Month: October 2010


Heart of Palm Salad

Serves 4 This beautiful arranged salad is perfect for a family-style dinner party. You could also make individual portions. However, if all this seems like too much muss and fuss, feel free to chop and toss, without taking time to do the careful arrangement. Everything will still taste wonderful. Promise. Ingredients: 1 head romaine, sliced 1 tomato, sliced into wedges 1 orange pepper, sliced thinly 1 jar heart of palm, each one sliced in half lenthwise 1/2-1 lime, juiced olive oil, to taste Method: Get yourself a beautiful platter. Pile it high with crunchy, crispy, lovely romaine. Add tomatoes in a circle, around the outside. Sprinkle the peppers over the top, towards the center. We’re making a masterpiece here. Slice up your heart of palm. Not your heart. Here’s what they look like… they come whole, as you see on the left. I sliced them lengthwise, as you see on the right. They taste vaguely like artichoke hearts, but crunchier. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the whole salad. And anoint with a happy drizzle of olive oil. …

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Black Beans and Rice | Gallo Pinto

Gallo Pinto is enjoyed by Costa Ricans year-round, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The beans and rice are mildly seasoned, however the Worcestershire sauce gives the dish an unusual kick. Ingredients: 2 1/2 cups leftover, cooked white rice 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed 1 onion, chopped 4 cloves of garlic, crushed oil 1/2 tsp paprika 1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce 1 cup broth or water salt and pepper Method: Heat oil over medium heat. Add onion. After just a moment, the entire house will smell like “good.” Now we’re cookin’! Add the garlic… … and cook until onion is soft and turning slightly golden – or however you like to eat it. I prefer not to have any crunch in mine. Then, add in the paprika. And leftover rice. I love re-purposing food… making my dollar stretch over several meals. Pile on the beans. I used canned beans for simplicity and speed. Next, a little Costa Rican flavor – sprinkle in the Worcestershire sauce. (And don’t forget the salt and pepper) Add in water to help mix everything …

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Costa Rican Potatoes | Gallitos de Papa

Serves 2-4 Gallitos de Papa uses simple seasonings for big flavor. The smoky paprika and garlic go a long way to wake the humble potato up. An especially great breakfast/brunch dish, this Costa Rican favorite is perfect for serving with eggs.  Traditionally served in corn tortillas – feel free to moisten with fresh salsa or sour cream. Ingredients: 4 small potatoes, cubed 1/8 cup olive oil 4 cloves garlic, crushed 1 tsp paprika 1 tsp sugar 1 tsp salt water (optional) chopped cilantro, for garnish Serve with Corn Tortillas Method: Add the oil to a wide skillet and heat over medium. The entire 1/8 cup is necessary to keep the potatoes from sticking. Sometimes our waists have to sacrifice for the good of mankind. Or for functionality and flavor. You’ll thank me later. When hot, add garlic and cook for a minute. And, when I say a minute, I really mean until fragrant. This could take as little as ten seconds. Yikes. I almost cooked mine too long.  See? Garlic cooks very fast – you …

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Trick or Treating in Costa Rica

Feel like trick or treating in Costa Rica? You wouldn’t be alone.  Although a relatively new holiday to the country, Halloween is growing in popularity with the locals – and why not? Kids get to dress up (and parents brim over with pride). Then everyone eats candy until their tummies hurt. Awesome fun for everyone! (NOTE: Watch out for the rain. October is the rainiest month of the year. Not great for polyester and fluffy bunny costumes). If Halloween isn’t your thing, you can just eat the candy! Or ice cream. Rumor has it that, in Costa Rica, you can get ice cream in “sour cream” flavor. Do you think it would be good on baked potatoes? Or a milkshake..? The entire concept is fascinating to me. Perhaps making it would be easier than yesterday’s epic fail.

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Caramel Milk Candies | Dulce de Leche Candy

Makes about 36 candies Behold my epic fail – homemade “Caramel Milk Candies.” I planned to make these typical South American candies for Halloween. Little did I know, I was in for a real mystery even Sherlock Holmes couldn’t solve. You see, metal cans are not transparent. I was literally cooking blind. As I learned, this is a tragic prospect when it comes to candy making. Despite my diligent efforts (nerdy, even) to make and remake these candies, I failed.  I’d keep going, except I’m terrified of my next gas bill. Ingredients: 1 can sweetened condensed milk parchment paper Method: 1. Bring water to boil. Choose a pot an inch or two taller than the can of sweetened condensed milk. Meanwhile, remove the label from the can. You’ll thank me later, when you don’t have to clean paper shreds out of your pan. 2. Make two holes in your can. This is a safety measure. Not everyone does this. I do because I’m not that into exploding cans. 3. Place can in boiling water. Cover …

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Menu: Costa Rica

Costa Rican food is warm, comforting and upbeat (yes, food can be upbeat – just ask a juicy, lime-green lime). Thank goodness, because I need some happy comfort! You see, I’m nervous – since we won’t be moving into a shiny new-to-us home, we’re polishing up our current residence (and cooking around the mess). First step? Painting my dark wood cabinets (in my dungeon kitchen) a pretty white color. I’m hoping “pretty” and “white” will erase the “dark” and “dungeon” effect. I will also have you know I am not painting them myself. In all honesty, I’m not allowed to do projects that involve “coloring within the lines.” I’m too messy. I think it’s because my mom forbid coloring books when I was little (she said the lines wreck kids’ creativity). Let’s just say I’m really “creative.” Have you ever done a kitchen remodel of any sort? Was it worth it? Or would you rather just eat Costa Rican food? Heart of Palm Salad (Palmitos) [Recipe] Heart of Palm tossed with romaine lettuce, sweet peppers, …

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About the Food of Costa Rica

Lush, tropical greens and mouthwash blue waters make Costa Rica a stunning destination. Eating a typical “Tican” meal is incredibly easy, even if one doesn’t have access to latino markets. The most common dish is gallo pinto (or black beans and rice). This dish often made from leftover rice and seasoned with a little onion and garlic, as well as a healthy splash of Worcestershire sauce (or Salsa Lizano). A great accompaniment for eggs, this filling dish is often found on the Tican breakfast table. For those who love potatoes, Gallitos de Papas are a must-try. Indeed, these paprika and garlic infused cubes of potato delight are another great accompaniment to eggs. Typically, however, they are served in a corn tortilla. Carb on carb – seems logical to me! 🙂 Since I know some of you are getting palpatations just thinking about all those carbs, have no fear. Costa Ricans are known for fresh salads – including a wonderful Heart of Palm Salad (palmitos) which includes any number of veggies – such as tomato, cucumber, lettuce, and …

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Monday Meal Review: Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, & Republic of Congo

NOTE: This is the MMR for three countries: Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Republic of Congo. We had some grand plans, Mr. Picky and I. We were going places. Specifically,  to a new house. Actually, it was built in the 1960’s. But it would have been new to us, once we bought it. The house we’re in is from the 50’s, so this one seemed light years newer. As with any home, there was good and bad. The good? A quiet retreat on Lake Keystone with lake views and private access to the water. The bad? The house was incredibly far from any sort of international markets. Nam Hai would have been a 45 minute ordeal. Even getting a gallon of milk would have been a 10 minute car ride – minimum. And that’s not even to a grocery store. That’s simply to the gas station. Shopping trips would have been epic, really. Unfortunately the deal fell through. I’ve been trying to find the silver lining in all this. Just yesterday, as I walked to …

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Fish with Banana Leaves | Liboke de Poisson

Serves 4 Steaming fish in banana leaves – extremely common in Africa – results in a light, healthy dish. Liboke is a congolese word (in the Lingala dialect) for packets of food cooked in banana leaves. Ingredients: 4 fish fillets (I used tilapia, you can use any white fish you like) 4 banana leaves (or sheets of aluminum foil) 1/2 onion, thinly sliced 1-2 tomatoes, thinly sliced lemon juice, to taste salt cayenne pepper Method: First, prepare the banana leaves. Trim off the tough side of the leaf. Then run the leaf quickly over a flame to soften it and make it more pliable. When it changes from dull to shiny, it is soft enough. Next, assemble the liboke. First the onions. Then, a few tomato slices. Jewl red and just as juicy. A pristine fillet of fish. No square, pressed fish here! Sprinkle with a bit of cayenne, if you dare! Or just a bit of lemon juice. Once you have everything in there, fold up the leaf like a burrito. Top down. Then, …

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Goat in Banana Leaves with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Serves 4 This traditional African dish combines peanut butter with goat, two of the most common ingredients in many parts of the continent, especially west and central Africa. Hot peppers and cayenne add kick. Ingredients: 1 lb goat meat, cubed 1/2 onion, sliced thinly 1 poblano pepper, sliced thinly 4 12″x12″ banana leaves (or sheets of aluminum foil) For the Sauce: 3/4 cup peanut butter 1 Tbsp bouillon 1/2 tsp cayenne water, as needed (I used 5 Tbsp) Method: Cube up some goat meat. The butcher cut me two pieces from the leg, with little bone. Next, mix up the ingredients for the sauce. First up – peanut butter. I open the jar, and my husband comes running. He loves the stuff. Some bouillon powder. Cayenne, for heat. Feel free to omit this or use less… but I hope you don’t. Finally, add water and mix all the ingredients together until a smooth sauce forms. I used about 5 tablespoons. Next, add in the meat. And onions. Make sure you slice them as thinly as …

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Congolese Mushrooms with Fresh Lemon Juice

Serves 4 The people of the Congo forage for mushrooms deep within the forest. Mushrooms provide important nutrients and calories, especially when meat is scarce. This recipe is all about the lemon – with a flavor so intense that it brightens up any dish. Would be great with fish or wild rice. Ingredients: oil 8 oz button mushrooms, sliced 8 oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced 8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced 1 lemon, juiced salt & pepper Method: Heat up some oil in a large pan or wok over medium-high. Throw in the mushrooms. It’s not easy to chop a pound and a half of mushrooms. Unfortunately, Ava’s too young to use a knife or I would have put her to work. Mushroom #1 – button mushrooms Mushroom #2 – crimini mushrooms (a.k.a. baby bellas) Mushroom #3 – shiitake mushrooms Sautee until the mushrooms are soft. Lots of juices will accumulate in the pan. That’s ok, they form a light sauce around the mushrooms. It might be looking like mushrooms are the star of this dish …

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