All posts filed under: South America

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About the Food of Ecuador

Until about five minutes ago I was sitting in bed, bundled up in a wool sweater, under a down comforter, eating a candy cane, and freezing my fingers off.  Now I’m packing for Ecuador. What’s so alluring about Ecuador? They have it all. The Pacific Ocean. Staggering mountains (complete with active volcanoes disguised as pristine mountain-top lakes) and the Galapagos Islands, themselves made up of volcanoes. There are rain forests, bursting at the seams with wildlife and there are dusty villages filled with tradition. With something for everyone, choosing between bustling city action and rumbling, bumbling country life is just the beginning. Convinced? Let’s have dinner. Pull up a chair to the Ecuadorian table and you’ll be met with a carb-heavy spread loaded with potato, avocado, corn, and/or rice – balanced by a fresh salad and tropical fruit. You’ll about pass out when you try Locro [Recipe], their answer to our creamy potato/cheese soup. The South American spin? Locro is seasoned with a tantalizing combination of earthy annato, creamy avocado chunks, and crumbles of queso …

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Monday Meal Review: Costa Rica

We had killer-good food and one epic fail this week. Considering we’ve been living in “renovation-land,” things could be a lot worse. For example, I almost lost my measuring cups, spoons, and chef’s knife. Turns out they were just hiding in the living room, under the contents of three other drawers. And, while we’re talking about renovations… Did you know there are about 100 million kinds of white paint in the world? I assure you that, if you ever decide to paint your cabinets white, you’ll quickly become acquainted with all of them. White whites, creamy whites, green whites, blue whites. Pretty soon, you’ll be begging for a white padded room. Just keep breathing. Here’s my kitchen, now in the middle of the renovation. Please ignore the mess, but note several key things. 1.  The cabinets in front of me are antique white. As pretty as it sounds, antique white isn’t pretty under fluorescents. The color is sad, sallow, and dingy under my flickering lights, especially once the overhead diffusers are in place. I’m actually afraid of …

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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 sweet …

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Monday Meal Review: Colombia

“What’s a poached egg” Mr Picky asked me. “Hold on a second,” I said, cracking the crooked egg into a dish. The egg was laid just two days ago from our friend’s chicken. Hence it was crooked. The yolk was brilliant gold… almost orange. I thought about how runny the yolk would be after poaching. How creamy and delicious. And I thought about how much Mr Picky hates runny eggs. Or claims he hates them. After all, I’ve never seen him eat a runny egg yolk, so who knows if he’s ever actually tried one. “The egg white will be set, but the yolk will be…” “Runny?” he interrupted, with a grimace. “Yes. Give me a minute and you’ll see.” I slipped the egg gently into the steaming milk and watched as it quickly dove beneath the surface. He snapped a few pictures. After a few minutes I began fishing around with my spoon. Seconds later, I found the egg beneath the milky white broth. I fished it out and ladled it onto a bed of thinly sliced …

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Colombian Oatmeal Smoothie | Avena

Makes 1 liter of “concentrate” Sweet and thick oatmeal drink can be made ahead for stress-free (and kid-friendly) brunch. Simply thin with extra milk before serving. Ingredients: 1/2 cup oatmeal 4 cups milk (plus extra for thinning drink) 1/4 cup brown sugar 1/2 tsp cinnamon Method: Heat milk in a large pot. Bring to a simmer… Add oatmeal. I used “3 minute” Irish oatmeal. Season with a big dollop of cinnamon. Smells like autumn joy. Then add sugar – white or brown, your preference. Simmer for about 10 minutes and then give a buzz with an immersion blender. You could also puree it in a regular blender too. Chill in the fridge. When ready to drink, add extra milk to thin to desired consistency and stir. Serve with some extra cinnamon and a big grin. After all, you just made the tastiest drink in town! 12345 Votes: 0 Rating: 0 You: Rate this recipe! Sweet and thick oatmeal drink can be made ahead for stress-free (and kid-friendly) brunch. Simply thin with extra milk before serving.Colombian …

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