Pollo Fricassee a La Habana

Lets face it.  We  love chicken. It’s on every menu in nearly every American restaurant and most of us have some sort of poultry in our refrigerators at any given time. Chicken comes in all shapes and sizes, on bone and off. We eat it deep fried and free range. We slice it up over salad greens and dice it up in fried rice. We  roast chickens   throughout  cold winters  and grill it  all Summer on the BBQ. And why not? Chicken is inexpensive, leaner than most other meats and ever so tempting.  It’s come to a point , though, where we have run out of inventive ways to prepare it (I will  NOT stick a beercan up its bum and bake it). So, how to prepare a succulent, simple, economic and healthful chicken dinner?  If you think ahead a little bit, you can prepare a gourmet meal in 20 minutes. The other night, I prepared a Pollo Fricassee ( chicken sauteed in onions, peppers, garlic, tomatoes and olives and red wine) just like you’ll find in any of my Cuban relatives homes.Such flavor, so simple, and rib sticking-ly good. I started with a sofrito I had made earlier in the week  (see recipe here), and reduced it a bit with some red wine while I grilled some chicken breasts.  I served the chicken  and delicious sauce over a bed of fluffy white rice and some steamed fresh kale and garlic. QUE RICO! .


(YIELD 3-4 Servings)                                                                                                          

6-8  boneless chicken breasts or thighs

1 cup prepared sofrito

2/3  cup red or white wine or amber beer


2/3 cup chicken stock and 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup pitted and sliced green olives  or seedless raisins (optional)

Salt and Pepper to Taste

Parsley, Chives, or Fresh Taragon for garnish (optional)



On platter, add a pinch of salt and pepper to chicken.

Preheat indoor or outdoor grill.

Place chicken on grill for 1-2 minutes per side til grill marks appear. Do not cook through. Set chicken aside on clean platter.

Grilled Chicken

In cast iron pan, heat sofrito mixture over medium heat til bubbling.

Add one cup of either red or white wine or beer (or stock and lemon juice) and allow to reduce by about one third ( about 5-7 minutes)

Add olives or raisins if desired

Stir occasionally.


Grilled Chicken in Fricassee Sauce




Place chicken pieces in mixture. With a large spoon, drench chicken with sauce. reduce heat to low and cover til chicken cooks through ( about 5 minutes).





Pollo Fricassee a La Habana with White Rice and Steamed Kale

Serve over white rice, potatoes and vegetables or alongside your favorite salad. and pour a glass of your favorite wine.














La Tortilla Española or Tortilla de Patatas

Chances are, if I have ever been lucky enough to serve you a meal, you’ve probably tasted Tortilla Española, the ubiquitous national anthem of Spanish cooking. So simple to prepare correctly, yet so complex in flavor. So much fun to present at the table, it can be served in pie-like slices with a few chunks of good bread, cut into cubes and served as tapas, or even served  as a weekend brunch with a nice salad and a chilled glass of bubbly Cava. My mother would often wrap it up as a sandwich for me to take to school for “merienda” or “snack time”  Traditional Spanish Tortilla is just an egg, potato and onion omelet, but the Spanish revel in the flavors of the sweet caramelized onions ,  potatoes bursting with crusty goodness, and  most importantly  eggs cooked to creamy perfection. (I can’t count the number of nights as a child in Barcelona I’d fall asleep to the sound of  beating eggs and sizzling potatoes frying  from neighboring homes and restaurants) In Spain, you wont go a block without seeing  stacked  Tortillas in  pincho bars or proper restaurants. What I miss most about Spain is  popping in for a quick bite of tortilla, pan con tomate ( tomato and bread) , a few olives, and a nice glass of wine before starting the evening. Que rico!


Tortilla de Patatas, olives, crusty bread, cheese, and wine. All on

Tortilla Española or Tortilla de Patatas

(serves 6-8 portions)

8 eggs

2-3 medium potatoes , peeled and diced (about 2 cups)

1 medium white or yellow onion,  diced (about 1 cup)

2 cups canola or vegetable oil for  frying potatoes and onions

2 tablespoons olive oil for omelet

salt to taste

parsley, olives, red peppers, etc  for garnish (optional)


In large mixing bowl, mix together potatoes and onions with 2 teaspoons  salt. Meanwhile, in a large cast iron  or deep frying pan heat over high heat  2 cups oil til a drop of water dances in the oil. Carefully add handfuls of potato and onions . Mixture should be covered in oil for deepfrying. Reduce heat to medium and allow to cook til slightly golden brown. About 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile in large mixing bowl, beat eggs with whisk and set aside. When potatoes are golden brown, remove from heat and carefully  drain oil from mixture with colander. (you may reserve the oil for future use or discard it)  Allow potatoes and onions to slightly cool. About 5-10 minutes.  With wooden spoon, add potato onion mixture to the bowl of eggs , mix, and allow to sit for 5 minutes.Meanwhile, heat olive oil in cast iron frying pan over low to medium heat.  Carefully add egg mixture and divide evenly through the pan, allow to bubble slightly while wiggling the frying pan to evenly cook the omelete.

Tortilla de Patatas


Just when the sides of omelet are beginning to brown, take a large serving plate and cover the pan. Over the kitchen sink, carefully place one hand on the frying pan handle and the other on top of the plate to hold it steady, quickly turn the frying pan over and the omelet will fall onto the plate. This is the hardest part of the omelet, and the worst that can happen right now is that you spill some mixture into the sink.But  you’re almost done!

Flip the tortilla and slide back into pan

With a spatula, carefully place flipped tortilla back into pan and cook for about 5 minutes longer . Insert a knife into omelet to test for desired creaminess. When done, return to serving plate and serve piping hot or garnish and serve  at room temperature. Salt to taste.

Spanish Omelet garnished with olives, red peppers and parsley ( you dont have to)


In The Beginning There Was…….Sofrito. (VIDEO)

The Sofrito

Back when I was a child in Spain, I’d wake up in the morning to the sweet aromas of onions,peppers, garlic and tomatoes frying from the kitchen. This “sofrito” was the basis of most  of our meals for the week. It was added to soup stocks, rice dishes, or grilled chicken breasts. My Cuban mother would often freeze the mixture and save it for Sunday beach parties where it would be the starter for our Paellas. Sofrito (which means lightly fried) is used in all types of Latin cooking, and each country adds their own little touches ,some add bay leaf, others oregano. I sometimes reduce some red wine in the mixture to give it an extra oomph. I’d be lost in the kitchen if I didnt have a sofrito to start off with. The sweetness of the caramelized onions and peppers  and the  lovely deep color of the tomatoes  remind me of Spain and my mother, but mostly it is the simplicity of preparing sofrito that makes me whip up a batch every week. Once you’ve prepared sofrito, a little goes a long way. Add half a cup to your sauteed vegetables, or to your chicken soup. Add a few spoonfuls to your scrambled eggs in the morning. Smear some on some toast for a great snack. Top those boring hot dogs with sofrito.I’ve also pureed it after I’ve  prepared it and added sherry to the mixture for an amazing dipping sauce for lamb or pork chops. Oh yeah. So versatile, so good, so easy.


Mi Sofrito ( yield 2 cups)

3 medium sized red,yellow,orange bell peppers, diced

1 large or 2 medium white onions, diced

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1 can plum tomatoes, chopped and drained (about 1 cup)

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons fresh parsley, coursely chopped

a pinch of salt

salt and pepper to taste

Sofrito Ingredients


In large cast iron or heavy duty skillet, fry the  onions and garlic over medium heat until lightly browned, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add peppers, parsley and a dash of salt. Stir well. Cook over medium heat , stirring occasionally until peppers begin to brown. Add half cup hot water and stir. Allow mixture to bubble . Add tomatoes, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.Salt and pepper to taste.

***The Bald Vivant’s Sofrito Video***

Sautee the peppers and onions garlic and parsley with a dash of salt til lightly browned.Add about 1/2 cup hot water and let bubble.

Add tomatoes, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes



Aunt Dianne’s Lemon & Anchovy Stuffed Artichokes

In honor of my dear Aunt Dianne, who is currently in Verona, Italy, I decided to try my hand at the wonderful artichokes she has made me all my life. I never actually watched her prepare the stuffing, but I guessed at what the ingredients were and added a few extra touches. The result was delicious, filling, and made for a wonderful lunch. Here’s the recipe for two artichokes, which serves two people, however I ate them both. Read the rest of this entry »


Holiday Tangerine and Toasted Walnut Salad

Need a  fun and easy side dish for the upcoming Holiday Season? I recently prepared a Tangerine and Toasted Walnut Salad  that wowed my guests. The hardest part of the dish is peeling and seperating  the tangerine slices . Toast the Walnuts on a cookie sheet in the oven for a few minutes ( you may use almonds or any other of your favorite nuts) After that  , simply drizzle a generous amount of balsamic vinegar over the tangerines, tossed with freshly chopped mint leaves, then sprinkle a few pinches of ground nutmeg and chili flakes. A delicious and refreshing Fall and Winter treat. So simple, unique, and affordable.Try it alongside your ham or turkey for the holidays!

Tangerines are everywhere these days, and especially delicious in season during the Winter.

Tangerine and Toasted Walnut Salad


Spend An Evening With The Bald Vivant


Some folks have hired The Bald Vivant to come into their home kitchens and prepare an evening of Tapas and Wine for  6-8 guests… I arrive with a few items Ive already prepared. Otherwise its like having your own  intimate cooking show right in the comfort of your own home.I focus on Spain, because its where I grew up and learned to cook and I love educating people on old school traditional Spanish fare. Its a fun night (including a Flamenco soundtrack) where you and your guests roll up your shirtsleeves and learn some tips on how  you too can be  a fabulous host . All while tasting and sipping the deliciousness of Spain. So if it’s at your grill at poolside in Summer,  by your fireplace in Fall, or for a festive Holiday gathering in December,  after an evening with The Bald Vivant , you will  have your friends drooling for more invites …We will prepare 6-8 Tapas dishes..Learn how to make delicious chorizo croquettes and stun your guests with specially selected Spanish Hams and Cheeses. Whats more, An  Evening with The Bald Vivant also includes appropriate wine pairings  and sangria that highlight the flavors of Spain.

Shrimp al Ajillo (Shrimp with Garlic Sauce)

For more info, menu consultation, holiday availability and rates, please contact The Bald Vivant directly at  (917) 279-0232 or at thebaldvivant@gmail.com.

*The Bald Vivant is currently available in the NY Tri State Area. Ask about special West Coast or Florida dates .


Grilled Flank Steak Rolled w Spinach,Goat Cheese and Chimichurri.

Grilled Flank Steak Rolled w Spinach,Goat Cheese and Chimichurri

I’m not your typical steak eater, so if you are a fan of a prime cut, served  bloody rare on a plate with a potato thrown onto it, read no further….

I prefer my steaks with tons of flavor using spices, garlic , accompanying sauces, or even lime. Today I sprinkled a flank steak with salt and black pepper, rolled it with chopped fresh spinach, goat cheese, and a chimichurri sauce ( simply olive oil, garlic parsley, red pepper flakes, and a dash of vinegar)…I rolled the steak, inserted skewers to keep its form, and threw it on the grill. Once I thought of the chimichurri, this dish was so simple to create.  Total Prep and Grilling time was 30 mins. The flank steak was a pricey $15 (at Whole Foods)..Total Cost (for 2) $20.

Its chilly outside, so I used my wonderful stove top grill. It makes me feel like it’s still Summer.


Grilled Flank Steak Rolled w Spinach,Goat Cheese and Chimichurri

Read the rest of this entry »


Seafood “YaYa” Gumbo


Seafood YaYa Gumbo

Id never made a gumbo before but I love cooking with seafood and rice, so I figured Id give it a shot. The big challenge was the roux and the amount of spices to use. It took alot of patience, but overall it was thrilling to make and the payoff was delicious! I didn’t use Okra or File, I made the roux with oil and flour….I used shrimp, crab meat, chicken thighs, and lots of fresh veggies,!I was content with the thickness of the roux and it was just spicy-hot enough for most of us. I served it over a bed of rice, a simple green salad with a citrus vinaigrette and big old hunks of  fresh Tuscan bread… YUM!

Seafood "Yaya" Gumbo over Rice

Read the rest of this entry »


Fall Fun with Freekeh

Good Cuban Italian boys know nothing about Freekeh!! Right?


Summer is over and the chill of Fall is in the air.Well, The Bald Vivant made Freekeh anyway . What a treat! Here’s  what I did  for  my Freekeh-Mushroom Risotto!“Freekeh (pronounced free-ka) is a super food and ingredient. It is ‘roasted green grains.’ Freekeh is a process and not the name of a grain variety.

Freekeh is 100% natural! The grains are harvested while still soft, young and green, then parched, roasted and dried.  The process captures and more importantly retains the grains at the state of peak taste and nutrition. Green grains are very different in properties to mature grains. The entire process is natural and only uses fire and air.” (from Freekehlicious.com)

Tonight I cooked up a healthy , delicious, nutty side dish of Freekeh and Mushrooms. The result was a hearty alternative to white  rice and much more adventurous than brown or wild rice. So simple to prepare, and unlike rice, it lasts in your fridge for days and days, so you can munch on leftovers all week. Freekeh is widely used in Mediterranean countries and in North African cooking. It’s not as well knon here in the States, and therefore a bit tricky to find. We found it at a Yonkers Middle Eastern shop, but you might have some luck at Whole Foods . Its worth searching for.

You can substitute any kind of veggies if you like (chopped asparagus or spinach sounds good to me), or Freekeh stands alone fine without any at all. I also used toasted pine nuts and chicken stock, you dont have to.


2 cups freekeh, soaked and rinsed and drained

4 cups chicken  stock , piping hot

1 medium onion, diced

1 sprig of thyme

1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped

1 tablespoon butter or olive oil

1-2 cups wild mushrooms, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup pine nuts (optional)

I used about 2 cups of Freekeh. The grain is beautiful and good for you.

Add butter or oil to pan, then brown the onions til translucent.Add parsley and thyme, salt and pepper.

Add the toasted pine nuts, Toss in the Freekeh, and stir well to blend with the onion and herbs.You want to slowly toast the grains before adding the stock to bring out the nutty flavors.

Keep stirring at medium heat for a minute or two.

Add hot stock , stir well, turn heat to low,and simmer, covered, for 20-30 mins or til tender.

I also added mushrooms and the fresh herbs to the mix. Then lightly mixed it all in, salt and pepper to taste.....

I served the nutty freekeh with a lovely rack of lamb and a side dish of lemony leeks , a few spicy black olives,and a tomato mint salad. YUM!



Grilled Octopus Salad AND Grilled Octopus w Balsamic Sofrito Reduction, Broccoli Rabe and Mango Salsa

I grilled Octopus after braising it in red wine for an hour.. then tossed it with red onions, celery, red peppers, mint and parlsley in a lemony vinaigrette…delicious.
The ugliest foods sometimes turn out to be the tastiest.
I braised the Octopus , by throwing it in red wine and lemon and letting it stew for about an hour til tender like a potato.
Meanwhile, I tossed together diced red onion and celery,yellow cherry tomatoes, red peppers, garlic, corn, fresh mint and parlsley, garlic , cumin , lemon zest and juice and olive oil…I let it sit for a while so the flavors could introduce each other..
I threw the precooked octopus on the very hot grill after tossing it in olive oil and garlic. About 5 minutes per side til blackened..
It was hard not to nibble on this as I chopped it up…seriously, at this point it tastes like candy.
Boom..I toss it all together..added some lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste….
…and served it atop some nice crusty baguettes….Delicioso!!!
I also took a whole grilled octoupus drizzled with a balsamic sofrito reduction and served it alongside broccoli rabe, and a spicy mango-yellow tomato chutney.

Older posts «