Bacalaitos Recipe

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(10 bacalaitos)

1/4 lb. bacalao filet
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/3 tsp. salt
3/4 cup bacalao broth
1tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. crushed garlic
oil for frying

Today we can buy processed bacalao that is not “dry” and does not need to soak overnight or boil for hours and hours. Make sure you get the soft bacalao that has been deboned. Sometimes it comes in a wooden box or in platics bags. They have it at some Walmart stores and Fiesta Grocery stores and many others.

Rinse the bacalao and tear into smaller pieces. Boil in plenty of water for about 20 minutes or so. Discard water and add fresh water and boil again for another 20 minutes. Let it cool in the water and save the water. Remove the bacalao and drain in a metal drainer and wait for it to cool down (save the broth). Once cool to the touch, tear the pieces into smaller little tiny pieces and set it aside. If you hold it between your fingers it separates itself.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and garlic. Add the broth and whisk. The mixture should look like pancake batter. Then add the drained bacalao and whisk again. DO NOT use an electric appliance to stir this stuff because the bacalao will become like fiber and you will end up with a matty mess that will have to be thrown away. I’m speaking from experience here. The batter should look like thin pancake batter. If too thick just add a bit more broth and whisk. If you put too much broth add a bit of flour – just a bit.

Spoon the batter by ½ cup fulls into hot oil. The bacalaitos should be fried over high heat turning only once. They should be golden on both sides. Drain on paper towels before serving. If they are getting too brown too fast lowe heat a bit.

Any extra fish or batter may be refrigerated for a few days or frozen for later use. Remember that this recipe is only for about 10 bacalaitos – so multiply if you must.

Dinner & The Golden Globes Best Picture Nominee Review

With the Golden Globes on Sunday here is a quick breakdown of the best picture category of the diverse films nominated:

Lightstorm Entertainment; Twentieth Century Fox

The Movie: Avatar is perhaps one of the greatest technical films in cinematic history and has racked up the box office numbers to become the second highest grossing film in history. James Cameron proves that he is a true visionary by turning in a breathtaking film. Avatar is a contender, but due to script issues it could end up on the outside looking in.

The Dinner: Zoe Saldana, Avatar’s star, hails from Puerto Rico. Serve someCrunchy cod fritters) or empanadillas (turnovers with lobster, crab or beef) to sample some of the great cuisine.


Up In The Air
Paramount Pictures; Paramount Pictures

Its strange to say that Up in the Air is a dark horse, but with a unfamiliarly brilliant mix of comedy and drama Up in the Air could either be hailed as a film of the moment and steal the Golden Globe, or it could be slammed as opportunistic and be passed over. Either way it has solid performances and a script that will make you laugh and think at the same time.

The Dinner: Have a cheese tasting session with a good pairing wine to experience a bit of Wisconsin, George Clooney’s character’s home.

The Hurt Locker
Voltage Pictures; Summit Entertainment

The Movie: Directed by Katheryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker is an in depth look at one of the most intense jobs in the War on Terror: Bomb defusing. The Film features Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie in a very intense ride through a tour in Iraq. Look for The Hurt Locker to win if the Hollywood Foreign Press can get around the public perception of current war films.

The Dinner: While C-Rations would be fitting, try serving a skewer with either beef or lamb along with some hummus and flatbread.

Inglorious Bastards/Brad Pitt

Inglourious Basterds
The Weinstein Company/Universal Pictures/A Band Apart/Zehnte Babelsberg GmbH Production; The Weinstein Company/Universal Pictures

The Movie: Quentin Tarantino delivers a film that was in the making allegedly as long as Avatar, however with Basterds Tarantino capitalizes on his skills as a writer and creates a taut film that utilizes every character and actor fully. Its hard to say if the Hollywood Foreign Press will vote for this film over Hurt Locker, but its hard to count Tarantino out of anything when he’s crafted such a great film.

The Dinner: Try Knockwurst and saurkrat paired with a great German Beer like a Krombacher or Beck’s.

Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire
A Lee Daniels Entertainment / Smokewood Entertainment Group Production; Lionsgate

The Movie: Precious burst onto the scene at Sundance and between its presenters (Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry) and its strong box office run it isn’t hard to say Precious is a strong contender. With recent festival wins and strong performances from Mariah Carey, Moniqiue, and Paula Patton you can’t count out this indie film that could.

The Dinner: After a well crafted but tough film to watch, cut and serve a slice of New York Cheesecake to cheer your party up a bit.

Review by Michael Fusco, MCCN Movie Critic

Pastelillos de Carne Recipe

Pastelillos de carne before cooking reduced

 These Photos are complimentary of MCCN host Erika L. Holmes.  In a previous article she shared about her Panarican(Puerto Rican and Panamanian) roots.  Now, shifting emphasis to the cooking of her Puerto Rican mom, Erika snaps some photos of her mom in action.  The recipe below is from The Valley Table Magazine.  We are working on getting’s Erika’s mom’s recipe.     

  • Ingredients: Filling
    1 pound meat (The pork we use for the pastelillos is usually left over from a roast loin of pork. Dice the meat into small bits, then add to the sauteing sofrito and tomato sauce. If starting from scratch, choose 2 to 3 pounds of lean pork chops and saute on the stove top with sofrito and tomato sauce. When cooked, cut the meat from the bone, chop up into small cubes and return the meat to the sofrito. Some people chose ground beef, or ground poultry meat, for ease of cooking. Pastelillos using pork, or seafood (crab, lobster or shrimp, diced-the fillings used in Puerto Rican coastal towns) are preferred and are more traditional.)
    Sofrito for filling
    1 medium bell pepper, seeded and chopped
    1 small onion, finely chopped
    1 clove garlic, finely minced
    4 ounces tomato sauce (1/2 can)
    pinch of oregano
    salt and pepper to taste
    2 tablespoons of olive oil for saut?ing

Ingredients: Dough
3 cups all-purpose white flour
12 tablespoons softened butter
4 tablespoons water to add to flour
1/2 bottle of vegetable oil for frying
pinch of salt     

Serving: approximately (2) dozen pastelillos

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet (preferably cast iron). Saute onions, peppers and garlic until soft.
2. Add meat and tomato sauce to the pot. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes. When cooked, remove from heat and let cool.
3. To prepare the dough, cut the flour and softened butter together in a large bowl, then add small amounts of water slowly, working the mixture with your hands to a soft consistency (the flour should be moist, but not wet).
4. Break off fist-sized pieces of the dough; using a well-floured rolling pin on a well-floured surface, roll out each portion into a 1/8-inch-thin circular disk. (Have extra flour on hand to dust the rolling pin and your hands as needed.) Using a small (4-inch) plate as your guide, trim edges.
5. Place about 1 to 2 tablespoons of the filling onto one side of each disk.
6. Fold the disk in half over filling; press edges down firmly with the tines of a fork so that no filling will leak into the oil. Before frying, lay the pastelillos flat on floured wax paper, a few inches apart, to prevent sticking.
7. Deep-fry each pastelillo in hot (375F) vegetable oil until golden (about 4 to 5 minutes on each side). Remove and drain on paper towel. (Or burn your mouth on a hot one!) Serve with white rice and beans, or a good calderone of arroz con gondures (rice with pigeon peas).     

Pastelillos de carne reduced- Photo by Erika L. Holmes

 Find out about Erika L. Holmes:

Arroz Con Gandules Recipe

(Photo credit: Black_Cherry at Photo bucket)


¾ pounds raw green pigeon peas
3 cups water (used to precook the green pigeon peas)
2 cups white rice
2 ounces diced smoked ham
2 tablespoons corn oil
½ cup sofrito
¼ cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon salt

For soaking the green pigeon peas:
1 quart water
2 teaspoons salt

  1. Rinse the rice well and set aside.
  2. Soak the raw green pigeon peas in 1 quart of water and 2 teaspoons of salt for about 15 minutes.
  3. Rinse them and cook in 4 cups of water until they have softened. (TIP)
  4. In a 4 quart cooking pan, add the oil and smoked ham and simmer over moderate heat for about 3 minutes while stirring.
  5. Add the sofrito and tomato sauce and simmer for another 3 minutes while continuing to stir.
  6. Turn up the heat to moderate high and add 2 tablespoons of the water that was set aside and the green pigeon peas. Simmer for 3 minutes while continuing to stir.
  7. Raise the heat to high and add the water that was set aside. Once the water boils, add the rice.
  8. Mix all the items well. Once the water starts to boil again, reduce the heat to moderate high and cook uncovered until most of the water has evaporated.
  9. Reduce the heat to low, stir the rice again, then cover the pot with aluminum foil and put the lid on.
  10. Cook for 15 minutes. Stir the rice and continue to cook until done. Sample the rice to see if it is done. It should be soft to chew. Makes approximately 6 servings.
  • On some (picky) electric stoves like mine, it is better to cook at a warm temperature rather than low. It takes a little longer but worth the wait.
  • Enjoy it. Let me know how it turned out.
Tips From The Rican Chef
  • If you want to know when the green pigeon peas are done, test them by picking up one pea in a spoon and squeezing it between 2 fingers.

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