Kitchen Spotlight: Actress shares recipes for Puerto Rican fare

2014-01-01T00:00:00Z Kitchen Spotlight: Actress shares recipes for Puerto Rican fareEloise Marie Valadez Eloise.Valadez@nwi.com, (219) 933-3365 nwitimes.com

Ravi Batista regularly turns out a variety of vegetarian dishes as well as Puerto Rican fare when she steps into the kitchen.

"I'm a huge rice and beans fan. I eat that at least once a week," Batista said.

Batista, who recently wrote an autobiographical play titled "Blasted Fool: Hamlet, Hope and Madness in Our Blood," also just completed a feature-length documentary "Full Body Whisper," about her good friend Joyce Piven.

"Joyce is an octogenarian theater director and teacher who inspires me both as an actor and person," Batista said, about Piven, who is the mother of actor Jeremy Piven and daughter Shiva.

Batista, who lives in Chicago, grew up in the Bronx, New York.

"My grandmother did a lot of cooking," she said, adding she was inspired by her.

"I love anything plantains," the actress said. One of her favorite dishes featuring fried plantains is the Puerto Rican-inspired dish Mofongo. Among other favorite recipes Batista enjoys are pastelillos and coquito, a coconut rum punch.

Batista said when she goes out to eat, she usually looks for a "child-friendly" eatery if she and her husband take their four-year-old son. "We'll often go to an Italian restaurant"

The actress said she enjoys Thai food as well.

The actress and her husband Ben are the parents of son Isaac.

The following recipes for Puerto Rican specialties are from Batista.

COQUITO OR COCONUT RUM PUNCH

1/2 cup Cream of Coco (I usually use Coco Lopez, or you could use lite coconut milk—the regular coconut milk can make it taste a little too thick)

4 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (you can use half a vanilla bean and leave it in or take it out)

1 15-ounce can evaporated milk (or you can use 1 1/2 cup whole milk)

1 15-ounce can condensed milk

1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut flakes

1 1/2 cups white rum

If you’re going non-alcoholic, you can add a teaspoon of rum extract for flavor and you can also serve over crushed ice.

Directions: Beat the egg yolks until they’re a bright yellow. Add the milk and then the other ingredients. Heat over medium heat. Don’t let it boil. Let cool, add the rum. Serve chilled. You can serve over crushed ice with coconut flakes for garnish and a dash of cinnamon.

This is a typical drink for the paranda—when Puerto Ricans go caroling door-to-door, they sing aguinaldos and stop for coquito along the way.

PASTELILLOS

A box of frozen puff pastry (17 oz.)

A tin of pasta de guayaba (15 oz.)

2 tablespoons butter (melted)

Pastry brush

A box of cream cheese (room temperature)

2 tablespoons sifted powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven (375 degrees). Thaw puff pastry according to the package directions. Put parchment paper on a 9” x 13” cookie sheet (sometimes the guava filling oozes and burns). Place a sheet of puff pastry on the cookie sheet. Brush with melted butter. Slice guava paste into thin slices (about 1/4-inch thick), put two next to each other. (Two slices per pastelillo). Spread cream cheese over guava slices. Put a second sheet of puff pastry over the guava and cream cheese. Push down gently to seal in the yummy. Cut out rectangles—about fifteen per sheet. (three across, five down). Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool, and then sprinkle with powdered sugar and try not to eat too many at once or you’ll give yourself a sugar coma!

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