Posts Tagged ‘recipes’

On Monday, it was my son’s 8th birthday so I made this delicious cake for him and our family to celebrate! This is a traditional vanilla birthday cake with meringue frosting.  My father calls it “drunken cake”  because I make the cake syrup with Amaretto di Sarono. To make the frosting, which is in some recipe books called “7 minute frosting”, its better if you have an electric stand-up mixer like Kitchen Aid’s, in order to pour in the frosting syrup while the egg whites are being beaten simultaneously. You can also add food coloring of your choice to give it some color.  I must confess, this cake is so good that I have to give away the leftovers because I am afraid I won’t have the self control of eating it all by myself with a glass of milk. Let me know how it goes…

Traditional Birthday Cake with Meringue Frosting


Cake batter

1/2 pound of butter (2 sticks at room temperature) and a little extra for greasing pan

8 oz. cream cheese (at room temperature)

2 cups of sugar

6  large eggs

2 cups of cake flour (sifted)

1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

Frosting (should be done the day you will serve the cake)

3 egg whites (at room temperature)

dash of salt

frosting syrup (Dissolve 1 cup of sugar + 1/2 cup water+ 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract. Heat until thick in consistency like maple syrup.)

Cake syrup

1/2 cup amaretto, brandy, cognac, rum or your choice of liqueur

1 cup of sugar

1 cup of water


1.  Pre-heat oven at 350º F. In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar with the paddle attachment.  Add cream cheese.   Alternate adding eggs and flour scraping bottom with a spatula occasionally.  Add vanilla at the end. Beat until all ingredients are incorporated.  Do not over beat.

2.  Pour cake batter in a greased (with butter) bundt cake pan. Bake in middle rack for about one hour (check with a toothpick or sharp knife for doneness).

3.  Meanwhile, beat egg whites and dash of salt in an electric mixer in high speed with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form.

4.  Make frosting syrup (Dissolve 1 cup of sugar + 1/2 cup water+ 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract. Heat until thick in consistency like maple syrup about 15-20 min.  Stirring occasionally in med-hi heat.)  Immediately, add to egg whites slowly  in a stream. Continue to whisk in high speed for about 5-8 more minutes. Set aside.

5.  Make cake syrup by heating all ingredients over medium heat just until sugar is completely dissolved in liquid (about 8-10 minutes).  Consistency should be liquid not thick.  Set aside.

6.  Remove cake from oven and let stand for about 10 minutes in cake pan.  Punch holes in the cake with toothpick and slowly pour cake syrup over cake.  Let cool and absorb the cake syrup for at least 30 min.

5.  Remove cake from pan and let cool completely.  Decorate with frosting leave at room temperature in cake dome.



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This is my version of Arancini, or italian rice croquettes filled with mozzarella.  “Arancini” means small oranges in italian.  Sometimes I have leftover risotto alla milanese and I make these delicious appetizers.


Make Risotto alla Milanese recipe

cubed mozzarella (about 1/2 inch squares)

1 egg (lightly beaten)

cracker meal


1.  Once risotto is cool or at room temperature place about 2 tablespoons of risotto in the palm of your hand and flatten to make a small disk about 2 inches in diameter. Place mozzarella in the middle and cover with mixture to make a ball or an oval.

2.  Roll croquette into beaten egg and then into cracker meal.  Set aside.  Fry immediately or refrigerate until ready to fry.

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Risotto alla Milanese

Happy New Year and Happy Three Kings Day!  Best wishes to you and your loved ones and may 2010 be filled with peace, love and health to all.

My first post of the year is the recipe people ask me for the most:  my version of Risotto alla Milanese.

Risotto is a classic dish from Northern Italy where there are plenty of rice paddies.  What makes risotto different from any other rice dish is the process you have to follow in order to release the starch form the rice to create the creamy texture characteristic of the risotto. In a nutshell, what makes a risotto a risotto is:

1. “tostatura” – in which every grain of rice is coated with a film of fat (butter or olive oil)

2.  Add wine and allow to be absorbed completely by the rice

3.  Gradually add stock (hot) and constantly stir with a wooden spoon in order to release the starch from the rice that creates the creamy texture typical of the risotto.

4.  “mantecatura”-  when rice is “al dente” remove from heat  and add cold butter and cheese ( some recipes don’t include cheese)

Often I hear people comment on “how hard risotto is to make”.  I ask them if they have tried making it and usually the answer is no. Let me assure you that’s a misconception. Making risotto takes time… but it is not hard at all!!!  We are so used to the terms “fast food, fast track, microwaveable”, that meals that take more than 3 steps to prepare seem to us like an eternity and too much work.  I love to make this dish for friends and/or family gatherings.  I prepare and measure all ingredients ahead of time in small bowls and keep my recipe card close at hand so that I don’t miss any steps. After you are done with the procedure of the first 5 ingredients, your guests can help do the stirring until it is time for the finishing touches.

This recipe is the basis for almost every risotto you will make.  I am including variations you can make after you master the basic steps.  Buon appetito!

Risotto Milanese


4 tbsp butter (divided in half)

pinch of saffron threads

1/2 white onion finely chopped (I like vidalia or sweet)

1 cup arborio rice

1/2 cup of dry white wine

3 cups of chicken stock (approximately) low sodium and organic if you find it

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup grated Parmegiano-Reggiano cheese

Salt and Pepper to taste


1.  Add saffron threads to white wine to allow the saffron to bloom at least an hour before starting to make risotto. If you don’t have an hour, warm the wine to shorten blooming time.  (FYI Saffron is a water soluble spice and will release its color on water soluble liquids only.)

2.  Heat a heavy bottomed deep sauté pan over medium heat.

3.  Add half the butter to the sauté pan and reserve the rest for the end of the recipe.

4.  Add the onion to the hot butter and sauteé over medium heat until translucent.

5.  Add arborio rice and sauté briefly until the hard amylase center of the rice is visible (white dot).

6.  Add white wine/saffron mixture to the pan and cook until most of the wine is absorbed.

7.  Add the chicken stock approximately one cup at a time. Only add enough stock at one time to barely cover rice grains.  Stir slowly until the liquid is mostly absorbed.  Continue adding stock until the rice has reached the desired consistency. Unlike regular rice, the risotto should still have a center that is slightly firm to the tongue.

8.  When rice is almost done, add heavy cream and allow to become absorbed.

9.  Remove pan from heat, add in the remaining butter, parmesan cheese and season to taste with salt and fresh ground pepper. Serve immediately.




NOTE:  Add ingredients when you start adding stock.

1.  Pumpkin and green asparagus Risotto:  To the Risotto alla Milanese recipe, add 1/2 cup of diced pumpkin and 1/2 cup of fresh green asparagus cut in 2 inch pieces.  If you wish you can substitute chicken stock for vegetable stock.

2.  Mushroom Risotto:  Add 1/2 cup of porcini mushrooms (soak for an hour in water to reconstitute; discard water)  or other fresh mushrooms.  Substitute chicken stock with beef stock.

3.  Lobster Risotto:  Add 1 cup of fresh lobster tail cut into 2 inch pieces. Substitute chicken stock for seafood or vegetable stock.

Tip:  If cooking for guests, cut and measure ingredients ahead of time and leave them ready in prep bowls ready for cooking time.

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This week I am making an early posting because on wednesday we are going away on vacation to Colorado for New Year’s Celebration.  The kids are very excited and looking forward to making snow angels and of course skiing.  It’s a good change for us form the constant heat in Puerto Rico (although I am sure by the end of our vacation we will be more than happy to return to the warm sun in the island).

Last week I got together with some of my dear lifelong girlfriends. We try to see each other as often as possible but family life, work, school and different zip codes don’t always allow us that pleasure.  At the request of two of the “girls” that were simultaneously visiting the island for the holidays, we had a “mother and daughter happy hour” in which our moms and us sipped champagne and snacked on my famous fried gouda cheese balls (bolitas de queso fritas).  We had a wonderful time sharing stories, remembering the “good old days”  and catching up on life.

This appetizer is always a hit! What more can I tell you… I love fritters! But not only is this appetizer tasty, but you can make it ahead of time, freeze it, and fry it whenever you have unexpected guests or for an impromptu gathering.  It is a simple and easy recipe and doesn’t take a lot of time to prepare. My sister-in-law is a big fan of this recipe and it is now one of her specialties!  Can be eaten alone or with guava dipping sauce.

Gouda cheese balls

makes about 60 spheres


1 pound of gouda cheese (shredded)

1 egg white (lightly beaten)

2 tbsp all purpose flour

about 1/2 cup of cracker meal


1.  Shred 1 pound of Gouda cheese ( in food processor with shredder attachment or with a grater).

2.  Add  egg white and all purpose flour in a bowl and mix well with your hands.

3.  Shape into spheres with the palm of your hands, about the size of a quarter coin in diameter.

4.  Roll each ball into the cracker meal to seal.

5.  Refrigerate at least half an hour before frying. It is important that they are cold (not frozen) when you fry them to lower the chances of sticking and breaking apart. If frozen, let thaw for about an hour before frying.

6.  Deep-fry in a heavy bottom pot or in a deep-fryer for about 2-3 minutes in very hot vegetable or canola oil (about 350º f) until golden brown. Use a spoon to remove from the oil preferably one with holes so that the oil drips. Do not use a fork.

7.   Fry in small batches so that they don’t stick together and break apart.    Let stand in a plate lined with paper towel to drain.


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Basic White Rice

Finally!  I’ve been wanting to start my foodie blog for a long time and today I took the time to do it myself.  This is my first post so I want it to be simple and straightforward like the following recipe.

For all of you who always ask me how to make basic white rice…here it goes!

Basic white rice recipe


2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

2 cups of medium or long grain white rice

2 tsp salt

2 3/4 cups water


In a small heavy sauce pan or “caldero” add the first 3 ingredients and stir together over medium heat for about 1 minute.  Add water and cook uncovered until water has evaporated. Bring heat to low, stir and cover until ready for 15-20 minuters. Serves 4 persons.

Buen Provecho!

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