Thursday, September 18, 2008

I love Conan O'Brien and Martha Stewart!

I've always found that Martha and Conan have a great chemistry, I wish they would do more stuff together.


In my Latino Literature class we were assigned to make a list of the places from where the produce in our local supermarket comes from and then write a short paper about it. I thought it would be nice to post it here:

The food and produce eaten by me and my family comes from different corners of the world. Since Puerto Rico is a country that depends on imported foods more than in their own produce, most of the produce and meat are from other countries. For example, most meat bought in my house comes from Costa Rica and the United States, only some poultry is from the Island (companies that are in fast danger of disappearing). When it comes to fish, it can be imported from the United States or from far off places like China, frozen and hard as a slab of wood. The apples we buy many times are imported from Washington and the Tamarind, which grows in the Island, is imported from Thailand, Mangoes many times are from here, can be bought in a “ventorrillo” ( a vegetable and fruit store), but if bought in the supermarket, it will most likely be imported from India. Plantains, which also can be grown in the Island, are imported form the Dominican Republic, just as bananas are sometimes from there too or the American brand Dole, Avocados many times are also imported from the Dominican Republic.

What I've always found terrifying about all the imported produce is the fact that Puerto Rico is an island with rich soil, capable of being used to grow many vegetables and fruits, but those lands are never used to its full potential, mostly used to build condos that sell for half a million dollars. Instead we depend on the produce brought from other places, instead of depending on our own land to feed us. It is a dependency that we have grown accustomed to, making us blind to our Island's own ability to sustain us. We stroll through air conditioned lanes picking fresh produce, meat and cans to consume, without ever questioning the origin of the food we enjoy. Before this assignment I barely ever paid much attention to the place from where my food came from; yes, I was aware of the place from where they came from, but not of what this meant. We don't give much thought to the conditions and type of life those who grow our food go through, to us it is just a nice shiny apple or a juicy pear, we know lots of ways to prepare our meat, but we have no idea about who is responsible for the produce and meat we consume. Right now I must admit that I do not have much knowledge about the conditions of life of the Thailandese people who harvested the tart Tamarinds I ate, or what kind of work policy they have in Costa Rica from where the Beef Steak I love was imported.

I sometimes think that the reason we are so detached from the process of harvesting and the people involved in it is because when our produce is imported we lose touch with them, we are not living where they live and we certainly do not experience the way they are living. By consuming imported products that connection between nature and man is certainly lost and so is the notion that someone went through the trouble of harvesting what we eat.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Coconut Layer Cake and Cupcakes

My mom's birthday was on August the 23rd, all she asked from me was A home-baked coconut layer cake. Without knowing she helped decide which layer cake to enter in the Layers of Cake event that is being held at quirky cupcakes. BUT, I have a horrible memory and forgot to submit my cake, I was lucky that I checked the site today and read that the event had been extended... therefore, I still have a chance!!

The layer cake is adapted from the Martha Stewart site and the frosting is from Bon Appetit. The cake was for a three layer cake, but instead of a third layer I used the batter for cupcakes. I got 20 cupcakes from the third layer batter. The cake was very moist with a hint of saltiness from the cream cheese frosting, great with a nice glass of milk!

Coconut Layer Cake (adapted from Martha Stewart)
Makes about 8-10 servings

* 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
* 2 1/4 cups sugar
* 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
* Salt
* 3/4 cup canola oil
* 12 large eggs, separated
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 1/4 cup cream of coconut
* 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
* 2/3 cup unsweetened coconut shavings, for garnish


-Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans with butter. Set aside.
-Sift flour, 1 3/4 cups sugar, the baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt into the bowl of an electric mixer.
-Whisk together 3/4 cup water, canola oil, egg yolks, and vanilla in another bowl. Add yolk mixture to flour mixture; mix on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl; set aside.
-Put egg whites and a pinch of salt into the clean bowl of the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; beat on medium speed until foamy. Raise speed to medium-high; beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar; beat until stiff, glossy peaks form.
-Fold 1/4 of egg-white mixture into batter with a rubber spatula. Fold in remaining egg-white mixture in 2 batches. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake until cakes are golden brown and spring back when pressed, 30 to 35 minutes. Invert cakes onto wire racks to cool.
-Bring 1 cup water, the 3/4 cup of sugar, a pinch of salt, and the cream of coconut to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally. Boil 1 minute; let stand.
-Place 1 cake on a serving plate, and brush with 1/3 cup coconut syrup. Spread with 1 cup cream cheese frosting, and sprinkle with 1/3 cup sweetened coconut. Top with another cake layer; brush with 1/3 cup syrup and sprinkle with 1/3 cup sweetened coconut Top with final cake; brush with remaining 1/3 cup syrup. Refrigerate until firm.
-Spread 1 1/4 cups cream cheese frosting over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate until frosting is firm, about 30 minutes.
-Spread 1 1/2 cups cream cheese frosting over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate until frosting is very firm, at least 1 hour. Finish frosting cake with remaining frosting. Cake can be refrigerated up to 2 days; let stand at room temperature 20 minutes before serving.

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting (from Bon Appetit)
Makes 3 1/2 cups

2 8-ounce packages Philadelphia-brand cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup canned sweetened cream of coconut (such as Coco L├ępez)*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat cream cheese in medium bowl until fluffy. Add butter and beat to blend. Add sugar, sweetened cream of coconut and vanilla extract and beat until well blended.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Omnivore's Hundred

I stole this survey from How to Eat a Cupcake
but it originated in Very Good Taste.

From VGT:

Below is a list of 100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food - but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don’t worry if you haven’t, mind you; neither have I, though I’ll be sure to work on it. Don’t worry if you don’t recognize everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers.

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding- in Puerto Rico we call it Morcilla and we eat it during the Christmas Holidays
7. Cheese fondue - I'll eat anything with cheese!
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari - I went through a Calamari Fritti phase and would eat them almost everyday
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich - One of my favorite sandwiches.
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart - Ate one out of rebellion. My mom wouldn't let me eat street food because it is "unsanitary and dirty"
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream - Totally awesome!
21. Heirloom tomatoes - Best tomatoes ever.
22. Fresh wild berries - I would eat them in my Grandpa's farm. They used to grow wild, so I would spend hours looking for them.
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans - Typical puertorrican food. I've never liked them, I don't like many puertorrican dishes.
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche - Awesome, awesome!
28. Oysters
29. Baklava - I used to make this in Culinary school. Apparently nobody dared work with phillo dough, so I was always the one that would make it.
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl- Perfect for a cold day (which we don't get very often here)
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut - Love it on hot dogs
35. Root beer float - Better than regular Coke float.
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O - I've always wanted to try this.
39. Gumbo- Had it once or twice, can't wait to eat it again.
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel - Had in in tempura a few days ago.
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut - I ate one a few minutes ago. I drive half an hour to buy them, but it's totally worth it.
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal - Haven't had one in a few years.
56. Spaetzle- I love to make these!!!
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores - I have addiction problems...
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake - churros... not too crazy about them.
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain- Are you kidding me? Totally puertorrican food! Tostones! everyone has to try them!!
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini- Culinary school, not a fan of those.
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict- There was a time I used to make this a lot, but I hate to make the Hollaindaise Sauce.
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers- There's a flower called "cruz de malta" (don't know it's name in english), when I was a kid me and my cousins used to suck the nectar from them.
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam - Hate it. I remember a Catholic school I went to used to make them breaded and fried, nobody would eat them but my brother. eeeeww.
92. Soft shell crab- In tempura
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox - Bagel
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

31 out of 100.. not bad!