Home made Sazon with Culantro and Achiote(Like Sazon 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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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

 

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!

Chicharron de Pollo is Chicken Cracklings

You’ve heard of pork cracklings….but chicken cracklings? It’s just an easier way to say “chicken cut up in pieces, seasoned, floured and fried”. It’s served in Puerto Rico as an appetizer or as the main protein in a meal. It’s one of my faves! The chicken comes out super crunchy, juicy and yummy! And since each piece is small, it cooks faster. You can serve it with any side dish, but in my house it has to be rice and beans!
Now here’s the video!

Surullitos (Puerto Rican fried corn fritters)

Surullitos is a weird name for sweet and crunchy corn fritters. Surullitos in spanish means little roll-ups. They are usually served as an appetizer along with empanadas at parties with a dipping sauce of mayonnaise , ketchup, garlic powder and a touch of hot sauce(Mayo ketchup or salsa rosada). It’s our version of hush puppies. Like almost every dish, there are alot of different recipes. My version is quick and easy because the cornmeal is pre-cooked.

Here are the ingredients:

1 1/2 cup of Pre-cooked cornmeal
4 tbs white sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tblsp butter
2 cups water

FOr the mayo-ketchup
Mayonnaise and ketchup
Garlic powder
Hot sauce (Optional)

Here’s the video!

Arroz con Pollo

These past couple of weeks I’ve been a little off in my cooking. A little bit too salty, not salted enough, too watery, not enough liquid. Arggghhh!!! Does this happen to you? My solution would be having a personal chef(I can dream lol) or go back to a comfort food. A dish that is super easy and yummy! Arroz con pollo (Rice with chicken) is a one pot meal. You can make it as an every day meal or you can fancy it up for a more formal dinner. My version is an every day meal. For a fancier arroz con pollo, I would add beer as stock, add peas and decorate it with roasted red bell peppers.
You can use different chicken pieces for this dish. I used boneless chicken breast because that’s what I had available. I always accompany this dish with habichuelas guisadas(stewed beans)

Here are the ingredients:

For the rice:
3 cups long grain rice
3 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup canola oil
3 tbsp or 3 cubes sofrito
1 packet Sazon Knorr( or Sazon Goya)
3 chicken breasts, cut in cubes
Adobo Goya(Or any all purpose seasoning)
Oregano
Cumin
Salt to taste
Cilantro
Olives

For the beans:
2 cans small red beans (you can use any except black beans)
3 tbsp or 3 cubes of sofrito
2 cloves garlic
1 small potato, cut in small cubes
1 can tomato sauce
1 packet Sazon Knorr
1 packet Goya ham seasoning
Cilantro
Olives
Now watch the video! Buen provecho!

Green and yellow total opposites?

     When you go to the market and pick your fruits and veggies, do you know if they are going to be sweet, tangy, sour or tart by just looking at them? I wish we could have that ability! At least with a Plantain you can.

Plantains in various stages of ripeness.

They are a close cousin of bananas.They are a fruit, but it’s considered a vegetable. Plantains are bigger and firmer than bananas, their peel is thicker and they are lower in sugar content. Plantains are a staple food in the tropical regions and can be eaten at different stages of ripeness.From green and firm to yellow with black spots and soft.When green. they are tough and starchy, similar to a potato or a yucca root.When yellow with black spots, they turn a little bit soft and midly sweet. When almost black, they are soft, sweet and with a unique flavor. The most important difference between a plantain and a yellow sweet banana is that you can’t eat plantains RAW. The plantain has to be cooked first!  
Plantains are available in most U.S supermarketsand are found in the produce section of your local supermarket. Look for firm plantains and avoid shriveled, squishy, or moldy fruit. You can ripen plantains by storing them at room temperature and out of direct sunlight, turning them every day. It will take at least 1 week for green plantains to fully ripen.
So what to do with them??
In Puerto Rico, alot of restaurants feature a classic dish called Mofongo. It’s a terrible name for something that is borderline heavenly. It’s the perfect mix of fried, crunchy, salty and over all AMAZING!
It was featured in an episode of “The Best thing I ever ate”. Guy Fieri was amazed on how these few ingredients could make such a flavorful dish!
Here are the ingredients to make mofongo:
2 or 3 large green plantains
Salt to taste
Black pepper
Canola oil for frying
Olive oil
Garlic

And now watch my video on how to make it 🙂

Buen Provecho!!

Authentic Puerto Rican Cooking

I love to cook and try to as much as I can. Seriously. I enjoy preparing meals for my family to enjoy. So in 2013 I decided to try to cook as much as possible and I am posting on my Facebook what I cook for dinner every day. I try to cook fast, easy and healthy (sort of) meals. I just want to look back and see how much I have throughout the year. Some people think that Hispanic cooking is not healthy, full of fat and sodium. I try to use canola or olive oil and use as little as possible (except every once in a while when I fry chicken or pork)
Most of my cooking is Puerto Rican (duh! born and raised in P.R.) There are a few things that almost every Puerto Rican kitchen has.

A caldero is an aluminum pot with a tight fitting lid. They are relatively inexpensive; they come in different sizes and you can easily find them in stores. This 3 piece set is online at Target for $20.99
caldero

They are great for stews, rice and for frying. The trick to great rice in a caldero is that you have to season it. When new, pour enough oil in the caldero and heat it for several minutes. And NEVER EVER place your caldero in the dishwasher!! You will strip all the seasoning off of it.

Another must have is Sazon Knorr with Coriander and Annatto. It comes in little packets and we use it to flavor and color a lot of our dishes, like yellow rice.
This is my favorite sazon, Knorr.sasonknorr
It’s not easy to find, but the Sazon Goya is available in most stores.
sasongoyaadobogoya

One of the most important condiments in our cooking is adobo. Adobo is a blend of salt, pepper, garlic onion and other spices. We use it to season EVERYTHING. Honest!

Next is a Pilon or a mortar and pestle. It’s traditionally made out of wood and used to make sofrito, mash garlic and other spices and to mash plantains for mofongo. In front Is a rectangular wood block which is used to flatten fried plantains to make tostones (tostonera)
pilon

Since some of my friends on Facebook love the What’s for Dinner posts, I decided to make a cooking video. I made rice and beans with fried pork chunks. I use long grain rice and just bought pork chunks for stew at the supermarket. I use a caldero, sazon and sofrito. You will be surprised on how easy it is to make. You don’t need a lot of fancy ingredients. In my prior post I show you how to make sofrito. It can also feed a small army. We are only 3, but hubby loves leftovers for lunch the next day.
Here are the ingredients for the Rice and Beans. Watch the video for the instructions!
2 cups long grain rice
1 can (16 oz) beans, any except black beans
2 heaping tbs sofrito
1 tsp ground cumin
1tsp dried oregano
1 packet Sazon Knorr (or Goya)
2 tbs canola oil
Salt to taste.
For the Fried Pork Chunks:
2lbs cut up pork meat for stew
Adobo Goya to taste
Unseasoned meat tenderizer

Like and share the video!

Sofrito for the Hispanic Soul

I haven’t posted in a while and for that I apologize 😦
I have been pretty busy these past few weeks. I made a New Years goal of cooking every day ( or almost every day) and I am posting my culinary concoctions on my personal fb page. I have been receiving a lot of compliments which is good.
I started making cooking videos for Youtube. I cook and the hubby takes and edits the video. My first video had to be of the base of most Puerto Rican cooking: Sofrito.
Sofrito is usually in most of my recipes. From rice, stews and even spagetti sauce! It’s very easy to make and it freezes beautifully. I use onions, cubanelle peppers, aji dulce, cilantro, culantro and lots of garlic.
Culantro is a completely different plant from cilantro. Although the two are cousins, they look nothing alike and are quite easy to differentiate by appearance.Culantro is also often called spiny cilantro and is not as widely available as cilantro. Check with your market’s produce manager if you do not see any in with other fresh herbs. It really makes a difference in the flavor of the sofrito.
Cubanelle peppers are long slender banana-shaped pepper that is considered to be a sweet pepper. Ranging in color from green to yellow or red, this pepper has a glossy outer skin that is smooth and firm in texture. Also known as Italian frying pepper, this pepper is mildly hot and very similar to an Anaheim pepper. If you can’t find cubanelle peppers, you can use bell peppers.
Ají dulce (Capsicum chinense) is a small, light green pepper that turns red if left long enough on the plant. In Puerto Rico, it is known as ají dulce or ajicito (sweet pepper and small pepper, respectively, in Spanish). In the Dominican Republic, it is also known as ají gustoso or ají cachucha (tasty pepper, and cap-shaped pepper, respectively, in Spanish). It has the shape and size of a habanero pepper without the intense heat. Unlike many other countries in Latin America, hot peppers are not commonly used in the cuisine of Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, or Cuba. If you can’t find aji dulces, you can use mini sweet peppers, like these:
sweet-mini-peppers
Ok done with all the scientific and technical stuff 🙂
Here’s the sofrito video.

Please like and share it!