Homemade Smoked Sofrito

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Hola! Today I am going to teach you how to make sofrito. What is sofrito? Go ahead and pronounce it out loud. Nobody’s listening. If you sound like a nonchalant corn chip, you’re saying it all wrong. First rule of thumb: sofrito is not sofrito if you don’t pronounce it correctly. Let’s say it together. “SO- FRRRRREE- TOH” Roll that R! Feel sexy while you’re saying it! There you go! You got it!

Sofrito is a Puerto Rican staple. (Not to be confused with Italian Soffritto which is a type of mirepoix). It’s a blend of your basic Caribbean aromatics, used as a base in most traditional Latin dishes. I was first introduced to sofrito by my good friend Dorian. She is a first generation Purto Rican-American, Brooklyn raised, rock star who makes the BEST Arroz con Gandulez on this side of the western hemisphere. You can tell her I said that. Maybe one day I can share her recipe with you guys. That is, if I can get her to share it with me first!

I made my first batch of Smoked Sofrito this summer when I had an overflowing abundance of sweet bell peppers (red and green), tomatoes, and onions from my garden. Not wanting to make the usual pico de gallo, I came up with a brilliant idea. Smoke them! At this point I still didn’t know where I was going with this idea but I couldn’t let that little extra space in the smoker go to waste. J-Wiz was already in the midst of getting his smoker prepared for his famous smoked turkey legs and ribs so why not? BEST IDEA EVER. I discovered an awesome way to preserve all the beautiful summer produce I had, essentially all the ingredients sofrito is made up of. JACKPOT!

What you’ll need:

-A smoker

-A bunch of plastic shot glasses and plastic wrap

-All the tomatoes, green/ red bell peppers, and onions you want. One head of garlic and a handful of fresh cilantro.

THAT IS IT. Does your family like spicy? Add some jalapeno. Go light on the onion if you want. My recipe becomes your recipe. The only time I will “go all Hitler on you” is if you come in my kitchen, while I’m in the middle of creating a masterpiece, and start sticking your fingers in stuff. J-Wiz can vouch for that!

Okay, let’s do this. First you want to make sure your smoker is ready to go. Just like you would pre-heat your oven. Next, cut each pepper in half and get rid of the seeds. Peel and half the onions, and do the same with the tomatoes. The tomato skins will easily pull away once they’ve been smoked. If you want to peel each garlic clove, go for it. Who am I to judge you? I just went ahead and cut the top off of the entire bulb and keep them all together. They will easily pop out later. Toss the veggies in a little olive oil, salt and pepper and spread out, in a single layer on to a foil roasting pan.

Place the pan in your smoker and forget about it. Go for a bike ride. Take your dog on a walk. I went to the beach. If I’m nowhere to be found on a hot July day, then that’s where I’ll be.

This is what it looked like when I got back. Almost as charred as I was. Gorgeous!

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They smoked for about 6 hours. When the veggies are tender and the skins are slightly brown/black, they’re done. Once everything has cooled to the touch, slide all the skins off of the peppers and tomatoes. Pop each garlic clove out of the bulb. Throw everything in your blender or food processor. Toss in a hand full of fresh cilantro (a generous sprinkle of cumin will prove to be delicious as well) and blend until smooth. Now is a good time to brush up on your pronunciation. All together: SO-FRRRREE-TOH. Let the R roll off your tongue. You want to sound like you know what you’re talking about!

When it’s nice and smooth with a consistency similar to applesauce, it’s done. Beautiful job! I like to store my Smoked Sofrito in those little plastic shot glasses. Each one holds about 2 Tbsp of Smoked Sofrito. After you’ve divided it all up, wrap each individual cup in plastic wrap and store in your freezer for up to 8 months.

Using Smoked Sofrito in all of your Spanish dishes will add a special something that will keep people guessing. With the hint of smoke, the fresh cilantro, and let’s not forget about your authentic pronunciation, you and your next Caribbean dinner will be a hit! Dorian tasted and Dorian approved.

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Pumpkin Puree Recipe

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Pumpkin in its purest form. So yummy. So easy. Throw away that canned junk! Okay, well don’t literally throw it away. Donate it to your Church or put it in your zombie apocalypse food storage bin. I know, cooking with fresh pumpkin can be pretty intimidating. Don’t fret, I’m here to give you some simple instructions on how to make your own pumpkin puree, store it for future use, and roast the seeds for a snack later. That’s right. We don’t waste anything around here!

Ingredients you’ll need:
-2 small-ish medium-sized baking pumpkins (you can use the jack-o-lantern sized ones if you dare but may run into some funny tastes and textures)

Yep, that’s it!

Ready?

Okay.

Start with pre-heating your oven to 375 degrees. Cut each pumpkin in half. Ready for some fun?

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Don’t be afraid to get a little messy. Get all up in there, using a spoon, and scrape out the “guts”. It’s actually a great way to put your kids to work! They love anything gross! Separate the seeds and set aside for later. After you’ve finished playing surgeon, wash your hands because you want total control while showing off your knife skills. I don’t know about you, but I like my fingers. Especially the third finger from my thumb. On my left hand. (this hint-hint goes out to J-Wiz).

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Now you’re going to cut each pumpkin half into quarters. You should have a total of 16 pumpkin wedges. That’s assuming one wedge didn’t “accidentally” fall to floor and Fido took off with it before you knew what was happening. (Did I mention raw pumpkin is an excellent, high-in-fiber doggie snack?) Line the wedges onto a cookie sheet, lined with foil for easy clean up, and pop into the oven. Do not add anything. No oil, no salt, NOTHING! We want 100% pumpkin here. Cook for 45 min. or until they are fork tender.

After the deed is done and these babies have cooled off, the pumpkin skin should easily peel away. Throw all the pumpkin “meat” into your blender or food processor. (compost the skins later) Blend until nice and smooth. I have a Ninja so I like to pretend I’m kicking that pumpkins ass into puree!

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You’re almost finished! I like to measure my pumpkin puree into 1/2 c portions. (That way I know how much I’m pulling out of the freezer) The re-closeable snack size bags work perfect. But you are welcome to use any measurement you’d like. Seal the bag all the way except for a tiny bit of opening. Now, flatten out the bag and squeeze out as much air as you can. Keep it going! You’re doing great! Done? Okay. Now lick your fingers. Yes, that’s right. I said it. How else will you be able to confirm that you have just made THE BEST home-made pumpkin puree on earth? Now see how important those fingers of yours are? Stack up your bags and store in your freezer for up to 6 months. (maybe even longer, but I wont tell)

Not only will you make the perfect pumpkin pie with this puree, you can also use it for breads, soups, sauces or pumpkin butter. The sky’s the limit! I’m even willing to bet a simple smoothie made with greek yogurt, banana, your famous PUMPKIN PUREE and dash of nutmeg would taste A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Enjoy!

**DON’T FORGET THE PUMPKIN SEEDS!! YOU CAN DO THIS WHILE THE PUMPKIN IS ROASTING IN THE OVEN!!**

-Boil the seed in salted water for about 15 minutes. This will help them have a nice crunch.
-Drain seeds in a colander then pat dry with a paper towel. They will stick to the paper towels but that’s okay. Just peel them off.
-Toss the seeds in a little bit of olive oil or melted butter and spread out on a cookie sheet.
-Roast in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. I like mine super crunchy.
-Season with whatever your little heart desires and WA-LA! Munch away!