Basic Marinara

June 12th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 2 cups of sauce


2 tablespoons olive oil
9 medium tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup garlic, chopped fine
1 small yellow onion, chopped fine
1 carrot, chopped fine
1 red pepper, chopped fine
1 green pepper, chopped fine
½ cup red wine
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
½ cup fresh oregano, chopped fine
½ cup fresh basil, chopped fine
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped fine


Sauté garlic, onions, carrots, and chili flakes in olive oil on medium heat until soft. Place all remaining ingredients except ½ cup oregano in a large pot and bring to a boil. Place on low and simmer for about 45 minutes stirring regularly until all tomatoes are broken down. With a handheld food processor blend all ingredients in the pot until totally smooth and all ingredients are well blended. Skins are included in the sauce because they give a very rustic look and texture and provide a quick, easy sauce. Cook blended sauce on low for another 10 minutes adding more salt to taste. When finished , add remaining fresh oregano. Boil sauce on a low boil uncovered for another 10-20 minutes or until you reach desired thickness. Add remaining chopped oregano at end.

Nacatamales (Nicaraguan Tamales)

May 6th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 15 tamales (large)

Nacatamales are similar to Mexican tamales but they are quite large and filled with a potato, rice, corn, vegetable and herb mixture and are typically served on holidays and special occasions. This recipe makes ½ size portions of the traditional tamale.


For the tamale dough

2 cups masa harina
2 cups pork stock, reserved from poached pork
½ cup lard
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lime zest

For the filling

1 pound pork butt cubed (about 1 inch cubes)
1 medium red onion, sliced thin
1 medium green bell pepper, sliced thin
2 medium tomatoes, chopped medium
1 cup fresh corn, chopped fine
½ cup long grain rice, cooked al dente
3 potatoes, 1-inch cubes (about 1½ cups)
½ cup fresh mint, chopped fine
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped fine
Juice of 3 limes
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon hot sauce of choice
Banana leaf squares


For the tamale dough

In a large mixing bowl combine the masa harina, lime zest, and 2 cups of the reserved pork liquid. Mix well. In a kitchen aid or with an electric mixer, mix the lard until fluffy or about five minutes. A little at a time mix the lard into the masa harina until fully incorporated. Mix in the baking powder and the salt and mix well. The dough is ready (well mixed) when a small piece of the dough floats in a glass of cold water.

For the filling & assembly

In a large mixing bowl combine the filling ingredients and mix well, making sure the rice is well combined. In the center of each banana, place about 4 tablespoons of masa harina mixture. Flatten with a spoon leaving about 1 inch around each border of the banana leaf. Atop that place about 2 tablespoons meat and vegetable mixture. Fold over the banana leaf like you are folding a present. Tie the wrapped package with banana leaf ties or kitchen twine.

Place the wrapped tamales in a steamer and cover the top of the tamales with a kitchen towel (to prevent drips from making tamales soggy). Steam tamales on medium heat for about 45-60 minutes or until soft and cooked through.

Nicaraguan Baho (Beef Steak Cooked in Banana Leaves)

May 6th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Serves 6


1 pound beef brisket, cut into strips
3 cloves garlic
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 green pepper, sliced thin
1 medium white onion, sliced thin
Juice of 5 limes
1 tablespoon salt
1 ripe plantain, sliced
½ pound yucca, cubed
Banana leaves


In a large bowl, mix together beef, garlic, tomatoes, green peppers, onions, lime juice and salt. Place in the refrigerator covered and marinate overnight. In a large steamer with about 3 inches of water, cover the bottom of the steamer with banana leaves about two layers, making sure there are no holes exposed from the steamer (all steamer holes should be covered with banana leaves). Place the plantain and the yucca on the bottom over the banana leaves and then add the marinated vegetables and beef, including any juices. Cook on high for about 1 hour or until tender. The Baho is typically served on banana leaves with Ensalada de Repollo (Cabbage Salad).

Spicy Italian Sausage Baked with Tomatoes & Potatoes

December 6th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Serves 6 (makes 6-9 sausages)


For the Sausage

2 pounds pork butt, cubed into ½-inch cubes
½ pound pork fat, slab bacon, or fatback
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped fine
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped fine
¼ cup fresh marjoram, chopped fine
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Casings of your choice

For the Baked Sausage Dish

6-9 spicy Italian sausage
2 medium sized green peppers, seeds and pit removed, cut into long strips
2 medium russet potatoes, cut into wedges
1 can (28-ounces) crushed tomatoes
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon salt


For the Sausages

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl very well, and refrigerate for about 2 hours. Using the finest blade on your meat grinder, grind all of the ingredients, following the instructions. If you are making links, put the mixture back in the mixing bowl, and place in the freezer for a little while. Meanwhile, soak the casings in warm water, and rinse a few times. Using your sausage stuffer, slip the casing onto the stuffing tube, making sure you leave about 6 inches off the ened of the tube- this is where you will need to tie the sausages off later. Remove the meat from the freezer, and place it in the body of the sausage stuffing machine. If all the meat does not fit (you must acquit, just kidding), place the rest back in the refrigerator until your are ready. Turn the mahcine on, and begin the process- air will be the first thing to emerge. As the meat begins to slide out, use one hand to maneuver the speed of the sausage output. Let the sausage emerge into one long coil- the links will be tied later in the process. When the sausage is done, turn off the machine, and tie up the ends- you can use meat or butchers twine. To make individual links, pinch a section together, then spin the links, and turn them opposite from each other several times; repeat this moving down the entire main link. Hang the links up so you can review for air bubbles. Using a sterilized pin or sewing needle, pop each section that has an air bubble with the pin, and the link should move flat and the air bubble should be released. Hang the links for about an hour, and then refrigerate them covered in the refrigerator overnight. Use them or freeze them within about a week (or lose it).

For Baked Sausage Dish

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients. Place in an oven proff baking dish with a lid, and bake for about 1 hour or until potatoes are soft.

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