Tag Archives: onions

Sopa Paraguaya vs. Chipaguazú

13 Aug

A while ago I shared with you all my friend’s Rosani recipe for Sopa Paraguaya, or Paraguayan Soup… which is really not a soup. Sopa Paraguaya is a sort of corn pudding made from cornmeal and cheese.

When I visited Paraguay earlier this year, the first thing I wanted to taste was a Sopa Paraguaya made in Paraguay by Paraguayans. I always want to taste how the original versions taste and how they compare to the versions we create at home. I told you once that what I call Sopa Paraguaya is called Chipaguazú over in Paraguay. Well, not exactly true…

There are two dishes made in Paraguay – Sopa Paraguaya and Chipaguazú. They are different from each other…

Thanks to my friend Ester… a whole crew went to her house one day to cook for the whole yoga group, but also to cook some soy and yuca fritters for a shelter of homeless boys and girls. She was gracious enough to cook to cook both Sopa Paraguaya and Chipaguazú side by side so that I could see firsthand how the recipes differ from each other.

They’re both made from corn… they’re both baked. That’s about where the similarities end.

Sopa Paraguaya

 

 

  • It’s made from cornmeal flour mixed for a long time with milk, butter, baking powder, salt and anise seeds. The anise seeds are particular to the Sopa Paraguaya recipe.

  • This yields a very smooth batter that is poured into a baking dish lined with banana leaves. You pour only ½ the batter and add cooked onions, Paraguay cheese and butter beans. When you pour the second half of batter, the filling gets sandwiched in between.

 

 

Chipaguazú

  • It’s made by grinding fresh corn kernels. These people usually grind them by hand. To the ground corn you add some milk, but not a lot, cooked onions and salt. No cheese!!!!

 

  • The corn batter is poured into a baking dish lined with banana or plantain leaves.

We baked them using a wood burning oven… I know my friends from Serious Eats Water Cooler would go crazy over that oven… I was dying to make some cool pizzas there!!!! ;)

 

Here are both dishes after baking for about 30-45 minutes…  Chipaguazú is at the left and the Sopa Paraguaya is on the right.

The verdict… as delicious as these traditional recipes are, the Sopa Paraguaya we make here in Puerto Rico is actually my favorite!!! Maybe because it’s a hybrid of these two recipes. We use cornmeal that we cook a bit over the stove, add cooked onions, corn kernels and grated cheese to the batter. And in my humble opinion, I prefer our hybrid version to any of the originals. I think we have taken what’s great about each and combine it into one great dish.  I feel a bit like Tyler Florence with his TV show, Tyler’s Ultimate…

Even though Rosani now likes to now make Chipaguazú at the Yoga Center, I will continue to make our local version of Sopa Paraguaya because to me, it tastes THE BEST!!!!

 

Have you ever had traditional Sopa Paraguaya or Chipaguazú?? How does it compare to my original recipe???

 

Chame’s Spinach, Figs and Blue Cheese Salad

12 Mar

This is my current favorite salad… hands down, I have been making it for 2-3 weeks straight almost every time I cook for myself at home.

Chame is my friend for 15+ years now.  And she has been inspired by our little blog here to follow a healthier lifestyle.  By reducing the animal products she and her family eat, they have been able to lose many pounds.  She tells me she feels with more energy, her cholesterol numbers are lower, she is trying new recipes each week … basically, she is in love with their new lifestyle.  The message here is that shifting your habits and lifestyle overall, does lead to improvements in weight and self-esteem.

When I was in Miami recently she invited me over to dinner.  She wanted to “brag” about the changes they’ve made in their diet and lifestyle and wanted to showcase one of their favorite meals – A mini pizza with a spinach salad with blue cheese and figs.  After my experience at Cocina Abierta recently, I am certainly a believer of figs in a salad.

Inspiration goes both ways… I am grateful to Chame for inspiring me to create this salad.  This is as easy as any salad is, and impressive enough to make for company.

CHAME’S SPINACH, FIGS AND BLUE CHEESE SALAD

Baby Spinach
Grape or Cherry Tomatoes, sliced or diced
Dried Mission Figs, diced
Pickled Onions
Sliced Almonds
Crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Aged Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Assemble all salad ingredients in a salad bowl – from the spinach up to the cheese.
  2. In a measuring cup or bowl mix together 2 parts olive oil to 1 part balsamic vinegar with a dash of salt and pepper to season.  Mix well and drizzle over salad.  Toss to coat.

Braised Bell Peppers

26 Feb

I have a new favorite supermarket, Plaza Loíza.  It’s what the call locally, Cash & Carry, but lately they have awesome produce.  I love that when I do groceries there, I can fill up a few bags of groceries and only spend $30, while at Grande 24hrs I can spend the same amount and only have 1 small little bag with me.  Amazing…

The other day Plaza Loíza had bell peppers on sale.  All bell peppers, regardless of their color – green, red, yellow or orange – all were at $1.99/lb.  If you’re a fan of bell peppers and live in PR, you’d know this is a bargain.  You can find the green ones at this price, but reds, yellow and orange too!!!!  Very difficult to find…

Now that I had these peppers, I wanted to do something special with them.  I found a recipe for braised bell peppers in an old Cooking Light cookbook.  Of course I changed it a bit to make it in a smaller quantity and to make good with what I had in the pantry.  It turned out so delicious I decided to share it with you…

 

BRAISED BELL PEPPERS

About 1 tbs olive oil
2 tsps of sofrito
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 medium yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
1 ½ onions, sliced
A pinch of anise seed
1 tbs of tomato paste
1 cup of water
1 tbs ume plum vinegar
1 tbs fresh basil – or you could use freeze-dried too
Salt and Pepper to taste

 

  1. In a skillet with tall sides over medium heat, add the oil, sofrito, pepper and onion strips.  Season with salt.  Sauté for a few minutes for the veggies to start to become soft.  Add a pinch of anise seeds.
  2. After about 10 minutes of cooking, add the tomato paste and mix well with the peppers/onions.  Add the water and mix it all well.  Bring to a boil.  When it does, lower the heat and partially cover.  Simmer for about 20-25 minutes, or until peppers are soft. 
  3. After peppers are soft, stir in basil and vinegar.  Add pepper.  Turn of the stove and cover.  Let the heat from the pot and stove finish melding the flavors together.

 

I used ume plum vinegar, an Asian-type vinegar and it tasted really delicious.  The vinegar tinge was there, but much subtle.

Savory Onion Rings

31 Jul

I do not know why, but these past few days I have been craving onion rings like crazy.  I have been eating at Fuddruckers for a few days and my eyes just go after their onion rings…

My friend Rosani and I had to take care of those cravings the other day by making some onions rings at the Yoga Center.   We like to take care of our figure, but the Puerto Rican in us just can’t help to gravitate once in a while to some good fried foods.

Here’s how we did it…

 Onion Rings 1

SAVORY ONION RINGS

2 large white onions, sliced at about ½ inch thick rings and separated
About 2 cups of chickpea and fava flour, plus about 1 cup more to dunk the onions in
About 1 tbs sea salt
2 tbs sofrito
1 tbs garlic and herbs seasoning
Water – about ½ a cup first and more if needed
Canola oil for frying

 

  1. In a large skillet with high sides if possible, heat about 1 inch deep of canola oil over medium-high heat.  Let it come to temperature and test it using the back side of a wooden spoon like I show you here.  Do not fill the skillet with oil unto the top; leave some space on the skillet because the oil will bubble.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the 2 cups of flour, the sofrito, salt, and seasonings.  Mix well with the first 1/2 cup of water. The batter should be the consistency of pancake batter.  It should be thick enough to stick to the onions.
  3. In a separate dish place the remainder cup of flour.  Dunk the onion rings into the dry flour before dunking in the wet batter.  From the batter, we go to the hot oil.
  4. Onion Rings - Batter
  5. Fry only a few onion rings at a time to maintain oil temperature as steady as possible.
  6. Drain onto a paper towel to remove excess oil.  Sprinkle with extra sea salt if you want.

   Onions Rings - Rosani

I like to eat my onion rings with just ketchup… how about you???

Rioja-style Potatoes

10 Jul

This recipe is an adaptation from a recipe presented by chef José Andrés in his PBS show Made in Spain and made by him later on at the Martha Stewart show.

I’ve been fascinated with Spanish cooking all my life, but after my recent trip to Spain 2 years ago, I’ve become a fan of chef Andrés and his cooking.  The thing is that most these recipes are not vegetarian per sé, but we just need to give them a few nudges to make them perfect for us.  Besides, he’s so passionate about Spain and its cuisine it’s contagious.  I TiVo his show every weekend and already know many episodes by heart.

What I liked about this recipe is that it’s simple and hearty.  You can eat it as a tapa, alone or even over rice – very versatile. And the ingredients you probably have already in your pantry.

 

 Papas a la Riojana

RIOJA-STYLE POTATOES

2 medium-sized potatoes, russets work fin here – cut into 1-inch cubes, but cut them haphazardly to get some rough edges on them
½ onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 link of Tofurky kielbasa-style sausage, sliced on a bias into ¼ inch pieces
1 tsp Spanish sweet pimentón – paprika in English
½ tomato, grated
Salt and Pepper to taste
Spanish olive oil
Filtered Water
 
  1. In a medium sized skillet with tall sides over medium heat, heat olive oil and sauté the onions and garlic.  The idea is to cook and soften the onions, not necessarily to get color on them.
  2. Add the pieces of tofu sausage and cook to get a golden brown color on them.
  3. Papas a la Riojana 1
  4. Now we add the potatoes…  stir them into the onions, garlic and sausage pieces and cook for about 10 minutes.  Add the pimentón and enough water to almost cover the potatoes. 
  5. papas a la riojana 2
  6. Cover for a few minutes to bring the water to a boil.  After water is boiling, uncover and let it simmer for about 30 minutes until the potatoes are cooked and the water is reduced in half.

 

Very easy to do and very delicious… Gracias José.

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