Once you go black…

Well, you know what they say. That statement is definitely accurate when it refers to plantains. Yes, you heard me right. Plantains. More specifically, ripe plantains. The darker the skin on the plantain, the sweeter it will be.

If you¬†were to purchase plantains and allow them to ripen at home, it would take about 7-9 days to get them to that dark dar stage. Now, mind you, you don’t want them to be mushy. They should feel¬†the same way a ripe avocado does. Soft and springy, not mushy. When you fry up plantains into tajadas using very ripe ones, you end up with this kind of caramelization. Heavenly!

Plantains are very versatile. And this recipe may be just the thing you’ve been looking for to spice up your Thanksgiving table. Side dishes around the world can be similar, even when prepared¬†with very different ingredients. Pl√°tanos¬†en Tentaci√≥n (loosely translates to tempting plantains) are a popular side dish in Panama, present on every party and holiday table.

If you’re bored with traditional sweet potatoes or just want to introduce your loved ones to something exotic, you should bring home the tropics with this traditional dish.

Plátanos en tentación (Glazed plantains)

2 ripe plantains (best if peel is dark brown-to black)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter

Peel the plantains and slice them in half, lengthwise. Then cut the halves into pieces about 2-inches long.

Place the plantain pieces into a medium-sized skillet (about 12-inches), then sprinkle the sugar, cinnamon, salt over the plantains.

Divide the butter into 4 pieces and drop it in the skillet. Cover the plantains with water, this will take about 2 cups of water, add the vanilla.

Bring it to a soft boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to make sure the sugar dissolves. Allow it to cook until the water evaporates, about 20 minutes.

Once the water has dried, the plantains will begin to caramelize in the residual syrup. Reduce the temperature to low, and turn the plantain pieces a few times to make sure they brown evenly. Serve warm. These can be made ahead and reheated before serving.

For additional delicious shots, click here.

Cookingly yours,

Why did the chicken cross the street?

For some beer!

OK, I have to admit I don’t quite get the chicken jokes. Or the knock-knock ones, must have something to do with cultural differences, but I had to give it a try. I’m supposed to always use a catchy title, not that I think this one was, but I’m trying.

A few days ago, Tyler Florence was making the ultimate Coq au Vin and it looked amazing as most of his ultimate dishes do. So I started thinking how I could bring it to Latin territory and this is what I came up with. Coq au Biere: Chicken in beer. This was oh so delicioso! It got better day after day; day 1 was awesome, but day 3 was beyond words.

I really liked the way the beer just mellowed out and became earthy, smoky and slightly sweet as it cooked into the sauce. I originally served it with very ripe, fried plantains or tajadas. I wanted to compliment the flavors of the chicken and beer with the sweetness of the plantains. On days 2 & 3 I served it with white rice to really benefit from the flavors in the sauce. I hope you will give this one a try, it is pretty easy to put together.

Chicken in Beer

8-10 chicken thighs
All purpose flour (for dredging)
2 tsp sea salt
1-1/2 tsp black pepper
2 cloves garlic, pureed
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3-4 Spaish chorizo links, sliced (or bacon)
2 cps onions, chopped
2 cps mushrooms
2 cps carrots, chopped
1/4 cp sherry or white wine
1 bottle medium dark ale (like Negra Modelo, Shiner)
2 cps fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp herbs de Provence

Season the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic puree, set aside. Combine flour with a pinch of salt and pepper and use it to coat/dredge the chicken pieces. Reserve 1-2 tbsp of the flour. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium high heat and brown the chicken pieces on both sides. Set aside.

Remove the excess oil and cook the chorizo in the same skillet. Then add the onions, cooking until softened. Add the mushrooms and carrots, and allow to cook until the vegetables have softened. Add the cilantro and Herbs d’Provence, once mixed in, add the reserved flour and allow it to cook for a couple of minutes.

Pour the sherry and allow it to cook down over high heat. Then stir in the beer and broth.

When the beer is well blended, add the chicken pieces and any juices that drained from the chicken. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour. Remove the lid and continue to simmer for 15 minutes to allow the sauce to reduce a bit.

That’s it! Serve with fried tajadas and or rice.

Cookingly yours,

Flashback Friday

There is a post I’ve been wanting to bump to the front. It was one I did on the very early days of Chef It Yourself. It was kinda funny to go back and look at the way it was formatted. I’ve come a long way, baby.

Anydoo. There are several things about that post that I was, and still am, quite proud of. Good pictures, good content, good how-to directions for one of the most popular bites of Latin Caribbean cuisine. A staple really. Can be found all along the Caribbean islands, on to Panama, Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador. As incredibly delicious and easy to make as these are, they seem daunting and intimidating if you’re not familiar with the main ingredient.

Since I’m not savvy enough to figure out how to bring that original post into this screen, I’m going to ask you to follow the link. The original post was titled Cut & Smash. I really hope you’ll like it as much as I do. I give you….drum-roll….. PATACONES!


Go forth and smash!

Cookingly yours,

Bistec Encebollado (Smothered Beef)

This is a popular dish in Panama, you’ll often see it served for breakfast with a fried egg–then it becomes Bistec¬†a Caballo. Caballo is a horse and I have NO idea why the mention of a horse is necessary, but I don’t make up the names, I¬†just eat the food.

The beef used for this is  a cheap cut, no fancy meats and it is then drizzled with pan juices. For breakfast, this will be accompanied by hojaldas or tortillas, otherwise, white rice and tajadas are the right companions.

I’ve improved the dish by cooking the beef a to medium rare and because The Hubbz¬†needs a bit of gravy/sauce, I added pureed tomatoes to maximize the pan juices. This is not a recipe, there’s no need for one, what I’m offering is a step-by-step guide. Adjust as necessary.

Bistec Encebollado

You will need:
About 1 lb beef round tip
Sea salt
Black pepper
Crushed garlic
Olive oil
Fresh tomatoes
Crushed tomatoes

I used slices of round tip, about 1 lb of filets 1/2-inch thick. I took a mallet to them to make the slices uniform and to tenderize it a bit. I ended up with slices that were about 1/4-inch thick and cut them into medallions that were about the size of my palm.

Season with salt, black pepper, crushed garlic, oregano and olive oil. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Slice 2-3 medium onions, if you like onions, you can’t have too many. Slice them into rings about 1/4-inch thick. You will also need 1/2 a red bell pepper diced. Substitute with green pepper¬†if you can’t get your hands on red or skip it all together. Remove the seeds from a¬†Roma tomatoes and dice finely.

In a large skillet, heat about 3 tbsp of olive oil and add the onions, cooking them until they start to become translucent, then add the bell peppers. Cook for a couple of minutes before adding the tomatoes and 1-2 tsps of white vinegar. Cover and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Allow the oil to drain, remove from the skillet.

Heat the skillet and oil, brown the medallions in batches. Make sure not to crowd them or you’ll end up boiling them instead of searing. Cook them to the desired doneness, remove and keep warm until all the beef is browned.

Return the onion mixture to the skillet, add a bit of liquid (wine, sherry, beer, stock, water) to loosen the bits before adding about 1 cp of crushed tomatoes. Adjust seasoning, allow it to cook for about 3 minutes, then add the slices of beef turning them into the sauce. Turn off the heat.

Serve with rice and tajadas.


Cookingly yours,


Did I mention I love entertaining? I do! I like all of it. The planning, the set up, the preping, then hanging out with people you love. T’is the season for entertaining, for potluck luncheons and parties galore, so I thought I’d share some of my favorites. These are easy recipes, most of them simply jazz up store-bought items, some are completely homemade but still easy.

This spread was for a ladies’ late brunch. I asked a few friends to clean out their closets and bring some office attire for donation to Dress for Success, in exchange for some food and girl time. Needless to say, we had a great time, eating, sharing, dishing and drinking! Take a look at the pictures and follow the links for the recipes.

I hosted this at my little place, see the before and after?


and… AFTER

What was on the menu, you ask?

Avocado Bleu Cheese Dip

Beef Empanadas

Plantain Chips with Guava Chimichurri


Mini Mexican Cornbread

Don’t be shy. Pull up your address book and start sending your evites!