Saturday, March 12, 2011

Puerto Rican Kitchen Essentials

If you go into the kitchen of a Puerto Rican person whether they live in San Juan, New York, Chicago or Florida, there are 10 items you will find in every one of those kitchens. You can't cook Puerto Rican food for Puerto Rican Recipes if you don't have these items.

These are the essential items in any Puerto Rican Kitchen

  • Pilon
  • Tostonera
  • Caldero
  • Cafetera
  • Colador
  • Sazon
  • Adobo
  • Sofrito
  • Recaito

Pilon – Puerto Rican version of a mortar and pestel. Preferably made of wood, this is a large hollowed out bowl on a stand with a small, rounded wooden instrument used to grind, mash or pulverize ingredients and seasonings such as garlic or dried oregano to use for flavoring meats or other items being prepared for cooking. Can also be used to mix your own version of adobo and other seasoning needed for Puerto Rican Recipes.


Tostonera – these come in various sizes and shapes. The most common tostonera is 2 pieces of flat wood screwed together with hinges. One should have a rounded out impression for making right sized Tostoneras. This kitchen essential item is used to smash down fried green banana portions to be fried a second time. Other variations will have a small piece of wood in one side and a larger indentation on the other side to form the plantain piece into a small cup to stuff with shrimp or other foods. These can also be used to make mini mofongos.




Puerto Rican Food

Caldero – assorted sized cast iron pots are absolutely required in any Puerto Rican kitchen. Asopoa, Sopa de Pollo, carne guisado, rice and other Puerto Rican Recipes all need to be cooked in a cast iron pot to come out perfectly, although some may prefer to use a modern rice cooker instead. Cast iron pots are perfect for even heat distribution while cooking and always add a little sabor.


Cafetera Cafetera – Usually a cast aluminum 3 piece coffee pot that steams the water and forces it up through the coffee to make perfect Puerto Rican Coffee. This is different from a regular drip pot that only allows the hot water to drip through the coffee. The forcing of steam through the coffee gives it the richest flavor.

Colador – another option to making Puerto Rican Coffee by boiling the ground coffee and in a pot and straining the coffee through the cloth strainer to hold back the coffee grounds from the rich full flavor brewed coffee. Because of the staining of the coffee grounds, this kitchen item is often referred to the dirty sock.

Sazon - is a seasoning is used on meats, fish, poultry and even to flavor soups and stews.  Most common ingredients include, cilantro, achiote, garlic, salt. Sazon is used to season many Puerto Rican Food dishes.

Puerto Rican Recipes

Adobo – Adobo is a very basic seasoning for all Puerto Rican cooking. Adobo is made up or several dry ingredients mixed together and sprinkled on meats before cooking or in asopaos or guisados. Adobo is made by mixing garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano and black pepper. Salt is also added but should be used sparingly to avoid over salting of your food. There are many commercial brands of adobo, Goya being the most popular in the United States and Bohio brand is more recognized in Puerto Rico. We recommend making your own adobo so you can adjust the amounts of the separate seasonings used to your own taste.

Sofrito – is essential when cooking beans, rice dishes, soups or asopaos. Sofrito gets most of its flavor from recao and aji dulces, little sweet peppers. Roasted red pepper, yellow onions, plum tomatoes, garlic and cubanelle peppers are also added. Sofrito is usually cooked in annatto oil or olive oil with cured ham or salted pork.

Recaito – is very similar to sofrito but has more culantro. It is a mixture of culantro, peppers, garlic and onions. It gets its name from being referred to as "little culantro". Great for seasoning stews or soups.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Puerto Rican Coffee

Puerto Rican Coffee

The Island of Puerto Rico - situated in the northern Caribbean, to the west of the Virgin Islands and east of Dominican Republic – is an un-incorporated territory of the United Sates of America. Though it may not match up to its Columbian counterpart, Puerto Rico still enjoys a very long association with coffee. The bean first made its way into Puerto Rico in the 18th century, and since, has become its main export. This is why Puerto Rican coffee is famous all around the world.

Apart from its enormous economic contribution to the tiny nation, Puerto Rican coffee has also had a lasting impact on the country’s cultural front. Jibaros- the romantic mountainfolk of Puerto Rico – also owe their rise to the production of coffee in this country.

The Jibaros used to work the coffee plantations for their wealthy landowners. Having been an uneducated lot, their only form of expression was music. Like Puerto Rican coffee, the songs of the Jibaros have also stood the test of time. The soil of Puerto Rico is volcanic and rich in nature. The climate of the island is also very suitable for growing coffee. Café Yauco Selecto is one of the premium blends offered by the Island. Alto Grande – a super premium blend is the highest quality coffee.

Puerto Rico Coffee

The three main brands of Puerto Rico coffee as follows:

Café Rico

Café Rico is a Puerto Rican coffee company that produces this beverage with the same brand name. The Headquarters of Café Rico are situated in the city of Ponce. Café Rico is one of the best coffees offered by this country. Café Rico also has a partnership with Tauco Estate Coffee. Café Rico was established in the 30s. It was sold to Puerto Rico Coffee roaster in July 2008. Café Rico is the biggest selling brand in Puerto Rico.

Café Yaucono

Cafe Yaucono is a brand of Puerto Rico coffee that was first created by Tomas Prado in 1914. In 1916, Prado sold this brand to the heirs of Miguel Ruiz, who, in turn, sold it to Jimenez in 1917. The coffee business came to ruins in the subsequent years due to the great depression and the Second World War. The company was re-opened after the war. In 1963, Cafe Yaucono undertook an aggressive marketing campaign introducing Mama Ines – the most famous marketing symbol in the history of this tiny nation. Cafe Yaucono received the highest Puerto Rican product Association award in 1985. It was also awarded the commercial prestige award by Spain in 1996. Cafe Yaucono holds forty percent of the coffee market in Puerto Rico.

Café Crema

Café Crema is one of the three major roasters in the Puerto Rican coffee industry that has massive production capabilities. With its two major competitors, Café Crema holds seventy percent of the coffee market in Puerto Rico. Apart from selling in its home county, Café Crema also exports its product internationally where you can buy different kinds of coffee in several sizes of attractive packaging.

There are three ways in which you can take your Puerto Rican coffee:

The standard Italian espresso is brewed in an espresso machine and taken black. Puerto Rican call it pocillo referring to the small cups in which it is served.

Cafe con Leche
Cafe con Leche

It is an espresso which contains a thin layer of steamed milk.

Café con leche
In Puerto Rico it comprises of a large dollop of milk in a bigger cup.

Yauco, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is best known around the world for its beaches and its international singing sensations. However, quite a few locals would emphasize that it is coffee of this island that will ultimately win you over. Yauco is located in South –Western Puerto Rico and spans over one hundred seventy square kilometers. The population of the city is around fifty thousand. The city got its name from river Yauco. However, Yaucovans call their city la ciudad del café (city of coffee).

Yauco also produces oranges and tobacco but its main crop is, without doubt, coffee. The coffee produced here is deep and vibrant. The acidity level is restrained, giving it a rich and gentle flavor. Yauco beans are famous all over the world.