Some of my research for this cook-off suggested Costa Rican food is sometimes criticised for being unimaginative. It was true that the recipes didn’t seem to use many spices. Our menu for the evening was simple but used lots of fresh ingredients and with good flavours—and it was the start of good barbecue weather, which suited the cuisine. Our dessert certainly was imaginative-tasting—but for all the wrong reasons!
For entrée, we made Gallo Pinto Empanadas. We made the pastry (which I still get excited about, because although it’s not difficult, I am sometimes lazy with recipes needing pastry) and the filling of beans, onion, garlic, rice, capsicum, bay leaf and coriander, but no spices. These look great once they have been put together—with their little twisted edges to seal them. We deepfried these on the barbecue.
The excuse of a warm day and the start of barbecue weather led us to a main of grilled prawns, and marinated and grilled calamari, with a Costa Rican mango and avocado salad. I also had a lot of leftover empanada filling so added that to our main dish as well.
I was really excited about making this Tres Leches (Three Mild Cake). It sounded beautiful—a cake with a mixture including evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, whipped cream and eggnog. Do not follow the recipe in the link here, which suggested 2.5 tablespoons of baking soda. I thought this was a bit much for the other quantities in the recipe but I went with it because I had never made this before. It was terrible! All we could taste was the baking soda! It was such a shame. Hence, I served only a very small amount of cake—because I still wanted Alicia and Spiro to try it—but served it with a good, compensatory dose of ice cream and fresh mango!
Next time to Bulgaria with Alicia and Spiro.