Tag Archives: puerto Rico

Hibiscus Mint Iced Tea Lemonade

7 Aug

I am so glad to be back!

There she is! Will find that contact info soon!

There she is! Will find that contact info soon!

We were just in Puerto Rico for a month, which was fantastic and wonderful (especially for my son’s Spanish; he spent his days at a summer camp fending for himself  and emerging victorious!). But for those of us sitting home with nothing but fans blowing hot air around while he frolicked in the pool, it was ridiculously hot.

Putting it together was easy!

Putting it together was easy!

We headed for Rincón’s Famer’s Market a couple of Sundays (Rincón is higher elevation where it is not beachfront, so it is cooler), and we found a young lady selling iced teas…with a twist (now I can’t find her card or I would tell you who she is…).

How pretty is that?

How pretty is that?

Leandro fell in love with the Hibiscus-Mint Iced Tea Lemonade which she said is very popular for kids’ parties. So, of course I had to recreate it at home and I too emerged victorious. This stuff is super-refreshing and delicious, has no caffeine and looks beautiful. I used agave nectar, so I didn’t even have to fuss with sugar syrup….You could try honey too!

 

So refreshing!

So refreshing!

Hibiscus Mint Iced Tea Lemonade

6 Cups hibiscus tea, cooled (I used Tazo’s Passion – 5 teabags to 6 Cups hot water, then steeped for ten minutes)

½ generous Cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice (strained to remove seeds and pulp)

¾ Cup agave nectar (you could also make a simple sugar syrup and start with 1/2 Cup)

Several sprigs mint and 1 Tbs chopped mint

Mix all the ingredients in a large pitcher until blended. Remove mint sprigs, stir in chopped mint and serve over ice, with additional sprigs of mint for garnish, if desired.

 

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Salmorejo de jueyes (Land Crab Stew)

24 Jul
Click photo which I borrowed from http://www.stjohnbeachguide.com/index.htm

Click photo which I borrowed from St. John Beach Guide for more info on prepping

There are a number of land crab species skittering about Caribbean coastlines. Some are edible and the one we eat most here in Puerto Rico (although I am told they mostly are imported from Venezuela these days) is Cardisoma guanhumi which we call juey and — if you are English-speaking — you might call the blue land crab.

If you live in South Florida, you might call it a pest. You should actually be calling it lunch!

Your sofrito

Your sofrito

Salmorejo de jueyes, or stewed land crab, is a delicacy in Puerto Rico. Crabs that are caught are typically held for a few days in a chicken wire cage and fed corn or other vegetable scraps to clean the system. Here’s a link to how they prep them in St. John’s. Folks drive miles on a Sunday to inland restaurants with a good reputation for salmorejo.

You can substitute fish broth

You can substitute fish broth

My dad recently got a pint of meat already prepared and out of the shell (although the carapaces — main body shell — is important for flavor and left in) from the Plaza de Mercado de Mayagüez on a recent Puerto Rico trip and set about making by far the best salmorejo I have ever had. We sucked on the shells and licked the plates.

Cook it up good!

Cook it up good!

So without further ado: salmorejo de jueyes. Continue reading

Puerto Rican Food Translated: My eBook, Just $5, and a perfect gift!

16 Dec

Just a reminder that you can gift my e-dictionary book to friends and family who love food. Called Eat Your Way Through Puerto Rico, it is a digital guide to Puerto Rican food, basically what to eat and how to ask for it.

It’s fun to flip through. In addition to straightforward translation of common food items, it also includes useful phrases for getting reservations, talking about food allergies, and finding out where the bathroom is. The biggest plus is the background, origins and ingredients of some of our most beloved and iconic dishes. And you can load it onto your iPhone.

If you want to gift it to someone else, you can also get it on Amazon – Kindle for iTunes is a free app.

So, buy it or gift it this holiday season and buen provecho!

Click Here to order through Amazon.

Click Here to order through Amazon.

 

Eat Your Way Through Puerto Rico: A Culinary Dictionary – BUY IT, SHARE IT!

29 Apr

And finally, almost 13 years after I started working on it, my culinary dictionary is available!! I am so excited (Thanks Carlos Matos of Forsa Editores for getting on board with me and guiding me through this new adventure!) to finally, after years of writing for newspapers and magazines to actually have my own book out, with my name on it (the cover you see here is not quite the actual image, but you get the idea). It feels really, really, great.

Eat Your Way Through Puerto Rico: A Culinary Dictionary is my contribution to the foodie word world.

(Update: Eat Your Way is now available on iTunes too!)

What is does is take the words and phrases we use in Puerto Rico for produce, local dishes, meats, fish and seafood, as well as how we get a table at a restaurant or get our steak cooked to order, and translates them into English and back again. The fruits, vegetables and herbs have the botanical names included for easier identification. One day I’ll get the fish and other meat animals labeled too.

Who it is for is folks traveling in Puerto Rico who would like to understand and taste the local foods, but would like to know what it is they are trying.  It is also for people like me who are of Puerto Rican background but were born in the States (or elsewhere) and need some help learning about, making or describing our heritage foods. You will notice that in addition to straight word to word translation, some of the more interesting or unusual or typical dishes and ingredients get a little story to go with: find out about yuca and poison; where okra got its name; why sweet potato and yams are not actually the same thing; how breadfruit caused the Mutiny on the Bounty.

It is also for linguistic and food geeks (and I say that with all the pride and affection of a dedicated linguistic and food geek, because that is what I am) who just want to know. That’s where many of you come in. This is not a project that is finished, but one that I have laid the groundwork of. I hope, as we move forward, to get a lot of feedback from users and readers who agree, disagree or have other words and phrases to add to the lexicon. So feel free to comment here about what you think. I will be setting up a Facebook page in the near future to open the channels for more feedback!

So far Eat Your Way Through Puerto Rico is available on Amazon (for just $4.99 – How could you not!?!) as a Kindle book and will be coming soon to the iTunes store and print.

Soon Hot, Cheap & Easy will be back to my regularly scheduled programming – recipes from the front lines of parenting – but for now, please check out the book and let me know what you think!

Natalia

Rice and Beans: A Love Story

14 Feb

We eat a lot of rice and beans around here and you should too. At less than a dollar a can (one day I will soak my own, but for the moment, the canned will do fine) and just minutes in the making, they solve many an issue in this household. And with all the protein and roughage they pack, well, they give a lot of nutritional bang for the buck.

Having said that, I don’t actually do classic Puerto Rican rice and beans often. It’s a lot about ingredients and disappointment. Nothing ever tastes as good as you remember it. No one (except certain Dominican kitchen geniuses) can do it quite the way Abuelita (or Titi) used to. And some ingredients don’t grow here or travel well. So, recognizing that my expectations far outway any realistic possiblities of fulfillling them, I opt out. And daydream.

arroz con habichuelas

arroz con habichuelas

But…if you can’t be with the ingredients you love, honey, love the ones you’re with.

Love the ones you’re with.

 

calabaza and sawtooth coriander

calabaza and sawtooth coriander

So in celebration of Valentine’s Day, I will stop the silly nostalgia for meals never again to be equaled, the yearning for ingredients elusive, the disdain for what is offered right in front of me. I will share a recipe for Puerto Rican rice and beans that embraces, not fantasy, but reality. It is not what could be, but what actually is. It may not be exactly what I dream of, but it provides exactly what I need, and my heart swells in gratitude.

And that, my dear readers, is true romance, true love, true bliss.

 

Authentic arroz con habichuelas

Authentic arroz con habichuelas

Born on the Moon Beans

Puerto Rican independentista and poet Juan Corretjer once penned “Yo sería borincano si naciera en la luna” or loosely translated: “I would be Puerto Rican even if I had been born on the moon.”

It is the heartsong of millions on the island and in the diaspora, including me, as it happens! So….Beans Born on the Moon, seems an appropriate name for this dish.  It is ingredient-heavy, but easy to assemble once everything is chopped.

Ingredients

  1. 1lb calabaza caribeña (Caribbean pumpkin) OR 1 lb. acorn squash, washed, cut in half, seeds removed and cut into big chunks (you can cut the rind off before boiling or peel it off after). It should be boiled for 15 minutes, or until tender. Set aside and reserve ½ cup cooking liquid.
  2. ½ lb salt pork, diced (don’t discard the hard rind, just score the fat as best you can). You can also use ham steak – readily available in the supermarket
  3. SOFRITO

(sofrito is the roux, the mirepoix, the basic saute seasoning of Puerto Rican cooking and is very difficult to reconstruct in the mainland U.S., which is why Goya makes a fortune selling it in jars. So if you can get most of the ingredients for sofrito at the local bodega/supermarket, then do this! –actually, quadruple or quintuple it and freeze it in ice cube trays for use later. Otherwise, buy commercial sofrito and use a couple of heaping tablespoons)

½ onion, minced (about ¾ Cup)

1 cubanelle (long green Italian cooking) pepper, seeded and diced

Five or six ajíes (non-spicy green peppers that look exactly like scotch bonnets/habaneros, but are not at all spicy! Taste them! They are hard to find), seeded and diced. Use another cubanelle – the redder the better — if you can’t get these.

Five or six hojas de recao – culantro leaves- chopped. Not to be confused with cilantro, these look like dandelion leaves without the curvy sides. They are hard to get, usually come from Costa Rica and their potency disappears quickly after cutting. I actually grow my own in the summer, which takes forever and yields very little in my part of the world. If you find them, use them as soon as you get them home! If you can’t find them, buy the sofrito WITH culantro

3 Tbs tomato paste or pureed tomatoes (optional)

1 Tbs dried oregano (2 Tbs fresh)

2 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

  1. two 15-oz cans pink beans (habichuelas rosadas), rinsed and drained

While you are boiling the calabaza, heat the pork in a heavy pot. Cook it through and remove the scored rind. Leave the diced meat. Add a bit of olive oil, if necessary, then sauté the sofrito ingredients until tender, adding optional tomato at the end. Add beans. Add cooked calabaza and the reserved liquid. Cook for 15 minutes and serve on white rice.

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