El Rincon Columbian

I went to my friend John’s wife’s birthday party at a resturant in Strawberry Hill called El Rincon Columbian, which translates to The Columbian Corner.   We had a great time and the food was excellent.  My wife ordered chicken in a Columbian sauce of chopped onions, tomatoes, and saffron for which I am going to find a recipe.  The boy asked for rice and got a tangy, tomatoey chicken friend rice-esque dish that he did not eat (it was red after all) but that Tina snacked on.  I found a bit of the rice which was chicken free and had a taste.  It was very good, though I could not place the tang.  If I had to guess, I would have said red wine vinegar.

I ordered garlic shrimp which came with rice and tostones (mmm….tostones) which are pieces of plantain which have been friend, mashed, and then friend again.  The garlic shrimp lived up to its name.  It was served in a broth that was swimming with minced garlic.  Fantastic.

I liked my dish, but I think that the star of meal was not the protein.  The side dishes are what made the meal. 

 My wife and the boy’s meals came with this salad that was basically like Columbian cole slaw.  It had lettuce, tomoato, and I believe a little celery smothered in a white sauce that may have been creme fraiche because it was not strong enough for sour cream nor sweet enough for mayo.  My tostones were to die for as were the sweet friend plantains (cousins of the banana, though more starchy and less sweet.)  We also ordered a side of yucca, which is a South American root vegetable that was served deep fried.  Hands down, yucca makes some of the best french fries I have ever tasted.

It was a very pleasant experience.  The food was good, the company was better, and we found a new restaurant.  Tina wants to go back for more of her chicken and while I enjoyed the shrimp, I believe next time I will try to huevos (eggs) because they had some really good looking egg dishes.

If you want to go to El Rincon, the address is:
611 N 6th St
Kansas City, KS 66101

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Recipe: Soyrizo Taquitos

In a episode of Dinner: Impossible, Chef Robert Irvine was tasked with preparing a cocktail party for a fashion designer in New York.  During this challenge, he put together an amazing spread of finger foods including some awesome looking chorizo taquitos (he also did a salmon mousse which inspired the one I blogged on earlier.)

A few days after I watched the episode for the tenth time, I had a day at home and plenty of time to cook so I went to my local Whole Foods and browsedthe aisles when lo and behold what did I see?  Soyrizo…soy-based chorizo.

Now, my experience with chorizo is that it is very greasy.  In the hands of an untrained chef, chorizo can overpower everything else in a dish.  But this…this was soyrizo.  Could it be good or would I be just another untrained chef?

When I got home, I squeezed the soyrizo into a bowl (despite the fact it was packaged to looked like sausage, it was really a paste) and cut it with some sour cream (Robert used creme fraiche, but I had not thought to buy any.)  I then rolled up the taquito, pan fried it until crispy and served it with some guacamole.  It was awesome!

What you need:

  • One package of soyrizo (all I can buy locally is Melissa’s Produce in the same size.)
  • 4-6 tablespoons of sour cream (depending on your preference)
  • one package of flour toritillas
  • olive oil
  • To make the guac: 4 avacados, 1/2 a red onion, 1/2 tomato, 1 jalapeno, 2 limes, 1/2 bunch of cilantro, salt, pepper, garlic powder
  1. Squeeze the soyrizo into a bowl and spoon in the sour cream.  The more sour cream is added, the more the mixture begins to taste tangy and sour.  Personally, I am not a big fan of sour cream, so I stop at four.  Some may go as high as six tablespoons without overpowering the soyrizo.
  2. Heat the mixture in a skillet over medium heat.  Stir to prevent burning.  Remove the mixture before the sour cream separates.
  3. Coat each tortilla with the soyrizo/sour cream mixture and roll into a cigar.
  4. Preheat a skillet over medium.
  5. Determine how many taquitos you can fry in the skillet so that there is space between them.  I have a ten inch skillet and I can comfortably put in four at one time.
  6. Add one tablespoon of olive oil per taquito you are going to fry.  Wait a few seconds for the oil to get hot.
  7. Cook the taquitos on one side until it gets crispy, about 2 minutes.  Flip and cook the other side an additional two minutes.
  8. Remove to a cookie rack or a plate lined with paper towels to get rid of excess oil.
  9. Repeat until all taquitos are cooked.
  10. To make the guac, remove the fruit of the avacados, dice the tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos and mix in a bowl with the juice of the limes, some cut cilantro, and salt, pepper, and garlic to taste.

That’s it.  This dish is good even for nonvegetarians as the soyrizo is packed with spicy flavor, but is not nearly as greasy.

Enjoy!

Poached Fruit

As part of the overabundance of fruit from a week ago, I decided to poach some of the apples and peaches I had left from Waverly.  I found that poaching was very similar to the process I used to make pickles where I produced a flavorful liquid, put the fruit into the liquid, and made a fantastic dish.

Poached Apples and Pears

  • 1 Bottle of Red Wine (I used the Steamboat Red from Les BourgeoisPick something you want to drink.)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon (this was a late addition that my two year old son dumped into the wine, but it did make it taste better…)
  • 2 peaches halved
  • 4 apples cut into eighths
  1. Combine wine and stir until the sugar is dissolved in a sauce pan
  2. Add the cinnamon stick and bring to a boil
  3. Give two year old son a spoon and turn head just long enough to have him throw the ground cinnamon into the pan
  4. Step #3 can be omitted and the ground cinnamon added at Step 1 or not at all
  5. Once the wine is at a boil, lower the heat to low
  6. Put the peaches and apples into the wine and cook until soft.  This took about 5 minutes for the peaches and 25 minutes for the apples.  Remove from the wine when each is done.
  7. Continue to boil the wine until it is almost syrup.  Remove from the heat.  The wine will continue to thicken as it cools.

Serve the fruit with ice cream and drizzle with the wine reduction.

Apple Pickles

Last weekend, we took a trip to a few of the apple orchards outside Kansas City.  A late freeze decimated the local apple crop, but I did purhcase a nice ten pound bag of Fujis outside of Waverly.

After a week, I can say definitively, the problem with buying a ten pound bag of apples is that you have ten pounds of apples.  While there is no more divine way to consume a good, locally grown apple than to open mouth and insert fruit…ten pounds is a lot of apples.  Still, as is often the case, this overabundance has made me creative.

Apple Pickles

  • 2 cups of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of vanilla sugar (optional)
  • 3 sticks of cinnamon
  • 10 apples (the ones I had were small to medium), sliced into eighths.
  1. Mix apple cider vinegar, water, sugar and vanilla sugar.  Stir to dissolve
  2. Heat the mix to point where it is just starting to boil over a medium flame. 
  3. Once bubbles  form, turn the heat down and add the apples.
  4. When the apples have softened, but are still firm, take the mixture off the flame.

The pickles can be enjoyed right now or put into a clean mason jar with some of the pickling liquid.  Their flavor will continue to develope as long as they are in the liquid.

Keep in mind that the apple cider vinegar brings the most flavor to this dish, not the apples themselves.  Do not use the generic Wal-Mart brand if you can help it!  A decent to good bottle of apple cider vinegar is not terribly expensive (I found some for $4 I like) and will improve the dish immensely.