El Sinfin #8: Cooking at La Serrana

Beloved Readers,

A few recipes from a dinner I did at La Serrana Hostal, in Salento, Quindio, Colombia.  They are in a quick sort of format, ( ie no yield, no specific measurements at all, in fact) so let me know if you have any questions. The whole point of this meal is making a six-course meal for twenty people on a tight budget, with the food available in a small mountain town in Colombia.  If you don´t have something, just try using something else. Above all else, have fun. –Thanks to Miin for the sushi supplies–

Assortment of  “New Sushi” Rolls:  Mango/Avocado Criollo; Caramelized Banana Macadamia Nut; Trout Ceviche

You don´t have to stick to these rolls if you don´t want to.  Put whatever you want in there.  Just do it.  Tell me how it comes out.

Sushi rice

Rice Vinegar


Nori (sheet seaweed for rolling)

Black and White sesame, lightly toasted





Macadamia Nuts, toasted

1 trout, gutted and cleaned


Red Onion

1 Chile




For the rice:

Wash rice until rinse water runs clear.  This takes a bit.  Cook 1 part rice to 2 parts water, standard steam procedure (bring to a boil, cover and simmer, or cook in a rice cooker.  Put cooked rice in a non-metallic bowl, add 3/4 teaspoon vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon sugar per cup of rice and toss once.  Let cool to room temp before using.  Rice goes a long way when making rolls, so don´t get overzealous.  Estimate 1/4 cup cooked rice per roll.  Add toasted sesame seeds if you like.

For the ceviche:

Juice a bunch of limes into a bowl.  Whack a thumb´s worth of ginger in a blender with a splash of water unitl it becomes a sauce.  Do the same with a bit of cilantro.  Julienne the red onion as thin as possible. Filet the trout with a boning knife, then slice into thin strips, taking care to avoid bones.   Put the cut fish into the lime juice. Add a bit of cilantro and ginger, minced garlic, minced chile and onions.  The onions should be the last thing to go in, right before serving, ideally.  If you want, add a bit of diced mango or avocado, or both.

For the Caramelized Banana:

Put some butter into a heated pan.  Cut banana in vertical slices.  Brown on all sides.  Add diced macadamias.

To make rolls:

Have a bowl of clean water and all ingredients, including cooled rice at hand.  Put Nori on flat, clean, dry surface.  Wet your hands, and sprinkle the excess water on the nori.  Take a half-handful of rice and spread an even, horizontal band across the  side of the nori closest to you, leaving 1 /2 inch clear.  Using a spoon, put whichever filling in an even manner on top of the rice.  Roll by closing the end of the nori over the rice and filling, keeping it tight and rolling all the way up. If it doesn´t stick, sprinkle a little extra water on the edge.

Curried  Carrot Soup with Green Tomato Chutney


Oil or butter




Good curry powder (jazzed up with garam masala, turmeric, clove, cumin, cardamom, red chiles, brown mustard or whatever else sounds right)

Green Tomatoes



Veggie stock (if none on hand, make a quickie with the carrot stubs and onion peels, a bay leaf and a few cloves of garlic.)

Rough chop all the veggies.  Sautee them in oil or butter until slightly softened.  Add curry and toast, stirring frequently so it doesn´t scorch. Add the veg stock.  Bring to a boil, strain solids and blend in batches, adding stock when needed to make it smooth.  Bring back to a boil, season with salt.  Garnish with a blob of yogurt and a spoonful of chutney.

For the chutney:

Rough chop tomatoe s and onions, a bit of ginger.  Add water, a healthy splash of vinegar, two or three big spoonfuls of sugar, a pinch of salt and any spices you got handy, especially clove, cinammon, cardamom, allspice, star anise.  Cook down until thickened, like a jam.  Adust seasoning.  If too spicy, a splash of vinegar.  If too vinegary, a bit more salt and sugar.

Seared Queso Campesino with Caramelized Pineapple (Queso Campesino Salteado con Piña)

This is a super simple cheese available widely in Colombia.  It could be easily substituted with any soft, creamy, slightly sweet cheese.

Cut pineapple and cheese into 1/2 inch slices.  Put butter into a hot pan.  Place cheese first, leaving until nicely browned.  Flip and repeat.  Do the same with pineapple.  If you feel really crazy, deglaze with a bit of rum at the end to make a little sauce.  How nice.  Garnish with chopped toasted pecans.

Oxtail Stew a la Provencia (Estofado)

Flour oxtail and beef ribs with a bit of salt and pepper.  Sear in the bottom of a big soup pot, browning on all sides.  Add onions, garlic, carrots, and bay leaf, and a big pinch of salt.  Sweat veg for ten minutes or so.  Add chopped tomatoes, mashing as they cook with a wooden spoon.  Add red wine and a lot of water.  Simmer over low heat, for like, ever.  Seriously. Like, half of your day.  Get up, start this dish, get on with it.  Don´t let it scorch.  Cook it some more.  Put some water in there. Colombians make this on a really slow wood fire, buried in the ground and the flavor of the smoke gets in there.  If you have that kind of thing,  that would be really nice.  Cook some more.  It´s done when the broth is really thick and rich and the meat falls off the bone.   Adjust salt and pepper.  Garnish with some toasted garlic breadcrumbs.

Cilantro Criollo Potato Cakes

Cut potatoes into like-sized chunks and put to boil in salted water until they fall off the edge of a knife.  Roast a couple of red bell peppers on open flame until charred, put in a covered bowl to steam a bit, and then clean the char and seeds with a knife.  Chop into 1/2 bits.  Finely chop a small red onion, a bunch of cilantro, a few cloves of garlic.  Let potatoes cool to room temp.  Combine all ingredients plus a couple of eggs, a big pinch of salt and pepper, and maybe a sprinkle of flour. Mix, leaving some potatoes chunky and others mashed.  Form into  hockey-puck sized cakes and shallow fry in 1/4 in of vegetable oil.  If too wet, add a little flour.  If sticking to the pan, dust the cakes in flour before frying.  Alternately, you can bake these in a bit of oil in a sheet pan ina  400° oven if you like.

Mango Cinammon Frozen Custard with Hibiscus Syrup

For the custard:

6 egg yolks

1 cup cream

1 1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 stick cinnamon, or 1 tsp. ground cinammon

1 tsp orange zest, very finely chopped

2 big mangoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2 cubes

1 1/2 cup milk

For the Syrup:

Handful of dried hibiscus flowers

1 cup sugar

1 cinammon stick

2 cups water

Combine milk, cream, cinammon and orange zest in a large saucepan and place over medium heat.  Bring to a low simmer without letting it scorch.  Remove from heat.   In a large bowl combine egg yolks and sugar and whisk until creamy and pale.  Temper the yolks with a little stream of the cream mixture, stirring constantly so the yolks don’t scramble.   Slowly add tempered yolks into cream mixture in a seperate bowl.  Remove cinammon stick.  Distribute chopped mango evenly between 8 4oz. ramekins (or plastic cups or coffee cups if you don’t have ramekins.)  Pour custard evenly into prepared ramekins.  Freeze for at least 4 hours before serving.

For the syrup:

Toss all ingredients into a small saucepan and let reduce over high heat until it coats the back of a spoon. Strain out flowers and cinammon.

To serve:

Release the custard with a knife around the edge, and put on a plate.  Spoon hibiscus syrup on top, and garnish with flowers.

Thanks to Neil & Leif for photos.  More to come.

Published in: on May 8, 2011 at 6:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://elsinfin.wordpress.com/2011/05/08/el-sinfin-8-cooking-at-la-serrana/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: