Chef Spotlight: Amalia Moreno-Damgaard
Every year, I feel compelled to write about the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs conference, which I have had the honor of attending for three years now (see my previous articles here and here). WCR is a vibrant, active organization dedicated to connecting women in food and beverage. Because let’s face it, with only 21% of executive chefs in the country being female, the ladies need a support system both in the back of the house as well as the front.
This year’s conference took place in Minneapolis, and once again we were treated to regional flavors and incredible culinary talent. As one of the conference sponsors, Mann’s was teamed up with chef Amalia Moreno-Damgaard for a culinary knowledge session titled “Produce Innovations with Latin Zest.”
Chef Amalia came to Minneapolis by way of Guatemala City, where she was born and raised. Her passion for Latin culture and cuisine came from the close-knit relationship she had with her grandmother, who taught her simple and healthy cooking using fresh ingredients. After moving to the U.S., she became determined to bridge the knowledge gap of Latin American culture here, and her cooking style proudly blends pre-Columbian and classic French techniques with her Guatemalan-Spanish roots.
Today, Amalia is a culinary force to be reckoned with. Not only is she the award-winning author of Amalia’s Guatemalan Kitchen – Gourmet Cuisine with Cultural Flair, she is also a spokesperson, a bilingual food and culture consultant and founder of Amalia LLC (AmaliaLLC.com), a business designed to help individuals and companies develop a better understanding of Latin cultural nuances through healthy cuisine.
For the culinary knowledge session, Amalia worked her Latin American magic on several of Mann’s products, including Power Blend and our Honey Gem lettuces. My favorite recipe, though, was her Dulce de Leche Cauliflower “Rice” Pudding featuring our Cauliflower “Rice”. Sweet, creamy and totally unexpected, Amalia proved beyond any doubt that veggies can be for dessert, too.
DULCE DE LECHE CAULIFLOWER “RICE” PUDDING
Arroz con Leche is traditionally made with white rice. This is the Guatemalized version of rice pudding using cauliflower rice for added nutrition and a crunchier texture, and dulce de leche, for a creamier mouthfeel. Arroz con Leche came to Latin America through Spain. It varies by region and by country. You can transform it from a breakfast drink into a dessert by using half the milk. You may eat it hot or cold.
2 cups skim milk
1/3 stick canela (Ceylon cinnamon)
2 (12 ounces) bags Mann’s Cauliflower “Rice”
1 cup quick dulce de leche (recipe below)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
½ tsp almond extract
½ cup raisins
Berries and mint
Combine the milk and canela in a small saucepan and bring to a quick boil. Adjust the heat to low and cook uncovered until aromatic, about 5 minutes. Discard the canela and add the dulce de leche and blend with a whisk.
Add 1 bag of Mann’s Cauliflower “Rice”, cover, and cook at low heat until soft, about 20 minutes. Purée the mixture with an immersion or traditional blender.
Add the remaining bag of cauliflower rice, salt, almond extract and raisins, and bring to a quick boil. Keep a close eye on the mixture, as it can quickly boil over or scorch. Cover, adjust the heat to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower rice is soft to desired texture, about 20-30. Taste.
Serve in clear cups and sprinkle it with a little ground cinnamon and garnish with berries and mint.
Quick Dulce de Leche: Combine 1 can (14 oz.) condensed milk and ½ stick canela (Ceylon cinnamon) in a non-stick saucepan and bring to a quick boil. Lower the heat to medium and stir
constantly to prevent sticking and burning. Cook until caramelized and thick, about 10-15 minutes.