Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pandeyuca (yuca bread)

Pandeyucas are typical from the southwest of Colombia. These buns are airy, hollow balls of cassava (yuca) starch and cheese. They are very similar to pandebonos which are softer in gooey in the inside. Pandeyucas are instead harder in the outside and hollow in the inside. They are made with sour starch and baked in a very hot oven so they can puff up. In Cali they are bakeries that specialized in Pandeyucas, like "La casa del Pandeyuca" (the house of Pandeyuca) where people go to snack on Pandeyucas out of the oven with a cold coca cola or cold oatmeal drink (Avena).

Ingredients for 12

1 cup sour cassava starch plus 2 tablespoons (almidon de yuca agrio)
2 cups of farmer grated cheese or non creamy feta cheese (I use Canadian feta)
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt or less depending on the saltiness of your cheese

In a bowl mix the dry ingredients: Cassava sour starch ( is very important to only use sour starch), salt and baking powder and add the grated cheese.

In a small pot or pan mix 2 tablespoons of the starch with 1/2 cup cold water, mix well until smooth and without any lumps. Place on the stove over medium heat and stir until it thickens for about 2 minutes it becomes translucent almost like a egg white. Set aside to cool down.

Add the egg and butter to the starch mix and incorporate with a fork, add some of the starch solution and keep mixing with your hands until having a smooth dough . Depending of moisture of the cheese you use and the humidity you may need to add more or less of the starch solution.

Let the dough rest at room temperature for about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 450 F at least 20 minutes before baking.

Form small balls with your hands and place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until the Pandeyucas are light golden and very airy in the inside.

It is better to eat the Pandeyucas hot out of the oven as they harden as they cool completely.

Monday, July 4, 2011


Aborrajados are from the Valle del Cauca region. they are fried plantains battered and filled with cheese and are served as a side dish or mid-afternoon snack.

Ingredients for 6 servings

3 very ripe plantains
3/4 pound mozzarella cheese
1 egg
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 tablespoons milk
a pinch of salt
a pinch of baking powder

2 cups vegetable oil for frying

Prepare the batter, whisking the egg, flour, salt, baking powder and milk, until having a smooth texture. Add more milk if it is too dry.
Cut the tips and peel off the plantains. Cut each plantain into four chunks. Heat the oil in a heavy pot to 350 F and fry them for 4-5 minutes until golden brown.

 Remove from oil and let cool until you can handle them. Cut the cheese into eight 1/2 inch thick 1 inch wide sticks.

Cover your work surface with plastic wrap. Place the fried plantains over the plastic and cover with another layer of plastic. Using a pot lid or plate, press firmly until having them thin, about 1/4 inch thin. Place on a plate and repeat with each piece. To make the aborrajados, place one stick of cheese in the center of one slice of plantain. Place another slice of plantain on top and seal the borders.

 Using a slotted spoon, place the aborrajados in the batter and turn to cover evenly.

 Return to the hot oil and fry for 3-4 minutes until golden and crisp.

 Drain over kitchen paper to remove oil excess, serve and eat while still hot.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chili con Carne

Chili con carne is one of those dishes you can't get enough. It is a chili (pepper) - tomato based stew with ground meat. It originated in the south of Texas, near the border and it became famous in the city of San Antonio. Since 1977 it is the official dish of the State of Texas. This recipe will make the best Chili con carne ever, the spice balance is just perfect and served over tortilla cups will make it for your summer parties.

Serves 10- 15

Ingredients for the Chili

2  pounds ground beef
2 cups chili beans,cooked with the liquid. (small red beans)
2 cups of diced tomatoes with the juice
3 cups beef stock
1 cup minced onion 
5 garlic cloves minced
4 tablespoon oil
2 Poblano peppers diced
2 chile Guajillos
1 chile Pasilla
1 chile chipotle
1 chile de arbol
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon Mexican oregano (dried)
salt and pepper to taste

Reconstitute the dried chillies placing them in a bowl, and pour enough boiling water to cover, press down with a spoon to submerge. Let the plump for 15- 20 minutes. On a cutting board seed the pepper cutting off the tops and slitting down the side.

Process the chillies in a blender with some of the water used to reconstitute, process for 4 minutes until having a homogeneous paste. Set aside.

In a cast iron braiser or dutch oven heat the oil over medium high heat, brown the meat, remove from the pot and set aside. Reduce the temperature to medium and in the same oil, cook the onions and garlic for 5 minutes scrapping the brown at the bottom. Stir in the Poblano peppers and cook for 3 more minutes. Add the meat back and combine well, add the tomatoes, chile paste (you can add 3/4 of it and at the end add the rest if you want it hotter), cumin, oregano, paprika, tomato paste, salt and pepper and 2 cups of the beef stock. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low.Let simmer for about 1 hour with the lid slightly askew, stir occasionally.

After 1 hour, remove the lid and add the cooked beans. I prefer to cook them myself ahead of time, but if you don't have time you can used canned beans. Add the remaining beef stock and adjust the salt and pepper. Add the remaining chili paste if you want a little more spicy.

Let simmer uncovered for 45 minutes or until the desired consistency. Serve over tortilla cups and garnish with cilantro dip.

Ingredients for the Tortilla cups

20 corn tortillas
4 ramekins
nonstick cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Invert the ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet and lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray.
Coat 4 tortillas with cooking spray and drape the tortillas over the ramekins. Bake until golden and crisp.  Make sure the tortillas are centered so they have the shape of a cup. Repeat the process until you have enough to serve.

Cilantro Dip

1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro

Mix with a fork in a bowl and refrigerate until serving. Pour one tablespoonful on each serving of the chili con carne.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fried Snapper (Pargo Rojo Frito)

Every time I cook this dish at home it takes me to the Caribbean city of Cartagena where is eaten right at the beach, sold from small huts accompanied with Patacones, Arroz con Coco (coconut rice) and salad, this time I'm having it with pickled red onions. This recipe is one of my favorite ways to eat fish.

Ingredients for 1 Serving

1 whole snapper (1 to 1 1/2 pounds), cleaned, scaled and gutted
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoon minced green onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper
2 cups vegetable oil to fry

Pickled Onion

1 big red onion sliced
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar

Clean the fish and make sure all the scaled have been removed. With a sharp knife make 4-5 slashes along the sides of the skin all the way to the bones. Combine the green onion, garlic, parsley, lime juice and salt and pepper and rub the fish inside the belly and inside the slashes.

Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before frying.

In a cast iron pan big enough to fit the fish, heat the oil to 325 F . Drop the fish in the hot oil carefully and fry for 12 minutes on each side, until crisp and golden brown.

Remove from the oil and drain over kitchen towels, serve hot.

Pickled Onion

Combine the vinegar and sugar in a non reactive bowl. Soak the sliced onion in the liquid and let set for 20-30 minutes. Drain and serve with the fish or fried seafood.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Brigadeiros (Caramel fudge truffles)

Brigadeiros or negrihnos are the national truffle of Brazil. They are very popular among children specially for birthday parties. They are basically made of condensed milk, cocoa powder and butter and covered with chocolate sprinklers, almonds, pistachios, coconut or peanuts.

Ingredients for 2 dozens

1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
1 tablespoonful cocoa powder
1 tablespoon butter

1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
1/4 cup decorator sprinkles

In a heavy pot, over medium heat, pour the condensed milk and cocoa powder and butter, mix well and bring to boil stiring frequently for 4 minutes. the mixture has to pull away from the bottom of the pot.

spread onto a plate sprayed with non stick cooking spray and let cool for 30 minutes.

Set your working space, lining up bowls with each topping. Spray oil in your hands and using 1 teaspoon measuring spoon form 24 balls. Roll each in the pistachios or almonds or sprinkles. Put in mini papers liners and chill for 30 minutes.

They can be refrigerated up to 3 weeks.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Meatballs & Spaghetti ( Spaghetti con Albondigas)

Meatballs are a classic of the comfort food. Almost every country has its own version like Danish meatballs, Filipino almondigas or bola-bola, the Polish klopsy or the Middle Eastern kofta; but italians are the ones who took this dish to a whole new level pairing it with pasta. This recipe is so far my favorite for these delicious meaty balls.

Ingredients for 6 servings

for the meatballs

1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup bread crumbs
1 grated garlic clove
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 beaten eggs
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons olive oil

For the sauce

4 cups of finely chopped plum tomatoes with the juice
2 minced garlic cloves
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 white onion finely chopped
1/2 cup red wine
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
ground pepper to taste

to serve

1 1/2 pounds of cooked spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Chopped fresh parsley to garnish

Place the ground meats in a bowl, add the parsley, bread crumbs, garlic, Parmesan, egg, salt, pepper, nutmeg and combine with a fork. Using your hands form 2 inch balls you may have approximately 15 meatballs. If the mix is to dry add some warm water.

In a skillet or heavy pot add the olive oil and heat over medium low heat, fry the meat balls in batches very carefully until golden brown on all sides. Remove the meatballs and set aside. Discard the burnt oil but don't clean the pot.

In the same pot, add the olive oil and heat over medium heat. Stir in the onions and saute for 5 minutes or until translucent, add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the wine and increase the temperature to high, scraping up all the brown bits, cook until almost all the liquid has reduced. Stir in the tomatoes with the juice, parsley, salt and pepper and bring to a light boil. Add carefully the meatballs, cover and simmer in low heat for 25-30 minutes until the meatballs are fully cooked.

Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water according to the package instructions. Drain and serve on a big plate. Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss. Serve the sauce and meatballs on top of the spaghetti, garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and parsley.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Lobster Rolls (Sandwiches de Langosta)

A lobster roll is a sandwich filled with lobster meat. They are originally from New England, specially the State of Maine in the US and the maritime provinces of Canada, particularly Nova Scotia, where they are a staple summer meal, even McDonald's serve its own version. Now that the Lobster season is here you can make this delicious rolls and enjoy them for a perfect picnic or summer meal.

Ingredients for 6 servings

2 pounds live lobster
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 finely diced celery
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 chives finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
6 New England Style hot dog buns (top-split)
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt to taste
freshly ground pepper
potato chips & pickles to serve

Prepare a large bowl or pot with iced water. In a stock pot, boil salted water and cook the lobster for 10 minutes until they turn bright red. Remove from the boiling water using thongs and plunge into the iced water for 2 minutes.

Remove from the iced water twists off the lobster tails and claws, and using a cleaver to crack, remove the meat from the claws, knuckles and tails. Cut the meat into 1/2 inch dice. Discard the intestines, and clean the carcasses that you may wanna keep to make lobster broth.

In a bowl, combine the lobster, celery, mayonnaise,chives, lemon juice, cayenne and season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic and chill for 1 hour.

In a non stick pan or cast iron skilled over medium heat, melt the butter and butter both sides of the buns. Grill on both sides until lightly brown.

Fill the buns with the lobster salad and serve with chips and pickles.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Steak Tacos ( Tacos de steak)

Steak tacos are one of my favorites, and they're perfect for a warm spring evening. This recipe is an easier version but gives amazing results. Be ready to have enough as they will go fast.

Makes 24 tacos

Ingredients for the Tacos

2 pounds roast steak cut into 1/2 inch cubes (blade, sirloin, hanger)
2 tablespoons canola oil
24 corn tortillas
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1  big red onion sliced
1 teaspoon of dry thyme
kosher salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients for the Salsa (1 cup)

1/2 pound tomatillos (about 7 or 8 small ones)
10 arbol chile peppers, use less if you want less heat
2 garlics cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt

Season the beef cubes with the thyme, kosher salt, canola oil and pepper and set aside.

Remove the husk of the tomatillos and rinse over cold water, rubbing gently to remove the sticky film. Heat over medium heat a cast iron grill ir skillet and place the arbol chiles roast for 2 minutes turning to get a light burn on all sides, be careful as these chiles burn very easy. Remove the chiles and set aside. Roast the garlic with the skin on, about 2 minutes on each side. Peel and set aside.

Place the tomatillos on the grill or skillet and roast for 15-20 minutes until soft making sure you turn them frecuently to roast evenly. Place the tomatillos, garlic, arbol chiles and salt in a blender and process for 3 minutes or until you have a chunky sauce. Pour into a non reactive recipient and set aside to serve with the tacos.

Clean the grill or skillet with towel paper and increase the temperature to medium-high and distribute the beef evenly on the surface. Cook for 10 minutes or until the meat is tender and golden brown. You can grill the meat to your liking.

Before serving, warm the tortillas, if you don't have a comal, use a non stick pan over medium heat, place the tortilla in the center and spin using your hand. Flip over to warm the other side. Repeat the process with each tortilla. Place them on a plate and cover with aluminum foil to keep them warm.

To serve the tacos, take one tortilla, add a tablespoonful of the beef, some onion, chopped cilantro and cover with the salsa. Fold and enjoy.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Eiffel Eggplant(Eiffel de berenjena)

This is a perfect dish for spring, it can be served as an appetizer or side dish. Simple but delicious.

Ingredients for 4 servings

3  eggplants
2 sliced tomatoes
1/4 cup grated parmesano regiano cheese
3 Tablespoon olive oil plus more to drizzle
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar of Modena plus more to drizzle
1 garlic clove finely minced
salt and pepper to taste

Wash the eggplants and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices. Rub with some coarse salt and let set for 10 minutes to get the some of the water out of the eggplant. Discard the liquid and dry the eggplant slices on each side with towel paper.

Heat the grill. Whisk the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, add the minced garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Brush the eggplant slices with this mixture and grill for 5 minutes on each side until seared.

On a oven safe pan sprayed with oil, form the tower placing one slice of eggplant and one of tomato, sprinkling salt and pepper and grated Parmesan in between until you have 4 layers of each. Repeat the process to make more towers.

Top the last layer with more Parmesan cheese. Place in the oven pre-heated at 350 degrees and cook for 15 minutes or until the eggplant is soft and the cheese melted.

Garnish with more grated Parmesan, and leaves of arugula, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Michelada is a cocktail from mexico made with beer and lime. The name comes from the slang word "Chela" meaning "Beer" and "helada" meaning iced cold, so it literally translates "My iced cold beer". It is very easy to make and it's perfect for spring and summer barbecues.

Ingredients for 1 glass

1 light beer (mexican beer preferably but any light will do)
1 lime, squeezed
a few drops of Tabasco sauce
a few drops of Worcestershire sauce
a pint glass

Place the glass(es) in the freezer at least 30 minutes before preparing. Place coarse salt in a plate, and using the lime cut in half, rim the glass with enough salt. Add ice and squeeze the lime. Pour the beer  and season with the drops of Tabasco and Worcestershire to taste. Mix with a spoon and enjoy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Chuzos de Cerdo con arepa (pork skewer with arepa)

With the barbecue season approaching as the weather warms up, we need to start thinking about delicious grilled recipes and these pork skewers are not exception. These are normally sold in Colombia, in food trucks or mobile grills on the streets and outside the Stadiums before and after an event and grilled over coals. They are always served with a little arepa on top (arepa recipe at the bottom of the page).

  • 1/2 pound pork tenderloin cut in cubes
  • 1 big onion cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 6 crimini mushrooms

  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sour orange marinade
  • 1/4 cup beer
  • 2 scallions
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon annato or achiote powder (coloring)
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3 thyme springs
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • a pinch chili flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Wash and dry the pork cubes and rub with salt and pepper, place in a non reactive bowl or a plastic bag. In a blender mix all the marinade ingredients and blend for 2 minutes. Add the marinade to the bowl or bag, cover with plastic wrap or seal the bag and refrigerate overnight or at least 3 hours.

Soak the skewers in water ahead of time, so they don't burn when grilling. Preheat the grill to medium high. Ensemble the skewers placing cubes of meat, onion and one mushroom. Sear the skewers on all side and cook for 10 -12 more minutes brushing with the marinade and turning frequently so the meat is cooked all way through.

Serve hot with an arepa on top.

Ingredients for the Arepitas

1 cup precooked white cornmeal
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon room temperature butter
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a bowl mix all ingredients and work with you hands until all the ingredients are well incorporated and the dough is soft and doesn't stick. Divide the dough into 6 portions and form little balls with your hands flatten the surface a little bit.

Heat a "Parrilla" wire grill to medium heat, and place the arepas over the heat of element. Cook for 5 minutes on each side or until they're lightly golden brown. These arepas are served with fried chicken, Roasted chicken, carne asada, and many other Colombian dishes.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hojaldras (Dough Fritters)

Hojaldras are a typical dish made for Christmas. They are served as a snack for the "novenas" along with Buñuelos and Natilla. In some regions of Colombia they are also made only with salt and are eaten all year round as a snack. This recipe is for the sweet Hojaldras, they make a perfect dessert served with ice cream. If you want the salty version, just omit the sugar and orange zest, replace the orange juice for water and make them a bigger.

Makes 12 small hojaldras

1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoonful butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 orange (juice and zest)
1/4 cup icing sugar
Vegetable oil for frying

In a bowl ix the dry ingredients: flour, salt, and sugar, mix with a fork. Add the butter or margarine and incorporate with the fork. Add 3 tablespoons orange juice and 1/2 teaspoon orange zest, add 1 tablespoon of water and mix vigorously with the fork until all ingredients are well incorporated. Using your hands work the dough, it will be a little sticky at the beginning, sprinkle a little flour if needed. Knead the dough for 3 minutes until having a soft and firm dough.

Form a ball and wrap it with plastic. Let it set for 15 minutes. Heat the oil in a heavy pot to 350 F.

Using a rolling pin, over a flour surface, roll it to 1/4 inch thickness and using a knife cut it into strips 1 inch wide, they can have different forms and sizes. Take each piece and roll it again to 1/8 thick. Take each piece with you hand and stretch it to the maximum without breaking it, place into the hot oil and fry for 1 1/2 minute until puffy and golden brown.

Drain over kitchen paper, Sprinkle icing sugar and serve.