Thursday, January 1, 2009

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: A Caribbean New Year's Eve: Merengue, Mojitos and Meeting "The Family"


While in the United States, many teenagers and young adults prefer to go out with friends to celebrate New Year's Eve, in the Dominican Republic and many other Latin countries, holidays are spent with family. I spent this New Year's Eve in Santo Domingo with my boyfriend Carlos and his family. Approximately 25 celebrated in the apartment of Abuela (Carlos's grandmother) and ate a grand meal that included traditional Dominican dishes as well as modern cuisine.

Dominican cuisine,
and in particular the celebrated Dominican stew, Sancocho, reminds me very much of the story of stone soup. For those who are not familiar with this tale, two strangers arrive in a village with nothing more than a large stew pot. The villagers are unwilling to share food with the hungry travelers. The two strangers place a large stone inside the pot and add water. Curious, villagers begin to inquire as to what the villagers are making, to which they reply "a delicious stone soup" and comment that it could use a little more flavor. More and more villagers walk by, each adding another ingredient. At the end, a delicious pot of soup is enjoyed by all. Sancocho is a potpourri of many meats, vegetables, roots, plantains and other ingredients people had access to, with many different ingredients resulting in a rich and nourishing meal.

The same story can be applied to Dominican cuisine. It is the result of native foods, the arrival of African slaves with their traditional meals, the Moor's conquest of Spain and, of course, the influence of traditional Spanish cuisine. Poverty has also had a great impact on Latin cuisine; this is seen in the ever-present beans and rice that is found throughout Latin America.

For Foodbuzz's 24-24-24 event, I will share recipes from the meal and photos of the food, photos of the family celebration and some historical and cultural information.
Para el evento de Foodbuzz 24-24-24 voy a contarles informacion sobre la cultura y historia dominicana y compartir con ustedes fotos de la familia celebrando, de la comida y escribir algunas de las recetas del 31. Lo siento si mi espanyol no es perfecto, como soy americana y estoy aprendiendo el idioma todavia.

Pase el 31 de diciembre con la familia de mi novio en Santo Domingo, RD. En los Estados Unidos los jovenes salen de la casa para celebrar el 31, pero en RD es diferente-toda la familia celebra junta en una gran fiesta.

La comida dominicana, y especialmente el sancocho, me acuerda de la historia "Sopa de Piedra." Unos extranjeros llegaron a un pueblo con solo una olla grande. Tenian
mucha hambre pero la gente del pueblo no queria compartir su comida con ellos. Los extranjeros pusieron agua en la olla y pusieron una piedra a hervir. Varias personas les preguntaron lo que hacian. Les respondieron "una rica sopa de piedra, pero todavia falta sazon." La gente les compenzo a dar sazones, y terminaron cocinando una sopa con los sazones de todos. La historia muestra lo que sucede cuando la personas se juntan y comparten. Para mi, esta historia es muy parecida a la historia del pueblo dominicano, y latino en general. Los platos son productos de la pobreza. La gente usaba cualquier cosa que tuvieran (carne y vegetales) para hacer el sancocho, y ahora es un plato tipico. La comida dominicana tambien tiene influencia arabe, espanyol, africano, taino y tambien tropical.


Our menu (I have thrown in a few typical Dominican New Year's dishes as well) included the following:

Crema de Zanahorias / Cream of Carrot S
oup
Puerco Asado / Roast Pork

Empanadas
Moro de Guandules/ Pigeon Peas with Rice

Ensalada Rusa / Russian Potato Salad

Pastelon de Esparragos y Poll / Asparagus and Chicken Casserole
Bizcocho de Chocolate / Chocolate Cake
Pastel de Datiles / Date Cake

Crema de Zanahorias (Cream of Carrot Soup):

Ingredients:
4 large carrots, washed and peeled
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter

2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup evaporated milk

Saute onions in butter until soft, about 7 minutes. Combine broth, carrots, and onions in large sauce pot until carrots are very tender. Remove carrots and onion from broth and cool. Puree in blender, adding broth as needed if mixture is too thick thick. Add salt and pepper. Reheat soup. Mix some soup into cream then pour cream into soup. Cook additional 10-15 minutes, or until desired consistency.

Ingredientes:
4 zanahorias grandes

1 cebolla med
iana
1 cucharada de mantequilla

2 tazas de caldo de pollo
1/2 taza de leche carnation


Se pelan y cortan las zanahorias en pedazos chiquiticos.
Se colocan las zanahorias y la cebolla con la mantequilla dentro de una cazuela hasta que se derrita la mantequilla. Se echa el caldo, la sal y la pimienta y se pone a hervir, cuidando de que no pierdan liquido, por unos 30 minutos. Pasa por la batidora dejando una crema suave. Echa la leche y se pone a hervir otra vez for 15 minutos o menos si prefiere mas liquido.

Roast Pork:
Puerco Asado
Cranberry sauce
Grapes

Parsley, to garnish


Follow instructions to make roast pork. Once cooked, let sit 20 minutes before carving. Slice and place on large
serving dish. Spread cranberry sauce over slices and garnish with grapes and parsley.

Another typical dish is empanadas. Here I have my favorite recipe for vegetarian em
panaditas, with goat cheese, black beans and sweet plantains using traditional ingredients to create a modern dish.

Black Bean Empanadas
Avocado slices
Lime wedges
A salsa, if you wish





I was going to learn to make pasteles en hoja from abuela, but as she was not feeling very well, there was not time to make these. I am posting a link to a recipe for everyone to use and to enjoy.

http://www.dominicancooking.com/forums/starters-buffet-food/1299-pasteles-hoja-g
round-roots-pockets.html

Abuela iba a ensenyarme a hacer los pasteles en hoja pero no se sentia muy bien
y por eso no pudimos hacerlos. Voy a poner un "link" para una receta para que Uds la disfruten.

Another traditional dish holiday dish is "moro de guandules," pigeon peas with sofrit
o, rice and coconut nectar.
Otro plato tipico es "moro de guandules," guisantes c
on coco, sofrito y arroz.

Moro de Guandules


A dish of beans and rice accompanies most dinners. Moro de guandules is one option, red beans are also very popular in the Dominican Republic ("habichuelas coloradas"). These dishes can be very inexpensive to make, and thus they are found throughout Latin America. Beans and rice provide the necessary protein and calories to survive, even during difficult times.


Russian Potato Salad

Ingredients:
1 lb peeled potatoes
1/2 lb carrots

1/2 lb corn
3 eggs
1 medium onion, minced

1/2 cup mayo

1/2 cup peas

1 roasted red pepper, sliced

Salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Olives to garnish


Boil the potatoes, carrots and eggs. Peel and dice into small cubes. Mix in the mayo, onion and pepper. Adjust salt to taste.
Carefully stir in peas and corn. Garnish with olives and red pepper slices. Serve chilled.

La Ensalada Rusa

Ingredientes:
1 lb papas
1/2 lb zanahorias

1/2 lb maiz

3 huevos

1 cebolla mediana, cortadita

1/2 taza mayonesa

1/2 taza guisantes "petitepois"
1 pimiento ro
jo
Sal
Una cucharadita de pimienta negra
Aceitunas


Se pela las papas y las zanahorias. Se las pone a hervir con los huevos y con una cucharadita de sal. Cuando los ingredientes hervidos esten blandos s
e dejan enfriar a temperatura ambiente y se cortan en pedacitos. Mezcla los ingredientes hervidos con la cebolla, la mayonesa, los guisantes y el maiz en un tazon grande poniendo la sal al gusto. Se decora la ensalada con pedazos del pimiento y las aceitunas.

Pastelon de Esparragos y Pollo (Chicken and Asparagus Casserole)

Ingredients:
4 chicken breasts
1 green pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 onion, diced

2 heads of garlic, minced
2 cups chicken stock
4 Hard-boiled eggs
3/4 cup flour
6 tablespoons butter
3 cups milk
1 can peas ("petite pois")
2 cans of asparagus

Place eggs in saucepot and cover with water. Bring to boil and cook 7 minutes. Remove from heat.

Rinse the chicken with water and pat dry with a paper towel. Place in large saucepot with the diced peppers, onion, 1 head garlic and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer until chicken is cooked. Remove chicken from broth and let cool. Cut into small pieces.

Drain peas and asparagus. Chop asparagus into small pieces.

Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in large saute pan. Add 3/4 cup flour and whisk together until golden. Slowly add 3 cups of milk, whisking to incorporate. Add remaining garlic. Cook, whisking often, until sauce thickens.

Remove shells form eggs, chop and place in 9 by 13 cooking dish. Spread a thin layer of bechamel sauce over eggs. Form a layer of chicken pieces, peas and asparagus, using about 1/3 of the ingredients. Repeat until all ingredients have been used.

Cook 30 minutes or until casserole is boiling.


Bizcocho d
e Chocolate "Chocolate Cake" y Pastel de Datiles "Date Cake"



While I was nervous before about meeting Carlos's (enormous) family, everyone made me feel very welcome an
d like I was already part of the family. The baby girl in the photos, "Sarita," was my first friend in the family - she wanted to play with me, saying "tia kay-lee! tia kay-lee!" Possibly the cutest girl I have ever seen!

His mother had previously tried to bring me my favorite fruit (mamey zapote
) to the States for Carlos's birthday this fall, but customs found it. Rather they specifically asked if she was carrying dulces, salchicha o sapote-sweets, sausage or mamey zapote("mira, que no soy traficante"dijo ella-"I am not trafficking anything"-she pleaded). The tale of the zapote grew and as a result, my first Dominican nourishment was a Batido de Zapote.

I survived having arrived with a cough, a burn on my hand from cooking for Christmas and a short bout with "una vaina tropical" (something icky from the water-we suspect the batido is the guilty party).
I hope to return.

12 comments:

  1. What a beautiful memory you will have and I can smell the food right now!

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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  2. Looks like quite a celebration! I love the photos and the stone soup comparison.

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  3. What a fun post. I was also selected for the new year's 24, 24, 24 so it's fun to see what others came up with. Nice job.

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  4. How wonderful. It looks like a fun time. Congratulations on the 24 post!

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  5. So much delicious food. How did you even survive! :) We'd love to take a bite out of those black bean empanadas. Congrats on your 24 post!

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  6. Everything looks delicious! Congrats on surviving your first family gathering! :-)

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  7. I've always loved the stone soup story :) I had a friend start a little cafe here in Rochester based off of it :) For our 24 24 24 event we sampled a tasting of non traditional sushi! We had a blast :)

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  8. I'm going to make the carrot soup today! Easy and I have all the ingredients in the pantry! What fun!

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  9. Everything looks so delicious! The black bean empanadas are especially calling out to me!

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  10. That sounds like a great celebration!
    I love dancing merengue (and salsa!) and the food is fabulous.

    ReplyDelete

Tried my recipe? Please let me know how it turned out for you! Be honest (and kind!)