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Posts from the ‘Appetizers’ Category

Humitas Ecuatorianas


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

Mariquitas de Platános

Feeling restless, I decided to make a batch of mariquitas.  Not the hard, round plantain chips sold in grocery stores, but the ribbon like crisps served with garlic mojo for dipping.  Though simple enough to make at home, I could only remember having them in family style Cuban restaurants, where they’d appear ready to eat in baskets.  The starter no one remembers ordering but everyone is happy to see. Read more

A Grilling Alternative

I was looking for grilling recipes when I heard about a great non-grilling suggestion from my Tio Raul. After giving me instructions on how to make grilled elotes slathered in crema and covered with cheese, he mentioned this version he’d had at the end of a long Mexican wedding where the reception ended with a second meal. Read more

Carne Fria

I was at an event last week when a full tray of sliders slid right past me.  While the waiter eluded me, it reminded me of a recipe I’ve wanted to try for awhile – carne fria.  A combination of ground sirloin, pork, and sometimes fois-gras, it’s baked or poached then served cold with sweet preserves or sharp mustard.  A favorite at family luncheons, it would sit next to the pastelitos, cangrejitos, and bocaditos, proud but ugly, the only adult at the buffet table.   I’d wanted to make it last summer for a party but only had a vague idea of how to go about it.  It was one of the those second nature recipes that everyone makes but no one writes down.  With picnic season starting, I decided to try again and finally found it in Memories of a Cuban Kitchen: More Than 200 Classic Recipes by Mary Urrutia Randelman and Joan Schwartz.  There in black and white, wasn’t getting away this time. Read more

A Panamanian Afternoon

I was talking with someone about cooking the other day, and we both agreed that we did not like having people in the kitchen with us when we cooked.  I realized as I was nodding sympathetically that I had made a plan with my friend Valerie to do exactly that the very next day.  Rather than grab a coffee somewhere, I thought it would be fun if we got together and made something that I could write about here.  I hadn’t included any Panamanian recipes until now so Val was supposed to consult her aunts for suggestions, and I was going to get everything ready so that when she got here we could whip something up quickly.  We decided to make carimañolas, mashed yuca formed into a roll then stuffed with picadillo and deep fried, a popular breakfast and afternoon snack in Panama similar to the croquetas de yuca that I have when I’m home.  An easy afternoon of catching-up, photographing my food, and turning Panamanian street food into an appetizers-for-lunch meal. Read more

Frida’s Fiestas

A few months ago a friend recommended Frida’s Fiestas: Recipes and Reminiscences of Life with Frida Kahlo.  Written by her step-daughter Guadalupe Rivera and Marie-Pierre Colle, it’s part cookbook and part food memoir.  Organized by month, each chapter centers on the holidays and seasons as they were celebrated in the Blue House in Coyoacán.  Describing a trip with Frida to the pyramids of San Juan Teotihuacán, the author writes:

After offering us the traditional refreshment of agua de chía, doña Rosa invited us to eat.  She had prepared a number of Lenten dishes typically served throughout the central Mexican plain, where the gods that Frida invoked in her paintings had once upon a time resided.  As it turned out, doña Rosa and don Tomas extended their hospitality to us for three more days, days in which reality was inseparable from magic. Read more

Frituras de Malanga

I bought the malanga by mistake.  I’d considered adding it to my garbanzos last week but left it out at the last minute.  Not wanting to let it go to waste, I decided to try making fritters instead.  I’d stopped by a friends house unexpectedly when he was finishing a batch for salt cod fritters, and it looked so easy and simple that I wanted to try this variation.  They’re the kind of last minute side dish that could be whipped up in a few minutes.  I looked through a few different recipes that were very similar – malanga, eggs, a little garlic, maybe parsley.  Reading A Taste of Old Cuba, I was reminded that frying 0f any kind was always left for last so that the fritters, plantains or croquetas could be served hot and crisp, never greasy .  I hadn’t thought about it before but realized that I do associate the crackle and sizzle of frying with a great meal about to be had – a little music drawing everyone to the table. Read more

Tostones on the Fly

Until recently, I rarely fried anything at home.  I hated the smell, the splatter, the guilt.  When I started writing about Latin American food, I knew I couldn’t avoid it much longer and finally bought a deep fryer.  While it produces perfect batches of churros, empanadas and buñuelos, it’s the SUV of fryers requiring such a massive amount of oil that I keep it parked most of the time.  It wasn’t practical for smaller, any-night batches of plantains.  Maduros I can handle.  Overly ripe, they caramelize Read more

Pan de Yuca

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

December Daze

Decembers are a blur whether or not it’s snowing.  With no plans to host, I’ve decided to spend the holiday party season as a kind of foreign exchange student.  I’m just showing up when asked and however they’re celebrating, I’ll just go with it.  Last Christmas was my family’s turn to have Noche Buena dinner and before that I had a party for friends before everyone went their separate ways, so it’s just not my year. Read more