If by sea.

My seafood obsession¬†is well documented. If you were to do a search on this here blog, you will probably find that fish and/or seafood appear¬†more often than anything else. The Hubbz says I have the ocean(s) running through my veins and¬†I suppose he’s partly right. After all, I grew up with quick and easy access to the Atlantic and the Pacific and to all the goodness harnessed within their waters.

Yesterday I made my required stop by the Asian market, the one place in Houston where I know I will find seafood-a-plenty, all on display, glistening and fresh. I had to stop myself from buying everything I saw and craved, reminding myself of my limited freezer. I can almost imagine that is how those midnight shoppers feel when they go into the stores on Black Friday. Frantically going through the options and picking up marked down items to fill their carts.

This time, I’m going back to¬†one of my all-time-standbys: Al¬†Ajillo¬†(garlic sauce), with yet, another twist. The addition of cream to end up with a silky, creamy sauce. I also used cod fillets, instead of my usual snapper or red fish or shrimp. It was so good and super easy and¬†it came together in a snap. This will work with almost any fish, I even think it would be great to sub the fish with chicken or pork cutlets.

Cod in Creamy Garlic Sauce

1 lb cod fillets, seasoned with a sprinkling of salt and pepper
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cp onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/4 cp parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cp sherry or white wine
1/4 cp heavy cream

You will need to use a saute pan with a lid. On medium-high, heat the olive oil and butter until melted, then add the onions. Cook onions until translucent before adding the garlic, bay leaf and parsley, cook for 2 or 3 more minutes.


Bring the temperature to high and add the sherry, stirring constantly and allowing  the alcohol to cook down. Add the fillets, giving them a turn to make sure both sides enjoy the sauciness.

Allow them to cook for about 2 minutes per side (this may vary depending on thickness). Add the cream and swirl the pan around to distribute the cream evenly. Turn off the heat and cover with the lid, allow the steam and heat contained in the pan to continue cooking the fish.

Serve it over white rice or with steamed veggies.

Cookingly yours,


A trifecta of goodness

Have you ever rediscovered the value of something long forgotten? Reacquainted¬†yourself with an old friend? Isn’t it the best feeling in the world? I’ve had this little Panamanian cookbook for over 20 years–it has the wear, tear and stains to prove it–I think I’ve only pulled it out about 3 times a year for each year I’ve lived here. That’s like 60 uses in over 7,000 days! Crazy!

The cookbook is by Berta¬†de Pel√°ez, a well-known Panamanian cook and TV personality. She is Panama’s answer to Martha Stewart. I remember watching her show every morning with my Mami¬†and my sister. Later my sister and I would get in the kitchen and re-enact our own show. Me as Berta, my sis as Maria, the assistant. Fun times!

Can you imagine how silly I felt after finding this little recipe? It really is a trifecta of goodness: rice, shrimp, garlic. Queue choir chants: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH” Yes. It is that good. It is also incredibly easy to make and terribly quick. Did I say it was DELICIOUS? Because it was. Yep. To die.

It’s almost like a fried rice, except you fry the rice in butter (my adaptation, because butter makes everything bettah) and add a generous amount of garlic.¬†I had some leftover steamed rice from my delivery order of Chinese food, and that’s what I used. You could also make some fresh rice for this, but let it cool a bit before putting it all together. Ready? This is gonna go pretty fast!

Arroz al Ajillo (Garlic Rice)
adapted from El Arte de Cocinar

1/2 medium shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 tsp smoked paprika
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 cp bacon, diced
4 tbsp butter
3-5 garlic cloves, crushed
3 green onions, diced
3 cps rice, cooked

I opted to slice the shrimp in half, lengthwise. Not sure why, but that’s what I did. Season the shrimp with the paprika, salt and pepper and set aside.

In a medium-sized pan, cook the bacon¬† until crisp. Add the shrimp and cook them for a couple of minutes just until they don’t look translucent. Add 2/3 of the green onions. Remove the shrimp and bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the bacon fat behind.

In the same pan, add the butter, once melted add the garlic and give it a quick stir. Don’t let it burn. Add the rice and stir well to make sure it is all coated with the garlic butter. Incorporate the shrimp, toss and serve topped with the rest of the green onions.

How do you like THAT?!

Cookingly yours,

Sides on the side

I wanted to bring you more side dishes. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with the traditional stuff, believe you me, but sometimes change is good. At the very least, you should explore your possibilities. I’m just sayin’.

Let’s talk green beans. I love me some of that creamy green bean casserole. I look forward to it every year. But here are a couple of other ways to have the green things, and to make it even better, these can be made ahead. AND, they got that sabor latino going on. As a matter of fact, they’re improved by resting.

I’ll start you off with an adaptation of Rick Bayless’ recipe for Jalape√Īos en Escabeche. This one definitely needs to be made at least 1 day before you need to serve it. This will allow the vinegar to mellow and all the flavors to mellow.

Green Beans and Carrots Escabeche (Pickled Green Beans and Carrots)
adapted from Rick Bayless’ Mexico One Plate at a Time

1/3 cp oil (I combined extra virgin olive & vegetable)
10 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cps baby carrots
2 cps fresh green beans
4-8 serrano peppers, whole
1-1/2 cps cider vinegar
3 bay leaves
1 tsp Herbs d’Provence
1 tsp dry lavender
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat, then add the garlic. Allow the garlic to cook for about 3 minutes, making sure to turn them occasionally so they don’t turn brown. Next, add the carrots, green beans (I cut the beans to 2-inch pieces) and peppers. Keep stirring to coat the veggies and allow them to begin softening for about 5 minutes.

Stir in the vinegar, bay leaves, Herbs d’Provence, lavender, about 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tsp sugar, ground pepper and about 1-1/2 cps water. Allow it to come to a soft simmer, before loosely covering the pot. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Allow it cool before transferring to a non-aluminum container to refrigerate overnight.

As long as you keep them chilled, these will keep for well over a month.

Next, we are revisiting the Mojo. No, not the Austin Powers mojo, but Mojo Criollo. A few weeks ago I shared a recipe to use on yuca or potatoes. This time we’re following the basic recipe and adding some onions. Check it out.

Green Beans with Mojo Criollo

2/3 cp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cp red onions, sliced
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp white vinegar
Sea salt
1 tsp sugar
Fresh green beans, trimmed & blanched

To blanch the green beans: bring a pot of salted water to a boil, drop the green beans in the boiling water and allow them to cook for about 3-4 minutes. Drain and plunge the green beans in ice-cold water. This will stop them from cooking and will preserve the pretty green color.

Next, prepare the mojo. Heat up a small pan over medium temperature and add the minced garlic, make sure to stir it constantly to avoid burning it, about 1-2 minutes. Add the onions and cook until softened.

Once the onions have softened, add the lime juice and vinegar. Stir until well blended, then season with a bit of salt, black pepper and sugar. Allow it to cook for about 5 minutes over medium low temperature. Add the green beans and remove it from the heat.


You’re done. This one will work if made a day in advance. You can make the mojo the day before, then blanch the green beans just before serving. Or, you can make the whole thing the day before and just reheat when it’s dinner time.

For more food porn shots, click the link.
Cookingly yours,

One potato, two potatoes, YUCA!

I thought I would trick you into reading this one. It’s not so much tricking as it is deceiving. The truth is, yuca is the Latin Americans’ potato. Both are tubers. They have similar textures, although yuca is more fibrous. And they could probably be swapped out in most dishes.

Today I’m going to share with you two variations in the way we prepare yuca throughout Latin America. First, let me redirect you to a post from months ago. It walks you through the process of choosing, peeling and cooking yuca. Once you have that part done, then you can move on to one of these methods. Yuca con mojo is essentially a garlicky plate of yuca. Mojo is Latin-Caribbean sauce/dressing that is spooned over foods in Cuba and Puerto Rico, especially. The other variation would be Yuca Fries with Spicy Mayo-Ketchup dipping sauce. No real recipes here, just a bit of this and a pinch of that.

Yuca con Mojo

1 lb yuca, cooked and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp garlic puree
Sea salt
Juice of 1 lime
2/3 cp olive oil
1/2 cp fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped

Keep the yuca warm or prepare the mojo while they cook. Heat up a small pan over medium temperature and add the minced garlic, make sure to stir it constantly to avoid burning it. Once that garlic softens, add the garlic puree and lime juice. Stir until well blended and cook for about 5 minutes over medium low temperature. Add half of the parsley and season with salt. Remove it from the heat.

Drizzle over the warm yuca and serve with another sprinkling of parsley. YUM!

Yuca Fries with Spicy Mayo-Ketchup

1 lb yuca, parboiled and cut into thick fries
Vegetable oil for frying
Sea salt
1 cp real mayonnaise
1/4 cp Ketchup
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsps habanero hot sauce
1 tsp sugar

Fry the yuca in enough oil to cover them, make sure the yuca has had a chance to cool before frying. It will take about 5 minutes to fry them to a golden brown. In the meantime, combine the rest of the ingredients and whisk them together. Check the seasoning and add a bit of salt IF necessary. Don’t forget you’ll salt the yuca after it has fried.

Serve as dipping sauce for the fries. By the way, both of these sauces/dips go incredibly well with potatoes and plantains. You can see more hunger-inducing shots here.

Cookingly yours,

Change is good. Al Ajillo, revisited

They say only death and taxes are certain, I think change is too. Change is inevitable, it is necessary and, usually, beneficial. Change is how we know we’re living and not just alive.

My day job deals with change and I can tell you that, more often than not, people are reluctant to it. I can understand their feelings. Change can be scary and challenging, but I think it is a good way to keep us thinking and moving, experimenting.

When The Hubbz¬†and I were in Panama a few months ago, we ate lots and lots of really good food. One of our favorites was eating seafood in garlic sauce or al ajillo. You will usually see a white fish like corvina¬†(similar to white sea bass) dressed with this kind of sauce. YUM! I’ve made my own al ajillo¬†for years, but after our recent visit and dining fest, I’ve changed and tweaked the way I make it. Guess what? You get dibs too!

My New Al Ajillo (Garlic) Sauce

White onions, diced
Red bell pepper, diced
Garlic, crushed
Extra virgin olive oil
Sherry or white wine
Butter, cold
Italian parsley, finely chopped
Sea salt
White pepper
Fish fillets or shrimp

Salt & pepper the fish and set it aside. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat, then add the onions and bell pepper.

Cook these until softened before adding the crushed garlic.

Add the sherry or wine and deglaze the pan (remove the bits that caramelized at the bottom). Cook for about 3 minutes to allow the alcohol to burn out.

Add a few squares of cold butter and melt it into the sauce. This will help it thicken.  Check the seasoning and adjust the salt & pepper as necessary.

Add the fillets or shrimp, allowing them to brown on one side before flipping it over. Add half of the parsley before flipping the seafood and the rest once you’ve flipped them.¬†

Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid. Since I use an electric stove, I usually turn off the heat at this point and allow the fish to continue cooking in the steam caught inside the pan.

This is soooo good, I especially love it with white rice.

Cookingly yours,

PS: This sauce is awesome with chicken too!