Tag Archives: puerto rican

Day-off Dining

I love those lazy days off from work where I can, at my discretion, knit, nap, read, and most importantly, cook. I always have veggies in the house, but today I noticed that some of them needed to be used as soon as possible – you know how veggies get that sad, dull, almost-but-not-quite-squishy look to them, begging to be eaten or cooked. Yep, I had quite a few of those.

Take cherry tomatoes, for instance. I bought them last week at a local farmer’s market; a tiny, but heaped-up basket full – and down to about 10 or so today, they were looking a little wan. I also had an uncut  green pepper who needed attention as well, so I chopped those guys, along with some elephant garlic, and started a tasty sofrito that will be used in some black beans and rice. Sofrito – the homemade kind -adds a wonderful flavor to Caribbean dishes. Skip over the jarred stuff and make our own – trust me. It smells awesome while it’s cooking.

Last week’s leek greens and kale stems had been saved, along with some mushroom stems and onion bits. I’m of the mindset that you pay (sometimes dearly) for produce; you should get every bit out of it that you can. I save things like stems and inedible parts to make pure vegetable stock.  Kale makes amazing stock. I let my bits boil away for two hours, and the result is a hearty stock that forms the base for many soups, such as this shell pasta/veggie soup I made today as  well. Yum. Good comfort food for a lazy day off!

Quick Tips from A Puerto Rican Kitchen

An acquaintance of mine called Hector, who lives in Tampa and owns a real estate appraisal company, shared via phone a few nifty cooking tips from his Puerto Rican heritage. If you’ve never cooked Puertorriqueno before, well, it’s fairly simple and always tasty. In his own words, Hector revealed a few basics that will complement whatever Caribbean main dish you choose to prepare:

Garlic Sauce
Keep it simple. Garlic, olive oil, and water. Get lots of garlic and put in a blender. Add a little olive oil, and some water, but not too much. Blend it until it becomes a paste. You can keep it in a container in the fridge and add a little more water to make salad dressing, or keep it as is and use for cooking (like in the recipe below).

Green Plantain Mofongo
Make sure the plantains are the green kind. Peel them up nicely, and dip in saltwater. Just a little! Drip dry, and while they are drying, heat some olive oil in a pan. When they’re done drying, fry them nice and crisp.
You’ll need a mortar and pestle for this next step. Put the fried plantains in the mortar, and mash them up, sort of going up the sides of the mortar; then add some of the garlic sauce, fried pork or shrimp, salt and pepper, and kind of squish it together in the middle of the plantains. Fold the plantain mixture over the filling and scoop into little balls, then re-fry. These must be eaten while hot. Muy sabroso!