Chicken

Yuca ( Cassava)

Yuca or Cassava

Latin American cuisine knows yuca very well! I was thrilled to see that my local supermarket here in Colorado is selling it raw. 

Yuca is a tuber very much like the potato. However yuca is king for me and most of Latin American cuisine. It has a wonderful texture, it’s great for “sancocho” ( Colombian soup filled with multiple meats and cooked slowly for many hours.) To help illustrate, maybe our dear Louisiana gumbo may be a distant cousin of Sancocho.

To enjoy yuca you don’t need to cook a stew like sancocho, since yuca goes well with grilled beef or chicken and it’s perfect with scrambled eggs or omelets. Also, if you can get to some Latin American cheese (Mexican, Peruvian or Colombian) then yuca and cheese is the best snack! 

The recipe for boiled yuca is very simple.

Peel the yuca and wash well. Set enough water to boil but make sure you add 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 white onion in big chunks. It will boil for at least 30 minutes but you will know it is done when you take a knife and it goes through easily. Texture should be soft.

Some like to fry yuca after it’s been boiled and serve as a side to a meat ( beef or chicken) , instead of potato fries. 

I hope you may find it and try it sometime. It’s my favorite! 

The White Fence Farm. Delicious Fried Chicken and Petting Farm.

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Perfectly cooked juicy chicken. 🙂

The White Fence Farm is an inviting and family friendly place with mouth-watering fried chicken. Their menu is very simple with chicken and bottomless sides. The best and our favorite side was the corn fritters. If you prefer a lighter side, they also serve a variety of salads and vegetables to go with their juicy and perfectly fried chicken.

CORN FRITTERS! YUM!

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BEETS AND A PERFECT COLESLAW… Perfect combination!

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Some side of cottage cheese as well.

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They offered me a tour of their kitchen and I was thrilled! Here are some pics! Enjoy!

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If you are like us, we bring our kids everywhere we go to learn about a new place. This restaurant and petting farm was perfect for us. They have a petting farm with goats and sheep which the kids can be around.

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While you wait for your table, there are many fun areas for adults and kids.

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We basically have this place now in our list of things to do and places to visit over summer. It’s simply a lot of fun! 🙂

BBQ and ‘Other’ Bold Flavors

A friend recently shared an article on BBQ flavored chips and their history. I have to say that BBQ chip flavor is familiar and appealing today, but that was not the case years ago. Far more interesting than history, I was impressed with a discussion on how food brand marketing companies take the taste introduction process to the furthest extreme, to open remote markets. They learn from and adapt to foreign food, culture and regional likes/dislikes to better understand the target. The article also talked about chips and soda companies daringly reinventing products to win the Asian market. For example, one of  them recently came up with Chicken-Cola flavored chips in Asia. “It’s apparently a favorite flavor there!” What a concept! I was also greatly surprised to learn that there are 205 types of chip flavors available worldwide.

Two points in my post: ‘Adaptability and diversity.’ Thinking about these bold flavor combinations encouraged me to get into my kitchen, be creative, mix familiar ingredients with totally new ones, innovate, come up with different ideas and flavors. Kids are great for this! They’re creative, explorers, fun! When it comes to cooking, I am with them… After all, we should at least attempt to have fun cooking! 🙂

So, from BBQ chips to BBQ chicken… What could I do different this time? Since winter is still here, I went from outdoor BBQ to indoor BBQ on my electrical skillet! Talk about adaptability… It turned out to be a great (and super easy) recipe, I hope you agree.

Recipe

Ingredients: Boneless chicken thighs (1 or 2 per person), BBQ sauce (your favorite brand; Use 1 bottle), salt, pepper.

1. Add 1 TBSP of canola oil to the electric skillet. Place the thighs on the electric skillet.

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2. When brown, add salt and pepper. Add the BBQ sauce on top and cover with lid.

 

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3. Lower setting to 250 degrees on the electric skillet and let it cook for 20-30 minutes. Turn pieces so both sides cook well. Let it cook for another 20 minutes. Finally, check the chicken to make sure it’s cooked all the way through.

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Serve with rice and veggies or with salad greens. 🙂

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New Year Easy Recipe – ‘4 Spices’ Dry Rub Skillet Chicken

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This is my last post for 2013. To welcome the New Year, I am sharing this family favorite:  ‘4 Spices’ Dry Rub Skillet Chicken recipe. Juicy and tender, the secret to this easy recipe is the ‘4 spices’ dry rub.

Start by adding salt and pepper to uncooked chicken. Ingredients for the dry rub are generous amounts of: 1) Whole cumin seeds, 2) coriander seeds, 3) ginger and 4) paprika. Mix and rub on the uncooked chicken with olive oil (to help spread the dry rub.) Cover and marinade for 30 minutes in the fridge. If you have time for prep work, let it marinade for 2-4 hours in the fridge. Either way, I have made this recipe following a 30 minute marinade and the chicken turned out moist, juicy and flavorful.

IMG_4992Cook on medium heat on a pan until chicken pieces have browned on all sides.

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Cover and simmer. Mix the remaining dry rub with 1/2 cup of water and add to the pan. Follow this last step only if all liquids at the base of the pan have evaporated. Turn the chicken halfway through the process, and remove from the pan when all pieces have cooked completely.

IMG_4998Tips:

  • This recipe also works well with boneless chicken thighs.
  • Serving suggestions: Serve with mashed or boiled potatoes and broccoli, or with a simple green salad and french bread. 

The ‘4 Spices’ Dry Rub Skillet Chicken is a great way to unwind welcoming the first of 2014! 🙂

Colombian ‘Pasteles de Arroz’, a Christmas and New Year’s Tradition

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Many Latin American countries, including Colombia, share “Pasteles de Arroz” on Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.

This recipe has been in Cartagena de Indias (my home town), for a very long time. Families get together around this wonderful recipe. I can remember the smell of Pasteles on Christmas eve, as well as the excitement the days before as my Mom hassled around the kitchen with all the detailed ‘prep’ work. My parents are no longer with us, but my siblings and I still share the memories and remember them every Christmas and New Year’s eve as we enjoy Pasteles.

Puerto Rico and the Caribbean countries share this tradition and recipe (with some unique modifications.)

Three key components make this bounty unforgettable: The seasoning, the stew and the plantain leaves. Here I share my recipe that yields 8 “pasteles.” Even though it is very detailed, time-consuming and elaborate ( I will not lie about that ), the results are well worth it! 🙂 Tips for best results: “Prep work” and fresh ingredients. Get ready for an exciting cooking experience!

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1. Start by preparing the stew the night before. You can use chicken thighs only (as I do) , or chicken thighs and pork ribs. The secret is to stay away from chicken breast as it will not add much flavor. Start by sauteing the meat and adding salt, pepper and 2 bay leaves. When the meat is brown then you can add the following: onions, sweet peppers, capers, peppercorns and tomatoes in generous quantities. Add also chicken stock (at least 1 cup) and water. You must season this stew generously with salt, pepper, cumin and paprika or achiote (anato seeds.) After the stew boils, let it simmer for at least 20 minutes.  Let it cool and then refrigerate when done, as you will use this stew the next day.

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2. Prepare the uncooked rice seasoning the night before also. For 8 pasteles: 3 cups of rice, 1 cup of vinegar, 2 tablespoons of salt, 2 tablespoons of cumin and 2 tablespoons of paprika, 1/2 cup of oil. Mix well and let it sit in the refrigeration overnight.

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3. On the day you will be making the “pasteles”, prepare containers with chick peas (1 can), olives (1 bottle), capers (1 bottle), sliced sweet peppers (about 8), sliced onions (1/4 yellow onion), sliced tomatoes (3 tomatoes), potatoes in thin slices and cabbage (3 potatoes.) Have all these ready in bowls so you can easily assemble the “pasteles.” Wash the plantain leaves with cold water and have them ready also. This can be cumbersome but it’s necessary. You will find fresh or frozen plantain leaves in Latin American food markets.

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4. Assemble the “pasteles.” The plantain leaves are sold in halves. Place 2 plantain leave halves on the working table, forming a cross. Set a cabbage piece on the plantain leaves center and then 3/4 cup of rice on top of the cabbage.The rice you see in this picture is uncooked. It was seasoned the night before as indicated above.IMG_5063Add chicken pieces (2-3), olives, chick peas, capers, onions, tomatoes, potatoes on top of the rice. Finish with a generous amount of chicken stew sauce.IMG_5064Add a tablespoon of rice.IMG_5065Cover with another piece of cabbage.IMG_5074Wrap well and tie with kitchen twine. When all “pasteles” have been assembled and are ready to be cooked, add them all at once to a pot of boiling water for 2 hours.

About the pot of boiling water: Make sure the water is truly boiling hot and seasoned before adding the “pasteles.” Season the water with: 1/2 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of vinegar. Tip: The pot of water needs to be filled three-quarters of the way, to allow the “pasteles” to fit. They will bring a lot of volume and can make the water spill out. Switch the bottom pasteles with the top half way during the cooking process. Also, add pressure to the lid ( I usually use a garden rock) to make sure the heat is contained in the pot as this helps cook the rice well.

Here is what Pasteles look like when fully cooked and ready to enjoy:IMG_5091This is what it looks like after your guests ate them… 🙂IMG_5093

“Pasteles de Arroz”, a generous way to wish you Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year 2014! 🙂