Vitals: Raised in both Colombia and Curaçao, Ingrid Hoffmann represents a melting pot of Latin cuisines: Her mother is Colombian of Spanish descent, she has German ancestry and her maternal grandfather was Bolivian, raised in Argentina. Now based in Miami, Hoffmann makes her love of food across Latin America the focus on her Food Network show “Simply Delicioso” and “Delicioso,” which airs on Univision. In addition to having her own cookware and kitchen tool line, Hoffman is a best-selling cookbook author. Her latest release, “Latin d’Lite” shares Latin recipes with a healthy twist: Think baking instead of frying, lighter desserts and plenty of robust spices and fresh ingredients to keep things flavorful – not full of fat.
Experience: Hoffmann’s first exposure to cooking came from her mother, a Cordon Bleu-trained chef. Hoffmann recalls cooking by her mother’s side as she prepared meals for her catering jobs, an experience she calls “breathtaking.” When her mother later opened a restaurant, Hoffman was right there in the kitchen and ever since then, she’s been what she describes as a “professional eater, drinker and life lover.”
The dish she can never make as well as mom: “German sauerbraten. It’s a very classic German dish of beef marinated in vinegar and spices. My grandfather on my father’s side was from Germany and he said my mother’s sauerbraten was better than the versions made by his sisters back home. I love the rich taste of it so much and it’s the one thing my mom definitely makes better than anyone I know.”
On creating a healthy spin on Latin foods: “It’s the anti-diet book, based on a little system I devised for myself to counterbalance all my indulgences. Instead of living on grilled chicken with three lettuce leaves and some air, this is a guide on how to cut the calories down in dishes that you love – without compromising flavor. If you can shave off 200 calories off breakfast, lunch, your snack and dinner across 7 days a week, you can see a huge different in how you feel.”
On her go-to healthy meal: “When I only have 15 or 20 minutes after a long and busy day, I do a quick fish stew with frozen seafood and stock that I keep in the pantry. I throw all that in the pressure cooker with whatever veggies are on their last life. Another thing I love to do is whip up an egg with an extra egg white with some veggies in a mug. Microwave that for three minutes and you’ve made a nice, fluffy omelette which you can top with arugula and a bit of creamy avocado for added protein. These are two great meals under 400 calories which are easy, real food.”
On her not-so-secret hobby: “I absolutely adore fishing. Fishing is a beautiful past time when you’re out in the hot sun with a cold beer and great company. You should only fish what you’re going to consume, but fishing has always inspired me to create delicious, fresh meals. I’m a total beach girl and nothing makes me happier after a day of fishing to sit down to a great meal using the catch of the day.”
On her secret weapon in the kitchen: “That would be my pressure cooker, which I’ve named ‘Betty.’ I wish I could tell you that I always plan my meals in advance, but when it comes to taking frozen-solid meat or dried beans and whipping up a meal in 20 minutes, there’s nothing better. Using a pressure cooker is a great way to eat from scratch while saving money. Once you’re feel comfortable using one, you can whip up anything in it: risotto, dessert, stews – it’s amazing!”
Here’s Hoffman’s recipe for coconut and almond crusted codfish; a fresh-tasting dish inspired by her time spent fishing off the coast of the Bahamas.
Coconut-Almond Crusted Codfish
From “Latin d’lite” (Penguin Group)
Makes 4 servings
¾ cup sliced almonds
½ cup sweetened coconut flakes
¼ cup unsweetened coconut milk (not cream of coconut)
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
4 6-ounce cod fillets
½ teaspoon kosher salt
lime wedges, for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
2. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray. Pulse the almonds and coconut in a food processor until coarsely ground, about 10 seconds. Place the almond mixture on a sheet of wax paper. Whisk together the coconut milk and lime juice in a pie plate until blended.
3. Sprinkle the fillets with the salt. Dip the fillets, one piece at a time, into the coconut milk mixture, then into the almond mixture, pressing to adhere. Place the fillets in the baking pan. Lightly spray with cooking spray.
4. Bake, without turning, until the topping is browned and the fish is opaque when pierced in the center with the tip of a knife, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately with lime wedges.