Latinfoodie Goes to Europe12.12.11
Hello Friends, I’m thrilled to share with you my first international byline! I have just been published in Sabor, a food magazine distributed in the Netherlands. For their Winter 2011 issue, I had the honor of covering Latin American tamales, prepared throughout the Caribbean and Venezuela during the Holidays. The story has been translated to Dutch, but here’s the original story in English. Hope it’s what you need to kick off a wonderful and blessed Holiday season! ¡Felices Fiestas! more »
I was on a mission to find “Latinized” versions of holiday drinks, like the egg nog and mulled cider that now abound in outdoor market around the city. And I found them. In the December issue of the Food Network magazine, a handy guide perfect for adding to your off-line recipe collection featured how-to’s for Hot Dulce de Leche, Mexican Hot Chocolate and Coconut Nog, as well as festive concoctions perfect for warming us up from the inside out (ei. maple chai) and getting us into the spirit with a little bubbly (ei. kir royale).
But this week, as I read through Melissa Clark’s rediscovery of eggnog in the New York Times, I remembered the holiday traditions of my life back home. Along with an arduous fruit cake production that would tie up the kitchen for days, Mom would always be ready to prepare her own decadent interpretation of one of her favorite drinks, the Brandy Alexander. She whipped up this creamy elixir every time she was ready to entertain (which was almost daily). With exuberant gusto she combined condensed milk, evaporated milk, white rum and crème de cacao, blended it with ice and poured the frosty mixture into delicate rose-colored goblets, topping each glass with a sprinkle of cinnamon. The result was a dreamy, creamy drink that is (almost) worthy of replacing dessert. As Feist best puts it in her song, this drink definitely “goes down easy”.
This holiday I invite you to make a batch, bottle it up and give it away as homemade gifts. Or keep it, invite your favorite people over for a drink and celebrate how sweet life can be.
Cora’s Brandy Alexander
1 ½ cans of condensed milk
2 ½ cans of evaporated milk
1 can of white rum
1 can of crème de cacao (or your favorite chocolate liqueur)
powdered cinnamon and/or cinnamon stick
note: use one of the empty cans to measure the rum and liqueur
Whisk all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Blend with ice or mix in a cocktail shaker. You can also serve without the ice. Top with cinnamon. Enjoy!
It’s Ceviche Time!11.22.10
It was time for Sunday supper in NYC.
The seafood had been chilling in the fridge, soaking up the flavors of a clear, citrus broth. This was my first attempt at preparing ceviche, the classic dish of cured seafood from the kitchens of Peru and Ecuador, and judging from the delicate flavors and textures it yielded, it would definitely not be my last. I caught the last wave of local tomatoes, dicing their bright red flesh and piling them over the succulent seafood that had been marinating for a couple of hours. On top of those juicy cubes, I added crunchy bits of green pepper, finely chopped slivers of white onion, and fragrant cilantro and parsley that turned out to look a lot like kitchen confetti.
We laid out small bowls throughout the dining table, each one filled with thinly sliced plantains, airy popcorn and chunks of crusty French bread. All these garnishes would create a symphony of textures to accompany the cool, clean dish. We bit into the plump pink shrimp, nibbled delicately on the silky mussels and popped the morsels of scallops and miniature clams into our mouths. We sipped on cold white wine, while talking and laughing.
That afternoon I had visited the food markets of the Upper West Side, and after getting home, I turned to The South American Table cookbook for guidance. The result was a light and flavorful meal: the orange and mustard in the marinade gave the seafood a sweet and tangy note, the toppings gave it crunch and a lemony freshness. The different garnishes added an interactive component that was a hit.
This weekend, a hint of Spring was in the air. It was time to venture into something new.
Shellfish Ceviche Serves 6 (I served it as a meal, but you can also make it as an appetizer at your next dinner party)
4 cups water
1 scallion, sliced
1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ lb. bay scallops
¼ cup dry white wine
1 lb. mussels, scrubbed and deveined
16 baby clams
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup lime juice
2/3 cup orange juice
½ cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1 small green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped, rinsed with hot water and drained
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
Popcorn, plantain chips (chifles), French bread, ripe avocado
In a large saucepan, bring water and scallions to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add shrimp, remove from heat and let stand for a few seconds until the shrimp turn pink. Remove shrimp and rinse under cold water.
Add scallops to the cooking liquid and bring back to boil. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 3 minutes. Once scallops are cooked through (their center should be white), drain and rinse under cold water.
Place wine, mussels and clams in large skillet and bring to boil. Cover and continue to boil until shells are open, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove clams ad mussels from their shells.
Make marinade by combining all the ingredients in a large glass or ceramic bowl. Stir in shrimp, scallops, mussels and clams. Mix well, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Before serving, taste for salt, sugar and spice. Serve with garnishes and side dishes.
This month, I had the chance to shoot and produce my first video, and cover a Book Launch and Tasting Event at NYC’s mouth-watering Chelsea Market. Twenty-five chefs from all over New York City came together to show off their stuff, choosing one recipe from The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser that hit bookstores, and giving each recipe their own unique twist. The event was a blast! The chefs were incredibly warm and passionate about their creations, while the guests were devoted followers of the gastro scene in NYC.
I also had a chance to speak to Sisha Ortuzar, a young talented chef from Chile who heads the kitchen in New York’s Riverpark. He talked to me about the spicy shrimp dish he served that night: a take on a classic Pickled Shrimp recipe that he pickled in spice and topped with a brittle made from the same spices he used in the pickling process–coriander, caraway and fennel seeds.
When it comes to oatmeal, I’m all peace and love. I welcome all kinds of oats into my pantry, I don’t discriminate. Sometimes it’s steel cut oats that grace my breakfast table with their texture and nuttiness, leaving their chewy remnants on my copper pot; other times instant is best (especially on dark mornings when my cool sheets hold me captive and I end up rushing out the door in a frenzy). One thing is for sure, though, when it comes to oatmeal, simple is best (none of that peaches and cream, maple and brown sugar stuff). Using plain oats lets me dress up my bowl in a different “outfit” every day. Because my oatmeal, like me, thrives on variety, one day it’ll be a conservative affair, with cinnamon, dollops of honey and a few scattered raisins; and another it’ll be a wild child, spiked with mango, coconut flakes, granola and drizzled with dulce de leche.
Whether you’re an oatmeal virgin or oatmeal pro, here’s a latin-ized interpretation to put a smile on your face and keep you going straight into Spring.
makes 2 servings
1 cup of oats (preferably quick cook)
2 cups of liquid (milk, water or a mixture of both)
dulce de leche
Heat liquid and oats in pot to a boil. Meanwhile, slice half of the banana into very thin slivers (this will give your oats a creamy consistency, I picked up this technique at a favorite blog I follow here), and add to pot once it starts to boil. Now, stir mixture briskly with a wooden spoon, until all of the fruit has dissolved into the oats. If you like your oatmeal thicker, cook a few more minutes or remove from heat now. Add your toppings.