The recent signs of spring are so small that, if I wasn’t desperate, I might not have noticed them at all. A little more light, a little later in the day, and I’m a completely different person. Once a layer comes off, I find it impossible to put it back on. Even with the frequent temperature drops, I stubbornly leave my gloves at home and my puffy coat is not coming out again until next year. All of which leaves me cold but determined. I’m also taking advantage of the break in the weather to enjoy my neighborhood in a way that I haven’t for a very, very long time. I reference Brooklyn in my posts often but the changes in the last few years can sometimes feel like a cautionary tale about getting everything you wish for.
Posts from the ‘Recipes’ Category
Last year I took what felt like a slightly selfish trip to New Orleans. My excuse was book research, so I decided beforehand not to post or take too many pictures. It felt like if I stopped to post or take a picture every time I saw something beautifully strange or strangely familiar in New Orleans, I’d do little else. Strange because it’s a city so completely itself that it makes you come all the way there to experience it and familiar because I’d always heard stories from my family about New Orleans when it was a short jump from Havana. There were so many parallels that it wasn’t surprising that so many of my relatives settled there when they left Cuba in the 1960s. Read more
This past December, I went home to Miami earlier – for Art Basel – and stayed later – for Christmas – then I usually do. I was coming back to a cold, gray winter, so any time spent inside felt like a missed opportunity – as though I could somehow store the sun in my skin and the colors in my eyes to get through the next few months. I put together a too-ambitious list of places I wanted to go but was still surprised when I couldn’t get through it all – though what I did see, I loved. Read more
I first met Leticia Moreinos Schwartz at a seminar at the International Culinary Center. Perched in the front row with a well-prepared list of questions and samples for the class, she would have been intimidating if she wasn’t so incredibly nice. We’ve stayed in touch since and she’s always quick to answer my questions and offer much needed guidance and advice. Her first book, The Brazilian Kitchen, is full of unfailing recipes and her personal insight into Brazilian cuisine and has become a favorite. Less familiar to me than other Latin American traditions, Brazilian food has been a blind spot though I’m always happy when I make the effort. Her latest, My Rio de Janeiro: A Cookbook, tells an even more personal story of both the carioca home cooking she grew up with and the contemporary Brazilian cuisine she encounters on frequent trips home.
For years, I’ve heard about the Puerto Rican families gathering in the kitchen during their endless Christmas season to make pasteles and felt a little jealous. Researching and writing about them for Devour felt like a lonely way to go about making what should be a communal recipe. To fill the kitchen, I consulted my cousins and aunt for the traditions surrounding Puerto Rican Christmas, my friend Carmen Rivera whose husband insisted raisins should only be optional, and my market friend Arelys Ocasio who suggested I throw in plantains to the usual blend of guineos and yautia. Jump to Devour to read more. Read more
This year I did a short series of Christmas posts for the Cooking Channel’s Devour on traditional holiday dishes served in Latin America. This meant spending a lot of time speaking with friends’ parents asking them just how they made that thing I had at their house that one time. One of my first calls was to my friend’s father Oscar Marin who generously gave me his recipe not only for the buñuelos Colombianos but the natilla con panela they serve with it. I’ve always loved joining friends for their novenas but it wasn’t until I spoke to Oscar that I realized how lit up Colombian Christmas can be. Jump here to read more. Read more
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
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