Sunday, July 7, 2013


Today was a great day. I finally passed level 65 on Candy Crush! I’ve been on that stupid level for nearly a month. It was also a great day because I got to make Colombian food today. As with almost all of the other countries, I’ve been looking forward to making this meal for about a week and a half, especially the bread. And as usual, it seemed more like a comedy of errors at times.
I actually started out making the marinade for the carne asada, since I realized at 1pm that I should’ve had it marinating since last night. I let it sit for about 3-4 hours in the refrigerator marinating, hoping this will be ok.  For the meat, I used a flank steak; I chose the largest one they had – about 1 1/3 lb. I had all of the best intentions of having my husband teach me how to grill. Mostly because the last time I grilled something, I think it was when we were cooking for Azerbaijan last summer. But, it was far easier pawning this job off on my husband, who did an excellent job. I like to have my meat well-done, and he got it to the perfect level of done-ness without over drying it.
Who can resist charred flesh? Well, vegetarians maybe. 
The bread was one that I had been lusting after since I found it. It’s called roscón de arequipe, a ring-shaped bread filled with arequipe or dulce de leche. I had to ask some Colombians who I work with if arequipe and dulce de leche are different or the same because most recipes I found lists they are pretty much the same thing. They are indeed actually different, but what I found by La Lechera listed the can as “dulce de leche,” but underneath it listed “arequipe.” So that’s what I used. The dough is a yeast-based dough – and you know it’s going to be good when there’s a half-cup of butter (melted) and a tablespoon of pure vanilla extract involved. After much kneading and resting, it’s divided in two and stretched into a long rope, then rolled out to make a rectangle. I took the dulce de leche and spread it rather thickly on the dough, leaving a slight gap around the edges. Rolling the sides in and pressing them together (like you’re making a tube with the dulce de leche inside), I then flipped it over so the seam is down and looped it together to make a ring. The recipe called to make some kind of cuts in the top of the dough with scissors, but it just wasn’t working for me, so I stopped before I completely screwed it up. And of course I remembered at the last minute that I was supposed to brush it with an egg-melted butter mix. And THEN, because I was doing a million other things at the same time, I left it in the oven for about 8 minutes longer than the recipe called for, but you know what? After sprinkling sugar on top, I think it turned out just perfect. What do recipes know anyway?
The best part of the meal; the crème de la crème. 
So, at the same time I was making the bread, I was also trying to make papas rellenas, or stuffed potatoes. I boiled my potatoes whole for 45 minutes then let them cool.  I made a beef mixture of green onions, tomatoes, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, ground beef, potato, and white rice. After cutting the potatoes in half, I scooped out the middle (where the potato comes from in the mixture) and filled it with my beef mixture. Then I made this really thick batter of eggs, butter and flour and poured it on top and coated the potatoes and fried it. This was the part that kept me thinking, “I really have no idea what I’m doing here; it doesn’t seem right, but I’m going to pretend that this is how it goes.” It was pretty messy, and it took a while for the batter to fry up. Or perhaps I was just really impatient at this point.  (More than likely.)  Even though they weren’t beautiful to look at, they tasted really good. I wished I had a little salsa to pour on top, though. I think that might’ve made them better.  But still, my finicky four-year-old ate it all up.
Stuffed with goodness and then fried. My mouth told the rest of my body to shut up and enjoy. 
A few meals (well, ok, we’ve had more than a few) and breads go into my husband’s file of “we HAVE to do this one again.” This was one of those meals. My daughter was happy that we did Colombia since she goes to a Spanish-immersion school, and I used this as practice so she won’t forget her basic Spanish over summer break. And while parts of the meal may not have had that authenticity or picture-perfect magazine quality, it was a rather tasty meal. And really, what family really eats the foods that are in the 5-star restaurants? (Ok, I’m sure there are some…) This blog project was never about that. It’s about the comedy of errors that happens when you take a non-chef who just likes to eat trying to serve their family a new meal that might possibly be a new favorite. It’s about maybe finding a recipe for something that the kids will eat. I can’t take them to see the world, but I can bring it to them. As long as they eat something on their plate; as long as they ask me for more of something; as long as they keep asking questions about the world around them, then I’m winning.
One of the best meals I've made. Ok, minus me actually grilling the meat, but I totally rocked it on the marinade. 
Up next: Comoros

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