Colonial Colombia

Dear Subscribers:

Welcome to our April Edition of Amalia’s Recipe of the Month and so much more! April showers bring May flowers…. And many fresh fruits and vegetables, too! Get ready for a season of new recipes using local seasonal fresh ingredients.

Not so long ago I had the fortune of traveling to Cartagena de Indias located in the northeast coast of Colombia. It is a beautiful colonial city and one of the most stunning in Latin America dating back to 1533 with tile roofs and wrought iron balconies and courtyards filled with brightly colored flowers. Cartagena is a walled fortress city. The wall was built around the city to protect the shipping and slave trade from looting pirates. Touring the city by foot is one of the best ways to see many of the major attractions and to get closer to the food and culture.

The markets are filled with many varieties of native fresh fruits and vegetables. Beautiful ladies in colorful outfits and headdresses roam the markets and busy spots selling homemade candies to passersby. One main staple snack in Colombia (and Venezuela) is the arepa. During my visit I saw many street vendors making white cheese arepas. Arepas (as the corn tortilla to Mexico and Guatemala) is the bread of these neighboring countries. Arepas can accompany a meal, or they can be stuffed with fillings of choice. They can be made of white or yellow arepa flour (cornmeal), and may be griddled or fried. They are so easy to make on a skillet or griddle on the stove top, however, some people use areperas (special cooking units) to make puffy arepas. In this edition, we are delighted to share one of our favorite arepa recipes with you. Enjoy it!

Before moving into the recipe of the month, we want to highlight our upcoming events in May. If you missed Amalia’s TV appearances last month, you can still view them at: Twin Cities Live and Showcase Minnesota Kare 11. Saludos, Amalia.

Friday, May 1, 2009, 6 p.m. – midnight
Noche de Colores – Common Hope Gala – Guatemala-themed
Enjoy the colors, tastes, and sounds of Guatemala with festivities, dinner, and a unique market and benefit auction. Please join us at this fun-filled event to help bring hope to children and families in Guatemala.
Register at: [email protected] or at (651) 917-0243
Event Location: International Market Square “Noche de Colores”

Saturday, May 2, 2009, 6 p.m. – midnight
Make A Wish Foundation Gala-Latin themed
Private Chef Amalia Damgaard designs the menu for the 2009 Make a Wish Foundation Latin-Themed Gala fundraiser, The Wish Ball “Noche Para Los Los Niños “, featuring entertainment by Nachito Herrera and his orchestra, Michael Hauser Flamenco, Nicolas Carter Paraguayan Harpist, Latin wine tasting and other surprises.
Register at: The Wish Ball “Noche Para Los Niños”
Event Location: The Depot, 225 3rd Avenue S, Minneapolis, MN 55401

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Frugal Gourmet Latino
In challenging economic times people look for ways to do more with less. Focusing on fresh ingredients is a great way to eat healthier and more economical too. Learn strategies for cooking simple yet delicious meals for every day of the week with your budget in mind. Menu: Sopa de elote (fresh corn soup); Dominican Sancocho (chicken and vegetable stew); Cerdo en Adobo y Arroz (Pork and chayote squash with dried ancho pepper, garlic sauce and white rice); Fresco de Chan (Lime-poppy seed drink). Demonstration.
Location: Midtown Global Market “Kitchen in the Market”, Suite 107.
Directions/parking information at: Midtown Global Market
Register at: Cooking for Fun… Seriously! LLC

Thursday, May 14, 2009, 4:30-7:30 p.m.
Amalia at Taste of Edina: Food & Wine Experience
Join us for an evening of delicious cuisine and fantastic wines at Taste of Edina, hosted by the Edina Chamber of Commerce where Amalia will demonstrate great dishes for summer entertaining at 5:30 p.m.
Location: Centennial Lakes, 7499 France Avenue S.
Register at: Edina Chamber of Commerce

Monday, May 26, 2009, 6-9 p.m.
Gourmet in a Flash
What can you cook on short notice and still entertain with ease and style? Join us as we explore easy ways to entertain the family or friends with a French-Latin-Spanish menu that is not only simple, but delicious, too. Menu: Coctel de Gambas (prawns with olive oil, garlic and flambeed with tequila with roasted jalapeno-cilantro and lime cocktail sauce); Pollo Au Poivre (peppery chicken thighs with Spanish sherry, rosemary and cream sauce); Tortilla de Espinaca (Spinach cakes with spiced tomato sauce); Pommes Duchesse (herbed potato fluffy peaks); Spiced seasonal fruit poached in Port wine.
Register at: Cooks of Crocus Hill, Grand
Event location: 877 Grand Avenue St. Paul MN: (651) 228-1333


(Cheese Arepas)

During my city stroll, I saw street vendors make and griddle cheese arepas on the streets of Cartagena. They looked so appetizing that I had to make my own. They are not only delicious, but easy to make, too. The arepa flour is available at the Latin markets on the East Lake Street area, or in St. Paul at El Burrito Mercado.

Makes 2-3 snack-size arepas

1 cup white arepa flour
½ cup of mozzarella cheese, cut into small pieces
1-½ cups lukewarm water or more as needed
½ tsp Kosher salt
Canola oil

Garnish: top each arepa with one slice of tomato and one sprig of parsley

Prepare the dough. Dissolve salt in lukewarm water. Mix this liquid with the flour and form soft dough. Add the cheese to the dough and combine the two quickly to preserve the cheese chunks. Preheat the griddle or skillet. Form uniform balls using an ice cream scoop. Enclose dough ball in plastic wrap and flatten to about ¼ inch with a small skillet. Add a very light coating of oil to the grill or griddle, and cook the arepas until medium brown, for about 2-3 minutes per side. Keep warm and garnish right before serving.

Amalia’s Special Tips:
Other types of melting cheeses can be used in this recipe. Or, the arepas can be made without the cheese and filled with other fillings of choice.