Home made Sazon with Culantro and Achiote(Like Sason Goya or Knorr)

Most Caribbean Hispanic dishes call for a packet of Sazón Goya or Knorr. Each packet contains the necessary spices to make your dish that amazing yellow color and flavor. The packets contain annatto, cilantro, garlic, onion and other spices. It’s a great spice to use, but it has MSG (mono sodium glutamate). MSG is a flavor enhancer that balances and blends, and rounds out the flavor of your dish. It’s a salt extracted from seaweed and was discovered in 1908. There has been a lot of controversy about the safety of the consumption of MSG. 

 

 

So I decided to research and come up with my own version of sazón without artificial colors and most importantly, without MSG. 

 

I started with the color. I used ground annatto, or as it is called in Spanish, achiote

                                                                    Achiote pods

 

Ingredients:

1½ teaspoon cumin
1½ teaspoon dried oregano
1½ teaspoon ground coriander
1½ teaspoon onion powder
1½ teaspoon garlic powder
1½ teaspoon dried cilantro flakes
1 tablespoon of ground annatto (achiote)

 

Directions:

1. Mix all ingredients in a mini food processor and pulse for 1-2 minutes until all spices are ground and incorporated.

2. Store in an airtight container.

3. Instead of 1 packet of store-bought, use 1 teaspoon of your homemade sazón.

¡Buen Provecho!

 

Watch me make the Sazon here: http://youtu.be/vNwXucpzrBI

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Sandwichitos de mezcla/Puerto Rican sandwich mix

In Puerto Rico, at every party or event, sandwichitos de mezcla are a must! There are different ways to make them, and this is my version. 

 

 

Ingredients:
1 can luncheon meat (such as Spam, store brand is better)
1 jar Cheese spread (such as Cheez-Whiz)
1/4 medium onion diced
2 tablespoons fresh green bell pepper
1 tablespoon roasted red pepper
1 cup mayo
10-15 olives
Hot sauce to taste
1 lb of white sandwich bread (it needs a flat top, not the dome-style bread)


Directions:

1. Cut up the luncheon meat in cubes and place in food processor (if you don’t have a processor, you can use a blender) with the onions, peppers and olives and process till incorporated.

2. Add the cheese spread and process till smooth.

3. In between pulses, scrape down the sides of the processor.

4. After the mixture is smooth, add the mayo and the hot sauce to taste and mix again till incorporated and set aside.

5. Using a serrated knife or an electric knife fitted with the bread blade, cut the crusts off of the bread.

6. Spoon about 1 tablespoon or to your liking of the mix on to the bread and cut in triangles.

 

 

¡Buen Provecho!

Watch me make the sandwichitos de mezcla here and it’s bilingual! http://youtu.be/Bd7QRhSXoso

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Bacalaitos(Codfish fritters)

 

    

Like any other country, Puerto Rico has its share of fried foods or “cuchifritos” as we lovingly call them. One of my favorites is bacalaitos, or codfish fritters (salt cod fritters to be precise). They are a staple at roadside kiosks around the island and are so easy to make! They are the perfect combination of savory, salty and crunchy.

I’m not a fish lover, but I cannot get enough of them when I do make them! The bacalaitos that you buy in roadside kiosks are huge! They use big calderos to fry them.

This is the bacalao that I buy:

 

To make the bacalaitos…

Ingredients:

2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 cups of water
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons sofrito (Click here for my recipe for sofrito
1 cup of desalted and flaked codfish
1 packet of Sazon Knorr (note: you’re not going to use it all, maybe 1/3 of the packet. You can also use Sazon Goya )
Canola oil for frying

 

Directions:

1. Rinse the bacalao in cold water and soak it for a few hours, changing the water twice.

2. Flake and set aside.

3. Mix the flour, baking powder, oregano, cumin, black pepper and the sofrito.

4. Add water and mix well. It should resemble pancake batter. Carefully fold in the flaked bacalao.

5. Add about 1/3 packet of sazon (it should have a yellow color).

6. Add salt to taste.

7. Heat canola oil in a big frying pan to medium high heat. There should be at least 2 inches of oil.

8. Drop your batter by spoonfuls into the hot oil. If you drop them in, you will have dense bacalaitos. If you spread the batter (drag it) you will have big and thin bacalaitos. Fry them a couple of minutes on each side, until they are golden brown. Drain them on paper towels and enjoy!

 

¡Buen provecho!

 

Watch me make bacalaitos at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xi-KiSTROdE

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Nutella Mini-Cakes

 National Nutella Day is February 5th. I really don’t need a specific day to celebrate this yummy chocolate hazelnut spread. I decided to make a decadent dessert. These Nutella cakes are super simple to make and absolutely amazing. With a few ingredients, you can create a rich dessert that will impress your family! 

Nutella Mini Cakes

Ingredients:

1 cup Nutella or chocolate hazelnut spread
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch of salt
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 eggs
Maraschino cherries or fresh strawberries and powdered sugar for garnish
Butter-flavored oil spray 

 

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and the pinch of salt and mix until combined.

3. Mix in the Nutella or chocolate hazelnut spread and the two eggs and mix until well combined.

4. Spray 4 ramekins or a cupcake tin with butter spray and divide the batter equally in each.

5. Bake for 15-20 minutes. After 15 minutes, insert a toothpick in the middle; if it comes out clean, they are done!

6. Decorate with powdered sugar and strawberries or cherries.

 

 

You can watch me make these at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89azmZnQNtE

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Boricua Style Carne Guisada or Beef Stew

Carne guisada or beef stew is a very popular dish in Puerto Rico. One of my favorites too! It’s a very hearty dish, very easy to make and lefotvers taste even better the next day! It’s a complete meal all by itself, but we Puertoricans need our white rice!

 

Ingredients:
3 lbs of beef stew meat
1 8oz can of tomato sauce
3 large potatoes diced
1 cup of carrots
2 bay leaves
4 garlic cloves
1 handful of fresh cilantro
1/4 cup of olives
4 cubes of sofrito or 4 tablespoons You can watch me make sofrito here: http://youtu.be/FgPb2r7E1Gc
1 teaspoon of cumin and oregano
Adobo Goya to taste
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
3-4 cups of water
2-3 tablespoons of canola oil

 

Directions:

  • In a large pot or dutch oven heat 2 – 3 tablespoons of canola oil at medium high heat.
  • Place the stew meat in a large bowl and season with adobo (to taste) cumin and oregano.
  • Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of flour and mix around. The flour will help bind the seasonings to the meat and will help thicken the stew.
  • Brown and sear the meat in batches and set aside.

 

      Place sofrito, garlic cloves and cilantro in the pot and cook for a few minutes.

  • Add the bay leaves, olives, the Sazon packet and tomato sauce and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add the beef, carrots and 3 – 4 cups of water, enough to cover the meat in the pot.
  • Let the stew come up to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low, cover and cook for 30- 40 minutes.
  • After 30-40 minutes, check the tenderness of the beef, and add the potatoes and continue cooking at medium low for 30 minutes or until tender.

 

   

 You can watch me make this dish here http://youtu.be/2cGM9MPkVxo

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Coquito or PuertoRican Eggnog

ImageI love Christmas and everything that goes with it. The tree, decorations, and especially the food!! Let’s start with a holiday drink, coquito.

The  the name coquito came from “ron con coco” or rum with coconut, a drink made by  workers in the cane fields in Puerto Rico. Rum is obtained from cane sugar by fermentation, distillation, and aging. By adding sugar cane molasses  to the distilled rum and coconut milk, they obtained a sweet  concoction  that was called “ron con coco” or rum with coconut.

So how does ron con coco turn into coquito?? When North Americans arrived in Puerto Rico in the 1800’s, they shared  Eggnog, and it was blended and fused into our own drink called coquito. Some say coquito has to have eggs, some do not. It freaks me out to drink something that has been sitting in the fridge that has raw eggs? No thank you. There are many different versions of this drink, and this is my version.

Coquito

Ingredients:

1 can condensed milk

1 can evaporated milk

1 can cream of coconut

1 can coconut milk

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Pinch of salt.

Now here is a step by step tutorial on how to put it all together. It’s bilingual too, spanish and english

http://youtu.be/pYi5F4BRGTE

Flan de Calabaza or Pumpkin Custard

Everyone asks me for Puerto rican recipes for Thanksgiving. And to be honest, I don’t really have any. I love the “American traditional” Thanksgiving. My mom and my sister used to cook the Thanksgiving meal when I was little. Now my sister is the one who does the whole dinner every year, and I do the Christmas dinner. My favorite dish? It has to be the bread stuffing! I look forward to it all year. Smothered in gravy!

So I remembered this flan.  It’s quick and easy, it looks amazing and it has the hispanic twist.

Pre-heat your oven at 350F

Here are the ingredients:

For the custard:

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1tsp vanilla extract
5 eggs
Pinch of salt

For the caramel:

¾ cup white granulated sugar

Now here’s the video tutorial on how to make it.

http://youtu.be/xJWZDu0UwlU

 

Mantecaditos or Puerto Rican shortbread

In Puerto Rico, we really don’t bake a whole bunch. It’s hot all year round!  Maybe that’s why we have so many panaderias (bakeries).

We didn’t have that many grocery stores like they do today,  so many of us relied on panaderias. From milk, deli meat, freshly baked bread to even a little area with different products from laundry soap to candies. Maybe our version of a convenience store. If you ever visit Puerto Rico, the best breakfast will be from a  panaderia!

The only cookie I remember being made that could be considered authentic Puerto Rican is a mantecadito. Manteca in spanish means lard or shortening. Lard cookies don’t sound yummy but mantecaditos do!  They are very simple to make, doesn’t take that long in the oven either.

 

 

Image

Mantecaditos

Here are the ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 tsp almond emulsion or almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
To decorate:
Sprinkles and guava jelly cubes

Now watch the video on how to make it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4g95STPzzM&feature=youtu.be

 

Funche, Puerto Rican Polenta

Everyone has heard of polenta, but funche (pronounced foon-chay)? Let me explain.
Polenta is cornmeal boiled into a porridge and eaten directly or baked, fried or grilled. Polenta is an Italian word, derived from the Latin for hulled and crushed grain, especially barley-meal. Maize was not cultivated in Europe until the early 16th century. It comes from the same base as “pollen”.
In northern Angola, it is known as funge, and is the probable source of names for the dish in a number of Caribbean countries, destination of slaves from Angola and elsewhere along the West Coast.
Funche is usually served with a fish stew (mainly codfish stew). I really dislike fish. The smell, texture, everything about it I don’t like, but that’s another story. My dad used to love this, he was from Jamaica and it’s called turn cornmeal and they usually mix in coconut milk.
The best part is if you have leftovers, you slice it and fry it up and it tastes amazing!
Here are the ingredients:
1 cup of coarse ground cornmeal
2 cups of water
1 heaping cup of chopped onions
1/2 -3/4 diced green pepper
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon Cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon chicken buillon or 1 cube
1/2 cup cilantro
2 tablespoons butter

Now here’s the video on how to make it. Buen Provecho!

Pig and Peas, 2 in a pod??

We have already established that puertoricans love rice.  We even eat leftover rice with eggs for breakfast. Hey don’t knock it! It’s pretty good :-) Just like potatoes, rice can stand alone, or be mixed with different meats and legumes.
One of the most popular rice dishes in Puerto Rico is arroz con gandules(Rice and pigeon peas). Pigeon peas or gandules date back 3,500 years! They originated in India and thank fully reached the Caribbean! Unlike green beans or string beans plants, the pigeon pea is actually a little tree. It can last and produce beans 3 – 5 years.

Pigeon pea pods!
You can’t say Arroz con gandules without mentioning pork. They go hand in hand. It’s our official food for Christmas. A nice roast pork shoulder with the skin all crispy, and fluffy rice and pigeon peas.
Since I didn’t have 5 hours to prep and prepare a Christmas feast, I decided to make breaded pork steaks and arroz con gandules. This is a tasty and quick weeknight meal. Enjoy!

Here are the ingredients:
For the rice:
2 cups of rice
1 can of green pigeon peas(gandules verdes)
3 cubes or 3 tablespoons of sofrito
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 packet Goya ham seasoning
1 packet Sazon Knorr
4 tablespoons of achiote oil (optional)
1/4 cup canola oil
Salt to taste

For the pork steaks:
6 pork steaks, thinly sliced
1 egg
Adobo Goya
Plain breadcrumbs
Canola oil for frying

Now watch the video on how to make it!

Buen provecho!!