cooking

Gourmet Organic Potato Fingerlings

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This post about gourmet organic potato fingerlings is as simple as the recipe. I decided to stop serving regular potatoes to my family and I tried their taste buds with these miniature delights.  Smaller in size, they’re flavorful and versatile. They’re very convenient as they bake quicker, due to their size. It was uncharted territory for my kids, but not for me. I had tried purple potato fingerlings before. They are fantastic! They come in a bag with purple and yellow miniature potatoes. They can be baked, sautéed, grilled or fried. They’re sweet and a great side for any beef or poultry dish (at least in my opinion.) So here is how I prepared them and we absolutely loved them.

Recipe:

Ingredients: A bag of gourmet organic potato fingerlings; Salt and pepper; Parsley flakes.

1. Cut them in small pieces and saute them on a TSP of canola oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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2. When brown on the edges serve them sprinkling some parsley flakes on top.

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Healthy, low-calorie, fat-free, cholesterol free and delicious! What else can I ask for? Simply stated, gourmet organic potato fingerlings are now a favorite at home too. 🙂

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Salad Recipe Collection – Warm Eggplant Salad – 4 of 5

Warm Eggplant Salad

Eggplant was frequent at home, since our Dad was of Middle Eastern descent, and he loved this warm eggplant dish! It is extremely easy to make and if you have enough eggplants, it can be served as an entrée dish. My aunts taught my Mom all they knew about authentic Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisine and we loved every dish! Our Mom handed down every recipe, tip and trick learned. Eggplant is a power ingredient, low-calorie, potent source of energy and foundation for versatile and unique dishes. We were fortunate to enjoy delicious, extravagant, flavorful recipes. I intend to continue with the tradition and pass these recipes down to my kids as well.

Recipe:

Ingredients: 1 Eggplant, oil, onion, tomatoes, ground beef (optional)

1. Cut the eggplant sideways in mid-size portions carving out the inside. Discard the ends. Add beef or vegetables (I added tomato and onions) and top with any skim milk cheese (I used Ranchero) as it keeps its consistency while melting at the same time. Saute the eggplant on a pan with oil, after adding the toppings.

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2. After the eggplant skin part is cooked, transfer to a cookie sheet and then into the oven at 350F for 20 minutes.

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Once done it will look like this..

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Salad Recipe Collection – Cartagena Fishermen’s Salad – 2 of 5

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“Avoid seafood in the months without an ‘R’, May through August, the gestation months..” Colloquial Quote by: Fishermen from Cartagena de Indias (my home town.) This salad has been around in homes in Cartagena for decades. This was the first time I had tried to make it, and everyone at home was happy to be my Guinea pigs. It went well, though. 🙂 They said it was refreshing and taste buds were dancing all over their mouths.

Recipe:

shrimp_salad21. Boil 1 peeled potato with salt (1/4 tsp), and cut into cubes. Set aside.

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2. Clean 4 raw medium or jumbo shrimps, removing shell and tail, and place them on the grill adding salt and pepper after you turn them. Stop cooking when they turn pink. If you prefer to saute them (on the skillet) as I did, you can add butter and garlic to the pan first, before adding the shrimp. Don’t forget to add salt and pepper to the shrimp on the skillet. They will have added flavor.

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3. Take a couple of slices of an apple and cut them into small chunks similar in size to the potato cubes. I chose Red Rome Apple, for its sweetness, crunchy texture and because it’s my daughter’s favorite kind of apple. 🙂

Note: You may add mango as a second fruit. I would still suggest leaving the apple as it has more texture than mango.

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4. Assemble all ingredients together starting with the lettuce as holders of the potato and apple pieces, then add one shrimp on each side of the plate and finish with salt, pepper and a dollop of simple mayonnaise. Mix together in your plate and get ready to travel to my home town. 🙂

shrimp_salad9 shrimp_salad7Fishing is an important livelihood for Cartagena natives. They are not shy to promote wind surfing, canoeing or plain beach enjoyment from May to August. They try, although they don’t quite succeed, as fresh seafood is delicious in Cartagena. That said, they want both the fish and seafood to be left alone during the gestation period, so they do make fewer trips out to open sea. You can always enjoy fresh fish and seafood in abundance from September to April. After all, every day is a summer day in Cartagena! 🙂

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! 🙂

Blue Moose Pizza – Vail, CO

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The Blue Moose Pizza. An inviting, fun, family friendly place with delicious pizza. We were driving on Colorado’s I-70, passing through Vail, on our way to Aspen.

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The stop was more than we could ask for. This is a place I’d recommend anyone, specially families. Fresh home-made pizza dough, light sauces, abundant mouth-watering flavor. We ordered the traditional flavors my family loves: Hawaiian, pepperoni, black olives and beef. However, the menu is full of other wild awesome combinations.

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The staff is friendly, bathrooms are extremely clean. The place is decorated beautifully. I loved the decor, especially the lamps.

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They feature a blue moose sculpture which is sure to attract your attention too. Nowadays their blue moose is wearing its Christmas gear. 🙂 

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The waiter told us a fun story about the decoration of the place. For their grand opening, the owner invited his kid’s 2nd grade class to draw moose paintings which today still decorate the walls all across the place.

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Tables are covered with huge blank paper and buckets of crayola. My kids immediately worked hard to leave their very own artwork legacy.

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 Located at the heart of Lionshead Village, the huge glass windows offer a view of  the village skating rink and a magnificent panorama of Vail ski enthusiasts.

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IMG_4902Blue Moose Pizza. Indeed, a  fun, family friendly place with fresh, delicious pizza.

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