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Treats and Feasts in Puerto Rico

Treats and Feasts in Puerto Rico

Off With the Snow and On to San Juan!

Right about now would be the perfect time to ditch the snow and do a mad dash to a Caribbean island where no passport is required and the warm weather is balmy, breezy, and beautiful.

Enter San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Checking In

No passport required means you don’t have to clear customs. With carry-on luggage in tow, you can easily get from the airport to the front desk of the San Juan Marriot Resort & Stellaris Casino (5.1 miles away in the Condado Beach district of Old San Juan), within 30-minutes of your flight’s landing.

Recently renovated to an all-new, modern-day, sexy-chic standard of décor, the 21-story beachfront resort offers 513 rooms (most of, not all with balconies), 12 suites, and a concierge floor serving breakfast daily. To help you keep that beach beautiful look, the lower-level fitness center offers a plethora of up-to-date equipment comparable with any modern day fitness clubs By day, it’s beach galore, with chairs and chaises, sun and fun provided, followed by lively, adult-only fun in the 24-hour casino by night.

All Things Food

The food-lover in you will take pure delight in Puerto Rico’s fusion of cuisine. Take for instance the culinary excellence of Jan Erichsen, executive chef at La Vista — the signature restaurant at the San Juan Marriott. Erichsen, a familiar face around Germany and the Marriott brand, brings a “something local” to the locals of Puerto Rico, as well as U.S. citizens from the mainland, with a menu he describes as “international seafood and steaks, with a Puerto Rican influence.”

  • The “hot list” at La Vista begins with crispy, tender fried calamari ($11) as an appetizer. Entrée favorites include luscious, slowly-braised French-style beef short ribs ($29) with an accompanying cabernet sauvignon sauce, a citrus seafood risotto ($28) laden with chorizo and a host of goodies from the sea that Erichsen refers to as the “new definition of paella,” and flat iron steak ($30) from the grill in a generous 10-ounce portion. Also not to be missed is his octopus carpaccio from the appetizer menu and the sea bass entrée.
  • Just off the hotel lobby — where you can enjoy a refreshingly sweet “Dragonberry Mojito” with live local entertainment as a night cap, or while enjoying a few pieces of sushi from the sushi bar off to the side — the Stellaris Casino offers another Asian treat: Chinese cuisine. Peking duck, noodles, and other Chinese favorites are served daily in the high-energy casino atmosphere where service is fast and the food is authentic.

Of the 123 restaurants within a short 15-minute walk from the resort, the latest project from chef Roberto Treviño — Bar Gitano is literally just steps away. With Treviño painted by locals as the “Iron Chef” of Puerto Rico, the place is packed with patrons seeking a taste of tender ribs in a sweet savory sauce, crispy egg rolls stuffed with chorizo, amazing fish tacos of a flaky but flavorful white fish, and a tender octopus that steals the show while lovely lady dances to live rumba music.

Another great option in a more elegant atmosphere is Yantar Restaurant Bar. Also within a short walk to and from the San Juan Marriott Resort, the fine dining atmosphere is sexy and elegant with a relaxing blue overtone that soothes the soul from the moment you enter. Highlights include a sea bass ratatouille, pan sautéed to perfection with chunks of moist, buttery white fish, a ratatouille of vegetables and a cassava mash that was not nearly as dense as a traditional potato mash but tremendously as flavorful, if not more. Yantar Restaurant Bar has no website, just a page on Facebook.

The Fun Stuff

A great way to explore the island of San Juan is to take a tour with one of the many tour operators available through the resort’s concierge. Or for the more adventurous at heart, it may be just as easy to rent a car and get a map. With the addition of GPS navigation, either should be a cinch.

Delve into the local culture right there in San Juan with a tour along the northeastern coast in an area called Loíza. Rich in food and culture of African descendants, the area includes lots of prepared food vendors with miles of beautiful beach to bike or hike on parallel paths or sun bathe in the sand.

For a breathtakingly beautiful day of hiking in the only rainforest found in the U.S. territories, take a tour up to Cueca la Ventana. If you prefer to ride, Hacienda Campirico and Ecoquest Tours will show you a morning of zip-lining from tree to tree, with lunch in the middle, followed by an exhilarating afternoon drudging through hills of mud, dust, and dirt on a Honda TRX500 ATV.


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How to Make Puerto Rican Pasteles for Christmas

Celebrate Christmas with savory homemade pasteles — a Puerto Rican holiday tradition.

Growing up in my Puerto Rican family, so many of my holiday memories revolve around food. Any time a group of us got together, we always spent a lot of time in the kitchen preparing and eating our favorites, like tostones (fried green plantains), arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas), habichuelas guisadas (stewed beans), pernil (roast pork), and tembleque (coconut pudding). During Christmastime in particular, when we had the ingredients, time, and manpower, another delicacy was included in our feast: pasteles!

Pasteles for the Holidays: It's a Family Affair

Pasteles are a type of tamal made with a masa of plantain and yuca (instead of corn like traditional tamales). They are a traditional dish, especially around the holidays, in Puerto Rico and other Caribbean cultures. Like tamales, making pasteles is a family affair.

Pasteles are melt-in-your-mouth delicious, but preparing them involves multiple steps and requires a sort of assembly line to put them together. Though it’s not just the delicioso flavor of the pasteles that makes the effort worth it the memories made together as a family are even more special. I have years and years of dear memories of my Abuela leading my parents and a crew of us grandkids in her pastel preparation techniques, followed by my father (Papa Cruz) grabbing the reins to teach his kids and grandkids. What stands out in memory are the jokes made between all of us, the mishaps, the laughter, and the precious time spent between generations of our family as we connected over a shared task. Pasteles are so much more than a meal they represent a lifetime of family holiday memories.

Pasteles a la Papa Cruz

This is my father’s recipe for pasteles, along with some of his cooking tips. Like many family recipes, his has been adapted over the years, and I expect it will continue to adapt as I make them with my own sons and, if I’m fortunate to be an Abuelita one day myself, my future grandchildren. Makes 2 dozen pasteles.


Puerto Rican Easter Dinner Ideas : Puerto Rican Food Inspiration - Kimversations

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Guineos en escabeche (puerto rican green banana salad): The reason puerto ricans dip in water is because we cut them up early while making the rest of dinner. This traditional puerto rican stew with rice features chicken thighs, garlic, green olives, and adobo seasoning. Great thanksgiving side dish idea!

Coquito is the traditional Puerto Rican Christmas drink . from s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com See more ideas about puerto ricans, puerto rican dishes, puerto. Puerto rican dinner ideas/dishes of the week/plus arroz con salchichas recipe (speed version). Transform your easter dinner or brunch menu with a new recipe. Get ready to fall for puerto rican recipes and ideas. Puerto rican pernil roast pork 17 easter dinner ideas 3. Tasty easter dinner ideas made of lamb, beef, pork or chicken. You'll want enough to make little ham sandwiches for at least a few days after. Sandra adds a note about dipping the plantain slices in water: This beef empanada recipe uses flaky pie crust and ground beef to create the perfect dinner.

From easy puerto rican recipes to masterful puerto rican preparation techniques, find puerto rican ideas by our a blend of european and african cuisine, puerto rican food is familiar with a flare.

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Transform your easter dinner or brunch menu with a new recipe. Another year, another scramble to find new easter dinner recipes. Pollo guisado (puerto rican stewed tuesday: Whether you're hosting easter this year or spending it with your quarantine pod at someone else's house, you'll want to have a few of these irresistible easter dinner ideas on the menu. 280 best images about puertorican food on pinterest. Pastelón (puerto rican plantain lasagna).

85 Italian Easter Dishes You'll Want to Make This Year . from i.pinimg.com We hope you enjoy this quick. Puerto rican food pulls influences from european, african, and caribbean. What is puerto rican pernil? Keep spanish stables like rice and beans on hand and brighten up the dish with citrus and fruit flavors. Lighten your easter dinner menu with this bright, refreshing side dish. See more ideas about puerto rican dishes, boricua recipes, puerto ricans. Growing up, thanksgiving in my family always included a mix of traditional puerto rican food. So in this video we wanted to share one of our many favorite puerto rican dishes. Ready in 30 minutes and your whole family will love them! 312 best images about dried salted cod bacalhau on.

312 best images about dried salted cod bacalhau on.

Satisfy your guests with these traditional easter dinner recipes, meals and menu ideas from food.com. See more ideas about puerto rican cuisine, puerto rico food, puerto rican recipes. You'll want enough to make little ham sandwiches for at least a few days after. Welcome back to another cook with me/us video. Along with the turkey, you could always find yellow rice on the table. If you're looking for easter dinner ideas for a smaller group that still feel festive, this juicy chicken is the way to go. This beef empanada recipe uses flaky pie crust and ground beef to create the perfect dinner. This irresistible puerto rican christmas dish is a coconut rice pudding flavored with ginger, cinnamon, raisins and cloves. 20 of the best ideas for puerto rican easter dinner. Explore main dishes, sides, desserts, and more and bring something new to the table.

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Puerto Rican Rice (Pigeon Peas with Ham) | Recipe | Pigeon . from i.pinimg.com My grandmother used to make these every year from scratch! 312 best images about dried salted cod bacalhau on. This irresistible puerto rican christmas dish is a coconut rice pudding flavored with ginger, cinnamon, raisins and cloves. Satisfy your guests with these traditional easter dinner recipes, meals and menu ideas from food.com. The reason puerto ricans dip in water is because we cut them up early while making the rest of dinner. This video on this page is automatically generated content related to puerto rican dinner ideas. Por andy tous para recetaspuertorico ingre ntes. 280 best images about puertorican food on pinterest. Whether you're hosting easter this year or spending it with your quarantine pod at someone else's house, you'll want to have a few of these irresistible easter dinner ideas on the menu. We gathered the most delicious, easiest easter dinner recipes, including appetizers, main meals and side dishes. Explore main dishes, sides, desserts, and more and bring something new to the table.

Tasty easter dinner ideas made of lamb, beef, pork or chicken.

This is every puerto rican party dish. These classic yet creative easter 61 creative easter dinner ideas that will become instant classics. It's only your choice what you will offer to your guests on this year's easter there are thousands of foods that symbolize easter, like desserts or side dishes that are in shape of a carrot, bunny or an egg. Sandra adds a note about dipping the plantain slices in water: We gathered the most delicious, easiest easter dinner recipes, including appetizers, main meals and side dishes. Keep spanish stables like rice and beans on hand and brighten up the dish with citrus and fruit flavors. 280 best images about puertorican food on pinterest. Por andy tous para recetaspuertorico ingre ntes. You'll want enough to make little ham sandwiches for at least a few days after. Tasty easter dinner ideas made of lamb, beef, pork or chicken. Pollo guisado (puerto rican stewed tuesday: It's not christmas until the pernil is on the table. Welcome back to another cook with me/us video. Puerto rican pernil roast pork 17 easter dinner ideas 3.

The mashed mixture is dished up.

Puerto rican sofrito is used as a base for many dishes of this beautiful caribbean country.

Transform your easter dinner or brunch menu with a new recipe.

Puerto rican pernil roast pork 17 easter dinner ideas 3.

Satisfy your guests with these traditional easter dinner recipes, meals and menu ideas from food.com.

Lighten your easter dinner menu with this bright, refreshing side dish.

We hope you enjoy this quick.

Growing up, thanksgiving in my family always included a mix of traditional puerto rican food.

If there is no pernil in the party there is no party, especially the hard skin!!

Guineos en escabeche (puerto rican green banana salad):

20 of the best ideas for puerto rican easter dinner.

The reason puerto ricans dip in water is because we cut them up early while making the rest of dinner.

Recipe idea for lent ensalada de bacalao puerto rican 20.

These classic yet creative easter 61 creative easter dinner ideas that will become instant classics.

This is one of those easter dinner ideas that you need for the big feast—but also for the leftovers that follow.

55+ delicious easter dinner ideas for your holiday feast.

Pastelón (puerto rican plantain lasagna).

312 best images about dried salted cod bacalhau on.

We gathered the most delicious, easiest easter dinner recipes, including appetizers, main meals and side dishes.

Lighten your easter dinner menu with this bright, refreshing side dish.

Gather your family together this easter.

Recipe idea for lent ensalada de bacalao puerto rican 20.

Ham is a popular feature of many easter dinner tables.

Ham is a popular feature of many easter dinner tables.

The mashed mixture is dished up.

Tasty easter dinner ideas made of lamb, beef, pork or chicken.

Although puerto rican cooking is often compared to spanish, cuban and mexican cuisine, it is a unique tasty blend of spanish, african, taíno, and american influences, using such indigenous seasonings and ingredients as coriander, papaya, cacao, nispero, apio, plantains, and yampee.

Get ready to fall for puerto rican recipes and ideas.

You'll want enough to make little ham sandwiches for at least a few days after.

It's only your choice what you will offer to your guests on this year's easter there are thousands of foods that symbolize easter, like desserts or side dishes that are in shape of a carrot, bunny or an egg.

Another year, another scramble to find new easter dinner recipes.

Puerto rican food pulls influences from european, african, and caribbean.


This Puerto Rican Pernil Is Guaranteed to Become Your New Christmas Centerpiece

Tucked into the corner of the newly opened Market Line —a bazaar-like food court on New York City’s Lower East Side—is a Puerto Rican restaurant called Que Chevere . Translated from Spanish as “how fantastic,” Que Chevere peddles traditional Puerto Rican food, a cuisine that is overwhelmingly lacking in prominent representation in this city. This dearth of Puerto Rican food in New York is one of the main reasons why Michael Petrovitch and his daughter Lillian Quinones opened Que Chevere in the first place.

“I’ve been here all my life, [and] there’s no Puerto Rican restaurants near me,” Que Chevere’s culinary director Lillian Quinones says. “I feel like our culture’s slowly dying.”

When she does find restaurants hawking roasted pork or stewed red beans, it’s certainly not up to her standards: “It’s always dry and hard [and] not sauced. I never like it,” she says.

But Que Chevere is doing Puerto Rican food the way it should be done. Lillian developed all of the recipes for the restaurant, stringing together a tightly edited menu. Here, you’ll find golden tostones , or sweet fried plantains shaped like round coins, half-moon empanadas jammed with cheese and chicken, and crisp hunks of fried chicken. But what Que Chevere is most proud of is its pernil.

Pernil is typically slow-cooked pork leg or shoulder, roasted in the oven or speared on a stick and crisped-up over a spit (a practice most often employed in Puerto Rico). After emerging from the oven, the pork is wrenched apart into tender ribbons, just like pulled pork, and served with a side of potato salad and rice strewn with plump pigeon peas. It’s a dish prepared for the holidays or big celebrations, a plate that can be shared with many people. “It always brings family together,” Lillian says of pernil. “It’s just a love thing.”

Lillian learned how to make pernil from her grandfather. “He used to season [the pork] in our kitchen sink,” she says. “He cut holes in the shoulder and put vinegar, lemon juice, and lime.” Then, without relying on measurements, he would massage the pork with a slew of spices—everything from pepper to onions and garlic and culantro—then slide it into the oven to slowly cook overnight.

“[My grandfather] told me: ‘Don’t forget your culture,’” Lillian says. “Pass it on.” And that’s exactly what she’s doing at Que Chevere: introducing pernil and other Puerto Rican favorites to the neighborhood, along with allowing Puerto Rican locals to experience a taste of home through shredded roast pork sandwiches and crackly tostones.

So far, Que Chevere has seen a lot of success and feedback, with high praise from people comparing the pernil to their grandmother’s cooking. I, too, am a fan, having sampled the sweet pernil, yellow rice with pigeon peas, and chunky potato salad on a recent visit to the food hall.

But for those who can’t make it to Que Chevere, making pernil at home is still possible. Below you’ll find their recipe for pernil, one smeared with sofrito (a pepper, tomato, and cilantro sauce that is the foundation for Puerto Rican cooking) and adobo for a bit of a kick. Once you’ve picked up the pork shoulder, make sure to really get in there and massage it with all of the spices—it makes for a crispy skin and a soft, tender interior.

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“You gotta love [pernil] and massage it,” Lillian says. “It’s got to taste good—not just for you, but for everyone else.”

Pernil Recipe

Pernil is often prepared for Christmas and other big celebrations, as a 10-pound pork shoulder is plenty big to feed a crowd. The pork shoulder must be massaged with a slew of uniquely Latin ingredients, like adobo seasoning , sazonador , and adobo seasoning with saffron , spices which can be purchased on Amazon and are often found in the international aisle of the grocery store.


Ingredients:
1 whole filet of beef tenderloin (4 to 5 pounds), trimmed and tied
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Cooking Directions:
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Pat the tenderloin dry with paper towels and brush it all over (top and bottom) with the butter. Season the beef with salt and pepper on all sides.

Place the tenderloin on a sheet pan and roast it for about an hour or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the roast is 130 degrees for medium rare.

Remove it from the oven and allow it to rest 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the sauce, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustards, horseradish, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Remove the strings and slice the filet between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick. Place the slices on a platter and season the middle of the steaks with salt and pepper.

Wherever you’ll be this holiday season, The Pickled Beet sends warm wishes and hopes you’ll be enjoying good food.

The Pickled Beet works with individuals, couples, and families to find meals that are flavorful, healthy, and best fuel the body no matter what nutritional requirements might be part of the equation.Contact us for a free consultation.


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Pernil is pork shoulder that’s seasoned and slow roasted until it falls apart into thick pieces. And by slow roasted, we mean slow roasted — timing ranges from hours to a full day depending on the thickness of the shoulder. A common lunch or dinner consists of pernil with mojo sauce, rice, and beans.

Pasteles are similar to tamales and are typically reserved for special occasion, with most Puerto Rican families preparing them by the dozen. They are made of plantains, potatoes, and pumpkins, and then mixed with meat and secured in a banana leaf with twine before being boiled. They keep well in the freezer, so family members commonly give them to each other by the bagful.


My Father’s Puerto Rican Rice and Beans

This recipe is dedicated to my father, Dr. Cesar Colon-Bonet, and the Colon siblings, who provided extensive input—Denise Colon-Bonet, Ivan Colon, Glenn Colon-Bonet, William Colon, and Cara Colon-McLauchlan.

Like all good recipes, it serves as a reflection of the deeply personal nature of family and should be adapted to your own personal family tastes and style.

For the Puerto Rican Beans

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 strips bacon, diced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 tomato, roughly chopped
  • 2 cans kidney, pinto, or pink beans, 15.5 ounces each, rinsed
  • Additional liquid for moisture: 1/2 cup broth, 1/2 cup water, or 1/2 can unsweetened coconut milk, in true Caribbean tradition
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the Puerto Rican Rice

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus optional 1/4 cup
  • 6 strips bacon, diced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 tomato, roughly chopped
  • 2 to 3 sazón seasoning packets, to taste
  • 3 cups medium- to short-grain rice, rinsed
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup sliced Spanish olives stuffed with pimentos, rinsed (optional)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Cilantro for garnish (optional)

For the Puerto Rican Beans

Start with making the sofrito by frying the bacon in the 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a deep saucepan until brown. Drain off excess oil, leaving 2 to 3 tablespoons in the pan.

Reduce heat to medium, add onion and garlic, and cook gently until soft and translucent. Add oregano.

Remove from heat and stir in tomatoes. Return the pan to the stove over medium heat for an additional minute, until combined.

Rinse beans and add to pan. Simmer gently for 20 minutes over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally. As beans simmer, add liquid to keep moist.

Check seasonings. Serve with Puerto Rican rice.

For the Puerto Rican Rice

Heat the olive oil on medium-high heat in a deep pot. Start by making the sofrito by cooking the bacon over medium-high heat until lightly browned. Drain off excess oil, leaving 2 to 3 tablespoons in the pot.

Add the onion, garlic, and oregano and sauté until soft and onion is translucent.

Add tomato and continue cooking for an additional minute until combined.

Add one sazón packet for seasoning. Add the rice and stir to coat, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover and reduce the heat to low, and cook for 30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice has become fluffy.

Optional: If you like an extra-crispy bottom layer for the rice, or “pegao,” which means “stuck,” add an extra 1/4 cup olive oil or bacon drippings and continue cooking over low, covered and undisturbed, for 15 to 20 minutes, until a lightly browned and crispy layer forms.

Remove from heat, fluff rice with fork, and check seasonings. Adjust seasoning by adding additional sazón packets or salt as needed. Add rinsed Spanish olives, if using, and any other personal touches.

Leave lid half-covered until ready to serve or re-heat. Garnish with cilantro.

Do you have a treasured family recipe that holds a special place in your family history, heritage, or traditions? We would be honored if you would share it with us.

Along with the recipe, tell us its story—who gave it to you, its journey through the generations, and the personal meanings and memories it carries. Is it a special-occasion dish, or an everyday family favorite? Does it connect you to your cultural heritage, or to a certain loved one?

How have you kept the recipe alive, and why is it important to you to do so?


Bringing in May: Celtic Recipes For Your Own May Day Feast

Beltaine (pronounced Bee-YAWL-tinnuh), is one of two pagan fire festivals in the Celtic year. Held on the eve of May Day, April 30, it marks the beginning of summer and the light half of the Celtic calendar, and it celebrates the return of life and fertility.

While the Irish-Gaelic word for May is Beltaine, the literal translation is “bright” or “brilliant fire,” derived from the bonfires lit in honor of Bel, the god of light, fire, and healing. The central fire or tein-eigen made from sacred oak was strictly maintained by Druids (the priestly sector of Celtic society). Humans leapt and danced through the embers, and cattle were driven through them as an act of purification. Often, a torch-led procession made its way around the fields to evoke fertility in the plants. So important was the fire that all hearth fires were extinguished so they could be rekindled from this sacred fire every year.

Themes of death, fertility, and rebirth are woven throughout the rites and rituals of Beltaine. According to tradition, the Great Father (sun) impregnates the Great Mother (earth), dies, and is reborn as her son (crops). The Maypole connects earth and sky, triggering the renewal of the growing season and spawning fertility dances held on the first day of May. “Bringing in the May” was a tradition of gathering herbs, flowers, and branches to represent the earth’s healing and fertile energies and distributing them at each house.

Beltaine marked the end of winter’s subsistence diet of salted meats and dried produce. Heralding spring, Beltaine offers berries, herbs, and fresh greens in the evening’s feast. A special oatcake or bannock made from eggs, milk, and oatmeal was eaten by all and offered to animals and plants in return for the promise of a full harvest. Beltaine embodied the fresh tastes from nature’s rekindled generosity.

A May Day Feast

WARM WILD MUSHROOMS WITH BAKED GOAT CHEESE

The Celts mined salt in Hallstatt (in modern Austria) and are thought to have helped introduce butter churning to modern Europe. They made cheese, especially goat cheese, and preserved it with salt.

12 ounces chanterelle, cap, shiitake,
or oyster mushrooms
1 large garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 ounces soft goat cheese, cut into 4 rounds
2 cups mesclun or spinach
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram
1/2 cup fresh nasturtium flowers (optional)
2 tablespoons white wine, tarragon, or white vinegar

Clean mushrooms and slice. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in skillet and cook garlic, mushrooms, and chives over medium heat until just tender. Season with salt and pepper. Lift mushrooms out of pan with slotted spoon onto lightly oiled baking sheet, dividing into 4 portions. Place goat cheese round in center of each pile. Bake at 400°F about 4 minutes, until cheese melts and browns slightly.

Meanwhile, wash and dry lettuce and herbs. Toss together with flowers in medium bowl. Divide into 4 portions and place on warmed plates. Add remaining oil to skillet, turn heat to medium, and stir to collect pan juices and bits. Add vinegar and simmer until reduced slightly.

Spoon hot mushrooms, juices, and cheese over lettuce, then drizzle with hot oil and vinegar. Serve immediately.

OATCAKES

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
21/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup dried currants
11/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

Heat oven to 425° F. Grease a large baking sheet.

In large bowl, combine rolled oats, flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda. With pastry blender or two knives, cut the shortening in until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in currants.

Add buttermilk to dry ingredients and mix lightly with fork until mixture clings together and forms a soft dough. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead gently 5 or 6 times. Divide dough in half. With lightly floured rolling pin, roll one half of dough into a 7-inch round. Cut into 4 wedges. Repeat with remaining half of dough.

Place oatcakes, 1 inch apart, on greased baking sheet. Pierce tops with a fork. Brush tops with egg yolk. Bake in preheated oven 8–10 minutes. Serve warm.

HERB-WRAPPED GRILLED SALMON WITH NETTLE SAUCE

For the Celts, salmon represented wisdom. Wild or cultivated angelica leaves work well as a wrap and impart a delicate anise flavor. Substitute lettuce leaves, grape leaves, or beet greens if angelica leaves are not available.

4 large, wild-caught salmon fillets
11/4 cups basil pesto
4 angelica leaves, soaked in water

Cut salmon fillets in half, spread 1–2 tablespoons of pesto on one half and cover with the other half of fish. Place 1 stuffed fillet in the center of each angelica leaf. Wrap tightly and secure with twine.

Grill on barbecue 4–6 minutes per side. Check doneness by unwrapping one package and cutting into flesh. If it is opaque and flakes easily with a fork, it is done.

NETTLE SAUCE

Gather wild nettles using gloves for protection from the nasty stings. Heating the nettles dissipates the oxalic acid in the leaves and renders them safe to eat. For an alternative, substitute chopped fresh sorrel and omit the steaming.

1/2 cup fresh nettle leaves or fresh sorrel
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
3 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
1 tablespoon fresh chopped chervil
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2–4 tablespoons yogurt

Clean nettle leaves under warm water, immediately transfer to a medium saucepan, and cover with lid. Turn heat to medium-high and heat nettles just until leaves wilt. Remove from pan and cool.

Blend all ingredients in a small food processor or blender until well mixed. Store in the refriger­ator 3 days.

BUNDLES OF BRAISED LEEKS AND SPRING GREENS

12 fresh leeks
1 pound fresh French sorrel or spinach
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
11/2 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, chervil, basil, or thyme

Trim, split, and thoroughly clean leeks and cut off dark green tops so that leeks are about 5–6 inches in length divide into 4 lots. (If you’re using wild leeks, trim and thoroughly clean leave tops on). Reserve 4 long, green leek stems to tie bunches. Clean and trim sorrel and divide into 4 lots.

Slice each reserved leek stem into 4 strips and use to tie each bundle together. Make bundles by gathering 1 lot of sorrel and surrounding them with 1 lot of leeks. Tie bundles tightly with 4 strips of leek leaf. Make 3 more bundles. In a large skillet over moderate heat, heat butter and oil. Add garlic and onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add leek bundles, stock, and herbs season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cover skillet and adjust heat so stock simmers gently. Cook 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender. Lift out bundles with a slotted spoon and keep warm. Increase heat and reduce stock by about half. Drizzle over bundles to serve.

SWEET HERB TART

11/4 cups milk
1/4 vanilla bean
3 tablespoons fresh chopped sweet cicely
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup raisins
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons rosewater
1/3 cup blanched almonds
1 9-inch pie shell, baked and cooled
3 cups sliced strawberries

In a medium saucepan, combine milk, vanilla bean, sweet cicely, basil, 1/4 cup sugar, and raisins. Scald by heating just to the point when bubbles form around the inside of the pan. Remove from heat and lift out vanilla bean.

In a small bowl, mix rosewater into almonds until it forms a paste-like consistency set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks with 1 tablespoon sugar until thick. Beat in half the hot milk. Return milk and egg yolk mixture to the pan and heat to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly. Stir in almond paste, simmer 10 minutes, until thickened. Cover with plastic wrap and let cool completely.

To assemble the tart, spoon the almond cream evenly into the tart shell and arrange the strawberries neatly over the top. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

MAI BOWLE

In Germany sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) is known as the Waldmeister—“master of the forest.”

1/2 cup sweet woodruff leaves
2 bottles white Rhine wine
1 32-ounce bottle soda water
1/2 cup hulled and sliced strawberries

1 to 2 hours before serving, place woodruff in a punch bowl. Pour wine over and allow to stand. Just before serving, add soda water and strawberries.


Party With Pig: In Puerto Rico, a Glorious Feast

IT’S a big mess,” Alfredo Ayala said, shaking his head and raising his eyebrows as if to ask: Are you sure you want to do this?

Let’s see. Do I want to travel deep into the central mountains of Puerto Rico to toss back Medalla Light beers with hundreds of locals in an all-day street party with live music, dancing and rotisserie pig?

“Where should we meet?” I asked.

And that’s how it goes in Puerto Rico — one minute you are sharing a civilized glass of red wine on the front porch of Delirio, Mr. Ayala’s restaurant here, and the next, you’re mapping out a plan to party in the hills with the pigs. Specifically, I was after Guavate, a little barrio about 45 minutes south of here that’s home to more than a dozen lechoneras — restaurants that serve the traditional Christmas lechón asado, or roasted pig, year-round.

Though there are pig roasts all over Puerto Rico, Guavate is the hub. What started as a handful of lechoneras has swelled to about 15 in the last two decades. Every Sunday afternoon, hundreds of locals descend on Guavate, slowly snaking their cars up the mountain along Route 184. The lechoneras really start to appear where the road hits the Carite Forest, and that’s where the party happens.

It’s not lost on me that I’ve asked Mr. Ayala, a renowned chef who studied with Joël Robuchon, to escort me to a pig roast in the woods. This is a man you approach for his duck meatball recipe or advice on how many minutes to cook octopus to avoid a chewy center. But Mr. Ayala grew up in these mountains and was reared on the local cooking, cocina criolla.

I had just one reservation. Let’s just say that I prefer to sit with my back to a Peking duck presentation. Was it going to be freaky to see all those dead pigs strung up in the restaurant windows like prizes at a county fair?

Probably. But then I started thinking about the (bacon) distance between (ham and my mouth) what we eat and how it’s packaged, and how good (pork chops are) it would feel to get back to (bologna) the source of my food. Really, looking those pigs in the eye was pretty organic if you thought about it.

According to Mr. Ayala, some of the best lechón is actually a short drive southwest of Guavate, at a lechonera called El Cuñao. I found the restaurant along Highway 1, a quiet road that was once the main route to Ponce, before the expressway sprang up. Back then, it was a popular pit stop for truckers looking for a lechón fix, but these days it caters to a well-heeled office crowd and daytrippers stretching their legs.

After a few confusing minutes at the door, I was waved to a table in the deserted back room. “Gringo section?” I asked, and the waiter smiled. It turned out to be a gesture to get me closer to the kitchen so Awilda Vega, who speaks English, could stop cooking and poke her head out to take my order.

Besides the basic side dishes, like rice with pigeon peas or boiled root vegetables, there were pasteles — rich tamales of mashed green bananas, yautía and calabaza (a pumpkin-size squash) with pork filling that are then wrapped in banana leaves and boiled. Another classic side is morcilla, a type of sausage. Ms. Vega, whose family owns the restaurant, pointed to it and said, “You try it, and then I’m going to tell you what’s in it.”

When I told her I already knew it was blood sausage, she erupted in giggles. Unlike some blood sausages, morcilla is meatless, with a straight filling of blood, rice, garlic, peppers and recao (Puerto Rican for the herb culantro, not to be confused with cilantro). I had heard it was spicy, but I found it gummy and flavorless, except near the crispy ends.

“At Christmas, we make 400 pounds of it,” Ms. Vega said. Four hundred pounds of blood sausage? Good night. These people were like Mongols preparing for war. “On the 24th, we make 65 pigs in one day,” she added.

I’d be inclined to buy as many myself after a bite of El Cuñao’s pork. The rib was dripping in fat and oil, but so fresh and succulent I could not put it down once I’d started. The pork was tender, not a hair overcooked (which is a tough thing to pull off because the parts of the pig cook at an uneven pace). And there was a thin layer of fat just underneath the chewy skin, reminding me of a pork belly dish I like back home in Brooklyn. That one costs $20, of course. El Cuñao’s was $5, and came with a side.

El Cuñao’s staff members say their pigs are raised locally, a fact proudly splashed across a sign outside the restaurant. This has become a delicate issue of late for Puerto Ricans, with more lechoneras importing pigs from the mainland because they are cheaper. Locals complain that the mainland pig’s diet is not the same, but that’s debatable. The local pork is certainly fresher — and local food is better for the island’s economy, given Puerto Rico’s dependence on imports.

Local or not, adult pigs are the rule at Puerto Rican lechoneras. They weigh somewhere between 90 and 100 pounds, a weight that castrated males achieve in a short three to four months.

Mr. Ayala was right. Guavate was a big old mess, but a glorious one. The booze, the music, the dancing — and those pigs! Great, big rotisserie pigs everywhere you turned, the crowds lining up, their paper plates sagging under the weight of all that glistening pork, the smell of charcoal filling the air.

The traditional way to prepare lechón is over natural wood charcoal, but given Guavate’s crowds and a recent government regulation on wood charcoal use, gas ovens are gaining in popularity. Most of the lechoneras roast the pigs off-site, so more than likely the heavenly smell in Guavate comes from the charcoal placed under the pig to keep it warm.

Mr. Ayala and I started at El Rancho Original, one of the big-boy operations. Most of the lechoneras serve the food cafeteria style, and everyone talks and points their way through.

In line in front of me, Edna Pagán overheard me turning down rice, and swung around with a big grin, wagging her finger in my face. “But you want pork, right? Because if you come here and you don’t eat pork. ” she said, cutting off mid-sentence.

Later, I hunted her down. “Oh! Well, you know,” Ms. Pagán said, “then you’re not in the mood. Look at her,” she said, pointing at a friend with mock disdain. “She’s eating turkey.” She meant the pavochón, a rotisserie turkey done in the lechón style. (It’s terrific, actually.)

The traditional adobo, or seasoning, for Puerto Rican lechón is just salt, pepper, oregano, garlic and sometimes ajíes dulces, also called cachuchas or ajicitos, which are small sweet cooking peppers that look something like Scotch bonnets.

It sounds simple, but it’s enough to bring Ms. Pagán and her girlfriends back every Sunday. It’s not uncommon for them to stay long enough to eat twice. They couldn’t get out, anyway. The traffic jams lock them in.

The pig was tasty at El Rancho Original, if a touch dry. We picked at fresh, boiled chunks of purple yautía and shiny, white yuca and watched the thumping scene on the dance floor. I looked out back and blinked — seemingly out of nowhere, the restaurant had a storybook garden, with children hopping in a brook while families picnicked under cabanas.

The party in Guavate seemed to have no social boundaries. Everyone was there — gay, straight, families, retired couples, single girls, college boys. The only things missing were tourists. I did find two people from New York, who were Puerto Rican. The two, Cynthia Martinez and Ernie Torres, routinely hit Guavate when they visit her family in Ponce. “It’s a big tradition for the Puerto Ricans here,” Ms. Martinez said. “This is where you find the true Puerto Ricans — the ultimate hicks. They’re called jíbaros.”

Down the street at La Reliquia, which claims to be Guavate’s first lechonera, an older couple swung around a green dance floor to live guaracha music. The crowd was mesmerized — they must have been in their 70s, but he was nimble as a schoolboy, and she, with her salty hair tied back into a neat bun, was stunning.

Later, I asked them how long they had been married. Esteban López said “51 years” before his wife, Carmen, tapped him on the shoulder and whispered something in Spanish. He corrected himself: “52, on Feb. 19.”

They had been coming to La Reliquia for seven years, they explained. Mr. Ayala spoke with them in Spanish, then lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “They used to go to El Cuñao for many years, but Cuñao doesn’t have live music. They have, what you call it, the jukebox. They know all the places around.”

They knew their pork, too, because La Reliquia’s almost stacked up to El Cuñao’s. There was a selection of side dishes as well, like mondongo, stewed tripe in tomato sauce a Dominican mofongo, called mangú, made with boiled green plantains that are mashed with sautéed onions and oil arañitas, or deep-fried green plantains and green, unripe bananas. The bananas are usually served boiled, but these were tossed with olive oil, vinegar, onions, olives and peppers.

By late afternoon, the party down at El Monte, across the street from El Rancho Original, was positively on fire, its polished dance floor and its observation deck overflowing with dancers. I picked at some pork and bacalao, a salted codfish stew. The pork wasn’t as good as La Reliquia’s, but the place was twice as packed, probably because it is newer.

Or maybe not. On the way up, I had pointed to a new, good-looking lechonera, and Mr. Ayala shook his head dismissively. “It looks fake,” he said.

I never found out what he meant but sure enough it was completely empty when I passed it on the way down. Maybe it’s something only an islander gets, like pizzerias in New York. If you live here long enough, you just kind of know.


Watch the video: Puerto Ricos Bomba, A Dance of The African Diaspora. KQED Arts (October 2021).

Mango Sorbet Recipe
mango, salt, gelatin, light corn syrup, lemon juice, water
A delicious tropical fruit flavored ice that you can serve for desert or cool off with on a hot summer day. From Caribbean Cooking Recipe.
1 In a food processor, blend the mango chunks into a smooth .