Friday, May 28, 2010

Chocoflan/ Pan Impossible

Chocoflan I believe is a Mexican dessert because I've only heard of it and seen it prepared among the Mexican community. It's basically a chocolate cake with a layer of flan (caramel custard).

The first time I made this was on my stay in one of my aunt "Mari's" house where she introduced me to this wonderful cake which she calls "Pan Imposible" translates to "Impossible Bread". It is usually done in a large bundt pan that has a 12 cup capacity because the regular bundt pans can't fit all the cake batter and flan batter without overflowing.... my aunt is lucky to have a giant bundt pan she received as a gift :(

Any who, usually the solution a lot of people have to this problem is they use a regular bundt cake pan and then make a smaller chocoflan with the leftover batter or throw away the excess, however I for one am not one to waste food. I simply divide the batter evenly in two and use 2 bread loaf pans. You can pretty much use any type of mold/ pan to bake this, just work with what you have, that's what I do.

By the way this cake has become a hit in my home, it's my Tata's favorite dessert lately :D and I baked this for my boyfriend's birthday and it was a hit once again.

Ingredients for cake part:
-1 prepared chocolate cake recipe (I used a devils chocolate food cake mix)
Ingredients for flan:
-1 can condensed milk
-1 can evaporated milk
-5 eggs
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 cup cream cheese (optional I do add it because I am SINFUL ha ha)
Ingredients for caramel:
-1 cup sugar
-1/4 cup water

(1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius), get a shallow dish that is oven proof. Any baking dish, cake pan or mold that can fit the pan you are going to use to make the "Chocoflan" and fill it with water about 1/2- 1 inch and put in oven. This is what we call the "water bath" you'll see what I mean later.
(2) Prepare your caramel, get a sauce pan, throw in your sugar and water and bring to a rolling bubble on high heat, stir occasionally whisking with a chopstick (yes this is how I do it and it always works the water acts as a stabilizer and it wont let it burn or clump and it will still thicken and turn into a caramel) when your caramel is done, add it carefully to the cake pans or mold your gonna use and swoosh it around to coat everything. PLEASE BE CAREFUL IT'S HOT!!!! It will harden quickly as well so work fast. Set aside the mold/ pan
(3) Follow the directions on a Store bought box of chocolate cake mix, or make your own from scratch. Add the prepared batter to the mold/ pan that has caramel coating (in my case I had two molds I use and divided the batter evenly)
(4) Prepare the flan batter, in a large blender or bowl with a whisk or blender combine the condensed milk, evaporated milk, eggs, vanilla and the optional cream cheese to a smooth mixture. Pour them evenly over the chocolate cake batter. DO NOT WORRY IF THEY MIX! They will separate during baking.
(5) Cover the cake pan/ mold with aluminum foil and put in carefully into place them on top of the larger pan that has the water in it in the pre-heated oven. Close and allow to cook in the middle rack for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes.
(6) When you think it's done, uncover and insert a toothpick or knife if it comes out clean it's done, if not continue to bake covered a little longer, but if done remove, uncover and allow to cool
(7) Once ready to serve loosen edges with a knife, place a plate on top and flip over :) Slice yourself a piece and enjoy. The result will be this delicious moist chocolate cake with a flan layer, most of the chocolate cake will absorb the delicious caramel syrup and be oh so sinful ;)
NOTE (If interested):
*I know it sounds weird, but the flan and the chocolate cake for some reason, I don't know why will never combine they separate, the flan ends up in the bottom of the pan and the chocolate cake on top. I'm guessing sometype of osmosis or something and when you flip it you get this :D

*Some people use a store bought type of Mexican caramel milk syrup made from goats milk or cows milk called "Cajeta" and they will coat the pan with this instead of the caramel sugar syrup I make.

*The easiest way though and guaranteed is using a chocolate cake mix. store bought Cajeta/ caramel sauce or just know how to make a good caramel, and make a flan batter that is rich doesn't need the cream cheese but gives it oomph.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Arroz Amarillo Cubano (Cuban Yellow Rice)

Before I begin let me tell you this is the most plain basic recipe of cuban yellow rice well cubans just call it yellow rice but I know other cultures have yellow rice to and do it differently.

This is my grandmothers from my fathers side recipe.

This is sort of the base recipe you can built on it. I will go into detail with that at the very bottom of the recipe. Read everything before critiquing it for being to simple :)

-3 cups long-grain white rice
-4 1/2 cups water
-1 red or green bell pepper minced (I prefer red for this dish but I only had green in the fridge today)
-1 onion minced
-4-6 cloves garlic crushed and minced
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1 bay leave (optional)
-1/2- 1 teaspoons "Bijol" (which is what I use) or "Ground Achiote/ Annato seeds" or "saffron" or "Achiote infused Olive Oil" (the achiote infused olive oil should be used to sautee everything and it will make the rice yellow)
-Salt to taste (about 2-3 teaspoons)
-extra-virgin olive oil

(1)Sift the rice if you wish to get rid of any little grains or impurities, then wash the rice in cold water once or if you wish until water runs clear. Drain.

(2)Put rice in rice cooker with water

(3)Heat extra-virgin olive oil on medium high in a frying pan and sautee bell peppers, onions, and garlic until onions are translucent and everything is fragrant. Add to rice.
(4)Add to the rice mixture cumin, salt to taste, and bijol stirring until the water looks yellowish or yellowish orange(5)Close rice cooker and set on cook until rice is done.
You can serve with anything that you would eat with white rice :)


(1) You can make this rice dish more beautiful and colorful by adding 1 cup of frozen peas. And then garnish with fire roasted red bell peppers (optional) I've also noticed some cooks like to add 1 teaspoon of sweet or hot paprika (my grandmother never used Paprika for this)

(2) You can add 1 can of pigeon peas and call it "Arroz Con Gandules" sometimes she would brown cubed pork that has been seasoned and browned in a pan along with the pigeon peas. This was her version of the Puerto Rican "Arroz Con Gandules"

(3) You can add little cubes of pork or chicken that have been seasoned with some salt and pepper or salt, pepper, lime, and garlic then browned in olive oil add added to the rice to cook together. Then it will be a very simple "Arroz Con Pollo" or "Arroz Amarillo Con Carne de Puerco"

(4) You can add peeled, deviened cleaned shrimp to the rice and then it is "Arroz Amarillo Con Camarones" or even clams or a mixture of seafood. If making with shrimp I suggest you peel your own shrimp and make a shrimp stock by boiling the shrimp shells with some water and salt until it gets the shrimp flavor.

(5) You can also add some corn cobs cut in 3 parts to the rice before it cooks and cook together it will give the rice a corn flavor and is delicous. This is called "Arroz Amarillo Con Maiz"

(6) You can also add any vegetables particularily blanched okra or sliced carrots or any seasonal vegetable and call it "Arroz Amarillo Con Vegetales"

(7) To elaborate the flavor you can use the plain recipe and substitute water for chicken stock or vegetable stock. Also shrimp stock is tastey to (made by boiling shrimp shells in water with some salt until the water gets the FLAVOR)

(8) You can add a can of chickpeas for "Arroz Amarillo Con Garbanzos" (yellow rice and chickpeas) or you can sautee 4 links of Spanish chorizo in the sofrito for (arroz amarillo con chorizo) or a combination of both for my "Arroz Amarillo Con Garbanzos y Chorizo"

(9) "Arroz Amarillo Con Salchichas" (yellow rice with veinna sausage added)

(9) But sometimes I just like to make the basic because it goes with any Cuban dish, and because I love eating it with some beans :)

This recipe is a re-post of a recipe I had in my archives, while editing and playing around with it I deleted some of the old pictures so I had to re-post it, plus I didn't think the old post gave it justice because the pictures were worse than what I have here.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sardinas en Escabeche (Preserved Sardines/ Pickled)

I first saw this recipe at "Nuria's" blog "Spanish Recipes" when I saw it I knew it was something I had to make, looked so delicious and I love fish too so yeah :)

It's pretty much fish that is floured then fried, finally preserved in a mixture of oil, vinegar, aromatics and spices of one's choice. So it's cooked and in a sense pickled because of the vinegar. In Spain things preserved in oil and vinegar are known as "Escabeche" it can be done with meats as well but it's a different process.

Growing up my grandmother would love buying canned sardines and fish that came packed in olive oil from Spain. Nowadays those are harder to come by and are getting pricey. So this satisfied her craving, and honestly it taste way better :)


-1/5- 2 lbs. sardines (cleaned, gutted, heads removed, rinsed well, pat-fry)
-salt to taste
-flour (enough to coat fish lightly)
-1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
-6 cloves garlic skin (lower stem removed, lightly pressed with a knife)
-2 bay leaves
-2 sprigs thyme or 2-4 sprigs rosemary or tablespoon dried oregano (aromatic herbs of your choice I used 4 rosemary sprigs)
-1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns (optional)
-1 tablespoon sweet smoked Spanish paprika (Pimenton Dulce de la Vera)
-1/2 cup vinegar (red, white, apple which ever your choice I use white)
-1/4 cup water


(1) Clean and gut the sardines, it's easy, simply make an incision down the stomach, pull everything out, and scrape out any black parts, remove the head (slice it off with a knife) then just pat-dry it.

(2) Get your sardines and season them with salt, then roll them in flour, and set the sardines aside.

(3) Heat olive oil in a large shallow pan on high heat as soon as the oil get's hot, it will release a fragrance not smoking however, to test if it is hot enough dip a wooden spoon or put once fish in it, if it bubbles and sizzles the oil is hot enough. At this point add sardines and lower heat to medium high. Fry them until golden brown on both sides. You may have to fry them in batches. I had to fry my sardines in two batches.

(3) Set them aside in a container.

(4) In the same oil, lower heat to medium high fry the garlic, bay leaves, aromatic herbs and black pepper corns.
(5) When the garlic changes color, remove from heat the pan, throw in sweet smoked spanish paprika, give a quick stir, add vinegar and water (careful it jumps) and a bit of salt, stir well. Bring to a boil on high heat for about 1 -2 minutes.
(6) Pour the boiling oil, vinegar, water, garlic and spice mixture over the sardines
These can last in the fridge a couple weeks maybe more, we finished them in less than a week, they taste better the next day :) You can eat them with anything, simply remove from the oil mixture and you can make sardine sandwiches inside a mini- baguette, put them on toast with some fire roasted red bell pepper, eat them with rice and any other sides, I like to eat them with just a large leafy salad dressed in olive oil, lime, and salt for a light healthy meal, etc. Truth be told I love love the oil it's preserved in I drizzle it with some of that oil whenever I eat it ;)

Please Note:
(1) I love the leftover oil, when you finish all the sardines and you don't know what to do with all that oil, I really like it drizzled over things or use it to make salads (I know I know sinful but the oil is infused with garlic, aromatics in my case I used rosemary, bay leaves, black peppercorns, and the wonderful sweet smoked Spanish paprika so it is so flavorful)

(2) This can be done with Mackarel fish, or fish steaks, in Cuban cooking they also make Escabeche usually using shark, sword fish or red snapper fillets/ steaks cut into pieces and the spice blend is different and maybe the procedure I honestly have never had "Escabeche" before until this time, so if anyone has any recipes for the "Cuban" version of this (I know my reader/ friend Mamey/ Omar might have a recipe he uses since he knows so much about Cuban cooking :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Nigerian Red Chicken Stew

Before I begin I am not sure if this is "authentic" or not, I've seen recipes and videos on youtube by Nigerian and non- Nigerian people cooking it and they all do it different, even some blogs I've seen. (some boil the meat first, etc.)

The recipe I use as a guideline is from a woman that calls her self "Chi Chi" (yes I know what that could be slang for in Spanish ha ha), but I don't do everything exactly as directed I just kinda do it my way.

Now with that said, I love love this stew, the commonalities I've seen among all recipes is that they all use onion, garlic, habaneros or scotch bonnets, salt, and bouillon cubes or powder.

My way is different when I cook chicken in the sense that I brown the chicken really well , creating a "fond"/ base for my sauce using the delicious caramelized brown bits on the bottom of the pan which I de-glaze. It makes a big difference, I also like to cut up my chicken bone in into small pieces it makes it very very flavorful, and the chicken cooks in the sauce as well until tender. Everything marries well. This stew can be done with any meat of your choice (goat, chicken, pork, beef, etc.)

I am not an expert or know anything about African cooking, but I do know how to make meat stews come out delicious :)


-3 lbs/ 1 whole chicken, cut into bite size pieces, cleaned
-salt and pepper to taste
-cooking oil
-1 large onion minced
-1 large thumb size piece of ginger minced
-1/2 head of garlic minced
-1 cup tomato sauce
-2 scotch bonnets or habanero peppers
-2 teaspoons curry powder (whatever your favorite curry powder is)
-1 teaspoon dried thyme (fresh works to)
-1 bay leaf
-2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
-water (enough to barely cover chicken)

(1) Heat a large pot on high heat, add oil, and when it's almost gonna smoke, add chicken and allow to brown on all sides.
(2) Meanwhile puree your tomato sauce with your habanero or scotch peppers, set aside.

(3) Chop everything and get everything ready while your chicken is browning, when chicken is done browning set aside, and add a little more oil, add your minced onion, garlic, and ginger sautee until fragrant, make sure to scrape to get the flavorful golden caramelization.
(4) Then add your curry powder, thyme, and bay leaf. Stir together until fragrant maybe 30 seconds don't let it burn. Add the chicken back and coat with everything.
(5) Add enough water to barely cover the chicken and the bouillon, bring to a rolling boil and add salt to taste. Allow to simmer 30 minutes until chicken is very tender.
(6) After 30 minutes remove from heat.
It goes very well served over white fluffy rice, with some fried plantains and if you wish some cooked greens or something. At home we sauteed some asparagus with lots of olive oil and garlic.

(1) I use 2-3 scotch bonnets or habaneros with the seeds and all because I like it very very spicy, you can use 1 habanero if you wish, or substitute it for a green or red bell pepper then it wouldn't be spicy at all.

(2) The black pepper, curry powder, dried thyme, bay leaf, and ginger are optional but I really like the flavor of all those combines together and I believe it's what makes it special and unique. If it didn't have that, it would taste like the spicy Mexican tomato based sauces then you can add cilantro ha ha.

(3) You can also use 6 tomatoes really well pureed instead of the tomato sauce, but I prefer the tomato sauce.

(4) Let me tell you this is my boyfriends favorite stews and has become one of my favorites as well.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Arroz Con Pollo en Forma de Paella (Chicken and Rice in Paella form)

Before I begin for this recipe your going to need a "Paellera" which is a large flat round pan, or a large round kinda flat clay pot, if not it won't come out the same or work. Also if your burner is too small it won't work well or you'll have to rotate it many times.

I've been looking forward to making a Seafood Paella, but wanted to give myself a practice round so I made "Arroz Con Pollo" (chicken with rice) and cooked it in the same fashion (cooking time, liquid ratios, technique) that I would use to make the seafood paella.

Traditionally the technique to cook "Paella" is to cook outdoors on charcoal or wood fire or indoors over flaming coals. Some people use large burners also. The rice is never covered, it's cooked open in a large flat pan called a "Paellera"in english a "Paella pan" I didn't feel like cooking it outdoors and was okay using one of my normal stove burners since it was large enough, and I ended up using to burners towards the end to get my rice to cook evenly. Rotating and technique was important on my stove top.

I've made this dish before for a friend at his house, unfortunately his stove was really small and the burner so i could never get my paellera in the center of the fire, the rice didn't cook evenly, parts burnt and the fire just wasn't large and wide enough to make all the water evaporate perfectly. I ended up with mushy rice.

But here at home it came out perfect :)


-3 lbs. chicken cut into small pieces
-1 onion minced
-1 bell pepper minced
-1/2 head garlic minced
-2 ripe grated tomatoes or chopped or 1/2 cup tomato sauce
-salt to taste
-ground black pepper to taste
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-2 bay leaves
-1 can or bottle of your favorite beer or 1 cup dry white wine
-5 cups water plus 1 more so I guess 6 (you may need more depending on your burner or stove)
-2 1/2 cups short grain rice
-1 tsp. bijol/ colorante/ saffron or a sazon goya packet with achiote or azafran for color

-1/2- 1 cup frozen peas for color
-1 fire roasted red bell pepper cut into strips for color


(1) Heat a the large pan on high heat, when hot, quickly add olive oil, lower heat to medium high, sprinkle with salt so chicken won't stick to much, and add chicken, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Brown chicken on all sides

(2) While chicken is browning, chop your onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Once browned, stir in onion and bell pepper, allow to cook down until translucent, add garlic cook until fragrant, add tomato sauce stir well and reduce, add all your spices, bay leave, cumin, oregano. Stir well, and stream in beer all of it, allow to reduce on high heat and it will deglaze everything to until it's thick and coats the chicken.
(3) Add your water and bring to a boil on high heat, add saffron or bijol or whatever coloring you used, along with 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon (optional) lower heat to medium high and allow chicken to boil for about 10-15 minutes uncovered or more until it's tender.
(4) Somewhere in between while doing all that stuff, clean your rice by washing it 3 times, and drain it well, add it to the boiling pot in the form of a cross (I don't know why it's superstition or tradition I guess)
(5) Spread it evenly, throw your peas (optional) allow to boil on high heat for 5 minutes, then lower heat to medium high for 15 minutes
(6) Turn off heat, cover with a cloth, and seal with a top if you have one let it rest at least 10 more minutes (this will make the harder rice on top poof or be tender enough to eat)
(7) Uncover, decorate with fire roasted red bell pepper
(8) Served it at the table family style so everyone can just pile it up on their plates, along with a delicious salad. Felt like doing this close- up
On my plate, I went a little light on the yellow coloring but it was still delicious
*I have a pot of boiling water on the side, in case the rice absorbs all the liquid to quickly and needs more, I ladle hot boiling water or broth carefully.

*Also this is the best Arroz Con Pollo I have made, my family loved it! From now on this will be the "Arroz Con Pollo" I will be making :)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Tortitas de Camaron en Chile Colorado Con Nopales (Mexican Shrimp Fritter and Cactus Stew)

Again I will say we have lots of Nopales (cactus pads) as you guys already probably know, so here's a dish I'm posting for "YayaOrchids" who kindly asked for this dish :)

In this dish shrimp fritters are made from a fluffy egg batter and ground dried shrimp, and simmered in "Chile Colorado" a flavorful smooth, smokey, rich Mexican red sauce, married with julienned nopales.

The version I present today is a very simple and "typical" version, it's what you would get at any Mexican eatery.

This is my mother's recipe for the typical traditional one, but let me tell you, my mother has a special one she makes RARELY which is more elaborate, complex, and non- traditional when I say rarely I mean like once a year rare, she made it already this year when I wasn't present so I'm out of luck, but when she makes it again I'll catch her in the act and make a post.

Ingredients for fritters:
-1 packet 4 oz. ground dry shrimp powder
-5 egg whites
-5 egg yolks
-1 teaspoon ground black pepper
-2 tablespoons flour

Ingredients for the sauce:
-8 dry chile california or guajillos (depends on how spicy you want it Californias have no spiciness, guajillos are hot, if you wish a combination of both can be used)
-2 dried chile pasillas
-15 dry "chile japones" or dry "chile de arbol" (optional I added them because I only had Chile California's and no Guajillos so I used them to make the sauce spicy)
-1/2 onion
-2 cloves garlic
-1 teaspoon ground black pepper
-1 teaspoon cumin
-1/2 teaspoon cloves
-1 heaping teaspoonful chicken bouillon

Ingredients to prep cactus:
-8-12 cactus pads cleaned, washed, thorns removed, julienned
-2 cloves garlic
-1/4 onion
-2-3 teaspoons salt (to taste)

(1) Prep your sauce, get a medium pot, fill with water and leave on high until it comes to a boil, meanwhile remove stem from all dry chilies, and remove the seeds and veins from the California chilies, pasillas, BUT NOT from the "chile de arbol" or "chile japones" leave those whole but without stem. When water is boiling add all the dry chilies, stir well, let boil about 1 minute then turn off heat and cover. Allow to rest 10- 20 minutes. Set aside.

(2) While the chilies are soaking, I got a hot griddle heated it on high, then put a small layer of aluminum, I lowered to medium high and charred 1/2 an onion, and the 2 garlic cloves for the sauce. When blackened and fragrant on some sides, peel and set aside. (this is optional you can use them raw) (yes i have been multi- tasking I have to for this recipe)

(3) After chilies have soaked, add them to a blender, with the liquid they cooked in, along with the onion, garlic, cumin, black pepper, cloves, and chicken bouillon.

(4) Heat a pot on very high heat if you wish you can coat the bottom of the pot with oil or lard but that is optional I did heat some lard in the pot and when the pot is very very hot, strain the blended sauce in, bring to a rolling boil and thin out with some water or more of the cooking liquid if necessary (the sauce should be as thick or thin as you'd like so it's a matter of preference how much liquid u add). When sauce boils turn off and leave pot alone.

(5) Now prep your cactus, in a pot boil water with 2 garlic cloves, 1/4 onion, and salt, add cactus and boil until tender uncovered about 10 minutes, drain well and set aside, discard onion, and garlic. Set aside.

(6) Now prep your fritters, have a plate with paper towels to drain the fritters. Now beat egg whites to a stick peak, beat egg yolks back in 1 at a time, beat in 2 tablespoons flour a little at a time, along with 1 teaspoon black pepper. Now fold in shrimp powder.
(7) Heat enough oil to deep-fry or pan-fry (at least 1 inch of oil) on medium high, and fry the shrimp fritter batter by large scoop sized I used a large kitchen spoon, brown on one side then flip and brown on the other, set aside on plate to drain. When all are done, set aside.

(8) Now putting this dish together, bring your red sauce to a boil, add cactus that's already prepped, cooked and drained, when it comes back to a boil, slowly add shrimp fritters one at a time, they will float up and most of the cactus will stay at the bottom. Allow to simmer 3-5 minutes. Taste red sauce for salt add more if needed ( I doubt it) then turn off and cover.

(9) Serve with fresh tortillas alone, or with beans. If you wish a Mexican red rice. It's up to you.

-The shrimp powder is very salty, so salt the sauce towards the end after the shrimps fritters simmer in the sauce a bit, if it needs more than add, but don't add too much as they sit their flavor and salt will infuse into the sauce more.

-I made the red sauce without tomatoes this time, because they aren't necessary and I didn't have any, but if you wish 2 ripe Roma tomatoes can be simmered together with the chilies.