Sunday, November 19, 2017

Buena Comida! A Taste of Latin America Book Review

The recipes are full of colorful vegetables-with whole grains, eggs and a variety of meats.  Many of the foods include a onion, garlic, peppers saute with a spice mix of cumin, oregano, cilantro and olives.  The book is colorful too.  Each recipe includes a full page photo listing serving size and level of difficulty.  Each chapter is based on the specific country and region of Latin America, complete with maps and photos from Mexico, Costa Rica, Cuba, Puerto Rico and all of South America.  While there are similarities (they are all tropical and most speak Spanish), there are differences in availability of foods. This book examines each country.

Colombia is known for thick corn cakes, known as "arepas".   These are stuffed with meats and cheeses. These tortilla style beads are featured below with seasoned chicken.  Columbia offers both a temperate and a tropical climate, where tubers and root vegetables grow year-round.  The "Sopa de habas y cerbada" (Barley and bean soup) has potatoes, chickpeas, limas and carrots.


Beef is more popular in Cuba than seafood.  Rice and beans is a mainstay.  This Ropa Vieja with shredded steak, served with rice and beans, was an easy main dish for dinner.  The "Frijoles Cubanos" (Cuban beans) had a tasty sauce that worked great with the leftovers from dinner for a next day lunch soup.  
 

I combined foods from Puerto Rica and Venezuela in this meal featuring "Pollo Al Jerez" (Chicken in Sherry)  with "Bollo Picante Vegetariano" (Cornmeal Roll in Banana Leaf).   

Chicken in Sherry

(Serves 2)

Season chicken with salt, pepper and thyme.  Heat oil in an iron skillet.  Add chicken pieces ans sear on all sides.  Remove chicken.
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 drumsticks
1/2 teaspoon thyme
Salt and pepper

In same skillet, saute onion and garlic until soft.  Add chicken, potatoes, broth and bay leaves.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
1/4 cup diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minces
2 small potatoes, peeled and cut in 1 inch pieaces
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 bay leaves

Add sherry.  Cover and simmer for 10 minutes more.  Sprinkle with cilantro.
1/2 cup sherry
2 tablespoon snipped cilantro 

An anytime go to meal, "Huevos Rancheros"  (Mexican Style Eggs) is perhaps my favorite.  Broken eggs, baked in a fresh tomato and sauce skillet with cheese-served with corn tortillas is great for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
  
The recipes are made with whole foods, with a nice assortment of vegetables, beans and whole grains.  I like that!  I cut back on the amount of meat (and even the variety) in most recipes.  Most of the ingredients are easy to obtain.  

As you plan your holiday gift giving list, this 2017 cookbook will be in in time for Christmas.

"Acclaimed chef Patricia Cartin cooks with Latin America’s history and traditions in every recipe. Ten Latin American countries are represented, including Patricia’s native Costa Rica, with dishes that are savory, sweet, spicy, mild, and everything in between. Tempting options for main dishes, vegetables, sides, and desserts, everyone can get creative in the kitchen with flavorful recipes for every part of a successful meal. Food is the perfect gateway to gaining an understanding of cultures and breaking bread with the people of the world."  



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