I remember when I was younger, coming back from high school and getting so excited to eat tamal de maicena with coffee. My mom did not make it as often, so when she would, it was a treat!. What is Maicena you might be asking, it is corn starch and in this recipe it is used to create a sweet dessert.
Since my mom lost the recipe that she used, I needed to research for a new one. There are a couple of different versions out there, but this one that I am sharing is very simple to make and it tastes like the tamal de maicena my mom used to make.
This recipe has very few ingredients and it is super simple to make. The key for a good tamal de maicena is to make sure to stir constantly to avoid the lumps.
Tamal de maicena it is gluten free!!!
Tamal de Maicena
4 cups of milk
1 stick of butter
2 1/2 cups of sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups of cornstarch
2 eggs beaten
Preheat the oven at 350F.
In a non-stick medium pot, add the milk, butter, sugar, and vanilla; bring to a boil, and reduce heat to low.
In a large bowl, add the eggs and the cornstarch and mix well. Slowly add 1 cup of the milk mixture, mixing constantly to temper the eggs. Keep adding more milk until the mixture is soft and has no lumps.
Add the mixture to the pot SLOWLY and mix constantly using a wooden spoon.
Keep cooking and mixing for a few more minutes until the mixture gets thick, you will know when it is ready when passing a spoon at the bottom of the pot creates a line that separates the mixture.
Remove from heat and pour into the pyrex (no need to grease it ( I use an 11 by 8-inch pyrex).
Cover with foil and cook for approximately 50 min. Remove the foil after 30 min of cooking to allow the top to get a light brown color. Let it cool completely before serving.
One of the main elements in the Costa Rican diet are beans, with black and red beans being the most popular. In my house, you always go to find black beans, in my refrigerator, or the freezer. I love having frozen small portions that I can easily defrost when I need to make gallo pinto.
I prefer black beans and I cook one pound of beans every week to use during the week. I love to eat it as a soup, in gallo pinto or as refried beans, and as a side dish in many of my meals.
This recipe is adapted to cook in the Instant Pot, but you can also cook it in a conventional pressure cooker, only, it increases the cooking time to 45min.
Black Beans (frijoles negros)
400g dry black beans pre soak in water for 8 to 12 hours
1 big onion chopped
1 green-red pepper chopped
1/3 cup chopped celery
4 garlic cloves minced
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp dry oregano
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground pepper
5 cups of water
Add all the ingredients in the Instant pot, Lock the lid on and set the Instant Pot to High Pressure for 35 minutes. Once the beans are done cooking, let the pressure release naturally for 20 minutes before releasing the remaining pressure. Open and serve!
Let the beans get cool completely before saving them in the fridge or freezer.
You may already know this, Ticos, we love to have our afternoon coffee break (cafecito) with a little piece of pastry. It could be bread, cake, cookies, empanadas, you name it.
This pan de yuca, is such a treat to have with coffee! It is just sweet enough and the yucca gives it such a nice texture, that I can assure you will not be able to eat just one piece.
I love this sweet version, but also you can make it savory by substituting the sugar for shredded cheese, like mozzarella, just like that!
And another great thing about this recipe is that it is super simple to make. And since you already know how to cut and peel yucca, this should be a piece of cake ;)
It is so good when it is still hot!
Pan de Yuca
3 cups shredded raw yucca
1 stick of butter at room temperature
3/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup cream cheese (7.7 oz)
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Grease and flour a 12 x 8' pyrex (you can use a smaller pyrex if you prefer the bread to be thicker).
Peel and shred the yucca and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
In a large bowl cream the butter with the sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
Add half of the dry ingredients and mix well, add cream cheese, mix well and, add the other half of the dry ingredients and mix well.
With a wooden spoon incorporate the shredded yucca, until well incorporated.
Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan and cook for 45 to 55 min.
Mangoes, mangoes, mangoes, are one of those fruits that make us think on a sunny day, beach time, and fun times! That's why when I get mangoes, all I can think of making is this tropical salsa!!!
This recipe is an everyone favorite, super simple to make, healthy, fresh, and fun, perfect for a relaxing day with friends by the pool or to watch a football game.
The combination of tomato, avocado, and mangoes, makes is recipe simple perfect. I prefer to use not too ripe mangoes; the best result is when using a semi ripped (yellow) mango, like the one in the picture below.
Also make sure you don't overmix, since we are using avocado, if you mix it too much you could smash it and change the look of the salsa.
My favorite way to eat this salsa is with corn tortilla chips, but it is also great with fish tacos!
Mango Tropical Salsa
¼ cup minced red onion
¼ cup minced red or orange bell pepper
2 ½ cups chopped tomatoes
1 ½ cups chopped mango
1 cup chopped avocado
¼ cup minced cilantro
⅓ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper.
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients together, mix well! Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 min before serving. Serve with chips
I recommend to make this salsa just 15 to 20 minutes before serving, it you make it to early it will get a little to soupy. Have everything chopped and ready and just put it together when your guest arrive.
One of the most typical recipes found in Costa Rica are picadillos. Picadillo consists of small chopped vegetables seasoned with some meat, similar to a hash. There are hundreds of variables in both vegetables and meats to use. They are usually served as a side dish in the traditional casado and accompanied with tortillas.
Among the most popular picadillos in Costa Rican cuisine are the potato, chayote and vainica picadillo, and other less popular but equally delicious is picadillo de arracache and green papaya. The recipes and vegetables used vary according to the region of Costa Rica, but all have the common denominator of vegetables chopped into small pieces accompanied by some sort of meat.
My mom makes this picadillo on Tuesdays because she uses some of the meat from the Olla de Carne (she cooks a huge pot of Olla de Carne every Monday for dinner) to use it in this picadillo. Once you have the meat, it takes too much time to do it.
This particular recipe, is one of my favorites and I love to eat it with rice and black beans, all mixed together. I know it sounds weird but it is delicious!
Make your own variations, use other meats and, or other vegetables, even mix different vegetables. Be creative and have some fun!
Picadillo de Vainicas (Green Beans Picadillo)
1 pound of green beans
2 cups of cooked flank steak (shredded meat) *
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped pepper
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup water
* you can cook the meat in the pressure cooker the same way as when making carne en salsa.
In a medium-size pot over medium heat add some olive oil, onions, pepper, and garlic and cook until onion is translucent.
In the meantime, finely chopped the green beans.
Add to the pot, the shredded meat, green beans, thyme, salt and pepper, and mix well. Add the water, cover and cook for 15 minutes, uncover and cook for 5 more minutes or until the green beans are soft.
When I was deciding what recipes to put in my cookbook, the chicken stew (pollo en salsa) was one of the first to be included. This simple dish has been on our table for many generations, mainly when eating a casado.
Even though I've been making pollo en salsa for years, I've never cooked it in an Instant Pot. So when I received my instant pot, it was obvious that this was going to be one of the first dishes to try out.
I modified my existing recipe (which you can find in my cookbook), and adapt it to be cooked in the Instant Pot.
I really love how it came out, and it was cooked much faster with the Instant Pot, not to mention I used only one pot to cook everything; win, win!
Pollo en Salsa
4 chicken thighs bone in.
1 tsp dry oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper
11/2 tsp achiote paste
4 garlic cloves minced
1 medium onion
1 big tomato
1/2 red bell pepper
2 cups chicken stock
Chopped pepper, onion and tomato and set aside. Turn on Instant Pot in sauteed setting for 8 minutes. Add a little bit of olive oil and add, onion, garlic, tomato, bell pepper, cumin, oregano salt and pepper and sauteed for 4 minutes.
Add the chicken and cook for 2 minutes on each side often, mixing often. Add the chicken stock , cover and set the pressure cooker on high for 20 minutes. When done release the pressure and if need it, add a little bit more salt. I like to serve it with some of the juice over rice and beans.
Do you know what else is great about this recipe, is that you can shredded it and use this delicious chicken in tacos, salads or my favorite, chicken chalupas!
2/3 cups of cook black beans (you can use can beans)
1 1/4 cup of cooked rice
2 tbsp chopped onion
2 tbsp chopped pepper
2 tbsp minced cilantro
1/2 tsp salsa lizano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp pepper
Heat up a pan over medium high heat, add olive oil and let it get hot. Add onions, peppers, cilantro, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper, cook for 3 to 5 min until onion is translucent.
Mix in the beans, stir and reduce heat to medium, add the Lizano sauce, stir and cook for 5 more minutes.
Add the rice, stir and cooked for a few more minutes, to incorporate all the flavors in the rice. The time to cook it I will depend of how you like your gallo pinto, some people like it a little wet and some other like it a little toasted or dry.
I prefer it not too dry, so I cook it for about 5 to 7 min.
The best way to eat gallo pinto is with eggs, sweet plantains, cheese or avocado and of course, with a cup of coffee
Chorreadas is a very traditional Costa Rican dish, most commonly found in the countryside or in the turnos (fairs). Normally served as breakfast or as an afternoon snack with coffee or agua dulce.
But what is a chorreada? The easiest way to describe it is a corn pancake!
Since the main ingredient is corn, you want to make sure you have fresh corn on the cob for this recipe. You can use white or yellow corn and for the 2 cups that the recipe calls for, you may need between 3 to 5 husks of corn.
I like to make them smaller since sometimes they are a little tricky to flip. But you can make them as big as you want. I have seen some the size of a dinner plate, but I rather eat 3 of the little ones.
So, next time you are thinking of something to make for Sunday breakfast, give this recipe a try and let me know what you think. Pura Vida!
Be sure to follow me here for more recipes from Costa Rica or check out my cookbook here.
2 cups fresh corn (white or yellow)
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup milk
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
Using a food processor or a blender, combine all the ingredients, don't overdo it, the mixture should be crumby.
Heat a lightly oiled pan over medium-high heat. Pour 1/4 cup of the batter onto the pan. Cook until lightly brown on each side, just like making pancakes ;)
Traditionally you serve it with a spoon of sour cream on top. I just prefer to eat it plain.
Arroz con pollo is one of the most popular and traditional Costa Rican dishes, It is the official dish in any social event for example at birthday parties. Maybe because it is so simple to make and you can make it in advance so it is conveniently ready when your guest arrive.
There are countless ways to prepare arroz con pollo, each family has its own version, some easier or more complex than others, but they all use pretty much the same ingredients, which results in a very similar taste between all recipes.
I have a couple of versions that I like to use, this version, although a little longer, makes the rice less dry and full of flavours. It is very important not to mix too much the rice, that will result in a very mushy rice.
The traditional way to serve it is with refried beans, potato chips and salad.
Please, try the recipe and tell me what you think.
Arroz con Pollo
2 bone-in chicken breast (you mean boneless?)
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp salt
In a medium-size pot, add all the ingredients and enough water to cover the chicken. Cook for 20 minutes and set aside.
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/3 cup diced celery
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 cups chopped mix vegetables (carrot, peas, green beans, corn)
2 cups of rice (use 95% or higher, for super fluffy rice use arroz precocido, see picture below)
1 tsp achiote paste
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper or more if desired
3 1/2 cup chicken broth.
In the rice cooker or a large pot, over medium heat, add some olive oil and cook all the vegetables for 5 minutes. Add the rice and keep cooking for another few minutes, stirring constantly. Add the chicken broth from the chicken that you cooked before, cover and cook until the rice is cooked. If using a regular pot, reduce the heat to low and check after 20 minutes to see if the rice is cooked or not, I may take a little longer, so just cover and keep cooking until done.
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced red pepper
4 garlic cloves minced
1/2 cup diced tomato
2 tsp achiote paste
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 cups diced cooked chicken
2/3 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup diced green onion
While the rice is cooking, shred the cooked chicken and heat up a pan over medium heat. Add some olive oil and the first 7 ingredients, cook until the onion is translucent, add the chicken, stir and keep cooking for a few more minutes, add the chicken broth and cook for 5 more minutes and set aside.
Once the rice is cooked and using a fork, fluff the rice, then add the chicken, cilantro and green onion, stir well and make sure to not overmixed, which can make the rice sticky.
Serve with a side of refried beans and potato chips.
There is no reason to be intimidated by, cutting and peeling yuca. Yuca is actually is very easy to work with, but I've had quite a few readers comment to me that they arent sure how to best peel and cut yuca. So I made a quick video to show how, check it out here and after you do go ahead and make my yucca pie recipe.
Its been one year since I began selling my cookbook and am happy to share that we sold over 1000 copies in the first year!! That's a lot of Gallo Pintos, Tropical Mango Salsas, Ceviches and other recipes that Im hoping have made it to the home of some lucky people. Thank you to all my distributors who have helped to make this possible. Lately I've had more and more people comment to me that they saw the book in the airport and once they got home went online to try to find. Currently you can easily order here on Etsy where I can accept payments via paypal but we are working to add the book to Amazon so those in the US can purchase that much easier. Also a reminder to those visiting Jaco, I have been offering private cooking experiences, I have had a great time with these in meeting people from all over the world while sharing my pasion for Costa Rica recipes and our culture. For those following please remember to send me your photos when you try one of my recipes or post on my Instagram.
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 southern 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 you can also choose to 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 15 min), 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.
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