Categories
Mucho Gusto

Hatian Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Personally, pineapple is my favorite fruit. It has a unique texture, somehow managing to be crunchy, juicy, and silky all at once. No matter the ripeness,  it has the perfect balance of tart and sweet flavors. A pineapple’s flavor provokes images of leisurely summer days and picturesque tropical getaways. My personal bias aside, it is clear that pineapples have a wide appeal and are one of the world’s most popular tropical fruits, sharing clout with other superstars like mangoes, avocados, papayas, and bananas.

Pineapple originated in the Paraguay River drainages, and was later spread and domesticated throughout South America and the Carribean by the Mayans and Aztecs. Christopher Columbus introduced pineapple to the eastern hemisphere in 1493, where it came to represent wealth among the European nobility due to its accessibility. For almost three centuries, pineapples were used as decorations or centerpieces and were rarely eaten

The spanish introduced pineapple to Hawaii in the 18th century. The first commercial plantation opened in the 19th century, beginning the state’s long history and association with the fruit. James Dole, the most famous of the early pineapple investors, and his company were the basis for the eventual Dole Food Company empire. After the decline of Hawaiian pineapple production in the 20th century, most of the pineapple production moved to South America, Southeast Asia, most notably the Philippines. The Phillipines quickly became one of the world’s top exporters of pineapple, exporting 21% of the global market share last year.

Apart from their  long and unique history, pineapples have other fun facts that set them apart from other fruits. They are relatively acidic and contain high concentrations of the enzyme bromelain, an enzyme that breaks down proteins. Aside from making pineapple useful for tenderizing meats, this means eating pineapple can strip the mucus membrane in your mouth. The common joke is that pineapple eats you right back, but that has never stopped anyone from enjoying a pineapple filled dish. 

I am sharing a recipe for Haitian pineapple upside down cake that has been in my family for generations. In fact, the original recipe is still in French. This cake  has made an appearance at all of my Christmas celebrations, and I have been baking and decorating these cakes with my mother since I could reach the countertop. This recipe uses a Haitian cake batter, which is heavily spiced and includes plenty of butter. This recipe has brought joy and the holiday spirit to my family and friends for as long as I can remember, and I hope it can do the same for yours. 

Haitian Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Ingredients

Decorations

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 (20 ounce) can of pineapple rings in juice – drained
  • 1 cup of raisins
  • Maraschino cherries 

Batter 

  • 2 cups butter – softened 
  • 2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs – yolks and whites separated
  • 4 cups white bleached flour 
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • Zest of 1 lime 
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder

Instructions : 

This recipe will make two nine inch cakes. Preheat the oven to 350℉. Coat two baking pans with butter and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Grease the top of the parchment paper, and cover the bottom surface of the pan with brown sugar, removing excess that does not stick. Decorate the bottom of the pan with the raisins and pineapple rings. Be creative! This part of the recipe is very open ended and flexible. 

Next, make the cake batter. Combine the  butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, and using an electric mixer, whip the ingredients until the mixture is fluffy, homogeneous, and approaching a white color. After the butter and sugar are creamed together, add the egg yolks and mix until no streaks of yellow remain. 

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In another bowl, combine the pineapple juice, lime zest, rum, and vanilla. You will add the flour mixture in four parts and the juice mixture in three. Begin with the flour and alternate additions of the dry and liquid mixtures to your butter and egg mixture. Make sure the ingredients are fully incorporated before the next addition. Add the baking powder to the final dry addition. 

Next, whip the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Gently incorporate the whipped egg whites into the batter. After, divide the batter between both pans, smoothing the tops. 

Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Let them cool completely before inverting the cakes out of the pans, transferring them onto a serving dish. Decorate with your maruchiro cherries and enjoy!  

Image courtesy of Caribbean Green Living

Categories
Mucho Gusto

Lilly’s Holiday Honey-Roasted Pear Salad

This is the fifty-eighth installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!

The word “pear” occasionally slips past our tongues in December when we hum the infamous Twelve Days of Christmas refrain, imagining the gifted partridge in company. Yet other than in tune, pears rarely draw near our taste buds in the modern holiday season. Perhaps it is a consequence of the winter fruit paradox—the nudge of fruit to the periphery of our minds as the North begins to frost over. However, despite our neglect of pears, they are the national fruit of December, with the day of the pear fast-approaching on the 8th. 

Dating back to 5000 B.C., the antiquity of pears remembers praise by Homer as the “gift of the Gods.” Now, the historically-popular fruit rarely appears in anecdotes of public appreciation despite the prolific pear orchards in the temperate North West, United States. As agricultural production expanded in the U.S., finicky pears failed to grow in the New England climate, only later to find success in their cultivation in Oregon and Washington. Although, posing pears to their opposition—apples—indicates that their dissipation from popularity is, more so, a reflection of our demanding consumer culture. Pears require an additional one to two months after being picked to ripen before being eaten. Compared to the readily available apples that overwhelm the produce aisles this time of year, the pears’ lack of casting in leading roles in pies and other seasonal dishes is somewhat predictable.

However, though we may overlook pears today, they continue being a Christmas favorite. Since the 1800s, pears have been a treasured part of Christmas celebrations, admired for their elegance, versatility, buttery texture, and sweet taste as an adored present under the tree. Though we have shifted away from receiving and gifting fruit in stockings, the nostalgia of pears in the holiday season evokes a personal desire to recreate some recipe favorites that adorn this winter fruit as the centerpiece. Several pie recipes and other dessert dishes utilize the flavor of pears to perfection. However, I decided to showcase a recipe for a honey-roasted pear salad. This dish fosters sentimentality coupled with modern festivity that guarantees to please our quarantine-sized crowds for this holiday season. 

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

Honey Roasted Pears

  • 2 ripe but firm Bartlett pears
  • 2 bunches fresh thyme
  • ¼ cup  honey
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Salad

  • 1 medium-sized bag (about 7 oz) of arugula 
  • ¼ cup toasted walnuts
  • ½ cup of crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 pomegranate

Dressing

  • ¼ cup champagne vinegar
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon  fresh thyme leaves

Instructions:

To prepare the pears, first, preheat the oven to 400 °F. On a cutting board, halve and core the two unpeeled pears. Then, place the pears cut-side down and put your knife at their stems. While keeping the pear uncut at the top, thinly slice into quarter-inch long sections to the bottom of the fruit. On a baking sheet, scatter the thyme sprigs, placing the pears on top while gently expanding the overlapping slices out while they remain attached at their stems. This fanning technique takes its name from its comparative structure to old-fashioned hand fans, seemingly adding an elegant display to your salad. However, you can easily replace this step by completely slicing the pears and removing their stems with no effect on the fruit’s rich flavor. Next, lightly drizzle the four pear halves with honey and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Bake the pears for 15 minutes, or until they are tender. Let the pears cool for 30 minutes.

The walnuts function as an additional garnish to your salad, complementing the flavor of the pears while simultaneously preserving the holiday theme. Place the walnuts in a skillet over medium heat, sporadically moving them around to avoid burning, and toast until lightly brown and aromatic. Allow the walnuts to cool in a small bowl. 

With your palm, roll the pomegranate on the cutting board to loosen the seeds. Then, slice the fruit in half, remove the seeds, and set aside. The pomegranate seeds, a bit tart, balance the sweetness of the pear and honey while brightening your salad with a festive touch of red.

To make the dressing, whisk the champagne vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, shallots, and fresh thyme together in a small mixing bowl. Place the arugula in a large bowl and add the dressing. Be sure to toss and coat evenly. 

Finally, divide salad onto plates, placing the pear halves on top while garnishing lightly with goat cheese, toasted walnuts, and pomegranate seeds to taste. Enjoy!

Categories
Mucho Gusto

Maya’s Sweet Potato Chili

This is the fifty-seventh installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!

Sweet potatoes seem to be all the rage now; it may sound funny, but they are all over my Instagram feed (for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!) I constantly see mouthwatering photos of sweet potatoes topped with pesto, pumpkin spice, or even nut butter. It can get a little weirder, too: I find sweet potatoes on toast (or acting as toast), or sweet potatoes as boats for eggs. I’ve discovered the power of sweet potatoes as an ingredient in morning oatmeal, or sweet potatoes sneaking their way into cakes. I even see sweet potatoes being perfectly cooked in a microwave! That being said, this picture propaganda always gets to me, and as both a foodie and a skeptic, I am always saving posts to eventually try the new recipes that I come across. So, as soon as fall began, I knew it was time to bring out the sweet potato recipes. I always have some around for cooking, as their wonderful taste, texture, and nutritional health benefits lead me to consume them pretty regularly. After all, who said eating vegetables had to be boring?

Sweet potatoes originate from Central and South America. Due to their versatility, they remain a popular staple ingredient in the cuisines of countries all over the world, including Africa, Asia, New Zealand, Japan, Peru, Italy, and Spain. They create a nutritious, substantive meal, as they are full of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants such as carotene. Additionally, sweet potatoes are naturally sweet and starchy, which is perfect for fall and winter meals. They act as a great, neutral complement to almost any dish! You can play upon their molasses-like flavor and bring it out with cinnamon, or complement them with salt and spice next to a meaty main course. Plus, they are a must during the holidays! Incorporating them into side dishes and casseroles guarantees that everyone will reach for seconds. 

While I enjoy sweet potatoes year-round, there is nothing I love more than a hot bowl of hearty soup when the cold, wintry weather starts to set in. Pun-ily enough, the chilly outdoors often make me crave chili! Chili traditionally includes beans and some sort of tomato base. However, the unique addition of sweet potatoes to this dish diversifies the flavor profile. The delectable orange root vegetable stands out in this soup recipe, resulting in an interesting chili that is both smoky and sweet. 

Inspired by The Minimalist Baker’s recipe, this sweet potato chili recipe is the perfect bowl of warm bliss. With just five main base ingredients, this recipe is simple yet delicious! I love this sweet potato and black bean chili because it is a great example of combined cuisine; to me, this Tex-Mex dish is quintessentially American, but with a clear connection to Latin American roots through the ingredients. Black beans and sweet potatoes, the central ingredients of this dish, create a rich, smoky, and savory flavor. These starchy star ingredients make for a thick, balanced, full-bodied chili with notes of spice and natural sweetness. This chili is the perfect dish to warm the soul. With just five major base ingredients, this recipe is proof that delicious cooking can be easy, healthy, and quite literally, minimalist! I like to jazz it up by adding some of my favorite vegetables as well. Any ingredients you have on hand can be added to enhance this delicious pot of flavor! Enjoy different variations of it over and over again throughout this holiday season!

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, diced
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 (16-ounce) can chunky tomato salsa (can be substituted with canned tomatoes and tomato paste if necessary)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 can corn
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 -1 teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For Serving: 

  • 1-2 teaspoons hot sauce of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves 
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion 
  • 2 avocados, chopped 
  • Tortilla chips 
  • Sour cream
  • Shredded Mexican-blend cheese or Cotija cheese 

Directions:

In a large pot over medium heat, sauté the onions with olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste, and cook the onions down until they are soft and transparent. Add the sweet potato and the spices. If adding another starchy vegetable, like carrots, as in my case, add them at this point as well. Mix over the heat for about 3-5 minutes. 

Then, add the vegetable stock, water, and tomato salsa. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add the beans and any other vegetables you want to incorporate, such as corn. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes. The sweet potatoes and the beans will marinate in the soup and bring all the flavors out. 

When the chili is done, the sweet potatoes should be soft, smooth, and tender. The soup should be on the thicker side. This chili is best when left to rest overnight, or at least for a few hours before eating as this allows the flavor of the vegetables and spices to mix together and develop even further. While not required, this step is highly recommended for a tastier soup. 

Serve with any combination of lime juice, fresh cilantro, red onion, avocado, sour cream, and cheese. Tortilla chips also make for a crunchy topping or can be used as an edible spoon. The best bowl, in my opinion, includes all of these fixings!

While this recipe does not take too long to prepare, it is best to prepare ahead of time so you can sit back and relax while you wait, and enjoy time with loved ones! This recipe serves about 6-8 people. Happy eating!

(Recipe adapted from The Minimalist Baker blog, est. 2012)

Cover photo courtesy of Delish

Categories
Mucho Gusto

Allison’s Chocolate Mug Cake

This is the fifty-sixth installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!

Are you craving something chocolatey, cakey, and warm, but don’t want to bake an entire dessert? It can be such a pain to whip out all your mixing bowls, pans, and cooking utensils. Instead, you can make my chocolate mug cake recipe, which is ready in under five minutes! What more could you want? This recipe is dorm-room friendly if you have the ingredients and will easily satisfy your sweet tooth!

While cake is an indisputable incredible dessert, it’s also time consuming to achieve the final product. A mug cake, on the other hand, is a single serving of deliciousness. Instead of waiting the long 30 to 60 minutes for the cake to bake only to let it cool for longer, you can make this recipe within minutes. Plus, you can eat it right out of the mug, so there’s minimal cleaning involved! 

After a long day of babysitting during quarantine, I would come home at night with a hankering for something sweet. Mug cakes became my go-to dessert, turning into a nightly routine. Because you can make so many different types of cake mugs, I never got tired of them! Pretty much any type of cake you can think of, from peanut butter to banana to coffee to lemon, can be consolidated into a mug. The world of mug cakes is your oyster. 

Because the baking takes place in a microwave, sometimes mug cakes can turn out to be spongy or rubbery. After dabbling with many different types and measurements, I’ve found this combination for a chocolate mug cake to be perfect. It is fluffy, moist, and of course, chocolatey. 

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder 
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar 
  • 3 tablespoons milk of your choice
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil 
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • Optional: whipped cream or ice cream for serving

Instructions: 

First, combine all of the dry ingredients together in a microwave safe mug. Stir thoroughly, making sure all the ingredients are well mixed. I like to use a fork rather than a spoon to make sure there are no clumps of sugar or flour. One technique is tilting the mug side to side while stirring, to assure the bottom is especially mixed. Next, add the wet ingredients, and stir again. Microwave on high for 1 minute and 30 seconds. Remove and serve with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream on top. Enjoy!

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Mucho Gusto

Mom’s Special Soup

Gusto’s fall issue is almost here. In order to get it to readers safely, we will be distributing the publication through a signup option. If you would like a copy, fill out this Google form by November 13.


This is the fifty-fifth installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!

Adorning cornucopia, dining tables, windowsills, and mantles, winter squash are fixtures of the fall and winter seasons, similar to auburn leaves and wool scarves. They introduce vibrant colors into the home, come in all shapes and sizes, and the best part—they’re delicious! Winter squash are found across the world, but it is easy to wonder how they became such a salient artifact of Western tradition.

The term winter squash encompasses a staggering amount of gourds, ranging from decorative pumpkins to sweet butternut squash, but what makes winter squash unique is the time of year they are grown, their maturity, and how long they can be stored.  Winter squash are planted in late spring after all danger of frost has passed, since the seedlings are incredibly delicate.  Most  varieties are harvested during late summer and early fall. Unlike summer squash, which are eaten at a comparably juvenile stage of growth, winter squash are mature at the time of consumption. Their late harvest is what lends the winter squash’s hard rinds and drier interiors, both of which result in a longer shelf life. Winter squash were a Native American staple for this very reason: they could be harvested throughout the fall season and eaten throughout winter. 

Additionally, winter squash are simply fantastic seasonal vegetables when considering both flavor and nutrition. They boast high levels of vitamins, particularly vitamins A and C, and are also high in fiber. This is not only beneficial for digestive health, but also means winter squash can be a hearty and filling addition to soups, stews, or when served as a side. Their versatility,  whether boiled, baked, or steamed, provides countless options for anyone looking to add them to their diet for their health benefits, or just to enjoy a fresh vegetable in season.

In my household and many other Haitian homes, winter squash is most commonly found in the form of soup joumou, a hearty soup filled with vegetables, noodles, beef, and pureed squash. The soup is a slightly spicy dish, filled with the hallmark flavors of Haitian cuisine, and holds a deep cultural significance. It is often enjoyed on New Year’s day, during celebrations of Haitian independence, and at significant personal events such as weddings or funerals. To me, though, joumou represents the epitome of comfort food. As days get shorter, evenings get colder, and the holidays approach, soup joumou is always on the table, to warm us up and bring our family together. Below you will find an adaptation of my mother’s squash soup recipe. It is a vegetarian dish that provides the Haitian flavors of soup joumou without beef.

Diana’s Squash Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium calabaza squash, peeled and gutted
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and gutted 
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 2 scallions
  • 2 to 3 ( approximately ½  pound) carrots, peeled
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-5 sprigs parsley 
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper (optional) 
  • ½ lbs peas, fresh or frozen
  • 1 piece stale white bread
  • ¼ cup heavy cream 
  • ¼ cup butter

Instructions 

Begin with the mise en place. Chop the calabaza and butternut squashes into approximately 1 inch cubes. Peel and chop the onions into roughly ½ inch pieces. Remove the stem and seeds from the bell pepper and chop into roughly ½ inch pieces. Cut the scallions and carrots into approximately 1 inch lengths. Peel and crush the cloves of garlic. The garlic does not have to be minced, just broken. 

Next, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the garlic, scallions, onions, and bell pepper; sauté, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened and the edges of the onion become translucent. At this point, add the squash, parsley, and carrots. If you want to make the dish spicy, add the scotch bonnet pepper as well. Cover the vegetables with 1 to 2 inches of water, and bring to a simmer. Continue cooking the vegetables until the squash and carrots are tender. Add the peas and cook until tender as well.  

Next, if used, carefully remove and discard the scotch bonnet pepper. Transfer the vegetables to a blender, and add enough cooking liquid to cover, and carefully puree. Be cautious, as the mixture will be incredibly hot. Once the vegetables have been reduced to a smooth consistency, add the white bread in small pieces through the feed port of the running blender. 

Transfer the pureed mixture into the pot with the remaining cooking liquid. Gently bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally until a desired thickness is achieved. A good measure is when it is able to coat the back of a spoon. 

Finally, add the heavy cream and mix. While constantly stirring, slowly add the butter, approximately ½ tablespoon at a time. Make sure the butter is fully incorporated into the mixture  before adding the next increment. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and enjoy! I hope this soup can bring you as much joy as it brings my family.

Cover photo courtesy of Love and Olive Oil

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Mucho Gusto

Anju’s Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

This is the fifty-fourth installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!

The tragic story of the cookie platter: the chocolate chip and the traditional sugar cookies are immediately devoured as the oatmeal lies at the periphery of our vision. Ultimately, the narrative is scripted with the sentiment that oatmeal cookies are an old crowd-pleaser that no longer carry the same adoration. When’s the last time you’ve heard someone at a dinner party say, “Finally, it’s time to bring out the oatmeal cookies”? 

So, speaking of oats, they’re easily accessible and heart-healthy, but are they also terribly out of date? Archaeologists propose that oats were cultivated around 4000 years ago, so it simply could be their time to dissipate from the culinary currents. However, a rejuvenation of oats appears to be far more likely to occur, illuminating that “vintage” can be appreciated once again.

If you subscribe to the food trends, you’ve seen coffee creamer be upgraded to oat milk, and traditional oatmeal finding itself revamped in the form of overnight oats. With the versatility of oats re-emerging in the spotlight as more than a forgotten, gooey breakfast meal, it raises the question, “When will be the time for the oatmeal cookie recipe to be refurbished?” Will the contemporary oat movement come to a halt for the cookie, or will the recipe be patched and reintroduced, becoming the new go-to when you have oats in the kitchen cabinet?

As my friend Anju gave to me, I am passing on this chocolate-cranberry oatmeal cookie recipe that promises to have oatmeal cookies competing for your indulgence. These oatmeal cookies will not be placed in Tupperware or forgotten as leftovers, but rather, will be the first picked off the plate. Of course, the cranberries can be substituted with raisins if you’d prefer to follow the more traditional oatmeal cookie route. However, the cranberries effectively capture the autumnal design that begs to be baked and enjoyed as Thanksgiving springs around the corner. This recipe will unapologetically take away from your supply of breakfast oats in a strategic turn for a delectable dessert. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon hot water
  • 12 ounces chocolate chips
  • ½ – 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375℉. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a larger bowl, cut the butter into 1-inch cubes and lightly warm in the microwave or, preferably, remove the butter from the refrigerator, allowing it to soften for 10 minutes at room temperature. If you choose to microwave the butter, be careful not to heat it for too long; you are looking for a soft but not melted consistency. Next, cream the butter with an electric mixer on its lowest speed setting or whisk by hand until you see the fluffy texture that is desired. Add in the granulated and brown sugar, eggs, and water, one at a time while stirring between additions. Be sure to mix the ingredients together thoroughly before bringing in the next steps. Then, add the ingredients left in your medium-sized bowl — the flour, baking soda, and salt —  to the rest of your prepared ingredients in the large bowl. Fold in the oats, chocolate chips, cranberries, and vanilla extract. The thick rolled oat flakes in adjacency to the chewy cranberries compete for delicious taste and texture in every bite. The suggested amount of dried cranberries is ½ – 1 cup as they can be added to fit your preferences. As you mix, be cognizant of having an even distribution of the dry ingredients in the batter. Then, roll the batter into 1-inch balls in the palm of your hand and evenly place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Once placed in the oven, bake for 8-10 minutes, and then allow time for them to cool. Enjoy!

Image courtesy of Modern Honey

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Mucho Gusto

Maya’s Seasonal Sage Pasta

This is the fifty-third installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!

Inspired by his father and Italian roots, my dad has always had a passion for gardening and growing his own food. In our apartment, my dad has his own unconventional tactic to accomplish this goal: a terrace full of little green plants—his very own garden. He grows basil and tomatoes among other fresh herbs and vegetables, filling our terrace with pleasant herbal scents and vibrant colors of ripe vegetables. His prized plants were always the herbs, which we use for dinners nightly. In the fall and winter, a sprinkle of fresh, home-grown sage makes all the difference.

Full of vitamins, with lots of nutritional value, sage comes in many types: culinary sage, garden sage, common sage, and dalmatian sage. Sage has a unique savory yet sweet, peppery flavor that heightens the flavor of many dishes. Native to the Mediterranean, sage has been considered an essential herb in Britain for generations. Due to its origins, sage often appears in European cuisine. However, we know from its use in American Thanksgiving stuffing, Chinese herbal teas, British casseroles and sausages, and as an accompaniment for French roasts and shellfish recipes, it is clear sage is a diverse herb- important to many cultures. 

In Italy, sage is an essential herb in many traditional dishes. Sage is critical when making Italian tomato and cream based sauces, as it adds a strong aroma and earthy flavor. Sage is the perfect herb to add a sophisticated, savory flavor to any dish. This green herb especially complements robust dishes involving pork, squash, and creamy pasta. Sage also pairs well with brown butter, forming an iconic combination perfect for indulgent pasta dinners. Thus, this Italian pasta recipe is the ideal recipe, combining these delectable ingredients. 

I’m sharing my dad’s recipe for sage pasta, where the brown butter sage sauce is the star. This dish involves warm, tender pumpkin ravioli deliciously coated in a flavorful, aromatic sauce. It is the perfect, cozy recipe for the fall weather.

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick high-quality European butter (Kerry Gold, for example, because there is less moisture in these, so they are richer), cut into small pieces
  • 1-2 handfuls walnuts or pecans, chopped
  • 15 fresh sage leaves 
  • ½-1 tablespoons cinnamon or nutmeg
  • Tortellini or ravioli, cheese-filled or pumpkin-filled
  • Freshly-grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pork sausage (optional)

Instructions:

Start by placing butter onto a pan, melting the pieces over low heat, stirring it occasionally to prevent hot spots. For best results, I recommend using a heavy pan, as it distributes the heat evenly. All the moisture will gradually evaporate from the butter, forming a brown buttery foam. Roast the nuts in the pan until they become golden. 

Next, add the sage to the pan. It is important to add the sage at the beginning of the cooking process so that its strong flavor becomes a staple to the recipe. Continue to stir the mixture for about five minutes. The sage should become crumbly and crispy. The key to ensuring the sage becomes crispy is to remove some of the sage from the butter, setting it aside until the very end so that you can add it as a crunchy garnish. That way, the sauce and the sage will share the same flavorful and aromatic elements. Now, add your choice of cinnamon or nutmeg removing the pan from heat. 

In a pot, boil water and cook the pasta of your choice for about six minutes or until it is al dente. We recommend a pumpkin ravioli to complement the seasonal flavor, but cheese-filled ones will be delicious as well. Remove the pasta from the water before adding it to the pan with the brown butter sauce. Give it a toss so that the brown butter brown sauce is evenly distributed.  

Now, it’s time to plate the dish!  Top the pasta off with some freshly grated parmesan cheese, fresh cracked pepper, and a few extra leaves of crispy sage. 

This particular dish tastes great with sausage if you want to add an extra savory touch. Due to the butterfat, it is rich and hearty, making it perfect for the cold weather. Enjoy this recipe with your loved ones on a cozy night in this season— it is the flavor of fall!

Cover photo courtesy of Maya Floreani.

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Mucho Gusto

Allison’s Chia Seed Pudding

This is the fifty-second installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!

When people first hear “chia,” they most immediately think of Chia Pets, the little figurines that grow chia sprouts to simulate fur (not very appetizing, right?). In their raw form, chia seeds are tiny, grainy, and crunchy black specs that are bland in flavor. They aren’t usually eaten by themselves, but can be used in a number of ways to enhance a dish, especially nutritionally!

Chia seeds originated with the Aztecs and Mayans in Central America, as the word “chia” is actually the ancient Mayan word for “strength.” The seeds come from the plant, salvia hispanica, which is in the mint family. Tiny and packed with nutrients from antioxidants to vitamins, chia seeds are also a great source of fiber and protein. Because of this, they are often used in many breakfast staples: thrown into smoothies or oatmeal, sprinkled on cereal, or baked into bread. Fun fact! Chia seeds also can absorb up to 12 times their weight in liquid because of their high soluble fiber content that produces a gel-like consistency. In combination with liquid, they can be used as an egg substitute or mixed with milk to make a pudding.

Chia pudding is one of my favorite go-to breakfasts. It takes 5 minutes at most to prepare and can often be made the night before. Creamy and thick with a gel-like texture, the chia seed pudding is refreshing, tasty, and packed with enough nutrients to give you lots of energy for the day. Like smoothies or oatmeal, there’s a variety of chia seed pudding recipes, and you can always add different flavors and toppings—cocoa powder, peanut butter, yogurt—to change it up. The recipe I’m sharing is a simple but yummy introduction to the chia world. Let the fun begin!

Ingredients: 

  • ½ cup milk of choice (almond, whole, oat, coconut)
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon honey 
  • Topping of choice (berries, fruit, granola, etc.)

Instructions:

First, pour the milk into a jar or container. I love using almond milk, but you can pick your favorite! Add the chia seeds and honey to the milk. Stir the mixture well before letting it settle for about 3 minutes. Stir the mixture again to break up the clumped seeds.

Cover the container with a lid, and place it in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight if possible. Two hours is just enough time for the chia seeds to absorb all the liquid. I usually make the chia seed pudding at night so I can have it for a quick breakfast the next morning.

After the allotted time, remove the container from the fridge. When the seeds absorb the liquid, they become soft, almost like tapioca pearls. The pudding should be nice and thick. If it is too liquidy, just add some more chia seeds, but make sure to always maintain the ½ cup to 2 tablespoon ratio of milk to chia seeds. Top the pudding with your favorite fruit. This recipe makes one serving. Enjoy! 

Cover photo courtesy of Allison Vuono

Categories
Mucho Gusto

Carol’s Sweet Potato Pie

This is the fifty-first installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!

No individual raised on American culture, especially in the Northeast, can fail to recognize the cultural cornerstone that is pumpkin spice. From the infamy of Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte, to its incorporation into every baked good conceivable, pumpkin spice has come to dominate autumnal culture. If you were to ask what the flavor of fall is, anyone born in the last century would respond with pumpkin spice. It is clearly inescapable, but where did this flavor—or flavors—come from? 

A mixture of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger, pumpkin spice was first mentioned in American cooking and baking in early 20th century recipes. It only became the commercialized product we know it to be in the 1950s when spice giants like McCormick began selling pre-mixed pumpkin spice. Considering the age and historical significance of all its respective components, pumpkin spice is a relatively new development; a look at its individual ingredients is where we will find the most insights into the history and cultural significance of its flavor. 

Photo courtesy of BBC

First mentioned in Chinese writings of 2800 BCE, cinnamon is derived from the bark of the Cinnamomum verum, or true cinnamon tree, which is native to Sri Lanka. Different languages and cultures developed different names for the spice based on its uses or growing patterns, but the name “cinnamon,” as it is referred to in English, is derived from the Arabic word ‘amomon,’ which means fragrant spice plants. Cinnamon began its major worldwide transitions to other regions such as South America and the West Indies in the 18th and 19th centuries. It can be grown in most tropical regions, making it a very versatile spice found throughout cultures worldwide. 

Cloves are the unopened flower buds of the evergreen Syzygium aromaticum, which is native to Maluku Islands of Indonesia. Unlike the other elements of pumpkin spice, cloves were relatively slow to spread to the rest of the world. Their cultivation was limited to certain countries, notably Zanzibar, which previously produced a majority of the cloves in the spice trade. 

Nutmeg comes from the seeds of the nutmeg fruit, which grows on the Myristica fragrans, an evergreen tree native to Banda. Nutmeg has an especially rich history; it was particularly significant to the Romans, who are thought to have discovered it and began using it around 1 CE. Much like the other spices in pumpkin spice, Nutmeg found its way to worldwide cultivation in the West Indies, South America, and other tropical and temperate regions. In the 13th and 14th centuries, like many spices, nutmeg was prized by the wealthy, particularly for its hallucinogenic properties. 

Ginger may be the oldest flavor in pumpkin spice. It is the root of the Zingiber officinale, a flowering plant originating from Southeast Asia. Ginger’s use in medicine means that it has seen widespread cultivation. It is mentioned in historical documents dating as far back as 5000 years ago in India and China, but ginger’s diversity means its specific origins are somewhat difficult to pinpoint.

The spices of pumpkin spice are diverse, each with a unique history, but they have still managed to come together in the past century to define our flavors of fall and winter. Their cultural omnipresence is undeniable, and sometimes polarizing. Critics of the pumpkin-spice-everything movement seemingly take up arms every fall season, fighting in zealous opposition of pumpkin, but the seasonal battle has yet to conclude. Although I cannot convert the critics or supporters of the pumpkin spice movement, I do have a recipe that may be able to appease both parties. 

My auntie Carol’s sweet potato pie has always been the household choice for enjoying autumnal flavor. It is sweet, rich and delightfully spiced. It is somewhat ironic that pumpkin spice goes into a pie that contains no pumpkin, but it’s a modification of the Southern staple that bridges the divide between pumpkin overload and the flavor of fall. 

This recipe will make two nine-inch pies. 

Ingredients

Crust (recipe adapted from foodwishes.com)

  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour 
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, frozen, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 8 tablespoons ice water

Filling

  • 6 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into approximately ½ inch pieces 
  • 2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or paste
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon 
  • A pinch salt
  • 1 ½ cups margarine
  • A pinch of nutmeg (optional)

Instructions: 

Begin by making the crust. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl or food processor, combine the salt and flour. Add the cold butter to the mixture and pulse until the mixture has a texture similar to that of wet sand. Alternatively, if mixing by hand, cut together the butter and flour with a fork until there are some pebbles of butter remaining and the texture has reached that of wet sand. 

Transfer the dough to a smooth, sizable work surface. Slowly add the ice water, periodically mixing by hand or with a bench scraper. You may not need to use all the water, so add it slowly. Be careful not to overwork the dough as it may result in a less tender final crust. Once the dough has reached a shaggy but cohesive texture, wrap in plastic wrap or place into an airtight container and move to the fridge until ready to use. 

Next, move on to the pie filling. Place the sweet potatoes into a pot and add cold water until all the potatoes are submerged. Bring the water to a simmer over medium high heat, and cook until fork tender. Drain the sweet potatoes in a colander and leave them to cool, then transfer them to a large mixing bowl and mash. Add sugar, vanilla, evaporated milk, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, salt, and margarine to the mashed sweet potatoes, and stir until the mixture is homogeneous.

Then comes the assembly process. Remove the dough from the fridge and divide into two equal halves. Flour your rolling pin and surface. Roll each half into a roughly circular sheet, approximately 1/16 of an inch thick and slightly larger than a 9-inch pie plate.

Drape a sheet of dough into each of your two ungreased pie dishes. Lift, drop, and press the dough so that it lines the walls and corners of the dishes. Trim excess dough from the edges and crimp, or press the dough’s edges into a pattern if desired. Dock or poke holes in the bottom of the dough with a fork or toothpick to prevent it from rising in the oven, then par-bake for approximately 10 minutes, or until the edges of the crust have turned a light blonde color. 

Evenly divide the filling between the two prepared pie dishes and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the surface of the pie has darkened slightly and the crust is golden brown. Carefully remove the pies from the oven and let them cool completely. If desired, sprinkle nutmeg atop the pie as a garnish. Cut a slice and enjoy!

Cover photo courtesy of Betty Crocker

Categories
Mucho Gusto

Lilly’s Blackened Fish Tacos

This is the fiftieth installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!

It is difficult not to derive a certain nostalgia from the last dish I made at home. Reminiscent of a fleeting moment, it whispers a reminder of summer’s finality. For me, it is a meal that is characterized not entirely by flavor, but by the company in the kitchen. A recipe rightly prepared in an organized symphony of the sizzling of fish and the mother-daughter banter over the adequate amount of sriracha. 

There is a distinct spirit of summer communicated through this dish. And so, I share this recipe with indescribable urgency as the influx of pumpkin spice begins to overwhelm the aisles of Trader Joe’s. It is in insistence to grasp the vanishing moment by your taste buds, to seize the peaches off of the shelves before it is too late. My recommendation is not to regard the calendar, but rather, to devour the last bite of August—even if it is already October.

Living on Cape Cod requires a tolerance for seafood. Ironically, I am a recent addition to the fish-eating crowd. What I’ve learned from each and every tourist-grab on the corner of this and that beach is the gravity of spices when it comes to preparation. Most of all, I can affirm—from personal experience—that wrapping seafood in a tortilla can persuade even the biggest fish skeptics.  

This fish taco recipe captures robust flavors in an impeccable pairing of textures. Blackened fish, peach salsa, and a drizzle of sriracha aioli compose an effortless unity of sweet, savory, and spicy that insists on your indulgence. 

Ingredients 

For Fish Tacos:

  • 1 1/2 lbs thick-cut fish (options include cod, halibut, mahi-mahi, or grouper)
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • Blackened seasoning (can be homemade or store-bought)
    • 3 teaspoons of smoked paprika
    • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
    • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon of cumin
    • 1 teaspoon of chili pepper
    • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
    • 1 teaspoon of adobo seasoning
  • 1/2 cup shredded red cabbage 
  • 1 cup spinach leaves 
  • 1/4 cup scallion, chopped 
  • 1 cup small tomatoes, halved 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For Peach Salsa:

  • 1 ripe peach, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons jalapeño, finely minced
  • Salt to taste

For Sriracha Aioli:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 to 1 fresh squeezed lime
  • 2 tablespoons of sriracha

Instructions:

In order to serve the fish hot off the stove, I recommend preparing the toppings first. To make the salsa, combine the peach, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, olive oil, and lime juice in a bowl. Mix the ingredients well and season to taste with salt. Then, cover and chill the salsa until ready to serve. Mango can also function as a substitute for the peach; its sweetness will also add balance to the spice of the jalapeño and sriracha aioli.

Next, place the shredded red cabbage, spinach leaves, scallions, and cherry tomatoes into small serving bowls to be set aside for additional toppings. For the sriracha aioli, mix the mayonnaise, lime juice, and sriracha together in a small bowl. The mayonnaise mellows the heat of the sriracha, and the amount you use can be adjusted to your spice preference. The lime adds flavor while liquifying the consistency of the thick mayonnaise, allowing the aioli to be lightly drizzled onto your taco. 

Cut your choice of fish into large, finger-length chunks to allow for more spice coverage, faster cooking, and an easier fit for the tacos. I prefer grouper, but any thick-cut fish, such as cod, halibut, or mahi-mahi will work. Once cut, generously coat all sides of the fish with the blackened seasoning and set aside. The spice blend can be easily store-bought or quickly-prepared in the combination of paprika, onion powder, sea salt, garlic powder, black pepper, cumin, chili pepper, cayenne pepper, and adobo seasoning. 

 In a large skillet, preferably cast iron, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Lightly swirl the olive oil to evenly coat the bottom of the skillet. As the olive oil starts to sizzle, place the fish in the skillet, and cook each piece for approximately 3 minutes per side or until the fish is completely cooked and significantly charred on the edges. 

While the fish is cooking, heat the tortillas in a non-stick skillet until warm and browning on the edges. Take the tortillas and fish off of the stove and place them on separate serving platters. Allow your guests to create the tacos to their liking, adding the peach salsa, fresh-cut produce, and spicy aioli as toppings and enjoy!