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Archive for June, 2010

Arroz con Amarillos is nothing more than my Arroz con Cilantro recipe with fried sweet plantains, but boy, what a difference they make! YUMMY! Savory and sweet in every bite!  Plantains can be cooked green or ripe. Amarillos (what ripe plantains are called in Puerto Rico) or plátanos maduros (like they are called in other latin american countries)  are a staple dish in most tropical countries around the world.  They can be steamed, boiled, baked, grilled or fried. Nowadays,  fried plantains (green or ripe) come frozen and ready to eat, but of course, it is much better if you find fresh ripe sweet plantains. In order for the plantain to be sweet it must be yellow with black patches on the outside.  Green plantains, used for tostones, mofongo (mashed) or chips (mariquitas or platanutres), are “starchy” like potatoes and seasoned with salt, bacon, onions or broth.  On the other hand, sweet plantains, used for piononos and pastelón,  are naturally sweet and need no seasoning and go great to accompany savory/salty meals. When I use the frozen kind to make this rice, I thaw them and saute in a skillet with a bit of butter. If I make it with fresh ripe plantains I don’t add the butter since they are coated with the vegetable oil in which they have been fried.  When I make  this rice dish people always come back for more. My friend Alexandra loves this kind of rice! I have offered it to our guests in Thanksgiving with our traditional whole fried turkey as well as with Filet Mignon, Prime Rib or New York Strip.  Also, great with a side salad or sauteed veggies.

Enjoy!

Arroz con Amarillos

Ingredients

Arroz con Cilantro Recipe

3 ripe sweet plantains or 2 boxes of frozen Goya sweet plantains (11 ounce each)

Procedure


1.  If using frozen plantains, thaw and saute in about 2 tbsp of butter over med-hi heat.  If using fresh ripe plantains, slice very ripe plantains about 1/2 inch thick and fry over med-hi heat in canola or vegetable oil until golden brown.

2.  Cube fried plantains and stir into cooked rice.

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This is one of my favorite pastas! I have been preparing it for soooo long, I think I can make it with my eyes closed by now.  Linguine alla Carbonara is easy to prepare but must be eaten immediately! Make sure you have all the side dishes ready and served when you prepare it so that you can eat it hot.  If you can, heat the serving plates a little before serving. Pancetta and pecorino cheese are very savory so no salt needs to be added. I use whole wheat pasta and organic eggs when possible.

Last week, while I was in Miami, I invited over for dinner my good friend from college, Axel, who lives there.  I made the Brown Sugar Pork Tenderloins with this pasta and the reviews were fabulous!  This recipe is the traditional way to make it (eggs, pancetta and cheese), but there are many variations. I never order this dish when dining out because you never know what you are going to get.  Some restaurants make it with cream sauce, I guess because 1. it is safer (it is risky eating raw eggs) 2.  appearance (cream sauce just looks nicer and more appetizing) and 3. it is just plain easier. You  may put the eggs in boiling water for a little less than a minute to reduce risk of bacteria. Immediately take them out and run them under cold water. Crack them and put them in a bowl and whisk together, then add cheese.  One last thing, if you want to give it some color and a nice twist add sweet green peas. Here is my version of Linguine alla Carbonara.

Linguine alla Carbonara

Ingredients

1/2 pound of pancetta thinly sliced and diced (use bacon if you can’t find pancetta)

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter

3 eggs (room temperature)

1 pound of linguine

3 hand fulls of grated pecorino romano (about 1/3 pound or 3/4 cup)

pepper to taste

fresh parmesan cheese for garnish

Procedure

1.  Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan.  Add salt and some olive oil.

2.  Add tbsp olive oil to skillet (medium-hi heat) and saute pancetta until golden brown (do not let it become too crispy).

3.  Add pasta to boiling water.  Meanwhile, beat eggs with a whisk and add cheese to create a lumpy mixture almost like yogurt. If it is too liquid, add more pecorino cheese.

4.  Drain pasta and toss with pancetta (including fat) and butter.

5.  Immediately, add pasta and pancetta to egg/cheese mixture and toss to coat evenly. The hot pasta and pancetta will melt cheese and cook eggs. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve at once.

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I know this might not be a pretty dish to photograph, but trust me it is very good. We all want to make recipes that are both tasty as well as convenient.  This recipe is inspired by my brother’s mother in law, Inés. A few years ago, I went to visit my brother and she had just arrived with a succulent homemade chicken pie.   She was kind enough to offer me a slice and I must tell you it was absolutely delicious!  She explained to me how she made it and which ingredients she used. The following week, I made my own version and the results were pretty good.  I had tried chicken pie before, but most of the time they had either a creamy or gelatinous sauce.  This version has a veggie-tomato sauce that adds more flavor and the potatoes give it structure.

Later on, I improved my technique when my father in law passed away and my mother in law came to live with us for a while. For many months, she received visits from friends that wanted to accompany her in this time of grief.  During this period, I always had Chicken Pie in the fridge for unexpected visitors which I re-heated in the microwave and served as a light lunch or mid-afternoon snack with a side of salad.  Most of the visitors asked for more.

This dish is also a great alternative for picnics and boat trips.  I bake it at home and cover it with foil paper and plastic wrap, then serve at room temperature or re-heat it in the oven or microwave a few days later.  Here is my version of Savory Chicken Pot Pie.

Enjoy!

Savory Chicken Pie

Ingredients

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 large chicken breasts cut in strips seasoned with salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 medium golden potato peeled and cubed (1×1 inch)

1 carrot peeled and finely sliced

1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion

1 garlic clove minced

1 tbsp cubanel or green pepper

1 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes (pureed)

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 cup sweet green peas frozen

2 pie crusts for nine inch pie dish ( I use Pillsburry brand or make your own)

egg wash optional

Procedure


1.  In a med-large saute pan, heat oil med-high.  Add seasoned chicken breasts to sear and brown a little. This will take a few minutes.

2.  Add wine to deglaze pan and add potatoes.  Bring heat to medium.

3.  Immediately, add carrots, onions, garlic and green peppers.  Saute  until onion is transluscent.

4.  Add pureed tomatoes, salt and oregano and cover for 20 minutes (in med-low heat) or until potatoes are tender when you press with a fork. Add sweet green peas and stir for a few minutes. Set aside.  Tip: Check a few times to make sure it doesn’t dry out. If so add more water.


5.  Heat oven at 425º F.  Place bottom of pie crust for a 9 inch pie dish in diameter and fill with chicken/vegetable “stew”. Bring sides in. Carefully place top of pie and press down to close “lid” of pie. Cut slits with a sharp knife to vent. Egg wash is optional.

6.  Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown. You may refrigerate up to 1 week.

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Argentinian Empanadas are filled dumplings or turnovers made of wheat flour and lard  that can be fried or baked. I have found a brand of dough that has both options called Fargo.  Fillings vary from region to region and they may include sauteed and cubed churrasco, cheese, ground beef, chorizo, fish or spinach among others.   They are very similar to Puertorican “empanadillas” or “pastelillos” which are always fried.  Here I am including two versions: 1. cheese with sweet onion and 2. beef.  The cheese with sweet onions takes a little time to make the filling but its worth it because they turn out so good. Be generous with the cheese.  I have read that in order for the empanadas not to open while they are being baked, besides closing them properly, is to cook them cold, as from the refrigerator. The beef empanadas are made of picadillo with raisins and you will probably have left overs when you fill the 16 dough disks that come in the package.  The left overs can be used for more empanadas or serve as a side dish to white or brown rice. I personally don’t like to add the hard boiled eggs, but I know a lot of people that love it, so thats why I include it as optional.  Empanadas are great appetizers or snacks. Here is my version of Empanada Argentina.

Enjoy!

Cheese and Onion Empanada

Ingredients

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 large vidalia or sweet onion

2 cups shredded mozzarella

1 tbsp dry marsala wine

1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar

1 tbsp finely chopped parsley

16 empanada/turnover dough disks for oven (5 inches in diameter) I use Fargo brand

1 egg (beaten for egg wash)

Procedure

1. Pre-heat oven 400º F. (or follow turnovers dough manufacturer instructions)

2.  Cut onion in half and thinly slice it. Cut slices in half.

3.  In a small frying pan, heat extra-virgin olive oil (medium) and sauté onions with salt and pepper to taste. Once they start to become translucent, add Marsala wine and sugar and continue to saute until liquid is reduced and almost gone. Set aside and let cool.

4.  Place about 1 tbsp of onion, a little over 1 tbsp of shredded mozzarella cheese and sprinkle of parsley in middle of empanada dough disc.

5.  Close empanada to form a half moon bringing sides up and pressing with your fingers to crumple from the outside in, like a hobo bag or to form “pleats”.  Another way to close empanada is to lay half moon flat and by pressing with a fork.

6.  Place empanadas in a jelly roll pan that has been greased with a little of olive oil. I have an olive oil sprayer.  Place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.

7.  Just before placing in the oven, apply the egg wash and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Beef Empanada

Ingredients

Picadillo recipe

1/2 cup of raisins

optional: 2 hard boiled eggs finely chopped

Procedure

1.  Make picadillo with raisins.  When done, mix in finely chopped hard boiled eggs.  Let cool picadillo mixture and start to fill empanadas.

2.  Follow steps 5, 6 and 7 from Cheese and sweet onion empanada recipe.

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My Arroz con Pollo recipe is influenced by a mixture of recipes and tips I have picked up along the way and is the result of trials and errors in the kitchen. Arroz con Pollo is a one pot dish that feeds a large group and is excellent to make on a Sunday afternoon for a late lunch/early dinner.  Sometimes we have unexpected guests on weekends and we usually make this dish. Easy, simple and delicious. Everyone gathers around the kitchen area and is enthralled with the aromas that fill the house while this dish is being made. This Arroz con Pollo has a distinct flavor which makes it special and different.   The result is a “wet rice” similar to a Paella.  You may use a whole chicken or boneless chicken breasts.  It serves approximately 12  persons.

Enjoy!

Arroz con Pollo

Ingredients

1/2 cup canola oil

6 chicken breasts cut into 1×2 inch filets or 2 whole chicken (cut in pieces)

1 tsp of adobo

3 cloves of garlic minced

1 large onion finely chopped

1 cubanel pepper finely chopped

2 cans of whole pimentos pureed (7 oz each)

4 oz tomato sauce

2 tbsp juice of naranja agria (bitter orange) OPTIONAL

2 tbs salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 bay leaves (hoja de laurel)

4  generous cups of extra long grain rice

2 cans of Pilsner or light yellow beer (12 oz each)

generous pinch of saffron threads (add to beer and allow to bloom for about 15 minutes)

2 cups chicken stock

8 oz petit pois (green peas)

1 can of asparagus spears 15 oz

Procedure:

1.  Season chicken pieces with adobo.  In a large caldero or heavy bottom saute pan heat oil (med-hi) and saute chicken brown it a little.

2.  Add onions, garlic and peppers and saute until trasluscent.

3.  Add bay leaves, salt, pepper, pureed pimentos, tomato sauce and bitter orange and saute for about 10 minutes.

4.  Add rice and mix with all ingredients.

5.  Add beer and saffron mixture along with chicken stock and cook uncovered until liquid evaporates. Stir with a slotted spoon.

6.  Bring heat to low and cover to cook until done.  Once the rice grain is tender decorate with green peas, asparagus and slices of pimentos and cover again for about 5 minutes. Turn heat off and serve.

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As a young girl my grandmother Ita would make Mantecaditos for me every time she came to visit from Ponce, the southern part of the island.  I learned to make her recipe, a variation of  Carmen Aboy Valdejully’s cookbook Cocina Criolla.  Ita would alter the recipe and substitute vanilla for the almond extract and place guava paste pieces on top of the Mantecaditos instead of maraschino cherries.

This is a recipe that everyone in Puerto Rico should have.  Mantecaditos are a constant at birthday parties and served as a snack or to accompany coffee or tea. They are the equivalent of the Italian Wedding Cookies, shortbread,  thumbprints cookies and polvorones in other parts of the world.  It took me a while to come up with this recipe, but now I have perfected it and people love my Mantecaditos.  I make them for school activities, gifts, birthday parties and my family is crazy about them.  It is easy to make and my children help me in the process. You may also divide the dough and add a little food coloring if you want to make them in different colors.

Enjoy!

Mantecaditos

Ingredients

makes 40 units

1/3 cup almonds (grounded in food processor)

1/2 cup (8 tbsp)  vegetable shortening (cold)

1/4 pound salted butter (one stick, cold)

3/4 cups granulated sugar

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1  1/2 tsp pure almond extract

selection of  toppings: multicolor nonpareils (grajeas de colores), cinnamon sugar, colored sugar crystals, guava paste or maraschino cherries (halved). Also, you may dredge in super fine sugar (10×10) while still hot to make a sugar coating.

Procedure

1.  Preheat oven 350ºF.

2.  Place almonds in a food processor an pulse until finely grounded.

3.  Add butter, vegetable shortening, sugar, pure almond extract and flour to finely chopped almonds in food processor and pulse until all ingredients are incorporated.  Finish kneading mixture by hand in a bowl.

4.  Measure a scant tablespoon and start making tiny balls with your hands (about the size of cherry tomatoes) and place in baking pan about 1 inch apart (I use a 12×17 inch jelly roll pan).

5.  Once you have finished making the balls,  make a “dent” in the middle of each ball gently (like thumbprint cookies, just that I don’t use my thumb I use my middle finger, but use whatever finger makes you happy.) Use your other hand to hold the dough so that you don’t make too many cracks in the sides while pressing down.

alternate guava paste topping

6.  Fill “dent” with nonpareils or the toping you wish to use.

7.  Bake for 20 minutes at 350º F.  Remove from oven and leave in the pan for about 15 minutes to cool down.  Store in air tight container.

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