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Chef Ingrid Hoffmann Shares Fourth of July-Inspired Arepas & Beer Cocktails with a 'Colombian Twist'

First Posted: Jun 27, 2015 05:00 AM EDT
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"SABOR" is a food & wine and lifestyle series that savors Latinos' zest for life and passion for home and family. 

Chef Ingrid Hoffman is bringing a "Colombian twist" to your Fourth of July -- with a fresh, summery recipe featuring her Ham & Pineapple-Jicama Slaw Arepas and beer-inspired cocktails -- that it will impress your guests and allow you to enjoy the fiesta instead of sweating it out in the kitchen.

The host of Cooking Channel's "Simply Delicioso," Univision's "Delicioso," and Telemundo's "Top Chef Estrellas" spoke with Latin Post in an exclusive interview to share her tasty Fourth of July recipes, entertaining tips, and her love for the U.S.

The Colombian-American chef, who was raised in Colombia and Curaçao and moved to Miami, is also the best-selling author of "SIMPLY DELICIOSO: A Collection of Everyday Recipes with Recetas Favoritas con Sabor Latino" and "LATIN D'LITE: Delicious Latin Recipes with a Healthy Twist."

Hoffman's Ham & Pineapple-Jicama Slaw Arepas recipe is easy and tasty, and while it's a finger food, it bursts with top-notch flavor of a main dish.

"The whole idea behind that was to create a modern, cool and easy-to-eat hand-food and do a combination of fresh, summery flavors and use ham in an unexpected way," she told Latin Post. "For me I always love any type of pork or ham and this takes ham really from an everyday use into a whole other spectrum."

"It's easy to prepare, obviously because it's pre-cut (referring to Smithfield Anytime Favorites Ham). It's easy access, little prep, it makes it very friendly for entertaining," she added. "I wanted to combine it with a little bit of sweet, a little bit of salty and super-fresh ingredients. That was the idea of giving the Fourth of July a Colombian twist with the arepa, or Venezuelan."

Hoffmann stress that this is a recipe that you can make ahead, which she says is really the "key for entertaining." It will also make your life easier so that you can actually enjoy your event as opposed to being in the kitchen most of the time.

Given that Immigration Heritage Month is in June and Fourth of July is almost upon us, there is an emphasis on the beautiful merging of cultures here in the U.S. Through her cooking, Hoffmann often merges her Colombian cuisine with American staples.

"I think the arepas are adding that touch and using it in a different way. Here you are having an American barbeque mixed with Latin in a fun way," she said. "When you think of an American barbeque...here you are having coleslaw and pork but all inside of a little bun (referring to the arepa)."

She recalled her first Fourth of July experience when she came to the U.S. as a teenager, over 25 years ago, and had the signature American burgers and hot dogs. With time and as she grew more skilled in the kitchen, Hoffmann asked herself: "why not take things up a notch?'"

For your thirsty guests, Hoffmann points out that with the Fourth of July beer always comes to mind, but that it doesn't have to be ordinary beer, but beer-inspired cocktails with a fruity flair.

"You can do some fun beer-cocktails with a shot of tequila with either lime sorbet or raspberry sorbet -- a scoop and top it with beer or top it a shot and infuse a little bit of lime and you've got a really delicious beer cocktail that is inexpensive, filling and fresh for the heat outside," she explained.

Hoffmann also shared her Blood Orange Beer Cocktail recipe, which includes beer, tequila and blood orange sorbet as well as blood oranges. 

With a flair for entertaining, Hoffmann suggests that you have different stations for appetizers, the main course, and dessert so you can keep the flow of the party and not have your guests congregating in just one area. Hoffmann also suggests adding chalk-boards to each station with descriptions of each recipe.

She also suggests celebrating Independence Day with games by having a drawing competition or leaving markers out so your guests can share inspirational things -- a fitting theme might even be why you are proud to be an American.

"Again it's keeping it simple. You just want to have it be casual and fun with great food and yummy drinks that all that comes together to make the best party," she said.

Hoffman reflected on her Colombian roots-meets-American upbringing (starting in her teenage years to adulthood) and her parents, who she refers to as "amazing cooks." Her mother, a skilled Cordon Bleu chef, makes her signature arroz con pollo. Her father makes pork leg or ham in the smoker, which "makes everything moist, juicy and flavorful."

Reflecting on the meaning behind the Fourth of July and achieving the American dream, Hoffmann said: "It's gratitude, it's new traditions, which also conicidentally just like Thanksgiving is a new tradition for me in America. We didn't celebrate Thanksgiving in Colombia and neither did we celebrate the Fourth of July.

"So it's a day to be grateful for being in this amazing country, to celebrate the red, white and blue and everything that Americana stands for. To have been embraced and have the oppotunity to be here."

Check out Chef Ingrid Hoffmann's Fourth of July-inspired arepas and beer cocktail recipes below.

Ham and Pineapple-Jicama Slaw Arepas

Created by chef Ingrid Hoffmann

Makes 6 arepas

Ingredients:

Slaw

1 cup jicama (about 1 small)

½  cup fresh cilantro, chopped

¼ cup green bell pepper, diced

¼ cup red bell pepper, diced

¼ cup red onion, diced

¼ cup fresh pineapple, small dice

2 garlic cloves, minced

Juice of 1 lime

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Arepas

2 cups pre-cooked white corn meal (such as Harina P.A.N. or Masarepa)

2 ½ cups warm water

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons corn oil

6 slices, Smithfield Anytime Favorites Hickory Smoked Boneless Ham (sliced)

3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preparation:

Slaw:

1. Peel jicama using a vegetable peeler; discard peel. Grate using the largest holes on a box grater.

2. In a medium bowl, combine grated jicama with cilantro, bell peppers, onion, pineapple and garlic; stir in mayonnaise, season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with lime juice and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Arepas:

1. In a large bowl, combine corn meal, water and salt.  Mix with hands until dough is smooth, malleable and unsticks from hands. With moist hands, form 6 2-inch balls. Press each ball down between the palms of your hands to form 6 patties approximately 1/2-inch thick and 4 ½ -inches in diameter.

2. Heat oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches of two, cook arepas until golden brown; about 6 minutes per side. Place in a paper towel-lined plate until cool enough to handle.

3. Slice ham slices in 1-inch strips. Return pan used to cook arepas with to medium heat and sauté ham slices for 2 minutes, turning them rapidly to evenly cook both sides.

4. To serve: With a serrated knife, slice each arepa, forming a pita-like pocket. Fill with 5-6 ham strips, 2 tablespoons cheese and ½ cup pineapple-jicama slaw. Serve immediately.

Blood Orange Beer Cocktail

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 lime, quartered

1 cup blood orange sorbet

¾ cup silver tequila

4 12-ounce bottles light beer, chilled

4 blood orange or orange rounds, for garnish

Preparation:

For each serving, squeeze the juice of 1 lime quarter into a tall glass. Add 1 scoop (about ¼ cup) sorbet and 3 tablespoons of tequila and mix  with  a  long  spoon.  In  two  stages,  letting  the  foam  subside between  pours,  carefully  fill  the  glass  with  beer. Garnish  with  an orange round. Serve immediately.

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