How to Make Butternut Squash Gnocchi

By |January 13th, 2012|

One of the things I love doing, which inevitably involves eating, is recreating a meal that knocked my socks off at a restaurant.  My most recent foray happened after visiting Parish Foods and Goods in Atlanta.  That night, I decided to go for the butternut squash gnocchi.  I love butternut squash, but I never had it in the form of gnocchi.  The butternut squash gnocchi was served with pork meatballs, kale and brown butter sauce, garnished with toasted butternut squash seeds.  What was not to like about that whole combination?!

The last time I made gnocchi, I was 10 and I made potato gnocchi.  I had just watched and jotted down the recipe I had seen on my favorite TV cooking show “Día a Día con María Rosa”.  Let’s say we ended up eating mashed potatoes for dinner that evening.  But this mushy experience was not going to intimidate me this time around.  I am older and wiser after all.  And I also have more patience, which I think is key.  Gnocchi is an art, and as with everything practice makes perfect.

This recipe makes A LOT of gnocchi; this is what happens when you are creating as you go.  I had 4 pounds of butternut squash.  Yeah…  So, get a friend or more and making the gnocchi will take no time.  The great thing about this is that you can freeze these little guys for up to a month.  All you do when you’re ready to use is drop them in boiling water – just like pasta – and cook for a few minutes until done.  How do you know if they’re done?  The gnocchis will float to the top.

This posting will focus on the gnocchi making process.  The second posting will be the recreation of this delicious meal, so stay tuned.  Now let’s get the dough rollin’…


Tigrillo: Ecuadorian Green Plantain Mash

By |January 5th, 2012|

While moving is always exciting, it is also hectic.  Finding a bit of comfort in an easy breakfast that reminds me of home was key in keeping the sanity.  Wine also helped.  But not for breakfast.

This mash allows me to unleash my love for green plantains in full force.  Plantains never cease to amaze me.  What is not to love about empanadas de verde, sango de verde, bolón de verde, and caldo de albóndigas de verde?  And now we have tigrillo.

So, our Dominican Republic friends call it mangú; we call it tigrillo.  What is tigrillo?  This is a tigrillo (source):


My Ecuadorian Christmas and My Mom’s Cheeseball

By |December 21st, 2011|

I love Christmas!  As a kid, I looked forward to it every year, mainly because of the toys.  Can you blame me?  Look at us!  My sister and I were practically swimming in toys.  Christmas meant dressing up to the nines to celebrate. Mom and nana Gloria would begin cooking the meal two days in advance, as we prepared for our tribe to come over.  What was our Christmas dinner?  Mom’s delicious relleno (AKA stuffing), cookies, fruitcake (blech), gallina (hen), some ponche (punch – virgin for us kids, and spiked with rum for the grownups), and other accoutrements.  Of course, before eating the big meal, we had to have mom’s mandatory cheeseball and crackers.  There was not one Christmas where mom didn’t make this cheeseball, and I remember thinking it was the most delicious thing EVER.  My sister and I now laugh about this cheeseball.  It’s like a jello mold.  Needless to say, this cheeseball holds a dear place in our hearts.

Everything for our Cena Navideña was made from scratch; nana Gloria even killed the hen herself.  Everything, except for the nasty fruitcake, which mom received every year in her Canasta Navideña (Christmas food basket) her employer gave her.  To this day I don’t understand the value of this Panetón.  I honestly think my family used to eat it out of guilt.  I think it is just plain gross and it should be eliminated out of the Christmas food pyramid.

You may be asking: Why did you eat chicken during Christmas?  Eating turkey during Christmas was something wealthy families did.  Turkeys were very expensive for my mom’s budget, so we always ate hen, or a ham as in a leg of ham, like a pernil.  Mom’s stuffing was sweet, as it was made using pan de dulce, a delicious Ecuadorian sweet, sugary bread; recortes, which are the odds and ends left from deli hams and cold cuts; shredded chicken and minced beef; prunes and walnuts.  Was there a side vegetable?  Maybe.  But I was too busy stuffing myself with relleno to remember.  Not to mention how full I already was from the cheeseball.


My family ate Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, and we opened our presents at midnight.  But waiting for midnight was an eternity, and us kids were usually pretty sleepy by then, so we moved opening present time to 10pm.  Ten o’clock could not come by fast enough, and we could not wait to see what El Niño Dios brought us for Christmas.  The next hour was sort of a blur, as we tore through the wrapping paper and the boxes, played with our toys and fell asleep on the floor.


How to Make Chicharrón

By |November 28th, 2011|

I spotted this at the supermarket the other day.

So I decided to make these.

And they were delicious.  I missed my cervecita on that day, but I played pretend.  I pretended I was at the beach in Ecuador, sitting at a little huequito not far away from the ocean, eating cebiche de camarón and chicharrón.  I want to play pretend everyday.

Back to reality.  Let me show you how to make chicharrón, also known as pork crackling.

Chicharrón has many different meanings and variations depending on who you ask, and where you are.  I grew up knowing chicharrón was this kind, as well as the one that magically happens when you make Fritada; this one is also known as cuero reventado, or exploded skin.  Gnarly, huh?!  I have a hard time choosing which one I like best.  It’s like asking a parent who is your favorite child.  You just don’t do that.  This chicharrón is great as a snack – like bar food.  The chicharrón from the fritada is more like a main course.  I like to refer to the chicharrón in the fritada as pork candy.  Because it is.


Quinoa, Brussels Sprouts and Chickpeas Stuffed Butternut Squash

By |November 21st, 2011|

Recently I went to lunch with a dear friend of mine to one of our favorite spots in our neighborhood, Marco & Pepe.  This cozy, little restaurant has some fantastic seasonal fare, and I have never had one bad meal.  On that particular day, I ordered a BLT sandwich, which actually ended up being more like a pulled pork sandwich.  OH, I was so disappointed.  NOT!   My friend was feeling the need to eat some veggies, so she went for this butternut squash stuffed with quinoa, and all sorts of vegetables.  I tried some of her meal, and as much as I love me some pork, I wished I had gotten her meal instead.

I decided to recreate this meal for El Señor Hubs and I, and I think it came pretty close.  Naming this meal was a mouthful, not to mention the meal itself:  it is SO MUCH FOOD!  I could not eat the whole butternut squash, so I had lunch the following day.  The quinoa stuffing I made, easily stuffs four butternut squash halves, or you can eat it as a salad on its own the next day.