Food & Good Eating










Play Slots
                at Royal Ace Casino

























Published Friday, June 4, 2021


By Melissa Pette

This week, our little piece of heaven Costa Rica has been headlining the news all over the world. Specifically for three main reasons: being an example of an open-harms country for immigrants,  seeking to further reduce its carbon footprint and a country where Human Rights are respected.

That reflection is part of an amazing message I got from our new friend Jared Hollander from Homer in Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. He is now peacefully retired in Osa, in the southern zone of the country.

"I had learned this while living in Costa Rica, in this small tropical forest garden that maybe is a small country but no doubt  it is richer in values ​​than the biggest countries blazoning themselves as a First World Country," he said.

Well said Jared!

Jared said he tried the Tico Cornbread we cooked a few weeks ago, shared by Monika Krause from Bludenz, Vorarlberg, Austria and now living in Escazu.  But according to Jared, his version with banana is a must!

"I learned to bake a wide variety of tropical fruits recipes with the help of my Tico friends in Osa," he said.

So, let's go to the kitchen!

Tico Banana bread




By Jared Hollander
From Homer, Alaska
Living in Osa

To serving 12 people, the ingredients you'll need are:

» Half a cup of butter.

» 1 and 1/2 cups of sugar.

» 3 ripe bananas.

» 1 egg.

» 5 tablespoons of milk.

» 1 cup of flour.

» 1 teaspoon of yeast (baking powder).

» Half a teaspoon of baking soda.

» Half a teaspoon of salt.

» Half a cup of chopped walnuts (this is optional).

» A pinch of cinnamon and vanilla (this is optional).



First, mix half of the butter and 1 cup of sugar. Mash the bananas with a fork, make a smooth paste. Add the egg, milk, and the rest of the butter. Mix well.

Then, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir the ingredients. Add the mixture you previously made. Mix all the ingredients again. Add the walnuts, cinnamon and vanilla. Mix the ingredients until the flour disappears and you make a big dense dough.

Put the dough into a buttered mold. Sprinkle the rest of sugar to obtain a crunchy top layer. Put it in the oven at 350
ºF (or about 180ºC) for 40 minutes or until it is baked inside. Wait 'til it gets cold and serve.

The Banana bread will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 5 days. This is the moistest cake I’ve ever eaten!

If you are a banana lover, like me, you should try the amazing recipe for Calypso Sweet Cold Banana Dessert shared by  Barry and Susie Harrison, who jumped from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada to Puerto Viejo, Limón.

Don't forget to send your homemade recipes with a photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com.  Take a look at more tasty recipes on the AM Costa Rica Food page.

Pura Vida!





























Published Friday, May 28, 2021


By Melissa Pette

These homemade tropical fruit granola bars are so much better than what you can buy at the store, especially since it’s completely up to you to add your favorite fruits, nuts or chocolate.

These healthy snacks are perfect for a busy morning. So.... let's go to the kitchen!

Tropical granola bars



The best part is these so-good bars are very simple to make. If you don't have an oven, you can also roast the oats in a pan.

For 10 to 12 bars the ingredients you need are:

» 2 cups of oats.

» 1/2 cup of almonds.

» 1/2 cup of walnuts.

» 1/4 cup of shredded coconut.

» 1/4 cup of raisins.

» 1/2 cup your favorite dried fruits such as cranberry, orange, mango, papaya, kiwi, strawberries, pineapple or bananas.

» 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.

» 1/4 cup of butter.

» 1/4 cup of honey.

» 1/4 cup of brown sugar.

» 1/2 tablespoon of salt.

» 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract.




First, preheat your oven to 350F.

Then, in a baking tray, add oats, coconut, walnuts and the roughly chopped almonds. Spread them well in the tray and bake for 10 minutes until they are slightly toasted. Then, transfer them to a bowl.

In a pan add the butter, brown sugar and honey. Mix well. Add the vanilla and pinch of salt. Cook them until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves completely.

Pour the butter mixture over the oats and mix them well. Add your favorite chopped dried fruits, raisins, chocolate chips and give a good mix.

In Costa Rica, you can easily find a variety of tropical dried fruits at Walmart (Great Value brand) or Automercado (Ocean Spray or Dole brands).

By the way, in the U.S. it is easy to find dried organic fruits "Made In Nature" brand. So far, I'm not lucky to find them here. If somebody knows where those are on sale in Costa Rica, please let me know.

Let's continue.

Line the sides and bottom of the square pan with foil and spray it with butter or some cooking oil. Transfer everything to the greased pan.

Using a spatula press them well to pack them firmly and evenly or wet your hands with water and press them. Scatter some mini chocolate chips over it and press them gently.

Cover and put it in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours or freeze them in the freezer for 30 minutes.

After 2 hours, carefully peel the foil from the granola bar. Slice them into bars with a sharp knife. Store them in an air-tight container or freeze them in a freezer-safe bag. Now, our granola bars are ready. Enjoy!

Thank you so much for taking your time to write and remember to share your recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com. More tasty recipes can be found on the AM Costa Rica Food page.

Stay safe indoors. It is time to take care of yourself and your loved ones.
 
Pura Vida!






















































Published Friday, May 21, 2021


By Melissa Pette


When I came to Costa Rica for the first time, many moons ago, I wondered why Costa Ricans are called "Ticos".

My Spanish teacher, Gloria Umaña, gave me an explanation for this enigma.

She said that in the times of the Spanish conquest, beginning in the 16th century, Costa Rica had very few inhabitants living in remote towns. The humble Costa Ricans of those times, referred to everything as if it were something scarce, in short supply or small. 

Confused? Let me explain what was explained to me.

So, here are some examples: when they talked about something little instead of saying "pequeño" (small in English) they said "pequeñi-tico" (which means tiny). Another one, when they referred to a poor person, instead of saying "pobre" they said "pobreci-tico" (which means extremely poor).

The expression of that period was to add the term "tico" to many of the qualifying adjectives. Now I sound like my teacher.

From the right word "pequeño" they said "pequeñi-tico", from "pobre" they said "pobreci-tico." That peculiar way of speaking, made Costa Ricans recognized as the "Ticos." Ta-daaaa!

All that long tale was to introduce today's recipe, the sweet Panciticos fries that are traditional snacks, usually served at countryside family reunions.

Gloria, as always very kind, like most of the Ticos, gave a hand with the recipe.

So let's go to the kitchen!

So-good Panciticos fries



The recipe is made with few ingredients for serving 15 pieces.

» 2 cups of all-purpose flour.

» 1/4 cup of wheat semolina or almond flour for gluten-free baking.

» a pinch of baking soda.

» 1/2 tsp of salt.

» 1 cup of white sugar.

» 1 egg.

» 2 tbsp of melted butter.

» 1/2 cup of diced mozzarella cheese (this is optional).

» Water.

» Cooking oil for frying.



First, in a blender, add half sugar and grind it to a fine powder. Then add 1 egg and grind it again to a smooth batter.

In a bowl, add the flour, wheat semolina (or almond flour), baking soda, salt, butter and the rest of the sugar. Mix all ingredients well.

Then, add water just a little at a time and make it into a soft sticky dough, add the cheese and mix.

Set to the side for a minimum of 15 minutes.

Heat some oil in a pan on medium heat. Apply some butter in your hands and make small balls out of the batter. Don't press it too hard.

Drop the balls in the pan and cook on medium heat.

A tip. If the oil is too hot, the outside will get browned and the inside will stay doughy. So fry them in low to medium heat.

Our so-good Panciticos fries are ready to be served with hot tea... or coffee.... or beer.... or wine.... or guaro. Let’s be creative.

I know I sound like a broken record, but I would like to thank the readers for their kind messages. You are invited to share your recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish by emailing food@amcostarica.com. More delightful recipes can be found on the AM Costa Rica Food page.

Pura Vida and Salud!



































Published Friday, May 14, 2021



By Melissa Pette

Let's continue enjoying the so-good Costa Rican traditional food, which for some new expats, has been a pleasant surprise to their taste buds.

Last week, Barry and Susie Harrison invited us to try their delicious Calypso sweet cold banana dessert. But some of the quantities of ingredients (nuts, sesame seeds, and unsalted peanuts) can be portioned as you see fit for your liking.

That is the funny part of cooking, you can change the ingredients and try something new. The Harrison’s so-amazing-dessert recipe can be found on the AM Costa Rica Food page.

Speaking of Tico traditional food, today I would like to introduce a new friend Monika Krause, an expat from Austria who loves to make Costa Rican meals.

Monika is originally from Bludenz, in the state of Vorarlberg, and like many expats, she jumped the pond from Europe to the Pura Vida land, running away from the freezing winter.

"Now, I’m living in a beautiful friendly neighborhood in Escazu, surrounded by bright colored flowers and enjoying plentiful sunlight all year round," says Monika.

We got you girl!

Monika loves making cakes. And one of her new faves is cornbread, known in Costa Rica as "Pan de Elote."

Let's go to the kitchen.

Tasty Easy Tico Cornbread



By Monika Krause
From Bludenz, Vorarlberg, Austria
Living in Escazu

This cornbread recipe allows for individual variations with respect to ingredients: adding onion or cilantro for instance, or choosing a hotter, spicier type of pepper.



The ingredients to serve 8 portions are:

» 9 fresh ears of corn, husked.

» 3 eggs.

» 1 cup of sour cream.

» 1 spoonful of baking powder.

» 1 teaspoon of salt.

» Pepper.

» 1 cup of grated cheese (cheddar works perfectly).

» 1 large fresh green sweet pepper.

» 1 red sweet pepper.

First, cut the corn from the cob with a knife. To remove corn from the cob, place the cob in a vertical position inside a container. Use a downward movement with a sharp knife to separate the corn from the cob. To remove the remaining sweet and milky juice, repeat this action using the other side of the knife. Set aside.

This is optional. Roast the chili peppers. Rub off the blackened skin, then cut out the stem and seed pod. Roughly chop. For easy peeling of freshly roasted peppers, place them into a plastic bag for approximately 5 minutes. Set aside.

Grease and flour a 9-by-13 inch baking dish.

Grind in a blender the corn, eggs, sour cream, baking powder, salt and pepper to make a paste.

Preheat the oven to 350° F, and place half of the paste at the bottom of the baking dish.

Add the filling to the cheese and chili peppers. Then top with the remaining paste.

Bake for approximately 50 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve warm or wait for it to get a bit cold. Try it! Believe me, you'll love it!

I would like to finish today's column by thanking all the people who have written and those brave ones who made the recipes at home. I'm glad to hear that you customized the recipes. Remember to share your recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com.
More delightfully recipes can be found on the AM Costa Rica Food page.

Pura Vida and Salud!





































Published Friday, May 7, 2021

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

I think you already know that today we celebrate Calypso Day, the music of Trinidad and Tobago and especially popular in Costa Rica, more specifically on the Caribbean Coast.

As a way to celebrate this national day, our new friends, the married couple of Barry and Susie Harrison share their Calypso sweet cold banana dessert recipe.

The Harrisons allow me to tell a little bit of their story. They are from Manitoba, Canada and traveled to Costa Rica for the first time on their honeymoon trip.

"My father-in-law is guilty of our first trip to Costa Rica. The trip was his wedding gift," Susie tells us.

"Five years later, we decided to reside in Puerto Viejo (Limón Province) as perpetual tourists. We have a huge colony of expats here, we are all like a big family. We wouldn't change our life for anything, " she added.

The Harrisons say that the first thing they will do after the pandemic is throw a party with all the neighbors and the people who want to visit them. OK, that is listed on my post-pandemic things to do too.

So, it is time to go to the kitchen.

Calypso sweet cold banana dessert




By Barry and Susie Harrison
From Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Living in Puerto Viejo, Limón.

This easy and quick dessert recipe is ideal to prepare with the kids. This is one of the best ways to use your very ripe bananas in your fruit basket. It tastes great and next time when you see a ripe banana, try it.

The ingredients for serving 4 people are:

» 2 very ripe plantains (not bananas).
» 1/2 cup of brown sugar.
» 3 tablespoons of sweet cream unsalted butter.
» 3 tablespoon of nuts.
» 1spoon of white sesame seeds.
» 1spoon of baked unsalted peanuts.



First, peel the skin and chop the banana into very small chunks. You can also mash it using a fork or masher.

Heat some butter in a pan, fry the nuts and peanuts ‘till golden.

Add the chopped bananas and fry them for a few minutes. Add sugar and mix well.

Cook until the mix gets thick. Add the remaining butter and sugar. Mix the ingredients until the banana becomes glossy.

Add in sesame seeds and give it a good mix.

Pour this into a greased pan and, using a spatula, smooth it out. Allow it to cool inside the fridge for about 1 hour.

Cut into slices and Enjoy !!!!

You can also try with any regular sweet bananas, but ripe plantains give an awesome taste.

You know me, I can't finish this column without giving thanks to all our readers, and especially to those who share their recipes with us. Don't forget to share your homemade recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com. More delightfully recipes can be found on the AM Costa Rica Food page.

Pura Vida and Salud!
















Crispy sweet apples
















Published Friday, April 30, 2021

By Melissa Pette

On these beautiful, quiet, peaceful and romantic rainy April afternoons, there is nothing better than having a coffee, or hot chocolate (or wine for me) with a sweet snack. Right?

Well, our new friend Mark Collignon from Australia invites us to enjoy a twist on everyday jam bread and make such tasty and sweet-smelling crispy apples.

Mark allowed me to tell you a little bit of his story. He now lives in Tamarindo Beach and even though the change seemed unexceptional compared to his hometown of Cordeaux Heights in New South Wales, love was the motivation for relocating here.

"After two divorces there isn't much left in my life," said Mark. "But my life changed when I met who is now my best friend and wife, Rocio, the most beautiful Tica, the one."

Mark says he can feel love again. Love his new wife, his neighbors, and the Pura Vida style.

W’all love happy endings. We’re very happy for you Mark!

So, let's go to the kitchen and make those yummy crispy sweet apples.

Crispy sweet apples



By Mark Collignon
From New South Wales, Australia.
Living in Tamarindo Beach, Guanacaste.

These crisp, perfectly sweet apple snacks are a super easy homemade treat that we can make in a few minutes. The cooking time is 30 mins. The ingredients for serving 8 people are:

• 4 chopped apples.
• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour.
• 1/4 cup white sugar.
• 1 tsp salt.
• 1tsp cinnamon powder.
• 2 tsp baking powder.
• 2 eggs.
• 1 tsp vanilla extract.
• 2/3 cup milk.
• 2 tbsp melted butter.
• Oil for frying.
 
First, wet ingredients. In a bowl, add the eggs, vanilla extract, and milk. Whisk them well.

Second, dry ingredients. In a bowl, add the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon powder. Mix well.

Then, pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well.

Add melted butter and mix well. Add finely chopped apples to it and fold together until almost combined.



Heat some oil in a pan. Scoop some batter and add it to oil. Fry them in low to medium heat. Keep an eye on the oil temperature and the color of the fritters.

The darker the fritters the crisper they will be. If you fry less time means the steam from inside the fritters will seep out and soften them.

You can also roll the hot fritters in cinnamon sugar (mix 1/2 cup of sugar with a tablespoon of cinnamon) or glaze them.

Crispy apples are ready! Enjoy with hot tea, chocolate or coffee.

Thank you so much to all readers, especially to those who shared their recipes with all of us. Stay safe indoors. It is time to take care of yourself and your loved ones.

More delightfully appetizing recipes can be found on the AM Costa Rica Food page. Don't forget to share your recipes and photos by emailing food@amcostarica.com

Pura Vida and Salud!








Finger-licking Guacamole














Published Friday, April 23, 2021

By Melissa Pette

A party with our bubble cannot be complete without the tastiest guacamole.

The salad dressing name, of Mexican origin and now popular all over the world, comes from the Spanish words "aguacate" (avocado) and "moler" (mash), that is to say, a mashed avocado.

This delightful fruit was grown in Mexico around 10,000 years ago. If you don't believe me, ask Siri.

Our new friend Emily McCullough shares her spicy guacamole recipe with us.

McCullough grew up in Arlington Heights, Corpus Christi, TX, where eating spicy food is the norm. But don't worry, for some of us who don't have that knack, she has adapted her recipe to a low spiciness level.

She came to the Land of Pura Vida for the first time on a camping trip with her colleagues from Marine Biology Career at Texas A & M University, to study sharks in Cocos Island. And since then her love for this tiny green country made her decide to move here.

Where have I heard that before?...... hmm.

You will lick your fingers after eating this delicious appetizer. So, let's go to the kitchen.

Finger-licking Guacamole



By Emily McCullough
From Corpus Christi, TX
Living in Uvita, Puntarenas

This guacamole dip is quick and easy to prepare with easily accessible ingredients. They include:

• 1 or 2 fresh serrano or jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped.

• ½ cup chopped white onion.

• ½ cup chopped red tomato.

• ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, plus a little extra for garnish.

• 3 medium-large ripe avocados (about 1¼ pounds total).
• Salt added to taste.

• 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice or lemon juice.



First place avocado pulp in a medium bowl. Using a fork, mash the pulp with lime juice - mixture will be slightly chunky.

In a food processor or blender, combine tomato, onion, cilantro and chili peppers. Process or blend until finely chopped - guacamole tastes harmonious when all the flavorings are finely chopped.

Stir blended mixture and salt into mashed avocados until combined.

To serve, scoop into a decorative bowl. Guacamole is good when freshly made, but it tastes even better when the flavors are allowed to mingle for about 30 minutes.

The kind of avocado that works best for this Guacamole Recipe is the Hass avocado, often called simply “California avocado” in the market.

The Hass avocado is green when it is not yet ripe and black when it is. If they are purchased green they should be wrapped in newspaper and kept in a warm place in the kitchen so they will mature. Cooling ripe Hass avocados will keep perfectly for three or four days.

Guacamole and chips form a terrific combo, but there are some additional ways to enjoy this avocado concoction. Spread guacamole on a tortilla when creating a wrap. Substitute guacamole for mayonnaise as a sandwich spread. It is tasty with chicken or turkey. Use guacamole instead of salad dressing in a chicken or turkey salad. Serve guacamole with grilled meats, poultry, or fish.

Can't finish today's column without thanking so many readers for writing. Remember to share your recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com

Pura Vida and Salud!








What about Gringo-Mex-Tico burritos?






























Published Friday, April 16, 2021

By Melissa Pette

Who doesn't love a spicy tasty appetizing burrito? The Mexican meal is now popular everywhere.

Today, our new friend Doug Ferman, who was raised in Austin, TX and now living with his wife and cute twin baby girls, in Osa, on the southern Pacific Coast, shares his "three worlds" burrito recipe, in his very particular Mexican- American- Tico combination.

"I love Texan food, I love Mexican food, and I love Tico food. So my Pinto-Burrito is the best of three worlds," Doug said. And he's absolutely right.

You can't miss this mouthwatering recipe. So, let's go to the kitchen!



Gringo-Mex-Tico burritos




By Doug Ferman
From
Austin, TX
Living in Osa, South Pacific Coast

The ingredients for 6 people are:

• 1/2 tablespoon butter.

• 1/2 medium white onion, chopped.

• 1 can (15 oz.) black beans.

• 1/2 teaspoon red chile, powder.

• Salt.

• 1 cup American cheese blend.

• 1 cup of your favorite sauce (I love Ranchera Ducal brand).

• 2 tortillas.

• 3/4 cup rice, raw.

• 2 cups cold water.

• 1 medium sweet green or red pepper, chopped.

• 2 tablespoon cilantro leaves, chopped.

• 1 tablespoon butter.

• 2 teaspoon lime juice.




First, in a pan, add butter or oil. Add rice and saute until gold color, about 3 to 4 minutes on medium heat.

Add the green or red chillies, cilantro and mix well. Add the water and cook the rice for around 5-10 minutes. When rice is ready add in the lemon juice and mix.

Meanwhile, heat 1/2 tablespoon of butter in a small frying pan. Add onion, pinch of salt and sauté  until it becomes translucent. Add in the black beans and red chilli powder, drizzle 2 tablespoons of  water and sauté it for 2 to 3 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and then put it on broil mode.

Place two tortillas in two separate cooking pans.

Add in the rice prepared at the center followed by the black beans mixture. Now, pour your sauce and cheese blend. Roll it up and place it folded side down.

Pour the remaining sauce on top of the tortillas. Sprinkle the remaining cheese.

Broil in the oven for about 3 to 5 minutes or until the cheese melts and sauce bubbles.

Remove the burritos from the oven, add lettuce, guacamole if desired.
 
The most common way to prepare burrito is to wrap plain rice, refried beans, lettuce, salsa, meat, guacamole, sour cream, cheese and other kinds of vegetables in a large flour or wheat tortilla while the enchilada sauce is prepared by rolling tortilla with meat, beans, potatoes, vegetables and other combinations inside and topping it with pepper sauce.

Rice and beans are used to fill the tortilla just like how a burrito is made and it will get a generous proportion of sauce. Serve hot and enjoy.

My Gringo Loco Burrito is now ready and perfect for colder nights especially if you drink it with beer.

And here I am sounding like a broken record thanking readers for taking their time to write and share a bit of their stories with all of us. Feel free to send your homemade recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com
More delightfully appetizing recipes can be found on the AM Costa Rica Food page

Pura Vida and Salud!











Let's put more goodies on our Easter table













Published Wednesday, March 31, 2021

By Melissa Pette

When we talk about food traditions in Costa Rica, of course, Semana Santa recipes occupy a very important place.

My Tico friends say that recipes with seafood or fish, sweet bread, cupcakes and the delicious coffee liqueur cannot be missing for a traditional Easter celebration.

Did you know that in many Tico families it is a tradition to make a toast with coffee liquor to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Day?

Another tradition (originated in the United States and Europe) that is increasing in Costa Rica is Easter eggs for kids. So let's have fun with the kids at home with this Easter egg recipe for dummies.

For readers who have asked me about Pan Dulce Tico, which is a traditional dish here at Easter and Christmas, you can find the recipe in this column.

And we cannot miss the recipe for Cafe Tico Liquor from Brooklyn Wyatt, from Quebec, Canada.

Homemade Easter eggs



Easy, quick and special for kids. The best part of this recipe is when you hear your kids laugh while they indulge themselves with chocolate and sweets. The ingredients you will need are:

1 large chocolate bar.

Half a glass of water.

Two spoons of white sugar.

M&M multi-colored chocolates.

Roasted peanuts without salt (this is optional).

Gumdrops.

Multi-colored sprinkle candies.

Easter egg molds. If you prefer, you can buy the frozen Easter eggs and just decorate it at home.




The eggs. Cut the chocolate into small pieces. Melt in a bain-marie or over very low heat on the stove.

Cover and foil the Easter egg mold over the oven. Add the melted chocolate slowly. You can also do this step using a brush and paint the mold with melted chocolate.

Put the mold in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes. When the eggs are frozen unmold them very gently to prevent them from breaking.

Add the sugar to the glass of water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. With a brush, paint the sugar-water all over the eggs.

Mash the peanuts and the M&Ms. You can do this by covering the peanuts with a dry cloth and hitting it with the kitchen hammer.

Place the eggs on a large flat plate. Decorate them with all the sweets you want.

Put the eggs in the fridge before serving. There you have it! The most perfect Easter homemade eggs.


Tico Pancito rolls




This "Pancito Casero" (homemade bread in English), is a popular folk food throughout Costa Rica.

The ingredients are:

• 1 kilo of wheat flour.

• 1 cup of white sugar.

• 1 bar of butter.

• 1 cup of water.

• 3 tablespoons of instant yeast.

First, mix the flour with butter, sugar and yeast. When the dough is ready, cut it into little pieces, like the size of your palm.

Form a ball with each piece, like the size of a Ping-Pong ball. Then, stretch the balls into strips. Roll each strip into the dough bonnet bagels. Imagine a sea snail shell shape.

Place each bonnet dough in a previously greased pan. Let them rest for an hour to allow the yeast-grown process. After that, bake for 10 minutes. When the pancitos are ready, let them cool down for 10 minutes.
 
Take one pancito, a cup of hot chocolate, or the liquor coffee (we will cook on the next recipe below) and enjoy!


Coffee liquor



By Brooklyn Wyatt,
Quebec, Canada

Brooklyn says this liquor has been prepared by her family since her childhood to put smiling faces to the freezing winter days.

"This homemade coffee liquor you can drink or use as an ingredient for baking. It is traditional in my family to make homemade liqueurs to survive the glacial Quebec winter," she said.

The ingredients are:

• 1/2 liter of an old rum, brown or golden.

• 5 cups of water equal a little more than 1 liter.

• 3 ounces of dark chocolate.

• 1/2 cup of freshly brewed aromatic coffee. Decaffeinated works too.
 
• 450 grams of sugar.

• A scoop of vanilla extract.

• 1.5-liter size glass bottle to preserve the liquor.

In a saucepan over high heat, put the water and sugar. Stir until it is mixed. Add the chocolate, continue stirring until it melts.

Turn off the heat and add the coffee that we had previously prepared. Continue stirring.

Add the rum, vanilla and mix all the ingredients until cool.

When it gets cold, try it. If you notice that it is somewhat bitter, add a little more sugar.

You can substitute the sugar for Stevia but the flavor of the liquor is not the same.

Pour the liquor into a glass bottle and let it rest for at least 15 days, in a cool place (not humid) before drinking.

You know me, I cannot finish this column without giving thanks to all our readers, and especially to those who share their recipes with us. Please
don't forget to share your recipes and photos by emailing food@amcostarica.com

Pura Vida and Salud!











Calories? Nobody counts calories on Easter













Published Friday, March 26, 2021

By Melissa Pette

We continue to dedicate this column to the good folk Tico recipes on Easter. For many Ticos, if on Holy Week there are no "Chiverre empanadas" and "Tico Arroz con Leche" (rice pudding), on the table it is like there is no Semana Santa.

These two sweets are very traditional during the Easter season here in Costa Rica.

So, let's forget about counting calories for a few days and let's go to the kitchen.

If you have recently come to Costa Rica, I advise you to go to a coffee shop and try one (or more) Chiverre empanada, which is a type of fried pastry filled with squash marmalade. I promise you won't regret it!.

Tico Empanadas



To cook 10 to 12 empanadas the ingredients you will need are:

First, for the Chiverre marmalade.

• 2 kilos of Chiverre.

• 2 sweet fig leaves.

• 4 sweet figs.

• 1 tapa de dulce.

Tapa Dulce is a kind of giant candy made of sugar cane. Buy it at the local fruit market in your community or any supermarket. Take a look at the photo.


• 2 teaspoons of dried cloves.

• 2 teaspoons of vanilla.

The slightly more complicated part is cooking the Chiverre jam, you can skip this part and buy the Chiverre jam at the supermarket.

For the empanadas, you will need:

• 2 cups of flour.

• 125 milliliters of sweet cream (half a glass).

• 250 grams of butter.

• 1 teaspoon of white sugar.

• A pinch of salt.

• An egg yolk.



Jam first. With a hammer (yep, a hammer) gently hit the entire Chiverre shell. Cut the peel from the shell with a knife. Insert the knife tip 2 millimeters into the Chiverre peel it out.

Cut the Chiverre pulp into wedges and with your hands, remove the seeds and the yellow fibers into the pulp. Smash all the pulp with the hammer, until you get a softer pulp.

Put the pulp in a colander, wash it until the sticky liquid is withdrawn.

Put the Chiverre in a cloth bag and place it in the washing machine's tumble dryer (yes, you read that correctly, the tumble dryer of your washing machine) for 5 minutes to dry.

Place the figs with their leaves in a large pot, add the recent tumble dry Chiverre and add the Tapa Dulce.

Cook until Tapa Dulce has completely melted and the Chiverre pulp has a dark golden color. Put the pot in a fresh place until it cools down.

Wrap the dried cloves in aluminum foil and crush them with a mortar or rolling pin.

When the Chiverre jam is cold, remove the fig leaves and add the crushed dried cloves and vanilla.

The empanadas. Mix all the ingredients (flour, sweet cream, butter, sugar and a pinch of salt), knead the mixture until creating a springy and elastic dough. Then, rest the dough for 20 minutes in the fridge (no freezer.)

Then on a very clean table, sprinkle flour and roll out the dough with your rolling pin. When it is less than 1 centimeter thick, use a small round plate to form circles over the dough. Cut the circles.

On one side of the circle add the Chiverre jam. Close the circle (from side to side) to form the patties. Press gently the empanada edge with a fork.

Beat the egg yolk, and with a kitchen brush or a fork, varnish the empanada surface.

Bake for 25 minutes at 200 degrees Fahrenheit and Holy Cow your empanada is ready! Enjoy the sweet and delicious homemade empanada with your social bubble.

If you have lazy kids at home (like me), this is a fun activity for them to also learn to cook homemade empanadas.

Now, we cannot forget the famous and creamy Tico Arroz con Leche on the table.

In June, our new friend Olivia Williams, a U.S. resident from Tres Ríos District shared this delicious dessert recipe with us.

Milky Rice



By Olivia Williams


Rice pudding is the traditional dessert of homes throughout Costa Rica. It is very easy to make, and with few ingredients. By following the proper technique, we will also make it much creamier. For this, the quantities and their proportions are important.

To prepare this popular homemade rice pudding, we will need:
 
• 100 grams of cooked white rice.

• 1 liter of milk.

• 1 lemon peel.

• 1 orange peel.

• 2 teaspoons of cinnamon.

• 70 grams of white sugar.

• 10 grams of butter.

In a pot, add the milk, rice, citrus peels and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon. Cook on medium heat. Mix continuously.

When it is hot, but not boiling yet (remember that milk above 95-100 degrees Celsius is over-burned), turn down the temperature to the lowest (not turned off).

Mix every five minutes to make sure that the rice pudding doesn't stick. This will make the dessert creamier.

After 30 minutes, when the rice grain is almost cooked, add the sugar. Cook for 10 more minutes until the rice is soft.

Turn off the heat, remove the lemon and orange peels, and add the butter. Keep mixing from time to time until the rice cools.

Sprinkle a little cinnamon powder on top. Milky rice pudding is easy, cheap and delicious.

Thank you so much to all readers, especially to those who shared their recipes with all of us. Stay safe during this Holy Week. And don't forget to share your recipes and photos by emailing food@amcostarica.com

Pura Vida and Salud!








Exquisite seafood in Easter




















Published Friday, March 19, 2021

By Melissa Pette

We have not yet recovered from Saint Patrick's double punch recipes of last week, to even start planning delicious Easter recipes. But, it must be done!

Our two new friends, Daniel and Sammy, from Donegal District, Ireland, who are now living in Osa, have yet to recover from the Double Punch we prepared last week.

They sent funny photos with the following caption: "The case began when someone added more whiskey in the Shamrock Sour. We can't remember what happened after that, but we woke up the next day right on the beach." 

Feel free to revisit the St. Patrick's double punch recipe on the AM Costa Rica Food page.

Let's get back to today's subject of Easter.

Ticos usually cook very elaborate no-meat recipes to share in family gatherings for Easter Sunday, a holiday when Catholics commemorate the resurrection of Jesus.

Avoiding red meat during the 40 days of lent is a custom inherited from the Spanish Catholic colonizers, according to my friend Sonia Rojas, who I have known for more than 10 years, a sociology professor. She said they thought that not eating red meat was a sacrifice and penance in honor of Jesus.

"By making this sacrifice a person makes in spirit, body and soul, it is an act of reparation for the damage caused by human's sin and for the good of the Catholic community," explained Rojas.

This is the time when Ticos prepare special elaborate meat-free recipes such as fish, seafood, hearts of palm, Chiverre empanada, which is a type of fried pastry filled with squash marmalade, among others.

Well, let's take advantage of the Tico Easter tradition to make delicious recipes, as our friend Scott Horsley did.

He shared last year, a couple of very successful seafood recipes, Ceviche Tico and Tropical Shrimp Brochettes, that he discovered in Costa Rica. 

As he once said, "his life has been better since he left everything behind in Platte County, Nebraska, to start a brand new life in Tamarindo Beach."

Ceviche Tico



By Scott Horsley
From Nebraska
Living in Tamarindo Beach

Here in Tamarindo Beach with the help of my new friends, I learned how to fish and cook the classic "no-cooked" fish appetizer ceviche. It is a recipe for dummies like me.

The ingredients you will need are:

• 2 fish fillets, you can use Corvina or Tilapia.

• 2 chopped red tomatoes.

• 1 chopped red sweet chili.

• 3 tablespoons of chopped coriander (cilantro).
 
• 1/4 cup chopped white onion.

• 1/4 cup chopped red (purple) onion .

• 1/4 cup lemon juice, it is better freshly squeezed.

• A pinch of salt and pepper.

• 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise.

• Avocado.

• Tortillas.

Cut the fish fillet into small squares. In a glass bowl mix the fish with the lemon juice. The bowl must be glass. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours so that the lemon does its job and can "cook" the fish.
Then, add the tomato, onion, coriander, chili and mayonnaise. Mix. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Serve the ceviche over the tostada.

Add some avocado slices and drink all the beer you can have.

Tropical Shrimp Brochettes



If you love seafood like me, this recipe is a must-do. You can make it in the kitchen or on the grill.

The ingredients that you will need to serve 4 are:

• 8 jumbo shrimp without head (you can prepare them with or without shells).

• 1 package of minced chicken sausages.

• 1/2 cup pineapple, chopped into squares.

• 1/2 red sweet pepper, chopped into squares.

• 1/2 green sweet pepper, chopped into squares.

• 1/4 white onion, chopped into squares.

• 1/4 red onion, chopped into squares.

• 1 stick of butter or 1/2 cup of olive oil.

• Salt and pepper.

• Don't forget the brochettes sticks.

If you use wooden brochette sticks, before cooking you must soak them in water for 30 minutes, so the brochettes do not burn with the heat of the grill.

First, gently remove the shell from the shrimp. With a small knife or toothpick, remove the black vein on the back of the shrimp. I always cut the tail, but if you prefer you can cook it with the tail. Don't forget to wash the shrimp only with water.

Take a brochette and go through 1 square of sausage, 2 squares of white onion, two squares of red chili, one cube of pineapple, one shrimp, one square of pineapple, two squares of purple onion, two squares of green chili and close with a sausage.

Turn on the grill or oven on medium heat.

The medium heat is when you can place your hand 15 centimeters over the heat of the grill and leave it for about 5 seconds without burning yourself.

Add the melted butter (or olive oil) to the skewers. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.

Put the brochette on the grill or the oven (this is a very obvious step).

Cook for 2 minutes, gently rolling the brochette, until the shrimp turn pink in the center and golden on the outside.

If you are afraid that your shrimp may get burned, you can cook shrimp without removing the shell. This gives protection to the shrimp when it is cooked on the grill. It also gives the shrimp a lot of taste. But (there always has to be a but), the problem is this specific way is a little more difficult to eat or remove the shell after cooking.

These so tasty Tropical Shrimp Brochettes make a wonderful match with white wine or a cold beer. Yay!

Thank you so much to all readers for their nice messages. Stay tuned for more Semana Santa recipes. And don't forget to share your recipes and photos by emailing food@amcostarica.com

Pura Vida and Salud!




Appetizing St. Patrick's Day Irish Stew































Published Friday, March 12, 2021

By Melissa Pette

The greenest day of the year is just around the corner. Last week we learned how to prepare delicious cocktails. Feel free to review the St. Patrick's double punch recipe on the AM Costa Rica Food page.

For those asking about where to buy original green beer, the truth is that I did not find any in Costa Rica. The only true green color beer I've seen is the Mediterranean Olive Green Beer.
 
Here in this beautiful paradise, it is easier to make your own green beer. Just add a drop of green food-coloring. You can find it at any supermarket.

But on St. Patrick's Day a must dish is the traditional Irish Stew, also called Stobhach, which is considered a national dish of Ireland.
 
The dish preparation is really easy, this may be because the origins of Irish gastronomy have very humble roots in the lifestyle of the early population, who depended on the work of the land, farm and fishing animals.

St. Patrick's Day Irish Stew



The ingredients you need for six people are:

• 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.

• 1 pound of mutton or lamb cutlets (no bones) cut into 2-inch (or 5 centimeter) chunks. Beefsteak can be used as a substitute for lamb.

• 2 pounds of potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters.

• 1 cup of roughly chopped onion.

• 1 cup of finely sliced leeks, clean.

• 1 cup of roughly chopped carrots.

• 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour.

• 3 cups of dark beef stock.

• 2 or 3 cabbage leaves, thinly sliced.

• Salt and pepper.



First, in a large frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until hot but not smoking. Add half of the lamb pieces. Let them brown all over by turning the chunks in the hot oil.

Remove the lamb and place them in a large pot. Add half of the potatoes, half of the onion, half of the leeks, and half of the carrots.

Now, add the remaining oil to the same frying pan and heat. Add the remaining lamb and brown all over as previously done.

Add the lamb into the large pot and cover with the remaining potatoes, remaining onion, remaining leeks, and remaining carrots.

The sauce. Add the flour to the still-hot frying pan and stir really well to soak up any fat and juices. Cook over low heat for 3 minutes.

Slowly add the stock, one ladle at a time. Mix until you have a thick, lump-free sauce. You will not add all of the stock.

Pour this sauce over the lamb and vegetables. Add the remaining stock oven, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and cook in the preheated oven 350 degrees Fahrenheit (or 180 degrees Celsius), for 1 hour.

After that, add the cabbage and cook for another hour.

Check from time to time to make sure the stock hasn't reduced too much. If it has, add a little boiling water. The meat and vegetables should always be covered in liquid. If the sauce is too runny at the end, you can always cook the stew a little longer with the lid removed.

Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot and enjoy!

Like all stews and casseroles, this stew tastes just as good, if not better, the next day. It will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.

Remember to celebrate only with your social-bubble. Have a great Saint Patrick's Day to all the leprechaun expats living in Costa Rica.

I would like to finish this article, as I usually do, thanking the readers and especially those who take their time to write and share their recipes. Don't forget to share your recipes and photos by emailing food@amcostarica.com.

Salud and Pura Vida!































St. Patrick's double punch

Published Friday, March 5, 2021


By Melissa Pette

Before drinking these two green spirits and start seeing leprechauns jumping around, I would like to give you a tip to make a different version of last week's Appealing Orange Liqueur recipe.

Dear reader Jim Zelenka, says that we can use tangerines instead of oranges, and drop two of the ingredients (cinnamon and vanilla), then place the liquor in the freezer before serving and Ecco! You just made Italy’s famous drink, "Limoncello."

The recipe posted last week is more of a British version of the same drink and was shared by Sarah Allison from Fort William, Scottish Highlands, UK.
 
More delightfully appetizing recipes can be found on the AM Costa Rica Food page.

Let's get back to the greenest celebration of the year, and in case some readers who are not Irish, U.S. citizens or British, every March 17 we celebrate St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.

The holiday has evolved into a celebration of Irish culture in most countries with a presence of American or Irish communities celebrating with parades, special foods, music, dancing, drinking and a whole lot of green!.

Some residents may be missing the green beer and wet t-shirt contests at the Irish Pubs or the Chicago River turning green. But, from my completely sober point of view (while I'm writing this article), I'm sure that no one is missing the 39 degrees Fahrenheit in London or even more homey 30 degrees Fahrenheit in Illinois.
 
While we are enjoying a cozy 65 degrees Fahrenheit in Costa Rica, we are going to make a couple of popular very green cocktails.

Today's recipes are by Courtney Whitmore. I'm not talking about the fictional superhero in American comic books published by DC Comics, Stargirl.

Whitmore is the editor of the Pizzazzerie party food blog and has written several cookbooks. I have prepared many of her recipes myself and I think you will also love the fan favorites.

So let's go to the bar!


St. Patrick’s Shamrock Sour Cocktail



By Courtney Whitmore
The Pizzazzerie
Nashville, TN.

I've been getting into the green spirit for the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day holiday with this delicious cocktail! A twist on the classic whiskey sour, this shamrock sour is the perfect drink for the occasion!

Yes, green beer might be the norm for this Irish celebration, but my Shamrock Sour is so good that I'm sure it will quickly become your favorite St. Paddy’s day beverage.

I decided to put an Irish twist on one of my favorite cocktails, the whiskey sour. Combine that idea with your favorite Irish whiskey and now we're talking!

Of course, I gave it a bit more focus on lime for the green garnish and a little droplet of green food coloring because your cocktail must be green on St. Patrick’s Day!

If you prefer amaretto sours, you can certainly apply the recipe below for amaretto liquor as well.

Shamrock Sour ingredients are:

• 2 tablespoons of lime juice

• 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice

• 1/4 cup of simple syrup

• 2 ounces of Irish whiskey (you can choose your favorite whiskey)

• 1 tiny drop of green food coloring

• lime wedges for garnish

I decided to give mine even more of the St. Patrick’s Day touch by making easy DIY shamrock stirrers. These can hardly be called a DIY, however, because they're that easy.

Visit your craft store and grab some craft shamrocks (felt, paper or anything you can find will work) and bamboo skewers. Glue the shamrocks onto the skewers and ta-da: St. Patrick’s Day drink stirrers! If you have extra, shorten them and use them for appetizers or cupcake toppers.

The green drink. Combine ingredients and shake well; strain over ice.

Garnish with a lime wedge and a shamrock stirrer.

To avoid your drink becoming too green, you can dab an extra wooden skewer into the green food coloring and then stir that into your drink to better control the amount of color.

Serve up a tray of these Shamrock Sours at your St. Patrick’s Day party, and trust me, your guests will love them. They’re the perfect blend of sour and sweet. Cheers!


St. Patrick’s Day Mojito



This mojito reminds me of my favorite childhood party punch made with lime sherbet. It’s creamy and full of lemon-lime flavor. This adult version is even more fabulous (wink wink).

You can garnish yours with golden stir sticks (it is St. Patrick’s Day after all) or a few extra slices of limes and mint leaves!

You can give it a lemon twist by using a can of frozen lemonade or a strawberry twist with a can of strawberry margarita mixer.

It’s the sherbet that really gives it that creamy flavor so as long as you use at least a pint of sherbet, it’ll be fabulous!

Yields 1 large punch bowl (or 2 pitchers) worth of mojito sherbet punch.

Mojito ingredients are:

• 1 handful or 1 cup of mint leaves, plus extra for garnish

• 4 cups of club soda

• 1 can of frozen margarita mix

• 1 can of frozen limeade mix

• 1 pint of lime sherbet

• 1 bottle of 750 ml white rum

• 4-5 sliced limes

First, muddle mint together with 1 cup club soda.

Combine with additional club soda (3 cups), frozen margarita mix, frozen limeade mix, lime sherbet, and white rum.

Stir together and add ice to keep chilled.

Garnish with sliced limes and mint leaves. Cheers!


Before finishing this article, sorry if I sound like a broken record thanking readers for writing. But yes, thank you so much! And don't forget to share your recipes and photos by emailing food@amcostarica.com


Salud and Pura Vida!

























Published Friday, February 26, 2021

Appealing orange liqueur

By Melissa Pette

This week, we continue with our "ode" to fresh fruits since we can find them all year round in this little piece of heaven; Costa Rica. Today, our new friend Sarah Allison from Scotland, is sharing her recipe for a Polish-British version of an orange liqueur.

Sarah tells us that she learned this recipe from "experts who in addition to making the famous whiskey at Ben Nevis Distillery, they made exquisite homemade vodka liquors.”

It’s a drink for royals.

"Princess Margaret's morning routine starts with vodka," said Sarah. " She knew (like many British know) finest home-made liqueurs are made with Vodka."

Let's go to the kitchen!

Appealing orange liqueur



By Sarah Allison
Fort William, Scottish Highlands, UK

Orange liqueur is a very aromatic delightful drink. For a large bottle of liquor, the ingredients you will need are:

• Peels from 6 sweet oranges

• 500 grams of white sugar

• 1.5 liters of vodka

• 2 teaspoons of cinnamon (I recommend two cinnamon sticks)

• 1 teaspoon of vanilla ( I recommend one vanilla stick)



First, wash the oranges very well and clean them with a paper towel. Before anything, make sure to choose very yellow and good quality oranges. Peel the fruits and remove the white edge.

Put the peels in a glass container. It is best to use a container with a lid. Add the cinnamon, vanilla, sugar and fresh-squeezed orange juice. Mix the ingredients. Add the vodka. Mix it again. Close the container and keep it in a cool place for two months.

Yes, two months.

Once a week, shake the jar to help the sugar dissolve better. Never open the bottle.

After these couple of months pass, strain the liquor with a clean cloth.
 
Pour the liquor back into the bottle. Hooray! Is time to brighten the day by tasting such an appetizing drink. Try it. I promise, it was worth it.

Thanks to readers for sending kind and funny messages. You always make my day! Remember to share your recipes and photos by emailing food@amcostarica.com.

If you want to review some of the delicious recipes that we have published in the past, visit the A.M. Costa Rica Food page.

Salud and Pura Vida!







































Published Friday, February 19, 2021


Spicy sweet chicken wings

By Melissa Pette

Everyday we hear from more expats choosing to live the Pura Vida lifestyle. For those who are reading this column from outside of Costa Rica, (Especially readers in Canada, the United States or Great Britain) and are wondering, "What are the motivations for retirement in this small country?" Well, I think our new friend Susan Darnell has the answer.

As a teacher at Seattle Public School in the State of Washington, she left several decades ago in exchange for the more friendly "people and weather" in Puerto Viejo, Limón.

"I have now new experiences with healthy aging, my new life provides physical, cognitive, and social benefits," Susan tells us. "You can fulfill your dreams to travel anywhere, pick up a new sport or enjoy a hobby."

According to Susan, another advantage of living in Costa Rica is the lower cost of living. "It's possible to retire comfortably for a fraction of the cost of staying in the U.S. I don't worry about Social Security, though, that follows you almost anywhere. Same with Civil Service benefits."

In addition to giving us those important tips, Susan shares with us her tasty recipe for Spicy Sweet Chicken Wings.

Enjoy these spicy and sweet flavored sauces tossed with crispy chicken wings. These are ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS! And it is worth trying. This is ideal to make a quick meal at home while enjoying some tv sport games with our social bubble.

Spicy Sweet Chicken Wings



By Susan Darnell
From King County, State of Washington, US
Living in Puerto Viejo, Limón

Ingredients for 6 people:

• 1 kilo of chicken wings.

• 2 tablespoons of oil of your choice.

• salt.

• 2 teaspoons of pepper powder or 1 teaspoon of chili powder.

• 1 cup of all-purpose flour.

• 1 cup of  orange juice.

• 1 tablespoons  of  minced garlic.

• 1 tablespoons  of  orange zest.

• 1/2 tablespoons  of vinegar.

• 1/2 tablespoons  of soy sauce.

• 3 tablespoons  of honey.

• 1/4 cup of water.



For Garnishing use sesame seeds and chopped spring onions.
Chicken wings first. Clean the chicken wings and pat them dry with a kitchen towel.

In a mixing bowl, toss chicken wings with oil, salt, pepper and half the chili powder. Sprinkle some flour on the chicken wings and coat them well.

Arrange the wings evenly on a tray with some space between them. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 to 40 minutes in a pre-heated oven.

You can also deep fry the chicken wings instead of baking them.

The sauce. In a pan, add orange juice, chopped garlic, orange zest, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, chili, and 1/2 tablespoon of flour in 1/4 cup of water.

Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium and let it simmer, stirring often occasionally, until glossy and thickened.

Once the wings are done, toss them in the orange sauce. Sprinkle sesame seeds and chopped spring onions.

You can serve it with white rice and a very cold beer. Ta-da dinner is ready!

Melissa note: I want to thank the people who have taken the time to write. Especially those who have shared their recipes and stories with all of us, the A.M. Costa Rica readers, we all are amateur-chefs who love cooking.

Pura vida and salud!

--------------
Email your comments, inquiries or send your homemade recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish to Melissa at food@amcostarica.com.












































Published Friday, February 12, 2021

Pineapple Chicken

By Melissa Pette

I'm sure I'm speaking (or maybe better writing) on behalf of many expats happily living in this little piece of sunny paradise all year round. We have been taking on exceptional advantages of being able to get fresh fruits and vegetables all year round. This results from Costa Rica's amazing weather practically the 12 months of the year.

In my house, we place a small table and three chairs in the backyard, where I enjoy quality time with my little social bubble. It's not a joke, at my house, we have breakfast, lunch and dinner on the patio.

We all need contact with fresh air and sun. As many already know, the sun is the main source of vitamin D necessary to keep bones strong and healthy. As long as you don't expose too much to the sun to avoid burns or skin disorders.

Remember our friend Rehan Chakrabarti? He is a U.S. citizen with Indian heritage and last month he invited us to make a wonderful Fruit Custard dessert. If you missed it, feel free to review the recipe on the AM Costa Rica Food page.

Rehan tells us that he will soon return to Costa Rica and this time it will be a forever trip.

Welcome Rehan to expat living in Costa Rica club!

This time, Rehan shares with us his sweet, tangy and flavorful Pineapple Chicken recipe, with a wink to Indian cuisine.

So ... let's go to the kitchen!

Pineapple Chicken



By Rehan Chakrabarti
From Cape May Peninsula, New Jersey

It's very simple to make and you will love every bite of it. For serving 4 people the ingredients you will need are:

• 1 lb of skinless and boneless chicken.

• Salt.

• Black pepper.

• 1 tsp red chili powder.

• 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste.

• 2 tbsp all-purpose flour.

• 2 tbsp cornflour.

• 1 tbsp chili sauce.

• 1 egg.

• 1 tbsp oil.

• 3 finely chopped garlic.
 
• 2 green sweet chilies.

• 1/2 cubed onions.

• 1/2 cubed bell pepper.

• 3/4 cup pineapple chunks.
 
• 1 cup pineapple juice.

• 1 tbsp brown sugar.

• 1 tbsp vinegar.

• 1 tbsp soy sauce.

• 1 tsp chili flakes.

• 1/2 cup water.



Clean and cut the boneless chicken into cubes. In a large bowl, add the cleaned chicken, salt, pepper, red chilly powder (which gives nice red color), ginger garlic paste, all-purpose flour, cornflour, soy sauce and an egg. Mix well. Allow it to rest for about 30 minutes.

To fry the chicken, heat oil for deep frying. Fry the chicken pieces on medium heat until golden brown. Drain and set aside. Fry the remaining chicken pieces in regular batches. Drain and set aside.

The veggies. In a pan, heat some oil and add chopped garlic and sauté for a minute. To that, add cubed onions, cubed bell peppers and chopped pineapple chunks and sauté  well for two minutes. Transfer to a bowl and keep it aside.

The sauce.  In the same pan, add the pineapple juice, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, chili flakes, salt, cornflour water (1 tbsp cornflour mixed in 1/2 cup water). Keep stirring until the sauce thickens.

Then add the fried chicken pieces and saute until the chicken pieces are coated well with the sauce. Add the sauteed veggies and mix well. Garnish with spring onions.

Tasty pineapple chicken is ready. Enjoy with rice or noodles. Give it a try, I'm very sure you and your family will enjoy it !!

Melissa note: Thank you so much to readers and especially to those who take their time to write. Enjoy the summer!

Pura vida and salud!



Melissa Note: I can't finish this column without thanking readers. Especially those who take their time to write and share their favorite recipes with all of us.

--------------
Email your comments, inquiries or send your homemade recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish to Melissa at food@amcostarica.com.











































Published Friday, February 5, 2021

Mouthwatering pork with fruit sauce


By Melissa Pette

Now that the kids are returning to school, some are attending in-person and others will continue with virtual lessons. It is a great opportunity to invest a little more time in cooking tasty meals for the whole family.

We have been talking about how great it is to have all kinds of fruits available all year round in Costa Rica. More importantly because fruits are important in our diets due to the presence of an abundance of nutrients and healthy properties.

As many of you already know, fruits have a high content of water and fiber, plus few sugars. They are also rich in vitamins such as A and C or natural folic acid. They also can contain minerals such as potassium.

Today, our new friend William Carter, a Canadian citizen, is inviting us to make tasty pork with fruit sauce.
 
Just writing this seriously makes me hungry!

Will tells us a little about his motivation for retiring in Costa Rica. He decided to throw everything out the window and live as a retiree in Guanacaste when he fell in love with a beautiful Tina, short for Cristina.

"Pursuing the love of my life, I left my boring life in Kindersley District behind me. Now I couldn't be happier taking care of my wife (I think she takes care of me), our 3 dogs, two cats, many ducks and no don't remember how many chickens," he said.
We are happy for William for achieving the super relaxed Pura Vida lifestyle. Now, let's go to the kitchen!

Pork with fruit sauce



By William Carter
From Kindersley District, Saskatchewan, Canada
Living in Puerto Soley Beach, Guanacaste

Pork is a healthy and inexpensive meat. This recipe for pork with fruit sauce is very easy to make.

If you want a juicy pork, first leave it immersed in very salty water for at least two hours.

The ingredients for 4 people are:

• 700 grams of pork loin

• 1 white onion

• 1 apple

• 1 pear

• 4 large tangerines

• 6 dehydrated apricots

• 50 grams of raisins

• 50 grams of sweet guayaba jam (know as guava jam)

• 200 milliliters of brandy

• 200 milliliters of white wine

• 1 teaspoon black of pepper

• 2 tablespoon of salt

• Olive or sunflower oil



First in a large pot with water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and then add the meat. Boil the meat over high heat until it is fully cooked. The process takes about half an hour.

Cut the onion into thin strips. Peel and dice the pear, the apple, two of the tangerines (remember to remove the skin).

In a bowl, squeeze the rest of the tangerines and add the raisins and dehydrated apricot.

When the pork is cooked, put it in a large pan or casserole. Add a little oil to the pan, the pork, the rest of the salt and pepper.

Pour the one cup of oil all over the meat. Cook over high heat for 5 minutes to fry the surface of the meat.

Preheat the oven to 374 Fº (190 Cº) for 5 minutes.

Then, in a large ovenproof pot, add the meat, half the wine, and half the brandy. Make sure to pour the liquor over the meat. Add the tangerine juice with the dried fruits that you had prepared before. Bake for 30 minutes.

The fruit sauce. In a pan, add a bit of oil, cook the onions lightly (a couple of minutes), then add the chopped apple, pear, tangerine and guava jam. Cook for two more minutes. Add the rest of the wine and brandy. At the lowest temperature cook for 5 more minutes, or until the liquor evaporates.

When the meat is cooked, add the fruit sauce over the pork.

You can serve the meat with bread, mashed potatoes or white rice. I bet you will love this mouthwatering meal.



Melissa Note: I can't finish this column without thanking readers. Especially those who take their time to write and share their favorite recipes with all of us.

Pura vida and salud!

--------------
Email your comments, inquiries or send your homemade recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish to Melissa at food@amcostarica.com.




















Published Friday, January 29, 2021

Fruit custard

By Melissa Pette

We continue taking advantage of having fruit all year long in Costa Rica. Today, we are invited to cook a delightful fruit custard by our new friend Rehan Chakrabarti, who is a U.S. citizen with Indian heritage.

Rehan said his family very often cooks this spectacular fruit dish. “But on the Fourth of July celebrations this dessert is a must in the picnics while we are enjoying the fireworks,” he said.

Girls love men who love to cook. So... let's go to the kitchen!


Fruit custard



By Rehan Chakrabarti
From Cape May Peninsula, New Jersey

This fruit custard recipe is my childhood favorite. I remember as a kid when my mom would make fruit custard out of the milk and I would happily devour it. I prefer it thick but the consistency depends entirely on your choice.

The ingredients you need for 4 people are:

• 2 cups (480ml) white milk

• 3 tablespoon custard powder (flan powder as an option)
• 1/4 cup (50g) white sugar

• 1/4 cup sweet yellow mango

• 3 tablespoon pomegranate

• 3 tablespoon green grapes

• 3 tablespoon apples roughly chopped

• 2 tablespoon black (or purple) grapes

• 1 medium-size sliced banana



In a small bowl add the custard and a few tablespoons of room temperature milk and give it a good mix. Now put it to the side. 

In a heavy bottom pan over a medium flame add milk and bring it to a boil 3-4 times, while stirring it occasionally.

Now, add sugar and mix till it melts completely.

Finally, add the custard to the milk and while stirring it continuously cook for 3-4 minutes or until it becomes slightly thick.
 
Never add hot milk to the custard powder, it will form lumps. Always stir the milk while adding the custard to the boiled milk, otherwise it will form lumps.

Let the custard cool down completely.

If the custard has formed lumps then sieve it and it will be fine. Once the custard is cooked, keep stirring it for a few more minutes to avoid the cream formation on the top. Don’t overcook the custard as it thickens once it cools down.

Now, add the chopped fruit and mix until well combined.

You can eat it immediately or let it refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

There you go! Time to relax and enjoy a sunny day in Costa Rica.

-----------------------
Melissa's note: I know I sound like a broken record, but I can't finish this column without thanking readers for taking their time to write and share a bit of their stories with us.

Pura Vida and salud!

-----------------
Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette or share your homemade recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com.
















Published Friday, January 22, 2021

Heirloom tomato ceviche

By Melissa Pette

Who doesn't like a spicy ceviche? This tasty fish dish is usually eaten before the main course or as a snack bar while drinking cold beer in Costa Rica. We love Fridays!

The truth is that ceviche is part of the culinary culture of Latin America. Each country has its version of the dish. For example, in Mexico, toasted corn tortillas and a lot of hot chili pepper are a must with their ceviche.

I have always heard that ceviche is originally from Peru. The dish is considered a Cultural Heritage in that country. Reading a bit about the origin of the cechive, the Ministry of Culture of Peru explains that the ceviche was originated by the Moche civilization, a native community located in the northern area of ​​the country between the First and Second centuries.
 
Today, I would love to invite you to cook a different version of the ceviche, thanks to the recipe shared with us by our new friend Jorge Alonzo.

He is a Spanish chef who has worked for many years in his native Santoña, Cantabria. Now he is happily retired in Santa Ana.

Like many of us, Jorge jumped over the Atlantic pond to exchange the Spanish cold winter, for "enjoying the pleasant weather all year round, " he said.

So, today, a master chef shares his ceviche recipe with us. What a fantastic way to start the weekend!

Heirloom tomatoes ceviche



By Jorge Alonzo
From Cantabria, Spain
Living in Santa Ana.

The main ingredient is Sea Bass fish, but you can replace it with corvina, tilapia or salmon.

The ingredients for four portions are:

1/4 purple onion, cut into thin slices.

1 large celery stalk, chopped.

2 teaspoon garlic.

1/4 sweet red chili, seeded.

1 tablespoon of chopped peeled ginger.

1/2 teaspoon of sugar.

1 tablespoon of salt.

1/3 cup of chopped cilantro or microgreens.

1 pound of fillet fish, remove skin, bones, and bloodline.

1/2 cup of orange juice.

1 cup (or more) of fresh lime juice.

1 pound of mixed heirloom tomatoes, whole or cut into wedges, depending on size.

If you can't find these tomatoes, you can replace them with red miniature tomatoes. Or any red tomato cut into small squares.

First, put the chopped onion, celery, red pepper, garlic, sugar, salt, and 1/4 cup water in a blender until a smooth liquid. Transfer to a small bowl; stir in cilantro. Cover and chill for 1 hour.




Meanwhile, trim fish to create clean edges. Holding your knife at a 45 degree angle, slice into 1/4 inch-thick; try for one fluid movement per slice to avoid shredding flesh. Transfer to a plate as you go, separating layers with sheets of plastic wrap as needed. Chill until ready to serve.

Strain purée through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl, pressing down on solids to extract as much liquid as possible (you should have about half a cup). Stir orange juice and lime juice, adding a bit more lime juice to balance acidity if needed.

Arrange fish and tomatoes in shallow bowls; with spoon drizzle juice over ceviche. Season with salt and top with sliced ​​onion and cilantro (or microgreens). Serve immediately. A cold beer closes the deal.


Melissa's note: I know I sound like a broken record, but I can't finish this column without thanking readers for taking their time to write and share a bit of their stories with us.

Pura Vida and Salud!

----------------
Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette or your homemade recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com.
























Published Friday, January 15, 2021

Pineapple upside-down cake


By Melissa Pette

No one can complain about the food in Costa Rica. Every day we can buy fresh fruit. There is never a shortage of seasonal fruits.

In my hometown of Aberdeen, Boston, Mass., strawberries are more expensive and hard to find in winter. Do you remember which is the most challenging fruit to get in your hometown?

Well, let's take advantage of that wonderful opportunity to have fresh fruit all year long by making delicious recipes. Like this Pineapple Upside-Down Cake by our new friend, Cynthia Abraham.

Cynthia is writing to us from Edinburgh, Scotland. She gives her permission to tell you a bit of her story.

"I have visited that little piece of paradise twice. I can't wait to enjoy next Christmas there," said Cynthia. "On my first trip, I lived in the house of a very kind Tica, Daniela, who I met when she came to study at the University of Edinburgh for two years."

Pineapple upside-down cake



By Cynthia Abraham
Edinburgh, Scotland

While we were visiting the National Museum, my Tica friend took me to a nice little coffee shop, "Manuelitos" I remember, or something like that. There I had the best pineapple upside-down cake ever!

If you haven't tried it yet, this is your chance to make this tasty and easy pineapple cake. The ingredients for 8 people are:

• 1 can with circular sliced ​​pineapple in its own juice (do not throw away the juice).

• 3 eggs.

• 150 grams of butter.

• 150 grams of sugar.

• 150 grams of flour.

• 16 grams of baking powder.

• 1/4 of a glass of Pineapple liquor (I recommend the Malibu Rum Caribbean Pineapple. You can buy it at any supermarket).

• 1 package of liquid caramel (Smucker's Caramel Flavored Syrup works).

• 1 can of cherries (I recommend Del Monte sweet cherries or Great Value Maraschino cherries).



First, add the caramel to the bottom of a rounded cake pan. Then, place pineapple slices. Put it in the fridge (not the freezer).

The dough. First, split yolks and whites. In a blender, mix the egg whites until they get creamy. Then add the yolks and continue beating for 5 more minutes.

In a large bowl, add the sugar and butter. Mix. Then add the flour and baking powder. If you have time, you can strain the flour before adding it inside the bowl.

Then, slowly add the egg-cream to the bowl and mix. Add the butter and sugar, and gently mix. Add the dough into the pineapple rounded cake pan.

Remember to spread the dough very well over the whole pineapple.

Heat the oven to 340 Fahrenheit (or 170 Celsius). Bake the cake for 25-30 minutes.

Do you remember the pineapple liquor? Heat the pineapple juice in a pan and when it is about to boil turn it off. Add the pineapple liquor. Mix until the juice evaporates a bit. The goal is to make a syrup.

In a flat dish, put the cake upside down and carefully disassemble it. Add the pineapple liqueur syrup on top. Add the cherries at the center of each pineapple slice.

And there you made it! The best pineapple round cake ever!

Melissa's note: Thank you very much to readers for writing, for sharing your photos and your recipes. If you have missed a recipe, don't worry, all the recipes are published on the AM Costa Rica Food page.

Pura vida and salud!


-------------------------------------
Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette or share your homemade recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com.

































Published Friday, January 8, 2021

Refresh your summer with
orange vodka sauce

By Melissa Pette

After the holidays we all return to our daily routine. Some of us go back to being humans with some regrets for having eaten way too many goodies and gaining a few pounds over the last few weeks. It happens.

So, a New Year's resolution for many of us, I mean me, is to lose some weight or at least recover into good health. But without killing ourselves in the gym, which is closed because of covid-19 by the way, and without having to eat rabbit food all day.

Today, our new friend, Katherine Graham, who writes from Haddington county in the UK, is giving us a great recipe to substitute fat food for healthy food with a pinch of booze. Sounds great!

Katie said, "Now that the winter is hitting my bones, I would love to exchange my house located a few miles from Garleton Castle for a tent at any beach in Costa Rica."

She added: "The beach, the Ticos, and picking oranges among many fresh fruits at the "potreros" is what I'm missing more."

We wish you can come back soon, girl!

She shares her orange vodka sauce and fruit salad with us. Fruits are a great option to substitute fatty foods. Fruits will help us to reduce body toxins and supply antioxidants which increases our resistance against all kinds of diseases.

So, let's go to the kitchen!

Orange vodka sauce



By Katherine Graham
From Haddington, United Kingdom

The ingredients you need for 4 people are:

2 sweet melons
1/4 kilo of watermelon
2 bananas
6 strawberries
2 peaches
2 oranges
125 ml vodka (half glass)
• Some mint leaves

Put the mint leaves in a bowl with ice.

Cut the melons in half, remove the seeds and remove the fruit without cutting the peel. We'll use it later as a bowl.

Cut the watermelon in half, remove the seeds.

With a small spoon or an ice cream scoop, form balls out of the two fruits. Put the fruit balls in a large bowl.

Cut the strawberries in halves and the peaches in little squares.

Peel the bananas and cut them into slices.

Add all the fruits in the same large bowl.



The sauce. Heat the vodka in a pot. When it starts boiling turn the stove off. Make orange juice and add it to the vodka. Chop a few mint leaves add it and mix again. Stir gently until the liquor cools. The idea is to make a not over the thick dressing.

Pour the vodka sauce into the large fruit bowl and mix gently to let the sauce and fruit flavor fuse.

Add the fruit salad into the melon shells. Put some whole cold mint leaves on top. And voila! You’ve got a healthy vodka-infused fruit salad.

I can't finish this column without thanking readers for taking their time to write. I do really appreciate it!

Pura Vida and Salud!

-------------------
Editor's note: Email your comments or inquiries or share your homemade recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com.






































Published Friday, December 18, 2020

How to cook Christmas Tico tamale

By Melissa Pette

Christmas is around the corner! We are a week away from celebrating the big holiday dinner with our social bubble.

In Costa Rica, as many expats already know, the tamal is a must-have on the Costa Rican table for the night before Christmas. So, the best way to end this Christmas recipes column is to review Ana Calderon's traditional Tico tamales recipe.

Thank you so much to Ana Calderon for sharing her family Tamales Guanacastecos recipe with us. She was born in Santa Cruz in Guanacaste, and now is a resident of Union County, New Jersey, U.SA.

"In my lovely Guanacaste land, tamales are the traditional food at all celebrations: Christmas, New Year's Eve, weddings, community fairs, quinceañeras, and every party. It is not like in San José, that tamales are cooked only at Christmas," Ana said.

She has nicely adapted the ingredients to make 20 tamales, enough for the whole family.

Christmas Tico tamales



By Ana Calderon
Union County, New Jersey

The ingredients you will need are:

1 package of cornmeal.

4 wedges of garlic.

1/2 kilo of pork meat.

1/2 kilo of chicken breast.

1 package of rice (preferably pre-cooked).

2 cans of green peas.

2 large red sweet chili peppers.

2 cups of vegetable oil (traditional recipe uses pork fat).

2 cans of carrots.

2 cups of Lizano sauce.

2 white onions.

2 pepper teaspoons.

2 cumin teaspoons.

3 teaspoons of annatto powder.

1 package of banana leaves to make tamales and 1 roll of thread for tamales. These two are easily found in the supermarket.

On the day before preparing the recipe, marinate the meat. Remove the grease from the pork and chicken. Marinate the meat with 1 cup of Lizano sauce, 1 teaspoon of pepper, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 1 teaspoon of annatto powder. Leave the meat in the fridge for one day.

On the next day, add the rice in a rice cooker, add one chopped onion in very small squares, add a chopped red chili in very small squares, 1 teaspoon of pepper, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 2 teaspoons of annatto powder, 2 wedges of garlic and 1/2 cup of oil.

In a large pot, add the meat (that was left marinating from the previous day), then add water to cover the meat. Add 1 cup of Lizano sauce, the rest of the pepper, cumin, annatto, two wedges of garlic and 1/2 cup of oil. Cook over high heat for 30 minutes. The meat must be very well-cooked.

Take out the meat and let it cool. Then cut the meat into square pieces about 4x4 centimeters.

In the remaining meat stock in the pot, remove the two garlic wedges. Add the package of cornmeal and 1 cup of oil. Stir over high heat for 30 to 45 minutes, until the dough is cooked. Add water if the sauce evaporates too quickly. The consistency of the dough should be similar to plasticine.

In a bowl, mix an onion cut into very small pieces, a sweet chili cut into small pieces, the green peas and the carrot. This is a vegetable mix.

Spread two banana leaves on the table. Clean the leaves with a paper napkin.

On the leaves, put a large spoonful of dough (the soup serving spoon works perfectly), on the dough add a tablespoon of rice, a piece of pork and another of chicken, a tablespoon with the vegetable mixture.

Close the leaves carefully. Cut about 60 centimeters from the tamales thread and roll up the leaves. It is like putting a ribbon around a gift. Make sure the tamal is tightly closed. Don't forget to tie a double knot at the end.

The recipe is for making 14 to 20 tamales. Join two tamales with more threads. To make pairs of tamales, more commonly known as “piña de tamal.”

Put the paired tamales in a very large pot of boiling water. Cook for one more hour.

Then let the tamales cool a bit before eating.

If you put them in the fridge, heat the tamal again in boiling water for 20 minutes.

The preparation is very elaborate, requires a lot of work, but it is worth it.

Thank you so much to readers and especially to those who take their time to write. Wishing you all the best this holiday season.

Feliz Navidad!

-------
Editor's note: Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette at melissaamcr2017@gmail.com.

Do you want to share your recipes with AM Costa Rica readers? Send your homemade recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com.






































Published Friday, December 4, 2020


Tropical Christmas king cake

By Melissa Pette

Christmas and New Year's Eve are just around the corner. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who is counting the seconds for this 2020 gets over.

But it is also time to look on the bright side of life and try to be cheerful for our loved ones. So, in this column written by a rookie chef (me), we are going to start celebrating the holidays with a delicious tropical Christmas king cake.

We can't forget, those years when we were children, and those Christmas dinners with that king cake, right there ruling in the center of the table. Well, it's time to make a tropical version of the cake and share it with our social bubble at home.

So, let's go to the kitchen!

Tropical Christmas king cake



For a tasty cake for 8 people, the ingredients you will need are:

• 400 grams of wheat flour.

• 20 grams of baking powder.

• 2 eggs.

• 100 grams of white sugar.

• 1 extra spoon of sugar.
 
• 70 grams of butter.

• 3 tablespoons white milk.

• 100 milligrams of water.

• 1 spoonful of salt.

• 1 tablespoon of white rum.

• 1 tablespoon of oil (I prefer vegetable but you can use sunflowers or olive).

• 1 tablespoon of orange juice. Or you can use any fruit juice you like more.

• All the dried tropical fruit you want, such as strawberries, mango, papaya, orange, kiwifruit, bananas, or pineapple. Pick up the ones you like more.

First the dough. In a large bowl, add the dry ingredients, such as flour, baking powder, just a pinch of salt and sugar. Mix with a fork. Then add 1 of the eggs and mix all again.

In another bowl, add the liquid ingredients, such as milk, rum, water, oil and orange juice. Mix everything so that the flavors are integrated.

If you like rum a lot, as I do, you can add a little more. Salud!

Add the mixture of liquids into the dough mixture and mix for at least 10 minutes until all the ingredients are blended.

Add the butter and mix again for five more minutes.

If you prefer you can use the blender.

When the dough is ready, imagine soft but not runny plasticine, put the dough on the table. And roll it on the table for 5 more minutes. Then, put the dough back in the bowl, cover it with a top and let it rest for 1.5 hours.

After that time, stretch the dough again, as if you were forming an arm. That's right, one arm without a hand.

Then, in a flat baking pan, put a metal small bowl in the center. I use a silicone medium-size bowl. Very gently put the dough around the bowl. The idea is to form the round cake but making sure that the center doesn't close when it is in the oven.



Wrap the dough with plastic for cooking so that the air doesn't enter and let it nap for approximately 40 minutes.

Then, beat the other egg and with the help of a kitchen brush or a spoon, spread the egg over the dough. Then put the dried fruit on top. Bake for 5 minutes at 300F (or 150C). Then raise the temperature to 375F (or 190C) and bake it for 15 more minutes.
 
When the cake is cold, sprinkle the last sugar spoon. Calories? Those don't count for Christmas.

You just made the most delicious tropical Christmas king cake ever!

It is impossible to finish this column without thanking readers for taking their time to write. I got photos from some of them with the turkey recipes made at home. I do really appreciate it. That made my day!

Pura Vida and Salud!

-------------------
Editor's note: Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette at melissaamcr2017@gmail.com. Do you want to share your recipes with AM Costa Rica readers? Send your homemade recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com.









































Published Friday, November 20, 2020

Guilt-free tropical turkey


By Melissa Pette

We are less than a week before the big Thanksgiving Day dinner. Many of us feel guilty after eating almost all those traditional feast dishes, such as turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, candied yams, cornbread, pumpkin pie or my favorite cinnamon roll apple pie. I'm gaining weight just by writing this!

But here is a solution to allow us to enjoy dinner without regrets, thanks to Al Kaufman, who shares his recipe for a low-calorie tropical turkey dinner.

Al allowed me to tell you that his family used to order an already cooked Thanksgiving Day turkey for delivery. When he got married, he and his wife, who lived in Baltimore County in the U.S. state of Maryland, resumed the tradition of making dinner at home. "After many faux pas we managed to make our version of the Thanksgiving dinner," Al said.

After raising his two daughters, Al made the decision 5 years ago to live his "second round" in Tamarindo Beach, Guanacaste Province.

"My staff knows me, on Thanksgiving, we close my quad rentals business and take my team to my condo. There you will see me surrounded by my partner's kids and wives cooking the best meal of the year," Al added.

Today Al invites us to prepare his tropical version of turkey dinner. So, let's go to the kitchen!

Tropical turkey



By Al Kaufman
From Baltimore County, Maryland
Living in Tamarindo Beach, Guanacaste Province

Ingredients for four people's dinner:

1 large 600 gram can of cut green beans.

4 Mozzarella string cheese, 36 grams each.

250 grams of turkey breast.

1 large yellow sweet mango.

3 eggs.

1 can of 250 grams of chickpeas (garbanzo beans).

Water.

1/2 cup vegetable oil (if you prefer olive or sunflower).

1 teaspoon of vinegar.

1 teaspoon salt.

1 teaspoon of cumin.

• Some parsley leaves.

First, in a large pot add water. I start the turkey in a hot 450°F oven to start the browning and then turn down the heat to 350°F so that the breast meat cooks through slowly. Cook the turkey for at least 40 minutes.



In a bowl, add the chickpeas, half a teaspoon of cumin, a drizzle of oil and mix. Let it nap for 20 minutes. Then, in a pan, cook the chickpeas until the oil evaporates. Add the cut green beans, a pinch of salt and fry for 10 more minutes.

Chop the turkey into large squares and add it in a bowl with the rest of the cumin. Mix a bit.



Peel the mango and cut it into large squares. Cut the mozzarella string cheese into medium squares.

In a large bowl, add the turkey, vegetables, mango, and cheese. Mix.

In a saucepan, add water and cook 3 eggs for 2 minutes. You must make sure that the water is boiling before adding the eggs to not overcook too much. Then peel the eggs and place them in a blender or juice mixer.

The sauce. In the blender add the eggs, a teaspoon of vinegar, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of parsley leaves. Blend everything until a dense and creamy sauce is formed.

On each guest's plate, add the turkey salad with vegetables, mango and cheese, then add a tablespoon of the sauce. This recipe is fantastic!

If you are a tropical fruits lover, just like me, add sweet pineapple and sweet oranges, cut into squares.

Today we are inviting you to try four awesome recipes for your Thanksgiving Day table. You can review step by step recipes on the A.M. Costa Rica Food page.

To readers asking for where to go out for Thanksgiving dinner  in San José, here are some good options.

Residence Inn by Marriott, in Escazú District. Thanksgiving dinner includes all the delicious traditional dishes. Dinners are served from 5 pm to 8 pm. The price is $28 for adults and $12 for children's menu.  You can opt for the $35 All-You-Can-Drink. For reservations call  2588-4500.

Another option in Escazú District is the InterContinental hotel. Located right in front of Multiplaza Mall. Dinner buffet is from 6 pm to 9 pm, includes turkey, mash potatoes, sweets, salad, drinks, for $55. For reservations call 2208-2100

A wonderful place to celebrate Thanksgiving American-style but in a European environment is the German Club. It is located in Los Yoses District, San Pedro Canton. Dinner from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. The menu includes turkey, dessert, drinks. Don't forget the famous German-style hot chocolate. Highly recommended!  For reservations call  2225-0366.

Another option in San José downtown is the Holiday Inn Aurola. Here we are talking about Thanksgiving buffet-style lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Dinner includes dessert and drinks for $15. For reservations call 2523 1000.

Remember, it does not matter if you profess any religion or not, on Thanksgiving Day the important thing is to give thanks (to God, to the Universe, to the holy cow or to yourself ) for the life, for the health of our loved ones, for those who are by your side, those who are far away and those who had passed away. Every person we met this year, left a mark in our lives, sometimes positive or sometimes a lesson learned. Let's give thanks for that too.

I want to thank the people who have taken the time to write. Especially those who have shared their recipes and stories with all of us, the A.M. Costa Rica readers, amateur-chefs, who love cooking.

Pura Vida and Salud!


-------------------
Editor's note: Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette at melissaamcr2017@gmail.com. Do you want to share your recipes with AM Costa Rica readers? Send your homemade recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com



















































Published Friday, November 13, 2020

Thanksgiving Mode: On


By Melissa Pette

Even many of us won’t be joining the family for the holidays due to the pandemic which has solidly entered its eighth month, and everyone everywhere must face the fact that this holiday season is going to be completely different, we are two weeks away from celebrating Thanksgiving.

However, many of us have children at home or living with our partner or roommates. No matter who you live with, let's make an effort to raise our spirits and celebrate one of the most important days of the year for expats. The time comes to give thanks for the good and also, give thanks for the lessons learned this year.

So yes! Thanksgiving mode is on to cook easy, fast and budget-friendly recipes.

Last week we made those delicious meatballs. By the way, many have asked me where to buy turkey meat. You can get it at Pricesmart, their Butterball ground meat turkey 500-gram package costs less than $10.

Today I invite you to take a twist on the traditional Thanksgiving whole turkey and cook finger-licking turkey legs.

I recommend this recipe for people with cholesterol predicaments. The recommendation also includes people a little bit overweight since turkey is white meat without much fat.

Let's go to the kitchen!


Finger-licking turkey



The ingredients you’ll need for 4 people are:

• 4 small or medium-sized turkey drumsticks.

• 2 green apples.

• 2 chopped large white onions.

• 125 milliliters (half a glass) of white wine.

• 2 sweet plantains (platano maduro).

• 8 dried large plums (seedless).

• Vegetable or sunflower oil.

• 1 teaspoon salt.

• 1 teaspoon pepper.

• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

• 1 branch of parsley.

A tip. You can replace the turkey drumsticks for breast or thick slices. At Pricesmart you can get the whole 8 kg Butterball turkey for $35, the Butterball brand of 1.3 kg package breast for $13, and the Smithfield brand 1 kg thick-sliced turkey $10.

Another tip. If you prefer to use ground meat, fry the meatballs after baking. This to make them more crispy. For the breast, you can follow the same steps in this recipe. If you prefer to cook the thick-sliced precooked, you should bake for only 8 to 10 minutes.



After washing the turkey drumsticks, place them in a large baking Pyrex, add a pinch of salt and pepper. Spread the salt and pepper all over the turkey with your hands.

Chop the onions into large squares, peel the apples into thick wedges and add them on Pyrex. Then, pour the wine and a bit of oil.

Roast the turkey, apples and onions in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius (or 392 degrees Fahrenheit) for 30 minutes. Then turn off the oven and keep the turkey in the oven but take out the onions, apples and the juice that we made with the turkey and the wine. Do it carefully, don't burn yourself.

The sauce. In the blender, add the onions, apples and juice. Blend very carefully because the ingredients are still hot. Reserve the sauce.

Next, peel the plantains and cut into large pieces, about 2 centimeters thick. In a pan, add more oil and fry the bananas with dried large plums and a pinch of cinnamon.

Dinner is ready! I like to put the bananas and plums on the base of a large dish, then turkey and the sauce on top. If you like the cinnamon, as I do, you can sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon on top. Let's be fancy and decorate with some parsley.

Here you go! In a few minutes, you've made the main mouthwatering dish for your social bubble Thanksgiving dinner.

I'm not sure if there was any leftover sparkling white wine we drank last week, so we should better add one or two more bottles on the top of the ingredients list.

I never forget to give many thanks to the people who have taken the time to write. You guys cheer me up!

Pura vida and Salud!

-------------------
Editor's note: Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette at melissaamcr2017@gmail.com. Do you want to share your recipes with AM Costa Rica readers? Send your homemade recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com
































Published Friday, November 6, 2020

Hmmm.... smell like....
Thanksgiving Day turkey


By Melissa Pette

We have been in confinement for many months, some people have lost their jobs, others have lost a loved one, but despite everything, we must continue to have faith that everything will be okay.

Those messages of encouragement that say something like, "You will survive" sometimes make more irritation than motivation. And feeling frustrated and angry over this pandemic crisis is human too.

In these times a practice that I have been carrying out for months comes to my mind, this is giving thanks for everything, from what some may think is insignificant, such as opening our eyes when waking up, to the most extraordinary, like knowing that your sister gave birth to a beautiful chubby baby boy and you are now the "crazy auntie" for the first time.

The things to give thanks, depends on many other things, for example in some parts of the world, being able to drinkwater, is a reason to give thanks. I think most of us have high-quality drinking water in our homes, so maybe we don't think of giving thanks for the water that comes out of the tap. Just think about it.

So cheer up, it will get better! Let's cheer up our minds, our hearts, and our tables to give thanks on Thanksgiving.

Today I invite you to prepare turkey easy, fast and not expensive at all.

Turkey- cheese meatballs




The ingredients for 4 people are:

• 500 gr. turkey breast

• 4 portions of gouda cheese (as 4 small slices of cake)

• 1 minced white onion

• 1 teaspoon garlic powder

• 4 small tomatoes

• 4 black olives

• 1 egg

• 1/2 cup of powdered bread

• 1/2 glass of milk

• 1 glass of white wine

• 1 cup of tomato sauce

• 1/2 glass of water

• 1 tablespoon cornmeal

• 1 cup wheat flour

• 1/4 cup cilantro or parsley

• 1/2 cup vegetable oil

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 1 teaspoon pepper

• aluminum foil

• 1 bottle of sparkling white wine. This is the most important ingredient.




In a pan, add a bit of oil, garlic, and onion. Cook over low heat until the onion crystallizes. Then save it for later.

In a bowl add the milk and the powdered bread. Then let it rest.

The turkey. Chop the breast into small pieces, then blend the meat with a dash of oil.

In a bowl, add the ground meat, a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes chopped into small squares. Add half the parsley (or coriander), add the chopped olives. Then add the onion that we had cooked before. Add the milk with bread and the powder that we had earlier prepared. Add the egg and mix it with your hands.

You should get a soft but not very moist meat dough. If you have mill residue, drain and mix again.

Make 8 meatballs the size of tennis balls with your hand.

In a bowl, add the wheat flour and roll the meatballs over it.

In a pan, add oil and fry the meatballs.




Then on the baking sheet, line it with aluminum foil. Place the meatballs. Bake at 200º C (or 392º F) for 5 minutes to complete cooking inside.

Now, the sauce. In a saucepan, cook the tomato sauce and white wine for 5 minutes. Until the wine evaporates and the sauce is thick.

Thin a tablespoon of cornmeal in cold water and add it to the sauce. Cook for five more minutes over low heat.

The cheese. Cut the cheese into slides. Mix the cheese with the powdered bread. Fry the cheese for a minute until the bread topping turns a golden color.

Place two or three meatballs on a dish, add the tomato sauce on top of each meatball. Add the fried cheese and to decorate with the parsley or coriander. And there you have it! Our Thanksgiving Day turkey is ready!

And what are we going to do with the bottle of sparkling wine? Well ...... Salud!

I'm always so thankful to all the people who have taken their time to write.

Pura Vida!

-----------------
Editor's note: Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette at melissaamcr2017@gmail.com. Do you want to share your recipes with AM Costa Rica readers? Send your homemade recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com

















































Published Friday, October 30, 2020



Do we have room on the table
for a couple of ghastly drinks?




By Melissa Pette

We have cooked many fun spooky recipes to celebrate the darkest night of the year with our social bubble. If you want to review the recipes published this month, please visit the A.M. Costa Rica Food page.

We are a couple of days from Halloween! Yay! And we are making more room on our table for our new friend's drinks recipes.

Anne and James McIntyre have traveled from the city of Inverness in Scotland, "it is the highland region and the coldest winter of all cities in the UK," as they said, to live in the heavenly Coco Beach in Guanacaste Province. That is a dramatic lifestyle change!

"This year we are going to celebrate Halloween by watching movies on Netflix and getting drunk with our delicious homemade spelled drinks," they said.

So, let's go to the kitchen!

Blood-eyed cocktail



By Anne and James McIntyre
From Inverness, Scotland
Living in Puerto Viejo, Limón

For four drinks the ingredients are:

• 8 small radishes

• 4 black olives

• Wooden toothpick

• A bottle of your favorite liquor. I recommend gin, whiskey, red wine or beer.



Cut the tips off the radishes. Peel the radish with the help of a knife in vertical lines, in the most irregular way possible to make the veins of the eye. As finer the lines as better you will make veins effect.

Cut the black olives into small rounded slices.

With the help of the knife, make a hole in one of the ends of the radish. Insert a small piece of the radish shell into the hole and then the olive to make the eye.

If you are using small glasses, pierce the eye with a wooden toothpick. If your glass is large, that step will not be necessary.

Freeze the eyes for half an hour.

Serve your favorite drink and place the eyes as if they were ice cubes. If you don't like radish, use your wooden toothpick eyes to hang over the glass.



Thief mutilated hand punch



In ancient laws of Islamic states such as Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan, Hudud's law imposed punishments on people for committing crimes such as cheating or theft. In some types of theft penalty, so-called Sariqa, the robber's hand was amputated. Well, all this long introduction is to explain the origin of this mutilated hand thief punch.

To make a large bowl of Scottish punch the ingredients are

• 1 cup and 3/4 white sugar or 400 grams.

• 1.5 liters of cranberry juice

• 1 liter of scotch

• 1 disposable latex glove

• Red liquid food color (extra strength) or red jello instant powdered gelatin

• A packet of gummy neon sour worms




First, wash the latex glove, then fill it with water, close it with a knot and let it freeze for an hour, or more if you have time.

In a large glass punch bowl, add the scotch, sugar, and cranberry juice. Stir a bit. Put the punch in the fridge for a half-hour.

When the hand is frozen, use a knife to cut the glove.

Before serving, add the hand into the punch bowl, add a few drops of red food coloring. If you can't find a food liquid coloring, use red jello. Decorate the punch bowl top with gummy worms.

I know I sound like a broken record but I would like to thank y'all for reading this column for taking the time to share your stories and recipes with us.

Pura Vida and Salud!


-----------------------
Editor's note: Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette at melissaamcr2017@gmail.com Do you want to share your recipes with AM Costa Rica readers? Send your homemade recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com



























































Published Friday, October 23, 2020

Funny Halloween mummies

By Melissa Pette

 

We continue preparing easy and fun recipes to celebrate the darkest night of the year within our social bubble.

It is my pleasure to share Mahealani Kihei's funny mummies sausage recipe.

Mehealani authorized me to tell you a bit about her story of visiting Costa Rica. She lives in the community of Waiʻanae, in Honolulu County, Hawaii. She first visited Costa Rica more than ten years ago, when "my husband and we crossed half the planet to attend my stepson's wedding in Costa Rica," she tells us.

From that first trip, she and her husband fell in love with Costa Rica. That has happened to all of us, hasn't it?

Mahealani tells us that she is looking forward to the Christmas season to come, as every year she visits her grandchildren during the holidays. In the meantime, she shares her delicious recipe. I am sure these mummies will be a sensation for your Halloween table.

I would like to remind you that an adult must help the kids with the oven.

Let's go to the kitchen!

Halloween mummies



By  Mahealani Kihei
From Waiʻanae, Honolulu County, Hawaii


For 12 servings, the ingredients you need are:

• 12 sausages

• 1 cup of flour

• 2 eggs

2 tablespoons vegetable (or sunflower) oil

1 cup of water

1 teaspoon salt

aluminum foil

ketchup

The dough. In a bowl, add one egg, oil and stir a little. We save the other egg for later.

Then add a pinch of salt and half of the flour. Stir. Then add the rest of the flour and stir to integrate all the ingredients and make the dough.

On the table, we knead the dough for 5 minutes. Make sure there are no flour residues in the dough.

Put the dough in a container and cover it. We let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, we are going to form sausages in small human bodies. With a sharp knife, make a cut from the center down (imagine that you are making two legs). Then on the half part of the top of the sausage make two cuts, one on each side. Imagine that you are forming the arms. Then, form a letter X on top of the sausage. Imagine you are making the two dead mummy eyes.



Look at the picture of the sausage to get an idea of how to properly cut it.

Now, split the dough into 12 little balls. Stretch each ball rolling with your hands. We do the same with the rest of the balls until we have 12 thin strips.

Dip the sausages in the water, so dough strips stick easier.



Roll the strips of dough around the sausage. Imagine the mummy bandages. Roll up the legs, arms and head. Do not cover the eyes that we did previously.

Cover the baking sheet (or tray) with aluminum foil. Aluminum will help to apply the heat in a more uniform way in the dough and also avoid the mummy's stick to the tray.

Remember we saved an egg? Beat the egg and with the help of a kitchen brush or a fork, spread a little bit of egg on the sausages. Just a bit.

Place the mummies on the tray and bake at 200 ° C or 392 ° F for 10 minutes. Our mummies bake quickly, so be careful not to burn them.

And voila! we have made delicious mummies. If you like, spread drops of ketchup to make bloody mummies.

These mummies will be a show on your table! You should not miss this recipe.

Thank y'all for reading this column for having taken the time to write, share your stories and of course your recipes.

And for those who missed last week's spooky recipe, all published recipes can be found at the Food page for AM Costa Rica.

Pura Vida and Salud!

-----------------
Editor's note: Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette at melissaamcr2017@gmail.com. Do you want to share your recipes with AM Costa Rica readers? Send your homemade recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com





























































































Published Friday, October 16, 2020

Yum yum scary cookies

By Melissa Pette

Thanks to all the readers for your messages and especially to the expats who take their time to share their stories with me, as well as some homemade recipes. Like Joanne Pearson, who is inviting us to enjoy her delicious spooky cookie recipe.

Joanne allowed me to tell a bit about her story when she decided to live in Osa, shortly after retiring from her life career as a teacher at Mount Baker Secondary School, in British Columbia, Canada.

According to Joanne, keeping children active during quarantine is essential to maintaining a good physical and mental health. And Yum Yum Scary Cookies are very easy to prepare.

"The quarantine keeps families in their homes to fight this pandemic, it has caused kids to drastically reduce the time that in a normal circumstances they spent walking, running, playing or just have fun with their friends," Joanne said.

I'm sure we couldn't agree with her more.

For those who have kids, Joanne gives us a great idea to invest quality time with them and on the way make these sweet Halloween cookies. Let's go to the kitchen!

Witch's nails cookies



By Joanne Pearson
From Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada
Living in Osa, Pacific Coast

To prepare 30 witch fingers the ingredients are:

150 grams  flour

110 grams of sugar

100 grams of butter

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon liquid vanilla

1/2 teaspoon  salt

30 almonds

First, in a bowl, filter or sift the flour with the help of a strainer, then add the salt and baking powder. Use a fork to mix.

In a large bowl, mix the egg, butter, vanilla and sugar. You can mix with a mixer or using your hands.

Then add the flour mixture that we made previously. Mix everything again until ingredients are combined and you get the dough.

Cover the container with a lid or a kitchen towel. Let it rest for 30 minutes to allow the baking powder work to make a fluffier dough.

After the dough has grown, gently remove it from the bowl and knead it with your hands for a couple of minutes.

Sprinkle a little flour on the table, spread the dough with the help of a rolling pin. Divide the dough into 30 balls.

Try to make a skinny creepy finger shape with each ball. That is easy, with a rounded tip knife (not sharp) make marks on the fingers. Imagine the witch's wrinkled fingers.

With the tip of the knife, press on the tip of the cookie to form the nail, then place an almond on top. Imagine that the almond is the witch's nail.

Then preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

On a baking sheet put special baking paper or aluminum foil.

Place the witch's fingers (slightly apart to prevent those from sticking).

Bake for 20 minutes at 180 degrees. If you want, you can sprinkle powdered chocolate to make them look like dirty fingers.

Let them cool before serving. They can last fresh and delicious for up to a week in a tupperware.




Itsy Bitsy spooky spider



By Melissa Pette

To prepare these finger-Lickin' spider cookies for 20 people the ingredients are:

125 grams of butter

250 grams of flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

70 grams of white sugar

10 grams of brown sugar

1 egg

1 bar of dark chocolate. Hershey's dark mildly sweet chocolate is perfect.

20 chocolate little balls. Do you remember the whoppers chocolate balls? I can't find those in Costa Rica, but Gallito or Nestle chocolate sports little balls works.

1 package of chocolate chip cookies

1 small package of white mini marshmallows

Making these sweet little spiders are so easy and funny for the little ones in the house. Be aware an adult must be in charge of the oven.

First, we cut the butter into cubes. In a large bowl, we add the butter, flour, a pinch of salt, egg and the two types of sugar. Mix with a mixer or using your hands until all the ingredients are integrated and form a smooth dough.

On the table, knead the dough a little bit more, for a couple of minutes, until any trace of flour disappears.

We put the dough in a bowl and cover with a lid. Leave it in the fridge for half an hour (not in the freezer).

Then divide the dough into 20 small balls. Put aluminum foil on the baking sheet. Put the balls on and remember to separate the balls a bit because they need room to grow.

With a small spoon, flatten the center of the dough ball. If you want, you can squish with your thumb. You must not make a hole. Just like a little nest.

Bake for 10 minutes at 180º C (with heat up and down).

Then, remove the cookies and very carefully press the center of the cookie a little more. Do not burn yourself.

Put the cookies back in the oven, at 180C for 10 more minutes or until cookies turn golden.

Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool.

When cold, put the chocolate ball in the center of the cookie.

Cut a small piece out of one white mini marshmallow. The idea is to form the eye's iris. Wet one side of the circle with water and paste it on the chocolate ball. Repeat the action to form the second eye.

Break a cookie chocolate chip to remove the chips. Cut off the tip of one of the chips to form the pupil of the spider's eye. Dip two small chip tips in water. Paste the two chip tips onto the tiny circle of the marshmallow you earlier created. The idea is to make the pupil eye of the spider.

In a small bowl, microwave the chocolate bar for 2 minutes, or until it melted.

Using a small spoon, add the melted chocolate over the cookie, forming lines as the little spider legs.

Let the chocolate cold before serving the cookies.

Decorating the spider is the funnest part!

Pura Vida and Salud!


-----------------

Editor's note: Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette at melissaamcr2017@gmail.com Do you want to share your recipes with AM Costa Rica readers? Send your homemade recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com












- Melissa Pette chart -





























 










Published Friday, October 9, 2020

Spooky recipes time!


By Melissa Pette

I know I sound like a broken record, but I must thank everyone for all your messages. I don't think I said this before, but I'm a full-time worker, so my time as an amateur cooker is very limited. For that reason, sometimes I respond to messages a little bit late. But I always respond.

Halloween is here my dear witches and wizards! It is time for candy, pumpkins and spooky parties in the darkest night of the year. Well... maybe the late-night parties not this time.

Many expats are making plans for cooking delicious pumpkin donuts, pumpkin spice muffins, or pumpkin sweetbread... and the drinks. Yummy! I bet many of you are fondly remembering those days as kids' when you couldn’t wait for the first Fall days to go apple and pumpkin picking.

In Costa Rica, fresh pumpkins are in supermarkets all year round. How wonderful it is to live in a country where you find fresh vegetables all year!

You have no excuse not to enjoy a delicious spooky pumpkin recipe. And this year, more than ever we must cheer up and do activities that make us happy. Things will get better!

Let's celebrate Halloween and start scaring your neighbors with the funny hair-raising house decor.

Spooky Pumpkin



Today we will cook the pumpkin in a different and fun way. In your "social bubble Halloween party " your table will look spectacular with this beautiful baked pumpkin!

The ingredients for 8-10 people are:

• 1 pumpkin of 3 kilos, preferably with a green dark thick crust.

• 1 cup sunflower oil.

• 1 teaspoon of salt.

• 1 teaspoon of white pepper.

• 1 teaspoon of garlic powder.

• 1 tablespoon of butter.

• aluminum foil.

• 1 cup that grated gouda cheese.

• 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese ( or 6 slices of american-type processed cheese).

A tip. If you like cheese a lot, like me, you can add half a cup more of each.

Another tip. I cook this recipe with gouda cheese and American type cheddar processed cheese. If you want to substitute any of the two kinds of cheese, I recommend keeping American processed
cheddar cheese because that is essential to achieve a bright orange color. You can substitute the gouda for mozzarella.

First, with a sharp knife, slice a circle around the "top" off the pumpkin about 3 centimeters  from the stem creating a circular opening with a pumpkin lid. Think of the top of a pot.

Then, with a fork, scrape and scoop out all the pumpkin “meat,” including the seeds. Make sure that only the crust remains without any content. Do not leave the crust too thin to prevent it from breaking.

Put oil in your hand and spread the entire interior of the pumpkin. Add the salt to the pumpkin. Carefully turn side to side the pumpkin so the salt spreads inside.

With two forks, mash the pumpkin “meat” until pureed. Remember to remove the seeds prior to mashing. Add the cheese, the butter,
the garlic and the pepper. Mix well.

Heat the oven to 350ºF (or 180ºC). On a baking sheet, place aluminum foil and cover the entire surface. Place the pumpkin without the top and bake for 25 minutes. Do not bake the carved out pumpkin lid.

Then, take the baked pumpkin out of the oven. Being very careful to avoid burning yourself, add the pumpkin puree. Bake the pumpkin again for about 20 more minutes, until the cheese is melted.

You can make this recipe an hour before serving. The idea is to serve the pumpkin hot.

I spread the puree on bread slices. But it works great with sweet or salty breadsticks, nacho-chips, celery sticks or carrot sticks. It is finger lickin'good!

Pura Vida and Salud!



----------------------
Editor's note: Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette at melissaamcr2017@gmail.com Do you want to share your recipes with AM Costa Rica readers? Send your homemade recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com




































 





















 






Published Friday, October 2, 2020
 

The secret is in the sauce


By Melissa Pette

How nice to start the day giving thanks. I'm very grateful to all the readers who have taken their time to write to me. If I am delayed sometimes, please forgive me. I will always respond.

This column has become a beautiful way to get to know expats living here and also who are cooking lovers.

Today we have a new friend, Bob Stockman. I thank him for his kind and cheering words on this column, which is dedicated to all foodies.

Bob tells us a tiny bit of his story, of "already retired American living in Escazú and enjoy cooking very much," he said.

Thanks to Bob's question last week about where to buy dry sherry wine, we found the spirits supplier company Vicosa, that we mentioned in last week's column.

Just in case you missed last week's column, you can read the archived article, "What was the first Costa Rican traditional food you had?”

For more recipes, visit the Food and Good Eating page.

Our friend Bob, shared his sherry sauce recipe that can be adapted, as he said, to "Costa Rican groceries and common taste favorites here."

I think he is totally right. Sauces are often the secret of a successful recipe, with it we can highlight meat or fish dishes. We also can add a delicious sauce on any all types of snacks or salads. Yummy!

Sherry Cream Sauce



By Bob Stockman
Living in Escazú

I have a basic and generic sherry cream sauce that can be added to pasta of any type with good results. This recipe can also be used as a sauce to bake chicken thighs or pork cutlets. Sour cream can also be substituted for heavy cream. A little "culantro" (cilantro in English) is good.

For serves 12 people, the ingredients are:

• 3 Tbsp. butter

• 1 medium clove garlic, minced

• 2 Tbsp. grated sweet onion

• 2 cups heavy cream

• 1/4 cup dry sherry

• 1/4 tsp. salt

• 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Step 1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add garlic and onion. Cook for about 1 minute until the onion is tender, stirring constantly.

Step 2. Stir in cream and sherry. Simmer for about 10 minutes to reduce by about on-quarter. Add salt and pepper.

There are several readily available CR dishes that could be improved with an ounce or two of dry sherry added at the end. One is the "Crema de Mariscos" soup using Maggi brand powdered mix with the 1/2 kilo frozen package of mixed uncooked seafood.

Another is sautéed chicken or pork cutlet pieces then sauced in the Maggi "Delicias de Pollo ala Reina" mix served over rice.

A third option is in the case of some classic Italian seafood dishes, so-called "Frutti di Mare" which can be made using the same frozen seafood package mixes mentioned above.

To illustrate Bob's sauce, he shares an image of that recipe made by Angie P., from the Angie's website.



Pura Vida and Salud!

---------------------------------------
Editor's note: Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette at melissaamcr2017@gmail.com

Do you want to share your recipes with AM Costa Rica readers? Send your homemade recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com










































 



 

















Published Friday, September 25, 2020

What was the first Costa Rican
traditional food you had?


By Melissa Pette


Let's start by thanking everyone who has taken their time to write. Thanks for the words of encouragement, questions and advice. I really appreciate it.

Speaking about tips, last week our friend Lauren Jones shared her cannelloni prawns recipe. Take a look at her recipe on the AM Costa Rica Food page. For those who wonder what type of white wine was required, well she said that "you can use any type of wine that you like more."

But, for those looking for dry sherry wine or dry white wine, or some special type of wine that they cannot find in the supermarket, well, I found this place, Vicosa. They specialize in wine and delicious spirits. They sell Teber or La Casa dry white wine, among many others. If you are looking for a special liquor call (506) 2487-5587.

Another tip, for those who ask me, "Exactly how much is a pinch of salt and pepper ?" Well, imagine you are pinching your hubby, or wife, or girlfriend, or boyfriend, or both, or a stranger walking right next to you! That pinch of love is the same as adding a pinch of salt and another of pepper to your food.

Love is the best ingredient for all meals, don't you think?.... No more wine for Melissa please.

I’ll continue.

I could say that we all love the sea, especially seafood. Sailor rice is a typical recipe from the coastal areas here, especially on the Caribbean coast. I'm more a Pacific coast kind of traveler, but will never forget the Sailor rice that I had in Limón. It was in a small place (the Red Snapper) with incredible landscapes and delicious food. I hope they can reopen.

That brings me to introduce our new friend, Ryan McClarkin from Falmouth in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

And I said before and I will say it again, when boys like cooking they are very good. 

So, the story of Ryan may look familiar to many of us. He ran away from "a cold town, and I'm not just talking about the weather." He said he wanted "to find this little piece of Eden."

Ryan made the big jump from Falmouth to Orotina, in Alajuela Province. He lives alone and says he is looking for his "soul mate". So girls, you are already informed!

Ryan shares his "Red seafood soup" recipe with us. He says he "learned” about cooking while working at a restaurant in his hometown.

Red seafood soup



By Ryan McClarkin,
From Falmouth, Massachusetts
Living in Orotina, Alajuela

The ingredients for four people are:

• 400 grams of fish fillet (you can use either bass fish or tilapia or whatever you like more).

• 1 cup of mussels (or any crawfish)

• 1 cup of peeled medium-size shrimp

• 1 1/2 liters of fish broth.

• 5 chopped sweet red chili peppers

• 2 tablespoons garlic pasta

• 1/2 minced white onion

• 1/2 minced purple onion.

• 8 medium-size clams

• 2 tbsp annatto

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 1 teaspoon pepper

• 1 sour acid lemon

• 1/4 cup cilantro

The fish broth. First, in a large pot, add 1 and 1/2 liters of water (high heat). When it is boiling add the fish. Do not stir the fish. Let it cook for 10 minutes. Remove the fish and let it cool in a topped container.

The sauce. In another pot, add half of the fish broth, add the chopped sweet red pepper, onions, annatto and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes. Let it cool. Then, blend the whole thing. Followed by straining the sauce.

Seafood. In the first pot (the one with the rest of the fish broth), add the rest of the shellfish (make sure you have washed the mussels and clams very well). Cook for at least 10 minutes on high heat, all the while stirring.

Then, reduce to low heat and add the previously boiled fish and the sauce. Stir gently for 5 more minutes.



When serving, add the cilantro and a spoon of acidic lemon juice.

"In my hometown, people had soup adding bread or crackers. I like to have a good cold beer after eating red seafood soup," Ryan said.

Pura Vida and Salud!


--------------------------
Editor's note: Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette at melissaamcr2017@gmail.com

Do you want to share your recipes with AM Costa Rica readers? Send your homemade recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com




















































Published Friday, September 18, 2020

What about cannelloni prawns
for dinner?



By Melissa Pette

This beautiful little Costa Rica is blessed with two seas as borders; the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east.

There are so many advantages of living near the sea. In the case of this column for newbie chefs, easy access to almost all kinds of seafood is an extraordinary advantage.

Today, our new friend, Lauren Jones, invites us to dinner with a delicious recipe of prawns a la Italiano.

Lauren tells us a bit of her love story when, more than ten years ago, she traveled from New Bedford, Massachusetts in the United States to Limón. It started with a sightseeing trip to celebrate her 45th birthday. She fell in love with a handsome Tico with "very black eyes." Now she is happily married with two kids.

Thanks Lauren for inviting us to dinner!

Prawn cannelloni



By Lauren Jones
From Massachusetts
Living in Limón

All my life I have lived near the sea, in my hometown of New Bedford most of the year you find oysters, blue mussels, blue crabs, prawns and clams on the market. It is natural for me to prepare seafood recipes.

People might think that eating seafood is a very expensive diet. Here is a proof that without breaking the bank, we can enjoy delicious seafood almost every day.

The ingredients for 4 people are:

• Fresh prawns, 20 units

• 500 grams of mushrooms cut into slices

• 12 pre cooked cannelloni (similar to large rigatoni a tube-shaped dry pasta)

• 450 milliliters of evaporated milk or unsweetened condensed milk.

• 80 grams smooth chicken paté (if you can find shrimp paté in the market, that's much better).

• a teaspoon of salt

• a teaspoon of black pepper

• a tablespoon of cornstarch (maizena brand works perfectly)

• 150 milliliters of mineral water

• 1 large white onion, chopped into small pieces

• 2 teaspoons garlic powder

• 3 teaspoons of vegetable oil

• 100 milliliters of white wine (it's like half glass)

First the prawns. We will start by gently washing the prawns. Remove the skins and the gut. To remove the gut, use a wooden toothpick and carefully through the central part, insert it and take the gut with it. Slowly pull with the help of the toothpick until it is completely removed.

In a large frying pan or large pot add the oil, garlic and onion. Mix over medium heat until it begins to crystallize. At that point, add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix for 8 more minutes. Add the wine, always cooking low heat, and stir until the wine begins evaporating. Then add the prawns. Stir slowly for another 8-10 minutes. Turn off the heat and cover the pan.

The cannelloni. In a pot of boiling water, add a pinch of salt and the cannelloni. Cook for 15 or 20 minutes and stir from time to time to avoid sticking. Then drain them and let them cool.

The sauce. In a bowl add the cornstarch with the mineral water and stir until the starch dissolves.

In a pan, cooking over low heat, add the evaporated milk. Add the dissolved cornstarch. Stir constantly. Add another pinch of salt and pepper. Add the paté, stir until cooked the sauce.

In a large deep plate, use a small spoon to very gently fill the cannelloni with the prawns mushroom mix. Add the sauce on top.

Serve white-wine and get ready for dinner!

I would like to finish, for now, this column thanking all the people who have written and shared their recipes with me. I am so glad to know many of you had a funny independence day making the independence day goodies! I always return all messages. Sometimes a little bit late, but I always answer. Keep writing!

Pura Vida and Salud!



--------------------
Editor's note: Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette at melissaamcr2017@gmail.com

Do you want to share your recipes with AM Costa Rica readers? Send your homemade recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com



















































































Published Friday, September 11, 2020


Let's celebrate Independence Day
with red, white and blue goodies



  
By Melissa Pette
 

Have you heard the Anthem to the Costa Rican Flag? If you haven't heard it yet, I would like to invite you to enjoy the anthem on this YouTube video.

The lyrics say something like ... "Bless, the noble flag of white, blue and red; no blush will ever stain your splendor ..."

The rest of the wonderful lyrics of this hymn give us some clues about the meaning of the colors of the Costa Rican flag. The white represents peace, the blue represents the sky and in some way, the entire country, and the red represents the color of the workers' cheeks under the sun, and in some way represents the people. You may be one of us, so proud to live in our adopted country.

This long weekend that we celebrate Independence Day in Costa Rica, we are going to have a fun time with the kids making delicious and colorful recipes.

Bicolor cupcakes



These cupcakes are easy to prepare and the fun is in the decoration part. The ingredients (for 24 cupcakes) are:

• 4 cups of flour

• 2 cups of white sugar

• 1 tablespoon of baking powder

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 2 cups of milk (you can substitute for soy milk)

• 2 eggs

• 1 spoon of vanilla

• 8 tablespoons butter, melted

• 1 buttercream-frosting vanilla of 16 oz

• 1 blue food coloring

• 2 pastry disposable bags without tip

• 1 pastry disposable piping bag tip star

• 1/2 cup of small sweet white and red candy balls

First, preheat the oven 220 degrees Celsius.

Dry ingredients. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

The liquid ingredients. In a small bowl, beat the eggs together with the milk, melted butter and vanilla.

Add the first mix (dry ingredients) to the second mix (liquid ingredients), beating gently until you make the dough.

Put a tablespoon of the dough in a cupcake pan. Make sure to add 3/4 of the mixture to each pan so that when it bakes it doesn't overflow. Bake for 20 minutes. Then turn off the oven and let them cool. Don't take them out of the oven yet.

Make two-color buttercream. In a bowl add half of the buttercream and a drop of blue food coloring. Stir gently until it turns light blue.

Fill one pastry disposable bag with the light blue cream and another with the white cream. Cut the top of these two bags and put them together in the pastry disposable piping bag tip star.

In this way, you ensure that the two colors of frosting do not mix on the pastry bag, and when they come out through the star tip they do so together but separated at the same time. Yay!

Now, take out the cupcakes from the oven, put upside down the pan and remove the cupcakes slowly. Decorate with the cream on top and sprinkle the colored candies.



Ice pop yogurt



These red, white, and blue Ice Pops are such an easy recipe with just 3 ingredients!

For 10 ice pops the ingredients are:

• 1/2 pound chopped strawberries

• 1/2 pound of chopped blueberries. You can substitute with chopped purple grapes (seedless).

• 2 cups vanilla or plain flavored white yogurt

• Popsicle molds or plastic disposable cups

First, in the mold (or disposable cup) add 1 teaspoon of yogurt, top with 1 teaspoon of chopped strawberries. Then, add another teaspoon of yogurt, and blueberries. Repeat the process until all the molds are full.

If the blueberries or grapes are small, you can add them whole without chopping.

Freeze 4 hours or overnight. To remove the ice pop from the molds, pour warm water over the molds to release them before removing them.

3colored jelly



The kids are going to have fun making these candies. I promise! The ingredients are:

• 4 packages of 85 grams of flavored gelatin (two of strawberry and another two of purple grapes). Or whatever flavor the colors are red and blue. You know what I mean.....

• 4 packages of unflavored gelatin

• 1 can of condensed milk

Mix 1 packet of flavored gelatin (for example strawberry) with 1/2 packet of unflavored gelatin. Add 1 cup of boiling water. Stir to dissolve. Cool to room temperature and pour into a saucepan. Freeze for 15 minutes.

Next, mix the can of condensed milk with 1 cup of boiling water. In a small bowl, sprinkle 2 packets of unflavored gelatin in 1/2 cup of cold water. Let it steep for a few minutes and then add 1/2 cup of boiling water to dissolve the jelly. Add to the milk mixture and stir to combine the ingredients. Cool to room temperature and freeze for 15 minutes.

When the condensed milk is ready, pour 1 cup of the milk mixture over the first layer of gelatin. Freeze for 15 minutes.

Repeat the procedure for the other flavor (the blue you chose).

Now, you have several layers of red, white, and blue jelly. Put as many as you can plastic cups (upside down) on top of the jelly. Press carefully until the cups are filled with the jelly. Cool the mold with the cups for 10 more minutes.

To remove the gelatin-filled cups, again put upside down the mold and slowly take the cups out.

One last step, cut with scissors on one side of the plastic cups, to remove the jelly easily and keep the shape of a jelly tower colored.

I can't finish this week's column without giving the thanks to everyone who has written, sharing their recipes and making some funny jokes too!

Enjoy the Pura Vida independence weekend!

Salud!


--------------------
Editor's note: Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette at melissaamcr2017@gmail.com

Do you want to share your recipes with AM Costa Rica readers? Send your homemade recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com































































Published  Friday, September 4, 2020



Vegans love tacos too!



By Melissa Pette

I can't start this column without giving thanks for so many messages, words of support to all the people who have taken their time to write. Sometimes it takes a while to reply but I always read and respond to all messages. Keep writing!

I would also like to take a few lines to review the churros recipe that a Switzerland citizen, Logan Egger, kindly shared with us a few weeks ago.

Among the ingredients of his churros recipe are 100 grams of cornmeal. The cornmeal should be added after having obtained the cassava dough, as follows:

First, peel the cassava. Cut it into small pieces. Then boil until it is soft. Let the cassava cool and add it to a large bowl. Mash the cassava until a dough forms. You must remove the remaining roots. Add a beaten egg and mash again. Then add the cornmeal and mashing again until obtaining a uniform dough.

The  complete recipe can be reached in the article “Expats shares Tico's yummy gluten-free recipes” published Aug. 21.

This week we have a new friend, Mike Parker, from Liverpool, Australia.

Boys love cooking too!

"I jumped the puddle from Australia to Costa Rica to play in the Festival of the Arts (FIA) in 2000. In my summer years, I was a member of a cultural group, we were invited by the Australian embassy in Costa Rica to play there. Since then, every chance I have  I go back to the green country that I love so much," Mike said.

Mike says he is vegetarian and eats almost everything with tortillas. "I'm the crazy dude of the family who makes homemade tortillas," he says.

Thanks Mike for sharing 10 taco recipes. Standing ovation for him! Of those, I chose three, which I also prepare at home, and they are a "must-do" when you don't have time, but are very hungry.

Vegan taco recipes
By Mike Parker
Liverpool, Australia

One of the great benefits of vegetarian food is that it is rich in antioxidants, sugars, trace elements, as well as the necessary enzymes for a healthy lifestyle. The vegetarian lifestyle avoids diseases such as cancer or cardiovascular problems. Being a vegetarian is allowing yourself to be healthy.

Golden tacos



To prepare these delightful tacos, for 4 to 8 people, you will need:

• 16 large corn tortillas

• 2 large potatoes cut into cubes

• 1/2 cup of soy milk

• 2 tablespoons of soy butter

• 4 tablespoons of chopped white onion

• 1/2 cup tomato sauce

• 1 cup of mozzarella cheese

• 1 cup of lettuce cut into strips

• 1/2 cup of cream

• 1/4 of red onion cut into strips

• And enough soybean oil for frying.

Cook the potato in boiling water with a pinch of salt. When the potato is soft, drain and mix with the butter, milk, chopped white onion and half the cheese.

Then, put the mixture on the tortillas, roll carefully and hold with a toothpick. Fry the rolls until the tortilla turns golden brown.

For the salad, in a bowl, add the lettuce, tomato sauce, cream, cheese and red onion, and mixes.

Serve the salad over the tacos.



Lettuce tacos



Here we substitute the tortillas for fresh lettuce leaves. The ingredients are:

• 1 large lettuce

• 2 carrots chopped into small cubes

• 1 white onion cut into strips

• 1 celery stalk cut into strips

• 1/2 cup of walnut chopped into pieces

• 1 eggplant cut into small cubes

• 6 tablespoons of soy or olive oil

• 2 tablespoons of sesame oil

• 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil

• 2 red pepper chilis cut into small cubes

• 1 teaspoon garlic powder

• 4 tablespoons of dark soy sauce

First, in a pan, add the olive oil and fry the vegetables. When the vegetables turn golden, add the dark soybeans and chopped walnuts. Fry for 3 to 5 minutes.

Now, for the sauce, in a blender add the sesame oil with the vegetable oil, garlic and red pepper chili. Blend for a minute.

Serve the vegetables on the lettuce leaves and top with the sauce.



Sweet potato and quinoa tacos



You can substitute the quinoa with white cooked rice. The ingredients are:

• 1 cup sweet potato cut into squares

• 1 cup spinach leaves

• 8 corn tortillas

• 1 cup quinoa or white rice

• 1 tablespoon of olive oil

• 1 cup soft white cheese crumbled

• 1 teaspoon garlic powder

First, peel and slice the sweet potato. In a bowl, add the sweet potato, garlic, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Let it rest for an hour.

Meanwhile, we cook the quinoa. Wash the quinoa well until the water runs clear. Some brands already sell pre-washed quinoa, so this step is not necessary.

In a pot with boiling water add the quinoa. Let it boil for about 2 minutes, lower over medium heat, cover and cook for about 10 or 15 minutes (it usually takes me about 15). The quinoa is ready when it has absorbed all the water. If the water has evaporated but the quinoa is still hard or raw, add a little more water.

Then, in a pan, add the sweet potato and its ingredients, also add the spinach and fry it for a couple of minutes.

Heat the tortillas in the microwave for 15 seconds. On the tortilla put the spinach, a spoon of roasted sweet potato, quinoa and cheese. Try it and you will never eat beef tacos ever again!

Salud and keep smiling!


-------------------
Editor's note: Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette at melissaamcr2017@gmail.com or share your recipes with AM Costa Rica readers. Send your homemade recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com.





 




















































Published Friday, August 28, 2020


Enjoy tropical fruits all year long !



By Melissa Pette

The first paragraph of my article is to thank so many readers for their touching words. As you know, I am a rookie cooking Costa Rican recipes, and I hope the recipes posted on this column, mine and from new expat friends, who have also fallen in love with this beautiful paradise we call Costa Rica bring you joy too.

Our new friend Amelia Jacob, changed the heat of Maricopa County in Arizona, for the tropical climate of Costa Rica. She tells us that what impressed her most about our adopted country was seeing that fruits are in the market every day of the year. "I was used to suffering most of the time because of the high prices of fruits out of season. In blessed Costa Rica, the fruits are so cheap in the Ferias fruits market. The market is all year long! My dream come true," Amelia said.

Amelia is right, now that we live in a country where tropical fruits can be found everywhere, we must eat fruits every day. Tropical fruits give us phosphorus, potassium, vitamins A, B and C, iron, calcium, magnesium, folic acid, thiamine, among many other vitamins and minerals.

Talking about fruits, our new friend Martin Lam is sharing with us his delicious Sangria Tropical recipe. His story is very funny. Born in Montgomery, Pa., life led him to work most of the year in Buenos Aires, Argentina. But he travels every year to enjoy his vacations in Buenos Aires Puntarenas. Is Martin teasing us?

Thank you Amelia and Martin for sharing your tasty tropical fruits recipes with us. Let's go to the kitchen!

Fruit little cakes



By Amelia Jacob
From Maricopa County in Arizona,
To Escazu, San José

These fruit cupcakes, in addition too, are very elegant and exquisite. The ingredients are very easy to get. Pick up the fruits that you like the most, but it is better to combine sweet and acid flavors.

The ingredients are:

• 1 pack of 6 cake baskets

• 1 package of pastry cream

• 1 cup of chopped kiwi

• 1 cup of chopped raspberries

• 1 cup of chopped strawberries

• 1 cup of small blue grapes

• 1 cup of chopped sweet yellow mango

• 1/2 cup of honey

In each basket add the pastry cream. Place the chopped fruits on top. Chop the strawberries vertically, the kiwi in small circles, and the mango forming small wedges.

Using a kitchen brush, spread honey over the fruits. These fruit little cakes could not be easier!



Mango Ice Cream



By Amelia Jacob

The ice cream can be prepared in two versions. The sweet version is almost for everybody. But If you have to control your diabetes, use the acid version. Both are refreshing.

For the sweet version you will need:

• 2 cups of frozen yellow mango cut in squares

• 1/4 cup coconut milk or your favorite milk

• 1 tablespoon honey

• 1 tablespoon of grated coconut

• 1 tablespoon of chopped walnut

First, add the frozen mango in the blender, add the milk and honey. Blend until the mango has an ice cream texture. Mix from time to time so that the mango blends well.

Before serving add the grated coconut and walnut. You can serve immediately, or freeze two hours before serving.

For the acid version, substitute the milk for water, the sugar for Stevia and add a tablespoon of acidic lemon.




Tropical sangria



By Martin Lam
From Montgomery, Pa.
To Buenos Aires, Puntarenas

I hope you like this quick and easy homemade sangria drink.

The ingredients are:

• 1 bottle of red wine 750 ml

• 1 diced peach.

• 1 apple cut into cubes

• 2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice

• 1 tablespoon of acidic lemon

• 1 teaspoon cinnamon

• 1 orange cut into circles

• 1 orange cut into cubes

• 2 tablespoons sugar

• Mineral water

First mix 2 tablespoons of sugar with two tablespoons of boiling water. Mix well until the sugar dissolves completely, making a syrup.

In a large glass pitcher, add the wine, orange juice, lemon juice, diced fruits, circled oranges, and syrup. Mix well and let it sit for 2 hours out of the fridge, this helps the flavors blend.

To serve,  add 1/3 of a glass with mineral water. Or substitute water with ice cubes. If you like it sweeter then make more sugar syrup.



..... keep smiling and enjoy life! Salud!

---------------
Editor's note: Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette at melissaamcr2017@gmail.com

Do you want to share your recipes with AM Costa Rica readers? Send your homemade recipes with a photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com






























































Published Friday, August 21, 2020

Expats shares Tico's yummy
gluten-free recipes




By Melissa Pette

Foreigners residing in Costa Rica, we love this country for its friendly people, seeing the sunshine every day, living so close to nature, enjoying the beaches and delicious traditional food.

Three expats, Emma and Margaret from the U.S. and Logan from Switzerland, have told me their stories about how running away from the cold northern winter led them to find this beautiful country, which has everything they need to live happily ever after.

Our three new friends share with all of us three recipes based on Costa Rican traditional cuisine that is usually made with wheat flour. They have adapted it for people with a gluten allergy by replacing wheat flour with yucca flour. Great idea indeed!

The yuca or cassava flour is gluten-free. Just in case any reader doesn't know yet, the cassava is a high-carbohydrate root similar to a potato. As a root vegetable, cassava is gluten, grain and nut-free.

Hot meat cake gluten-free



By Emma Robinson
From Beavercreek, Greene County, Ohio.
Living in Tamarindo Beach, Guanacaste Province

This hot cassava cake is perfect for those of us who are allergic to gluten. The ingredients you will need are:

900 grams of cassava (not flour)

2 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon tomato paste

120 grams of slices of mozzarella cheese

200 grams of ground beef (you can change for pork or chicken).

1 white onion

1 red sweet chili pepper

1 tablespoon of ground oregano

100 grams of butter

1 cup of red wine for cooking

Salt and pepper

First, preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius (392 degrees fahrenheit) and grease a baking dish or container with butter.

Peel and cut the cassava into medium pieces. Put it in a large pot with boiling water and a teaspoon of salt. Cook until the cassava is soft enough to puree.

Cut the onion and the sweet red chili pepper into very small squares.

In a frying pan with oil, add the onion and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the sweet chili pepper, oregano, tomato paste, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper.

Then add the ground beef. Cook for 20 minutes over medium heat, stirring the meat constantly. After that, pour the cup of wine. Cover the pan and cook for two minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate. Remove from the heat and reserve.

When the cassava is soft, add it to a bowl and mash it with a fork until pure. Add two teaspoons of butter to make the dough softer.

Spread a layer of mashed cassava in the baking dish or container, on top of it a layer of ground meat and top it off with a layer of mozzarella cheese. Mozzarella cheese is gluten-free.

Then add another layer of cassava, meat, and cheese. You must be sure that the cheese (on the top) covers the entire surface.

Bake over high heat for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted. You must let it cool 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!




Gluten-free Tico cheese bread balls



Margaret Quinn,
From Cumberland County of Maine
Living in Puerto Viejo, Limon Province

I had these soft delicious tiny bread balls on my first trip to Costa Rica many years ago. The substitution of cassava instead of wheat flour was the idea of a Colombian friend. The best idea ever. If you are allergic to gluten this easy recipe is a must-do.

The ingredients couldn't be easier to find:

250 grams of cassava flour (you buy it in any supermarket)

60 grams of mozzarella cheese

4 egg yolks

4 tablespoons of butter

1 teaspoon of baking powder

Pinch of salt

First, rip the cheese into very small pieces. In a large bowl, add the cassava flour, cheese and melted butter. Mix well to form a smooth dough. Then add the egg yolks and continue mixing for five more minutes.

Add a pinch of salt and baking powder. Mix for 5 minutes. Then rest the dough for 20 to 30 minutes.

After that time, take small amounts of the dough and make small balls, similar to the size of ping pong balls.

Grease a baking sheet with spray butter or stick butter. Place the balls on the platter. You must leave enough space between each ball because they will grow.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius for 5 minutes before baking. Then bake the bread for 30 minutes. The bread is white. Never wait until it turns golden because that is a sign that it was over burned.

Remove the bread balls from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes before eating.




Gluten-free Churros



By Logan Egger
From Olten of Solothurn, Switzerland
Living in Santa Ana, San José Province

You will not stop eating these delicious churros with a few ingredients. This recipe allows for you and your children to cook several churros.

The ingredients are:

• 500 grams of cassava

• 100 grams of cornmeal

• 1 spoonful of salt

• 1 egg

• 1 tablespoon of extra-fine sugar

• 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

• 1 corn oil bottle

• 1 pastry bag

Peel the cassava first. Cut it into small pieces. Then boil until it is soft. Let the cassava cool and add it to a large bowl.

Mash the cassava until a dough forms. You must remove the remaining roots. Add a beaten egg and mash again.

Add the dough to a pastry bag. Those bags can easily be found at any supermarket. Use a bag that has a star-shaped on the top.

In a large pan add a lot of corn oil, you add the paste that comes out when squeezing the bag. Do not fill the pan with all the paste otherwise the churros stick together. I make five churros at a time.

When they are golden, remove the churros from the heat. Put the churros on a paper napkin to remove the excess oil. Sprinkle it with cinnamon powder and sugar. If you have kids at home, they are going to love it!


Salud!


--------------------
Editor's note: Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette at melissaamcr2017@gmail.com

Share your recipes with AM Costa Rica readers. Send your homemade recipes with a photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com





The company exports the sweet potato under the FreshCo brand, it has managed to sell more than 69,000 kilos of its product in Europe.
  - Ministry of Foreign Trade courtesy
photo -


















Published Friday, August 21, 2020

First export of orange sweet potato
from Costa Rica to Europe


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff


TropiFoods, an agricultural company located in San Carlos, Alajuela Province, makes the first export of orange sweet potato to Europe, announced the Ministry of Foreign Trade (COMEX) on Thursday.

The sweet potato is the root of the so-called bindweed plant (Ipomoea batatas).

The sweet potato produced in the country is usually purple skin, which is different from the one being exported. The sweet potato exported is orange and one of the products that the ministry highlighted with high-export potential.

"It was the San Carlos company, TropiFoods, which managed to sell the national product in France packed in boxes specially designed to export sweet potato, made in Costa Rica and based on international models, which allows better conditions for travel in a container,"the ministry said in its statement.

According to the ministry, the company exports the sweet potato under the FreshCo brand, it has managed to sell more than 69,000 kilos of its product in Europe.

"The pandemic took us out of our comfort zone and that means that we have to look for new opportunities to move forward," said Joshua Guerrero, Manager of TropiFoods. "We have seen in this pandemic an opportunity to seek new directions and take advantage of the fact that the world is changing so fast that it allows us to reach markets where the origin of products such as those of Costa Rica is valued, which are made with green energies, in respect of workers' rights and of exceptional quality."

According to Duayner Salas, Minister of Foreign Trade, diversifying the export products is essential to increase productivity and allows producers to adapt to changes in the international markets.

TropiFoods, a Costa Rican company,  created in 1989. In 2014 it obtained the license for the "Essential Costa Rica" country brand, becoming one of the first agricultural companies to obtain it. In 2015, the company participated in the Fruitlogística fair, which took place in Berlin, Germany.

With the support of the Agronomic Research Center of the University of Costa Rica, the company bought the seed to produce this type of sweet potato.

The ministry, through the DESCUBRE program, helped the company to connect to five farms and collaborate to produce large volumes of sweet potato, which are now being exported to Europe.

Farmers interested in learning more about how to diversify their crops through the DESCUBRE program should request the information by sending an email to the Ministry of Foreign Trade at discover@comex.go.cr



 


---------------------
What have you heard of farmers looking for support to export their agricultural products? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to news@amcostarica.com











































































Published Friday, August 7, 2020

It is better living near the sea


By Melissa Pette

It is always good to start my article thanking AM Costa Rica readers who take the time to write. Especially those who share their ideas and recipes with all of us. Like Scott Horsley, who shares his Ceviche Tico recipe.

He authorized me to comment that "his life has been better since he left everything behind in Platte County, Nebraska, to string over a new life in Tamarindo Beach" (Guanacaste Province.)

I very much agree with Scott when he says that his life has improved by living near the sea. I think many of us think the same as him.

For those who like to read in these long days of quarantine, here is the link to an article about the Blue Gym effect, which is something like the advantages for the health of living near the sea.


Ceviche Tico




By Scott Horsley
Tamarindo Beach

Here in Tamarindo Beach with the help of my new friends, I learned how to fish and cook the classic no-cook fish appetizer ceviche. It is a recipe for dummies like me.

The ingredients:

• 2 fish fillets, you can use corvina or tilapia

• 2 chopped red tomatoes

• 1 chopped red sweet chili

• 3 tablespoons chopped coriander (cilantro)

• 1/4 cup chopped white onion

• 1/4 cup chopped red onion

• 1/4 cup lemon juice, it is better freshly squeezed

• A pinch of salt and pepper

• 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise

• Avocado

• Tortillas

Cut the fish fillet into small squares. In a glass bowl mix the fish with the lemon juice. The bowl must be glass. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours so that the lemon does its job and can "cook" the fish.

Then, add the tomato, onion, coriander, chili and mayonnaise. Mix. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Serve the ceviche over the tostada. Add some avocado slices and drink all the beer you can have.


Tropical Shrimp Brochettes





If you love seafood, this recipe is a must-do. You can make it in the kitchen or on the grill.

The ingredients that you will need to serve 4 large skewers are:

• 8 jumbo shrimp without head (you can prepare them with or without shells)

• 1 package of minced chicken sausages

• 1/2 cup pineapple, chopped into squares

• 1/2 red sweet pepper, chopped into squares

• 1/2 green sweet pepper, chopped into squares

• 1/4 white onion, chopped into squares

• 1/4 red onion, chopped into squares

• 1 stick of butter or 1/2 cup of olive oil

• Salt and pepper

• Don't forget the brochettes sticks

A tip. If you use wooden brochettes sticks, before cooking you must soak them in water for 30 minutes, so the brochettes do not burn with the heat of the grill.

First, gently remove the shell from the shrimp. With a small knife or toothpick, remove the black vein on the back of the shrimp. I always cut the tail, but if you prefer you can cook it with the tail. Don't forget to wash the shrimp only with water.

Take a brochette and go through 1 square of sausage, 2 squares of white onion, two squares of red chili, one cube of pineapple, one shrimp, one square of pineapple, two squares of purple onion, two squares of green chili and close with a sausage.

Turn on the grill or oven on medium heat.

Another tip. The medium heat is when you can place your hand 15 centimeters over the heat of the grill and leave it for about 5 seconds without burning yourself.

Add the melted butter (or olive oil) to the skewers. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.

Put the brochette on the grill or the oven (this is a very obvious step).

Cook for 2 minutes, gently rolling the brochette, until the shrimp turn pink in the center and golden on the outside.

Here’s another tip. If you are afraid that your shrimp may get burned, you can cook shrimp without removing the shell. This gives protection to the shrimp when it is cooked on the grill. It also gives the shrimp a lot of taste. But (there always has to be a but), the problem is that that way is a little more difficult to eat or remove the shell after cooking.

These so tasty Tropical Shrimp Brochettes make a wonderful match with white wine or cold beer.


Tropical salmon




Thanks to Karl Van Horn for coming up with the idea of making a fish sauce. If you make this easy recipe, you will be the king of the world.... or at least the king of the party!

To prepare this finger-licking delicious recipe you will need:

• 2 salmon fillets 100 grams each (or as close to the measurement as possible)

• 1 spoon of chili powder

• 1 spoon of garlic powder

• 1 spoon of salt

• 1/2 cup of olive oil

• 1 cup peeled small squares jicama (or sweet orange)

• 1 cup peeled small squares mango

• 1/2 cup peeled seeded cucumber

• 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

• 1 chopped into squares red tomato

• 1/2 cup lemon acid juice

• 1 chopped spoon of coriander

• 1 avocado

• Salt and pepper

Here is another tip. Jicama is a globe-shaped root vegetable with papery, golden-brown skin and a starchy white interior. You can find it in vegetarian stores, Automercado or Walmart. If you can't find Jicama, don't worry, you can substitute with sweet orange.

First, let's make the sauce. Mix the chopped jicama (or sweet orange), mango, chopped tomato, red onion, and cucumber in a bowl. Add the lemon juice, coriander, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix and let stand for 5 minutes.

Then add the avocado into squares and mix. The avocado must be added at the end, so it does not change its color.

Keep in the fridge while you prepare the salmon.

Season the salmon fillets with a pinch of the garlic powder, salt and chili powder.

Add olive oil in a large frying pan. If you want to grill, you should grease it before cooking.

Salmon is always cooked over medium heat. Remember medium heat is when you can place your hand 15 centimeters over the heat of the grill and leave it for about 5 seconds without burning yourself.

When the salmon turns golden on one side, about 4 minutes, cook on the other side so that the color is the same on both sides. The total cooking time depends on the size of the salmon.

Add the sauce over Salmon. You can add a small cup of your favorite vegetables or white rice. Salmon's best friend is a very cold glass of sparkling wine.

How wonderful living in this tiny piece of paradise we call our Costa Rican home. No matter what province you live in, you can always get away to the coast within a couple of hours. Let's keep having a happy life near the sea.

Salud!




-------------------------
Editor's note: Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette at melissaamcr2017@gmail.com

Share your recipes with AM Costa Rica readers. Send your homemade recipes with a photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com








































Published Friday, July 24, 2020


Guanacaste Day celebration recipes

By Melissa Pette

Happy Guanacaste Day everyone! Tomorrow, we celebrate the 196 anniversary of the annexation of the former territory of Nicoya (today Guanacaste) to Costa Rica.

It is an overwhelming feeling just imagining the people in 1824 organizing polling to decide if they would join the territory of Nicaragua or Costa Rica. Time has shown that the decision to join the territory of Costa Rica was a wise one.

Guanacaste people are proud to keep many of their folkloric habits and traditions. And the food is not an exception. According to the Ministry of Culture, in its article, "Our Indians and their food," the Guanacastecan food in Costa Rica is the one that shows the most influence on the culture of corn. Many of its dishes are corn-based and preserve a strong gastronomic tradition.

Well then, let's celebrate Guanacaste Day in the most folkloric way possible, preparing a couple of delicious traditional recipes.

Thank you so much to Ana Calderon for sharing her family Tamales Guanacastecos recipe with us. She was born in Santa Cruz in Guanacaste, and now is a resident of Union County, New Jersey, U.SA.

"In my lovely Guanacaste land, tamales are the traditional food at all celebrations: weddings, community parties, quinceañeras, and every party. It is not like in San José, that tamales are cooked only at Christmas," Ana said.

She has nicely adapted the ingredients to make 20 tamales, enough for the whole family (or neighborhood).


Guanacaste Tamal




By Ana Calderon
Union County, New Jersey

Ingredients:
1 package of cornmeal, 4 wedges garlics, 1/2 kilo of pork, 1/2 kilo of chicken breast, 1 package of rice (preferably pre-cooked), 2 cans of green peas, 2 large red sweet chili peppers, 2 cup vegetable oil (traditional recipe uses pork fat), 2 cans of carrots, 2 cup of Lizano sauce, 2 white onions, 2 teaspoon of pepper, 2 teaspoons of cumin, 3 teaspoons annatto powder, 1 package of banana leaves to make tamales and 1 roll of thread for tamales.

The thread and the leaves are easily found in the supermarket.

On the day before preparing the recipe, marinate the meat. Remove the grease from the pork and chicken. Marinate the meat with 1 cup of Lizano sauce, 1 teaspoon of pepper, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 1 teaspoon of annatto powder. Leave the meat in the refrigerator for one day.

On the next day, add the rice in a rice cooker, add one chopped onion in very small squares, add a chopped red chili in very small squares, 1 teaspoon of pepper, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 2 teaspoons of annatto powder, 2 wedges garlic and 1 / 2 cup of oil.

In a large pot, add the meat that was left marinating from the previous day, add water to cover the meat. Add 1 cup of Lizano sauce, the rest of the pepper, cumin, annatto, two wedges of garlic and 1/2 cup of oil. Cook over high heat for 30 minutes. The meat must be very well-cooked.

Take out the meat and let it cool. Then cut the meat into square pieces about 4 x 4 centimeters.

In the meat stock that remains in the pot, remove the two garlic wedges. Add the package of cornmeal and 1 cup oil. Stir over high heat for 30 to 45 minutes, until the dough is cooked. Add water if the sauce evaporates too quickly. The consistency of the dough should be similar to plasticine.

In a bowl, mix an onion cut into very small pieces, a sweet chili cut into small pieces, the green peas and the carrot. This is a mix of vegetables.

Spread two banana leaves on the table. Clean the leaves with a paper napkin.

On the leaves, put a large spoonful of dough (the soup serving spoon works perfectly), on the dough add a tablespoon of rice, a piece of pork and another of chicken, a tablespoon with the vegetable mixture.

Close the leaves carefully. Cut about 60 centimeters from the tamales thread and roll up the leaves. It is like putting a ribbon around a gift. Make sure the tamal is tightly closed. Don't forget to tie a double knot at the end.

The recipe is for making 14 to 20 tamales. Join two tamales with more threads. To make pairs of tamales, more commonly known as “piña de tamal.”

Put the paired tamales in a very large pot of boiling water. Cook for one more hour.

Then let the tamales cool. Put them in the refrigerator.

Before eating, heat the tamal again in boiling water for 20 minutes. The preparation is very elaborate, requires a lot of work, but it is worth it.!




Chicha Pujagua

Chicha is a traditional corn-based drink, very popular in Guanacaste, and many rural areas of Costa Rica. Chicha Pujagua stands out from the rest because the corn is purple.


This recipe is very simple, it doesn't contain alcohol (sorry about that) but the taste, fragrance and color are unique.

A glass of Chicha Pujagua will make you scream "Happy Guanacaste Day everyone!."

The ingredients needed: 3/4 kilo of dried purple corn (ideally, shelling the corn cobs). Find the purple corn at the Ferial del Agricultor or supermarket. 4.5 liters of water, 1 sweet pineapple, 4 sour lemons, 1 cup of sugar, 7 cloves and 1 cinnamon stick.

Remove the peel from the pineapple. In a saucepan pour three liters of water, add the peel, purple corn, cloves, and cinnamon stick. Cook over high heat until boiling point. Stir for 10 minutes with a large wooden spoon.

Then, reduce the heat to low and continue stirring, cook for 50 more minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool.

When it is cold strain twice. The first time use a standard strainer. The second time, use a clean cloth rag.

In another pot, add the rest of the water, the chopped pineapple. Cook for 30 minutes. Stir constantly. Then let it cool.

When this second mix is cold. Strain twice as well, just like in the previous preparation.

Join the two previously strained liquids (the one that resulted from the fruits and the one that resulted from the purple corn), and add the sugar. Mix and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Before serving, add the juice of the lemons to the chicha. Drink cold (ice is not necessary). Your social bubble will love it!

Happy Guanacaste Day!

---------------------------------
Editor's note: Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette, melissaamcr2017@gmail.com

Do you want to share your recipes with AM Costa Rica readers? Send your homemade recipes with a photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com


























































Published Friday, July 17, 2020

Chiliguaro & friends


By Melissa Pette

I must start my article thanking readers for their lovely comments and wise advice. Especially to those who share their recipes with all of us.

Thanks, Dylan Parker, who traveled from Portland 15 years ago, found love in Costa Rica and lives happily with his family in La Fortuna de San Carlos in Alajuela Province.

Dylan had the brilliant idea of making an article about some of the best-known drinks in Latin America.

We started with one of the most famous drinks in Costa Rica, the Chiliguaro.

By the way, Chiliguaro was the topic of an article published in AM Costa Rica on May 25, 2017. According to the story, the Chiliguaro was invented in 2011 and patented by Mauricio Azofeifa, bartender and former co-owner of Bahamas Bar in San José downtown, since 2013. Now, that drink can be found in any supermarket produced by the government through the National Factory of Liquors. Duh?




Chiliguaro

By Dylan Parker

I had Chiliguaro for the first time many years ago at the highly recommended Pollo Fortuneño restaurant, in La Fortuna de San Carlos.

Here is my homemade version of the famous Tico drink. The ingredients are:

•1/4 liter guaro Cacique.

•1 spoonful of spicy tabasco.

•1 teaspoon of Lizano sauce.

•2 teaspoons of lemon juice.

•1 teaspoon of pepper.

•1 liter of tomato juice.

•1 tablespoon of salt.

In the blender, add the tomato juice first, then add the rest of the ingredients. Blend at low speed. Let it
fridge for 10 minutes.

Chill your glass before rimming. Cut a notch in the lemon. Run that notch all around the glass. Put some salt in a dish that is bigger than the diameter of your glass. Tip the glass over into the salt twisting it around. You are ready to pour Chiliguaro with no regrets.

Mojito



This special drink of Cuban tradition is to enjoy in the summer season. I think its fame is because the main ingredient, rum, is easy to get. Available almost anywhere in the world. It is delicious as well as easy and quick to prepare. We love it!

Ingredients:

• 1/4 glass of white rum

• 4 mint leaves

• 2 tablespoons of white sugar

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

• 1 handful of crushed ice

• Soda or mineral water

Softly crush the mint leaves. In a whiskey glass, add the mint and sugar, and mix. Then add the rum and lemon juice. Mix again. Fill the glass with ice and mineral water. Give it a touch of decoration with some mint leaves and a slice of lemon on the top. Viva Cuba sin Castro! Cheers!



Caipirinha



This is a traditional Brazilian drink. The main ingredient is the liquor called cachaça. It is a type of sweet rum-based on pure fermented sugar cane juice, which gives it a completely different flavor than traditional rum. I find cachaça or caipirinha rum at Automercado or Walmart.

If you want to taste the bossa-nova drink, here is how to make it.

Ingredients:

• 2 sour lemons

• 2 tablespoons of white sugar

• 2 ounces of cachaça or caipirinha rum

• 1 tablespoon of acidic lemon juice

• Crushed ice

Cut the sour lemons into quarters. In a large glass or cocktail shaker, add the lemon and the sugar. With a spoon or if you have a cocktail mixer, crush the lemons until the juice is out. Then add the cachaça and the acidic lemon juice. Stir.

If you can't find cachaça or caipirinha rum, replace it with your favorite rum.

Pour the mixture, including crushed lemons, into a glass with crushed ice. Stir lightly. Serve immediately garnish with a lemon slice.

A tip. This is a very sweet drink, and it seems harmless, but don't be fooled. Take your time to enjoy the drink with small sips. Or you will earn the worst hangover of your life. As the Brazilians say, “Apressado come cru!”

Pisco



This is the most traditional drink in Peru. The name comes from the grape brandy made by farmers as an indispensable drink in their celebrations. Today, this traditional cocktail is part of the cultural heritage of Peru.

Ingredients:

• 1 Bottle of Pisco. The brands I find are Monterierpe or Torontel, at Automercado.

• 3 Lemons

• 4 tablespoons of sugar

• 1 egg white

• Crushed ice

In the blender, squeeze the lemons. Pour the lemon juice in a glass. You must measure the amount you have obtained of lemon juice. And add four times that amount of pisco. That is, the pisco must be four times the amount obtained with the juice.

I think I'm not good at explaining quantities. No more Chiliguaro for me!

Let's continue. In the blender, add the pisco, the lemon juice, the sugar, the ice, and 1/4 egg white. Blend until you have a foamy consistency.

Pour the pisco in a flute champagne glass with a lemon wedge. If you start  hallucinating Llamas jumping around you, it is a sign that you made the recipe perfectly!

Salud!


--------------------------
Editor's note: Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette, melissaamcr2017@gmail.com.

Do you want to share your recipes with AM Costa Rica readers? Send your homemade recipes with a photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com.



























































Published Friday, July 10, 2020

Let's get booze


By Melissa Pette


I don't have enough words to thank all those nice comments from readers. It means a lot to me. I really do appreciate it so much.

Now, it is time to get some booze. Some of us enjoyed a drink while contemplating the beautiful evening rains at home.

Moderate alcohol consumption may provide some health benefits, such as "reducing your risk of developing and dying of heart disease, possibly reducing your risk of ischemic stroke, and possibly reducing your risk of diabetes." I did not say that. Take a look at the Mayo Clinic site.

However, even moderate alcohol use isn't risk-free. For example, even light drinkers (those who have no more than one drink a day) have a tiny, but increased risk of some cancers, such as esophageal cancer. And drinking and driving is never a good idea. Yep, that was also copied from the Mayo site again.

Always thinking of moderate use of alcohol, I invite you to prepare these delicious spirits at home.

We start with the recipe that Brooklyn Wyatt shared with us from Quebec, Canada. She says this liquor has been prepared by her family since her childhood to put smiling faces to the freezing winter.

Coffee liquor
By Brooklyn Wyatt,
Quebec, Canada



This homemade coffee liquor you can drink or use as an ingredient for baking. It is traditional in my family to make homemade liqueurs to survive the glacial Quebec winter.

The ingredients are:

• 1/2 liter of an old rum, brown or golden.

• 5 cups of water equal a little more than 1 liter

• 3 ounces dark chocolate

• 1/2 cup of freshly brewed aromatic coffee. Decaffeinated works. 

• 450 grams of sugar

• A scoop of vanilla extract

• 1 and 1/2 litter size glass bottle to preserve the liquor

In a saucepan over high heat, put the water and sugar. Stir until it is mixed. Add the chocolate, continue stirring until it melts.

Turn off the heat and add the coffee that we had previously prepared. Continue stirring.

Add the rum and vanilla and mix all the ingredients until cool.

When it gets cold, try it. If you notice that it is somewhat bitter, add a little more sugar.

You can substitute the sugar for Stevia but the flavor of the liquor is not the same.

Pour the liquor into a glass bottle and let it rest for at least 15 days, in a cool place (not humid) before drinking.

À votre santé!


Naranja liquor



I did jams and liqueur courses a long time ago thinking about starting a small company, but from that experience, I only had my recipes. Here is a wonderful recipe on how to make a naranjas liqueur. So delicious!

The ingredients are:

• 10 sweet naranjas (oranges)

• 1/2 kilo of sugar

• 1 liter water

• 1 liter of white rum

• 1 tablespoon of cinnamon

• 1 teaspoon of vanilla

Peel the oranges and leave the fruit peels without white skin.

In a large glass jar of at least 1.5 liters, add the oranges, rum, cinnamon and vanilla. Mix and leave covered for 10 days. Yes, 10 days! Every day, you must mix the liquor at least once. Use a wooden spoon.

Do not forget to mix every day because the flavor of the liquor depends on it! 10 days later..... Remove the oranges, crush them hard until you extract all the juice you can. Filter the liquor into a pot. Filter using a fabric, it’s better.

In a large saucepan, add the water and sugar. At high temperature, mix until you prepare syrup. Turn off the heat, but don't remove the pot. Add the previously filtered liquor and mix for 5 minutes.

Let it cool and pour the liquor into the glass bottle. Store the liquor in a dry place for 7 days before drinking.

You can serve the liquor pure or on the rocks. Share this naranjas liquor with the adults-only of your social bubble. They will love it!

Rompope Tico



Ticos call this libation Rompope. But, we have the memories of sipping eggnog at Christmas. When you move to another country, one of the things you miss most is family. We are not going to wait for Navidad to prepare this delicious homemade Rompope Tico.

Ingredients needed:

•1 liter of milk. I don't recommend fat-free milk, but you can use it if you like.

•1 cup of white sugar

•1 teaspoon of baking soda

•1 tablespoon of cinnamon

•2 dried cloves. These can be found in small packages in any supermarket or pulperia. Take a look at the image.

•12 egg yolks. Just the yolks.

•1 teaspoon of nutmeg powder

•1 teaspoon of vanilla

•1/2 cup of rum or brandy

Mix the milk, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, sugar, nutmeg, and baking soda in a saucepan. Stir well. Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Then lower the temperature and cook for about 8-10 minutes, allowing the milk to absorb the flavors of cinnamon and cloves. Turn off the heat and remove the pot from the stove to cool.

While the milk is cooling, beat the egg yolks until they are pale yellow. You can use the mixer if you wish for this step. Slowly pour the egg yolk mixture into the already cold milk and stir. 

Once everything is fully incorporated, place the saucepan back on the stove and turn it on over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Cook while stirring frequently to prevent setting, for about 5-7 minutes, or until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove from the heat.

If you do not like the cloves, strain the mix. Then, add rum and vanilla. Mix softly.

Pour it into another container with a top and let it cool for a couple of hours. When it gets cold put it in the fridge.

Here's a tip. Rompope will taste better if you let the flavors combine, keep it in the fridge for 2 weeks. 

Sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg before drinking.

Feliz (early) Navidad!





-------------------
Editor's note: Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette, melissaamcr2017@gmail.com

Do you want to share your recipes with AM Costa Rica readers? Send your homemade recipes with a photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com

















































Published Friday, July 3, 2020

Put your hands in the dough

By the Melissa Pette

Before putting your hands in the dough, I would like to thank the readers for their kind messages. Also, thank you to Dan Brack Chieppo for his tip on the Gallo Pinto recipe, which I mentioned in my previous article. According to Dan "a mixed cup of rice and beans (1/2 & 1/2) is a complete protein." Another reason to love Gallo Pinto.

Now tell me, what could be better than the smell of fresh homemade bread? Bread is a very important food especially for children since it provides a wide variety of nutrients, including vitamin B.

I invite you to make easy and nutritious finger-licking types of traditional homemade bread in Costa Rica. Here are recipes for all tastes and of course for people allergic to gluten.

Let's start with the recipe that Rose Wright has kindly shared with us. Her Canelitas are delicious cupcakes, an excellent gluten-free bread.




Canelitas
By Rose Wright,
Puerto Viejo, Limón

Me and my three boys are allergic to gluten. Can you imagine how difficult it is to plan food for a gluten-allergic family? My boys are spending these days complaining of boring quarantine, watching TV or playing on their devices. But when it is time to make the Canelitas, they literally run toward the kitchen.

The ingredients are:

• 1 kg of cornflour

• 1/2 kg of gluten-free white cheese

• 1 bar of butter

•1 Tapa Dulce.

This is a kind of giant candy made of sugar cane. Take a look at the photo. Buy it at the local fruit market in your community. 



• 1 cup of crème fraîche or sour cream

• 2 tablespoon of cinnamon powder

• 1 cup of water

• 2 tablespoons of refined sugar special for baking

In a bowl, add the water and Tapa Dulce. Stir until the candy is completely melted. Add the cornflour, butter, cheese, sour cream and one tablespoon of cinnamon. Mix until all ingredients have blended.

For baking, use a cupcake pan previously greased with butter. Spray butter works too. Add the mixture. Bake for 30 minutes.

Then let it cool for 30 minutes. Remove the cupcakes and sprinkle the rest of the cinnamon and baking sugar. My boys love it!



Guanacaste Perreque bread

I couldn't translate what Perreque means. It is bread made for the holidays and for any family reunion. I first had this bread in the Nicoya community fair in Guanacaste. The following quantities will provide enough bread for one week.

The ingredients are:

• 4 cans of sweet corn

• 1 kg of striped white cheese

• 500 grams of sour cream

• 2 kg of sugar

• 10 stick or bars of butter

• 1 teaspoon salt

Blend 3 of the sweet corn cans in a blender. Then, in a saucepan, add sugar, sour cream, cheese and mix the ingredients. After that, add and mix the dissolved corn and the last canned corn. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until you form a dough.

Preheat the oven at 230 Celsius for 20 minutes. In a baking pan previously slathered with butter, add the dough. Bake for 20 minutes. When it is ready, let it cool down for 20 minutes.

You made it! Tasty cornbread Guanacaste Perreque bread to eat throughout the quarantine.



Homemade Pancito rolls

This "Pancito Casero" which roughly translates to homemade bread in English, is a popular folk food throughout Costa Rica. You will always see these small bagel-looking breads in the panadería or bakeries everywhere in the country. This recipe is not for the gluten-free people. But for the rest of us, cast-iron stomach people, it is a delightful bread!

The ingredients are:

• 1 kilo of wheat flour

• 1 cup of white sugar

• 1 bar of butter

• 1 cup of water

• 3 tablespoons of instant yeast

First, mix the flour with the butter, sugar and the yeast. When the dough is ready, cut it in little pieces, like the size of your palm.

Form a ball with each piece, like the size of a Ping-Pong ball. Then, stretch the balls into strips. Roll each strip into the dough bonnet bagels. Similar to sea snail shell shape. There were too many sssssssss in the last sentence!

Place each bonnet dough in a previously greased pan. Let them rest for an hour to allow the yeast grown process. After that, bake for 10 minutes.  When the pancitos are ready, let them cool down for 10 minutes.

Are you ready for a meditation time? Take one pancito, a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy the evening's rain. Delightful!


-------------------
Editor's note: Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette, melissaamcr2017@gmail.com

Do you want to share your recipes with AM Costa Rica readers? Send your homemade recipes with a photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com















Published Thursday, July 2, 2020

New processing plant ships first
papaya export from Parrita to Canada



By the A.M. Costa Rica staff


The first shipment of papaya produced in the town of Parrita, in Puntarenas Province, was exported to Toronto, Canada, announced the Institute for Rural Development.

According to the institute, this first shipment of 17,127 kilos of papaya was produced by the association of farmers from the Parrita community, known as Coope Parrita Tropical R.L

The company plans to send more than 68,500 kilos of this fruit per month to Canada, due to infrastructure improvements in the new fruit processing plant. In which the packing operation was increased from 125,000 to 200,000 per week.

The new packing plant was built with a total investment of $1,271,546, financed by the Institute and the Ministry of Agriculture.

The fruit processing plant was inaugurated in October 2019, with the visit of President Carlos Alvarado.

"This news fills us with hope and hope,” President Alvarado said. "This shows us as a country that we are capable of succeeding in the midst of an emergency, thanks to the talent and work of our people."

According to the Institute, this cooperative includes 33 fruit farmers producers, giving work to 200 people of the community.


------------------------------
Where could the government finance the construction of another fruit production plant?
We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to news@amcostarica.com 


















































Published Friday, June 26, 2020

Costa Rican rice:
painted,
widowed or milky?

By Melissa Pette

In Costa Rica, the traditional or folk rice dishes are as diverse as the origins of the ethnic groups of the Ticos, which according to Costa Rica's National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC), "the country is a melting pot of races."

The 2011 census reported ethnics groups descending as white, mestizo, black, mulatto, Nicaraguan, indigenous and Chinese.

Add thousands of foreign residents, like you and me. And it is indeed a melting pot of people and cultures.

Did you know that in Heredia Province they serve rice dishes that have been widowed? Have you heard the slang in San José Province that says something like, "A respected Tico always has pinto rice for breakfast?”. Can you imagine that in Cartago Province they add milk to the rice to become a delicious sweet dessert?

That sounds weird, right? Well, that isn't. Here you will learn how to make those delicious rice dishes. Let's go to the kitchen!

Gallo Pinto



We started with the easiest, and in my opinion, the most famous dish in Costa Rica for breakfast, yep the Gallo Pinto. They call it "pinto" because the main ingredients add two colors to the dish, black and white. And in this case pinto means it is black and white.

The ingredients needed are: 1/2 cup chopped white onion, 1/2 cup chopped cilantro or coriander, 1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper or chili, 2 cups cooked white "precocido" or precooked rice, 1 and 1/2 cups of cooked black beans, 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, 1 cup of "chorizo" or smoked sausage, two eggs, 1 platano (no Cavendish banana), 1 red tomato, 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (if you have Lizano at home, much better).

The preparation could not be easier! In a pan: add half the oil, fry the chopped chorizo, add one egg and mix for a minute. Then add the rice and beans and mix for a minute. Add half the red sweet chili, half the onion, half the cilantro and two tablespoons of the Lizano sauce, mix for a minute. The first part is ready!

Then in another pan, add half of the oil and fry the sliced platano. When it turns a golden color, remove it from the pan and fry one egg.

Then, in a bowl, add the rest of the onion, cilantro, chili, chopped tomato and the rest of the Lizano sauce. Mix everything. This is a kind of salad, a so-called "chimichurri."

On a plate serve the rice and black beans, surround it with the fried platanos, and on top add the chimichurri.

What about adding hot tortillas and a cup of black coffee? Perfect!

Widow Rice



After breakfast comes lunch. This is the time for widowed rice.

This rice has been widowed because this recipe does not contain meat. And from what I have heard rice lacks that protein ingredient for it to be considered complete. Well, at least that's what I’ve been told. Why would someone tease me?

Follow these steps and you will see how easy and delicious this highly recommended vegetarian dish is.

You need: 200g of parboiled or precocido white rice, 1 red sweet pepper or chili, one green sweet pepper, 1/2 cup of pumpkin, 1/2 cup of white onion, 100g of petit pois or green peas, 2 teaspoons of garlic, 200g of a smashed tomato, 1 teaspoon of pepper, 1 cup of diced broccoli, 1 medium size can of vegetable broth, 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, and 1 teaspoon of salt.

In a saucepan, add the red and green chili peppers, oil, chopped broccoli and pumpkin (very small pieces). Mix for 3 minutes.

On maximum heat, add rice, salt, garlic and vegetable broth. The broth should cover the rice completely. Mix gently. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the broth has completely evaporated.

Then, add the tomato and the pepper, the peas and onion. Mix slowly. Let it cook for 5 more minutes.

The widow is ready! Now marry the rice with a cold beer. Cheers!


Milky Rice



Let us continue with the dessert. Thank you so much to our beloved reader Olivia Williams from Tres Ríos District for sharing this delicious dessert recipe with us.



Milky Rice
By Olivia Williams

Rice pudding is the traditional dessert of homes throughout Costa Rica. It is very easy to make, and with few ingredients. By following the proper technique, we will also make it much creamier. For this, the quantities and their proportions are important.

To prepare this popular homemade rice pudding, we will need: 100g of cooked white rice, 1 liter of milk, 1 lemon peel, 1 orange peel, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 70g of white sugar, and 10g of butter.

In a pot, add the milk, rice, citrus peels and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon. Cook on medium heat. Mix continuously.

When it is hot, but not boiling yet (remember that milk above 95-100ºC is over-burned), turn down the temperature to the lowest (not turned off).

Mix every five minutes to make sure that the rice pudding doesn't stick. This will make the dessert creamier.

After 30 minutes, when the rice grain is almost cooked, add the sugar. Cook for 10 more minutes until the rice is soft.

Turn off the heat, remove the lemon and orange peels, and add the butter.  Keep mixing from time to time until the rice cools.

Sprinkle a little cinnamon powder on top. Milky rice pudding is easy, cheap and delicious.


-------------------
Editor's note: Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette, melissaamcr2017@gmail.com

Do you want to share your recipes with AM Costa Rica readers? Send your homemade recipes with a photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com

















































Published Friday, June 19, 2020

Picadillo is the new fast
and healthy food

By Melissa Pette

I would like to start my article thanking all the people who have written to me this week. So many good comments about my sauce recipes, published last week. I thank the brave ones who made the recipes at home and I'm glad to hear that some of you customized the recipes. I love it!

Thank you Charlotte Ciprianni for submitting your "Chayote picadillo" recipe and giving me the idea to make this article. I have made her recipe and the result is a typical dish of Costa Rica, healthy and delicious.

Are you wondering what a picadillo is ? It is called picadillo to any dish whose ingredients are prepared very..... but very chopped. Picadillo is a popular folk Costa Rican dish as well as in many Latin American countries. In America we know it as meat hash. In the U.K. it is also known as hache or hachy.

I invite you to prepare and try these easy and healthy picadillos.

Chayote picadillo


Chayote picadillo
By Charlotte Ciprianni,
from Jaco Beach

The ingredients that you are going to need are:

• 3 chayotes, also known as chokos

• 2 yellow corns

• 1 kilo of potatoes

• 1/2 kilo of carrots

• 1/4 kilo of ground beef

• 1 onion

• 1 red sweet paper

• 1 roll of cilantro or coriander

• 1 tablespoon of garlic

•  1/2 tablespoon of salt

• 1 teaspoon achiote or annatto

• 1 can of green sweet peas

• 1/4 cup vegetable or sunflower oil

First chop the chayote, carrots and potatoes into small squares. Then peel the corn, or use two sweet corn cans.

In a saucepan, add the ground beef meat with 1/2 chopped onion, 1/2 chopped red sweet pepper, 1/2 chopped cilantro, a pinch of salt, and 1/2 cup oil. Fry the meat until it turns golden.

In a bowl of water add the vegetables, 1/2 of oil, a pinch of salt. Boil until cooked. Then, drain the vegetables.

In a bowl add the previously cooked vegetables, the rest of the chopped onion, chili, cilantro, and green sweet peas. Add the garlic and annatto. Add the previously cooked meat. Mix everything for three more minutes.

There you go!! The delicious Chayote picadillo ready to eat with tortillas, or white rice, even in a sandwich.


Arracache picadillo



The arracache is a plant cultivated in rural areas. I have seen it in the area of Los Santos, in Cartago Province. The part that is eaten is the root, which looks a bit like a light gray carrot.

The root should be kept in water for at least one day and then processed on a grater, before cooking. But, the good news is that you can buy the arracache packages at the supermarket.

To prepare the delicious delicate arracache you will need:

•  2 arracache packages.

• 1 stick of yellow butter.

• 1/2 kilo of ground meat

• 1 roll of cilantro

• 2 onions

• 3 red sweet peppers

• 3 red tomatoes

• 1/2 teaspoon achiote or red annatto

• 1/4 cup vegetable or sunflower oil

• 1 bouillon cube

First, in a pot of boiling water add the arracache and cook for 10 minutes. Remove it from the pot and drain all the water. The arracache must be dry.

Then you chop the cilantro, onion, red peppers and tomato.

In a pan, add the ground meat with oil and half the cilantro, tomato, red sweet pepper and onion. Remember the meat must be well cooked until it reaches the golden color.

Then, in a saucepan, melt the yellow butter, add the cooked meat, the dry arracache, and the rest of the cilantro, tomato, onion and red sweet peppers. Add the garlic, red annatto and 1 bouillon cube.

Cook for 5 minutes until the annatto is mixed with all the ingredients.

Ready! yummy picadillo arracache to add with any dish of meat, chicken or fish. I like it with tortillas and a beer. Salud!


Green Papaya picadillo



You know the ripe sweet and aromatic papaya. But, the papaya green fruit is also excellent for cooking a folk Costa Rican picadillo.

The ingredients are:

• 3 green papayas

• 1/2 kilo of chicken breast

• 2 onions

• 2 red sweet peppers

• 1 teaspoon of garlic

• 1 teaspoon annatto or annatto

• 1/2 cup vegetable or sunflower oil

• 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (preferably Lizano, we love it! ).

Start by peeling the papaya and cutting it into small squares. In a pot of boiling water add the papaya, add 1/4 of the oil and let it cook for 5 minutes.

In another pot with water, add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes. Don't add oil. When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the water and let it cool. Then chop it into very small pieces.

Chop the onion and the red sweet pepper into very small pieces.

In a saucepan, add the rest of oil, the papaya, the chicken, onion, red sweet pepper, garlic, annatto and the Lizano sauce. Don't add salt.

Mix everything for 2 minutes until the annatto is mixed with all the ingredients.

Good job! Your arracache picadillo is ready for your family to try and enjoy a folk Costa Rican dish. The secret is the delicious flavor of the chicken added to the dish. It is a very low-calorie recipe, perfect to mix with vegetables.  Tasty!!!.

Enjoy!


-------------
Editor's note: Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette at melissaamcr2017@gmail.com

Do you want to share your recipes with AM Costa Rica readers? Send your homemade recipes with a photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com






































































Published Friday, June 12, 2020

Costa Rican natural healthy,
easy homemade sauces


By Melissa Pette

In these long-drawn and boring days of quarantine, it seems like the day has many more hours. But you know what? There is a world beyond TikTok, Instagram or Netflix.

Let me invite you to take a short trip to the homemade Costa Rican food dimension. Use your time productively, go to the kitchen, and make some of the following easy, natural and healthy recipes.

Did you try Costa Rican sauces? Possibly you have already visited restaurants in your community and tried mango-shrimp or almond-and-peanuts steak. The secret of those delicious dishes is in the sauce. Here I show you how to make four delicious Costa Rican traditional sauces, easier than you think.



Red Hot Sauce
only for the brave.

To prepare enough sauce for 6 people you need:

- 2 jalapeño peppers (if you like it hotter use 4 peppers),

- 4 big red tomatoes,

- 2 big sweet red peppers,

- 1 white onion,

- 1 spoonful of garlic powder, or the equivalent of two garlic cloves,

- 1 roll of cilantro (coriander),

- 1 piece of chicken breast,

-  2 acidic lemons (no sweet lemons),

- 1 teaspoon of salt,

- 1/2 teaspoon of pepper,

- Water

First, in a pot add four cups of water, add the chicken, peppers and tomato. Cover the pot to allow water to boil faster. The running water will soften the ingredients in 20 minutes.

When the vegetables have softened, remove them from the water and put them in a bowl. When they are cold,  you remove the vegetables skin.

Remove the chicken from the water. Save the broth in another container until it cools.

Chop the onion and cilantro into small pieces.

Squeeze the two lemons until extract 1/2 cup of lemon juice.

In a blender, add the peppers, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and a cup of chicken broth. Blend everything until the sauce forms.   

There you go! This spicy Red Hot Sauce is great for adding to vegetables, white rice, red meat, or sandwiches, salty snacks..... anything.

Better to keep the sauce in the fridge and heat it a little before eating

What happened to the piece of boiled chicken breast? Keep it in the fridge for another recipe.



Almond and Peanut Sauce for those spicy-allergic taste buds.

The ingredients  are:

- 1 cup chopped red sweet  peppers,

- 1/2 cup of almonds,

- 1/2 cup of peanuts baked, no salty (Remove the red peanut peel),

- 1 teaspoon of garlic,

- 1 teaspoon of salt,

- 1 cup of olive oil,

- 1/2 cup sunflower oil,

- 6 corn tortillas (Any brand you can find in the pulpería works).

Chop 6 tortillas and peppers into small pieces. In a pot add the chopped tortillas, peppers, almonds, peanuts, and half a cup of sunflower oil.

Fry everything until the peppers soften and the tortillas turn a golden color. Remove the ingredients and let them cool in a bowl.

In the blender, add half a cup of olive oil, garlic, salt and the ingredients that we had previously fried.

You will notice a kind of dough is formed. If you want your sauce more liquid, add the rest of the olive oil.

Just in a few minutes, you made a sauce  perfect to use with fried fish, grilled meat or pasta.

If you like it spicier, you can use jalapeño peppers instead of sweet red peppers. Do not forget to keep it in the fridge and heat it a little before eating



Avocado sauce. Attention this is not guacamole!

This is a traditional sauce in Costa Rica and very common in Mexico too.

You will require:

- 500 grams of green tomato.

- 6 sweet green peppers.

- 2 jalapeño peppers

- 1 teaspoon of garlic

- 1 teaspoon of salt

- 1 white onion,

- 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda powder,

- 1 cup of chopped cilantro,

-  2 large avocados,
 
- 1 cup of water.

Chop the tomato, peppers, cilantro, onion and one avocado. Save the other avocado to use later.

In a pot add the tomato, peppers, half the cilantro, half the onion and 1/2 cup of water.

The idea is that the water level does not cover the ingredients.

Add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda. Boil the ingredients for 10 minutes.

Remove the boiled ingredients and let them cool in a bowl.

In the blender add all the ingredients that we have previously boiled, add salt, onion and cilantro, garlic and the avocado we had earlier saved.

Don't add water.

Blend these ingredients at low speed until you get a very green beautiful spicy avocado sauce.

Absolutely delicious on vegetables, boiled corn, baked chicken or any red BBQ meat. Remember to keep it in the fridge and heat it a little before eating..... Yummy!




Mango Loco Sauce
with a twist at the end.

Yes, mango is a delicious tropical fruit that we can use to make a delicious cuckoo sauce.  I found this sauce when I visited the country town of Sarchí. This is a small folk town in the southern zone of Alajuela Province. There it was in front of the town's sports plaza, the "Cantina del Pueblo" restaurant, something like the town's bar. Don Carlos, the owner-cashier-chief-waitress, was very kind to share his recipe with me. And now with you.

We are going to require:

- 2 large yellow mangoes,

- 1 white onion,

- 1 teaspoon of garlic,

- 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder,

- 1/2 cup of white sugar or brown sugar,

- 1 tablespoon of vinegar,

- 1 cup of water,

- 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil,

- 1 teaspoon of pepper.

In a pot add 1/2 cup of oil, chopped onion, the garlic and chili powder. When the onion is crystallized, add the pepper.

Remove the peel from the mango. Chop the pulp into squares. Add the mango to the pot and the rest of the olive oil. Mix everything gently. Add the vinegar and mix for one more minute.

Add the water and sugar. Mix for 4 more minutes. Remove the mango and reserve the broth in another container.

In a blender, add the mango and blend at slow speed.

When the mango is ready, you can pass it through a strainer to remove the excess fiber.

I like fiber, but it is ultimately your call.

In a blender, add the mango (after passing it through the strainer), add the broth and the ingredients that you had reserved.

Remember to blend at a slow speed.

And there you go! Your Mango Loco sauce is ready to drive you crazy. It is  the sweet perfect combination with salty fried shrimp, baked fish, or all those seafood dishes you like..... or vanilla ice cream!

I know it sounds like a broken record, but keep it in the fridge and heat it a little before eating, even with ice cream.

Enjoy!


-----------------------
Editor's note: Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette at melissaamcr2017@gmail.com.

Do you want to share your recipes with AM Costa Rica readers? Send your homemade recipes with a photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com.
















Published Friday, May 15, 2020

Coffee linked to lower body
fat in women, study says


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff and wire services

Women who drink two or three cups of coffee a day have been found to have lower total body and abdominal fat than those who drink less, according to researchers from the British Anglia Ruskin University on Thursday.

 
Researchers examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, organized by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the U.S., and looked at the relationship between cups of coffee drunk per day, and both total body fat percentage and abdominal or ‘trunk’ fat (adiposity).
 
They found that women aged 20-44 who drank two or three cups of coffee per day had the lowest levels of adiposity, 3.4% lower than people who did not consume coffee. Among women aged between 45-69, those who drank four or more cups had adiposity of 4.1% lower.
 
Overall, the average total body fat percentage was 2.8% lower among women of all ages who drank two or three cups of coffee per day.
 
The findings were consistent whether the coffee consumed was caffeinated or decaffeinated and among smokers/non-smokers and those suffering from chronic diseases when compared to those in good health.
 
In men, the relationship was less significant, although men aged 20-44 who drank two or three cups per day had 1.3% less total fat and 1.8% less trunk fat than those who did not consume coffee.
 
Around 7 million tons of coffee is consumed globally every year.
 
“Our research suggests that there may be bioactive compounds in coffee other than caffeine that regulate weight and which could potentially be used as anti-obesity compounds," said Lee Smith, a researcher at Anglia Ruskin University and senior author of the study.

It could be that coffee, or its effective ingredients could be integrated into a healthy diet strategy to reduce the burden of chronic conditions related to the obesity epidemic.

“It is important to interpret the findings of this study in light of its limitations," said Smith. "The study was at a specific point in time so trends cannot be established. However, we don’t believe that someone’s weight is likely to influence their coffee consumption.”

More information on this study can be reached at  the Anglia Ruskin University site.







---------------------
Could drinking more coffee improve a healthy diet?  We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to news@amcostarica.com


















Published Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Government calls for the purchase
of national products


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, giving purchasing preference in the products made by local farmers and producers aims in supporting local companies. Many have reported increased losses in their businesses due to emergency restriction measures imposed by the government as a way to contain the spread of the coronavirus covid-19 in the country.

"It is important to buy national products to guarantee the work of farmers," said Renato Alvarado - Rivera, minister of Agriculture.

Strict safety and hygiene measures have been implemented at farm agricultural products fairs, so-called Feria del Agricultor, to protect people's health, said the ministry in its statement.

Farmer organizations confirm that there is enough production to supply consumers throughout the country, so it is ruled out that there is some type of food storage.

Regarding the production of fruits and vegetables, the Horticola Corporation confirmed that there is enough supply of vegetables, grains and fruits for the whole year.

The Chamber of Pork Farmers announced that there is sufficient production of pork and meat products to meet consumer demand.

The Chamber of Milk Producers also confirms that there is sufficient production of milk and its derivative products.

The Chamber of Fishermen also guarantees enough marine products to supply the national market. Producers of perishable products will remain active in following sanitary measures issued by authorities, the ministry said.

Livestock Corporation also confirms having enough product to supply the national demand. According to statistics provided by the corporation, during 2019 the average meat consumption per person was 14.3 kilograms per year. In that year the production reached 16.2 kilograms of meat per capita. The corporation is prepared to meet the needs of the national consumer, they said.

Also, the Chamber of Poultry Farmers reported that they continue with the production and distribution of eggs, chicken meat and its derived products. Therefore, sufficient production is guaranteed to supply the national demand.






-------------------------
Have you heard about a food shortage in your community? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to news@amcostarica.com



-----------------------
Editor's note: Email your comments or inquiries to Melissa Pette at melissaamcr2017@gmail.com.

Do you want to share your recipes with AM Costa Rica readers? Send your homemade recipes with a photo of the dish to food@amcostarica.com.














Published Tuesday, March 17, 2020

$1.3 million-plus invested in the first
coffee laboratory in the country



By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

With an investment of $1,362,148, the first coffee laboratory in the country was built in the community of El Rodeo in San Marcos de Tarrazu in Cartago Province.

The cost of the laboratory was financed with funds from the Institute of Rural Development and the Distance State University (UNED).

According to the institute, research and training on coffee cultivation will be carried out in the laboratory.

Professionals from different areas will be able to do research on the use of natural resources such as soil and water. As well as environmental sanitation, biotechnology-plant protection and agroindustry. This will allow conducting research on the management of pests and diseases in coffee cultivation. They will also be investigated with chemical and biological analyses of the water sources used in the production of coffee.

The laboratory will benefit 7,500 people who are dedicated to the production of coffee in the rural areas of Dota, Tarrazú and León Cortés.

According to representatives of the university, the next step is to start with the equipment purchasing process.

According to the Institute of Coffee, coffee production increased by 12% between 2019 and 2020.

According to data provided by the institute, the international export sales price of coffee produced in Costa Rica increased by 7%, going from $190.34 for a 46-kilogram bag to $203.14 during the same period.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the increase in the price of coffee produced in Costa Rica is because new varieties of the seed were adapted to climate change and to be more resistant to diseases.

In recent months, the institute and the ministry have worked together to carry out an intervention plan on coffee production, allowing coffee farmers to apply new technology in their plantations to improving the coffee seed quality.

The 200th anniversary of Costa Rica's first coffee export is celebrated this year. The first coffee seeds came from the Antilles, an archipelago bordered by the Caribbean Sea in 1776. On October 12, 1820, a ship called Nuestra Señora set sail from the Port of Puntarenas to El Perico port in Panama transporting the first exported cargo of Costa Rican coffee.

There are currently more than 38,804 coffee farming families mainly located in the province of Cartago. In Costa Rica there are 93,697 hectares, which represents 1.8% of the national territory, used for growing coffee, according to the institute.



----------------------------
What other types of agricultural products should the institute invest?
We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to news@amcostarica.com

























Sibaeli courtesy photo   


Government wants to increase the number
of families dedicated to producing cocoa



By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The government presented this Sunday the National Cacao Plan 2018-2028 with which it intends to increase the production of cocoa in the next ten years by focusing on: inputs and services, production, processing, marketing, and consumption.

President Alvarado presented the plan on the estate of María Elizondo and Juan Carlos Sibaja, owners of Chocolates Sibaeli, in Katira de Guatuso* in the province of Alajuela.

"María, Juan Carlos and her family are an example of how hard work, determination, and support of public institutions can be undertaken and go from a difficult economic situation to being on the verge of being cocoa exporters. They tell how the process has been to move Chocolates Sibaeli forward, "said President Alvarado.

The National Cacao Plan was built by the Inter-institutional Cacao Commission, composed of more than twenty institutions and companies associated with cocoa production and sales. This plan will support cocoa-producing families to develop competitive and sustainable businesses at a social, economic and environmental level.

The Sibaja Elizondo is an emblematic case of how a family managed to get out of extreme poverty after starting as entrepreneurs and today being on the verge of becoming an export company of cocoa products.

Mr. Sibaja said that cocoa production was possible with the support of the government and his efforts to convert Chocolates Sibaeli into a successful company that today is their source of income and sustenance.



In 2010, this family began to receive support from the Joint Institute of Social Assistance, first with training processes, then with a subsidy to start their company.


In 2016, a loan was approved with which they were able to buy a cocoa husking machine and an oven.

At present, they sell chocolate products, toasted grain, and tours on the farm where they grow and produce cocoa. And in the next few weeks, they will start exporting their product.

According to Renato Alvarado, Minister of Agriculture, this strategy it is expected to increase the area devoted to cacao from 4,000 to 6,000 hectares an increase from 3,000 to 3,500 producing families nationwide.


This is the three main producing areas of the country that are North Zone, Caribbean Zone, and Zur Zone.




-------------
Do you know any cocoa producing family that could be an example of this national program? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to: news@amcostarica.com

*Link to reach the place.


Published: Monday, April 1, 2019




 
Traditional Food Fair starts this weekend


By A.M. Costa Rica news staff

More than 200 chefs of typical Costa Rican food from 64 towns of the country will present their work at the 8th edition of the Costa Rican "Gustico" Fair, Friday to Sunday, from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m., at the National Stadium in San José*.

The Costa Rican term,"Gustico," means eating something delicious, a clue to what can be found at the fair.

The fair is organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. It is always an opportunity for many families to promote their products, but "this year an important factor in the processes of training and evaluation of the participants was innovation, so those who visit the Fair they will find products and very novel undertakings," said Renato Alvarado, Minister of Agriculture.

The fair is open to the public and there will be 200 stands where artisans will offer their products. In addition to the typical dishes, visitors can enjoy folk music, buy crafts and learn more about tours to rural areas of the country.

According to the organizers, this edition involves innovation in meals with new ingredients such as buffalo meat, edible wrappers made of honey, gourmet cheeses, goat milk products, gluten-free products, organic coffee, vegan ice cream, and handmade chocolates, among others.

The goal of the food fair is to promote the products of small businesses in rural areas


Gustico Fair courtesy photo

The Costa Rican term,"Gustico," means eating something delicious, a clue to what can be found at the fair.



-------------
What is your favorite typical Costa Rican food? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to: news@amcostarica.com

*Link to reach the place.

Published March 29, 2019





New Escazú cafe includes coffee, cream,
cake and gold on the menu

By Conor Golden,
News Editor of A.M. Costa Rica

Coffee often comes with ingredients like sugar and cream to make it an additive, whiskey to make it a café irlandés and now a cafe in Escazú is adding gold to the mix.

Goldy’s Cafeteria is the brainchild of Alonso Jiménez and Geraldine Charpentier. The couple opened their cafe this past Monday at the Centro Empresarial Prisma. “The idea of a cafeteria with edible gold coffee came to us in one of our trips to Asia,” explained Ms. Charpentier. “We saw a restaurant that sold food with edible gold and found it interesting and decided to investigate more about it. Besides the great look of gold in food, we saw it has benefits to one’s health and is used in laboratories and hospitals.”

The healing properties associated with gold are apparently becoming more than just alchemy. Ms. Charpentier pointed to several websites in citing the benefits and debunking the dangers associated with consuming gold material.

The United States Food and Drug Administration has not apparently evaluated the safety or risk of consuming edible gold leaf but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not list gold as being a toxic substance. That is based on the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

This means that, theoretically, a person could consume 24-karat gold without falling ill. A potential danger is that consuming too much could give one a stomachache. At the same time, consuming too much candy, sugar or anything could also cause that as well. The danger could become if impure gold was thrown into the mix. Sometimes gold is mixed with copper, which is toxic in high doses. Silver is ok to consume as it is not considered a toxic substance either.

“From a personal side, my grandmother had rheumatoid arthritis and in my partner´s family there are several cases of cancer,” Ms. Charpentier said. “It seems that gold was used as treatment for both. Knowing that gold is beneficial against these things convinced us even more on using edible gold in our entrepreneur of the cafeteria.”

The two gold drinks offered at Goldy’s are the frappucino or the cappucino for 6,250 colones and 7,250 colones respectively. Both are made with 24-karat edible pure gold shavings, according to the cafeteria menu. Aside from those options, the next expensive thing on the menu is 2,700 colones for a panini with something on the side.

The most expensive drink aside from the gold specialties are one of the cold drinks at 2,600 colones. Hot and cold beverages, wraps, sandwiches and desserts abound in this cafe.
Goldy's Cafeteria
Goldy's Cafeteria Facebook photo        
Goldy's Cafeteria has a cozy space in Escazú's Centro Empresarial Prisma.


Goldy's Cappucino
Goldy's Cafeteria Facebook photo       

The Goldy's Cappucino including 24-karat
 gold flakes with the coffee.



Ms. Charpentier said that a friend of theirs works for an import-export company that gets the gold from Europe.

“We always believe that if you want to have something made with love and excellence, you have to make it yourself,” the cafe’s owner said. “We made the cafeteria all on our own: the furniture, decoration, etc. It was a lot of work, but worth all the effort since we came with a very cozy and warm environment.”




Cooking for linguistics helps preserve native Costa Rican culture

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Over a fire, some sancochos and all in the native languages being taught, researchers from the Universidad de Costa Rica made three new recipe dictionaries for traditional, gourmet Bribri, Malecu and Brorán food.

Using only the local language, the team figured out how to properly cook an iguana, toucan or turtle in addition to preparing plants and making their own kitchen utensils. The three recipes were cooked each year as a means of preserving both it and the language of the native tribes in Costa Rica, according to Carlos Sánchez Avendaño, linguist and project coordinator.

“Dictionaries are a safeguard of cultural knowledge about food, food conservation techniques and preparation techniques,” Sánchez said to the university.

The emphasis was on maximum utilization, the university said in a statement. As an example, the Malecu eat what is called an atol with banana, tamales with the liver and the skin is used for patching up drums. With the toucan, the whole animal is consumed and the feathers used for fire and the beak is a toy given to children.

In plants, the Bribri consume a specific kind of nettle flower despite normally having five different words for varieties of cacao. The Malecu have four different words. This also happens when the Malecu tribe consumes a type of coconut called carúqui cúru and a plant called catúju. Neither have words in Spanish as a comparative, the university said.

However, several traditional foods are no longer consumed, Sánchez said, partly because it costs a lot to get the ingredients, especially some animals. In these cases, Professor Sánchez and his team collected the information through descriptions, the university said.

Researcher Alí García Segura, a member of the Bribri community that was part of the project, stressed the importance of working closely with these peoples. "Of the big problems we have is that universities believe we know everything and that is not true,” García said.

“That makes the community always jealous to tell you something.”

Indigenous kitchen
Universidad de Costa Rica photo  
A more traditional kitchen found by the linguists.

Bribri Olla
Universidad de Costa Rica photo    
Recording a language works up an appetite!

"You cannot even say that you are the wise,” García said. “You come into the community and say rather: 'I want to know, because I do not know anything'. To change that mentality.”

Paulino Najera, a member of the Brorán tribe, said that: "When you forget the basis of health that is food, we are basically forgetting where we come from.”


--June 12, 2017



Chiliguaro drink to be bottled and
coming to a supermarket near you

By Rommel Téllez of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Many Costa Ricans, expats and visitors know well the Chiliguaro; the drink made out of tomato juice, salt, chili pepper and Guaro, a traditional liquor made from sugar cane.

Sold in most bars across the country, it is usually cheap. Two shots can often cost less than $2. It is normally consumed along with other drinks or taken as a shot.

What most people don’t know is that, in just two months, this beverage will hit the local supermarkets in bottled presentations as part of a business endeavor carried out by Mauricio Azofeifa, the owner of the name Chiliguaro.

That’s correct. The name Chiliguaro has been a patented commercial name since 2013, when Azofeifa partnered with his long time friend, Juan Pablo Ayala, to exercise the right of profiting of what they claim is their own invention.

“In 2011, during the traditional horse parade in San José, I was helping out with the drinks at the Bahamas Bar, which I co-owned at the time,” said Azofeifa. “Normally, that’s quite a busy day and Juan Pablo needed my help.”

“Then, a young lady asked us for a Guaro shot along with a little Tabasco, a drink which is popular in other parts in the country,” he added.

“To our suprise, several clients started to ask for the same thing and we made quite a good sale that day.”

Afterwards, Azofeifa and Ayala sought for ways to improve the drink by adding or subtracting several ingredients.

Some weeks later, they came along with their own recipe and the Chiliguaro made its debut on the drink menu.

The new invention went viral and quite soon other bars were offering their own versions of it.
Chiliguaro
A.M. Costa Rica photo/Mauricio Azofeifa
No shots were taken prior to the story being written.

At the beginning Azofeifa didn’t care but looking at how much people loved it, he later decided to claim the name and patent it.

Some time after, the Fábrica Nacional de Licores offered to buy the patent and start selling the product at a massive scale. At the time, Azofeifa agreed but bureaucratic issues grinded the project to a complete halt.
 
Since that approach, both partners started developing their own business plan with the help of Semilla organization, a small business advisory group that coached them in their entrepreneurial journey.

“We are in the stages of fine-tuning the recipe and the source of the ingredients. Our Chiliguaro should guarantee the standard taste that people recognize. We are also studying the best conservation methods to keep the drink fresh,” Azofeifa explained.

At some point, the duo dream about selling the drink into international markets, since they are sure that, locally, it will be a success.
--May 25, 2017






Here is something very typical for you to drink. We dare you.

By Conor Golden
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Chan is, at once, one of the easiest and hardest drinks to find in Costa Rica for any brave drink tasters. It also could be among the healthiest, natural drinks too.

The drink is supposed to be found or offered at every hole-in-the-wall soda in Costa Rica. The first investigations for the elusive drink turned up nothing. Several different sodas or other comida típica places did not have it. The only recommendations initially were to go on an adventure into the backcountry or try the Mercado Central in San José.

To save the money for another bus trip, a reporter tried the Mercado Central and sure enough, at the Soda Tapia, the ladies working behind the counter had a batch of chan ready for a wary reporter to drink. It did not look appetizing. In fact, it resembled something that looked like some kid’s science experiment rather than a refresquería at the market.

Chan is the name for the seeds in the drink and the plant of the same name. The plant is part of the Lamiaceae, colloquially called the mint, family. It is native to Central America with a chan drink most prominently found in Costa Rica and El Salvador. The seeds are almost identical to chia seeds in the United States and Mexico.

The process to make chan is easy since it only requires the seeds, some water, and then some patience. The seeds are soaked in water for a time and fermented until they hydrate. When that occurs, a slimy, jello-like coating forms around the seeds and it is ready to drink. Although, it is not necessarily drunk so much as slurped.

The flavor has the fleeting aftertaste of green tea and the whole thing is mixed in with crushed ice. The texture will feel different, a cross between jello and ice. Once the drinker is past that initial reaction, it seems similar to an iced tea shake. Some people may add sugar or lemon.

For 1,000 colons at Soda Tapia, the drink is cheap and can be found in some grocery stores among the herb selection. Chan is an acquired taste and probably not recommended for those with weak stomachs or who have been consuming a lot of

cahn
A.M. Costa Rica/Conor Golden
The typical drink is the right kind of seedy.

alcohol just prior to ordering. Even so, the drink is alleged to have health benefits.

According to information from the National Institutes of Health, the chan plant, or Hyptis suaveolens, is used as a traditional remedy for treating inflammation and infection of the stomach along with preventing stomach ulcers.

In another study released by the health institute, chan also provides a good supply of almost all the essential amino acids for different age groups. It also is a good source of magnesium. The drink may not sit well in some people’s stomachs, but it seems to do the body good to drink now and again.
-- Jan. 19, 2017



The Christmas treat

So what does a new arrival think of a Costa Rican  tamal?

By Conor Golden
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The tamal still reigns as one of the archetypical dishes found in most of Latin America.

In Costa Rica, tamales can be found on the dinner tables and in the kitchens of Tico homes and restaurants especially during the holiday season. The tamales here are found wrapped in banana leaves and made with all manner of ingredients, but the core of the tamal will consist of a piece of seasoned meat rolled in a cornmeal dough called masa.

At the Soda Cristóbal at the Mercado Central in San José, the mission for a new arrival was to locate a tamal and describe its taste.

The order comes to the table and looks completely unappetizing at first glance.

The paste is yellowed and mushy like baby food and a small piece of meat forms the center with a carrot also encrusted within. There is also seen a piece of cilantro to give it that soapy-like flavor that people either love or hate in their food. Moreover, the banana leaf that it is presented on top of is a deep green. Is the leaf also supposed to be eaten?

The first try hits with an interesting mix of flavor. The masa has a hint of corn, but there is also a lingering taste of potato.

The steam begins to rise as soon as the fork and knife separate it.

Now it is time to try the meat. The tender piece of boiled pork goes well with a nice batter of masa and rice. The carrot also adds a nice nutritious touch. The only regret is that both pieces are small, but the tamal itself is of a modest size. It’s time to order another one to get the description of the flavor right.



The second one is of a similar size, but maybe the cook decided to
tamal and juice
A.M. Costa Rica/Conor Golden                            
                  The traditional place to eat tamales is in the
                Mercado Central in San José, accompanied
                by a juice drink or a milkshake.


  add a little more rice to this tamal. The rice makes it slightly crunchier than the baby-food like masa paste, but it is not overcooked or hardened to a solid-rock taste. The diversity of ingredients matches the diversity of the dish’s texture.

The combination of the ingredients creates a unique and delicious taste all its own and definitively Costa Rican. Tamals are not exclusive to this country. They have a history going back to the pre-Columbian era with the Aztec and Mayan empires in Central America. From Mexico in the north to Argentina in the south, tamales span different continents and come from different recipes. At 1,100 colons each, the tamal is a cultural necessity for any foreign traveler coming to Costa Rica and wanting to receive the complete experience.
--Dec. 20, 2016




Butchers receive training is the news rules governing safety of meats

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

More than 80 butchers were trained on the proper labeling of raw meat, according to the Ministerio de Economía, Industria, y Comercio.

The quality control department of the ministry along with the Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal aided these meat store employees in order to give a better understanding and information about the recent reform in the regulation, said the ministry. 

This reform was the publication of a new sanitation inspection

guide that detailed the labeling obligations for pre-packaged and other types of raw meat.  The ministry said it used this opportunity to explain the proper practices necessary for maintaining safe and hygienic quality meats.

The health service for animals will join efforts to spread these presentations around other parts of the country throughout the coming year.

Officials said that the butchers were grateful for the activity as it provided enlightening information and extending that on to their consumers, they told officials.
-- Dec. 15, 2016



A little Colombian pastry treat can become a bit addictive

By Conor Golden
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The right combination of sweet and a tinge of salty makes for a perfect balance in a popular delicacy. The treat could be good with that cup of coffee or tea throughout the day and evening.

The almojábana, a common pastry treat found in Costa Rica, is actually a traditional Colombian cheese bread baked to a soft, pillow-like texture. The flavor can often flirt between sweet and a tiny hint of salty in the aftertaste.

The delicacy is available throughout any number of bakeries with Colombian origins here in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica has a high number of Colombian immigrants according to their country’s census. They represent the second highest group of foreigners living in the country behind neighbor Nicaragua.

This particular delicacy is not a common one to be found baking in Costa Rican ovens.

The almojábana is mainly obtained from local Colombian bakery of which there are many to choose from in San José alone.

To make the almojábana, you will need: A cheese called queso fresco, butter, precooked white corn flour, eggs, baking

almojabana
A.M. Costa Rica staff      
Almojábanas: Bet you can't eat just one!

powder, corn starch, and milk, according to thelatinkitchen.com Web site. Due to the ingredients’ reliance on white corn flour, the almojábana is also gluten-free, according to the site’s recipe writer.

Some recipes also call for an addition of sugar as well as salt, with the latter ingredient depending on how salty the cheese is. According to information from the myfitnesspal.com Web site, one almojabana has around 164 calories in it with a high concentration of saturated fat. This nutritional content represents roughly 62.5 percent of the total fat content within a single piece.
--Dec. 1, 2016



Twin raids validate concerns about adulterated bottles of alcohol

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Expats suspicions about diluted alcohol were confirmed Thursday when tax police raided two bottling factories. One was in Turrucares de Alajuela and the other was in Curridabat.

The raids followed the confiscation of a tractor trailer late last week in Peñas Blancas. The truck contained 150 barrels of ethanol and was the fourth such confiscation of the year.

Ethanol, which can be fermented from corn or other vegetable products is what gives an alcoholic drink its kick.

Agents of the Policía de Control Fiscal found boxes of plastic bottles of the type that are called pachitas when filled with guaro and placed for sale in the supermarket.

Ethanol is cheap, particularly when smuggled into the country, and tasteless, so normally it can be flavored to stimulate an alcoholic beverage or it can simply be used to dilute more expensive liquids. Some coloring and drops of iodine can provide the color and flavor of scotch, U.S. bootleggers found during Prohibition.

empty
              bottles
Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo
Boxes of empty plastic bottles were confiscated

The Ministerio de Salud participated in the raids.

The bottling factories did not appear to be producing name-brand products, but A.M. Costa Rica has concluded that even leading outlets have been victims of adulterated alcoholic products.
--Oct. 28, 2016




Food researchers say they cut salt but not flavor

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Anyone who worries about health knows that salt should be limited. But salt is a preservative as well as a flavor enhancer in food.

For most individuals salt is the same as sodium, which makes up about 40 percent of table salt.

Researchers at the Universidad de Costa Rica are tackling some of these salt questions, and the country even has a national plan for reducing sodium in the diet. Residents need to. Costa Ricans on average consume about 7.1 grams of sodium a day, twice the average of residents of the United States.

Health officials want to bring the average down to about 3 grams of sodium a day. That is still higher than the 2.4-gram target suggested by the American Heart Association. The association is involved because sodium tends to retain water. Excess water puts a strain on the heart, and this increases blood pressure. High blood pressure can make bad things happen to the heart and body, including stroke, the Heart Association notes.

Another fact is that most of the salt that modern humans consume does not come from the salt shaker, as the Heart Association notes. The sodium already is in the food.

Elba Cubero Castillo and Yorleny Araya Quesada at the Universidad de Costa Rica’s  Escuela de Tecnología de Alimentos, in research reported Tuesday they found that food producers could cut the salt in their hot dogs, sausages and similar products without altering the flavor.

They did this with experiments in which the salt content of various products were cut 20 percent without being detected by those eating the meats, called here embutidos. The researchers reported
embutidos
Universidad de Costa Rica                           
A selection of what are called embutidos.

  that sausages low of fat and marketed as light contain an average of 2.05 percent salt. They said they could reduce that to 1.53 percent without affecting the perceived flavor.  Similar reductions were made with chorizo salchichón and similar.

There is a lot of salt in processed meats, like ham and cold cuts, too, they noted. The downside is that plenty of sodium products are put in meats as preservatives, and reducing the amount may affect the shelf life and healthfulness of the products. So the university’s Facultad de Microbiología staff is studying that question.

The researchers noted that the Cámara Costarricense de Embutidores y Procesadores de Carne has promised to cut sodium in its members’ products by 15 percent, but probably with a longer time frame.

The researchers also noted that studies of supermarket meats are complex because a lot of the meat is not just meat. Retail products include all types of extenders, including vegetable protein, that add texture and color to the food. Researcher said they still need to find out if these various extenders add more sodium to the finished product, so the studies continue.

--Oct. 19, 2016




Government moves to support the price
 of onions by buying 90,000 kilos

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The government says it will purchase 90,000 kilos of onions from small producers to support the prices.

Onions have taken a seasonal dive with retail prices at farm markets around 450 colons (about 83 U.S. cents)  a kilo. The price is expected to drop even more.

The government will be paying 750 colons (about $1.38) a kilo under the plan announced Tuesday. Prices earlier this year were about double that.

President Luis Guillermo Solís met with producers and the Corporación Hortícola Nacional in Cartago Tuesday. The Consejo Nacional de Producción will buy the onions. The Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería supports the plan.

The government also said that it would work to establish an onion drying facility north of Cartago Centro.

Producers also are planning to create a special seal or trademark to put on onions to show that they are from Costa Rica. Foreign imports, although costing about 800 colons a kilo here, have been affecting the local market. In fact, the Corporación Hortícola Nacional has come out in opposition to Costa Rica joining the Pacific Alliance trade pact.

Although a lot of the country’s onions are grown in the Cartago area, production does not seem to have been affected much by the eruptions of the Turrialba volcano. Other types of agriculture have.

The Corporación Hortícola Nacional was created by the legislature 20 years ago and took over the functions of the then-potato
onions
A.M. Costa Rica file photo                                
These will cost a bit more now.

 
promotion organization. The corporation benefits from a tax on cement and a line in the government’s budget, as well as money from producers.

The government also said Tuesday that onion producers will benefit from a promotional campaign set up with money from the Banca para el Desarrollo through the corporation.

Onions are a staple in most Costa Rican homes. Surveys have show that nearly every home has a supply of onions.

Santa Ana is generally considered the national onion capital, and that area has several promotional activities, including fairs, each year.

The Consejo Nacional de Producción will warehouse the onion purchases and try to sell quantities when the price improves.

The government agency also controls the price of white corn, beans and rice and restricts imports to maintain established levels of prices for the products.
--Sept. 14, 2016



Capital has no shortage of Argentine fare for every pocketbook

By D.M. Flynn, Jr.
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Fans of choripanes, churrasco, vacio and chorizo can find those famous succulent cuts of the Pampas at a number of places in San José. Here are a few of those places:

_____________
Aquí Es!
Avenida 2/Calle 38
Across the street from Parque Benemeritos
Monday through Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
2221-5727
www.aquies.wordpress.com
Also on Facebook

A good option on the west side of town in the Paseo Colon/La Sabana area.  Aquí Es! is a cozy place with a full offering of Argentine-styled meats, empanadas, desserts, and pastas.  This place is consistently good with a decent wine list, nice atmosphere, and terrific service. Only evening hours are Friday and Saturday.  Street parking.

_____________
La Esquina de Buenos Aires
Calle 11 at Avenida 4
Behind La Soledad Church
Monday through Friday: 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday:  11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
2223-1909
On Facebook

Open since 2004, La Esquina is one of San José’s most renowned fine dining establishments and a go-to place in the downtown area. Featuring an extensive menu of wines as well as the requisite meat dishes including a churrasco finished off at the table.  Offerings also include pastas, salads, empanadas, and desserts with a full bar and knowledgeable bartenders. La Esquina is usually crowded with an eclectic array of customers including expats, local intelligentsia, politicians, and chepe society. Service is excellent, perhaps the best in town.  Reservations are recommended. Parking available in a lot or on the street.

_____________
Tierra Sur Restó
250 meters west of Plaza Mayor
Plaza de la Amistad shopping center
Rohrmoser Boulevard in Rohrmoser
Monday to Friday: 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 to 10 p.m.
Closed weekends
2296-3389
On Facebook

This cozy place on the west side of San José on the tree-lined boulevard in Rohrmoser and near the U.S. Embassy has a modest but adequate menu of Argentine empanadas, steaks, chorizo, pastas, salads, and desserts.  Malbec lovers will find an ample number of choices moderately priced.  Service is good.  The place is small so reservations for larger parties are recommended.  Parking in the shopping center lot.


_____________
Tierra Gaucha
25 meters north of the Rostipollos
Sabana Norte
Monday to Saturday: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
2291-5421
www.tierragaucha.co.cr

If you can’t make it to downtown, Tierra Gaucha may be the next best thing after La Esquina de Buenos Aires. Located in a pleasant neighborhood close to other restaurants and an easy walk from the Crown Plaza Coribici, Tierra Gaucha features large steaks, churrasco, pastas, etc. along with an excellent list of malbecs and other wines. They can handle larger groups. Weekends are crowded and reservations are recommended. Street parking.

_____________
La Parrillita Delicias Argentinas
In the Plaza Mayor food court
2296-8171
No web or Facebook listings

This new place serves Argentine fast food. Quick stop for choripan, milanesas al caballo, empanadas, etc. Most for under 5,000 colons. Parking in the Plaza Mayor covered or uncovered lots.

From time to time A.M. Costa Rica will publish informational articles on various restaurants in the country. These are writer-generated news stories and not paid placements. But suggestions are welcome.



Restaurants
_____________
La Gauchada
175 meters south of Channel 7
La Sabana area
Monday to Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
2232-6916
No web or Facebook listings

Think soda rather than restaurant, this tiny place has been well known since the 1980s for their excellent fried Argentine empanadas. La Gauchada is a favorite of expat Argentines, local television personalities, and business people who work on the west side of La Sabana park. Most people order to take out and eat in their home, office, or across the street in the park. Street parking.



_____________
Tenedor Argentino
Avenida 2a, south side of the Teatro Nacional
Monday to Friday: 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
2221-5152
www.tenedorargentino.com

Whether you’re going to the Teatro Nacional or one of the dozens of small theaters in the area around the national theatre, you might want to take advantage of Tenedor Argentino’s best feature which is its location on Avenida Segunda. Upstairs seating on the balcony offers a tremendous view of the national theatre, the busy avenue and the Gran Hotel Costa Rica. Although the restaurant has steaks and full entrees, most diners delve into the appetizers including the empanadas.  An ample wine selection makes it a perfect stop before a show.  Street parking.



_____________
Donde Carlos
100 meters south of Plaza Vivo
100 meters north of Fátima church
Los Yoses
Monday and Tuesday: noon until 3 p.m.
Wednesday and Thursday: 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.
Friday: noon to 3 p.m. and 6:30 to 11 p.m.
Saturday: noon to 11 p.m.
Sunday: noon to 7 p.m.
2225-0819
www.dondecarlos.com

Established in 2003 on the east side of San José in Los Yoses, Donde Carlos is a favorite haunt of San José’s business community out for an elegant expense account style lunch or dinner.  The place exudes exclusivity and lacks the atmosphere of La Esquina or Aqui Es.  Still, the menu has something for everyone in the genre of Argentine cuisine for those who don’t want to make the trek downtown.  Wines abound as well. Service and food are good, but not always consistent. Parking.

Editor’s Note: Author Flynn is a fan of Costa Rica and of good restaurants.
--April 22, 2016



Nicoya h
oney producers  are getting
 an improved processing facility

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Beekeepers on the Nicoya peninsula are getting a state of the art honey processing facility, due in part to an investment of some 111 million colons ($210,000) by the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería.

The beekeepers themselves through their organization, the Asociación de Apicultores de Jicaral, are putting up 400 million colons or about $756,000.

The location, Jicaral, is on the east coast of the Nicoya peninsula overlooking the Gulf of Nicoya.
Initially the honey processing plant will service 32 small producers who have 4,300 colonies of bees. The plant will be able to handle the honey production of up to 20,000 colonies, said Casa Presidencial in a release.

Government officials are taking a tour of the area through today.

The processing plant will allow the honey to meet various international standards for hygiene, said officials. They also noted that the bees do double duty. In addition to collecting honey they are important pollinators for the local agricultural products.
— April 1, 2016



U.S. caloric intake based on ultra-processed
 foods, according to study

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A new study finds that more than half the calories consumed in the average American diet comes from ultra-processed foods, a factor that can contribute to more obesity and other health conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

A study, published by the online journal BMJ Open, analyzed the diets of more than 9,300 children, teens and adults.

It found that ultra-processed foods made up near 60 percent of all calories consumed and nearly 90 percent is caloric intake from added sugars.

Ultra-processed foods contain several semi-processed ingredients such as oils, flours, sugars, sweeteners and salt.


Some of the most popular of these foods would include sugary
drinks like soda and other ready made foods like frozen pizza, hamburgers, chips, cakes and candy.

Last year, a joint study by the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization found that the increased consumption of ultra-processed food was a major driver of growing rates of overweight and obesity.

It said they were doubly harmful and quasi addictive as they are engineered to have long shelf lives and to create cravings that can completely overpower people's innate appetite-control mechanisms and their rational desire to stop eating.

World Health recommends a sugar intake of no more than 25 grams of sugar per day. Experts say decreasing the consumption of ultra-processed food could be an effective way of reducing the excessive intake of added sugar in the U.S.
— March 11, 2016



12 years of traditional Costa Rican contest recipes are put online

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Those regional food contests have produced enough traditional Costa Rican recipes for the Internet publication of seven cooking books.

The Centro de Investigación y Conservación del Patrimonio Cultural set up the contests from 2001 to 2013. One of the requirements for participants was to provide the recipe.

Now the "Cocina Tradicional Costarricense" comes in seven sections with dishes that probably never have been heard of by expats, such as gallina arreglada, chicheme, buñuelos, torta de novios, chancletas de chayote and mazamorra.

And access is free, although an updated Flash reader is needed. The regions represented are Guanacaste y Región Central de Puntarenas, Heredia y Limón, Cartago,  Alajuela y Heredia, San José, Limón and the Zona Norte.



arracache
Centro de Investigación y Conservación del Patrimonio Cultural photo
This is picadillo de arracache, a dish that goes far back into pre-history. Arracacha (Arracacia xanthorriza) is a starchy root that originated in the Andes.
— Jan. 19, 2016



Biophysicist pioneers a new use for
 the coffee bean: Healthy flour

By the Brandeis University news staff

Brandeis biophysicist Dan Perlman has come up with a new invention, the parbaked coffee bean.

According to Perlman, this method of roasting green coffee beans enhances the health benefits of coffee. Perlman is developing the flour milled from parbaked beans both as a food ingredient and a nutritional supplement. It’s a world of difference from the traditional coffee bean, Perlman says.

Research has shown that drinking coffee is healthful. A recent Harvard study found that people who drank three to five cups a day had a 15 percent lower chance of prematurely dying than non-drinkers.

Nobody knows for certain what causes coffee to be salutary, but one leading explanation involves a natural chemical compound called chlorogenic acid. An antioxidant, the acid is thought to be beneficial in modulating sugar metabolism, controlling blood pressure and possibly treating heart disease and cancer.

Unfortunately, when coffee is roasted the traditional way, typically above 400 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes, the chlorogenic acid content drops dramatically. One study found the decrease ranged from 50 to nearly 100 percent.

Perlman wondered what would happen if the coffee bean was baked for less time and at a lower temperature. This took some trial and error until he got it right. In the end, he determined that parbaking the beans at 300 degrees at approximately 10 minutes worked best. The concentration of acid in the bean, around 10 percent of the bean’s weight, barely dropped.

The parbaked coffee bean can’t be used to make coffee. It isn’t roasted long enough to develop flavor. Instead Perlman cryogenically mills the bean in an ultra-cold and chemically inert liquid nitrogen atmosphere to protect the bean's beneficial constituents from oxidation. At the end of the process, a wheat-colored flour is produced. Its taste is nutty, pleasant and mild.
coffee flour
Brandeis University photo
This is the result of milling parbaked coffee beans

Perlman sees his coffee flour being blended with regular flours for baking, used in breakfast cereals and snack bars and added to soups, juices and nutritional drinks. To compensate for the acid lost during traditional coffee roasting, it would be possible to blend parbaked beans with regularly roasted ones.

There are green coffee bean extract-based nutritional supplements already on the market. They have been touted as a way to lose weight and fight obesity, but there is scant research to support these claims.

The scientific evidence that illustrates chlorogenic acid’s benefits for other conditions is much stronger. Perlman also says parbaking is far less expensive than the extraction methods used to produce the green coffee bean extract supplements currently on the market.

Brandeis University has patented Perlman's process.
— Jan. 8, 2016



Quality of honey represents a puzzle
 and possible threat for shoppers

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Many shoppers are unaware of the dangers that lurk in a bottle labeled honey.

Honey pretty much is a synonym for wholesome. After all, bees are little hard workers who have no genetic disposition for cheating.

But some honey producers do. In fact, some of the honey on store shelves is really cheaper corn syrup, other sweeteners or a mix. And there might be dangerous pesticides or antibiotics, too.

A shopper would have to be a graduate chemist to figure out what really is in the bottle or plastic bear. Food Safety News did an elaborate study in 2011 and reported that "more than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn’t exactly what the bees produce."

The publication reported online that there is another problem. Some producers use elaborate filtering techniques to remove the pollen in the honey. Without pollen no one can determine the origin of the honey.

China and India have been producing tons of low-grade honey for years, and much of it ends up in the North American market. Despite prohibitions, distributors there have found ways to evade import controls. Some U.S. states are beginning to develop quality controls.

The Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio here has done a study of  honey that is available in Costa Rica. The results will be presented today. The ministry promises to alert consumers to sneaky practices.

All honey is filtered to remove foreign matter, including wax and other unwanted matter. But usually this type of filtering does not remove pollen, the signature of where the bees

honey
National Honey Board photo


collected the honey and from what plant.

In addition, pollen is a valuable constituent that is an antioxidant and anti-allergenic.

Food Safety News said in its report that honey sold at farmer's markets and small stores generally have not been adulterated. Honey at most chain stores not only was suspicious, but the companies would not discuss the origins
.
— Nov. 5, 2015


Teff, the Ethiopian staple grain, is making inroads in the West

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Wayne Carlson became a convert to Ethiopia's staple grain while doing public health work in Africa in the mid-1970s. Teff flour is the key ingredient for injera, Ethiopia's signature, spongy flatbread. It has a mild, nutty or earthy taste.

In the late 1970s, Carlson returned to the U.S., married and settled in southwest Idaho. Then he hatched the idea to introduce teff grass to North America in his home state.

"Geologically, it is very similar to Ethiopia," he explained. "Ethiopia is placed on the East African Rift Valley, which is very much like the Snake River Plain."

Neither Wayne nor his wife, Elisabeth, is a farmer, nor do they want to be. So they persuaded actual farmers in Idaho, and in the neighboring states of Oregon and Nevada, to grow teff on contract for them. They mill the grain into flour, but until last year there wasn't a single Ethiopian restaurant or bakery in all of Idaho to sell it to.

Undeterred, the Carlsons found customers.

"The way we started was Wayne went through the Washington, D.C., telephone book and looked for the names that were Ethiopian," Elisabeth said.

And that's how the business slowly grew for several decades, serving the far-flung Ethiopian and Eritrean immigrant community in the U.S..

The Teff  Co. has outgrown four different mills. The first was a little stone grinder in the Carlsons' basement. They currently occupy a remodeled brewery complex in Nampa, Idaho. The teff flour coming off the packing line could well land in an upscale natural food store or commercial bakery.

According to an industry trade group, sales of alternatives to modern wheat, amaranthe, quinoa and millet, along with teff, are growing at double-digit rates each year.

Teff production in the U.S. exploded over the past decade, said Oregon State University research agronomist Rich Roseberg, going from 1,200 hectares in 2003 to more than 40,000 nationally by 2010. He noted that the majority of the teff acreage in Washington state, Oregon and in the Eastern U.S. is grown for livestock forage.

"Horses in particular seem to prefer it to other grass hay," he said.

teff
Voice of America/Tom Banse
Teff Co. co-founder Wayne Carlson shows the tiny grains of teff before cleaning. There are 2,500 to 3,000 grains per gram.

In Idaho, though, more of the teff production is grain for human food. Roseberg said Carlson was ahead of his time. 

"Mr. Carlson for a long time was the only one interested in it. He recognized the value of teff, at least for teff grain, long before any of the rest of us did," he said.

Teff contains lots of nutritious calcium, iron, protein and fiber. It requires one-third to one-half  less water than alfalfa, as well as substantially less fertilizer than wheat or other small grains.

The University of Nevada-Reno is leading a project to breed improved varieties of teff. The aim is to make it more productive and drought tolerant in anticipation of harsher growing conditions.

A marketing flier for The Teff Co. says, "Move over, quinoa, there's a new grain in town."

The new grain, of course, is really an ancient one, but Wayne Carlson is not fond of the term ancient grains to describe the category.

"Teff was never really a relic. It was never bypassed by history," he said. "Teff has always been the mainstay crop for millions and millions of people. It's just that they were geographically isolated in northeast Africa. So all we've done is said to the rest of the world, 'Hey, look, there's this really good stuff there. Why don't you incorporate it in your diet?'"
— Nov. 2, 2015



A Tico Thanksgiving is an economical treat

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Expats complain about high, extortive prices, but then they head to the supermarket for the ritual turkey for Thanksgiving.

The big birds, which may have been frozen and refrozen several times on their journey can go for $50.

Frugal expats can turn to a Costa Rican-style Thanksgiving and start a tradition of their own.

The main course can be pork roast. That helps the local producers and saves colons at the cash register.

A good start would be a hearty pejibaye soup as describedHERE! Thanksgiving is not a day to count calories!

Those 12-inch red snappers, called pargo here, make a good fish course if steamed and served with a bit of white sauce perhaps flavored with horseradish, rábano picante.

Follow that with a palmito salad with a vinegar dressing.

Then it is time for the pork roast, perhaps with a lemon sauce, although some might prefer traditional pork gravy. Lemon lovers might add slices when roasting the pork. Or make it an orange sauce.

A simple vegetable mix, perhaps julianne carrot and string beans or onions in white sauce, provide the nutritional balance.

Then there are the local sweet potatoes that boil well with their jackets on.  Or
they can be made into chips by dropping slices into hot oil.
Pork roast
A.M. Costa Rica graphic
Pork roast is not dry like a turkey breast.

No meal would be complete without Cartago white potatoes mashed, pure de papas, laced with butter. And the baked ayote.

By this time the telephone is ringing with an emergency call from the Weight Watcher help line. Let it ring.

Dessert can be a simple dish of La Pop's ice cream, among the best in the planet. Perhaps with a side of  passion fruit, granadilla.

Enterprising cooks can add sunflower seeds, cashews, macadamia nuts or even coffee beans to create unique variations. And there are many variations with pineapple, avocado, coconut, tropical guavas and other local products.

If the Pilgrims were pushed south by favorable winds, this is what they would have had for the first Thanksgiving. And they would have been better off avoiding the Massachusetts winter.

Responsible cooks will avoid shrimp because of the damage drag nets do to the coastal reefs until the government resolves the issue.
— Oct. 20, 2015










A butcher prepared the special Greiner strain meat for packaging and sale. The inset shows the detailed label that the transparent packages bear. The cattleman notes that dry-aged beef has a darker color due to the elimination of moisture.


meat
Loray Greiner photo


Expat cattleman takes another step to produce super prime signature beef

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An expat cattleman has taken a major step in his effort to create a signature beef line for Costa Rica.

The cattleman has combined successfully tropical cows with the legendary Japanese Wagyū strain from which comes the renowned Kobe beef. And now he is using an expensive dry-aging process that is familiar to only high-end restauranteurs and specialty butchers elsewhere.

Dry-aged or wet-aged, hardly anyone is able to find the Kobe beef outside of Japan.

The cattleman, Loray Greiner and his wife, Susanne, announced over the weekend that they have succeeded after a four-year effort.

Greiner's plans were the subject of a news article two years ago when he said that he sees his mission to be developing a Costa Rican cattle industry known for exceptionally high quality and unique pieces of meat. He said he wants to help Tico cattle ranchers to regain their dignity.

"Wagyū, sometimes called Kobe beef, is prized for its tenderness," he said over the weekend in an email.  "And the ratio of good fat, mono-unsaturated. to bad fat, saturated, is the healthiest of all cattle breeds."

He pointed out that his cows spend every day of their lives on his pastures with no hormones or antibiotics. "The pastures they were raised in were nourished with organic fertilizers from Earth University, and no herbicides were used to control weeds," he said.  "In short, these animals were bred, born, and raised with the highest level of care and attention while enjoying the cleanest, most-natural environment we could provide."

Greiner is following in the footsteps of his late father, Fred, who spent years trying to develop just the right pasture mix.

The meat carries the name Hacienda Sur artisan beef after a ranch at Parrita. The label is not typical in that it carries the ID number of the cow, its birth date and the date of packaging. The label also notes that the animal was half Waygū, and a quarter heat-tolerant Red Angus and Brahman.

Greiner did not stop with the extensive genetic efforts with the cows. He also chose to build his own dry-aging facility. That process is identified with bringing out remarkable depth of flavor.

"We chose to dry age because you get a superior product in both texture and flavor similar to the benefits you get from aging cheese in a cave or wine in a cellar," he said.  "For starters, the aging allows enzymes to tenderize the meat with time.  The process also removes moisture from the meat.  It's like taking a broth and reducing it down to a demi-glace sauce.  You're driving the moisture out, so you're intensifying the flavors."

Conventional beef is subjected to wet-aging. The meat is wrapped in a plastic bag for a few days. That way the meat does not lose moisture and weight. With dry aging there is more moisture loss, sometimes up to 20 percent, and the flavor is concentrated over the 45 days.

stock
Loray Greiner photo
These are examples of the special beef strain.

Greiner's view is backed up by extensive online reports.

He also noted that dry-aged meat becomes darker, and those who are unfamiliar with the luxury meat might think it is bad.

He said he had been told that some producers of wet-aged beef even put coloring on their meat to keep it a bright red. Dry-aged beef is dark.

"Well, I'm not going to put food coloring on this beef," he said.  "But I do think I need to inform people that dry-aged beef does look different from what you buy in the grocery store."

That difference comes from an elaborate dry-aging facility that the cattleman has custom made. And the process is equally elaborate.

Aging has to be done just above the freezing point. Greiner even had to have constructed what amounts to an airlock to maintain the interior temperature.

"We're pretty proud of our dry-aging room, which is solar powered, has what are almost certainly the tightest tolerances in Central America, features data logging and wireless alarms, as well as two cutting-edge, high-tech sanitation systems," he said.

The room maintains the temperature with a variation of just a single degree and  4 percent for moisture.

The system blows bacteria-killing ozone and hydroxyl periodically to eliminate mold. Other dry-aging facilities allow a layer of mold to grow on the exterior of meat cuts in the same way that certain premium hams develop a mold crust.

Greiner said that two of the three big industrial refrigeration companies he contacted declined to participate because they said they could not meet the specifications.

The meat needs extra care in the kitchen, too. "If it is over cooked, it will quickly become dry and tough," he said.  I would not recommend cooking more than medium rare.  A good sear on both sides with a generous sprinkling of coarse salt, and a great glass of wine is all you need."

His next challenge is marketing. He is trying to set up a delivery route through Escazú. The meat is not inexpensive.  Prices range from 8,000 colons (about $15) a kilo for ground beef to 20,000 colons ($39) a kilo for top cuts.
— Aug. 17, 2015









One of the interesting sights at the Saturday morning market in Santo Domingo, Heredia, is the egg vendors, who sell their eggs in plastic bags and weigh them by the kilo, reports reader Jim Twomey. They drive those trucks full of eggs very, very carefully when going to the market. And the eggs are not refrigerated, much to the consternation of the Gringo buyers, he said.

egg
              sales
A.M. Costa Rica/Jim Twomey


Story behind those unrefrigerated supermarket
 eggs is complex indeed

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

What U.S. expat  has not been surprised by flats and cartons of eggs sitting out on the supermarket shelf.

They immediately wonder why the eggs are not refrigerated like back home. It turns out that Costa Rica may be doing right by the eggs and the consumer.

"Eggshells have a natural protective coating on them that helps prevents microbes from entering eggs," says the University of Florida. "For this reason, washing eggs isn’t consistently recommended by all sources."

In fact, in only a few countries, including the United States and Australia, do producers and distributors wash eggs.

Those expats with laying hens probably also should know that washing eggs has to be done in a special way to prevent dangerous bacteria from seeping into the shells.

Among some of the instructions from the experts is discarding any free range eggs found outside the nesting boxes because there is no certainty when they have been laid. In addition, agricultural sources, including the University of Florida, urge collecting eggs twice a day in hot climates.

Egg safety is a major academic topic because there are cases of salmonella every year. Australia reports nearly 12,000 cases each year, according to one report.

The same Australian source reported that an experiment showed that egg penetration by Salmonella typhimurium was significantly higher in washed eggs when compared to unwashed eggs.

The University of Florida has an extensive tip sheet on the home handling of eggs by those who produce their own. One tip is to wash eggs in water about 20 degrees F warmer than the eggs to prevent it from contracting and pulling bacteria inside.

— June 15, 2015

Tico food
Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud photos
An assortment of traditional Costa Rican foods from gallos de picadillos, olla de carne and chicken.
Arts festival will be a place to enjoy country's traditional foods, too
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Festival Internacional de las Artes is known for its shows, music, dancing, comedy and other crowd pleasers.

But this year as the cultural event moves into the suburban areas, there also is an emphasis on food. Organizers said that typical Costa Rican dishes will be served. These include  chinchiví, a sugar drink; chicha, a corn drink;  chicharrones, a pork dish; tamales; gallos de picadillos, a chorizo tortilla; tortillas aliñadas, a cheese dish, and gallina enjarrada. The last is a chicken filled with an egg and potato stuffing and cooked wrapped in a banana leaf.

The bulk of the festival events are being held in Acosta, Alajuelita, Aserrí and Desamparados this year. And the local chefs are preparing the food.

For example, the Lions Club in Aserrí will be the vendors there.

The festival is from next Thursday to May 3 and organized by the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud.

Festival officials have provided training for those who will be handling food so they can do so in a professional manner.

As with many countries, the traditional dish is not the same in different areas. That  is true with the traditional Costa Rican foods, even though they may have the same name.

So festival officials are promoting regional variations.

They said they also hope that small businesses will take advantage of the opportunity and that some businesses may endure after the festival has gone.
— April 17, 2015


Healthier Mediterranean diet found to be better for environment, too
By the Servicio de Información y Noticias Científicas
news staff
 
The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet are well-known. As well as being healthier, a recent article concludes that the menu traditionally eaten in Spain leaves less of a carbon footprint than that of the U.S. or the United Kingdom.

A new study involving the University Hospital Complex of Huelva, Jaume I University of Castellón and the University of Huelva analyses the carbon footprint of daily menus served in Spain, based on a roughly Mediterranean diet, and compares them to those eaten in English-speaking countries, such as the United Kingdom and the U.S.

“Climate change is an international priority that must be tackled from all angles, one being the family environment and consideration of our daily diet,” explained Rosario Vidal, lead author of the study and researcher in the Mechanical Engineering and Construction Department at the Valencian institution.

Data was gathered at the Juan Ramón Jiménez Hospital in Huelva, which analyzed a total of 448 lunches and 448 dinners throughout the four seasons of the year to satisfy calorific needs of 2,000 calories.

Nevertheless, the figures can be widely extrapolated for the team of researchers. “These menus could have equally been served in any school, restaurant or Spanish household. The recipes analyzed include typical dishes such as Andalusian gazpacho soup, vegetable pisto manchego, paella or the stew-like puchero,” adds Ms. Vidal.

During the study a database was created with the carbon footprint of the foods grown, fished or produced (mainly in Spain) and the carbon footprint for each dish and menu was calculated simply by multiplying the raw amount required for its preparation.
gazpacho
Servicio de Información y Noticias Científicas/Javier Lastra
The recipes analyzed include typical dishes such as this Andalusian gazpacho.

The average daily carbon footprint obtained was 5.08 kg of CO2 equivalent (CO2e), much less than the average for the US (estimated at between 8.5 kg and 8.8 kg of CO2e) or the United Kingdom (estimated at 7.4 kg of CO2e); all for the same calorific intake.

The carbon footprint was also obtained for 17 other therapeutic diets such as soft, liquid or low/high-protein diets.

“The differences between the average value of the Mediterranean diet and that of English-speaking countries is due to much less beef being eaten in Spain (a food item with a larger carbon footprint) and more vegetables and fruit being eaten, which have a lower carbon footprints,” states the expert. “Therefore, it is not only healthier, but our diet is also more ecological”.

A carbon footprint expresses the amount of carbon dioxide equivalent measured in kilos of carbon dioxide equivalent.

— March 27, 2015


Improving the national menu could have a favorable impact on tourism
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Expats sometimes complain about what they see as a limited menu in Costa Rica. Rice and beans do play a big role in the diet of many Ticos. But there are options.

For example there is the Caribbean culture where rondón, the traditional soup, takes many forms. And there is the patty, the Jamaican meat pastry.

Like most countries, the menu is highly regionalized. The culture ministry has embarked on a number of annual contests to have locals bring out their regional dishes. The result has been a series of booklets preserving the recipes of the regional dishes.

Then there is a formal effort to tickle the local palates.

The Plan Nacional de Gastronomía Sostenible y Saludable has as one goal the creation of new food products both for exportation and for local consumption.

Costa Rica is in the big time next week when chefs Luis Guillermo Castro and Lizbeth Rodríguez Benavides and Alejandro Madrigal, director of the restaurant chamber, go to Galacia, Spain, to show off Costa Rican cuisine. Costa Rica is the invited country for the annual Feria Xantar 2015 in Ourense.

Madrigal also is the national coordinator of the Plan Nacional de la Gastronomía as well as the executive director of the Cámara Costarricense de Restaurantes e Afins.

The food fair runs from Wednesday through the weekend and attracts thousands. Other presenters will be from Galicia and nearby Portugal
.
casado
A.M. Costa Rica archives
The casado is a popular lunch meal


The fair already is promoting on its Web site Costa Rican favorites like the casado, the marriage of rice, beans, meat and platanos that is a typical lunch.

Fair goers also are promised sopa negra, mondongo, the patty and even rondón.

For the restaurant chamber and other Costa Rican officials this development of a unique Costa Rican cuisine also is a way to draw tourists.

Local chefs have been experimenting for years using perhaps a thousand plant species that can be incorporated into cooking. The chamber, the Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad, the Instituto Costarricnse de Turismo and a host of other government agencies are involved.
— Feb. 26, 2015


Here is a really good reason to wash vegetables and finger fruits
By Dennis Rogers
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Expats accustomed to not having to think much about parasites in Costa Rica, in contrast to other places where amoebas lurk in every ice cube, shouldn’t forget about Angiostrongylus costaricensis.

This is a nematode and actually has rats as its main host, with snails and slugs as an intermediate vector where early-stage larvae develop. Humans can contract an infection through eating inadequately cooked snails in cultures where those are consumed, but here accidental ingestion of a small slug or slug slime in poorly washed greens is the likeliest cause. Hydroponic lettuce is reputedly safer as the salt used and lack of soil makes for an environment hostile for the mollusks. Anything that has been on the ground where there are snails or slugs is potentially a risk.

The nance is one such food item since it is normally picked up off the ground after ripening. This is a yellow fruit a little smaller than an olive which is prevalent in Costa Rican cooking as preserves and wine. To eat raw it should be washed carefully with soap.

This nematode species wasn’t even described to science until 1971 by two biologists from the University of Costa Rica, Pedro Morera and Rodolfo Céspedes. The unfortunate scientific moniker A. costaricensis, refers to the fact that the original specimens were recovered from the intestinal linings of several children in this country. Since then, it has been established to be present in most of tropical America.

Similarly, the Asian Angiostrongylus cantonensis is better known as it is a cause of eosinophilic meningitis, a rather serious nervous system disorder. The local version here is much more benign with immune response eventually dealing with the invasion.  The most serious manifestation is usually the establishment of an adult nematode in the intestinal lining when it then can require surgery to remove. 

Initial symptoms are normally abdominal pain which can lead to misdiagnosis as appendicitis or some other problem of the liver and digestive system. There is a blood test for Angiostrongylus  which
nance
A.M. Costa Rica archives
A dish of nances and jocotes, both finger food.

worm
U.S. Centers for Disease Control photos
These appear to be Angiostrongylus cantonensis, cousins of the Costa Rican species.

allows for firm confirmation of the invasion. Given high tolerance and eventual autoimmune response, unless there are problems with the intestines due to the 15-millimeter (about six tenths of an inch) adults which can require surgery, no action is normally taken.
— Nov. 24, 2014


ceviche
Festival Gastronómico y del Cebiche
Various innovations of cerviche and other seafood dishes are promised
Quepos will be the site for a festival of ceviche next month
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Quepos will be the site of the Festival Gastronómico y del Cebiche Nov. 15 and 16. This is the first edition of the festival featuring raw fish basted in lemon juice.

Cebiche or ceviche is a traditional Latin American dish that probably originated in Perú long before the Spanish arrival. The lemon juice or other citrus juices transform the fish as if it were being cooked.
Costa Rican chefs prefer the juice of the  limón criollo.

They will have a chance to display their talent because as part of the festival there is a contest with the emphasis on innovation. Ceviche usually is mixed with certain chiles and  cilantro, The side dish can be yuca or potato.

The event is a the  Marina Pez Vela in Quepos. The Quepos Film Fest is talking place at the same time.
— Oct. 15, 2014


Another effort seeks to promote the unique cuisine of Costa Rica
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Even food is not out of the reach of the central government. The Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio announced Wednesday what it calls the  Plan Nacional de Gastronomía Sostenible y Saludable. The ministry did so at a meeting of the  Cámara Costarricense de Restaurantes y Afines.

The ministry said that it was seeking a Costa Rican gastronomy based on national products and to rescue cooking traditions, Also sought was promoting community development and protecting the environment.

The ministry said that other agencies and private organizations were supporting the initiative.  One of them is the  Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud, which already runs contest to promote traditional dishes and to collect the recipes.

The ministry also sees this as strengthening small and medium enterprises. There are some 90 food producers already listed with the ministry's small business program, including restaurants, drink manufacturers, mobile food providers and food producers.

The ministry initiative also includes setting standards for the food industry and a multitude of other specifics. Some seem hard to swallow, such as reducing cost and increasing productivity and profitability. And finally to increase the quality of life in the country.

So what should be a traditional Costa Rican dinner?

Not all these ideas are traditional, but they do include local foods.
There are some beneficial aspects, too.

Lion fish, an invasive species, are cleaning out other sea creatures in the Caribbean. The best way to catch them is with spears, as is done at Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. Putting them on the commercial menu would create another industry and help  clean up the ocean.
lion fishLion fish

A really traditional food here is the paca (Cuniculus paca) also
Pejibayes
Pejibayes
known as a tepezcuintle. This forest rodent was a main course long before Columbus. They now are farm-reared, but many individuals still have an aversion to a main course of rodent. So beef, also a traditional food, was selected instead.

The dinner would start with  creamed peach palm soup (pejibayes) served with cassava or yuca flour buns.
This would be accompanied by a guaro martini, shaken not stirred!
An appetizer of pickled veggies called escabeche also would be served.

A simple salad  consists of lettuce and tomatoes with an optional sugar cane and vinegar dressing.

The fish course will be that Puerto Viejo lion fish in a coconut butter sauce laced with Santa Ana onions..

The main course provides a choice of either farm-reared tilapia drenched in salsa or a traditional grilled beef, Some might argue that beef is not a sustainable food. And some folks
guaro
No need for vermouth
are pushing lion fish burgers to help eliminate the invasive species. But you can't beat beef.

Chayote. Cartago potatoes and perhaps rice with a side of beans
cafe rica
Cafe Rica
comes with the main course.

Beverages include atole de avena, the oatmeal and milk drink, or  tapa de dulce, a mixture made from raw sugar.

There is local local beer and maybe another belt of a guaro martini. Leave the car keys with the host.

The selected dessert is chorreadas flambé in the style of a crêpe suzette, except with the traditional base of the Costa Rican corn
pancake. A 100-proof Costa Rican rum  would provide the flames, and the fruit and sugar are local.

Cafe Rica, the coffee liquor, comes with a separate serving of expresso.
Would if be politically incorrect to offer Puriscal cigars in the drawing room?

If anything, Costa Rican cooks under estimate what is available.  What about bananas or platanos. Avocados, perhaps? Although the best ones seem to come from California.

A strange fact is that Costa Rica produces little wine, and some that is offered as a national product comes from imported powder. Jocote producers are reported to have developed an alcoholic drink similar to wine using the little green fruits.

Any other suggestions?
— Oct. 9, 2014


Many misconceptions abound over gluten-free food, study shows
By the University of Florida news staff

While necessary for some, many people eat gluten-free diets because they believe they’ll gain certain health benefits, but these beliefs are not