Pastry chef Paola Velez's stunning buttercream-coated olive oil cake is made with a bit of buckwheat flour, which adds color and a deep earthy flavor to the cake. It's garnished with candied oranges that have been dredged in a mixture of sugar, salt, and citric acid. The combination turns the oranges into a chewy, sweet-salty-tangy treat reminiscent of candy. The orange slices are a striking garnish for the cake on their own, but you can also add edible flowers or leaves for an extra flourish.
These colorful and flavorful skewers by Paola Velez feature seasoned chicken, mango, pineapple, red and green bell peppers, and onion. If you use bamboo skewers, be sure to soak them in warm water so they don't burn in the oven. If you're in the market for metal skewers, look for flat ones, not round. They'll hold the food in place when you turn them over.
To make these crispy chicken strips, Paola Velez first dredges the strips in a flour mixture, then dips them in a buttermilk brine — the same brine used to initially brine the chicken, bolstered with an egg — and finally coats the chicken with a mixture of ground plantain chips and panko. The chicken is paired with yuca fries that are crisped up in an air fryer and dusted with adobo seasoning for the finishing touch. Serve the chicken and fries with mayo ketchup for dipping if you'd like, as well as lime wedges and fresh parsley for garnish.
This quick chickpea salad from pastry chef Paola Velez, a riff on this recipe from former Food & Wine Test Kitchen Supervisor Marcia Kiesel, is packed with vegetables and tossed with a simple, flavorful lemon-garlic and cumin dressing. Crispy, melty strips of fried queso de freir — a favorite cheese from Velez's childhood — take the dish over the top. The salad comes together in 30 minutes, making it ideal for busy nights.
Here, pastry chef Paola Velez mixes green sofrito with garlic, shiro miso, butter, and lemon for a deeply flavorful sheet-pan salmon dinner, a riff on this recipe from former Food & Wine Senior Test Kitchen Editor Kay Chun. Brining the salmon before cooking it seasons the fish and prevents it from drying out. Velez likes to serve this dish with chofán, a fried rice dish popularized by Chinese immigrants in the Dominican Republic. The salmon would also be fantastic served on top of your favorite fresh or leftover fried rice or rice pilaf.
If you're looking for a rich and creamy frosting that comes together in just minutes, pastry chef Paola Velez's American Buttercream is the way to go. Velez makes hers in a stand mixer, but you could also easily make this using a handheld mixer. On its own, the frosting tastes sweet and buttery—if you want more flavor, try adding a little vanilla extract or lemon zest.
Pastry chef Paola Velez makes her Italian Buttercream by starting with a thick, glossy meringue made with egg whites and sugar syrup. She then gradually incorporates softened butter, beating it until everything turns into a light and fluffy frosting. To make sure her meringue is light and airy, Velez wipes down the inside of the mixer bowl, the whisk attachment, and saucepan with a paper towel that has a splash of white vinegar on it to be sure they're extra clean. (Even a little bit of oil or butter in the bowl will prevent the egg whites from whipping up into the pillowy peaks needed to make this creamy buttercream.) The citric acid adds a touch of brightness, helping to balance the richness of the frosting.
Crunchy, cheesy, and a little bit spicy, these potato elote bites are pastry chef Paola Velez's take on bollitos, one of her favorite snacks in the Dominican Republic. She makes a spiced corn filling based on elote, the classic Mexican street food, then wraps it up in spiced mashed potatoes, and deep-fries it. The delicate crust on the potato bites is made with tapioca flour, keeping the recipe gluten-free. Garnished with lime-flavored crema and fresh cilantro, the bites are as pretty as they are delicious.
For this dreamy treat, pastry chef Paola Velez takes all the components you love about classic banana pudding—complete with vanilla wafers—and turns them into creamy paletas. With nutty browned butter, bits of banana, and crushed vanilla wafers held together by pudding, this refreshing dessert will keep you coming back for more. If you don't have ice pop molds, freeze the banana mixture in a pint container and scoop it into bowls just as you would ice cream. For a grown-up version, add a splash of bourbon.