Tag Archives: milk

Caffeine-free Hot Carob

13 Jul

For every Encierro in San Fermín, the Encierro is not the beginning of the day but more really the culmination of a night of partying.  Well, the almost culmination because before going to bed after the Encierro you must have breakfast.

Some people consider breakfast a spiked “zumo de naranja” or orange juice… as we can see with our Pamplona friends here.  But for most Spaniards a sandwich or “bocadillo” or Churros con Chocolate are more fitting breakfast choices.

But a word of caution…  if you order a Hot Chocolate or “Chocolate Caliente” in Spain you will get something closer to a  hot chocolate pudding in a glass.  If you want to drink something closer to what a hot chocolate is in America, you need to ask for a ColaCao with hot milk.  ColaCao is the Spanish/European equivalent to Quik.   But it’s important for you to know the difference so your expectations are met.

I am self-procalimed chocoholic, but I‘ve had to steer away from chocolate because of its caffeine content.  That’s basically the reason why the vegetarianism I practice avoids chocolate.  So when we had our churros the other day, my taste buds were craving something “chocolaty” to dunk the churros in… and the vegetarian alternative is Hot Carob.     

Carob, available in both bar and powder form, makes a very delicious caffeine-free alternative to hot chocolate.  And because carob is a bit bitter it resembles the bitter bar chocolate used to make hot chocolate from scratch.  Here’s how…



¾ cup of evaporated milk – about ½ a container
¾ cup of water
1 tbs carob powder
2 tbs agave nectar


  1. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, add the evaporated milk, water and agave nectar.  Whisk in the carob powder to avoid any lumps from forming.
  2. Heat up the mixture enough without bringing it to a boil.  I like to keep whisking for a little while to prevent the carob powder to scorch at the bottom of the pan.
  3. Take away from heat and cover to maintain hot for a while.


Serve hot with a side of churros…

The evaporated milk gives it a creamier consistency as if you used regular milk, but you can certainly substitute the evaporated milk and water for equal parts of just milk.

Garlic-infused Mashed Potatoes

8 Feb

I once saw Tyler Florence do mashed potatoes boiled in a mixture of cream and milk.  He infused the liquid with lots of flavors – bay leaves, garlic and salt, among others.  This is my rendition of those potatoes…

I used half and half – partly because I already had it in my fridge, partly because that’s exactly same thing as mixing equal parts of milk and cream…  why buy two things if you can buy only one.  What I liked about adding the garlic whole and letting it cook with the half and half is that it mellows the strong taste of garlic…  giving it a smoother, almost roasted, taste to the mashed potatoes.



About 10-12 fingerling potatoes – I would also use Yukon Gold or Red Bliss Potatoes, which are my favorites
About 2 cups of half and half – enough that would cover most of the potatoes
1 bay leaf – fresh or dry
2 medium garlic cloves – smashed and with the peel removed
Salt to taste – I used about 1 tsp
Freshly Cracked Black Pepper – optional
  1. Wash well the potatoes  – It is very important to wash well the potatoes because we will not discard the liquid they’re being boiled in.  Cut them in half or even thirds if the potatoes are a bit large. I usually do not cut my potatoes too small, but because we’re boiling them with the same liquid we’re mashing them in, none of the nutrition will be “drained away”. 
  2. Add the potatoes, half and half, salt, bay leaf and garlic to a large pot.  You might think the pot is too large, but this is to prevent any spillovers.  I tend to cover my pots when I boil potatoes, but because we’re doing it in a dairy product, only half-cover the pot for now.  This will help bring the liquid to a nice simmer/ light boil.
  3. Boil the potatoes for about 30 minutes, until they’re fork tender.  Fingerlings tend to be a bit tougher than Yukon Gold’s or Red potatoes… just so you know.
  4. When the potatoes are done, cover the pot and let them be for about 10-15 minutes.  The steam inside the pot will ensure they’ll be thoroughly cooked and the liquid will not be as hot for you to handle the mashing…  this is experience talking here.
  5. When the time has elapsed, discard the bay leaf, drain some of the liquid out (this will make the mashing a bit easier) and mash potatoes with remaining liquid with a potato masher.  Add more of the boiling liquid if you see they’re not as creamy as you would like them to be.  I use most of the half and half when I make them.   As you’ll see, the garlic is soft enough and mashes easily into the potatoes.
  6. Check for seasonings.  Add more salt if needed.  Add cracked pepper is using.



Creamy Potatoes

19 Feb

I’ve spent the last 4 days cleaning one of my rooms trying to make it into an organized and functional home office.  The more I threw out, the more things appeared.  Amazing. 

But more amazing was the bunch of old recipes I had written a few years back for the yoga center that I had completely forgotten about.  I found this folder with about 5 potato recipes I had made a looooong time ago, just waiting for me to rediscover them again.  Perfect for my Potato Festival theme…

One of these recipes is this Creamy Potatoes dish – it’s basically a potato gratin, but because the name in Spanish is Papas a la Crema, I thought I should stay true to the original name…  It turned out to be a very creamy and satisfying little dish.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did…



2 lbs potatoes – I used russets – sliced as thinly as possible
1 medium onion – sliced as thinly as possible
3 cups of milk
4 tbs cornstarch
1/2 stick of margarine
2 tbs sofrito
1 1/2 tsp salt
Pepper to taste 
Grated Parmesan cheese – optional
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Wash potatoes well and slice them as thinly as possible.  I used a mandolin for the first time and I love the way they come out – Super consistent.  Slice onion too.
  3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, pour margarine and sautee sofrito for a few minutes.  Pour 2 cups of the milk.  In the remaining milk, dilute the cornstarch and  pour in.  Season with salt and pepper.  Whisk until the sauce starts to thicken a bit.
  4. Stack the potato and onion slices in a glass casserole dish.  Pour the milk mixture over the potatoes.
  5. If using, sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the potatoes.
  6. Bake in oven for 45 minutes.
  7. Turn off oven and let the potatoes in the oven for an extra 10-15 minutes.  Let cool a bit before serving so the sauce does not run all over the place.

I served this together with Sauteed Corn.

Frutabomba Milkshake

1 Feb

Until I was in high school, the I knew the fruit you know as papaya only by its Cuban name – Frutabomba.  




 My dad taught me how to make frutabomba milkshakes, a true Cuban drink delicacy.  It’s smooth, creamy and the perfect accompaniment to a Cuban sandwich (made the vegetarian way, of course) or even a TuNo Salad Sandwich.   I had it this morning for breakfast.



1/4 medium-sized frutabomba (papaya), peeled and seeded
1 cup milk or soy-milk
1 1/2 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla powder
pinch of salt
3-4 ice cubes
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Enjoy immediately.

Do not omit the salt… it’s the secret ingredient that makes the milkshake taste awesome.  You could substitute the milk for yogurt or kefir, but the taste will not be the same.

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