Showing posts with label Cooking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cooking. Show all posts

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Epic Triple Layer Banana Pineapple Cake with Ginger-Pineapple Filling

After spotting Ken's from HungryRabbitNYC amazing looking Banana Pineapple Cake on Pinterest, I was inspired to make my own version for my SO's birthday.

I am not going to lie the recipe seemed quite intense and it took me hours to prepare and finish this cake but I have to say not only was I impressed with the results, I actually felt proud of being able to create it.

Maybe it's because I miss eating butter but the Ginger Milk Frosting was so good, I wanted to eat bowls of it alone. The filling tasted like store bought candy sauce.

A lot of times you see amazing things pinned and then you try them and either they're a huge flop, a waste of time or just not as easy as you thought it looked.

I was short of some ingredients and I often like to go rogue when following a recipe: I ended up using 1 lb of frozen pineapple instead of 3 lbs, I added in applesauce to try to make up the difference. I used honey, agave, molasses and regular sugar where I was short of light brown sugar. I used nonfat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. I decorated my cake differently. I used Seven Tiki Spiced Rum because it was all we had on hand. I didn't use a mixer or processor, I did everything by hand. I made this cake my own.

And there is a certain pride that comes with this.

Perhaps, it is a remnant from my mother's poor, rural upbringing in Ponce, Puerto Rico, or even my grandmothers' before her but the thing is you make do, you work with what you have and you waste nothing. You don't have to follow the rules, they're are just parameters after all. Resilience, grit, creativity, those are the things my mom consigned to me, as I watched her cook every day from my perch on the kitchen counter as a small child.

As much as she could, she used fresh ingredients, never from a box, and made everything from scratch. It's ironic to me that this  farm to table/DIY mentality is in vogue now especially with scrappy millennials, affluent hipsters and the Whole Foods/Trader Joe's folks. I mean my mom saved every jar, plastic tub and button from going in the trash bin because tu nunca sabes.

Not only was I really mindful but I made a serious effort to put everything I had into baking this cake, this labor of love. My mom used to always tell me that the most important ingredient to add to your food was love and lately with all the talk of mindful eating, I've resolved to mindfully cook the hell out of this cake.

My Ginger Pinapple Filling was amazing!
We have such a deep connection with the food we eat and our memories and senses. It brings to mind, the stories of Like Water for Chocolate where the food was imbued with the emotions of whomever cooked it.

I recall that various tribes of American Indians not only thanked the animals they hunted for sustaining them but also treated and prepared them very respectfully. I've always loved this idea, not of thanking some abstract religious figure but the organism who we are actually consuming.

Ginger Milk Frosting
It took me several hours to bake the cake, at point I had to leave the house to get more ingredients for the frosting. I had to let the layers cool off, I had to make the filling and then make the frosting. I was grateful for the summer Friday hours that day.

It was hot in the kitchen and we hadn't put our AC in yet. I hadn't decorated nor even made a cake in a very long time. It was hard to stack the cake and keep the frosting from melting but it worked out. It was pretty intense but this cake turned out phenomenally.

My version of Triple Layer Banana Pineapple Cake with Ginger-Pineapple Filling
The birthday boy thought so too. I knew I had done well when he kept repeating how very sweet I was. We broke our pre-wedding diets that weekend with this fabulous cake made from scratch but steeped with love.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

How to Make your own Flavored Achiote Oil

Recently, I received a bottle of Olive Oil from Iberia. Iberia, is a manufacturer of packaged foods, specializing in Latin cuisine. Iberia offers a wide variety of food & beverage products (EVOO, olives, rice, beans) to specialty ‘foodie’ products (aioli, blended oils, paella packets) … the list goes on.

It is a such a pretty bottle design and packaging that I didn't want to just put it away in a cabinet. I instantly thought of the achiote oil that both my mom and my sister, although my sister more so always uses to make her food look and taste amazing. Achiote oil is commonly used in Puerto Rican cuisine and gives food a sweet but nutty peppery taste.

Historically it has been valued for its coloring properties and used for body paint and even a predecessor to lipstick. It's been also been used as traditional folk medicine and in addition to being high in antioxidants and  tocotrienols (belied to prevent cancer), it has antimicrobial properties. Of course, we all know that comsuming good quality olive oil on a daily basis, more commonly known as the Mediterranean diet has been shown to cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes by 30 percent.

DIY Achiote Oil

Chef Daisy Martinez has a pretty simple recipe here. You just heat up some achiote seeds (also referred to as annatto seeds) in the olive oil, watch carefully until the start to fizzle and then remove, cool and store. Your oil will turn an amazing reddish color and you can use it to make your rice yellow and your empanadas a golden brown.

My mom always uses a bit in her pasteles and her food is amazing. Rub a little of this on any meat you roast and it will come out looking Martha Stewart-worthy. Let me know what you think of it or if you use it.

Here's a fun video from Chef Don Davis walking you through Iberia products.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Crush it en la Cocina! A Pilón/Molcajete Giveaway

I've always been fascinated by pilóns, the wooden mortar and pestles, so commonly used in Latin cuisine that I'm instantly taken to my mother's kitchen as she crushed garlic and oregano in a teeny bit of olive oil and salt to make her dishes like pernil or mofongo amazing.

In fact, I've started collecting my own array of these traditional tools sometimes made of ceramic, stone, metal or wood and used to crush, grind, and mash ingredients, medicines, herbs and seasonings. There is something so powerful about the act of grinding nature's bounty, almost like an alchemist, with your own two hands in a way that your ancestors have for thousands of years.

Italians used mortars and pestles since the 15th Century in apothecaries, the Molcajete or Mexican version dates back to over 6,000 years ago, Aztec and Maya cultures and is made literally of the earth, from volcanic rock. The Thais usage dates back to the 13th Century.

IMUSA, which specializes in Hispanic cookware and appliances, recently reached out to me about their line calderos (dutch oven pots), griddles & sauté pans, tostoneras, authentic molcajetes, empanada makers, tortilla warmers, salsa dishes and much more. They have some really great products that celebrate both the culture and cuisine of Latinos.

Honestly, some of these kitchen items are so cool and beautiful that they make perfect gifts. They have been kind enough to sponsor a giveaway for Literanista readers - more below on how to win one of three Lava Rock Molcajetes: Made from ultra-durable natural volcanic lava rock, this mortar and pestle set is large enough to grind up a party-size batch of guacamole, then mix and serve it in the same bowl. ($59.99 at Macy’s) Enter to win one below and help my blog gain more visitors:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Guacamole and avocado are some of my favorites, just take a look at my Literanista Eats Pinterest Board to see what I mean but having these in your home makes so many healthy, fresh foods even a Mojito easy to make quickly.


You might also like:
Latina Cooking: Healthy & Low Fat Versions
6 Books About Food Every Latina Should Read
Have You Tried Nueva Cocina Foods Yet?
New Book: Gran Cocina
Just Say "No" to MSG - DIY Recipes for Adobo, Sofrito & Sazon
Sonia Sotomayor's Favorite Dish

Friday, May 21, 2010

Damn, She's on Fire!

Perhaps I will give this one the same amount of thought, analysis, and critique as I did here: Tostitos Salsa & the Carmen Miranda/Chiquita Banana/Sexy Señorita Image

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

More Mother's Day Ideas

- If you hurry, you can still create a customized cookbook with all of Mami's recetas favoritas at You can add family photos, stories, and organize all her recipes. Not only that but you create a timeless keepsake that will inspire and touch everyone.
If you are in NYC, you can take Mami to a fabulous obra: Doña Flor Y Sus Dos Maridos

Monday, May 14, 2007

Just Say "No" to MSG!

Lately, I've been on sort of "green" kick and it has spread to what I eat. While I've never been one to munch on unhealthy things ; chips or drink tons of soda, I've been considering how I can make my diet healthier overall. The other day one of my friends told me I should cut out salt of my diet, and I easily responded I didn't salt my food.

Then she asked if I used Sazon or Adobo in my food, to which I replied "of course, I do," I mean what good Puerto Rican cook doesn't, right? That's when her tsk-tsking began - I went home and checked the labels and found that my adobo was obscenely high in sodium and that my sazon was not only high in salt but also contained a lot of MSG.

I did make an attempt to not use those products and my dinner turned out badly, the food was bland and missing it usual sabrosura.

I, then bought the new reduced sodium Adobo, and the "natural" Sazon to my dismay however, both products are very high in MSG. Now while some argue that MSG is not harmful, i.e., Wikipedia, it does note here as well that MSG has an addictive type of quality (read: crack) that has induced obesity in lab rats.

I also found this which doesn't seem like a very credible read but if you want to be petrified, then feel free to check it out:

Not cool, man!

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 (Photo: minusbaby)
So what's a girl to do, when diabetes, lupus, high blood pressure and even autism have reared their ugly head in her gene pool? Well, I decided that unless Goya and all the other ethnic seasoning companies do something serious about lowering the levels of sodium and other "ingredients/chemicals" in our food, I'm going to go the DIY route.

And, I welcome you to join me! So in that light, I'm adding some DIY seasoning recipes with no preservatives (and better for your wallet too).

Homemade Sazon

Latino garlic-pepper-vinegar marinade

Puerto Rican adobo powder

Puerto Rican green sofrito

I'm sure that if you google these condiments you will find an array of ethnically customized versions of all the above.

So get in the kitchen, have fun and stay healthy!
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