Chuleta de Pollo (Colombian-Style Breaded Chicken Breast)

Chuleta de Pollo

So how about a stop on our tour in the southern hemisphere? How does Columbia sound? From the 1860s to the 1920s there was a mass emigration from Italy to the Southern Cone of South American by Italian immigrants, called the Italian diaspora. One of the many things these new citizen brought with them was their love of food. In particular, an Italian dish called “cotoletta alla milanese”, which translates to breaded cutlet, named after the city of Milano. This dish quickly became popular throughout the Latin American countries where generic types of breaded meat filet preparations are known as “milanesa”.

In Colombia, the cutlet gets a flavour infusion by being first marinated overnight in a delicious sauce, so that the meat itself is seasoned, even before lightly seasoning the breadcrumbs the frying it until golden.

Cutlet “Valluna” is a typical dish of the Valle del Cauca region of Colombia and the Afro-Colombian culture of the area near the Pacific Ocean. It includes a milanesa, with sides of rice, sliced tomatoes, onions, chopped fried plantains or fries and a drink called “Lulada” made with lulo fruit, water and sugar.

Ingredients:
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded very thin (about ¼” thick.)
1 batch aliños sauce (see recipe below)
⅓ cup of non-dairy milk (soy, rice, almond, etc.)
4 large eggs, beaten
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
3 cups bread crumbs
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
salt and ground black pepper

Directions:
Place the chicken in a large plastic bag with the aliños sauce, turning the bag to be sure the chicken is covered. Let it marinate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

In a shallow dish, place the non-dairy milk, beaten eggs, cumin and salt. Set aside. In another shallow dish, season the flour with salt and pepper. In a third shallow dish, season the breadcrumbs with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Coat the chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess, and then dip it in the egg mixture. Dredge the chicken in breadcrumbs, turning twice and patting to adhere.

Working in batches, add the chicken to the skillet and cook until chicken is browned, about 4 minutes. Turn it once with tongs, cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes more. Between batches, remove excess crumbs from the oil with a slotted spoon. Drain chicken on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper and serve.


Aliños sauceAliños sauce

Ingredients:
½ medium green bell pepper, chopped
½ medium red bell pepper, chopped
½ medium onion, chopped
4 scallions/green onions, chopped*
½ teaspoon cumin
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup water
½ tablespoon Sazon powder with Azafran (or see the recipe below)

* Click here to learn how to clean scallions/green onions.

Directions:
Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process to make a paste. Transfer to a glass jar with a lid and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


Copycat Sazon Goya with AzafranSazon Powder

This seasoning mix used to be widely available kosher, but I haven’t seen it around for quite some time. For that reason, and because the original contains MSG, here’s a quick copycat version that you can make and keep on hand. It is a great seasoning to add to just about anything! If you can’t find annatto powder, you can substitute with turmeric or paprika, but it won’t be quite the same. If you are using a recipe that calls for a packet of seasoning, then you’re going to want to use about 1 ½ teaspoons of powder. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
1 tablespoon annatto/turmeric/paprika
1 pinch saffron

Directions:
Combine all of the spices together and store in an airtight container for up to six months. The fresher your spices are, the better your end result will be, so if you wish to toast your coriander and cumin seeds yourself, and then grind them, go for it!

Papas Arrugadas with Red & Green Mojo Sauce

Canarian Potatoes

The humble potato. Where would be without it? As a Jew just coming off of Passover, I can tell you I’d be lost without it! So in honour of our starchy, tuberous friend from the nightshade family, I dedicate this week to the ever versatile potato!

We’re going to be starting our international dedication with a recipe from the Canary Islands, which are Spanish territory just off the southern coast of Morocco. It is fitting to choose a recipe with Spanish roots, since the English word potato comes from the Spanish patata (the name used in Spain).  The Spanish say that patata is derived from the Taíno (native language of the people of the Caribbean) batata and the Quechua (native language of the people of the Andes) papa. So as you can see, even the name is international!

This recipe makes a great little appetizer if you’re serving a tapas style meal or hors d’oeuvres and wine, as something savoury to nibble on! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

For the green mojo sauce:
½ green bell pepper, cut into large pieces
½ cup cilantro or parsley leaves*
2 garlic cloves, or to taste, crushed to a paste
¼ to ½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 ½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
pinch of fine sea salt, or to taste
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

For the red mojo sauce:
4 garlic cloves, or to taste, crushed to a paste
¾ teaspoon pimentón picante, chile pepper, or cayenne
2 teaspoons pimentón dulce or sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar
pinch of fine sea salt, or to taste

For the potatoes:
2 pounds small new potatoes (in their skins), washed
4 tablespoons coarse sea salt

* Click here to learn how to clean cliantro and parsely.

Directions:

To make the green mojo sauce:
Blend all the ingredients except the oil to a paste in the food processor. Gradually add the oil and blend to a light creamy consistency.

To make the red mojo sauce:
Mix the garlic with the pimentón, and cumin in a bowl, then beat in the olive oil and vinegar. Add salt to taste.

To cook the potatoes:
Put the potatoes in a large saucepan that holds them in one layer, and add just enough water to cover and the salt. If you have to boil the potatoes in two pans, do so, this way they each get the salty coating.

Bring the salty water to a boil and cook, uncovered, over medium heat, letting the water bubble for 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender and the water has evaporated. Leave them over very low heat for a few minutes, moving them and turning them over in the dry pan, until they are wrinkled and covered with a fine powder of salt. Serve hot or warm, with one or both of the sauces.

One-Pot Creamy Southwest Pasta

Creamy Southwest Pasta

Okay for the last slot in our tour of one-pot pasta meals, we’re heading to the Southwest for this rich and creamy pasta. You can adjust the heat level on this dish by upping or leaving the jalapenos out all together. As is, this dish will serve 6-8 people, but if you want you can switch it up by leaving out the cheese and adding cooked chicken pieces to the dish. No matter how you make it though, it will be delicious! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 (454g) box of rotini (or any pasta you like)
2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 medium green bell pepper cut into thin strips
½ medium red onion, sliced
¾ (796ml) can diced tomatoes
¼ cup sliced pickled jalapeno peppers (optional)
4 cups vegetable broth
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 dashes cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon paprika
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (540ml) can black beans, drained and rinsed
8 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
½ cup cilantro, chopped*

* Click here to learn how to clean cilantro.

Directions:

In a large pot, add the pasta noodles and the rest of the ingredients except for the beans, goat cheese and cilantro. Add the broth last, pouring it over everything. Drizzle the oil over all of the contents.

Cover your pot and bring the contents up to a boil. Once you’ve reached a boil, remove the lid and give the contents a good stir, to help keep the pasta from sticking together. Return the cover and reduce the heat to a steady simmer (medium to medium-low heat). Cook for an additional 12-15 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes, until the pasta is cooked through and al dente. There should be ¼ to ½ an inch of liquid in the bottom of the pot when it’s done.

Remove the pasta from heat, and stir in the beans and goat cheese. Let the pasta rest for 5 minutes to give the beans a chance to warm up, and the cheese to melt, absorbing any excess liquid. Serve hot, garnished with the chopped cilantro.

Sweet Pickle Relish

Sweet Pickle Relish

Ahhhh relish… some people love it, and some hate it! And if you’re from Chicago it must be neon green! Well today’s recipe is for a classic version of the hot dog/hamburger relish, but without any high fructose corn syrup added, like you often see with commercial brands. For me, it’s not bad on the aforementioned BBQ treats, but I LOVE it in tartar sauce (simply add mayo!) or added to salmon or tuna salad.

For those of you who want a more unique vegetable relish, I suggest heading back to my recipe for Chow Chow (click here for the recipe), which is a variety of pickled vegetables cut up into a relish favoured in the South. No matter which relish you choose, as always, enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 medium sized cucumbers – finely diced
1 medium sized green bell pepper – finely diced
1 medium sized red bell pepper – finely diced
1 medium/large onion – finely diced
1 tablespoon pickling salt*
¾ cup white sugar
½ cup cider vinegar
½ teaspoon celery seed (not celery salt)
½ teaspoon mustard seed
⅛ teaspoon turmeric

* You have to use a pickling salt or kosher salt, not table salt, as the iodine with affect the pickle relish while it sits.

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix together the diced cucumbers, peppers and onions, and sprinkle with the pickling salt. Toss to coat, and then let stand covered at room temperature for at least 2 hours. Once you have “pickled” the vegetables, pour the vegetables into a strainer and rinse well with cold water and set to drain.

While the vegetable mix has been rinsed and is draining, go ahead and get the seasoning mix a boiling. Combine the sugar, vinegar, celery seed, mustard seed and turmeric in a large pot on high heat. Once boiling, add the vegetable mix, and return to boil.

Let the relish cook on medium heat uncovered to let some of the liquid evaporate. It will be done once the vegetables have cooked through, but have not become mushy, and most of the liquid has evaporated. Allow the relish to cool, and then transfer to a covered dish or jar with a lid, and refrigerate. This will keep for up to 1 month in the fridge.

Greek Orzo Salad

Greek Orzo SaladSo to end off pasta salad week, I thought I’d do one of my favourites. I love the tang of the olives, feta and artichokes, along with the kick of briney heat from the pepperonicini! For those of you that don’t like heat, you can reduce or even eliminate the use of the pickled peppers. For those that want a little bit more heat running through the salad, and not just on the bites that have bits of pepper, try adding some of the brine from the peppers to the dressing, swapping out for some of the vinegar. This is another salad, like most pasta salads, that gets better with time. This recipe will make 6-8 servings.

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups uncooked orzo pasta
2 (6 ounce) cans artichoke bottoms, drained and roughly chopped*
2 tomatoes, diced (or about 20 cherry tomatoes, halved)
1 large English cucumber, diced
1 green pepper, diced
½-1 red onion, diced
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup black olives, preferably Kalamata, roughly chopped
3-4 pepperoncini, sliced thin (optional)
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley*
2 tablespoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons olive oil
5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
salt to taste (if needed)

* Click here to learn about artichokes and parsley.

Directions:

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add Orzo and cook for 8 – 10 minutes (or according to box instructions); drain.

In a large bowl combine the orzo, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper, onion, feta, olives, pepperoncini and parsley. Toss to combine.

In a small bowl, mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, dried oregano, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the flavours as needed. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Chill for an hour in the refrigerator and then serve.

If you are preparing the salad a day ahead, do as detailed above, but leave out the tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper and feta, adding these ingredients right before serving, so they don’t become soggy.

Israeli Couscous Salad

Couscous SaladSo I first had a version of this salad at a bridal shower for my sister-in-law. The woman who made it was one of my favourite Rebbitzens growing up, Mrs. Dassi Smolarcik. Subsequently, she and her family moved to Miami, (my Rebbitzen, not my sister-in-law…. my s-i-l moved to Savannah!), but what is Canada’s loss is Florida’s gain. I’ve tweaked the recipe slightly, but I’m sure Mrs. Smo will forgive me. I suggest making this for your next meal, dairy or meat, where you’d like a nice, light salad in the mix. This recipe will serve 6-8 people.

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups uncooked Israeli couscous
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
4-5 radishes, sliced thin*
4-5 green onions, sliced thin*
1 can of corn kernels, drained
½ bunch fresh parsley, chopped fine*
½ bunch fresh dill, chopped fine*

Dressing:

½ cup oil
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
½ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper (more or less to taste)

* Click here to learn how to clean these herbs and vegetables.

Instructions:

Prepare the couscous according to the directions on the package. Drain, and set aside to cool. Combine the cooled couscous, along with the prepared vegetables in a large mixing bowl. Prepare the dressing in a small container and combine well, tasting for flavour. Once you are happy with it, pour it over the couscous salad and mix well to combine. This salad is best if let to sit covered in the refrigerator to marinate, preferably overnight. If you preparing it the day before, you may wish to leave the tomatoes out until about an hour before serving, so they don’t get soft.

Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad

Here is a throwback to the old types of pasta salad that you used to see at big picnics. I’ve upped the flavour a bit by adding both tuna and eggs, as well as pickles, their brine and a dash of paprika. I hope you enjoy! This recipe will make 6-8 servings.

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups macaroni
1 can tuna, drained
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
4 green onions, sliced*
½ green bell pepper, chopped
½ red bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 pickles, diced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 ½ tablespoons pickle brine
less than 1 cup mayonnaise (add enough to bring together, but not to overwhelm)
1 tablespoon prepared mustard (yellow, Dijon or honey)
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste

* Click here to learn how to clean green onions.

Directions:

Cook noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water according to the directions on the package, until al dente. Drain the noodles, and set them aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the pasta, tuna, eggs, green onions, celery, pickles, green and red bell pepper.

In a small bowl, mix together the garlic powder, paprika, pickle brine, mustard, salt, pepper, and about half the mayonnaise. Taste for flavouring.

Add the sauce to the pasta mixture, and mix well to combine. Add more mayonnaise if needed to help bring it together, or if you’d like it creamier. The salad should be a little “wet” at first, as the noodles will soak up the moisture in the dressing, and you want it to be a little wetter at first, so that it is not too dry later. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Dirty Rice

Dirty RiceNo, before you get all worried, I’m not suggesting you eat the rice that you swept up as part of your Passover cleaning! Dirty rice is a traditional Creole dish made from white rice which gets a “dirty” colour from being cooked with small pieces of chicken liver or giblets, green bell pepper, celery, and onion, and spiced with cayenne and black pepper. Parsley and/or chopped green onions are common garnishes. Dirty rice is most common in the Creole regions of southern Louisiana; however, it can also be found in other areas of the American South. This recipe will serve 6 as a side dish, and 4 as a main.

Ingredients:

2 cups uncooked rice
4 cups chicken stock
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium/large onions, diced (about 1½ cups total)
2 medium green bell peppers, diced (about 1 cup total)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1 cup total)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ pound ground beef
½ pound chicken giblets or livers**
2 bunches green onions, chopped*

* Click here to learn how to clean green onions.
** If you are using livers instead of giblets, please ensure to following the directions found in this article on how to Kasher your raw liver.

Directions:

If using Giblets:
Place the giblets in a pot, and cover with water, bring to a simmer for 30 minutes with 1 bunch of green onions, salt and pepper.

If using Liver:
If using raw liver, please Kasher it according to the instructions provided in the link above. Once the liver is cooked (either purchased cooked or cooked through the Kashering process), follow the same steps as the giblets, however only simmer until warmed through, not for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a colander, rinse rice several times until water runs clear. Place rice in a large pot and add chicken stock. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Do not overcook.

In a pan, sauté the garlic, onions, bell peppers and celery in vegetable oil until soft for about 10-15 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaf and cayenne and add to rice. Cook the ground beef in a sauté pan and add to rice.

Finally, let the giblets cool enough to chop into small dice then add to rice mixture. Mix rice well and let simmer on lowest heat for an additional 30 minutes, stirring continuously, until flavors meld. Serve hot garnished with the second bunch of green onions.

Chicken & Sausage Gumbo

Chicken & Sausage GumboSure, you may have heard of Gumbo, but do you know where it got it’s name from? Well, we can’t be 100% sure, but we do know that the dish we know as Gumbo originated in southern Louisiana from the Creole people during the 18th century. It typically consists primarily of a strongly flavoured stock, okra, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and seasoning vegetables, which can include celery, bell peppers and onions. Gumbo is often categorized by the type of thickener used: the African vegetable okra, the Choctaw spice filé powder (dried and ground sassafras leaves), or roux, the French base made of flour and fat. The dish likely derived its name from either the Bantu (Native African) word for okra (ki ngombo) or the Choctaw (Native American) word for filé (kombo). The dish is the official cuisine of the state of Louisiana. The recipe below actually uses all 3 types of thickeners, though the filé powder is optional (more for taste rather than a thickener). In my mind, 3 is better than 1! This recipe will serve about 6 people.

Ingredients:

⅓ cup and 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¼ cup and 2 teaspoons oil or fat rendered from cooking sausage*
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small/medium onion, diced
1 small/medium green bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
6 ounces sausage, sliced
1 pound chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
4 ¾ cups stock (chicken, beef or vegetable)
1 ¼ teaspoons white sugar
salt to taste
2 ½ teaspoons hot pepper sauce, or to taste
¼ teaspoon Cajun seasoning blend, or to taste
1 ½ bay leaves
¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
½ of a 398ml can crushed tomatoes (about 200ml)
¾ cup tomato sauce
¾ teaspoon gumbo filé powder
2 ½ teaspoons oil or sausage drippings
1 cup frozen cut okra, thawed
2 ½ teaspoons vinegar

* Cook’s Note: This recipe calls for the use of sausage; you can use any type you like, though if using a raw one, I suggest either completely removing it from the casing and cooking it up like ground meat, or cooking it whole with the casing still on, then slicing it up thick and adding it to the pot later. Just be careful when stirring the dish later that if you’ve cut up the sausage that it doesn’t crumble and break up too much! Remember, save the drippings from cooking the sausage, and use it in place of oil in this recipe. It adds so much more flavour than regular cooking oil!

Directions:

Make a roux by whisking the flour and ¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons oil/sausage drippings together in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat to form a smooth mixture. Cook the roux, whisking constantly, until it turns a rich mahogany brown colour. This can take 20 to 30 minutes; watch heat carefully and whisk constantly or roux will burn. Remove from heat; continue whisking until mixture stops cooking.

Stir the vegetables into the roux, and mix in the sausage and chicken breasts. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat, and cook until vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside.

Bring the stock to a boil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot. Whisk the roux mixture into the boiling stock. Reduce heat to a simmer, and mix in the sugar, salt, hot pepper sauce, Cajun seasoning, bay leaves, thyme, stewed tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Simmer the soup over low heat for 1 hour; mix in 2 teaspoons of filé gumbo powder at the 45-minute mark.

Meanwhile, heat 2 ½ teaspoons of oil or sausage drippings in a skillet, and cook the okra with vinegar over medium heat for 15 minutes; remove okra with slotted spoon, and stir into the simmering gumbo. Continue to simmer until flavors have blended, 45 more minutes. Just before serving, stir in 2 more teaspoons of filé gumbo powder. Serve over hot rice.

White Fish Étouffée

fish etouffeeSo here is another classic Cajun dish called Étouffée. Most commonly prepared with shellfish like crawfish or shrimp, it was back in the 1950s that crawfish etouffée was introduced to restaurant goers in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, however the date of invention of this dish has been shown as early as the late 1920s. Originally crawfish étouffée was a popular dish mainly just in the bayous and backwaters of Louisiana amongst Cajuns in the area, but in the early 80’s a popular Bourbon Street restaurant called Galatoire’s brought the crawfish étouffée dish into the limelight. Even amongst the French Creoles this Cajun dish was a hit. Our recipe uses firm white fish, rather than shellfish, but is just as good! This recipe will serve 6.

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ tablespoons flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bunches green onion, sliced*
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 pound firm, white fish, cut into large chunks (like Cod, Halibut or Flounder)
1 teaspoon tomato paste
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1 ⅔ cups vegetable or vegetarian chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
rice to serve

* Click here to find out how to clean green onions.

Directions:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, stir in the flour until dissolved, and keep stirring until it turns a rich reddish-brown colour. Add the garlic, onion, green onions, green pepper and celery. Sauté until the vegetables become transparent, about 5-10 minutes. Mix in the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, cumin and Cajun seasoning. Once combined, add the chunks of fish, being careful not to break up the fish too much. Cook for an additional 10 minutes. Add the broth into the vegetable-fish mixture, taste for salt and pepper, and then let simmer until thickened, about 35 minutes. Serve over rice.