Archive | August, 2011

Gimme the whole Tamale!

31 Aug
Is it Christmas yet? I am craving my parents tamales. The famous Tamal stems down to our indigenous roots and spreads all over Central, South America and the Caribbean. Funny how we use the same base cornmeal but each tamal can taste so different by the diverse ingredients we top them with. Tamales, hallacas, pasteles…all equal YUM!
Distinctly to Colombia the preparation varies from Region to Region. The traditional wrapping that holds it all together is green sturdy plantain leaves. If those happen not to be available we can use corn husks or even aluminum foil.
Amongst the variations are:
Tamal Santandereano
Tamal Cucuteno (Hallaca)
Tamal Valluno
 Tamal Tolimense
Tamal del Arriero (Antioquia y eje cafetero)
Hallaca Araucana (Llanos Orientales)
Tamal de Piangüa (Costa Pacífica)
Tamal Santafereño (Región Cundinamarca)
Pastel de arroz con cerdo y gallina (Región Caribe)
Tamal de Pipían (Cauca)
Bollitos de corazón de fríjol 
Envueltos o bollos de mazorca 
Bollo limpio (Región Atlántica)
Bollo de yuca (Región Atlántica) 
Bollo de Angelito (Región Atlántica)
Yellow cornmeal is the most popular but in areas like Santander we use white corn meal as the foundation. In Colombia, there is a true argument to this day on which City makes the better Tamal. I can still hear my mom in the kitchen fussin’ about the ‘Tolimenses’ blasphemous addition of rice inside the tamal, rice is a side dish!
In Colombia, tamales are symbolic to special occasions especially as an intricate part of Christmas/New Year’s Dinner. I guess because of its laborious preparation and this item definitely being a ‘slow food’ dish.  Prepare ‘la masa’, cook the meats, saute the ‘Hogao’, cook the carrots and potatoes and assemble the layers: Leaf, masa, meats, a slice of carrot a slice of potato finish off with Hogao, wrap and boil. Who has the time for all this?!
My modern Chef Elizabeth variation:
-make a creamy polenta seasoned with cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper
-cook some short ribs with onions, peppers and tomatoes
-top with sliced carrots, a drizzle of EVOO and a sprinkle of cilantro and viola!
Mind you it’s not the real thing, but trust me this dish will encompass all the flavors and it will feel like Christmas!

Colombian food, how I love thee…

26 Aug

The only thing I wish I could adjust to our colombian plate would be our starchy selection of root ‘vegetables’ but then again can you imagine a bandeja paisa

Bandeja Paisa

with sauteed spinach? What would a sancocho be without the yuca, papa and platano??

So, no need trying to re-invent the wheel. At the end of the day I love the simpleness of our ingredients. The foundation of all our recipes is scallions, tomato and cilantro….boy do we use cilantro. Cilantro is our Basil!

It is fascinating to undestand the background to our cuisine. Colombia being a laborous culture and dishes being created from sustainable vegetables we depended a lot on  yuca, potato, plantain, arracacha and corn. Corn is the basis for arepas, tamales, empanadas etc.

But I welcome this challenge, because then creativity kicks in and I pull together a cream of broccoli soup with notes of Hogao. Cuisine brings worlds together.

events and everyday and everything else…

24 Aug

Welcome to our blog and thank you for following us. What has been on my mind today has been the delcious plantain sandwich I create. It’s so delightful I must share. In an ever continuous effort to stay away from white breads and the cliche it brings for being the go-to item to start a sandwich, I turned to the banana’s cousin – the green plantain.

My foundation is round size, thick and sturdy tostones as my sandwich top and bottom. My meat of preference is sliced churrasco. I like to have tradition meet variation, so instead of chimichurri I top my sandwich off with ‘Hogao’. Hogao is basically sauteed scallions and plum tomatoes but something about how chopping them together engages their flavors then when you saute them in a bit of oil the flavors are married. No sandwich could be complete without cheese. I have used provolone quite often, but there are so many variations.

Remember the plantain is your foundation and the combinations are infinite.  Cooking is  my passion, so tune in as I take you thru a voyage of flavor profiling with my Colombian induced cuisine.

Hello world!

16 Aug

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