Tomatillo Salsa

By |July 13th, 2011|

I made this raw tomatillo salsa over the July 4th weekend, because I love salsa.  And I love chips.  And I love to scoop spicy salsa with my chips.  And I love spicy food.  And you can make this salsa spicy if you want to.  And I wanted to.  So I did.  This is a quick, no-fuss salsa that requires no cooking, so you can get out and enjoy the summer heat.


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!


Encebollado de Pollo – Ecuadorian Citrusy Chicken and Potato Salad

By |June 28th, 2011|

Wondering what to take to your next picnic?  How about Encebollado de Pollo!?  Encebollado, or “in onions” is a traditional Ecuadorean potato and yucca salad, with pickled onions (encurtido), lemon juice and either chicken or fish.  This salad is a great way to use that leftover chicken you may have laying around in your fridge, which was the case in my household.  If you want to use fish, any white, meaty fish will do.

We used to eat encebollado back in Ecuador quite a bit.  Namely, because it is an affordable meal.  My nanny used to stretch out the meal by adding more potatoes.  So if you happen to have an unexpected guest drop by, you added another potato to the salad and your guest thought you went through all that work, just for them.

It is also very common to see encebollado being sold out of a cart, along street corners.  Encebollado is also very popular among revelers who need a pick-me-up at 5am once the party’s over.  Encebollado, along with ceviche are great ways to get rid of the infamous chuchaqui, a.k.a hangover.  In the case of the encebollado, I suppose having all those starches from the potatoes and the yucca help absorb the alcohol, the lemon juice and the onions are refreshing and the protein from the chicken gives you that oomph to help you stumble make it home.  You can also add a cup of peas to your salad and serve it with sliced hard-boiled eggs.  Whether you have chuchaqui or not, I hope you enjoy this salad!


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Lengua en Salsa de Naranja – Veal Tongue in Orange Sauce

By |June 21st, 2011|

The first time I ate cow tongue I was 12 years old.  My sister was 3 and my brother was a baby.   I had a somewhat developed palate for certain types of food.  I want to think my palate was adventurous and unconventional for a 12 year old.  I mean, there were things I would not dare to eat – and probably to this date I may not.  Like cow brains for instance.  I’ll leave those to Andrew Zimmern.  However, cow tongue and other organ meats – THAT I can do.  My younger sister on the other hand, would scream bloody murder if she knew that on a particular day we were eating lengua – after discovering that one day she had eaten it unbeknownst to her.

My nanny used to prepare cow tongue in such way that was tender and citrusy sweet.  That first time we had IT, my sister ate it all.  We made no mention as to what IT was.  My sister was (and still is) the pickiest eater ever, and we knew it would be a disaster if we let her know what she ate.  But on that date, she ate IT.  Our nanny took a pair of kitchen scissors and cut the tongue into itty-bitty tiny pieces so there was no way to decipher what they were, masked among the sauce and the rice.  All we told my sister was, “Es carne!  Te gusta, no?”  The next time around, she accidentally overheard me ask our nanny what we were eating for dinner, to which she responded, “Hoy comemos lengua”.  The next thing I remember is hearing a scream and a wail – as if the gates of hell had opened and the dead had clawed and crawled up from the bellies of the earth.   And that was that.  IT was no more.  From that day forward, while the rest of us ate cow tongue, my sister ate seco de pollo.

I made cow tongue for the very first time when El Señor Hubs and I moved to the New York metro area about 8 years ago.  Host to basically the largest melting pot in the world, it is relatively easy to find meat cuts or spices that had been out of my reach before.  I recall when I spotted cow tongue at the supermarket for the first time, I almost broke into a happy dance.  AT the supermarket.  I waited until I got home to break into the happy dance, cow tongue flapping in hand.  El Señor Hubs wasn’t too keen on the idea of eating lengua.  But that was then.  Now he’s a pro.  AND he even helps me in the preparation!  Now, I also buy veal instead of cow tongue; a cow tongue is too much for just the two of us.  For those who’ve never had lengua before, in El Señor Hubs’ words, “lengua is a bit gamey, a bit chewy, but not stringy which is very imprortant”.  The way I make it does a good job at eliminating any gaminess and it is so tender it almost melts in your mouth.  My lengua recipe is finger-LICKING good.  Yes, I meant that.