This Christmas, being that it is our third year as parents and by now have learned how limited time is on Christmas Day; we opted for a one-pot decadent menu… Beef Bourguignon! Simply downloaded the recipe and went to work. Unlike me, I followed it word per word this time and it turned out wonderful!


6 ounces bacon
1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef , cut into 2-inch cubes
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. flour
3 cups full-bodied, young red wine , such as a Chianti
2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 tsp. thyme
Crumbled bay leaf
Blanched bacon rind
18 to 24 small white onions , brown-braised in stock
1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms , sautéed in butter
Parsley sprigs

Remove rind from bacon, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.

Dry the stewing beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.

In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat.

Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers
very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.

When the melt is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.

Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.


… Joyeux Noël to all of you!

Nothing says Christmas in my native Puerto Rico, like Coquito does.  For many years now my husband and other non-Latin friends have enjoyed this festive drink, and every year I am asked for the recipe.  Now that I finally gave in, and emailed the recipe to a friend, who in turn started an entire Facebook thread on it, I might as well write about it!

I like to best describe it as the Puerto Rican version of eggnog.  In my opinion it is “lighter” and better balanced than eggnog.  Also it contains raw eggs; which I know is raising some eyebrows as some of you read.  If you are against consuming raw eggs, simply cook the eggs with the evaporated milk over a double boiler, let it cool and add to the mixture before you add the rum.

I hope you enjoy Coquito as much as we do in our household, and in my island, all the way through the New Year. 

Have a Very Merry Christmas!!!


Ingredients – makes 1 liter
1 cup of water
12 spice cloves
4 cinnamon sticks
2 eggs
14 oz coconut milk
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup condensed milk
3/4 cup of rum

1. In a small saucepan bring to a boil the water, cloves and cinnamon. Once it comes to a rapid boil, turn the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. While the spice mixture cools, in a large stainless bowl or a blender mix the eggs and the coconut milk.
3. Add the evaporated milk, condensed milk and 1/3 cup of the reduced spice mixture.
4. Add the rum and blend some more.
5. Refrigerate for one to two hours before serving.

Chef’s Notes
* Keep refrigerated for up to a month.
* Empty rum bottles are great for keeping Coquito.
* Sprinkle with a little cinnamon before serving.
* If you live in Florida and can get Don Q rum, I highly recommend it!!!

There are a lot of sweet and salty combos hitting store shelves and bakeries these days. When it comes to this trendy combo, on the top in my list you will find salted caramel cupcakes from More in Chicago and the simpler things, like kettle corn. I have been wanting to try my hand at salted caramels for some time, and it finally happened.

Salted Caramels

Salted Caramels

I can not post the recipe for the caramels here. The original recipe, is a family recipe that came from one of my good friend’s late grandmother. However, any well rated recipe from Cooks Illistrated, or even Epicurious, should do the trick. Just add 2 teaspoons of Fleur de Sel as you are cooking it, and then sprinkle some more over the top as they cool. Just make sure to use very good quality salt. Also, don’t take the mix past 140 degrees if you want a chewy consistency.

I have received several emails inquiring about our Christmas Eve Menu. Is there such a thing as a specific menu? Kidding! At our house is a day of munching leading up to an actual meal. Actually, this is going to be a quick and easy post, as two of the dinner recipes are coming from Epicurious. I have been so busy that the 24th has snuck up and I didn’t really get a chance to think up a new dishes. With that, here are some tried and tested recipes.

Christmas Eve Menu

  • Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes – roast the garlic and set aside. In a skillet, cook onions in butter until softened. Place the onion mixture in a medium pot, add equal amounts of cream and milk. Add this mixture to your mashed potatoes and fold in the roasted garlic.
  • Beef Brisket with Merlot and Prunes
  • Creamed Corn Casserole – you can simplify this recipe by using French’s Onions and Hormel’s Real Bacon instead of making your own onion rings and cooking the bacon at home. One of my clients raved over this one at Thanksgiving!

and dessert… how can I forget dessert… also from my friends at Epi

  • Cranberry Eggnog Tart – because I am not a huge fan of bourbon, I plan on substituting with Bacardi Anejo. After all, this girl has got to support the economy of the homeland!