Monday, July 29, 2013

V is for Venuzeula

Well, visiting Venezuela was a welcome treat in the blahs of February! Delicious, lightly spiced food, great apps and drinks and a terrific desert!

The drink of the evening was a pineapple themed drink from the LCBO that looked like it might be complimentary to the Spanish/Mexican type tapas that we started with. It's the Lime Vodka Sunset (http://bit.ly/5SfGov) and is made of:

1 oz Lime Twist Vodka
1/2 oz Coconut Run
4-5 oz pineapple juice

Mix all together and garnish with a wedge of lime.

Venezuelan Appetizers:

Chunky-style Guasacaca

Ingredients:
·3-4 large ripe avocados
·1 large onion
·1 green pepper
·1 red pepper
·1/2 cup chopped tomato
·3-4 cloves garlic
·1/3 cup olive oil
·1/4 cup vinegar
·1/4 cup chopped parsley
·Salt and pepper to taste
·Tobasco or hot pepper sauce to taste
Preparation:
1.     Mash one of the avocados. Chop the other avocados and mix them with the mashed avocado in a bowl. Stir in the vinegar and olive oil. 
2.     Finely chop the red and green peppers, tomato, and the onion and add to the avocado. 
3.     Mince the garlic and add to the mixture. 

4.     Season the guasacaca with salt, pepper, and tobasco sauce to taste. Makes approximately 2 cups

Chunky-style Guasacaca - http://bit.ly/13U5QWl


Pico de Gallo Venezuelan style

Teque├▒os - Venezuelan Fried Cheese Sticks (no photo)

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter, chilled
1 egg
1/2 cup water
12 ounces queso blanco cheese, farmers cheese, or other firm, salty cheese that melts
Vegetable oil for frying

Prepare the dough: Place the flour in a medium bowl along with the sugar and the salt and whisk together. Cut the butter into 1/2 inch pieces and place them in the bowl with the flour. Add the egg. Use your fingers to mix the egg and butter into the flour until the mixture is sandy and crumbly, and the butter is in very small pieces. Stir 1/4 cup of water into the flour/butter mixture using a fork. Add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture starts to come together as a dough. Knead the dough in the bowl several times, adding more water if it is overly crumbly. The dough should be soft and kneadable but will appear somewhat shaggy and not perfectly blended. Cover with saran wrap and let rest for 20-30 minutes (Dough can be prepared ahead of time and chilled in the refrigerator until ready to use).
Choose a firm, salty white cheese that does not turn completely gooey when melted. Queso blanco cheese, Salvadoran quesillo, and farmers cheese work well. Cut the cheese into 3-4 inch long sticks, about 1/2 inch square. Depending on the size of the cheese block you start with, you should have about 24 sticks.

http://bit.ly/13pEVhJ

Dough for the seafood yumminess (pupusas)

Seafood yumminess

Frying the pupusas
Unfortunately, we can't seem to find the recipe for these little, delicious yummy things. However, it was just a chickpea flour basic dough with chopped shrimp, parsley, tomato and chicken stock and salt/pepper. You reduce the seafood with the stock and then fill the dough. Then deep fry in coconut oil (or vegetable oil if you like).

Entrees
The arepas are a staple of Veneuzelan cooking and I would make them again in a heartbeat! Below the recipes follows from http://epi.us/kvhBQc.

Reina Pepiada Arepas

Arepas define Venezuelan cooking. These thick cornmeal patties are griddled, then baked, and then stuffed while warm with anything from white cheese to this zesty chicken salad with avocado mayonnaise (Johan Santana’s first choice). The salad is named in honor of Susana Duijm, Miss World in 1955 and a popular Venezuelan celebrity. (Reina means "queen" in Spanish, and pepiada is perhaps most politely translated as "curvy.") 

Filling
·2 6-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breasts
·1/2 small onion, sliced
·Salt and freshly ground black pepper
·1 ripe Hass avocado, pitted, peeled, and coarsely chopped
·1/4 cup mayonnaise
·1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar, plus more to taste
·2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
·2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
·1/2 jalape├▒o, seeded and minced
·2 garlic cloves, minced
·1/2 cup seeded and diced (1/4-inch) red bell pepper
·2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
·1 scallion, white and green parts, finely chopped
Arepas
·3 cups lukewarm water, or as needed
·1 1/4 teaspoons salt
·3 cups Venezuelan cornmeal, or as needed *
·2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon canola or vegetable oil, plus more for the griddle

Preparation

1 To make the filling, place the chicken breasts and onion in a medium saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the saucepan and let cool completely. Tear the chicken into shreds.

2 Mash the avocado, mayonnaise, and vinegar together in a medium bowl with an immersion blender or large fork until smooth. Stir in the cilantro, parsley, jalapeno, and garlic. Add the chicken, red pepper, red onion, and scallion and mix together. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and add more vinegar to give the filling a pleasant, but not sour, tang. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
3 To make the arepas, stir 3 cups lukewarm water and the salt together in a large bowl to dissolve the salt. Gradually add 3 cups cornmeal, mixing with your fingers to dissolve any lumps, adding enough to make a soft dough that holds its shape without cracking when molded. Set dough aside to rest for 3 minutes. Add the oil and work it in with your hands, adding cornmeal or water to return the dough to the proper consistency.
4 Divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Shape each into a 4-inch diameter disk, about 1 inch thick. Transfer to a baking sheet.
5 Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil a large nonstick skillet or griddle and heat over medium heat.
6 In batches, place the arepas in the skillet. Cook until the underside is a splotchy golden brown, about 4 minutes. Turn and brown the other side. Return arepas to the baking sheet.
7 When all of the arepas are browned, transfer them directly to the oven rack (without the baking sheet). Bake until the surfaces of the arepas have formed a taut skin—if you rap your fingers on one, it will feel and sound like a drum. Return arepas to the baking sheet and let cool slightly. Split each arepa in half and fill with the chicken mixture. Serve warm.

Arepas
 Venezuelan Beef Stew

All sorts of flavours abound in this stew since there are so many types of meat. Do yourself a favour and hit up the butcher shop before making this so you can buy in the exact quantity...otherwise you'll have lots of different meats left. Or, just make a double batch with the extra! It would be worth it and would freeze well also. http://www.food.com/recipe/venezuelan-beef-stew-481688

5 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
1 lb round steak
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup cooked ham, cubed
2 1/2 ounces chorizo sausage, halved lengthwise then sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 (4 ounce) package pepperoni, sliced
1 (15 ounce) can tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1 cup beef broth
1/4 cup sherry wine
1 1/2 teaspoons cilantro, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons steak sauce (A1 sauce preferred)
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups potatoes, peeled cubed
1 cup white pearl onion
1/2 cup carrot, sliced
1 cup frozen peas
Directions:
1 In a dutch oven, cook bacon until crispy. Set aside but reserve drippings.
2 Trim fatty edges from round steak and then cube steak into 1 inch pieces. Toss beef meat with flour to coat.
3 Brown beef in the drippings. Drain fat and then stir in next 13 ingredients. Bring to a boil then reduce heat.
4 Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Add potatoes, onions and carrots. Cover and cook for 35 more minutes. Stir in the peas the last 5 minutes.
5 Sprinkle with bacon.


Venezuelan beef stew
 Dessert was a coconut flan that while appearing finicky was surprisingly easy to make. I also wanted to do baked plantain but figured that we always have too much food on our hands so we probably didn't need an extra dessert. Here's a link to a recipe for them anyway: bit.ly/fGwAcM

The coconut flan (picured below) is from Epicurious.com: epi.us/TbKr33
The Venezualan name is Quesillo de Coco.
For caramel
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
For flan
3 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
3 large eggs
1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
3 tablespoons dark rum
Equipment: 12 (4-ounce) ramekins

Make caramel:
Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then wash down any sugar crystals from side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Boil, without stirring, swirling pan occasionally so caramel colors evenly, until dark amber.
Immediately pour into ramekins and swirl so caramel coats bottom of each, then put ramekins in a large roasting pan.

Make flan:
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
Blend 2 cups milk with remaining flan ingredients in a blender until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl and stir in remaining 1 1/2 cups milk, then divide among ramekins.
Bake flan in a water bath until just set but still wobbly in center, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
Remove ramekins from water bath and cool slightly on a rack, at least 15 minutes (flan will continue to set as it cools).

Just before serving, run a thin knife around each flan, then invert onto plates.
Coconut flan
 Also notable...and not so Venezuelan...

Casualties
YUM! Hope you try some of these recipes!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

USA - exactly one year ago and somewhat forgotten...

Hi folks,

We're back online now and digging into the memory banks for our trip to the United States of America.  Since one of our gang is a true American, the meal was All-American as Apple Pie (which we did have for desert). However, since this happened so long ago, there are a few blank spots. There aren't really any recipes for these as many were just done off the cuff but we didn't want to leave "U" out of the alphabet. This is what we can piece together so far:

Appetizers - Beer, ribs, beer, potato skins, beer bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers, beer and more beer. There may have been some Californian reds mixed in there in the beverage department, too....

Potato Skins
Stuffed jalapenos (with cream cheese) 
The end of the ribs...they went fast!









 Main course - Ribs (different recipe, not pictured) and chicken wings, white hots (from Wegman's), potato salad.
Wings
Close up of chunky potato salad

Desert - Good Ol' Fashioned Apple Pie

Unfortunately, the only pictures I took were in the making of the pie, not once it was complete!