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Archive for the ‘Sauces’ Category

I use this basic tomato sauce for many dishes including as a dipping sauce for mozzarella sticks, fried calamari, for meat or eggplant lasagna, spaghetti with meatballs, penne all’arrabiatta, vodka sauce, pizza sauce, soups and Mom’s one-pot-spaghetti among others.  It is very simple and versatile, just use your imagination.

Enjoy!

Basic Tomato Sauce

(yields 3 cups)

Ingredients

2  14 1/2 ounce cans of diced tomatoes

1 tsp dried oregano or italian seasoning herb mix

1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt (up to 2 tsp if you want)

Procedure

1.  Puree tomatoes in blender or with hand blender. Add to a small saucepan and simmer for about 15 minutes in med-low heat with herbs and salt. for a spicy sauce add a generous pinch of peperoncini or red pepper flakes.

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Tostones, twice fried green plantains or breadfruit (pana) patties, are a staple in caribbean cuisine and often served as a side dish, appetizer or snack.  They are called “patacones” or “tachinos” in some south american countries and can be made fresh or nowadays they also come frozen. Some people season them with plain salt, garlic mojito or mayo-ketchup, but I like to serve with this sauce which I call Mojito Caribeño.  All you need is a sharp knife to finely chop ingredients and a mortar and pestle to bring it all together.  This dipping sauce has a strong aroma and irresistible flavor. Simply spread over tostones and enjoy.  If you want to make it spicy, add a pinch of red pepper flakes or a few drops of “pique” (hot sauce).

click here to print recipe

Mojito Caribeño

Ingredients

2 large culantro leaves (recao) finely chopped

2 garlic cloves

1 tsp very finely chopped yellow onion

1 tsp very finely chopped cubanel or green pepper

scant 1 tsp salt

pepper to taste

1 tsp vinegar

pinch of ground cumin

pinch of dried oregano

4 tbsp tomato sauce

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp lemon juice

Procedure

1.  In a mortar and pestle (pilón) mash garlic with some of the salt.

recao- culantro leaves

2.  Add finely chopped culantro (recao), onions and green pepper.  Mash with the pestle.

3.  Add cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Mash a bit more to create a coarse paste.

4.  Add vinegar, tomato sauce, olive oil and lemon juice and stir with a spoon until all ingredients are incorporated.  Serve with tostones de platano o pana (fried plantains or breadfruit).  Refrigerate if you have any leftovers.

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Béchamel sauce is one of the “mother sauces” in french cuisine. It is traditionally made by whisking scalded milk (milk heated up to 180º f )  gradually into a white “roux” (look for recipe under cooking basics). It is mainly used in French, Italian and Greek dishes. Also, used as the base for other sauces like Mornay sauce, which is Béchamel with Gruyére cheese or any other cheese. Croquettes, lasagnas, some french sandwiches among others, are some of the recipes that include Béchamel Sauce.

This is my version of Béchamel sauce.

Enjoy!

Béchamel Sauce

Ingredients

Roux (click here to go to cooking basics and find the roux recipe)

1 1/2 cup milk

1 cup heavy cream

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

pepper to taste

Procedure

1.  Prepare roux.

2.  Meanwhile, pour milk and heavy cream into a sauce pan and heat. Do not let milk and cream to boil, just warm up.

3.  Whisk scalded milk-cream mixture into roux.

4.  Add seasonings and use immediately.

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Marinara Sauce

Marinara Sauce is mainly used for pasta, but it can also be used as the basis or complement for many other dishes like lasagna, vodka sauce, fried calamari and veal parmigiana among others.  Since making fresh marinara sauce is so easy, you have no excuse to make it homemade every time! Many of you might think I am crazy, but give it a try.  Its so light and tasty and fresh that I haven’t bought a commercial marinara sauce in years (well… maybe once. Ja!).

Marinara derives from the italian word “marinaio”  which means from the sea or sailor. From what I have read, it was often served to sailors in Naples with pasta as a welcome back meal from fishing or travel. Of course this was after the Spaniards had introduced tomatoes to the European diet from the New World. It does not necessarily include fruits of the sea, but you can serve with sauté shrimp or add anchovies if you like.   Sometimes, I like to add a few pinches of red pepper flakes (peperoncino) to make the spicy sauce for penne all’arrabiata (my favorite!!!!).  I always keep in my pantry canned whole peeled tomatoes so that I have at hand “in case of emergency”. They are so versatile! I like the sauce to be “chunky” so I crush the tomatoes with my hands, but if you want the sauce to be more liquid and uniform you can pureé the tomatoes in a blender before adding to the sauce pan.  With “chunky” sauces like this one or bolognese, I use penne pasta, bucatini or any pasta with texture and/or holes so that the ingredients in the sauce fill them up and you get an explosion of flavor in every bite. With white or creamy sauces I like to use flat and/or long pasta or filled pasta.  These are just suggestions and what I usually do, but nothing is written on stone; you can serve as you like.

Here is my recipe for Marinara Sauce.  Enjoy!

Marinara Sauce

This recipe is for about 1 pound of pasta (4 cups of penne) and serves approximately 6 persons.

Ingredients

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 large clove of garlic (minced)

1/4 cup of white or yellow onion (finely chopped)

1/4 cup of carrots (peeled and finely diced)

2 cans of whole peeled tomatoes (14.5 oz each)

1/2 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp of kosher salt

pepper to taste (for cooking the sauce and when serving)

4 or 5 fresh basil leaves (chopped)

Procedure


1.  In a medium saucepan, head extra virgin olive oil (med-low) and add onions and carrots. Sauté for about 5 minutes.

2.  Add garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes.

3.  Add hand crushed tomatoes (or puree tomatoes in a blender if you want the sauce more liquid than chunky), oregano, salt and pepper. Cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

4.  Add basil and cook uncovered for about 5 minutes or until desired consistency has been reached.  Add to pasta. Mix well and serve immediately with fresh grated parmesan cheese. (If preparing as a complement for another recipe, store in refrigerator until ready to use.)

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Guava (guayaba) is a tropical fruit mostly found in Central America, northern South America, South East Asia and the Caribbean.  It has also been naturalized in Hawaii, India and Tropical Africa.  Guava trees give 2 crops a year.  One of the reasons I loved going to Mami Chelo and Papi Bartolo’s (my grandparents on my father side) house as a little girl was because they had a guava tree.  They lived in a two story house with the living areas in the top floor and a garage and a small apartment in the first floor. After my grandparents became “empty nesters”  they decided to rent the apartment  and for many years they had a tenant in the first floor.  Her name was Doña Estefania, a sweet, old, petitte Spanish lady. At the time, I think she was in her late seventies, a widow and lived by herself.  Almost every Sunday, we went to visit my grandparents and the moment Doña Estefanía heard my voice she immediately came out to to say hello and gave me a fruit, most of the time it was a guava fruit from their tree. I loved the smell, the taste and color. The skin was green-yellow, soft when very ripe, a bit bitter at first and the inside dark pink and sweet with hard seeds which I ate too. It is hard to find guavas in the supermarket because they bruise easily and are highly perishable once they reach their ripeness, that’s why not many people have the chance of eating “the real thing”. What most people are used to is guava juice (which I love!) and guava paste which are much sweeter than the actual fruit.

I like to use this sauce as a bbq sauce for baby back ribs, its a nice and sweet contrast as a dipping sauce for the salty gouda cheese balls (see recipe under appetizers) or as a glaze for bbq pork chops. Use your imagination…

Guava and cilantro sauce

Ingredients

10 oz. guava paste (cut into large cubes)

1/4 cup white distilled vinegar

1/3 cup water

1 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro (cilantrillo)

Procedure

1.  Put all ingredients together in a sauce pan and stir constantly over medium-hi heat.

2. Stop stirring once guava paste is melted and incorporated with the liquids.

Enjoy!

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This is a popular dipping sauce in Puerto Rico.  In other places it is called “Salsa Rosa” or Pink Sauce. You may use it to accompany “tostones” or fried green plantains, which my kids love.  Also, it is used to dip “sorullitos de maiz” or corn fritters. In some restaurants, I have seen that they use this sauce to accompany the shrimp and avocado salad or to dip boiled prawns. It is easy to make and versatile. The possibilities are endless.

Mayo-Ketchup dipping sauce

Ingredients

1 part ketchup

3 parts mayonnaise

Procedure

1.  Blend ingredients with a spoon until all mayonnaise lumps are gone. Place in a small bowl and serve as dipping sauce or over cold cooked shrimp. To give it a little kick,  you may add mashed garlic and finely chopped fresh “culantro” (recao). Or if you wish, you may add “pique” (hot sauce).  Refrigerate leftovers.

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