The “Official” Beginning of the Holiday Season

It’s official! We commenced the holiday season’s festivities today at Casa Daisy by making 100 Pasteles de Hoja (click for December 2006 recipe), which will be shared by friends and family, starting next Thursday, on Thanksgiving Day. The fact that my mom and dad were on hand to help, made things much easier on me, not to mention how great it was to spend time in the kitchen with them again!

For anyone familiar with this process, you know that it’s a herculean effort, similar to the Mexican “tamalada”, where family members come together in the kitchen to get the task done. We started out in the kitchen quite early, 8:30 AM, with everyone fitting right into their usual roles: Mami at the stove preparing the meats and the broth from the pork bones, and Papi, peeling the viandas (root vegetables, plantains, green bananas and calabaza).

Click on the “Continue Reading” link to learn how to make Pasteles!

After making a quick sofrito, she will use it to gently poach the cubed pork butt, along with achiote oil, seasonings and a little water.

Papi found this great little machine he brought back from Puerto Rico that makes small business out of grating the vianda. This cuts down the work time by 80%, because depending on how many pasteles you plan on making, you can spend the major part of the day grating vianda on a box grater, and using a food processor is not an option.

Once all the vianda has been grated, Mami seasons the puree with broth from the bones and from the poached meat, along with achiote oil, seasoning and milk, until it resembles a loose batter.

Now we’re ready for construction. First Mami lays a banana leaf onto a piece of parchment paper and paints it with achiote oil. This serves to flavor, as well as to prevent the pastel from sticking.

She measures a ladleful of “masa” (vianda batter), onto the banana leaf and with the back of the ladle forms a groove down the center.

This groove will happily accommodate the cubed pork, some olives and a hot pepper (this is the “Crackerjack” surprise in the pastel)!

Once this is done, she folds the batter over itself to cover the meat mixture, and then folds the pastel up in the banana leaf and parchment.

This is the part where Papi really shines. For as long as I can remember, I have memories of Papi sitting at the head of the table, tying the pasteles into rectangular packets of two, with kitchen string, his FDNY captain’s ring flashing. Here is a step by step guide to tying a perfect “llunta” of pasteles.

Lay the llunta over the kitchen string like so:

Loop the free string ends through the loop, then pull the ends to opposite ends of the pastel.

Flip the llunta over and tie like so:

Flip it over, once again to make the final tie.

The finished llunta should look just like this:

The llunta of pasteles is now ready to be poached in boiling salted water for about an hour.

As labor intensive as this is, it truly is one of Puerto Rico’s favorite foods, and certainly one that is a must on every holiday table. In addition to that, it is the perfect opportunity to get the family into the kitchen, and come together over a real labor of love, and share some of the inevitable hilarity that occurs when you spend time in the kitchen with people you love.

The finished product with its traditional accompaniment of arroz con gandules.

Let the holiday season begin!


43 Responses to “The “Official” Beginning of the Holiday Season”

  1. 1 Rod November 15, 2006 at 9:33 pm

    Oh Daiz,
    I wish I was there. That looks soooo good. Tell your parents I said hello.

    Talk to you soon

  2. 2 Bunny Love November 16, 2006 at 2:29 am

    You’ve made me hungry. Again. I wish I were there helping! One day. 😉

  3. 3 Vanessa November 22, 2006 at 11:30 am

    Daisy, thanks for sharing the pictures of your Pasteles – Making – Party! This year I’m really tempted to surprise my mami and make my first pasteles! Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. 4 Angie December 13, 2006 at 10:19 am

    Thanks for sharing your pictures and your motivation! Making pasteles is such a daunting task, but both my sister and I feel we need to keep the tradition going. Feliz Navidad!

  5. 5 Cecilia Rivera December 29, 2006 at 9:28 pm

    Where can I find the machine you used to grate the vegetables for the masa?

  6. 6 daisy December 30, 2006 at 12:19 am

    Hola Cecilia!!

    Happy Holidays…

    There is no place where you can just go and buy one of those machines off the shelf.

    The best way to go about this is to ask friends or family back on the island, to get you one.

    Good luck!

    Hasta pronto,

  7. 7 donna December 30, 2006 at 10:44 pm

    Hi Daisy,
    My husband is in Puerto Rico visiting his mom right now and I would love to try and make these for him, so can you let me know where in Puerto Rico he can find the machine to grate the vegetables? Please reply as soon as you can, he comes back Friday.
    Thank You,

  8. 8 Gina Ahedo January 14, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    Thank you soooo very much for being on tv as well as having this website. I recently seen your tv show and knew immediately that i would be trying out your receipes. I have been married for 24 yrs to a Puerto Rican (wonderful) man and i have never learned how to cook his traditional foods. We both enjoy it when his mother used to cook it for us. I am going to try your receips asap and i will let you know how it turns out. God Bless, Gina

  9. 9 WAYNE January 17, 2007 at 6:36 pm

    Hi, Just want to know if Daisy got the package I sent her. It eas the picture of the Fireman at ground zero, others were a picture of myself and a picture of Jesus crying. I hope and pray you received it. Please let me know if you received it or not. thanking you in advance.
    Also want to thank you for the Pasteles receipe!

    Que Dios te Bendiga

  10. 10 daisy January 21, 2007 at 11:03 pm

    Dear Wayne:

    I did receive was wonderful!

    I immediately sent it to my Papi, who is, as you know, a retired FDNY captain…

    Thank you again from the bottom of my heart..


  11. 11 ivette March 1, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    I have another option if you can’t find the grater machine Daisy uses. Trust me on this–my mom used to use a juicer machine (juiceman). This was a life saver for me because before this equipment it was just me and the hand-held “guayo” grater. This thing tore through yuca like it was nothing.

    I hope you give this a try and let me know how it worked out for you.

  12. 12 daisy March 1, 2007 at 8:01 pm

    Hola Ivette,

    You are the second person who has brought this to my attention, the first being my good friend, Esmeralda Santiago, the famous PR Author. Thank you so very much for validating this tip, and bringing it to the attention of our readers!

    Stay tuned and stay well….and comment often! 😉

    Hasta pronto,


  13. 13 aida nieves April 18, 2007 at 12:22 pm

    i want to buy a pasteles machine
    please advise

  14. 14 daisy April 18, 2007 at 10:40 pm

    Aida querida! Our friend Ivette has a another option if you can’t find the grater machine I have(which I got in PR). She says her mother used a juicer machine (juiceman).
    The machine I have was a gift..

  15. 15 John Cancel August 12, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    Hi there Daisy, i’m john and i’m living in Dallas,TX. I love pasteles and wish I could buy them here. I was woundering if you could help me.
    Do you know any one here that makes them and sales them as well?
    Mi espanol no es muy bueno, poreso te escribi en ingles.
    Muchas gracis por su ayoda..
    Sinseramente John Cancel

  16. 16 daisy August 17, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    Hola John,
    I am sorry to say that I cannot help you. I will be hosting an interactive online community soon, and hopefully fans from all over will be able to share tips like these.
    Hasta pronto,

  17. 17 Karem August 17, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    Hola Daisy,

    Me encanta tu blog.

    Yo he buscado como loca la maquina para pasteles, podrias darme el nombre de la maquina o decirme donde la compraste?

    Les envio muchas buenas vibras…..

    Hasta luego,

    Karem P.

  18. 18 blanca&hector August 19, 2007 at 11:54 pm

    hi daisy it was just nice looking at you and the family doing something together us latino kindda forget that some times but we always get it back we just need a little reminder like the one i just saw of you and your family doing are special dish thank you for making my night im writing from connecticut ok
    buenas noches,,

  19. 19 Daisy August 24, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    Karem: I got mine in PR, and was given to me as a gift.

    Another option , if you can’t find the grater machine I have, comes from Yvette( see her comments above).

    She says her mother used a juicer machine (juiceman).


  20. 20 carmen October 18, 2007 at 2:02 pm





  21. 21 Daisy October 18, 2007 at 11:54 pm

    Dear Carmen:

    The machine was a gift .

    I don’t know where to find it, but I promise to research it when in PR next..


  22. 22 Alma November 18, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    Por favor necesito el nombre de esa maquina para conseguirla dime donde la compraron por favor contestame.Gracias Alma

  23. 23 JR November 28, 2007 at 12:04 am


  24. 24 daisy November 28, 2007 at 10:19 am

    Queridos Alma y JR: Mi maquina de pasteles fue un regalo, por lo tanto no tengo la menor idea de donde conseguir algo similar.

    Ahora, un par de personas me han recomendado el usar un Juiceman (Juicer Machine) para este proposito..


  25. 25 Viviana December 17, 2007 at 1:57 pm

    HI Daisy!
    I used to love watching your show when I was home alot and really enjoy your spirit and recipes. I’m not going to ask about where/how/who I can buy a machine from – even though I need to know! But me and my mom just made a batch of pastelese for Christmas with an old machine her sister in Brooklyn gave her a few years back…it works, but it needs to be replaced. Just the two of us did our lil party lastnight over a bottle of red wine (my other 5 siblings live in PA, so it was just the two of us in NJ) and believe me, it was such a nice feeling to share that with Mom. I will definitely print the tying guide for my Mom!
    Have a great holiday!

  26. 26 daisy December 17, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    Dear Viviana:

    Your Mami’s company and good wine and conversation: You can’t ask for anything more!

    Happy Holidays!


  27. 27 Joe Bellber December 20, 2007 at 11:14 am

    Great pictures! Reminds me of my family almost every year. Without tradition, there is no family.

    Please, where is it possible to find the peeling machine/blender, if there is such a thing.

    Joe B.

  28. 28 daisy December 21, 2007 at 10:49 pm

    Dear Joe:

    I was given this machine years ago. I am not sure I know where to find one, since it was literally put together piece by piece.

    Please read all the entries on this particular blog post. You will find recommendations on what to use, to improvise, from other bloggers..

    Thank you,


  29. 29 Barbara December 24, 2007 at 12:31 am

    Looks like you guys like to add A LOT of calabaza in your pastele recipe. It looks too soft – almost too running. I have never seen the masa look like the one in the above pics. Ah well, every family has its distinct recipe.

  30. 30 daisy December 24, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    Dear Barbara:

    Most traditional recipes have been through some kind of transformation…my pasteles are ALWAYS a big hit, and the recipe has remained unchanged for generations…

    As I always say: Make yourself happy!


  31. 31 Rosa December 26, 2007 at 12:43 am

    Quiero saber donde comprar la maquina para la masa de los pasteles.

  32. 32 daisy December 26, 2007 at 10:25 am

    Querida Rosa:

    La maquina de pasteles fue un regalo que Daisy recibio hace mucho tiempo atras. Ella no tiene la menor idea de donde conseguir una similar.

    Sin embargo, alguno de los otros “poster” en este blog tienen sugerencias. Informate leyendo las conversaciones que preceden a esta……


  33. 33 Deb January 16, 2008 at 3:51 am

    I can’t believe I stumbled onto this site! All I can say is THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, for this tutorial. Even this midwest farm girl can get it right now. I’ve managed to learn how to make all my husbands favorite Puerto Rican dishes except his beloved pasteles. His sisters have tried to walk me through it over the phone and by mail but seeing it in pictures step by step is wonderful. I can’t wait to get my daughters home so we can surprise him !

  34. 34 Lucy January 16, 2008 at 10:41 am

    Hello Daisy, My name is Lucy. My mom she makes pasteles de masa y yuca. We live in Virginia. Her machine broke and she wants to know where your dad bought his machine or where in PR. Please write me back please,Lucy

  35. 35 daisy January 16, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Deb, I LIVE for emails like this! Welcome to Boriqua Blog…make yourself at home, it’s quite cozy here! oxoDaisy

  36. 36 daisy January 16, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Dear Lucy:

    I received my machine as a gift from a friend in Puerto Rico, but recently had a friend recommend this model as a good alternative and much more accessible as well.

    Let me know how you like it!

  37. 37 Sary January 27, 2008 at 2:58 am

    Hola Daisy,

    La maquina se puede conseguir llamando a LNP Kitchen Store tel:787-274-8468/787-638-7880,o en el web site mencionado por Daisy.En este momento tienen un especial por 239.00 + envio y empaque.Espero esta informacion ayude.


  38. 38 kim February 13, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Hi Daisy:

    I lived in NYC for most of my life and moved Upstate since I’ve been married (20 years now). I miss the pasteles…a mother of a friend of mine used to make them…it was so delicious. It looked just like the ones you made with your Mom. There is not a place up here that sells them. I plan on trying this next week. Thanks for the memories!


  39. 39 daisy February 14, 2008 at 8:44 am

    Welcome Kim, and thank you!

  40. 40 HEILY March 12, 2008 at 6:13 pm


  41. 41 daisy March 17, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Dear Heily:

    Please check the SOURCES link on my site

    Take care!


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