Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Colombian kitchen/Una Cocina Colombiana

After three days of unpacking bridal shower gifts, I finally have the kitchen I have so longed for. It's spacious with lots of counter space. Plenty of room to cook the Colombian food that will bring a smile to my future husband's face. He has been in the U.S. for almost 15 years, and food is one of the things he misses in addition to his family and the warm weather. I can't do much about the snow, but I can try to re-create a piece of Colombia for him here.

My biggest source of inspiration is this amazing blog My Colombian Recipes written by a Colombian woman who was looking to share her grandmother's recipes with others. One of the recipes most often requested by my future husband is milhojas. It's his favorite dessert. Sometimes, at the supermarket, I all of a sudden see the ingredients in the cart and a look on his face saying please make it. The best part for me is that every milhojas that he eats either here or in Colombia is now compared to my fresh, homemade one. It also gives him something to brag about. (Gracias, Erica!)

A typical Colombian breakfast with arepas
The next thing that we always have to have in the kitchen is arepas. They are basically a corn cake/patty usually covered with a bit of butter and covered with cheese. They are a staple of Colombian cuisine. Usually, we eat them for breakfast since that is the tradition in Colombian. Other times, lunch. If there is really no food in the house, well then, it's arepas for dinner. The best part is that they are very healthy. We are very fortunate to live in an area of Boston where we can buy these products although they do come at a cost. A few times, we did buy masarepa, corn meal, which you can find in the Hispanic section in any supermarket. Making our own arepas is cheaper than buying the frozen ones. Homemade ones are fresher, too. Now, that I am officially moved in maybe I can start making them from scratch again.

a family size block of Colombian Cheese
Pasteles de Gloria
There are a few other items that are a part of every shopping trip. Bocadillo or pasta de guayaba is a sweet guava paste/jelly. Usually, we eat it with the same Colombian cheese that we use for the arepas. Last week, I was so excited because I saw tamaño familiar, family size. I bought it thinking that now that I am buying for two, it should be enough. Actually, it was too much. It looks like as if I will have to stick to the smaller size. To use the cheese faster, I think I will cook something with bocadillo and queso like these pasteles de gloria.

Bocadillo, queso, and Turbana!
We also love plantain chips and our favorite brand is Turbana. I love to bring them into my Spanish classes for the students to try. They are great sweet and salty.


Last but by no means least is arequipe which is also know as manjar blanco (Ecuador), dulce de leche (Argentina/Uruguay), and cajeta (México). They are all different words for any thick caramel sauce. Many a days, I catch my future husband eating arequipe with a spoon right from the can and washing it down with a glass of milk. 

frozen pulp

from Colombia
Most recently, I found frozen pulp in a supermarket close to my parent' home. I bought guanábana and maracuyá. One of my favorite things about Colombia is all the fruit. One day, I tried four different tropical fruit juices. I was in heaven. It felt so good to have fresh fruit juice. I definately want to make these juices a regular part of our diet here rather than just a treat every one in a while.

There are some things that come straight from Colombia which are difficult to get here. By far the most important of these items is café, a word that needs no translation. Since coffee is so important, I will save that for another post. We also buy many candies and other treats since both of us have a sweet tooth. Also, on our last visit, my future husband made sure to come back with caldo de pescado, fish broth. Colombians love soups, and even have it on really hot days! We searched high and low for fish broth here, but we could not find it. It's one thing making chicken stock, making fish stock is quite another. I'm not going to go there. So, he bought enough bouillon cubes to last us through those winter months when we really could use a bowl of cazuela de mariscos, fish stew.

Now, there are a few kitchen items that are typical to the Colombian, or Latino, culture in general. The first is a pitcher to make chocolate caliente, hot chocolate. In Colombia, you make hot chocolate from real bars of chocolate not the powdery Swiss Miss that I love. The molinillo is what you use to mix the melting chocolate and warm milk. Usually, they have hot chocolate at breakfast. It's also great to have with warm churros, too. Finally, there are two parrillas, grills, to cook our arepas on. At my bridal shower, I also received a molcajete, mortar and pestle. It's an kitchen tool dating back to the times of the Aztecs and Mayans.

Cooking arepas on parrillas
Pitcher with molinillo

I will be glad to share any new recipes I make, any new foods I discover, or any kitchen item I receive or purchase.


  1. Hola Christina! I'm so glad you brought your blog to my attention. I just scanned your post about Colombian food & YOU made my night. I have searched high & low for the illusive milhojas of my childhood & none of the bakeries in the US can replicate a Colombian milhoja, I look forward to making my own. I also look forward to reading more of your blog, now that it is on my RSS feed. :)

    1. Hi Sherry,
      I'm so glad we connected (I found your blog because Zachary Jones was following you) then. Yes, this website is amazing. My fiance is from Armenia and he swore by the milhojas by Lucerna. Well, after this he was like "se me cayeron las medias". When we went to Lucerna to compare, he was like oh wow. It's not the same now that I have it to compare to yours. :)
      I love Colombian food, and it's great to make them at home now. Makes for a very happy (soon-to-be) husband. :)
      Thanks for the compliments! :)