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Archive for the ‘snacks’ Category

Barrigas de Vieja means “the belly of an old lady”, because they are flabby, soft and without a consistent shape. I know its a funny name, but these sweet pumpkin fritters are truly delicious. They are also called “tortitas de calabaza”.  I grew up having these fritters sometimes as a snack or appetizer before dinner.  My mother and grandmother are experts making them.  You can make the batter the day before and refrigerate until ready to use.  Most recipes call for the pumpkin to be boiled, but I prefer to steam it in order to keep most of its nutrients and to avoid the pumpkin pieces to absorb too much liquid.  I find this method yields a better consistency. Wether  you call this fruit (has seeds inside and is the fruit of a flower) pumpkin, squash, calabaza, zapallo or auyama, you will find it is very versatile and can be used for sweet or savory recipes.  Here is my version of Barrigas de Vieja (Sweet Pumpkin Fritters).

Enjoy!

Barrigas de Vieja (Pumpkin Fritters)

Ingredients

4 cups cubed pumpkin (approx. 1×2 inch pieces which end up being about 2 cups once cooked and mashed)

1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup brown sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 egg (beaten)

about 1 cup of canola oil (to cover at least half of fritter)

Procedure


1.  Steam pumpkin until soft.  Puree with a potato masher or with fork. In a small bowl sift flour, cinnamon and salt, set aside.

2.  Add sugar and stir with a spoon. Add dry ingredients from bowl and vanilla. Continue to stir with spoon.

3.  At this point pumpkin mixture should no be too hot. Beat egg and add to mixture.  Stir until fully incorporated.

4.  Heat oil (med or med-hi depending on stove) in large frying pan.  Spoon pumpkin mixture (I use soup spoon) and turn once golden on each side (about 2 minutes each). Set aside in plate with paper towel to drain excess oil. Yields about 2 dozen units. Serve immediately as an appetizer or as a side dish.

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There are so many different recipes for brownies out there that it is a bit overwhelming to look for one in the internet. Everyone claims to have the ultimate brownie recipe. Most people I know are very particular about their standards of what a great brownie should taste like. Some like crumbly, others fudgy, others chewey, others cakey, with nuts, with chocolate chips, with frosting, etc. and the possibilities are endless. Some keep their recipes zealously locked in a “bank safe” so that the “state secret” is not shared with anyone. In conclusion, people are very passionate about brownies! For many years, I have tried hundreds of recipes from books, magazines, friends, tv shows, internet, original experiments I make and I truly think this is one of the best. This recipe is adapted from a recipe in marthastewart.com (chocolate chunk brownies). The original recipe calls for more butter and gives you a choice of various chocolate chunks, but I am a sucker for white chocolate. I admit I haven’t made a boxed brownie mix in probably 10 years. I like to melt the chocolate and the butter and mix with the sugar, eggs and vanilla and finally incorporate the flour. It takes me approximately the same amount of time as with the boxed counterpart. It is pretty easy and fun process which my children love! I always, always, have unsweetened chocolate in my pantry in case I crave homemade brownies on a Sunday afternoon, Je! So I want to share the universal love of brownies with you by posting my version of this delicious recipe.

Enjoy!

Double Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 tsp salt

2 1/2 sticks (1/2 pound plus 4 tbsp) unsalted butter cut into small pieces (more for greasing pan)

7 ounces unsweetened chocolate coarsely chopped or previously melted unsweetened chocolate pouches

2 3/4 cups of granulated sugar

4 large eggs

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup white chocolate chips (small drops)

Procedure


1. Preheat oven 350ºF. Line a 12×17 inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper and grease with butter or cooking spray, including sides. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

2. Melt butter and chocolate in bain-marie or double boiler and remove from heat as soon as they have melted and formed a smooth mixture. Set aside and let cool a little. Then transfer to a bowl and beat with the sugar with the whisk attachment of an electric mixer for about 3 minutes in medium speed. Stop, add vanilla and mix for 1 minute. Continue mixing at medium speed and add eggs, one at a time. Stop, scrape bottom with spatula. Bring speed to low and add flour mixture in small batches just until almost fully incorporated with chocolate mixture (do not over beat!!!!).

3. Fold in white chocolate chips. Pour batter into jelly roll pan and spread evenly with spatula. Bake at 350ºF for 20 minutes until brownies have just set. Take out of oven and let cool completely before cutting. I cut with metal spatula instead of with knife. I find it makes a nicer and cleaner cut.

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One of the best investments I have made for my “batterie de cuisine” is buying a good mandoline.  A mandoline is a kitchen utensil used for slicing, julienne or crinkle cut vegetables. One of the many advantages is the speed and uniformity in the thickness in which slicing can be done with very little effort.  I like to use mine to thinly slice cucumbers to make these refreshing and crunchy finger sandwiches. I bring them to a friend’s house for a ladies luncheon, school events and a few days ago made them for a league tennis match.  Always a big success!  Don’t forget to place a damp paper towel on bottom and on top of the tray in order to keep them moist and fresh.  I am only mentioning ingredients and procedure without quantities because it all depends on how many people you will be feeding.

Enjoy!

Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

Ingredients

whole wheat club sandwich bread

thinly sliced fresh cucumber

mayonnaise

finely chopped fresh cilantro

Procedure


1.  With a serrated bread knife, neatly cut club bread’s crust.

2.  Cut cucumber very, very thin with a mandoline.

3.  Spread mayonnaise on two pieces of bread and cover one side with two layers of cucumbers and the other with finely chopped cilantro.

4. Place pieces of bread together and cut into 3 “sticks”. Keep refrigerated.

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Sandwichitos de Mezcla- Pimento and cheese sandwich spread

These sandwiches are a must at birthday parties and school activities in Puerto Rico.  It is easy and savory and totally addictive for kids and their parents! Here I will post my recipe and a variation.  I have made both for many years and both have a “cult following”.  It is also great for picnics or as a snack on boat trips.  I usually cut them into squares or triangles but if you want to be creative, first cut bread with cookie cutters like circles or flowers (4 out of every slice) and put mixture in piping bags to make cute bite size sandwiches.  Also, you can make themed sandwiches like the ones I made for my daughter’s kindergarten Halloween party (these are a larger size).



Note:  Make sure you store the sandwiches between two layers of damp paper towel (top and bottom of tray) and cover with lid or foil paper so that the bread stays soft, specially if refrigerated overnight.

Enjoy!

Sandwichitos de Mezcla- Pimento and cheese sandwich spread

Ingredients

16 ounces Velveeta cheese (or Longhorn style cheddar cheese or queso de papa) cubed

1  (12 ounce) can of Spam cubed

7 ounces can of pimentos (including liquid)

1/2 medium onion

variation

1 cup of Kraft sandwich spread (This is optional. My original recipe has only the first four ingredients but some people like to add this spread to the mixture or use it as a substitute of the Spam if you want it without ham)

Procedure



1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse a few times in the beginning and then continuously for a few minutes until a smooth paste forms. (enough mixture for about 2 pounds of club bread)

2.  Spread on club sandwich bread to make sandwich and cut corners with serrated knife. Cut into squares or triangles. Refrigerate any leftovers.

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One of my favorites snacks is homemade Mexican Salsa (Pico de Gallo) with chips. It is colorful, refreshing, savory and crispy. Also, it is very easy to make.  Coming from a family that never cooked or ate spicy (hot) food while I was growing up, as an adult I have become a spicy food lover wether it is in Mexican, Japanese, Peruvian, Thai or Indian food among others. My husband and kids love it too!  This salsa is a great complement to avocado salad, “cielito lindo”, tacos, burritos and nachos. Please, be very careful when handling hot peppers. Try not to touch with your fingers, use a paper towel to hold them, and if you do touch them, wash hands thoroughly. Do not touch your eyes or nose in a few hours after you have been in contact with them. The seeds of these peppers are very strong so remove and discard carefully at the beginning. Do not put your nose or eyes anywhere near them!!!!!!  Remember, this is my version of mexican salsa, let me know about your comments and ideas

Enjoy!

Mexican Salsa

Ingredients

3 medium sized tomatoes seeded and chopped

juice of 1/2 lime

2 tbsp of finely chopped red onion

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp chopped cilantro (tightly packed)

1 finely chopped habanero or jalapeño pepper (optional) CAREFULLY REMOVE SEEDS!

Procedure

1.  Mix all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving to allow flavors settle or until ready to serve.  Serve with good quality “totopos” or nacho chips.  Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

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