Friday, February 21, 2014

Food of Puerto Rico - Part 2

Here is the part 2 of Food of Puerto Rico (Clik here if you miss the part 1). I put this article together in the crack of dawn. I love to work when every creature in my house are sound asleep. Unfortunately, that means working on empty stomach. Boy! That was a mistake. As I compile the pictures for this blog, I find myself becoming INCREASINGLY hungry. The food looks so good...

So anyway....

We travelled to Guavate, the land of roasted pig :)
Locals came here almost every weekend to enjoy smoky-flavor, tender, juicy chunks of meat accompanied with brown, crackling crispy skin. 

We went twice. First time, we were looking for El Rancho Original, the one that Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain visited during their show. We found El Nuevo Rancho, instead. Friendly owner. He handed a machete to my hubby and let him pose with the roasted pig. Lechon was good here, unfortunately the skin was kinda hard, far from crunchy. 

We ordered the lechon with rice and bean, and a cup of mavi for me. Lechon was good here. Smoky flavor and juicy. unfortunately the skin was kinda hard, far from crunchy.

Mavi is a fermented drink that made from the bark of soldierwood tree, or seaside buckthorn. It tastes somewhat like a marriage between champagne and mild tea with a bit of root beer in it. Not too sweet nor too bubbly. Very refreshing. 

The second time we went, we found El Rancho Original. We arrived around 10:30, just in time to beat the crowd. Kiddos were very happy over the sight of roasted pig. Lechon was a bit dry (hubby ordered the wrong cut) but the skin would stayed crispy for days! We also tried the homemade chorizo. Moist but not too spicy. A must-try!

There is this bakery/cafe on the isla verde that we love, called Panaderia Espana. The food here is sooo good. Seafood is fresh. Sandwiches are made-to-order. Pastry a little bit pricey but if you have a sweet tooth, it is so worth it. Oh and the espresso .. OMG! The espresso is to die for. It'll definitely an eye-opener. 

Here are some picture from La Espana:

Salivating yet? :)

... to be continued to Part 3

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Foods of Puerto Rico - Part 1

We visited Puerto Rico in summer 2013, for two weeks. Had a blast! Even the kiddos are still talking about it, begging us to take them back, mostly for the food :)

Puerto Rico cuisine is a unique mixed taste of Spanish, African and Taino (the original of the inhabitants of the island). Locals call it "cocina criolla"; or creole cooking.

Popular foods, include:
- mofongo (fried and mashed plantains, mixed with seafood or meat);
- lechon (succulent roasted suckling pig);
- arroz con gandules (Pigeon beans and rice cooked with sofrito sauce); and
- fried snacks such as empanadas, pinchos (skewered meat); alcapurrias (fried turnover), bunuelos (yam fritters) and my favorite: bacalaitos (cod-fish fritters).

Here are some pictures of the local cuisines that we've tried.

Our first stop off the airport. It's not too far from our hotel. La Parilla Restaurant at Luquillo beach, offers local cuisines. It has a nice set up, right on the beach, clean and friendly staff. Food here is so GOOD and I gotta say that we order more than our capacity to eat :)

Tostones Rellenos de Langosta, Jueyes o Dorado (Fried plaintain cups filled with lobster, crab and mahi mahi) - La Parilla Restaurant, Luquillo Beach

Queso Frito (fried Puertorican cheese) - La Parilla Restaurant, Luquillo Beach

Left: Mofongo Relleno de Marisco (Mofongo stuffed with seafood in creole sauce)
Right Top: Ensalada de Carucho (Conch salad)
Right Bottom: Filette de Mero Pasa Relleno de Camarones (Grouper stuffed with shrimp with parmesan fondue glaze)
-La Parilla Restaurant, Luquillo Beach- 

El Verde BBQ at PR-3, Km 24.7, Rio Grande. 
Awesome BBQ place at a very affordable price.

BBQ Garlic Chicken
-El Verde, PR-3, Km 24.7, Rio Grande-

BBQ Pork
-El Verde, PR-3, Km 24.7, Rio Grande-

Blood Sausage & Sweet Plantains
-El Verde, PR-3, Km 24.7, Rio Grande- 

Fried Pork with Rice & Bean
-El Verde, PR-3, Km 24.7, Rio Grande- 

 Bacalaitos (Cod Fritters).
Very tasty snack!  They are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. 
Made out of chopped salt cod then deep-fried. 

Majorcas - Soft Puerto Rican sweet bread. A perfect pair for the Puerto Rican espresso. A lady that sat next to me at the cafe where I bought my Majorcas said I should keep the bread for the following day and turn it into a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. As much as I wanted to try, I bit my lips. The hotel, where we stayed, had no kitchen .. *sigh*

We found this road-side stall, on the way to El Yungue. It's called La Mularra. If you are looking for authentic local food, this is definitely the place. They sell fried food and pinchos (skewered meat). Ask for more of the garlic sauce while the chicken is on the grill. Two thumbs up! Just don't expect a fancy dinner/lunch at this place :)

King's Cream Helados, Plaza Las Delicias, Ponce.
Homemade ice cream with a little Carribean twist, like tamarind flavor and soursop (guanabana) flavor. When we arrived, the line was long, but the service was fast and also, great price.

We tried pineapple, tamarind, strawberry and mango. Love 'em all! Downside: the ice cream melted super fast. I blamed it on the weather. I would love to try them on cones next time.

.... to be continued to Part 2

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

1 1/2 Minutes - Grown-up Version of Nutella Mug Cake

I'm BAAACCKKK! Sorry for being MIA. Between winter snows, school-closings, germ-sharing and birthdays, it was pretty crazy around here. This time, I'm going to share CHOCOLATE dessert that only takes 1 1/2 minutes to make! Yaaayy ... :)

Errr .. well, with preparation time .. maayybeee .... 5 mins TOPS! Promise!

How's that sounds?

All forgiven now? :)

So have you heard about "mug cake" before? I first saw it on a catalog somewhere. It was a complete kit that consist of 2 mugs, chocolate chips, caramels and mixed flour/sugar/cocoa. I didn't give it much of thought. Until ...

A dark, cold winter night...

Kids were all asleep.

Hubs was cursing the falling snow.

I curled up on the couch, desperate for a warm, gooey, chocolaty dessert

10 p.m!! NO WAY!! What to make .. what to make ... need sweets!!

AHA! Mug cake ... So I looked for some recipes, compared them, picked one that sound most appealing to me, added more ingredients according to my taste and we have a winner!!

Start with all purpose flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, sugar, egg, nutella, granulated coffee, coffee liqueur

Mixed everything, vigorously. If using a big mug, mix all in the mug. I decided to share my triumph with hubs so I used small ramekins, instead .. 1 for him, 2 for me .. oh yeah!! :)

Then pour the batter into the ramekins .. 3/4 full.

Then .. off to microwave for 1 1/2 minutes ...

... and ... TAAA DAAAAA!!! ..

Dust 'em with powdered sugar... then sit down, relax, turn on a movie and .. dig in! :)


1 egg
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp milk
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp coffee liqueur (Baileys or Kahlua)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp all purpose flour
3 tbsp drinking cocoa powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder or granulated coffee
2 tablespoon Nutella
1/4 tsp baking powder

Combine all ingredients in a large coffee mug

Whisk until smooth

Microwave on high for 1 1/2 - 3 minutes. Mine is a powerful one .. 1 1/2 minutes are enough.

Dust with powdered sugar or whipped cream.

(Note: if you make this for little munchkins, omit the liqueur substitutes with 1 tbsp of milk)

Hope you like my version of nutella mug cake :)
E N J O Y !