|Barbara is the owner of Jade Luna Home Made Ice Cream, downtown main street, and sells a wide variety of homemade delicacies at the Friday Matapalo farmer’s market at Martina’s Bar. Contact her directly firstname.lastname@example.org|
October is the height of the wet season here on the Osa: atime to relax, read, catch up on missed movies, and stop and chat with friends and neighbors in town. Many a conversation takes place in the BM supermarket! It’s also the time to put your oven to good use—not to chase out the cold as it it never gets cold in the lowland tropics– but to take the edge off of the dampness.
And who doesn’t love the smell, taste, and texture of soft, yeasty, slightly sweet, fresh baked bread, topped with a pat of salty butter?! This recipe utilizes a native root vegetable called yucca. Yucca’s mild, slightly-nutty flavor is delicious boiled, fried, or in soup. But today it’s going to be the base for an easy, cheap (after all it is rainy season and most of us are broke) and fabulous white bread!
The truth of the matter is: I generally don’t use recipes. I made this bread yesterday without a recipe, so I will give you the method first and measurements later.
Cut one half of a large yucca into small chunks and put them in a two-quart saucepan with just enough water to cover and boil until soft. Take the pan off the heat and add butter. Mash the yucca, cooking water, and butter with a potato masher, and allow it to cool to room temperature (if the mixture is hot it will kill the yeast and the bread will not rise). When the mixture is cool, add yeast, sugar, and sea salt to the pot and mix together. Add enough flour to make a dough that is soft but not sticky that you can handle. Turn it out on a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Form two loaves and put them in two greased (butter, manteca, lard) bread pans to rise (does not need a double rise). Bake at 350 to 375 degrees until golden brown and smelling heavenly (about 45 to 60 minutes, everyone’s ovens are different). Let it cool slightly, then run a knife or spatula around the edge of the pan to loosen the bread and unmold. When you remove your bread, if it is not brown enough on the bottom, pop it back in the oven for a while longer. Cut thick slices with a bread knife, slather on butter, honey, and/or jam.Enjoy!
1 pound yucca
2 cups (approximately)water
4 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of raw sugar
1 tablespoon of yeast
1/2 tablespoon of sea salt
About 6 cups of flour
Olla de Carne
Many years ago, the first time I made olla de carne (beef and vegetable soup) for my Costa Rican husband, he said “Its good, but its not olla de carne”. You see I browned the meat and caramelized the onions, added thyme and bay leaf, and cut the vegetables into bite sized pieces. It was pretty good soup, but he was right, of course, not olla de carne…
One day we were visiting his family and his mother made olla de carne a la leña (cooked on a wood fire), and oh how delicious it was! Once she knew how much I liked it, she would prepare it for me whenever we visited. And so by watching my suegra (may her soul rest in peace), is how I learned to make damn good olla de carne.
First let’s start with the meat. Usually the soup is made with a tougher cut of beef. I prefer beef ribs or leg, (hueso redondo), anything with bone, fat, or marrow to add flavor (we won’t be adding bullion / consomé). Then there are the traditional vegetables. There are many to choose from, and what you use is up to you, but they must be cut into large pieces. Traditionally each bowl of soup has a few pieces of meat, and one piece of each vegetable, with white rice served on the side. And last the flavorings, culantro (cilantro) and sea salt, garlic and onion optional, nothing else. Cooking this soup slowly over a wood fire imparts a flavor that can’t be duplicated, but I use my pressure cooker to ensure tender meat, and that we eat it sometime today!
Here’s the full list of vegetable options, pick your faves. But be sure to cut into very large pieces.
- Yuca (root vegetable)
- Elote (corn on the cob)
- Camote (root vegetable)
- Zapallo (type of summer squash)
- Tropical root vegetable options
Cut the meat (beef ribs, stew meat, and/or leg rounds) into large pieces. Place in a large pot or pressure cooker and add just enough water to cover. Add a good amount of sea salt (heaping tablespoon), a rough-cut onion, and a couple of crushed garlic cloves. Cook until the meat is tender. Maybe two hours without a pressure cooker (you will need to add more water), or 30 minutes from the time your pressure cooker starts to whistle. Let your pressure cooker cool down before removing the lid, and then add your vegetables (hardest like yucca and carrots on the bottom, potatoes and corn in the middle, to softest like cabbage and squash on top). Add more water if necessary to almost cover the vegetables, but the less liquid the better the flavor. Tuck an entire bunch of washed culantro in with the top vedge (culantro adds flavor and is a nutritious green leafy vegetable, and should be eaten as such). Cook covered (without pressure) another 20 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through but firm. Add more salt to taste and serve with hot white rice on the side.