Posts Tagged ‘recetas’

If you have been following this blog, you already know we are “boat people”.  I grew up spending many weekends and vacations on my father’s boat. The freedom and liberty you feel while navigating the ocean is exhilarating as well as therapeutic. There is something about being in contact with nature, on the open water and a weird mix of vulnerability and control that is hard to describe.  If you haven’t had a boat ride up to now, I encourage you to do so and add it to your bucket list, because it is an experience you shouldn’t miss.

With my dad (I am with lifejacket) and my cousins Anibal, Priscilla and Gretchen. Circa 1978

My brothers Joaco and Manolo taking "boat showers". Circa 1992

"Fancy dinner" at Bitter End Marina 1994 with Lupe and Felo

Making guacamole with my brothers on the boat. 1994

As we were growing up, my brothers and I, enjoyed going to the boat a lot mostly because we like water sports and love the beach, but my parents liked it mostly because it was a chance to sequester us and have us all to themselves on the boat with nowhere to go for the whole weekend. Je, je!   Believe it or not, living in a small space with a group of people for many days in a remote bay or beach, help you acquire skills that will be useful in everyday life. You learn to share limited space with others, to be considerate and tolerant, to pick-up after yourself, about engineering and mechanics, improvising, assume roles, be responsible, respect authority (only one captain!), be safe, look after each other, encourage conversation, live in harmony with your surroundings, negotiate, meet new people, be self-sufficient, and help strangers in need.  All of these qualities are strengthened in “boat life”.

Canito, our mate, with my son 2002





Summer 2010

My parents summer 2010

Among the many great memories I have of that period in my childhood and adolescence, I remember we would get up very early while on the boat and, in order to let my parents sleep a bit more, Canito, our beloved mate for over 15 years, would always make these delicious Eggs on a Nest (Huevo al Nido) for breakfast.  Time passed, we grew up and started families of our own. Eventually, and not surprisingly, I married a “boat person” and I have my own “boat family “.  We still go on boat trips with my parents and my brothers, although now we each have our own. I proudly admit we also sequester our kids on boat trips for quality family time and feed them Eggs on a Nest for breakfast.  I guess some things never change…


Eggs on a Nest (Huevo al Nido)


club sandwich bread (your choice of whole wheat or white)

butter (about 1/2 tsp for each serving)


salt and pepper to taste


1.  Cut out hole in center of bread with a 2 1/2 inch in diameter round cookie or biscuit cutter (for a fun twist, use a heart shaped cookie cutter on Valentine’s day). Save cut-out.

2.  Heat butter in non stick skillet over med-low heat.

3.  Meanwhile, crack egg and pour in a measuring cup or rameking. Set aside.

4.  Once butter is melted and evenly distributed on skillet place bread on skillet and let toast for about a minute.  Pour egg in the center and cover for just 2 minutes.  Flip with a spatula. Cover and let cook for a little under 2 more minutes).

5.  Meanwhile, toast cut-out bread in toaster oven or toaster.

6.  Once ready, season to taste and serve. Dip toasted cut out in middle of egg to eat. Then cut and eat remaining egg and toast as you wish.

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My grandmother Ita always says an “arroz guisado” (stewed rice) is as good as the “sofrito” you make.  In Puerto Rico, sofrito refers to a blend of oil, onions, garlic, aji dulce (sweet peppers), bay leaf, tomato sauce, “alcaparrado” (a blend of manzanilla olives and capers), cubanel and bell peppers, culantro (recao) and sometimes, ham, cilantro, oregano, annatto oil and cumin that is sauteed for a prolonged time to create a base for rice, legumes, soup or stews.  Sofrito has its origins in Mediterranean cuisine and is also popular in Greece, Portugal and Spain.  As a result of colonization and the discovery of the new world, many latin american countries have their own variation of sofrito for each specific region.

Arroz con Salchichas is a popular Puertorrican one pot meal that is inexpensive, simple and savory.  It is sometimes called “the hurricane season diet” because it is easy to prepare over a gas stove, feeds a crowd and its ingredients don’t need refrigeration. It is loved by young and old and is a staple dish in traditional Puertorrican families, comfort food for many and an “antojito” (craving) for expatriates.


Arroz con Salchichas


2 tbsp canola oil (annatto oil can also be used for a deeper red color)

1/4 cup cubanel (pimiento de cocinar) or green pepper finely chopped

1/3 cup yellow onion finely chopped

1 fresh garlic clove minced

1 tbsp red bell pepper finely chopped

2 tsp fine sea salt

2 laurel leaves

1 “recaito ice cube” (about 1 1/2 tbsp store bought recaito)

2 cans vienna sausage coarsely sliced (save brine)

1/4 cup canned sweet corn

2 tbsp alcaparrado (mix of manzanilla spanish olives and capers)

1/2 cup tomato sauce

3 cups medium white rice

3 cups chicken stock


1.  Heat oil (med-low) then add green cubanel pepper, onions, garlic and red pepper. Saute for about 3 minutes.

2.  Add rest of ingredients, except chicken broth and rice, and saute in med low for about 7-8 minutes.

3.  Add rice to sofrito and quickly saute to cover all rice with color.  Then add chicken stock and sausage brine and bring heat to medium.  Let cook uncovered until almost all liquid has evaporated and you see bubbles on top of rice.

4.  Bring heat to low.  Stir with a slotted spoon and continue to cook covered, until rice is done (about 10-12 more minutes).

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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).


Barrigas de Vieja (Pumpkin Fritters)


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)


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.


Three Bean Salad


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


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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