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
I’ve had a lot of reasons to be grateful for this year, but one of the things I’m most thankful for is that so many of you have stuck with me during long absences while I completed my first cookbook. It’s been equal parts exhilarating and exhausting, and I can’t wait to share the details with all of you over the next few months as it starts coming together. 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
Recently, I had the rare chance to attend a dinner for Edible Brooklyn hosted chef Diego Felix of the Colectivo Felix and chef Hugo Orozco Carrillo at La Slowteria. Rare, because Diego is rarely in one place for very long, but then, that’s kind of the point. It was the kind of lingering, midsummer evenings you almost think you imagined the next day. Fortunately, I was there with photographer Emily Dryden who took some lovely pictures to capture it all.
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