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Buñuelos Colombianos: Colombian Cheese Fritters

While it seems like the holidays begin earlier every year, in Colombia the season has always started on Dec. 7 with la noche del alumbrado, or Day of the Candles. People light candles in their homes and by parks, public landmarks, stores and churches. The celebration continues on Dec. 16 with the first of nightly novenas that will continue until Christmas Eve, when families and friends gather for prayers, petitions, villancicos (carols) and, of course, food.

While the observances vary from family to family, one constant element is the buñuelos: fritters made out of a smooth dough composed of fresh cheese blended with cornstarch, an egg and milk. I was given this recipe by family friend Oscar Marin who recalls buñuelos made with freshly ground corn in his youth. He makes sure to get the oil to just the right temperature so that the buñuelos rise to the top and swell up as they turn in the oil. If they rise too quickly, they won’t cook all the way through — too slowly, they’ll take on too much oil and become heavy. Traditionally served with hot chocolate or natilla made with whole cane sugar for the perfect combination of salty and sweet, buñuelos are a seasonal treat that are longed for year-round.

Buñuelos Colombianos: Colombian Cheese Fritters Recipe

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Creamy Corn Hushpuppies

Corn Hush Puppies Recipe

I tasted my first hushpuppy at a seafood shack in Georgia, a divey little place we took my grandparents to after church every couple of Sundays. I was just a gangly little thing with a voracious appetite, and my parents — my father in particular — were schooling me in the glories of all things Southern and fried. While the grownups exclusively ordered the catfish and shrimp, I went straight for my go-to: kid-friendly chicken fingers. (Catfish brought up thoughts of my beloved feline, Munchkin, and I couldn’t bear the thought of eating anything related to her.)

I had no problem, however, stealing the sides of hushpuppies right off my parents’ plates. (Funny that I didn’t seem to mind eating anything that sounded as if it had something to do with the family dog.) I’d snatch those little balls of fried dough faster than anyone could wave a hand to stop me. Eventually my dad had to start getting an extra order for the table. I was utterly hooked on hushpuppies.

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