Holy Moly Guacamole!: Blueberry Walnut Guacamole

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So, tomorrow. Big game. HUGE. (Pretend I said it like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, because that’s how it came out in my head while I was typing it, and she, I think, really nailed that attitude in a way I only hope to some day).

Anyway, enough about my girl-crush on Julia. The Super Bowl’s tomorrow, which means it’s like Thanksgiving in January. I mean, it is, isn’t it? Lots of food, football on the TV, some of us watching in a mildly interested way, while others of us are in the kitchen the whole time. January Thanksgiving.

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Just Because: Ricotta Crepes with Orange Curd and Blueberries

So I made these crepes.

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As far as I know, they are not Central American.

I’d like to be able to tell you that the citrus was inspired by that area because citrus is a big deal there (which, I guess it is, kind of).

I’d like to be able to tell you that the crepes were inspired by that area because of the colonization of that region by the French (while they hung around in the Caribbean, here…not so much).

The truth is, sometimes I make something that I think is wonderful, and I want to share it with you.

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Nicely Spiced: Cinnamon-Spiced Baked Plantains

Wednesday being what it is, I decided Disney music is necessary to get me through the day. What of it? Are you telling me that your frown doesn’t automatically invert when you hear “Be Our Guest”? Or want to bust into song at the top of your voice to sing “A Whole New World”? Your heart is made of stone.

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I’m kidding. I’m sorry. I just got the most aggravating phone call and decided step away from work to use my lunch break to talk about plantains.

Plantains! What is there to say? Not much, other than they’re delicious. However, their deliciousness does depend on proper preparation. A blank slate, they are only as good as how you season them. Otherwise, the potential for them to taste like cardboard, I think, is high.

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Belize, Please: Shrimp Creole

It’s Sunday! I’m in a dancin’ mood. Perhaps it’s the Zac Brown currently blaring in the background. Perhaps it’s this dish. Probably a combo of the two.

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Anyone else into kitchen dance parties? Or is it just me and Allison? You should give it a try.

Moving on through Central America, this dish comes from Belize by way of my Belizean co-worker Flour. When I asked her for a recipe suggestion, she brought in her family’s cookbook that, as you can see, is heavily loved. A good sign, methinks.

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A little bit about Belize. The CIA website explains that Belize was the site of several Mayan city states until their decline. The British and Spanish fought over the region in the 17th and 18th centuries until it formally became the colony of British Honduras in 1854. In 1981, Belize formally became an independent nation.

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Cheesiness and Cake: Quesadilla Salvadoreña

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I pride myself on being pretty multi-faceted. I can be a badass. I can be a jock. I can be a girly-girl. I can be a nerd.

Today, let’s be nerds.

I’m going to talk a bit about Harry Potter because I’m in that kind of mood, but because I want you to stick around, I’m also going to talk about cheesecake. Specifically, Quesadilla Salvadoreña.

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Central America

I’m starting to worry I’m getting tired of Latin American food. I do love it, and admittedly Mexican flavors are my go-to. However, too much of a good thing does happen. Proof: This major sweet tooth got sweet-ed out on Monday when I bakery hopped in my neighborhood: Sugar Fixe for macaroons, Butcher & the Burger for custard and Swirlz for cupcakes. It was a good day, but I was sick by the time I got home.

Being the worst food blogger ever, I took pictures of none of the above. As such, it’s obvious that I must retrace my steps to do it properly next time.

Anyway, I hope that by the time I make my way through Central and into South America, the cuisine is diverse enough that I don’t swear off Latin food forever (That would never happen. Let’s be honest.). And with St. Pat’s, Mardi Gras and Easter all coming up, I’ll get some breaks in here and there that will mix things up. Perhaps I’ll be surprised by the food in the upcoming weeks (months?) and this anxiety will all be for naught. I’m sure I will be spectacularly wrong.

So Central America. Let’s get into it.

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Let’s Get Together: Tequila and Cheese Pairing

Peas and carrots.  Peanut butter and chocolate.  Bert and Ernie.

Some pairings are just meant to be.  Here’s another: tequila and cheese.

Whoa.

I know it sounds strange. I usually think of wine and cheese and tequila and…lime, but I think that, it being January and all, we should honor those lingering resolutions (Remember those? Come on…it’s only the 20th!) to break out of our ruts, explore the unfamiliar and drink more tequila. Wait, was that just me? A girl’s gotta have goals.  Plus, cheese.  CHEESE.  Anyway, this week I got schooled and experienced the delight that comes from pairing these unlikely partners. 

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In honor of resolutions, tequila and National Cheese Day (It’s real. I didn’t make it up!), rather than a recipe, today we have a lesson. So, sit up straight, get out those composition notebooks, and prepare to learn some tips on pairing the best of Mexico with the best of France.

Meet the cheese

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Meet the tequila

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First, the Crystal was paired with a Mimolette a.k.a. Boule de Lille, a cheese aged eighteen months so that it would qualify as Vieille (old). During the 17th century, Jean-Baptiste Colbert denied importation of foreign goods so the French started making their own version of the Dutch cheese, Edam. Produced in Nord Pas-de-Calais, the mimolette is made of pasteurized cow milk and is colored with annatto.  It has a very mild flavor with little aroma.

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The Reposado was paired with Époisses, a wash-rind monastery style of pasteurized cow milk, from Burgundy, also produced in Champagne-Ardenne. At first, the young cheeses are washed in a brine solution then gradually Marc (the local brandy) is added to the wash. The Époisses is a semi-soft, pungent, and was a favorite of Napoleon.

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The Añejo was paired with Fourme d’Ambert. This cheese can be made with raw or pasteurized cow milk (this one was pasteurized). The blue mold is added to the curd then the cheese is pierced to promote veining during ripening. It has a natural rind, and a smooth and creamy paste.  Compared to other blue cheeses, it’s rather mild.  Crumbly and moist, it has the pleasant aroma of cow and cellar.

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Finally, as a bonus, I also received Salers, raw milk cow cheese from the Auvergne region of France.  It’s very rare, firm, buttery, and meaty, and made with the milk of the old Salers breed of dairy cow. This cheese pairs well with both Reposado and the Añejo. The cheese may seem milder than the Époisses de Bourgogne, yet it has a longer finish (meaning you’ll often have a pleasant lingering flavor after you’ve finished the cheese).

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There you have it!  Now you (and I) know how to pair tequila and cheese properly, and learned that perhaps that there is more to tequila than shots and margaritas (not knocking them…), and more to cheese than string and curds (not knocking them either…).  In any case, food for thought for your next friendly gathering, which should be soon because you know, tequila resolutions.

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Disclaimer:  This post was sponsored by Casa Noble, The Cheeses of Europe and The French Cheese Board and made possible by the Windy City Blogger Collective.  All opinions are my own, and thank you for supporting The Hungary Buddha!

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Double-Fisted Dinner: Oaxacan Lamb Barbacoa

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Let’s talk for a second about how I am horrible at roasting things.  Chicken, sure, I can do that. Veggies, no problem. But, whenever the task at hand is to roast an expensive cut of meat that you bought until it’s falling-off-the- bone done, I cannot. CANNOT. Figure. It. out.  I’ve even managed to overcook these fancy pants cuts in the slow cooker. Why God? WHY?!

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Chicken Soup for the Soul: Sopa de Lima, or Yucatán Chicken and Lime Soup

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Let’s talk about soup, baby.

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Chicken soup.  I’ve made quite a few.  Scottish. AlgerianBurmese. Indonesian. Now, Mexican.

Same same, but different.

I love making everyday dishes in other countries because what seems ordinary when viewed through our looking glass becomes so different given another country’s flavor palate.  Plus, I love every day. It’s what life is really made of (#deepthoughts). Chicken soup is definitely one of my favorite dishes to reinvent because it’s healthy, comforting and usually very easy, no matter where on the globe you happen to land.

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Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Cupcakes.

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Cupcakes because Wednesday. Cupcakes because chocolate. Cupcakes because I love you.

I’m almost 99% sure that this recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes is not authentic southern Mexican, or Mexican at all really, and that you’d be hard pressed to find it anywhere south of the border. However, these little buggers channel all those wonderful flavors that I’ve been talking about for the past three regions: chiles, vanilla, cinnamon and chocolate.

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