A Tale of Two Rices

As I browse through my blog, I can’t help but notice how often rice seems to come up. I really can’t help it, I have a love affair with that little grain. My only hope is that I offer some variety for you. That said, this is a rice post. Yep. Mas arroz.

In Panama, we prepare rice in many different ways; sometimes with coconut milk, or various beans and peas. Anything you want, really. Two of my favorites are Arroz con Frijoles Negros (rice with black beans) and Arroz con Camarones Secos (rice with dried shrimp).

They’re both easy to make and follow the same process as the recipe for Arroz con Guandú. For the black beans, I used dried beans and cooked them in the coconut milk, as detailed in the recipe below, but you can use canned beans . For the one with the dried shrimp and guandú, I cooked both of those in the coconut milk first, then followed the recipe.

For the Arroz con Coco y Frijoles Negros (Black beans & rice)
2 cps rice
1/2 cp dry black beans
2 cps coconut milk
3 cps water
1/3 cp salt pork or bacon
1 tbsp vegetable oil

For the Arroz con Camaroncitos Secos y Guandú (Rice w/dried shrimp & pigeon peas)
2 cps rice
1 cp frozen guandú (pigeon peas)
1/2 cp dried shrimp
2 cps coconut milk
3 cps water
1/3 cp salt pork or bacon
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Method for both versions:
In a pot with a tight-fitting lid, brown the salt pork/bacon rendering some of its fat. Add the guandúes (pigeon peas), coconut milk. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat until it simmers. Cook it until the peas are tender, about 40 minutes. Strain the liquid and measure, add enough water to make 3-1/3 cps of liquid, set aside.

This recipe uses the frozen peas, however, if you are using the canned variety, just skip the step above. Instead, drain, rinse and strain the beans, then add coconut milk and water to  measure 3-1/3 cups. Fry the salt pork or bacon just before adding the rinsed rice.

Add oil to the pan with the peas, rinse the rice and add it to the pot stirring all the ingredients. Add the liquid, check the salt, stir this well. Make sure you remove any drippings that may have been stuck to the bottom of the pan. Bring it to a slow boil; once the liquid boils do not stir it again. Keep the temperature on medium high.

Once the liquid is almost completely evaporated, bring the temperature to low and cover with the lid. Allow to steam undisturbed for 40 minutes. When you remove the lid, all the peas will be at the top, go ahead and stir them into the rice. You’re done!

Note: The flavor of the coconut milk will intensify with time. You can cook the peas a day ahead to allow the flavors to meld together.

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Breaking bread

I’ve always found that to be an odd expression. The phrase itself sounds innocuous to me, but the meaning behind it makes sense. To share, to open one’s home and/or heart to another, to be welcoming. Philosophically, the idea of breaking bread is a great one. In reality, the idea of having to share my bread with someone, elicits murderous thoughts. No. Really. Don’t touch my bread!

Luckily, when I bake bread, the recipe results in enough of it that I’m able to, even if begrudgingly, share it with one or two people. Tops. You get the picture. So, a few weeks ago I made some bread. Panamanian bread, something we call Pan Micha.

Rumor has it, this recipe was brought to my homeland by the French when they attempted building the Canal. I have no verification for that story, but I do recognize some similarities with French miche bread. Thin, golden crust and soft, light inside. What I do know for sure, if that you will find michitas anywhere there is a bakery in Panama. 

I remember walking to school and stopping by the corner bakery–the aroma of freshly baked bread wafting in the air–and ordering ‘una michita con queso blanco y mantequilla‘ (a buttered michita stuffed with white cheese). Aaaaah, the bread would still be warm, the butter and local cheese melting into the center. Heavenly.

I found a recipe for it here, so I won’t retype it, just follow the link. What I want to tell you about, is how we ate them, after all, eating them is the best part.

You know I’m a traditionalist, so mine had butter and Queso Fresco. Nothing else needed. I did toast them a bit.

The Hubbz is a different story. He’s a man of excess, so he added some roast beef we had in the fridge. In Panama, we would’ve used ham or chorizo.

The bread was good, but not as light and airy as I remember michitas being, my quest for the perfect recipe continues.

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

Off to the Press: La Finca

Hello my Bloggies!

No, I haven’t run off with the milkman. I’m still around, lurking,  throwing yummy looking food on the screen to keep you glued to your seats… Weird, all of a sudden my voice (in my head, yes!) sounded low and creepy as I typed that sentence. Uff!

Anyway. I have something for you to read, but you’ll have to follow me over to Eating Our Words. Remember? That’s where I’m leading my secret agent double life. Click here. Do it quickly, this message will self-destruct in 5 4 3

See ya after the jump!
Anamaris

Off to the Press

The HoustonPress, that is. Wondering why there isn’t much to read on this post? That’s because I wrote a post for the HoustonPress’ food blog, Eating Our Words.

I’ll be writing for them on occasion, getting the background story on some of Houston’s old-timers. Restaurants, not peeps. I’ll be checking out restaurants that have been around for at least 20 years and still rocking.

Go on! Go to Eating Our Words and look me up! Then stay there, but don’t forget to come back. jiji

Cookingly yours (even if elsewhere),
Anamaris

Here’s a taste.

Eating out: Portland, Oregon

About a month ago, I had the pleasure of heading out to Portland for about a week. Unfortunately, it was on business, but believe me when I say, I made it my business to get some fun in. I managed to see bit of the outlying beauty of this city, but mostly, I managed to get a LOT of awesome food in. Lots. Loads. Really, a lot! Oh and some awesome beer and wines and coffee, and…, well, you get the picture.

I’ve told you about my FoodTV obsession, so it should be no surprise that I’m an avid fan of Unique Eats and Guy’s DD&Ds. Why do I mention those shows, you ask? Because, Portland is ALWAYS all up in there! Man! That’s a really ‘good food’ food-town. Let me share some highlights, if you don’t mind.

By pure accident, we bumped into VooDoo Doughnuts.

We were trying to drive out to the coast and the NaggiGator kept getting confused and making us drive around in circles when all we were looking for was a drive-thru. But, maybe the navigation system knew better and tried to make sure we didn’t miss out on this little gem.

If you like doughnuts, probably even if you don’t, you’ll find something here to tickle your fancy. I did, and I’m not a huge fan of doughnuts, if they’re not piping hot off the fryer and simply plain-glazed, I’m not interested.

Enter… The Maple Bacon Doughnut. O.M.G!!!

This thing was good, like crazy good! So good, we went back right before leaving to bring some home for our loved ones. We’re nice that way.

Another memorable  moment happened at Public Domain, a nearby coffee shop. I had a cup of a Panamanian brew, but it was the way it was prepared that had me entranced.

They call it a Pour Over and the barista takes about 10 minutes to hand pour the water over the grounds.

He mentioned that they pour at different speeds and on different spots to vary the flavor of the final cup. It was mesmerizing.

From there, a proper breakfast at the Byways Cafe in the Pearl District. I had the most awesome Corned Beef Hash, next time I’ll skip the bell peppers, though.

The other thing I loved about Portland, was the street food scene. Oh my! The little carts were EVERYWHERE!

I stopped by the Frying Scotsman and had some fish & chips. Cute chef, great accent, awesome halibut and fries!

The other FoodNetwork find was Pine State Biscuits. These guys are rocking the biscuit! Anything you can dream of, they put on a biscuit and do so with gusto!

I had the most popular one, The Reggie.

Yep, that’s fried chicken breast. No, that’s GOOD fried chicken breast. Topped with bacon, gravy and insane amounts of cheddar. I want one NOW.

Did mention Portland is a beer town? My! I had some awesome beer at too many places to mention.

But…, I found the home of Rogue Ales… I scored megapoints with The Hubbz on that one.

I ate and drank and walked and had fun and repeated. Oh. I also got some work done (wink, wink). To see more of the food porn, just click here. Go on, you know you wanna.

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

Challenges, challenges, challenges!

I told you there would be an opportunity for you to play along in the Marx Foods challenge. It’s about that time, my friends. Voting time. Go check out all the incredible entries for the Ridiculously Delicious Challenge, there’s some really good stuff there. Then pick a recipe and vote for it. 15 participants will move on to the next round. Hurry, go vote!

aaaaaaaand…, it’s Wednesday! That means I have an entry for Shutterboo’s photo challenge. The theme this week was Large. What do you think? Go here to see this week’s submission.

There were rides and games.

Largely yours,

Anamaris

PS: Don’t forget to vote!

Out and about

Hello there! Guess who’s playing hooky? Yep, that’s right. The Hubbz, the pup and I are taking a few days off and enjoy the Texas hill country. Unfortunately, things were so hectic at work the days leading up to our break, that I never got around to writing a post. Sorry.

Not all is lost. If you follow me on Twitter, I’ll be sharing the sights and tastes throughout the day. You can find me @chefityourself or just click any of the Tweet links on the sidebar.

PS: I’ll be hitting as many vineyards as humanly and humanely possible.

Relaxingly yours,
Anamaris