Thursday, June 30, 2011

All BBQ (part Uno)

Today I’m super excited and happy for various reasons, first my darling friend Marnely Rodriguez from cooking with books is celebrating her 100th blog post, so after you are done here check out her especial post by clicking her name!

And secondly, I’m excited because we are just a couple of days away from the 4th of July! And that could only mean one thing, BARBECUING baby!

And it doesn’t matter if you are celebrating independence day or not (so don’t get jealous my fellow Dominicans) it's all about enjoying this lovely weather and getting to soak up the sun while having your friends over and getting that grill going! So starting today I’m doing a 2 day post series of BBQ tips on how to get ready for the big day. So lets get started!


Charcoal. Make sure you get real natural coals that look like they came from an actual tree, they burn faster and last longer then those almost plastic self burning ones. You want your food to taste like it was grilled not like chemicals.

Smokey yummy flavor. If you are a smoked flavor lover like me get wood chips like mesquite, apple and other popular woods that are going to add a beautiful smoked flavor to your meats. You can also use herb stems to aromatize.

Condition it before using it. Take a minute and make sure your grill is clean. Take old ash out so it doesn’t come out flying off when you start a new fire, wash and scrape off the rods of your grill so there’s no old food residues. After it dries use a rolled up cloth soaked with oil and pass it trough the rods to lubricate them.
Also have in mind soaking wooden skewers if you are thinking of using them, this is going to prevent them from catching fire.

Get your tools out. Be sure to have: a long handle tong, platters, a big metal spatula, a brush; these are all must haves to be able to handle the grill.

Temp up. Lets face it, not all of us are grill masters, so be sure to get a thermometer to measure the right temp for the different meats and terms. Go to to learn about the right temps.

Grill up. Once the fire is on, make sure to identify your cooking zones. This means finding those really hot spots you can mark and sear your meats, and those less hot for slow cooking (or finishing cooking) meats as for holding them hot too.
Its also good to set zones for all the different types of meat you are grilling so they don’t carry undesirable flavors.

Heat it up. Once the fire is on let your grill get as hot as possible. The hotter the grill the less of the items you grill are going to stick to the rods. Already hot, separate the coals with the help of tongs to spread the fire around.

Well guys how are all these tips for starters! Although I wanted to given them all away today, I have to continue tomorrow.  In our 2nd part of this bbq series of posts, were we are going to talk about the best cuts of meat to use when grilling, best seasonings spices, marinated recipes, and more fun tips for you to have the best barbecue weekend ever!

I'll leave you with this one tip so you come back tomorrow looking for more!

Season up. When it comes to seasoning I am old school, I like using salt and pepper. Use coarse salt before and after meat is done. Fresh ground pepper is perfect to give that spicy and crunch bite to your favorite cuts of meat. Make sure you season your meat even if you marinaded them all night... but more about that tomorrow.

‘till next time

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Ice Ice Baby

As summer started I quickly noticed a trend on food blogs and websites, every writer/cook was desperately searching to satisfy their readers need to cool down and beat the heat. They searched for an easy, homemade possible, refreshing item…Granitas.

This delicious ice is made out of natural juices and it can be complemented with different herbs and spices to enhance fruits natural flavor.

Frozen natural juices were first refined by the Italians in the 17 century, but it all started as way for the Arabic to beat the summer heat.

Today we are going to follow this summer trend by making an exotic and “hot” granita. What do you say about a passion fruit, basil, chili granita….yep I said YUM too!

You’ll be needing:
Fresh passion fruit pulp
Fresh basil leafs
A very small (tiny) piece of a hot green chili
**we are not looking for the granita to be spicy, we just want your palate to find it at the end of every spoonful


Put all the ingredients into a blender and mix. After, pass through a strainer and pour into a aluminum or any metal container and freeze. This is going to help the granita solidify faster as these materials transfer the cold temperature faster.
Every hour or so go back to your freezer and with the help of a fork break the ice that has formed, repeat until the granita has completely frozen. This last process is optional but important because its going to help break into smaller pieces the ice crystals that have form, making your granita easier to eat and enjoy at the end.


Now your granita is ready to be enjoyed. When serving, dare to decorate it with herbs used for savory dishes like I did in mine with cilantro. It makes it look different and tastes great!

As you start eating your granita you are going to notice that the spicy hint found in your mouth at the end is going to help prolong the cold sensation in your mouth! Exciting, right?!

Hope you all have a great weekend
‘till next time

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mango Madness!

Today I am celebrating summer and one of the seasons most delicious fruits, MANGO! A group of my blogger friends and I decided to make a mango madness celebration by posting recipes with mango as the main ingredient.

I have two mango trees in my backyard and I eat them everyday all summer long, so I couldn’t resist to make just one recipe. To follow the cooking basics needed to be posted, today we are making a delicious tropical mango dressing so that way we can learn about emulsions, but I am also sharing with you my mango relish recipe perfect for those grilled items we love during the summer season.

What is an emulsion? Well is the marriage between water and oil, two liquids that don’t mix together.
When you emulsify you are forcing together little drops of water and little molecules of oil by mixing or blending very fast. And this is exactly what we are doing for our mango dressing.

You’ll be needing:
1 big ripe mango
1 clove of garlic, peeled
½ cup of Olive Oil
Pepper to taste or if you are like me that loves everything spicy ½ a hot pepper

The first thing we need is mango juice as concentrated as possible, so if you have a juicer go ahead peel the mango and juice away. If you are using a blender peel and chop the mango and blend. Add water if needed but remember that we need the juice to be concentrated and thick. After pass it through a strainer so we end up with a nice and smooth dressing at the end.
Pour the juice, garlic, salt and pepper in a blender and blend. While still blending start adding the olive oil slowly. Feel free to add more olive oil, but just keep in mind that you are looking for dressing consistency.
Now your mango dressing is ready! Serve this with your favorite salad! I personally love sweet dressings like this one with a baby arugula and parmesan cheese salad! YUM! The sweetness of the mango goes great with the tartness of the arugula.

Now that we have the dressing ready lets continue with our mango madness party!


I loveee relishes they go perfectly with grilled meats, mixed up with rice, on top of crostinis and with just about all the foods we love to eat in spring and summer. Its because relishes are refreshing and fruity.
Today we are going to make one that is going to turn your summer around!

1 big NOT TOTALLY RIPE mango, peeled and small dice
1 small white onion, peeled and small dice
1 hot pepper, seeded and chopped
½ a bunch of cilantro, chopped
The juice of one lime
Olive Oil

This is easy and fast to make. Just mix all the ingredients together season with the lime juice and salt. Finish by drizzling olive oil. This relish is ready to be eaten!

Well guys I hope you had as much fun as I did today in our mango madness party!
If you are looking for more mango fun you definitely have to visit my blogger friends pages and sites. Trust me when I say you are going to LOVE IT! So go surf away!
Here are the names of my friends, just click on them so you can continue enjoying our mango madness party!




'till next time

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Perfect Summer Soup

Some people love soup, no matter what season. Take for example my mom she makes soup every week regardless the hot Dominican weather. Me not so much I like my soup according to the weather !

Since I am trying to start my blog from cooking basics and soup is definitely basic I though….well how about summer soups! Delicious, refreshing and easy. I’m talking about very Mediterranean cold soups!
Today we are going to be making Spanish Gazpacho also called salmorejo. This colorful summer dish can be served either as a cold soup or as a refreshment.

Made out of basic Spanish ingredients such as fresh plump tomatoes, garlic and olive oil, this was originally used as a way to recycle old bread by the Spaniards.

One of my favorite Gazpacho recipes of all time is this one from my little precious book Classic Spanish Cooking by Elisabeth Luard. Here it goes.

2 slices day-old bread
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small cucumber or half a large one peeled and roughly chopped
2 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, chopped (peeled and with no seeds)
1 red bell pepper roughly chopped (cored, no seeds)
Salt to taste
Pinch of sugar

Start by soaking the bread in a little cold water (about 2 tablespoons) also adding the vinegar and garlic.
Pour the soaked bread and the reaming ingredients into a blender and blend. Depending how you are serving it you want to add water until the right consistency, thicker for soup or thinner as refreshment.
Taste for salt and adjust if needed.
Now your traditional Spanish Gazpacho is ready!

Transfer to a container or pitcher and refrigerate for 2-3 hours to make sure it chills.
**tip: don’t put ice in it to make it get colder faster this would just diluted and make it taste like your refrigerator.

Wonder how to serve it? well straight out of the refrigerator to the bowl if serving as a soup or short glass if serving it as a refreshment. You can accompany it with freshly toasted crostinis drizzled with olive oil and thinly sliced jamon Serrano.

If you have any questions, want a recipe or tips for an specific soup just leave a comment and Ill gladly help you.
Hope you enjoy it as I am going to.
Till next time,

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Kitchen Essentials

You want to cook! You want to make delicious recipes! you want to master that space in your house that you so often run away from!... well let's do it!

The first thing first. Let’s check if you have the essential kitchen tools and utensils, things that you cant be missing from your cocina. Below is a handy list I have prepare for you with the kitchen must haves. What Ill recommend is for you to print out this list and start checking off to see what you are missing.

Chef KnifeThe most essential of them all.
If you are going to invest good money in any tool this should be it. Working with a sharp good quality knife is going to help you cut and work faster around all the different kinds of produce and meats. Check around specialized stores and ask for help so you pick the ideal one for you.

Paring KnifeA handy tool for small tasks. My favorite brand is Kuhn Rikon very popular around chefs and cooks because they are affordable and durable.

Swivel bladed peelersA time saver when you are peeling produce and very important when it comes to your hands and fingers safety.

Cutting BoardWell you need a safe surface when using your knives right?! a bamboo cutting board is it! They are made out of different materials but bamboo ones are the most durable and hygienic choice.

SpatulasRubber spatulas are efficient and helpful when pouring, mixing, turning, spreading, scraping.... etc. Having two different types is key; a rubber spatula for cold or room temperature foods and a heat resistant one when handling hot foods. To learn more about spatulas and their use check out Ode to Rubber Spatula by Marnely Rodriguez

StrainerEverybody has their pet peeves, well mine is passing everything through a strainer! Its because strainers are MAGICAL! They can take a lumpy sauce or puree and turn it around making it nice and velvety. Plus its other basic uses of course hahaha...

Measuring cups and spoonsWhen following recipes is good to be accurate and measure everything. A slight change of measurement in an ingredient can misbalance the whole end product specially when baking.

WhiskUse to whisk, blend and whip whip whip away! Important when making sauces, foams and others.

Rolling pinHey we are also going to be baking here you know! so make sure you have one to roll out the delicious dough’s we are going to be baking.

BlenderYou might already have one but this is a handy tool when pureeing, so keep it in good shape!

Other things that you should keep in mind and check around for are: a sharpening stone or steel to keep your knives sharp, you risk more using a dull knife then a sharp one. Also check for pots, pans and sauce pans and a thermometer.

That’s the list for now hope you get your engine started with this!
'till next time

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hello World!

I am Francys Sandoval, a young professional chef from Dominican Republic who is dying to share all her knowledge and secrets with you!
So come and join me on this journey, read and learn about kitchen basics while testing delicious recipes so the kitchen becomes your favorite place