Baked, Barcelona, Fresh Produce

Apple Pie Pastelitos

My mom hosted the gnarliest girls night at home when I was a kid. To a five-year-old me, they were wild and insane. But now, in hindsight it was probably the only relaxation time she had with our family and her friends. It consisted in all of my aunts and their friends coming to the apartment and playing bingo. Also, some light gambling. I remember playing under the table while they gossiped about things I can’t remember or were beyond me. It was awesome. I remember feeling like a grown up (at 5!) just by being surrounded by the amazing women in my life. Also, my grandma was the fucking boss.

Often when they couldn’t play at home, they’d go to an underground bingo at the 181st subway station in Manhattan. My mom would take me with her when she couldn’t get one of my cousins or brothers to look after me. She doesn’t believe in baby sitters. So I would go there and hang out. But sitting down on a table wasn’t my thing. I would fidget and it was just terrible. I remember being restless and annoying so she’d leave me at the cafeteria with my brother’s godmother, Miriam. It’s the only place where I’d sit still. There, Miriam taught me how to make pastelitos. Pastelitos are pastry in the shape of small pockets. They’re also known as empanadas. Often filled with savory fillings such as chicken, beef, cheese, or sweet fillings like guayaba. I perfectly remember closing the little pockets with a plastic fork so vividly. My biggest responsibility in life at that moment: don’t let the filling spill. This memory came rushing to me as I was making these little hand pies on a Saturday afternoon, so I just had to share. Anyway, it’s fall! Time to bake pies nonstop, apple pie to be specific!

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Asian, Barcelona, Fresh Produce

What the pho is that?

These past few days there has been only one type of weather in Barcelona: cloudy. Gloomy and grey. For that reason, it has made me want to eat soup all of the time. I blame my heritage. My parents are Dominican and they sure love their soups and stews on rainy days, even if the weather is perpetually hot in the island. As soon as there’s a cloud in the sky it’s time to whip out the sancocho. Sancocho is a type of stew with meats and starchy vegetables. It is very hearty and it goes accompanied by rice, avocado and a sour element that can be bitter orange vinegar or limes. Oh, and hot sauce. Because I’m so used to eating this on rainy days, every time it’s cloudy I need some kind of soup! I wanted ramen to begin with, but only had udon noodles at hand. Then I thought… udon soup! But didn’t have the base for it.

I consider myself a very resourceful person in the sense that I can make tasty food with whatever I have in the fridge. And that is exactly what I did here. I made a delicious udon soup with a pho base, so it’s basically a pho, right? I don’t even know. Help me. What started as a random soup ended up as a full on Japanese and Vietnamese ingredient fusion that tastes amazing! My apologies to the people who think these ingredients must only be eaten within the boundaries of the cuisine they’re from, but I politely disagree.   Continue reading

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Barcelona, Fresh Produce

Get Cosy with This Bowl of Chilli con Carne

It’s raining, it’s pouring, the old man is snoring! ♫♫♫

I think there’s a monsoon outside. I feel like I’m in Vietnam and not in Barcelona, it’s raining so much today and for some reason that nursery rhyme can’t get out of my head. I feel like a child trapped inside my home although I’m keeping it cosy listening to Otis Redding while I write this. I blame the rain. It makes me nostalgic and kind of soulful too.

Something that never fails to make me feel better when I’m gloomy and nostalgic is definitely comfort food. Oh yeah. For me, there are only but a few things better than getting cosy with a tasty bowl of food that just makes you feel amazing. Ramen soup is definitely number one on my list. When I was a kid it was probably one of the first foods I learned to ‘modify’. By “modifying” I mean adding soy sauce and scallions, by the way. Little by little as I grew up I learned how to make different versions (or modifications) of comforting dishes. This changed as I got older. When I was old enough to be left alone at home with my older brother, I had to make food for both of us, I’d modify Chef Boyardee’s raviolis by adding extra veg and cheese. Then when I was a teenager my dad only liked the spaghetti’s I made, which was a big deal ’cause it kind of offended my mom. After that, when my friends and I would have movie nights it was left to me to make mac and cheeses (I used to add like 4 kinds) for everyone. Anyway, I’m rambling.

This post isn’t completely about modifying dishes or recipes. It’s about the sense of comfort you get when you eat a bowl of happy. It can be a bowl of cereal first thing in the morning, half a sleep. Or if you’re an açai bowl kind of person, well that. That feeling of cosy you get inside on a cold, rainy day when you have a nice cup of tea and curl up with a book you happen to be obsessed with. That’s why I decided to make chilli. It’s something I’ve made before and when I have left overs I modify it into a hefty hangover cure breakfast. This time, I added corn and coffee.

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Barcelona

“Hey, it’s mussels season!”

Said the nice man at the pescadería, while greeting me with a 1kg of fresh mussels in hand. I had absolutely no idea when the mussel season began (wait, that’s a thing? Oh, Europe) but I sure as hell bought them. They looked cute. I love seasonal food, and I also love the people at the pescadería I go to. We’ve become well acquainted considering I’m somewhat of a regular at the market and Catalans aren’t quite famous for being very friendly. I usually purchase what they offer me because I’m easily persuaded when it comes to food, it also helps that they have amazing seafood! Seriously, if you’re ever in Barcelona and you’re searching for beautiful, fresh fish or seafood get to Mercat de Santa Caterina, as soon as possible. La Boquería is overrated and overrun by tourists, and to be honest, the people there in general are rather mean. No joke. They’re quite unfriendly. Anyway. Mussels.

On my way home from the market, I began to work around recipe ideas in my head to see what I could come up with. Something new and creative would be interesting, I thought. And of course, I made the most uninspired and typical mussel recipe: Pasta with mussels, tomato sauce, and white wine. Groundbreaking. I know. Stop judging me, it was freakin’ delicious.

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Barcelona, Fresh Produce, Personal, Vegetarian

Was That Really a Sabbatical? Baked Green Tomatoes and Why I Haven’t Been Blogging.

Well, now I am. I’ve been ‘off the blog grid’ for over a year now and I’ve finally come back, writing in English this time. Don’t know, I feel I express myself better in my native language.

So… Yeah, I’ve been absent. Busy. On a sabbatical. On a hiatus. Whatever you want to call it. But overall I’ve missed blogging, mostly because of my lack of time, but to be honest I really hate that saying; “Oh I don’t have time for that”, I think it’s because I’m a firm thinker that there is no such thing as “not having enough time” for something, to me that’s just an excuse to not do things… If you want to do something, make time for it… So, well, here I am making time. And I brought tomatoes.

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