Tag Archives: corn

Cinco de Mayo – The most popular celebration not celebrated in Mexico…

3 May

Ever since I lived in Chicago a few years ago, where there is a huge Mexican population, I learned that Mexico’s Independence Day is celebrated in September. I remember people riding outside their car windows carrying huge Mexican flags, parading themselves with pride.

So, if this is celebrated every year in September… why does every gringo I know believes Mexican Independence day falls on Cinco de Mayo?  My belief on the popularity of Cinco de Mayo is for several reasons (and I am just speculating here):

  • It’s simple to pronounce even if your main language is English. Try saying “dieciséis de septiembre”!!!! Rolling those “r’s” can be a challenge to many.
  • May more or less signifies the beginning of warmer weather so gives people an excuse to party in shorts
  • I truly believe a beer company started this as a promotional scheme to start selling beer in May rather than waiting until June/July when it’s actually hot.


Cinco de Mayo is not really an important holiday or celebration in Mexico. I am “friends” on Facebook with Chef Marcela Valladolid. And this is her perspective, as a Mexican, on Cinco de Mayo:

Chef Marcela - Cinco de Mayo

In reality, Cinco de Mayo is the date when the Mexican army drove away the French army at a great battle in Puebla. The Mexicans were never ever expected to win and they did. And for that… we celebrate!!!!

Nonetheless, for whatever reason Cinco de Mayo got popularized in the US, we use it as an excuse to celebrate everything Mexican. I wish I had a recipe for Mole Poblano in my blog to share with you all, but in the meantime, here are a few recipes that celebrate Mexico, France and combine a little bit of both…

French Quesadilla

Cordon Bleu Quesadilla

(In México, these are called sincronizadas because they’re made on Wheat Tortilla.  True Quesadillas are made on corn tortillas)

Fried Quesadillas with Fresh Tomato Salsa

Poblano Pepper Rajas

Chopped Avocado Dressing

Veggie Tortilla Soup

Mexican Lasagna



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.




  • 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???


Brown Rice with Corn – Quickie Version

1 Jun

Arroz con Maíz, or Rice with Corn, is a very typical Puerto Rican dish. My granddad loved it very much… it was something my grandma would fix for the family quite often.

The traditional way to make it is to cook the rice with tomato sauce, sofrito and the corn, all together. It’s traditionally made in a “caldero” or large pot, but as you know me, I can make it in a rice cooker. My grad school roommate, Michelle, was a big fan of my Arroz con Maíz. I used to make it for her and leave it in the rice cooker for her to eat when she was back from classes in the afternoon.

And even though making rice in a rice cooker is fairly simple… sometimes I don’t plan too much ahead to make food. I tend to go with what I am craving at the moment. For that same reason, I have developed a method to get almost the same flavors of the traditional Arroz con Maíz but in a quick easy way using left-over rice.

Brown Rice, as easy as it is to make in a rice cooker, it just takes time. It’s not something that you just pull together as easy as boiling some pasta or making a sandwich. To me, it’s very easy to just make a cup or two of plain brown rice in the morning, right after I am done with breakfast, and then by lunch time figure out what I can have with it. Sometimes I have made a quick stir-fry, sometimes I stuff some peppers… sometimes I make this quick Brown Rice with Corn recipe.


2 cups of cooked brown rice
½ medium yellow onion, diced
1 tsp sofrito
1 cup frozen corn kernels
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Garlic Salt – optional
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, drizzle a small amount of olive oil and add the sofrito and diced onions. Cook the onions for a few minutes until they begin to soften.
  2. Add the frozen corn kernels… no need to thaw then first. Just add them straight from the bag. Mix well with the onions so the corn cooks and the flavors mix. Season with salt and pepper, or the garlic salt if using. If you have a lid, cover the skillet and let the corn cook for a few minutes.

3.  Add the cooked rice to the skillet. Mix well and cover again. The steam in the skillet will soften the rice again if it’s hardened from being in the fridge. Allow cooking for a couple of minutes and turn the stove off and leave it there for the residual heat to finish heating the rice, making it fluffy again.

You’re done… now this is the perfect accompaniment to your favorite main course. I personally like to have it AS THE main course with a drizzle of ketchup on top and a salad on the side. Some sweet plantains or even some tostones – plantain or breadfruit – would work well with this too.

Poblano Pepper Rajas

20 Jan

When I went last year to Guadalajara, I fell in love with a taco filling they call RAJAS… Rajas are translated directly as STRIPS of something. I had the pleasure of having RAJAS made from Jalapeños, Nopales and Poblanos.

The Rajas de Jalapeños were delicious made in a creamy sauce with corn and little pieces of some other crumbly cheese. They served me three corn tortillas with the filling and you top them with your favorite veggies – lettuce, tomato, crema, etc. Something that surprised me about all the Pepper Rajas I had while in Mexico is that I always expected the dishes to be so spicy that I would not able to handle them. This was not the case… All dishes were mild, even to my wimpy palette.

I saw this recipe from Marcela Valadolid on making Poblano Rajas and I had to try it… I am almost certain I used some other chile other than a POBLANO, because after seeding and deveining, it was WAY SPICIER than what I remembered in Mexico. Maybe one of my peppers started to ripen and I’ve been told this adds to the spicy level of a pepper.

Who knows what happened… but the results were delicious. You should try this too…


6 fresh poblano chiles
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
1 medium clove of garlic, minced
2 fresh ears of corn, kernels removed
1/4 cup heavy cream
½ cup plain yogurt – or Mexican crema…
¼ cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup, shredded Mozzarella cheese
¼ cup mild feta cheese, crumbled into small pieces
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
For Accompaniment:
Fresh baby spinach
Fresh tomatoes
1 cup of strained plain yogurt – or Greek yogurt
Slices of lime
Corn Tortillas


  1. Char the poblano chiles under the broiler of your oven until blackened on all sides. I did mine in a toaster oven. Enclose in a plastic bag and let steam for about 10 minutes.
  2. When the chiles have cooled a bit, peel and seed them. Cut the chiles into 1/2-inch strips (rajas) and set aside.
  3. Add the oil to a heavy large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the corn kernels and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
  4. Add the strips of chile to the onion and corn mixture and sauté until the corn is tender, about 5 more minutes.
  5. Add the heavy cream, vegetable broth and yogurt. With the back of a knife, scrape all the liquid that resides in the corn hull left behind. Cook until bubbling, about for 8 minutes more. Add the cheeses and stir until melted and smooth. Season the rajas with salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Transfer to a serving dish and serve as part of a Taquiza.
  7. Warm the corn tortillas in a dry skillet and place inside a clean cloth surrounded by aluminum foil to maintain warm and pliable as long as possible.

What’s a Taquiza??? When you set out all the fixings for making TACOS buffet-style… just like they do in Guadalajara. Buen Provecho!!!

Potato and Yautía Pastelón

24 Sep

Recently my grandma was in the hospital… and when this happens, my mom stays with her all the time and I become the official vegetarian food delivery service.

This is one of the recipes I made for my mom while she was staying with my grandma at the hospital.  It was easy to make, nutritious and delicious.



2 medium red potatoes, chopped into 2” pieces
1 medium white yautía, chopped into 2” pieces
1 broccoli stalk, both florets and stem, chopped into small pieces
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
½ onion, chopped
1 tbs sofrito
2 tbs horseradish
3 tbs butter, divided
1 tbs parmesan cheese
1 handful of shredded mozzarella cheese
Sal t and Pepper to taste
About 1 tbs of olive oil
Canola Oil Spray


  1. In a medium saucepan, I place the chopped potato and yautía pieces along with the broccoli stems but not the florets.  I add water until it comes up halfway.  Add salt to taste, cover and bring to a quick boil over medium heat.  I usually lower the heat when I see some steam coming out of the cover to avoid the water to completely evaporate.  Pieces are usually cooked after 15 minutes. 
  2. Right before you turn off the heat from the potato/yautía… place the broccoli florets inside the same pot so it steams with the steam from the pot.  Cover immediately, wait about 15 seconds and turn off the heat on that burner.  Broccoli florets will be cooked thoroughly in about 5 minutes.
  3. While the potatoes and yautías cook, we prepare the filling… in a medium skillet over medium heat we add olive oil and sofrito.  Sauté for a few minutes.  Add the chopped onion and sauté some more until the onion softens.   Add the thawed corn and cooked broccoli florets. Season with salt and pepper and mix well so all the flavors mix in.  Set aside.
  4. Drain all the remaining water from the cooked potatoes, yautías and broccoli stems and return to the same pot.  Add butter, olive oil, horseradish and parmesan cheese.  You could add a handful of shredded mozzarella cheese too if you’d like.  Mash it all together until smooth.
  5. In a medium-sized glass baking dish sprayed with Canola Oil, add about half of the mashed potato/yautía mix.  Spread it out evenly across the bottom.  Add the corn/broccoli filling on top of this layer.  Now cover with the remaining potato/yautía mash.  Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese.
  6. Bake in oven at 450F for about 10-12 minutes, until the cheese on top melts and becomes golden brown.  The pastelón per se is all cooked so you’re just looking for a nice crusty top.


Serve alongside a crispy green salad…  This is a great potluck dish or to take to someone when they’re “under the weather”.

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