Tag Archives: Sofrito

Quick Cuban Style Black Beans~ Tasting Latin American

A few years ago I began teaching Mexican cooking classes at the local kitchen store. I also became very interested in learning some of the most popular dishes of Latin America. Besides Mexican food, Puerto Rican and Cuban food are also some of my favorites. The recipes are similar in ingredients when it comes to all three cuisines, with a few differences. Unlike many Mexican dishes, Cuban and Puerto Rican recipes will almost never include chile peppers in their ingredients.  For a while, I just could not get passed the idea of cooking without any chile peppers, lol! But, for a few years now, I often prepare meals and donate them to friends in need or groups of volunteers that help with local community projects.  And for those recipes, I have learned to scale way back on the chile peppers. It’s just my way of trying to help when I can and volunteer my time. As many of you know, I have been blessed with my dream job of working from home, cooking  and developing recipes  I love for the Hispanic Kitchen site.  It has been the most rewarding experience and continues to be a great blessing in my life. It’s the Hispanic Kitchen that inspired me to step outside my Mexican comfort zone and try my hand at a few popular Cuban dishes.  My friend Norma Torres, who is an awesome chef, blogger and recipe developer for Hispanic Kitchen as well prepares these most delicious Puerto Rican and Cuban recipes.

Quick Cuban Style Black Beans
Quick Cuban Style Black Beans

The Hispanic Kitchen site literally have thousands of delicious recipes posted from all over Latin America, Spain and the Caribbean.  Foods from Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela and Colombia are all equally delicious and ere definitely on my “To Try” list! For today’s post I am starting out with a quick and simple recipe for black beans. I prepared my first recipe for Ropa Vieja,(you can find recipe on my blog) which is a popular Cuban beef dish and is typically served with black beans and rice. And after spending all that time preparing the Ropa Vieja, I wanted a quick, but flavorful pot of black beans to serve with dinner that night.

Quick Cuban Style Black Beans
Quick Cuban Style Black Beans

Pulling ingredients I had available in my pantry and refrigerator, the Goya Jamon seasoning gives the beans a subtle flavor of smokiness. And the Knorr Sazon with garlic, onion, cilantro and achiote is great for any rice, bean or meat dishes. I keep them in my pantry at all times along with my regular spices. A quick and fresh version of sofrito is as easy as tomato, bell pepper, cilantro, garlic and onion. Freshly made is always the better option.

Quick Cuban Style Black Beans

Ingredients

2 roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped plus more for garnish
1/2 jalapeño, seeded. Here I go with the chile pepper!
1/4 cup water
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white or spanish onion, diced
15 ounce can black beans in it’s broth
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 Goya Jamon season packet
1 Knorr Sazon with achiote, garlic, onion and cilantro season packet
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Salt to taste

*This recipe will have more broth than usual

Directions

1. In the blender, combine the tomatoes, bell pepper, cilantro, jalapeño (if using), 2 tablespoons olive oil half of garlic and half of onion. Pulse to blend until fairly smooth. I prefer to not add salt at this time since the season packets both contain some salt.

2. In a medium pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat. Add the remaining garlic and onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add the sofrito tomato mixture from the blender to the pot and cook for another 5 minutes.

3. Add all of the remaining ingredients to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and continue cooking for 10 minutes. Taste for salt, cumin and pepper and season to taste. Remove from heat, garnish with some fresh cilantro and ladle beans with broth over rice. Yields 4 servings.

Next time, I will try the low and slow version for this recipe using a smoky ham hock and dried black beans.
Next time, I will try the low and slow version for this recipe using a smoky ham hock and dried black beans.
Tex Mex meets Cuban! How about some Ropa Vieja Nachos with smoky black beans, tender flank steak, jalapeños and your favorite melting cheese.
Tex Mex meets Cuban! How about some Ropa Vieja Nachos with smoky black beans, tender flank steak, jalapeños and your favorite melting cheese.

You can find the recipe for Ropa Vieja and Homemade Tortilla Chips-Totopos right here on my blog site. Just type it into the search bar or  search under catergories.

Using homemade chips or a good quality store bought chip, this is a tasty twist on traditional Tex Mex Nachos.
Using homemade chips or a good quality store bought chip, this is a tasty twist on traditional Tex Mex Nachos.

Black Beans Prepared In The  Pressure. Thanks to one of my favorite Chef’s Tyler Florence, I finally decided to take the plunge and cook a batch of black beans in my pressure cooker. It seemed simple enough. With a few “La Piña” touches added to the recipe I was on my way!

My first time cooking black beans in the pressure cooker. I will never cook them any other way!
My first time cooking black beans in the pressure cooker. I will never cook them any other way!

Ingredients

Olive oil
1/2 cup diced white onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano pepper, minced
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 pound black beans, rinsed
1 packet Goya Jamon seasoning
1/3 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 cups water

*5 quart pressure cooker

I used a 5 quart pressure cooker for 1 pound of black beans
I used a 5 quart pressure cooker for 1 pound of black beans

1. Add 2 tablespoons oil to pressure cooker pot. Heat to medium, add onions, garlic, serrano, bay leaves and cumin seeds. Saute for 4 to 6 minutes.

2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  Then right before you cook, add 2 more tablespoons of oil to the beans. The oil prevents the beans from foaming up and clogging the valve. Very important that you don’t skip that step. Follow manufacter’s directions for pressure cooker. Lock lid, heat to medium/high until safety valve seals and locks. When the pressure valve begins to spin, turn heat to low and set your timer for 35 minutes.  after about 20 minutes, I turned the heat up slightly to finish cooking. Gently remove from heat. Once lock and seals opens and releases, them remove the lid.

Just took the lid off and all that steamy goodness aroma...aaaaahhh!
Just took the lid off and all that steamy goodness aroma…aaaaahhh!
All the times I have cooked black beans, they have never, ever come out this beautiful!
All the times I have cooked black beans, they have never, ever come out this beautiful!

Ropa Vieja~ Shredded Beef Braised in a Sofrito Sauce

Cuban Style Ropa Vieja is very similar to preparing a traditional Mexican Carne Deshebrada dish (Shredded Beef). Both are prepared with flank steak and are typically cooked low and slow in a sauce. For today’s recipe I wanted to do my best at preparing an authentic Cuban Ropa Vieja with the ingredients available to me. Lucky for me, there is a good size Cuban and Puerto Rican community where I live in central New York and Goya products are abundant! Just to state for the record, I am No authority of Cuban food, I just know that I love all the flavors and love learning about new cuisines. This is a great recipe to prepare for a large family style dinner or for make ahead freezer meals. Not only great served over rice, but extra tasty for flautas, tacos and burritos as well. Simple, fresh ingredients and spices are the base  and a great start to preparing any of your favorite cuisines. Challenge yourself and try a new recipe from a different ethnic back round. You may just be pleasantly surprised with the results!

Ropa Vieja, Steamed Rice, Black Beans and Tostones
Ropa Vieja, Steamed Rice, Black Beans and Tostones

Ingredients

For Garlic/Mojo Sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lime juice
3 full tablespoons of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon white pepper
Salt to taste

Preparing Garlic Mojo Sauce for Flank Steak
Preparing Garlic Mojo Sauce for Flank Steak

Beef
2 1/2 pounds flank steak cut into 4 pieces

For Sofrito Tomato Base
Olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced into thin strips
1 large green bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 small red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 ful tablespoon garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons annatto powder
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon Bijol coloring/seasoning or turmeric
28 oz can whole tomatoes (crush with hands before adding)
6 oz tomato paste
1 cup Goya brand cooking wine
2 cups water
3  full tablespoons chicken base powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste and 2 bay leaves

Tips~ As a last minute add-in, I sliced some pimento stuffed queen olives, about 1/3 cup and added them in. The peas were added in as a garnish on the second day and were not cooked in the ropa vieja.

Preparing Sofrito Base for Ropa Vieja
Preparing Sofrito Base for Ropa Vieja
The last few minutes of cooking time in my 5 quart pressure cooker.
The last few minutes of cooking time in my 5 quart pressure cooker.
The most tender, pull apart flank steak right out of the pressure cooker.
The most tender, pull apart flank steak right out of the pressure cooker.
Shredded Flank Steak Meets Sofrito Sauce
Shredded Flank Steak Meets Sofrito Sauce

Directions

1. In the blender, combine all of the ingredients to prepare the garlic/mojo sauce. Blend on high until smooth, taste for salt and set aside.

2. Now, if you are feeling adventurous, you could pressure cook that flank steak with the garlic/mojo sauce in 90 minutes! It will be the most tender, fall apart flank steak you have ever seen. Or, you could cook it for 4 to 6 hours on high in the crock pot. Whichever way you decide to cook it, you want the beef to be tender before adding it to the tomato base.

3. For 5 quart pressure cooker method: Add the beef and garlic/mojo sauce to the pot. Secure the lid and heat to medium/high heat. As soon as the safety lock seals, set your timer for 90 minutes, reduce heat to low. When ready, carefully remove from burner and wait until the safety valve releases to unlock the the lid. Shred the beef, cover and set aside. Skim most of the fat off remaining broth from beef and set aside.

4. In a large pot at medium heat, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions, bell pepper and garlic. Season lightly with salt and pepper and saute for 8 minutes. Add all of the remaining ingredients in the order listed, stirring as you go until all is well combined. Add the shredded beef and beef broth reserved from cooking the beef into the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook for a good 40 to 50  minutes or until the sauce thickens and reduces slightly.

On the first night, a little taste of the ropa vieja over steamed white rice
On the first night, a little taste of the ropa vieja over steamed white rice

You can find the recipe for Quick Cuban Style Black Beans right here on my blog site. Just search Cuban foods under categories.

Ropa Vieja, the second day. Served with  Cuban style black beans, steamed white rice and tostones
Ropa Vieja, the second day. Served with Cuban style black beans, steamed white rice and tostones

To Prepare Tostones 

Add some crispy plantain Tostones to the dish to make it extra special! Using a small knife, score the green plantain and peel. Using a sharp knife slice the plantain into 1 inch thick slices(6 pieces). Fry in canola oil heated to 350ºF. Drain onto paper towels. Using a tostonera or a flat bottomed bowl, flatten the tostones and fry a second time until golden brown and crispy. Season with salt as soon as they come out of oil. Serve right away.  

Green Plantains For Tostones
Green Plantains For Tostones

Sopa Recipes~One Bowl At A Time

Ever since I was a kid I have loved the flavors of lemons and limes. Growing up in California, there was never a shortage of fresh citrus. Whether is was purchased from the local swap meet over the weekend or picked from the neighbors tree. It was a staple in our house and an ingredient that my Mom often cooked with. I often find myself garnishing many dishes with a  squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice. It really brings out the flavors of the food and keeps you coming back for more. And since I was a kid, I absolutely love sopa! Toasted pasta, most commonly used is fideo or vermicelli, with a hint of tomato and spices makes for a great side dish for any meal.

 

Sopa de Orzo con Limon

Sopa de Orzo y Limon~ Orzo Pasta with Tomato, Carrots, Onions, Garlic and Herbs in a Tangy Lemon/Chicken Broth
Sopa de Orzo y Limon~ Orzo Pasta with Tomato, Carrots, Onions, Garlic and Herbs in a Tangy Lemon/Chicken Broth 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano or jalapeño, minced
1 chayote, diced or 1 summer squash
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
3 roma tomatoes, diced
8 cups chicken broth
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon dried cilantro or 1/4 fresh
1/3 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
Salt to taste
1 cup uncooked orzo pasta

Sopa de Orzo y Limon
Sopa de Orzo y Limon

1. In a large dutch oven pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, serrano, chayote and carrot. Season lightly with salt and pepper and cook for 6 to 8 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the broth, juice and zest of 2 lemons. Bring to a boil, season with salt, pepper and dried cilantro. If using fresh cilantro, add later when adding the orzo. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 5 minutes.

3. Add the orzo pasta and continue cooking for 10 minutes or until pasta is tender. It won’t take very long. Remove it from the heat or it will continue cooking. If you serve it right away, you will have a sopa with more broth. But the longer it sits, the pasta will absorb the broth. I like it either way. Garnish with lemon slices. Yields up to 10 servings.

My favorite thing to do lately is to add the juice of a whole lemon or lime when preparing, soups, sopa and rice dishes. I really enjoy the notes of acid that it brings to my favorite dishes. For this Sopa de Orzo y Limon recipe, I added the juice and zest of 2 lemons. One cup of Orzo made a big batch, enough for 10 servings.  You could certainly cut the recipe in half, but I like to share with friends.  it’s a great dish to pass as is, or add it some grilled chicken or shrimp for a complete meal. People often forget to use the zest when adding citrus to a recipe. It a simple and wonderful added flavor for many sweet and savory foods. Here are a few of my favorite sopa recipes.

 

Fideo con Sofrito

Sopa de Fideo or Sopa Seca which means dry soup, no broth.
Sopa de Fideo or Sopa Seca which means dry soup, no broth.

My  Version of Sofrito I Prepared 
Olive oil
2 roma tomato, sliced into 1/4’s
1/4 sweet onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 serrano pepper, sliced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
A handful (1/4 cup) cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice or red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

You will also need
More olive oil
remaining sweet onion, diced
1clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeño or red fresno,(or both) sliced into rings or left whole
1 tablespoon tomato paste or 1/4 cup tomato sauce
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/3 teaspoon pepper
1/3 teaspoon crushed oregano
1 1/2 cups broken fideo, toasted

Really like the convenience of the broken spaghetti or fideo. I enjoy Barilla brand pasta.
Really like the convenience of the broken spaghetti or fideo. I enjoy Barilla brand pasta.
Sopa de Fideo prepared with some leftover sofrito I had.
Sopa de Fideo prepared with some leftover sofrito I had.

Directions

1. In a skillet heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat. Add all of the ingredients for the sofrito, minus the lemon juice. Season lightly with salt and pepper and saute for 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to blender, add lemon juice and pulse to blender until you have coarse, but not chunky finish, set aside.

2. In another deep skillet, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat to medium. Add the fideo pasta and toast, stirring often, until mostly browned and aromatic. Remove pasta from pan onto plate, set aside.

3. In that same skillet, add 1 more tablespoon of olive oil and bring heat back up to medium. Add the onions, garlic and jalapeño, if using. Season lightly with salt and pepper and saute for 6 to 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste or sauce and sofrito from blender. Cook for 3 more minutes.

4. Add the 6 cups of broth, cumin, oregano and pepper. Bring to a boil, taste for salt. Add the fideo back into the broth. Gently stir, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Yields 6 servings. The longer it sits, the more it will absorb the broth. If you like it more like “sopa seca” with less broth only add 4 cups broth instead of 6.

This is how I like to enjoy my sopa de Fideo with extra broth so it’s more like a soup. Makes me feel like a kid again! 

With Extra Broth!
With Extra Broth!

Tips~ Before serving, grate in some fresh queso cotija or Parmesan. Add some freshly crushed oregano, serve with warm corn tortillas or crusty bread.

 

 

Sopa with Orzo Pasta 

Sopa con Pasta de Orzo
Sopa con Pasta de Orzo

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups orzo pasta
1/2 cup white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 roma tomatoes, quartered
1 serrano or jalapeno, chopped
3 1/2 cups water
Salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 cup roasted green chiles, diced
3 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules

Directions

1. Add olive oil to a large skillet and heat to medium heat. Add the orzo and toast for 5 to 6 minutes. Add the onions and garlic and saute for another 3 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes, hot pepper and about 1/8 cup of water to the blender. Blend until smooth and add to pan of orzo.

3. Add all of the remaining ingredients in the order listed. Stir to combine and taste for salt. Reduce heat to a low simmer, cover and continue cooking for about 10 to 13 minutes or until orzo becomes tender. It will appear soupy at first, but the longer it sits, the pasta will absorb the broth. Yields 6 servings.

Sopa made with orzo pasta
Sopa made with orzo pasta

 

Sopa de Fideo con Calabacitas

Sopa de Fideo con Calabacitas
Sopa de Fideo con Calabacitas


Olive oil
3 cups fideo(vermicelli) pasta broken into smaller pieces
*the goya brand comes in coils, use 4 coils
1/3 cup white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano, minced
1 small poblano, diced
3 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/3 teaspoon pepper
Zest of 1 lemon, reserve lemon for garnish
Salt to taste
1 small zucchini, diced (about 1 full cup)

 

Toasting the fideo pasta before adding the onions, garlic and peppers.
Toasting the fideo pasta before adding the onions, garlic and peppers.

 

1. Toast the fideo in 2 tablespoons of olive oil at medium heat for a few minutes. Use tongs to toss quickly or it will burn. Some darker spots are ok. Add the onions, garlic, serrano and poblano. Cook for another few minutes.

2. Add the broth, tomato sauce and spices. Stir well to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and continue cooking for 10 minutes. 

3. Season the zucchini lightly with salt and pepper and spread out evenly over the fideo. Zest the lemon over the top, cover and continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with fork before serving and garnish with lemon wedges. Yields 6 servings.

Tips~ If you like yours with more broth add extra broth

Sopa de Fideo con Calabacitas
Sopa de Fideo con Calabacitas