The New York Diet

Daisy Martinez Gets Giddy Over Latin Eats

For lunch at home I made
For lunch at home I made “lentil soup with Argentine chorizo I get from a butcher in Jackson Heights, Don Francisco.” Photo: Melissa Hom

Brooklyn-born Latin chef Daisy Martinez modeled, acted (she was an extra in Carlito’s Way), and prepped ingredients for Lidia Bastianich’s Italian-American Kitchen series before becoming the host of her paean to Latin food, Daisy Cooks, on PBS. She was a volunteer guest judge at last Saturday’s Vendy Awards, where we first heard about a new project she’s working on with Rachael Ray. It is, of course, a cooking show, but one “that will be very Daisy,” says the chef — rooted in dishes Martinez re-creates in her own home based on global travels but “made with ingredients available to the mainstream.” You can learn about some of the meals she ate on family trips to Spain and Peru on her Boriqua Blog. But to find out what she ate this week, read Martinez’s New York Diet.

Saturday, October 18
I tried to be good Saturday because I knew I was going to the Vendys, so I got up and just had coffee.

And then around one o’clock I said, “Maybe I’ll go downstairs and just scramble an egg or so,” and I opened the refrigerator and I found a piece of jamón ibérico that I had bought, and I was like, Wow. They actually carry it at my favorite Spanish butcher down on Smith Street here in Brooklyn. It’s called Los Paisanos, and it’s family-owned and has been there so long that I used to shop there with my grandmother when I was a little girl. And right next to the jamón ibérico there was some Italian sausage, so I ended up making pasta carbonara for brunch, and boy was my family happy. I used the jamón ibérico, and it was just off the hook.

Then I got dressed and went to the Vendys, but I got there early so I took a walk over to the River Café and I treated myself to a Bloody Mary. And then I walked over to the Vendys and I had what everybody there had: those delicious little fresh tacos that those boys from Calexico were making, pupusas from Soler, and braised chicken, falafel, and I had a lamb wrap that was incredible. And I had some delicious organic vanilla ice cream and a chocolate bread pudding. And I only drank water because of that Bloody Mary before. That was it; I came home and passed out from sheer gluttony.

Sunday, October 19
Sunday morning I took my daughter to brunch here at a local restaurant on Cortelyou Road called the Farm on Adderley, and I had poached eggs on a smoked-trout cake and a little mesclun salad and a coffee.

Since we ate late, that was enough to take me through to dinner. I grilled some steaks and made up a nice mushroom gravy and some roast-garlic mashed potatoes and peas. My husband and daughter had dessert, but I passed because I’m trying to be good. [For dessert I made] guava flan. Because I’m a mom, it’s really important to me to have at least dinner. We sit down and we catch up. I cook every day but Friday; I say that’s the chef’s day off.

Monday, October 20
I had a grapefruit and coffee for breakfast, and then for lunch I made myself a nice leafy green salad with avocado and grapefruit.

And then I was testing recipes for my column in Everyday With Rachael Ray, so I made tamarind-glazed chicken thighs baked in the oven. And I served that with a wheat-berry salad with roasted vegetables: eggplant, zucchini, onions, red peppers, dressed with olive oil and balsamic glaze — that’s one of my favorite things to eat — it has such great mouthfeel. I love the chewiness of the wheat berries. The big thing was trying to make the tamarind-glazed chicken with ten ingredients or less that everybody can get from the supermarket. I made like three different glazes and chose my favorite: It had some pretty clove notes in there, orange zest, and some brown sugar. Really worked well with the tartness of the tamarind, and the color was beautiful.

Tuesday, October 21
I was on location shooting in my neighborhood, so breakfast was just coffee.

For lunch, the crew wanted to eat Latin food so we ended up at El Viejo Yayo on 9th Street here in Brooklyn off Fifth Avenue. And I had the stewed chicken with white rice and pink beans and a cup of mondongo, like a tripe soup, because it was chilly. I usually don’t eat that heavy at lunchtime, but they went nuts for the food so I figured I’ll have my heavy meal in the middle of the day and just make a light supper.

So that night we had split-pea soup and turkey sandwiches: turkey, lettuce and tomato, mayo and mustard, on whole-wheat rolls. [No dessert] for me. My daughter and my husband just had — I put a pan of brownies in the oven, and they had that with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday, October 22
I was on location up on the Upper West Side, and we shot at a Dominican restaurant called La Casa del Mofongo on St. Nicholas. I had a traditional Dominican breakfast. They call it los tres golpes, and it means the three punches, or the three strikes. You get fried eggs, fried Dominican salami, fried cheese, and that’s served with a plantain mash with pickled red onions called mangú. Oh Lord have mercy, I am telling you. The funny thing is we shot b-roll there, and when the director yelled cut, the crew descended on the two plates of food. And trust me, if you’ve never had this kind of food — the breakfast is something to live for. You can have it once a year. It’s worth a treat.

Then Wednesday afternoon we were out in Staten Island and stopped at a diner. I had a turkey burger with lettuce and tomatoes, coleslaw.

Last night I had a nice green salad, and I made salmon teriyaki with sautéed onions and sushi rice. It’s so good when it gets gooey and you mix it up with the rice.

Thursday, October 23
And this morning I had a cup of coffee, and for lunch I had the lentil soup with Argentine chorizo I get from a butcher in Jackson Heights, Don Francisco. It’s not dried like Spanish chorizo. It’s more like Italian sausage; it’s fresh, and it’s the most authentic I’ve had outside of Buenos Aires.

Daisy Martinez Gets Giddy Over Latin Eats