Grasshoppers Reloaded

March 15, 2007 in bread, cooking, drink, holiday, latino, recipe, Spirit World Blog, Well Fed Network

[This post appeared on the [tag]Spirit World[/tag] blog, a member of the [tag]Well Fed Network[/tag]]

For this month’s [tag]designated driver drink[/tag], I had to stretch beyond the trite [tag]Saint Patrick’s day[/tag] “stock drinks”. I also didnt want to explore virgin [tag]irish coffee[/tag]s, whats the point?!

Today’s [tag]nonalcoholic[/tag] drink is a fusion between [tag]Colombia[/tag] (my childhood influence) and a drink popular in the 1970s here in the US, the [tag]Grasshopper[/tag]. I put this together because its green but also filled with [tag]tropical[/tag] goodness.

Guanabana (Guanabanus muricatus) is the fruit base. It is called “[tag]soursop[/tag]” by the [tag]British[/tag] (not at all sure why, sour doesnt really describe the unique flavor of this fruit). It is related to the [tag]Paw-Paw[/tag] and [tag]Cherimoya[/tag]. If you live anywhere near an urban center, you may find [tag]latino[/tag] food stores and in those stores, in the freezer section, you will likely find the [tag]guanabana[/tag] [tag]pulp[/tag] frozen into packages. Of course, the [tag]fresh[/tag] fruit will never be replicated by frozen or concentrate, but these frozen pulps are a great stand in.

Regarding the taste. In the case of this fruit, texture is coupled to the flavor. I can not articulate it completely, but there is a textural heaviness or “grit” that coats the mouth while the flavor has a slight tingle/prickly ever-so-slightly sour bite that travels across the roof of the mouth and a bit on the back of the tongue.

If you have had guanabana and like to describe it differently, please comment because I would love to see how others experience this fruit.

I remember my parents making grasshoppers and [tag]pink panthers[/tag] at home. My mom says it was a 70s thing. It marked my childhood, just like [tag]Elvis[/tag], [tag]skateboard[/tag]s, and [tag]Sha Na Na[/tag] did.

The typical grasshopper contains Green [tag]Crème De Menthe[/tag], light cream, and [tag]Crème De Cacao[/tag]. Yikes, talk about heavy. My parents would make non-alcoholic versions of it with [tag]ice cream[/tag].

This grasshopper that I have put together for you today is a more [tag]globalized[/tag] version. It contains a lot more [tag]vitamin C[/tag] and a lot less proccessed “[tag]Creme[/tag]”, whatever THAT is.

[tag]Gobstopping[/tag] Grasshoppers

Ingredients:

 

  • 1 frozen package of Guanabana pulp
  • 1 C cold skim milk (I used skim because thats what we had on hand, you use what you like)
  • 1/2 C white granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly minced [tag]ginger[/tag]
  • 1 tablespoon [tag]Key Lime Juice[/tag]
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 large tablespoon dollops non-dairy [tag]whipped cream[/tag] (Cool Whip)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh [tag]mint[/tag] (In this case, my fresh mint was “displaced” by a family member, I had to use a scant drop of mint extract)

Directions:

Blend all these ingredients into a frothy cold shake and serve in frozen mugs or goblets.

Enjoy!

Colombian Food: Chorizo Montanera

March 4, 2007 in breakfast, Colombian Food, cooking, ingredient, latino, pork, product

I am slowly, ever so slowly, finding stores within a 50 mile radius of where I live that have the [tag]ingredient[/tag]s I need to make [tag]Colombian[/tag] and also Japanese foods. The first 30 miles of that travel is through a foodie wasteland so don’t be impressed with the distance I travel for food :-).

One ingredient that I have found that reminds me of my childhood is this pack of sausages from Colombia called “[tag]Chorizo Montañera[/tag]”. The spices are exactly like the [tag]salchicha[/tag]s I remember my grandmother and mother making and then hanging from the “rafters” in the kitchen. They would dry and release this transcendent aroma.. exactly like these sausages.

If you are a Colombian far from home or your [tag]abuela[/tag] or [tag]mamá[/tag], try to find some of these and give them a try.

Stewing goodness: Oxtail soup and homemade corn tortillas

February 26, 2007 in beef, cookbook, cooking, Food Porn, ingredient, latino, recipe, review

Ahh, this was yesterday’s [tag]lunch[/tag]. For supper we had the [tag]soup[/tag], more [tag]meat[/tag], all over rice. This sort of food is just so amazingly fulfilling and filling. It is very fulfilling for the cook who likes to create foods that are rich, deep in flavor, and that start from very inauspicious ingredients. Oxtails are about as simple as you can get. No pretense!

I looked through all of my new [tag]latino[/tag] [tag]cookbook[/tag]s – [tag]Mexico One Plate At A Time[/tag], [tag]Mexican Everyday[/tag], and [tag]Secrets of Colombian Cooking[/tag] – and did not find any [tag]recipe[/tag]s for this soup, nor did I find anything in my enormous [tag]Gourmet Cookbook[/tag] (again, it strikes out.. one day I may actually make something from that cookbook). I wasn’t able to find anything about actual cooking of [tag]oxtail[/tag]s in my [tag]Culinary Institute of America[/tag] [tag]The Professional Chef[/tag] book either, pity. So, I did the sensible thing and turned to my [tag]The Joy of Cooking[/tag]. In it, I found the basics and went from there. The way I did it, it took 2 days. No reason to rush this.

I made the tortillas fresh from my new [tag]Rick Bayless[/tag] cookbook, Mexico One Plate At A Time. I used the dry [tag]Maseca Corn Masa Mix[/tag] and his recipe. Finally, I was able to make tortillas that were presentable! His directions are absolutely perfect. He is a GOD (*winks*) He also seems like a nice guy, would like to meet him one day.

If you look at the photos, you will see this mysterious symbol at the center of my tortillas. Ah, yes, the [tag]tortilla[/tag] [tag]Illuminati[/tag].. no, wait, actually, read to the bottom and you will see.

Onward to the recipes

[tag]Oxtail Soup[/tag], adapted from The Joy of Cooking

(about 7 C output)

Ingredients:

  • Package of cut up oxtails (mine was something like 5 lbs, rinse them really well before use)
  • olive oil
  • [tag]sea salt[/tag]
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 shallot
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 8 C cold water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 C squash, diced
  • 10 quartered button mushrooms

Directions:

Day 1

Grab a heavy bottom dutch oven/stock pot and add some olive oil, heat to medium high. Rinse oxtails and pat dry. Sprinkle with a slight amount of salt and ground pepper. Sear in the pot until a nice dark brown all over (will get your house smokey, become one with the smoke) .

Add 8 C cold water and bay leaves, bring to a simmer on low and covered. Simmer at least 4 hours. Cool pot and then put it in the fridge (we put ours in our mud room, our extra fridge in the winter) overnight.

Day 2

Remove solidified fat from surface of soup and then heat slowly back up to a simmer (covered). Add 1 C diced squash and 10 quartered button mushrooms.

Simmer for 3 hours and longer, as long as you can hold yourself at bay.

Joy says to remove the meat and fat from the bones and put only the meat back in. I left it all on the bone because people around here like to gnaw meat from bones, go figure.

Las Tortillas

As I mentioned before, I have started delving into my new cookbook by Rick Bayless, Mexico One Plate At A Time, and the first thing I wanted to try was his method for making [tag]corn tortilla[/tag]s. I am going to paraphrase it here, there are many more details is in the book itself.

A while back, [tag]Homesick Texan[/tag] did a beautiful post on making corn tortillas. She used a nifty tortilla press, which I do not have. To make both my corn and flour tortillas, I use a cast iron pan. In particular, I use this square Emerilware cast iron grill pan because it is darn heavy. (I got it for free when I bought a set of Emerilware stainless steel pots and pans at Linens and Things, its awesome stuff – All Clad)

It works like a charm BUT there is one issue. Almost every tortilla I make is embossed with the “[tag]Emeril[/tag]” logo that is on the bottom of the pan. So my tortillas say “liremE” (tho not terribly legibly). Thats the funky circle you see on the tortilla in today’s photos. Without further trivial ado, here are the details.

Bayless Tortillas

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 C Maseca Corn Masa Mix
  • 1C & 2 tablespoons hot water (actually as much as is needed, see directions)

Directions:

Have two cast iron pans (well seasoned), both dry, one on medium low heat (for 1st stage) and the other on medium high heat (for 2nd stage).

Mix 1C hot water with the Maseca with your hands. Incorporate more water until it is like a soft cookie dough but not sticky. Since I live the the cold frozen dry-as-a-bone-North East, I had to add a lot of water because the Maseca was quite dessicated.

Make dough balls the size of large walnuts (or to the size you think works best for you). Cut open a heavy duty 1 gallon freezer zip-lock back, down the sides but not along the bottom (so it opens up into a long rectangle). You can use a tortilla press or my method (the counter and a heavy pan pushed down onto the ball from above). Squish the ball flat, open the press or pull away the pan, and rotate the bag 180 degrees and squish again. This evens it out.

Peel off one side of the plastic bag, lay the tortilla onto your hand and then peel off the other side of the bag. Gently put this raw tortilla in the cooler pan and allow to cook 15 or so seconds. It wont take on any brown color but you can tell, when you flip it in a second, that it has cooked a bit. Take a fork and gently pick up this partially cooked tortilla and flip over and into the hotter pan. Let it cook 30 to 45 seconds and then flip again and cook some 15 seconds. Bayless said that if you did a good job with the masa dough, the tortilla should puff a bit at this stage, mine did! It should NOT end up looking like a pita bread tho.

Remove to something like another 1 gallon zip lock bag that holds in heat and moisture so that the tortillas soften up a bit (might need to put the bag between foil or some cloths).

Enjoy with a bit of salt, butter, and your oxtail meat!

Books of Interest:

Products of Interest:

Colombian Star Rising – Food Network gets a latino clue

February 22, 2007 in baking, cooking, latino

Ingrid Hoffman

Some interesting [tag]news[/tag] about [tag]Ingrid Hoffman[/tag], the [tag]Colombian[/tag] star of the [tag]Delicioso[/tag] [tag]TV[/tag] [tag]food show[/tag] that I first learned about from Elaine at [tag]Latina Viva[/tag].

[tag]The Food Network[/tag] has signed [tag]Hoffman[/tag] to a multi-year contract to do a cooking show that certainly will explore [tag]Colombian Cooking[/tag]. (See the press release here – its a PDF) Going by comments that were offered in Elaine’s review of Delicioso, the Colombian cooking of Hoffman will likely be more of an American-ized sort of fare versus “real” Colombian cooking (of which you see a lot here on my blog, try this section for various recipes and how-2 guides). This is about Food Network’s speed, fine with me. Just dont think you are getting the “real” [tag]sabor[/tag] or [tag]flavor[/tag] of [tag]Colombia[/tag].

Colombian Empanadas

(Colombian Empanadas – Copyright © 2006 Nika Boyce All Rights Reserved)

I am open to the possibility that she will show “real” colombian cooking.. It would be great to see her up to her elbows in [tag]masa harina[/tag]: making [tag]empanadas[/tag], [tag]arepas[/tag], or [tag]tamal[/tag]. Heck, I would love to see her making a [tag]sancocho[/tag] or, god forbid, [tag]chicharrones[/tag]!

Somehow, I fear that may not be in the offing, though I will give her the benefit of the doubt.

Ms. Hoffman has built a big following by essentially being a VERY busy woman. Besides being the fetching star of the [tag]Univision[/tag] channel’s cooking show Delicioso, she does the following:

Appears on Univision‘s [tag]Despierta America[/tag] (Oh the wacky world of hispanic TV. It takes a bit of getting used to)

Contributes to [tag]Buenhogar[/tag] (A spanish “[tag]Good HouseKeeping[/tag]” if you will)

Publishes a bi-weekly syndicated column in the [tag]Rumbo[/tag] (chain of Spanish language daily newspapers)

I look forward to some fresh [tag]Latina[/tag] input at the Food Network. [tag]Bobby Flay[/tag] (who does New Yorker-Southwest. Ever see those [tag]Pace Picante Sauce[/tag] commercials about sauce made in New Yawk City?, yeah its like that) is so immensely over-exposed, he needs a break. Ok, I need a break but its always nicer be charitable, right?

Now, if the Food Network would show more [tag]Rick Bayless[/tag], I might tune in, when I am not watching my TIVO [tag]Bourdain[/tag]s that is.

Pues, Viva La Latina!

Watch Ms Hoffman and check it out.