Sunday, August 7, 2016

Platanos en Escabeche/Pickled Green Plantains

This is an easy-peasy one. Super simple and super yums!

Ingredients:
-4 green plantains
-oregano (I used Cuban from my garden but dried or fresh regular oregano works and cilantro also)
-1-2 bay leaves
-1/2 onion sliced thin
-green olives (salad or stuffed alcaparradas)
-capers
-black pepper or peppercorns
-garlic powder
-salt
-olive oil
-white vinegar



Notice I didn't specify many measurements. That is because I don't really measure when I make this. Playing it by taste is just fine. Traditionally many people will heat the seasonings before combining with plantains, but over the years I have found this to not be a necessity.

1. Cut off ends of plantains. Slice peel lengthwise and boil in salted water for about 20 minutes. When you can insert a fork in them easily they will be fully cooked and the skins will slide off easily.
2. Slice plantains into 1/4-1/2 inch thick discs.
3. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss.
4. Cover and let sit at least 2 hours (overnight is best).
5. Eat at room temperature.

Makes a delicious side dish or easy lunch to bring to work.



Sunday, May 1, 2016

Grilled Eggplant "Parm" Sandwiches

Love eggplant parm, but not all the prep and heaviness? Try this light and tasty summer alternative.

Ingredients:

-1 medium eggplant
-sliced fresh tomatoes
-sliced mozzarella cheese (or vegan alternative)
-steak grilling seasoning
-oregano
-Trader Joe's red pepper spread
-rolls of choice

1. Spray grill with non-stick olive oil spray and preheat.
2. Slice eggplant as you would for eggplant Parmesan.
3. Spread on cookie sheet and brush both sides with olive oil then season with oregano and steak seasoning. 
4. When almost ready, add cheese and melt.
5. Assemble sandwiches and devour. Nom nom!


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Broccoli and Kale Quiche

Before you say anything,
YES, my quiche is SQUARE. But before you judge, quiche has no shape once it's in our bellies. The only round dish that would have been large enough for the amount of mix was in the dishwasher, and yes it was clean but that was about 5 feet farther than I was willing to walk at the moment. So here we have a deliciously square quiche.

Ingredients:

-2 cups Soy or Almond milk
-5 eggs
-1 7.5 oz package of Bisquick Complete Cheesy Garlic biscuit mix (or your choice brand)
-1/4 cup butter or vegetable butter substitute softened
-1 cup grated Parmesan cheese or vegan substitute
-8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese or vegan substitute
-1 fresh decent sized broccoli crown, chopped
-2 cups chopped fresh kale

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease a 10 inch quiche dish (I used a 2 qt. pyrex).
2. In a large bowl beat together the eggs, milk, butter, parmesan cheese and baking mix. 
3. Add the kale and broccoli and stir well. Pour into the baking dish.
4. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour. Eggs should be set and top golden brown. 
5. Eat, set some aside and eat later.  Then eat some more. 

YUM!


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Almost Vegan Empanadas de "Carne"

I have such sweet memories of Mami Luisa (a friend of my mother's who for all intents and purposes is my grandmother) making empanadas and pastelillos (a smaller version of empanadas). Wasn't it just yesterday that I sat on a stool at her kitchen breakfast counter, chubby legs dangling back and forth as I watched and munched on the ingredients as she assembled a family's worth to have already at the table before her husband Ruben arrived from work? It sure feels that way.

Ingredients:

-1 pack of 10 Goya Empanada "Discos", thawed
-1 10oz bag Morning Star Farms Grillers Crumbles (or brand of choice)
-1/2 medium onion, chopped
-2 cloves chopped garlic
-1 packet Sason Accent or Goya, with culantro and annatto
-1 tsp cumin
-1 tsp oregano
-1 8oz can tomato sauce
-1 15oz can chick peas/garbanzos
-approximately 10 manzanilla olives, sliced (or salad olives)
-1/4 cup IBERIA or Goya recaito
-Light Adobo, to taste
-Cheese of choice (I used Colby Jack), or none, if you are vegan


1. Sautee onion and reacaito in a few tablespoons of vegetable oil or coat pan with spray on med/hi until onions are transluscent. then add the garlic and stir for about another 1-2 minutes.
2. Add the crumbles, chickpeas and olives. Add seasonings while stirring. Sauté for about 3 minutes and add the tomato sauce. Lower heat to med/low and simmer for another 5 minutes, stirring regularly. 
3. Set aside to cool down a bit. 


Now comes the assembly. 
Use a rolling pin to expand the discs a bit. The directions did not call for using flour, but I found it helpful to keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin. I then turned the disc over, so that the floured side would fry on the outside of the empanada and not become part of the filling. 
I used cheese slices, 1/2 per empanada, and 2 spoonfuls of filling.
-Add filling to the center of the disc and fold over to make a half circle.
-Use a fork to press/seal the edges.
Before frying, I preheated the oven to 200 degrees to keep the empanadas warm while I cooked. 
I layered them on paper towels to absorb excess grease.
Fry until golden brown, following package directions. Mine only needed about a minute and a half on each side.







Que rico!
Buen provecho.



Sunday, March 22, 2015

Veggie Garden Time!

Truth be told, I actually have already grown a few veggies since our move to St. Petersburg, Florida last November. A few months ago I decided to grow some kale, lettuce and broccoli in a small bed at the front of our house. The results were mixed, kale being the clear winner. While I am super-excited about a longer growing season(s), it is still very new to me. I am navigating my way through it by trial and error.



I should have plenty of sunshine in my backyard and have already built a raised bed. I began growing my seedlings in our sunroom. Not all sprouted (yet, anyway) but most have.
This round of veggies will include:
-cherry tomatoes
-beefsteak tomatoes
-wax beans (not yet sprouted)
-corn
-zucchini
-watermelon
-peppers

A few of the seedlings should be ready to go outside very soon.




Saturday, January 31, 2015

Game Day Philly Cheese "Steak" Hoagies

The big game is coming and that means...

Who am I kidding? I don't watch sports that don't involve costumes or choreography...or ice skates. The last time I tuned in to the Super Bowl or any sports event was to watch Prince perform the halftime show. But I do eat (a lot) and one of the things I loved when I was still a meat-eater was a big juicy cheese steak dripping with onions. 

So in seasonal spirit we'll call these "game day" hoagies, but they're really just any day hoagies.

Ingredients:

-1 8 oz package of Seitan strips, cut into finer strips
- 4 hoagie/sub rolls
-1 1/2 medium onion, cut into very fine rings
-1 package portabella/baby bella mushrooms, sliced
-Provolone cheese, as much as you want
-2 tbsp veggie Worcestershire sauce, or to taste 
-3 or 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
-1 tbsp oregano
-3 cloves garlic chopped
-salt and black pepper to taste (I snuck in a bit of Adobo while cooking the seating, just because it's full of deliciousness and I use it for almost everything I cook.)




1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Heat half of the oil in skillet and sauté onions until translucent (or they begin to brown) then add mushrooms. Add Worcestershire sauce and cook for about 5-7 minutes then set aside in a bowl.
3. Add the remaining oil to the heated skillet and saute the garlic, quickly adding the seitan. Add spices. Here is where I snuck in the Adobo and a bit more Worcestershire sauce. 
4. After 5-7 minutes of cooking (stir often), add the onions and mushrooms and mix. Cook just 2-3 minutes longer and set aside. 



5. I'm not going to tell you how to slice the rolls, because if you can read this, you have surely sliced one at some point in your life and me telling you would be both unnecessary and insulting. But I will tell you to take the filled rolls and partly wrap them in aluminum foil. Insert cheese and shove the whole thing (on a cookie tray) into the oven for about 5 minutes or until they look as toasty as you want them to. 


This made 4 hoagies, all of which my partner and I ingested. Do not judge us. A lot of folk would have just one but with a side of fries or potato salad. We had no sides...so there!

Enjoy.



Monday, January 5, 2015

Vegetarian Puerto Rican Pasteles

If you are Puerto Rican you already know that Christmas is not Christmas without pasteles. They are one of the staples of our holiday season, along with Lechon Asado (roast pork) and Arroz con Dulce (Puerto Rican rice pudding). If you aren't Puerto Rican, then you will surely want to add this delicious dish to your holiday (or anytime) cooking.

Preparing pasteles takes a bit of time. It is an involved but satisfying endeavor. I recommend making a few batches in one session so that you have extra to freeze for a later day(s). In Puerto Rico, it is a social activity, as (generally) women will get together and make a day of preparing them. So gather your friends and family around the kitchen table and spend a few hours cooking and laughing (perhaps while sipping on a cocktail or two).

Ingredients

Achiote Oil
-1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
-3 tbsp annato paste or about 6 tbs in seed form

1. In a medium saucepan heat oil on medium high.
2. Add annatto and simmer approximately 10 minutes until the oil turns a beautiful dark red.




Masa
-3 3 lbs bags of frozen grated Yuca
If you can find already grated Yuca, get it! It is a lifesaver and will cut hours off prep time.
If you can't get your hands on some, you will need to buy fresh or frozen yuca and grate it yourself.
-1 cup Sofrito
-1 veggie bullion cube
-1/4 tbsp oregano 
-1 tbsp onion powder
-1 tbsp garlic powder
-4 tbsp water

Preparation:
1. Two days prior to preparing the pasteles, defrost the frozen grated yuca in the fridge overnight.
2. The next day remove them from their packages and place over cheesecloth (If you forgot to pick up cheesecloth, a clean old concert tee that no longer fits will also do, Prince in my case) over bowls and place in the fridge to drain overnight. I did mine on the same day, but had to do a few hours worth of squeezing water out of the yuca.
3. On the day you prepare the pasteles, take the masa out of the fridge and let it get to room temperature. Squeeze out any excess water. Now you are ready to season the masa.



Masa Seasoning:
1. In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, use 4 tbsp of the achiote oil to simmer 1 cup of Sofrito for about 6-7 minutes then remove it from the heat. 
2. In a large bowl (I used a mixer) combine the masa and the simmered Sofrito. Add 1/2 cup of the achiote oil and mix well until the masa turns a golden color.


Filling
-24 oz. Beef substitute of your choice. I used Lightlife crumbles.
-1 packet Goya Sason with Culantro & Achiote
-3 tbsp Goya Sofrito
-3 tbsp Goya Recaito
-1 cube veggie bullion
-1/4 tsp oregano
-2 tbsp Goya Adobo Light (or to taste)
-8 oz tomato sauce
-1/2 cup water
-chopped pimento stuffed green olives (as many as you like)
-capers (as many as you like)
-1/2 finely chopped onion
-2 finely chopped garlic cloves
-1 can (I used 2, however) Goya garbanzos

1. Saute onions and garlic on med-high heat using 4 tbsp of achiote oil until the onions become clear.
2. Add all filling ingredients except for the olives, capers and garbanzos. 
3. Add 3 tbsp of the Recaito and 3 tbsp of the Sofrito. Stir to blend well and cook 5-10 minutes.
4. Add remaining filling ingredients and stir. If mixture begins to dry add a few tbsp of water as needed.
5. Cover and let stand.



Wrapping

-Banana leaves (1 package seemed to do the trick. They come frozen and can usually be found in Latin or International markets. If you can't find them, aluminum foil can be used in their place. I very much prefer using leaves as they add to the flavor of the end product.)
-Butcher string

1. Defrost and clean leaves by soaking in tepid water and gently wiping them. 

Assembling Your Pasteles

This is the fun part! Well, not funner than eating them, but it's pretty fun if you enjoy cooking.

1. Cut leaves into squares approximately 10 inches square. Get rid of the central ridge so the leaves are easy to bend and fold.
2. From the leftover achiote oil, spread about a tbsp onto the center of the leaf. Approximately 4" x 6", but you will find the right size for you as you get the hang of things.
3. Take about 3 tbsp of the seasoned masa and spread it over the oil in a rectangle. The exact amount of masa is something that will also "come to you" as you get some practice.
4. Place 3 tbsp of filling slightly off center of the masa and spread it. I find it works best if you place it a bit off center closest to you and don't spread it all the way to the side edges. Remember, you want the masa to envelope the filling to keep it from spilling out.
5. Fold the leaf away from you towards the other long end so that as the masa rolls forward it encloses the filling. Press down slightly to secure the edges.
6. Fold both edges back towards you, creating a crease at the far edge.
6. Fold it once again away from you then fold the sides toward the center of the pastel. 
7. Put two pasteles together, folded edges facing each other and tie each pair together using the butcher string.
8. Put what you are not immediately cooking in the freezer. I got 20 pasteles out of this recipe.







If any of this seems a bit complicated...DON'T WORRY, it's easier than it sounds and you get to be a pro at it in no time.

Cooking the Pasteles

1. Bring enough salted water to cover the pasteles to a rolling boil in a deep pot.
2. Place pasteles in the water and boil for 30-45 minutes.
3. Take care when unwrapping the cooked pasteles as hot water will drip from the leaves. You can also set them aside to cool a bit...but I just can't wait. 
4. EAT UP! I love mine with a few drops of hot sauce.