Friday, January 13, 2012

...pandebono, thanks to Rayuela! (and a side trip to Las Palmas)

I have a real problem with carbs anymore.

I have never been one of those people who starts eating something carb-y and can't stop.  Sure, as a kid, I couldn't just eat one cookie, nor a small bowl of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (Cheese and Macaroni?), nor a small heaping of mashed potatoes...but I had no sense of portion.

When I started Weight Watchers, I was hard-core - stick to the "Points", don't eat beyond them, exercise, earn "Activity Points", don't use them...

...then I discovered Special K cereals.

Oh geez.  So many varieties.  Blueberry, Fruit & Yogurt, Chocolatey Delight, Oats & Honey, and later, Vanilla Almond were addictions to me.  So much so, that I had to stop buying them, because there were many days that I found myself standing in my kitchen, eating them directly from the box.

I tried to put them in air-tight containers from Ikea so that merely seeing the box wouldn't tempt me - then just seeing the cereal itself through the clear containers was tempting, so I put a dishtowel over them to hide them.  Then they called to me.  No, really.  I could hear them..."Eat me, I'm good for you...I have lots of fiber, and I'm lower in calories than most cereals..."

Psychotic?  A little bit.  Carbs make you crazy.

Just today, I rediscovered a cereal that I hadn't had in YEARS, but I saw at Giant Eagle on my "OMG--it's-going-to-snow-overnight-and-I-need-things!" shopping trip: Cracklin' Oat Bran. 

Let's just say that tomorrow, if I'm snowed in, I won't have much more to eat.  No misnomer there - CRACKlin' Oat Bran is addictive.

When James and I were at the fabulous Latin American fusion restaurant, Rayuela in New York City, we were served a dinner roll - a very dense, hard-on-the-outside-yet chewy-on-the-inside dinner roll, along with garlic-olive butter.  Wow, were we impressed!  We asked our waiter what it was, and he told us that it was "pandebono", a roll that is typical of Colombia and made with queso fresco and yucca flour.

Yucca!  Yucca fries!  Chicken Latino!  So many associations were going on in my head.  I had to do some research.

It wasn't hard to find a recipe for pandebono, but I could only find one.  Good thing it was all that I needed.  View the recipe here.

The hardest part about making it was finding the ingredients.  I found the masarepa and queso fresco in Giant Eagle, but I could not find yucca flour (also known as cassava or tapioca flour) in any aisle.  All of the other ingredients I already had at home: sugar, eggs, and salt.  

 I decided to experiment with regular all-purpose flour.  The rolls turned out a bit drier than we (James and I) remembered them being, most likely as a result of the flour substitute, but they were still pretty good.  I froze most of them to use as dinner rolls as needed.

Pandebono (with all-purpose flour)
 About a week later, on a beautiful, unseasonably mild winter day, James and I were craving - what else? - tacos!  Since we were in his neighborhood, we decided to hit up Las Palmas again for their $2 street tacos.  I saw an interesting meat option, and asked James if he knew what it was - "chicharron", otherwise known as pig skin.

I'll try anything once.  So I did, along with barbacoa:

TOP: Chicharron     BOTTOM: Barbacoa
Post-toppings Station
I don't think that I'll be choosing chicharron again for a few reasons: 1.) I know that there are better meat options available, taste-wise 2.) Chicharron is quite...chewy... 3.) I could hear the fat developing on my waistline any time I swallowed, really...I could...
Carbs make you crazy.  There's carbs in tortillas.

The barbacoa was ok, but I was a bit disappointed...probably because I had high expectations for the meat.  It was definitely much better than the chicharron, and it was not bad - I just thought that the meat would have tasted better.  Regardless, I cannot deny that the tortillas were fantastic, the toppings that I chose were perfect (lots and lots of pico de gallo and cilantro!), and you just can't beat that $2/taco price.  Taco Bell's tacos are cheaper, yes, but in that case, you get what you pay for (gross).  

I still contest that Las Palmas tacos are the best deal in town.

After devouring our tacos, James and I went in search of groceries inside Las Palmas.  He wanted an avocado salad, and the produce there is SUPER cheap: avocados? 4/$2.00 (2/$6.00 at Giant Eagle!); jalapeno pepper? $1.19/lb. ($3.99/lb. at Giant Eagle!)...I could go on forever.  We stocked up as best we could without going overboard and wasting money on food that would spoil before we could eat it.

I swear, James and I had the same thought at the same time.  Super weird.  Just as I was about to look down the next aisle for yucca flour, he said, "Hey, we should look for that flour..." and I cut him off, knowing exactly what he meant.  We asked a clerk if he knew where it would be (in Spanish, of course), and he wasn't sure, but he tried to help us find it.  I was the victor in this quest, as I found the Goya-brand bag that read "Yuca Harina" & "Tapioca Starch", knowing that had to be it.  

Yay!  Now I could make real pandebono!

On my second attempt, I found the dough to be a lot harder to knead and get "smooth", as the recipe reads.  I had to add a lot more water, as the dough was drier, but in the end, the rolls turned out MUCH better than they were with all-purpose flour - softer, chewier, and tastier.  It's hard to tell from the picture, as the rolls LOOK the same, though:

Pandebono, with yucca flour
These rolls are a nice change from your typical, every day dinner roll (or Pillsbury Crescent Roll, or Brown 'N Serve Roll), so making them ahead of time and freezing them for future use isn't a bad idea - I have done it with both versions, and with a little reheating, they are just as good as they were fresh from the oven.  Also, if you're serving something that is traditionally Latino for dinner, this is the perfect way to make your meal even more "authentic"!

I think I'll experiment with Tres Leches Cupcakes now...

Las Palmas Taqueria, Carniceria, y Supermercado
700 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226 (Brookline)

Las Palmas Carniceria on Urbanspoon

No comments:

Post a Comment