Latin Cuisine: Tips and Recipes (cont.)
Another spice mixture is sofrito, which helps color and flavor rice, soup, and stew dishes with a yellow mixture of annatto seeds, onions, garlic, coriander, and peppers browned in olive oil.
"Many Puerto Rican dishes also use a saute of onion, tomato, and green bell pepper along with the sofrito," adds Mendez.
Beans and rice are popular. So are chicken with rice, meat pies, fried plantains, rice, and pigeon peas seasoned with smoked ham or bacon, meat or cheese turnovers called empanadillas, and all sorts of soups -- including chicken and rice soup, which often contains chunks of pumpkin, says Mendez.
Most parts of the pig are used in Puerto Rican cooking, and pork is the main event at most holiday tables and celebrations, be it barbecued pig, pork blood sausages, ham and pineapple, or smoked cutlets.
Puddings, including rice pudding, bread pudding, and coconut pudding, are a favorite treat. Flan (a type of firm custard) is also popular, along with cakes (rum cake, guava cake, banana cupcakes, sweet-potato cake), cookies, and tarts. Tropical fruits, including coconut, guava, papayas, and mangoes, abound on the island.
And let us not forget, Puerto Rico is the world's leading rum producer. So plenty of rum is used in recipes, too!
Cuban and Puerto Rican Recipes
Here are some recipes to get you cooking, Cuban and Puerto Rican-style.
Cuban-Style Black Beans
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal as 1/2 cup "starchy foods and legumes with 1 tsp fat maximum"
The authentic Cuban dish would not use canned beans, of course, but this is the easier way to go.
2 tablespoons olive oil
Yield: 6 side servings
Per serving: 148 calories, 7 g protein, 19 g carbohydrate, 5.5 g fat, 0.6 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 7 g fiber, 400 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 32%.
Latin Pork With Lime Marinade
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal one meat serving as 1 serving "lean meat and moderate fat meat with sauce or fried."
2 1/2-pound to 3-pound center-cut pork loin roast, trimmed of visible fat
Yield: 8 servings
Per serving (with a third of the marinade being absorbed): 246 calories, 34 g protein, 2 g carbohydrate, 10 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 93 mg cholesterol, 0 g fiber, 201 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 41%.
Pollo en Escabeche (Puerto Rican Chicken Appetizer)
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal one meat serving (does not include crackers) as 1 serving "lean meat and moderate fat meat with 1 tsp fat maximum."
You can cook the whole chicken yourself, but it is so much easier to buy the rotisserie or roasted chicken from the supermarket (or rotisserie). It will take just a few minutes to shred the chicken. Serve this chicken dish with crackers or sliced baguette bread.
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided use
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