Tag Archives: ceviche

Entomophagy (or I Ate Crickets for My Birthday)

28 Sep

Eighty percent of the world’s countries include insects in their diet. Yes, even you, although it might be more by accident or ignorance than design!

Entomophagy is the ingestion of insects for food (deliberate as opposed to the odd bug that flies down your throat when you are riding a bicycle, I suppose).

For more incidental entomophagy, try this HuffPost article on some of the more common bugs that are allowed in your food. Or read this Insects As Food blog post for more on what bugs people eat on purpose. Bugs are also recommended as an alternative food source by the U.N. (although something tells me they weren’t serving crickets on a stick at the recent General Assembly in N.Y.)

So when one of the contestants at a recent Latino Lover magazine ceviche throwdown I attended offered crispy crickets as a ceviche topping, the girls from Puerto Rico – Ada, Jocelyn, Paola, and me — looked at each other for about a half-second and dug right in.

Don't judge 'em 'till you've tried 'em

Don’t judge ’em ’till you’ve tried ’em

They were crunchy! They were salty! They were good!

They perfectly set off the watermelon in the ceviche and they were pretty good plain too, washed down with a fresh Albariño as per Paola and I…Ada and Jocelyn went for the beer instead. So yes, we ate crickets and liked them a whole lot (admittedly, we had to set aside the ones whose antennae/leggy bits were just too, well insect-y to actually put in our mouths).

So, what did I have for dinner on the eve of my birthday? Bugs! Hurray for an old dog being fearless about new tricks!

Me and Maricel...planning a trip to Zafra/Cucharamama in Hobeken very soon!

Me and Maricel…planning a trip to Zafra/Cucharamama in Hobeken very soon!

The winners of the contest were not at all the ones I liked…Toloache was tops for me…and yes, that was the one with the crickets and watermelon. Thanks to the girls for a great birthday…highlighted by running into my dear friend Maricel Presilla — restaurateur and food historian (see her books on chocolate and Latin food or visit her artisanal, pan-Latino Hoboken restaurants: Cucharamama and Zafra!).

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Kendra’s Grilled Lamb Chops and Sauteed Calabaza Pumpkin, and other tasty stuff from Puerto Rico

7 Aug

(This recipe has been corrected to reflect Kendra’s input!)

I have mentioned that I was recently in Puerto Rico at the venerable Caribe Hilton to speak on a panel (for the Triennial Convention of the American Federation of School Administrators). It was a pleasure and an honor to speak with such dedicated professionals! And everything went very well; I learned a great deal and made many interesting acquaintances.

The view from Kendra and Raúl’s in Isla Verde

I was not able to take my son and it was the strangest, and not very pleasant sensation to be so far away. In the annals of never-happy, it is an awful irony that I complain and complain that I never have a moment to myself, and then when I finally do, I am bereft. I can’t stand myself sometimes.

El Jibarito…there was quite a line at 2 p.m., but it moved FAST

But, I recovered my senses. And of course, I ate.

Pernil with mofongo de yuca and the sad, sad, salad that is a Puerto Rican criollo restaurant inevitability…

In Old San Juan, El Jibarito on Calle Sol can be counted on for good old-fashioned comida criollo. I had pernil (roast pork) and mofongo de yuca (yuca with garlic and oil, mashed and fried). I had drinks with José Luis, my beloved Colombian friend whose got the loveliest clothing boutique in Condado (Ambar) . I visited with Emilio, of Oof Restaurants for a long overdue catch-up. Had a leaisurely coffee and tea with the inimitable Chef Norma Llop, who runs much of the gastronomy end of PR Tourism. And had a long visit with my godmother, Carmen Palacios de Ramírez, with a glimpse of godfather Efrén deep in writing a book…yes, I got around a lot in just a few days!

Ceviche

With dear friends David and Sean, I had very good ceviche at Perurrican over most stimulating conversation.

Location, location, location – Perurrican in Condado

And then Kendra, who was for years my partner in mischief all over the Caribbean, my soccer buddy on the Puerto Rico National Team, and is still an all around lioness of a friend, not only made a delicious meal for me in the home she shares with her fabulous partner, Raúl, but showed me how it was done. Before we’d had too much wine to get the recipe down in writing! (Are you listening Adri? It can be done!)

The view from Kendra and Raúl’s at 5 p.m.

It was a wonderful trip!

CHOPS!

The monster mash: adobo

The grill

The results!

Kendra’s Grilled Lamb Chops

2 lbs lamb chops, rinsed and patted dry

Adobo

4 cloves garlic

1-2 sprigs rosemary – just the leaves

¾ tsp salt per pound

Grating of pepper

PLUS extra virgin olive oil, to be added teaspoon by teaspoon

After prepping the lamb chops, place all adobo ingredients except oil in a mortar and pestle and grind down to a rough paste, adding oil a half teaspoon at a time until you reach a spreadable, but non-greasy texture.

Paint both sides of the chops and refrigerate until about ready to use. Give the chops enough time to return to room temperature before grilling.

Heat your grill until just under its high temperature, then scrape grill clean if necessary. Allow to heat up for a couple of minutes, then start.

Place chops on grill. After 1.5 minutes, turn them over. Cook for another 1.5 minutes, then repeat. Stand them up on their sides on the grill for another minute, checking for the density of the chops to firm up. Remove from grill, place on a platter and tent them with aluminum foil for another five minutes. You may check for doneness with a meat thermometer (140°F will be rare, although many chefs stop at 120°-130°). The chops can rest until you are ready to serve.

Continue Scrolling Down for Calabaza Recipe

Cutting the calabaza

Yum

Sauteed Calabaza (Caribbean Pumpkin)

2lbs calabaza (acorn squash is the nearest substitute)

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp butter

1 tsp honey

Wash calabaza rind thoroughly. Do not peel. Chop calabaza into 1.5” chunks. Sprinkle sparingly with salt.

Heat oil and butter in a pan at medium high until foaming subsides. Add calabaza, stir to coat and turn down to medium low so you hear a slightly sizzle. Drizzle with honey and cook for a few minutes until beginning to soften, but still resistant to a fork. Turn off burner, cover and leave for at least 5-10 minutes, until a fork passes easily through, and you are ready to serve.

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