Recipe: Vegetarian Pastelón

pastelon-4

It’s Harvest Time at Taino Organic Farm! Twice a week the eXtreme team gets their hands on a whole bunch of fresh, organic greens and veggies to cook up or eat raw at the hotel!

The latest harvest brought us a beautiful basket of tomatoes; avocados; cilantro; plátanos; peppers; and leafy, spicy greens. I love cooking for and sharing Dominican food with my fellow eXtremers so I decided to challenge myself by making a traditional Dominican dish using mostly the food we had harvested and little else. Dominican food is traditionally meat heavy so it was a bit of a challenge but I finally decided on one of my favorite dishes—pastelón de plátano maduro. A cross between a shepherd’s pie and lasagna, pastelón combines sweet, ripe plantains with savory ground meat and melted cheese. Mmmm! This is a vegetarian version I put together on the fly using some veggies we had on hand. It’s not quite how my Abuela makes it, but it’s still pretty good!

VEGETARIAN PASTELÓN

serves 6

10 ripe, yellow plantains
1 small head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 medium sized carrot, julienned
1½ medium sized green peppers, julienned
1 small cubanelle pepper, diced
6 large garlic cloves, minced
1 small white onion, minced
1½ chicken bouillon cubes, crushed
12 slices of cheddar cheese
¾ of a stick of butter
a healthy fistful of cilantro
a healthy pinch of dried oregano
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Peel and cut plantains into chunks. Fill a large saucepan with water, a pinch of salt, and put over high heat. Add the plantain chunks to the water and bring to a boil.

In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt a small pat of butter and a small drizzle of olive oil. Sauté the oregano, cilantro, chicken bouillon cubes, onions, and garlic for one minute until the onions become semitransparent. Add carrots, broccoli, and peppers and sauté for ten to twelve minutes. Lower the flame and cover with a loosely fitting lid for five minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

When the plantains have turned a golden yellow color and are easily pierced by a fork (approx. 25-30 mins), drain the saucepan and reserve a quarter cup of the cooking liquid. In a bowl combine the plantains, the cooking liquid, and the remaining butter and mash until the plantains are a soft, consistent texture.

In a baking pan, spoon half of the mashed plantains and spread it into a thick, uniform layer. Spoon the veggies onto the layer of plantains and spread. Cover in six slices of cheese. Spoon the second half of the plantains and spread evenly. Cover the pastelón with the last six pieces of cheese.

Set your oven to broil and put the pastelón in for five minutes or until the cheese on top has melted.

We suggest you serve your pastelón with a salad of avocado, tomato, diced red onion, and a drizzle of olive oil over some spicy, mustard greens just like we did!

Bon Apétit, or as we say in the Dominican Republic: ¡Buen Provecho!

 

pastelon8

Notes:

-We used broccoli and carrots but you can use cherry tomatoes, corn, or any veggies that don’t release too much liquid or your pastelón will bubble up around the edges.
-We also used the stalks and leafy bits of the broccoli but you can discard these if you don’t like them.
-You can use any kind of cheese you like; we especially like cheddar and Swiss but a bag of grated cheese works, too!
-For a healthier version, nix the butter and chicken bouillon cubes and replace with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.

The Londra breakfast at Mojito eXtreme

Mojito Bar at eXtreme Hotel

There has been a lot of hype about the new Mojito Bar at eXtreme Hotel

I don’t know about you, but my first thought in the morning is generally food. Its hard not to get excited about food when you live in the Dominican Republic. Fresh mangoes, passion fruit, BBQ’d chicken and delicious coffee…everything you want to write home about.

coffee and fresh juicehttp://wetravelandblog.com/

Coffee and Fresh juice at mojito bar. Photo credit:
http://wetravelandblog.com/

eXtreme Hotel is proud to introduce our new restaurant Mojito Bar. Some of you may be familiar with Mojito Bar as they already have an amazing restaurant in “downtown” Cabarete, nestled between Ono’s and Bacardi Bar on Cabarete Beach. They have been long time local favorites,  known for their amazing and deadly minty mojitos, their delicious panini sandwiches and of course, their freshly made fruit juices.

The Londra breakfast at Mojito eXtreme

The Londra breakfast at Mojito eXtreme

What was supposed to be a soft opening in the beginning of November turned into the party of the season. A conjunction between Mojito eXtreme’s opening night, and the official party for the Masters Surf Reunion came together like a weather forecast for the perfect storm. When closing time came, the crowd reluctantly took the party to the Jazz Fest in Downtown Cabarete.

mojito bar extreme

mojito bar extreme

Mojito Bar is quickly becoming Kite Beach’s new favorite breakfast, lunch, happy hour and dinner location. Open at 9am for breakfast (closed on Tuesdays), I feel spoiled when my beautiful meal arrives with a complimentary Americano and freshly squeezed juice. The lovely ladies of Mojito Bar are attentive and go the extra mile to always make sure that your food and drink is to your satisfaction. This experience is enhanced by the kickass view you get of all the kiters playing in the ocean.

Since I get up early for work and try to get in as many fun activities in the day as possible, I’m a stickler for something healthy to keep me running on all cylinders. Right now I’m addicted to the Londra breakfast (two eggs,  turkey bacon, sausages, white beans cooked in tomato sauce and toast). The Saludable juice is a great addition (Celery, Papaya and Orange juice). If I want a delicious light lunch – I go for the chicken salad 280rd or the Lobster Salad 490rd.

 

 

Mojito Bar at eXtreme Hotel

Here’s another great article on Eating What’s Right For You from Zach Greig, owner of Rogue Fitness Cabarete

They’ve already had a opening party, but there is some whispers about another Mojito Bar party coming up soon. This weekend you can look forward to our Circus Party  put on by Sweet Retreats from San Francisco on Friday November 15th! Keep checking our facebook page for more parties to come! This will be a chance to try all their delicious Mojitos, Caipiroskas, lemon daiquiris and so much MMOOOOORE! Of course you can join us every day except Tuesdays from 5:00pm to 7:30pm for Mojito Happy Hour.

Check out this video of one of our previous circus performances:

 

Duck weed

Aquaponics in the Dominican Republic Part 6.

Aquaponics in the Dominican Republic Part 6.

A week of ups and downs.

The battle of the hard water and high pH continues with rainwater to do water exchanges. This is made even more difficult when the town water had a pH spike to over 8.4 and became even harder than normal.

The arrival of new fish for a third system wrecked havoc on the systems when fish where put into the tank that had a breed-ready pair in it already. This separated the breeding pair and put big fish in with the small ones, and mixed the male and female. After a morning of trying to catch fish in a round tank we finally had it sorted out and nicely configured with one tank of just small boys, one with some big girls, and the third with similar sized mix of boys and girls. We will need to look in to building a grow-out-tank soon to put fish that are of eating size.

Aquaponics sytem in the Dominican Republic

The third system is built with the new frame to hold and flood and drain grave bed. This system has the bio-filter that is moved from an already running system to a new system to speed up the ammonia conversion process.  This tank has also had water from the other two systems added to it to speed up this process. This week it will get plumbed and have gravel added to it.

Work progressed well on system one, with water and rafts added to the half barrels.

Aquaponics sytem in the Dominican Republic

Systems 2 has had grow pots added to the raft beds and some very health seedling have come out of them. I am testing side-by-side pots of seeds planted directly into the grow pots and also seedlings transferred into the pots. At the moment, I see little difference in sizes of plants although the transferred ones did take a day or two to recover from the move. It will be interesting to see the difference in root growth (if any?) after a few more weeks.

I also added some shade for this grow bed, as the sun is now very sharp in the middle of the day.

Aquaponics sytem in the Dominican Republic

We have a seed pot in one of the gravel beds that is showing a very good rate of sprouting. The next blog will feature photos of these.

It’s always great to see people coming in to have a look around, asking questions and seeing what we are doing.  It a good way to meet like-minded people and make good contacts and learn  about how we are being heard about and whom we should find in the same field. A nice piece of info was that Dr. Bob, a local vet who has his own aquaponics system, had one thing I had been looking for… Duckweed…  A quick trip to Sosua, just 10 minutes down the road from Caberete, I found Dr. Bob’s clinic and duckweed growing in his tanks.  He was more than happy to give me some and happy to talk about his very interesting system too.  Now we have another food alternative for our fish and the aquaponics community in Cabarete strengthens.

Duck weed

Duck Weed at Dr. Bob’s

Saturday Market in Cabarete

Saturday Market in Cabarete

Saturday Market in Cabarete

There are many wonderful things that I like to do on my Sabados. Sabado inspires activities that give me comfort: Reading, quietly working, swimming, cooking, window shopping and most importantly eating.

Every Saturday a friendly local named Les opens up his house and open air court yard to locals for a  lovely market. Located two mins past the Texaco gas station east of Cabarete, dozens of local merchants set up tables to sell their goods. From clothing and jewelry, to face creams and puppies, you can often find an eclectic array of goodies. I normally B-line it straight to the German cakes and coffee before using shopping as my excuse to burn off my treat.

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This market becomes even more magical when you enter through the gates and into the mystical garden. The house has a very open design where people can walk right through into the backyard garden. Weaving

through wracks of clothing, German romance novels and bootlegged cellphones, you’ll find yourself next to a pool where vines and rusty lawn chairs have taken over.

 

 

Saturday Market in Cabarete

Assorted wares for sale

Saturday Market in Cabarete

The sign for the Saturday Market in Cabarete

rum balls

Saturday Treats

For 100rd you can normally get yourself a deliciously satisfying brunch and coffee. I’m partial to the BLT’s made with fresh baked bread, but Les often makes curries, cinnamon buns, lasagnas or stir fries. There are other bakers who come with trays of rich cakes and pies filled with fresh fruit, soft cheeses and rich chocolates. Some people come selling their local fruits and veggies, honey or nuts. Anyone can set up a table for 100rd and you have all afternoon to sell and make a profit.

As much as I love the food, I really appreciate the atmosphere. I appreciate the friendly community of people I meet. There are often familiar faces, but always new people you can meet from all corners of the world. Sitting at the big wooden table next to the pool drinking my coffee, I hear stories of ex patriots settling in cabaret, or I overhear the latest gossip from two elderly women nibbling on coffee cake.

I like bringing people from Extreme to the market because I feel like I’m giving them an authentic Cabarete experience – something special that they might not find on their own. Everyone gets familiar with the party on the beach, or the abs at Encuntro surf beach, but not everyone gets to enjoy homemade rum ball dipped in Santo Domingo coffee with

a snoring cat on their lap!

best BLT sandwitch in cabarete

Les serving up his famous BLT

best BLT sandwitch in cabarete

Chilling with Friends at the communal table

flea market in cabarete

flea market goods!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until next time,

Genevieve Boyle, Extreme Manager

Genevieve Boyle, Extreme Manager

Propogating vanilla bean

Aquaponics Part 4

Aquaponics Part 4

A new week brings new challenges with some hard work and problems solving to move steps closer to sustainable food production.

System 1: The water flow between the half barrels of the new grow bed became a problem and some new modifications were needed.  Water flow was much to slow and an extra connection pipe needed to be added to increase it.

Aquaponic systems in the Dominican Republic

With the new pipes added between each bed the flow was now enough to let the siphon work properly. The beds were refilled and planted with some tomato cuttings from the first grow bed that is now shut down and ready for a remodel. I am using coco husk and a finer gravel mix for my plants and cuttings to start in. I am also using a large PVC pipe with a pot inside for the tomatoes so I can change them out easily and contain the root systems more.

Aquaponics Systems in the Dominican Republic

System 2 had settled well with the introduction of all the new fish, the pH has come down and plant growth has increased nicely. The raft beds and fish tank are now contained within a timber surround to stop direct sun light entering to reduce unwanted algae growth.

Aquaponics Systems in the Dominican Republic

The fish are doing very well and to my surprise a new batch of fingerlings were found in the tank.  It seems strange that a tank holding more males than females are breeding so well but if the water conditions are good food is plentiful “life will find a way”.  I’m now very wary of moving any fish from this tank as I can not be sure which female and which male it is that are breeding together. For now I will just leave them be and try to find a few other breeders for the breeding tanks.

 

Hard work and good progress have been made in the back garden area this week, with a couple more elevated beds in and lots of composted horse manure introduced. Seeds that where directly planted into the beds have sprouted, the peppers show nice re-growth and it will be an interesting next week to see what else comes up.

Aquaponics Systems in the Dominican Republic

Aquaponics Systems in the Dominican Republic

The new shade house for seedling and cutting has become a nice place to work protected from the harsh afternoon sun. We will have many seedlings ready to go in the next weeks.

We have a large amount of empty cleaning product bottles to recycle, cutting the tops off, washing them well and letting them dry in the sun. We then punch out some holes and use them for our seedling and cuttings to grow in. They are a good size, readily available and free!

Picture 6

While building the shade house I found a very nice vanilla vine growing in a tree. I did some extra research and made the decision to propagate more of them.

Propogating vanilla bean

Cutting the vanilla vine should be done immersed in water so none of the capillaries close off.

1. Make cuttings 5-6 nodes long and remove all but the top two leaves.

(Nodes are the point the leaves are connected to the vine and new shoot grow from.)

2. Place cutting with two nodes in water for 5-7 days inside in 50% light. (Some sites say 3-5, some 5-10, some suggests putting a small amount of liquid fertiliser in the water too.) I also changed the water every day.

Propogating vanilla bean

3. After 7 days, plant the cuttings in a well drained potting mix, laying two nodded beneath the soil and a support for the vine. Keep well watered and mulched in a shaded place.

Propogating vanilla bean

I will leave them in the pots until I see some good strong new growth and plant them out beside a shaded tree base to continue growing. We would need many more vines to start producing vanilla and will also need to learn how to pollinate and age (cure) vanilla too. (Curing vanilla is a long and tricky process that needs to be done right to produce good quality vanilla beans.) But for now this is just step one in building up the number of vines we have.

aquaponics system in the dominican republic

Building an Aquaponics System Part 2

With the start of a new week and we  have enough gravel made to replace the second systems grow bed. Now we can start to clean out the old gravel that had lime stone and coral in it.

This system has a seperate bio-filter that will keep the benificial bacteria living while the new gravel has time grow it’s own.

We placed the plants already living in the system into a tub with water and an air pump in it to keep oxygen in the water while the gravel is changed out.

aquaponics system in the dominican republicaquaponics system in the dominican republic

As I have found with most systems, the first time you clean out the gravel you will find out just how important the first gravel wash is and just how much more washing could have been done the first time.

Having changed the gravel out, it is time to replant and plumb the system to incorperate the float beds as it will be a hybrid style, with one flood and drain gravel bed and two raft beds.

aquaponics system in the dominican republic  shot_1363014284540

Taps are added to the lines going to both the flood and drain and raft beds to allow adjustments to the flow of water. Not enough flow to the flood and drain bed will stop the bell syphon from working, but we still need enough going to the raft beds to keep good water movement and reduce dead spots of water.  I am also on the look out for a one way flow valve for the raft bed water line in case of a power out, so water doesn’t drain back down the line and empty the grow beds.

We did some plumbing to create water flow into both gravel and raft grow beds. To do this, we used 6x20x20inch (15x50x50cm) poly board cut down to make four 1inch rafts for each bed.  Cutting four pieces of 1inch timbers and using a long fine tooth saw to cut evenly through the poly board.

aquaponics system in the dominican republic     aquaponics system in the dominican republic

With a trip to the farm to collect some timber for the up coming green house to cover the systems, I also picked up some strewberry plants and a sage plant to take some cutting from.  The strawberries will go into the raft system while cuttings from the sage and basil plants will go into the gravel.  I also got some cuttings from a grape vine that seem to do well both in the tropics and at sea level to put into system to see if they will take root.  The plants have been in the system for 5 days now with just one leaf left on the cutting and they look to be doing well with no wilting as yet.

aquaponics system in the dominican republic  aquaponics system in the dominican republicaquaponics system in the dominican republicaquaponics system in the dominican republic

As talked about before, we have to work with what we can get locally, it may not be perfect but that is the chalange of the DR and other place you may incounter similar problems with the lack of the right material.

Do what works for you and the area your working in, comprimise where you need to, and solve each problem one step at a time. Build a system that works for you, your climate and the equipment avalable at hand.

sammy the dog

As the work continues with the ever present, always happy Sammy the dog supervising.