job. I have to drive at least one hour to and from work daily. I have a husband, a family, two dogs, and two grand-dogs to look after. I don't have a maid, so I have to tend to my house with a lot of help from my hubby. I love writing and container gardening. And I'm pretty sure I like cooking, for sure I love writing about it.
of my writing and editing ideas come to me in the morning when I am getting ready
for work somewhere around 6:30 am (thus this photo).
March 2015 - All my life I have loved Puerto Rican food and especially anything in escabeche sauce. Escabeche sauce is almost like a pickling sauce and has a great sweet/vinegary taste to it. It is more on the oily side than the vinegar side, and is finger licking good. This is the same sauce used for marinating seafood or yucca and green bananas. They all turn out equally delicious. I love, love, love escabeche.
First prepare the escabeche portion of this dish because it needs to cook and then cool down before the next step. Cut up a few onions, about half a large onion per serving. Half of a red pimento per serving. Then add a half cup of olive oil and a half cup of vinegar to the onions (to make about 4 servings). Next throw in the olives (1 tbsp per serving) and a few fresh bay leaves (1 per serving) and about ¼ tsp salt and some peppe corns. Combine all the ingredients for escabeche sauce in a large pot and bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove from stove and allow to cool completely.
Once the sauce is cooked and is almost cooled down rinse the fish - any fish will do, (I always rinse meats and fish then dry them with paper towels before cooking begins) next, make sure that the fish pieces aren't too wet. Cover them top to bottom with hand towels and let them sit in the towels until ready to use.
Once the sauce is cooled completely prepare the fish that is now pretty much rid of excess moisture by rubbing it with mashed/minced fresh garlic on both sides. Now sprinkle some Adobo on both sides of the fish.
Have a skillet heated with oil, ready for frying over medium heat and one by one put the fish in. Be careful not to over fry them...the fish should still be soft but starting to get crispy and golden brown.
Next pour half the sauce (don't remove anything) unto a glass container (must be glass). Place the fish carefully over the sauce. Pour the rest of the sauce over the fish. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours. Remove from fridge and allow to come to almost room temperature, serve with rice or boiled roots like yucca, salted and drizzled with olive oil .
Yuca or cassava, not to be confused with cactus-like yucca, is a starchy root vegetable that grows in Central and South America and the Caribbean.The cassava root is long and tapered, with a firm, homogeneous flesh encased in a detachable rind, about 1 mm thick, rough and brown on the outside. The root has a woody fibrious center that is not edible and needs to be removed. It should be noted that fresh raw yuca is poisonous, so make sure all instruments used in processing it are washed - including the chopping board. Yuca was a staple food for pre-Colombian peoples in the Americas and is often portrayed in indigenous art. Taínos processed it and made bread with it and also boiled it, like in this recipe. Fresh yuca is not so easy to peel, but should be cut it into large sections before slicing off the peel with a sharp knife. I prefer to use frozen yuca, it's already peeled, is freshly frozen and easy to use. Yuca con Mojo is a simple dish to prepare and is usually served as a side dish, but I've seen it served as an appetizer as well. It is a simple recipe that uses a few ingredients, yuca, olive oil, garlic, onions, salt and vinegar. It is delicious! see recipe.
February 2015 - Sancocho is the one of the most delicious Puerto Rican stews that is just perfect for wintry weather. This traditional dish includes some of our favorite ingredients such as plantains (green and ripe), yautía, chayote, potatoes, corn on the cob, yuca and meat. Usually this dish is made with beef, but it is also delicious with chicken. The recipe has a long list of ingredients but don't let that discourage you, it is easy to make and more of a 'dump' style dish. All these ingredients are added to a simmering pot along with seasonings and spices that give it that criollo flavor we love. It is slow cooked in a large caldero with the lid on and simmered until the meat and vegies are tender. This recipe freezes well. The scents of this dish, like all Puerto Rican dishes, waft from the kitchen, drift and hover over the neighborhood, and your neighbors might ask you, are you a chef? It's happened to me.
This is one of Puerto Rico's favorite foods. It's made from tostones (twice fried green plantains), remashed in a pilón with fresh garlic, bacon pieces, and just a bit of bacon grease to keep it all moist. And so sorry, but you must use an old fashioned pilón for this (find it online). If you try a food processor the consistency won't be the same and your family will not want to make eye contact. OMG, just typing this makes my mouth water.
First prepare tostones using very green plantains. Don't worry about the 'mancha de plátano' when peeling green bananas, that's what makes us Puerto Ricans - rub your hands with olive oil and salt after peeling the plantains to get rid of the sap. Make the tostones as usual, peel, slice, fry over medium heat until just golden and fork tender, drain, mash using a tostonera or mash by inserting tostón between two pieces of brown paper bag and pressing down using a small dish, then dip in very salty warm water and into the frying pan again. Be careful here with the splatter, it can get dangerous. I have a lid on my other hand to cover the splatter. When slightly toasted remove and drain on paper towels.
The next step is the fun part, mash, mash, plop, plop. Mash one chopped garlic clove in the pilon with some salt, then add tostones, one at a time until mashed, now and then add just a bit of bacon grease and some cooked chopped bacon pieces and mix it all together. How many tostones? That depends on the size of your pilón. Some of the tostones with be very mashed, and some not so much. Now you have Mofongo!
Yuca, a tropical root vegetable that boasts a milky-white color, a creamy consistency, and a mild taste, is a staple in the Puerto Rican and Latino kitchen where it is often served drizzled with olive oil and garlic. Here, it is gently simmered until completely tender before it’s pureed into a silky-smooth, totally delicious soup. The best part? Yuca is available frozen, already peeled and cut into pieces, makes it easier than ever. Look where Goya products are sold.
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add ½ onion, thinly sliced and 1 tbsp garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions completely soften, about 10 minutes. Add ¼ cup recaito; cook, stirring, until mixture begins to bubble.
Add 1 bag frozen yuca (24 oz or so), and 5 cups water mixed with 2 packets of chicken bouillon to pot; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, until yuca is tender, about 25 minutes.
Blend soup in batches. Pass soup through fine-hole mesh strainer into medium pot, pressing on any solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids. Bring soup to simmer over medium-low heat. Stir in ¼ tsp Adobo and about ¼ tsp sugar, stirring until combined. Serve with chopped fresh cilantro, if desired.
Here’s another Puerto Rican soup that my grandmother used to make in Cayey, especially in January and February when the weather was just a bit cooler and there was fog every where. This soup is delicious and comforting on cold or rainy days. First of all make sure to use salchichón Goya, Iberian sausage, not salami, it's not the same thing but yes, similar to hard salami. The fideo is also known as Fidelini noodles, make sure to use the right pasta. Also note that left overs freeze well. So you can save some for later.
You will need about half of a Salchichón, ½ cup diced cooking ham, 5 oz of fideos, 3 medium peeled and chopped potatoes, 10 sliced baby carrots, 4 cups of water, 1 packet Sazón con achiote, 1 Tbsp sofrito, 1 tbsp tomatoe paste, 2 tbsps tomato sauce, 1 tbsp vegetable oil and salt and pepper to taste.
Remove casing from salchichón, slice into about 1 in. slices and cut into eighths. Add salchichón and ham to large pot with oil and saute a few minutes until the sausage begins to crisp. Then add sazón, sofrito, tomato paste, tomato sauce, oil, and salt. and cook that for another few minutes then add water. Cook on medium-high heat and bring to boil. Add carrots and potatoes. Lower heat to medium and continue cooking until carrots and potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.
Add noodles and raise heat to medium-high heat. Cook about 10 minutes until noodles are cooked and broth thickens a bit. Keep an eye on the pot – if the broth thickens enough, but noodles aren’t cooked, lower heat again to medium and simmer longer. You may even need to lower heat to low-medium if the broth is thickening too much or may need to add more water, depending on your taste and how much broth you like.
If you're Boricua you know the drill for these twice fried delights. Peel, slice, and fry in oil for a couple of minutes on each side until soft, remove from the oil and drain. Mash with a tostonera or sandwich in between two pieces of a brown paper sack or even wax paper, mash down using a small plate. Then into the oil for a final fry until golden and crispy. Salt them right away, I like garlic salt. Yum, yum, yum!
This was one of my father's favorite dishes. He loved the pork chop crunchiness. He always said Mami was the best cook he knew and he was right. Mami cooked the chuletas over medium high heat to get the crispy edges and tender meat. They were always delicious.
Choose chops that are not terribly thick. Cook about 3 minutes per side and you're done. Fast, easy and delisioso!
January 2014 - This easy to prepare dish has a simply beautiful presentation to wow your dinner guests with lo nuestro. The scents in the kitchen will be a pleasant welcome for your dinner guests for sure.
The recipe is simple (makes 4 servings), takes ¼ cup Goya Bitter Orange marinade, 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp minced garlic (6 cloves), 3 tbsp finely chopped cilantro, ¼ tsp Goya Sazonador Total, 1 medium bell pepper (I like red or yellow, or both), 1 medium red onion thinly sliced, 1 banana leaf, and 4 (4-oz) tilapia fillets.
Heat oven to 400°F. In small bowl, mix together bitter orange marinade, olive oil, lemon juice, cilantro and garlic; set aside.
Unfold banana leaf. Cut off tough rib that runs along bottom edge of leaf with kitchen shears. Carefully cut leaf into 4 (8-inch) pieces.
Place tilapia fillet in center of banana leaf; season with Sazonador. Stir bitter orange mixture and spoon 2 tbsp over each fish. Top fish with ¼ cup each peppers and onions. Fold two ends over fish to enclose; fold in two edges to form packet. Using kitchen twine, tie packet to secure; transfer to baking sheet.
Bake until fish is cooked through (knife inserted into center of fish packet comesout warm), 20 minutes; transfer to plates. Cut ties and discard. Open packets (banana leaves are not edible). Serve immediately.
December 2014 - This one of those rare but traditional Puerto Rican dishes not served often enough. My grandmother in Cayey made this often because she lived out in the country and she raised chickens - so the main ingredient was handy at all times. We often had to run after a particular hen to catch. Don't want to tell you what happened next, but you can imagine, the main ingredient did not come already chopped up from the grocery store.
This dish is a one-pot stew that is simple to make, is finger licking good, and is the best thing for a cover dish party. Ingredients are cooked together and it tastes better the day after so for a cover dish party, so can be made ahead. Serve with warm French bread as islanders do, but . . .start by playing Tito Puente on the stereo. recipe
December 2014 - Pickled green bananas is easy to prepare but it is not so easy to find green bananas outside of the east coast. They are available mostly where there is a large Caribbean population. You can usually find green bananas at markets that cater to Latinos in general and often you can go the produce vendor and ask them so hold some for you that have not been 'gassed' (gassing is to ripen them faster). Sometimes green bananas can also be found in Asian markets. The recipe is simple, boil the bananas until done. Meanwhile cook the onions and the few other ingredients. After the bananas and the sauce are room temperature mix together. Delicioso! see recipe
My father was a country boy, direct from las montañas de Puerto Rico. He could kill, dress, and roast a pig with his eyes closed. We on the other hand don't have it as easy. My son once found a place that would sell him a cleaned pig and rent him a roaster he could pull with his truck. That was pretty good. We have also bought a caja China for roasting our pigs - they turned out great. Remember to cook your pig slowly and turn it often so the juices stay in the pig and that it takes many many hours to be done.
As Puerto Ricans, the first thing we will do before starting the turkey is turn on Los Plenenos de la 21 or play some Titi Puente music to get us in the mood. What better way to get 'in the mood' than with great music?
Mami would thaw her turkeys in the kitchen sink with cold water the night before and would roast it the next day. We survived. Now we are told to put in in the fridge for a few days before to thaw.
The Rican Chef offers us her special seasonings for Pavochón, a pernil flavored turkey, delicious. Have a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving. recipe
Tis almost the season for delicious Puerto Rican holiday dishes. Tembleque is so simple to make. It is a coconut flavored creamy pudding with a 'wiggly' consistency. Make it in a pan and cut into squares that stand on their own.
This mouth watering, rich, cool coconut-flavored dessert comes together in minutes! Simply cook the pudding, chill in the refrigerator until firm, and unmold for an elegant, sweet ending to any meal. recipe.
Shrimp Caribeño - so easy and delish!
Take 1 lb raw jumbo shrimp cleaned, marinade in olive oil mixed with; Sazón Total, 1 pkt Sazón with achiote, smoked paprika, fresh minced garlic, salt and pepper and if you like, a sprinkle of cayanne pepper. Let it sit in marinade for at least 2 hours, then grill 4 to 4 minutes per side until done.
Sangria Criolla - feels fancy and instantly festive, but sangria is also one of the easiest big-batch cocktails you can make. As the party host, it's a no-brainer.
The primary qualification for the wine going into your sangria? That it be cheap! Any red wine that you enjoy drinking is a good candidate, and it shouldn't be expensive.
Most sangria recipes call for the wine to rest overnight, or at the very least, for a few hours in the refrigerator. This lets the fruit infuse the wine, letting its juices get in the mix and sweeten up the drink. After a night in the fridge, it will taste mellow and juicy. Sangria really gets better and better as it sits.
First wash and slice the fruit, no need to peel. Drop fruit in the pitcher, next add about ½ cup granulated sugar, 1½ cups passion fruit pulp, 2 cups orange juice, and 1 cup pineapple juice, 1 Lemon-lime soda, stir well for at least a minute until sugar dissolves, add the wine, stir and refrigerate.
Hint, you might need two batches.
October 2014 - What to do with all that pumpkin after Halloween? You can make delicious Puerto Rican 'Barriguitas de Vieja'. These are delicous fruituras made with mashed pumpkin and spices, then fried. These delicious fritters are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Almost like a soft donut with crispy edges. Barrigas de Vieja means “the belly of an old lady”, because they are flabby, soft and without a consistent shape. It's a funny name, but these sweet pumpkin fritters are truly delicious. It's an easy recipe, just dump the ingredients together, mix and fry. You can make the batter the day before and refrigerate until ready to use. Finger licking good. See our recipe now.
What could be more delicious than a Puerto Rican Rum Cake, with a rum-glaze? Baking cakes, especially bundt cakes is so easy!
I use a yellow cake mix and just add additional ingredients. See our recipe online. Hint, always use Bacardi Rum.
Prepare the glaze once the cake is out of the oven. Poke, poke, poke holes using an ice pick or anything similar. Once the glaze is ready slowly begin pouring the glaze over the cake and around the inside rim. Once the cake cools down, refrigerate it until 30 minutes before serving.
If you are making this for a cover dish, don't remove it from the pan until you get to the distination. Then turn over the cake onto a plate and let it sit upside down for a few minutes until the cake drops.
Caramel sauce for your flan recipe.
The most daunting part of preparing a flan was the caramel. I was always afraid of burning myself or burning the caramel. Preparing the caramel in the microwave is so easy, un guame!
Pour 1 cup sugar and about ¼ cup water in a microwave safe cup. I use a 2 cup glass Pyrex measuring cup. Just stir the sugar and water a bit and microwave on high for about 5 minutes until it reaches the right color. You are looking to get the perfect color, not too light and not too dark. You might have to open the microwave door just before time is over, or you might have to add a few seconds at a time.
When it reaches the right color, open the oven and pour into the flan pan. Always let the caramel set before pouring in the custard. How easy is that?
So easy and sinfully good! This is a great make-ahead recipe. Buy thinly sliced steak, or buy a large roast and slice it yourself (like Mami used to do). Drop in a plastic bag with tons of sliced onions, olive oil, fresh minced garlic, oregano leaves, salt, and pepper, water,and distilled white vinegar.
Mix it together in the bag and refrigerate over night, or freeze for future use.
To cook just drop the contents of the bag in a medium size caldero (everything tastes better when cooked in a caldero - you know it), bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and cook until done. Serve over white rice with tostones on the side. How easy is that? http://www.elboricua.com/recipe_BistecEncebollao.html
Anyone can make these easy and sinfully delicious pastelillos. Now you can buy the dough ready make at most Kroeger Stores or even Walmart. Buy Goya discs in packs of 10. They must be at room temperature and you can choose to use them 'as is' or use a rolling pin to stretch them a bit. What you need are the discs, the stuffing, and oil for frying (they must be fried to taste the same). Islanders use Queso de Bola Holandes, but any cheese that melts good will do. These were stuffed with Mozzarella. They can also be stuffed with traditional Guaya paste or Guava Paste and cheese, or picadillo meat (or crab meat). Stuff them, fry them, serve warm. If you can't find Goya discs then make the dough, it's easy. The recipe for the dough and step by step how to directions are found on our website. http://www.elboricua.com/Pastelillos_Volaos.html
So delicious, yet so simple! Peel, and dice 1 green banana and 2 medium yautías.
Often confused with acerola, this small greenish colored fruit with a crunchy, juicy, acidic flavored pulp never turns red when ripe. They ripen in midsummer turning yellowish. However when cooked with sugar, for jellies, preserves and pastries, the fruit turns brightly red as does the syrup. Grosellas not as common as the acerola, but is eaten in Puerto Rico, especially in the country or isla adentro. The grosella grows on a large shrub that can resemble a small tree (20’) and grows in loose clusters, which hang from the tree trunk and main branches. Individual fruits are up to 0.75 inch in diameter. There are no commercial plantings; but trees are in home gardens, and fruit is harvested from naturalized trees. The shrub needs moist soil and can grow in southern Florida. This shrub and seeds can be ordered online. Ages ago this deliciously tart fruit could be found everywhere on the island.
This is our traditional Holiday rice dish. Gandules are also known as Pigeon Peas and can be found in markets that cater to Latinos.
Stirring the rice after it has begun cooking may cause it go get sticky or "amogollao." The same goes if you add too much liquid.
Any rice that sticks to the bottom of the pot is called "pegao" and is crispy and tasty and a favorite of all true Puerto Ricans. However, not everyone is skilled is making pegao - it is an art. To make great pegao make sure to use plenty of oil. Cook for about 10 minutes longer so the pegao gets crispy and keep your eye on it. Each time you cook rice - check to see how long it takes to make pegao just the way your family likes it. Finally - if you want a lot of pegao - use a bigger caldero which, of course, will have a larger bottom surface.
And most important of all . . . it is not Puerto Rican rice unless you cook it in a caldero.
May 2014 - This is my very own caldero. It was the very first one I owned. Mami traveled to Puerto Rico, ages ago, right after I was married and I asked her to bring me a caldero. She brought me my grandmother's caldero and I was so delighted! Before it was Mami Ana's caldero it had belonged first to her own mother and then was passed down to her tia and later when Mami Ana married, it was given to her, and now it's mine!
Mami Ana cooked the most delicious arroz con pollo on Sundays in this caldero in Cayey. In it she would also render fat back (cook down until the gummy white fat melts into grease) to use for the rice. (Sometimes she would fry saltines in the grease and give to us for snack. Really bad and yet so delicious I still remember so many years later.) Then she would add the sofrito and the rest of the ingredients. You know how to make rice in your caldero, don't you? If not check our recipe section.
My caldero is very old indeed, and comes with a family history. It is my treasure. All Puerto Rican households should have at least one. My caldero is thick and heavy, they don't make them like that anymore. And the new calderos are going to get worse as far as the materials that are being used to make them. Get your caldero before it is too late. Calderos.
April 2014 - Quenepas are a small edible fruit with green leathery skin and sweet juicy translucent pulp. They come from a tropical American tree (Melicocca bijuga, or Melicocca bijugatus). Quenepas have a tight and thin but rigid layer of skin, traditionally cracked by the teeth. Below that is the tart, tangy yellow pulp of the fruit. Each quenepa fruit has a large seed inside of about the same size of the outer skin, the same ovoid shape as the fruit itself. To eat them, wash the fruit, crack the skin with the teeth and suck on the pulp. Spit out the pit. Quenepa trees bloom in hurricane season, summer time in Puerto Rico. Wrap in a moist cloth towel or brown paper and refrigerate in lower drawer where you keep your vegetables in your refrigerator. Other Caribeños called these mamoncillo, also known as limoncillo.
I put my ham bone in the crockpot in the morning with plenty of water (about 10 cups) and let this cook all day – at least 8 hours, then it’s ready for soup.
Next I pour this into a large caldero or soup pot, add 1 cup chopped onions and about 5 cups diced potatoes (sometimes I peel them and other times I don’t). I bring this to a boil and cook until the potatoes are done about 20 minutes or so. Then I add 4 cups milk, ½ cup sofrito, some fresh minced recao, and about ¼ cup Goya Sazonador Total (this is like Adobo, but with larger pieces and is found next to Adobo at the store, has a green label). At the end I add salt and black pepper to taste.
Finally when done I add some peas and a few capers. Usually Puerto Ricans don’t add cheese to this soup, but I do add about half a cup of shredded cheese. If you like the soup to be thicker, add about ¼ cup flour to the milk and stir well before adding to the pot. Serve with warm and crunchy garlic buttered French bread as they do in Puerto Rico.
March 2014 - Growing up in Puerto Rico meant eating a lot of pan Frances. French bread was part of our daily diet. We had it for breakfast and mid afternoon snack. It is so delicious - warmed and buttered. Now I have not been able to find the exact bread in the states, but that doesn't let me stop trying. This is an easy recipe for great tasting French bread with a crusty delicious crust. And to top it all off, it is easy to prepare - no fail!
2 1/2 cup warm water
Knead for 2-5 minutes in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook
Heat the oven to its lowest setting (170°), then turn it off. Put the dough in the oven with a small pot of boiling water. (The water will keep the dough moist and help it rise faster). Watch the dough and punch it down when it gets to the top of the mixing bowl. Do this 2-5 times [if you have the time to! I did it just once, and my bread turned out perfectly!]
Put the dough on a greased countertop, rolled into a nice ball, and cut in half (for two large loaves).
Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and sprinkle a thin layer of cornmeal on the bottom of the sheet. Shape the dough halves into rectangle/long French bread shapes. Slash tops of bread diagonally 3-5 times and brush the tops with a beaten egg.
Heat the oven to 170°, (but don’t turn it off this time), place the pan in the oven and wait until the loaves are the size you want to cook them at. Once they are the right size, turn the temp to 375° (without opening the door) and let them bake for about 15 minutes, or until done.
Yes really, people have asked me for this recipe. They taste pretty good, not as good as fried but close enough. Two plantains will yield between 15 and 20 tostones (the plantains must be very green and you can also use regular bananas that are not ripe, still very green).
Preheat oven to 425. Spray a baking sheet with cooking oil spray.
In a large bowl, toss the plantains in the oil to coat well. Sprinkle with salt. Place the plantain slices on the baking sheet in one layer. Bake for 10 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown. Remove from oven.
Using a tostonera, mash each slice. If you don’t have a tostonera, place the individual slices between two folded sheets of parchment or brown paper and press down using the back of a large spoon or the bottom of a jar.
Wipe the baking sheet of any extra oil and re-spray. Place the plantains, brown side up, on the baking sheet and return to oven for about 10 to 15 minutes, until they are golden brown and crispy.
Remove from oven, sprinkle with a little more salt if desired and serve immediately. Makes 15 to 20 tostones.
February 2014 - Arroz con salchichas . . . a Puerto Rican favorite! Cooking rice is so simple. You must have a caldero and hopefully you will end up with a bit of pegao at the bottom. You know how it's done. Heat up the cadero, then add a bit of oil at the bottom, add a packet of Sazón with achiote and stir, add sofrito ( I like to add chopped onions and peppers because it looks pretty and adds more flavor). Cook this for a couple of minutes or so, stiring now and then. Meanwhile heat up some water or broth. Chop the sausages (we use Vienna Sausages), add to the mixture, then add rinsed uncooked rice and add enough liquid (hot water or broth) to cover the rice 1" above the rice line. Season with salt and stir. Then continue cooking until the liquid evaporates, cover and cook another 25 minutes or so over low heat. (Simple, simple, simple . . . add oil, cook the seasoning, add the meat, add the rice, add the liquid and cook).
Crockpot Pernil - not authentic, but delicious as long as you season it Boricua style. Six pound roast seasoned with plenty of garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. At least 10 hours on low. Come home to this one weeknight. (no cueritos of course)
Day after Thanksgiving 2013 - At my house I cook turkey only at Thanksgiving but we use every bit of the turkey. I make delicious ‘day after’ Thanksgiving Turkey Soup with criollo flavor. The ingredients will be left over turkey (diced bits and pieces – of course you may use large pieces, but I like to save those for sandwiches or salads, maybe turkey enchiladas or tacos). I save the turkey carcass in the fridge touse that in the soup and remove it before serving. My left over turkey criollo soup has no measurements but ALWAYS comes out delicous.
Thanksgiving 2013 - It's no secret that our food is heavenly seasoned. Cooking is not difficult, you just have to follow the steps and your turkey will turn out sabroso.
I season my turkey the night before with freshly made Pavochón seasoning, which is similar to the seasoning for a lechón. It is a simple recipe and will make your turkey sabrosisimo.
Pavochón overnight seasoning is 1 head of garlic, separated and peeled; 1 tsp salt; 1 Tbsp whole black peppercorns; 3 tsp dried oregano (crushed with fingers); 3 Tbsp olive oil; 2 Tbsp white vinegar; and 1 Goya Sazón packet with achiote and culantro. All you have to do then is mash the garlic, salt, pepper, and oregano in the pilón. Then mix in the Sazón and the liquids slowly to form a paste. The night before spread the paste all over the turkey and refrigerate until baking time.
Now before baking, clean a second head of garlic by removing as much of the loose paper skin as possibe without separating the cloves, slice it in half. Then clean a large onion of the outer skin and cut it in half. Stuff the turkey with the garlic and onion halves.
Roast turkey according to package instructions.
The easiest way to cook them is to give them a quick rinse to remove dirt, then cut off both tips and drop in boiling water. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes until they can pass a 'fork' test. When done, the peel just slides right off without any effort. Some peope don't like this method because they say they can taste the peel.
The alternative and 'mainstream' method is to peel them like you would peel a green plantain. Cut off both tips, Slice just thru the skin, lengthwise and pry the peel from the banana using the tip of a knife. Drop in boiling salted water for about 15 - 20 minutes unti they pass the 'fork' test.
1 large yellow onion
Wash, peel, seed and coarsley chop everything. Put in a blender and pureé. Store in a glass jar covered in the refrigerator for later use. Freeze it in ice-cube trays and dump the frozen cubes in a freezer bag. This will be fried in achiote oil or tocino as the first step in recipes. This recipe makes about 2 large ice-cube trays. Use about 3 cubes for rice or soup that will serve a family.
Once you've made this easy recipe you will never go back to store bough sofrito. The aroma is simply intoxicating. . . .
Cubanelle peppers are the typical pepper used in the island - it is a sweet Italian pepper and not easily found everywhere.
The word sofrito comes from Italian immigrants to Puerto Rico - it means the same thing except their sofrito uses a few different ingredients and they don't use it as often as we do.
April 2013 - I love these long-sliced platanutres, they taste the same as the ones we are used to but they seem so much more fun, don't they? I've seen these in restaurants as appetizers, but they are so easy to make at home too.
I use a Mondoline slicer to slice into perfectly equal trips. Make sure to use very green plantains (or use very green bananas, guineitos verdes). Peel as usual. Slice in the Mandoline slicer. Drop in warm salted water. Heat the oil, drain a few slices at a time and fry until crispy. Have a splatter screen ready because you will need it. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with garlic salt right away, while still moist with oil. Serve with Puerto Rican Salsa Rosa, which is simply one part ketchup and three parts mayo with a sprinkle of garlic power and a tiny sprinkle of cayenne pepper, mix it well and serve for dipping
April2013 - Carne Mechada . . . . only in Puerto Rico. This is the most tender roast beef you can prepare. It is a stuffed roast. Que divino!
Looks dificult but is not - it is just several steps. Buy the least expensive roast, eye round. I always wash meats before preparing them. Rinse and dry with paper towels. Using a long sharp knife, cut long deep slits on the meat. Be careful here with the sharp knife (speaking from experience).
First combine all the stuffing ingredients and stuff the meat.
Combine the seasoning ingredients and spead all over the meat. Let it rest for about 30 minutes or so, covered, in the fridge (en la nevera). Meanwhile preheat the crockpot to high.
Slice the meat; return it to the sauce at the crockpot & cook it for additional 10 minutes so that the meat soaks up the sauce.
March2013 - The other day I decided to try to make what my mother called Tortitas de Bacalao - which are sometimes called Croquetas de Bacalao. These are bacalao fritters made with potatoes and eggs and herbs and are absolutely delicious - as is all Puerto Rican food.
The first step is to desalt the bacalao, which is easy to do - just time consuming. The house will have that boiled bacalo scent which is unpleasant for most people - especially kids - but it is gone in no time. Rinse the bacalao in warm water to remove excess salt and then boil it in plain water for about 20 minutes, drain the water, add fresh water and bring to a boil again, then simmer for about 30 minutes. Now your bacalao is desalted and ready to use. Take any skin off the bacalao (assuming you purchased boneless fillets, if not take the bones out) then chop the flesh into small pieces.
16 ounces salt cod (desalted)
These are delicious for lunch with a green salad and they also make great appetizers. The mixture can be prepared ahead and fried later just before serving.
Tostones are one of the favorite foods in Puerto Rico and are made with green plantains. But did you know you can also make tostones de pana or Breadfruit? Not the same taste but also delicious.
At abuela's house in Cayey there were a couple of Pana trees in the yard. These tall trees produced a lot of fruit and my grandmother would share the fruit with friends and neighbors. The round solid fruit often fell from the trees on its own. Pana or Breadfruit can be found on the east coast in areas heavily populated by Caribeños. Or you can have a relative ship you one of two from the island.
Use a sharp knife to cut into wedges, then slice off the rim and slice off the middle section with the pits. Slice up each wedge into 2-inch pieces and process as if you were making tostones.
Fry the first time to get them cooked inside over medium high heat. Fry about 3 minutes or so on each side, turning only once. Drain on paper towels. Mash down between two pieces of a brown paper sack and use a saucer to press down to flatten or using a tostonera. Drop these in salty warm water. Drain just a bit and fry a second time until they begin to turn golden (be careful with oil splatters). Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with garlic salt. Tostones are served as a side dish, appetizer, or snack. If you want a dipping sauce, use Puerto Rico's MayoKetchup sauce or plain Mojo de Ajo or even ketchup. It's sinfully delicious!
This is a super delicious Puerto Rican soup. The main ingredient is salchichón or hard Salami. Puerto Rican soups are hardy and help you stay warm. I like making soups because they are easy to make and I can usually leave it in the crock pot for after work or make it earlier to serve later. Yes, islanders, even with their tropical weather, eat lots of soup - and not just in the cooler months of our winter here.
Start with a medium large caldero and fry or saute 3 cups sliced and chopped salchichón in about 1 tbp olive oil. This brings out the flavors in meat. Then add 1 medium onion - sliced, 2 fresh garlic cloves - diced and mashed in a pilón, 3 tbps sofrito and saute another 3 minutes or so (garlic burns fast, keep you eye on it). Next add tomato sauce and 1 can beef broth then cook this for a couple of minutes. Add 2 packets Sazón, 2 tbp sliced olives with peppers, 4 recao leaves - minced, 6 cups water and bring to a boil. Once the liquid comes to a boil add 3 chopped potatoes and cook until the potatoes are tender. Add the noodles and cook for another 10 minutes until noodles are done. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste ( I like to add a bit of pique - just a bit). And you're done!
Once you turn on the stove, don't turn it off again until the soup is done. Just keep adding ingredients and then cook until done. Sounds like there a lot to be done here, but really it is just plain prep work. What I do is gather up all the ingredients on the counter, chop, slice, dice, peel, clean etc. I measure what I need and put everything away except what I need for the dish. That way when I'm done I've already got an almost clean kitchen. Once this is done, then I find the right sized caldero and start adding ingredients. Then it's soup time!
Serve with French bread.
Pavochón is a pernil flavored bird and it is finger licking good. All you have to do is season it right and into the oven. No big deal. El sabor lo dice todo. Add to this delicious turkey some mofongo stuffing and Ay, Díos Mio! Season it with garlic, salt, black pepper, and oregano (3 parts garlic, 1 part each salt, pepper, and oregano). Stick a cleaned head of garlic inside along with an onion and your house will smell like a restaurant.
Our side dishes include root vegetables like llame, yautia, cassava or a rice dish like arroz con gandules or arroz junto. Salads are often served along with a Puerto Rican Thanksgiving meal, Ensalada de pulpo or ensalada de macarones con mariscos. Our desserts will include casuela ,arroz con dulce, flan or rum cake.
For plantain lovers, like us, a toston sandwich, also known as a jíbaro or jibarito sandwich, may be the best thing since sliced bread.
In fact, a tostón sandwich dispenses with bread entirely. In its place is green plantain that’s been sliced lengthwise, fried, pressed flat and fried again. Still warm, the golden crispy discs can embrace anything from shredded beef, roast pork, chorizo, chicken or even simply cheese.
But why dispense with the bread? Well, we are plantain lovers - that's why. We can eat plantains for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and even dessert! Perfect with a glass of wine or even a cold beer.
Years later I figured out that what I was making was Puerto Rican potato salad. Not only does it include a red apple, but also olive oil. I did not realize that the rest of the world did not use apples in their salad.
So what exactly do I put in my Puerto Rican potato salad? Cooked potatoes, mayo, sliced olives with pimentos, more roasted pimentos, a bit of celery, bell peppers, peas, diced red apples (sometimes I peel them, but often don't), yellow onions, a bit of olive oil, a little squirt of mustard, chopped hard boiled eggs, diced pickles, chives, salt and peppers.
First I dice and chop, then I mix everything together except the potatoes, and add the potatoes last. Then back in the fridge for at least 4 hours for the flavors to blend. Lately I've also been adding a bit of Adobo, it enhances the flavors.
So now you know. Puerto Rican potato salad includes a red apple.
This is a recipe that I adapted for crock-pot cooking. It is delicious and just plain finger licking good. Not only that, it is almost effortless. The ribs cook in the crock-pot it cooks while you're at work and then you get to come home to this fantastic dish. You could make side dishes ahead and even be brave enough to have company over!
1½ lbs beef short ribs, ¼ cup orange juice, ¼ cup olive oil, juice of 1 lime, 3 tbsp minced garlic, 1 pkt Sazón, ¼ cup sofrito, ½ cup red wine, 1 tp capers, 1 tb sliced salad olives with peppers, 1 cap full apple cider vinegar, 4 small chopped potatoes, salt and pepper. Dump everything in the crockpot the night before. In the morning put pot on the base and cook on low all day long.
Stir fry some veggies together, onions, red and green peppers, mushrooms, a bit of cilantro and serve on the side. I sliced and dice the night before and refrigerate in a baggie.
In Puerto Rico this would be served with white rice and a green salad and perhaps boiled green plantains. Note the meat will fall off the bone.
2 cups of water, ½ teaspoon salt, 3 tbps sugar, 1½ cup cornmeal, 6 oz shredded Edam or Cheddar cheese, 2 cups vegetable oil
In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in salt, sugar and cornmeal. Return to heat and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the dough does not stick to the pot. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. Let sit for 5 minutes -or until you are able to handle the heat- and roll 1 tablespoon balls of dough into cigar shapes. In a large deep skillet, heat vegetable oil to 375 degrees. Cook Surullitos 4-6 at a time, making sure not to crowd the pan, until lightly golden brown. Drain on a paper towel lined plate and serve immediately.
The sauce is equally simple. Mix together 3 tablespoons ketchup, 1 tablespoon mayo, 1 minced garlic clove, and maybe a bit of Cayenne pepper (optional)
Those raised in the island are used to eating celery root or apio, not to be confused with celery we buy at the store in the US - yes it's in the same family and the shoots and leaves are similar but not really edible.
Celery is a vianda, which is the root
of a plant. Wash, peel, diced and then boil it about 15 minutes. It can be served
in a dish called vianda, or added to soups or stews, etc.
Add a layer of the crab meat over the first layer of apio. Top with the rest of the apio. Bake at 375° for about 20 minutes, then brush the pie with melted butter and bake another 10 minutes or so until golden. Let the pastelón rest on the counter for about 20 minutes before serving.
Dulce de Leche Bars.
1 large ready to use graham cracker crumb pie crust (can select regular with cinnamon or even chocolate crumb)
For the filling you will need 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature, 1 cup suga,r 2 large eggs, ½ cup ready made Dulce de Leche, and 1 tsp vanilla extract
Blend cream cheese and sugar in processor until smooth and creamy, for about 1 minute, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs 1 at a time, processing 3 to 5 seconds to blend between additions. Add dulce de leche and vanilla; process until blended, about 10 seconds. Spread batter evenly over crust. Bake until just set in center and edges are puffed and slightly cracked, about 38 minutes.
Next, swirl with additional Dulce de Leche liquid, let it cool completely and and refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving. Either cut into wedges or cut into squares. Yum!
What can I say that has not been already said about one of our ultimate favorite foods, Bacalaitos? Let me reassure you, they are easy to make.
The batter is prepared using the broth from the bacalao, otherwise they are almost flavorless. Seasoning for this fritter is simple, only garlic, salt and black pepper. They should be a bit salty (from the water) and crunchy on the edges.
All you have to do is buy the bacalao fillets, soak them in water overnight, then boil them twice, tossing the first water and reserving the second to use as broth for the batter.
Once the bacalao is processed take each piece of bacalao and separate it with the fingers so that you end up with a bunch of little pieces or hand shredded bacalao.
My mother used to just separate the bacalao into larger pieces, make the batter, then she would place one piece of bacalao in each scoop so that each bacalaito had a large chunk of fish. I rather separate it into a bunch of tiny pieces for more flavor. You must remember that it must be hand shredded or you will end up with a matty mess that will have to be discarded.
Processing the bacalao is simple enough, the rest is even easier. Measure out the amounts called for in the recipe, the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper, and garlic, add the broth and stir, then add the hand shredded bacalao and stir again. How easy is that? I like to add some pique to my batter - just a little. (see recipe for measurements).
The batter may be refrigerated until ready to fry or even frozen for later use.
The next step is frying. Add enough vegetable oil to a heavy frying pan to fill about ¼". Stir the batter and add about ½ cup and add as many as will allow for easy turning in the pan. I usually can only fry 3 bacalaitos at a time. Fry them at Medium heat and don't turn them until the bottom separates from the pan and is brown. Turn only once. Drain on paper towels.
This photo shows a traditional island bacalaito. It is thin, crunchy around the edges and well seasoned. Bacalaitos should be thin, as in this photo. However, I've had thick bacalaitos that are still delicious. For thin bacalaitos the batter must be thin.
I've had plenty of non traditional bacalaitos and they are all delicious. Some people add a packet of Sazòn, others add sofrito, and some people add pique.
Mami loved making it because she was raised eating this delicious and simple Puerto Rican dessert. It is inexpensive to prepare, all you need is a few ingredients and day-old bread. Growing up in Puerto Rico I watched Mami prepare this dessert using old and stale French bread. We did not use sandwich bread, only French loaves. She would tear the bread into small pieces and let it soak in the rich cream custard. What she added differed from time to time. She would add a can of fruit cocktail at times but it was usually the traditional recipe with raisins. I loved it when she added pineapples. Mami would bake it in a caramelized pan, like a flan, sometimes. No matter how she prepared it the result was liking good - always.
Today this is known as an old-fashioned dessert. It is still delicious. I like to add a bit of rum and I like to serve mine with a warm butter rum sauce. It's easy to prepare.
You will need 1 lb bread, French bread, sliced bread is ok, Allow the bread to sit on the counter - outside the plastic, so it dries out, at least overnight and use old stale bread. Prepare the custard first by mixing together 4 cups evaporated milk and 4 cups whole milk, ½ lb melted butter, 2½ cups sugar, 6 eggs, ½ tp salt, 1½ tps ground cinnamon, and 1 tb vanilla. Blend that together well using the slow speed on a hand mixer. Then add 1 cup of raisins and ½ cup rum - stir a few times and that's ready. The rum is optional.
Now all you have to do is to take the bread and break it into pieces and drop it in the bowl - no need to remove the crusty rim on the bread. Let the bread soak up all the liquid - it should sit there about 15 minutes, at least. Then sit once more and pour into a greased mold, 9'" x 13" is good. Bake for about 1½ hours in a 375° oven. You will know it's done when it passes the knife test.
Once that is out of the oven you can prepare the rum sauce. It is easy also, just whisk together a 12-oz can evaporated milk, 3/4 cup whole milk, 2/3 cup sugar, and in a medium sauce pan and cook over medium heat. Once that is hot add 4 tbs butter and stir until melted. Next place 2 tbs cornstarch in a small bowl and dissolve with 4 tps cold water. Once the milk mixture is hot, add the cornstarch slurry, and then stir slowly and constantly until it reaches a thin, gravy like texture and a few bubbles rise to the surface. Turn off the heat, stir 4 tbs rum, and serve over warm bread pudding.
Not your grandmother's recipe. Enjoy!
My husband and I both love beans and love Puerto Rican and Mexican food. One day I tried to combines Habichuelas Guidasas and Frijoles Charros (Mexican cowboy beans) and came up with a most delicious and interesting bean dish. I make it often now. Hubby eats it with tortillas and I like to eat it over rice.
As you know I always try to make things easy for myself, but always flavorful. In a bit of olive oil I brown 2 Italian sausages that have been skinned, then I slice them and set aside. In the same pan and drippings I add 4 slices of bacon and cook them until done - not too crispy, chop those and set aside - saving the drippings. Again in the drippings I saute 1 small diced onion, ½ diced bell pepper, and 1 diced tomato. When the veggies are almost done I throw in about 3 tsps minced garlic, cook that for a couple of minutes and then I add about ¼ cup recaito and cook that for a couple of minutes. Then I add back in the chopped bacon and sliced sausages, salt and pepper. At the end I add 3 cans pinto beans and 2 cans beef broth, 1 packet Sazón, salt and pepper and a dash of cayenne pepper for kick. This I simmer for about 20 minutes and it's ready. When serving, sprinkle with some chopped cilantro. A perfect blend of two kinds of bean dishes. Yum!
These beans can be stored in the fridge for about 5 days. They are tastier the next day. They are perfect for cover dish parties, easy to carry in a crock-pot and keep warm, and can be frozen. The perfect dish on a cold wintry day - the perfect party dish, serves a bunch and can be doubled without much effort.
I already knew what the steps were, just needed a little reassurance. Peel plantains, slice for tostones, drop them in salted water. Careful frying them because the oil is hot and the plantains are wet (that was before the mesh splatter-cover lids we have today). Fry them a couple of minutes on each side, remove from the oil, drain on paper towels. Now, find a small saucer, place plantain between a piece of folded wax paper or paper grocery sack and mash them down; put them back into the salted water, refry them - remove from heat, drain on paper towels and salt.
By this time I was already tired and more apprehensive as ever, hubby comes along and says 'What's that?' - 'something you will like' I said.
I had mashed the plantain in the pilón often enough, but still not having Mami by my side made me apprehensive. Cooked some diced bacon. Peeled and mashed fresh garlic, one medium size clove for each plantain. I then began the mashing procedure, mash 4 tostones, add some garlic, mash again, add bacon bits and some grease, repeat and repeat until they are all mashed and mofongo is done. Now . . . shape into balls and serve!
'Wow, this stuff is great!, he said. I smiled and ran to the phone to tell my mother.
When frying resist temptation and don't turn them until the bottom is crispy or you will have a mess. So the 'secret' is to let the bottom cook until crispy and turn carefully and repeat until all sides are crispy. Of course, it is better to deep fry them that way you don't have to turn them. I use a very small sauce pan to fry these in. That way I only have to turn once. But since I am using a small sauce pan I can only fry 2 at a time. Also, make sure the mashed potatoes are very firm and solid when you prepare it. Don't make 'regular' mashed potatoes. The potato dough should not be too moist- so use less water to prepare the potatoes. I use instant potatoes.
How about Arrañitas de Platano verde?
All you need is oil for frying, fresh minced or mashed garlic, salt and about 3 green grated plantains, black pepper and about ¼ cup minced cilantro leaves. Mix all the ingredients together and form 'loosy packed' balls about 1½" in diameter. Fry these and serve immediatedly. An easy, inexpensive and delicious snack.
A traditional Puerto Rican treat..
Pour in the blender with 2 recao chopped leafs (or 4 sprigs chopped cilantro), the juice of 2 limes, 1 tsp salt and a few sprinkles of pique (or a bit of cayenne pepper). Run this thru the blender just a bit. Some people like it smooth, I like mine chunky.
Stir and serve in a small bowl at room temperature with tostones and even pork roast. You might need a bit more salt, depending on your taste - so salt to taste. Refrigerate unused portion in a glass jar with a lid (not in plastic). This is something you will need to stir everytime before serving. Soooo . . . simple.
Growing up in a Puerto Rican household, in Puerto Rico and later after we moved to the states, one of my favorite dishes was Carne Bif. Mami made it just about every third week and she always served tostones and white rice with it - and we loved it!
Once we moved to the states I learned that 'carne bif' is the Puerto Rican equivalent of Irish Corned Beef. There are many families in the island with Irish roots, including mine - we were Solivan's from way back on my mother's side. In Puerto Rico this is eaten by everyone, everywhere - poor and rich, young and old. It is one of our classic comfort foods.
Of course, once adopted by islanders the dish became Puerto Rican or criollo, prepared with seasonings and ingredients used locally, and sofrito was an integral part of the recipe. If you've never made 'carne bif,' it's about time you try it. 'Carne bif' is extremely easy to prepare and ready in a 'dos por tres' as my mother liked to say. In thirty minutes or less you can have this traditional dish on the table.
Buy canned corned beef at the store. The recipe calls for tomato sauce, onions and peppers, and sofrito, along with a few potatoes. It is even simpler to prepare now that you can have boiled canned potatoes, ready made sofrito, and frozen tostones to go with it. Click here for the recipe.
Puerto Rican Sancocho; A Centuries-Old Stew Still a Classic Today. Easy to prepare, practically a ‘dump and cook recipe’ This satisfying meat stew is thought to have been brought by Canary Islanders who immigrated to the island centuries ago. It is a hearty stew of meat, sometimes fish, and vegetables, largely root vegetables, and plantains, to mention just a few of the main ingredients. Simmered a long time, the fragrant mouthwatering savory soup goes a long way to satisfy a lot of hungry people. Every family has its own version. A perfect ‘crowd’ dish.
2 T olive oil, ¼ lb diced cooking ham, ½ cup chopped yellow onions, 5 garlic cloves, minced ¼ cup chopped sweet green pepper, ¼ cup chopped sweet red pepper, 6 recao leafs, chopped 1 t salt, ¼ t freshly ground black pepper, 2 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped, ½ cup sofrito 1 ½ lbs. beef chuck, tips or flanken (cross-cut ribs), cubed into 1-inch pieces,8" longaniza or smoked sausage, sliced- 1 cup each (at least 3 of these); chopped green plantain, calabaza squash, potatoes, carrots, chayote, yuca, yautía, or malanga, 1 ear of corn, cleaned and chopped, 1 can garbanzo beans, 4 quarts beef stock, 8 oz tomato sauce
Heat oil in a large caldero and cook the ham for a few minutes turning often. Add onions and meat and cook until onions are translucent and meat is browned on all sides. Add half the stock, bring to a boil and then simmer until the meat is tender. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil and cook at a bare simmer until the vegetables are soft.
Sancocho can also be prepared in a crockpot, just sauté the ham first, add the onions and meat and cook until the onions are translucent and the meat is browned on all sides. Dump it in the crockpot with the rest of the ingredients - cover the pot and put in the fridge until morning when you can put it to cook while you are at work.
2012 - One of the simplest and most SABROSA soup I prepare is Garbanzo
y Chorizo Soup. It is so fast, simple and easy! |
You need 2 cans of Garbanzo beans with the liquid, 2 thinly sliced carotts, 1 small diced onion, 1 tsp minced/mashed garlic, 2 tps Spanish Paprika or pimentón, about 5 onces minced Spanish Chorizo, 1 small diced potato, ¼ cup sofrito and 2 cans chicken broth. Dump everything in a medium caldero, bring it to a boil then simmer for about 30 minutes. That's it! Serve this with hot buttered French bread as they do en la isla. I like to chop cilantro and sprinkle it on top once served in bowls. Note that cilantro is something not used that often in Puerto Rico, they use recao. In the states we substitute.
You can actually get all the ingredients in the caldero the night before, cover with foil and refrigerate until you get home from work the next day. First thing when you walk in the door is put it on the stove.
Alcapurrias hints. When processing the guineitos and yautias in the food processor, make sure to simply grind them. If they are over processed the masa becomes too soft and moist. Take out any large lumps and put them back in the processor with the next batch.
I grease my left hand, add half a cup of masa and spread that a bit, then add the stuffing, and begin to close my hand to close the alcapurria. Usually I end up having to add just a bit more masa here and there to close completely. Practice makes perfect. The more often you prepare them, the easier and faster it will go.
Peeling the veggies is the hardest part. But hey, you only have to peel 5 green babanas and about 2 medium size yautias for one batch and you're done. Not that hard. Go easy on the salt.
I love to make soup on the weekends, especially cold weekends. One of my very favorite recipes is Caldo Gallego. It is a rich flavorful hardy soup made with a ham bone, beans and potatoes.
I also like to prepare my meals fast and easy so I take plenty of shortcuts, but my shortcuts never diminish the original flavor of a dish.
Every Christmas, at one time or another, I serve a spiral ham. I save the bone and bits of ham in the freezer for soup later. Put the ham bone in a large crockpot full of water. Add just a bit of salt and garlic and cook over nite. In the morning turn it off and let it sit on the counter until you are ready to prepare the soup, or refrigerate for later.
Pour the broth and bone into a large caldero. Always leave the bone in the soup. Bones give food, rice, soups, etc a richer flavor. Add 4 onces cooked minced ham, 2 - 15oz cans of cannellini beans, 1 can diced potatoes, about half a cup of sofrito, fresh mashed garlic, lots of chopped fresh or frozen recao, 1 pkt Sazón with achiote, olives, capers, chopped green onions, minced chorizo español, and a bit of cayenne pepper to give it a nice kick. . Bring it to a boil then let it simmer for at least one hour and it's done. How easy is that?
I've seen internet recipes that call for chicken or chicken stock. Forget that. This is basically a ham soup. Some recipes call for greens but I skip that. If I were to include greens I would use fresh baby spinach.
Serve with tostones and enjoy!
Thanksgiving Week 2011 - What tasty delicous dish can you prepare using left over turkey? Pastelón de pavo y amarillos, of course. It is so easy and simple. Using packaged products will simplify the recipe and make it almost effortless. This recipe fits in a 9" pie plate. Preheat the oven to 400°
You will need a 1-lb box of Goya amarillos (or you can buy fresh amarillos and wait until they are extremely ripe - spotted, then fry them) and 1 lb minced turkey meat (no skin), sofrito, oil, onions, peppers, tomatoes, tomato sauce, olives, capers, the usual stuff. You will also need one large egg and shredded cheese.
Putting it together is un guame! First make a guiso with the minced turkey, add sofrito and the usual ingredients, make sure not to add too much tomato sauce. This should be very moist but not watery.
Next grease a 9" pie plate. Then heat up the amarillos in the microwave so they will be easy to mash. Add a little less than half the amarillos to the plate and lightly mash them down and together so you have pretty much covered the bottom of the plate.
Now add half the meat mixture. Then sprinkle some cheese on top. Next add another layer of amarillos. What I do first is lightly mash the amarillos in a dish then add them on top of the cheese. Can't mash them while sitting on top of the cheese. So this next layer might have a few small spaces in between the plantains - here and there but that's ok. Add the remaining meat and another layer of cheese.
Beat a whole egg with 1 tbp water and a bit of salt until frothy. Carefully pour the egg over the cheese, yes, it is enough. But don't worry it you were not able to cover everything with the egg, it spreads around on its own. Now bake this until the egg is cooked. About 15 to 20 minutes. The amarillos and the meat are already cooked, so you are waiting on the cheese to melt and the egg to cook.
Now it's ready to serve. I like serving dish with a green salad. Delish!
I've been cooking this criollo style pasta since I was married, over thirty years now. It is one of my family's favorite dishes and it is simple to make. It does make a huge quantity, but then I had a husband and two sons, as well as two daughters to feed. The boys made sure there were no left overs.
Bring a large caldero of water to boil. Add a bit of oil and salt then dump the pasta (1 lb), cover leaving the lid off to the side so there is about an inch open (to preventing boiling over). In the meantime the beef must be prepared.
Preheat a heavy frying pan for a couple of minutes, on medium/high setting. Adding meat to a cold pan will make the meat stick to the pan and will be harder to work with. So, be patient and preheat the pan. I only cook with iron skillet and canderos - that's it. All my other pans just hang pretty, like new from my pot-rack in the kitchen. I have two large iron skillets, one small iron skillet and several calderos in various sizes.
Add 1 lb ground beef to the preheated skillet and then use a wooden spoon to mash and stir and twist and turn the meat so that it gets broken up as it cooks. Sometimes adding a bit of water help, it will help break it up and then evaporates. This should cook until it is almost all brown. I usually buy lean ground beef, if yours is not lean, just drain the grease carefully.
Like a good Puerto Rican cook, I always use our preferred condiments, so I add diced onions and peppers, add freshly mashed garlic or garlic powder. Let this continue to cook for a bit until all the beef is brown. Add sofrito, stir, and cook another minute or so. Then add sliced olives and capers. I like using Salad Olives, they are nicely sliced and have chopped red peppers in it. The last step is sprinkling it with Sazón and Adobo.
The pasta should be ready just about now. Drain it and add it back to the same caldero or pot used to boil it in. Add the ground beef. Add one large can of spaghetti sauce (26-32 oz/more or less), half a cup of water, and a cup of shredded cheese. Stir and cook over low heat for about 5 to 10 minutes. Now it's ready to serve.
I like serving my Pasta Criolla with a fresh salad. It is delicioso!
2011 - Adjust oven rack to the lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on rack
and heat the oven to 450 degrees. You will be preheating the baking sheet.
Toss them with 2 tbps olive oil, plenty of adobo and dried parsley flakes and toss vigorously using a metal spoon for a 2-3 minutes. The tossing will rough up the potatoes which will help them get crispier. They will look like they are covered with a starchy pasty. Add 2 more tbps oil and toss again, just for a bit.
Bake directly on the metal pan, don't use foil or parchment paper for crispier potatoes. Working quickly, remove the baking sheet from the oven and drizzle 1 tablespoon of oil over the surface. Carefully transfer the potatoes to the baking sheet and spread into an even layer, skin side up. Bake until bottoms of potatoes are golden brown and crisp, about 15 – 25 minutes, rotating the baking sheet after 10 minutes. If the underside is crispy enough the potatos will not stick.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and using a metal spatula and tongs, loosen the potatoes from the pan, carefully flipping each slice. Continue to roast the potatoes until the second side is golden and crisp, 10 to 20 minutes longer, rotating pan as needed to ensure that the potatoes brown evenly. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
October 2011 - One of our most often asked questions is what is a flan pan or flan mold? The answer is easy. Anything that is about 5 inches tall and smooth on the inside (that is not Teflon covered), and about 6 inches in diameter.
What I use is my mother's mold which is simply an old saucepan that lost it's handle. It is about 7 inches tall and smooth on the inside - just a plain old metal pan without handles. It will need to be a diameter that will fit in your serving plate. I use a glass pie plate as my serving dish, so my pan or mold had to fit in the pie dish. My mold is about 6" in diameter.
Once I tried making the caramel directly in the mold, but the caramel burnt because since I didn't have to switch pans it continued to heat up. I learned to make the caramel in a Teflon covered pan because it will slide our beautifully. When the caramel begins to bubble and gets golden, then I pour it into the mold and swirl it around to coat the sides. You can use glass or Pyrex and I have used those in the past, however the last time I used Pyrex the mold cracked when I poured in the hot water for the baño de María, so that was that.
Once my flan is done, I let it get to room temperature on the counter and then I refrigerate it in the mold. I leave it in the mold until time to serve. I also leave it in the mold if I have to take it our of the house, then flip it over unto a pie plate and let it sit there until it drops. It is easy to travel with. Then I still let it sit there another few minutes to make sure all the caramel drops too.
To recap. Find a good metal pan to use as a mold. It could even be a tall round cake pan. Prepare the caramel in a Teflon covered pan so that it slides out easier. Let the flan come to room temperature on the counter. Refrigerate in the mold. When ready to serve flip it over, letting the mold sit for a couple of minutes to make sure all the caramel drops on the flan. That's it!
When I turned 13 Mami decided I needed start learning how to cook. The first thing I learned to make was arroz blanco. The second was aceite con achiote. The third was arroz amarillo using the achiote oil.
I was always nervous to over heat achiote because it would turn bitter. But it was easy. Achiote in an integral ingredient in Puerto Rican cooking. Every island household has achiote in the cupboard. The small achiote seeds that look like little red pebbles are sold in jars and are heated in olive oil to release their red color, flavor and aroma.
Puerto Rican culture comes from Spain but Spaniards use Pimenton or paprika in food preparation. Achiote however, is a Taíno product. Taínos used it in food preparation as well as for body paint and for art.
Achiote oil is made from annatto seeds and olive oil. It's used to flavor and color many dishes such as yellow rice. This recipe is so simple, you'll wonder why you haven't tried it before.
You can keep achiote oil in a jar with a tight lid at room temperature for 4-5 days, and longer in the refrigerator. Use in most of your Puerto Rican recipes instead of plain oil, especially when preparing rices. When using achiote oil it is not necessary to use tomato sauce.
Preparing aceite con achiote will take you 10 minutes max. You will need 1 cup olive oil and 2½ tablespoons achiote seeds. Heat the oil and seeds in a small saucepan over medium heat just until the seeds begin a steady bubble. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let stand for a minute. Strain the oil or simply use a slotted spoon to remove the seeds.
It is important not overheat the oil and seeds. The oil will turn bitter and will be ruined. Extreme overheating will turn the seeds black and the oil green - but it is ruined way before that point. Just heat the oil over medium heat, you will soon see the oil change color as the seeds begin to bubble.
Now you can find achiote powder and achiote paste. If you can't find achiote use tomato sauce. Tomato sauce tends to be a bit sweet and will flavor the dish differently than achiote would.
Chicharrones de Pollo
Start by using bone-in-chicken with skin. The bone and skin ad a lot of flavor. I use a large chopping knife to make sure each piece has a piece of bone and also some skin. There will always be a few pieces without bone, but each must have some skin. You must cut up the chicken so that it cooks faster while it is getting crunchy on the outside. Then pound the pieces to make them a bit more flatter. I prefer using chicken thighs for this.
Next rinse the meat and dry with paper towels. I like to rinse the meat to make sure no foreing matter is on the chicken. Then I oil the chicken with olive oil and heavily sprinkle it with a mixture of Sazón, Adobo, garlic powder, and often Cayanne pepper. It is best to season the meat and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours.
Remove the chicken from the fridge and let it come to room temperature for about 20 minutes. Fry in plenty of oil over high heat for about three minutes then lower to medium and fry another 3 minutes, then back to high until crispy crispy - turning the chicken now and then. The more chicken in the pan the longer it will take. I like to put as many to fry at once as will fit in the pan, even though it might take a bit more time. I prefer that all the chicken will be done at once. A deep frier is best, of course.
To make all your dishes taste their very best, make sure you shake on Adobo before cooking. Adobo is a perfect blend of garlic, oregano, onion and spices and is the perfect seasoning for all your meat, poultry and fish dishes. We are finding new uses for this addictive seasoning every day. A simple shake is all it takes to give your food 'our' delicious flavor.
August 2011 - Arroz con Tocino is one of those 'basic' Puerto Rican recipes, a dish found in small cafes and such in Puerto Rico. It is salt-pork rice, and it is easy and delicious. If you can't find salt-pork use bacon.
What to serve with this rice? I like to top it with a fried egg, over medium. Yum! My husband, a non-Puerto Rican, loves this dish with the egg on top too. It is an easy to prepare hassle free dish.
I use about 6-8 ounces of tocino, diced and cooked, and I save the grease to use in the rice. You will need about 3 cups of rice, I use medium grain. Boil enough water, about 6 cups or so (probably won't need it all). You'll need to add enough hot water to cover the rice about one inch above the rice line. Also you will need about 2 tsps salt.
To start, dice the cocino and cook in the caldero you will be using. Cook the tocino until done. This photo shows the tocino almost done, all sides need to be golden. When the tocino is ready, don't drain the grease. Add the rice to the caldero and fry the rice for a minute or so, stirring. Then add the hot water (just enough to cover the rice one inch above the rice line), and then add the salt. Resist temptation and stir just once or twice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Don't stir this any more, you know it will get amogollao, or sticky. Just let it boil until the water evaporates. Cook another 25 minutes or so over low heat, covered.
How easy is that?
August 2011 - Yesterday it rained, something we had not seen for months. Immediately I thought about making a delicious Asopao de Gandules. Yes, in the terrible heat of August, in Texas, I decided to make soup. After all we were under a ‘cool wave’ only 99°!
I have a very old caldero that was my grandmother’s and that’s what I use to cook most of the time, rice or soups, it doesn’t matter, even habichuelas are cooked in Mami Ana’s caldero. I’ve had it for years and years now and she owned for years and years, so it must be really old. Calderos don’t break or wear out.
Making Asopao de Gandules is so easy; on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the most difficult, this recipe is a 2. Practically all you have to do is dump all the ingredients in a large caldero, bring to a boil, and simmer for one hour and you’re done. How easy is that?
I had all the required ingredients on hand; canned gandules, sofrito, beef or chicken stock, and even a ham bone in the freezer. The only item I didn’t have is West Indian pumpkin, which is a rare find where I live, even at Fiesta, the local Hispanic Market.
I decided to use a ham bone I had in the freezer and needed to get that ready by boiling it over medium high heat for at least one hour in about 6 – 8 cups of water to make a delicious broth base. If you don’t have a ham bone use ham seasoning, Goya makes it, or use a beef of chicken broth or even bouillon. If you are using fresh ham, dice and mince it, then sauté in a bit of olive oil, add sofrito and cook that another couple of minutes then add the rest of the ingredients.
This asopao is good even without any meat – and in that case even faster to prepare.
For my family I use approximately 7 cups of broth, ¾ cup of sofrito, about 3 tbsp olive oil, 1 cup uncooked rice, 2 cans of gandules, and if I’m using vegetables like pumpkin add about 3 pieces, diced. Then finally I like to add about 1 medium onion sliced, ½ cup sliced olives with pepper, about 2 tbp capers, 2 envelopes Sazón with Achiote, about a cup of stewed tomatoes Italian Style, 1 tbp tomato paste, and 3 tbps minced recao. Don't add any salt until it is done because the olives and cappers and other ingredients often are salted, so just wait until it is done then taste it and add salt if it needs it.
This is brought to a boil, then simmered for about one hour or so. The asopao will thicken as it cooks and that’s the way it is supposed to be, otherwise it is a soup not an asopao. If your sofrito does not have oregano then add some at the end. If it’s too thick add a bit of water and let it come to a boil again. Now it is ready to serve.
I like mine with a bit of pique and sliced of avocado on top.
I served my asopao with tostones, yummmmm . . . . ! But you can make super delicious plantain balls by shredding 2 large green plantains, adding 2 mashed garlic cloves, and salt – mix together well and form into balls about 1” in diameter or so. Add the balls to the pot when the asopao begins to boil.
is also delish with Mofongo, just shape into balls, serve the asopao and drop
a monfongo ball on top.
See the recipe on our website . . . Asopao de Gandules
August 2011 - Piña Colada is Spanish for “strained pineapple”, and has a bit of a muddled history. Legend has it that it’s creation dates back to the 1800's where Puerto Rican pirate Roberto Cofresí, to boost his crew’s morale gave them a beverage or cocktail that contained coconut, pineapple and rum. This was what would be later known as the piña colada. With his death in 1825, the recipe for the piña colada was lost.
The Piña Colada is then re-introduced in Puerto Rico on August 16, 1954 at the Caribe Hilton’s Beachcomber Bar in San Juan, Puerto Rico by its alleged creator, Ramon “Monchito” Marrero. Apparently, the hotel management had expressly requested Monchito to mix a new signature drink that would delight the demanding palates of its starstudded clientele. Monchito accepted the challenge, and after 3 intense months of blending, shaking and experimenting, the first Piña Colada was born.
But it doesn’t stop there, also laying claim to the invention is the Barrachina Restaurant in Puerto Rico which claims in 1963 that while on a trip to South America, Mr Barrachina met a bartender who he worked with to create a drink containing pineapple juice, condensed milk, coconut creme, and ice in a blender. …..
As with anything else, there are variations to this very Puerto Rican cocktail. But the basic recipe is (all measurements are approximate) 1½ cup ice in the blender, followed by ½ cup diced pineapple, add 2 ounces pineapple juice, then 2 ounces Coco Lopez Coconut Cream and then finish with about 3 ounces Puerto Rican rum. Run this thru blender until smooth and frothy, serve in nice tall glasses and garnish with fresh pineapple slices.
Keep cool this summer with a Puerto Rican coctail, Piña Colada. ¡Que rico!
Tembleque is a classic Puerto Rican dessert that is dear to our hearts and is usually served at Christmas. It is a coconut milk pudding with a jello like consistency.
Tembleque is also the perfect summer-time dessert with no baking and only a little time on the stove. It is a cool refreshing dessert and takes practically no time to prepare.
The name of this pudding translates as “trembling,” and it does indeed jiggle in a way that some people find quite delightful. Typically in homes tembleque is poured into a glass casserole, refrigerated until set, then sliced into squares and served.
And it turns out this is a Vegan Recipe. If you are looking for a recipe easy to make, gluten-free, soy-free and dairy- free this classic Puerto Rican dessert "Tembleque" is what you need for the summer.
To make this pudding ingredients are cooked in medium heat and stirred frequently until it thickens. After the pudding starts to congeal, it is stirred about a minute and then poured into a wet mold. Find the recipe in our recipe section. Tembleque
Mami used to make the best and most perfect tembleque and I was always hesitant to even try it. But after my first try years and years ago I realized there was nothing to it! Almost a fail-free recipe there are no real hints to post here. Just use a wooden spon to stir, moisten the mold a bit before pouring tembleque. When unmolding slide a butter knife around the edges to loosen it. The perfect summer dessert - every single time.
July 17, 2011 - So what can we do to cool off during the intense heat of this summer? Try a frozen Bacardi drink. Adult refreshing cocktails, perfect for hot summer nites.
Tony Rivera in Phoenix sent us these recipes. This is what Tony and his wife Laura serve at their once a month Friday night Poker Parties! No children are allowed, just aperitivos and these frozen cocktails.
Bacardi Frozen Torched Cherry Colada Recipe: •Fill a blender almost to the top with ice cubes •Add in Bacardi’s piña colada mixer •Fill the container that the piña colada mixer came in halfway with Barcardi Torched Cherry Rum •Add in a dash of grenadine •Blend until smooth
Another delicious frozen 'adult' cocktail is Frozen Mojito Slush For every 4 slushes, you will need: •1 pint lime sorbet or 1 can limeade from frozen juice section •8 shots Puerto Rican rum •1/2 cup mint leaves •1 tray ice cubes
In a blender, combine 1/2 pint sorbet or 1/2 can of lime ade with 4 shots of rum, 1/4 cup mint leaves and 1/2 tray of ice. Pulse, then blend on high until lime-mint slush is smooth. Pour drinks into 2 large cocktail glasses using a long handled spoon and repeat with remaining ingredients.
to do with over ripe plantains and not enough time for a delicious pastelón?
Try making Cuban Fufu (not to be confused with Puerto Rican Fufú - a spell, you
know what I mean - don't have time to go into that right now). Making Fufu is
easy, 'un mamey', as they say in Puerto Rico.
May 15, 2011 - One of my favorite things to do with basic seasoned ground beef is pastelón. It doesn’t take a lot of active prep time (although it does require oven time in addition to stove top time) and it is a warming dish that will take everyone to their happy place. The more meat you use, the thicker it will be. You can also substitute Pollo Guisado (stewed chicken - criollo style, of course), or make picadillo using ground pork. Anyway you prepare it is delish!
Our basic traditional pastelón is made using layers of fried amarillos and meat. This time I am making it using mashed yuca and pork picadillo. It is yummy!
Use fresh or frozen yuca, boiled in salted water until soft and remove the spinny center. I prefer frozen yuca, which is already peeled (such a hassle to peel). Prepare the pork picadillo the same as beef picadillo. The recipe for picadillo is on our site.
Once you have the yuca prepared and mashed and the picadillo ready all you have to do is put it together. Lightly oil the bottom of a large pie plate or baking dish. Begin with a layer of yuca, then meat and continue until the dish is full or the ingredients are all used. Smoothing out the yuca over the meat is kind of tricky, put a large spoonfull on your oiled hand and mash it down flat, then lay it over the meat - continue until the meat is covered. Last, scramble an egg and pour over the last layer spreading it carefully over to the sides. Add shredded cheese (optional), and then bake at 350° until the egg is cooked, about 20 min. That's it!
June 5, 2011 - So, the question is what do Puerto Ricans typically eat for breakfast? Probably the same thing that everyone else eats, more or less, since cultures seem to be meshing together now a days. But if you ask about traditional, that's another story.
Traditionally islanders start with a very hot and strong up of Espresso, often Latte (with boiled foamy milk - always whole milk) and maybe sugar. What is the preferred brand? Almost anything local, but New Yorkers like Bustelo. I prefer Café Yaucano. Most often this is accompanied by warm, freshly baked buttered French bread. In the old days however, the meal included baked batatas (Caribbean sweet potatoes, which are a bit different than what we eat in the states).
Mami Ana, my abuela prepared fried amarillos with fried eggs for Papi Domingo, my abuelo. The eggs were soft and Papi would run the fork with amarillos thru the yolk. I make these sometimes.
Omelets in Puerto Rico are known as tortillas or tortillas de huevo. We cook ingredients then add the egg. It does not get stuffed and folded in half. If making a tortilla de huevos, cook the ingredients first and then add the eggs stirring just a bit to spread the egg around. Cover it so the top gets cooked or just flip it over.
Mami Ana often prepared the children a tortilla de guineitos niños (finger-bananas, about 4" in length, rippened). That was delish. My mother would sometimes make us tortilla de guineitos maduros (rippened banana and eggs). These tortillas are delicious.
For my family I like to prepare a tortilla made with diced bacon, onions, bell peppers, green sliced olives with pimentos, and diced tomatoes. Sometimes I add diced cooked potatoes (Spanish style), and sometimes I add chopped cilantro.