I was born and raised in Puerto Rico… but I am Cuban at heart.
To my friends in Puerto Rico… I am almost Cuban. To my family in Miami, I am 100% Puertorra. I live in both worlds simultaneously and to me, it’s all just part of being the daughter of a Puerto Rican mom and a Cuban Dad Kinda like “café con leche”.
Many of the flavors and foods I love so much, I learned from my Dad. He taught me to eat guava paste with cream cheese, croquetas, Medianoches and Cuban Sandwiches, rice with black beans, tamales en hoja and in cazuela, guava pastelillos, patelillitos de carne, frutabomba and mamey milkshakes… and yuca with Cuban mojo, amongst many other things.
Whenever I boil some viandas, the local way we refer to root vegetables and tubers, I like to eat them with a side of onions that taste like Cuban mojo. The reason I don’t go out and make mojo from scratch is because it takes a lot of olive oil for just me in one serving. So I came up with this simplified version that hits all the flavor notes of Cuban mojo in a simple, perfect for one person’s serving.
Cuban Mojo Onions
1 medium sized onion, it could be white or yellow, sliced to your desired preference
About 2tbs Olive Oil
2 cloves of garlic
The juice of 1 lime
Salt and Pepper to taste
- In a small sauté pan over medium high heat, add the olive oil and the sliced onions. I like to slice them thick, as if you were making onion rings. Sauté them to soften them more than for them to acquire some color. So when the pan starts to sizzle, I usually turn down the heat level to medium. Add some salt and pepper to season and draw out the moisture and soften the onions.
- Peel the garlic cloves and mash them a bit with the side of your knife. Add them to the pan like that. The purpose is for the onions to get the garlicky flavor without having to do a lot of work. Stir everything together to continue to soften the onions and garlic together.
- When the onions have become soft, add the juice of the lime directly in the pan. It’ll sizzle… at this time, you can turn the heat off and leave in the pan. The onions will not brown after you add the lime juice and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
Serve over boiled potatoes, yuca, malanga, yautía, taro root, or anything else you want to give some Cuban flair to. This is a very easy side dish that will leave you wanting more…
I was given a challenge… A Sandwich a Day wanted us to showcase our favorite sandwiches.
I’ve told you before how I could live on sandwiches alone possibly and how one of my most addictive sandwiches is my Avocado Tomato Sandwich. Sometimes I fail to come up with new ideas for sandwiches because I am so enthralled with this one still. I even dream about eating it sometimes.
But recently I have come to learn to love another sandwich… maybe not as fresh-tasting as the one above, but certainly very seasonal. Mixing apples, onions, thyme, almonds and blue cheese in between 2 pieces of bread might not seem very appealing, but oh, oh boy, how delicious it is. This has nothing to do with my Latin roots, but everything that I have learned to appreciate from my travels in the Northeastern part of the US.
Inspired by these crostini from Giada Di Laurentiis, this panino hits the spot on a cold winter night. I might even argue it works great for a nice cozy date in front of the fire. I think your date would be greatly impressed.
APPLE ONION RELISH PANINI WITH GORGONZOLA
2 slices of 100% whole grain bread
Gorgonzola Cheese crumbles
Toasted Sliced Almonds
¼ cup of Apple Onion Relish
Butter – for the outside of the bread/sandwich
- Pre-heat your Panini maker, or in my case, my George Foreman Grill.
- Spread cream cheese on the inside of both bread slices. This will be part of the glue that makes the sandwich stay together.
- On one slice, add the apple onion relish. Try to keep it as dry as possible so the moisture won’t seep out of the sandwich. Layer the toasted almonds and finish with the blue cheese crumbles.
- Close the sandwich with the other slice of bread, cream cheese on top of the almonds/blue cheese.
- Butter the outside of the slices with some softened butter.
- Place on the Panini maker and press lightly without forcing it too much. The sandwich will flatten as it toasts in the Panini maker.
- After a few minutes, the cheeses will be melted and the bread toasted on the outside. Carefully, remove the sandwich from the panini grill and allow it to cool slightly. This will allow you to cut into the sandwich without the breads sliding all over the place.
Enjoy with you favorite sparkling cider or tea.
Before I go on a trip or to a retreat, I like to clean my fridge as much as possible. I hate wasting food and throwing away food jut because it was left unattended on the fridge is just “a sin” to me.
So before I left for my Xmas retreat I was looking for recipes to use up fresh stuff I had in my fridge that I didn’t want to go to waste. When I came across this recipe on TV by Giada Di Laurentiis, I knew it would be perfect to use those apples that had been staring at me for a few weeks now. I do like apples, but I am super lazy when it comes to snacking on an apple. I also had brought some thyme and rosemary from my sister’s during our last trip there… and I knew the herbs could go bad if I waited too long to use them.
This was the perfect recipe then to cook a bunch of apples with thyme all at the same time.
APPLE ONION RELISH
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 small Gala apples, cored, and thinly sliced
1/4 cup rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
2 tbs apple juice
2 tbs maple syrup
Salt and Pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- In a high-sided skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium heat.
- Add the onions, apple slices, salt, and pepper. Cook until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add the vinegar, maple syrup, and thyme. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions and apples are very soft, about 40 minutes.
This recipe is super easy… and you don’t need to tend to it too much. The smells in your kitchen will be divine.
This relish will go wonderful next to some scalloped potatoes, over creamy mashed potatoes, mashed parsnips, grilled Portobello mushrooms or even inside a sandwich.
I have a bunch of virtual friends and we decided at the end of last year to start sharing amongst each other the things we love to eat from the places we live. These virtual friends are spread all over the US and the world – Colorado, Florida, California, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Texas, Oklahoma, of course me in Puerto Rico and even one in Italy and another one in can’t remember if she’s in Iceland, Vietnam or Australia. That girl has me confused…
On our first round of our Foodie Exchange I got paired up the KATY, the only other vegetarian in our group. Can you believe our luck??? Well, they say there are no coincidences in life. It was up to the Universe that we would get to share what we love about our region. Katy lives in Maryland, close to DC and Baltimore… but she’s a lover of everything in her region including Pennsylvania where most mushrooms in the US are grown.
This is what I received from Katy…
But for the purposes of this post, we’ll concentrate on the baggie of dried morel mushrooms right there. Katy told me these are her favorites and that she preferred to send them fresh but was unable to locate them. So in its place she sent me these with instructions on her favorite way to eat them – sautéed with onions and thyme over toast. This is Katy’s favorite snack and she urged me to try it.
Katy is part of our Foodie Group for a reason… these toasts are amazing!!! I loved the earthiness of the morel mushrooms and how easy they are to put together. A great vegetarian snack or light lunch suitable for any foodie out there.
MOREL MUSHROOM TOASTS
½ bag of dried morel mushrooms
½ medium onion, sliced thinly
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 small garlic clove, smashed
Salt and pepper to taste
A whole wheat ciabatta roll, sliced in half
- Bring a small saucepot with water to a boil. As soon as the water boils, add the dried morel mushrooms to the water, cover and turn off the stove. Allow the mushrooms to reconstitute in that hot water for about 30 minutes.
- After the mushrooms are softened again, strain the mushrooms over a fine sieve reserving the liquid for another recipe.
- Take the drained mushrooms and pat the dry a bit. I cut the larger ones in half, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.
- In a small skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, the onions and the smashed garlic clove. Sautee them lightly for a few minutes. Add the softened morels and the thyme leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Cook everything together until the mushrooms have dried out a bit and looked cooked and “kinda alive”. Discard the pieces of garlic and set aside.
5. While the mushroom cook, drizzle some olive oil over the bread halves and toast in toaster oven. Slather some cream cheese or other spreadable cheese of your choice and place the morels and onions over the toasts with cheese.
This is a great snack or even a light lunch served with a simple salad on the side. Thanks Katy for introducing me to morel mushrooms… I had eaten them in restaurants, but never made them at home. And now, this has also become one of MY favorites, thanks to you.
I firmly believe that God or the Universe, however you prefer to say it, puts the right people in our path for us to learn and grow… And Annie Mariel has been a real blessing in my life. It’s as if God, in his all-knowingness, understands and knows exactly the type of person you need in your life at a certain time in your life.
We got along almost immediately since we met each other about 5 yrs ago in a conversational French class. We have lots of things in common – we’re both consultants, we both enjoy anything French, we both enjoy to travel, we follow yoga and spiritual practices, we are both vegetarians… bueno, almost vegetarians because Annie Mariel still eats seafood and shellfish on occasion. But she gets my idiosyncrasies of being vegetarian. She has passed on to me her love of running and we even applied to run the Amazing Race together… (oh boy!!!)
Annie Mariel is a great supporter and fan of KarmaFree Cooking… and for my last supper of 2012 she wanted to contribute by bringing a salad. She knew I was going to cook pasta. She asked me to make it as light as possible, so I pleased her by making the sauce all tomato, instead of mixing it with some cream or half and half, like I like to do on other recipes. She told me she would surprise me with the salad… and that she did.
This salad had a little bit of everything… and it was delicious! I asked Annie Mariel if I could feature her salad in KarmaFree Cooking and she agreed. I hope I make her proud. Try it for yourself…
ANNIE MARIEL’S COMPOSED SALAD
Sliced Red Onions
Crumbled Blue Cheese
Toasted Almond Slices
Crispy Fried Onions
Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
- In a large bowl add all the ingredients. Toss lightly to combine
- Dress the salad with vinaigrette.
Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup extra virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Sal and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Place all the ingredients in a empty glass or mason jar. Shake well to combine. Let rest for 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to combine well.
- Serve on top of your favorite salad.