Turkey Chorizo Chilaquiles… Of Sorts.

By |August 30th, 2011|

Do you ever cook for one?  It sucks.  Well, the concept of being by yourself  doesn’t necessarily suck; I actually enjoy the me time. What sucks is going through all the trouble of dicing and mincing vegetables and fruits, prepping meats, dirtying pots and pans and spoons and dishes…  And JUST FOR ME?  Ugh, no thank you.  So, during those times when I don’t feel like takeout, and don’t have the energy to prepare an elaborate meal for one, I make this: my version of turkey chorizo chilaquiles.

The turkey chorizo recipe is adapted from a Pepsico recipe book I have (I’ve used it before here).  This recipe is perfect for turkey; the slew of spices and flavors that go into it combines perfectly with turkey, a pretty bland meat.  The chilaquiles part of it comes from not knowing what else to call it.  Chilaquiles is a traditional Mexican dish that consists of lightly fried corn tortillas which are the base of the dish, which is then topped with some type of salsa, followed by chicken or some other meat, and an egg either fried or scrambled.  Pretty close, don’t you think?  Chilaquiles are usually eaten for breakfast or brunch, and who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner?


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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.


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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Peach Muesli with Apples and Berries

By |July 8th, 2011|

I used to frequent Au Bon Pain first thing in the morning before going to work.  At one of my previous jobs, there was an Au Bon Pain in the same building, so I would grab a bagel or a breakfast sandwich and some coffee before heading upstairs.  As I headed to get coffee, I passed by the breakfast buffet section and there it was.  Muesli.  I never felt attracted to buying it.  It just looked sad and weird.  A mush of something with some fruits thrown in there.  Ick.

One day, el Señor Hubs came home from work and told me he had a Hallelujah moment.  He had eaten muesli from one of his breakfast places near his office, which was not an Au Bon Pain, and would not stop raving about it.  This meant that I needed to come up with the Immaculate Concoction that is muesli.  And I had to like it.


Sango de Verde – Ecuadorian Green Plantain Stew

By |July 7th, 2011|

The more I keep reading and scouring old books and notes, the more I am amazed of the versatility of green plantains.  Growing up in a coastal city in Ecuador, you see plantains even in your soup.  Literally.  Plantains are a great source of potassium and carbs, and they are essential in the Ecuadorian coastal diet.  I see plantains as the equivalent of tortillas to the Mexican diet.  Well, maybe rice takes the number one spot versus the plantains.  Anyway.  In my home, we always had both.

While Sango de Verde is not a soup, it has a saucy, thick texture and composition which reminds me somewhat of grits.  This version is prepared using pork, but another very popular way to make it is with shrimp, or even with a white, meaty fish.  When I was young, we used to eat it mostly with shrimp given that in Guayaquil it was easier to come across shrimp than pork.  Also,  my mom would FREAK OUT if we ate pork and because of fears of trichinosis.  As a matter of fact, after any trip I used to take to La Sierra, like going to Quito or Riobamba, she used to take me straight to the doctor so that he can run all sorts of tests for parasites.  Why?  Because she knew that I would always eat Fritada, which is the most delicious smorgasbord of roasted pork and grains and potatoes.

I don’t remember what cut of pork I needed to use for this particular version of sango.  When all you have is “carne de cerdo” in your faded notes like I did, well – you have nothing.  So, I opted for using some boneless pork chops, and they actually worked great because of its slight fatty tissue and marbling.  Like Goldilocks – just right.  And as usual, don’t forget to taste and season every step of the way.  Muy, muy importante.  I hope you enjoy my Ecuadorian grits!