Passports With Purpose

Text & Photos: Julie Schwietert Collazo

Francisco and I are always interested in people who are able to transform an amazing idea into an even more amazing project that makes a tangible, positive difference in people’s lives.

So we’re proud to be participating in Passports With Purpose, which starts today and runs through the end of December.

Passports with Purpose is the idea of four travel bloggers who got together for coffee and a chat about how they wanted to use the blogging platform to support a cause they all cared about.

A few hours later, they’d mapped out a plan: they’d contact their readers, fellow bloggers, former employers, and other people in their vast networks, and engage them to participate in a raffle, with all proceeds going to the organization, Heifer International.

Heifer International is a cause we’re happy to get behind, as the organization is committed to ending hunger through sustainable, poverty-fighting practices.

All the prizes in the Passports with Purpose raffle are donated, all raffle tickets cost $10, and all transactions take place online through the site First Giving.

Right now, 49 different prize packs, ranging in value from $20 to more than $400, are up for grabs; raffle winners will be drawn on December 29 and notified on December 30.

To support the project, Francisco is offering a cooking class and dinner for four to raffle participants from New York City!

If you didn’t already know this, Francisco is a private chef. This year alone he has cooked his way around Cuba, Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and New York, teaching cooking classes or making amazing meals in kitchens as diverse as the Whole Foods Culinary Center, Villa Sevilla, Casa Amarilla , and the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.

To win, just visit this page and look for the code that matches Francisco’s prize pack. Then, make your donation through First Giving, and be sure to enter that code!

Questions? Leave a note in the comments below!

Cream of Basil Soup Recipe

Text by Francisco Collazo
Photo by Julie Schwietert Collazo
With all the excitement of our election night blogging experience at NPR, it’s taken us awhile to follow up on a request from a student in my cooking class to post a recipe for my cream of basil soup.

We first tasted cream of basil soup at the extraordinary Hotel Villa Ganz in Guadalajara, Mexico a couple months ago. At the time, we weren’t sure what the soup was. We spent 10 minutes guessing the ingredients and finally realized that the unexpected flavor of the soup was attributable to basil. An easy soup to make, and one that’s surprising and pleasing to guests because of its uniqueness, I decided to replicate the soup by devising my own recipe…and adding a final flourish.


2 Tablespoons of olive oil
3 cups of broth (vegetable or chicken)
1 clove of garlic, minced (or in a paste after roasting in the oven, which is even better!)
1 cup of heavy cream
1.5 cups of basil leaves, chopped fine
1 medium onion, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon of anise seed (optional)
chile serrano to garnish (1 per serving) (optional)

1. In a saucepan or soup pot, sautee the minced onion and the garlic in the 2 Tb. of olive oil just until golden.
2. Add basil to the onion and garlic mixture; sautee for two minutes.
3. Add broth to the basil/onion/garlic mixture. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat. Simmer for five minutes then remove from heat and allow to cool.
4. Once the soup is cool, puree in a blender or using an immersion blender.
5. After blending, return the soup to the pot and heat on medium.
6. Add the heavy cream and anise seed. Cook until the soup thickens somewhat; stir continuously during this process.
7. Remove from heat and serve.
8. If you’d like to make the dish slightly more impressive, roast serrano chiles on the stove and garnish each bowl of soup with a single chile (uncut and unseeded).
9. Serve and enjoy!

Where in the Web Are We?

It’s been a busy week for CollazoProjects!

If you’ve missed any of these projects we’ve just finished, just click on over and get caught up!

Why Travel is the Most Patriotic Act You Can Do: In celebration of July 4, Julie reflects upon why she travels to Cuba (hint: it’s not the rum or the sun) and why travel is the most patriotic act an American can make.

From the article:

I believe that the act of traveling and then sharing is the most American, the most patriotic, the most democratic act an ordinary citizen can take.”

On another Cuban note, we want to give you advance notice that Francisco will be teaching a Cuban cooking class at the Whole Foods Culinary Center on Bowery Street in New York City on October 24.

The three hour class (6:30 PM-9:30 PM) promises to be informational, hands-on, fun, and tasty– all in Francisco’s usual signature style! Be sure to keep your eye on the Culinary Center’s calendar and sign up page: tickets are sure to go fast and there are only 12 spots in the class!

Top 10 Tips for Stretching Your Travel Dollar : A two-part series on MatadorPulse with Julie’s suggestions about how you can make your vacation dollar go the extra mile. Part 1 is here; part 2 is here.

Tips for Traveling in “Dangerous” Places: As we get prepared for a Colombia trip and hear “Be careful down there!” one too many times, Julie offers some practical tips for traveling safely in “dangerous” areas… and anywhere, for that matter. From the introduction to the article:

“…our perceptions of what make a place seem dangerous are shaped by many factors—the hyper-dramatic media more interested in getting a quick and juicy story rather than sticking around to figure out the complicated dynamics of a place; government agencies driving their own political and economic agendas; and rumors that have taken on a life of their own. All of these are dubious sources of useful information for the traveler getting ready to depart for a place that’s perceived as having a high danger factor.”

Finally, Julie’s guest blog about living your dream life appeared on Christine Gilbert’s website earlier this week. Be sure to check it out!

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!- Francisco & Julie

Cuba postcard photo: wedgienet
Colombian girl photo: Philip Bouchard