Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Food’ Category

Dulce de Leche Brownie Recipe

Last week, we introduced you to Chef Leticia Moreinos Schwartz, in our post, The Best of Latin Baking. If after seeing the post, you were craving for one of those sweet treats, we have just the cure for you. Chef Leticia provided us with the scrumptious Dulce De Leche Brownie recipe, originally created by Pastry Chef David Lebowitz.  Enjoy!

Dulce de Leche Brownies

Yield: Serves 12

8 Tablespoons (120g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for the pan
6 ounces (170g)  bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (120g) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (140g) flour
1 cup (250ml) dulce de leche

Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch square pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

1. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the chocolate and stir constantly over low heat until melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Read more

Chef Leticia Moreinos Schwartz: The Best of Latin Baking

by Kim Haas

Recently, I interviewed Chef Leticia Moreinos Schwartz, author of The Brazil Kitchen and My Rio de Janeiro: A Cookbook at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in New York City.  The interview focused on the cuisine of her native Brazil and its African culinary influences. Coming soon, we’ll bring you our interview with Chef Leticia, her photos from Salvador da Bahia, Brazil (the center of the country’s African roots) and a recipe or two.

Until then, I share with you photos from “The Best of Latin Baking.” Chef Leticia invited me to observe this class which she was teaching immediately after our interview.

Originally, I had only anticipated staying a few minutes. Instead, minutes turned into hours and a blog post developed. It was delightful to witness the commitment, precision and dedication of the 9 baking students.  They whirled around ICE’s kitchen like busy bees with tremendous focus and concentration. They beat, mixed, rolled and sifted ingredients, creating a mélange of Latin American desserts including:

  • Flan
  • Rocambole de Doce de Leite com Coco (Dulce De Leche and Coconut Roulade or Jelly Roll)
  • Nha Benta (Brazilian Mallomars)
  • Pão de Mel (Honey Cake)
  • Cheesecake de Coco com Calda de Goiaba (Coconut Cheesecake with Guava Sauce)
  • Brazilian Thumbprint Cookies (Topped with Powdered Sugar)
  • Quadrodos de Doce de Leite com Chocolate (Dulce de Leche Brownies)

Sharing these delicious desserts would not have been possible without the cooperation of the students. I sincerely appreciated their willingness to be photographed especially since this was not a planned blog post. It’s safe to say that “The Best of Latin Baking” would not have run so smoothly without the support of Will, ICE Culinary Assistant.  He showed the students how to operate every appliance and worked his magic, appearing, disappearing and reappearing with whatever ingredient was needed. And special thanks to Chef Leticia, who freely shared her warmth, generosity and knowledge of Brazil and its wondrous cuisine.

Happy Baking!

Photo Gallery: Dulce De Leche Brownie photo is courtesy of Chef Leticia Moreinos Schwartz

Click on an image to open a slideshow and see the full-sized photos.

Chef David’s Sweet Potato Cornbread

In our recent post Welcome to Gullah Country! we interviewed Chef David Young, owner of Roastfish and Cornbread Restaurant in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Graciously, he agreed to share his recipe for sweet potato cornbread, one of the restaurant’s signature dishes. Enjoy!

If you make this wonderful recipe, tell us what you think and  share your photos with us on FacebookTwitter, or by linking to your own blog post in the comments section below.

Sweet Potato Corn bread
It took over a year to perfect this recipe. It is easier for me to make something just from feeling and tasting, rather than harnessing a flavor with words and writing them down, I had to test many different formulations and ingredients to find the perfect union of flavor and spice. After many taste tests, here it is. I wrote it just for you.

Dchefs’ Sweet Potato Corn bread™
I did not want to give you the same old corn bread, I was not satisfied with basic corn bread and I hated it because the flavor did not punch me in the taste buds. I wanted to make something that was unique so I took two traditional ingredients, corn meal and sweet potatoes and created a new taste sensation.

Read more

Welcome to Gullah Country!

by Kim Haas

Los Afro-Latino’s mission is to bring our readers closer to the people, places, events and movements that impact the Afro-Latino Diaspora. Periodically, we will enlarge the tent, sharing stories of the Great African Diaspora, whatever the topic, whatever the issue, whatever the cause to inspire and to enlighten.

Hilton Head – The Island and The Gullahs

Our inaugural post covering the Great African Diaspora took me to South Carolina’s Low Country this past August, a pilgrimage to the heart of Gullah Culture. It was a late summer visit to Hilton Head Island – a 12 mile long and 5 mile wide barrier island along the Atlantic Coast.

The Gullahs trace their ancestry to enslaved Africans, forcibly brought to the eastern Atlantic seacoast from present day Angola and Sierra Leone, West Africa. Spreading across nearly 500 miles, from Cape Fear, North Carolina in the north to Jacksonville, Florida in the south, Gullahs were enslaved along the Atlantic coast. They were highly skilled and knowledgeable farmers with an expertise in rice cultivation. It was these competencies that made them ideal labor to toil the rice, cotton, sugar cane and indigo plantations of the Sea Islands.

Today, the Gullah population is concentrated in the coastal region of South Carolina and Georgia. Geographically, the area represents the quintessential old South with Spanish moss draping from centuries old oak trees, picturesque antebellum plantations and homes. All of this is punctuated with the slow sway of the Islanders’ drawls and warmly exchanged salutations.

The tight knit Gullah population, with four centuries of existence on Hilton Head, lived in a spirit of community—taking care of the group and the individual—promoting and supporting self reliance. The Gullahs are the oldest surviving African based culture in the United States. They are credited with being the first freed Africans owning land, establishing free public schools and founding the first African free village.

A combination of factors including Hilton Head’s physical remoteness, low elevation and a malaria outbreak prompted the majority of Europeans to flee the island for more comfortable living on the mainland. For the Gullahs these isolating conditions strengthened their community and preserved their language, traditions, religion, herbal medicine, music, storytelling and cuisine, safeguarding their cultural bond to Africa, their homeland.

James F. Byrnes Bridge

In 1956, a crucial change took place on the Island when the James F. Byrnes Bridge, a two-lane toll swing bridge opened Hilton Head to automobile traffic. Along with the bridge’s opening came housing development and tourism. Twenty-six years later, 1982, a larger highway construction project was completed. This time it was the opening of a 4 lane highway, bringing increased development and tourism.

Reflecting on the bridge and highway construction’s impact on island living, many Gullahs credit these two transportation projects with the profound emigration of the community from Hilton Head Island. Yet, despite these shifts the Gullah community is committed to preserving its heritage and sharing it through island tours, arts and crafts, quilting, music and the annual Gullah Festival in Beaufort, South Carolina.

 Gullah Chef David Young

And of course, sharing Gullah culture would be incomplete without sampling its cuisine which uses rice as a premiere component, one pot meals and an array of seafood dishes at Low Country restaurants on Hilton Head and the mainland, particularly in Charleston, South Carolina.

Nowadays, any conversation about Hilton Head’s Low Country Gullah cuisine includes talk about native son Chef David Young, who graduated with a culinary degree from Madison Area Technical College, Madison, Wisconsin. His popular restaurant, Chef David’s Roastfish and Cornbread is located on the island’s south end at 70 Marshland Road, specializing in revered rice dishes, seafood and vegetarian (vegan) food. Chef David’s  ancestors have been living on the island for 175 years. Now, nearly two centuries later, Chef David is one of the island’s hottest chefs.  His star is steadily rising.

He began his voyage into gastronomy at age six, guided by his Gullah great-grandmother, Mary Cohen, who prepared food by memory. For David, her repertoire for Gullah cooking was built on aromas, flavors and tastes. While Mary Cohen’s recipes were never written, her great- grandson’s 2008 cookbook, Burnin Down South is a compilation of Low Country recipes featuring savory dishes like red rice,  She Crab Soup and collard greens.

Burnin' Down South

A big part of Gullah cuisine means taking advantage of nature’s bounty and the abundant seafood of the nearby waters. Seafood has played an integral role in island life. Shrimp burgers, made of ground shrimp and seasoned with herbs and spices on wheat bread, are one of the restaurant’s most requested offerings.

While he’s not a vegetarian, Chef David is building a reputation on the island as one of the few proprietors to include an extensive variety of vegetarian (vegan) dishes on the menu. Chef David’s riff on the quintessential New Orleans Po-Boy, a sandwich filled with roast beef, dripping with gravy on French bread, is a vegetarian delight.  It’s loaded with lentils, sautéed and chopped baby bella mushrooms, onions, peppers, asparagus, broccoli, topped with acai-pomegranate vinaigrette and served on brown bread. The beautifully presented sandwich is complemented with a riotous explosion of colors and flavors including pineapples, berries and watermelon.

Vegetarian Po Boy

Vegetarian Po Boy

Whether vegan, vegetarian, carnivore or locavore, Chef David proudly speaks to the universality of his restaurant, “There is something for everyone here.” Roastfish and Cornbread is dazzling crowds with its steamed chicken, brisket, shrimp burgers and, one of his signature dishes – sweet potato cornbread.

True to his Gullah island upbringing, Chef David is committed to serving fresh, local food. “When I grew up here, everything was organic. People sprinkled potash to keep bugs away.” So, what is Low Country cuisine? According to Chef David, “If you can grow it here and catch it here, it’s Low Country.” The Gullah shrimped, farmed and hunted using the surrounding waters, lands and forests for sustenance. This was the island way of life. “The food is really simple. Anything from chicken, cows, pigs, corn, tomatoes, beans, peas, watermelon, and okra – this came directly from Africa.”

Living with Gullah culinary heritage which is older than the United States is a valuable legacy for Chef David.  “Our Gullah food is older than this country.  We were here before America was a country. It’s the oldest food in this country. We cooked for everybody.” Gullah cuisine is one of the oldest surviving African based cultures in the United States.

With such a strong, powerful culinary past, how does Chef David envision his culinary future? “Keep doing what I’m doing and just keep doing it better. Do it to the best of my abilities, for as long as I can do it.” 

Chef Eddie Cotto: A Missionary for Puerto Rican Cuisine

Our December article for Being Latino focuses on Chef Eddie Cotto, owner of the restaurant Me Casa in Jersey City. 

Chef Eddie Cotto

Chef Eddie Cotto

“I’m here because I love to cook.” To say that Chef Eddie Cotto is passionate about Puerto Rican food is an understatement. He’s on a mission, plate by plate not just to change, that’s too simple, but to revolutionize how Americans view his familial cuisine.

The Brooklyn born and raised former financier says, “I dream big, never small.” 

Chef Cotto aspires to see Puerto Rican food as ubiquitous as Mexican and Cuban food is throughout the United States. According to him, Puerto Ricans have not tooted their horns loud enough and have fallen short marketing their cuisine to a crossover audience as Mexicans and Cubans have. “Have we really made a mark on the world, culinarily, to really claim our spot? That’s where I think we haven’t.” The result, according to Chef Cotto is that many Americans identify and categorize Latino cuisine as either Mexican or Cuban. Read more

Chef Maricel Presilla’s Food of the Gods: An Ode to Afro-Brazilian cuisine

Hoboken chef Maricel Presilla has been someone I’ve been eagerly trying to meet for several years. Actually, it all started when I was thumbing through the December 2007 issue of Saveur Magazine and came across the article she penned, Food of the Gods.

Her food commentary was a refreshing look at Salvador da Bahia’s (Brazil) vibrant cuisine which is an “expression of the region’s rich spiritual life.” Salvador, the city of three million, lies one thousand miles north of Rio de Janeiro, is the heart and soul of Brazil’s black population.

Hundreds of years ago, Salvador and so many European territories enjoyed great economic prosperity due to free African labor. According to chef Presilla, “In the 17th and 18th centuries, millions of Africans were moved through the port of Salvador to be put to work on the vast sugarcane plantations…” She adds, “Some were Bantu tribes people from central and southern Africa: others came from the Yoruba kingdoms of West Africa and carried with them a complex spiritual system based on a belief in divinities (called orixás in Portuguese) that were endowed with highly specific powers and personalities. Though many slaves converted to Catholicism, they often retained the core aspects of their ancestral religion, namely, their allegiance to the orixás. Eventually, the mingling of these belief systems gave rise in Bahia to Candomblé, a religion that continues to be practiced by millions of Brazilians today.”

Saveur, the ultimate foodie magazine, devoted 14 pages to the article. Chef Presilla’s visit to Salvador and quest to immerse herself in authentic Bahian cuisine uncovers an interesting connection – the bond between the secular and the sacred. She writes,“Feasting is an essential part of Candomblé and is linked with the tradition of offering food to the orixás who are believed to have well-defined cravings. For example, Oxala, Candomblés, supreme, Zeus-like god, prefers plain, unsalted white rice; Oxum, the sensual Aphrodite-like goddess who rules the rivers, has a predilection for more-seasoned dishes, such as xinxim de galinha, a chicken stew made with dendê oil; and Iansã the female thunder goddess, demands acarajé” (deep fried fritters made from black eyed peas). Read more

Afro-Brazilian Executive Chef Creates Passion with Fresh Flavors

Our September article for Being Latino focuses on Amali’s Executive Chef Nilton Borges, Jr., an Afro-Brazilian from Rio de Janeiro.

chef borges

Executive Chef Nilton Borges, Jr.

In life, we know expectations count. They shape how we live, the choices we make and the dreams we allow ourselves to pursue.

“When people come here and see me and Junior (Chef Borges) coming from the kitchen they are like “Wow.” I think they expect to see Gordon Ramsey (a British chef).” Martell Fonville, Amali Restaurant Sous Chef, was referring to some diners being surprised seeing an Afro-Brazilian and African-American at the restaurant’s helm.

Amali Restaurant’s Executive Chef Nilton Borges, Jr, an Afro-Brazilian from Rio de Janeiro, has high expectations for himself, his cuisine and his mission to serve locally sourced, flavorful food. Read more

A Cuban Grandmother Reunites with Family, Preparing a Dinner to Savor

By Kim Haas

As Yesenia Fernandez opened the door to her apartment, I was greeted instantly and affectionately by her mother, Mercedes Crespo. Mercedes was welcoming, warm and friendly. I liked her immediately. She has that inviting, infectious personality that puts you at ease.  Mercedes radiates a certain warmth and hospitality that often characterizes Cubans.

Although she calls this apartment in West New York home, she’s only been living here for a couple of weeks. Originally from Havana, Cuba, she was reunited with her daughter Yesenia, and Yesenia’s triplets (los trillizos) at the end of April, a day shy of her 57 birthday. Read more

The Afro-Latino Kitchen

“Food is everything,” we were once told. At Los Afro-Latinos, we couldn’t agree more. It’s food that binds us across countries and generations. That’s why we’re starting The Afro-Latino Kitchen.

Once a month, we’ll post about a chef, cook, restaurant, ingredient or Afro-Latino dish. The best part is we’re asking you to share your food memories with us by suggesting favorite restaurants, kiosks, festivals and more. Whether you live in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil; Cartagena, Colombia; or Chicago, Illinois, or anywhere else in the world, we’re asking you to share your food and stories.

With any luck, we’ll be able to cover your favorite Afro-Latino dishes and cooks and share them with our community.

Check back at monthly for a new story from Afro-Latino Kitchen. And send us suggestions on Facebook and Twitter.

Kiosko El Boricua outside of Pinones, Puerto Rico. They’re cooking alcapurrias de jueyes (crabmeat fritters). Many kiosks like this one have been run by the same family for generations.

Meet Margot

By Alessandra Hickson

Finding authentic, delectable Dominican food is as simple as taking the 1 train. Sure, everyone boasts they’re the best. But only Margot Restaurant has been hailed time and time again — in magazines and on Yelp comment boards — as the best Dominican food in the greater New York area.

Margot Restaurant was featured as the place to get Dominican cuisine in a September 2007 Gourmet article [Special Collector’s Issue, Latino Food: America’s Fastest-Rising Cuisine] titled  “He’ll Take El Alto” by Pulitzer Prize winning author Junot Díaz.

“Margot’s is so addictive that people from the Bronx and Brooklyn will pay for cab service just so they can get their sancocoho delivered to their door. That’s how slamming they cook at Margot,” said Diaz, adding, “Their rice, their beans, their gandules, their pollo guisado, their sancocho are all cooked to island perfection…”

When you hear high praise like that — from a Dominican-American no less — you need to investigate. Read more