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Sip Snap Savor

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Liza Cortez's Mojitos

"You Feel GLOWY with these drinks." - Liza Cortez

3 dozen mint leaves, muddled in a large cup with a fork or wooden spoon
7-8 limes juiced (more limes if you use smaller key west limes)
1 1/2 C simple syrup
1 bottle Cachaca
1 liter of sparkling water

Add lime juice, simple syrup and mint leaves to punch bowl. If you have not muddled the mint yet, do so now. Add cachaca and sparkling water. Ladle into cups over ice.


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Monday, August 17, 2009

La Familia Cortez - Inglewood, CA

"These recipes are mother to mother recipes. Mine comes from my mother and her mother and her mother's mother in El Salvador." - Ana Cox

Misconceptions are horrible 'ceptions. Maybe it's because I had listened to Snoop Dogg and he was always rapping about Inglewood being up to no good. But I was nervous about the Inglewood Sip Snap Savor dinner.

It turned out to be the most lovely experience with the most loving family. I sort of wanted to move in - Mom & Dad Cortez have four squirmy, giggly, classy daughters. Each with her own ideals and goals. It was fascinating to sit with them for a few hours in their kitchen and then in their garden patio for a long Sunday lunch.

When Jamie and I walked into the house, Fleetwood Mac was belting out in the living room. Sister Liza, was rolling limes along the length of the kitchen table in preparation for Mojitos. Mom Ana was buzzing around the kitchen and came out to greet us with hugs and smooches on our cheeks.

It already smelled incredible. Chayote Chilaquiles and Arroz Frito was in the air. The sun was shining. I was starving.

Salsa De Chilequiles
4 tomatoes
1/2 green or red bell pepper
1/2 white onion
1/2 slice of bread
1spoonful of paprika and Knorr tomate caldo
Salt & Pepper to taste

Put all vegetables, seasonings and the bread into the blender. Top off with water. Blend the "salsa" until smooth. The bread adds textures.

Heat over medium low heat. It perfumes your whole house and a slow heat allows all the flavors to coagulate.

Chayote: also known as sayote, tayota, choko, chocho, chow-chow, christophene, mirliton, and vegetable pear, is an edible plant that belongs to the gourd family Cucurbitaceae along with melons, cucumbers and squash.

Chilequiles: The name chilaquiles is derived from the Nahuatl word chil-a-quilitl which means "herbs or greens in chile broth".

El Salvador:
is the smallest and most densely populated country in Central America. It borders the Pacific Ocean between Guatemala and Honduras. It lies on the Gulf of Fonseca, as does Nicaragua further south. It has a population of approximately 6 million people

"We don't put alot of condiments or heavy spiced sauces on our foods en Salvador. We preserve the way things really taste. It's why I like fresh Asian foods so much. Fresh. Vibrant. Flavorful. Natural." - Luz Cortez

"Wow! There's no masking it's natural flavor. This is Chayote. I will never forget it." - Melissa

"Yes! Yes, its why I enjoy cuisines that serve fresh radishes and pickled vegetables. Lemon wedges. A little chile. Those natural condiments that preserve everything and bring it together. Not mask and hide. You have to have food integrity you know." - Luz Cortez

"The center of the chayote is the tan rico part!" - Liza Cortez

"Eating meat all the time is too heavy. You feel better if you eat some vegetables. You can make these ahead of time, two or three days in advance. Store them in tupperware in the fridge."
- Ana Cortez

"This is a make you pretty dish. Full of proteins vegetables and it's so simple!" - Luz Cortez

Serves 10 people

6-8 Chayotes, peeled and sliced into disks, just as you would slice a cucumber into disks
1 pckg Ranchero soft Farmer Cheese
4Tblsp Crema Salvadorena
5 egg whites (save yolks)
1/4 C vegetable oil
Salt & Pepper

Soft boil the chayote disks. When soft, 8-10 minutes, let drain and cool. They need to be cool enough to touch. Meanwhile crumble the package of Ranchero cheese into the tablespoons of crema in a small bowl. Set aside cheese mixture.

When chayote is cool enough to touch. Spread cheese mixture on one side and top with chayote to make a sort of chayote/cheese sandwich. Set on plate and make another sandwich. Continue until all chayote has been sandwiched with cheese.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Slowly add in 2-3 yolks after peaks form. This egg meringue will be the coating on the chilequiles.

Heat large skillet on medium high heat with bottom of skillet filled with half of the vegetable oil. When hot enough, coat a chayote sandwich in the egg meringue and set into skillet.

Do not crowd chayote sandwiches as they fry. Depending on the size of the skillet, fry 5-6 sandwiches at a time. The sandwiches will bubble and foam up like little marshmallow puffs.

Continue frying in batches. Stop and stir Salsa de Chilequiles occasionally. Ensure the Salsa hasn't gotten too hot.

When done frying arrange all chilequiles in a bowl. Top with Salsa de Chilequiles. Rice is a great side dish to this meal and for sopping up the beautiful Salsa.


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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Red Red - Ghanaian Stew

"I always see the women doing the pounding." -Jamie Lloyd
"Not me. I always see the men doing the pounding. Say! Have you eaten Anteater?" - Tom Neuhaus

Ghanaian cuisine has diverse traditional dishes from each ethnic group, tribe and clan from the north to the south and from the east to west. Generally, most Ghanaian foods are made up of a starch (rice, fufu, banku, tuozafi, gigi, akplidzii, yekeyeke, etew or ato) and a sauce or soup.

An alternative to the starch and stew combination is "Red Red", a very popular and easy to find dish. It is made up of a mashed bean stew served with fried plantain. It earns its name from the red spices that tint both the stew and plantain.

Ghanaian food
is quite sophisticated with liberal and adventurous use of exotic ingredients and a wide variety of tastes, spices and textures. Herbs such as thyme, bay leaf, vegetables such as wild mushrooms, garden eggs (similar to egg plant) various types of pulses, ginger, garlic, smoked meat and fish, crab, trotters, shrimps octopus and duck all feature in Ghanaian cuisine.

Dr. Tom Neuhaus of California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo launched the first cocoa program for undergraduate students to physically produce chocolate. He sources his cocoa from Ghana and several other West African nations.

California is to Wine as West Africa is to Cocoa.

In a lecture at the University of Connecticut, Robin Romano, a photographer who extensively investigated slavery and child labor in Côte d'Ivoire, quotes an enslaved worker as saying, "Tell them when they are eating chocolate, they are eating my flesh."

Indeed, over 40 percent of the entire world's conventional chocolate is harvested from Côte d'Ivoire, and according to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, one million West African children drudge in the cocoa fields, only so we can appease our chocolate cravings.

Fair Trade certified chocolate is the way certify that you are not in fact eating a child's flesh in addition to delicious tannic sweetness, known as chocolate. Order sweets from Sweet Earth Chocolates, Dr. Neuhaus' Fair Trade Certified label.

Our very own Sip Snap Savor photographer also runs a photography program for kids in West Africa. You can check it out here.

Red Red is a popular stew throughout Accra (capitol city of Ghana) and into the countrysides and jungles. Following is Cordon Bleu trained Chef Neuhaus' recipe.

"Use plantains. They are the kind of starch that holds things together better than bananas"
- Tom Neuhaus

1 onion, chopped
1 c palm oil
3 cans cow peas or black eyed peas, drained (use left over bean juice to make vegetable stock)
4 plantains, peeled and diced
1 medim sized whole chicken, de-boned and chopped with skin intact

"Chicken isn't normally in Red Red. I'm just doing it as a service for you." - Tom
"No Vegetables? Oh yes. This IS food from Ghana, after all." - Eve

Slowly heat several tablespoons of red palm oil in a skillet. Add chopped onions. As they cook and soften, add in chopped chicken. Saute until nearly cooked completely.

Meanwhile heat additional red palm oil in another skillet. Add chopped plantains. Saute and flip around the pan until cooked.

Drain contents of both saucepans, by flipping contents of skillets onto plate or tray lined with paper towels.

"Palm Oil is high in Vitamin A. So don't be bashful using it."

Turn the fire or heat to low. In a large pot add beans and remaining Red Palm Oil. Simmer slowly for an hour. Just before serving add onions, chickens, plantains and salt & pepper. Serve with rice or on it's own.

Tom would like you to check out The Global Giving Circle while you simmer the beans for the Red Red.

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Neuhaus Family : San Luis Obispo, CA

"The family that opens cans together, stays together!" - Dr. Tom Neuhaus aka Casanova

In sunny San Luis Obispo it can be hard to find anything that deviates from the main populace formula of rancher/farmer chic or college undergraduate hipster. So it was a treat for Jamie and I to find ourselves in the progressively artsy home of two pioneering Chocolatiers and their families, cooking up West African delights in the coziest, friendliest kitchen.

"This whole project idea is marvelous. Bringing people together, aaah. Food is so close to everyone's heart!" - Eve Neuhaus

Tom Neuhaus and his wife Eve run Sweet Earth Chocolates - a fair trade, ingredient driven sweets company. But they really run a lifestyle brand complete with West African Fair Trade socio-economic information that will convince to drops your Mars Bar with a quickness. Their extended family includes daughter Elise and son-in-law Martin who help run COG, a coop grocery in Berkeley.

"Don't be bashful! Just cook. just. cook." - Casanova

While we were perfectly content to marvel at the trials and tribulations of 80's rap and hiphop artists. Eventually the conversation covered topics ranging from Dutch & English colonists to finding a modern day Sir Isaac Newton. Son-in-Law Martin, humorously spanked out his laptop to fact find and fact check throughout dinner. Forgot the name of an obscure spice, explorer or 17th Century Canadian politician? No problem.

He's got you covered.

Our dinner conversation went something like this:

NO! Bergers.

What? A marsupial?

Thats the Italian way to roast a chicken.
450 degrees for 10 minutes

The Brits were the best. Everyone hated France, ya know.

The best African colonies were Nigeria and Ghana. They were British Colonies.

Henry Stanley, you know Morgan Stanley, helped carve Africa. That's how the Belgian got The Congo.

They smoked baskets of hands.

My great-great-great-great-great-grandfather was the food taster for King Louis the XIIII!

Well, juju comes from Togo. TOGO. JUJU.

For dessert we had homemade fair trade chocolate marshmallow men. Dinner couldn't have ended on a more fun note. Bellies full of delicious West African Red Red, Plantains and Heads filled with even more delicious world topics and stories.

To learn more about Fair Trade Chocolate click here.
To visit Sweet Earth Chocolates click here.
To glimpse inside the coop grocery in Berkeley, CA click here.
"We believe that capitalism comes in different flavors--not just the survival-of-the-fittest sort, but a softer, kinder, and more sustainable way of doing business that considers the needs of our planet and its people. Chocolate that's better for the environment.Chocolate that's better for the earth. Chocolate that's better for the people." - Sweet Earth Chocolates

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