Posted by: Zorymar | April 29, 2012

Papelon con Limon

These past couple of weeks I was in Venezuela visiting family and friends and making sure I tried many local dishes and ingredients that are hard to find elsewhere. One of those authentic Venezuelan ingredients is papelón, which is used in many dishes and is also the main ingredient for a refreshing drink called papelón con limón. This blocks of delicious sweetness, called panela in Venezuela, is made from concentrated sugar cane juice. It has different names and a wide variety of presentations depending on which country of Latin America you are in; here is what it looks like in Venezuela:

Ingredients:
1 panela de papelón (approximately 500 grams)
4 to 5 limes
1.5 to 2 litres of water
Plenty of ice to serve

Preparation:
Grate the panela. This is a slow and fastidious process, but it yields the best results, so do as I did and enroll some help!

Place the water in a large jar, add the grated papelón and the juice of the limes, stirring with a wooden spoon to incorporate well. Give it a try to make sure there is a good balance between the sweetness of the papelón and the tartness of the lime juice, keeping in mind this is a concentrated version of the drink, which in the end will be diluted with the ice when served. Chill well in the fridge. Serve in tall glasses with plenty of ice.

Posted by: Zorymar | March 4, 2012

Simple Roast Chicken

This is a recipe that Amber, a friend from work, shared with me. I call her “Martha” (Stewart) and since she raved about this recipe, I was quite sure it would turn out to be one tasty chicken… and it did! It was absolutely simple to make and turned out so moist and delicious you would think that some kind of magic trick was needed. I used a dutch oven to cook it, but you can just use any oven-safe pan that can stand a 450 degree temperature. This one is definitely going on the weeknight menu in our home, hope it makes it into yours! Here’s how I made it:

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken of 1.4 kilos (or about 3 pounds), skin on, “yucky bits out” (“Martha’s” own words)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon coarse salt (I used this lovely Red Alaea traditional Hawaiian sea salt that my friend Michelle brought me from Maui)
1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and place an oven safe pan or skillet in the oven to preheat as well. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel, rub olive oil all over it and then season the entire bird with the salt and pepper. Tie the legs with some string if not already tied. Once the oven has reached 450 degrees, place the chicken, breast side up, in the preheated pan and cook for 40 minutes. After the 40 minutes are up turn the oven off but leave the chicken in the oven (without opening it) for an additional 40 minutes, you will end up with something like this:

Take it out of the pan, cut it up and proceed to enjoy one tasty chicken! Amber, aka Martha, you were absolutely right, this is delicious! Thanks for sharing 😉

Posted by: Zorymar | February 4, 2012

Chicha

At the end of the school day, in the square in front of my school, there would usually be a chichero, stationed quite strategically as it was hard for us kids to avoid the calling of the chicha. In spite of warnings from our parents to not buy that drink (obviously for sanitary reasons), and in spite of the rumors that said they hid stolen jewelry in the chicha (rumors which were never confirmed), the temptation was stronger than any scruples or sanitary concerns. “Señor, can you add more condensed milk, please?” you could hear us say, and off we’d be on our way home, walking and chatting, chicha in hand. However, that chicha could never be as good as the one my grandma made for us. I never paid too much attention to how she made it, and I don’t think she had any exact measurements for it, but it was always absolutely delicious. Here is my attempt to make my grandma’s chicha, thanks to instructions from my mom and aunt. As I tasted it, I couldn’t help but think of my dear grandma… Panchola, this one is in your honour, cheers!

Ingredients:
10 cups water
1 cup white rice
1 stick of cinnamon
1 pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
Condensed milk
Ground cinnamon

Preparation:
In a large pot bring the water to a boil. Add the rice, salt and stick of cinnamon and cook at a soft boil for about 30 minutes until the rice has softened considerably. Discard the cinnamon stick and let the rice cool for a bit. Stir in the sugar and milk, and then proceed to blend well (in 2 batches) until you end up with a dense, smooth liquid. Place in the fridge to cool. When it’s time to serve the chicha, pour it into a glass with plenty of ice cubes or crushed ice, sprinkle some ground cinnamon on top, and finish it off with a generous serving of condensed milk.

Posted by: Zorymar | January 18, 2012

Quinoa, Squash and Spinach Salad

This is a version of a recipe I found online with a couple of changes that I hope make it a little bit healthier and easier to make. I found it quite delicious and also loved the fact that it keeps well in the fridge and can be eaten cold or warmed up.

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa
1/4 cup raisins, chopped
2 cups of peeled and diced squash (I used banana squash)
1 cup raw baby spinach, washed well
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
Salt and pepper to taste
Maple Syrup salad dressing to taste

Preparation:
Place the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under water for a bit, then place in a pot with 1 and a half cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover and lower the heat to a minimum and cook for 15-20 minutes. Fluff with a fork and place in a large bowl. While the quinoa is cooking, place the squash in a large skillet over medium-high heat with enough water to cover the pieces about half-way. Cook for about 3-5 minutes stirring often, until the squash barely starts to become soft, you want it cooked but not mushy. Strain the squash pieces and season with salt and pepper, then add to the bowl with quinoa. Also incorporate the raisins and spinach and toss to combine. When you are ready to serve, top with the pumpkin seeds and add a splash of the dressing.

Posted by: Zorymar | January 18, 2012

Maple Syrup Salad Dressing

When making salad dressings I usually don’t have exact measures, I simply combine some balsamic vinegar, olive oil, sugar or agave nectar, salt and pepper. When I do find a recipe for a salad dressing with exact measurements that I enjoy, I make sure I take note as I know I will most likely be using it a lot. This is one of those salad dressing recipes that I found online that is tasty and goes well with salads and vegetables alike. I just make a batch and keep it in the fridge in a glass container, but as it doesn’t last very long at my house, I’m not sure how well it will keep in the fridge for more than 3 days 😉 Hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard (I used Simply Natural Organic Stone Ground Prepared Mustard)

Preparation:
Combine ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined, or place in a container with a lid and shake it up!

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