August 2007

Yucca Fries, Salt Cod Salad, Grilled Red Snapper, Ajilimojili and Strawberry Surprise (see below)

I’m baaaaaack! I’m back and ready to go! My epicurean excursion to the Dominican Republic was nothing short of amazing, albeit not nearly as extensive as I would have liked to be, so I foresee another trip back to Quisqueya somewhere in the future (I know, it’s a tough gig, but someone has to do it!😉 ). Aside from all the great food that I had the pleasure of experiencing, I was lucky to take in beautiful sites, and make a ton of new friends!
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The beautiful view from beachside restaurant El Neptuno in Boca Chica, D.R. is truly breathtaking.

My fear of becoming a candidate for gastric bypass, after my gastronomic jaunt was quickly assuaged when I discovered that restaurants offered the freshest of seafood, a surplus of the most beautiful tropical fruits, and an overabundance of delicious vegetables and salads. In addition, I discovered quipe (think alcapurria) a meat and bulgar wheat croquette which is absolutely delicious, and has middle eastern roots. I actually tasted the traditional Middle Eastern quipe and the more modern Dominicanized quipe, as well as a raw quipe which is served with flatbeads. All where incredibly delicious. I’ll be blogging all about the food on the trip on Boriqua Blog, so make sure you check it out with some regularity, as there are going to be lots of pictures.

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A basket of delicious Middle Eastern quipe makes a perfect snack.

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The glorious Framboyan tree is the national tree of the D.R.

Whether on the beaches of Boca Chica or Samana, on the mountains of San Cristobal, or the quaint town of San Jose de las Matas, my companions and I were dazzled on a daily basis by the natural beauty of the Dominican Republic, and the friendliness of it’s people. A drive into the country rewarded us with visions of rice paddies, trees hanging heavy with mangoes and all kinds of citrus, and genuine hospitality.

Excursions into the city had there own rewards as well. Restaurant after restaurant invites you to partake of their delectable culinary creations. I can say unequivocally that I had some seriously good food in the D.R., and not least among it was an incredible meal that I had in Miggy’s childhood friend’s family’s house (did I say that right?). The Estevez family invited us to a “Welcome to Santo Domingo” dinner at their beautiful and gracious home, where they prepared a meal that was nothing short of incredible (Boriqua Blog!). You guys may have heard me say time and time again, that I am savory, not sweet, right? Well, Ninotchska Estevez, who planned and with the help of her sister Walewska (yes, that Walewska, of Mamajuana fame!), and mom, Magda, prepared this feast, may have well challenged this trait. Ninotchska prepared the most delicious dessert that evening, and agreed (after much begging and pleading) to share her recipe for Sorpresa de Fresas (Strawberry Surprise), which I have chosen as my exclusive recipe for this month’s newsletter. Light and refreshing, it is a marvelous addition to your next barbeque, buffet, and dinner party, and it has the added attraction of being one of those make ahead recipes (my faves!).
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Sorpresa de Fresas a la Ninotchska

My trip to glorious Quisqueya has left me waxing poetic, eager to make a return visit, and happy to welcome a couple of new friends into the folds of the infamous Sofrito Girls! Life is good, my friends…I can’t imagine possibly being any luckier than I am! Have a great rest of the summer!!

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Ninotchska, Daisy, Walewska, and Miggy

Strawberry Surprise

For the cake:

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon white vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup milk

Preheat oven to 350. In a blender beat the butter and the sugar until smooth, add the eggs one by one, and lastly the vanilla.

In another bowl, sift the flour with the next 2 ingredients, then with a wooden spoon add this mixture to the butter mix, adding milk alternately (beginning and ending with the flour).

Place the mixture in a baking dish. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.
Let it chill and unmold.
Cut in squares.

For the cream:

  • 3 cups cold heavy cream
  • ½ cup confectionary sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white vanilla
  • 1 box of cream cheese
  • 2 small boxes of fresh strawberries sliced, save 3 for decoration
  • 1 cup strawberry jam

In your blender, beat the cream of milk until it reaches a slightly light consistency, add sugar and vanilla, keep beating, and finally add the cheese. Beat well and save. In a big deep bowl begin by placing the cream, followed by slices of cake, jam and some strawberries, and repeat. Finish with the cream and cover thoroughly.
Decorate with mire strawberries.

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