Now that I’ve talked about the Tabasco, I wanted to get back to the food and more importantly the people, because both were pretty great. Waking up that first morning at the Marsh House, I opened the door and followed a cloud of bacon upstairs to large family style dining room just off the kitchen where Stanley Dry, Louisiana chef and food writer, was making breakfast. Aside from the bacon that woke me up, there was chicory coffee, eggs, boudin sausage, fig preserves spiced with fennel and bay leaves, fried pies filled with persimmon jam or peaches sweetened with Avery Island honey, pain perdu dripping Steen’s cane syrup and trees dripping in Spanish moss on view from every window. That was how we started every day and it couldn’t have been lovelier. Read more
Posts from the ‘Recipes’ Category
I was very close to not making it. A few months ago, I’d been invited to join a group of food writers at the Tabasco Tastemakers event hosted by the McIlhenny Company. Coming up against an all consuming deadline, I was working until the last possible moment….and then a few minutes after that. Stressed and sleepless, I arrived at the Lafayette airport in a kind of daze. At some point in the short drive thru New Iberia, Lousiana to the Marsh House on Avery Island where we’d be staying, I started to feel a little easier, chatting with other bloggers in the group and asking Dave who was born and raised on the island the first of a million questions he’d answer for us over the next few days. By the time we arrived at Marsh House where we’d be staying, I took my first deep breath in what felt like weeks and it was full of pepper in the best possible way. Read more
It was unmistakable. There was a chill in the air this morning. Not a breeze, not a nip, but a chill. This summer went by fast for me and being in the final stretch of recipe testing and writing has only accelerated it. This week I was looking for a substitute for the Cuban aji guaguao and was told that tabasco peppers should work. I stopped by a few of my favorite markets but they didn’t carry them. Earlier this year, I was supposed to visit the McIlhenny Company‘s tabasco pepper fields in Louisiana but the trip was postponed until October. At the time it felt like a long ways off but now it couldn’t come soon enough. With New York produce failing me, I couldn’t wait to be where tabasco peppers were literally growing on trees (or bushes – not sure because I haven’t been there yet). Read more
I must really look overwhelmed because my sister Carmen offered to post to my site. I know she doesn’t usually follow recipes but I’ve wanted to have something from Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales since she reviewed it for The Latin Kitchen. I offered to take the pictures if she would do the heavy lifting, and I got to try really great tacos I didn’t make myself. Enjoy!
When I was little, I loved the first day of school. It wasn’t that I was popular or liked homework. I loved the idea that I would know things at the end of the year that I didn’t at the beginning of it. Every new book, new teacher, new class was filled with opportunities to know more. But, I savored the idea of it more than it’s actuality. Very much like cooking with a recipe.
With Ana deeply buried in recipe testing and research for her upcoming book, she asked if I would post for her again. “Sure,” I replied breezily. I figured I would make my grilled skirt steak with coarse salt and pepper over high heat. I even ventured that I could add sliced avocado and maybe some oil and vinegar. Ana was not impressed and asked me to make something out of Roberto Santibanez’s Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales instead. Read more
With my manuscript deadline closing in, I haven’t been able to update as much as I’d like. For months now, I’ve been waiting for life to get back to normal but am starting to realize that this might be it. Not wanting to stay away any longer, I’ve decided to keep it light and frothy – very frothy – and write about batido de cherimoya. I had it for the first time at a small Peruvian restaurant my mother wanted to try. Lost in a tetris-like configuration of strip malls, it was actually a great place with amazing ceviche and Miami-eccentric service. Their jugo de cherimoya reminded me of the icy champola de guanabana (another tropical fruit with a pre-historic exterior and sweet center) I had growing up. Read more
When talking about regional Latin American food, the subject of heat is polarizing, especially for those countries who don’t really use it. Viewed as a generality that paints us all with the same brush and overlooks an incredible diversity of ingredients and flavors, most people, myself included, are quick to point out that Cuban food is spicy but not hot – though that’s not entirely true either. While it’s kept out of many traditional recipes, peppers pop up in the food of eastern Cuba and a few drops of hot sauce always work their way into camarones enchilados. I may balk at adding chipotle mayo to my Cuban sandwiches, but a small red bottle of Tabasco sauce stands guard at most Miami lunch counters. Still, when I was asked to develop a few recipes for McIlhenny Company’s Tabasco, I was hesitant at first. Deep into an intense recipe testing period, I didn’t see a way of working it in until I made pulled chicken cooked down with guava barbecue sauce. Spiked with a good dose of heat, it stood up to the guava paste, cut through the sweetness, and sharpened the flavors. It’s was a good enough reason to draw outside the lines. Happy Fourth! Read more
Usually, I get so caught up during holidays that my celebratory posts don’t appear until around midnight. While it’s been hard to post while I’ve been away, I didn’t want to let the day go by without putting my roundabout father’s day post.
Of course, my father had every reason to expect a boy – they already had a girl after all. Though I rarely met him even halfway (tee-ball, soccer and tennis were disasters), I did prefer Star Wars to Barbie (there was a princess in it), wasn’t squeamish about what went in the frituras de sesos he love to make, and stayed awake during The Right Stuff – so I don’t think he minded too much. A foodie before the word, he gave me sugar cane to cut my teeth on, took me to the docks to buy fish as the boats came in, presented me with meltingly tender Italian prosciutto like it was a visiting dignitary, and charmed a fast melting cooler of Mexican guanabana ice cream through customs. Read more
Beginning next week, I’ll be taking a pretty extensive cookbook research break that will keep me away from this site well into June, so I didn’t want to miss the chance to post one more time. In what might be the most boring premise for a reality television show ever – leading up to any trip, I stop buying food and try to only use what I have on hand. That left me with a few links of chorizo bought for garbanzos, an extra 2 pounds of malanga that never became fritters, and a half bunch of parsley because – well there’s just always parsley.
A couple of springs ago, I went behind the Solber Pupusa stand at Ft. Geene’s Brooklyn Flea to learn how to palmear or shape their famous corn flour cakes. I loved the process of mixing up the dough with my hands, tucking in the filling until it looks like an overstuffed dumpling, then passing it back and forth until it was a smooth disc again. They were like the play-dough cakes I would have made as a kid except they turned into something you’d actually want to eat. The first one weren’t very pretty but they improved with practice. Read more
The weather is defrosting, but I spent Sunday half inside my freezer where I found the nearly forgotten bag of moras. Also called Andean blackberries, moras are a little more tart, firmer, and brighter than the blackberries commonly found in the US. I’d picked them up in an amazing Latin American market in Jackson Heights. Well-stocked with incredible variety but hard to get to, I brought back as much as I could carry. A few months later, I’ve barely made a dent in the frozen guavas, jarred loroco, or guasca leaves I stockpiled. I was looking to change this and remembered a dessert my friend’s mother, Mari Ines, made when she was teaching me how to make ajiaco Bogotano. In the time it took her to finish the ajiaco, she simmered the berries in syrup and served them with queso fresco. After calling Mari Ines for the recipes and ratios, I quickly made it for friends that night. There are so many things I’m looking forward to this summer, but in these in between days, it felt good to take advantage of what I already had. Read more