Beauty of the Island

So anyone that knows me knows how much I love 2 things- Coquis and Hibiscus flowers.

About 2 weeks ago I went to see Julie & Julia and was given a free goody bag. In it there was a hibiscus soda. It was Great!!!!! I dont have the name brand at the moment but I will find it and post a pic of the soda for you to try it. Since then I’m looking into other exotic flavors that are associated with Puerto Rico. The Hibiscus is the official flower of Puerto Rico and comes in many varieties. Most common is the red one. Tea is also available rather readily as well. In looking up the benefits of hibiscus I found that it offers a large amount of vitamin C, lowers cholesterol and high blood pressure.

So not ony is this the most beautiful flower in existence but it tastes good and is good for your health.

*disclaimer, im not a dr. so just drink it cus it tastes good* 🙂

Aguas Buenas, PR- Flan de Coco

Aguas Buenas Puerto Rico is a small town that broke off from Caguas in the mid 1800’s. Aguas Buenas is the biggest egg producer in Puerto Rico with 144, 000 eggs produced daily.

Today’s recipe is a wonderful, delicious, rich dessert. Flan!!

Flan De Coco (coconut custard)
1 can of condensed milk
1 can coconut milk
1/2 can creme of coconut
5 eggs

1c sugar
1c water

Mise en Place-
1 large bowl, 9″ round nonstick baking pan, larger pan that the 9″ pan can fit into, whisk, nonstick saucepan, 1 qt pot

For the caramel
pour the 1 c of water in the sauce pan. When the water boils pour in the 1 cup of sugar. Let the sugar caramelize. The mixture will continue to boil. The bubbles will get bigger and pop slower. Watch the color until it is golden brown. Take this and pour it into the bottom of the 9″ pan. It will quickly set and look like glass.

Bain Marie- Baño de Maria- Boil 1 qt of water in your pan.

Preheat your oven to 350˚.

In the large bowl mix all of your eggs. Add half the can of the coconut creme- this tends to separate in the can so stir it and bring it back together in the can or in a small bowl. Add the can of condensed milk and coconut milk. Combine all until its uniform in texture. Feel free to add shredded coconut- just remember this is custard so the coconut will rise to the top and brown a bit- the top will be the bottom of the flan when turned out. Pour this mixture in the pan with the caramel.

Place this pan into the larger pan and fill the larger pan 3/4 of the way up the 9″ round. Pop it in the over for an hour or until golden brown and a knife/ toothpick come out clean.

Let flan sit for 6-8 hours. the longer it sets the firmer it gets.

Now this- as Dora says- DELICIOSO!!!

Tips, tricks and useless info- Part 2

Tip- Whenever I use a blender or the cuisine art machine I leave out a bit of the water I need in my recipe. After the mixture is almost done pour it out and pit a bit of water in it and turn it on hi and then pour that into your ready made batch and mix. Now obviously they may not work for dough but it works for liquids and herbs.

Trick- To keep meat in the fridge season it. This will allow the meat to keep better and hey! you add some flavor. To re-crisp up your lettuce shred it and let it sit in a ice cold water bath for a bit.

Useless info (trivia)- Did you know that Puerto Rico accounts for 80% of the US’ rum production? Well now you know.. 🙂

Aguada, PR- Arroz Con Gandules (Yellow rice with pigeon peas)

Aguada, PR is claims it was the first place Christopher Columbus landed landed in 1843. Aguadilla also says that. I’m just going to say Christopher Columbus had one foot in each town. They are close enough for this to be possible. Aguada is known for Sugar (Caña) and Pigeon Peas (gandules). Now I have a story for each ingredient.

Whenever we asked my dad for sneakers as kids he would say “muchacha, tu sabe cuantos años yo camine sin zapatos por las montañes de caña?!” “My daughter, do you know how many years I had to walk through the mountains of sugar cane with no shoes.” Every time he told us this the amount of years got longer, but we got the point. He works hard to make a life for us that he didn’t have and we are definitely grateful. (Te Quiero Papí)

As for gandules. If you have been reading the papers the past few weeks Sonia Sotomayor has been in every one! I cry every time I read about he because “I am a wise latina” too. I was happy when Obama won the presidency but seeing Puerto Rican woman elected to the supreme court was something that hit home. My sister is a lawyer. Although she is 10 years older than me I couldn’t have had a better older sister. She was the first to graduate college in my family and then went to Columbia Law School. She can be sitting next to Sra. Sotomayor in a few years. Although I am an old school Hispanic woman at heart and would love to be a stay at home mom, seeing women in such places like my sister and Judge Sotomayor makes me proud… very proud!!!!

Soooooo now after all the mushiness and emotions here is today’s recipe, one of Sonia Sotomayor’s favorite foods. (couldn’t bring myself to make pig’s feet….. not yet anyway).

Arroz Con Gandules

Mise en Place- Cardero (pot, the aluminum kind), Large Spoon, can opener

1 Can gandules (pigeon peas)
2 c water
2 c white short grain rice (if you use long grain you will need more water)
1 Packet Sazon
2 tbsp Sofrito
3 tsp vegetable oil
4oz tomatoe sauce

In the pot put the oil. Let it heat then add the sofrito, sazon and tomato sauce. Let that simmer for a bit to draw out the flavors. Open the can of pigeon peas and pour into the pot with the water it comes in. Add the 2 cups of water. When this comes to a boil add in the white rice ( I usually wash the rice until the water runs clear). Cover the pot turn on low and let it cook. When the gandules rise to the top you can stir. Try not to scrape up the bottom of the rice. This will form a crust and
it will help in cooking. Try not to stir often as it will make the rice mushy.

Now when you master this.. explore a bit. I let onions and peppers sweat in the oil in the beginning process or add olives and capers with roasted red peppers when I add the gandules. This is a staple in ever Puerto Rican home. O! and save this recipe for Thanksgiving and Christmas when we break out the pernil (roast pork) mmmm my mouth is watering right now.

Life Before GOYA….

In 1936 a wonderful baby was born to Don Prudencio Unanes and his wife Carolia- GOYA. They started a storefront in Manahattan that catered to the growing need for fresh hispanic ingredients. Ever since GOYA became popular we have lived life so much easier. GOYA makes and prepackages so many foods our grandmas used to make with sweat, love and tears. Every dish I have leanred to make contains a GOYA product. So for tomorrows recipe I decided to research ingredients… PRE-GOYA. Sazon is a blend of many delicious ingredients that are packaged up in one tiny envelope (about 2 tbsp). I use this to season my rice, meat and almost anything else I cook. There are so many different kinds of Sazon- Sazon con culantro y achiote, Sazon natural, Sazon con azafran and more. In my house we get Sazon con culantro y achiote. Culantro is an aromatic green leaf much like cilantro but with a more pronounced flavor. Achiote is also known as Anatto- this is a flowering plant that has seed pods that look like a cluster of hair red almonds. Inside this pod are a bunch of tiny red seeds. These seeds were used before Sazon was available to add color to dishes. Achiote seeds are still found in markets. To make a coloring for your rice you cna add seeds to some olive oil and heat it slowly for a while until the oil is unfused. Burning this mixture makes the oil turn green and the seeds get black.


Achiote Oil
1c Olive oil
2 1/2 tbsp Achiote Seeds

Warm oil and seeds until oil is infused with color.

For 1 1/2 teaspoons of seeds you can use 1 teaspoon of Achiote powder.