Daisy Cooks!: Latin Flavors That Will Rock Your World

Daisy Cooks!: Latin Flavors That Will Rock Your World

by Daisy Martinez

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Daisy Martinez is America's most exciting and beloved new television cook. Here, at last, is her first cookbook, with all the recipes from her acclaimed show--and most can be made in under thirty minutes!

In Daisy Martinez's kitchen, salsa music is always playing. Laughter fills the air, along with delicious aromas of the amazing meal to come. Friends, neighbors, and family members are ever-present, sneaking tastes from every pot. And in the center of it all, Daisy is laughing, singing, tasting, and appreciating everything that her kitchen--and life!--has to offer.

Does this sound like your kitchen? If not, don't despair. In this book and on her acclaimed national public television series, Daisy Cooks!, Daisy teaches you how to bring excitement back to the table with Latin-inspired food that your friends and family will love!

Some of these recipes will remind you of meals you've enjoyed in restaurants. Some are great variations on dishes you already cook. Some are totally new. All of them will rock your world. Daisy's flavorful, satisfying interpretation of the best dishes from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Spain, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Central and South America all taste like the results of a day in the kitchen--but in reality, most take only thirty minutes to prepare. Here, you'll find the techniques that Daisy learned at the French Culinary Institute, along with her mother's and grandmother's time-tested tricks! This winning combination results in dishes that range from elegant Chicken Braised with Figs to soul-satisfying Cuban Black Bean Soup to to-die-for homemade Dulce de Leche.

And then, of course, there are Daisy's "Top Ten Hits"--the recipes that, once you try them, are guaranteed to change the way you cook forever. In this first chapter, Daisy shows how simple flavor boosters, in addition to a few easy techniques, can make every meal mouthwateringly special. In Daisy's words, "If you can season, cook, and dress pork chops and serve them alongside fragrant yellow rice in less than thirty minutes, I can't imagine why you'd eat anything from a cardboard carton!"

With ingredients that are found in almost every supermarket, equipment that every kitchen contains, and a little bit of adventurousness on your part, the recipes in this book will transform your mealtimes for good. So jump right in--it's time to get Daisy-fied!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781401306120
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 07/23/2013
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 183,353
File size: 55 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

About the Author

Daisy Maria Martinez was born to mainland Puerto Rican parents in Brooklyn, New York, where she lived at her grandmother's house until she was almost five years old. Her extended family includes relatives from Central America, Spain, and other parts of the Spanish-speaking world. She has modeled and acted in commercials and in numerous films including Carlito's Way and Scent of a Woman. She attended Long Island University and the French Culinary Institute before establishing her catering business, The Passionate Palate. Daisy lives with her husband and children in Brooklyn.

Read an Excerpt

DAISY cooks!



Copyright © 2005 Daisy Martinez
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-4013-0160-6

Chapter One


If you look at nothing else in this book, take a careful look at these ten dishes. They are simple, they don't taste like anything you've ever made before, and, most important, they are good enough for company and quick enough to make after you schlep home from work.

These are the recipes my girlfriends ask for and I happily give them. Whenever this happens, the response invariably is something along the lines of "I can't believe it's that simple."

I had a spare moment the other day (we can all agree on what a rare occurrence that is), and I marveled at how complicated life becomes when you're an adult woman. We all wear so many hats-on my hat rack are those of mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend-it's no wonder I am always looking to simplify my life in any way I can. That being said, and given my love of good food, it shouldn't surprise anyone that while I don't have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen, I certainly do not want to sacrifice delicious meals. This leads me to Daisy's Top Ten Hits, a countdown of the dishes most requested by my family and friends.

These ten recipes are not all for finished dishes. A few of them are little "secrets" (well, not so secret anymore) that will help you get the most out of your time in the kitchen. Take a look at the first two recipes, Sofrito and Achiote Oil. They alone will do nothing short of change your life. Each takes less than ten minutes to make. In these two recipes you will most likely spot a few ingredients that are unfamiliar to you. Take another look and you will see that I have given substitutes here and throughout the book. In the case of the annatto seeds used to make the achiote oil, there really is no substitute, but I bet you will find them, labeled either "annatto seed" or "achiote seed," in the spice aisle of your supermarket.

Something as simple as a roast chicken can be made different in minutes by "daisifying" it-rubbing it with a mixture of spices made in minutes with ingredients you can find in any supermarket. As busy as I get, I am not ready to give up good food. If you try at least one of these recipes, I truly believe you will be inspired to move on to others.


There is no other recipe I could have chosen to open this chapter, let alone this book. This is the one indispensable, universal, un-live-withoutable recipe. Having said that, it is incredibly easy to make and uses ingredients you can find at the supermarket. If you can't find all the ingredients listed below, see Daisy's Pantry for a simple fix. What sofrito does is add freshness, herbal notes, and zing to dishes. You can do that with the onion, garlic, bell pepper, cilantro, and tomato alone.

In my house sofrito makes its way into everything from yellow rice to black bean soup, sauce for spaghetti and meatballs to braised chicken and sautéed shrimp. Not only that, it freezes beautifully, so in about In ten minutes you can make enough sofrito to flavor a dozen dishes. I'm telling you, this stuff does everything but make the beds. Try out your first batch of sofrito in the recipes you'll find throughout this book or add it to some of your own favorite dishes that could use a little boost. You will change the way you cook. I guarantee it.


2 medium Spanish onions, cut into large chunks 3 to 4 Italian frying peppers or cubanelle peppers 16 to 20 cloves garlic, peeled 1 large bunch cilantro, washed 7 to 10 ajices dulces (see Daisy's Pantry; optional) 4 leaves of culantro (see Daisy's Pantry), or another handful of cilantro 3 to 4 ripe plum tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks 1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into large chunks

Chop the onion and peppers in the work bowl of a food processor until coarsely chopped. With the motor running, add the remaining ingredients one at a time and process until smooth. The sofrito will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and can be frozen (see Notes).

DAISY'S PANTRY Ajices dulces, also known as cachucha or ajicitos, are tiny sweet peppers with a hint of heat. They range in color from light to medium green and yellow to red and orange. They add freshness and an herby note to the sofrito and anything you cook. Do not mistake them for Scotch bonnet or habanero chilies (which they look like); those two pack a wallop when it comes to heat. If you can find ajicitos in your market, add them to the sofrito. If not, increase the cilantro to 1 1/2 bunches and add a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Culantro is not cilantro. It has long leaves with tapered tips and serrated edges. When it comes to flavor, culantro is like cilantro times ten. It is a nice but not essential addition to sofrito.

Cubanelles are thin-fleshed sweet peppers. They are longer and narrower than bell peppers and similar in shape to Italian frying peppers. Cubanelles have a sweet, herby flavor and are found in shades of light green and yellow, with touches of light red.

See Sources for the ajices dulces and culantro.

NOTES: You can freeze sofrito in 1/2 cup batches in sealable plastic bags. They come in extremely handy in a pinch. You can even add sofrito straight from the freezer to the pan in any recipe that calls for it in this book.

Recipes that call for Sofrito: Yellow Rice (page 13) Braised Chicken with Little Potato Cubes (page 163) Rice with Spanish Sausages (page 95) Daisy's Chicken Diablo (page 161) Grandma's Spaghetti with Chicken (page 156) Puerto Rican Pot Roast (page 232)

You will also find that sofrito is used liberally in these recipes except in the dessert and beverage chapter-and I'm working on that! As the old disco song said, "Once you get started ..." Do you make meatloaf? Throw in half a cup of sofrito. Sofrito in minestrone? Why not? And promise me you'll never make a pot of chili con came unless you brown some sofrito along with the meat.



Annatto seeds, known as achiote in Spanish, are small, irregularly shaped, deep-reddish-colored seeds about the size of a lentil. The grow in pods but are sold loose in jars in the spice aisle (or se, Sources). Steeping annatto seeds in hot olive oil for a few minute will do more than give the oil a brilliant orange-gold color: It will in fuse it with a nutty, delicate aroma and add a quick kick to whatever you use it in. This incredibly simple technique will become part of your repertoire, not just for the many dishes that call for it in this book but anytime you want a splash of color and a hint of annatto flavor.


1 cup olive oil 2 tablespoons annatto (achiote) seeds

Heat the oil and annatto seeds in a small skillet over medium heat just until the seeds give off a lively, steady sizzle. Don't overheat the mixture, or the seeds will turn black and the oil a nasty green. Once they're sizzling away, remove the pan from the heat and let it stand until the sizzling stops. Strain as much of the oil as you are going to use right away into the pan; store the rest for up to 4 days at room temperature in a jar with a tight-fitting lid.

NOTES: In addition to using achiote oil to sauté onions, garlic, and such, you can paint it on fish and poultry headed for the grill or broiler.

Dishes that call for achiote oil: Noodle Paella (page 202) Ecuadorian Fish and Peanut Stew (page 86) Yellow Rice (page 13) Braised Chicken with Little Potato Cubes (page 163) Red Empanada Dough (page 140)

You can also add a spoonful to mashed potatoes, bread dough, or pasta dough. Use room-temperature achiote oil to replace some of the oil in your favorite salad dressing. Take meatballs from gray to fabulous with a tablespoon or two of achiote oil.



Garlic soup is to a Spanish restaurant what apple pie is to an American diner-every menu has one. It is a poor man's soup and may not sound exciting, but it is wonderful. On a cold day it's like a hug from home. On the night I first had this soup in Spain, my boys were off exploring Barcelona. That left just my daughter, Angela, husband, Jerry, and me to fend for ourselves. It was the week of Christmas and was chilly, to say the least. Jerry had spotted the perfect mom-and-pop place earlier in the day and was hell-bent on taking me there for dinner. After much wandering we found Jerry's elusive dream restaurant, only to discover it was closed. We eyed a sweet little restaurant, De Tapa Madre, across the street. It turned out to be a happy accident.

Our waiter, Jose, saw that we were cold and a little stressed, and suggested garlic soup as a way to start our meal. After our first taste we decided Jose could order us whatever else he liked for the rest of the meal.

De Tapa Madre became our favorite restaurant in Barcelona. The restaurant is owned by two women who take turns cooking on alternate days. Both are off on Sundays and the kitchen is run by the sister of one of the waiters. Whenever you go, whoever is behind the stove, the food is fabulous.

Whenever I make this soup at my house for family or friends, it's like getting a delicious, fragrant postcard from my friends in Barcelona.


1/4 cup olive oil 2 links (about 6 ounces) chorizo, andouille, or any smoked garlicky sausage, cut in half lengthwise and then into 1/4-inch slices 12 cloves garlic, sliced 6 slices (about 1/2 inch thick) Italian bread 6 cups homemade Chicken Broth (page 155; see Note) 1 bay leaf Fine sea or kosher salt 1 to 2 teaspoons white vinegar 6 eggs Freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Heat the oil in a 4- to 5-quart pot over medium heat. Add the chorizo and cook, stirring, until the oil takes on a bright red color, 2 to 3 minutes. Scoop the chorizo into a bowl with a slotted spoon. Stir the garlic into the seasoned oil, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the garlic is very soft and fragrant, without coloring, about 4 minutes. Scoop out the garlic and acid it to the chorizo.

2. Increase the heat to medium, lay the bread slices in the oil, and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook the other side. Set the fried bread aside on a plate.

3. Return the garlic and chorizo to the pot and pour in the chicken broth. Acid the bay leaf, bring to a boil over medium heat, and adjust the heat to simmering.

4. In the meantime, poach the eggs. Fill a deep skillet two-thirds full of water. Toss in a small handful of salt and add the vinegar. Bring to a boil over high heat, then adjust the heat so the water is at a lively simmer. Crack the eggs 1 at a time into a teacup, then slide them into the water. Cook until the whites are firm but the yolks are still runny, about 5 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, taste the soup and add salt and pepper if you like.

6. Place a slice of bread in the bottom of each of 6 soup bowls. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, letting the water drain back into the skillet. Set one egg on top of each slice of bread. Pour in the soup and serve immediately.

DAISY'S PANTRY De Tapa Madre was also my introduction to jamón Iberico, one of Spain's contributions to the great foods of the world. In my life I had never tasted a ham with such a wonderful flavor and silky texture. I would pass up foie gras, tenderloin of beef, and even Chinese ribs with hot mustard for a taste of jamón Iberico. It is not yet available in the States but will be shortly.

NOTES: This is a quickie soup. To make it even quicker, toast the bread in a toaster while putting the rest of the soup together.

I can forgive canned chicken broth in most cases but definitely not here. You need good homemade broth. Also, since they don't use a lot of cilantro in Spain, where this soup is from, you might want to make your broth with thyme instead of cilantro. I don't mind mixing the two flavors; I think they sing a pretty song together.


You know those packaged rice mixes you can buy with the foil bag of mystery spice? When you taste this rice, you'll forget all about them. This is remarkably easy to make once you have achiote oil and sofrito on hand. Even if you're starting from scratch without those two staples, you can still get this on the stove in fifteen minutes. I have never served this at a party without rave reviews. Guests have often said that they could eat just the rice and nothing else. I'm always delighted to tell them how easy it is, but encourage them not to pass on the beans or other accompaniments!


1/2 cup Achiote Oil (page 9) 1/2 cup Sofrito (page 6) 1/2 cup coarsely chopped alcaparrado (see Daisy's Pantry) or pimiento-stuffed olives 2 to 3 tablespoons salt 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon ground black pepper 2 bay leaves 3 cups long-grain white rice (see Notes) Chicken Broth, homemade (page 155) or canned, as needed (about 4 cups)

1. Heat the oil in a heavy 4- to 5-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Stir in the sofrito and cook until most of the water has evaporated. Add the alcaparrado, salt, cumin, pepper, and bay leaves, and stir to combine.

2. When the mixture is bubbling, add the rice, stirring to coat and to fix the color to the rice. Pour in enough chicken broth to cover the rice by the width of two fingers. Bring to a boil and boil until the broth reaches the level of the rice.

3. Stir the rice once, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes without opening the cover or stirring.

4. Gently fluff the rice by scooping it from the bottom to the top. Serve hot.

DAISY'S PANTRY Alcaparrado, a mixture of olives, pimientos, and capers sold in bottles is widely available. There are versions made with pitted and unpitted olives. Go for the pitted version. If you can't find it, substitute an equal amount of coarsely chopped olives stuffed with pimientos. Throw in a teaspoon of capers if you like.

See Making Rice on page 90 for more pointers on cooking rice.



Although Spanish in origin, this dish is very popular with the Martinez family, especially my mother, who until recently favored traditional Puerto Rican cooking. Mami will ask me to make this dish for her more than once when she comes to visit. There is nothing that makes me happier or prouder than serving a meal I make with my own hands to my parents and watching the happy looks on their faces while they savor it. This is one of my most requested recipes, not just by my parents but by friends as well. The sweetness of the shellfish, the fragrance of the sea, the sparkle of the white wine, and the freshness of the parsley really make this dish sing. Serve with Yellow Rice (page 13) or angel-hair pasta.


1/2 cup olive oil 6 to 8 cloves garlic, chopped 2 bunches flat-leaf parsley, thick stems removed and leaves washed and chopped 1/2 cup dry white wine 2 teaspoons cornstarch 1/3 cup milk 12 littleneck clams, cleaned and soaked in a cornmeal bath (see page 179) 1 pound sea scallops, preferably "dry" (see Note) 1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined Kosher salt to taste Freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Heat the oil gently in a wide pan with shallow sloping sides (a paella pan works perfectly). Add the garlic and cook 1 to 2 minutes, until soft but uncolored.

2. Stir in the parsley and wine, raise the heat to high, and cook until almost all the wine has evaporated.

3. Stir the cornstarch into the milk in a small bowl until the cornstarch has dissolved. Whisk into the pan.

4. Lower the heat, add the clams, scallops, and shrimp, and cover. Cook, shaking the pan periodically, until the shellfish are cooked through, about 15 minutes. The shellfish should be done perfectly at this point. Check the sauce and adjust the seasonings as you like.

VARIATION: If you are feeling particularly extravagant, you can add the meat from 1 cooked lobster, cut into serving pieces, when you add the shellfish to the sauce.

NOTE: "Dry" scallops are those that haven't been soaked in a preservative solution before coming to market. They are firm, vary a little in color, and are sticky, not wet, to the touch. They're generally a bit pricier but have a much nicer flavor and texture.


Excerpted from DAISY cooks! by DAISY MARTINEZ CHRIS STYLER Copyright © 2005 by Daisy Martinez. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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