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Variations on Greek Salad

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By Bill Dwyer

Greek salad is one of the classics of the salad genre. The combination of fresh ingredients is perfect for the palate.

I provided a basic recipe for Greek salad in an earlier column; but I’m revisiting the subject in this month’s column because I’ve been experimenting with various ways of slightly altering the basic recipe using other ingredients frequently used in Greek cuisine. Greek salad proves to be amazingly adaptable and versatile, and just as delicious as ever.

I won’t be prescribing ingredient proportions or directions for assembling the salad in this column. You can decide for yourself what sizes or shapes to cut the veggies and feta cheese in your choice of proportions, and how to display the finished product. Cooking is more fun when you can be creative!

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Bill’s Hamburger Relish

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By Bill Dwyer

Like many people, I gradually outgrew my liking for ketchup as the condiment of choice for hamburgers. Over the the years I tried various commercial products without much satisfaction until I discovered Willie’s Chili Style Sauce, or Willie’s Chili for short. Willie’s Chili was a product of the Strub’s pickle factory in Brantford, Ontario, until the small Canadian company folded a couple of years ago. For me anyway, Willie’s Chili was the perfect condiment not only for hamburgers, but also as a replacement for ketchup in other sandwiches.

I’ve been trying to replicate the taste of Willie’s Chili since we moved to Costa Rica, where it’s not available. The following recipe represents the closest approximation I’ve been able to come up with so far. Besides tasting pretty darn good, it has the advantage of being fairly simple to make.

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Green Mango & Avocado Salsa

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By Bill Dwyer

It’s green mango season! The mango tree in our back yard is heavy with new fruit right now. Looks like a bumper crop this year.

Not everyone is aware that green, unripe mangos are not only edible but preferred by many in the tropical countries where mangos are cultivated. In India they are cooked into chutneys. In southeast Asia they are sliced and pickled, or simply eaten as snacks after dipping them in fish sauce or soy sauce. Here in Latin America, a wide variety of salsas and salads use green mangos as a main ingredient. In season, green mangos can be found at farmers’ markets and greengroceries. Sometimes you may spot a street vendor selling small plastic bags of green mango slices, which people live to snack on in the heat of the day.

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Chicken Smothered with Leeks & Mushrooms

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by Bill Dwyer

Ingredients

  • 3 to 3½ lb. whole chicken, cut into 12 serving pieces
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 or 3 leeks, cut into ½-inch rounds
  • 1 small carrot, cut in ½-inch dice (optional)
  • 1 stalk celery, cut in ½-inch slices (optional)
  • ½ lb mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup frozen peas, partly thawed (optional)
  • ½ tsp dried thyme, crushed
  • ½ tsp dried sage, crushed
  • salt & black pepper, to taste
  • 1½ cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup whole milk

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Smoked Trout & Cream Cheese Spread

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by Bill Dwyer

Quepos is justly renowned for the quality and variety of saltwater fish and other seafoods available, whether you acquire it by going on a sportfishing cruise or simply by shopping at one of the local fish markets. But did you know that freshwater fish farming has become a growth industry in Costa Rica? There are over 1,200 producers cultivating tilapia or trout (trucha) at their fish farms in the mountains, and claiming a gradually increasing share of the market for fish. Read More…


Camote

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Camote (our local sweet potato) is the world’s healthiest food according to the USDA’s North Atlantic Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. 

  1. It’s an energy food because of high carbohydrate contents. It can replace rice in diet.
  2. It’s good for diabetics. It helps stabilize blood sugar levels by increasing adiponectin, an important factor of insulin metabolism. It has moderate glycemic index of 50.
  3. CamoteIt’s high in dietary fiber and has a low fat content. Good for the heart and tummy. Fibers help reduce bad cholesterol and ease bowel movement.
  4. Yellow camote contains lutein and beta carotene. Antioxidants to prevent rapid aging and maintain good eyesight. Eat yellow camote instead of taking eye supplement.
  5. It contains lots of essential minerals and vitamins. Manganese, copper, potassium, iron, Vitamin – E, C, B6, B2, and A. It’s like a combination of  rice and vegetables in a single package.
  6. It’s an effective detoxifying agent. It adsorbs heavy metals and removes them from your body. 

Plus they taste great & are very versatile. In our house we especially like them with pork & corn. Here are my 3 favorite ways to prepare camote (all low or no-fat). But you can also use them in deserts, such as cakes, pastries, puddings & cookies.

Recipes:

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Extra Crispy Batter Fried Fish with Homemade Tartar Sauce

Ingredients for Fish (Serves 4)

  • ½ Cup all purpose flour
  • ½ Tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ Cup cold water
  • 1½ lbs. firm white fish fillets, each cut into 2 or 3 pieces (corvina, dorado, etc)
  • Oil for deep frying 

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Grilled Shrimp & Pineapple Salad with Coconut-Lime Dressing

Ingredients for Salad (Serves 2)

  • 12-14 medium or large shrimp, cleaned (tails may be left on)
  • 1 ½ cups of 1” pineapple chunks, OR 1 firm, nearly-ripe mango cut into large chunks
  • Salad greens, enough for each person dining
  • Generous handful of fresh cilantro, basil and mint, chopped
  • ½ thinly sliced red pepper 

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Applesauce Cake

By Bill Dwyer

Ingredients: 

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups brown sugar (tapa de dulce)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2¼ cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda (bicarbonado de sodio)
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 tap ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground or grated nutmeg
  • 2 cups applesauce*(preferably chunky,  recipe below)
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (nogales)
  • powdered sugar

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Carrot Cake

By Bill Dwyer

If you or any of the people you are serving happen to be lactose-intolerant, this recipe is free of dairy products

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups   sugar
  • 1 cup     sunflower or canola oil
  • 4              large eggs
  • 2 cups   flour
  • 2 tsp      baking soda
  • 1 tsp      ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp      ground ginger or grated fresh ginger
  • ½ tsp     salt
  • 4 cups   grated carrots
  • 1 cup     chopped roasted walnuts
  • 1 cup     raisins or diced dried apricots
  • 4 tbsp    apple juice (for glaze
  • 4 tbsp    sugar (for glaze) 

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Grilled Pork Satay

By Paul Rees

Marinade Ingredients (Makes about 1C enough for 2 lbs Pork) 

  • 1 to 2 lbs pork tenderloin
  • 1 shallot OR 3 green onions, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp ginger, minced
  • ½  tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cayenne OR 2 tsp srirachi (more or less to taste)
  • 4 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp lime or lemon juice
  • 1/2 Tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1/3  cup liquid honey 1/3 
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk 
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Grilled Chicken Breast with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives & Feta

By Paul Rees

(Serves 2)

 Chicken Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts with tenders, fat, & skin removed, lightly score both sides with 2 or 3 shallow cuts
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • ¼ tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp each dried thyme, rosemary, & oreganoPinch paprika
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/8 lb feta cheese, crumbled for garnish

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Crunchy Fish Filet with a Light Sweet & Sour Sauce

By Paul Rees

(Serves 2) 

Ingredients 

For the Sauce

  • 1 C sugar
  • ½ C water
  • ½ C vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 ½ tsp srirachi or chilero
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • ¼ C carrot, julienne or grated  

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FancyTex-Mex Cornbread

by Bill Dwyer

Everyone I’ve served this to loves it. You might like it too.

Ingredients: 

  • 4 thick slices of bacon, fried, drained, and cut into small pieces
  • 1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
  • ½ red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 oz  Cheddar cheese, cut into ¼-inch dice
  • 1 chipotle pepper, minced
  • 2 cups coarse-milled cornmeal (polenta)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp  salt
  • 1 cup  buttermilk (leche agrÍa)
  • 2 eggs
  • bacon fat

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Rum Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Grilled Pineapple Relish

INGREDIENTS 

Grilled Pineapple Relish

  • 1 small  pineapple, peeled, cored & sliced into ½ inch rounds
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 serrano chile, finely diced
  • 3 Tbs rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbs freshly chopped culantro
  • 1Tbs honey 

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