the appetizer:

Almost 95% of the Costa Rican population are of Spanish or Mestizo (mixed) heritage, heavily influencing the country's cooking style. Costa Rica's traditionally mild, not over-spiced cuisine usually features rice and beans, which are also the main ingredients in the national recipe, gallo pinto.

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Costa Rica

Costa Rican Terrine
with Coconut-Date Vinaigrette

Yield: 8 servings

This terrine is called "Costa Rican" because of the hearts of palm, which I associate with that country. I used to call it the Royal palm terrine, since the hearts, coconut, and dates in the recipe are all products of the palm. Cited by Alan Richman, the food editor of GQ magazine, as "ingenious" and one of his favorite dishes, this is one of my favorites too. You can prepare it a couple of days in advance.


3 large potatoes (about 1-1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into large chunks
2 canned chipotle chiles, seeded
2 cups milk
Salt to taste
White pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2 teaspoons cold water
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 can (16 ounces) hearts of palm, drained, and patted dry

Coconut-Date Vinaigrette

1 cup canned coconut milk
1/4 cup Coco Lopez
1 cup dark rum
1 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
1 small onion, cut into l/2-inch dice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
6 dates, pitted and sliced


2 cups shaved coconut
8 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
1 pound mixed greens, washed and patted dry

Herb Toast

1 loaf French bread
l/2 cup butter
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Salt to taste

To prepare the terrine, combine the potatoes, chipotles, and milk in a large saucepan. Bring the milk to a gentle boil and cook over medium heat until the potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Strain the milk from the potatoes and set the potatoes and chiles aside. Return the milk to the pan and gently simmer until it has reduced to about l/3 cup.

Meanwhile, press the potatoes and chiles through a coarse sieve into a large bowl. Stir in the salt, pepper, and olive oil, and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, dissolve the gelatin with the cold water and then stir in the boiling water. Set aside.

Remove the milk from the heat and stir in the dissolved gelatin. Slowly blend this mixture into the potatoes until they are thickly textured.

Line a 9 by 4-inch loaf pan (or other shaped pan, as desired) with plastic wrap; the wrap should extend over the edges of the pan by a couple of inches on all sides. Place one third of the potato mixture in the bottom of the pan and spread out evenly. Add a layer of half of the hearts of palm and then another layer of one third of the potato mixture. Add the remaining hearts of palm and top with the remaining potato mixture. Fold over the plastic wrap to cover the top layer and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

To prepare the vinaigrette, combine the coconut milk, Coco Lopez, rum, vinegars, and onion in a saucepan and reduce over high heat to 1 cup, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

When cool, whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the dates.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Melt the butter in a small sauté pan; add the garlic and parsley and sauté 2 minutes. Cut the bread into l/2-inch-thick slices. Brush on the garlic mixture and add salt. Place slices on a baking sheet and bake for 5 to 8 minutes, or until browned.

Meanwhile, unfold the top covering of plastic wrap from the terrine, and gently invert the loaf pan on a serving platter, running a knife around the inside edge if necessary. Carefully remove the plastic wrap and cut the terrine into slices. Garnish with the coconut, goat cheese, and greens and serve with the Herb Toast and vinaigrette on the side.

Recipe from:
Nuevo Latino:
Recipes that Celebrate the New Latin-American Cuisine

Douglas Rodriquez with John Harrison
Ten Speed Press
ISBN 0-8915-752-8
Reprinted with permission

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This page modified January 2007