Empanadas, Quesitos, Paella and more…

Archive for the ‘Latin cuisine’ Category

Entertaining 411

The number one question we get from our clients during the event planning process is how much food and beverages they need to serve their guests. The most important factor you need to consider is the type of event; formal (sit down), buffet (self served) or passed (Hors D’oeuvres).

For formal or sit down events, the amount of food is pretty much determined by the number of place settings. However, if you are planning a self served buffet or passed Hors D’oeuvres, there some other basic factors you need to consider.

  • Day of the week – as a general rule; people are more relax during the weekend so they tend to eat more and try new things.
  • Time of the event – the closer to a meal time, the more people will expect.
  • Length of the event – the longer the event, the more you will need.
  • Age group of people – this is a very important one and one most people over look. Single and young people will always eat more. Married couples (especially with kids) are on a daily schedule and they always plan for the “what if”; so there’s a very good chance they will have a snack before showing to your event. The same with the elders; they are on the clock and have a daily plan for their meals and snacks.
  • Type of food – this is a critical one. Themed events, as well as ethic food can turn into a disaster. You know your guests more than anyone else so run down the list to get an idea if a themed event will be a good idea. If so, try to stay within the most popular ones; like Mexican, Italian, Caribbean or American. Combining a couple of them is not a bad idea.

Here are some other tips,

  • Always round-up your estimates.
  • Anticipate which food selections will be most popular and serve more of them than the general portion guidelines suggest.
  • The more choices you offer, the smaller your calculation of individual portion size should be.
  • Assume your guests will taste everything on a buffet, but the tastes will be small. However, overall consumption per individual will be greater than if there were fewer choices.
  • Add “bulk” items to your menu such as bread, crackers, nuts, olives, cheese, etc.

What about individual serving size? Here is basic guidelines caterers use for various foods. Multiply these estimates by your number of guests and, once again, always round-up your estimates.

Portion Size Per Person

Hors d’oeuvre

  • 6 bites when preceding a meal.
  • 4 – 6 bites per hour when hors d’oeuvre are the meal.
  • The longer your party and the larger your guest list, the greater the number of selections you should offer.

The Main Meal

  • Poultry, meat or fish – 6 ounces when you have one main dish, 4 ounces when you offer two or more main courses.
  • Rice, grains – 1.5 ounces as a side dish, 2 ounces in a main dish such as risotto.
  • Potatoes – 5 ounces
  • Vegetables – 4 ounces
  • Beans – 2 ounces as a side dish
  • Pasta – 2 ounces for a side dish, 3 ounces for a first course, 4 ounces for a main dish
  • Green Salad – 1 ounce undressed weight

Desserts

  • 1 slice cake, tart or pastry
  • 4 ounces creamy dessert such as pudding or mousse
  • 5 ounces ice cream
  • When serving two of the above, reduce each by half.

Beverages

  • 1 drink per person every ½ hour for the first hour, then 1 drink per hour for each additional hour.

General Beverages (coffee, tea, juice, water) – 1 gallon = 128 oz or 16– 8 oz cups in a gallon (2 cups per person)

Beer

  • 1 case beer serves 24-12 oz bottles
  • 1 keg beer serves 165.3 –12 oz beers or 15.5 gallons
  • 1 keg = 7 cases of beer
  • 1 pony keg (1/2 keg) serves 83-12 oz beers or 7.5 gallons

Wine/Champagne

  • 1 bottle of wine serves 5 (5 oz glasses)
  • 1 case of wine = 12 bottles of wine serves (60-5 oz glasses)
  • 1 bottle champagne serves 6 (4 oz glasses)

A Few Other Menu Planning Tips

  • Don’t repeat a main ingredient. For example, don’t serve a shrimp appetizer and shrimp main dish.
  • Consider the colors of the food that will be served together and make sure there is variety.
  • Offer both hot and cold foods on a buffet.

Tips when hiring a caterer,

  • Big is not always better. Some big companies sub contract their work to smaller ones. Verify this is not the case with yours.
  • Ensure they have a cancellation policy.
  • Find out when is the last day to provide a final count.
  • If they are serving the food, ask them about their left-over policy.
  • Ask for references.

We hope these tips have been helpful. For more information, please visit us at http://www.piscolabiscatering.com.

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Arroz Relleno con Pollo (rice with chicken)

This is one of my favorite recipes. An adaptation of my mother’s suitable for freezing.  Although there is not a lot of ingredients; it is time consuming so allow plenty of time to prepare. The rice is cooked and layered with chicken, bacon, onions and mozzarella cheese; then oven baked. It can be served as an entrée or side dish. 
 
Total time – 3-4 hr
 
Yield – 6-8 servings
 
Serving suggestion –  with your favorite salad and ripped fried plantains on the side.
 
Ingredients
  • 1 whole chicken cut into pieces
  • 2 Medium onion diced
  • 1 lb of bacon diced into small pieces
  • 3 cups rice; uncooked
  • 8 cups of water (divided, 4,2,2)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 4-6 packets of powdered chicken bouillon
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese.
  • salt to taste

Procedure – to save time, the first four steps can be done at the same time.

Fully cook the chicken by boiling or baking it. Don’t worry about adding flavor to the chicken at this point. Once done, remove skin and shred the chicken. Set aside.

On a large skillet, combine the onion and bacon and cook at low-med heat until the bacon gets browned (not crispy). The bacon will provide plenty of salt and the fat from the bacon will prevent the mix from sticking to the pan; however, you must stir the mix constantly to ensure that the onions and bacon are cooked evenly.

Once your bacon and onions are done, mix in the shredded chicken. Add 1 packet of the chicken bouillon into 2 cups of water and add to the mix.  Cover the skillet and let the mix simmer in low heat while you finish cooking the rice.

Cook the rice – On an aluminum cast (caldero), pour in 4 cups of water, add the 4 packets of powdered chicken bouillon and butter. Cover and bring to a boil to make sure the butter melts. Add salt if needed. (Note: The water mix should be the salty side). Bring heat down to medium, add the rice and stir. Cover once the excess water has evaporated. Cook the rice as you would normally do to achieve proper tenderness.

Put it together….like a lasagna.

Pre-heat oven at 350 degrees. dissolve 1 packet of powdered chicken bouillon in 2 cups of water a set aside. Grease the bottom of a deep rectangular pan.  Pour in some of the rice and press it to create a layer of about 1  to 1 1/2 inches deep. Add the chicken mix and spread across the pan. Sprinkle some of the mozzarella cheese. Cover the chicken mix with another layer of rice; pressing it firmly. Cover with the rest of the mozzarella cheese. Splash the chicken bouillon water mix across the pan.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake until the cheese melts. Remove aluminum foil and broil until golden brown. Cut and serve like a lasagna.

Buen Provecho.

For great party trays and dinner packages visit us at www.piscolabicatering.com.

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Picadillo (Piscolabis Style)

Picadillo is a traditional dish in many Latin American countries; specially in the Caribbean. It is made with with ground meat (usually beef), tomato sauce, and other ingredients that vary by region.

It is often served with rice or used as a filling in dishes such as tacos, empanadas, pastries and croquettes.

This is our version.

Total time – about 30 min

Yields – 4 servings

Serving suggestion – with white rice and tostones on the side.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground meat
  • 2 oz. chopped cooking ham or 3 slices diced bacon
  • 2 tsp. sofrito
  • 2 tsp. recaito
  • ½ small onion, diced
  • ¼ cup diced green pepper
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsps. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 8 chopped or sliced olives
  • 1 tsp. capers
  • 1 envelope of Sazón with achiote
  • 1- 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 small box of raisins

Procedure

Brown the ground meat in a small caldero or frying pan and drain. Add ham or bacon (or both), sofrito, recaito, onion and green pepper, tomato, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper, olives and capers, Sazón, raisins and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, then cover and cook for 15 minutes or so over low heat. Cook another 15 minutes or so uncovered. Stir occasionally.

Buen provecho!

For great party trays and dinner packages visit us at www.piscolabiscatering.com

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Cuban Coconut and Rum Flan

Flan is a staple dessert all across the Caribbean and Latin America. This recipe it’s the newest addition to our dessert menu; it’s easy to make and best when chilled overnight in the same pie dish and served the next day.

Total time – about 1 1/2 hr

Yields – 12 servings

Serving suggestion – by itself or a-la-mode with a scoop of French Vanilla Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 large whole eggs
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 3/4 cups coconut milk
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum

Procedure

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Have ready a 9-inch round glass pie dish. Place a clean kitchen towel in the bottom of shallow baking pan large enough to hold pie dish. Fill baking pan with enough boiling water to come halfway up sides of dish; carefully transfer baking pan to oven.

Place 3/4 cup sugar in a heavy-bottomed, medium skillet. Place over medium-high heat; cook until sugar begins to melt, swirling pan. Continue cooking until melted and medium-dark brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; pour caramelized sugar into pie dish. Swirl dish until sugar evenly coats bottom; let cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together remaining 3/4 cup sugar, salt, eggs, and egg yolks until combined. Whisk in remaining ingredients until combined. Pour into pie dish; transfer to hot-water bath in oven. Bake until flan is almost set (it will appear loose in center but continue cooking as it cools), 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer baking pan to a wire rack until water cools; then transfer pie dish to wire rack to cool.

When ready to serve, run a knife between flan and pie dish. Place a serving dish on top of flan; invert. Slice, and garnish with any remaining syrup.

Buen Provecho!

For other great desserts please visit us at www.piscolabiscatering.com

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Spicy Coconut Shrimp with a sweet and zesty mango marmalade dipping sauce

Coconut shrimp a very versatile dish that can be served as an entreė or appetizer. Our version has a spicy kick and we serve it as an Hors D’oeuvres with a  sweet and zesty mango marmalade dipping sauce.

Total time – 30 min.

Yields – 1 party tray for 8-12 people.

Serving suggestion – as an Hors D’oeuvres

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup beer
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper (adjust heat to taste)
  • 2 cups flaked coconut
  • 24 large shrimps
  • 3 cups oil for frying

Procedure

In medium bowl, combine egg, 1/2 cup flour, beer, ground red pepper and baking powder. Place 1/4 cup flour and coconut in two separate bowls.    

Hold shrimp by tail, and dredge in flour, shaking off excess flour. Dip in egg/beer batter; allow excess to drip off. Roll shrimp in coconut, and place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil to 350 degrees F in a deep-fryer.

Fry shrimp in batches: cook, turning once, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Using tongs, remove shrimp to paper towels to drain. Serve warm with your favorite dipping sauce.

Sweet and Zesty Mango Marmalade Dipping Sauce

  • 2 tbsp. mango marmalade (if not available, may be replaced with peach)
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp. orange juice
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 3 tbsp prepared white horseradish

Combine all ingredients until well blended. Chill until ready to serve.

Buen Provecho!

For other party trays ideas visit us at www.piscolabiscatering.com

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Platanutres con Mojito Isleño

Want to skip the traditional chips and salsa? Then you have to try this.

Platanutres (plantain chips) are a popular snack in Puerto Rico. They are known as mariquitas in Cuba, trompetas in the Dominican Republic, and chicharitos de plátano verde in Costa Rica. Versions also exist in India, where the chips are often cooked in coconut oil, and Southeast Asia, where it is common to rub them with turmeric and salt before frying.

Not to be confused with the popular rum cocktail, Mojito Isleño is a Puerto Rican sauce normally used as a topping for seafood dishes; specially grilled or fried fish such as the Red Snapper. It is also used as a side dipping sauce for tostones and platanutres. This sauce was originated in the southern town of Salinas which is known  as “La Cuna del Mojito Isleño” (the cradle of the islander dip).

There are hundreds of different recipes; however, the basic ingredients are the same. The main difference you will find it’s in the level of heat. Some people make it spicy, others don’t. Either way, it’s very tasty and very versatile. You can prepare it overnight and keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

Total time – 25 min

Yields – plenty of chips…

Ingredients

  • 4 green plantains
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 medium-large green bell peppers, seeded, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 8 teaspoons crushed garlic
  • 1 medium bunch cilantro, washed and chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups canned tomato sauce
  • Hot sauce of your choice to taste, optional
  • ½ cup chopped pimento-stuffed green olives.

Procedure

For the Mojito Isleño

Heat pan over medium heat, pour in oil and sauté bell pepper and onion until they begin to soften.

Add garlic and cilantro, salt and pepper. Cook five minutes over low heat.

Add tomato sauce and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add hot sauce, if desired.

Before removing from heat, add olives. Cool and refrigerate.

Serve in bowl

For the Platanutres

Trim off both ends from each of the plantains with a sharp knife, then make a few slits through the skin the length of each plantain. Push your thumb between the skin and the flesh and pry skin away from flesh. It will come off in pieces, like bark from a tree. Trim off any woody fiber stuck to plantains. Slice plantains crosswise into thin rounds.

Pour oil into a large heavy skillet to a depth of 1/2”, then heat to 350° on a candy thermometer over medium-high heat. Add plantain slices a few at a time to the oil to prevent them from sticking to one another, and fry them in batches until lightly golden and crisp, about 3 minutes.

Transfer plantain chips with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Season to taste with salt while still hot and serve them in a chip bowl next to the Mojito Isleño.

Buen Provecho!

For great party trays and dinner packages ideas visit us at www.piscolabiscatering.com

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Grilled Chicken Breast with Chimichurri

Chimichurri is a delicious marinade that is typically used on beef, but its flavors make it outstanding on chicken or even fish. It biggest advantage is that you can prepare it well in advance as it can be refrigerated for long periods of time. As a matter of fact, the longer you let it sit, the more flavor you are going to get out of it. This is a great alternative for a last-minute meal. Grilling the chicken will bring out even more flavor to the dish.

Total time – 20 minutes

Yield – 6 servings

Serving suggestions – Make it a light meal by just adding your salad of choice or vegetable medley. Asparagus are a great option.

Ingredients

  •  6 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Thin-Sliced
  • 1/4 cup canola or olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Chimichurri

  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 small hot pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sweet red pepper, ground
  • 2 bay leaves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Procedure

Season chicken with 1/4 cup of oil, salt and pepper.

Mix all the Chimichurri ingredients and set aside in a covered glass bowl. Let it sit for 12 hours, mixing occasionally to bring out the flavor and aroma of the ingredients.

In a saucepan or on a grill, brown the chicken breasts on both sides.

Spoon the Chimichurri on top of the chicken and serve.

Buen provecho!

For great party trays and dinner packages ideas visit us at www.piscolabiscatering.com

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