Costa Rican Casado

Are you married? I know, I can tell.

Just kidding. Today’s post comes to you from Costa Rica, where ticos (male Costa Ricans) and ticas (female Costa Ricans) can tell whether or not you’re married based on the heartiness of your meal. Or so legend says. In the “olden” days, a tico or tica could tell whether or not a person was married based on the size of the meal (usually lunch) they ate. People with bigger meals were obviously married, and those with small meals were single.

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Casado, a traditional Costa Rican dish.

I am currently in Costa Rica for a summer job; it’s beautiful, humid, and exotic. The rainy season has arrived, so it rains daily, mostly in the afternoons. Torrential down pours are preceded by clear skies, and followed by fresh, cool air. The country breathes life, and fills visitors with love. There is a reason the country’s saying is pura vida (pure life). People here are so happy and full of life!

Last week a co-worker, Emily, took me to her favorite place to eat in San Pedro, a neighborhood of the capital city, San Jose. This restaurant, was more like a food stand that was attached to a supermarket. It is run by a Jamaican woman, and so naturally the dishes served had a Caribbean influence. Emily introduced me to casado; it is comprised of a meat (diner’s choice), rice and beans, plantains, and a salad. This particular casado boasted an Afrocaribbean flare. It wasn’t spicy per se, but flavorful, with a tiny kick. Before I leave, I will return, and really engage my taste buds so that I can recreate the flavors at a later date.

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A corner wall in my hostel, a beautiful reminder of the community of travelers create!

Traveling enlightens and opens our minds, our perspectives, but I think we often forget that travel also opens our mouths to new foods and flavors. I think that is one of my favorite parts of travelling; I get to be in foreign places, collect cooking ideas (and cooking equipment), and then recreate my favorite dishes from far away places in the comfort of my own home.

Here’s to the next meal you make that fondly reminds you of your travels abroad!

Pura vida!

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Summer is Coming

For all you Game of Thrones fans, forget about winter, summer is coming!

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Every season is special, so to say “I love summer” is to cheat on the other seasons. I love all the seasons, but summer is almost here and I can’t help but to be excited! The flowers are blooming, the trees are filling out, and the local farmer’s markets are opening up for the season. With all the available greens, vegetables, and fruits, summer lends itself so well to salads. Every summer day I could make a different salad, and I really don’t think I would get bored because of all the endless ingredient combinations. Whether it be a green leaf salad, or a fruit salad, or perhaps a combination of both, summer salad possibilities are endless. salad 1

Today’s recipe is simple, it both looks and tastes fresh!

Ingredients:  Snap peas, asparagus (ends removed and cut into bite-sized pieces), garlic, tomatoes, freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, and (ideally fresh) Parmesan cheese. *There are no measurements because you can make as little or as much as you want. The ingredients and process are really what matter.*

salad 2Directions: Rinse snap peas and asparagus. Slice garlic into thin slivers. In a buttered or oiled pan, lightly saute garlic until fragrant, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add in snap peas and asparagus. Season with salt and pepper. When ready you will be able to pierce snap peas and asparagus with a fork, but you want them to still be firm. This will give your salad a “crunch” to it. Be careful that you don’t over cook the veggies. Once done, set aside. Rinse tomatoes and cut into bite size pieces (ignore this step if you’re using small tomatoes). Transfer sauteed garlic, snap peas and asparagus to a bowl. Mix in tomatoes. Squeeze lemon juice over salad, toss and season with a little more salt and pepper. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes or until veggies are cool to the touch. When ready to serve, top with fresh Parmesan cheese. 

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As the days get longer, and the nights get hotter, let us indulge our eager taste buds with summer flavors. Cheers to salad, and cheers to summer!

Pizza: Take II

There are some less adventurous eaters in my family which sometimes makes it challenging to make dinner. As I find new recipes and brainstorm new ideas I want to try them out on my family, but I have to be cautious given my audience. Pizza, however, creates a happy medium for the pickier eaters and the “yeah, I’ll try anything” eaters at our table. I love the creativity pizza welcomes.

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I made two pizzas: a barbecue chicken and a sriracha mango chicken. The barbecue chicken was a “safe” pizza, my brother loves barbecue sauce, so I figured he would like that. The sriracha mango chicken pizza was inspired by Chobani Yogurt’s sriracha mango flavor. My sister and I saw a TV commercial for Chobani yogurt, and I just thought, “ooo, that’d be a really good pizza topping.” Both pizzas were big hits and of course delicious. My brother even tried the sriracha mango pizza, even though he claimed not to like spicy foods or mangoes! I think his mind and taste buds are opening…this is good! Anyway I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as my family and I have.


Ingredients (for dough): 2 1/2 cups very warm water, 1 tablespoon kosher salt (a scant tbsp if fine grained salt), 1 teaspoon yeast (2 if you want a faster rise), 1-1 1/2 tablespoons honey, 6 cups flour, 1/4 cup olive oil (not an exact measurement, but probably around that much). Directions (for dough)Pour water into a bowl, add in salt, and sprinkle yeast into the bowl. Mix in honey until all the ingredients dissolve. Add in flour, and drizzle in olive oil. Knead until dough becomes smooth and elastic. Be smart with the flour, add in a little at a time if necessary – remember you’d rather have a wet dough and have to add flour than have to work with a dry dough. Let dough rise until it is double in size 20-30 minutes. (*Optional- Here I added another teaspoon of olive oil and dollop of honey after the dough rose.*) When dough has risen break into 4 pieces-these will become your 4 pizza crusts.

pizza 2

 

Ingredients (for barbecue chicken topping): 1 1/2-2 cups barbecue sauce, purple onions, chicken, and mozzarella cheese. Scallions (thinly sliced) as a garnish are optional. Directions: Slice or cube chicken and cook it thoroughly in a pan or on a grill without drying it out. In a bowl combine barbecue sauce, onions and chicken. Set aside until you’re ready to assemble pizza.

 

 

pizza 1

 

Ingredients (for sriracha mango topping): 1 cup sriracha, 1-2 mangoes, chicken and mozzarella cheese. Scallions (thinly sliced) as a garnish are optional. Directions: Peel and slice mangoes into 1/4 inch-thick slices. Lightly saute mangoes until a fork pierces it ever-so-slightly. Slice or cube chicken and cook it thoroughly without drying it out. In a bowl combine sriracha sauce, mango and chicken.  Set aside until you’re ready to assemble pizza. 

 

Assembling pizzas: Roll out pizza dough to desired size (with this dough recipe you will find you can only roll it out so far without it tearing). Once rolled out coat the dough with a thin layer of barbecue sauce, sprinkle cheese on top and then spread barbecue chicken topping on pizza. Or coat the dough with a thin layer of sriracha sauce, sprinkle cheese on top and then spread on sriracha mango chicken topping. Bake pizzas at 450*F (232*C) for 12-15 minutes or until crust is golden brown. When pizzas are done, remove from oven and sprinkle with scallions. Admire your feast and enjoy!

 

 

My Mom’s Most Favorite Brown Paper Bag Apple Pie

Food is a funny thing. We use it to eat away our feelings, to distract ourselves from boredom, to celebrate birthdays and holidays, and to remember people.

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Today while people around the world celebrated Mother’s Day, I spent my Sunday much like any other; lazing around the house, baking, cleaning and avoiding my ever growing to-do list. Today was my first Mother’s Day without my mom. Most of my readers know my mom died this fall and for new readers, well now you know. Ever since my mom died, every special day for my family (in this order): my sister’s birthday, my mom’s birthday, my dad’s birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, my brother’s birthday, my other sister’s birthday, the 6 month anniversary of her death, and today, Mother’s Day, felt like a landmine I had to avoid. Anyone who has lost an important person understands this. How do you continue with these special days without the person who helped make them all so wonderful? How do you commemorate a loved one without making a big deal out of it, or fretting you might upset your dad or your siblings? How? No school or parents’ lessons sufficiently prepare us to lose a loved one or how to cope with the grief after someone dies. Somehow we just continue.

For weeks I had been dreading Mother’s Day. How do you celebrate Mother’s Day when your mom is no longer here? Did my dad even want to celebrate Mother’s Day? Did I want to celebrate Mother’s Day? I cried when I asked him about it, and when he said he didn’t want to celebrate it. But I felt like I needed to do something. I needed to honor her. I needed to somehow let her know that we still think about her every day.

Today I am sharing with you a special pie recipe. This was the pie that my mom made for every Thanksgiving whether we were living abroad in Chile, at my grandma’s lake house or hosting family and friends at home. This was the present my dad asked for on his birthday because it was made with love, my mother’s love. This is the pie that I used to hate and this was the first pie I ever made, with help from my mom. And this is how I commemorated my mom today, on this first of many “motherless” Mother’s Days.

This is my mom’s favorite and famous brown paper bag apple pie recipe.

Ingredients for pie crust: 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 3/4 cup Crisco, 1/4 cup ice cold water (helps to make flaky crust). Directions for pie crust: Combine flour and salt. Cut in Crisco. Add in water. Work into a ball of dough. Refrigerate for minimum 20 minutes before using.

Ingredients for filling: 1 9 inch unbaked pie crust, 4-6 large Granny Smith apples, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Directions for filling: Pare, core and quarter apples, then half each quarter crosswise to make large chunks. Place in a large bowl. In a separate bowl combine white and brown sugar, flour, nutmeg and cinnamon. Sprinkle over apples; drizzles with lemon juice. Line a deep 9  inch pie dish with crust. Pour mixture into crust and sprinkle topping over everything. Slide the pie into a large paper bar; fold end toward center and staple close. Place pie in a 425*F (218*C) oven on a cookie sheet. Bake for 1 hour. Split bag and place pie on a rack to cool.

Ingredients for topping: 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour, 1 stick butter. Directions for topping: Combine sugar and flour. Cut in butter to make a crumbly topping. 

Remember that food brings back memories; it reminds us of our past and of important people in our lives. For those of you who have lost a mother, or mother-like figure, what recipe reminds you of her? I hope that when a special day for your family comes around that you honor her with her favorite food, or maybe with a recipe that she made for you.

Mom, Happy Mother’s Day. I miss you ever day.~Love, Kalindi.

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P.I.Z.Z.A

Pizza IngredientsWhether we have it delivered, make it ourselves, or run to the nearest pizza shop at 2:00AM to satisfy our empty stomachs and prevent an imminent hangover, pizza will always be a part of our lives. A staple, pizza has worked it’s way into our hearts and stomachs. But the convenience of having ready-made frozen pizzas, take out, or pizzas delivered to our doors, has taken away the beauty and art of the food. Last year, after many years I relearned how to make pizza dough. My friend, Danielle Boudet, introduced me to her pizza recipe. Since then, I have now used it three times, and it is without a doubt the easiest pizza dough recipe to use. I still struggle to get that thin crust that I covet, but that will come with practice.

Ingredients (for dough): 2 1/2 cups very warm water, 1 tablespoon kosher salt (a scant tbsp if fine grained salt), 1 teaspoon yeast (2 if you want a faster rise), 1-1 1/2 tablespoons honey, 6 cups flour, 1/4 cup olive oil (not an exact measurement, but probably around that much).

Directions (for dough)Pour water into a bowl, add in salt, and sprinkle yeast into the bowl. Mix in honey until all the ingredients dissolve. Add in flour, and drizzle in olive oil. Knead until dough becomes smooth and elastic. Be smart with the flour, add in a little at a time if necessary – remember you’d rather have a wet dough and have to add flour than have to work with dry dough. Let dough rise until it is double in size 20-30 minutes. (*Optional- Here I added another teaspoon of olive oil and dollop of honey after the dough rose.*)  When dough has risen break into 4 pieces-these will become your 4 pizza crusts.


Garlic Eggplant Pizza Garlic Eggplant

Ingredients: 10-12 cloves garlic, 1 medium eggplant, tomato sauce, olive oil and mozzarella cheese. *Optional-cilantro.

Directions: Thinly slice eggplant, spread out, salt and let sit while you prepare the other ingredients. Mince garlic (it will be enough for 2 small-medium pizzas or 1 large pizza). If you have a whole block of mozzarella cheese shred it or cut into circular slices. When you are ready to make pizzas rinse off eggplant slices and dry thoroughly with a paper towel and lightly season with salt and pepper.  Ratatouille Pizza

Assembling pizza– Use 1/4 of the pizza dough. Roll dough out until thin; making sure that holes don’t appear in the process. Sprinkle olive oil onto surface. Using your hand or a brush evenly coat crust with olive oil. Cover the crust with garlic, spreading garlic around until crust is evenly coated. Pour on tomato sauce (homemade is best!). Place eggplant on pizza in whatever design you desire. Sprinkle pizza with cheese. Bake pizzas at 450*F (232*C) for 15 minutes or until crust and cheese become crispy and golden brown. (*Optional-top with fresh cilantro as a garnish.)


Pepperoni PizzaPepperoni

Ingredients: Pepperoni, olive oil, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.

Assembling pizza– Use 1/4 of the pizza dough. Roll dough out until thin; making sure that holes don’t appear in the process. Sprinkle olive oil onto surface. Using your hand or a brush evenly coat crust with olive oil. Pour on tomato sauce (homemade is best!). Sprinkle on cheese and top with pepperoni. Bake pizzas at 450*F (232*C) for 15 minutes or until crust and cheese become crispy and golden brown.

Thank you Danielle for the pizza dough recipe! Enjoy these recipes and cheers to your next pizza night! 🙂

Salmon Tacos

I’m sorry it’s been so long since my last post; I have no excuses, but hopefully you’ll forgive me.

Salmon taco 1

My sister and I were thinking about what to make for dinner; it’s our job to think about what to prepare, or ideally already have dinner half made before my dad gets home. Yesterday, we only managed to think about dinner; which usually incorporates the miscellaneous foods occupying our freezer and fridge. Frozen pieces of salmon, two-week old limes, wilting cilantro, two half onions each in their own Ziploc bags…tacos were the best option. Of course we also needed some ingredients, meaning my dad had to stop at the store before coming home, typical in our family. Does that happen to anyone else?

This recipe really doesn’t get much simpler. It is easy on the cook because most of the preparation happens at the table where each person assembles their own taco.

Salmon taco 2

Ingredients (for salmon and seasoning): 1-2 lbs salmon, cumin, salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika, olive oil.             Directions: Set broiler to high. (You can grill the salmon, ours was broken so we broiled it.) In a bowl combine cumin, salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika and oil. Add in salmon, stirring until salmon is evenly coated. Once evenly coated, transfer salmon to a cookie sheet. Broil for 5-10 minutes. When done remove from oven and pull apart salmon. You can do this with a fork, it should pull apart easily. Transfer to serving bowl or set aside until serving. 

Ingredients (for pico de gallo): 3 tomatoes, 1.5 onions, 1/2 bundle of cilantro, salt, pepper, 1 jalapeño pepper, juice of 2 limes. Directions: Chop tomatoes, onions, cilantro and jalapeño. Mix, squeeze in lime juice, season with salt and pepper. Add in more lime, salt, pepper, etc. according to taste. 

Tacos promote creativity: you can add so many different ingredients to a taco, the challenge then becomes whether or not the tortilla will close. I rarely prepare a taco that will close, in fact I usually end up eating a taco salad with soggy tortillas – I just get too excited about and ambitious with all the toppings! Truly, I have trouble containing myself. 😀 My “Taco Club” friends and really anyone who enjoys tacos understands this dilemma. We used the following as toppings: a weakly seasoned rice (whoops), pico de gallo, scallions, hot green peppers, shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, limes, and Tabasco sauce. Unfortunately we forgot avocados. 😦 This is where your creativity comes in, what toppings will you make and prepare for your taco meal?

Have fun with your tacos and this recipe. I challenge you to make a “close-able” taco! 🙂