Tag Archives: Spanish

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!



Brussels Sprouts – Sautéed and Sassy

8 Apr

If you love Brussels sprouts, you’ll like this easy Spanish recipe which we will be enjoying today with our big Easter meal for a little family.It’s something my dad likes to do when he is in charge of the vegetables, as he is today.

Don’t be put off by the fact that you boil the daylights out of them; the red wine vinegar lifts them from being ordinary overcooked vegetables to something surprising and tangy!

Happy Holidays to all.

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts (Inspired by Penelope Casas; modified by Pedro)

1-1.5 lbs Brussels sprouts, bottoms trimmed and old leaves removed

1.5 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled (not chopped up)


Freshly ground pepper

2 Tbs red wine vinegar

Place the sprouts in salted boiling water to cover and cook at a lively bubble for 10-15 minutes, or until tender (this is a personal taste thing; some people like mushy, some like firm, so play around with it)

Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the garlic cloves and sauté at medium heat until dark gold on all sides. Remove and discard. Add the sprouts and saute over medium high for five minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir in the vinegar. Cook until the vinegar evaporates, stirring constantly.

Ensalada de Lentejas (Lentil Salad, Spanish-style)

11 Jun

The hot, hazy and humid summer weather typical of Long Island has started early this year, but that doesn’t mean I am giving up my lentils. I like the taste, the price and the fact that, unlike many of the other legumes, they don’t need pre-soaking.

Nutritionally these tiny almost-beans, almost-peas are giants. According to the Mayo Clinic’s Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D., “…lentils are high in protein and fiber and low in fat, which makes them a healthy substitute for meat. They’re also packed with folate, iron, phosphorus, potassium and fiber.” So hip-rah, hip-rah! You should always, always, always have lentils in your pantry.

In winter I make hearty lentil soup, but hot weather calls for something cooler and lighter. I use a recipe — inspired once again by Penelope Casas’ The Foods and Wines of Spain. Have it as a main course with boiled potatoes or rice, or pair it with grilled sausages (from andouille to kielbasa..lentils love a good sausage partner). Lentils also marry well with grilled fish steaks; you can use the lentils as a bed, perhaps accompanied with polenta. This serves four as a side dish; you may want to double it for a BBQ accompaniment or main course.

Lentil Salad

½ lb uncooked pardina lentils (smaller and cuter than your average lentil, but you are free to substitute*)

1 onion, peeled. Cut in half, leaving one half whole and mincing the other half

1 clove

1 bay leaf

1 carrot scraped or peeled (scraping helps maintain a brighter color)

3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

1/8 tsp salt (a fat pinch)

Freshly ground pepper

¼ cup good olive oil

1.5 Tbs red wine vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

 2 Tbs drained and minced roasted red pepper from a jar, plus 1 Tbs chopped for garnish

Rinse and pick through lentils and place in a large pot with enough cold water to cover. Stick the clove in the onion half (reserve the minced onion), then add to pot with bay leaf, carrot, smashed garlic, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and lower heat to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes, until just tender (longer if using regular green lentils). Drain and rinse well in cold water. Remove onion (and any clove that has fallen out), bay leaf and garlic. Dice carrot and place in serving bowl with lentils. Add olive oil, vinegar, reserved mined onion, chopped garlic and minced red pepper and mix gently (you don’t want the lentils to fall apart). Let rest for at least a half hour and serve, topped with reserved red pepper as garnish.

*Green lentils are great for salads because they keep their texture. Brown can get mushy and red lentils fall apart when cooked too long, If you choose them as substitutes, start checking the texture after 15 minutes of simmering.

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