Cumin & Sweet Chili Honey Glazed Chicken

Just when I thought Honey Ridge Farms couldn't offer up another new, delicious, flavor enhancing product, they surprise me again! A couple of weeks ago Honey Ridge Farms sent me their new set of honey sauces and glazes. I received  a ginger-lime honey glaze, a sweet chili honey glaze and a honey ridge grilling sauce. 

These sauces and glaze are perfect for this time of year when everyone is breaking out their grills! But, if you live in Seattle you would know that summer has been pretty much non-existent in these parts. With highs of 70 degrees F and the on again off again drizzle, there is no way I am breaking out a grill any time soon. But, what's great about Honey Ridge Farm's sauces and glaze is that they are not created just for bbq-ing. Take this Cumin and Sweet Chili Honey Glazed Chicken I prepared for dinner the other day. After a quick 30 minute marinade in the sweet chili honey glaze, the chicken was bursting with a sweet and spicy flavor.  The marinade was so flavor that I didn't even add any extra salt to my chicken before searing it. I sprinkled it with a little bit of cumin for a earthy note and seared it to golden brown perfection! Served with a side of colorful summer veggies, it was a simple, fast and insanely flavorful meal.

If you have been blessed with a little bit of sunshine lately, I encourage you to break out your grill, grab some chicken from the supermarket and Honey Ridge Farm's Sweet Chili Honey Glaze for the perfect summer cookout! You can browse the different sauces and glaze and other Honey Ridge Farms product  here


Chicken Ballotine with Serrano Chile Balsamic Honey Vinegar Reduction

There is nothing like a homemade meal for dinner! I haven’t been having much time to prepare homemade anything because I have been so busy with school, work and appointments and errands! But, one of my New Year’s resolutions – actually my only one – was to change this. So, lately I have been taking advantage of all the delicious meals I prepare at school, by practicing making them at home.

Recently, I was in “butcher station” at school. This consisted of butchering an endless amount of chicken, beef and lamb. In the midst of my butchering, I got a chance to prepare a chicken ballotine. I made it with a whole deboned chicken at school, but decided to make some at home with just the chicken legs – which is actually what a real ballontine is!

This may seem like an intimidating task, but trust me it is super easy and the results are so rewarding and beautiful! The deboning  process is a little time-consuming, but it can be done the day ahead, marinated, and left in the fridge over night. You can watch this YouTube video with Jacques Pepin for a first hand look on how it is done.  You  also can get as creative as you'd like with the stuffing/filling. I stuffed mine with sausage, peppers, onions, carrots, and a little bit of breadcrumbs to hold it all together. And, for my sauce,I reduced some of Honey Ridge Farm’s Serrano Chile Balsamic Honey Vinegar. This was probably the simplest, yet delicious, sauce I’ve ever made. It turned out amazing - a little tangy, sweet and spicy! And, the best part about it is that it only contains two ingredients: honey vinegar and butter.

You can now get yourself some of the many flavors or Honey Ridge Farm’s honey at your local Whole Foods! And, you can always visit their website and browse some of their artisan products.

Serrano Chile Balsamic Honey Vinegar Reduction

1 cup Serrano Chile Balsamic Honey Vinegar
1 tbsp butter

Place honey vinegar in a small sauce pan. Over medium high heat, reduce vinegar by half. Add butter and stir until melted into sauce. Remove from heat.

Sauce should be thick, with a syrup-like consistency.


A Snowy Suprise & More on Honey Ridge Farms


If you haven’t heard, much of Washington was blanketed with snow and ice for a few days. Some of us Seattlelites, like me, were prepared for only ONE snowy day. Little did we know that it would turn out to be a little more dragged out than we had expected.

After spending all of Wednesday inside – I HATE snow/cold – I developed a severe case of cabin fever yesterday. With a three year-old running around like a mad woman, I had had enough and decided I needed to face my nemesis. So, I toddled along nearly ten blocks of snow and ice to the grocery store, all along hoping not to be that idiot caught on the news falling on my behind. I hoped that preparing a delicious meal would cure my cabin fever and rid me of my funk. After making an amazing braised beef sandwich at school last week, I had a taste for steak drenched with a thick, green, garlicky, spicey sauce.

As, I was preparing my sauce, I think I got a little out of control while squeezing the lime and my sauce turned out to be a little more acidic than I intended. I then instantly remembered that I had done the same thing at school the other day – I may have some suppressed anger issues with lime – and my instructor told me to add a little bit of sugar to balance the acidity out. So, I reached for the sugar and to my horror, we were all out! But, just bellow my empty sugar jar, I spotted a jar of delicious Honey Ridge Farms honey crème. I figured honey is as sweet as sugar, so a put a dollop in my sauce. The result was a real surprise! The honey crème not only added a hint of sweetness to counter balance the acidity, but it elevated the sauce into something sugar wouldn’t have been able to, with an undertone honey taste!

The sauce turned out even better than the one I made at school. I would suggest using it on any type of meat, especially beef. It is quick and easy, you just throw the ingredients into the blender and voilà! Whether it is stuffed in pancakes, used in a savory sauce, or spooned into your mouth right out of the jar Honey Ridge Farms honey crème just will amaze you every time, so click here to get yourself some!

One more surprise before I sign off. Last week, I got the chance to speak with the owner of Honey Ridge farms, Leanne Goetz. Besides the fact that their products are of superior quality and delicious, I love the fact that they are a family business. Being a family business girl myself, I am all for supporting families working and building something together! Read bellow to learn more about Leanne, her family, the company and the beekeeping business:
FS: How did you get started in the honey/beekeeping business?

Leanne: I grew up with it – my father was a beekeeper for many years – running up to 4,000 colonies of bees. My father taught my son Ryan who is a fifth generation beekeeper in our family. We had uncles, cousins and grandfathers on both sides of my family that have been commercial beekeepers. . My father suggested I start selling my son’s honey at farmers market. That’s how we got started – selling honey at the local Farmers Market – we grew from there.

FS: Can you describe the beekeeping business to those of us that are not familiar with it?

Leanne: I’m not sure how much detail you want here but it involves caring for and maintaining the health of the bees, finding appropriate locations for the best honey production, and of course, pollination is a large part of beekeeping these days. Ryan is actually moving bees this month to California for the almond pollination.

FS: I see that your son, Ryan, is also involved in the business. I am a family business girl myself and love it! What’s your favorite part about running a family business?

Leanne: I like the freedom of having my own business. Ryan runs his business now separately and handles the beekeeping end of it. I work with the production of our honey products. My other two children are not involved in the business full time – one is working on her Master’s degree for early childhood education and my youngest son who is 13 only works in the summer with Ryan.

FS: Your company features a variety of different products, from honey crèmes to balsamic honey vinegar. Who creates these different products?

Leanne: I am the one that has created our product line. That’s what I like to do!

FS: What is your favorite Honey Ridge Farm product?

Leanne: Serrano Balsamic Honey Vinegar and Lemon Honey Crème.

FS: Can you describe how Honey Ridge Farm products are uniquely different from other honey-based products out there?

Leanne: We were the first to create Balsamic Honey Vinegar and have “pioneered” the product in the USA. We use only natural ingredients in all of our products. Our honey crèmes are made slightly different from the “traditional” method of creaming honey. Many other honey crèmes use artificial flavorings instead of real fruit in their products. Also, ours are more spreadable than most other creamed honeys. We also only use USA produced honey, therefore supporting USA beekeepers. We never import honey from other countries.

Thanks again to Leanne for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions!


Spicy Cilantro Honey Sauce

1 1/2 cups lightly packed  cilantro leaves
2 tbsp coarsely chopped parsley
1 tbsp coarsley chopped garlic
1 tbsp Honey Ridge Farms Clover Honey Creme
3 tsp fresh squeezed lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine ingredients in a blender and puree.

*Disclosure: I was not paid any compensation for reviewing this product. All that was stated above was based on my sole opinion of the product


Cranberry Honey Crème Stuffed Orange Pancakes

A few weeks back, I received a box full of honey crèmes from Honey Ridge Farms. I openly confess my love for honey, which should come as no surprise to you all knowing how enormous my sweet tooth is. But, these honey crèmes are not your average honey, honey. It’s thick and creamy (of course!) and has an outrageously loud honey flavor.

Honey Ridge Farms, located here in Washington State, is a boutique, honey-focus business that provides a variety of Grade-A honey-based products. The founder, Leanne Goetz, is part of an extended fifth-generation beekeeping legacy. Leanne develops and oversees the production of four honey-based product lines that are available for purchase worldwide.

I’ve been eyeing my honey crèmes for a while and, besides spooning some straight into my mouth here and there, haven’t had a chance to develop the perfect recipe for them. This last week though, was my last week of practicum for my first quarter of culinary school. I had a huge sanitation test on Tuesday and a stressful knife competency test on Friday. After acing my sanitation and doing an amazing job on my knife competency, I was finally able to get my creative juices flowing and decided to treat myself for the weekend. Sunday morning I made myself, and the family, some cranberry honey crème stuffed orange pancakes that were out of this world!

I’ve never made stuffed pancakes before, but this is definitely going to be a staple at our house now. The hint of orange in the pancakes was warm and comforting. And, orange and cranberry go perfectly together in my book. The zesty, fluffy pancakes filled with an ooey-gooey, luscious cranberry honey crème filling was the perfect for a winter morning breakfast.

Cranberry was just one out of seven flavors the lovely folks at Honey Ridge Farms sent me. So, stay tuned for money sweet and delicious recipes coming your way!

Check out Honey Ridge Farms Grade A, honey-based products here.

Cranberry Honey Crème Stuffed Orange Pancakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
2 eggs
3 tbsp melted unsalted butter, plus 1/2 tsp for frying
2 tbsp fresh orange zest
Honey Ridge Farm Cranberry Honey Crème

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl.
Add milk, orange juice, eggs and melted butter and whisk to combine.
Heat a large griddle or nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Using a pastry brush, brush the 1/2 tsp of butter onto griddle/pan.
Ladle about 1/4 cup of batter onto the griddle/pan.
Add 1 tsp of cranberry honey cream and spoon a little batter over the honey to cover it.
Cook the pancakes until golden on bottom, about 1 minute.
Repeat with remaining batter and keep finished pancakes on a heatproof plate in oven.
Serve warm, with orange segments and warm maple syrup.

*Disclosure: I was not paid any compensation for reviewing this product. All that was stated above was based on my sole opinion of the product.


Cookies Across America

This past Saturday, Denise and I had a super sweet morning! We were invited by All Recipes to go down to their Seattle headquarters and decorate cookies for their "Cookies Across America" campaign. Needless to say, Denise had a blast licking decorating cookies! There was a packed house  and, as you can see from the pictures bellow, loads of beautifully decorated cookies. It's safe to say, All Recipes did a fabulous job of putting together a successful party!

Now, before you start feeling a bit jealous, we did not get to eat those gorgeous cookies. The Cookies Across America campaign is all about baking and sharing cookies with those less fortunate in your community. The campaign runs through the whole month of December, so even you still have time to "bake a difference" in your community.

Check out the Cookies Across America Meetup site to join a cookie exchange party near you or plan your very own cookie exchange with family and friends!  

A special thanks to the All Recipes team for inviting me to participate in their cookie exchange and for teaming up with Taste of Home and Nestle to create this wonderful campaign!


Being Thankful & a Pumpkin Flan with Walnut Crumble Crust

Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, is just around the corner. There is something so amazing to me about a day consumed with  family, friends and food. There are no costumes, no gifts, no stress. It is just a day, focused on the blessings of life and being thankful for all of them.

Ever since becoming a mom, I feel like I have been so much more awareness of the blessings in my  life. My knowledge of how fragile life is has become much more intense. I take no person, thing or moment for granted. I am grateful everyday for my bubbly, happy, energetic 3 year-old diva,who started out in this world a 2lbs 15oz preemie and spent the first two  months of life in a neonatal crib. I'm thankful for my boyfriend/partner/baby-daddy, who has loved me for seven years and is the most present, caring, supportive person in this world. I am thankful for my mom and dad for their unconditional love and support in all I do in life. I'm thankful for amazing  friendships that I've had for many years and new ones that I continue to make everyday. I'm thankful for the talent and passion for cooking. And, I'm thankful for my blog, where I can share this passion with you all. I am thankful for so much, and what I've just shared with you is just a small fraction of it. I am grateful for these things in my life everyday,  but I love that on the same evening most people in this country will take a moment to acknowledge their blessings.

As a token of my appreciation for you, my readers, I wanted to share one of  my new  favorite recipe for Thanksgiving. Last year, I shared with you all my family's traditional American-Brazilian Thanksgiving dinner. On the menu for the first time, was my pumpkin flan with walnut crust. It is my Latin twist on the all-time Thanksgiving favorite pumpkin pie.  So, if you want to spice up your menu on Thursday, this is definitely it!

I wish you all a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner. This year, my family and I will be cooking something totally different! We are roasting a 37lbs. suckling pig! And, yes, I will be taking lots of pictures and sharing it with you guys. Now tell me, what is on your menu this year? Are you trying something new? Or sticking with your usual traditional dishes? Who's invited? Please share!

Pumpin Flan with Walnut Crumbe Crust

1/2 cup granulated sugar
15oz can pumpkin puree
2 - 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
3large eggs
1 ½ cup whole
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp vanilla extract

2 cups chopped walnuts
2 tbsp butter
½  cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

To prepare caramel, add sugar in a heavy saucepan and cook over low heat. Cook until the caramel turns a medium amber. Pour into a " round cake pan, generously coating bottom  and set aside.
In a food processor bowl, process all ingredients until well incorporated.
Pour mixture into the prepared cake pan.
Place pan inside  large roastig pan and pour hot tap water into the pan so that it comes halfway up the sides of the cake pan.
Bake for about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, or until center is slightly jiggly but not wavy. Cool to room temperature. Evenly pour the walnut crumble crust on top and cover with plastic wrap.
Refrigirate for at least 3 hours.

In a saute pan, over medium heat, combine all ingredients. Cook until brown sugar melts, about 3 minutes.

To unmold, run a knife around the inside edges to loosen it. Invert a round platter over the dish and turn them both over together.


Caldo Verde Cremoso - A Creamy, Lactose-Free Soup

 Have I mentioned to you all how much I am loving my culinary school experience? Seriously, for me to wake up at 7am and go to school for six hours all with a big smile on my face is incredible! And I don’t think I’ve ever aced every single test I’ve been given. EVER! It makes me super happy to know that I’ve made the right decision and am following a path that was destined for me. I also know that I am blessed to have made this discovery at such a young age.

Today when I came home from school I was in a mood for a creamy soup. I remembered a soup my mom used to make called caldo verde. Caldo verde is a traditional Portuguese soup made with collard greens, potato, and linguiça (Portuguese sausage). The soup is simple and has great flavors, but is really thin and brothy. Being that I was in the mood for something with a little more body and creaminess, I had the bright idea of making it a caldo verde cremoso—creamy caldo verde.


Since regular milk has been upsetting my stomach lately and I have family members that are lactose-intolerant, I chose to use Lactaid whole milk in my caldo. It transformed the usually thin soup into creamy, thick heaven—sans the upset stomach!

For my Caldo Verde Cremoso recipe and othe lactose-free recipes visit Moovision.


FoodBuzz 24x24: Fall Comforts with a Tropical Flair

A few weeks back, Foodbuzz asked their featured publishers to send in a proposal for their October 24x24 event. I was thrilled to find out that I chosen to participate! October is one of my top five favorite months.When October comes, fall is officially amongst us. One of the things I love most about Seattle is that it has seasons – four, very distinct, seasons. Fall in Seattle brings along beautiful, vibrant colors and crisp, cool surroundings. There is nothing better than some homemade, comfort food with the family on a fall evening, which is what I want to share with you all today.

Although I do love fall, this year I feel a little gypped. Seattle decided to skip a season this year and that season happened to be summer. We got about five whole days of true 80+ degrees weather. And, it so happens that the hottest couple of days fell on the week my family and I took a vacation to California. So, when planning this fall comfort food menu, I wanted to bring a little bit of the much missed summery, tropical vibes to it.

Have you ever tried Kabocha squash? If you haven’t, you are truly missing out. It will make you leave all other squash and pumpkin behind and never look back. Kabocha is a Japanese winter squash and if you live in Seattle, Uwijimaya is a guaranteed place to get it. It’s not the prettiest squash on the outside, but its true beauty lies within its intense orange, meaty, sweet inside. I knew that when I chose to make a squash bisque, Kabocha squash would be headlining the show. I also added a hint of coconut milk, for that tropical, sitting-on-the-beach sensation and creamy, velvety texture. And, to tie everything in together, I served a crostini rubbed with ginger-butter. When dipped into the sweet, silky soup, it left a spicy hint of ginger. 

For the main entrée, I chose to do my tropical version of pot roast, mashed potato and gravy. Nothing is more comforting that steak and potatoes, right? Wrong! Mashed plantains are the new “black”, so toss out those boring ol’ taters and indulge yourself in a sweet, fruity version of the conventional mashed potatoes.

You want to make sure that you buy the ripened plantains. The one that is soft with a dark brown, almost black peel. They are sweeter and tenderer, which makes for perfect mashed plantains. The green ones are starchier and not as sweet. They hold their shape better, so they are great for frying up. I thinly sliced the green ones and fried them up for decoration and to add a little bit of texture to the dish.

I seasoned my pot roast with salt, black pepper and ground cumin and braised it in a typical Brazilian refolgado: onion, garlic, curly parsley tomato paste and stock. Added a couple of bay leaves for good luck, and depth and richness, of course, and let simmer away for about three hours. The results were a flavorful,tender, moist piece of meat.

Being that we had the sweet and savory side covered, I thought a little spiciness could only add to the party. So, I added some Serrano peppers to the juicy sauce from my roast, thickned it with little corn starch and cream for a kicked-up gravy.  The trio of flavors was unbelieveable and certainly not overpowering. Each flavor and component was brought out by the other.

For dessert, I experimented making papaya crisp. I had never made this before. In fact, I had never even made the traditional apple crisp before. After googling around for a basic starting point, I decided that it was a relatively easy dessert to make. I peeled, deseeded and cut my papaya into small cubes. Then, seasoned it with an itty-bitty, hint of cinnamon and sugar – I wanted the papaya flavor to be very distinct and dominant. The top crust was your typical crisp topping containing: brown sugar, butter, flour and oats. I baked the papaya crisp in individual ramekins (remember, I don’t like sharing when it comes to desserts) and topped them off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Pure goodness! If you want to impress your family and friends this holiday season with a unique version of a dessert they love, this is it!


Sopa de Abobora Kabocha com Leite de Coco e Torrada de Gengibre
Kabocha squash and coconut milk bisque with a ginger-butter crostini

Lombo com Banana da Terra MachucadaPimenta Serrano
Braised pot roast with mashed plantain and Serrano pepper gravy
Tortinhas de Aveia e Mamão
Papaya crisp

Papaya Crisp

1 ripe papaya, peeled, deseeded and cubed smallTopping 
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp sugar

½ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup brown sugar
Pinch of salt
3 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup regular oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine all filling ingredients and distribute into 4 8oz ramekins.
In a bowl, mix flour, brown sugar and salt.
Blend butter in until it forms little pea-sized lumps.
Add oats.
Sprinkle topping over filling.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until topping is golden brown.
Served a la mode with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.


Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration Part II: Cuban Ropa Vieja & a Giveaway

During part one of my Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, we explored the cuisine of Colombian and made some fancy-schmancy arepas de queso. This week we are moving on to Cuba! I have always been fascinated by Cuban culture, not only the cuisine. I find it so similar to Brazilian culture, more than other Latin countries.

As I ventured to find a cookbook that would not only have authentic Cuban recipes, but also delve into Cuban culture, I found Memories of a Cuban Kitchen. In this cookbook, the late author Mary Urrutia Randelman tells a romantic story about her early childhood in Havana in the 1950’s and her unforgettable and overwhelming move to Miami. Reading her story, I couldn’t help but feel an emotional connection with her, as I too moved to the US at an early age and experienced similar situations she describes. Besides sharing her personal family story, Mary explains the diverse cuisine of Cuba, complete with a glossary of Cuban ingredients.

Cuban food is mostly known for its pork dishes. Unfortunately, Mike isn’t a fan of pork and, unless its bacon or barbecued ribs, I usually pass on the pig. So, I decided to make the popular Cuban dish, Ropa Vieja. The name of this dish translates to “old clothes”. And, trust me, although the name is not very appetizing, this meal is a knock-out and was perfect for the chilly, beginning-of-fall weather we’ve been having in Seattle. 

The portion in the book yields about 6 to 8 servings. Being that there are only two and a half of us at home, we had plenty of leftovers. I don't know about you, but I almost always find that the next day's leftovers are even better than the day you made it! This was definitely true for the ropa vieja - the tender ribbons of beef soaked up the hearty, tomatoey sauce and had even more flavor!

I will be giving away a copy of Mary Urrutua Randelman’s book Memories of a Cuban Kitchen to one of my lucky reader! So, if you want to explore the amazing cuisine of Cuba this is what you need to do:

How to enter:

-Must be a Food Samba follower (the follow button is on the right sidebar.)

-Leave me a comment answering any of the following: What's your favorite comfort food? Have you ever tried Cuban food? Ropa vieja? What did you think?
*Make sure your comment links back to an email address or provide me with your email so I can contact you if you win!

+1 Point:
Like Food Samba on Facebook. Leave me a separate comment saying you did this.

+1 point:
Follow Food Samba on Twitter, RT the following:

“Win the cookbook, Memories of a Cuban Kitchen, via @foodsamba, as part of a month-long series celebrating #HispanicHeritageMonth :http://bit.ly/qKnBZH ”
Leave me a separate comment saying you did this.

*Giveaway closes Friday, October 7th at noon PST. I will be choosing a winner at random, through random.org. The winner will be contacted through email.

Ropa Vieja
from Memories of a Cuban Kitchen

2 1/2-lb. flank steak, cut in half
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup pure Spanish olive oil
1 large onion, cut in 1/2 and each half thinly sliced
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups drained and chopped canned whole tomatoes, or prepared tomato sauce
1/2 cup sherry
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup finely chopped drained pimientos, for garnish
1/2 cup drained canned early sweet peas, for ganish

Place beef and one bay leaf in a large saucepan, cover with salted water, and cook over low heat, covered, until the meat is tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove meat from the stock (save the stock for another use), allow to cool at room temperature, then cut the meat into 2-inch chunks.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil over low heat until fragrant, then cook the onions, bell pepper, and garlic, stirring, or until the onions are tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, sherry, and the remaining bay leaf, and cook, uncovered, an additional 15 minutes.
When the meat is cool, shred it with your fingers, season with salt and pepper, add it to the tomato mixture, cover, and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, garnish with the pimientos and peas, and serve with rice.


Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration Part I: Colombian Arepas & a Giveaway

For the last couple of days I have been researching a touchy subject: Are Brazilians Hispanic, Latino or both? After much debate and research, my answer has been narrowed down to: Brazilians are Latino, but not Hispanic. The deciding factor was that, technically, the term Hispanic is used to describe someone or something relating to Spain or to Spanish-speaking countries. Brazilians are Lusophones, in other words “Portuguese-speaking”. This discovery kind of bummed me out. Why, you ask? Well, today just so happens to be the first day of a month-long (September 15th – October 15th) celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. So, does this mean I don’t get to celebrate with my fellow Latina sisters, just because Brazil is the only non-Spanish speaking country in Latin America? Absolutely not!
I may not come from a Spanish-speaking country but, I feel like I need to celebrate this month. Apart from the language factor, I believe that all Latin American countries have a great deal in common. One specific common factor we all share is food. Not only do some of our foods have a trace of similarity, but our food culture is very unique. Everything happens around food!
So, in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month I invite you to learn a little bit more about  a couple of my Latin neighboring countries that are certified“Hispanic”! From now until October 13th, I will be hosting a three-part series featuring a Hispanic recipe from a cookbook, which I will then be giving away! So, let’s get right to it. The first country we will be exploring is, Colombia! 
Colombia, while being one of Brazil’s neighbors, was pretty foreign to me. When it came to Colombian cuisine, I had no idea what a typical dish was. So, on a quest to find more information, I came across Secrets of Colombian Cooking. This cookbook had lots of great reviews, so I decided to buy it and further explore the cuisine of Colombia – boy am I glad I did! This book, by Patricia McCausland, is full of knowledge. The recipes are detailed, ingredients described thoroughly, and stories of Colombian cuisine are told.


After much debate on what recipe I would share with y’all today, I decided to make arepas de queso.  Patricia described these as little breakfast snacks made of cornmeal, butter and cheese. But, what got me hooked into this one was her suggestion of serving it as hors d’oeuvres with sour cream and caviar! Ummm, yes please!
Arepas are to Colombians what pao de queijo are to us in Brazil. Enjoyed as breakfast or as a snack, simple to make and found at just about every corner kitanda. Patricia’s recipe for arepa de queso, is a more modern, less labor-intensive version that she describes as being popular in homes of Colombian cities. You will find the recipe from Secret of Colombian Cooking for arepas de queso bellow.
Now, I’ve got some fabulous news for you! I contacted Patricia, the author of this wonderful book, and was able to have a quick Q&A with her! She graciously agreed to answer some questions about herself and Colombian cuisine:
FS: Tell us a little bit about yourself - what is your background and when did you find an interest in food?
Patricia: I have been interested in cooking since a very young age, as my mother had a pastry shop in our house. I started working after schools and weekends at the age of 13.

FS: In Brazil, feijoada is dubbed the "national dish". Does Colombia have a national dish?
Patricia: Our national food would be sancocho, even though it is prepared slightly differently in different parts of the country. Colombia, like Brazil, is made up of the mixture of Black, European and Native communities and therefore we have a bit of each in our traditional foods. Sancocho is a soup served with many kinds of meat, poultry and seafood, all together or separately depending on the area it is made. It is commonly cooked with plantains, roots and tubers, luke, yucca, name, arracacha, and potatoes.

FS: Can you describe Colombian cuisine and share with us the reason you chose to right a book about it?
Patricia: I chose to write book about Colombian food after I reached the age of 40 and was transferred from Colombia to Panama with my husband. I decided I wanted to write after working more than 20 years in the bakery business. Our food is as diverse as our territory and so, I wanted to leave a heritage to my girls, now leaving their country as young children.

FS: I know with Brazilian cooking, there are some ingredients that are hard to find locally in the States. Is this the same with Colombian cuisine? How can the average home cook get around that?
Patricia: In the States there are many Latino food markets around large cities, and for smaller ones the Internet is very valuable. Food stores that carry natural and organic foods also carry many Latin ingredients and fresh produce.

To learn more about Patricia and to see her in action in the kitchen subscride to her YouTube,

And the post keeps getting better and better… I am giving away a copy of Patricia’s book, Secret of Colombian Cooking, to one of my lucky readers!
How to enter:
-Must be a Food Samba follower (the follow button is on the right sidebar.)
-Leave me a comment answering any of the following:Have you’ve ever had Colombian food, if yes what did you have and how was it? If not, would you like to? What other Hispanic cuisine are you curious to learn more about? How are you celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month?
*Make sure your comment links back to an email address or provide me with your email so I can contact you if you win!

+1 Point:

Like Food Samba on Facebook. Leave me a separate comment saying you did this.

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Arepas de Queso
From Secrets of Colombian Cooking

1/3 cup precooked white cormeal
1/3 cup warm water
2 tsp butter, soft
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 pound grated white farmer's cheese
Oil or butter for cooking

Place the cornmeal, water, butter and salt in a bowl; mix with your hands for about 30 seconds until it has taken the consistency of a paste. Let it rest 5 minutes. Knead with your hands about 1 more miute until a ball of dough forms.

Make an indentation in the ball with your hand, add the cheese and kneadd 1 minute more. Divide and form into 4 small balls.

Place the balls between 2 sheets of plastic and with a havy pan or pot cover flatten to the thickness you desire, from 1/4 to 1/2 inch.

Melt 1/4 tsp of butter in a pan  and set over medium heat. Place the arepas in the pan, and cook about 2 minutes on each side until they have a golden color.