Wow! It's Labor Day weekend already! Did this summer ever just fly by! We've been on vacation these past two weeks, just kicking back and enjoying family, children and South American visitors.. cooking up a storm and sampling foods we've never had the chance to try before. One might say it was a unique gastronomical experience, and one we will remember for a very long time. Much laughter and even more chatter in these weeks, with very little English spoken..
but with the help of our adoptive Colombian daughter/translator, a wonderful connection was made.. a Colombian connection. Remarkably enough, much conversation transpired, observations were made, questions raised.. oh, the many questions! :o) Traditions were compared, and recipes were shared and prepared.. and hopefully this will become an annual family gathering every summer from now on!
Our adoptive daughter brought her real parents to the states for a two month visit.. they came bearing gifts, warm hugs, smiles, food, Colombian condiments, spices, coffee, real cocoa, and liqueurs that I'm not still quite sure how they managed to clear US customs with.. but then again, I don't think I really want to know! LOL Before they made the trip up here to Maine her Mami took 3 days to prepare this dish. Have you ever seen these before.. or even moreso.. had the chance to taste these delicious morsels?
These are Colombian Tamals.. a labor intensive traditional fare. Plantano (banana leaves) wrapped bundles that were filled with chicken, pork, rice, carrots, potatoes, yams, onions blended with a delicious 'hoago' relish/sauce, and then slowly steamed for a day. These were served for breakfast, Colombians' largest meal of the day, with breads, along with real hot cocoa that a soft stringy cheese had been added to. This was just so good, but a bit heavy for this tummy, so early in the day. Fortunately.. they thought ahead (though it shocked Mami..as freezing food simply isn't a part of Colombian cookery) our daughters froze a few up for us.
We then slowly steamed them and had for dinner the other night and simply savored ever bite!
Here's a shortened recap of photos the kids took while preparing these Tamals.. so much time, improvising and effort went into this process than Mami was accustomed to preparing in her own kitchen. I had to smile when they told me she somehow managed to bring 34 fresh banana leaves into the US, just to make us Tamals. Wow!
Mami's finished Colombian Tamals
Some of the other foods prepared for us was roasted plantains & corn and roasted blue fish that we caught on a grand fishing day. Pappi brought us some Aguardiente, a liqueur that I could only compare to our anisette, though what we drank clearly had a definitely stronger kick to it! We had planned to have Mami show us how to make arepas, but ran out of time, so I will definitely look forward to learning this next summer when they visit again. And speaking of fish.. our visitors were fascinated with the types of fish we enjoy here, they were particuliarly interested in swordfish and bluefish.. both new to them. They also just loved our lobsters, mussels and steamed clams, also new to them. Some observations made.. they couldn't get over how much food is wasted here in the US, as well as the high price we pay for fresh fruits and vegetables..they were awed by our rising and falling tides, and our highways, not to mention EZPass! LOL Isn't it remarkable the things people take note of when they visit our country. I thought Mami was going to throw the Captain of the boat we chartered overboard, as he cleaned and fileted all the fish caught for us and tossed the bodies overboard for the gulls!! She insisted we save one whole 9 pounder for her to prepare for us all in it's entirety, which he gladly did! LOL
Mariella & Marcos.. have a very safe journey back to Colombia! See you next year!
Now I know this is primarily an Italian family recipe blog, and just like most Italian homes, every family has their own version of lasagne right? -- Well, so do the Colombians when it comes to making Sancocho, their traditional flavorful soup broth, served with large pieces of fresh assorted vegetables and meat. I had never tasted this soup, but decided to surprise our guests by preparing some.
In Colombia, Sancocho is beleived to be so powerful that it can bring the dead back to life, so it is often served after every party or whenever mucho imbibing has taken place, or after a night of celebration. Well, we did much celebrating, so I thought this easy soup to prepare would be most fitting.
I'm not sure who was more surprised, myself, for the way it turned out or our company that I made it for them.. but I have to say I received one of the nicest compliments when Pappi said " I cannot believe that I traveled so far to be served wonderful Sancocho made by a 'gringo'! LOL It simply made my day! Not knowing what to expect, nor what I was shooting for flavorwise, I have to say, the end result was one of the most tasty soups I've ever eaten. This recipe will be a regular winter soup on my menu for certain.
· 4 carrots, chopped
· 6 garlic cloves
· 3 peppers – sweet green, red, orange – seeded & chopped
· 1 medium red onion
· 1 jalapeno pepper
· 2 cups fresh cilantro
Put all of the above ingredients into a food processor and blend well, forming a paste. Add a bit of water if it won’t pulverize easily
In a large pot, combine the paste mixture with 5 qt water, 4 low sodium chicken bouillon, 2 TBLS ground cumin, ground pepper & just sprinkle of salt. Bring to a rapid boil and add:
· 1 medium yucca, peeled & cut into pieces
· 3 plantains – pelled & cut into 2 inch pieces
· Assorted chicken pieces - I added 8 whole legs, 6 boneless thighs, 4 boneless
chicken breasts- cut into 2 inch pieces
Simmer for 30 minutes and add:
· 6 ears of fresh ears of corn – cut into thirds
· 8 potatoes – peeled and halved
Simmer this an additional 30 minutes. When the potatoes are tender, remove from heat. Allow it to rest for 10 minutes and serve with chopped cilantro garnish. Enjoy!