Michelle in Central America: Wildlife & Costa Rican Cuisine

One of the main reasons that people travel to Costa Rica is because of the vast wildlife.

Tourists can see it just about anywhere they go from monkeys and sloths to birds and bats, there is something around every corner.

Michelle and the rest of her Collette tour group boarded a boat and headed out on the river to see it all. Their great tour manager, Greivin Cubero, was able to point out all the best views and animal sightings thanks to his experience.

Watch the video above to learn more.

Plus, what would a trip outside the country be without some foreign cuisine? Michelle is taking us along on her cooking class with Greivin to learn more how to make homemade tortillas.

Here are the recipes:

Chayote Squash & Beef Picadillo

By Greivin Cubero, Collette Tour Manager

“The name “picadillo is given to a wide variety of dishes from Costa Rica & Latin America.

Though the ingredients can change with each region, all picadillos are a rich blend of cultures, techniques and flavors.

Costa Rican versions always include the name of the vegetable that represents the main ingredient to the dish (Potato Picadillo, Chayote Picadillo, etc.) and which is chopped and cooks. It can include some type of protein but it not essential. It is served with tortillas or on top of a rice bed and salad. All ingredients used are easily found at home and others that will probably enrich the blend can substitute those that are not available. Your imagination is the limit.”

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of chopped Chayote Squash (boiled for about 15 minutes)
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 bell peppers (green or red or split both)
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1 cup of cilantro
  • 1 lb. of ground beef (lean)
  • Lizano Sause to season
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tsp. of achiote (annatto)

Directions:

  1. Peel and dice the onion, mince the garlic and chop the bell peppers into small pieces.
  2. Cook beef in a large fry pan turning occasionally until well-cooked but not burnt, add onion, garlic, bell pepper and celery.
  3. Cook on medium-high heat until flavors mixed, about 3-5 minutes breaking up the beef as it cooks.
  4. Add Achiote (Annatto).
  5. Add butter, corn (optional) and Chayote Squash, black pepper and mix well.
  6. Add salt and Lizano Sause to taste.
  7. Add chopped cilantro to garnish and serve on a tortilla.
  8. Let it cool and eat it as a soft taco.

Making Tortillas

By Greivin Cubero, Collette Tour Manager

“Nothing tastes better than fresh tortillas! Homemade corn tortillas are much more delicious, and are a smarter choice as you know exactly what is going into them.”

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups masa harina (corn flour treated with calcium hydroxide or lime)
  • 1 ½ cups water

Making the masa dough:

  1. Start with putting 2 cups of masa flour in a large bowl, add 2 cups of water to the masa flour.
  2. Mix and let sit for 5 minutes or so, work the masa with your hands as if you were kneading bread dough, if during the process the dough seems too dry or too web, add a little more water or masa to the dough.

Instructions:

  1. Take a piece of wax paper or plastic from a plastic bag and cut it to the shape of the surface of a tortilla.
  2. Take a piece of masa dough and shape it into the size of a golf ball.
  3. Place the masa ball into the center of the plastic or wax paper.
  4. Gently press and press down until the dough has spread to a diameter of 6 inches.
  5. Heat a large skillet on high heat, carefully remove the plastic from the tortilla, and gently lay tortilla down on the skillet.
  6. Cook tortilla for 1 to 2 minutes on each side.

Enjoy!

To see more on this, watch the video below.

To learn more about how you can join Collette Tours on any upcoming trips, click here.

Categories: Recipes, the four