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International Recipe Day: Risotto ai Funghi | Risotto con Champiñones

30 Nov

Welcome to a new section in this Venezuelan Cooking blog. I introduce International Recipe Day to you. As I have mentioned before, Venezuela is a big melting pot of a lot of different cultures and influences. Some of our traditional family recipes include recipes that come from our ancestors, who came from other countries to Venezuela a long time ago. One example, which I posted a while back, is the Tortilla Española. In my family, we have a lot of these recipes and one of them is the Risotto with Mushrooms. I used to not care for Risotto, but once I tried my grandma Ana’s Risotto, I changed my mind.

Recently my grandma Ana came to visit from Venezuela, as she usually does every year, and I wanted to cook something with her again like we did with the Tequeños and the Pollo a la Ana. She suggested we tried the Risotto because it was a simple recipe, so I invited her over to our new apartment to cook some Risotto together, and it was delicious.

The Risotto is a traditional Italian recipe. It is believed that the Arabs were the first to introduce rice to Italy and Spain during the Middle Ages. Like most other foods, rice was initially only consumed by wealthy people until it became widely spread and was no longer a delicacy. Much like the evolution of Spain’s Paella, the Risotto evolved from a cooking technique that was becoming very popular around that era; slow cooking.

The best thing about Risotto is that it can be served as the main dish, which is what they do in Italy, but it can also be served as a complementary dish to another dish, like the Ossobuco. Risotto can also be enhanced with many other complementary ingredients such as mushrooms, asparagus, shrimp, lobster, scallops, sausage, pumpkin, etc. It is truly a versatile dish that you can make your own, just like my grandma did.

Ingredients for Risotto Ai Funghi

Ingredients for Risotto Ai Funghi

What you need:
– 3 Cups Arborio Rice
– 2 Boxes White Mushrooms
– 1 Box Shitake Mushrooms
– 1½ Large Onion
– 2 Cups White Wine
– 1 Cup Fresh Parmesan Cheese
– 1 Stick of Butter
– 1 48oz. Carton of Beef or Chicken Broth
– ¼ Cup Cooking Oil
– 1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
– 1 Tablespoon Salt

Preparation:
1. Cut the onion in small cubes. In the meantime, in a big enough pot, begin to heat up the oil at medium heat.

Cut the onion in small cubes

Cut the onion in small cubes

2. Add the onions to the pot and cook at medium heat until golden brown.
3. Wash the mushrooms if necessary, but don’t over soak them, because they will get too mushy.
4. Add the olive oil to the pot.
5. On a separate smaller saucepan, add about half of the chicken broth and maintain it hot but not boiling, at medium heat.

Maintain the chicken broth hot at a medium temperature

Maintain the chicken broth hot at a medium temperature

6. Add the mushrooms to the pot with the onions, along with the wine. Continue to cook and stir for about 7 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and wine

Add the mushrooms and wine

7. Once the mix begins to dry a bit, add the rice to the big pot with the onions and mushrooms.
8. Begin adding the hot broth bit by bit with a ladle, while you stir it in to the rice, cooking at low heat.
9. Continue adding the broth and cooking at low heat until you have added all the broth or until the rice is cooked throughly. Add the salt.
10. Be sure that you add the broth very slowly over time, so as to not make the rice and mixture too mushy.
11. Once the rice is almost done, add the butter and the Parmesan cheese to the mixture and cook until done.

Add butter and Parmesan cheese

Add butter and Parmesan cheese

12. Serve with fresh Parmesan cheese on top.

International Recipe Day: Risotto ai Funghi | Risotto con Champiñones

International Recipe Day: Risotto ai Funghi | Risotto con Champiñones

¡Gracias Tabue!
This is another very special post, and I dedicate it to my grandmother
Ana C. Sandoval de Ojeda.

Note: I have to apologize for being so hungry and exited to try my grandma’s risotto the day we cooked it, that I didn’t remember to take the final plated photo.  So what you see here is a stock photo. I owe you one.

¡Buen Provecho!

Recipe: Pollo A La Ana | Venezuelan Creamy Chicken

18 Mar Pollo A La Ana / Venezuelan Creamy Chicken

This recipe is one of my favorites. Not only because it is delicious, but because it was one of the very first recipes I learned how to prepare by heart. The name is in honor of my grandmother Ana Cecilia Sandoval de Ojeda. Even though she claims that we have all taken the recipe and changed it and improved up on it in our own way, she is still the main inspirational source for the original recipe, and many other recipes featured in my blog. This isn’t really a traditional Venezuelan recipe that everyone knows about, but it is definitely a big part of my life and memories of my childhood in Venezuela.

I first tried this delicious creamy chicken recipe when I was a kid and I used to visit my grandparents’ home almost every weekend. Sometimes I was dropped off at their house after school, too. And when I was lucky, I would eat my grandma’s creamy chicken for lunch. She would usually serve it with rice, some vegetables and baked plantains on the side. But the plate wasn’t ready until she poured some of the creamy sauce on top of my rice.

When I moved from Venezuela to the US, I sure missed my family and all the Venezuelan food I was so used to eating. I moved in with my aunt and my cousin. Life in the US was very different and we were always in a hurry, working and going to school at the same time. No one really had time to cook. However, we decided we needed to start cooking and eating home-cooked meals. My cousin and I, college students and part time employees, didn’t really know our way around the kitchen. We could make arepas, sandwiches, salads, eggs, and… that was pretty much it. One day we decided we needed to learn how to cook more complicated dishes and we both remembered our favorite creamy chicken, and we decided to give it a shot. We called grandma and our aunt for their recipes, but they gave us the basic steps and no measurements to go by, assuming these grown women should already know their way around the kitchen. After a couple of attempts and tweaks, and even after one time Whooper (my cousin’s dog) stole one of our chicken breasts, we finally nailed and perfected our own version of the creamy chicken. We served it with rice, plantains, and my now famous (don’t really know why) broccoli and cauliflower au-gratin. After a couple of times, our dish became popular in the family and we would be requested to prepare it at least once a month. We also prepared it when we had our boyfriends (at the time) come over for dinner, bragging about our cooking skills, as if we knew how to prepare any other complicated dishes. We even prepared it once for my (now) husband, and he loved it, even though he doesn’t care for chicken and he doesn’t like mushrooms.

Last time my grandmother came to the US, I invited her over to our place for a day of cooking. That day she taught me how to prepare the best tequeños ever, and I also asked her to show me how SHE makes the original version of this creamy chicken. She made it and showed me, but she wanted to include the changes and additions all of us in the family had made to the recipe, and it came out to be the best version of the creamy chicken I have ever had.

A couple of weeks ago, she was in a rush, and she didn’t have time to go through all her recipes, so she decided to just call me and ask me for the recipe. This particular moment in time, when my grandmother, my inspiration in the kitchen, my mentor, had called ME for a recipe, was the moment I felt like a real woman.

Therefore, I dedicate this one to my grandmother, Ana Cecilia Sandoval de Ojeda, with all my love.

What you need:

– 4 Chicken Breasts
– 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil (Extra Virgin if preferred)
– 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
– ½ Teaspoon Soy Sauce
– 1 Teaspoon Adobo Seasoning (without Pepper)
– ¼ Onion (chopped in small pieces)
– 1 or 2 Garlic Cloves
– ½ Cup Sliced Mushrooms
– ½ to 1 Cup White Wine
– 1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
– 3 to 4 Shallots (optional)*
– 2 Tablespoons Chopped Cilantro (optional)*
– 1 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg (optional)*
– ¼ Cup Sliced Almonds (optional)*

Preparation:

1. First wash the chicken breasts and dry them thoroughly. You can filet them in half (my grandma prefers it this way), you can cook them whole, or you can make your life easier and buy the thin ones instead (just buy double the amount – so 8 thin ones instead of 4 whole ones).

Filete Breasts

Filete Breasts

2. Season the chicken breasts with the olive oil, Worcestershire, soy sauce and adobo. Make sure to get it on both sides. It’s easier if you use a bowl for this step.
3. Leave the chicken breast to soak in all those flavors, and in the meantime cut the shallots and the onions, and begin to sauté them along with the minced garlic on a pan.

Chop Onions and Shallots

Chop Onions and Shallots

4. Add the chicken to the pan and begin to sauté them as well, because they will take a bit to cook thoroughly.
5. After the chicken is partially cooked, add the mushrooms and cilantro, and continue to cook for about 5 more minutes.

Slice Mushrooms

Slice Mushrooms

6. Add the wine to the pan and let it cook at medium heat.
7. When the chicken breasts and the mushrooms start to brown and there is little wine left, you can add the heavy whipping cream and let it cook for a while to mix all the flavors together. NOTE: Don’t let it cook for too long, or the sauce will start to become too thick.

Cook At Medium Heat

Cook At Medium Heat

8. At this point, you can add salt and pepper to taste (if needed), along with the ground nutmeg and almonds.
9. Serve hot with rice, vegetables and plantains.

Pollo A La Ana / Venezuelan Creamy Chicken

Pollo A La Ana / Venezuelan Creamy Chicken

*All the optional ingredients are the result of all of us changing and trying to make the recipe our own.  No matter which one you decide to include or leave out, this creamy chicken will surely be a favorite in your home.

¡Buen Provecho!

Recipe: Layered Salad

25 Jan

This salad is great to serve as a side with the Venezuelan Pasticho Recipe I posted last week.  I’m not usually big on salads that have fruit or nuts, but when my cousin made this one for me I was hooked and now I like to eat it all the time.

What you need:
– Romaine Lettuce
– Baby Green Mix
– Apples
– Tomatoes
– Hearts of Palm
– Avocados
– Goat Cheese
– Almonds
– Ken’s Sweet Vidalia Onions Vinagrette.

Preparation:

1.  Chop the lettuce and baby greens if necessary, to bite sized pieces.
2.  Chop the tomatoes and apples.
3.  Slice the hearts of palm and avocados.
4.  On a large enough serving dish place a layer of romaine lettuce, then a layer of baby greens mix, a layer of apples, a layer of tomatoes, a layer of avocadoes, a layer of hearts of palm, a layer of crumbled goat cheese, and a layer of almonds.
5. Serve with Ken’s Sweet Vidalia Onions dressing on the side.

Layered Salad

Layered Salad

¡Buen Provecho!

Recipe: Tortilla Española…Venezolana! (Venezuelan Spanish Tortilla)

9 Nov

As I have mentioned before, Venezuelan food is influenced by many other cuisines around the world.   One of the most noticeable influences is Spanish cuisine (from Spain).   Most Venezuelans can track their ancestors to Spain, and have adapted some Spanish dishes passed down generation to generation, to make them their own.   Some of my relatives who have close Spanish roots have introduced me to delicious Spanish dishes like the Spanish Tortilla.   But don’t be confused by the name, this is no regular tortilla.   When I told my husband I would make him this Spanish Tortilla, he imagined a Mexican Tortilla… but it is more like an omelet, a giant omelet.   I remember eating Spanish Tortilla when invited over to my second cousin’s house for sleepovers.   My cousin’s grandma is a true Spaniard, so they knew what they were doing over there.   My other aunt’s grandmother also made me delicious Spanish Tortilla every time I came to visit.   I think she must have had a secret ingredient (LOVE) when she made her Spanish Tortilla, because it tasted amazing.   She was sweetest little lady, may she rest in piece.   My mom made this dish sometimes as well, and she accompanied it with Salchichitas, or what my husband explained to me are called smokies here in America (Recipe next week).   So here is my version of the Spanish Tortilla, which I made a bit more interesting by adding some Chorizo in it.

Ingredients for Spanish Tortilla

Ingredients for Spanish Tortilla

Ingredients:

– 2 Potatoes (medium)
– ½ Onion (medium)
– 3 to 4 Eggs
– 90 gr. Chorizo (about two links)
– ½ Teaspoon Salt
– ¼ Teaspoon Pepper
– Vegetable Oil (Enough for frying)

Preparation:

1. Peel the potatoes and then cut them in slices as thin as possible (as if you were going to make potato chips).   Cut the onions in the same manner, in strips, or simply Julienne the onion.

Cut the Potato in Thin Slices

Cut the Potato in Thin Slices

2. Place the potatoes and onions in a bowl, add the salt and mix together.

Mix Potatoes and Onions

Mix Potatoes and Onions

3. In the meantime, start heating up the oil in a large enough frying pan or wok.   Use enough oil to cover the entire bottom of the pan so that it just covers the potatoes and onions.
4. When the oil is hot, add the potatoes and onions to the pan and begin to fry them.   The potatoes shouldn’t become golden brown, but it’s ok if they do just a bit.   You should move them around with a wooden spoon so that you don’t break them, but they get cooked evenly.   It takes about 10-12 minutes at medium heat for them to cook thoroughly.

Begin to Fry the Potatoes and Onions

Begin to Fry the Potatoes and Onions

5. In the meantime cut the chorizo in thin slices as well and set aside.

Cut the Chorizo

Cut the Chorizo

6. In a bowl, beat the eggs, only 3 at first.

Beat the Eggs

Beat the Eggs

7. When the potatoes and onions are done (potatoes should break in half easily when pinched with a fork), take them out and drain in a colander and let them cool down a bit.   Drain as much of the excess oil as possible.

Drain the Potatoes and Onions

Drain the Potatoes and Onions

8. Compare the size of the potatoes and onions mix to the beaten eggs, and then decide if you need to add the other egg.   There should be more potatoes and onions mix than eggs.   The size will depend on the size of your potatoes.
9. Add the potatoes and onions mix, as well as the chorizo slices and pepper to the beaten eggs.   Mix well and mash the potatoes just a bit, not too much.

Add Potatoes, Onions and Chorizo to Beaten Eggs

Add Potatoes, Onions and Chorizo to Beaten Eggs

10. Pre-heat the frying pan in which you will be cooking the tortilla.   It is better to have a smaller pan so that the tortilla will be thick, than to have a larger pan, because the tortilla will be too thin.   For this mixture I used a large frying pan to fry the potatoes and onions, and a smaller pan to cook the tortilla.   You should have a non-stick pan, but either way grease the pan with some oil or cooking spray before adding the mix to it.
11. Add the mixture to the frying pan and cook at medium/low heat.

Add Mixture to Frying Pan

Add Mixture to Frying Pan

12. When you can see that the bottom half is cooked thoroughly, by lifting one side carefully (or after about 8 minutes), you can proceed to the tricky part.   Grab a flat serving dish, larger than the circumference of the frying pan, pace it on top of the pan, and then carefully flip the tortilla on to the plate.   Clean the pan, and spray or coat with a bit more oil, then carefully slide the tortilla back into the pan to cook the other side.   Make sure to tuck in the edges so you get a clean round edge.

The Tricky Step

The Tricky Step

Flip Onto Plate and Slide Back Into Pan

Flip Onto Plate and Slide Back Into Pan

13. When the other side is ready, simply serve by flipping it into a serving dish.

Ready !!!

Ready !!!

Cut and Serve with Ketchup

Cut and Serve with Ketchup

Tips
– This is great to serve with a bit of ketchup and Salchichitas Glaseadas, or smokies.

... and Smokies

... and Smokies

*Makes about 4 servings.

¡Buen Provecho!

Recipe: Venezuelan Taco Night

31 Aug

Now that you have the recipes for Guasacaca, Salsa Verde and Fresh Salsa; you can have yourself a Venezuelan Taco Night.   Tacos are CLEARLY not Venezuelan.   They are Mexican, in case you didn’t know.   However, we Venezuelans do like tacos.   Unfortunately, we do not have Taco Bell in Venezuela, so most families just make their own.   My mom made the best tacos ever, and it was a treat for us.   We helped her by chopping up all the ingredients and setting up the table while she cooked the meat and the Guasacaca.   Afterwards, we played Monopoly or Telefunken (Venezuelan Card Game).   Since I don’t live in Venezuela and I like to share my Venezuelan traditions with others, I have started my own Venezuelan Taco Night tradition.   I usually invite a couple of friends over and we have some Tacos and Board Games.   So, here is the recipe, preparations, menu and everything you need to have your own Venezuelan Taco Night.

Old El Paso Taco Shells and Tortillas

Old El Paso Taco Shells and Tortillas


What you need (for about 4 adults + leftovers)

– 1 Box of 6 soft and 6 hard tacos (Old El Paso)
– 1 or 2 Bags of Tortilla Chips
– ½ Romaine Lettuce Head, chopped
– 4 Tomatoes, chopped
– 1 Cup of Mexican Cheese Blend (I like the Sorrento Brand)
– 1 Cup Sour Cream

Ingredients for Taco Beef

Ingredients for Taco Beef

Taco Beef
– 2 lbs. Ground Beef
– 1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
– 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
– 1 Tbsp. Adobo Seasoning
– 2 Baggies of Old el Paso Original Taco Seasoning

Guasacaca
Salsa Verde
Fresh Salsa

– Board Games

 

Preparation

1. Make sure you thaw the beef (I always seem to forget about this step).
2. You should condiment the beef with the soy sauce, the Worcestershire and the adobo seasoning. Mix well and let it sit.

Ground Beef

Ground Beef

3. You can go ahead and make the Salsa Verde and the Fresh Salsa, then refrigerate until everything else is ready.
4. You can also go ahead and chop all the ingredients for inside the Tacos, like the lettuce and tomatoes and place them in a bowl and inside the fridge, along with the cheese and sour cream.
5. Now go ahead and start browning the ground beef. Once it’s almost done, drain the beef, to get rid of all the oils and juices from the beef.   Now go ahead and follow the instructions on the Taco Seasoning, and add it to the beef.
6. Prepare the Guasacaca.
7. Heat up the soft and hard tacos as instructed on the box.   I usually heat up the hard tacos in my toaster-oven and “hang” them upside-down from the rack inside the oven.   This will open them up a bit.   But be careful not to “toast” them or burn them, just turn the toaster-oven on at the lowest setting for 2 minutes.   The soft tacos you can heat up 1 minute each on a pan at low temperature.   Or you can do it the lazy way and stick them all in the microwave for a minute or two.
8. Serve everything on the table and enjoy.

Venezuelan Tacos

Venezuelan Tacos

¡Buen Provecho!

Recipe: Fresh Salsa

24 Aug

My mother-in-law makes the most delicious salsa I’ve ever had.   Salsa is not really a Venezuelan tradition, and neither is spicy food, just for your information.   However, her salsa is now part of my Taco Night menu (Coming Soon).

Fresh Salsa Ingredients

Fresh Salsa Ingredients


Ingredients

4 Cups fresh tomatoes, chopped
½ Cup Onion, chopped
2-4 Jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1-4 oz canned sweet corn
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped
Pinch of salt and Pepper
1 Baggy of Equal or Splenda

Preparation

Simply finely chop all ingredients, very small, (except the corn), and combine them in a bowl.   Add salt and pepper to taste and the baggy of sugar.   Serve at room temperature and store in the refrigerator.

Fresh Salsa

Fresh Salsa

 

*If it is too spicy for you, you can add some sugar (equal).

*I am “spicy-intolerant”, so when my mother-in-law added two Serrano peppers from her garden I thought I was going to die.   So maybe just one tiny little Serrano pepper, or half, would do just fine.

Fresh Salsa

Fresh Salsa

¡Buen Provecho!

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