Dominican Flavor

Pastelon

When I asked a friend to teach me how to make empanadas, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Four hours in, I had done so much eating, dancing, and laughing that my sides ached the next day, but we hadn’t even started the empanadas.

The real star was the pastelón de yuca, Liyibel’s favorite dish, beloved enough to have it served it at her wedding this past winter.

I think of pastelón as Dominican shepherd’s pie: a hearty comfort food made of layers of meat and a mashed starch, in this case yuca (cassava). Topped with melty cheese, it’ll give you the energy to dance Bachata all night!

Dominican-Reb

Yuca

Pastelon-c.gif

 

Pastelón de Yuca y Pollo

Yuca Puree:

morir

Morir Soñando

  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 cups evaporated milk
  • 2½ cups ice

Refrigerate the orange juice and milk until very cold. Add the ice to the milk and stir. Add sugar to taste. Slowly pour the orange juice in the milk, stirring constantly. Serve immediately.

Gracias

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Cur, Cocks & Quiche

Introductions at my aunt’s farmyard were nothing short of spectacular: Watson, my 80 lb. shepherd/husky mix, catapulted into the chicken coop fencing, sending panicked hens into a squawking frenzy around the downed wire.  It was a fantastic sight to see his canine form bolt across the yard with a zen-like singleness of purpose, and punctuated by a leap of such grace! But the performance was ultimately self-sabotage;  off-leash privileges, a rarity in our daily New York City life, were eliminated the remainder of our visit.

My aunt feeding cherry tomatoes to her brood

With a richer, more golden, and much larger yolk than those bought at the grocery store, the eggs these hens produce are magnificent. And although I used ‘quiche’ in the post title for the purpose of alliteration, this is technically a frittata. A quiche has a pie crust whereas a frittata is basically a large, fluffy open-faced omelet.

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • toppings of choice, chopped (in this case, garden fresh cherry tomatoes, broccoli, onions and basil)
  • 1 c. grated cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to broil.

Whisk the eggs with salt and pepper.

Melt butter in a 12-inch oven safe skillet over medium high heat.

Add eggs, stir with a rubber spatula until they starting to set, about 5 minutes.

Add toppings and cheese, place in the oven until lightly browned, 3-5 minutes.

Birthday Lasagna

I’m sure being at my beck and call as photo assistant and hand model was my youngest sister’s #1 choice of ways to celebrate her birthday.  Since the lasagna was a whopping success, perhaps she’ll forgive this latest bout of harassment.

Happy birthday Brenna.

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo Lasagna

4 Tablespoons Butter

4 Tablespoons Flour

2 cups Whole Milk

1 cup Chicken Stock

1-½ cups Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

1-½ teaspoon Ground Nutmeg

Pepper

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

4 cloves Garlic, Minced

1 Small Onion, Finely Chopped

1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning

2-½ cups Broccoli Florets

2 cups Cooked Shredded Chicken*

4 cups Ricotta Cheese

1-½ cups Mozzarella Cheese, Shredded

1 egg

Box Oven Ready Lasagna Noodles

1. Preheat oven to 375° F.

2. Place a large sauce pot over medium heat and melt the butter. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and cook it for about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and chicken stock and bring the sauce up to a bubble. Add in the nutmeg and season it with black pepper and nutmeg. Simmer until the sauce thickens, 3-4 minutes. Add Parmesan.

3. Heat olive oil in a large non-stick pan. Add onion, garlic, broccoli, and Italian seasoning. Cook on medium-high for about 1 minute until vegetables are tender. Add chicken.*

4. In another bowl, mix the ricotta, mozzarella, egg, and pepper to taste.

5. Ladle a small amount of the white sauce into a 13×9 casserole dish. Line lasagna noodles on the bottom over the sauce. Add 1/3 of the veggie/meat mixture over the noodles, spread 1/2 of the cheese mixture, and ladle 1 cup of sauce. Repeat until all ingredients are used (total of 3 layers). Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, then remove foil and bake for another 20-30 (until lightly browned and cheese is bubbly). Let the lasagna sit for about 10 minutes to cool before serving.

 

*Note: I used a pack of chicken quarters that I baked at 375° F until done (about 45 minutes). I sautéed the onion/broccoli mixture in some of the chicken pan drippings instead of olive oil.

Brenna’s Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken

As my mother’s first-born, I am the only one of my siblings who has any substantial recollection of the cabinets in our childhood home aflame, my mother literally tossing my sister into the grass of the yard, and the neighbor dragging the garden hose from the yard, through the living room and into the kitchen to extinguish the danger before the sirens even arrived. Which is why, for me, fried chicken is a tad anxiety provoking despite its claim as the trademark of wholesome, down home, Southern hospitality.

Fortunately, my sister, perhaps a whopping 30lbs at the time, has no memory of flying through the air out the front door. Nor does she suffer from the same qualms about deep-frying in home kitchens.

Which is fortunate because fried chicken still always feels like a feast. And, I must admit, is steadily transforming into a symbol of sisterly generosity and the heroics of neighbors.

Brenna’s Fried Chicken

  • 1 (3 pound) whole chicken, cut into pieces
  • Italian bread crumbs
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • vegetable oil for frying
  1. Season chicken pieces with salt, pepper, and paprika. Roll in bread crumbs.
  2. Add about 3/4 inch oil to a large, heavy skillet. Heat to approximately 365. Place chicken pieces in hot oil. Cover, and fry until golden, turning once, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain on paper towels.