Tag Archives: Rice

Recipe: Arroz con Pollo | Venezuelan Rice And Chicken

4 Oct Arroz con Pollo | Venezuelan Rice And Chicken

It is custom in our culture that women are the ones in charge of cooking within the family unit. However, there are two specialties that my dad was always in charge of preparing. At least once Sunday every month, he would be in charge of making Parrillas at my grandparents’ house, and a different Sunday he would be in charge of making Arroz con Pollo at our house. He has been perfecting his Arroz con Pollo recipe all these years and still to this day, he makes it at least once a month for himself. Arroz con pollo, previously known as pollo en arroz (chicken in rice), is a main dish in which the rice leaves its usual spot as a side and becomes the main event. The rice absorbs all the flavors and colors of the chicken and other ingredients.

Recently my dad traveled to the US to visit, it was a big surprise for us because we had no idea he was coming. He stayed over for a month, and we begged him to make his famous arroz con pollo for us one day. I had been trying to recreate his arroz con pollo for years so I could include it on this blog, and I had no luck. From being unable to find the perfect rice, to not knowing the amount for each ingredient, to overcooking the rice and ending up with arroz-con-pollo pâté… finally, I was able to learn from the pro, how to make the perfect arroz con pollo. As my dad was cooking, we would remember all those Sundays he used to prepare it at home, and he would explain all the tips and tricks to make it perfect. He even said his arroz con pollo is like a Venezuelan Paella with chicken instead of seafood, for those of us who don’t like seafood (my dad is not a big fan of seafood, unlike my mom who eats almost everything from the sea). He also mentioned I would have to put this disclaimer out there: “this is merely ONE way of making Venezuelan Arroz con Pollo… my way”.

Arroz Con Pollo Ingredients

Arroz Con Pollo Ingredients

What you need:
– 2 Chicken Breasts
– 2 Medium Potatoes
– 2 Carrot Sticks
– 1 Bell Pepper
– 1 Large Onion
– 2 Chorizos
– 3 Chicken Bouillon Cubes
– 2 Cups of Yellow Rice
– 1 Teaspoon Olive Oil

Arroz Con Pollo Ingredients

Arroz Con Pollo Ingredients

– ½ Tablespoon Garlic Powder
– ½ Tablespoon Adobo
– Salt to taste
– Pepper to taste
– 1 Small Can of Sweet Peas
– 1 Small Can of Whole Kernel Corn
– Parmesan Cheese to taste
– Limes (Lime Juice) to taste
– Olive Oil to taste

Preparation:
1. In a large enough pot (like a 3 Qt. Saucepan), bring about 1.5 to 2 Qt. water to a boil, on high temperature.

Boil Water

Boil Water

2. Add the 2 chicken breasts to the boiling water, and lower the temperature to medium.

Add Chicken Breasts

Add Chicken Breasts

3. Peel, wash, and cut the potatoes. Then add to the pot.

Potatoes

Potatoes

4. Peel, wash, and cut the carrots. Then add to the pot.

Carrots

Carrots

5. Wash and cut in small cubes ¾ of the bell pepper and add to the pot. Leave the other ¼ of the pepper cut in thin slices, and set aside (we will use it to garnish the plate afterward).

Bell Peppers

Bell Peppers

6. Chop the onion and add it to the pot.

Onion

Onion

7. Add 2 chicken bouillon cubes (or 1 packet) to the pot.

Chicken Bouillon

Chicken Bouillon

8. Take the chorizo out of the freezer and slice it. It is better to cut it while it’s still frozen than when it has been thawed, since it will become a mess. Set aside.

Cut the Chorizo

Cut the Chorizo

9. Taste the chicken broth from the pot, and if needed, add another chicken bouillon cube (or half a packet). Set the temperature to high again and cook for another 15 minutes.

Chicken Broth

Chicken Broth

10. After everything has been cooking for about 45 minutes (since you first added the chicken breasts in the pot), take the chicken breasts out of the pot, cut them in small cubes, and then return it to the pot. Bring the temperature back to medium.

Remove Chicken and Cut

Remove Chicken and Cut

11. After 10 minutes. Drain all of the liquid out of the pot, keep all ingredients and also keep the broth in a separate container. We will use the broth later to cook the rice in it, so don’t throw it away.

Drain The Ingredients, Keep The Broth

Drain The Ingredients, Keep The Broth

12. In a large enough saucepan add a little bit of olive oil and turn up the heat to medium. Add all of the drained ingredients from the pot to the pan.

Sauteé Ingredients

Sauté Ingredients

13. In the large pot you were using before, add a little bit of olive oil, add the 2 cups of Yellow Rice and sauté it a little bit. I have to say, my dad and I bought the Iberia brand of yellow rice and we were fooled. The package is transparent so you can see the rice, and the rice looks yellow because the package is yellow, not the rice. It says yellow rice because it brings that yellow powder in it which turns the rice yellow when you cook it, but the rice is not yellow straight from the package. There are other brands that have the yellow rice already pre-stained yellow, and you should get that one instead. I saw that the Conchita brand has a clear container, and you can see that the rice is already yellow.

2 Cups of Rice

2 Cups of Rice

Sauté The Rice

Sauté The Rice

Actual Yellow Rice

Actual Yellow Rice

14. In the meantime, sauté the other ingredients in the other pan.
15. Once you sauté the rice just a little bit, add 4 cups of the chicken broth to the rice. Cook as directed in the rice package. Usually, turn the heat to high, bring to a boil. Then, lower the temperature and cover.

4 Cups of Rice

4 Cups of Rice

16. Add the adobo, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to the other ingredients in the other pan, then stir.

Add Seasoning

Add Seasoning

17. Add the chorizo to the ingredients in the pan, mix well.

Add Chorizo

Add Chorizo

Mix And Continue Cooking

Mix And Continue Cooking

18. Meanwhile, drain the cans of peas and corn.
19. Add all the ingredients from the pan to the pot with the rice. Stir thoroughly so that the rice mixes well with everything else.

Combine All Ingredients

Combine All Ingredients

20. Add the cans of peas and corn and mix well together.

Add Corn

Add Corn

Add Peas

Add Peas

21. Take the temperature to low and cover, then cook for about 25 to 30 minutes or until the rice is thoroughly cooked.
22. Serve hot with optional toppings: olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and lime juice. Use the rest of the bell pepper to decorate.

Arroz con Pollo | Venezuelan Rice And Chicken

Arroz con Pollo | Venezuelan Rice And Chicken

Optional Toppings

Optional Toppings

Arroz con Pollo | Venezuelan Rice And Chicken

Arroz con Pollo | Venezuelan Rice And Chicken

Arroz con Pollo | Venezuelan Rice And Chicken

Arroz con Pollo | Venezuelan Rice And Chicken

Note: This recipe usually includes Venezuelan Ají Dulce, but we were unable to find any. Most recipes don’t add the corn, but I thought my dad’s addition of the corn was delicious.

¡Buen Provecho!

¡Gracias Pa!
This is another very special post, and I dedicate it to my dad
Alejandro R. Ojeda

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Venezuelan Restaurant Review: Doggi’s Venezuelan Cuisine

15 Mar Doggi's Venezuelan Cuisine Decor

A while back, while I still lived in Montgomery, Alabama, I had created a foursquare list for myself of all the Venezuelan Restaurants in South Florida that I wanted to try out and write reviews for, once I moved back down to Florida.  In that list, I had included Doggi’s.  When I finally moved back down here, I was a bit upset with myself because I was too busy with work and I realized most of the Venezuelan Restaurants on the list are in Miami and Doral, and I lived in Hollywood.  I rarely drove down to Miami and I rarely had a chance to try out all these places.  I was lucky to find Eats Good 33 (read the review here), but I was unable to enjoy their delicious food because they are only open when I am at work.

Things have changed a bit around here.  I moved to Plantation (even further away from all the good Venezuelan Restaurants), and now my commute is longer, giving me less time to try out new Venezuelan places and write recipes of my own for the blog.  However, my husband has been driving around all over South Florida due to his new job, and he has been keeping an eye out for new Venezuelan places to try out.  Since he drives to Miami all the time, it doesn’t seem that far away to him, and one weekend he suggested to take my sister and I down to the Wynwood Arts District in Miami.

Wynwood Art District Miami

Wynwood Art District Miami

It was kind of a “spur of the moment” plan for that weekend, so we really didn’t make any plans for lunch or anything.  After enjoying a nice walk, taking a few photos, and taking in all the artwork on the walls, we were kind of hungry.  My husband suggested finding the nearest Venezuelan Restaurant and going there for a late lunch (around 3 pm).  He found Doggi’s first, and I immediately remembered it was on my list of places to try.  So we headed over there.

Wynwood Art District Miami

Wynwood Art District Miami

On our way there, driving on Coral Way, my sister commented that the drive felt much like driving around Las Mercedes, in Caracas (Venezuela).  The bit of traffic, the trees, the road… something about it reminded her of Las Mercedes, and I agreed.  We were very lucky to find a parking stop right in front, but that is not the norm, so if you aren’t as lucky, you can park on the other side of the building.  There is an Italian Restaurant/Bakery on this corner building and a couple other businesses to the side.  Walking towards Doggi’s, you can appreciate the love and detail poured into every single detail in this place.  There are a couple metal tables and chairs on the outside, much like I remember a certain ice cream shop in Las Mercedes in Caracas.  The door is bright red and has a black wrought iron door in front of it, very much like almost every home in Venezuela.  You usually have your wrought iron ‘gate’ and then your wooden door – very nice touch.  Once in it feels a bit tight, and there are only about 10 small tables or less.  It is small and tight, but I think it makes it homey and cozy.  We were also lucky to get one of the only three tables by the window, so that was great.  The inside is beautifully decorated with a ton of Venezuelan… things.  I don’t really know how to explain these things; they are juts typical Venezuelan things that you would see on the walls of your grandmother’s house.  Things like a cuatro, maracas, cast irons, and virgins.  On another wall there are countless posters, ads, and logos of all kinds of different Venezuelan brands, sports teams, celebrities, etc.  They also have a large projector, which wasn’t turned on, but I can only assume they play all the soccer games when they are on.  On that wall they also have very stylized drawings of a male and a female figure dressed in typical Venezuelan folkloric costumes.  My poor description of the decor doesn’t really do it much justice, since it sounds crazy and cluttered, but it was actually done in a very minimalistic, simplistic and trendy manner.  They also have a smaller TV Screen that displays the current song being played.  My husband pointed out that he was shocked that they were not playing loud Spanish music like in most Venezuelan Restaurants we have been to.  They had a pop channel, and it was at a perfect volume level, in which you can still talk to the person next to you without having to scream like you are at a club.  The tables also have a trendy word-cloud or word collage of cool and unusual Venezuelan slang words.  The entire place’s decoration and design is very trendy and up-to-date, but also filled with old Venezuelan traditions and ‘things’.

Doggi's Venezuelan Cuisine Decor

Doggi’s Venezuelan Cuisine Decor

Doggi's Venezuelan Cuisine Decor

Doggi’s Venezuelan Cuisine Decor

Doggi's Venezuelan Cuisine Decor

Doggi’s Venezuelan Cuisine Decor

Doggi's Venezuelan Cuisine Decor

Doggi’s Venezuelan Cuisine Decor

Doggi's Venezuelan Cuisine Decor

Doggi’s Venezuelan Cuisine Decor

As soon as we sat down our kind server Gabriela greeted us promptly.  We read trough the short but complete menu and we were definitely unsure of what to order.  Everything sounded delicious, so it was hard to make a decision.  We decided to have an order of Tequeños as an appetizer.  They are served in these cute little baskets and they are five small tequeños, but perfect for an appetizer, since you don’t want to be filled up before your meal gets to the table.  As soon as I tried one I knew they had it right… the cheese that is.  Usually, most Venezuelan places make tequeños with mozzarella, or whatever other white cheese they can find.  At Doggi’s they have the right kind of cheese, simple white cheese is what we call it, but it is far from it.  It is perfectly salty enough and melts just right inside the tequeños.  I had to order a café con leche, since it was very cold outside (for me at least), my hubby ordered the pineapple juice and he wouldn’t stop taking about how good it was, he said it was the freshest pineapple juice he’d ever tried, and then he realized it had fresh chunks of pineapple in it, and he liked it even more.

Tequeños

Tequeños

After giving it a lot of thought, I ordered the Arepa Santa Bárbara, which is an arepa with marinated churrasco (beef), tomato, avocado and I switched the organic white shredded cheese for queso de mano.  My sister ordered the Arepa Pabellón, which is an arepa with shredded beef, fried plantain, black beans and organic white cheese.  My husband ordered the Milanesa Steak, which is a thin flank steak breaded and fried, with fried yucca and plantains on the side.  My arepa Santa Barbara was delicious.  The arepa itself was not too big that you can’t even hold it, and not too small that it can’t contain all the stuff inside.  The size was just right.  The texture was just right too, not too soft, and not too hard, and just the right thickness as well.  When I had the first bite with some churrasco beef, I was immediately taken back to Sunday nights at my grandparents’ house when my dad used to make parrillas.  The beef was perfectly marinated and cooked, juicy and tender, exactly the way my dad used to make it.  It’s cut in bite size cubes so it is easy to eat inside the arepa.  Combine that juicy beef with avocado, tomato and cheese, and you create my new favorite arepa.  My sister’s arepa de pabellón was delicious, too.  The beef was seasoned just right and the plantains were ripe and sweet.  My hubby absolutely loved his milanesa steak, so much so, that he ate the entire thing, which he usually doesn’t.  He compared it to my mom’s milanesa, which is a huge compliment, since he once ate 3 servings of it in one sitting.  Surprisingly, we still had some room, so we ordered desert.  We ordered the churros with dulce de leche on top, I think the order usually brings 5 churros but we got 6.  They were pretty darn good.

Arepa Santa Bárbara

Arepa Santa Bárbara

Milanesa de Carne

Milanesa de Carne

Churros

Churros

Overall we all enjoyed the food, the ambiance, the décor and the music.  So much so, that we went back two weeks later for more.  We went there specifically, not just because we were down in Miami.  It’s about a 40 minute drive from where I currently live, but it is worth it.  We went down there on Valentines Day for an early dinner around 5:30 pm.  I called on our way there to reserve a table, because I thought it might be busy, I’m glad I did.  This time around we ordered arepitas dulces as an appetizer.  They are served with white cheese and nata.  They were delicious.  Not exactly the same as the ones I am used to, large and with a crispy thin crust.  However, they were still delicious, perfectly sweet and complemented by the right white cheese.  They where small and thick, and had just the right amount of anise.  I ordered the asado negro, which is marinated eye round cooked with brown sugar, green peppers and onions, served with rice and plantains.  The asado was incredible, it was just like my grandmother makes it, and I loved the addition of fresh cilantro on top, which balanced the sweetness of the beef and the plantains.  The plantains were served with white cheese and nata on top, which is a great extra.  The rice is the only thing I was not super excited about.  In my opinion, everything at Doggies has an extra something, but the rice doesn’t.  This time it was a bit undercooked and I think the type of rice is not what Venezuelans are used to.  True white Venezuelan rice is flavored with onions and bell peppers and then they are taken out.  Also this rice type seemed thin and small, like Basmati rice.  Whereas Venezuelan rice is more like medium grain rice that is not long and not short, and it’s a bit fatter.  I appreciate trying to go for a fancier type of rice, but it was the only thing on my plate that didn’t bring back memories of eating asado negro at my grandmother’s house in Venezuela.  Just to be fair, my sister disagreed and said the rice was fine.  She ordered a cachapa, which is a traditional corn pancake semi-sweet, served with queso de mano inside and topped with nata and white cheese, and she asked to add chicken to it.  I do not like cachapas so I did not try it.  My sister said it tasted just like the ones sold in Venezuela, and actually better, because it was less sweet, like not overwhelmingly sweet.  My husband loved the milanesa so much the first time, that he had them again, even though we had all agreed to try something different.  We were very satisfied after appetizers and meals, so we didn’t want any desert.  However, we did take a can of Pirulín home, it’s great that they have Venezuelan snacks, I sure miss those.  They also have Venezuelan beer brands and malta.

Arepitas Dulces

Arepitas Dulces

Asado Negro

Asado Negro

Cachapa

Cachapa

We like Doggi’s so much, we had to go yet again two weeks after that.  We simply wanted to eat there again, so we took the drive down there, simply because we were craving some really good Venezuelan food.  This time we ordered cazón and cheese empanadas, and grilled chorizo as appetizers.  The empanadas were medium sized so if you order these as appetizers, don’t order such a big meal, maybe an arepa.  The cazón was delicious and very well seasoned and filled with herbs and veggies that made it even better.  The cheese empanada was great, because it’s the right cheese.  The chorizo, even though I don’t usually care for it, it was very tasty, just like my dad used to make it on the grill at my grandparent’s house on Sundays.  I ordered the Pabellón Criollo as the main entry, which is the most traditional national Venezuelan dish.  It came with white rice, black beans, fried plantains, and shredded beef.  The beef was well seasoned and juicy.  The black beans were cooked well and they weren’t too watery.  My sister did point out that the black beans had white cheese on top, which is how I like them, but she said some people eat them with sugar instead, so she would ask for them to be sweetened before putting the cheese on top.  The plantains were perfect as usual with white cheese on top.  The rice, again was simple, there was nothing great about it, this time it wasn’t undercooked though.  My husband ordered the marinated churrasco, which is grilled steak with fried yucca and fries; he also ordered a side of plantains.  The beef (as before with the arepa santa Barbara) was seasoned and cooked to perfection.  And the yucca fries are delicious with the guasacaca sauces on the table.  My sister ordered the Doggi’s parrilla for one, which includes marinated churrasco, chicken and chorizo, with yucca fries.  All the protein was cooked and marinated to perfection.  We both agreed that it reminded us of my dad’s parrilla on Sundays at our grandparents’ house.  All of our plates were on the larger side, so we all had “doggibags” to go, and we all had the food the next day for lunch and we were surprised to see that it still was pretty tasty and somewhat fresh after re-heating it in the microwave.

Pabellón Criollo

Pabellón Criollo

Doggi's Parrilla

Doggi’s Parrilla

Marinated Churrasco

Marinated Churrasco

Overall I must say, if you want to experience true Venezuelan flavors, traditions, customs and ambiance, then visit Doggi’s.  What I love about it is that even though the menu seems small, you have a little bit of everything and not only do you have the typical Venezuelan dishes, but also dishes that families in Venezuela eat on a daily basis.  The servers are friendly, and you can tell that the owners are on top of their game and involved, which makes the place and the food, the best.  As I learned on my first visit, from Gabriela, Doggi’s started as a gentleman selling hotdogs from a cart in Miami, hence the name Doggi’s.  Then the gentleman, his wife and three kids opened up the restaurant down the street from where it is now.  Now, the three brothers run the place, and I even saw the mother there.  This truly makes all the difference in a place, because you can tell they put thought and care into every detail and they run an airtight family business.  The place is clean, and the service is fast.  I enjoy that they serve you with real plates and forks, it has a restaurant feel, but it is small and cozy like a fast food place, and they ARE fast. They deliver nearby and they also have take-out. You will get a true Venezuelan experience and you wont be disappointed.

The Details:
Address: 1246 SW Coral Way Miami, FL 33145
Phone Number: 305.854.6869
Website: http://www.eatdoggis.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DoggisAndMore
Twitter: https://twitter.com/doggismore
Instagram: https://instagram.com/doggis
Hours: Mon – Wed: 10:00 am – 11:00 pm
Thu: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Fri – Sat: 10:00 am – 1:00 am
Sun: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
Menu: http://www.letseat.at/doggis/menu
Categories: Venezuelan
Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/doggis-venezuelan-cuisine-miami-2

Recipe: Crema de Auyama | Venezuelan Cream of Squash Calabaza (Soup)

4 Jan Crema de Auyama | Venezuelan Cream of Squash Calabaza (Soup)

By now you must know how much I love soups and creams. I have given you the Apio Soup and the chicken soup recipes so far, but there are plenty more Venezuelan soup and cream recipes to come. Today I want to share with you another very popular Venezuelan creamy soup, the Crema de Auyama. The Auyama, pronounced awˈʝa.ma, is technically a fruit because it contains the seeds of the plant inside. However, most people consider it a vegetable. It most resembles the squash and pumpkin types. In Venezuela it is used in most soup preparations like Sancochos and it is also used on its own to create this cream. However, it is also used to create sweet recipes such as bread and cakes.

The Auyama is easy to cultivate and therefore it is sold in large quantities and at a cheaper price than other vegetables. It is rich in potassium, calcium, vitamin A, and fiber. It is also low in calories because it is mostly made out of water, but it is very tasty. It is believed that because it was easily cultivated, Europeans used it as fodder to feed their animals. Each plant can bear up to 8 fruits and it only takes 140 days to harvest. In Venezuela it is available all year long. However, the Auyama harvested in summer has a sandy-textured pulp and it works best for pasta fillings or cakes. On the other hand, the Auyama harvested in winter is the one that is best for creams and soups, because the pulp is more fibrous and pale, and it has more water content.

Here in the US, the type of pumpkin or squash that I believe to be the closest to the authentic Venezuelan Auyama is sold as Squash Calabaza. I have bought it at Publix and Sedano’s in big chunks (they cut it and sell each individual piece in cling wrap), I have also bought one at Wal-Mart sold as a whole (the whole Calabaza), but I think the ones that come cut in chunks are the ones that most resemble the Auyama taste. The Venezuelan Auyama belongs to the Curcubitaceae family, and the curcubita genre, in the varieties called máxima, moschata, mixta and pepo. Its size is large and it comes in different shapes and sizes, with skin that varies from green to yellow to orange, it can be either smooth or corrugated, and the pulp varies from pale yellow to bright yellow-orange. The taste also varies from very sweet to not so sweet. This is probably why it has been hard for me to find one that truly matches the Venezuelan Auyama taste.

This particular recipe is my sister’s very own recipe, so it is not a traditional recipe, but it is very close to it. My sister, Mariale Ojeda, a.k.a. The Soup Queen as we call her around here, is an expert at making delicious soups for me, the soup lover. This post was created by her, the recipe, the cooking and the photos are all hers. I have to say special thanks to her for all the soups she has been cooking for us lately and for this amazing recipe and post she created as a featured writer of Venezuelan Cooking.

Ingredients for Crema De Auyama

Ingredients for Crema De Auyama

What you need:
– 4 lbs. Auyama (Squash Calabaza)
– 6½ Cups Chicken Broth or Chicken Bouillon (enough to cover all the Auyama)
– 5 to 8 Stems of Cilantro
– 1 Teaspoon Minced Garlic
– ½ Chopped Onion
– 1/3 Sliced Bell Pepper
– ½ Stem Sliced Leek

Preparation:
1. Peel the Auyama and remove the seeds. Cut it in big chunks.

Cut The Auyama In Big Chunks

Cut The Auyama In Big Chunks

2. Place the chunks of Auyama in a large enough pot. Cover entirely with the chicken broth or chicken bouillon (1 bouillon cube per cup of water).

Cover With Chicken Broth

Cover With Chicken Broth\

3. Boil the Auyama at medium to high heat for about 13 minutes.
4. Add the cilantro and continue to boil for another 7 minutes.

Add Cilantro

Add Cilantro

5. Stir occasionally and remove accumulated foam from the top.
6. Meanwhile, cut the rest of the vegetables and heat up a pan with a little bit of olive oil.
7. Toss the veggies in the pan and sauté until brown, then set aside.

Sauté Veggies. Set Aside.

Sauté Veggies. Set Aside.

8. After about 20 minutes of boiling, test the Auyama by taking out a large piece and try to mash it with a fork, as if making mashed potatoes. If you can do this easily, then it’s done.

Test if the auyama is done

Test if the auyama is done

9. Add the sautéed vegetables to the Auyama pot, stir and remove pot from the heat. Let it cool down.

Add veggies to auyama

Add veggies to auyama

10. Once it has cooled down, grab all the solid pieces and place them in a blender or food processor.

Blend

Blend

11. Blend together and gradually add as much of the liquid remaining on the pot as necessary, to reach the right creamy consistency. What you are looking for is a creamy soup consistency.

Creamy consistency

Creamy consistency

12. Serve hot with your favorite garnish and topping, like my sister and I do. Some of our favorite toppings include Parmesan cheese, cream cheese, avocado, rice, croutons and cassava bread.

Crema de Auyama | Venezuelan Cream of Squash Calabaza (Soup)

Crema de Auyama | Venezuelan Cream of Squash Calabaza (Soup)

Note: You can make a big batch of this Squash Calabaza creamy soup and store it in the fridge for a couple of days, or you can store it in the freezer for up to a month. Reheat on the stove and not on the microwave for better results.

¡Buen Provecho!

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: Chicha Venezolana | Venezuelan Chicha (Rice Drink)

1 Apr Chicha Venezolana | Venezuelan Chicha (Rice Drink)

Growing up in Venezuela is one of those things I would never wish to change about my life.  All the experiences, good and bad, are what make me who I am today.  Although there were some tough times, there were also plenty of great times that fill the good memories I have of Venezuela nowadays.

I was fortunate to have a loving family who valued education above all things.  I was fortunate to have parents and grandparents who made sure I could attend the best schools, private bilingual schools.  Attending a bilingual private school had advantages and disadvantages.  Of course, they were all advantages, but when you are 12 years old, you probably don’t think that having to take 16 subjects all year long (8 in English and 8 in Spanish) is an advantage at all.  Now I that I live in the US, and people can’t tell that I am from a different country, because I don’t have an accent, make me realize all the advantages.

One other advantage I remember fondly from being in a private school is definitely the food.  The school had what we call a “cantina escolar”, the school’s cafeteria.  And no, the ‘cantina’ did not serve any alcohol!  They sold anything and everything from arepas to empanadas, pabellón criollo, breakfast, tequeños, tequeñón, and anything else you might think of.

One year, my school hired a ‘carrito de chicha’, a little cart much like a hot dog cart that would sell chicha.  This tiny cart would be downstairs and my friends and I would run down during recess to get some chicha.  What is chicha? you ask?  Only the most refreshing drink you’ve ever had.  There is just something about the cold, creamy, sweet chicha that gave you enough energy to run all over during recess and still be awake for the next 4 class periods.

Venezuelan Chicha is a refreshing drink made with rice.  Back in the day, people used to soak the rice overnight, and then let it dry and grind it, then blend it and add sugar and sell it on the street as refreshment.  Nowadays, we even have commercialized chicha brands that you can buy at the store just like a carton of milk.

So now you can make your own chicha at home, and it’s very easy.  The best part is that you don’t have to wait a day while you soak the rice, or use a grinder.  Because let’s face it, who even owns a grinder?

Ingredients for Venezuelan Chicha

Ingredients for Venezuelan Chicha

What you need:

– 1 Cup White Rice
– 10 Cups Water
– ½ Teaspoon Salt
– ¾ Cup Sugar
– 1 Cup Powdered Milk
– 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
– Condensed Milk (optional)
– Ground Cinnamon
– Cinnamon Sticks
– Ice

Preparation:

1. In a large enough pot, bring the 10 cups of water to a boil.
2. Once the water is boiling, add the rice, the salt, and one cinnamon stick and continue to boil for about 30 minutes, or until the rice is quite mushy.

Boil the Rice

Boil the Rice

3. Remove the pot from the heat and set aside to cool.  At this point, also remove the cinnamon stick.
4. While the rice is still a bit warm, add the sugar and vanilla extract and stir by hand.
5. Add the powdered milk little by little so it doesn’t clump up, and stir by hand.
6. Let the mixture cool down a bit longer.
7. Using a blender, liquefy the mixture.  You will probably need to do this about 2 cups at a time, because the entire batch will not fit in an average size blender.

Blend

Blend

8. Put the mixture in a pitcher and in the fridge to cool down completely.
9. Once cool, you can serve it in many different ways.  You can serve it with crushed ice, like a smoothie.  Or you can serve it with ice cubes.  But it’s always served with ice.  You can sprinkle some ground cinnamon on top, and you can also add some condensed milk.

Venezuelan Chicha with Cinnamon

Venezuelan Chicha with Cinnamon

Venezuelan Chicha with Cinnamon and Condensed Milk

Venezuelan Chicha with Cinnamon and Condensed Milk

Chicha Venezolana | Venezuelan Chicha (Rice Drink)

Chicha Venezolana | Venezuelan Chicha (Rice Drink)

¡Buen Provecho!

Recipe: Arroz Blanco Venezolano (Venezuelan White Rice)

23 Nov

White rice is white rice, right? Wrong! This cereal is common in all countries and cultures, but each one eats it differently.   My favorite is any kind of Asian rice preparation, because I like the mushy-sushi style rice.   However, that is not usually how Venezuelans prepare it or prefer it.   Rice is one of the most consumed products in Venezuela, because it is the cereal with the most protein content and the least fat content.   It also absorbs flavors of other ingredients pretty easily so most people use it often in all their dishes and preparations.   The most common type is the white long grain type, and it is usually served as a side in beef, chicken and fish dishes, as well as inside soups, and we even make a drink out of it, Chicha.

Ingredients for Venezuelan White Rice

Ingredients for Venezuelan White Rice

What you need:

– 1 Cup White Rice
– 2 Cups Water
– ½ Teaspoon Salt
– 1 Teaspoon Oil
– 1 Garlic Clove (minced)
– ½ Medium Onion diced in two
– 1/8 Green Bell Pepper in strips
– 1/8 Red Bell Pepper in strips

Preparation:

1. You can prepare the rice in two different ways.

Option 1:

– Add the water, salt, oil, garlic, onion, and bell peppers in a large enough pot.   Cook in high heat until the water is boiling, and then add the rice.   Stir everything together and let it cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until the water has almost completely evaporated.

Option 2 (Pictured):

– Add the salt, oil, garlic, onion, bell peppers and rice into a large enough pot.   Stir-fry all the ingredients on high heat, and then as they brown, add the water.   Bring to a boil, and then cook until the water has almost completely evaporated.

Stir-Fry Rice with Salt, Oil, Garlic, Onion and Bell Peppers

Stir-Fry Rice with Salt, Oil, Garlic, Onion and Bell Peppers

*I usually prefer option 2.

Bring to A Boil

Bring to A Boil

2. Turn the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes, until the rice is soft, dry and loose/fluffy.

Remove Bell Peppers and Onions

Remove Bell Peppers and Onions

3. Remove the pot from the heat, and remove all the big pieces of onion and bell peppers.
4. Serve with butter on top and enjoy.

Press On To Container

Press On To Container

Flip On To Plate

Flip On To Plate

Slowly Remove Container

Slowly Remove Container

Venezuelan White Rice

Venezuelan White Rice

Tips

– Always stir rice with a fork and not a wooden spoon, because the wooden spoon will make it stick to itself, and it will end up being sushi/mushy rice.
– For the perfect rice consistency you can add a little bit of limejuice or a little bit of white vinegar.
– My dad used to serve us little “mountains” of rice.   Just grab a small enough bowl or container, then wet it or grease it with butter, press the rice onto the bowl, and flip it on the dish you are going to serve it.   You can also decorate with little herbs on top.

Some Venezuelan Brands of White Rice include Arroz Mary and Arroz Santa Ana.

¡Buen Provecho!

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