A new Summer drink: Michelob ULTRA Light Cider

Michelob ULTRA Light Cider

I am quickly realizing I am in for the ride of my life upon moving to Atlanta. It is HOT! You may be wondering, “Well, you are from Ecuador. How could this be different?” Let me tell you – it is a different type of heat. The sun down here BURNS. And it is not even August!

Generally I gravitate to light beers with fruit undertones, particularly in the Summer. I also enjoy rosés and some white wines. However, I recently found a new drink to add to my summer drinking repertoire. Its name is Michelob ULTRA Light Cider.

What I loved about Michelob ULTRA Light Cider is it’s crisp, refreshing taste. It has a hint of green apple flavor and a light sweetness thanks to Stevia. Initially I was concerned this drink would taste like a wine cooler, but thank goodness it doesn’t! Uh, if you like wine coolers – yay for you (…). I drank it very cold and straight out of the bottle. What a great way to unwind after a long day!

Other things you may want to know about Michelob Ultra Light Cider: it is only 120 cal./serving in light hard cider , it is gluten-free and it has a twist-off cap. The latter is very important, if you ask me.

I am looking forward to enjoying this product more and experiment with it. How about an apple cider margarita? Or maybe use it to make a cider appletini? I bet I could even use it to make a white apple cider sangria! Oh the possibilities… Atlanta summer heat, here I come!

For more information, including availability, please visit Michelob ULTRA Light Cider on Blogher.com , or their Sponsor’s site.

Which favorite summer meal or activity do you think would go best with Michelob ULTRA Light Cider?

Alfajores Cake Doughnuts – Dulce de leche, Toasted Coconut and Almond Cake Doughnuts

Alfajores cake doughnuts

I bought a cake doughnut pan last week.  I have no where to fit it in my kitchen drawers, but I concluded I desperately needed one.  What prompted me to such need was a dream the night before of El Señor Hubs and I strolling down the Lower East Side in New York City, and stopping by The Donut Plant for our weekend doughnut and iced coffee fix.  These dreams really happened.  I would normally get the blueberry cake doughnut or the dulce de leche cake doughnut.  El Señor Hubs would more often that not get the PB&J doughnut.  You must know cake doughnuts rock, and in my mind, baking them makes them a “healthier” alternative to fried doughnuts.  Boy.  I am really fooling myself, aren’t I?

I decided if I was to make cake doughnuts, I had to take them to the next level.  I combined my love for alfajores and cake doughnuts, and came up with an Alfajor cake doughnut.  The best of both worlds.  It’s like the liger, bred for its skills in magic.

If you recall, I’ve made alfajores before, using my tia’s recipe.  Alfajores are these soft, sandwich cookies, with dulce de leche filling.  Traditionally from Argentina, alfajores sometimes use crushed almonds in the dough.  Once baked and filled, the oozing dulce de leche from these sweet sandwiches is then covered with coconut flakes.  Are you hungry yet?

I modified the cake doughnut recipe that came with the pan to make a soft, bouncy and delectable dulce de leche, toasted coconut and almond cake doughnut. Try saying that three times fast.  GO!  Actually, let’s GO and make these doughnuts!

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Seco de Borrego: Ecuadorian lamb stew

Seco de Borrego, Ecuadorian lamb stew

Along with goat, lamb is one of my favorite meats.  I am a huge, I mean H.U.G.E fan of Indian cuisine, and I always order a goat curry or a lamb vindaloo when we go out to eat.  That, and some naan bread.  And perhaps a samosa chaat to start.  Oh, and don’t forget the Masala dosa.  And the mango lassi.  Uh, yeah.  I LOVE Indian food.  Usually, I can’t move afterwards, but that’s neither here nor there.

Now, if I had to choose between and Indian stew or an Ecuadorian stew… Well, that’s a tough one.  I love both of them for different reasons.  I love the former for its heat and spice complexity, but I cherish the latter because it reminds me of home.

Recently, the folks over at Mountain States Rosen Company, a lamb and veal cooperation, contacted me to see if I would be interested in creating a recipe using one of their lamb products.  In the name of lamb love I said, YES!  And what better way to use lamb than in a traditional Ecuadorian stew, like a seco de borrego.

I’ve made seco de chivo (goat stew) before, but I wanted to try a different approach to making seco this time around.  The basics of the refrito didn’t change, but instead of using naranjilla juice which is traditional, I opted for using a light beer instead.  Although the flavor components are different, it is common to interchange these two ingredients in Ecuadorian secos.  The naranjilla juice or the beer help tenderize the meat and take away some of the gameyness goat and lamb have.  I also wanted to make the cooking process of the stew as effortless as possible, keeping in mind that many of us don’t have the time to oversee the stovetop for hours.  In order to solve this issue, I decided to use a crockpot.  The result was a rich and flavorful, oh-so-tender lamb stew, which goes perfect over a bed of yellow rice with some fried sweet plantains on the side.  Did I mention that the crockpot is one of my favorite tools as of late?  Now, ya know.

**  Mountain States Rosen provided the lamb sample to create this recipe.  The recipe and opinions are mine.  No monetary compensation was received for this posting.  Gracias.  **

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Hominy Hummus-like Dip

Hominy dip

I love hummus as a quick snack.  Sometimes it’s all I eat for lunch – hummus with some chips and baby carrots.  It usually happens after realizing I punished a whole 8-ounce beef burger and fries plus two beers the night before.  Back in Jersey, this would happen at The Lighthorse Tavern.  These days, it happens either at The Porter or at The Vortex.

Last week, I wanted to make a hummus-like dip that would incorporate something traditional of Ecuador.  Mote, AKA hominy came to mind.  Once I made it, I called it Mote Hummus.  Then, I realized that it cannot be hummus, because hummus is garbanzo-based, and in this dip, I replaced the garbanzo beans for the hominy.  Calling it hummus is just plain wrong, I realized.  I realize a lot of things these days.  Like how I just realized I used the word “realize” too often.

Things I’ve Realized

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Refrito Stewed Oxtail with Grits

Refrito stewed oxtail with grits

El Señor Hubs and I are BIG fans of Cuban food.  Back in Jersey, we used to eat at this lonchería-style restaurant called Rumba’s, which served authentic Cuban food.  The food was homemade delicious at a great price.  Needless to say, we ate there at least twice a week.  Rumba’s was our saviour when we got home pooped-tired after 12 hours of work.

Pooped-tired.

I think I just made a new phrase.

Anyway, one of my favorite dishes is the ubiquitous Rabo Encendido, which translates to “Tail on Fire”, as in Oxtail on Fire.  Weird, huh?  While the name would suggest this dish is spicy, it’s not the case.  In this aspect, Cuban cooking resembles Ecuadorian cooking.  Our food is not spicy.  Rabo encendido is oxtail cooked low and slow in a colorful combination of vegetables and liquids, which results in a very flavorful, fall-off-the-bone meat stew.  My mouth waters just thinking about it.

The low and slow cooking method is one used in Ecuadorian cooking and it many cuisines around the world.  It is certainly one of my favorite methods of cooking.  You can leave stuff on the stove or in the oven for a couple of hours or more, and do laundry, read a book, paint a picture, chase your dog around, etc.  Before you know it, dinner is ready.

I took some cues from the Cuban Rabo encendido, but I infused a traditional Ecuadorian refrito as a base for this oxtail stew.  I also incorporated the French cooking technique of the mirepoix and made a very flavorful base for the oxtail.  Beef stock and dry red wine round up the flavors, which result in a decadent stew.  My only complaint: I just wish oxtail had more meat.

What would you serve this saucy, oxtail stew with?  Well, traditional Cuban cuisine will suggest you serve rabo with some rice.  However, I wanted to incorporate a bit of my “new home” into this dish.  So what do you eat while in the South?  Grits!  Grits makes a great side to this meal because it helps up soak up all the juices from the stew.  I made these grits using some refrito to tie the meal together.  There is enough flavor in the grits, but it doesn’t overpower the oxtail.

The pictures in this post do not make justice to how flavorful this meal is.  You see, by the time I got to serve and take pictures, I was losing natural light.

And we were starving.

And in a hurry to eat.

Screw the pictures.

I encourage you to make this over the weekend; your palate will thank you profusely.

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