Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy Holidays!!

I hope that everyone enjoyed their holidays. I know that we did. It was very low key but that's how I like it. I cooked dinner and spent Christmas Eve with Alberto, Stephanie, Eva, my father, my sister Kristina, my stepmother, my brother Fran and Alberto's daughter Julieta. This year Alex spent Christmas Eve with her father and I picked her up in the morning.

For dinner I made pernil (roasted pork shoulder) and arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas) and for dessert we had dulce de leche cheesecake. YUM!!!

The links above will bring you to the actual recipes I used. What I posted below reflect any changes that I made to any of the recipes.

Roast Pork Shoulder (Pernil al Horno)


1 bone-in, skin-on pork shoulder (mine was 7 1/2 lbs)

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp. minced garlic, or 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tsp. adobo with pepper

2 tsp. lemon juice

2 packets Sazon with coriander and annatto

1 tsp. oregano

¼ tsp. ground black pepper

1 tsp. salt


1. In a bowl, mix together the olive oil, garlic, adobo, lemon juice, sazon, oregano and black pepper; set aside.

2. Using a small, sharp knife, make a cut on the side of the roast where the skin meats the flesh. Continue cutting, separating the skin from the flesh, leaving one end of the skin attached. Using the knife, make ½” deep incisions in the flesh, under the skin. Place the pork on a tray. Using your hands, rub spice mixture over flesh, pushing some of the mixture into the cuts. Place the skin on top of meat; wipe the skin clean. Rub skin with salt. Cover tray with plastic wrap; transfer to refrigerator to marinate at least 4 hours, or overnight.

3. Heat oven to 350°F. Transfer pork, skin side-up, to roasting pan; bring to room temperature, about 1 hour. Pat skin dry. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil. Cook pork until meat is fork-tender and internal temperature registers 145°F, about 2 1/2 hours; discard foil. Increase oven to 450°F. Cook pork, uncovered, adding water in ¼ cup measures if pan becomes dry, until skin is brown and crisp, 20 - 35 minutes, checking pan every 10 minutes.

4. Transfer pork to cutting board; let rest 20 minutes. Remove skin and cut into pieces.

Crispy, Crunchy Chicharrón After cutting the skin off the pork, if you find the skin isn’t as crispy as you’d like, simply transfer it to a foil-lined baking sheet, increase the oven temperature to broil, and cook, rotating the pan once, until crisp, about 10 minutes. Then, discard foil and oil.

My verdict:
So freaking good!! Next time I will take more time in making slits in the meat and shoving more of the marinade inside and instead of marinading overnight I will do it for 2 nights.

Arroz con Gandules (Rice with Pigeon Peas)


  • 6 tbsp Goya Sofrito
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 packets of Sazon with coriander & annatto
  • 3 cups uncooked rice
  • 1 (15 ounce) cans pigeon peas, drained
  • 5 cups boiling water


  1. Place 3 tablespoons olive oil and 6 tablespoons sofrito in an 8 quart saucepan. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes to release oils.
  2. Pour one can of tomato sauce and the Spanish seasoning packet into the saucepan, mix well. Add 3 cups rice to the mixture and stir until the rice is coated.
  3. Stir pigeon peas into the mixture and add boiling water. Cover the pot with aluminum foil and a pot lid. Reduce heat to simmer and cook about 25 - 35 minutes or until rice is tender.
My verdict: It was good but a little bland. I think that next time I will season it with some Adobo. The original recipe called for 15 oz of tomato sauce but upon reading some reviews I decided to use 8 oz and I'm glad that I did. I also only used 1 can of pigeon peas because I only bought 1 can. I think it was fine. Also keep an eye on the rice. The original recipe says to cook for 45 minutes so I left the kitchen to put on my make up and the rice started to burn. Thankfully only the bottom was burned and it didn't affect the taste of the rest of the rice. Turn off the flame even if you still see a bit of liquid. Keep the lid on for a bit and it will absorb into the rice.

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake


1 pkg. (7 oz) Goya Maria cookies

1/2 cup butter, melted

4 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened

1 can (14 oz.) 50% less sugar sweetened condensed milk

4 eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

1 bottle (14 oz. – 15.8 oz.) dulce de leche, divided


1. Heat oven to 325ºF. Place cookies in bowl of food processor. Pulse 30 seconds, or until finely ground. (Or, place cookies in zip-top bag and using the bottom of a heavy skillet, pound cookies until finely crushed); transfer cookie crumbs to bowl (there should be about 2 cups). Add butter, stirring until combined. Transfer cookie mixture to 9” spring form pan. Using your fingers, press cookie crumbs evenly onto bottom and sides of pan. Bake until firm and fragrant, 7 – 10 minutes; cool.
2. In bowl of electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add condensed milk; beat until smooth, 1 minute. Beat in eggs, vanilla and 3 tbsp. dulce de leche until combined, 3 minutes. Pour filling into prepared crust. Bake until golden brown and set, but still wiggly in the middle, 45 – 55 minutes. Turn off oven; partially open oven door. Let cake sit in oven until room temperature, about 1 hour. Transfer cake to refrigerator; cool completely at least 4 hours.
3. Remove cheesecake from pan. Place remaining dulce de leche in zip-top bag. Using scissors, snip small hole in corner of bag. Applying even pressure on “pastry bag,” make swirly designs on top of cake; slice and serve.

My verdict: YUM, YUM YUM!! The only thing I did differently was to not add the dulce de leche on top. I cut the hole too big on the bag so I ended up just squirting some on the plate.

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