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!

One-Pot Thai Pasta

Thai Pasta

Love Thai food, but hate takeout? Or maybe you don’t have Thai takeout in your area? Here’s the fix for that my friends! This easy one-pot Thai pasta will serve six and cook up quickly! Wanna add some protein to the mix? Heat up some left over chicken or fish, and toss with the pasta before serving. Just note though that if you do add chicken to this dish to read up on the use of Worcestershire Sauce and meat by clicking this link. This dish will serve at least 6. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 (500g) box dry fettuccine or other long noodle
6 ¾ cups vegetable broth
2 medium carrots, julienned
1 ½ red bell peppers, julienned
6 green onions, sliced thinly*
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons peanut butter
3 tablespoons fresh minced ginger**
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar
1 ½ tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce**
1 ½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemongrass paste or minced*
¾ teaspoon fresh chili paste, like Sriracha (to taste)
¾ teaspoon turmeric
1-2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
½ – 1 lime, juiced
crushed peanuts, for garnish
chopped cilantro , for garnish*
sesame seeds, for garnish

* Click here to learn how to clean green onions, lemongrass and cilantro.
** Click here for tips on peeling ginger and using Worcestershire sauce.

Directions:

In a large pot, add the pasta noodles, breaking them in half if needed to fit, and then the rest of the ingredients except for the lime juice, peanuts, cilantro and sesame seeds. Add the broth last, pouring it over everything. Drizzle the oil over all 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 10-15 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes, until the pasta is cooked through and al dente.

After this time, the noodles should be al dente. Uncover and allow to cook for another few minutes, stirring occasionally, until there’s only about ½ inch of sauce on the bottom (or however much sauce you prefer). Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice. Serve hot and garnished with a liberal amount of crushed peanuts, chopped cilantro and sesame seeds.

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.

Moroccan Fish

Moroccan FishThis is another alternative to regular gefilte fish, and will work well for people that don’t keep gebrokts (those that don’t mix matzo with liquids), as there is no matzo meal used in this recipe. If you’re not crazy about cilantro (like me) you can use parsley instead and you can cut down on the amount of chili peppers as well if you’re not into the heat. This recipe will serve 8.

Ingredients:

8 boneless fish fillets (best if you use a firm, dense fish like halibut or snapper)
2 bunches fresh cilantro/parsley, cut into large pieces*
2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into long thin strips
10 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
4-6 large dried red chili peppers (or less depending on preference)
½ teaspoon turmeric
3 cups water
⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 heaping tablespoons paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

* Click here to check how to clean cilantro and parsley.

Directions:

For this recipe, you will need a sauté pan, it’s like a wide, deep skillet with higher sides. Before you start cooking, reserve a few pieces of the cilantro/parsley for garnish. Place cilantro/parsley, bell pepper slices, garlic and chili peppers in the bottom of the pan to create a “bed” for the fish. Place fish fillets on top of the other ingredients. Season fillets generously with salt and pepper, then sprinkle turmeric evenly across fillets. Add the water to the pan. Cover pan, turn flame on high, and bring to a boil. As soon as the water boils, reduce heat to medium and uncover the pan. Mixture should be simmering lightly at this point. Allow mixture to simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes, basting fillets periodically, until the water reduces by half and turns yellow.

In a small bowl, mix together olive oil and paprika with a fork. Pour red oil mixture over the fish fillets, coating them evenly. Let the fish simmer uncovered for 20 minutes more, basting frequently. Fish is done when liquid is reduced to about a quarter of what it was originally, and the fish has turned a rich red colour.

Serve the warm fish and bell peppers, drizzled with some of the sauce and garnish with the remaining fresh cilantro/parsley leaves.

Ash-e-jow (Iranian/Persian Barley Soup)

Persian Barley Soup

This soup was a hit at last night’s Purim celebration. The addition, that I think was brilliant, that my mother added was some cooked shredded chicken. She also shredded the carrots, rather than diced them. You can leave it out the chicken (meat and stock) and use vegetable stock instead if you wish to make this a non-meat dish. This soup will serve 6-8 people.

Ingredients:

3 quarts chicken stock
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup diced (or shredded) carrots
¾ cup uncooked pearl barley
1 tablespoon turmeric
½ teaspoon saffron
1-2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
1 lime, juiced
¼ cup tomato paste
salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup non-dairy sour cream
1 cup chopped fresh parsley*
8 lime wedges

* Click here to see how to clean parsley.

Directions:

Heat the chicken stock in a pot to a gentle simmer.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat and sauté the onion, carrots, saffron and turmeric until the onion becomes translucent. Add the pearl barley to the pot and stir for one minute. Stir in the hot chicken stock, shredded chicken, lime juice, tomato paste, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 1 to 1 ½ hours, until the soup has thickened and the carrots and barley are tender. If the soup is too thick, add hot water, one tablespoon at a time.

Place the sour cream in a small bowl. Slowly pour ½ cup of hot soup mixture into sour cream, whisking constantly. Gradually add the sour cream mixture into the soup pot, whisking constantly. Stir in the fresh parsley. Serve with fresh lime wedges.

Samosas

SamosasThese stuffed savoury pastries are a traditional Indian favourite. Lamb meat and spices are cooked together to create a mouth-watering filling for the easy to make dough. The recipe may seem complex, but it’s actually fairly simple. This recipe will make about 30 Samosas.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 green chili peppers, chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, chopped
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon chili powder
¾ pound ground lamb/beef/chicken
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons garam masala or curry powder
1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
30 won-ton wrappers
1 quart oil for deep frying
1 egg, for egg wash

Directions:

Heat oil in a large, deep skillet to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Stir in onion, garlic, green chili peppers and ginger. Cook 5 minutes, or until onions are golden brown. Stir in turmeric, chili powder, ground meat and salt. Cook until the meat is evenly brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in garam masala and lemon juice. Continue cooking 5 minutes, then remove from heat.

Work with the won-ton wrappers one at a time, keeping the remaining ones under a damp dish-towel so they don’t dry out. Lay out the wrapper, and run some egg wash along 3 edges of the square wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half, making a triangle, and press together one half of the triangle, but leaving the other side open, making a small pocket package. Fill the won-ton will a few tablespoons of the meat filling, then using more egg wash, seal the final edge of the triangle, pinching it together as tightly as possible.

Carefully lower triangles into your preheated (350-375 degrees F) oil a few at a time. Fry until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm with a great mango chutney!