Happy National Banana Bread Day


This is a recipe I made back in October using a Fall themed Williams-Sonoma mold. I’m pretty sure I used this recipe from the Food Network Kitchen.

Fun fact:  It was with the popularization of baking soda and baking powder in the 1930s that banana bread first became a standard feature of American cookbooks and appeared in Pillsbury’s 1933 Balanced Recipes cookbook. Banana bread later gained further acceptance with the release of the original Chiquita Banana’s Recipe Book in 1950.

What’s your favorite banana bread recipe?


My failed attempt at Arroz con Pollo

If you listen closely you can hear my husband complementing what seems to be an awesome pot of Arroz con Pollo. Little did he know that I was a little too adventurous and over zealous with my cooking and ruined 2 lbs of chicken thighs. But the expectation was set. Yikes!

For those of you that don’t know, Arroz con Pollo, is a traditional Latin American rice and chicken dish. And although seemingly simple to make, you have to get the right rice consistency and the spices/condiments have to be spot on. I over did it. I decided to go on one of my recipe hunting adventures on the internet and strayed from the traditional recipe. The overwhelming flavor (and aroma) of cumin turned everyone off. I was disappointed but completely agreed. It seemed more like an Indian cuisines dish than what we were all looking forward to experiencing.

This got me thinking about how we tend to overdo things in an attempt to impress our audience; to make sure the fruits of our labor result in a memorable experience. Why?

Everyone’s relationship to their audience is different.We must be mindful of what we are trying to accomplish and what is the exact message we are trying to communicate. Trying too hard will make us miss the mark and fog our opportunity to affect change and the way we/our services/our products/our food are perceived.

It’s about connection and relationships, if we over do it by over posting on social media, being too rigid in our views, or over seasoning our food, we run the risk of damaging those relationships. In my Arroz con Pollo example, I might have ruined the chances of my family ever wanting me to make it again. I ruined the relationship between them and a delicious dish I grew up with.

Listening to the feedback is of utmost importance. Doing it right always wins over doing more.

Asado Negro (a recipe)

This one means “Black Roast” and it’s another Venezuelan classic and, probably, my favorite. The name comes from the color the roast acquires. from being cooked in dark caramel

My sister Claire has always been the one to make it for our family. She’s adventurous, doesn’t mind the mess, and has her own way of doing it. It’s almost instinctual. So yesterday, I decided to be adventurous and found a recipe that seemed like something I could do and there would be no mess. This recipe is by Edgar Leal and I found it in an old post on The New York Times.

I followed all the steps but, again, made some minor changes. Instead of white sugar I used Florida Crystals Pure Sugar Cane, I left out the cilantro, and I pureed the vegetable to include them in the sauce (which I reduced a bit) while the roast rested.  For the wine, I used an open bottle of Ravenswood Zinfandel that I had from the night before

I am still working on learning how to take pictures as I go so that I can show my progress. In the meant time, I leave you with a photo of the final product served with white rice and steamed asparagus.

IMG_0560 2


Pan de Jamón (a recipe)

The literal translation of this Venezuelan Christmas classic is “Ham Bread”.  It, literally, is bread that has been stuffed or rolled with ham, olives, and raisins.

Even though I did not grow up celebrating Christmas, enjoying local and traditional dishes was part of the culture; part of being Venezuelan. For the last 8 years, while living in Miami, I had access to almost anything “Latin” I could think of due to the high concentration of Latin American population that, through the years, have established themselves along the coast of South Florida. So, finding Pan de Jamon, or any other classic wasn’t that difficult. It was just a matter of finding the vendor that had the best one.

This year, I am living in Chapel Hill, NC. Access to Latin American goodies is limited, to say the least. So I called one of my sisters and asked her if she thought it would be a big deal to ship me a couple. We were invited to a Christmas dinner at our neighbors, and we wanted to bring them this festive staple. My sister suggested that making it would be easier, more personal, and probably less expensive. I agreed.

My first attempt was a good practice run, but the result was not satisfactory. Definitely, not good enough to bring to our dinner party. I tried cutting the recipe in half while converting all the measuring units and I made mistakes with the dough. But I gained confidence and realized I could do it.

My second attempt was a complete success. The texture was perfect, and the flavors were there. For my successful attempt, I followed this recipe from What’s 4 Eats with a little personal touch to make it my own.

I made sure I sliced the olives and didn’t use too many of them. As long as the entire surface was evenly sprinkled with olives I was happy. As opposed to the raisins, which I think are amazing in the bread so I am less rigid with the amount I use. Make sure you follow their tip and plump the raisins by soaking them in water before you use them.

For the ham, I used Boar’s Head Smokemaster Beechwood Smoked, Black Forest Ham which I purchased at my grocery store deli counter. And my secret ingredient for the filling were the 4 strips of Trader Joe’s Apple Smoked Bacon that I laid, every few inches, on top of the ham (before the olives and raisins). It was amazing!

A very important thing to consider, which I learned with my first attempt, is that cooking times and/or temperatures can vary from oven to oven. I made my Pan de Jamón with the suggested temperature but cooked it only for 20 minutes.

Let me know if you make this and what you think!