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.

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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!



I thought my son would be a professional rubber-necker

While driving in the car with my son, I had to give way to an ambulance that was headed just a couple of blocks ahead of where we were. There had been an accident. No one was hurt, but I was able to infer that a cyclist had been hit by a car; a Jeep Liberty to be precise. As we drove past the accident my son stated that he, and i quote, LOVES seeing accidents. I needed to understand why, and so I asked. His explanation made sense, he said the accidents made him ask questions and therefore he learned new things. He said he found it ‘interesting’. It was then and there that I said, oh no, he’ll be one of those. He’ll be the cause of so many episodes of road rage. He’ll make people late. He’ll be a professional rubber necker.

I needed some piece of mind. I asked if he wanted to work on an ambulance. I was promptly reminded that his desire to be an astronaut hasn’t changed, and that I shouldn’t worry about missing him because perhaps we’d be able to communicate while he’s on a mission to the moon. He said that, maybe, I could track him on my computer the same way we track Santa. At the very least, I should be excited to hear everything he would have to tell me about the journey and the moon when he returns.

My son is a dreamer. My son feels that he can be whatever he wants to be. My son is confident and persistent. My son will achieve anything he sets his mind on. So what if he causes a bit of traffic? Today, I am a happy momma.

I couldn’t agree more

I’m a philosophy professor.”
”If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?”
”Never make an exception of yourself.”
”What does that mean?”
”People like to make exceptions of themselves. They hold other people to moral codes that they aren’t willing to follow themselves. For example, people tend to think that if they tell a lie, it’s because it was absolutely necessary. But if someone else tells a lie, it means they’re dishonest. So never make an exception of yourself. If you’re a thief, don’t complain about being robbed.”

— Humans of New York