Mountain chef: A taste of Costa Rica |

Mountain chef: A taste of Costa Rica

Ian T. Buchananspecial to the daily

Special to the DailyCeviche

Hola amigos! I just returned from a great trip to Costa Rica where the waves were big and the sun was shining. I figured with a season like we just had why not enjoy some beach time. I’ve had more days surfing this year than snowboarding. Well let’s hope next season proves to be more than the last. Can’t go anywhere but up from here right?Not only do I love the culture and the climate, but Costa Rica has a bountiful list of foods to cook with and enjoy. There aren’t many recipes that I don’t like that come from this land of plenty such as gallo pinto, tamales in banana leaves and the plato tipico, the casado which consists of rice, beans, a protein and a salad. It is sometimes served with plantains as well. But the recipes for today are some of my favorites. These are more of Latin American descent and can also be found in other countries. Not only do I love these savory dishes but with the list of fresh fruits, the options are almost infinite. I think I was up to three fresh fruit smoothies a day. Some of my favorites filled with mango, bananas, pineapples, papaya and the list goes on and on. Pineapples and papaya have enzymes that help break down food in your stomach aiding in digestion. So, with the weather getting nicer and warm summer days on my mind I can fire up the blender for some healthy, delicious smoothies to take me back to the beach. Pura Vida!ian t. buchanan is the chef/owner of Open To The World Private Chef Services and lead instructor at CMC Breckenridge’s Center For Lifelong Learning Culinary Program. View Ian’s website at, contact him at (440) 376-0096 or swing by and sign up for a culinary class at CMC Breckenridge.

1 pound chicken (assorted pieces)1 teaspoon dried oregano1 teaspoon ground cumin1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar———————————–Sofrito and broth:2 Tablespoon Annatto oil or olive oil (annatto oil is made with achiote seeds and oil)1 small onion, finely chopped1 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped3 cloves garlic, minced1 small tomato, seeded and diced2 cups chicken stock1/2 cup dry white wine1 cup beer1/4 teaspoon saffron threads1 Tablespoon tomato pasteSalt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste2 cups Valencia or Arborio riceSliced red pimientos for garnishGreen peas (Petit Pois) for garnish———————————–Wash the chicken and blot dry with paper towels. Mix the oregano, cumin, white pepper and vinegar in a large glass bowl. Add the chicken, turning the pieces to cover with the mixture. Let marinate at least 15 minutes.Heat the oil in a large heatproof casserole. Brown the chicken pieces all over, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a platter and pour out all but 2 tablespoons of the fat.For sofrito: Add the onion, bell pepper and garlic to the oil in the casserole, cook over medium heat & heat until soft but do not brown – about 1 or 2 minutes. Add the tomato and cook for one more minute. Return the chicken to the casserole with the sofrito and cook for about 1 or 2 more minutes.Add the stock, wine and beer, saffron or Annatto oil, tomato paste and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover & simmer for about 15 minutes.Thoroughly wash rice swishing with your hands, and drain off the water. Continue doing this until water runs clear.Bring chicken mixture to a boil, stir in the washed rice, reduce heat, cover and simmer until the rice is tender, about 20-25 minutes. If it starts to dry out and rice is still al dente, add more liquid. If it gets too soupy, uncover during the last 10 or 15 minutes of cooking. Just before it is done, stir in half of the petit pois and pimientos. Garnish with the rest.

1 lb. of firm, fresh red snapper fillets (or other firm-fleshed fish), cut into 1/2-inch pieces, completely deboned or shrimp shelled, deveined, butterflied1/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice1/3 cup orange juice1/4 red onion, finely diced 1/2 cup chopped fresh seeded tomatoes 1 serrano chili, seeded and finely diced 1 teaspoons salt or more to tasteA light pinch of cayenne pepperGarnish:Fresh cilantro Sliced avocado Tortillas———————————–In a non-reactive casserole dish, either Pyrex or ceramic, place the fish/shrimp and cover with juices. Let sit covered in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally, making sure more of the fish/shrimp gets exposed to the acidic juices. Let “cook” for 3 hours. When ready add the remaining ingredients and mix well serve garnished with cilantro avocado and warm tortillas.

For the Filling:2 large eggs, hard boiled, sliced1/2 medium onion, finely chopped 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 garlic clove, finely chopped 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 1 pound ground beef 2 tablespoons raisins 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped olives 1 (14-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained, reserving 2 tablespoons juice, chopped About 4 cups vegetable oilFor the Dough:2 1/4 cups all purpose flour1 1/2 tsp salt1/2 cup butter, unsalted, cold, cut into 1/2” cubes1 large egg1/3 cup ice water1 Tablespoon white vinegarSift flour with salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry cutter until mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea sized butter lumps. Beat together egg, water and vinegar in a small bowl. Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated. Turn out mixture on a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently with the heal of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring the dough together. Form dough into a flat rectangle and chill, wrapped in plastic, for 30 minutes, then remove from fridge and let stand at room temp another 30 minutes. Cook onion in olive oil in a heavy medium skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened. Add garlic, cumin, and oregano and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in beef and cook, breaking up lumps with a fork, until cooked, about 4 minutes. Add raisins, olives, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and tomatoes with reserved juice, then cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced but mixture is still moist, about 5 minutes, let cool. On a floured surface roll small balls of dough out to 6” rounds about 1/8” thick. Place 3 tablespoons meat mixture on disk and top with 2 slices of egg. Moisten edges of disk with water and fold over to form a semicircle, then crimp with a fork. Make more empanadas in same manner. Heat 3/4 inch vegetable oil in a deep 12-inch skillet over medium heat until it registers 360F on thermometer. Fry empanadas, 2 or 3 at a time, turning once, until crisp and golden, 4 to 6 minutes per batch. Transfer to a shallow baking pan and keep warm in oven. Return oil to 360F between batches. ***Empanadas can be brushed with oil and baked on an oiled baking sheet in a 425F oven until golden, about 10 minutes. (They will not be as crisp as fried empandas.)