Cookbook author Daisy Martinez shares her take on classic Puerto Rican cuisine in “Daisy: Morning, Noon and Night.” (Photo/Courtesy JD Urban)

Cookbooks we love: Daisy Martinez’s “Daisy: Morning, Noon And Night”

If love of delicious, fragrant and soul-warming food is the common denominator between Latinos across every country and culture, then this is true as well: we all have a tia who takes it upon herself to serve the best dishes; the family’s champion of culinary arts. You know, that tia – the one who heaps second portions on the plate before you’ve asked for more; the one whose picadillo just happens to taste extraordinary every single time.

Consider Daisy Martinez your honorary Puerto Rican tia – a French Culinary Institute graduate and Food Network personality whose island roots shine in each of her culinary projects to date. Born to Puerto Rican parents in Brooklyn, Martinez maintains a Nuyorican sensibility through which her love of all things Borinquen shines. Author of several books on Puerto Rican cookery, Martinez is a teacher and chef whose approach to traditional island cuisine has earned her several awards and accolades. In fact, her 2010 release “Daisy: Morning, Noon and Night — Bringing Your Family Together with Everyday Latin Dishes” won the top prize in the 2011 International Latino Book Awards and there’s no doubting why. This is a book jam-packed with the Puerto Rican recipes that made Martinez famous, as well as a goodly amount of recipes inspired by the former commercial model’s travels to Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Argentina, Peru and Spain.

daisy martinez bookWithin the 315 pages of this book, one will find everything needed to tackle the flavorful art of Puerto Rican cookery: recipes for “secret weapons” of the Puerto Rican repertoire (think homemade chicken broth, dry adobo rub and mojo); a guide to pantry staples, a glossary of frequently-used Caribbean produce and even menus galore for events ranging from a family barbeque to a weeknight dinner or all-out buffet.

There are recipes for Puerto Rican classic entrees like pavochon (a roasted turkey breast prepared with the same seasoning as for the classic lechón) and arroz con gandules; elegant but simple desserts like guava shells filled with cream cheese mousse (a take on the quintessential Latin pairing of guava and cheese) and tangy fresh salads like pickled butter beans en escabeche. Travel across the Gulf of Mexico with tantalizing recipes for micheladas and chicken enchiladas; there are also easy-to-prepare variations on Latin American classics like Peruvian aji de gallina and Venezuelan arepas. The name of the volume is interpreted quite literally – the book is divided into recipes suited for breakfast, lunch and dinner – and interspersed throughout, readers learn the countries of origin for each of the recipes thanks to Martinez’s chatty travelogues about family vacations.

But in true Martinez style, Puerto Rican cuisine is the barometer by which all other Latin cuisines – no matter how flavorful – are ultimately judged. Martinez – who will premiere a new cooking web series this summer – is a master of the classics. And if you needed additional proof, just one look at her recipe for creamy, meaty pastelón casserole will have you convinced that Martinez is channeling tia just right.

Daisy-Fathers-Day-Pastelon-Picadillo

Pastelón

From “Daisy: Morning, Noon and Night” (Atria Books)

Serves 6

  • 6 large sweet plantains or 8 medium ones
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons evaporated milk (to soften the puree, to taste)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, or any similar cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1lb of beef or pork for picadillo
  • Optional for top picadillo layer: raisins, olives, hard boiled eggs and slice canned roasted red bell peppers

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Boil the plantains in salted water until easily pierced with a fork.

Remove the plantains from the water, peel, clean and strain thoroughly (sweet plantains absorb a lot of water).

Puree the plantains, add the butter, evaporated milk, beaten eggs, cheddar and parmesan.
Salt the puree to taste.

Butter a baking dish or pyrex, lightly. Cover the bottom of the pan with half the puree mix.

Add a layer of picadillo, adding any garnish of your preference (hard boiled eggs, olives, raisins, red bell peppers, etc) to the layer of picadillo.

Add the last layer of plantain (you can have as many layers as you like).

Bake the pastelon at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until golden-crusty.

When ready, top with more cheese, and run under the broiler until bubbly brown.

%d bloggers like this: