Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off on September 15, and this year we want to celebrate it right. We talked to Mexican Chef Roberto Santibañez of Fonda Restaurant about some of the ways he’ll be bringing the festivities to the kitchen.
For all of you who eagerly await the arrival of the seasonal Chiles en Nogada, Santibañez will be preparing the classic dish in his Park Slope and East Village restaurants during the first week in September. The eponymous dish which precedes independence day celebrations in Mexico fills poblano peppers with a picadillo stuffing and tops them with walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds — the Mexican flag on a plate! Santibañez prepares his picadillo by adding apples and peaches to shredded beef and creates the walnut sauce with nuts and goat cheese. more »
The Ever Versatile Aubergine08.12.13
Mom prepared a plate of pickled eggplant or berenjena a la vinagreta with her signature enthusiasm. She simmered the aubergine with a laurel leaf, a pinch of allspice, onion, garlic, and a bouillon cube. After it cooled, she dressed it in a vinaigrette spiked with Worcestershire sauce and oregano, storing it in the refrigerator in a round clear pyrex. My sister loved piling on the silky tangy stuff over crispy saltines, which she snacked on with pure abandon at any time of the day. I, on the other hand, had quite a different relationship to the pickled spread and was far from being a fan.
It’s been surprising to see how all of a sudden this summer, it’s the one vegetable I can’t live without. I’ve sliced and roasted it, layering it with tomatoes and sharp cheese like the Italians do with their melanzane. I’ve diced and tossed it over a high flame with snap peas and ginger to create a hearty and flavorful stir-fry.
Alfajores: The King of Cookies08.03.13
I still remember the first time I tried a Havanna Alfajor. I was a newly minted college graduate who moved down to Miami to be closer to home. In this sunny strip of paradise, I landed my first job as a fund trader at a Spanish bank. I worked with a ton of private bankers from all over South America and Spain, a group of movers and shakers with monogrammed shirts continuously nostalgic about the worlds they had left behind.
Those who were lucky enough to fly home for work always returned with a box of Havanna Alfajores stocked with gold and silver pucks of dulce de leche treasures. The golden wrappers indicated a dark chocolate covered Alfajor, while the silver wrapper meant a cookie dressed in a thin veil of white chocolate. I loved the golden wrappers and the dense and crumbly cookies they protected, which had been dipped in milk chocolate and filled with a tangy dulce de leche. They were the most beautiful way to sweeten an afternoon cup of tea. For me and all my friends who worked with me, they meant sustained sugar-fueled giddiness for hours. more »
A Royal Soufflé06.03.13
Mom was the queen of soufflés. She could whip them up in a snap, creating a velvety béchamel while she talked on the phone. She whisked egg whites to perfection, achieving a cloud-like consistency she delicately folded into the shiny batter. This was one of her signature dishes that would brighten up any special occasion at home, as well as our weekly Saturday family lunches on the terrace.
On the table, the fluffy soufflé was the perfect foil to a salty tenderloin filet or juicy skirt steak seared and cooked on the nearby grill. (I was in charge of the Caesar Salad, which I tossed with tangy anchovies in an enormous bowl large enough to feed a small village.) There was crusty bread, Spanish red wine, Dad’s smooth jazz, and a lazy fan circling above us. We ate, listened to my Aunt Tiita’s gossip, talked, and laughed. We ended these long and sweet afternoon meals with a spongy and cool Tres Leches picked up at a nearby repostería and a Dominican cafecito. more »
Coq au vin is the French man’s version of one of my favorite Dominican dishes, pollo guisado. If you grew up in the Caribbean you, like me, have fond memories of the tangy creole chicken stew seasoned with sour oranges, oregano, tomatoes, and smoky sweet ajicitos (which grew in my backyard, by the way). So what to do when half of the ingredients that make up this flavorful dish can’t be found without having to schlep to a mercadito in Washington Heights or a remote part of Brooklyn? You have to get creative.
Enter Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I’ve been staring at the elegant fleur de lys-stamped tome for the past three years, dog-earing classics like Moules a la Mariniere (mussles with wine) and Navarin Printanier (lamb stew with spring vegetables), but never once having the courage (or the time) to dive into one of these elaborate dishes. This week, however, whether spurred by the rainy forecast or the ridiculously decadent meal I recently had at Daniel, I felt inspired. more »
We’re down to the last two weeks of our CSA delivery, which means only a few days left to create some scrumptious farm-to-table dishes. This year has proved to be a wonderful one, at least for the produce of Stoneledge Farm, which was spared from disaster of both the hurricane and winter storm that swept across the area the last couple of weeks.
Personally I’ve been trying to keep calm amidst the chaos. Every Tuesday evening I leave work and take the train downtown, pick up my load of fresh veggies, and walk home. When I get home, I sort the produce, decide what to prepare that night, and plan menus for the week. One of the tools I use on a regular basis now is Foodily, a handy food app that helped me find uses for less common ingredients like celeriac and turnip greens, as well as supplied excellent ways to prepare simple soups and stews. Most nights I find a cool recipe on Foodily, prepare it, and end up instagramming the heck out of it:) more »
Pommes Dauphinoise and a toast12.28.11
And…exhale. After all the holiday parties, tree-trimming, gift exchanges, and last-minute shopping frenzies, being back in the kitchen again was a perfect opportunity to slow things down. So Ana, my mother-in-law and one of my favorite cooks, and I prepared Pommes Dauphinoise (au gratin potatoes) from the Food 52 Holiday Recipe and Survival Guide cookbook that I reviewed last week. We peeled, sliced, grated, sprinkled, and created a delicate rendition of the classic potato dish, all the while using the iPad as a guide, and infusing the house with mouthwatering aromas of nutty gruyère and lemony thyme. We then served it as one of the main characters in a totally simple, cozy meal of hearty pasteles, glazed ham, avocado salad, and red wine. We toasted to family and to being together. Thanks Alex, for capturing the story with your beautiful images. more »
As a holiday treat this week, our guest blogger Jessica Solt shares one of her favorite childhood desserts: Rompope Jello. Growing up in Mexico City, a Christmas holiday was never complete without Rompope, or Mexican eggnog. Learn how Jessica delves into its origins and transforms it into a luscious, boozy dish.
Velvety, creamy and aromatic; no wonder rompope has been a part of Mexican culture and a silent witness to countless table talks for centuries. Known to many as “Mexican eggnog”, rompope is a drink made with eggs, almonds, milk, sugar and vanilla. The yolks give this smooth beverage its yellow hue. Although the Spanish version uses rum—hence the name—traditional recipes use other cane-based liquors. more »