Tamara

|Tamara Lukens

About Tamara Lukens

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So far has created 113 blog entries.

Yogurt de Mora – Blackberry Smoothie

By |August 5th, 2011|

If you remember my post on pan de yuca, you would recall my love affair with Yogurt Persa.  In said post, I mentioned my grandma used to bring pan de yuca and yogurt when she came over to visit me.  It was my little treat for being such a good girl!  My favorite yogurt flavor was mora, or blackberry and I remember it being so sweet and icy cold and delicious.  This yogurt de mora was more like a blackberry smoothie, and it is a bit more runny than say, a Jamba Juice smoothie.  And while blackberry is my favorite, you can definitely try it with a variety of fruits and take advantage of what is seasonally available.

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Seco de Chivo – Ecuadorian Goat Stew

By |July 30th, 2011|

Back home in Ecuador, my nanny would begin the seco de chivo prep work at 8am.  Goat meat needs to be cooked low and slow to make it tender given its gameyness.  I vaguely remember my nanny also using a pressure cooker on occasions, when she didn’t get started on this dish until late in the afternoon.

There are varied ways to prepare seco de chivo in terms of the sauce for the stew.  The most common one is using naranjillas, scientific name:  Solarum quitoense.  Naranjillas – also known as lulos in Colombia, are small, tart, citrusy fruits, original to Ecuador.  Other versions include using bitter orange juice, pineapple juice, tamarind juice and beer.  The key takeaway is that you need some acidity in the sauce in order to break down the meat and make it tender.  The juice is added to the meat, and then cooked for hours and hours.  Another traditional way of preparing seco de chivo is using chicha de jora, which is a fermented drink made out of a type of corn, known as jora.  In remote regions of the Ecuadorian and Peruvian Amazon, chicha is still prepared by women who chew the jora and mix it with their saliva.  They then spit out this chewed corn in a common bowl and let it ferment.  Are you hungry yet?  Don’t worry – we won’t be chewing and spitting anything out here.

Back to the stew.  This was my dilemma: a) I refused to be in the kitchen all day watching this goat cook for hours on end; and b) I don’t have a pressure cooker to make my life easier.  So what I decided to do was marinate the goat meat overnight using tamarind juice and other spices.  Actual cooking time was 2 hours, in which you can get many other things done around the house, as well as prepare the rice and the plantains that traditionally go with this dish.

I love seco de chivo, and in general I love goat meat.  It’s like eating red meat (I am a carnivore after all), but with less total saturated fat, less calories, and less cholesterol compared to other meats, like beef for example.

I bought my goat meat from a Halal grocery store.  In my neighborhood, there are a few Indian restaurants which serve goat meat, i.e. goat curry and goat vindaloo.  If you have such a grocery store, chances are they sell goat meat.  You may also want to check at your local Hispanic grocery store with a butcher counter; they may sell cabrito, or little goat, which is common in several Latin American dishes.

One thing I noticed when eating my stew was that it had several little pieces of bone, so if you have kids be careful when you serve this.  This could’ve been a function of the butcher’s unsharpened electric blade, which may have caused crushing instead of performing sharp cuts on the goat.  In any event, this is just a word of caution I am passing on to you.  Flavor-wise, it was as if I’d never left Ecuador.  I will make another version with naranjilla juice in the future.  I think it will also be interesting to test this recipe in a crock pot.

** I also did this recipe to participate in #goaterie, which is a group of people on Twitter who share the love of goat goodness.  Check out more recipes involving goat in all its glorious forms.

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Black Bean Burgers with Hummus Spread

By |July 27th, 2011|

Hello.  My name is Tamara and I am a carnivore.  Well, the majority of the time.  Every so often I like to shake it up a little, and skip the meat for a day, especially when I have a food hangover – like the one from this weekend:

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/brunetteandpink/status/95508277667971072″]

As a matter of fact, I am wearing elastic waistband pants as I write this.  If I am not careful, I will soon be wearing Pajama Jeans.

Anyway, when this happens, I make black bean burgers.  El Señor Hubs and I came up with this black bean burger recipe after seeing a poster outside Au Bon Pain featuring their black bean burger last summer. I’ve talked about another concoction inspired by an Au Bon Pain experience previously, so in my mind, I had no doubt ours would be tons better. *Modest look*.  Our black bean burger is actually a vegan version, and it is pretty awesome.

I’ve made this burger using canned black beans and dry black beans.  While canned beans will definitely save you time, I had a tough time infusing flavor into them.  When I used dried beans, which I soaked overnight and cooked myself, the flavor improved exponentially.  So my recommendation is to use dry beans, which is what I use in this recipe.  I love to serve these burgers with a hummus spread, in lieu of ketchup or mayo.  Yes.  I like mayo on my burgers and my fries.  Hmm.  This may be another reason why I may need Pajama Jeans sooner rather than later.  I’ll let you be the judge on the deliciousness of this black bean burger and I hope you give this recipe a try when you feel you need to be a herbivore.  Elsie will thank you for letting her live another day.  Let’s go and graze together, shall we?

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So what is really Ecuadorian Cuisine?

By |July 25th, 2011|

I get this question one too many times, and to be honest I find it hard to explain.  I know WHAT it is, because  I was born in Ecuador and I ate this food.  I’ve written about some key ingredients in Ecuadorian cooking, but to come up with a concise explanation as far as […]

Kale and Bean Salad

By |July 20th, 2011|

I didn’t know I liked kale until this past April when my sister-in-law made this yummy kale salad for us at a recent family reunion.  She was inspired by this salad she had bought at Whole Foods which had kale, pine nuts and some other goodies I can’t recall.  Probably because I scarfed it down and my brain cells weren’t connecting my mouth functions with my vegetable recognition functions.

Kale is bitter and my sister-in-law got rid of most of the bitterness by salting the kale and rinsing it in between.  She massaged the kale with the salt to extract the bitter juices.  I was concerned about this massaging situation because truth be told, I am not good at giving massages.  Ask El Señor Hubs.  I attempt to massage his shoulders after a long day at work, but my hands just don’t know what to do.  In his exact words, “You suck at massaging.”  So that is that.  The good thing is that kale can’t talk.

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