2015 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Habichuelas Colorados con Calabaza Guisado / Red Kidney Beans with Calabaza Squash


HHabichuelas con Calabaza

Habichuelas Colorados con Calabaza Guisado is a  popular Puerto Rican side dish made with red kidney beans and a Caribbean squash called Calabaza. It is a hard skinned squash with orange flesh similar to Acorn or Butternut squash, either of which may be substituted in this recipe. The Calabaza squash, which is easily found in Latin markets, adds a slightly sweet and earthy flavor to the beans. Serve over cooked white rice to create a perfect a side dish for grilled, roasted or fried meats. 

Ingredients:

1/2 pound chunk of Calabaza

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped Cubanelle pepper (Italian frying pepper)

3 cloves garlic

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon dried cilantro

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 – 16 ounce cans red kidney beans (or if you have more time on your hands than I do, feel free to soak some dried beans)

1 – 8 ounce can  tomato sauce

Method:

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Peel, remove seeds and dice the Calabaza into 3/4 inch pieces.

HHabichuelas con Calabaza

 

Place the diced Calabaza into a sauce pan with enough water to cover the cubes add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and simmer for 10 minutes or until fork tender. Drain the Calabaza reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.

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Place onions, green peppers, garlic and olive oil into a small food processor and pulse a few times until a coarse puree is achieved.

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Place puree into a large thick bottomed saucepan and sauté for 5 minutes over low heat.

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Add remaining ingredients plus the cooked Calabaza  and the reserved 1/2 cup of cooking liquid to the sauce pan and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

HHabichuelas con Calabaza

No Need to Knead Pizza Dough


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This is the easiest pizza dough recipe you will ever try because the mixer does the kneading for you and it is also completely fool-proof. If you enjoy making pizza at home get your favorite pizza sauce and toppings ready to impress your family and friends. 

 

3 cups bread flour

2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp dry yeast

2 tsp. sugar

1 1/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)

2 tbsp. olive oil (plus 1 tbsp. for coating dough)

 

Place flour and salt into bowl of stand mixer with a dough hook attached.

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Place yeast, sugar and water into a large measuring cup and stir. Set timer for 10 minutes.

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Add 2 tbsp. of oil to yeast mixture then pour it into the flour and with the mixer on #2 setting and set timer for 10 minutes.

Then remove dough from bowl and pour remaining 1 tbsp. of oil into the bowl. Then roll the dough into a ball  on the counter then roll it around in the bowl to coat the dough with oil ( this keeps the dough from drying out while proofing).

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Place the dough back into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

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Allow the dough to proof (rise) for 1 hour or until doubled in size in a warm place in your kitchen.

After 1 hour remove the dough from the bowl and you are ready to create your masterpiece.

This recipe will make 2 – 10″ thin crust round pizzas or you can roll out the dough into a 9″ X 13″ sheet pan and allow to rise for an additional 10 minutes before you begin topping for 1 thick crust pizza.

Traditional Puerto Rican “Pernil Horneado” – Roast Pork


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Pernil, Puerto Rican Style roast pork is a typically served for the Holidays, with “Tostones” (fried green bananas) and “Arroz con Gandules” (rice and pigeon peas) on the side. The whole trick to a perfect roast is low and slow cooking. Also do not cover the roast while cooking or the skin will not get crispy. Buen provecho.(enjoy)

 

1 – 8 to 10 pound picnic pork shoulder – (bone in)

3 tbsp. salt or 1 tsp. / pound

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. dried cilantro

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tbsp. ground cumin

6 cloves garlic peeled

1 large green pepper (coarsely chopped)

1 medium yellow onion (coarsely chopped)

1 lemon or lime (juiced)

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil

 

Wash pork shoulder under cold running water. Dry with paper towels and place on cutting board skin side up. Using a sharp knife cut through the skin to create a diamond pattern. Place remaining ingredients into a blender or food processor and puree. (This marinade is called Mojo and is also used on steaks, chicken and fish) Place pork into a large Zip-lock plastic bag and pour the marinade from the blender into the bag and seal. The pork shoulder should then be marinated in the refrigerator for 2 days for maximum flavor.  Turn over the bag occasionally to move the marinade around.

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. Remove pork from bag and shake off excess marinade and discard. Place the pork shoulder on a rack with the skin side up in a deep sided roasting pan. Wipe marinade off the skin using a paper towel (this keeps the marinade from burning while roasting the pork). Add 1 inch of water to roasting pan to keep pan juices from burning.

Prenil

Pernil

Place the uncovered roast in oven and cook for 5 hours (30 minutes/pound) or if using a probe thermometer until roast reaches an internal temperature of 180 degrees. To test the pork for doneness I use a fork to pull away a piece of meat, it should shred easily. Now check skin for desired crispness. If skin is still too soft you can get crisper skin by raising temperature up to 400 degrees but watch it closely because it will  burn quickly if not watched. When desired crispness is achieved remove roast from oven and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

Irish Soda Bread Revisited


This is an heirloom recipe that my mom makes every year for St. Patrick’s Day. Now this recipe has been handed down to me by my mother and it is my job to make sure this tradition stays alive in my family. This recipe was given to my mother by a neighbor and friend Rosie Redmond over 30 years ago. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. I am reposting this recipe in memory of my mom who passed away 9/11/2013, she would always have a few loaves of bread on the kitchen counter to give away to family members come St. Patrick’s Day. That is an “Heirloom Memory”.

4 cups un-sifted All Purpose Flour 

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp. Baking Soda

2 tsp. Baking Powder

1/2 tsp. Salt

1+1/2 cups Buttermilk

2 eggs

1 stick Butter-softened

1 cup Raisins 

1+1/2 Teaspoons Caraway seeds  (optional but I think it adds a great flavor to the bread)

2  – (8) inch round cast iron fry pans or cake pans, greased and floured

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl, toss flour mixture with hands (this give bread a light and airy consistency).

Cut in softened butter to flour mixture, using hands or a pastry cutter.  Until evenly distributed.

Add raisins and caraway seeds. Toss with hands to mix thoroughly. Beat eggs in a separate bowl. Add buttermilk and blend well.

Pour egg/buttermilk mixture into flour mixture. Blend well with a spoon. The dough should be heavy but not too wet. (If it seems too dry, add a little more buttermilk) If too tacky to handle, add a little bit of flour, so that you can mold it to shape.

Divide batter between 2 prepared pans.

Dust hands generously with flour and mold dough into a round loaves. Dust top generously with flour. Using the wrong end of a fork cut a deep cross “X” into the dough. This is the cross of St. Patrick. This will prevent the bread from cracking, and will give it a traditional look.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until well browned (knife comes clean). Cool on a rack.

Note** By chance, I found out, that when I baked this bread in a cast iron fry pan, the bread rose higher than the one baked in the cake pans.

Creamy Custard Pie Recipe


custard pie

During a recent visit with my sister, she asked me to try a piece of custard pie that her friend had brought to her and it was amazing. However there was one problem with the pie. The aforementioned pie came from a bakery that is over 2 hours away. Thus began my quest for the perfect custard pie recipe. I began my search on Google. I typed in custard pie  and I found a myriad of recipes all claiming to be the best. Then I found  a pie recipe blog called http://www.everythingpies.com/. In this blog I found a few more recipes for custard pie that weren’t too different from the other recipes I had found elsewhere (eggs, milk and sugar). Then I found a section called “Vintage custard pie recipes”. This caught my  attention because I write about “Heirloom recipes” which are my family’s recipes that I have  tried to save from being lost  forever because as some of my older relatives have passed away so have their recipes. I continued to read and the author of one recipe made a point of saying  the reader needed to pay attention to a certain part of his process to achieve successful results. That’s when I realized that recipes are more than a list of ingredients. The most important part of the recipe is the  methodology used by the person teaching you. So pay close attention to them because when they are gone so is the heart  and soul of the recipe. Now that I am finished preaching, here is how I made my “Creamy Custard Pie” and remember to teach your children well.

9″  Single Crust Pie Shell:

1 cup flour

1 tsp. sugar

½ tsp salt

4 tbsp. salted butter (diced and chilled)

1 tbsp. Crisco shortening

¼ cup ice water

1 egg white reserved from filling recipe

Filling:

2  cups whole milk

3/4 cup Half and Half

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

pinch of salt

3 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk (reserve the egg white)

1 tbsp. flour

1/2 cup sugar

 

Pie Shell: (option – 1 frozen 9″pie crust then skip to filling)

 Place diced butter in freezer for 5 minutes.

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Put flour, sugar, butter and salt into food processor.

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Pulse 10 times.  Then pulse 10 additional times while slowly dripping ice water into tube of the food processor. Mixture should look wet yet still crumbly.

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Drop mixture onto a sheet of plastic wrap.

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Cover with a second sheet of plastic wrap. Using a rolling-pin tap down the dough then roll it out to an 11’” circle.

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Place dough while still wrapped in plastic in fridge for 20 minutes to an hour. After letting the dough rest in the fridge remove top sheet of plastic then flip the dough over and place in 9″ pie pan. Then remove final piece of plastic.  Fit dough to pan then cut excess dough leaving 1 inch overhanging pan. Fold this back into the pan under its self.  Pinch top edge to create fluting.

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Brush the interior and top edge of the un-baked pie crust with reserved egg white before filling with custard. (This prevents the crust from getting soggy.)

Filling:

In a medium-sized sauce pan heat milk and Half and Half until small bubbles appear along the top edge of the pan and remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla, nutmeg and salt and set aside.

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In a medium-sized bowl whisk the 3 eggs and 1 yolk until creamy. Save egg white for crust.

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In a small bowl combine flour and sugar. (This step prevents the flour from clumping when being added to the eggs.)

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Slowly whisk the sugar/flour mixture into the beaten eggs.

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Slowly add 1/3 of the scalded milk to the egg/flour/sugar mixture while whisking. Then continue to add the final 2/3 of the scalded milk. (Using this method prevents the eggs from scrambling.) Avoid adding too much air into the mixture when stirring as this will cause your custard to become grainy. Slowly pour the mixture into the un-baked pie shell. Cover edges of pie with foil to keep crust from burning.

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Place the pie in the lower 1/3 of a pre-heated 375 degree oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil then turn the pie 180 degrees. Continue baking until the center is set, about another 20 minutes. (The pie should have a slight wiggle like Jell-O and not be too brown on top)

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Transfer the pie to a rack until cool. Then place finished pie in the refrigerator to chill. Have fun and share this recipe with your friends and family!

Sofrito – Puerto Rican Green Gold


sofrito-tray_thumb.jpgSofrito is a mixture of peppers, onions, garlic and herbs that is used as a flavoring in many Puerto Rican rice, bean and meat dishes. I always keep a supply in my freezer. Sofrito recipes are like finger prints no two recipes are the same, this is how my family makes it.

Sofrito Recipe:

2 large green or red pepper – stemmed, seeded and chopped

24 Aji Dulce peppers stemmed, seeded and chopped or 2 Cubanelle peppers stemmed, seeded and chopped*

2 medium onions (large diced)

6 cloves garlic (peeled and crushed)

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tbsp. salt

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

4 leaves culantro (optional)

1/2 cup vegetable oil or light olive oil

 Place all ingredients into a food processor and process for 10 seconds.  Save sofrito by freezing in ice-cube trays or plastic cups then placing them into large zip-lock freezer bag for future use. Sofrito is a great marinade for grilled meats and for seasoning bean dishes. I measure about 1/4 cup in each plastic cup.

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*Aji Dulce Peppers are small peppers that resemble a Scotch Bonnet pepper but they are a sweet not hot. Cubanelle peppers are also known as Italian frying peppers.

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