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We Won! I Won! Thank You for Your Support! #2015EDDYs

24 Mar

Thanks first to the judges for selecting the package of my writing, Cameron Prather’s recipe and Doug Young‘s photos of Watermelon Mojitos as a finalist in the EDDY Awards – Edible Communities’ way of recognizing and celebrating the best in food and beverage writing (as well as blogging, video and imagery).

Thanks second (but not less) to the readers who voted for us (many of you daily for two straight weeks!)… the final round to win the Reader’s Choice Award for Best Drink Recipe. We took the prize and we are so pleased!

Featured Image -- 6794Edible Long Island and our family of downstate New York magazines Edible Brooklyn, Edible Manhattan and Edible East End did very well, winning a collective 11 awards for 2015!

So once again, thank you so much for your support. I have not been blogging as actively as I would like as other parts of life (like writing for Edible) pull me away, so it is very lovely to know that you continue to keep me in your orbit. I feel pretty honored an grateful all around.

xo Natalia



27 Feb

Edible Feast has chosen my piece on Cameron Prather’s Watermelon Mojito Recipe

as a finalist for the EDDY Awards in the DRINK category!

Please vote for us (and photographer Doug Young)  by clicking here. Thank you and ¡SALUD!

Doug’s gorgeous photo….


Baked Stuffed Pumpkin or Winter Squash

26 Nov



It’s been a long time since I stuffed a pumpkin, but Halloween and late fall combined to make me want to do it again. This is so easy and you can stuff any old winter squash with any old stew (or stuffing) and make a dramatic dish!

stuffed squashBaked Pumpkin with Beef and Sweet Potato Stew

One or two whole pumpkins (We used two 6” tall pumpkins), hollowed out, seeds reserved for pepitas, cap reserved

2 Tbs olive oil

1.5 Cups chopped onion

1/4 Cup garlic, minced

¾ Cup carrots, diced

¾ Cup celery, diced

2 lbs ground beef

Adobo powder

1 Cup sweet potato, peeled and cubed

3 Tbs Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp soy sauce

2 Tbs tomato paste

1 Tbs oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil until fragrant at medium high. Add onion, stir to coat, then lower heat and cook for about five minutes, until well-softened. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add carrots and celery and cook another five minutes, until softening. Add ground beef and brown. Sprinkle with abundant Adobo powder, then add sweet potato, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and tomato paste. Preheat oven to 350°F while allowing meat mixture to simmer for at least 20 minutes on low, adding, adding oregano about five minutes before you take it off the heat.

Sprinkle the inside of the pumpkin very generously with salt and pepper. Put each pumpkin on a stable rimmed baking sheet with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking. You’ll want something that you can carry the pumpkin to the table on, as the shell will soften and fall apart if you try to move it.

Stuff the pumpkin with the meat. You can freeze leftover meat, or, as we did, quickly open up a couple of butternut squash, season and stuff also.

Bake the pumpkins for an hour and check for tenderness. We cooked our two small ones for two and the squashes for about 1.5 hours.

Allow to cool for a bit and bring to the table with the lids on for extra drama. As you scoop out the meat (it’s nice with rice), also scrape out some pumpkin, which should be seasoned and tender.



Writing for the Edible Communities

9 Nov

You may have noticed a slow-down in my posting here on Hot, Cheap & Easy of late. Nothing’s gone fact everything is going right! I am working towards tenure at the college where I teach, exploring new areas of academia, presenting at conferences and working hard to provide good stuff for my students.

Alfajores: Café Buenos Aires

Alfajores: Café Buenos Aires

On the home front, my second-grader’s activities keep me on the hop: music, soccer, friends, Spanish school, Scouts, …and of course we still need to make time for walks in the woods and bike rides and baking and all those good things we like to do together.

Ïn the Kitchen with David Rosengarten" Amagansett

Ïn the Kitchen with David Rosengarten” Amagansett

I am still cooking and (sort of ) gardening and trying out new recipes, but I  just run out of time to post, especially because I have been doing a lot of writing: blog posts and articles for Edible Communities publications.

A Taste of Africa in Deer Park

A Taste of Africa in Deer Park

Their mission: …to transform the way consumers shop for, cook, eat and relate to local food. Through its printd publications, websites and events, ECI strives to connect consumers with local growers, retailers, chefs and food artisans, enabling those relationships to grow and thrive in a mutually benenficial, healthful and economically viable way.

In the Kitchen with David Rosengarten: Amagansett

In the Kitchen with David Rosengarten: Amagansett

Leandro learnes to dip chocolate, while I work on a story. I bring him with me when necessary and sometimes it works out really, really well!

Leandro learnes to dip chocolate, while I work on a story. I bring him with me when necessary and sometimes it works out really, really well!

They are beautiful magazines that celebrate local food and I am pleased to be working with them. So….if you’d love to see what I’ve been doing when I am cheating on my own blog, here are links to my Other work!

Natalia de Cuba Romero at Edible Long Island

Natalia de Cuba Romero at  Edible East End

I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed doing them!

Bon Bons Chocolatier – A Delicious Morning

4 Oct

One of the many joys of being a food writer is getting sweet assignments. Today’s was one of the sweetest! Leandro and I went to Bon Bons Chocolatier in Huntington Village to see how they confect their delicious treats. It smells like heaven and was the perfect place to spend a rainy weekend morning. So cozy and alive with happy things!

Next birthday perhaps?

Next birthday perhaps?

The details are for Edible Long Island/Manhattan/Brooklyn/East End combined winter issue which should hit the streets around November 15, but I had to share a couple of pictures with you.

A lesson in dipping!

A lesson in dipping!

Mary Alice Meinersman — co-owner with her daughter Susannah — of Bon Bons Chocolatier was kind enough to give my son a quick lesson in dipping chocolate.



It was a delicious morning and I am looking forward to writing the piece!

The takeaway!

The takeaway!


Adventures with Edible

30 Aug

It’s not that I haven’t been cooking! But I have been working a lot with the Edible publications this summer in addition to traveling and neglecting my garden, so let me share a couple of items with you.

This shrimp fra diavolo was out of this world!

This shrimp fra diavolo was out of this world!

Last week, a whole Edible team headed to Amagansett in the Hamptons to spend some time with food and wine personality and writer David Rosengarten. That was loads of fun. You can see the advance outtakes here and get a great recipe for a stacked Italian salad.

Alici salati...salted anchovies

Alici salati…salted anchovies

Eileen, my editor, stopped in before a wine class she was teaching! Pre-gaming with style

Eileen, my editor, stopped in before a wine class she was teaching! Pre-gaming with style

Yesterday the little man and I blanched, pureeed and froze five pounds of tomatoes. If you haven’t seen how on Hot, Cheap & Easy yet, click to see it on Edible Long Island.

Little hands, big help

Little hands, big help

2014-08-29 10.03.18

And here are a couple of pictures from stories for the Edible Long Island Travel issue; my lucky task is to cover some of Long Island’s most delicious international restaurants!


The Ellas: A Taste of Africa

The Ellas: A Taste of Africa – Deer Park

FADO, Huntington: Croquetas de bacalhao (I know they are not called croquetas in Portuguese, but don't have my notes at the moment!)

FADO, Huntington: Croquetas de bacalhao (I know they are not called croquetas in Portuguese, but don’t have my notes at the moment!)

FADO: Flan

FADO: Flan

Sugar Snap Peas: Five Italian and Spanish Style Recipes You’ll Love

30 Jun

It is the season for sugar snap peas (Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon), and we have had a wonderful harvest of sugar snaps in our yard, and we expect more from Restoration Farm, our CSA.

Almost too ready for picking

Almost too ready for picking

So today I made a special sweet pea dish — Pasta with Chorizo and Peas – for my seven-year-old swee’pea who is in charge of peas at home, from planting to watering to harvesting (he gets assistance in stringing the poles as our peas need strings to climb on with their delicate tendrils. We buy sugar snap seeds from Botanical Interests).

Someone eats a lot of peas as he is harvesting. Someone's mother doesn't mind at all.

Someone eats a lot of peas as he is harvesting. Someone’s mother doesn’t mind at all.

He collected peas between World Cup matches today and then we spent a companionable half hour shelling the peas and eating many of them as we watched Costa Rica play Greece in the World Cup and I put the water to boil. At halftime I made dinner to eat during the second half.

Quite a haul! We can freeze what we don't use. But we'll use it all before that happens.

Quite a haul! We can freeze what we don’t use. But we’ll use it all before that happens.

So the following Pasta with Chorizo and Peas  is a new recipe and below that you’ll find links to some of our perennial favorites: Spanish tortillas and Italian pastas. This recipe uses only the peas, but the pods are edible. I sliced the pea pods into my salad, as he doesn’t like those and I find them wonderfully crunchy and sweet.

Rich flavor that doesn't overwhelm the peas.

Rich flavor that doesn’t overwhelm the peas.

Continue reading

Hot Chocolate, Chocolate Caliente – Sweet Memories

1 Feb

For my six-year-old, it was all about the creamy, sweet, warm yumminess of some homemade hot chocolate. For me, it was all about channeling my grandmother.

2014-01-30 04.21.40 chocolateWhen I was a kid and my grandmother was still alive, my brother and I would spend part of our summers in Puerto Rico with her in her breezy 10th floor apartment in metropolitan San Juan.

Why we would need hot chocolate during the summer in a place which rarely dips below 80°F is an abuela’s own private mystery, but it may be a legacy of the Spanish colonial days when liquid chocolate – a New World treasure — would have been a favorite beverage. Chocolate is a huge part of Latin American history; cacao was born in South America and for more on that you need Maricel Presilla’s The New Taste of Chocolate.

2014-01-30 04.22.56 chocolate

All I know is I have delicious memories of the lovely Old World style package of Chocolate Cortés, a big bar of dusty brown chocolate, and my grandmother breaking off sections and dropping them into a bit of milk. I can still hear the metal spoon swirling against the metal pot as she melted the chunks of chocolate in a bit of milk until it was a thick syrup, then added more milk and served it up in little tea cups with tiny teaspoons.

2014-01-30 04.24.11 chocolate Amazingly enough, in my local suburban Long Island supermarket they sell Chocolate Cortés – which, as it turns out, is a company in the Dominican Republic that began exporting chocolate to Puerto Rico in the 1930s — in the International section, somewhere between the Coco López and dried lentils, and so today when my son got home from school we made hot chocolate the way my grandmother used to do, me stirring up that same sound and those same memories and noticing, not for the first time, that I have her same hard-working stubby-sturdy fingers.

chocolate syrup

chocolate syrup

“This is the best hot chocolate ever!” said the little man with his chocolate mustache.

And yes, although I didn’t have more than a tiny teaspoon to taste, I have to say it was.

2014-01-30 04.32.27 chocolate

Melt one bar per cup desired in a bit of milk. Stir frequently. When you have a syrup, add one cup milk per cup desired. Heat and serve!

Chocolate Cortés

Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Dip (Barefoot Contessa Lightened Up Just a Bit!)

24 Jan

Recently my editors at Edible Long Island asked what we contributors were doing to eat local in the middle of winter.

Hmmm. Embarrassingly, I am not doing enough. Except drinking Long Island wine and using up the home-grown tomatoes, and CSA peppers, garlic scapes, and berries I froze this past summer when the getting was good. I must do better next year!

This will make an impact at your next party

This will make an impact at your next party

But, I am reading about cooking local…my godson, Sean, who understands me better than most, got me Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook with a forward by Martha Stewart for Christmas. For those who don’t know, The Barefoot Contessa is a specialty food store in East Hampton, Long Island, owned by Ina Garten, a former White House nuclear policy analyst and now Emmy-winning Food Network host. She is very charming, very Hamptons, and that makes her very local to me! Bonus, Martha Stewart also has a home in East Hampton, which makes her local too, at least part of the year.

Anyhoo, I do like Ina Garten and her relaxed style. She’s forever cooking up special treats for her beloved husband, Jeffrey, who seems to enjoy it very much. And since Super Bowl is coming up and that means a lot of entertaining, I adapted one of her signature recipes from the book to what I had in my fridge to see what happened.

Continue reading

The Year in Food – 2013 Highlights

1 Jan

Before I pitch headlong into 2014 and all the exciting things I have planned…I am reviewing a few of the food highlights of 2013. This is not an exhaustive list — and if you can think of something I’ve missed, feel free to let me know.

So here it is, in no particular order, fun events from the past year, with images where I happen to have some….

Leandro’s Oatmeal Cranberry Chocolate Chip Raisin Drop Cookies won First Place in Junior Culinary at the Long Island Fair!

Read it for yourself! (I had to read it several times to be sure....)

Read it for yourself! (I had to read it several times to be sure….)

Piles of homey goodness (and sneaky science lessons)

Piles of homey goodness (and sneaky science lessons)

And my banana bread took second place in the Banana Bread category

Chocolate Chips are the secret

Chocolate Chips are the secret

Second place for me

Second place for me

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