Chile Verde is a popular Mexican dish with an aromatic green chile sauce with cilantro, and tomatillos that cook the protein, thus the translation name “green chile” of Chile Verde.I remember this was one of my favorite dishes from my mama’s Mexican seitan recipes.
Nostalgic but Ready to Move On!
Oh the feeling to be back. Sigh. I fell in love with Puerto Rico and my heart aches on returning, it is such a strange feeling, because normally I feel very happy to come back home after a trip, but I felt so comfortable in Puerto Rico, not only because the island has so much wealth and beauty but also because the people are so warm and friendly everywhere you go. This place reminded me so much of Mexico, yet it felt much more safe and secure to travel without the worries of being mugged or cartel crimes. Kala and I moved into our new house just a week before we left to PR and I barely got to unpack anything (although the kitchen was the first room I worked on). I was worried about some boxes that had gotten wet and would start developing fungus, since there is a lot of humidity by the beach… but my Auntie Noreen came to my rescue, she helped unpack and organize our whole house before we would get back, and I can’t thank her enough for helping me create our new place like home, she is truly a wonderful and AMAZING auntie, I love her!
We flew to San Juan with a couple of friends, Paul deSomma and Marsha Blaker, whom Kala works with, blowing beautiful glass sculptures (you can check out their art by clicking on the link). We arrived in the evening after rearrangements of delayed flights and a loss of my debit card for the car reservation….it was pretty hectic :(. But the next day we went with the family and friends to celebrate Andy’s birthday, (kala’s oldest sister’s husband) at a beautiful restaurant; Marmalade, in the colonial town of San Juan. The lavish restaurant exceeded our expectations with its ten course vegetarian gourmet dishes and not to forget the desserts! The chef Peter Schintler was such a cool down to earth guy; it made the whole experience earthy yet extravagant! We spent the rest of the night exploring downtown in old San Juan and encountered a children’s folklore dance in the square and a nice jazz band playing at another plaza. Our final stop was at the Nuyorican Café, they had some sweeet salsa music (I couldn’t help but get my dancing feet on!) and so we ended the night with happy music and happy food.
The next day I went to the farmers market with my friends in San Juan and I was in ecstasy with all the foreign vegetables. I had never seen so many different types of roots for so many dishes. It was awesome! I spoke with every farmer that had a table and got ideas for how to cook these strange looking things. My favorite, was an herb called Recau, it is like cilantro but looks nothing like it. I was so happy buying all kinds of roots, vegetables, and fruits that I had to get a big sack (like for potatoes) to throw over my back since a few plastic bags were insufficient. And then I ran into the chef from our previous dinner at Marmalade! He was so nice and we started talking about the different types of vegetables that they had and what things to try… and then his lovely wife and daughter showed up. Ohhh I had the time of my life!!! Yay for the farmers market :), I will have to post some recipes of the dishes I cooked, because they were off the hook! I cooked a ñame (its like a potato) with olive oil and recau cilantro, then broiled it for crispiness, and paired it with caramelized coconut plantains, let me just say it was very nice!
So our trip was wonderful, it was also my first time snorkeling expirience and boy we saw so many different types of fishes, I saw a turtle, manta rays and an eel. It was quite magical but I ended up slipping on some rocks and I got cuts and scrapes all over me of which I am still healing. My left hand was all cut up and bleeding and the first thing I said was “oh no how will I cook now!??” hehe… Well now that I’m home it’s time to get back on track, I’ve learned so many new things on this trip and have come up with new ideas for recipes and I can’t wait to share them with all of you. Here are some more pictures of my trip, you can just click on the image to go to the next picture. enjoy
Arepas are a common breakfast and brunch from South America in both Venezuela and Colombia. Which country originally created it? ….who knows…(although i bet my venezuelan friend, Vrinda would highly object that they are Colombian), either way Arepas are just simply delicious. This recipe is for a popular dish called Reina Pepiada. It is a filling usually made with chicken, avocado and mayo, stuffed in a precooked cornmeal bread that formed like a patty. Arepas can be grilled, pan fried, baked or deep fried. They are pretty similar to the mexican gorditas and can be stuffed with countless fillings. If you looove avocado like I do, this dish will simply overwhelm your taste buds with pure bliss.
4 cups warm water
1 tsp salt
3 cups of Venezuelan harina P.A.N.
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 package of chicken-less strips from Trader Joe’s or any other fake chicken meat (for gluten free; tofu strips, pre grilled, pan or deep fried)
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp of lemon juice
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and chopped
1/2 cup cilantro (aka coriander), finely chopped
4 tbsp of Veganaise or Trader Joe’s eggless mayonnaise
2 tsp of yellow mustard
- Finely shred and chop the chicken-less. Then in a medium heat, saute 1/2 of the minced onions in a pan for 1 minute, add the fake chicken or tofu and quickly stir for 5 minutes on a high flame, add salt, lemon juice and empty into a container, cover and cool in the fridge.
- In a large bowl mix together the water and salt, and slowly add the harina P.A.N. as you mix it together with your fingers. Mix and knead until it forms a soft and fluffy dough. When you can pick up all of the dough in a mass without it sticking to your hands, it’s ready to form the arepas.
- Make a ball with your hands, then gently flatten and form into a patty. You can wet your hands with a little water if the dough is a bit sticky. Heat 4 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-low heat for 2 minutes. Cook the arepas until they release from the pan and are able to be moved. Cook for about 4 minute 30 seconds (or until they are golden on the side) and then flip and cook the other side for another 4 minute 30 seconds.
- Arepas are cooked when you tap them and they sound like a drum. Repeat with the remaining masa until you fill up the pan. When they are all ready, split the arepas in half, then scrape out and discard a bit of the middle.
- Add the remaining chopped onion, avocado, cilantro, Veganaise, and mustard to the chilled fake chicken or tofu. Mix well and check if it needs more salt or lemon. Stuff the arepas with the mixture and enjoy immediately.