Author Archives: Karina

How to Cook: Green Plantains Three Ways

Hi Friends! Today we are going to learn how to cook the versatile green plantain, a staple of Dominican cooking, in three different ways.

Here in Miami, you may have seen green plantains at your local store. If you live elsewhere, you may have seen green plantains and done a double take thinking, why would anyone want to buy green bananas? Well, make sure you pick them up next time you are in the store and try these recipes. They are going to rock your world!

Green plantains have a firm and starchy texture when they are green and as they ripen their skin changes from green to yellow to black as their sugars concentrate and they become more sweet.

Plantains are considered a superfood due to their high vitamin content, including vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium and potassium (they actually have twice the amount of potassium than a regular banana).

I did a little research on the green plantain and found a couple of curious facts. Alexander the Great found plantains in Pakistan in 327 B.C. The Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder referred to them as “the fruit of the wise”. Plantains were first domesticated in Papua New Guinea from 5000 – 8000 B.C. As global trade expanded, plantains found themselves in China in 200 A.D and reached Africa by the 6th century. Native to India, plantains are now grown commercially in the Caribbean, Central Africa, West Africa and Florida.

For the first recipe of today, we are going to make Dominican Mangú, a dish of mashed plantains usually prepared for breakfast in the Dominincan Republic and served with fried eggs, salami, avocado, and even sardines. The next two recipes involve pressing and frying the plantains into crispy golden disks. Tostones are a heartier than mariquitas and are great served as a side dish to any cozy stew this fall. Mariquitas are totally addictive and great to serve when hosting or entertaining. Think of them as your Latin potato chip! You can serve them with your favorite green sauce (I have an avocado green sauce I shared on IG @latinfoodie), spinach dip or even tomato salsa. So yummy!

Pollo a la Dominicana

Hello friends! In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month which kicked off September 15, I will be cooking my favorite Dominican dishes. To start, I bring you Dominican Pollo Guisado which is in essence chicken fricassee, but with a Dominican twist, and one of the most beloved dishes in the D.R. I remember eating this growing up at least once a week and it always tasted so nourishing and flavorful, I loved having a big plate of it piled high on top of warm steamy white rice when I got home from school.

I try to make it often for my family and friends. And now I am excited to share it with you!

In a Paris State of Mind

My love affair with France started at 17, after spending a summer in Paris at the Cite Universitaire with L’Alliance Francaise de Saint Domingue. I lived in a French dorm with my sister chaperoned by my mom, and had to wake up at 7 am every day to make it to French lessons. It was the first time I experienced common bathrooms and still remember the thin light blue curtains in the showers, the worn tiles on the floor. Each room was charmingly spare, with two twin beds, floor to ceiling windows that opened up to a tiny balcony, a couple of Vienna chairs.  We would walk to class each day, and then sit in classrooms filled with students from all over the world.

I don’t remember learning anything. What I do remember was the incredible sense of wonder at being in such a romantic place where I could barely speak the language, and yet felt so connected to the culture and the beautiful way the words seemed to escape the mouth of locals, as if hidden with every breath.

Then I returned to Paris during college doing my Junior Year abroad and fell even more deeply in love with the culture. I taught English at a polytechnic school, toured the Languedoc-Roussillon region in a cherry fiat with some of my students who became my best friends. Heck, I even had a declaration of love by a French boy with deep blue eyes who showed up at my studio apartment one day with a single yellow rose. It was the first time that I saw hashish (at a party, though I didn’t try it). I met a mysterious Indian stranger at a bar who introduced me to jasmine tea and independent French cinema. I ate baguette, brie and marmalade for breakfast every morning that I bought at the market downstairs. I would run along the Seine weaving in and out of people passed out along the banks of the river. I lived with an older widowed lady in a flat in front of the Musee d’Orsay who had an apartment filled with art and sculpture. She would send me to buy her cigarettes. She had red velvet curtains in her boudoir. She made coq-au-vin for dinner that we would wash down with glasses of Beaujolais.

The year before I left New York, I made a conscious decision to brush up on my French and signed up for weekly language lessons at L’Alliance Francaise. It was wonderful, dreamy and energizing to be surrounded by francophiles left and right (even though most of them were retired and well into their 60’s). I felt an instant kinship with each and every one of them. I am now on the hunt for my next frenchie fix, this time in my new city by the sea. To tide me over, here is a good list I found to some of MIami’s best French spots. I am proud to say I have been to nearly all.

Chef Daniel Humm on Creating a New Language for Eleven Madison Park

Fine dining aficionados may still be recovering from the latest news to make headlines in the food world last week. Three-star Michelin restaurant Eleven Madison Park announced it will go plant-based as of June 10. After reflecting on the past year, its award-winning chef Daniel Humm decided that he wanted his restaurant to move from being part of the problem to being part of a solution, and “apply his voice to something he really believed in.” EMP will not only be the latest restaurant to make commitments to sustainable gastronomy, but will also be the next three-Michelin starred plant-based restaurants second only to King’s Joy in Beijing.

By now, most of us may be familiar with the benefits of eating a plant-based diet: from reducing our environmental footprint to improving our health – but will Chef Humm be able to recreate the kinds of luxury dining experiences that his restaurant has traditionally been known and continue to be a source of innovation, disruption and inspiration for chefs worldwide?

Eleven Madison Park was my last fine dining experiences before leaving NYC for Miami five years ago. Stepping into this restaurant was like stepping into a parallel universe, were everything from the flowers, to the service, to the art was elevated to the level of sublime. Servers floated around the vaulted space as if on ice skates, while expressive pieces of abstract art hung on the walls, complementing the sensory experience of each course. Among some of the dishes that secured a spot in my memory bank was the beloved duck with daikon and plum,  peektoe crab folded into slivers of radishes, a dramatic baked Alaska flambéed tableside.

Following a conversation with Chef Humm on his podcast, Guy Raz moderated a panel on Clubhouse welcoming Chef Humm to the platform and opening up the stage for questions. It was exciting to learn about Chef Humm’s vision for the restaurant and some of his plans to redefine its menu, but taking the opportunity to “create a new language, a new cuisine.”

Chef Humm shared that he has been hard at work trying to identify some of the traits that make a meal unforgettable. “What is it that people love about meat?” he asked. Is it umami, that complex fifth savory “flavor” that abounds in soy sauce, tomatoes, anchovies, and mushrooms? Is it the texture in something fried? In studying umami, he has found that it is present in many types of fermented foods, including an array of fruits, vegetables and legumes, and continues trying to decipher how the different umami-rich foods can elevate each other.

If this sounds like geeky kitchen talk to you, it’s because it is. He will be experimenting with exciting new techniques to create entirely new ideas. An example is a “fried” course using a specific type of pepper that he is growing and filling with piperade, a Basque stew of cooked down tomatoes, peppers and onions flavored with the heat from espelette peppers. Deep frying it in tempura, he plans to serve it alongside lettuce, daikon radishes, swiss chard, topped with condiments and served like a taco. For desserts, he will make oils and butters from nuts and seeds, making different kinds of nut milks and yogurts, and thickening things with different starches.

To Humm, abstract art and the jazz legend Miles Davis are huge sources of inspiration. He drew parallels of what he is doing with Eleven Madison Park with Bitches Brew, the 1970 jazz album that disrupted the world of jazz music, incorporating electronic elements that at first were hard to understand, but ended up creating an entirely new genre of music

“This is sort of our Bitches Brew moment,” he said.

My New York Story

It’s been six months since I left New York City for Miami, Florida and like any important life change, it has taken time to dust off the shuffle of the move and settle into my new life. Some days it still feels like a dream. I look out the window and there’s so much light it hurts my eyes. The bougainvillea flowers and palm fronds flutter in the breeze, the sky a backdrop of soft blue. It’s a stark departure from the gray that pervaded my life during the previous 15 Februaries of my life. Energy now comes not from relentless activity wafting up and into my apartment window from the city buzzing below, but from a deliberate flow of life that naturally unfolds outside my front door.

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An Architect’s Cozy Corner in Chelsea, NYC

In this urban space, we can see touches of the Dominican Republic through moody, abstract local art, but the colors are darker than typical Dominican apartments. “We’re traditionally from there, but we’ve lived in New York for 15 years so this is home now.”


Expressionist work from a young contemporary Dominican artist and a small urn from Turkey

Expressionist work from a young contemporary Dominican artist and a small urn from Turkey


Jean Santelises’ Chelsea apartment is an unexpected departure from the color that abounds in his home country of the Dominican Republic, and yet it’s one that mixes with the drama and energy of New York, his adopted city buzzing below.

"I’m definitely a book lover. My dream home would have a huge library. In the meantime we have a little corner right next to the window where we have a collection of books that we’ve read and small travel pieces that we’ve purchased."

“I’m definitely a book lover. My dream home would have a huge library. In the meantime we have a little corner right next to the window where we have a collection of books that we’ve read and small travel pieces that we’ve purchased.”


An architect by trade, Santelises moved into his two-bedroom apartment with his husband in the heart of Chelsea four years ago. Contrary to many city apartments, his is filled with natural light that drifts in through wide windows in the living room and bedrooms. This advantage gave Santelises the chance to make a streamlined, yet bold decision when it came to color: he painted his walls a rich slate, which gives the space a cozy and sophisticated feel.

A small bookshelf is handy for entertaining and is topped by a Warhol photo.

A small bookshelf is handy for entertaining and is topped by a Warhol print.

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#FocusFridays: Dive In

Dive In 2

I can’t believe that week two is over. All I can say is that I feel so happy I started the #30DaysofFocus project. It has grounded me, given me the motivation that I needed, and the structure to jolt my creative self back to life. While before I used to aimlessly use up my energy, looking for stuff to keep me busy and fill my time, I feel like my days are now beautifully built around my writing time, which is as it should be; since it is, and hopefully will continue to be, one of my main sources of joy. It’s something that anchors my day, and even though there’s still a thousand things to do during the day, I’m becoming more efficient and versed at cutting corners and figuring out what really matters. It’s almost like I’m learning how to consciously do process with a capital P, and it’s literally rewiring my brain. more »

Happy Memorial Day: Peruvian Ceviche for The Tribe

Shellfish Ceviche


In New York, we seemed to have skipped spring altogether and been forced to dust off the cut-offs and tanks to survive the blistering temperatures. I’ve been counting on my neighborhood ice-cream trucks to keep me cool and definitely NOT complaining! So today I’m bringing back one of my favorite ceviche recipes perfect for a weekend that promises to be filled with sunshine and playtime.

Whether you’ll be at the beach, in a park, or staycationing at home, just remember to pop a little sparkling rosé and gather your friends around this cool, clean dish bursting with tender bits of shrimp, mussels, scallops, and baby clams. I serve this simple citrusy ceviche with chifles, plantain chips as they’re known in Peru, some crusty French bread, and avocado. Happy Summer!

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A Tale of Two Languages: Raising Bilinguals

Raising bilingual kids

I never knew bilingualism was a thing until I had a kid. Growing up in a Spanish-speaking country with visionary parents adamant about my sister and I speaking and writing in two languages always felt like the norm. And this was over 30 years ago. Now that bilingualism in the U.S. has become more ubiquitous with serious benefit-boasting scientific research to back it up, what things can we do as parents to optimize the experience?

Figure out the language strategy that works for you

For those parents who are thinking about raising their children in two languages, there are three main language policies to consider. One parent, one language is the one I’m using where one parent is consistently the one that speaks the language. Minority language at home means that the parents always speak the language whenever they’re with the kids. And there’s language time, a technique where the parent designates a particular amount of time for the language, setting expectations for the child, like 10 minutes a day and eventually working themselves up to days or even weeks at a time.  This one seems to come in particularly handy when you’re teaching two, three, even four languages like this multilingual Mom. more »

First Taste: Amada by José Andrés

Pimientos de Padron from Amada

I had stalked Amada for months. After all, croquetas, tortilla, and jamón serrano were a special part of my own food history, regular party fare for many a celebration back home in the D.R. They would round out a festive spread laid out for baptisms, quinceañera parties and weddings. Nostalgia aside, I saw the restaurant as a welcome addition to the Mexican, Southern, and Italian family-friendly havens in Battery Park City in NYC, the neighborhood I currently call my own.

It was around six thirty when G and I walked into Amada on our way to catch a movie. Amada, which means beloved in Spanish, is part of the Think Food Group, a collection of over 15 properties owned by José Andrés, the renowned Spanish-American chef who has been dominating the DC food scene for over 10 years. This is the third U.S. location of Amada and his first foray into the NYC restaurant scene as he warms up to open a New York concept restaurant this summer.   more »

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