Carmen Aboy Valldejuli was a detailed chef. Her most famous cook book Cocina Criolla has stood the test of time for over 7 decades. When you open the beginnings of this book you can see why. It’s laden with details that you don’t find in today’s cookbook.
As promised, I am going to take you on a step by step journey of Cocina Criolla. The world renowned Puerto Rican recipe book recently given to me by my 93 year old Grandmother, Petra Prado-Gonzalez. She gave it to me June 1st of this year – after I discovered it was her secret cookbook of Puerto Rican ingredients – that was given to her as a wedding gift nearl 7 decades ago. The book is a bit worn but still in pretty good condition. My initial thumb through brought back memories of my boyhood days in Miami, where she would cook up Arroz con Pollo with white rice – topped with black beans and we’d finish it off with some amazing flan. She might even marinate the chicken in some Puerto Rican Mojo just to make me smile.
Today’s cookbooks are more about flash, super star chefs and the brand that they’re beholden to. But this book is so basic in its principles that it screams authenticy. Chef Valldejuli gives you every detail from utensils, pots, pans, measuring cups to thermometers that you’ll need to make your meal right.
You can buy Cocina Criolla in PDF. It’s also available in Spanish…or English. But when I searched the internet it’s not that easy to find. So check out various sites to see what you come with. Me personally I love books available in PDF form because I can easily save them in a folder on my desk top, I can email them to myself for casual reading and best of all scroll through very fast.
So as I leave you with another journey of Cocina Criolla, I will post this Sofrito recipe. I hope you have the opportunity to get your hands on this amazing cookbook if you haven’t already. Love, Laugh and Enjoy one another. See you soon. Mike G
- 2 medium green bell peppers (stemmed and seeded)
- 1 red bell pepper (stemmed and seeded)
- 2 large tomatoes
- 2 medium onions (peeled)
- 1 head of garlic (peeled)
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/2 bunch fresh parsley leaves
Steps to Make It
- Gather the ingredients.
- Chop the ingredients into sizes that are small enough to fit into a food processor or blender. You don’t have to dice them finely as you will be processing them. Focus on removing the seeds and any tougher stems that might leave grit in the finished sofrito.
- Place the chopped ingredients into a food processor or blender. You can process in batches if your food processor isn’t big enough to accommodate everything at once.
- Blend all ingredients well. You want the finished sofrito to be finely processed. If you’re not familiar with sofrito, think of it as being the consistency of pesto, a thick paste.
- Once blended, your sofrito is ready to use. For immediate use, store the sofrito in a glass container. Plastic containers are not ideal because plastic will absorb the odor of garlic and onions.
- Use the sofrito with rice, stews, beans, or protein and enjoy.
- If you find it necessary to add liquid, you may add water or olive oil a tablespoon at a time while blending. Use as little liquid as possible, because you don’t want the sofrito to be too runny. The tomatoes will provide some juice, so you may want to ensure they are in the mix before adding any liquid.
- For future use, you can freeze the sofrito to use at any time. Depending on how much you use in a recipe, you may want to freeze it in 1/4 to 1/2 cup portions or freeze it in an ice-cube tray for 2-tablespoon cubes. After the cubes are frozen, place them in a freezer bag. They should be good for up to a year frozen.