Mary Beth Writes

Who is Franc? 

Hi, this is Franc and I am Puerto Rican and I am talking Sofrito, so listen up, Amigos…

 "Sofrito" is a blend of herbs - cilantro, culantro, oregano, ají dulce (Puerto Rican sweet peppers) red bell pepper, onion, and garlic - that are blended together in a food processor and then sautéed (frito means fried) in achoté (annato) oil.

I was invited to a get-together at the house of some friends recently. Tom likes to cook and had asked me the week before how to make "arroz con pollo" aka chicken and rice. I explained how to do it and told him that I would bring him a jar of my sofrito on Labor Day. He responded that he had already picked some up at the Latin grocery store in town and I told him that that was his first mistake. I make my own. Thanks, Mom!  

My mother taught me how to make sofrito years ago, soon after she announced that she was retiring and moving back to the island. I asked her who was going to make Puerto Rican food for me. She replied, “Sit down here and I'll teach you!” So I did. (It was always wisest to do what my mom told you to do, even if you were well into your 40’s.)

Tom admitted the stuff he bought was watery and flavorless. He’d made a pot of black beans for the party and had used his sofrito. The beans were OK but not nearly as flavorful as they could have been. After the party they sent me home with some of the leftovers, and as they always do they used containers that they save for such occasions. (Frugal people seem to be my type.)

One of the containers I got was from Tom’s sofrito so I read the ingredient list. It contained things like capers, olives and adobó seasoning. Now don't get me wrong, I love all three of those things just NOT in my sofrito. We use olives and capers in a lot of our recipes but they are added as part of the cooking process. As for the adobó seasoning it's a mixture of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and oregano and is used to season meat, poultry, fish and seafood. It has no place in Sofrito because most of that stuff is already in the fresh ingredients list. Plus salt should never be added to sofrito, it should be used as you are cooking. (Salt is always one of the last things I add.)

Sofrito to a Puerto Rican - is what herbs de Provance is to the French - or garam marsala is to Indian food - or what a rue or The Holy Trinity (celery, onion, bell pepper) is to a Creole or Cajun cook. Without sofrito it’s just not Puerto Rican!

I remember my Mother making a huge batch of it just before the holidays and the way it made the entire house smell like the island, with promise of some really good eats in the near future; especially the labor intensive stuff that was only made for the Holidays.  

I now make it in large batches, put it up in canning jars and pop it in the freezer or the fridge. It can be added to soups, beans, rice, and mashed potatoes - or used like pesto on pasta. It can be mixed with rum, lemon or lime juice. and rubbed on fish, meat or poultry overnight so that the flavor goes into the meat. Or stir fry shrimp in a 50/50 mixture of butter and Sofrito. Or use that same mixture to make some truly tasty garlic bread.

….

Hi, this is Mary Beth. Franc and I were texting about Sofrito and I casually suggested he should teach a class and we could do it at my house (my kitchen is not under construction). 

Within five minutes we came up with this idea and now we wonder if it is a good one. Let us know…

Do you want to learn how to make Sofrito?

If 5-10 people are interested, we will host a Sofrito Bandito Class in my house here in Waukesha, WI on Saturday, November 3. We will start about 11 and go until we’re done, probs around 2-3:00.

Yes, this is the Saturday BEFORE the election. If you are canvassing, we salute you!  The 3rd is the only Saturday we have open in November.  

We are ASKING each person to pay $10-$100 for this class – pay the most you think you can contribute because we will use your money to 1.) buy the ingredients and then 2.) Donate all the rest to:  Casa Puebla  in Puerto Rico – http://casapueblo.org/

Casa Puebla installs solar panels in Puerto Rican communities so that they will not be so devastated and dependent after storms. They also supply 12V refrigerators, so that if electricity goes out, medicine can be kept cool.

Here’s what YOU will get:

  1. Fun and knowledge!
  2. A small jar of Sofrito to take home
  3. Lunch of smoked pork (Len is on duty), rice, plus a mojito and/or Hibiscus tea!

Please respond to me at MB@MaryBethDanielson.com or to this website if you are interested.  Right now we want to know if people are interested. You can pay your money the day of.

Gracias!

Comments

Sounds like fun, but I'll be out of town!
Mary Beth's picture

If there are others who would like to do this but are also not going to be around 11/3 - let us know and if it makes sense, we will try a day in 2019.

It does sound like fun. To bad we live 4 hours away. Darn it
Mary Beth's picture

Someone has to look a little further into shape-shifting...

It was a great idea; Great cooking lesson, great food and beverages, great company and conversation. Thank you Franc for sharing your lovely mom's recipes and your cooking skills. And thank you Mary Beth and Len for opening up your beautiful home. Viva Puerto Rico!
Mary Beth's picture

Thanks for attending. It was great to meet you (more) and have an interesting afternoon. Franc said later, "Wow, making sofrito usually takes hours. I looked over and they had everything chopped so fast!" Here's the 'best' - together we raised $325 to send to Casa Puebla in Puerto Rico!

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WHITE CAKE!

The picture is our wedding cake, made by my friend Karen, who drove it from Indiana to Chicago on the hottest day of that year. It was in the back seat so their two little boys had to ride in front (remember when kids could ride in front?). They got lost in the city but I didn't know that for years because Karen and her husband start early and had time to get lost and then figure it out. Sometimes wedded bliss is a lot of work. 

The following story and recipe is not about the wedding cake, but it is the photo I have...

...

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