break fast

I think this is the first cmyfood breakfast recipe. Maybe because I rarely eat breakfast or prepare it. Only if its the weekend and/or someone is visiting.
Well, this recipe just came to me and we were in fact harboring a visitor. I bought a fresh loaf of country white bread the day before and had the idea of making french toast. Stuffed french toast. LOVE stuffed french toast. We made it at school with this cream cheese filling, ugh, ridiculous.
On our recent excursion to PR we ordered a Puerto Rican French Toast which was little cheese and guava jam sandwiches dipped in almond batter and fried. I took a simpler approach… well.. I asked Shayne to buy jam and he brought home mango and we didnt have almonds nor did I want to look up a batter recipe. So…. there you have it:
Have I mentioned how much I love havarti cheese?! Its creamy, dreamy cheese loveliness.

(Oh! oh! My wonderful, multitalented husband has now taken over photographer duties for cmyfood. Photos from the previous post and this post are courtesy of Shayne Stephenson. <3)

Havarti & Mango Stuffed French Toast
12 slices of fresh, country white bread, cut in triangles
6 slices cream havarti cheese
Mango jam
4 large eggs, beaten
About ¼ cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Vegetable oil
toothpicks

To prepare:
Preheat a large skillet with about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to medium-high heat. In a large mixing bowl, combine beaten eggs, flour, extracts and cinnamon.
To assemble stuffed toast, spread mango jam on one triangle slice and place one piece of cheese and make a sandwich. Using a toothpick, carefully pin the sandwich together – insert the toothpick sideways.



Lightly dip in batter, don’t soak the mini sandwiches. Shake off excess batter and arrange in preheated skillet. Fry on each side about 1-2 minutes, until golden brown.


Serve warm with syrup.
Enjoy!

enjoy your breakfast meals 🙂

C

gringo-style

We can’t seem to get enough of our new cookbook and all its Rican inspiration:


We got it from a vendor on our El Yunque Rainforest tour and we dove right into preparing some Latin dishes upon our arrival home last week.

So our first endeavor was to make Arroz Con Pollo. One thing Puerto Ricans are? – forthright. Its chicken with rice. Bada bing bada boom. We found the recipe in the cookbook but for some reason, I can’t seem to color inside the lines when it comes to cooking. I rarely ever diligently follow a recipe, ounce to ounce, so! Here is our rendition of the infamous classic. (with tostones – the yummy twice-fried plantains):

Arroz Con Pollo (gringo style!)
1 pkg. instant yellow rice (Spanish-style)*
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins
1 sweet onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 tomato, diced
2 red sweet peppers – (1) diced, (1) thinly sliced for garnish
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons sofrito seasoning (look on the Ethnic OR condiments aisle)
1/2 cup pigeon peas
1 plantain, bias sliced
Olive oil
Vegetable oil
S+P
To prepare:
Cook rice according to directions and toss cooked rice with pigeon peas – heat through.
While rice cooks, prepare chicken. 
Trim chicken tenders of any remaining skin, lightly season with s+p and cut into bite-size pieces. In a large bowl, toss chicken with sofrito seasoning. Set aside and let marinade while cooking vegetables.
In a large skillet, heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium-high heat. Add garlic and let render until fragrant. Add onion, diced peppers, tomato and cook until soft. Add marinated chicken to skillet and stir. Cook until chicken is done and all vegetables are soft and flavors have combined.
While chicken cooks, in a deep, small sauce pan, pour enough vegetable oil to fill 1/2 way up, set to medium-high heat. Carefully add plantain slices, fry 1 minute. Remove slices with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil. Using the back of a sturdy spoon or meat tenderizer, smash each slice. Transfer back to the hot oil and fry until golden. Drain and salt.

Serve yellow rice with chicken mixture on top and plantains on the side.

*Substitute chicken stock for water when preparing rice for mucho flavor!

And I reeeeeeally wanted to try my apron at that yummy chicken, taco, roll-up thing. Our friend informed us that Goya sells frozen dough, that look like tortillas, and I can just fill with anything. So, I bought the frozen “discs”:


Threw together a chicken filler and tried to roll them up. They kinda looked like really, really, really skinny burritos. Or, overweight taquitos. Either way… I mean… total success.



I went ahead and threw together a little empananda of sorts. Just for kicks.

Puerto Rican Tacos
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups chicken stock
¼ cup sofrito seasoning
1 small sweet onion, diced
½ can, diced tomatoes
handful of fresh cilantro
Goya dough, frozen discs, thawed
Vegetable oil
S+P
To prepare:
In a deep, sauce pan fill with vegetable oil half way up and heat on medium-high.
In a large pan or dutch oven add chicken, stock, sofrito, onion, tomatoes, cilantro and simmer until chicken is thoroughly cooked.
Remove each chicken breast from the pan and shred (with a fork(s)). Add back to the pan and combine.
Take one thawed dough disc and spoon out a small portion of shredded chicken, onions and tomato onto dough using a slotted spoon. (Make sure you don’t overfill these!) Roll up like a burrito and make sure seams are sealed. Place in hot oil and fry until golden brown.
Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Serve hot with rice and beans.

Oh yeeeah. We’re classy. Give us a break. We broke the bank with our trip to Puerto Rico.. we had to cut corners somewhere….

Now we’re back to tuna sandwiches and coleslaw for dinner. I mean, we obviously can’t eat rice and beans and fried dough for dinner every night. But, I did throw together … wait for it… Puerto Rican-style French Toast, like the one from my last post that we had for breakfast one morning at our resort. I’ll save that for next post… 🙂 It was delish!

puerto ricoooooooo

Ah, the bittersweet epiphany that you actually have to LEAVE your vacation spot… that icky feeling right before you close your hotel door… hoping your foot gets caught in it so you have to inevitably miss your flight and stay in paradise at least 4 more hours… I WISH!

We finally got to take a vacay last week for our 1st wedding anniversary in Puerto Rico00! 🙂 (It just sounds better in my head with lots of o’s and an “!”)

Shayne knew the food was going to be great. He had a childhood friend who was from a Puerto Rican family and he told me that when his mom would make spaghetti, he would go over to the _____’s house and eat chuletas – Puerto Rican pork chops. So, before we even got off the plane in San Juan, he was already salivating over these chuletas we were going to be eating at some point.

Well, we ate the chuletas… and more flavorfully sinful Puerto Rican vittles. It was a beans and rice heaven! …and if you love pork, bacon, pork chops, straight up pig – go to PR. And if you can’t eat pork or choose not to – I don’t know what to tell you. They flavor everything with pork fat.

Puerto Rico by the Meals:

Our first taste of PR cuisine was at our hotel, actually. OK so it probably wasn’t the most outstanding representation, but we eased into it… I gotta say, though, at the moment this was all great and wonderful but in hindsight – which is always 20/20 – this meal was probably my least favorite and come to think of it… did not come out hot. Hmph. I think in the moment we were just excited to be in a fancy hotel, eating Puerto Rican food.

This is called the “Saborea” 4 in one tasting. But as you can see there are only 3 “dishes” We were confused and asked but still we remained confused. But anyway… its mofongo balls, empanedos and chicharrones.


@ marbella, rio mar beach resort in puerto rico

….and for dessert: coconut terrine. If you’re a texture eater, I wouldn’t order this. It’s like a cross between pudding and jello. It’s really odd. But flavor was fantastic!

We shared nibbles on this delightful Puerto Rican-style French Toast.
It was prepared like a sweet sandwich – two pieces of white bread with cheese in the middle with guava jam, dipped in an almond batter and fried. AMAZING.

One night for dinner, we escaped the massive depths of our resort and shared a cab with two of our now New Yorker friends and ate here, Don Pepe. (OF COURSE I looked up restaurants in our surrounding area before we left – How else would I have known to look for this place on our shuttle to the hotel!) 🙂 :
I had the Arroz con Bistec (Rice and Steak) and Shayne had Camarones de Monfongo. (Monfongo was another dish Shayne had his eye on since landing on the island. Its made of smashed, fried plantains and usually stuffed with seafood, pollo, vegetables, beef… whatever.) What a delicious and beautiful dish. I wish I would’ve gotten a better picture, though.


Shayne’s Mofongo:


We are very much the “when in Rome…” people so we had to try some of the local brew. SO GOOD:


So, like I said, we made buddies with a couple from New York (whom we totally plan on visiting soon! HOLLA!) and they took us (in their rental car) to the next town over, Luquillo, where they have a strip of shops and eateries called the kioskos. There are literally dozens of tiny little restaurants, bars and souvenir shops stacked along this main highway, and right on the beach! We had the BEST nom nom’s at kiosko # 57. Gracias amigo!


It was a blessing and a half to be with those awesome peeps – she is Puerto Rican and is fluent in Spanish. Hook uppppp!  Si, amigos. All FRIED:


We found them. Chuletas!:


I, thankfully, had her order this out-of-this-world, I-can’t-even-explain-it, amazing, my-taste-buds-have-never-met-anything-so-good, “pollo taco.” Ridiculously flavored, cooked chicken, wrapped in dough.
Our last day, before we left for the airport our friends took us back to this kiosko one last time so I could buy a couple so we could eat them on the plane. 🙂

Shayne’s chuleta and arroz:


We ventured out more than once. This dinner was from Antojito’s Restaurant in Rio Grande, PR. Seriously, the food was sooooooooooooooooo good in that homemade, Puerto Rican lady in the kitchen over a hot stove all day kinda way. What a treat, my Arepa Rellena. A stuffed chicken biscuit – so simple and delish!


The cute little restaurant:

Definitely one of our favorite days was going on a catamaran snorkel tour with East Wind tours. We had been looking forward to it since we booked it upon check-in. Open bar & lunch buffet. HELLO!? The rum punches flowed all day and we prepared ourselves a deli feast!


Duh. We went to the Bacardi Distillery. When you arrive, the greeters give you two tickets for free drinks at the bar. Seriously, Puerto Rico GIVES away rum. You should not have to buy a single drink when you’re there.

After a series of unfortunate events on the day of our anniversary, we ended up treating our friends to a dinner of pizza. In Puerto Rico. When in Rome, folks… those Ricans LOVE Italian food. And to tell the honest truth, this was one of the best za’s I’ve had in awhile:

Our last morning was spent with our friends, (ha you’re thinking, did we ever have time alone!? We totally did), who treated US to breakfast at Antojito’s:


So, I have like 40 more pictures of these dishes and restaurants but you know my hand is getting tired and I’m sure you’re like… over it. But we had a great time.. and not just eating. 🙂

I think I married a Puerto Rican.  We got home Monday night and instead of immediately going home and resting – we went to the grocery store and bought ingredients to make arroz con pollo and I was going to try my damnedest to make those pollo tacos. Look forward to those *original* recipes, because we essentially just threw ingredients together and the damn things came out AWESOME. 🙂

buen provecho!

C

viva la revolution!

I first saw Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution show when my mom was visiting in April.  It’s grown and gotten all kinds of hype but somehow I’m always a day late with most things…

So, I knew he was doing something like that in the UK a couple years ago… I recall watching something on BBC or Food Network… pushing English ladies around in their own school kitchens and throwing away all the gar-bahge. Pretty entertaining but also enlightening. Seriously. Why do we let children eat crap at school!?! I guess because some parents let the children eat crap 24/7. I wish I would’ve gotten “gourmet” lunch at school! Damn! Are these people who resist the change insane!?
But! Jamie Oliver is onto something and I want to be apart of it. Why should school cafeteria’s be a convenience haven of fried, processed food… let it be a sanctuary of healthy, fresh meals. 😉

Join me!

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

To follow Jamie on twitter and get FR updates, click HERE.

cold lobster

I dont know about you guys but I am totally in the dark about lobster. Like, for instance, I can tell you all about bbq and chicken fried steak and down-home, country cookin’ but  – lobster? I know its yummy when dipped in butter? It turns red when you boil it…. And…. uh… its expensive? Anyone with me on this?

We didn’t do a lot of lobster cooking in Chicago when I attended culinary school. You can only imagine why. People of the Midwest do not know true great seafood and for obvious reasons…. landlocked anyone?…. (**Disclaimer** Yes, I am well aware there are probably thousands of Midwesterners who can identify amazing seafood when they smell it. Please don’t read too much into that above statement).

So I’ve had two instances of lobster since relocating to South Florida. One was horrific and scarred me and the other, just recently, was I’d say, nothing more of decent. *sigh* Will I ever get a true, stellar representation of lobster? Who knows. Sure as hell not here I’m assuming.

Late last year I had an assignment to go to three local culinary schools and eat at their restaurants. I went to a school in West Palm Beach and had lunch. I figured ok, I’m here for lunch, I’ll get a sandwich and soup. Typical lunch fare, right? Well.. I looked at the choices before me and picked the most unique sounding sandwich on the menu. (Taking chances on a first encounter can either be the death or life of discovering a new restaurant, fyi). “Lobster BLT.” Huh! Sounds fun! I had no idea they were going to serve the imitation lobster meat cold on doughy, dry ciabatta bread. Yuck. Hating life instance #349.

Sunday we had lunch with one of our lady friend’s who met us in Delray Beach to try out a restaurant with us off the main drag called Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine Lobster Roll. (Long name for a restaurant. Kinda unnecessary. Linda Bean’s would’ve sufficed). I was obviously ready to order a lobster roll. Duh. But I thought hmm…I wonder if its cold… like that nasty lobster BLT…. I asked a passing waitress and her reply was, “Yep, it’s fresh lobster meat chilled.” ….F word. Then I got antsy and anxious, ugh. I asked Shayne if we should leave. True Libra. Should we leave or no? Should we get the roll or no? Decisions to be made! I settled after seeing our friend walk in and since I didn’t want to stir the pot and get everyone in a tizzy, I just ordered the damn roll…. cold lobster meat and all. Final consensus? Not bad! Not my most favorite thing in the world but.. I guess it could’ve been a BLT disaster. Before ordering I remember looking at this lady, she was having a hay-day with her roll, you could tell she was freakin’ loving it. I was hoping I would catch the same fever after one bite…. not really.
And if I really wanna get candid, it was not worth the price. So there. Linda Bean’s in Delray, B-, because the price was ridic! Lovely location though. Great company and good afternoon. I didn’t have my camera so no pictures. But here is what a lobster roll looks like – oooh!:
Now, are they traditionally served with chilled or hot lobster meat?….

photo credit: countryliving.com

enjoy your lobster rolls!

C