What attracted me to this cookbook was the idea of eating clean. I avoid processed and chemically enhanced food whenever possible, preferring to cook with fresh, natural and if possible, local ingredients. I have not traveled to Costa Rica, nor South America for that matter, but I do enjoy the cuisine. Just as when I reviewed Italy From The Source and Flavors of Aloha, I was anxious to learn more about this country’s food.
The recipes from Eating Clean in Costa Rica are from Chef Marie’s kitchen at Blue Osa, a yoga retreat and spa in Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica. Her recipes are internationally inspired although there is one chapter devoted to traditional Costa Rican dishes.
The book is divided into Breakfast and Brunch, Main Dishes, Costa Rican Dishes, Tapas, Vegetables and Side Dishes, Salads, Desserts and Beverages. The ingredients for each recipe are listed in a column either to the left or right of the page. Some are measured in grams and liters and cooking temperatures in Celsius (the European way) and others are measured the American way. The author states that there is a “handy conversion chart” in the back of the book but the conversions don’t always match with the required measurements of the recipes which I found frustrating. Each recipe has a photograph of the ingredients. I would much prefer to have photographs of the finished product. Also for each recipe there is a step by step to do list for the preparation. One of the recipes I prepared (Fish With Avocado Sauce) listed an ingredient but it was not mentioned in the preparation. Being comfortable in the kitchen, I was able to figure it out.
The Fish In Avocado sauce was tasty although the avocado sauce was a bit bland. The instructions said to grill the fish on each side for 2 to 3 minutes. It did not state how thick the fillets should be but although mine were not very thick, they required at least double the grilling time.
I served the fish dish with Cabbage Salad from the Costa Rican section of the book. Again this was a tasty dish but could have been improved with a bit more flavor. It says to serve immediately but the flavor improved after it macerated for awhile. The recipe states that it serves 6. These would be very small servings and believe is better suited to 3 or 4 servings.
The Roast Chicken was delish, especially for garlic lovers, as it calls for an entire head of crushed garlic. The garlic along with olive oil, melted butter and thyme is rubbed on the skin of the chicken but permeates the meat itself. The meat stayed moist. My one criticism for this recipe is that the garlic burned on the outside of the bird. Perhaps it would be best to cover the chicken until the last 20 minutes?
The Stuffed Avocado is in the vegetable and side dish section but I would consider it more of a fun tapas. Cut back on the onion. It called for an entire chopped onion. I used only 1/4 of an onion and it still overpowered the avocado and other ingredients.
Eating Clean In Costa Rica has many interesting and healthy recipes. I will no doubt try some more in the future. I would recommend it more enthusiastically if there were not the oversights and inconsistencies mentioned in this review.
Where to Buy:
Eating Clean in Costa Rica http://www.blueosa.com/eating-clean-in-costa-rica-cookbook/
Simple, easy recipes from the kitchen of Blue Osa and Chef Marie
Written by Chef Marie
Published by Balboa Press
Cookbook review by Christine Bartell, a retired school teacher and food lover based in Central Oregon. All photos courtesy of Christine Bartell. Balboa Press supplied her with Eating Clean in Costa Rica for review purposes. All opinions are her own.