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Sweet Plantain Canoes filled with Creamed Spinach

8 May

It’s incredible when you have the opportunity to live outside your native country, how you turn more patriotic than the flag.

I developed this recipe as part of a special post for my friend Marixsa’s blog, Mamá Boricua en Brooklyn.    She’s sharing a series of articles celebrating the Puerto Rican Parade in NYC under the moniker Abrazos Boricuas.  She was gracious to invite me to share a bit of my experience living and experiencing the Puerto Rican Day Parade for the first time, 20 years ago!!!  Can you believe it?!?!

abrazos-boricuas

If you want to read more about my story and the pride I feel about flaunting my “mancha de plátano”, please visit Mamá Boricua en Brooklyn.  And to her readers who are visiting KarmaFree Cooking for the first time, we welcome you with open arms.  Here I share many vegetarian recipes recipes that express my love for my beautiful Island, Puerto Rico.  This is one of them… enjoy!

 

Canoa de Platano Rellena de Espinacas

SWEET PLANTAIN CANOES FILLED WITH CREAMED SPINACH

4 sweet ripe plantains
1 bag of fresh baby spinach
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, smashed
4 oz of cream cheese
A splash of half & half or milk
A pinch of nutmeg
2 tbs of pine nuts
1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

 

  1. Bake the plantains in their own skin…  cut a Little bit of the ends and you make a shallow slit on the inside of the plantain from one end to the other.  Place in a baking sheet covered with parchment paper side to side and bake in a 350F for about 30 minutes.
  2. While the plantains cook, we prepare the filling…  In a large skillet over medium heat, add a drizzle of olive oil, the onions and garlic clove.  Sweat slowly for the onions to cook and the garlic to infuse its flavor, without browning.
  3. When the onions are cooked and translucent, remove the Garlic clove and add the spinach in batches to the skillet.  It might seem like too much, but the spinach will wilt down a lot.  Cover the skillet for a few minutes to help the wilting process.  Mix the spinach and the onions well to help the spinach wilt and for the flavors to meld together.
  4. Add the cream cheese in pieces to make it easier to melt with the spinach.  Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.  You’ll end up with a creamy spinach mixture.  If you feel the mixture is tight, add a splash of milk or half and half.
  5. When the plantains are cooked, take them out of their blackened skins and place in a baking dish all 4 plantains together side by side or in individual lasagna dishes or even shallow ramekins might work well too.
  6. Place the plantains with the natural curve to the top.  If you made the slit to the skin previously, now make the slit slightly deeper to fill the plantain on the inside.  Place ¼ of the spinach mixture over each plantain.  Sprinkle the pine nuts over the plantains evenly and cover them all with the grated mozzarella cheese.
  7. Return the plantains to the oven for a few minutes at 350F to melt and brown the cheese a bit.

 

Enjoy these plantain canoes with a nice salad and rice with corn on the side.

 

Canoa de Plátano Maduro Relleno de Espinacas y Queso

 

 

abrazos-boricuas-SQ

Raw Yuca Casserole

21 Apr

In Spanish there’s a saying that goes…  “lo prometido es deuda…” meaning that what you promise is a debt you need to repay.  And I promised you ever since our first ever KarmaFree Cooking Class I was going to give you the recipe for the Raw Yuca Casserole or Pastelón de Yuca Cruda and I had failed to do so… until now.

This recipe comes from Mai, Angie’s grandma.  And Mai, may she rest in peace, was who taught us all to make this delicious pastelón.  We were going to perform a tribute to her yesterday at the end of our Easter Retreat, but rain prevented us from it.  So instead, I am honoring her by publishing her recipe for posterity and for all to enjoy.

Mai Clemente

Mai Clemente – Angie’s Grandma

We chose this recipe for our 1st ever cooking class for several reasons: 1) it’s different, 2) it includes typical flavors of Puerto Rico and 3) this is very similar to tasting the flavors of a yuca pastel, very typical during Xmas time, but without the effort of making into individual pasteles.

Don’t get discouraged by the name of the dish…  the cool think about this pastelón, different from other pastelones or other yuca recipes I have shared with you in the past is that you do not need to cook the yuca in advance to make this recipe.  The yuca is prepared raw and then cooked after it’s assembled as a casserole.  Check it out…

First Ever KarmaFree Cooking Class Menu

RAW YUCA CASSEROLE

7 lbs raw yuca
Annato Oil
2 tbs canola oil for sautéing
2 tbs salt, divided
1 can of coconut milk
2 cups of textured soy protein
1 jar of green olives and capers, pitted
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
2 packets of tomato sauce
½ cup of sofrito or recaíto
2 tbs Dry scallions
2 Bay leaves
 
  1. First you need to re-hydrate the textured soy protein in about 2 cups of water. For approximately 30 minutes.  After the soy has plumped, drain it and squeeze it dry well. And keep to the side.
  2. While the soy rehydrates, we prepare the yuca…
  3. Peel the yuca and take off the center hard vein that runs thru it.  Cut it into long pieces that are not too skinny.  Wash it well and grind it using either one of these implements – a Champion grinder, a hand grinder or the grinder attachment on a KitchenAid mixer.  Make sure to squeeze out as much liquid as possible using a large colander or even a clean cotton towel, because this yuca liquid makes the masa bitter.
  4. When the yuca is ground and squeezed dry, season it with the annatto oil, 1 ½ tbs of salt and the coconut milk.  Mix it all well so it has a beautiful yellowy color.  Set aside.
Photo provided by Adriana from GreatFood 360

Photo thanks to Adriana from GreatFood 360

Yuca Cruda, Casserole

Photo thanks to Adriana from Great Food 360.

5.  Now we move on to making the filling…  In a large skillet, add the canola oil and cook all together the olives and capers, sofrito, recaíto, the 2 bouillon cubes, the tomato sauce, dried scallions, bay leaves and ½ tbs of salt.  In the end, add the drained soy and mix everything together.  Allow to cook over low heat for about 10 minutes.  Stir every once in a while to avoid the soy mixture to stick to the bottom of the pan.  Turn off the heat and set aside.

6.  Now we put it all together to make it look like a pastelón…  Divide the yuca mixture in 2 halves.  Spread one half on the bottom of a 9”x 13” baking dish.  You won’t need to pre-grease it because the yuca masa has annatto oil in it.  But you can if you prefer.

Pastelon Yuca 2

Photo thanks to Adriana from GreatFood360

7.  Spread the soy mixture over the first layer of ground yuca as evenly as possible.

8.  Cover the soy mixture with the second half of the ground yuca.

Photo thanks to Adriana from GreatFood360.

 

9.  Cover the baking dish using a piece of parchment paper secured on top with a layer of aluminum foil.  Bake in a 350F over for approximately 30-45 minutes, depending on your oven.  Start checking the pastelón at the 30 minute mark and uncover it to make sure the consistency is cooked and the top dries and browns a bit.

10.  Let is rest for a few minutes after you take it out of the oven so that the yuca sets and it’s easier to portion and serve into pieces.

 

This is one of my favorite pastelones.  You can make the filling with anything you would like.  I personally like to substitute part of the soy protein with mixed vegetables.  It’s a way to give variety to the recipe.

I hope you like it as much as Angie and I we like it too… and thanks Mai for leaving us with a little piece of you though your cooking.

KarmaFree Cooking 1st Cooking Class Recap

28 Jan

You asked for it… and we heard you.

Last December we held our first KarmaFree Cooking class at the Centro Cultural Yoga Devanand kitchens.  A delicious vegetarian Puerto Rican Xmas menu designed to help the students discover and taste for themselves that traditional Xmas fare can be made vegetarian without losing any authenticity.

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The menu included:

Rosemary Almonds

Can be enjoyed as an Appetizer or Salad Topper or even as a homemade gift.  It’s a true KarmaFree Cooking favorite.

rosemary-almonds

Raw Yuca Pastelón – all the flavors of a traditional pastel in an easier to make format

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Brown Rice and Pigeon Peas – a classic of Puerto Rican cuisine

Arroz con Gandules

Yautía Fritters – the flavors of  alcapurrias, but without the filling

Frituras Yautia 3

A not so typical Salad – including some non-traditional salad ingredients and a delicious Parsley Garlic Dressing

A New Salad

My version of Tembleque – the quick, easy and vegan dessert we all love

Tembleque My Way

We had a lovely time during our cooking class.  To be honest, this is the first time I have taught an official class.  I have shared my recipes with my friends many, many times, but never in a class setting.  I hope the students who participated enjoyed it as much as I did.

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I would like to thank everyone who attended.  Some were personal friends, some are friends I have gotten to know thru the blog, others have been KarmaFree Cooking fans for a while…  I kinda felt like a celebrity when they told me that.  Your support and interest gets me going.  And it was real nice to have Adriana from Great Food 360 with us and specially to have her take the most awesome pics ever.  I need to ask Santa for a new camera STAT.

But I also want to send a special shout-out to my friend Angie… she was my co-instructor in this class and she ROCKED!!!  She’s my friend, but she was also one of my first vegetarian cooking teachers.  She was the “owner” of the Brown Rice and Pigeon Peas and Raw Yuca Pastelón Recipes.  We always talk recipes and it was a delight to have her on the team.

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Also, a special thanks to my mom… she was the official picker-upper and was in charge of doing the dishes, helping us keep the space clean for the students to cook.  Goes to show you the value of having someone helping you keeping things tidy in the kitchen.

Please visit the links of the recipes in the class above… and stay tuned for our next class coming up on February 1st 

Yautía Fritters

27 Dec

I learned to make these fritters from Mili at the Yoga Center. She was always a champion of having something fried in our Saturday menus…

I have always been a great fan of anything fried, but to be honest, never made these yautía fritters myself. So why in the world did I want to include them as part of a Cooking Class menu??? Beats me…

So I had to prepare fast, real fast to make a recipe that I could replicate time and time again, and that it tasted as good as Mili’s always did. Thank goodness yautías and most viandas are on sale during Xmas because they’re used in so many typical recipes.

Frituras Yautia - INgredients

Here are the results… I hope you enjoy them as much as the cooking class students did.

Frituras Yautia 3

YAUTÍA FRITTERS

2 medium sized yautías, peeled and cut into small pieces
1 green banana, peeled and cut into small pieces
3 tbs sofrito
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and cut into smaller pieces
1 tsp salt
1 tbs olive oil
Sprinkling of paprika
Frying oil – Grapeseed oil or Canola Oil
  1. Add all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until you create a puree.
  2. With a spatula, scrape off the sides of the bowl of the food processor to make sure all the mix is evenly pureed.
  3. Using a skillet with about ½ inch of oil over medium high heat, fry the fritters creating small mounds with 2 spoons.
  4. When they’re golden brown on both sides, transfer them to a plate with paper towel to soak up any extra oil.

Processing Frituras yautia

These fritters are easy… and delicious. You can make them in a cinch. Perfect for an impromptu parranda. They taste like an alcapurria without the filling.

Masa Frituras Yautia

When we were making them at the cooking class, Angie told me if we had left a bit of the soy filling from the yuca pastelón, we could’ve demonstrated how this masa works for an alcapurrias too.

Tembleque, my version…

23 Dec

I have several recipes for tembleque here in KarmaFree Cooking…  All of them I have made, all of them I have enjoyed… but none of them I have developed myself.

My friend Aniette told me she makes a recipe she got from YouTube and that her Houston friends, who have never had tembleque, loved. Aniette has never tasted the actual recipe, because she’s allergic to coconut. And no offense to her Houston friends, but the texture of the recipe is not what tembleque should be like… IMHO. It was more like a coconut mousse, not tembleque.

What I really enjoyed about the youtube recipe was that it only had 4 ingredients. Tembleque is a simple recipe that shouldn’t be complex or difficult to make. To me, tembleque is the perfect recipe to teach at a Xmas-themed cooking class.

So I made about 4-5 batches of  tembleque before I felt comfortable to teach who to make it at the most recent KarmaFree Cooking cooking class. The results are tasty, jiggly and smooth like a tembleque should always be.

Tembleque My Way

TEMBLEQUE, My Way

2 cans coconut milk (one large 25oz can)
1 cup water
6tbs cornstarch
2/3 cups brown sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 or 2 sticks of cinnamon
Ground Cinnamon to taste
  1. In a large saucepan or small pot at medium high heat, add the coconut milk. Feel free to use a larger pot than you think you might need so you’ll have enough space to stir the mix.
  2. Add the sugar, salt,  cinnamon sticks and stir well with a wooden spoon.
  3. Add 1 cup of water to the cans to “wash them” from any leftover coconut milk. Add the cornstarch to this water to create a slurry. Mix well with a small whisk and add to the pot on the stove.
  4. Stir the mixture kinda constantly to avoid the cornstarch to fall to the bottom of the pot and create lumps. When the mixture feels it’s starting to thicken, lower the heat so the bottom doesn’t scorch. Continue stirring making a figure 8 until the mixture coats the back of the spoon and when you run your finger thru the coating the side do not come together again.
  5. Transfer to a heat resistant mold or transfer to individual plastic cups for individual servings. I like 3oz cups. They’re a nice little serving and if you want some more, just have 2.
  6. Allow to slightly cool for about 20 minutes on top of the kitchen counter. After that, transfer to the fridge to cool and set for about 2 hours. The final product will set but still be “jiggly” when you shake the mold or cup.K

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