What made you fall in love with food?
The need to find an alternative medium to communicate my feelings. Im not much of a talker. I tend to speak minimally. Through food Ive been able to build my own group of friends. Food has been therapy in my darkest moments.
What is your most nurturing memory of food?
It changes all the time. From receiving a bag of home-made arroz con gandules (rice and pigeon peas) on my bday to flying to Ohio and taking care of my friend who had just undergone surgery. I would prepare delicious soups and stews to help him recover.
Also the taste of my grandmother’s flan de queso.
Why do you think cooking is important in relationships- intimate and platonic?
Its extremely important, at least to me, for it tends to be the way I introduce myself to people. If I'm meeting someone for the first time, I like to bring something I prepared. My offering. This tends to make any encounter pleasant. It also sparks conversation and gives us something to talk about.
When I met my former boyfriend, I went to his apartment to make him soup. He was hungover and I offered to cook. Instead of having an odd date at a restaurant, where you stare at a stranger from across the table, we spent all afternoon preparing a soup. By the time it was ready we were comfortable with each other. It is one of the best dates Ive ever had.
Intimate or platonic, there is nothing more sexy than preparing a meal for a guy. It gives you something to talk about and if its cooked with love, I can assure you this guy will want a second date.
What's your favorite thing to cook for a guy?
A good old "Pastelón de Amarillo" (Sweet Plantain Casserole) but really any dish in which I can use sweet plantains. If breakfast (sweet plantain pancakes) if lunch a delicious sweet plantain, garbanzo and quinoa patty w salad, if it were dinner (the sweet plantain casserole, of course) and if desert a sweet plantain flan. Can you see how much I love sweet plantain?
How does cooking directly translate to love for you?
My way of expressing love has always been through cooking, the same way my mother has been spreading love. She is also of few words, but when it comes to letting someone know how much she loves them, all it takes is a meal. Growing up close to her, I saw how much she enjoyed cooking. Eventually, I understood why it made her so happy. She didn’t need to talk, all she needed to do was season the meal with love, good intentions and dedication.
I made it my goal to learn as much as possible from her. Today I implement her knowledge on a daily basis. When I introduce myself to a new group of friends, when I cook the monthly meal for my coworkers, or when I invite a guy over and prepare a meal for him, I am offering the most sincere concoction of love.
- 1 1/2 green plantains.
- 1 1/2 sweet plantain
- 2 cups canola
- 1 cup of pigeon peas
- 4 roasted garlics cloves (diced)
- 1/2 of diced red onions
- 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.
- 1/2 cup of diced red peppers
- 6 leaves of "recao" thinly chopped
- 1/3 of a cup of shredded carrot
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- Salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper to taste
- Peel plantains and cut into one-inch slices.
- In a large saucepan or deep fryer, heat oil to 350 degrees. Add plantain slices in two batches and fry turning once, until light golden but not browned. Drain on paper towels.
- In a large mortar or big bowl, crush garlic cloves with pestle or the back of a spoon and sprinkle with salt. Add olive oil to the mixture and keep pounding until it's well incorporated. Transfer to a small bowl.
- In the same mortar or bowl, crush half of the fried green plantain slices with half of the sweet plantains, (you will notice that the green plantain will be crispier than the sweet platain. The crispy plantain is to substitute the "chicharron" or bacon), and half the garlic aioli and pound or smash together. Add up to 1/2 cup vegetable stock as needed, to make it moist.
- Spoon the mixture and shape into two-inch balls. Repeat with remaining ingredients and keep in warm oven until ready to serve. Top with more crushed green plantain, or cilantro if you wish.
- In a medium pot, sautee the diced garlics, red peppers, shredded carrtos, red onions and recao leaves in the oilve oil- allow to cook.
- Add pegeon peas with the seasoning desired (salt, red and black pepper and some oreganos leaves
- Add the remaining vegetable stock and some water and stir until cooked.
I like to stuff my Mofongo with these pigeon peas. So I just place the mofongo on the plate where it will be served and i poke a hole in the center beig enough to allow me to fill it with the pigeon peas. It pairs well with a light summer salad of arugula, almonds, dried cranberries and pear with some oilve oil, lemon, salt and pepper dressing.