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Ajiaco Santafereño

Ajiaco Santafereño. Image by (cc) Flickr user El Agujero

Ajiaco Santafereño. Image by (cc) Flickr user El Agujero

Ajiaco santafereño, a traditional take on the basic chicken stew, comes from the Colombian capital city which also gives it its name, Santa Fe de Bogota.
This rich potato stew features four distinct potato varieties in combination with corn and guasca, a nutritious herb native to the AndesIt is great for pregnant women and for those healing from a cold or flu. 
Prep Time: 1 hour
Ingredients (serves 6):
2 lbs of chicken breast – or veggie stock and your veggie protein of choice
1/2 kilo papa Sabanera from the planes of Cundinamarca and Boyacá – or red potatoes
1/2 kilo papa Paramuna from the high plateau – or russet potatoes
1/2 kilo papa Pastusa from Pasto
1 kilo papa Criolla (a small yellow potato that in dissolving thickens the mixture given the stew it’s final consistency) – or small white boiling potatoes
4 ears of corn
5 scallions, white part only, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, washed and trimmed
1 clove garlic, minced
handful of guasca
salt to taste
capers/creme to dress the dish

3 ripe avocados


1. Clean and cut the corn in half. Cook corn on high with 2 litres of water. Peel and cube the papas Sabaneras or red potatoes and cook with the corn. Peel the papas Pastusa, slice them into thick tranches and add them to the mixture. .  Wash and cut the papas criollas or small white boiling potatoes in half. Add these to the first pot of of corn and potatoes. Cook until the potatoes start to disintegrate, giving the soup a thick but fairly smooth consistency, about 30 minutes.

2. Combine the chicken, half the scallions, salt and pepper in a large dutch oven and cover with 4 quarts of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover; simmer until chicken is tender, about 35 minutes.

3. Transfer chicken to a platter and let cool. Remove skin from chicken and shred the chicken into thin strips.

4. Lower the temperature on the potato pot. Add shredded chicken and heat through.

5. Ladle into bowls and top with a spoonful of cream, a few capers and a few thin slices of avocado.

Ajiaco preparation. Image by (cc) Flickr user pattoncito.

Ajiaco preparation. Image by (cc) Flickr user pattoncito.

Ajiaco preparation. Image by (cc) Flickr user pattoncito.

Ajiaco preparation. Image by (cc) Flickr user pattoncito.


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Beyond spartan veganism

Eating 10 bananas for a mid afternoon snack sounds as appealing as eating a dozen raw eggs. But, I guess the  willingness to follow supreme discipline is what separates many of us from the land of warriordom described in today’s Vegans muscle their way into bodybuilding New York Times article by Mary Pilon.

Undoubtedly vegan talk is on the rise amongst the larger US population. Though, likely, most opt for a less rigid implementation, more of a vegan styled eating with temperance mixed in, than a practice of rigid animal meat and dairy abstinence.

Minimalist Mark Bittman’s recipes for the semi-vegan are a great way to balance flavors with protein needs while still keeping it hardy for the winter. Best of all, many of the ingredients are grown in the US.

And, there’s always the vegan yum yum  blog which has tasty recipes for special occasions and entertaining.

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Arepas pa’ comenzar el dia

I woke up this morning to the smells of arepas and changua, a typical Bogotá breakfast food. Mmmm, coffee, tea and an arepa for breakfast. Combined with eating my aunt’s cooking, seeing my dad and hearing my little cousin running around the house made for a wonderful family morning.

From wikipedia: A mixture of water and milk is heated with a dash of salt. Once it comes to a boil, one egg per serving is cracked into the pot without breaking the yolk, and allowed to cook for about a minute whilst covered. The soup is served in a bowl, garnished with scallions.

My aunt’s arepas

Isabella, 5 years old, eating her arepa.


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Shabu-shabu holiday

To start the holiday this year we ate a three course, Korean-style shabu-shabu 쇠고기.

Our beef shabu-shabu included thin slices of beef, nappa cabbage, onion, green onions, bean sprouts, bok choi, mushrooms (enoki, cèpes, shiitake, crumpet, and beech), chrysanthemum leaves, noodles 갈국수, broth 쭉, a kimchi side, dipping sauce and white rice.

From wikipedia: The dish is prepared by submerging a very thin slice of meat or a piece of vegetable in a pot of boiling water or dashi (broth) made with kombu (kelp) and swishing it back and forth several times. The familiar swishing sound is where the dish gets its name. Shabu-shabu directly translates to “swish-swish”. Cooked meat and vegetables are usually dipped in ponzu or “goma” (sesame seed) sauce before eating, and served with a bowl of steamed white rice. Once the meat and vegetables have been eaten, leftover broth from the pot is customarily combined with the remaining rice, and the resulting soup is usually eaten last.

And in between each serving we toasted life, friends and vitality.