Frisoles Colombianos con Arroz, Chorizo, y Aguacate

Easy Colombian Beans with Rice, Chorizo, and Avocado

Serves 4

Frisoles with Rice, Chorizo, and Avocado

Frisoles with Rice, Chorizo, and Avocado

How about impressing your friends with a delicious and easy to make Colombian dinner. Frisoles or fríjoles are a very typical meal in the state of Antioquia where my city Medellin is located. Frisoles is the food of the mountains, the food of the people, and the food of comfort. If you find yourself in Medellin, rest assured that there is a pot of pressure-cooked beans in every kitchen on a daily basis. These beans may have been made for lunch but they reheat beautifully for dinner or for the next day’s breakfast. Lunch tends to be the main meal served in Colombia. Lunch will consist of a “la sopa y el seco”, translating to the soup and the “dry”. The dry portion can consist of either meat and rice or potatoes with vegetables or a salad. Beans can be served as the soup portion of the lunch. But like many Antioqueños, I love to mix my beans with my seco.

When I cook my beans I make them in a thicker broth and serve them together with rice and meat on a plate. In this recipe I serve them with chorizo. There are two ways of making this bean recipe. You can use either canned beans or pressure-cooked beans. Canned beans is an easier and quicker option. These are generally a good option depending on the brand. You may find some brands a little tougher than others, which will require that you cook them longer on the stove. In this recipe, I use canned beans and make a vegetarian version of the frisoles. Alternatively, I promise you that it is very easy to pressure cook beans. I like to pressure cook pinto beans with beef stew meat and other seasonings for an outstanding meal.

Ingredients

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  • 1 Tbs canola oil
  • 1 cup diced red or green pepper (1 small pepper)
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion (1 medium or ½ of large onion)
  • 1 glove of garlic passed through a garlic press or minced
  • 1 cup diced tomato (fresh or half of a 14 oz can) Use more tomato if you want
  • 2 – 14 to 16 oz. cans of beans with their liquid (pinto or borlotti)
  • ½ cup to 1 cup of water
  • ½ cup to 1 cup of chopped cilantro (coriander leaves)
  • ½ to 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp kosher or regular salt
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • Black pepper to taste

Preparation

You begin by making the “sofrito”, a tomato sauce used as a base in Latin American and Caribbean cooking. In some instances the sofrito is made by pureeing raw vegetables and seasonings and then adding the puree to a recipe. I chose not to puree my sofrito in this case. I like the added texture of the vegetables in the beans.

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Making the sofrito

  • Heat the oil in a large pot
  • Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes
  • Add the pepper and cook for 2- 3 additional minutes
  • Add the tomato and cook until most of the liquid disappears, about 5 – 10 additional minutes.
  • Add the cans of beans with their liquid
  • Add the water (can add more if you like the beans to have more of a soup consistency)
  • Add salt, cumin, oregano, and black pepper.

    Add Beans and seasonings

    Add Beans and seasonings

  • Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer on low heat for 10 – 15 minutes or until beans are tender and the liquid is thickened.
  • Add cilantro
  • Adjust salt and pepper

    Ready to Serve

    Ready to Serve

You are ready to serve. Accompany the beans with chorizo, rice, and avocado slices.

Buen Provecho!

Additional Comments:

Rice: I like to serve this recipe with yellow rice however white rice is perfectly fine and probably more typical in Colombia. I use long grain white rice. To make yellow rice, the purist would use saffron, which is an expensive spice and imparts its unique flavor. However, I make the poor man’s yellow rice using turmeric powder which is less expensive than saffron. Turmeric does not impart a flavor, but gives its beautiful golden color to the food it is used in and offers added health benefits.

Chorizo: Chorizo can be either a fresh sausage that needs cooking or a cured sausage that can be eaten as is.  If you live in London there is only one chorizo brand to be purchased, and that is the fresh chorizo sold by Brindisa at Borough Market. It is by far the best quality fresh chorizo I have purchased and prepared in my life. If you live in the states you’ll have some varying options available to you but it is also very dependent on geography. Here in the suburbs of Philadelphia, I find most chorizos are extremely fatty, tough, and chewy. That said, my quest for excellent chorizo is still on going. I have in my refrigerator a brand I bought at Whole Foods recently. I’ll let you know how that is.  I may have to resort to making my own chorizo!

Arepas: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention arepas. Any Antioqueño would tell me I’m crazy for serving beans without arepas. Arepas are flat breads made with freshly ground maize but today there are “instant” arepa flours that you can purchase in the stores (Masarepa and P.A.N.) There are many ways to serve arepas, as an accompaniment to a dish or on their own. Arepas are also great for stuffing. This is definitely a fun topic for a future blog.

Avocados: see my posting on guacamole to learn more about avocados

https://thelabyrinthguide.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/guacamole-a-family-affair/

To read my favorite Colombian food blogger’s site:

http://www.mycolombianrecipes.com/

For more on the pressure cooked Colombian beans:

http://www.mycolombianrecipes.com/cazuelita-de-frijoles-colombian-beans-cazuela

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A Foodie Adventure in Asheville, North Carolina

The Biltmore Castle Asheville, NC

The Biltmore Castle
Asheville, NC

There are so many exciting places to visit in the United States. For us having the focus of doing a culinary adventure sounded very appealing. My husband had heard of Asheville, NC as being a big foodie community. Asheville is also home to the Biltmore Estate a gorgeous castle built by George Vanderbilt III, fashioned after some of the French Loire Valley castles. Asheville is located in the western part of North Carolina near the Blue Ridge Mountains. We decided to drive to Asheville, NC from our home in West Chester, PA. The drive was approximately 9 ½ hours long and we split it into 2 days. The drive took us from Pennsylvania through some very scenic areas of the states of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Tennessee. We had a wonderful opportunity to enjoy Southern hospitality.

Southern Food at the Southern Kitchen in New Market, VA

Enjoying Southern food at the Southern Kitchen in New Market, VA

Our first stop included stopping for dinner in New Market, VA in a 57-year old restaurant called Southern Kitchen. We thoroughly enjoyed a dinner of peanut soup, southern fried chicken, and not-to-be missed peanut butter cream pie.  After enjoying a wonderful dinner we continued on to Christianburg, VA to spend the night. The next morning we were only 3 ½ hours away from Asheville. Asheville, NC has a regional airport and can also be reached by airplane. Asheville is approximately a 4-hour drive from Raleigh, the capital of NC located closer to the center of the state. North Carolina also boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. With so much to do and see, the state of North Carolina can be a wonderful destination visit. Keep in mind that North Carolina is home to some excellent universities like the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, North Carolina State University, Wake Forest University, and Elon University. So if college visits bring you here, make sure to extend your visit and see more of the state.

Inn on Biltmore Estate

Inn on Biltmore Estate

We arrived in Asheville on a Monday and went straight to our hotel to check-in at The Inn on Biltmore Estate located on the grounds of the Biltmore Castle. We knew our hotel room would not be ready until later so we dropped off our bags and drove into the town of Asheville.

Asheville has become a mecca for foodies, where restaurant chefs have the focus of farm to table. The other great attribute of this city is that it offers a very international selection of cuisine. The city has also become an artist community boasting many galleries and exhibits. We enjoyed our first meal in Asheville at a Latin American restaurant called Chorizo, where we savored a mouth-watering arepa stuffed with shredded pork. We then met up with our foodie walking tour, Eating Asheville. Our wonderful tour guide, Cecily, took us to 6 different venues while also sharing with us some of the city history. Our stops included: The Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar, Chai Pani (Indian street food), Zambras (tapas with a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern twist), Table (farm-to-table seasonal), The Gourmet Chip Company (gourmet potato chips), and The French Broad Chocolate Lounge (a to die for chocolatier). At every stop we enjoyed delectable samplings of the food and drink. What a wonderful way to get introduced to the local food scene. I highly recommend that you sign up for foodie tours in the various cities you visit. It’s great entertainment. Cecily also recommended that instead of having a meal at just one restaurant, to try restaurant hopping while sampling their appetizers and drinks. We tried this strategy very successfully on one of our nights in Asheville. This allowed us to sample a variety of restaurants in a short time frame.

Eating Asheville Food Tour with Cecily giving us information about the tour.

Eating Asheville Food Tour with Cecily giving us information about the tour.
At The Battery Park Book Exchange Champagne Bar

Our stay at the Biltmore Inn was wonderful. The hotel sits on top of a hill with beautiful sweeping views of the 8,000-acre Biltmore Estate. The Biltmore Castle & Estate was built by George Vanderbilt III. It was Vanderbilt’s dream to make the estate self-sustaining. When it was first built in 1895 the estate operated a diary farm. Today, the estate operates a very successful winery. Although, some of the grapes are grown on the property, many are purchased from other regions of the United States. The Winery is one of the most visited wineries in the country.  The Biltmore Inn offers various wonderful choices for dining and serves a lovely Afternoon Tea. Dare I say, that the afternoon tea rivaled some of the best London high tea experiences.

Afternoon Tea at the Biltmore

Afternoon Tea at the Biltmore

During our stay at the Biltmore Inn we took advantage of some of the many activities they offer. We enjoyed a session of Sporting Clays. In the picture I am shooting a 20 gauge double barrel shot gun.  At first I was a little intimidated seeing the shotgun. With the coach’s guidance I found myself holding and shooting the shotgun. The instructor uses a computerized system to propel 6-inch clay discs from different locations into the air that you then attempt to hit. And to my greatest surprise I actually hit the clays. Even my husband was shocked. Annie Oakley, move over!!! Another fun activity is the Land Rover driving school where you get instruction on off-road driving. Other activities include: fly fishing, horseback riding, hiking, river trips, Segway tours, biking, and carriage rides. There is plenty for the whole family to enjoy.

Annie Oakley Move Over!

Annie Oakley Move Over!

One very special activity that we did was a Private Food Demonstration that I arranged through the Biltmore Catering Department. A wonderful menu was especially prepared for us and demonstrated by Chef Kirk together with his sous chef and pastry chef. In addition, we had the wonderful service of two waitresses that made sure the champagne and wines were appropriately matched. All of this took place in one of their catering kitchens. The session was an amazing display of cuisine by a professional and friendly crew offering us an experience and lunch to remember.

Our Private Food Demonstration

Our Private Food Demonstration

The Biltmore Estate is still privately owned by the Vanderbilt Family and employs 1700 people and is visited by more than one million guests a year. We enjoyed a wonderful tour of the Biltmore Castle and its extensive gardens. The audio tour guide provided with the admission ticket is a great way to enjoy the property and learn its history. We really enjoyed the Biltmore Estate and hope to return again someday.

Our Delicious Private Food Demonstration Menu

Our Delicious Private Food Demonstration Menu

For more information on foodie tour in Asheville go to:  http://eatingasheville.com/

For more information on the Biltmore Estate go to: http://www.biltmore.com

Cannellini Bean Soup with Sausage

If you are looking for a hardy family meal then try this easy to make cannellini (white  bean) soup with sausage. I prefer to use fresh herbs but dry herbs will work fine. I prepare the sausage in the same pot that I will eventually make the soup in. For extra flavor I save some of the sausage pan drippings and saute the mirepoix* in it.

Fresh rosemary and thyme

Fresh rosemary and thyme

Serves 4 – 6 people

Ingredients

  • 2 medium carrots diced
  • 2 stalks of celery diced
  • 1 medium onion or 1½ cup of onion diced
  • 6 chicken or turkey sausages (pork or chorizo) cooked then sliced
  • 1 tsp saved pan drippings from the sausages
  • 1 tsp canola oil (or 2 tsp if discarding pan drippings)
  • 3 – 15 oz or 400 gm cans of white beans (cannellini beans) with their liquid
  • 1 ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 Tbs fresh rosemary chopped or 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 ½ tsp fresh thyme chopped or ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Sauté sausages in a “pot” at medium heat. This is the same pot in which the soup will be prepared. When sausages are partially cooked, slice them, and return them to the pot to complete cooking. Once the sausages are cooked set aside.

Partially cook the sausage, slice, then continue cooking.

Partially cook the sausage, slice, then continue cooking.

For extra flavor, save 1 tsp of pan drippings in the pot and add a teaspoon of canola oil. If you prefer not to use the pan drippings then add 2 teaspoon of canola oil to the pot. Heat up oil and/or pan drippings. Add carrots, celery, and onion and sauté on medium heat. Lightly salt the mirepoix. Sauté uncovered for about 2 minutes, cover, and cook on low heat for 5 minutes.

The mirepoix cooking in the sausage pan drippings

The mirepoix cooking in the sausage pan drippings

Add the beans with their liquid and the chicken broth. Add rosemary and thyme herbs.

Add the Cannellini Beans

Add the Cannellini Beans

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer on low for 15 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Reserve one cup of the bean soup. Place the rest of the soup in a blender and blend until creamy. Return to pot and add the 1 cup of reserved bean soup.

Add salt and pepper.

Reheat sausage slices.

Reheat the Sausage

Reheat the Sausage

Ladle soup into bowls. Top with sausage slices. Accompany with delicious crusty bread and salad.

Cannellini Bean with Rosemary Soup with Sausage

Cannellini Bean with Rosemary Soup with Sausage

This is recipe can be made ahead of time.

*Mirepoix is the term used of the mix of diced onion, celery, and carrot. Generally, the mix is about 50% onion, 25% celery, and 25% carrot.  Some stores sell already prepared fresh mirepoix. This may save you time when preparing this soup.

Note: If you are using chicken or turkey sausages you may need to cook them with additional canola oil.

Note: Omit the sausage and this soup makes a delicious vegetarian meal.

Borough Market

FOODIE OVERDOSE IN LONDON

Borough Market

One of the first things we did when we moved to London was going to the very famous food market, Borough Market. If you are a foodie, you will love to immerse yourself in this food mecca. The market is located at 8 Southwark Street in London SE1 1TL. The closest underground station is London Bridge. The market runs Thursday from 11 – 5 pm, Friday from 12 -6, and Saturdays from 8 – 5.

The market is very popular and can get very crowded. They recommend for you to visit either on the earlier or later side. My husband and I like to go early on Saturday mornings when we have the market almost to ourselves.

By noon you can barely walk through this area.

At this market you will find vendors selling baked goods and confectionery products. You will find stalls offering dairy, fruit, vegetables, meats, seafood, fish, beer, wine and international foods.

There are dozens of artisans selling their culinary creations. The market also offers a huge selection of cafés, bars, and restaurants. Once the market closes to the retail customers it turns into a traditional wholesale market for London’s restaurants and shops.

Although, I don’t have a picture of the spanish store, Brindisa, I am here to tell you that they sell the best Spanish chorizo I have ever had in my life. They also hand cut Iberian ham to order that will melt in your mouth. In addition, they have a separate tapas restaurant at the market. For more information go to:

http://www.brindisa.com/

Notice the Gigantic English Muffins on the Left

A decadent late morning breakfast for me is to buy the grilled cheese sandwich at Kappacassein. This most delicious toasted cheese sandwich is loaded with Montgomery Cheddar on onion, leek, & garlic bread. You will have gone to grilled cheese sandwich Nirvana and back by the time you finish this delicacy.

Grilled Cheese Nirvana at Kappacasein’s Stall

Another very popular place for a take away (take-out) lunch is the deli arm of the restaurant Roast. The lines to this place are huge. There you can order all sorts of beef, pork, and turkey sandwiches.

For Delicious Fish and Chips go to Fish!

Whether you live in London or you are just visiting, if you love food then a trip to Borough Market is a must.

For more information go to:

http://www.boroughmarket.org.uk/borough-market

Borough Market

Eating Around the World in London

With both children away on week-long school trips, I decided to take a break from the kitchen, and set forth with my husband on an international cuisine adventure through the neighborhoods of London.

Day #1

  • Type of Cuisine: Lebanese
  • Restaurant: Maroush I
  • Neighborhood: W2 2JE (Paddington)

Since arriving in London nine months ago, my husband had been wanting to try one of the many Lebanese restaurants along Edgware Road. And since I have a claim to Lebanese descendants, (a great great grandfather who made his way to Colombia), it was befitting to make our trek to Maroush, a Lebanese restaurant recommended by friends. After researching on-line and discovering that Maroush is a 30-year-old, very successful, family owned business with 14 different restaurants and eateries to pick from, we chose Maroush I, located at 21 Edgware Road. We shared two delicious appetizers, one was a warm chick pea dish with yogurt, lemon, garlic, and pieces of bread mixed in; the other was a baked pastry filled with spinach, pine nuts and flavored with sumac (a middle eastern seasoning). Then for the main course we had the Mixed Grill consisting of charcoal-grilled skewers of seasoned minced lamb and cubes of marinated lamb and chicken served with garlic sauce, cooked so beautifully they melted in our mouths. After our wonderful and filling meal we were just expecting to get our bill when the waitress surprised us with a complimentary plate of Lebanese Baklawa, a mouth-watering selection of miniature traditional phyllo dough pastries filled with honey, nuts, and butter. We plan to return to bring our children and have them experience Lebanese cuisine. We also plan to go later in the evening since Maroush has live music and belly dancing every night beginning at 9:30. For more information go to:

http://www.maroush.com/

Day #2

  • Type of Cuisine: Latin American
  • Restaurant: Las Iguanas
  • Neighborhood:  SE1 8XX (Southbank, London Borough of Lambeth)

For our second day we decided to honor the Latin American heritage in the family by going to a Latin American restaurant, Las Iguanas. Las Iguanas is a chain of restaurants with locations throughout all of England and four in London. We visited the restaurant located in South Bank across from the Southbank Centre near the London Eye.

Las Iguanas Across from Southbank Centre and near the London Eye

Las Iguanas with its lively atmosphere was hopping with young people enjoying after work drinks and dinners. It offered a blend of Mexican, Caribbean, and South American food. We started out with refreshing Caipirinhas; the Brazilian drink made with cachaca (sugarcane rum), sugar, and muddled lime. We accompanied our drinks with tasty Mexican poppadoms, a cross between Indian poppadoms and Mexican tostadas seasoned with chili powder and paprika. For the main course we shared a Cuban sandwich and a chorizo salad. Their version of a Cuban sandwich resembled more of a pulled pork sandwich and was bland and boring. The chorizo salad with spinach and sweet potatoes was more interesting and tasty. We concluded we did not have to return to Las Iguanas for the food. We were also surprised by the lack of Spanish-speaking waiters/waitresses. Although they do have a children’s menu, we felt the atmosphere was more for adults than for families. It is definitely a fun place for drinks. For more information visit:

http://www.iguanas.co.uk/

Day #3

  • Type of Cuisine: Korean
  • Restaurant: Koba
  • Neighborhood: W1T 1NA (Fitzrovia)

It was time to try something Asian, so we decided to go to a Korean BBQ restaurant. Korean barbeque consists of grilling your food at your table. Koba is a small and cozy restaurant in the Fitzrovia part of London not far from Oxford Circus and Soho Square.

Koba Restaurant

This restaurant gets very good reviews and our experience there certainly matched the reviews. It is wise to make a reservation ahead of time either directly through them or through Top Table, http://www.toptable.co.uk/london-restaurants?m=72. The tables in the restaurant all have built-in gas grills. First we enjoyed appetizers that came fully cooked from the kitchen. We had pajeon, a Korean pancake that looks more like Spanish Tortilla. We also tried a very tasty fried chicken appetizer. For the main course we ordered a mix of marinated beef and chicken that was brought raw to the table, which we then grilled on our grill station. Alternatively, you can have the chef cook the food in the kitchen but half the fun is cooking it yourself. We ordered lettuce leaves and other vegetables to assemble lettuce wraps with the cooked meat. We really enjoyed the youthful and casual atmosphere, and hope to return with our children to Koba and have them experience Korean barbeque first hand. For more information look up:

http://www.timeout.com/london/restaurants/venue/2%3A27138/koba