Piononos is a different way of preparing ripe plantains, present in Latin American and Caribbean cuisine that refers to a small snack filled with cheese, beans or meat, in the form of a ball or an empanada and fried.
In Costa Rica, they are more common in the south part of the country and the central valley, where you can find them as sweet plantain empanadas.
This recipe is very simple to make and even though It is customary to fry the piononos and not to prepare them baked, you can bake them to make the recipe a little healthier.
3 sweet plantains ripe.
1 cup young white cheese (queso fresco) grated.
1/4 cup flour
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp sugar cane syrup (miel de cana) or maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1 cup refried beans
Cut the plantains in half and place them in a pot with water (don't remove the skin).
Cook until soft (about 20 mi), drain well, remove the skin and mash the plantains.
Add all the rest of the ingredients (except beans and vegetable oil) and mix well to incorporate all the ingredients.
Working with your hands, take 2 tbsp of the pure and make it into a tortilla add 1 tbsp of the refried beans and roll into a ball.
When you are done making the balls, heap up the oil and fry the piononos until golden brown, about 2 or 3 minutes on each side. Set aside on a paper towel and serve them while hot.
*If baking, you can bake them at 350F for 20 minutes.
Is it possible to live much longer than we already do? In the majority of the developed world, life expectancy has increased throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and generally sits at around eighty years across both sexes. However, it appears to have topped out, and is now trending back downwards.
Dan Buettner is a longevity expert who has traveled the world researching the underlying habits societies that live the longest. He calls these longevity hotspots the Blue Zones. There are five specific regions in the world, and one of them is located here in Costa Rica in the Nicoya Peninsula.
Buettner was able to identify a number of common threads that ran through these different societies and organized this information into nine specific categories. This suggests that there are very specific things that individuals and societies can do to live longer and all of these categories are parts of an integrated whole, a way of living. The nine categories are:
Having a caring, supportive and positive family environment can give peace of mind, security, happiness, and companionship.
Belong to a Positive Community
Connect with your neighbors, your colleagues, make friends, be positive and have a sense of community.
Have a Sense of Faith
Investing in your spiritual side gives you a reason to keep going.
Make sure you stay useful to yourself and society as a whole, as there is genuine evidence to suggest it will keep you young.
Allow your body and mind to rest and heal through meditation, breathwork or hanging out with friends and family.
Eat a Mainly Plant-Based Diet
Eat locally sourced, nutrient-dense whole foods, predominantly plant-based, with plenty of wild herbs and spices.
Eat mindfully and slowly until you are about eighty percent full, and then stop. Also, a caloric restriction is a key driver of longevity.
Wine is rich in antioxidants and has multiple benefits if consumed in moderation.
Engage in a high volume of low-level physical activity continuously throughout the day, which has been shown to contribute to longevity.
Take from the article: Lessons from the Blue Zones on How to Live Longer by Alex Williamson. https://medium.com/infinite-mindspace/eternal-life-biohacking-and-longevity-secrets-of-the-blue-zone-9c38d0ed009c?fbclid=IwAR39nFey4-dx04eBldyGlhxWVCKZDp9SDQHaWm5A6cqfX_TqCHJhbyA7AcU
Tamal asado it is one of those recipes that takes me back to my childhood. Both of my grandmothers prepared it very often and I remember that both of their recipes were so different but both very delicious.
Tamal is made with corn flavor, sugar and cheese. This recipe that I share today, is my mothers version, which for me is the best, it is softer and has a secret ingredient: coconut.
Typically the tamal was cooked in a steel casserole in the wood stove, which gives it a special flavor. In my case, I like to cook it in a pyrex made of translucent glass, so I can see that the bottom part has the desired color.
I invite you to try this recipe, it is super simple, gluten free and perfect to have with a cup of coffee.
1 cup corn flour ( I prefer the Juana Brand)
3/4 cup dry coconut
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 cup butter
1 1/2 cup milk
350g soft young cheese called queso cremoso.
Preheat oven at 325. Using a blender, mix the cheese and the milk. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix with your hands or a spoon.
Transfer to an 8 by 8 in a baking dish and cook for 35 to 40 min until a toothpick inserted into the middle come clean. Turn the oven to broil on low and cook for a few more minutes to give it a nice brown color.
Chiliguaro is a spicy shot using Guaro, a sugar cane-distilled liquor make in Costa Rica.
I thought it was about time to give you a Costa Rican drink recipe. I figured what could be better than Chiliguaro, Costa Rican's official celebration drink
Chiliguaro shots have a nice kick while feel pretty refreshing and yummy all at once, because of that, it is pretty easy to drink not just one but a few. It is very similar to a bloody mary.
There are a lot of variations to the recipe, some have more ingredients, some less. This one is my personal recipe using a little bit of the Costa Rican staple flavors: onion, pepper and cilantro and not as much of tabasco, since I don't like them too spicy. Enjoy and Salud!
serving size: 800ml
2 cups tomato juice
2/3 cups guaro* or as much as you want 😉
1/2 cup naranja agria or lime juice
1 tbsp chopped onion
1 tbsp chopped red pepper
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp lizano sauce
1/4 tsp tabasco
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
* guaro is a sugar cane-distilled liquor make in Costa Rica. The most popular brand is Cacique.
Blend all the ingredients, strain and storage in a glass bottle in the fridge. Serve very cold in shot glasses.
This recipe is a great appetizer option.
Yes, I accept it. I am a big fan of yuca; I use them in soups, breads, and pies. Sometimes I just cook th sauteed in butter and also in these little balls full of flavor, called enyucados.
Yuca is a very starchy carbohydrate vegetable root common in Central and South America and quite popular in Costa Rican traditional cuisine.
Enyucados, even though they look intimidating to make, they are very simple. The cooking part is super easy and for the making part, just follow the pictures below to understand the process. I do recommend to wait until the yuca mashed is cold to make the enyucados, and washed your hands often, while making them, to avoid the yuca to sticks to your hand and fingers.
serving size: 12 to 14
1 kg yuca (cassava)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup milk
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten
500g ground beef
3 minced garlic cloves
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped red pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
100g tomato paste
Cut and peel the yuca into big chunks and cook in salted water until soft. Drain and discard the center vein that is hard; mash the yuca completely. Add butter, flour, milk, onion and garlic powder, and salt; mix well and set aside until cold. Do not put in the fridge.
Meanwhile, in a medium pan heat up some olive oil and add the meat, garlic, cilantro, onion, red pepper, salt and pepper and cook until the meat is no longer pink. Add the tomato paste and cook for 5 more minutes. Set aside.
To make the enyucados, set your working station with one bowl with the eggs, another bowl with the breadcrumbs, or a plastic bags. One bowl with the yuca and one last bowl with the meat.
Take 2 spoons of the yuca, using your hands, roll into balls and then into a cup (see picture). Add one tbsp of the meat and bring the dough around the meat to form a ball. Pass the ball into the eggs and roll in the breadcrumbs. Repeat until there is no more yuca left. You may have some leftover meat.
Fry it in hot oil. You can also cook it in the oven, but I prefer the fried version. I don't eat it as often, so why not fried.
If you have been following my recipes, by now you will realize that I don't use any package seasoning like consomé or bouillon. I try to stay away from products that have extra additives and I try to keep my cooking as natural and simple as possible. An additive found in many complete seasonings in the market is Monosodium Glutamate, which has been linked to side effects and reactions like headaches and skin allergies. So I just don't bother to use it, and I don't see the need for it.
Also by now, you may have noticed that most of my recipes have the same spices over and over again. Mostly oregano, garlic, onion, cumin and pepper, and somehow every dish takes different and amazing. Doing a good combinations of this spices is all you need to give flavour to a dish.
Since I use the same spices in most of my dishes, I decided to create my own complete seasoning, that has a good balance in flavors and it is an easy way to get all the flavors that I want on a dish at once.
This particular mix, called Meli's Complete Seasoning, is a special mix of flavors that you will find in most of Costa Rica dishes. So give it a try and next time you are making a Gallo Pinto, just add this seasoning and salt and you will be good to go!.
This seasoning is especially good to cook cesina (flank steak) that is the meat use in Olla de Carne and Carne en Salsa. So what better way to try it than making some Carne en Salsa. His is a very traditional dish and one of the main ingredients in a meat casado*. I grew up eating carne en salsa, with rice and beans. Out of the many casado variations, Carne en Sale is definitely my all time favorite.
Casado (Spanish, "married man") is a Costa Rican meal consisting on rice, red beans, sweet plantains, picadillo or salad and a protein that may be chicken, beef, pork or fish.
Meli's Complete seasoning
3 tbsp dry oregano
2 tbsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dry thyme
1/2 tsp dry ground cumin
1 tsp ground pepper
Mix all the ingredients together and storage in a seal container. Since I live at the beach, in a hot very humid environment, I use my spices in the freezer to keep then fresh and make then last longer.
This seasoning is great for use in tico recipes like beans, rice, picadillos and of course, carne en salsa.
Carne en salsa
For the meat:
1.3kg of flank steak (cesina)
1 tbsp meli's complete seasoning
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
In the pressure cooker, add all the ingredients and enough water to cover the meat. Secure the lid and bring the high pressure over medium high. Once at high pressure, cook for 45 min. Remove from the heat and, carefully open, remove the meat and shred finely. Set aside the broth for the carne en salsa.
This recipe makes extra meat, so you can use it to make picadillos. I use it to make green beans or carrots picadillo.
For the carne en salsa:
1 medium onion
1 big tomato
1 tsp seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups cooked and shredded beef
1 cup of meat broth
In a medium pan, add a little bit of oil, onion, tomato, salt and seasoning; cook until the onion is translucent. Add the meat and the broth and mix well. Cook uncover for 10 to 15 min until the juice has reduce in half.
Serve it with rice, beans and sweet plantains
If you ask a Costa Rican to picture themselves on the beach, it is highly possible, that the picture will be sitting on the beach, drinking a cold beer and eating a ceviche while watching the sunset; that is our definition of a beach vacation. So if you come to any beach town in Costa Rica, ceviche will be part of the menu.
Ceviche is a Latin American dish, each country has its own variation but the Peruvian one is one of the most known worldwide. There are so many variations, from the traditional white fish ceviche to shrimp, to more exotic like piangua, which is a mollusk that is extracted from a shell that abounds in mangroves.
If you come to any beach town in Costa Rica, ceviche will be part of the menu.
CEVICHE is a dish consisting of raw fish and seafood marinated in citrus juice, mainly lime and lemon juice. The acid in the citrus juice break the amino acids in the proteins of the fish, causing it to become opaque and producing a firm texture, similar to when it is cook.
This recipe is the most common version of Costa Rican ceviche, with lots of lime juice, onion, pepper, and cilantro. I encourage you to try it since it is super easy to make and play with other ingredients to create your own variations of ceviche. Enjoy!
Serving size: 4
430 g (1 pound) white fish like Marlin.
1 cup of lime juice
1/2 cup lime-lemon flavor soda
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped red pepper
1/4 cup minced cilantro
1/2 tsp salt
Ground pepper to taste
Chop the fish in 1/2 inch squares. In a medium glass bowl, combine the fish with the lime juice, make sure the lime juice cover the fish. Add the rest of the ingredientes, mix well, covert and let seat for 1 hour in the fridge.
Serve with chips or crackers and a very cold beer!
Did you have a chance to see my facebook live recipe video last saturday? If not, now you can see it here. Last saturday I prepared one of my husband's favorite salad: ensalada rusa (that is how we ticos call it) The best part of this recipe, it is that I use super fresh tuna steak to make this salad. The full recipe is featured in my book: Living Longer, Healthier and Happier: Recipes from Costa Rica
Yucca is a vegetable root high in carbohydrates and a good source of fiber. Add a little meat, a salad or some vegetables and you'll have the complete meal all set.
Yucca is a popular root here in Costa Rica, most commonly served as a side for dishes like vigorones, chicharrones and as part of the olla de carne soup. To me, the way I present this recipe here is the best way to eat it. This pie is very similar to a Shepherd's pie, but using yucca instead of potatoes.
To give more depth to the dish, I prefer to cook the meat in the crockpot, to concentrate the flavors, and make it more as a stew. Also the good thing about this meat recipe, it is that makes enough meat to save for later.
When mashing the yuca, make sure you mash it until smooth. It will take some time but it is worth it.
Feel free to add any other seasoning that you like to the mash. If the mash takes good, the pie will be good!. And last and most important, do not overcook it, as it can get very dry. If you are not getting the nice bronze color on top, don't keep cooking, just turn the broiler for a few minutes and problem solved. ENJOY!
Serving size: 6
For the meat
2 pound beef flank steak
1 big onion
1 red bell pepper
2 big tomatoes
6 garlic cloves
2 tsp salt + 1 tsp black ground pepper + 1 tbsp fresh oregano + 1/2 tsp cumin + 2 bay leaves
1 to 1/2 cup of water
4 ounces tomato paste.
For the pie
1.5 Kg yucca (cassava, yuca)
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup of butter
2 cups cheese (any melting cheese, I use queso cremoso)
1/2 tsp salt + 1/2 tsp ground pepper + 1 tsp garlic salt + 1/2 tsp roasted garlic powder (optional)
To make the meat: chopped the tomatoes, pepper, onion and garlic. In a crock pot, put the meat, seasonings and the chopped vegetables add enough water to cover the meat. Cover and cook for 6 hours at low temperature. When done, remove 1 cup of liquid, bay leaves and add the tomato paste. Cover and cook for 45 more minutes.
To make the yucca: wash, peel and cut the yucca in chucks. Place it into a large pot, and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain, and return the yucca to the pot. Then mash the yucca with a potato masher, add the butter, milk, 1 cup of cheese and seasonings. Continue to mash until smooth and fluffy.
To ensemble the pie:
Preheat oven at 350F. Greased a 9 by 9 in baking dish; spread half of the yucca mashed, in a thick layer. Spread 2 cups of meat. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese; layer the other half of the yucca and sprinkle the remaining cheese. Cook for 35 min.
Tortilla de Queso is a staple in Costa Rica for breakfast or coffee time. These are not the regular tortillas that you eat with tacos; in these ones we add cheese to the dough. You can eat it by themselves or with a bit of sour cream on top. They are a filling breakfast option and gluten free!
I have to confess how intimidated I was to make my own corn tortillas. I grow up seeing my mom, grandma and aunts doing it, but yet for some weird reason I felt they were hard to make. Well, that changed as soon as I made them. I was surprised how simple it was. Was it really that easy? Yes, it was. And I didn't even have a tortilla maker, I made it with my hands and a plastic bag!!!
Here in Costa Rica, there are many kinds of corn flours in the market. I like to use one called Juana, and that is the one I used for this recipe. Other brands may need a little bit more or less milk to get the right consistency. Try it and let me know what you think.
Gluten free, easy to make and delicious!
Tortillas de queso
Serving size: 6 tortillas
1 1/2 cup corn flour
1 1/2 cup grated cheese*
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp salt
* I use a creamy cheese called queso cremoso, you can also use any white cheese, that has a strong taste.
In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together using your hands and knead briefly. Divide the dough into 6 pieces and round the pieces into balls; roll into a round about 8" in diameter. I use a plastic food bag, to roll the dough into a round tortilla. Fry the tortillas in a lightly greased pan for about 2 minutes on each side (like making pancakes).
Serve hot with a little bit of sour cream.
Hi I'm Meli and I love food, I love cooking, I love eating, I love traveling and I love Costa Rica. I want to share a little bit of my culture through my food