When I’m asked how I decided what to post, I always say that one recipe leads to another. But that’s only half a truth. More specifically, it comes down to what was left and what I can make of it. This chowder, for one, started with a recipe for quinoa croquettes. With the croquettes done and quinoa to spare, I started looking for more ways to use it and came across this recipe in Jose Garces’ Latin Road Home. I was most drawn to the ingredient list featuring staples I always have but never seem to use completely – heavy cream, parsley, the odd potato. This also meant picking up a few extras quarts of vegetable stock and pulling fresh corn from the dwindling piles at the market. I followed the recipe as closely as possible the first time around including the fried potatoes, and crumbled bacon. When it was finished, I realized I had a almost enough left to make a second batch. I was going into a busy week and knew I’d be rewarming it over a few nights, so I made a vegetarian version. Also, I was out of bacon. Instead of using the achiote paste that’s been living in my refrigerator for years with no expiration in site, I used the last of my achiote seeds to make the oil. The chives became scallions, and I added the cream at the end to finish off the pint. The one thing I didn’t get to was the fresh ají costeño pepper sauce Garces suggests, but that will have to wait for the next round.
The weather is defrosting, but I spent Sunday half inside my freezer where I found the nearly forgotten bag of moras. Also called Andean blackberries, moras are a little more tart, firmer, and brighter than the blackberries commonly found in the US. I’d picked them up in an amazing Latin American market in Jackson Heights. Well-stocked with incredible variety but hard to get to, I brought back as much as I could carry. A few months later, I’ve barely made a dent in the frozen guavas, jarred loroco, or guasca leaves I stockpiled. I was looking to change this and remembered a dessert my friend’s mother, Mari Ines, made when she was teaching me how to make ajiaco Bogotano. In the time it took her to finish the ajiaco, she simmered the berries in syrup and served them with queso fresco. After calling Mari Ines for the recipes and ratios, I quickly made it for friends that night. There are so many things I’m looking forward to this summer, but in these in between days, it felt good to take advantage of what I already had. Read more
This post is brought to you by several false starts and a Mac meltdown. Last week, I was trying to close out of an application when my computer completely froze. Like anyone who doesn’t really understand them, my first instinct was to do a panicky hard reset. Though it turned on, it only gave me a greyed out start-up screen with the endless scrolling ellipsis doing what I’ve now learned is “beachballing”. Several hours, three calls to Apple support, two failed re-installation attempts, and a visit to the Genius bar later, I still couldn’t get off the beach. Told that I’d most likely have to wipe out my hard drive and start over, I made yet another visit to the Apple store thinking that if it came to that, at least I’d be in a safe place. Read more
I’m a little late in posting this recipe for humitas. Though I read about them weeks ago and made my first batch a couple of days ago, a lot of have-tos (and a few want-tos) have gotten in the the way. Initially, I didn’t recognize them as the tamales I’d grown up with. They were of course and they weren’t. Depending on whether you’re in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela or the Caribbean, they’re known as humitas, humintas, tamales, tamalli, tamalitos verdes, chapanas, bollos, choclotanda, chumales, cachapas, chapanas, chiguiles, envueltos de mazorca, ayacas, hallacas, juanes, pamonhas. The filling can be sweet or savory, made with fresh or dried corn, plantains or potatoes, wrapped corn husks, banana leaves or parchment paper, steamed or baked, served as a snack, side dish, casserole or heavy stew. Read more
I’d been looking for a way to use chirimoyas since I came across them a few months ago in a nearby market. Originally found in the Andean region between Peru and Ecuador, they’re also cultivated in small pockets throughout Chile, California, Spain, New Zealand, Australia, and Israel. Heart-shaped and scaly, they could be a dragon’s paw and are almost as rare in my Brooklyn neighborhood, so I was excited when I found them. Also known as custard apples, they’re like everything and like nothing else. The fruit can be likened to strawberry, banana, pineapple, papaya, avocados, mango, ripe pears, and commercial bubble gum while Mark Twain described it more simply as “deliciousness itself.” Read more
Though I’d love to have homemade rolls every day, I stay away from bread recipes for first thing. They never seem to rise and bulk up in the time promised. I wake up early and spend the morning nervously peeking at the dough I lovingly covered in its blanky and placed in a draft free place to no avail. One hour becomes two and there’s no breakfast in sight. By the time it’s done, I’m too cranky to really enjoy it. I didn’t get to sleep in yet the dough enjoyed a leisurely rise. When I came across pan de yuca or yuca bread in a Miami, I was curious. A combination of yuca flour (also known as tapioca starch) and cheese, it can be mixed and rolled as quickly as arepas then baked off. Read more
I hold take-out chicken fried rice responsible for the freshman 10 I gained in college (except it was closer to 15 and I was a senior). While others may dabble, I know I can’t stop at a pint and have largely avoided it for years. However, since I’m preparing to run a half-marathon this Saturday and need to eat carbohydrates covered in soy sauce, this kind of indulgence is not only permitted, it’s encouraged. Plus, I’m stronger now. The stars seemed to align for making my own when I found a recipe on Laylita’s recipes, one of my favorite sites, for chaulafan de pollo, a popular Latin American version of fried rice popular in Ecuador and Peru. This is the first time I made fried rice at home and at first glance it seemed like standard take-out – chicken, peas, scallions, carrots, eggs. It was the seasonings like achiote, chili, cilantro, and more cilantro that really set it apart. My favorite addition though were the raisins. Not sure how they would blend, they were like tiny, interspersed packets of plum sauce. Served with sliced avocado as suggested, it’s the perfect light meal to enjoy in moderation. Starting tomorrow that is, right now I just want more.
Click here for the complete recipe.
I have wanted to post this recipe for mousse de maracuya/passion fruit mousse for a couple of weeks. Written by Layla, an Ecuadorian woman who now lives in Seattle, Laylita’s recipes is full of great ideas for recreating traditional recipes far from home. This light mousse can be made with frozen fruit pulp as a substitute for fresh passion fruit and replaces condensed milk with heavy Read more