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Posts Tagged ‘puerto rico’

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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Beans are a great source of protein, complex carbohydrates (the good carbs that give energy to brain and muscles) and dietary fiber.  Also, beans have the “good fat” your body needs and a low glycemic index, meaning they have the ability to give you energy over a sustained period of time by slowly releasing its nutrients into your blood stream. In Latin American and Caribbean dinner tables, beans are always present.  Most of the time they are stewed or refried.  I really like my version of three bean salad which is easy, healthy and full of flavor.   Also, beans are inexpensive and easy to store for long periods of time (canned or dry). I use organic canned beans when I find them. Serve this salad with your favorite lettuce, baby greens or over toasted bread as quick snack like a “bruschetta tre fagioli”.  They always taste better the next day when the flavors settle! Be mindful I add olive oil and not extra-virgin olive oil. My aunt Evamari makes a wicked three bean salad similar to this one.  Keeps in the fridge for about a week.

Enjoy!

Three Bean Salad

Ingredients

1 15.5 ounce canned black beans

1 15.5 ounce canned pink beans

1 15.5 ounce canned chickpeas

4 tbsp coarsely chopped cilantro

4 tbsp finely chopped red onion

2 fresh garlic cloves minced

2 tbsp finely chopped red bell pepper

2 tsp fine sea salt

pinch ground cumin

pinch smoked sweet paprika

2 cups of olive oil

pepper to taste

Procedure

1.  Open cans and drain beans in colander.  In a large bowl, mix all ingredients and refrigerate.  Serve with green salad, alone or over toasted bread.

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Sangria is the best antidote for a hot summer afternoon.  My recipe has never let me down and is always a great success when I prepare for my guests. Easy, refreshing, not overly sweet and mild alcohol content.  This drink can be served in a pitcher, punchbowl or a classic beverage dispenser with spigot.  I usually make it in large quantities because in Puerto Rico, Sangria is a very popular drink and people would drink Sangria over beer or hard liquor anytime.  Here, most informal family restaurants offer Sangria as part of their menu. The important thing is to make it fresh! If you choose to make it ahead of time, prepare the mixture and leave out the lemon soda and ice until the moment you are going to serve.  For best results choose a young, fruity, unoaked, inexpensive wine. Most of the time, I buy and inexpensive wine from the Rioja region in Spain made from Tempranillo grapes, but you may use a French boujolais, Italian dolcetto or lambrusco.  My suggestion is that you serve over ice instead of adding the ice to the mixture so that it doesn’t become diluted.

This wine punch typical of Spain has been popularized in many countries in the Caribbean and Latin America.  A similar version known as Sangaree can be found in the West Indies.  There is also a simpler variant of Sangria called “Tinto de verano” ( red wine of summer or wine spritzer) which is part wine, part “gaseosoa” (a mixture of carbonated water and lemon juice) garnished with lemon slice.  I like to make this version when I am on the boat because it is so simple to make and you know that boat kitchens have limited space.  There are hundreds of recipes depending on the regions, the ingredients at hand and the preferences and creativity of the person preparing the Sangria.  However, what makes a Sangria a Sangria is that it has all of the following:  young fruity red wine, chopped or sliced fruit, fruit juice,  sweetener and a small amount of liqueur like brandy or Cointreau.  In addition, most Sangria recipes add carbonated lemon soda.  Here is my version of Sangria!

Salud!

Sangria

Ingredients

1 bottle of young, dry, inexpensive red wine (750 ml)

1 1/2 cups of orange juice

1/4 cup sugar

4 tbsp Cointreau, Grand Manier, Brandy or Rum

1 can of Lemon Sierra Mist, Sprite or 7-up, 11.27 ounces (If you don’t have any of these make a mixture of “gaseosa”, made with sparking water and fresh lemon juice)

1/2 red apple (diced and diced)

1/2 orange (thinly sliced and halved)

1/2 half a yellow lemon (thinly sliced and halved)

ice

Procedure

1.  With a large spoon, mix all ingredients in a large pitcher, punchbowl or beverage dispenser with spigot a few hours before serving to allow flavors to settle.  If you are going to make it ahead of time, leave out lemon soda and add just before your serving.  Serve Sangria over ice.

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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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“San Isidro, labrador, quita el agua y pon el sol.”  This is a phrase that Catholic farmers in spanish speaking countries say to one of agriculture’s patron Saints when they want the rain to go away and the sun to come out.  This summer in Puerto Rico it has been raining a lot as opposed to bright sunny days typical of the season. The weather has been crazy, like in many parts of the world, and we have missed the traditional trips to the beach. For us, the best comfort food for a rainy day is Asopao.  A stew made of chicken or seafood with rice which is heartier than a traditional chicken soup. I usually accompany my Asopao with a side of avocado and tostones (fried green plantains).  So, for those of you that will be sequestered in your homes during this weekend (due to the rain or the cold), here is my recipe for Asopao de Pollo (Chicken Asopao).

Enjoy!

Asopao de Pollo

Ingredients

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

6 drum sticks or large chicken wings (season with a little adobo or salt and pepper)

1/2 cup of yellow onion finely chopped

1/4 cup cubanel or green pepper finely chopped

3 garlic cloves minced

6 grape tomatoes chopped or 1 small tomato chopped

1 recaito frozen cube homemade or 1 1/2 tbsp store bought recaito

10 spanish olives stuffed with pimento (manzanilla olives)

1/2 cup of dry white wine

1/4 cup tomato sauce

1  can (7 0z.) pureed pimientos morrones (roasted red bell peppers in brine)

1/2 tbsp fine sea salt

2 cups of good quality chicken broth

3 cups of water

1 potato diced or 6 baby potatoes peeled and cut in half

3/4 cup of white rice or parboiled rice

1/2 cup frozen sweet green peas

Procedure

1.  In a med-large heavy bottom sauce pan, heat olive oil (med) and saute the seasoned pieces of chicken. About 5-8 minutes.

2.  Add onions and green pepper and saute for about 3 minutes.

3. Add minced garlic and saute for about 3 more minutes.

4.  Add recaito ice cube, tomatoes, olives and tomato sauce. Saute for about 5 minutes.

5.  Add white wine, pureed pimentos and salt. Let simmer for about 5 minutes.

6.  Add chicken broth, water and potatoes. Let stew simmer for 25 minutes covered.

7.  Add 1 cup of rice and cook for 15 minutes covered.

8.  Add sweet green peas and cook for 5 more minutes covered. At this point add more water if you want the Asopao to have a more liquid.  Serve with side of tostones and avocado.

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In a few weeks I will be attending a family reunion of the Arbona side of the family. My great-grandfather came to Puerto Rico from Mallorca, in the Balearic Islands (Spain) in the late 1800’s.  In short, he went back, got married, had his children and they returned to Puerto Rico due to the Spanish Civil War during the 1930’s.  We are a large group! (one of my great-uncles had 10 children, they all had children and their children have children, etc.).  In honor of this gathering,  I got inspired to publish my recipe for Ensaimada Mallorquina.

To give you a little background, Ensaimada is a typical sweet bread from the island of Mallorca .  They are usually large (about 12 inches in diameter) and sometimes filled with fruit preserves, “angel hair” (pumpkin confit), sobreasada, almond puree, cream or apricots.  For hundreds of years, like many countries in South America, Puerto Rico had a large group of immigrants that came from different parts of Spain (including the beautiful island of Mallorca) looking for work, fortune and a better quality of life. My grandfather, Papi Bartolo was one of them. Therefore, Puertorican culture is highly influenced by the traditions of many different regions of Spain.

In Puerto Rico there is a version of Ensaimada called “mallorca”, like the island of its origin. It is usually the size the palm of my hand, so no wonder as a little girl, I was in awe of the size of Ensaimadas on my visits to Mallorca.  Also, they can be found in every bakery shop in Puerto Rico and even American fast food restaurants have incorporated it in their breakfast menus to adapt to the tastes of the locals. However, although they have a similar shape, they are not rolled up twice like traditional ensaimadas and its dough is more similar in texture to “brioche” (flaky french bread) or challah bread, depending on the place where you buy them.  The most popular mallorcas in Puerto Rico are the ones from La Bombonera in Old San Juan (to me the closest texture to ensaimada in PR) and from Panaderia Pepin (absolutely delicious, but not similar in texture) in Guaynabo and San Juan.

The name ensaimada comes from the arabic word “saim”, which means pork lard.  The first accounts of ensaimadas are from 17th century writings.  There were not written recipes to make ensaimadas. However, there was a method.  According to Mallorcan Web,  ” to explain how ensaimadas were made 200 years ago and nowadays is one and the same thing. The process is completely artisan and can take up to 24 hours to complete. To make the dough old measures are still used: almudes and ounces. To get some idea, in Mallorca an almud of dough contains a kilo of sugar, a dozen eggs, a liter of water and all the ‘strong’ flour it can take (thereby is the secret, no measurement for the flour!). To these ingredients yeast is added which can be either natural yeast or in powder form, and the kneading starts. In former times this was done by hand. Although nowadays machines are used, to do so by hand the dough is placed in a bowl and kneaded until it is soft. After more or less half an hour, it is smooth.” This dough is kneaded and rolled very thinly, then rolled and spiraled to form the traditional shape of an ensaimada which is like the house of a snail.  Lately, I’ve been told that for some reason the ensaimadas that are sold in large boxes at the airport of Palma de Mallorca are not allowed to fly with you on the plane, you have to put it in your suit case and send it through cargo.

Ensaimadas can be served warm or at room temperature for breakfast, as dessert, with coffee or tea or as a snack. They are a bit crusty on the outside and flaky on the inside. Also, you may heat ensaimada that is a few days old in the griddle with butter or ham and cheese like a panini. I had never found a recipe that I felt confident I could follow, but over a year ago I found this recipe in a german website (germans flock to the island of Mallorca in large groups throughout the year) and adapted it.  It is fairly easy to make, just takes time because of the wait to let dough rise.  Remember the oven must be very hot and to use common sense since ovens vary.  I like to let them rise overnight and bake them on a weekend morning for my family to enjoy. Here is my version of Ensaimada de Mallorca.

Enjoy!

Ensaimada de Mallorca

Recipe adapted by:  Aleida L. Arbona from www.deliciousdays.com who adapted it from www.kuechengoetter.de

Ingredients

5 cups bread flour or unbleached all purpose flour

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1 packet dry yeast(2 1/4 tsp) (1 cube fresh yeast)

1 cup warm milk (add a little over one cup)

2 eggs

approx. 2/3 cup pork lard or vegetable shortening

powdered sugar for dusting

Procedure

1.  Mix flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Make well in the center and add 1 packet of dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp) or 1- 40 gram block of fresh yeast (crumbled) , a large pinch of sugar and enough warm milk until the yeast is covered.  Stir the yeast and milk a bit with a fork.  Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let rest for about 15 minutes or until the yeast has bubbles.

2.  Add other ingredients and knead by hand or with your dough hook in your electric stand-up mixing machine.   If the dough is too sticky add a bit more flour.  Cover the bowl again  and let rest in a warm place for at least 30 minutes or until dough has doubled.

3.  Punch it down softly, and place the dough on a well floured surface.  Cut into 10 equal portions and form into neat balls before letting them rest.  Sprinkle with flour and cover with kitchen towel  for at least 30 minutes.

4.  To shape the ensaimadas, flatten dough ball and roll out with a rolling pin (use flour as needed) until you get a thin disc. Brush it generously with lard or vegetable shortening.  Roll up cautiously and set aside on lined baking sheets (either with parchment paper or silicone mats).

5.  Coil up each piece of dough until it resembles the house of a snail tucking the outer end under (some people pull the rolled up dough a bit to make it longer and thiner, but that’s optional). Do so loosely because the spaces will fill up as the dough keeps rising.  Place 5 ensaimadas in a baking sheet, leaving space between them. Lightly brush with lard or shortening and cover up again.  This is the final rise which is done from 4 hours to overnight (you choose, I do it overnight).

6.  To bake, preheat oven 390ºf and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden (do not let brown too much).  Let cook in a wire rack for a few minutes.

7.  Generously dust with powdered sugar

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My sister in law Frances is an expert at improvising in the kitchen.  For more times than I can remember, I have seen her juggle in the kitchen to feed a large group of unannounced guests with delicious homemade meals.  This rice is inspired in one of her trademarks.  She makes it in a rice cooker, but I don’t own a rice cooker so I make it in my caldero, chef’s pan or heavy bottomed sauce pan.  In addition, she uses extra-long grain white rice which I substitute with Jasmine Rice.  It is easy, colorful and a nice twist to traditional white rice. Also, this rice is aromatic and full of flavor. By making little changes like these in everyday meals we get inspired to get out of the routine and explore new possibilities.  Accompany with filet mignon, grilled chicken or bbq ribs.

Enjoy!

Arroz con Pimientos (rice with peppers)

approximately 8 generous servings

Ingredients

4 tbsp (1/2 stick) of butter

1/4 green bell pepper (cubed)

1/4 red bell pepper (cubed)

1/4 yellow bell pepper (cubed)

1/4 cup onions (coarsely chopped)

3 cups jasmine rice

1 tbsp salt

4 1/2 cups of water

Procedure

1.  In a medium size heavy bottom pan or caldero, melt butter (med heat).

2.  Sauté  onions and peppers until onions are translucent.

3.  Add jasmine rice and stir to coat all grains with the melted butter.

4.  Add water and cook uncovered until most of water has evaporated and you can see small holes in the top of rice.

5.  Stir with a slotted spoon or large fork. Reduce heat to low and cover until rice is cooked, about 15-20 more minutes.

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