To celebrate Columbus Day or Dia de la Raza on October 12, The InterContinental at Doral Miami is giving Miamians a culinary tour of Mexico and Central America. Pupusas, baleadas, and gallo pinto all come together for the hotel’s forthcoming Mexico and Central American Festival. For a foretaste:  Pupusas from El Salvador, and Chicken stew with Loroco*  from Guatemala.

The Armillary Grill, InterContinental at Doral Miami, 2505 N.W. 87th Avenue Doral, FL 33172 305-468-1400  ext.4318

Ana Rivera’s Pupusa

Recipe from El Salvador. This looks like a Flat Bread, however the taste is totally different. Makes 4 to 6 pupusas.


2 pounds                      Maseca (Corn Flour)

1 Quart                         Water


  1. Combine the Maseca and water together in a mixing bowl until smooth; knead well.
  2. Shape the dough into 2 inch round balls. On a lightly floured surface, flatten each ball into 6 inch diameter disc.
  3. Place 2 Tablespoons of filling in the center (Suggestions for fillings follows) of a disc. Spread   evenly leaving an empty margin for sealing. Top with second disc and press the edges together to seal in the filling.
  4. Heat ungreased skillet over medium heat. Place one tortilla into the skillet at a time, and cook until the rounds/ tortillas are lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes on each side.
  5. Serve with a side of Cabbage salad.




2 pounds                      Pork Cooked - Fine Chopped

6 each                          Plum tomato

2 each                          Bell pepper

1 each                          Onion

As needed                    Salt

Preparation: In a blender combine and puree Plum Tomato, Bell Pepper, and Onion. In a pot over medium heat simmer for 25 minutes. Cool and Reserve

Queso Blanco

  1. pounds                         White Cheese.  Grate. Reserve in the cooler.

Cabbage Salad


2 Pound                        Cabbage - Shredded

1 each                          Carrot- Peeled and Grated

1 Cup                           vinegar

  1. teaspoon                      Oregano Dried

As needed                    Salt and Pepper

Preparation: Combine all ingredients and let sit for 30 minutes before serving.

Aura Cameron’s Stewed Chicken with Loroco Flower*

Typical Guatemalan Recipe serves 2

*Loroco is a delicious exotic flower, native of El Salvador. Touted to be a natural aphrodisiac it contains vitamins A, B and C, besides calcium and iron. It is rich in fiber, very aromatic and pulpous and can be purchased at ethnic markets.


2 each                         Chicken Leg quarter

2 each                          Plum Tomato - Diced

1 each Medium             Onion - Diced

1 tablespoon                 Garlic - Chopped

½ Each                          Bell Pepper Red - Diced

½ Each                          Bell Pepper Green – Diced

1 ½ cup                         Loroco Flower - Roughly Chopped

½ Teaspoon                 Achiote Paste/Annatto Paste

2 Tablespoons                Olive Oil

2 Cups                         Sour Cream

½ Cups                        Heavy Cream

As Needed                    Salt and Pepper


  1. Make a Sofrito; in a large pot over medium heat add the olive oil, plum tomato, onion, garlic, Loroco, bell peppers red and green. Cook for approximately 10 minutes till the onions are translucent and the vegetables are soft. Incorporate the Achiote paste.
  2. Add the Chicken, Sour Cream and Heavy Cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer over medium low heat for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour, (keep checking and occasionally stir) till the chicken is cooked.
  3. When the chicken is cooked serve with steamed white rice.




CONSIDER the Parmesan problem: Imagine that you’re making lasagna with a recipe that calls for topping it with “a cup of grated cheese.”

This was a straightforward instruction when the box grater was the only way to shred cheese. In the last few years, though, more cooks have bought Microplanes, which can turn a small chunk of Parmesan into mountains of billowy ribbons of cheese. And there lies the difficulty: the heavier shavings of a box grater can fill a cup with twice as much cheese as a Microplane’s fluffy snow.

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, the managing editor of the blog Serious Eats, once asked 10 people to measure a cup of all-purpose flour into a bowl. When the cooks were done, Mr. Lopez-Alt weighed each bowl. “Depending on how strong you are or your scooping method, I found that a ‘cup of flour’ could be anywhere from 4 to 6 ounces,” he said. That’s a significant difference: one cook might be making a cake with one-and-a-half times as much flour as another.

Professional chefs have long argued that there is nothing simple about a simple cup of flour. Nor is there anything foolproof in that cup of grated cheese, a half-cup of diced carrots or a tablespoon of butter. When you fill a measuring cup or spoon with any ingredient, the amount you get depends on a number of factors: how small you’ve sliced it, how tightly you’ve packed it in, how carefully you’ve scooped and whether you manage to get all of it out of the spoon. (Consider the mess of getting all the honey out of a tablespoon measure.)

But when you weigh the same ingredients on a scale, none of these factors comes into play. Four ounces of flour (or cheese, carrots, honey or anything else) are 4 ounces, no matter who’s measuring, or how.

Over the last few years digital kitchen scales have become cheap and widely available. I’ve tried several and even the cheapest — the Ozeri Pro, about $20 — was easy to use and thoroughly accurate. Other models were just as terrific: The Soehnle digital kitchen scale, about $23, and the Oxo Good Grips model, $50, were slightly snappier to look at than the Ozeri Pro, but all three were equally adept at their primary function.

Yet the scale has failed to become a must-have tool in American kitchens. Cooks Illustrated magazine said scales were in the kitchens of only a third of its readers, and they’re a fairly committed group of cooks.

There’s a simple reason for this: The scale doesn’t show up in most published recipes. American cookbooks, other than baking books, and magazines and newspapers generally specify only cup and spoon measurements for ingredients. A few, like Cooks Illustrated, offer weights for baking recipes, but not for savory cooking. (The Times Dining section recently began using weight measurements with baking recipes.)

This creates a chicken-and-egg problem for the kitchen scale. Cooks don’t own scales because recipes don’t call for one, and recipes don’t call for one because cooks don’t own one.

Consider this a plea on behalf of the kitchen scale. It’s time for recipe publishers to recognize this humble gadget for the amazing tool that it is. If more recipes began specifying weight measurements, more cooks would buy a scale. And they would instantly recognize it as one of the most useful gadgets in their kitchens.

Cooks who have ditched cups and spoons for a scale can be rhapsodic on the subject; many describe getting a kitchen scale as an epiphany on the order of sharpening knives that haven’t had an edge in years, or buying a new set of eyeglasses. Not only does a scale provide the most accurate measure, but also, as you get used it, you’ll notice it begin to change how you move about the kitchen.

With a scale, you can get your ingredients together more quickly, and with less clean-up. Recipes that call for weights are also easier to halve, double or otherwise adapt. And the scale is handy for many other tasks.

“The greatest feat the kitchen scale accomplishes is that it turns almost any recipe into a one-bowl recipe,” said Deb Perelman, who writes the blog Smitten Kitchen. “You’re not hunting for six cups and six spoons to make a cake.”

Instead, you place a bowl on the scale, then pour the flour straight from the bag until you get to the desired weight. Most kitchen scales let you bring the readout back to zero after each ingredient. Do that, then pour your next ingredient — and so on. With a scale you can get away with using nothing more than a bowl and one spoon.

Ms. Perelman and other cooks who’ve taken to using scales say that over time, they begin to pick up the weight-volume conversions of common ingredients whose weight barely varies. This lets you use a scale even for recipes that don’t specify weights. If you know that a cup of sugar is 225 grams, why bother reaching for the cup?

Dave Arnold, director of culinary technology at the French Culinary Institute, recommends that you make a chart with the standard equivalences, and tack it up next to the scale. The conversions sometimes require some math, but there’s a payoff if you can brave it.

“If you start cooking that way, it makes your life so much easier,” Mr. Arnold said. “You’ll do everything just so much faster.”

But the scale is handy even if you’re not converting recipes. For instance, it makes getting the right portion size for dinner a breeze. When I’m preparing pasta for two, I lay the box of linguine on the scale, and then pull out 4 ounces for each person.

Mr. Lopez-Alt does a similar thing making hamburger patties, and Ms. Perelman uses the scale for portioning batter evenly between two layers of a cake, and making a batch of dinner rolls that are each the same size.

The scale also ensures repeatability. I once calibrated exactly the amount of beans that I need to make coffee the way I like. Now, every morning, I place my can of beans on the scale, and then scoop out 28 grams — allowing me to repeat the same pot every day.

Michael Chu, who runs the Web site Cooking for Engineers, uses a scale for making iced tea. “A slight difference in how much sugar you add to your tea changes the flavor dramatically,” he said. “So I figured out just how much sugar I like, and now that’s how much goes in.”

I’ve also found that it’s simpler to weigh liquid ingredients rather than to use a liquid measuring cup. A fluid ounce of water weighs roughly one dry ounce, which means that a cup of water will register 8 ounces on your scale.

Recently I needed 7 1/2 cups of water for polenta. If I were using a two-cup Pyrex measure, I’d need to fill it three times, and then almost fill it one more time, which is obviously a lot of effort. Instead, I simply placed the pot on the scale, then ran the faucet until the scale registered 60 ounces.

But these are all ancillary benefits. A few new cookbooks offer recipes that specify weights for every ingredient, and it’s when you cook from those that you notice the true brilliance of using a scale.

The other day I made the delicious macaroni and cheese from “Ideas in Food,” the new cookbook by the husband-and-wife chefs H. Alexander Talbot and Aki Kamozawa. The recipe included shredded cheese, butter and several other ingredients that would have been a mess to measure with cups and spoons.

With the scale, I made the entire casserole with just a grater, one knife, one spoon, one bowl and a baking dish.

Cookbook publishers of America: every recipe can be this friendly.

Click here to read the article in the NYTimes

Jerusalem artichokes have nothing to do with Jerusalem

The Jerusalem artichoke — Helianthus tuberosus, to call this member of the sunflower or helianthus family by its scientific name — is in fact an originally New World root vegetable that was widely cultivated in the Americas before the arrival of Columbus. Never very popular among European settlers there, it was eaten more widely in Europe, to which it was brought back for cultivation by French explorers; hence its early English name of “the French potato.” The French themselves, however, called it tupinambur, after the Tupinamba tribe of Brazil, a representative of which brought a Jerusalem artichoke to Paris as a gift in 1613.

But it was the Italians who gave us “Jerusalem artichoke.” Struck by the plant’s similarity to the sunflower with its yellow, daisylike flowers that turn to the sun and its ovoid, hairy leaves, and by its root’s resemblance to the root of an artichoke, they took to calling it, in some dialects, articiocco girasole, the “sunflower artichoke.” (The word girasole is formed from Italian girare, to turn, and sole, sun.) Yet at some point, girasole became confused in popular speech with the Italian name for Jerusalem, Gerusalemme, resulting in articiocco gerusalemme, which was carried to the United States by 19th-century Italian immigrants even as it was being forgotten in Italy. Today, Americans call their own native plant “Jerusalem artichoke,” Italians call it carciofo, a word that comes from Arabic, and few people in Jerusalem even know what it is. The tricks that language sometimes likes to play on us!

Questions for Philologos can be sent to

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First lady Michelle Obama’s initiative in the White House to get Americans to be healthy and stay fit has not only trickled down to the public, but has also become part of the curriculum in schools and universities.

In Miami two culinary colleges have started campus gardens this year, and while they are centered on different layouts, crops and ambitions, each was grown from the same motive: healthy eating and sustainability.

Johnson and Wales University and Miami-Dade College are using visual and hands-on learning to teach aspiring chefs about eco-friendly cooking.

Johnson and Wales University, College of Culinary Arts

Walking around the campus, one wouldn’t necessarily know that the greenery positioned throughout the parking lot and up the concrete stairs is not landscape, but consists of herbs, vegetables and even some unidentified species. Over a few acres, 90 different varieties are strategically planted for students to get familiar with and identify.

JWU Director of Culinary Operations, Chris Wagner, stopped teaching classes last year to focus on the garden, which was the brainchild of the Dean of Culinary Arts Education, Bruce Ozga.

Wagner explains that a campus garden comes to life from a combination of teacher initiative and student demand. “We do it because A:  it makes sense, and B: the climate here is perfect,” he said.

Wagner, who grew up on a country farm in Germany and has been with JWU for ten years, said it’s helpful for students who don’t know what juniper berries or star fruit look like to see it come from the earth.

On our tour around the building, Wagner pulled a tamarind off a tree and instructed me to take a bite; thus imprinting upon my taste buds and knowledge bank the extreme tartness of this chewy fruit used in Caribbean dishes,  in a way that I wouldn’t have remembered if I’d only been told about it in a classroom.

I learned about custard apple, which has the consistency of crème brûlée, and I was shown wild coffee beans which would take 1,000 of to make a single cup.

Wagner admitted even he was surprised by the way things grew, such as how pomegranate stems have long thorns to protect themselves. When we passed the habaneros, Wagner noted that they are ‘hotter than hell would ever be.’

While JWU has 17 kitchens, three dining rooms, one bar and too many students to be fed from the garden, they do use what is ripe to aid and supply the school.

Keeping in line with sustainability, Wagner’s dream is to have solar panels run the campus. Instead of using gas to cook, he wants induction, which is magnetic cooking where the pot is heated by agitation. To demonstrate, he placed a dollar under the pot and turned it on. Moments later, water was boiling and the dollar was not singed.

Miami Dade College, Miami Culinary Institute (MCI)

The recently inaugurated MCI, where students receive an accredited two year associate degree, teaches students fundamental structures for cooking organically.

The message that Director John Richards instills in his students is that being sustainable must ‘continue in a circle.’

Case in point: the food byproduct generated from cooking goes into a compost system that turns 100 lbs of waste into 18 lbs of compost in 18 hours, which then gets put into the earthworm farm and used in the garden.

“A good chef comes from experience, not accreditation,” says Richards, who is from Kentucky and moved to Miami to head the school. He launched the garden in June to give students and culinary graduates experience that starts at the roots. “We don’t put out chefs, we put out good cooks,” he explained.

The entirely edible and organic garden is a block away from the building in a combination locked, fenced-in area that used to be full of dumpsters, motorcycles and rusty trucks.

The area holds 88 species in different vegetable, herb, greens and flower beds, and is bordered by trees and bushes that carry things like sea grapes, papayas and yellow wild petunias.

Richards’ favorite part of the garden is a single, multi-citrus tree that has limes, oranges and grapefruit on it. Culinary Coordinator Victoria M. Nodarse, who helps the MCI achieve green standards, proved the entire garden is in fact edible when she pointed out a delicate calabaza flower that would be served stuffed with cheese.

The pair has big aspirations for the garden, including getting bee hives for the micro-organic growing experience (JWU wants hives too).  Eventually, students will be issued an iTouch to scan plants which will have barcodes attached to immediately identify them.

While the campus garden, which can seat up to 60, will host soil to soil events and serve as a classroom, MCI will expand to have other lots that will work as farms.  Produce from both garden and farms will go to the university’s ALPHABITE food truck and will be sold to a network of chefs through a website. The Produce will also be used in the kitchen of the eco-friendly, fine dining restaurant slated to open this fall on the building’s 8 th floor under the baton of chef Norman Van Aken.

Richards believes that MCI, which started with 50 students and is gearing to enroll 275 new students next semester, is taking the most advanced steps toward sustainability along the lines of other colleges in the country. “We’re all pioneers in this,” he said.


By Erik Mathes - Photos: Adeline Ramos

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At Schakolad Chocolate Factory in Davie, Florida, the mother-daughter duo of Adriana Schaked and Dafne Reich are elevating chocolate to an art form.  From the immense selection of milk, white and dark chocolate truffles (including sugar-free and vegan/non-dairy varieties), to the countless choices for both in- and out-of-the-box gift ideas, Schakolad is a spot you’ll want to etch into your memory for holidays, special occasions, and, of course, occasional (or more than occasional) bouts of sheer indulgence.

Adriana is the wife of one of Schakolad’s co-founders, Baruch Schaked, so the business is rooted in family values.   This reflects in dedicated customer service, one reason Schakolad has become such a beloved community fixture in this South Florida suburb.

Part of a franchise of about thirty stores nationwide, every Schakolad Chocolate Factory location is independently owned, meaning each store’s management can put an individual stamp on the products (kosher under ORB supervision ) and the marketing strategies.

schakolad 5Workshops for children and for adults

To attract children and their parents, Schakolad is now running $1 specials Monday-Friday until August 31st, as well as a series of summer programs for local youth.  These workshops ($9.50/child, advance registration required) introduce kids ages 6-15 to the history and process of chocolate making.  Participants then craft personalized treats, such as chocolate pizza, and assemble goodie bags for home.  There are also in-store events for adults, and the venue is available for birthday celebrations.

On a tour of the factory led by Dafne, I went through an unforgettable tasting of Schakolad’s finest confections.  I’m not a chocolate lover at heart, which I confessed to Dafne early on, but she explained she’d convert me in no time.  Was she ever right. The first offering was a milk chocolate cashew truffle, so rich and creamy compared to commercial candy, and even other well-respected brands I’ve had.

After sampling an dark chocolate ganache —70% cacao — with Jamaican rum, a velvety vehicle of bittersweet chocolate and sugary rum with no trace of alcohol aftertaste, I bit into bliss when I tasted the vegan dark chocolate espresso truffle.  My expectations of vegan food aren’t usually lofty since I’m a devout carnivore, but this non-dairy nub nailed it when it came to nuanced flavor, giving off just enough oomph to taunt my threshold for bitter tang while simultaneously seducing me with subtle sweetness.

Then, I sampled the “Schakolatte,” a smooth and luxurious hot chocolate drink.  The key to this luscious drink is the real chocolate, as opposed to powdered cocoa that is tragically used in typical drinks of this type.  If you’re passionate about hot chocolate, you need try a Schakolatte (also available with espresso), as it’s akin to the platinum version of your beloved drink, thick and full of flavor.

Looking for something to cool you down while you sip on your Schakolatte? Schakolad Chocolate Factory serves up silky ice cream in chocolate fudge brownie, cookies & cream, strawberry, coffee, and “caramel caribou,” a vanilla-caramel swirl studded with caramel-filled chocolate chips.   

Now that you know the goodies you can treat yourself to, let me tell you about the unique gifts found at Schakolad.  I’m sure you’ve used wine as a present before, but have you ever given a bottle of wine that’s been dipped in divine chocolate?  Didn’t think so.  Have you presented your lady a pair of designer shoes for birthdays past?  Perhaps she’d like heels made of milk chocolate this year instead.  Schakolad Chocolate Factory can make these, and more scenarios happen.

With an abundance of different molds Schakolad can create almost any high-quality chocolate object conceivable, including cars, flowers, and even toothbrushes and teeth made from white and milk chocolate (to mess with the minds of recent dental school grads and veteran dentists alike!).  They also sell chocolate handcuffs, multiple flavors of chocolate body paint, and other risqué chocolate objects for more adult parties.

With their vast assortment of original gift ideas, custom selection of fine truffles, ice creams and hot drinks, Schakolad Chocolate Factory is well worth a visit if you haven’t already been.  You’ll be running back for seconds!

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Erik Mathes is a personal chef, in-home cooking instructor, creator of the blog “Rantings of a Chef” at, and founder of


 Schakolad Chocolate Factory
7740 Nova Drive, #3
Davie, FL 33324 (Just south of 595 and east of University Dr.)
(954) 472-6155

Monday - Thursday ~ 10am - 7pm
Friday ~ 10am - 5pm
Saturday ~ CLOSED
Sunday ~ 12pm - 5pm

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