Categories
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. 

Categories
Mucho Gusto

Maya’s Cacio e Pepe Pasta

This is the forty-sixth 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!

Loved by kids and adults alike, buttered noodles are a timeless, homey classic. From the gooey, melty cheese to the perfectly cooked pasta, this simple dish is the perfect comfort food for all. I mean, who doesn’t love cheesy, buttery pasta?

It is no wonder why there are many versions of this iconic dish in different cultures. Coming from an Italian family, cacio e pepe is what my family likes to call our preferred version of buttered noodles. Whether we are in a rush or sitting down for a Sunday night pasta dinner party with the whole family, cacio e pepe is a tasty, satiating dish that we always welcome. I remember my excitement when my Nonna would whip up this decadent meal for me after a busy day of playing outside and helping my Nonno in his vegetable garden in the backyard. This dish also brings up fond childhood memories for my dad—he recalls coming home from school and seeing his favorite warm meal prepared with love by his mom, waiting on the kitchen table, ready to be enjoyed. This dish is a nostalgic staple for generations in our family, like in most Italian households. It is simple enough for a kid’s pallet but is still rich, savory, and satisfying every time—perhaps some would even say, the culinary equivalent of a warm hug from a loved one. 

Cacio e Pepe is similar to pasta in Bianco or buttered noodles. It is an ancient Italian dish dating all the way back to the Roman Empire. Legend has it that this recipe started as an easy, practical food for the shepherds because it was durable,  easy to carry, did not take long to prepare, and did not spoil quickly. As the name, which translates to “cheese and pepper,” implies, cacio e pepe is a simple dish. With just two main ingredients prepared carefully with the right cooking technique make this dish so delicious. While the recipe can vary from region to region, I’m sharing my dad’s recipe, which he learned from his northern Italian parents. No matter which recipe you follow, high-quality Italian ingredients are a must. Authentic to the style of the Romans, an abundance of freshly ground black pepper and imported grated cheese are critical to achieving the great flavor. Together, with the pepper, cheese, and pasta, the high-quality elements with bold flavors combine to form a harmonious, hearty meal. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of pasta, any of your choosing
  • ½ – ¾ stick of butter
  • 2 cups of pasta water
  • Approximately ½ cup 2% milk
  • Approximately ½ cup cheese, freshly grated, as desired
  • Salt and pepper, to taste, but heavy on the pepper

**It is also important to have a large, heavy saucepan for the best results; it will distribute heat gradually and evenly without burning the ingredients. 

Directions: 

Start by boiling a pot of water over medium heat. The water should be well salted, with at least one teaspoon. Once the water is boiling, add your pasta of choice. A rough-surfaced pasta is more desirable, as it can hold more of the sauce, but any type works for this versatile dish. Traditionally, tonnarelli is used, but long spaghetti works well too. Bow ties and shells can also be good for adhering to the smooth, creamy sauce. Cook the pasta over medium heat for approximately 6 minutes. Be sure to not overcook the pasta—you want it to be al dente, so it is okay to turn the heat off a bit prematurely while it still feels a bit hard. It should have a tender “bite” or snap when you are trying it. Once the pasta is cooked to perfection, set the pasta aside and save at least two cups of the pasta water. 

In your heavy saucepan, prepare the sauce—the star of the dish. Start by cutting the butter into chunks and placing the pieces in the saucepan under low heat. You do not want the butter to burn or brown the butter—just lightly melt it.  Add the pepper to the butter as it melts. Next, add the milk. Finally, add the cheese. Emulsify it slowly with a couple of ladles of pasta water, and mix it all together. Be careful when adding the milk to the sauce as it can easily overheat and curdle, causing the fats to separate from the water. Use this technique when making the sauce so that it becomes silky and smooth and has the proper consistency: Have the heat on a light simmer and gently stir the components together. Then, slowly add some high-quality grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese. 

Once the sauce is light yet rich, it is ready. Turn off the heat, add the pasta to the sauce, and toss.  Make sure to evenly coat the pasta. You can vary the ratios of cheese and pepper to your liking, but be sure to finish off the dish with lots of black pepper for serving; it should be visibly seen in the pasta. Ѐ finito! Buon appetito! 

This recipe feeds about 4-6 people. 

Photo courtesy of people.com

Categories
Mucho Gusto

Prashanti’s Chili Bajjis

This is the forty-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!

SIZZLE! SIZZLE! SIZZLE! When I was young, I often came home from school to this sound. I’d immediately run to the kitchen to see what my mom or dad was making. Most days, someone was preparing a curry; the sizzle I’d hear was the onions browning in the pan. As a child—and still today—I loved curry. However, because I ate curries practically every day, the excitement I felt wore off after a while. Every so often, I would hear something else: the sizzle of green chillies being deep fried. On those days, my dad would be making one of my favorite snacks, chilli bajjis. 

Chilli bajjis are incredibly spicy but delicious deep fried green chillies—an Indian fritter of sorts. Eaten as a tea time snack or sold by street vendors in India, chilli bajjis are a staple of South Indian cuisine. While the first bite of the chilli bajji is extremely crunchy, the second bite is when the spice really kicks in. It feels like your mouth is on fire. Your eyes may even begin to water. You continue eating the bajiis anyways; it’s that delicious. The next bite is surprisingly refreshing. That’s when you finally taste the onion filling and its hint of red chilli powder and lemon juice. 

Choosing the correct chilli for this snack is very important. In India, people tend to use the spiciest chilli they can get their hands on. Unfortunately, these chillies are not sold in regular American grocery stores. Instead, people usually buy them from specialized Indian supermarkets. When I had a chilli bajji in India for the first time, I was shocked by the sheer amount of spice. My eyes watered as I ate, but it was so delicious that I had to finish it all. As I’ve gotten older, I have become more accustomed to the spiciness of these chillies and react more quietly to it. For those with a lower spice tolerance, eating the chilli bajjis with some sort of tamarind sauce or chutney reduces some of the spiciness of the snack. Some people go so far as to use normal chillies that can be found in any American grocery store. 

Ingredients:

  • 10-12 medium sized green chillies  
  • 4-6 cups vegetable oil for deep frying
  • 2 cup besan flour 
  • ⅔  cup water 
  • 2 tsp. baking powder or baking soda 
  • 2 tsp. salt 
  • 4 tsp. red chilli powder
  • 1 medium yellow onion 
  • ½ lemon

Instructions:

First, clean the chillies by running them under warm water. Use a paper towel to pat them down, making sure that they are completely dry. With a sharp knife, make one long slit down the length of the chilli. When doing this, make sure that you do not accidentally cut the chilli in half. This step is important, because it will allow you to add a filling into the chillies after they are fried. 

Chillies with a slit

Next, make the batter that you will dip the chillies in before frying them. To do this, mix the besan flour, baking powder or baking soda, salt, 3 teaspoons of red chilli powder, and water together until all the ingredients are well combined. This should form a batter that is similar in consistency to pancake batter. If the batter is too thin, add some more besan flour; if it is too thick, add a little bit of water. 

Prepare to deep fry the chillies. Add the vegetable oil to a large pot and heat it on medium flame. To test the temperature of the oil, place a drop of the batter in the oil. You will know that the oil is hot enough to use when the batter rises to the top and begins to sizzle. Dip a chilli in the batter, make suring that it is evenly coated. Gently place the chilli in the pot of hot oil and fry for 3-5 minutes or until it has a nice golden-brown color. Repeat this process for the rest of the chillies. Set the deep fried chillies aside so that they can cool as you proceed to the next step. You can either dispose of the oil or save it for your next deep-fried dish!

Chop the yellow onion into small pieces. In a small mixing bowl, combine the onions with the remaining teaspoon of red chilli powder. Squeeze half of a lemon into the onion mixture and combine well. 

Finally, add 1-2 spoonfuls of the onion mixture into the slit of the fried chillies; make sure that the onion mixture is spread evenly throughout the slit of the chilli. This recipe should be served right away, and it tastes even better when eaten with tamarind sauce or chutney. Enjoy!

Categories
Mucho Gusto

Allison’s Veggie Quiche

This is the forty-fourth 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!

Vuono Sunday brunches have always been the highlight of my week. My family and I all love to cook, and ever since I started fourth grade, we have kept up with this tradition almost every other weekend. Most of my dad’s side of the family lives nearby, so we all gather at our house for Sunday mornings full of great food and fun. While the rest of the family arrives by 11 a.m., our busy morning begins at 9:30, with Mom preheating the oven, Dad chopping the ingredients, and my brother, Ryan, and I running down after just waking up to help start the feast.

Our menu is pretty consistent; we always have mouth watering turkey sausage, fluffy scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, hot waffles or pancakes, and, of course, my favorite: the incredible veggie quiche. Our tasks are divided between the four of us: Dad sizzles up the sausage and eggs; Ryan whisks away at the batter; Mom cuts the fruit and jumps up to flip the pancakes or waffles. In the last few years, I’ve mastered the quiche.

Our brunch tradition truly encapsulates our family’s shared love for cooking. My brother and I have always loved helping out in the kitchen, but now we are actually capable of cooking by ourselves. I cherish this family time in the kitchen, catching up on our week, as all our busy lives move in so many different directions each day. And to top it off, we get to share an amazing, home-cooked meal with my cousins, grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

The veggie quiche, although just one part of our brunch feast, is my favorite aspect and the one I’ve taken over the last few years. Warm out of the oven with a crisp golden crust, every forkful of this veggie quiche is creamy, soft, and delicious!

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cup of milk 
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons freshly chopped chives
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 ½ cup sliced cremini mushrooms 
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped yellow squash
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ frozen pie shell (I like Wholly Wholesome 9” Organic Pie Shell) 

INSTRUCTIONS

First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and remove the pie crust from the freezer. You also can make the pie crust from scratch, but I’ve found that the Wholly Wholesome crust is delish (and a whole lot easier…don’t worry, I won’t tell)! You can also check out an easy pie crust recipe here. Set the pie crust aside and prepare the vegetables. 

A variety of veggies is best, and this is one of my favorite combos. Finely chop the mushrooms, bell pepper, squash, and zucchini. Next, place a medium pan on the stove on medium heat.. Add the olive oil and the vegetables to the pan and sauté until the vegetables are softened and brown. This step typically takes 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.

Next, grate approximately 1 cup of Parmesan cheese over a bowl. To prepare the custard filling, use a whisk to thoroughly combine the eggs, milk, nutmeg, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. 

Now it’s time to assemble the quiche! Place the pie crust on a pie plate and transfer the vegetables to the crust. Add the cheese, spreading it out evenly across the crust. Pour the egg mixture into the pie crust, until it is filled to the brim. Be careful not to over-pour to prevent overflowing and a big mess!

Carefully transfer the cooking tray to the oven. Bake the quiches for approximately 35-40 minutes. To see if the quiches are cooked, insert a toothpick into the center; when the quiche is ready, the toothpick should come out clean. Let the quiches cool for at least 10 minutes before eating. Slice the quiche into wedges for the whole family, and serve! 

Categories
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! 

Categories
Mucho Gusto

Maya’s Enchiladas

This is the forty-second 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!

That first, irresistible, crunchy bite will make or break it—no, literally, the delicious tostada vessel sometimes cracks, leaving your fingers stained beet-red and your plate a mess of enchilada toppings (which, when nobody is looking, you will probably lick clean.) At its simplest, it is a messy finger-food, but this unique enchilada dish is also exciting, vibrant, and celebratory. It includes the polarizing ingredients of pickled beets, capers, and hard-boiled eggs, yet it remains surprisingly delightful. With a complimentary combination of a crispy fried tortilla, tender meat, a tangy homemade tomato sauce, and piled high with fresh, crunchy vegetables, it is truly a satisfying, well-balanced meal in both taste and texture. Each layer of the dish is crafted and stacked with care, creating what I believe is a culinary masterpiece. These enchiladas are easily my favorite Guatemalan dish yet. 

Enchiladas have an expansive, rich history that dates back to the 18th century, making them a unique staple in many Latin-American households today and a cultural and gastronomical patrimony. Most families are loyal to their own recipes, so there are many different versions. Enchiladas vary from culture to culture as well. However, for traditional Guatemalan enchiladas, a couple key ingredients maintain the integrity of the dish, regardless of the variation. For example, the corn tortilla is essential to the authenticity of the enchilada. It is fried to perfection in order to create a crispy tostada, which is essentially a toasted tortilla. Guatemalan Rudy Giron explains it best: “If tostadas had a kingdom, La Enchilada would be the queen of the tostadas.” In addition, Guatemalan enchiladas are packed with refreshing vegetables, which is why they are sometimes referred to as “jardineras,” or garden planters. Besides a beautiful final product, the colorful vegetables are truly a fun way to eat your veggies! So, these Guatemalan enchiladas are the ultimate use of two native, historic gastronomic staples: corn tortillas and vegetables.

Besides its rich cultural history, this meal has a rich significance in my own life. Enchiladas are a special treat in my family, as both the labor put into them and the flavors that result are grand. I often ask my grandma, Mama Silvia, to make them for me, as not only are they tasty, but it is always such a wonderful experience to sit down at the table and enjoy them with my family. The memories behind the dish are fond—enchiladas were the last dinner I indulged in with my family before leaving for college for the first time. The whole family enjoys them on Christmas in Guatemala, accompanied by traditional celebratory fireworks and a warm, welcoming house booming with hearty laughs and singing. We ate them in quarantine to cheer us all up and to bid me farewell before heading back to college once again. When we make these enchiladas, everyone near and dear is always there, and together we are unified, thankful, happy, and full. No matter how big or small the gathering, this dish makes it a loving celebration. 

Sharing these Guatemalan enchiladas is truly a symbol of love in my family. They are made with heart, and it is a privilege to enjoy them. This recipe is passed down from generation to generation—my grandma learned from her mother in their country home in Guatemala years ago. Today, I feel honored and ecstatic to learn from my mom and grandma, and share my family’s recipe myself!

Ingredients:

Enchilada Toppings

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 10-12 corn tortillas
  • 10-12 leaves of iceberg lettuce (1 per tortilla)
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil per 3 tortillas
  • 1 tbsp cheese per tortilla (queso seco, panela, or parmesan), crumbled
  • ½ bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 3-4 eggs, hard-boiled and sliced
  • Sliver of onion, sliced, for garnish (optional)

Curtido (Vegetable Salad Mixture) 

  • 3 large beets, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup lima beans
  • 2 cups cauliflower, chopped
  • ½ lb green beans, chopped
  • ½ lb carrots, chopped finely
  • 1 cup Spanish onion, chopped finely
  • ½ head of cabbage
  • ½ cup white wine vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 small jar capers
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Tomato Salsa

  • 3 tomatoes
  • ¼ of an onion
  • 1 pepper Chile Guajillo
  • ¼ cup green bell pepper
  • ¼ cup red bell pepper
  • ¼ cup water or less
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions: 

Start by making the pickled beet-salad-vegetable-mixture. In my family, we call this classic mixture “curtido,” but it is also referred to as “escabeche.” It is the key of the dish, as it is the star that gives the dish a unique and tangy flavor. To make the curtido, steam the prepped vegetables (minus the onion) in a pot with boiling water. Be sure to start with the beets, as they will take the most time to soften. Then, add the rest of the vegetables. While the ingredients are steaming, cut the raw onion into slices and let it soak in a bowl with the vinegar and water. The vegetables will take 20-30 minutes to fully steam. Let the vegetables cool down, then dice them.  Combine these with the sliced raw onions resting in the vinegar water and add capers, salt, and pepper to the mix. Mix it up evenly as you would toss a salad. You can modify the ratio of vinegar to water as needed, but it should be about even—a bit tangy and tart but not overpoweringly acidic. This cold, pickled vegetable salad is best set aside and chilled in the fridge until ready for use. It can also be stored for up to a week to enjoy as a side-salad or even as a sauerkraut-like topping for your food. 

For the tomato salsa, simmer all the vegetables in a small amount of water, about a ¼ cup. Once they are cooked to a soft consistency, liquify the stew-like mixture in a blender until it is smooth and thick. Then, add salt and pepper as you wish.

In a separate pan, cook the ground beef over medium heat with salt and pepper to taste. Meanwhile, hard-boil the eggs as you normally would. Once they are cooked, chill the eggs while you prepare the other elements of the dish and slice them right before use.

In another medium pan with a bit of vegetable oil, fry 3 tortillas at a time. After 3 minutes of frying on one side, flip the tortilla to the other side for 3 minutes, until it is golden-brown on both sides. Then, place the fried tortillas/tostadas onto a plate with paper towels to soak up any excess oil.

The final and crucial step is the assembly of the enchiladas. Your set-up should include: a bowl of the cold pickled salad, a plate of iceberg lettuce leaves, a plate of the sliced, chilled hard-boiled eggs, a bowl of cheese, a bowl of parsley, a bowl of room-temperature ground-beef, a bowl of room-temperature salsa, and the platter of tostadas. To assemble, start with a tortilla spread with a thick, even layer of the tomato salsa. Then, add the leaf of lettuce and top with the ground beef. Pile on a mountain of the pickled curtido salad for maximum flavor. Garnish with slices of hard-boiled egg, chopped parsley, and a sliver of onion. The final touch is a generous sprinkling of fresh Guatemalan cheese (queso seco). You can also use Panela cheese or Parmesan, if you prefer. 

This recipe makes 10-12 enchiladas. Enjoy! 

Categories
Mucho Gusto

Prashanti’s Tindora Achaar

This is the forty 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!

Written by Leela Kodali & Edited by Prashanti Kodali 

At college, when I’m away from home, I miss eating my parents’ home-cooked meals; I miss the flavor, especially the spiciness. Weirdly enough, I miss the sensation of my mouth burning and my eyes watering because of the spice level. Perhaps my favorite food to eat is achaar—a delicious, spicy, and traditional Indian pickled condiment eaten with rice. Typically made from oil and a spice blend, achaar always features a staple ingredient—anything from red chilies to lemon to raw mango. Today, I am sharing my mom’s recipe for our family’s favorite type: tindora achaar. Resembling a cucumber, tindora is a slightly bitter vegetable commonly used in South and Southeast Asian cuisines. Because of its odd texture, tindora is a very controversial vegetable – some people love it; others hate it.

Fresh tindora

Here’s the story of how my mom came to appreciate tindora: 

“When I was a little girl, I used to despise tindora. I thought the vegetable was flavorless and had an awful texture. I remember begging my mom to never make a tindora curry. If I saw that she was cooking with tindora, I’d shudder in disgust. To this day, I still strongly dislike eating tindora in most other foods—its slimy texture will always irk me. 

Later on in life, I remember going to an Indian restaurant while visiting my family in New Jersey. My brother begged me to try the restaurant’s tindora achaar. I initially refused, but he was relentless. I finally gave in so that he would stop talking. To my surprise, I was captivated by the incredible flavor and surprising texture of the tindora achaar. I was gobsmacked! The tindora was full of flavor and crunchy instead of slimy! 

As soon as I came home, I immediately Googled how to make the tindora achaar and quickly discovered how simple it is to make. I found out that the tindora wasn’t slimy because the pieces are dried before they are pickled. The combination of spices that was used sounded heavenly. The only hard part about making this recipe was waiting the full two days for the tindora pieces to absorb all the spice. 

Nowadays, I make this recipe for my family all the time. It isn’t time consuming at all and is one of the few recipes everyone enjoys. I keep the tindora achaar in our refrigerator, at all times; if I’m working or I’m feeling lazy that day, my family is more than happy to eat it with rice. No one complains.” 

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups tindora 
  • ½ cup chili powder
  • ½ cup mustard powder 
  • ½ tbsp. turmeric powder
  • ½ cup salt 
  • ¼ cup lemon juice 
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 6 dried red chilies 
  • ½ tsp. chana daal 
  • Optional: ¼ tsp. Asafoetida powder

Instructions:

Begin by cutting the tindora into small pieces. The best way to do this is to first cut off the ends of the tindora. Next, cut the tindora in half lengthwise twice, resulting in four long pieces. Cut each quarter into bite size pieces. After this, spread out the chopped up tindora onto a large plate, or multiple plates if necessary, and let them dry. When placing the tindora onto the plate(s), make sure that the pieces are evenly spread out and that none overlap. It is best to let the tindora dry outside under the hot sun for at least 1 hour. 

Pieces of dried tindora

When the tindora is finally dry, place the pieces into a large mixing bowl. Add the chili powder, mustard powder, turmeric powder, and lemon juice to the bowl, and mix until all the pieces are evenly coated in the spices. Set this aside. 

Tindora after adding the above mentioned spices and lemon juice

Next, add the vegetable oil to a medium pot and heat on a low flame for approximately 5 minutes. Add the dried red chilies, chana daal, and Asafoetida powder. Asafoetida is a blend of spices commonly used when pickling foods and in various South Asian recipes. The Asafoetida adds a nice punch to this already spicy recipe. However, it is not necessary, as it can be hard to find; the other spices already add tons of flavor! Remove the pot from heat once the golden yellow chana daal becomes lightly browned. Let this cool for 2-3 minutes before adding it to the mixing bowl with the tindora pieces.

Then, stir the mixture enough so that the tindora pieces are even coated in the spices and oil. Transfer the tindora achaar into a large glass jar and store in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 days. This allows the tindora pieces to absorb all the oil and spices, maximizing the pickling effect.

The tindora achaar can last up to 3 months if stored in the refrigerator. A spoonful of the tindora achaar is typically eaten with a serving of rice. Some people like to add ghee (clarified butter) to the rice and achaar mixture as it reduces some of the spiciness. Enjoy! 

Categories
Mucho Gusto

Phoebe’s Banana Oatmeal Pancakes

This is the fortieth 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 Phoebe Drummond
Introduction and Edits by Allison Vuono

This breakfast recipe is my friend Phoebe’s post workout go-to. Here’s her story behind the pancakes that she was so excited to share with Gusto!

Morning miles, sweaty hill sprints, and core sessions that all made a minute feel like a lifetime; this may not have been the ideal summer morning routine, but it was the undeniable reality of my August sunrises in high school. And, not to be forgotten, a key and final item in the typical cross country practice sequel was looking forward to the breakfast coming after.

The last mile went by much faster when my teammates and I brainstormed what we would make or where we would go for breakfast after practice. Popular options were bagels or Playa Bowls (you can never escape them), but during our underclassmen years, none of us had driver’s licenses yet. 

It was this early logistical obstacle that led to the discovery of one of the most epic creations attributed to Google: oatmeal banana pancakes. 

My teammate and best friend Catherine lived one street over from me, so I often found myself at her house after practice or vice versa. Too many times we would be staring into each other’s kitchen cabinets, our stomachs GROWLING, and our brains begging us for something other than Lucky Charms again (no hate, though). 

We eventually took to the worldwide Web to spice up our post practice feast, and as always, the search bar pulled through. This pancake discovery was so good that just the thought of it got me through some of the tough mile repeats I could have easily pulled a “my shins are hurting”—if you’ve ever run cross country, don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about—to get out of.

Even after actually completing an entire workout, Catherine and I would hustle to our houses to make them. And, consider it contradictory, but for two girls who routinely finished long runs before 9 a.m., we could be INCREDIBLY lazy. So, the fact that these pancakes only take 10 minutes to make and have essentially no clean up, is an added bonus. You really just have to combine all the ingredients in a blender and flip each pancake once on the stove. The lack of manual labor after tiring practices was always much appreciated.

This recipe, adapted from Ambitious Kitchen, makes a single serving, approximately 3 small pancakes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium banana, preferably ripe and slightly browned
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Oil or butter for cooking

Instructions:

First, put the oats into the blender and blend until they become powder—it should look like off-white flour. Add the rest of the ingredients to the blender, and blend until a thin batter is formed.

Turn on the stove to medium heat. Put your desired choice of oil or butter in a pan on the stove. Scoop out approximately ⅓ cup of batter, and pour it onto the skillet. 

When the top of the pancake starts to bubble, and the bottom is solid enough to flip over, quickly slide a spatula under the pancake to flip it. Remove the pancake from the heat after another minute or two, and set aside on a plate. Repeat until there is no batter left.

Serve in a FAT STACK, add syrup and/or whatever toppings you prefer, and enjoy!

Categories
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!

Categories
Mucho Gusto

Emily’s Buffalo Chicken Dip

This is the thirty-eighth 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!

This recipe is tradition for my good friend Emily, a Massachusetts native and foodie at heart. Whether on campus or miles apart, Emily and I always bond over food; we are constantly sharing different recipes and restaurant recommendations, and this recipe is no exception. This time, we thought we’d include Gusto in our exchange over a Finn family classic.

Emily has decided to share with us a traditional family recipe for buffalo chicken dip, a quintessential American comfort food. It is, of course, as perfect for game day gatherings as it is warm, homey, and comforting. This classic dish will also fit right in at your last few summer barbecues. It is no wonder why it is a fan-favorite, Sunday staple! 

It is easy and so tasty! From the gooey, bubbly cheese to the saucy, spicy, savory chicken with crunchy bites of chips and veggies, this quick, rich dip is delicious. As Emily perfectly explains, it creates that sense of American comfort and game day spirit wherever you are…

“We do not press play on the football game until I have my bowl of buffalo chicken dip on my lap.” 

She describes the setting: It is our favorite day of the week. The house is full of people, yet silent. Only the sounds from the TV fill the air, along with the aromas from the kitchen, where mom is preparing the family favorite. Everyone is cozied up on the couch, sporting navy, red, and white. As soon as the pan comes out, happy hands reach in from all directions, without ever taking an eye off the TV.  It is a dish that has been enjoyed many times, but it never loses its charm. 

Emily explains, “Born and raised a New England fan, I can affirm that football, food, friends, and family make the world go round. If there is a football game to be watched, there is buffalo chicken dip to be eaten. For as long as I can remember, my family, friends, and I all sat on the couch and ate this addicting dip together during every Sunday Patriots game. That is what makes it so special—there is no better mix than food and sports to bring us all together for some quality time.” 

Reminiscing on the dish, Emily tells me, “My family’s ultimate game-day snack is a warm, super cheesy pan full of thick buffalo chicken, ready to be dipped into with whatever crunchy, snack-vessel you like! Did I mention that it was cheesy?

This is not your typical chips and dip. This legendary combination of tangy, tempting flavors will have you hooked; and it has no better pair than a football game to watch, in between mouthfuls of course!”

Ingredients

  • 2 cups shredded, boneless chicken breast
  • ½ cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (or the hot sauce of your choice)
  • ½ cup ranch dressing
  • ½ cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened 
  • 1 cup of blended cheese mix 

Emily’s Instructions

Total cook time: approximately 30 minutes 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven is heating, prepare the chicken in whatever way you prefer. This part is entirely personal preference, and it’s what makes every batch of buffalo chicken dip taste a little different. In my family’s recipe, we season the chicken breast with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, then sauté it in olive oil for 7 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Once cooled, shred the chicken to measure approximately 2 cups. 

Spray a 1-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. The pan will be used as a mixing bowl to simplify the process and save time on the dishes, which means more time for eating! Spread softened cream cheese across the bottom of the pan. Next, add hot sauce and ranch dressing to pan and stir the mixture around, lifting the cream cheese to combine all ingredients. Add in the shredded chicken and the cheese mix. Once the chicken is coated with the cream cheese mixture, spread it across the dish using a spatula to form an even layer. 

The dip requires a couple rounds of oven time to get the right consistency. Start by placing the dip in the oven for ten minutes. After taking it out of the oven, add blue cheese crumbles on top. Then, put the dish back in the oven. If you, like me, believe “the cheesier, the better,” then I suggest taking the dish out of the oven five minutes after the blue cheese has been added. Then, sprinkle a bit more blended cheese mix on top. Turn the oven to broil, and let it cook through for five more minutes. The mixture should be melty and creamy at this point. 

The dip should have a total cooking time of about 20 minutes. However, this is flexible and up to personal preference. 

Once all the elements are baked to your liking, your delectable game-day dip is done! Fresh out of the oven, garnish with yet another sprinkle of cheese (I will confess I always do), and you are ready to experience a flavorful victory! You can serve a scoop of the dip with your favorite crunchy tortilla chips, refreshing veggies, or whatever your buffalo chicken dip is calling you to do! I love dipping carrots, celery, and cucumber. 

Nothing feels homier than sitting in my spot on the couch with a warm bowl of buffalo chicken dip watching football, but regardless, enjoy! It still tastes good without the football!