Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mantecaditos con Guayaba / Butter Cookies with Guava

The Pioneer Woman pointed me to a site the other day that I have fallen in love with: The Noshery. This girl has a Puerto Rican background and lives in the south. So she's got some great culinary background and I'm dying to try so many of her recipes. The one I found her through were these Mantecaditos con Guayaba (Butter Cookies with Guava) - a latin twist on a quite popular Christmas Cookie. I had just happened to buy a whole tub of guava paste and after we'd eaten a quarter of it with saltine crackers, I was wondering what to do with the rest of it. And plop, this recipe just fell into my blog reader. Perfect.


1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup guava paste, diced

Preheat oven to 350. Cream sugar, shortening, and butter in a large bowl. Mix in egg yolk and almond extract. Blend in flour a little at a time until well combined and chunky. Shape a tablespoon of dough into a ball. Repeat with remaining dough. Place the cookies on a cookie sheet. Using your thumb, press down on the center of the cookie. Fill the dimple with about 1 teaspoon of guava paste.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until light golden brown. Transfer to cooling rack and enjoy a little tropical twist on your Christmas classic.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Orange Cookies

There's something about Christmas that reminds me of oranges. Perhaps it goes back to the visits from Santa Claus at our annual church Christmas party where he would make an appearance and bring a bag of goodies for all of the children. The contents were the same year after year: an orange, a handful of whole peanuts and old fashioned hard candy. The other day I was in a citrusy Christmas mood and decided to whip up a batch of my grandmother Leann's yummy orange cookies.

Cookie Ingredients:

2/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons finely grated orange rind
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix shortening, sugar, and eggs. Stir in orange juice and rind. Stir dry ingredients together and blend in other mixture. Drop by teaspoon 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes or until delicately brown.

Orange Butter Icing:

2 1/2 tablespoons soft butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons finely grated orange rind

Mix all ingredients together and beat until well blended. Frost cookies while still warm.

Makes 4 dozen.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fresco de Piña / Pineapple Horchata

Remember the very first time I posted on this blog way back in 2007 and I showed you a bag of pineapple skins I was going to freeze to use another day and told you I'd share with you another recipe for it? Well, three and a half years later, here it is. Finally.

This Fresco de Piña is another original of Doña Rina's. She doesn't like to waste any part of the pineapple so instead of throwing away the "pine" she washes it well and makes a delicious rice/pineapple/cinnamon drink with it. I like to call it pineapple horchata. That's just my personal interpretation.

You'll need:

Pineapple skins of one pineapple
2-3 cinnamon sticks
1 cup of uncooked rice
sugar to sweeten

1. So, once you've sliced your pineapple and you're tempted to throw the skins away, instead fill a pot with water and throw the skins in there.
2. Add cinnamon sticks. If using cinnamon sticks from the Mexican food section, be generous.
3. Add 1 cup uncooked rice.

4. Cover and boil until rice opens and is soft and cinnamon sticks are completely open. Mixture will be very watery.
5. Blend entire boiled mixture from the pot (including cinnamon sticks) until there are no major chunks.

6. Strain mixture into a pitcher.

7. Using a spoon, press any extra liquid out of the remaining strained ingredients.

8. Fill pitcher with cool water until drink is at required consistency and sweeten to your desired sweetness. (It takes quite a bit of sugar to get this sweet).

Sometimes she prepares this drink thicker than others. I prefer it a little more watery than thick. Make sure to chill before serving.

Enjoy with any meal or as a delicious refresher after a long days work!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pupusas de Queso

I can't remember the first time I ever tried a pupusa. It may have been on a trip to California with my friend Christine back in 2002, or was it 2003? Some guy wanted to win her over and so he took us to a restaurant and gave us both gifts and la, la, la. All I remember is that the food was delicious. And pupusas were one of the many things I tried that day.

There are lots of different versions of pupusas. In my own terms, it's like a stuffed corn tortilla topped with a delicious curtido - a lightly fermented cabbage slaw. Lots eat in with their hands folded in half like a street taco. I'm weird and prefer it with a fork with lots of extra curtido on top.


The Dough:
1 bag maseca masa (instant corn masa flour)

The rest:
1 lb quesillo or other cheese (mozzarella)
1 head cabbage
1 onion
1-2 or more jalapeños (personal preference)
1-2 carrots
olive oil

Step 1: Prepare the Cheese / Quesillo

Tear the quesillo into small chunks and set aside in bowl.

Step 2: Prepare the onion and pepper

Olive oil
1 yellow onion
1 jalapeño pepper (or more depending on your "gusto")
Vinegar to taste

Slice the onion and saute with jalapeño in olive oil with a bit of salt and vinegar to taste. Saute the onion just long enough that it still has a crunch to it. Set aside.

Step 3: Prepare the salad/curtido:

Finely slice a head of cabbage.

See how fast that knife moves . . . that's skills!
Place the cabbage in a strainer in the sink and pour boiling water over it to soften it up. Let water drain and place cabbage back in salad bowl.
Shred carrots, and add to the cabbage in a salad bowl.
Mix cabbage and carrots.
Mix and season with salt, a bit of oregano, and a little vinegar between the fingers in one circular motion around the salad. You can also substitute lime juice for the vinegar, but I prefer the vinegar.
Step 4: The Dough (La Masa)

Purchase a bag of Maseca (Instant corn masa flour) in the Mexican food section of your local grocery store. Follow the instructions to prepare the "masa" (dough) depending on how many pupusas you want to make. Two or three feed the average adult. And this dough is simple. You can't go wrong with it.

After preparing the dough, grab a small ball of it and roll it in your hand. Flatten it from the center out while rotating it in your hand to form a circle. After making the circle, form the edges upward and press the center down to form a pocket to place the hold cheese in the middle.

Place a generous amount of cheese in the middle of the dough.
Use the hand the dough is in to enclose the cheese completely in the dough.

Pinch off any excess dough in the center.

Flatten the dough into a thick tortilla, rotating it constantly and you press it to flatten evenly throughout.

Place the tortilla on a piece of plastic to finish flattening and stretching.
Heat pan or electric frying griddle to high and grease. Place the pupusas in pan and brown on each side.
Serve with the salad (curtido) and the onion mixture.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Vintage Aprons Discount

Check out these darling vintage aprons . . . even if you don't like to cook much, you'll still look super sexy taking that frozen pot-pie out of the oven! ;) I can't wait to get mine in the mail this week. If you're looking for a last minute Christmas gift, I know she has a few more in stock . . . email me by 5:00 p.m. Friday 12/17 at reyesdm@gmail.com and you will get 10% off your order.

*Photos courtesy Meghan Crews

Broccoli Soup - Honduran Style

One of my favorite comfort foods that Rina makes is her broccoli soup. And my girls love it too. There's nothing better than to know your kids are asking for second servings on their green veggies!


2 large slices of onion
1 stalk of celery
2 gloves of garlic, minced
2 heads of broccoli
1 large potato, with skin (or 2 medium potatoes)
water from potato
1/4 tsp cumin
salt & pepper to taste

1. Wash and Dice potato (with skins) and place in water to boil (just enough to cover it).

2. Saute onion, celery, garlic, and broccoli until the onion is clear (broccoli may still be firm).

3. Place broccoli and other sauteed ingredients in a blender with a small portion of the water from the potato and blend until smooth.

4. Pour liquefied ingredients back into the soup pot and do the same with the potato - blend until smooth with remaining water.

5. Add potato liquid to the warming ingredients in the soup pot and bring to a boil on medium heat.
6. Add a tablespoon or two of butter, a 1/4 tsp (or more if you like it) of cumin. Salt and Pepper to taste. Mix final ingredients well.

Serve warm with bread, toast, or a tasty grilled cheese sandwich . . . or a black bean and cheese quesadilla, like I did here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Enchiladas Hondureñas

I love visits from my mother-in-law for many reasons, but one of the biggest is that she pretty much takes over the kitchen. Some people might not like this, but for my busy life, it's like she comes to my rescue. Not only does it make Armando happy to have a visit from his mom, but we all benefit from her culinary genius. She loves cooking for others. And we love eating. It's a win-win. She's been gone for a week now and as a way of honoring all she did for us while she was here, I'm dedicating this week as "En la Cocina con Doña Rina" week ("In the Kitchen with Miss Rina"). Stay tuned for something different and delicious!

This recipe is kind of like Thanksgiving dinner: it takes some time to prepare and you might feel tired afterward, but with simple planning and preparation, all of the extra work put into it will be all worth it the moment you sink your teeth into the contrasting layers of deliciousness it has to offer.

I've come to know Hondurans from "Ceiba", Hondurans from "Han Pedro" and Hondurans from "Tegus" and they will all argue with you on how a proper Enchilada should be built, but I have to say of all that I have tried, Doña Rina's make it to the top of my list and it's not just cause I want brownie points from my mother-in-law. There's something about the contrasting flavors, textures, and temperatures that just make this something I crave when my mother-in-law is 12 hours and 2 layovers away. So, hopefully after I type all of these instructions out and cheer you all on to take the time to prepare this, I'll do the same some day and surprise Armando with one of his favorites.

If you look at the picture above, you'll see that the Enchiladas are basically like what we would call a "tostada" in the states with the fried corn tortilla bottom, a layer of well flavored ground beef and layers of cabbage and salsa on top, but what you don't know about the Honduran Enchilada is that hidden between the layer of shredded cabbage and the meat are diced boiled potatoes, sliced boiled eggs, and fried sweet plantains. Those three ingredients, flavors, and contrasting textures take this dish to a whole new level.

Step 1: Prepare meat for marinating.

Dice the following and mix well into a pound or more of ground beef:

1/2 onion
3 cloves garlic
1/2 green pepper
1 roma tomato
Lots of cumin
Sometimes I dump a bit of Worcestershire sauce into the meat.
plenty of salt and pepper
You can add ground achiote for color (also found in the mexican food spice section of your local grocer) Achiote isn't used for flavor, but plenty of it will give the meat a nice color. Color is EVERYTHING in Honduran cooking. Everything.

Cover and let flavors mix. I would even recommend prepping the meat mixture the night before so that the flavors have time to marinate the meat well. While the meat soaks up all the flavor, prep the following:

Step 2: Boil Potatoes and Eggs

Peel 1-2 potatoes and place in pot of water on stove to boil. Place 2 or 3 eggs in with them to hard boil them. While those are on cooking:

Step 3: Shred Dry Cheese

Also known as Queso Seco or Queso Cotijo from your local grocer - fresh Mexican food section. If you can't find any of these cheeses, Parmesan will have to do.

Step 4: Finely shred cabbage.

This step should be a separate post in and of itself. Latins have a way with finely shredding cabbage. It's an art. [Note to self: Hone your skills of finely shredding cabbage and teach the rest of the blogging world how to do it too.] For now, all I can say is find a super-sharp knife (for dicing) and find the most dense head of cabbage and slice it paper thin.

Step 4: The sauce.

Ingredients: Butter or olive oil, finely diced onion and garlic, tomato paste or sauce, chicken broth, salt, pepper, cumin and a bit of brown sugar. I will apologize ahead of time, but this sauce has no specific recipe. Trust me, it will all work out.

Saute onion and garlic in oil or butter until onion is clear. Add tomato paste or sauce and bring to boil. Add salt, pepper, and cumin to taste. A guestimate would be about a tsp of salt or a bit more, a dash of pepper and 1/2 tsp or more of cumin. Add broth to thin the sauce and give it a good flavor. At the end, add a pinch or seven of brown sugar and mix and dissolve in the boiling sauce. Remove from heat and cover until time to serve.

Step 5: Cook the meat.

In a large pan, fry meat mixture until cooked through. Remove from heat and cover until time to serve.

Step 6: Fry the plantains
Again, this might be a topic of another post in an of itself, but lets assume you have been successful in finding non-bruised, ripe, plantains. You've opened the peel (which is much harder to open than a banana - use a knife to slice it open) and you have sliced the plantain in half lengthwise and have heated the oil to fry them. Fry until golden brown. And try to refrain from eating them all before serving the enchiladas.

Step 7: The tortilla

If you're out for real authentic (which is so much better), then heat a pan of vegetable oil and hand-fry the corn tortillas for serving. If you're lazy like I sometimes am, I skip this step and use the ready-made tostadas. Armando hates that part. That's why it's so wonderful to have a mother-in-law that visits and cooks. :)

Finally: Putting it all together

Begin by putting a spoonful or two or three of meat on the tostada. Then add hand-picked potatoes (3 or 4), a slice of boiled egg, and 2 or three pieces of fried plantain.

Add a small amount of finely shredded cabbage on top.

Cover generously with queso seco (dry cheese).

Drizzled the sauce over the top.

And enjoy trying to fit a bite into your mouth. Have a fork on hand to finish off what falls on your plate.
Perhaps we could call it a Honduran Sloppy-Joe.

I'd love to hear if you attempt to make this. And if you live anywhere within driving radius, please call, I'll be over for dinner!