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My Quest for Authentic Cabbage Rolls

By Bill Dwyer

Cabbage rolls are a favorite of mine, having grown up with a Polish mother. I guess that puts them in the category of comfort food for me. It’s a good dish to make here in Costa Rica because the ingredients are both cheap and readily available (except for caraway seeds, which are only sporadically available).

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Pasta with Cheesy Chorizo

This is an easy dish that doesn’t take a lot of time and is full of flavor. Basically, it is pasta smothered in a cheese sauce topped with sautéed meat and veggies. The trick is to cook everything gently and watch carefully to make sure nothing overcooks.

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Cornmeal Pizza with the Works

By Paul Rees

In the gourmet pizza world, the key to creating a great pizza is limiting yourself to 2 or 3 delicious key ingredients. In my pizza world, the key to a great pizza is small amounts of lots of ingredients so every bite is unique little explosion of different flavour combinations. In addition, this crunchy, flavourful cornmeal crust is strong enough to hold it all without dumping it in your lap.

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Udon Noodles with Grilled Chicken Breasts

By Paul Rees

So, I think that after my last two calorie-packed recipes (Rene’s Banana Chocolate Chip Cake & Tiquisque Fritos) I’d give you a recipe that’s a little more healthful, but still satisfying and with lots of flavor. These noodles are also delicious with grilled pork tenderloin or steak.

(Serves 2 – 3)

Chicken Ingredients

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts with tenders, fat, & skin removed, lightly score both sides with 2 or 3 shallow cuts
  • 1 clove garlic, mashed
  • ½ tsp. ginger, mashed
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp balsamic vinegar
  • Pinch paprika
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 3 Tbs barbeque sauce

Udon Noodle Ingredients

  • 6 oz (180 g) udon noodles
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed
  • 1.2 tsp ginger, mashed
  • 2 Tbs lightly crushed peanuts
  • 1 C carrots finely sliced lengthwise into 2” pieces
  • ½ C finely sliced red onion or chopped green onion
  • 1 C red pepper finely sliced lengthwise into 2” pieces
  • 1 ½ C green beans, cut diagonally into 1“ pieces
  • ½ C cucumber, peeled, seeded, finely sliced lengthwise into 2” pieces
  • 4 or 5 sliced mushrooms
  • ¼ C fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs lime juice
  • 1 – 2 Tbs hot sauce (to taste)
  • ¼ C soy sauce
  • ¼ C pineapple juice or chicken broth
  • 1 Tbs sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • Spray oil
  • 3 Tbs chopped cilantro

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Tiquisque Fritos

By Paul Rees

Tired of French fries? Wondering how to cook those dirty brown tubers you see in all the markets?

In Costa Rica they’re called Tiquisque. Around the world, they belong to a crop as important and widely eaten as rice and potatoes. Although slightly different species, they’re most commonly called Taro, Ñampi, Dasheen, and Cocoyam among other local names. Growing wild or in the garden they’re known as Elephant Ears.



Tiquisque are a good source of fiber, vitamins B6, C, & E, and minerals potassium and manganese among others. However, they also contain Calcium oxalate which is poisonous when raw but rendered harmless when cooked. Calcium oxalate can also be a skin irritant, so wear gloves during preparation if you have sensitive skin.

Tiquisque are available in every food store in Quepos – Manuel Antonio, and probably Costa Rica. When buying them, they must be firm without any soft or rotting spots. The freshest still have purple growing tips at one end. When cut open, they’re creamy white with tiny pink striations in the flesh, and begin immediately to sweat starchy white sap. Green season seems to be the best time to buy Tiquisque because I’ve been seeing some beautiful ones over the last couple of months. During the dry season they’re often dried out, thick skinned, and slightly spongy. An old soft Tiquisque does not make good fritos.

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Rene’s Banana-Chocolate Chip Cake

One of my first, and best, jobs was at Daiter’s Creamery & Deli in Kensington Market in Toronto. Daiter’s was a family-owned Jewish dairy that made the top quality cottage cheese, sour cream, farmer’s cheese, cream cheese, & yogurt. The deli was a busy, raucous place that sold dozens of types of cheese, cured meats, lox, herring salads, bagels, fresh-baked breads, new pickles, matzo crackers, gefilte fish; an unending feast for all the senses, especially for a budding foodie like me. The place was staffed mostly by high-school and college students and overseen by the family matriarch, Rene Daiter, who, when she wasn’t managing the store, spent endless hours cooking for her family…and for us kids. Read More…

Homemade Pizza

By Bruce Zabov

This issue we’re doing homemade pizza and, as it turns out, the house is sold, and this will also be my final column so we’ll celebrate with a pizza “party” before we return to the U.S.

Whether you’re settling in for a quiet afternoon or evening at home or planning a party there’s always something festive feeling with pizza on the menu! ( In Italian “pizza literally means”pie”). Or it’s handy to have in the freezer so it’s ready for a quick snack or you need a quick bite to eat if you’re in a rush.
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By Bruce Zabov

When it comes to creating salsas, it’s a cook’s opportunity to let the imagination run free, and to be as imaginative and creative as you like. Let your own food preferences be a guide and you can’t make a bad choice!

For myself, I’m fond of the clear, light, clear taste of cold cucumbers, and the fresh brightness of ripe pineapples and mangoes and they often appear in salads here. And if you like certain fruits and vegetables in salads, you will probably enjoy them in a fresh salsa, too.
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Orange Bread

by Bruce Zabov

I originally began baking this bread as a holiday gift for the neighbors at Christmas until I sampled it for myself, and thought “This is really good!!” The other good thing in addition to its appealing flavor is you don’t need to wait for holidays to make it. You can treat yourself to it any time you like.

With its eggs, butter and milk, it freezes beautifully. Just slice it, and place in a large plastic freezer bag with a small sheet of waxed paper or food wrap between the slices. Freeze and pull out as many slices as you like and place in the toaster or microwave it for 30-45 seconds before you enjoy it. It’s good with or without butter or jam.  Its golden color with bits of orange peel in gives it lots of visual appeal, too.

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Stuffing for a 3-pound Chicken

by Bruce Zabov

cooking-cornerWith North American Thanksgiving holidays and Christmas coming up I thought this would be a good time to go over a basic stuffing recipe you can individualize as you wish. Too, the availability of the packaged stuffing mixes can be pretty variable and being able to whip up your own reduces your dependency on its being available or not. And YOU get to decide on its fat and salt content as well. This is the season weight tends to increase as we feast and it can help to be aware of what we’re feasting on.

You can make stuffing ahead of time and store it in the fridge until you stuff the bird and put it in the oven — but don’t stuff the bird more than a few hours ahead of roasting time. Plan on about 3/4 cup of stuffing for each pound of poultry– for example, 9 cups of stuffing for a 12-pound turkey, or 4 cups for a three-plus pound chicken.

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One-dish Chinese Dinner

by Bruce Zabov

Cooking CornerBefore I forget again to mention it, a friend took one look at the recipe a few months back for Tuna Pie and immediately thought it could be made using leftover chicken or shrimp instead of the tuna. Either of those variations of the original sound terrific to me, too!

To move on to this issue, this one-dish dinner is a variation of the red-cooked dishes so popular in all regions of China. They all have in common the seasoning of soy sauce as one of the ingredients central to them, but there are also some regional variations. In Shanghai they contain sugar, in Peking just the soy sauce is favored and in Szechwan they are made hot and rich, full of garlic, ginger and scallions or green onions with a flash of hot red pepper.
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