My passion is for things creative but also for the traditional. I'm often too impatient to see a recipe through to perfection (as defined by perfectionists) but I will see it through to satisfaction and deliciousness. I grew up in New York City with a first-generation Puerto Rican mother and a second-generation Puerto Rican father. Yet, our origins go back to Spain, France and Germany. Being in New York in a Bronx neighborhood of Latinos, Italians, Asians and so many others, my culinary tastes derived from a combination of all the ethnicities I encountered. While we make our dishes "our own", we can't forget the fact that they too have parents that came from somewhere else and that is the true beauty of cooking.
My favorite things to cook
Rice and beans (Puerto Rican style); Puerto Rican style Chicken fricassee with pasta; Chicken parmesan with home-made sauce and bread crumbs; Thick pork loin chops over Jasmine rice with green vegetables; Louisiana style red beans and rice; Asian inspired chicken and lime herbal soup; Roast pork shoulder with rice and red onion cocktail; Grass-fed beef hamburgers infused with organic coconut oil; Tostones (fried plantain discs); Poached whole chicken ... oh, I could just go on and on!
My favorite family cooking traditions
Definitely Puerto Rican and Caribbean cuisine. Puerto Rican food is not hot (as in spicy hot), but rather savory and aromatic. The base of many meals, the sofrito (soh-FREE-toh), sets the stage for many dishes. Making an "arroz con gandules" during the holidays along with a "pernil" slow roasted pork shoulder is one of my favorite things to prepare. Traditions abound from Saturday afternoon chicken fricassee (a signature dish of mine) to the simplicity of Sunday pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Root vegetables, plantains, pasta, rice -- they are all part of the family tradition. For me it's all about honoring the humble power of herbs, spices and condiments to create delicious meals, whether traditional or newly created.
My cooking triumphs
My triumphs are small but I think they're significant: Getting a hollandaise sauce just right; making cultured butter at home; making simple white cheese on my stovetop; home-made mayonnaise; learning the art of low and slow cooking; creating Puerto Rican "recao" for a sofrito base that adds the bursts of Latin flavors to many of the dishes I've attempted. Hopefully I will have many more triumphs.
My cooking tragedies
I have had plenty -- from overcooking brown basmati rice to the point of slop to the weirdest polenta blob I couldn't describe. Oh yeah, I forgot that pizza dough that never got out of the wet and gummy stage though the toppings were charred. It happens. You learn. You move on!