Tag Archives: annatto

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


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.

“Chorizo” Pizza

18 Jun

In Spanish there’s a saying that goes… “Lo prometido es deuda.” which translates to “what you promise, you owe”. And I promised you I was going to gather for you the recipe for the winning pizza from the 1st Devanand pizza festival. After much pleading and almost begging, Yazmín, the creator of the winning delicacy, agreed to share her recipe with me and all of you, KarmaFree Cooking avid fans.

This winning “chorizo” pizza… and please notice the word chorizo is in quotation marks… because when I tried this pizza initially I was immediately transported to those pizzas they served at the movie theaters back in the day when double features were the norm. Do you remember too??? Or maybe even those pizzas they served at Woolworth in Plaza las Americas when I was a little girl. All you Puertorros out there can relate, right???

I believe, the connection of flavors to those memories is what made this pizza the winning pie at the festival. Among the judges were my mom and she certainly had tasted those pizzas of yesteryears I mentioned you from Cine Astor, Cine Martí and Woolworth. And ever since that day I was intrigued how Yazmín could capture that chorizo flavor… because the “chorizo” was as greasy and tasty as I remembered it.

I thought it was made from “soyrizo”… but when I actually bought it and tasted it, the taste as too prominent of cumin and I knew that wasn’t the flavor I had tasted on that delicious winning pizza. I thought then it was some sort of textured soy protein, but no, it wasn’t the same texture. Until one day I asked Yazmín directly and she revealed the “secret” to her “chorizo” – – VEGGIE HOT DOGS!!!! Veggie Hot Dogs cooked and seasoned with annatto oil to give them that greasy red orangey color of those chorizo pizzas I remembered.

I will admit… I have eaten this recipe many times after that pizza festival, but I have never ever made it myself. Hey, if Yazmín is my friend and she volunteers to make this each and every time our Guruji wants to eat some pizza, why in the world would I bother making it myself??? But I can assure you that if you have any questions at all about making this, I will relay all your messages to her and gather you the appropriate answers. We could even do a Twitter party if you all are up to it…

Gayatri, who helped make this “chorizo” pizza with her mom, Yazmin

I hope you all like this pizza… as much as I, my mom and the rest of the Yoga Center do. I think I might just call Yazmín right now to see when she will make another one of these real soon. I am getting a craving!!!!


Makes 2 large pizzas or 4 individual pizzas

 2 ¼ cups of All Purpose Baking Flour GF (Bob’s Red Mill) sifted and some more to work the dough
1 ¼ cups oatmeal flour gluten-free, sifted
¼ cup gluten substitute from Orgran
6 ¾ tsp xanthan gum
1 ¾ tsp sea salt
3 ½ tsp olive oil
3 ½ tspsapple cider vinegar
2 ¼ soy milk, warm
3 ½ tbs dry yeast
3 ½ tbs brown sugar
3 ½ tsp garlic poder
1 ¾ dry oregano
3 packets of organic cheese, shredded
Tomato Sauce
6oz of organic tomato paste
3 cups of water
1 tbs annatto oil
Garlic powder
Italian Seasonings 
Vegetable bouillon cube (optional)
1 package of veggie hot dogs, finely grated
1 vegetable boullion cube
1 tbs water
Sea Salt
Garlic Powder
2-3 tbs annatto oil
  1.  Mix the flours, gluten substitute, xanthan gum, salt, garlic powder and oregano.
  2. In a glass jar mix gently the cup of warm milk, olive oil, sugar, vinegar and yeast. Allow to rest for about 5 minutes, or until you see the yeast start to bubble.
  3. In a stand mixer with the hook attachment on #2 speed, add the remaining warm milk, the yeast mixture and slowly start adding the flour mixture. Once in a while, scrape the sides of the mixing bowl to make sure it’s all well incorporated.
  4. Mix for a few minutes until you see the dough is getting elastic. Take the dough out of the mixer and transfer to a oiled glass bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Place in a warm place in your kitchen for about 30 minutes to allow the dough to rise evenly.
  5. While we wait for the dough to rise, we make the tomato sauce and the “chorizo”…
  6. For the sauce, mix all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Mix together well and allow the vegetable bouillion cube to dissolve well, if using. Cook it for about 10-15 minutes until the sauce thickens. Set aside.
  7. For the chorizo, in another saucepan add the water and vegetable bouillon cube and dissolve well over medium high heat.
  8. Add the grated veggie hot dog and mix well.
  9. Add the annatto oil and season with the salt and garlic powder. Mix well and cook over the stove for a few minutes until the mixture becomes a homogeneous saucy concoction. Set aside.
  10. Pre-heat oven to 325F and grease two 16” pizza pans.
  11. Divide the dough in half and knead with your hands using some extra flour trying to make a ball. Now, flatten out with your hands and a rolling pin until you can cover the pizza pan with the dough. Place on top of pan and create a border by folding the edges a bit.
  12. Dock the center of the pizza dough with a fork. Brush extra olive oil over the dough.
  13. Place the sauce over the dough. Place some of the chorizo mixture over the sauce and top with a generous amount fo shredded cheese.
  14. Bake in oven for approximately 25 minutes, or until you see the cheese is melted and golden brown and the edges of dough are golden.

Pasteles in Banana Leaves

23 Dec

This is a very labor-intensive dish… the very same reason why most people in Puerto Rico buy their “pasteles” from someone who has the experience and the patience to make these.  In our yoga center, Mai, Mili and Katy are the pasteles experts.  They even make them to sell to anyone who’s interested in a delicious vegetarian version.

Pasteles hold the essence of the Puerto Rican holiday dinner…  a Xmas season without pasteles is like a day without sunshine, a beach without sand…  you have not eaten true Puerto Rican holiday food until you have one of these.

The whole deal is this MASA made from green banana and yautía filled with a soy-based stew.   Then it’s all wrapped in a banana leaf that will actually give the masa some of its flavor.  It’s very characteristic and you can find banana leaves in the refrigerated or produce section of a Latin supermarket.   Pasteles without at least a piece of banana leaf miss something.


This is a yautía… in Cuba, yautías are called malangas.  However, in Puerto Rico we call malanga a completely different tuber.  Do not confuse them.  I looked up in the internet and apparently it may also be called tanier = tannier = tannia.  Don’t know where, but if you can’t find them by the yautía name, any of other those might also work.  Yautías come in two varieties – white and purple.  You will need yautía blanca or white yautía for this dish.




12 green bananas
1lb white yautía
¾ cups milk
1 ½ tsp salt
2tbs sofrito
2 tbs annatto oil
½ cup textured soy protein – in cubes, soaked in filtered water for about ½ hour
1 small potato, cubed small
1 cup cooked chickpeas or garbanzo beans
2 cups mixed vegetables
½ cup raisins (optional)
½ cup sliced Spanish stuffed olives
3 tbs sofrito
2 tbs tomato paste
2 cups water
1 tbs olive oil
20-25 pieces of paper to roll pastels
Banana leaves – cut into rectangles of 10” x 8” approximately
Cotton kitchen twine


  1. Peel the banana and yautía and shred them using a food processor or a machine called Champion.  I have seen this machine also be used at Iron Chef America competition.
  2. Add the sofrito, salt, annatto oil and milk to the banana and yautía mixture.  Mix it all well to create a homogenous smooth mixture.  The annatto oil will provide a bright yellowy/orangey color to the mixture.  Set aside.

Now we make the filling…

  1. In a large saucepan, cook the olive oil along with salt, sofrito and tomato paste.    Add the garbanzo beans, soy protein, potato and water and cook everything for about 15-20 minutes. 
  2. Add the mixed vegetables and the raisins, if using.  Cook everything for about 15 more minutes.  Once everything is cooked, add the olives.

Now we assemble the pasteles…

  1. Place a banana leaf on top of the pastel paper (it’s similar to butcher’s paper). 
  2. Take a little bit of the sauce of the soy mixture and wet the banana leaf. 
  3. Take a large cooking spoon and spoon about a spoonful of masa in the center of the banana leaf.  Using the spoon, form a well in the center of the mixture and place about 2 tablespoons of the soy/vegetable mixture in the well. Carefully fold the leaf over, in order to cover the filling with masa on all sides. DO NOT over stuff them.
  4. Fold the paper like a letter and fold in the sides to create a compact package.  Tie them with cooking twine.  Be careful not to tie too tightly.
  5. Repeat this procedure until all the masa mixture has been used. You can now freeze or cook them when you are ready.  

When you are… 

  1. Place a large pot of salted water (as if you were to prepare pasta).  Boil the pasteles for about 45 minutes until the masa is cooked.  If you froze them, place them directly from the freezer onto the boiling water and boil for about 1 hour.
  2. Drain them well when you take them out of the water…  it’s not nice to have a puddle of pastel water in your plate when serving yourself the rest of the Xmas dinner.  Many people, including me, enjoy pasteles with a drizzle of ketchup on top.

Annatto Oil (Achiote)

22 Dec

 I do not use this in my regular cooking, but cooking with Annatto Oil is extremely popular to make very traditional Puerto Rican dishes like Arroz con Gandules and Pasteles.  It’s easy to make and keeps well…



1 Cup Vegetable Cooking Oil
½ Cup of Achiote (annatto) Seeds

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat, and when it gets hot, turn down the heat to low, and add the annatto seeds.
  2. Stir every now and then, for about 5 minutes, or until the oil turns a bright orange.
  3. Cool the annatto oil completely and strain through a paper lined sieve, into a glass container.  At the yoga center, they have a sieve specially for the achiote oil.
  4. Store covered in a cool dry place.

Be careful when cooking with it because the oil stains like crazy…


%d bloggers like this: