Big flavor is brewing in Aida’s cozy Gatherings® kitchen. She’s been cooking nearly her whole life, since her grandma taught her to make fried eggs and rice when she was six years old. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Aida’s cooking reflects the flavors and traditions of her cultural heritage.
Everyday Comfort Food
Aida loves rice and beans, and the possibilities of this pairing are plentiful: red, white, black, pink or garbanzos. “Any kind will do,” she says. The dish pairs especially well with flavorful pork.
Aida’s recipe for succulent pork uses Adobo seasoning and smashed garlic, tucked into small cuts made throughout the pork shoulder. “To prevent the fridge smelling like garlic, wrap in aluminum paper and put in a plastic bag,” Aida advises. The quick version cooks at 350 degrees for 3-4 hours. Aida prefers it low and slow, cooking the meat overnight at 250 degrees. In the morning, she broils the skin to a perfect crisp. Put simply, it’s delicious.
Passing Along the Cooking Tradition
The talent for cooking and love for food spans the generations of Aida’s family. Now a grandmother herself, she’s taught her son and daughter how to prepare all the traditional meals. After years of coaching them through recipes, they’ve developed their own culinary flair.
“After a while, my daughter developed her own way of cooking by adding more or less ingredients to her taste. She is an excellent cook!” Aida tells us. Her son has showcased not only traditional Puerto Rican meals, but learned to cook Asian food as well. “He now tells me his food is better than mine!” (Taste test, anyone?)
This family’s love of food is steeped in their rich heritage. Aida gave her eldest granddaughter a book with their family history and recipes. Her youngest granddaughter was gifted with quality time—born just as Aida retired, she spent the first five years of her life helping Aida in the kitchen.
“My favorite time of year is the Christmas season,” Aida says. “It’s all about the family and traditions, which includes celebrating on Christmas Eve and making my family’s favorite arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon beans), pernil or roast pork, potato salad and pasteles, a time-consuming dish we usually only make for holidays. For dessert, we make rice pudding and coquito, a homemade coconut drink with Bacardi rum.”
“You cannot rush making the special meals. It takes love and patience.”Aida Rosado, resident of Gatherings at Quarry Place, a 55+ condo community
Pasteles consists of shredded plantains, green bananas and another root vegetable called yautia, plus small pieces of pork cooked with traditional seasonings, garbanzo beans, and pimientos. It’s all wrapped up in a plantain leaf and a special paper for pasteles and tied with string—truly a gift for the table. Aida is careful to make sure each parcel has at least one garbanzo bean, a stuffed olive and a pimiento. They’re boiled for about one hour to cook and meld the flavors of the meat, vegetables and spices.
Get a Taste: Aida’s Secrets to Success
Aida’s go-to cookbook is Puerto Rican Cookery. “It was given to me as a gift and I use it whenever I want to make something typical of Puerto Rico that I have never done before,” Aida tells us.
And beyond the tried-and-true guidance from her trusted cookbook and family recipes, Aida has one more secret to cooking fabulous meals.
“You cannot rush making the special meals. It takes love and patience,” she says. “Also, you must have all ingredients. That is what makes a difference for a tasty meal.”