Growing up I did not like any of the tropical fruit flavors… tamarind, mango, papaya or soursop. I would only like cherry, grape or orange. You know… the artificially-flavored stuff. Buying piraguas in Old San Juan, I remember they had syrups made from our Puerto Rican fruits flavors, but I always chose the deep dark red one; the one I would stay farthest away from nowadays.
Then your tastes change… and they evolve and those flavors that you once thought were not that appealing are the ones you crave and appreciate the most.
Soursop is one of those flavors to me… I remember my grandma offering us guanábana at our casa de campo and we refusing profusely. Now, it’s one of my favorite flavors. But soursops are very hard to come by sometimes. Soursops have a newfound rep of having cancer-fighting properties and when those types of reports start crawling around the internet, things get scarce. Whenever you see soursops at the grocery store, they’re expensive. So if you have a fruit-bearing tree… take very good care of it.
I found some soursops at the grocery store the other day and I decided to treat myself to some juice… it’s so easy to make yourself.
Look for soursops that are starting to give a little bit. If they’re hard, they’re not fully ripe yet. Allow them to fully ripen on your kitchen counter. And if they are beginning to soften and you can’t get to it, place it in the fridge to stop the ripening process.
SOURSOP JUICE for one…
1/3 cup of soursop pulp
About 1 cup of filtered water
2 tbs brown sugar
I like to remove the seeds from the pulp. I read from someone on Facebook that you could leave the seeds in… I guess you could, but it will become a mess when you strain it. I prefer to remove the seeds and try to grow some new soursop trees from them.
- In a blender or your Magic Bullet, add the fruit pulp, water and sugar. Add an ice cube if the water is not cold. Blend well together. The mixture will become white and creamy.
- I like to strain it… It’s not necessary, but I think the texture is better if you strain the juice before drinking it. Besides, if you miss a seed, you’ll be sure to take it out before drinking.
This is the measurement I use to make juice just for me in my Magic Bullet. I prefer to keep the pulp in the fridge and make the juice fresh right before I am about to drink it. All you need to do to make a larger batch for your family is to increase the quantities. Basically you’ll need 1 part pulp to 3 parts water and sweeten to taste.
Add sugar as you see fit. I like my soursop juice sweet. Sometimes the pulp is not as sweet as you would like. So feel free to adjust the sugar amount to your taste.
When I wasn’t a vegetarian growing up, our traditional way to celebrate Easter was Jamón con Piña, or Sweet Ham with Pineapple. My mom would buy one of those canned Virginia Hams and bake it with cloves, pineapple slices, brown sugar and maraschino cherries. Later on, when I was a teenager, I also learned how to make myself Smoked Pork Chops… which you would fix in a pan using the exact same flavors.
Now that I am vegetarian, I can still enjoy the same sweet flavors without sacrificing any life… I purchase vegetarian ham at NYC’s Chinatown. This is the brand I like to get. It comes frozen… but after you thaw it, the flavor and texture is very, very similar to what I remember real ham to be.
I thaw it in small portions and keep it in a plastic zipper bag in the fridge. But if you don’t take my word for it on how similar these ham slices are to the real thing… check out my nieces enjoying some crepes filled with vegetarian ham and cheese. They are not vegetarian, they’re super picky and they regularly eat the real thing. Picky eaters asked me for MORE VEGETARIAN HAM!! So it’s that good…
SWEET VEGETARIAN HAM AND PINEAPPLE
6 slices of vegetarian ham
1 individual serving container of cut pineapples in their juice
1 ½ tbs brown sugar
5-6 whole cloves
- In a glass oven-proof dish, place the vegetarian ham slices slightly overlapping each other.
- Sprinkle with the brown sugar and pour the pineapple juice over them, dissolving a bit the sugar. Place the pineapple pieces as evenly as possible over the ham slices. Sprinkle the cloves over.
- Cover the glass dish with parchment paper and a piece of aluminum foil on top. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes at 350F. If you prefer, you can take the cover off and bake for an additional 5 minutes to allow the sugar to caramelize a bit.
Serve warm with a potato salad.
I am so happy for everything that has happened during 2012…
It’s been a great year, filled with lots of travel, personal accomplishments and even a brand new baby niece!!! I am super appreciative that you guys continue to visit KarmaFree Cooking and enjoy what I share about my vegetarian lifestyle.
So as a farewell to 2012, I want to share our most popular recipes released this year:
By far, our most popular recipe this year was a recent one…
Kick-butt Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna
Photo Courtesy of J. Kenji López-Alt and Serious Eats
Adelia’s Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
3 Herbs Roasted Potatoes
Photo Courtesy of Chef Suvir Saran and his cookbook Masala Farm
Eggplant Tomato Rice Pastelón
Stay safe on New Year’s Eve and may you celebrate with lots and lots of non-alcoholic sparkling apple cider!!!!!
This was supposed to be a recipe for Halloween… you know, the play on words – arañitas means “little spiders” in Spanish. Their name is mainly due to their scraggly shape, because they’re fully vegetarian and have nothing to do with the little arachnid creatures. But maybe they’re more appropriately called in English, Plantain Nests, making them a very nice option for Easter too.
This is yet another way Puerto Ricans love to eat green plantain. Variety is the spice of life and there are 1,001 ways we can cook a plantain. Tostones are most popular because they can be prepared in advance. Arañitas is something you need to grate, season and cook immediately. Not for the prep-ahead cook.
You can fry them in oil, just like you do with platanutres or chicharritas de pátano. But I have devised a way to enjoy the goodness of this Puerto Rican favorite without the need to get the deep fryer out. I am Latin, but I do not enjoy having to clean the splatter of a frying pan filled with oil.
Here is how I make arañitas…
PLANTAIN LITTLE SPIDERS – ARAÑITAS
1 green plantain, peeled
1 tbs canola oil
- After you peel the green plantain, grate it in as long strips as possible. I try to grate it on the long side to get longer strips of plantain.
- In a medium bowl, add the grated plantain, season with garlic salt and add the canola oil. Mix it all well to ensure the plantain is oiled and well-seasoned all over.
3. In a non-stick skillet over low-medium heat, place little mounds of plantain. The low heat will allow the plantain mounds to cook on the inside. After a few minutes, you’ll see the outside plantain will start to stiffen and crisp up. Flip when you notice the center of the mound is turning yellow.
see why they could certainly be called nests????
4. Keep the heat at medium-low. The arañitas will eventually crisp up on the outside and start turning golden brown.
5. Take them out of the skillet and allow them to drain a bit on a paper towel. They may not drip any oil, but any excess oil is better left on a paper towel.
Serve alongside your favorite Puerto Rican dish – like macarrones with soy picadillo, arroz con gandules or as croutons for a delicious salad.
In Puerto Rico, these pumpkin fritters are called “barriguitas de vieja” or “old lady bellies”… I just think that name is a tad discriminatory. Who said all old ladies bellies are sweet and wrinkly??? I am sure some old bellies out there are not sweet… LOL!!!!! I am so lame, I laugh at my own jokes…
Enjoy these, which are super delicious regardless of my bad jokes.
PUERTO RICAN PUMPKIN FRITTERS
2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
A few grates of fresh nutmeg
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp egg replacer + 2 tbs water
Canola Oil for frying
- First we steam the pumpkins to make the puree… I just peel and cut some pumpkin pieces and place them in a shallow pan that has a lid. I add about ½ inch of water and some kosher salt. Cover the pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. As soon as you hear the water inside boiling, turn down the heat and allow the steam inside cook the pumpkins for about 10-15 minutes. Check the pumpkins at about 10 minutes… if they’re not completely done, just cover again, wait about 1 minute and turn off the heat and leave there uncovered for some 10-15 minutes more. They’ll be done by then.
- I just take the pumpkin pieces out into a bowl and mash… if you feel they’re too stringy, you can certainly pass the mashed pumpkin thru a sieve. But I don’t usually do that… I don’t find it’s necessary. You can certainly do all this steaming and mashing ahead. I did it the night before to use the mashed pumpkin for this recipe and for a pumpkin cheesecake I was making too.
- In a small bowl, mix the egg replacer with the water. Stir vigorously or whisk and set aside.
- Now we assemble the batter… in a large bowl mix together all the ingredients, including the egg replacer mix. I use my hands to mix well and almost knead the recipe. I tried using a spoon or spatula and it does not work well.
5. In a frying pan add about 1 inch oil to fry these fritters over medium-high heat… wait until the oil has reached temperature before adding the first one. I usually check if the oil is ready by inserting the back side of a wooden spoon into the oil. If the oil bubbles around it, the oil is ready.
6. Using 2 spoons create little mounds of batter to fry. My mom likes to spread them a bit once they’re in the pan so they’re not too thick and they fry faster. Once they’re golden brown on one side, flip them over to fry on the other side.
7. Once they’re cooked and golden brown on both sides, take them out and drain on a plate lined with paper towels.
When they’ve cooled off a bit, enjoy one after the other. You’ll see they’re addictive…