Pusandao – Colombian Fish Stew

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I’m a big fan of fish stew and even more so in the fall and winter months. This Colombian recipe is very different from the typical Mexican fish stew as it’s made with coconut milk and simmered with different spices. Coconut milk is a staple in kitchens throughout South America especially when cooking seafood. It adds a rich, nutty flavor to soups and stews with a slight hint of coconut. Delicious!

Serves 2 

Ingredients:

2 cans unsweetened coconut milk

1 cup water

2 cod fish fillets, raw

1 green plantain, sliced into four pieces

1 cup fully cooked yucca root, cubed

1 cup, yellow potatoes, cubed

1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped

1 small tomato, finely chopped

1 quarter white onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

handful chopped cilantro

cooking oil

salt, pepper, according to taste

Optional: 1 tsp. achiote seasoning (this adds color)

Optional: 2 small pieces of corn

– In a medium pot, heat 1 tbsp. of cooking oil and sauté bell peppers, tomato, onion, and garlic until soft.

– Add achiote seasoning and stir

– Add coconut milk and water

– Add potatoes, plantains, and cover. Cook for 15 minutes on medium until potatoes are soft.

– Add fish fillets and continue to simmer until fish is flaky.

– Add cooked yucca and corn. Stir.

– Add salt and pepper according to taste

– Stir in chopped cilantro

Serve with white rice, avocado, and limes

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Pozole1

Pozole2

I have eaten pozole countless times so preparing this dish brought back many fond memories. One of my favorite memories is of my father rushing out of the house early Sunday morning with one of my mother’s pots in hand. He would stand in line at one of the neighborhood’s bakeries and bring back a pot full of pozole and fresh-baked bread for us to enjoy. Pozole is popular during the holiday seasons while menudo, which is prepared the same way but made with beef instead of pork, is found year round in many Mexican restaurants. It isn’t as complicated to make as it may seem. Try it!

Ingredients:

5 liters water

4-5 lb. uncooked pork cut into small, bite-size cubes, fat removed

24-28 dried Guajillo chile pods

4 cups white hominy

1 small white onion

5 garlic cloves

2 bay leaves

2 tbsp. ground dried cumin

salt

Toppings and sides:

1/4 head of cabbage, thinly sliced

1 cup sliced radish

limes

red pepper flakes

ground dried oregano

bolillos (bread)

– Remove stems and seeds from chile pods and rinse under cold water. Place chili pods in a large pot and cover with water. Once the water begins to boil, turn the heat off. Cover, and let the chiles sit for 20-30 minutes. After 20-30 minutes have passed, take the chiles out and place them in a large blender. Add 1 cup of the water they soaked in, onion, and garlic cloves. Blend until smooth and set aside.

– In a large pot, add five liters of water, 2 tbsp. of salt, and pork. Cook on medium heat for approx. 1 hr. After one hour, add 3 cups of the red sauce you have set aside. Bring to a boil.

– Add hominy, bay leaves, and oregano. Stir and continue to cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

– At this point, you can adjust the seasonings but take note that the broth the pork cooked in contained salt. I suggest you wait until the meat is fully cooked, taste the broth, and add more salt if needed.

Total cooking time is approx. 2 hours 30 minutes, up to 3 hours. Cutting the pork into small pieces will make the cooking process easier.

When you are ready to serve it, top with cabbage, radishes, oregano, and red pepper flakes if desired for an extra kick! Serve with limes and fresh-baked bread.

Enjoy!

Pozole3

Pozole 4

Coconut Rice

Coconut Rice

Coconut rice is served alongside savory dishes across Latin America. Depending on the region, there will be slight variations in the cooking process but overall, it’s a simple to make side dish. This is not to be confused with another popular Latin American dessert also known as, arroz con coco or arroz con leche, which has raisins and other spices.

Ingredients:

1 cup Jasmine rice  *(Read note below)

3/4 cup canned coconut milk ( you will use 3/4 of a cup of the milk in the can plus the layer of cream that forms at the top)

3/4 cup water

3/4 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut (if you can not find unsweetened, you can shred the meat off a fresh coconut or buy a bag of sweetened coconut flakes and rinse it to remove the sugar)

1/2 tsp. vegetable or coconut cooking oil

1/2 tsp. of salt

1/2 tsp. of sugar

– In a small pan, mix unsweetened coconut flakes and 1/2 tsp. of cooking oil. Stir over medium-low heat until most flakes are golden brown. Careful not to burn.

– Scoop out the top layer of cream that forms at the top of the can of coconut milk and add to coconut flakes. Stir and continue to cook for 5 minutes.

– Add 1/2 the can of coconut milk, water, salt and sugar. Stir and bring to a low simmer.

– Add rice. Stir and cover. Cook on medium low until water evaporates and rice is soft, about 15-20 minutes.

– After 20 minutes turn heat off. Let sit covered for 5-10 minutes.

– Fluff with fork and serve with beef, pork, or chicken dishes.

* Note: You can make this dish with any white rice available but the amount of liquid used to cook it will vary. Read the cooking instructions for the type of rice you are using and substitute half the amount of water the recipe calls for, for coconut milk. If it says to cook the rice with 2 cups of water, then to make this recipe use 1 cup of water and one cup of coconut milk instead.

Short Ribs – Estofado de Carne

Short Ribs

This cool weather calls for something warm, flavorful, and homemade. Estofado de Carne is very popular in Mexico and can be compared to the American version of braised ribs with vegetables. The charred Anaheim peppers add the spiciness commonly found in Hispanic dishes.

Ingredients:

8 boneless beef short ribs

1 medium onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

5 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into fours

6-8 boiler or pearl onions, peeled

2 cups chopped carrots

2 cups chopped celery

1/2 cup charred green Anaheim peppers, skin off and chopped (optional – this adds spiciness)

2 bay leaves

1 stem fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp. of dried)

1/2 cup chopped, fresh parsley or cilantro

8 cups low sodium beef broth

1 1/4 cups red wine, separated

2 tbsp tomato paste

cooking oil

Salt, pepper to taste

– In a large pan, heat cooking oil on medium and sauté garlic and onion.

– Add short ribs and sear on both sides. Once ribs are browned, transfer them to a large, ovenproof dish and set aside.

– On the same pan along with the onions and the garlic, add 1/4 cup of red wine and stir. Once red wine has reduced, add beef broth and tomato paste. Stir and simmer until paste dissolves. Turn heat off.

-In the ovenproof dish where the short ribs are sitting, add all the other chopped veggies: carrots, celery, onion, peppers, and potatoes. Arrange them around the spare ribs.

– Pour the broth and tomato paste mixture over the dish.

-Pour in the remaining 1 cup of red wine

– Add bay leaves and rosemary.

– Sprinkle with desired salt and pepper

– Cover with foil paper

– Place in 375 degree oven for 2-3 hours or until spare ribs are tender and fall apart with the fork. The time will depend on your oven.

– Once spare ribs are done, remove dish from oven and uncover.

– Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

– Sprinkle fresh parsley over the dish and allow to sit for 15-20 minutes before serving, covered.

– Serve over white or brown rice.

Estofado

 

 

 

 

 

 

Camarão na Moranga

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Camarão na Moranga, or Pumpkin with Shrimp is a classic Brazilian dish that I have grown to love. It is very different from any Mexican dish I’ve ever eaten and unlike any other Latin dish I’ve come across! It consists of a baked pumpkin filled with sautéed shrimp, onion, garlic, and tomatoes, blended together in a flavorful sauce. You can serve it over white rice and the presentation will wow your guests. A typical Brazilian ingredient for this dish is requeijão or a creamy cheese that is spread inside the pumpkin prior to filling it with the shrimp stew. The type of requeijão used in Brazil, Catipury,  is not found in most U.S. supermarkets. Instead, use mascarpone cheese as a substitute and if the price is too steep, cream cheese will do the trick.  This dish is not as difficult to prepare as you may think. Give it a try – you won’t be disappointed!

Note: Typically this dish is more soup-like than what is pictured above. I find that my guests prefer heartier, larger pieces of vegetables and less broth. Feel free to add more milk if you prefer it more “soupier.” Does that make sense? 🙂

Ingredients:

1 large pumpkin

12 oz. Catipury or mascarpone cheese (can substitute with any other cream cheese if these are not available)

2 lb. large shrimp, tail-off and deveined

4 large tomatoes, chopped

1 medium onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 cup coconut milk or heavy whipping cream (coconut milk will give it a distinct flavor)

salt, pepper to taste

– Cover pumpkin with foil paper and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until pumpkin is cooked. You can check if the pumpkin is cooked by introducing a fork into the area around the stem.  Remove from oven and set aside.

– In a large pan, add onions, and garlic. Sauté until onions are soft.

– Add shrimp and cook until shrimp begins to turn pink.  At this point, add tomatoes and cook until they become soft.

– Add tomato puree and stir until well incorporated.

– Stir in 4 oz. of cream cheese and the milk. Stir.

– (Optional) you can scoop out some of the pumpkin meat and incorporate it into the stew as well

– Season with salt and pepper according to taste. Set aside

– Take the remainder of the cream cheese and spread it along the inside of the pumpkin.

– Transfer the shrimp and tomato stew into the pumpkin. Your guests can scoop out some of the shrimp and pumpkin onto a bowl of white rice.

 

* Cauliflower rice substituted for white rice in photos

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Hidden Valley Sandwich Spreads & Dips

Hidden Valley Spreads

 

When my husband and I opened and tasted these spreads for the very first time, we were immediately impressed. We expected to taste that common mayonnaise flavor found in many spreads but that was not the case. Instead of mayonaise, they’re made with cream cheese and white beans! We tasted the oven roasted Garlic Parmesan and the Spicy Chipotle Pepper sandwich spreads. Others include country Herb Ranch and Smoked Bacon Ranch. Imagine the possibilities!

Although the product is marketed as a sandwich spread or dip, the versatility of the product will allow you to create countless recipes. My first thought was pizza! I used the spicy chipotle pepper spread to make a Mexican style homemade pizza with shredded beef, mozzarella, and bell peppers. I used the oven roasted garlic parmesan spread as the base for my husband’s favorite style of pizza which was topped with mozzarella, parmesan cheese, shredded chicken, tomatoes, and fresh avocado.

Both were AMAZING! I will definitely make this again and my mind is flooding with ideas of future, homemade pizza parties.

The spreads are available at your local grocery store with a retail price of $3.99 for a 12 oz. bottle. I used half a bottle for each pizza. The dough recipe below makes two pizza crusts.

Enjoy!

Pizza Crust Dough Recipe:

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tsp. dry yeast

1 1/2 cups warm water

– Sprinkle yeast onto warm water and let it sit

– In a large bowl, add flour and salt. Mix.

– Pour oil and mix with your hands until well incorporated

– Pour water and yeast and continue to mix. Dough will become extremely sticky.

-Form dough into a ball. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hr. or until you are ready to use it. You can even make this the night before.

– When you are ready to use the dough, sprinkle a bit of flour over a large baking tray. Place dough on tray and extend it. Crust will be thin.

– Bake at 475 degrees for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove pizza crust from oven and add your favorite sauce and toppings. Place pizza back in the oven and finish baking for about 10-15 more minutes or until the edges begin to turn a golden color.

Pizza

Pizza

Pumpkin Pie

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There’s nothing better than homemade pumpkin puree. Not only does it taste similar to mother’s empanadas, but knowing exactly what goes into the preparation of my food is priceless. Now, I know –  it’s only September. But the stores are stocking their shelves with Christmas decorations and so I thought I’d jump on the holiday season bandwagon. What I love about this pie (and other desserts in general) is that both, the puree and the frosting, are not overly sweet – a quality I can appreciate! With that said, as you read the ingredients you might think “Wow, for a not so sweet dessert, it sure does call for a lot of sugar.” I know. So imagine how much sugar is added to the store bought pumpkin pie? Something to think about. Not that I should be preaching on high sugar content foods. After all, I do tend to indulge in other not-so-healthy delicatessens – hence this blog. But everything in moderation, right? But enough jibber jabber. Let’s get cooking!

Pie crust Ingredients:

1 box graham cookie crumbles, unsweetened

3/4 cup butter, room temperature

3/4 cup brown sugar

Filling:

1 medium pumpkin (to yield approx. 5 cups of puree)

4 eggs

1/4 cup evaporated milk

4 small piloncillos or 2 cups brown sugar (keep extra on hand in case you prefer a sweeter filling)

2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice seasoning (adjust according to preferance)

Coconut Frosting Ingredients:

3 cans, whole unsweetened coconut milk

1 tbsp. powder sugar

Topping:

1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut

Note: You will need to refrigerate coconut milk cans 12-24 hours prior to making the frosting.

Crust:

Mix all ingredients. Place crust mixture in a 9 inch pan and press along the bottom and up to the sides evenly.

Pumpkin Puree:

– Cut the top portion of the pumpkin, the area around the stem. Cover the pumpkin in foil paper and bake at 400 degrees for approx. 1  to 1 1/2 hrs or until the “meat” of the pumpkin is soft.  Set pumpkin aside and allow to cool. Scoop out the meat and place in a large pot.

– With the help of a potato masher, mash pumpkin. Turn heat on to medium and add piloncillos or brown sugar and pumpkin pie seasoning. Adjust sugar and spices according to your preference. Remember that you will be adding milk and eggs later so it will take some of the sweetness away.

– Once the piloncillos or brown sugar have been incorporated, turn heat off and pour puree into a mixing bowl. Allow to cool.

– Once the puree has cooled, add eggs and condensed milk. Mix well. Transfer mixture onto the graham cookie crust. Cover with foil paper and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hr or until the filling solidifies. Check by introducing a fork into the center and it should come out semi-clean without disrupting the rest of the pie.

– Remove  pie and allow it to cool at room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 8-12 hours before serving. Make the frosting before serving the pie for a fluffier texture. If not, you can make the frosting as it is cooling out of the oven. Layer the frosting, sprinkle it with toasted coconut and refrigerate. It’s up to you.

Frosting:

Do not mix the cans after taking them out of the refrigerator. A thick, velvety texture forms at the top of each can and this is the only part you will need for the frosting.

Carefully open the can and with a spoon, gently scoop out the top, thick and velvety layer that forms at the top. Do this with all three cans and place mixture in a clean mixing bowl. Add powder sugar and whip until fluffy.

(Refrigerate the remaining milk for future use in soups and shakes!)

Coconut Topping:

In a small pan, add coconut flakes and toast under medium heat tossing constantly as it may burn quickly. Once you get a nice, caramel color on most flakes, turn heat off and transfer onto a plate and allow to cool.

Enjoy!

Pabellón Criollo

PABELLON CREOLO

Pabellón Criollo is a traditional Venezuelan dish consisting of shredded beef sautéed with onions and peppers and served with white rice, black beans, and fried plantains. There are a few other variations; some top off the dish with an over-easy egg and others sprinkle  queso fresco on the black beans. The flavors bind together amazingly and I’m sure you’ll enjoy this dish as much as I do.

Ingredients:

1 1/5 lb. flank steak

water

2 tpsp salt

1 large red bell pepper

1 large green bell pepper

1/2 large onion

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 cup beef broth reserved from when cooking the flank steak

1 tsp. fresh oregano

salt, pepper, to taste

2 ripe plantains , peeled and sliced

cooking oil

Serve with:

Cooked, white rice

Cooked, black beans

In a large pot, add the flank steak, enough water to cover it, and 2 tbsp. of salt. Cover and cook for 2-3 hours or until the steak is tender. Check on it every hour or so and add more water if needed. Once the steak is tender, remove from heat and set it aside to cool down. Preserve the broth for later use. Once steak has cooled, using your hands, shred it into fine strands. Set aside.

In a large pan, add about one tbsp. of cooking oil. Heat.

Add chopped bell peppers, chopped onions, and minced garlic. Stir and cook until vegetables are soft. Add 1 cup of the beef broth you reserved, tomato paste, and the steak. Stir until well incorporated and bring to a high simmer for approximately 15-20 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Note: the broth had salt so use caution.  Add fresh oregano. Stir and turn heat off.

Plantains should be sliced thin. In a medium pan, add cooking oil and fry plantains until both sides are golden brown. Remove from heat and place plantains on paper towels to remove excess oil.

You can add a dash of cumin, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to the black beans for more flavor but this is optional.

Serve and enjoy!

 

Pabellon Criollo

 

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