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Mucho Gusto

Valeria’s Harvest Bowl

This is the forty-seventh installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!

Sitting at my desk in my home in Miami, Florida I reminisce about college, wishing that I was on campus in Boston. The past few days I’ve been missing my friends who went back to campus and having major FOMO (fear of missing out). I also miss the independence I have in Boston as I find myself doing so many chores and contributing to the wellbeing of my whole family. This is something that I am not used to doing, because I am usually only home for short periods of time, during which my family usually spoils me. Now, I find myself having to ask permission when I go places, cooking meals for the whole family, and barely leaving the house because of COVID-19. 

To be completely honest with you, other than my friends, what I long for the most is my trips to Wegmans, Oath, Amelia’s Taqueria, and Sweetgreen. These trips were changes to my daily routine that I looked forward to all week when I was in Chestnut Hill; they were a chance to get away from campus and to enjoy something different from dining hall food. That is not to say there’s anything wrong with BC Dining’s food, only that it just gets boring after a while.

In particular, I’ve been really craving a tasty and fresh Sweetgreen salad. Tragically, there are no Sweetgreen locations in all of Florida. So, I had to get creative and invent my own rendition of one of my favorite fall seasonal salads from Sweetgreen: the Harvest Bowl. The main vegetables in this salad are kale and sweet potatoes. To be honest, I’m not usually a fan of kale’s acidic flavor, but in this salad, it works very well, because it compliments the tanginess  and fruitiness of the other ingredients. This recipe satisfied my craving, and for a moment, made me feel like I was back on campus in Boston.

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 1 bag of kale (about 4 cups)
  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup of wild rice
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 2 red apples
  • ½ cup of sliced almonds
  • ½ cup of crumbled goat cheese

Dressing:

  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp of dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp of honey
  • ½ tsp of salt
  • ¼ tsp of ground pepper

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium pot with a lid, boil 1 cup of water over high heat. Once the water is boiling, add the wild rice and a pinch of salt. Cover the pot with a lid, and reduce the heat to low. Cook the rice for about 45 minutes or until it absorbs all the water. After, fluff the rice with a fork. Next, remove from the heat and cover the rice for an extra 5 minutes so that it steams.  

Next, peel the skins off the sweet potatoes. With a sharp knife and a cutting board, slice the sweet potatoes into thin pieces about ¼ inch wide and 1 inch long. Place the sweet potato pieces on a greased baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Place these in the preheated oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. Flip the pieces over, and leave in the oven for 7 to 8 more minutes or until the edges are golden brown. 

While the sweet potatoes are in the oven, prepare your apples. If you do not like apple skin, you can peel them first, but this is not necessary. Then, slice the apples into pieces similar in size to the sweet potatoes, ¼ inch wide and 1 inch long. 

In a medium-sized pan on medium heat, grill the chicken breast until fully cooked. This usually takes roughly 5 minutes per side, but the cooking time may vary depending on the size and thickness of the chicken breast. When the chicken is fully cooked, the juices that come out when you cut into it will be clear. If the juices are pinkish, the chicken needs to be cooked for a little longer. Once the chicken is fully cooked, remove it from the heat and place it on the cutting board. Dice the chicken into small cubes that are about the size of your thumb nail.

While the chicken breasts are grilling, roast the sliced almonds. To do this, place the sliced almonds on a small pan over low heat. After about 30 seconds, flip over the slices of almonds. Repeat this step until the sliced almonds turn into a lightish brown color. Beware: pay close attention to them because they burn extremely easily! Roasting the almonds is completely optional; they can be added to the harvest bowl raw or even be omitted. 

In a large serving bowl, combine the kale, grilled chicken, wild rice, roasted sweet potato pieces, sliced apples, sliced almonds, and crumbled goat cheese. 

To make the dressing, in a small bowl, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, honey, salt, and pepper. Using a fork, mix these ingredients together until the dressing looks like one liquid with no division between the balsamic vinegar and the olive oil. Pour this dressing onto the large serving bowl and use salad serving utensils to mix everything together. Voila! You just made a Sweetgreen salad at home!

This recipe serves about 4 people. Leftovers can be saved in the refrigerator for around 1 week. Avoid putting the dressing on the harvest bowl when storing it in the fridge. 

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Mucho Gusto

Valeria’s Milanesas de Pollo

This is the forty-third installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!

Milanesas de Pollo (Chicken alla Milanese) is the perfect representation of my mixed Italian and Argentinian heritage. Though a simple breaded chicken, this dish has so much to offer. It has been a staple of my childhood. While many children in the United States grow up eating chicken tenders, I grew up on Milanesas de Pollo, or Chicken alla Milanese. Since my family is part Italian and Argentinian, this meal is one that is found in both sides of my heritage. They have similar cooking processes but are served in different forms. 

Commonly known as chicken parmigiana, Italian Chicken alla Milanese is typically served covered in a marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese and accompanied by a side of pasta.The phrase alla milanese means cooked in the style of Milan, which happens to be the birthplace of my grandfather. However, there is a historical controversy on the origins of the purportedly Italian dish. The Austrians believe that they were indeed the founders of the dish, with their schnitzel, but the northern Italians claim that the Austrians plagiarized it from them. 

The Argentinian Milanesa is considered the unofficial national dish of the country. Argentines love eating anything with meat, in any shape or form. When Italians immigrated to Argentina and introduced their alla milanese recipes, Argentinians were soon delighted by the treasure. They began to develop their own versions of the dish – a slice of ham and fried egg on top, and one of the most popular variations being Sanguich alla Milanga. Sanguich alla Milanga is a french baguette sandwich filled with a Milanesa of any selection of meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise. Another popular Argentinian play on the dish is to eat it with puré de papa – mashed potatoes. 

In my family, milanesas are the perfect solution to any missing meal at a family gathering. While this dish is sure to please any of the appetites, it is also quite simple to make and does not require much creativity. It is extremely versatile and can be eaten in many different scenarios. It makes the perfect main course at dinner, cold snack at the beach, base for a sandwich, or star of a kid’s boxed lunch.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of chicken breasts (about 4 pieces) 
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp of chopped parsley
  • ½ tsp of salt
  • ⅛ tsp black ground pepper
  • 3 cups bread crumbs (preferably Panko)
  • 3 eggs

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover a baking tray with aluminum foil and spray the foil with oil to avoid sticking.

Cut the chicken breast in half lengthwise. To do this, place the chicken breast on the cutting board with the smoothest side facing down. Place the palm of your non-cutting hand on top of the chicken breast. Use a sharp knife to slice horizontally through the side of the chicken breast until you have two separate thin pieces. Place a sheet of plastic wrap over the sliced pieces of chicken breast, and use a meat pounder to smash the chicken so that each piece becomes fully tenderized. If you do not have a meat pounder, you can use any tool that resembles this tool. For example, I used the back of a lemon squeezer. This step is critical so that the chicken does not become dry when it is being cooked. 

Once all the pieces of chicken are tenderized, remove the plastic wrap and season by massaging each piece of chicken with garlic and parsley and sprinkling salt and pepper to taste. 

Crack the eggs into a deep plate.  Add ½ teaspoon of salt and ⅛ teaspoon of pepper to the eggs while whisking them. Pour the bread crumbs into a separate large deep plate. 

Now the assembly process begins. First, dip a piece of seasoned chicken into the whisked eggs. Flip the chicken piece as you are dipping it into the whisked eggs to ensure that the piece of chicken is evenly coated. Next, use a fork to lift up the chicken, and place it onto the plate with the bread crumbs. Like the eggs, make sure that the chicken piece is evenly coated in the bread crumbs. This may require you to get your hands dirty by pressing the crumbs to stick onto the chicken. Place the pieces of breaded chicken onto the prepared baking tray. Spray them with oil for further crunchiness, and place the tray into the oven for 30 minutes or until the corners are golden brown. 

These milanesas are accompanied well with any condiment and any side of your choice or even be put into a sandwich. My go to condiment choice is Dijon mustard with a little bit of mayonnaise, and my go-to side dish is a sweet potato puree. Enjoy! 

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Mucho Gusto

Valeria’s Apple Dumplings

This is the thirty-ninth installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!

Recipe by Luciana Molinari 
Introduction and Edits by Valeria Gutierrez

Apple dumplings were my mom’s first impression of American food. She saw them as something that was so glorious that they “did not belong in this world.” They set high expectations for her experience as a foreign exchange student in Kansas City, Missouri. 

Coming to the United States as a 17 year old from Caracas, Venezuela, my mom expected to eat hamburgers, hot dogs, and McDonald’s ice cream sundaes every day. She did not have high hopes for the cuisine she would encounter in the US, especially in comparison to the foods she ate back home. My grandmother had a true passion for cooking, and in conjunction with my grandfather’s Italian ancestry, my mom’s everyday meals back in Venezuela always involved something extravagant. 

Unlike my grandparents, my mom’s foreign exchange parents, Janus and Charlie, were humble and thrifty individuals, especially when it came to feeding and raising their five children and ferret. It was not until Janus made her famous, old-fashioned classic apple dumplings that my mom’s perspective on American food completely flipped. “This simple, spiceful dessert had no significant expertise or luxurious ingredients and tasted like something sent down from heaven” says my mom. 

From this moment on, my mom looked at American food through completely different eyes. She began experimenting with other mouth-watering typical American dishes such as barbecue brisket and baked beans. To say the least, she gained 10 pounds from her foreign exchange experience and brought home from the United States a notebook filled with recipes to share with her family and friends. In fact, she still has the notebook, which contains this very recipe, to this day! 

Ingredients:

Syrup

  • 1 ½ cups of sugar
  • 1 ½ cups of water
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter

Dough

  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ⅔ cup of all-vegetable shortening
  • ½ cup of milk

Filling

  • 6 red apples, peeled and cored, sliced in halves
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar

Instructions:

Start by making the syrup. To do this, use a medium-sized pot to boil the water. Once the water is simmering, add the sugar and spices. Boil the mixture for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the sugar does not form clumps or become grainy. Remove the pot from the burner and turn off the heat. Slowly whisk in the unsalted butter until the mix has the consistency of a sticky liquid. Put the syrup aside, and move on to the dough for the dumplings.

Add all of the dry ingredients to a medium-sized bowl, and mix them together using a fork. Using a hand mixer (or a stand mixer) to blend everything, add in the vegetable shortening until little balls start forming. At this point, add the milk to wet the mixture until it forms a malleable dough. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour. If the dough is too dry, add more milk. Pack the dough into one huge ball, cover it using plastic wrap, and refrigerate for approximately 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and grease a large baking tray. While the dough is in the fridge, place all the apple halves in a large plate or cutting board and sprinkle them with ground cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar. Leave these aside to soak in the flavor of the sugar and spices.

Remove the dough from the fridge. Sprinkle a small amount of flour onto the countertop to prevent the dough from sticking to the surface. Place the dough ball in the middle of the floured surface and use a rolling pin to extend the dough until it is about ¼ inch thick. Cut the dough into squares that are double the size of the apple halves you will be using to fill the dumplings. These should be approximately 6×6 inch squares. 

Place the apple slice in the middle of the dough square, and gently bring up all the corners to join together in the center of the apple. Pinch all the edges until the dumpling is fully sealed. If desired, cut outs, lines, or different designs can be added to the outside of your apple dumpling. Place the apple dumplings onto the greased baking tray with space between one another. With either a brush or a spoon, cover the top of the apple dumplings with the syrup. It is optional to sprinkle a little bit of sugar on top of the syrup for more caramelization. 

Place the dumplings in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and serve warm. I highly recommend accompanying them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to further emphasize the flavor and create some contrast in temperature. 

This recipe makes 12 apple dumplings. Enjoy!

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Mucho Gusto

Valeria’s Baked Beet Falafels

This is the thirty-fifth installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!

With their vibrant, eccentric color and the stereotypical belief that they taste like dirt,  beets tend to scare people away. This bright red root vegetable grows below the soil just like carrots and radishes. Thus, the common misconception is that the soil perforates into the beetroot, giving the vegetable its characteristic earthy taste and smell. 

Beets should not be judged by their cover. Some people, like me, love this rich, natural flavor. They have a distinct sweet and bitter tang and along with a vivacious color that gives an extra pop to any dish. Beets are actually one of my favorite vegetables! I vividly remember being 5 years old, eating roasted beets for lunch. I absolutely loved the vegetable that left my tongue and lips stained pink. 

Beets are believed to have originated along the coasts of the Mediterranean and are presently used in various food recipes, as a dye or colorant, and even in medicine. They have a lot of health benefits and an impressive nutritional value. They are low in calories and are a natural antioxidant containing a bit of each of the vitamins and minerals that a human needs. 

In this recipe I chose to ignore beets’ controversial flavor and experiment with one of my favorite Middle Eastern dishes, Falafel, to create a healthy snack. Falafels are known as a very versatile street food because there are multiple ways to eat it and can be easily combined with other flavors. They are usually deep fried balls or patties made primarily with chickpeas but I decided to give them a healthy twist by baking them and mixing beets into the batter.

Ingredients:

  • 2 raw beets, peeled and diced
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 tbsp of cilantro leaves
  • 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup of rice flour (you can make this yourself by grinding up ½ cup of uncooked rice in the blender)
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • ½ tsp of salt
  • ⅛ tsp of ground cumin

Instructions:

Boil the raw beets for 10 minutes or until a fork goes through them easily. Drain the beets and set them aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly grease two 12 hole muffin pans and set aside. 

Place the diced red onions, minced garlic, and cilantro leaves in a blender or food processor and blend at a low speed for 10 seconds. Add the cooked beets, chickpeas, rice flour, lemon juice, salt and cumin to the blender and blend until everything is chunky but still well mixed. The small chunks will add extra crunchiness to the falafel. 

Using your hands, divide the batter into golf ball sized balls and place each ball into the individual holes of the muffin pans. Beware– your hands will become stained in pink from handling the batter! Gently press down the small balls to form patties.

Bake the patties for 12-15 minutes or until the falafel starts to crack. Cool the falafels for 5 minutes before removing them from the muffin pan. It is imperative that you do not remove the falafels before they have cooled so that the falafels do not break or crack.

This recipe pairs well with a cucumber and yogurt dip, which gives the falafel patties creaminess and freshness in contrast to the dense beet falafels. 

This recipe usually makes 24 beet falafel patties.

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Mucho Gusto

Valeria’s Tuna Tartare

This is the thirty-first installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!

If you’re looking to achieve Michelin star chef status at your next small gathering, it’s time to stop shying away from preparing raw fish. Try out this straightforward tuna tartare recipe, and you’ll surely leave your guests in pure amazement.

I recently made this tangy recipe for my family after coming home from the beach on a scorching hot day, and I can assure you it’s the perfect summer dish to soothe burnt skin and excite tired taste buds.

Ingredients:

  • 1 4-6 oz frozen yellowfin tuna steak 
  • 1 ripe Hass avocado
  • ½ mango
  • 1 tsp thinly chopped scallions (green onions)
  • 2 tsp soy sauce (or coconut aminos for a low sodium alternative) 
  • 2 tsp citrus ponzu sauce
  • A pinch of salt
  • Optional: a pinch of black sesame seeds
  • Optional: a few plantain chips for decoration and crunch

Instructions:

Begin by using a sharp knife to slice the whole tuna steak into pieces about the size of your nail. I recommend freezing the tuna steak prior to making the dish, as it allows the fish to stay compact and tender while you cut it into small cubes. Once you finish slicing, place the tuna cubes into a medium-sized bowl. 

Cut the avocado in half lengthwise and remove the pit. Leaving the flesh inside the skin, use the knife to cut even lines both horizontally and vertically, making little squares. Use a spoon to scoop the flesh out of each avocado half and add it to the bowl containing the sliced tuna. Then, dice the mango into small pieces about the same size as both the tuna and avocado. Thinly chop the scallions. Add both ingredients into the bowl. 

Add the coconut aminos or soy sauce, the citrus ponzu sauce, and salt to the bowl. Use a spoon to mix everything together thoroughly. 

Viola! Now you’re ready to plate.

The key to excellence in this recipe is creativity in your plating. I recommend using a mold or cookie cutter to firmly pack the tuna tartare in the center of the plate. I used a pinch of black sesame seeds to decorate and served the dish with a few plantain chips for some extra crunchiness that paired perfectly with the tenderness of the fish.

This recipe makes about 2 servings.