I’m so excited!! This is my first post! And I’m glad because, if there is a menu or recipes that could represent the whole purpose and message of this blog, these are the ones. Hi, my name is Devorak Amadeo and I’m the mother of a beautiful girl named Mariana, who was born with a brain injury. Throughout her and because of her, I learned the relevance of good and honest food in people’s lives. I amaze myself everyday on how the authentic things in the world are the most beneficial and, ironically, pretty attainable.
We were blessed finding a place to help us treat Mariana at a very early point in her life. She was 9 months when we began her neurological organization program at The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential in Philadelphia, PA, a place that feels second home to us. Part of the program is the nutritional program. If anyone has heard about The Institutes program, you’ll know that this is not an add-more-fruits-and-vegetables nutritional kind of program, this is a hard core-strict-and-measure-every-ounce program. We had to take a great amount of nutrition courses, about how to combine foods properly, how to maximize caloric density and nutritional value for specific concerns, how to leave outside things our body doesn’t need, and so on.
You see, as many people, my husband was without a job a few years ago, thanks to the economic chaos the world was living. It was that moment when the "gourmet" part begun. All of our resources went to keep Mariana’s program uncompromised. We couldn’t afford going out to nice places for dinner on date nights, as we sometimes used to do. But after our daughter was born, we re-learned how to be thankful and happy in any situation.
That’s when I, with whatever I had, started experimenting with new flavors, recreating as much as possible dishes that we love from our favorite restaurants with the ingredients I had on my hands. And never forgetting that no matter how humble the dish, a beautiful presentation made with love and imagination will fill the table with joy. Because in food, and as everything in life, when you pursue the beauty and realness of things you have in hand, the sense of personal satisfaction makes you feel accomplished. And that is an amazing feeling!
After realizing cooking is a real passion for me, I started taking different cooking courses to learn more and, combined with the knowledge I already had, sharpen my techniques and flavors. Now, for the last year and a half, I’ve had the opportunity to write a weekly cooking column at Metro News, the world largest newspaper, in its Puerto Rico edition. This has been a treat and a learning experience, sharing ideas with amazing Puerto Rican chefs and food lovers alike.
The recipes of this suggested menu are simple and beautiful. But put together they could bring some flair to your dinner table, just using common ingredients in a different way. Plus, a dish of fish over some mashed yams or potatoes and a fresh salsa on top is very popular in the most delicious restaurants here in Puerto Rico, so I hope you enjoy it and let me know how it went for you.
PS – This was long because it’s my introduction. But I promise it’s not my style, I prefer on keeping posts shorter, because I prefer that you have more time to spend in the kitchen!!
Mango & Avocado Salsa
About 2 cups
Total time - 30 minutes Active time - 10 minutes
Freshly squeezed lemon juice – ¼ cup, about 2 lemons
Extra virgin olive oil – ½ cup
White vinegar – 1 Tsp
Red pepper flakes – ¼ - ½ Tsp
Fine sea salt – ¼ Tsp or more to taste
Natural sugar – 1/8 Tsp or a pinch
Parsley, finely chopped – ¼ cup
Basil, finely chopped – ¼ cup
Avocado, in small cubes – 1 cup, about 1 small
Slightly ripe mango, in small cubes – 1 cup, about 1 medium
In a medium mixing bowl mix the lemon juice, oil, vinegar, pepper flakes, salt and sugar. Add the parsley, basil, avocado and mango and combine everything, until the avocado and mango pieces are well covered with the dressing. Let it chill on the refrigerator for 25 to 30 minutes or while you cook the fish and sweet potatoes.
Sweet Potato Mash
3 to 4 persons
Total time - 40 minutes Active time - 15 minutes
Sweet potato, skin washed and cut into 1” round pieces – 1 medium
Salt for boiling – 1 Tsp or more to taste
Unsalted butter – 2 TBSP
Heavy cream – ½ cup
Plain greek yogurt – 1 TBSP
Cooking water – ½ - ¾ cup
Put the sweet potato pieces in a pan and cover them with water thru the top. Add the salt and bring to a boil. Cook for 20 – 25 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are tender and you can easily pinch them through with a fork. Take each piece out from the water to a cutting board or large plate and separate the skin. Put the piece in a medium bowl and repeat with the rest of the sweet potato pieces. Do not discard the cooking water.
With a whisker, a masher or a fork, begin to mash into big chunks, then add the butter, heavy cream, and yogurt. Using an immersion blender begin to crush the big chunks until you almost reach a smooth and silky texture. Use some of the cooking water to help in the process. Try to not over mix with the immersion blender because you could end with sticky sweet potatoes. When almost done, use again the whisker or fork to finish blending any additional liquid you may want to add to achieve the desired consistency.
Total and active time - 15 minutes
Halibuts filets – 4, 3-4 oz each
Fine sea salt – 1 Tsp
Freshly ground black pepper – ½ Tsp
Olive oil – 2 TBSP
Butter or oil spread – 1 Tsp.
Season well both sides of the fish with salt and pepper.
In a large sauté pan, preferably stainless steel, slightly heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Place the fillets on the skillet and cook them for 5 to 7 minutes, until the bottom begins to caramelize and you feel it can come off without resistance. (As a rule, if you can’t move the fish, or any meat for that matter, because it is still stuck to the pan, that means it's not ready yet to turn.) Turn them over and cook for 3 to 4 minutes more, until the fish feels firm when you push it with a fork or the corner of a spatula. Retire from heat.
Serve over the sweet potatoes with the mango and avocado salsa on top.