Sunday, February 28, 2010

Inspired by Sofrito

I am fortunate to have
a friend who makes the most delicious sofrito on the face of the earth. For those of you who are not familiar with sofrito, it is a puree of peppers, onions, cilantro, and garlic... and sometimes tomatoes (depending on who you ask). It is the base of Puerto Rican cuisine and there are as many adaptations as there are chefs. My friend's version is an authentic family recipe, handed down from mother to daughter. It contains peppers and spices I have never heard of. It tastes so perfect that I would never even attempt to replicate it. I did, however, create my own take on sofrito today as a way to use up some lingering vegetables. While the traditional recipe calls for a variety of peppers, I opted for yellow bells because that's what I had on hand. I roasted them with the tomatoes, onions, and garlic before giving everything a spin in the Cuisinart. With a splash of olive oil and my pittance of cilantro, the concoction was complete. The aroma was absolutely intoxicating. While it is no where near authentic sofrito, today's kitchen creation was quite flavorful and will most certainly be the base for delicious meals to come. I can not wait to see what emerges from this culinary seed.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Plum Pastries

For me, Sunday is reserved for grocery shopping and leisurely fumbling around in the kitchen. I consider it my version of meditation. It conveniently coincides with the marathon of Sports Center that happens to take over my living room every week, so everybody wins. As I was strolling down the produce aisle today, sipping on my Starbuck's and searching for inspiration, something caught my eye. At the end of the case was a basket, humbly displaying a handmade sign that read "Lemon Tree Plums". Instantly, I was intrigued. The shape was reminiscent of a lemon. The color was vibrantly yellow and faded to a subtle pink at the strangely pointed end. As soon as I got home from the store, the apron went on. I started with puff pastry sheets that I cut into rectangles. Using the back of my knife, I scored a line around the pastry which would help the outside edges puff up more than the center. Inside the marks from my knife, I spread a spoonful of fredonia grape jelly and then layered slices of the yellow plums. After brushing the edges with egg wash, I baked the pastries in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes. The outcome was absolutely gorgeous! The yellow plums popped against the raspberry hue of the jelly. Served hot with a dusting of powdered sugar and a dollop of creme fraiche, these flaky delights were just what the doctor ordered to cure my sorrows of the preceding week.

*Many thanks to Katrina for the delicious grape jelly!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

In Loving Memory...

It is with a heavy heart that I write my blog post this week. After being away on a photo shoot for the past week, I came home to find my faithful canine companion in terrible shape. After 12 wonderful years of bringing joy into our house, my dear friend lost his fight with cancer. It is in his memory that I repost this entry about his favorite homemade treats:

My loyal canine friend always sits outside the kitchen, watching patiently as I stumble through all sorts of culinary creations. He waits quietly and looks at me with an encouraging expression. I know he is secretly hoping for a mishap that will lead to delicious morsels flying through the air and landing conveniently on the floor for the taking. He rarely gets treated to any of the finished product but today was his day. I decided to tackle homemade dog treats. I found an easy recipe for peanut butter biscuits at and doctored it up a bit for my pooch with special dietary issues. I used rice flour instead of wheat flour, I opted for water instead of the milk, and for one batch I added 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. When presented with the option of cheese or peanut butter, he chose the peanut butter but that's not to say he didn't eat his share of the cheese treats too. For all his unconditional love, this was my token of appreciation... Good boy!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Pigskin Poppers

While I try to make relatively healthy food at home, sometimes there are occasions when I just have to indulge my inner glutton and partake in some cheesy, greasy goodies. The Super Bowl is one of those occasions. Jalapeno poppers are a staple when it comes to football fare and this little twist makes them even more irresistible. Instead of deep frying the peppers whole, slice them lengthwise, then stuff them with pepper jack cheese, wrap them in bacon and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 8-10 minutes. After all, every thing's better with bacon... right? A helpful trick I learned from a friend is to wrap a strip of white bread (no crust) around the middle of the pepper where the bacon will sit. The bread acts like a sponge and keeps the bacon grease from oozing into the cheese. It's an invisible edible net that binds everything together. The end result is a crunchy outside and a warm, gooey center. The tiny puddles of cheese that spill out onto the baking sheet and bubble up to a golden brown are sinful little additions that enhance the texture of these treats. So seize the day, and enjoy a little gluttony. There is always tomorrow to start back on that New Year's diet!