Category Archives: Cooking

fish cooked in lime.

Papitas (Fried Cassava and Cheese Balls)

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Para la versión en español sigue hasta el final

 

Papitas are some of the most known fried food in Maracaibo. Next to Pastelitos, Tequeños and Mandocas, these are usually eaten for breakfast. The name Papitas translate into “Little Potatoes” even though there is not potato in it.

 

The origin of the name will be a pending matter, which honestly I am not very interested in search for. However, learning how to make them was something I really put an effort to do, since I craved this dish so much when I moved to the US about 8 years ago.

 

With a little imagination as well as trial and error. I finally made it possible for me to make this dish. Take notes of this fast and easy way to make Papitas, comment and share your results and suggestions.

 

Ingredients:

 

  • 18 oz. Approximately frozen or fresh yucca/cassava
  • 1 lb. Panela Cheese(I bought mine at Sam’s Club). You can also use, semiduro cheese or any other latin cheese salty enough, or white cheddar cheese.
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Salt

 

This recipe makes a perfect Gluten Free choice.

Instructions:

 

In a saucepan cover the yucca/cassava with water and bring to boil until de yucca/cassava is soft enough to mash it. Remove the long fibers in the middle of the yucca/cassava, add salt and squish it like a mashed potato. Make sure you don’t have chunks of yucca in your mashed yucca. Make balls of approximately 2 inches/5cm and open a hole in the middle. Put a cube of cheese inside of approximately 1 ¼ inch/3cm, and close. Make sure the cheese in completely covered by the yucca dough.

 

Fry in vegetable oil at 350F until the Papitas turn into a golden color outside…

 

Let’s Eat!

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Papitas

 

Las Papitas son unas de las frituras mas conocidas en Maracaibo, junto con los pastelitos, tequeños y mandocas. Usualmente se comen para desayunar y al contrario de lo que su nombre indica… No tienen papa por ninguna parte.

 

El origen del nombre se los debo y no es algo que me llame mucho la atención averigüar, sin embargo, cuando me mudé a los Estados Unidos hace un poco más de ocho años, esta fué una de las tantas comidas que comencé a extrañar.

 

Con un poco de imaginación, al igual que ensayo y error, logré el resultado que esperaba. Toma nota de esta manera fácil y rápida de hacer Papitas y comenta tus resultados y/o sugerencias.

 

Ingredientes:

 

  • 18 oz. Aproximadamente de Yuca congelada o fresca
  • 1 lb. Queso de Panela (lo venden en Sam’s Club). También puedes usar queso semiduro y cuanquier queso latino que tenga suficiente sal o queso cheddar blanco
  • Aceite vegetal para freir
  • Sal

 

Esta es una receta perfecta libre de glutamato o “Gluten Free”.

 

Preparación:

 

En una olla cubre la yuca con agua y llévala al fuego hasta que la yuca ablande suficiente para aplastarla en puré. Remueve las fibras duras del centro de la yuca y condimenta el pure con sal al gusto.

 

Cuando el puré esté bien mezclado y no le quede grumos, comienza a hacer bolitas del tamaño que desees (en la foto puedes ver que las que hice son un poco mas pequéñas que una pelota de tennis, aproximadamente 2 pulgadas/5cm). Abre un hueco en el centro y coloca un cubo de queso de aproximadamente 1 ¼ de pulgada/3cm. La masa es fácil de manejar. Cierra la pelota de masa cubriendo bien el queso y fríe a 350F hasta que este dorada por fuera.

 

A Comer!

Chicha Venezolana (Venezuelan Rice Drink)


 
 Para la version en español siga hasta el final.

I know, I know… I was gone for too long… again! But I came with a new plan and this one involved my mom… Woo hoo!!!

Just so you know this lady is the sweetest ever and she has such a positive personality that makes me thinks this time is really going to work more consistently.

Well, this recipe is hers. It is very common to find in Venezuela a Chichero on your way out of school/university and markets. Chicheros have a little cart pull either by themselves or by some sort of attached bicycle.

For a Chicha to be the best it needs to be thick and some people (like me) love little chunks of sweet rice going through the straw with difficulty… that sound great to me, hope it sounds great to you as well.

It is a tradition to add cinnamon and condense milk on top of the chicha and ask for a “ñapa” (a little extra for free) after you finish your cup.

Ready Freddy? Here is the recipe for you to try to make your own Chicha;
1 cup of rice (preferable latin rice or a NON fancy basmati).

4 1/2 cups of water

1/2 teaspoon of salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 can of evaporated milk

1 can condense milk

1 cinnamon stick

Powder cinnamon and condense milk (optional)

Instructions:

Wash the rice in a sieve under the kitchen faucet until the water comes clean.

In a medium size saucepan, combine all the water, salt, cinnamon stick and rice and cook over medium-low heat until the rice is so soft that you can mash it with your fingers (do not burn yourself doing it). Make sure the rice does not stick to the pot while cooking. This may last between 2 and 2 1/2 hours.

The mushy rice should look like the one on this picture.

Take the saucepan off the fire and wait until it cools a bit. Pull the cinnamon stick out of the cooked rice and discard.

Blend the rice with the evaporated milk, condense milk and vanilla. If your blender does not fit all the ingredients at once, blend it in two or three batches using equal parts of everything.

Add crushed ice to a drinking cup and pour some chicha. Garnish with powdered cinnamon and/or condense milk (some people add powdered cocoa instead of cinnamon) ENJOY!

Chicha Venezolana

Ya lo sé… me desaparecí por mucho tiempo… Otra vez! Pero volví con un nuevo plan y esta vez involucra a mi mama… Woo hoo!!!

Solo para aclarar, esta señora es la mas dulce del mundo y tiene una personalidad muy positiva y me hace pensar que esta vez si va a funcionar consistentemente.

Bueno, esta receta es de ella. Es muy común encontrar en Venezuela un Chichero al salir del colegio/Universidad o en algún Mercado. Los Chicheros tienen un carrito que empujan ellos mismo y a veces tienen una especie de bicicleta pegada para ayudarlos a manejar.

Para que una Chicha se considere la mejor, necesita ser espesa, y a algunas personas (como yo) les encanta con pedacitos que arroz dulce que pasen con dificultad por el pitillo… No se ustedes pero para mi eso suena delicioso.

Tradicionalmente se le agrega canela en polvo y leche condensada por encima, y hasta se pide una ñapa (un poquito extra sin cargo adicional) luego de terminarte la Chicha.

Listos? Acá va la receta para que hagas tu propia Chicha;

1 taza de arroz (preferiblemente arroz latino o arroz basmati del baratico)

4 ½ tazas de agua

½ cucharadita de sal

2 cucharaditas de extracto de vainilla

1 lata de leche evaporada

1 lata de leche condensada

1 palito de canela

canela en polvo y leche condensada (opcional)

Instrucciones:

Lavar el arroz en un colador hasta que el agua salga transparente.

En una olla mediana, combiner toda el agua, sal, el palito de canela y el arroz y cocinarlo a fuego medio-bajo, hasta que el arroz se pueda aplastar con los dedos haciendolo puré (ten cuidado de no quemarte). Asegurate que el aroz no se pegue a la olla mientras lo cocinas. Esto puede tomar entre 2 y 2 ½ horas.

Baja la olla del fuego y espera a que se enfríe. Sácale el palito de canela y bótalo. Licúa el arroz con la leche evaporada, leche condensada y la vainilla. Si la licuadora no es lo suficientemente grande, licúa en dos o tres partes asegurandote de separar los ingredientes en cantidades similares.

Agrega hielo picado al vaso y sirve la Chicha. Decora con canela en polvo y/o leche condensada (algunas personas le ponen cacao en polvo en vez de canela) A DISFRUTAR!

Pernil Horneado Venezolano (Venezuelan Roasted Fresh Ham)

Well, after a few events that usually happen in our lives, I am finally back! 😀

After living in the US for almost 6 years, I miss the food I grew up with, a TON. Pernil Horneado is a dish a regular Venezuelan family will make for christmas eve or new year’s eve as part of the holiday’s meals.

Pernil Horneado is not a difficult dish but, it will need some time and checking on the Ham during cooking time. First than all, I want to apologized beforehand about the lack of pictures. It was my first pernil and I was kind of anxious to get the best results. I’ll try to explain the best I can so you can get it right the first time as I did 😉

you will need:

Fresh Ham (if it’s not the holiday season or easter here in the US, you will need to make an special order at the supermarket that may take one to two weeks. mine took a little over a week)

1 Cup chopped bacon

1-2 Tbsp cloves

Bay leaves

9-10 Tbsp salt

4 Tbsp black pepper

5 Tbsp dried oregano

2 Cups sweet red wine

1 cup pitted prunes

1 cup pineapple juice (fresh is the best)

1 Big yellow onion

1 bunch of green onions (I have absolutely NO idea of how you call it in english. I just know the supermarket put it together with a rubber band)

1/2 cup of honey

1/2 peeled and cored pineapple.

 

Let the fun begin,  If your ham comes sealed like mine. you don’t have to worry about putting A LOT of salt so the pork will drain the extra blood (which happens in Venezuela and is an extra step you can skip) If your pork is soooo fresh that is dripping blood, well…you will need to add extra salt all over the piece of fresh ham to help drain it. When the excess blood is gone you can then proceed to the next step.

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take a chef knife and make deep cuts all the way to the bone of the fresh ham in different parts of the pork (be super careful because the skin can be very hard sometimes and you will prefer all your fingers attached to you)

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Usually the cuts are made on the entire piece of pork not only the top part. These cuts will absorbe the condiments so you will have a very tasty pernil. In a pot add bacon and cloves and cook a few minutes over medium heat until the bacon start losing some of the fat and you start getting the cloves smell a little bit more intense.

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I like to cut my bacon while frozen with a very sharp knife (now that I just wrote that, it sounded very very dangerous) Be careful!

let the bacon and cloves mixture cool down so you can start putting it inside the cuts you made to the ham. after filling the cuts you will need to add salt, pepper and oregano evenly to the entire ham. then add some bay leaves and pour the orange juice and 1 cup of wine over the ham. cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate over night.

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Note: life will be easier if you are not so lazy to go and find a better size container for that ham!

NEXT DAY: in a blender add, the rest of the wine (1 cup), prunes and pineapple juice. Pour the blended mixture on the ham cover with aluminum foil and put it inside the oven at 350 fahrenheit one hour for every kilo (because 2 lbs. is a little under a kilo you can try 1 hour per every 2 pounds or convert pounds to kilos to get a better timing on your pernil.) my pernil was a little over 14 pounds which is over 6 kilos. I just cooked it 6 hours and the result was awesome it wouldn’t hurt a little more time so, don’t worry about being too precise.

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very important! every 45 minutes to an hour put some of the liquid on the ham while in the oven and cover again with the aluminum foil. you don’t want a dry tasteless pernil so please remember to do this over and over again until done.

then, 45 or 30 minutes before cooking time is up, remove the aluminum foil to toast the skin and get a darker color on your pernil.

 

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Because of the cooking time the skin on top will roast until almost disappear and the one on the bottom will fall off. you don’t have to be worry about eating extra fat, just the essential 😉

If you notice in the last picture we started to eat the pernil before taking the picture. Philippe, my two-year-old boy, was the first and he loved it. so we just started digging (Literally) the pernil.

if you have enough liquid after taking the ham out of the oven, as we did, you can thicken it with a tablespoon of cornstarch disolved in 2 tablespoon room temperature water in a pot and cook over medium heat until you get the thicker consistency.

The most popular choice is to make the pernil sauce and that is why we haven’t use the other ingredients just yet.

Ok. for the sauce, add to a blender onion, green onions, honey and pineapple. in a saucepan heat the blended ingredients over medium heat until thick and serve over the pernil.

We liked both sauces so we had both 😀

If you have any questions I’ll be glad to help. I also want to thank my uncle Salim (Tio Nono) for his help in passing this recipe to me 😉

Enrollados Venezolanos (Venezuelan Pastry)

Enrollados Venezolanos

Hey there! The pastry I am going to show you is known in Venezuela as “enrollado”. You can find enrollados in bakeries (which in Venezuela are frequent places to go daily for some fresh bread, and pastries of course). Since I move to the US I’ve been reading different cook books, and noticed that Venezuelan culture involves a lot of European and Middle Eastern food. Just to let you know a little bit of Venezuela. My beautiful South-American country was a preferred destination for immigrants for a big part of the 20th Century. The tropical year-round weather, and the start of the Venezuelan oil industry are, in big part, the reason of this phenomenon.

So Thanks to all these people who decided to move to my piece of heaven in earth, Venezuela is one of those places where you can have a big variety of great food 😉

Ok amigos mios, These are the ingredients:

1 sheet of ready-made puff pastry
Powder sugar for rolling
unsalted butter for the pastry cylinders
1 egg
1 Tbsp. water
2 1-4 cups regular milk
1/2 vanilla bean
5 egg yolks
6 tbsp. powder sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp. cornstarch

For the pastry wrap, you will need one sheet of ready-made puff pastry or you can make your own. I have tried my own pastry before and there is not a difference of flavor between one and the other. Remember to follow the manufacturer instructions to thaw it. Mine ask for 30 minutes out of the freezer prior to roll it. Add enough powder sugar to a flat and clean surface to start rolling your puff pastry. try to roll it keeping the rectangular shape of the dough. you need it about half the thickness it originally came. you can add powder sugar on top on the pastry to avoid to get stick to the rolling pin.

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once you have the pastry rolled to the desired thickness, start cutting 1″ thick lines.

 

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You could make the lines thinner or thicker depending on how big you want your enrollados to be. Next add some unsalted butter to the pastry cylinders so your enrollados won’t stick to them (which I forgot to do :P)

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As you can see on the last picture, That is what happens when you forget to add butter to your cylinders. But it is not the end of the world. To fix this, you can take a table knife and cut the tips of the pastry and remove them carefully (with the knife because it would be stuck to the cylinder) then put you entire hand around the pastry without putting too much pressure on it and turn it a little bit. Congratulations! you just saved your pastry wraps 🙂

Note: If you don’t have pastry cylinders, you can make some with aluminum foil. cut long strips of aluminum foil and wrap it around two fingers a couple of time to make the shape. Another consideration; If you forget to add butter to your aluminum foil cylinders. hold your pastry with your hand, without pressing too much, and turn the aluminum around softly until you can take it out of the pastry wrap. I KNOW! I should stop forgetting the butter… By the way, I use to have the aluminum foil as cylinders for a while until I decided to get serious and bought them on amazon.

Add parchment paper to a cookie sheet and arrange the enrollados about 1 to 2 inches apart one from the other. Brush them with an egg wash made out of one whole egg and one tablespoon of water whisked together.

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Bake at 350 Fahrenheit for 12 to 15 minutes.

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Now for the creme. This is called Creme Patissiere. I don’t speak french so for me is called crema pastelera. take the 2 1/4 cups of milk and add the 1/2 vanilla bean (I split it in half to get a little bit more flavor out of it) bring to boil but don’t let it boil more than 1 minute. meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and the powder sugar until pale. Then add the flour and cornstarch making it thicker (whisk any lump in the mixture). take the vanilla bean out of the milk. if a film is formed on top of the milk take it out as well. add the milk to the egg mixture gradually and take it back to the stove at medium temperature and bring to boil whisking constantly to avoid lumps forming on the creme. Let boil for one minute and take out of the stove. Put the creme on a bowl and cover with plastic wrap while cooling down.

The creme should get thicker when boiling but it will get even more thick when cooling down. to see if the creme is the right consistency. Put a wooden spoon inside the preparation take out and make a line with you finger on the back of the spoon. If it draw a channel in the middle it is ok to take out the stove and cool it down.

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Now that you have your creme done, take a piping bag and fill the pastry wraps. Dust the tops of the enrollados with some powder sugar.

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you can keep you enrollados in the fridge in an air tight container I will eat them within 3 days to keep the nice flavor. Some people like them better after you put them in the fridge. Not me! I could seriously eat them hot or cold 🙂

Note: From 1 sheet of puff pastry you can get 6 regular size enrollados.

Any question? just let me know 🙂

Ceviche with Mango.

Hello again! Ceviche is a traditional peruvian dish. I love ceviche and usually prepared it for my husband and I as a light dinner. Last week I made it for a ladies night out here at the subdivision and Thanks God! it was a success. I have to say, I love good attention (who doesn’t).

For making this dish you’ll need:

2 lb. of Tilapia or any other firm white fish.
2 Tbsp. of super fine cut red onion (if you are a raw onion lover you can use more and you can cut it thicker as well).
5 celery stalks.
1 red chile.
1 Mango
10 Persian limes
1 Tbsp. of salt.

Ok then, I first peeled and sliced the celery stalks. I didn’t use the white part.

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I love onions. I like how versatile they are, but when they are raw… I can’t stand that there’s always people trying to talk to you, really close. It’s like they have a “she just ate onion” radar.

We’ll that is WHY I prefer to slice it real thin and then cut it in little pieces for my ceviche.

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It is the turn of the red chile. This one is not very hot, which I love about it. I seeded and chopped it really small. I am from Venezuela (South America) and NO, we don’t eat spicy food. but if you want some heat in your ceviche. you can try with different kinds of chiles.

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For the mango, you don’t need to use the whole fruit. 2 slices from each side will be fine. Cut it in cubes of about 1/2 inch. Remember to peel it.

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Cut the tilapia fillets in half, lengthwise, and then slice it about half inch thick or less. add the juice of the ten persian limes and the tablespoon of salt (it is not too much salt for ceviche).

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The ceviche should be mixed a couple of times for about 2 1/2 hours or until you can not see any pink in the fish. The lime juice is what cooks the fish. you need to make sure to turn the preparation a couple of times so all the fish cooks trough. At the end the color of the fish should be white with some light and dark grey parts.

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We usually eat ceviche with soda crackers. I hope you enjoy!