Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Estofado de Puerco Con Chocolate (Spanish Pork Stew with Chocolate)

Growing up the only meat dishes I had that had chocolate in them was the Mexican "Mole Poblano" and other dark colored "Mole" sauces my mother would prepare (whom is Mexican) which are like a type of Mexican curry (it has an array of spices, dried chiles, and includes chocolate as well, sounds odd but is a must try)

Anyways, I also grew up on Spanish and Cuban food prepared by my grandmother and honestly never had choclate in any of those dishes, but I did notice in many of the Spanish blogs I read that braised meat dishes cooked in wine, etc. sometimes included chocolate or atleast some cooks liked to do this. I thought it was very odd, but was familiar with the idea because of my mother. I always wanted to try it and during my summer break was finally able to. I originally learned this recipe from Maria's blog "Las Hambres" (the Hungers) but adjusted it to suit the ingredients more readily available to me and in my pantry as well as my families tastes. Her version is made with wild pork, and dark chocolate, etc. here is my variation :)


-1 giant onion or 2 medium ones or 3-4 small ones thickly chopped
-2-3 lbs pork shoulder meat or pork spare ribs
-1 head of garlic cloves (cloves seperated but left whole)
-4 small or 2 large bay leaves
-1 teaspoonful of black peppercorns
-3 cups water
-1/4 cup vinegar
-1 cup dry white wine
-salt to taste (use about 2 tsp.)
-1/2 tablet of "Mexican Chocolate" (like Abuelita or Ibarra brand)

(1) Get a large deep pot or pan and add the onions in one layer
(2) Add the pork meat in an even layer over the onions, season liberally with salt. Now add the garlic, black peppercorns and bay leaves in one layer
(3 ) Pour your vinegar, wine, water and olive oil. Bring to a rolling boil on high heat, cover and simmer for about 3 hours until meat is extremely tender.
(5) When meat is tender after about 3 hours. At this point add your chocolate pieces and allow to melt into the dish,
shake the pan while cooking but in a circular motion gently to make everything incorporate (just make the sauce gently swoosh and shake to emulsify sorta).
(6) Turn off heat and serve, you can enjoy it with a simple salad and some good crusty bread. Or like most things I eat over a bed of fluffy white rice enjoy!
The amount of chocolate you use is to your taste, the original recipe uses 1 square of dark chocolate, I prefer Mexican chocolate such as "Chocolate Abuelita" I just like the taste, you can honestly use whatever chocolate you prefer for this, and as much as you want to your taste, just don't it over power the dish.... although honestly I used 1 whole tablet cut in 6 which is about 4 squares... it was real rich and delicious but I tasted the dish as I added, I suggest using only 1/2 a tablet. My father felt like I added to much, however my mother, little sister, and myself loved it with a whole tablet. I suggest adding 1 square at a time, like add a square or piece and let it melt into the sauce, taste it, if your satisfied don't add more, if your not then keep adding until you feel the chocolate taste or hint is just right for your preference :)

Soooo a little update about my life (you may skip):
I just started school again (yes I know early) for me it started on August 23rd, and this year seems like it's more book heavy for me than the other's and am taking a little bit more challenging courses. So I'm finding myself a little over loaded and it's barely the first week. So I may be absent from my blog for a long time, or just post less frequently or very irregularly/ at random.

I just felt like posting a recipe for my first week of school in case I don't in a very long time :)

I also wanted to share this recipe because for me it's a great dish to cook when going to school because if I'm home, this dish is pretty much just throwing everything in the pot, covering and forgetting about for 3 hours, and you can steam rice in the rice cooker while it cooks. So in between you can just leave and study in the comfort of your home and have this wonderful meal cooking for you, honestly during school I still cook, I just don't have time to blog about it always. I usually cook stuff I can throw together and leave alone while I study, or put together very quick sauteed or pan-fried dishes I can eat with rice or alone :) Honestly even if I go to school I usually never rely on fast food and quick junk snacks, I almost always take prepared meals, and if I can't cook my mother does (I live relatively close to campus) and am lucky enough to know my way in the kitchen and cook a variety because when I can't spend hours in the kitchen, I can whip up more simple stuff that can be just as satisfying as those labour intensive dishes in a short amount of time. (recently this week I've been eating a lot of mixed vegetable, meat, and rice or noodle dishes) the time consuming part is blogging which however I love :D

Friday, August 13, 2010

Potaje de Frijol de Carita Con Calabaza y Col (Black Eyed Peas Stewed w/ Vegetables)

This a very simple vegetarian/ vegan friendly black eyed pea stew. I make this when I want something really filling and satisfying but somehow not harsh on the stomach if you know what I mean, like when I want a bean stew that's real hardy and can stand alone as a dish but without all the pork and sausage (which I have nothing against, honestly if you'd like you can boil some Spanish chorizo together with the beans then slice it and add it back to the pot)

For those that want a super filling, heavy, hardy black eyed pea stew with lots of yummy pork products and meat check out my post for "Potaje de Frijol de Carita"


-1 lbs. black eyed peas (soaked over night, drained)
-water (enough to submerge black eyed peas 1 1/2 inches)
-1/4- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
-1 onion finely chopped
-3 cloves garlic minced
-1 large tomato grated
-1 tablespoon sweet smoked spanish paprika (Pimenton Dulce de la Vera)
-1 lbs. calabaza cut into 1 inch cubes (carribean, banana, butternut, Hubbard, or kabucha squash work well)
-1/2 small head of savoy, nappa, or regular green cabbage, thinly sliced into small strips (this dish is best with savoy cabbage but I only had regular green cabbage on hand)
-salt to taste

(1) Drain black eyed peas that have been soaked over night. Cover with fresh water about 1 1/2 inches, bring to a boil on high and cover to simmer until tender about 40 minutes is what it took for me.
(2) Meanwhile, heat a medium frying pan with olive oil on medium high heat, when oil is hot add onions and sautee until onions are translucent about 5-7 minutes, add garlic and sautee an additional 3 minutes until fragrant, add grated tomato and cook down 5-7 more minutes until tomato looses all it's moisture, quickly add 1 tablespoon of sweet smoked spanish paprika stir 1 minute until fragrant and remove from heat set aside.
While you were preparing the spanish "sofrito" you can prep all your vegetables, here's a picture of everything ready to just add to the pot
(3) When black eyed peas are tender, add the "sofrito" (sauteed contents), and the calabaza. Let boil about 15 minutes until squash is tender,
then add shredded cabbage and cook an additional 5 minutes.
(4) Turn off heat and enjoy :) you can serve it as a vegetable soup with any meal (though it's heavy) or eat it on it's own with rice or bread for a light lunch if you'd like a nice raw salad of tomato, cucumber, maybe avocado served over watercress or any lettuce dressed with olive oil, lime, and salt.
I was inspired to make this when I saw a post in another Spanish blog called "Amarillo Azafran" her post for "Alubias Carillas Con Verdura" (black eyed peas with vegetables) I thought it was a great idea, and I was already familiar with marrying cabbage with calabaza in bean stews (my grandmother/ Tata would always do this for her signature dish "Potaje de Garbanzos" a.k.a. Garbanzo Stew)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Chicken Afritada with Pineapple

In Filipino cooking there is a variety of tomato based stews heavily influenced by Spanish Cuisine. Chicken Afritada is one of them, simply chicken stewed in tomato sauce with garlic, onion, and bell pepper, salt, pepper and whatever spices/ herbs the cook prefers. Pretty similar to the tomato Spaniard and Cuban tomato based dishes I grew up with, however I'm also familiar with the Filipino variations of those stews since one of my aunts through marriage is Filipino and so is one of my best girlfriends Shantall :) however their stews have their own twist and a little change here and there makes a difference in taste and makes them unique.

I've been meaning to try a version of Chicken Afritada prepared with pineapples, giving it a sweet and sour type contrast, kinda reminds me of the Chinese-American sweet n sour chicken or pork as well :)

So without further chit chat this is my version of the Pineapple Chicken Afritada from observing other's prepare it and what I think works best for it :)

-1 whole chicken cut into 12 pieces (washed/ cleaned well, drained)
-1 onion chopped
-4 cloves garlic minced
-1 can 8 oz. tomato sauce
-1 can 20 oz. of pineapple chunks (reserve juice)
-1/2- 1 cup pineapple juice (from a can of pineapple chunks)
-4 medium carrots peeled cut thinly diagonally
-1/2 a large red bell pepper cut into large squares
-1/2 a large green bell pepper cut into large squares

(1) Season chicken with salt and pepper, marinade for 15- 20 minutes. Now heat a real large pan or deep-pot on very high heat, add oil and let it heat up, and brown chicken all over, if your using a smaller deep pan or pot you will need to do this in batches. Add garlic and onion and stir for about 5-7 minutes until onion is translucent
(2) Add tomato sauce, pineapple juice and bring to a rolling boil, cover and let it simmer 25 minutes on medium low heat.
(3) Uncover and add carrot bring to a rolling boil on high, cover then simmer again on medium low for 5 minutes, uncover add bell peppers let it simmer 2-3 minutes
(4) Add pineapple chunks stir well and let simmer an additional 1-2 minutes
(5) Enjoy serve with lots of hot steamy white rice :)

For my Cuban readers or Spaniard readers we can think of this as "Fricase de Pollo con Piña" or "Estofado de Pollo Con Piña" give it a try :)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Estofado de Lentejas Con Chorizo (Lentil and Sausage Stew)

Surfing the web I recently discovered a blog named "Las Hambres" (translates to "The Hungers") by Maria as soon as I saw this lentil stew in her blog I knew it was something I had to try, looked real comforting, simple and familiar. I grew up eating Spanish and Cuban bean stews and still do to this day so this diffidently hit home.

So anyways, yesterday I finally had the opportunity to cook this lentil stew, because there was nothing in the fridge I wanted to eat for lunch, so while the lentil stew cooked I multi-tasked, prepared some white rice, and made a salad I wrapped up everything in under 45 minutes and had a wonderful lunch & was able to also prepare a meat stew which I left simmering to be ready for dinner time so my family could eat it with the leftover white rice and salad I made for lunch (I'll blog about the meat stew sometime this month =)

So I'm blogging about it because well duh I wanna share the love with all of you and also because I prepared it somewhat differently, but it was inspired by her recipe and is very very similar. From now on when I want a simple Spaniard lentil stew with just chorizo this will be my go to way of preparing it :)

Ingredients to boil lentils with:

-2 cups (1 lbs.) dried lentils (rinsed and drained)
-water (enough to submerge lentils 2 inches in water)
-2 medium carrots, peeled cut into rounds
-1/2 onion left intact
-1/2 a small green or red bell pepper or 1/4 of a large one left intact uncut
-3 cloves garlic unpeeled and whole
-2 bay leaves
-1 teaspoon black peppercons
-2 Spanish Chorizos (I used "Chorizo de Bilbao)

Ingredients for the sofrito:
-1/4- 1/2 cup olive oil
-1/2 onion finely chopped/ minced
-3 cloves of garlic finely minced
-1 large ripe tomato grated
-1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
-1 tablespoon sweet smoked Spanish paprika
-salt to taste (I used about 2 teaspoons but it really is to taste)

(1) Throw lentils in a pot, add carrot, onion, bell pepper, garlic, bay leaves, and black peppercorns and spanish chorizo. Bring to a boil on high heat and cover, lower heat to medium and cook until lentils are tender (about 35- 40 minutes)

(2) While lentils are simmering heat a large pan with a generous amount of olive oil on medium high heat to start your "sofrito", add the onion and cook until translucent and caramelized about 7- 10 minutes, add garlic and cook down until fragrant about 3 minutes, add grated tomato and cook until the tomato has no liquid left about an additional 10 minutes, finally add balsamic vinegar give it a good stir, and then the sweet smoked paprika stir for about 1 minute constantly so it doesn't burn and get's fragrant. Turn off and set aside.
and then the sweet smoked paprika stir for about 1 minute constantly so it doesn't burn and get's fragrant. Turn off and set aside.

(3) When lentils are tender add about 30- 35 minutes, add the sofrito mixture, stir, taste for salt and adjust it to taste and let it simmer an additional 5 minutes, turn off heat,
remove the chorizo's, take the casing off if necessary and slice it into 1/4- 1/2 inch rounds, stir it back into the stew.
(4) Serve on it's own with over white rice or in a deep bowl with bread. A salad would go nicely with it too.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Horchata de Avena (Cold Oatmeal & Cinnamon Milk Drink)

So before I start just wanna give a quick brief, from my observations for those not familiar the term "Horchata" is basically a chilled beverage made from either grains, seeds, or nuts that are grounded up with spices (almost always cinnamon from what I've seen), and then strained with water to create a milky chilled drink that is sometimes combined with milk to make it richer and sugar to taste.

The most common one here where I'm from in Southern California is the Mexican Horchata, which is like a cinnamon infused rice milk, the second most common one is the typical Salvadorian one made from some type of nut and cinnamon. I know in Spain it is made from "Tigernuts" however many versions and variations exist all great in their own way :)

If you want a more detailed explanation check out wikipedia's entry for "Horchata"

So today I present to you a version made from ground toasted oatmeal and cinnamon I learned from my mother's Salvadoran friend we all just call her "Gomez". It is truely out of this world delicious and EXTREMELY refreshing in the summer, a glass of this cold will make you feel in heaven. The best part is that it is ridiculously easy to make (well at least for me)


-1 large cinnamon stick (real cinnamon like Mexican cinnamon not "Saigon Cinnamon"/ Cassia Bark I'll explain it at the end of the post under "PLEASE NOTE")
-1 cup plain uncooked oatmeal (it can be quick cooking oats or the regular oats as long as it's uncooked and plain)
-water (as needed enough to fill a pitcher or to keep diluting you'll see)
-white cane sugar to taste (depends how sweet you like it, my family uses up to 1 cup)

(1) Heat a pan on medium high heat, break the cinnamon stick and toast it, takes about 5 minutes stirring occasionally don't burn it.
(2) When fragrant add the oatmeal and stir frequently until it changed color, turns into a golden beige color, and it will also release a fragrance
(3) At this point throw all the toasted oatmeal and cinnamon into the blender and blend with water (enough to liquify it), then strain it into a large pitcher
(4) Now to extract more from the ground mixture, in the strainer where all the ground stuff is left add more water gently scraping and swishing it with your hand, until the pitcher is full
(5) Add generous amounts of ice, or cool it in the fridge and it'll be ready to serve :)

About the cinnamon you see there are two types of cinnamon like the "REAL" cinnamon, which is the one cultivated in Mexico it looks different, is tender, dry, and breaks easily, it is usually like a fat log, really light brown, has a very light wood color. In large quantities it exposes no toxicity so it's pretty safe for anyone who uses cinnamon real often.

Then there is "Cassia Bark" sold in the USA as "Cinnamon" sometimes as "Saigon" cinnamon, this one has a slightly spicy taste, sort of reddish, and is often sold as cinnamon. The sticks are also smaller and it is much firmer and hard it has great flavor. In large amounts it can toxic and harmful. However I'll be honest I prefer this one, but when making the drink it doesn't get ground up as easily because it is harder, and sometimes you'll get hard bits of it in the drink, nothing straining multiple times won't fix, but yeah that's my reason for using real cinnamon when making this drink.

If interested in more just google about it ha ha, I don't want to write a bunch of paragraphs about Cassia vs. true cinnamon he he.