Transitioning from winter to spring is often as exciting as it is frustrating: just when you think winter has gone, a winter storm comes around or the temperature drops again. But there are also those nice warm and sunny days that announce that spring is really around the corner.
Our collection of seasonal recipes reflect exactly this transitioning weather. There are cold and warm dishes as well as winter and spring vegetables. So make the best of this time of the year cooking with Rutabagas, Broccoli, Squash, and Leeks as the main ingredients.
This is a root vegetable that you don’t hear much about at the supermarket. A lot of times confused with turnips, (they are actually a cross between cabbage and turnip), rutabagas have a sweeter and nuttier flavor that is enhanced when roasted.
Roasted RutabagaFrom penandfork.comA mix of fresh sage and dates adds to roasted rutabagas a unique flavor. A great dish to pair with roast chicken or pork.
Broccoli, a cabbage sprout, is a very popular veggie that many times is not appreciated as it should be. Perhaps because when not cooked appropriately it becomes mushy and soft, but it also loses its nutrients and flavor. Enjoy it the right way roasted or raw with these two recipes:
Winter squash gathers many different types of squash that have a hardy exterior and therefore store well for a long time. While we are at the end of their season, you can still get them fresh and prepare warm and comforting foods like these:
Spaghetti Squash + HerbsFrom penandfork.comSwitch your traditional pasta dish for this healthier alternative. As quick and as delicious as traditional spaghetti, this recipes is lighter and full of flavor.
Related to onions, leeks have a more delicate and sweeter flavor. While they are usually used to infuse flavor in other foods, they can also stand by themselves on their own. Here, a couple of recipes where they are the central ingredient.
In our daily “eating” lives we tend to forget the context of where the foods and dishes we eat come from. We live surrounded by a general concern about health and food, but the cultural half tends to get little attention. This is one of the reasons we enjoy so much cooking recipes from food blogs: there is usually a story behind the recipe. Attempting to dig a little deeper into the cultural side of food we began looking into Barranquilla’s Carnival. A huge celebration that is taking place right now in Barranquilla, Colombia.
What is This Carnival All About?
Barranquilla’s Carnival is a huge folk celebration that has been established for more than a century. It was declared one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO in 2007 and is considered the second largest carnival in the world, followed by the Carnival of Rio de Janeiro1. People from the region work the entire year to prepare for the carnival, which officially lasts 4 days (pre-carnival celebrations can start as early as November of the previous year), and the entire city gets paralyzed during its course.
Photo by Ashley Bayles
During the carnival, there are multiple parades and happenings. There is the main parade that happens along the 40th St. (via 40) where traditional dances and activities are celebrated, and there are also the informal parties that happen in the neighborhoods and at private locations. To get a sense of what the experience of being at the carnival is like, we chatted with a few people that have attended or worked the carnival, and those who live in Barranquilla. All of them pointed out the role people play in this celebration. Unlike other carnivals, and despite that fact that part of the party has lately become more private, Barranquilla’s Carnival is really about people enjoying themselves. Fancy parades, disguises, and dances are part of the carnival, but the people enjoying the party is what the celebration is all about.
The Popular Foods in the Carnival
Mojarra Frita served with Patacones and Arroz con Coco
One person we talked to pointed out that people go to the carnival to “rumbiar, comer, y beber” (to party, to eat, and to drink). What’s interesting is that there is no set time of place for it. You might spend some time in the late morning finding some Frituras (fried foods) for the Desenguayabe (get rid of the hangover) and late at night eat some of the typical fish dishes like Mojarra Frita. But during the day, when everybody is enjoying the parades and local parties, eating and drinking is just part of enjoying the carnival.
From the interviews we conducted the foods that stand out the most where Butifarras (seasoned round sausages) and Bollos (soft corn dough wrapped in plantain leaves.)
Butifarrasare round shaped sausages made of beef and pork fat, seasoned with salt and pepper. Butifarras are usually stuffed in pork casings and boiled in water. Its common to see informal vendors along the parades with pots and containers filled with butifarras. The prices vary and depend on how many you get, but just a few quarters will get you enough to enjoy it with a slice of lime and sometimes with slices of Bollo Limpio.
Bollos or Envueltos (meaning “rolls” or “wraps” because of their shape) are another popular food that is common to see informal vendors selling on the streets. Their flavor is rather bland with a nice hint of either corn or yuca (also know as cassava or manioc), which makes them a great compliment for salty meats, like the butifarras.
From the outside, bollos look similar to mexican tamales because they also use dry corn husks to shape and cook them with, but their contents are different. There is the Bollo Limpiothat uses white corn (known in the US as homini), butter and queso costeño (cheese from the coast). This last one is a very salty and dry cheese that resembles feta cheese. Because it is so hard and dry it can be easily cut in slices and fried without loosing its shape, which helps giving the bollo good consistency.
Other popular bollos are Bollo de Yuca (made with yucca), Bollo de Mazorca (made of yellow corn), and de Angelito (made of yuca with coconut and anise). In other parts of the colombian coast its common to see Palenqueras carrying Bollos and other Frituras on big trays on their heads.
Other Popular Foods
Carimañolas make part of some of the Frituras that are so popular in Barranquilla. They are made with cooked yuca, which is pounded until it becomes a dough. They are filled with seasoned ground beef or chicken, and then fried on every side until golden. Like the Bollos and the Butifarras, they are finger foods that you can grab at any time during the carnival to keep you going for another few hours until you are hungry again. This type food is usually found in small stalls that serve other frituras like Papas Rellenas (potatoes filled with different kinds of meats) and Empanadas.
Fresh Zapotes sold in the street
To contrast and balance the sausages and fried foods, sliced fruit and fruit juices can be found on any corner. This is something that is not exclusive of the carnival, as it is also common in other cities and times during the year. However there are a few fruits that are unique to the region, like : Mango Biche, Zapote, Níspero, Tamarindo and Guayaba Agria. All of them gather a wide range of different flavors that are refreshing in the hot weather of Barranquilla.
As the carnival’s slogan reads “quien lo vive es quien lo goza” (meaning the one that lives it the one who enjoys it). So to really get to know the carnival you have to experience it at least once. In the mean time try preparing some of these dishes at home. We did it ourselves and enjoyed from a distance a small piece of the Barranquilla’s Carnival.
We continue with our virtual celebration of the Carnival of Barranquilla, which starts this weekend in Barranquilla, Colombia. And today we are sharing a very easy recipe to learn how to make Bollo Limpio, a simple side dish that goes well with other popular foods from the carnival, like Butifarras.
Bollos or Envueltos (meaning “rolls” or “wraps” because of their shape) are one of my mother’s favorite foods. I remember spending time at the beach in Colombia during our vacations and eating Bollos de Angelito (these versions are also made with coconut and anise) as a snack. They were small and sweet and just the perfect flavor to have after being in the ocean. The funny thing is that we never tried to make them ourselves, because like many typical foods in Colombia, they are available everywhere, so why bother? Now that we are in the US, we are starting to cook more dishes like this, and it is just fascinating to learn the ins and outs, plus realizing that many are very easy to make and a great way to spend time with the family.
A South American Fare
The origin of Bollos is indigenous, and there are written references that date from the colonial times. While they are typical in the regions of the Colombian Caribbean Coast and Panama, there are other similar versions such as Humita (from Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina), Hallaquita (from Venezuela), and Pamoña (from Brazil)1. The common denominator in all them is the use of a base dough made of corn, and corn husks for wrapping and cooking them.
A Simple Whole Food
One of the things I like the most about this dish is that it uses the corn in its entirety. The challenge though, is finding the right variety of corn in the US. It’s not easy, and if you are lucky enough to find the right one, you won’t find it on the husk, and you will need special equipment, like a food processor or a grinder, to grind the corn appropriately.
The good news is that you can find dried corn (hominy for this recipe) as well as dried corn husks, which you can also dry yourself. So the next time you are about to throw away those corn husks at the super market, think about this recipe! We’ve also made bollos using sweet fresh corn and while their flavor is different, they can be a great alternative for eating corn during the summer season.
Making Bollo Limpio at Home
The flavor of Bollo Limpio is rather mild, but it has a nice hint of either corn or yuca (also known as cassava or manioc) flavor. This makes it a great compliment for salty meats, like butifarras or steak. You can also make many of these with just a few ingredients, which sounds to me like the perfect dish to take to a potluck.
What You Will Need:
Four ingredients we used:
28 oz of cooked hominy
6 oz of feta cheese, crumbled
3.5 oz of butter
Dried corn husks
And for equipment:
Cotton or jute string
How to Make Them:
First, take the butter out of the fridge and let it soften at room temperature.
Then, place the cooked hominy (check this recipe for learning how to cook hominy) in the food processor and grind it finely.
Scrape the hominy into a bowl and add the crumbled feta cheese.
Add the butter in dollops. The butter should be soft but not melted, so you can easily blend it into the mix.
As if you where making a cake, mix the ingredients until fully incorporated. You may find (as we did) that using your hands is easier as it allows you to break down any big pieces.
Once the mixture has fully incorporated and resembles a dough, divide the dough into 4 oz portions. Shape each piece into a semi round brick.
Now prepare the corn husks.
Take each of the corn husks and soften them using warm water in a big bowl. This will make the folding easier.
Open the husks on a flat surface and place inside one of the dough bricks that you shaped earlier. Fold the corn husk around and roll it.
Tie each end of the wrap with a string. And there you have it! Your bollo is now ready to be cooked. Repeat the process again with the remaining dough.
Here, my mother shows how the bollos should look once wrapped (like gigantic wrapped candy!)
You can cook the bollos in water or steam them. We like the second method better, just because there is no risk of getting water inside of the wraps. It does take a bit longer (10-15 minutes more), but its worthwhile.
Steam for around 40 minutes. Check the pot from time to time to make sure the water doesn’t dry out.
Once cooked, let cool. The wraps will be soft to the touch, but they will harden as they cool down.
Open the bollo to find a nicely formed patty. You can slice it and serve on a platter paired with some good sausage, or just serve it on the husk for a more artisan look. Enjoy!
A popular food from the coast of Colombian, these wraps are soft corn dough with cheese and butter wrapped and cooked in corn husks. They pair well with sausage and grilled steak.
28 oz of cooked hominy
6 oz of feta cheese, crumbled
3.5 oz of butter
Dried corn husks
Take butter out of the fridge and let it soften.
Place the cooked hominy in the food processor and beat until finely grounded. Scrape the hominy into a bowl and add the crumbled feta cheese and the butter divided in dollops. The butter should be soft but not melted so you can easily blend it into the mix.
Mix the ingredients until fully incorporated. Divide the resulting dough into 4 oz portions. Set aside.
In a big bowl add warm water and submerge the corn husks to soften them. This will make them easier to fold.
In the center of a corn husk place one of the portions of corn dough that you divided earlier. Wrap the dough by rolling it and tie the ends with a cotton string.
Repeat this process with the rest of the dough.
In a large pot with water, steam the bollos for 40 minutes. Check from time to time to make sure the water doesn’t dry out.
Let cool. The wraps will be soft to the touch, but they will harden as they cool down.
Serve with sausage or steak.
This recipe makes around 16 bollos, which is enough to please a crowd. They are not hard to make but having some extra hands always helps and makes the process more fun. We made them with my mother and my sister (below), but I can image how much a kid would enjoy it too!
The Carnival of Barranquilla is around the corner (starts this Saturday!) and we want to celebrate by sharing some recipes and stories about the foods of the carnival during this week. So for starters lets talk about Butiffarras and how you can get a piece of the carnival by making some at home!
Butifarras are a very popular food in Barranquilla, Colombia, mostly during carnival season. So it’s not for granted that their name comes from the words embutido (meaning in Spanish cured and stuffed sausage) and farra (slang for “party” in the colombian coast )1.
Butiffarras being sold in the street
The way Butiffarras are made in Colombia, originated in the town of Soledad, where the traditional Botifarra from Cataluña arrived first at the beginning of the XIX century. According to Rafael Lafurie, historian and journalist, it was in Soledad where two women after analyzing the reasons why Butifarras would rot so easily, decided to extract the tomatoes, chili, and onions that made part of the original recipe2.
While the reason of Colombian Butiffarras being round was not mentioned by the historian, I can easily imagine how this presentation would fit better the context where these sausages are served: they are a finger food to be eating during a party. If you buy a string with 3 or 4 you can also easily share them.
Making Butiffarras at Home
To honor the Carnival of Barranquilla, we went on to trying making our own Butifarras at home. This was our first attempt and I have to say that while we were thinking the stuffing of the sausages was not going to happen without having the appropriate equipment, it was not as difficult as we anticipated. It did required of some extra time and hands, so it became the “thing” to do on the weekend. At the end we had a lot of fun with stuffing part. Maybe not so much because of the process but because of the jokes that, as you can imagine, it inevitable produced! I remember now and still giggling about it!
So here’s how our cooking adventure went on (get the “clippable” recipe at the end of this post!)
What You Will Need:
For ingredients we used:
1lb of flank steak
1/4 lb of pork fat
4 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
And for equipment:
Large plastic bowls
Cotton or jute string
3 pairs of hands!
And Into the Action!
We bought pork casings in a sealed package at the supermarket. These come packaged with salt. So we first rinsed that off and then placed them with warm water in a big bowl until we were ready to start using them.
For the stuffing we got 1 pound of flank steak and 1/4 of pork fat that we trimmed out of some pork shoulder we had for another recipe. Other types of pork fat, like pork belly would work well too.
We didn’t have any fancy equipment to grind meat and to stuff the casings, but we found out that unless you are making a big batch it is manageable without it. To grind the meat in the food procesor we used a method that with found at The Kitchn that worked very well. Basically you slice the meat in cubes of about 1 inch and then freeze them on a tray for 20 minutes.
To make grinding the meat even more easier, you can also put the blades of the food processor in the fridge for the same period of time.
Once the meat was cooled we proceed to the grinding. We placed the semi-frozen cubes of meat in the food processor and seasoned them with cumin, salt, and pepper.
After grinding the meat for a few seconds, we stopped and added the minced garlic. We then continue grinding the meat some more until it was well grounded and mixed.
Since stuffing the sausages can take quite a bit of time, we kept the mixture of meat cooled by placing it on a bowl dipped in ice water.
Get Your Hands Dirty!
The part we were most nervous about was stuffing the casings. We didn’t counted we the appropriate equipment and after doing some online search it seemed that it was going to be very complicated, if not almost impossible to do it just by hand. But… one thing got me thinking: How does common people in Colombia do it at home? For sure most of them don’t have any fancy equipment! So we decided to give it a shot.
As you can see an additional set of hands comes really handy. It’s time consuming, but as I was saying earlier, it can be a fun way to spend an afternoon with your family. You just grab a good spot to work in the kitchen and stuff the casings while making inappropriate jokes about the multiple things stuffing the sausages will remind you of… Yes! My folks are that cool that we can joke about these things as a family… go figure!
Our first looking Butifarra sausage came to be!
We later figured out that stuffing a sausage of about 6 inches and then dividing it into sections was a more efficient method that yielded similar results to what Butifarras look like in Barranquilla.
This is how our Butifarras were looking after being stuffed. Not bad for a first time!
The last part is to bring to a boil water on a large pot and cook the sausages for about 15 to 20 minutes. Since they are fairly small and about the same size, they will cook well in this period of time. Be sure to cover the pot while cooking to preserve the temperature.
After the sausages are fully cooked, drain the water on the pot and let the sausages cool. Then, store in a sealed bag or covered container over night to let the flavors develop. You can serve them at room temperature with a slice of lime or grill them (this was just a personal preference) and pair them with slices of Bollo Limpio (another food from the carnival we will be writing about soon!).
A typical food from the Carnival of Barranquilla, these small and lightly season sausages are great to share in the potluck and go well with a slice of lime.
1 pound of flank steak
¼ pound of pork fat
4 garlic cloves
½ teaspoon of cumin
1½ teaspoon of salt
1½ teaspoon of pepper
Cotton or jute string
Rinse salt off pork casings. Place on a big bowl with warm water and let it sit at least 20 minutes.
Cut the flank steak and the pork far in cubes of around 1 inch. Lay them on a tray and put them in the freezer for 20 minutes. To make grinding the meat easier, you can put the blades of the food processor in the fridge for the same period of time.
Meanwhile, mince the garlic and prepare the spices that you will be using. We used cumin because we like this flavor a lot and in can be found in many recipes, but you can experiment with other spices of your liking.
Place pieces of meat on the food procesor and season with cumin, salt, and pepper. Grind the mix for a few seconds and add the minced garlic. Grind again for a few seconds until the meat is well grounded and mixed.
To keep the meat cool during the process, set a big blow of ice water and place the bowl with the meat in it.
Grab a pork casing and cut it on a manageable length. Around 10 inches worked good for us. Find one of the openings of the casing and run water through it.
Tide one side of the casing with the string. Use the other end to stuff the casing with pieces of the meat mixture. We found out that sharing the meat into small balls would make it easier to push the meat though the casing.
Stuff the casing until its size comes about to 6 inches. You want the meat to be a bit loose since you will diving the sausage into 3 or 4 small parts, so you need room for that.
With the help of some extra hands hold the end of the open casing and tide it with a string. Visually divide the sausage into 11/2 inches and press with your fingers in those areas. Then, using longer bits of string tie hard knots around the areas where you pressed with your fingers. Your sausage should now be divided into 3 to 4 smaller sausages, depending on how big was your original sausage.
Heat water on a large pot and bring to boil. Add the sausages and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
Let cool and refrigerate overnight. You can serve them at room temperature with a slice of lime or grill them and pair them with slices of Bollo Limpio.
It is common to see informal vendors along the parades during the Carnival of Barranquilla, with pots and containers filled with these sausages. The prices vary and depend on how many you get, but just a few quarters of a dollar will get you enough to enjoy with a slice of lime, and sometimes paired with slices of Bollo Limpio.
Here, my sister enjoying some of the ones we made:
Get adventurous in the kitchen this month and cook something different, or cooked in a new way. This is exactly what the adventurous recipes for this month have in common: they bring in alternative flavors from foreign cuisines, or provide new ways of cooking something you are already familiar with.
From honestfare.comEmpanadas have become quite popular in the US lately, and you can find tons of recipes and ways to make them on the web. What is special about this recipe is the use of unconventional and fresh ingredients, as well as visual touches that makes them even more interesting. Gabrielle is also a pro when it comes to making empanadas, she owns her own empanada truck in Miami, so her post is full of ideas and techniques that you can’t miss.
From figandquince.comIt’s interesting how conventional ingredients mixed with unconventional spices can take us miles away and into persian cuisine. This dish, while very easy to make, will pull you into unique flavors without going to far from your kitchen. Azita does point out alternative ingredients that you can use to replace hard ones to find, such as Persian Limes, or Quinces, but the essence of the dish remains in key ingredients that you can easily find in a store nearby.
From feedmephoebe.comCheese Fondue is one of those recipes that is close to being surreal: dipping food in a pot full of melted cheese. But there is a catch to it, they are meant to be shared. They are also very interactive (try to rescue that piece of bread from the bottom of the pot!). Traditionally, Swiss Fondue is served only with bread, but in this recipe Phoebe suggests other ingredients to try out, like pickles, boiled potatoes, and salami.
From figandquince.comThis is another amazing persian stew, full of new and different flavors. As Azita points out, it’s meant to be served with rice, forming an entity known as “polo-khoresh” (polo=rice and khoresh=stew). You don’t find many stews where celery takes the front seat, so this is definitely a dish to cook now and take advantage of the celery bounty.
Here’s an alternative way of celebrating Valentine’s Day this year. Instead of buying something for your special one, take this day, and for that matter any day this month, as an excuse to get in the kitchen and cook together a very special dish for both of you.
It doesn’t have to be anything too elaborate, not even a whole meal! Just a dessert will do. The point is, cooking is fun, but its so much more fun when you do it “together”. We know this, because we have been doing it for a few years, and this is pretty much what got us here. In any case, love & food are a great combination, and they are more rewarding when you make it happen.
And to get you inspired we’ve gathered a collection of recipes from Viviane, food blogger at Chocolate Chili Mango, chocolatier, and pastry geek. Viviane cooks sweets and chocolates, but is always thinking about healthy ways to make her food accessible to special diets. So peel your eyes for: low-carb, protein cakes, gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free… enough said! There’s no excuse for not cooking and enjoying a lovely treat this month! Continue reading →
This month we have a very well mixed collection of recipes that use seasonal produce. Grapefruit, celery, carrots, and oranges are the key ingredients. These are used in many kinds of dishes: like appetizers, salads, snacks, side dishes and main courses. And cooked in not so conventional ways: like grapefruit cream sauce over chicken or celery root on a salad. So roll up your sleeves, grab your paring knife,and let’s get cooking!
While grapefruits can be found throughout the year, the best time to get them is now and until early spring. As oranges, they also have a high content of vitamin C, which is a great cold fighter. This comes handy during a time when the constant changes of temperature may put you on the verge of getting a cold. While fresh grapefruit is just good as is, here are two different ways you can cook with it: Continue reading →
A couple of months ago we created a new section on the homepage of our app Lista dedicated to featuring “adventurous” recipes. By “adventurous” we mean recipes that are out of the ordinary, because they use ingredients in an unconventional way, they are not the typical dish you would make on a daily basis, or they push your cooking skills to the next level.
As passionate home cooks we love to try recipes that we are not familiar with from time to time. They might be time consuming, and while on some occasions we fail in their preparation, it’s a really fun thing to do. Sometimes they actually become part of the recipes we cook the most. Like making pasta or bread from scratch. It took many failed attempts to get “edible” results, but every time it was a whole experience to make it. These days, we can’t go without fresh pasta and homemade bread for too long!
So we hope that you adventure out with this collection of recipes. We highly recommend Continue reading →