All posts filed under: South America


Caribbean Green Seasoning

Makes about 1 1/2 cups Ouch and yum. This seasoning blend should feel like molten lava as it slides down your throat; Guyanese use up to six habaneros in a recipe like this one. However, if you don’t have Caribbean friends coming over for dinner – or the time to replace your throat – feel free to make a mild version. For example, mine (certainly laughable to Caribbeans), uses only a 1/4 of a habanero. In my defense I have a two year-old. Call me crazy, but I don’t have the heart to feed her a paste made with six scorching habaneros, even if she does like a little spice from time to time. Plus, I’m pretty wimpy, myself. So whether you like it hot, or not, just be sure to whip up a batch – you can use it on almost anything, from curries, to stews to grill marinades. Totally flexible and totally tasty – this is the Caribbean’s take on the French mirepoix or the Dominican sazon (a.k.a. sofrito). Makes a really nice …

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Chilled Coco-Mango Soup

Serves 4 Hello summer, nice to see you again. This year let’s stay cool, no overheating, no frustration, no sweaty t-shirts. I have to admit I don’t think you’re playing fair – soaring above 100F in June, but I’ll take drastic measures to keep the peace, if need be. I can curl up in an ice bath. Thankfully, however, there’s something better and tastier: cold soup. Inspired by the Guyanese in South America and their love of Caribbean flavors, today’s special is mango and coconut-tastic. I’m ready to do laps in this chill goodness. The flavor is light – thanks to the coconut water – silky, even. This is high class – good for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Eat it by itself or eat it as a starter or eat it as dessert. Just eat it. Ingredients: 4 medium ripe mangoes (about 3.5 cups chopped) 1 1/3 cup coconut water (1 can) 1 cup yogurt 1/2 cup coconut milk 1/2 cup milk 1 Tbsp rum (white or dark) honey, if necessary ( I didn’t use …

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Guyana for the win (w/ poll)

For a long time now I’ve wanted live with goats. But it doesn’t end there. I want to eat thick, hearty cheese sandwiches made with rustic, country bread. I want to eat them every day. All day. While smelling wildflowers and wearing a frock. It all started when I read Heidi, the story of a little girl who does, well, almost exactly that. Enter Guyana. They do it. They eat cheddar-cheesy bread sandwiches for snacks. For dinner. Whenever, really. Winning. Just imagine this after school snack: … visions of a warm, hearty Tennis Roll, sliced in half and protecting thick slices of cheddar cheese … To wash it down, an ice-cold glass of cream soda made creamy with carnation milk. Ooo la la! Childhood memories of this after school snack thrilled me. Cynthia Nelson, Starbroek News. I’m thinking I can somehow combine my Heidi daydream with these tennis rolls for an outrageously awesome fantasy. And in this daydream my frock will never get too small because I ate too much cheese and bread. So what …

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Guyanese Chow Mein

Serves 4 Hello. I realize it’s summer, but let’s shut our eyes for a moment and daydream about winter. In Guyana. Are you ready for Christmas? Shall we deck the halls? (do people really do that?). Ready or not, today’s recipe is going to take you to December 25th, Guyanese-style. Read this: The kids got their little presents, got their pictures taken on my lap, and everyone ate fried rice, chow mein, and chicken curry. You know, traditional Christmas food. From Mark Hejinian’s travel blog Guyanese Mark My first reaction? I want to spend Christmas in Guyana. Immediately. It doesn’t help that it’s a zillion degrees here, but a nice cool winter day would be welcome right about now. And that menu? Yes, yes, yes. So let’s dig into what this dish is all about. While Chow Mein might sound like a stretch for the South American dinner table, Guyanese love this dish with a passion. It’s not a straight up copycat operation, however – they add plenty of unique touches, to make Chow Mein …

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Menu: Guyana

I like to live in the moment. Fly free. Laugh. Dance. Cry. Do you ever find yourself doing something fun, like chatting with a friend, instead of the work you’re supposed to be doing? I do. I love it. I look forward to it. And why not? I get to have fun and then proceed to do my work twice as fast. When I’m talking to my friend, I don’t worry about the work. It’ll be there. It’s time will come. No, I’d rather live in the moment. It’s sweet bliss. As long as I meet my deadlines, no harm done. Just tonight I was chatting with a friend for hours, instead of doing my work. It was worth it. I got and gave countless life lessons. I laughed. I cried. Now, I’m home, eyes burning and overheated, wearing the humidity like a blanket. I’m hungry. I need to cool off. No problem. Well, actually, there’s one problem: I don’t want to cook in an already hot house. Luckily our Guyanese menu is a mostly heat-free menu. …

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About the food of Guyana

Welcome to Guyana – where you can eat a plate of curry [Recipe] with a side of chow mein [Recipe]. What a combination. What a melting pot. What time do we eat? Oh, and did I mention Guyana is in South America? Yep. This rugged country plates up food from halfway across the world thanks to the influence of British colonizers. Take a stroll down her sandy shores – deep tan like crushed graham crackers – or climb the plateaus in the west; either way you’ll quickly learn why Guyana is called the land of many waters. Rivers swim across the countryside, producing spectacular waterfalls which thread through jungle, and mountain, and cloud. The Guyanese eat a lot more like the peoples of the Caribbean than South Americans. Case in point: their love of curry. They even season their food with the same Green Seasoning that heats up the food across the islands (a firey hot blend of habeneros, celery, garlic, onion, thyme, and more) [Recipe]. Tourists everywhere cry when they taste this stuff. In …

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Keith & I on the California coast, before Ava was born. I am about 5 months pregnant.

Monday Meal Review: Ecuador

Happy Anniversary! This is our 52nd meal for our Global Table Adventure!  Our celebration post will be up in a few hours. THE SCENE: “Hurry!” I muttered to myself, zipping around the kitchen. We had a date. A date! Actually, not just a date. An extravaganza. First, we were scheduled for a couples massage (thanks to a generous gift card from friends) and then, a movie (thanks to my dear brother who sent movie passes with our Christmas card). I can’t count the number of times we’ve been on a date since Ava was born. Because we haven’t. That’s right. Before Saturday it had been more than 1 1/2 years since we’d been to the movies. And, well, a couples massage was a total first. But before my romantic evening could commence, I had to clean up the remnants of our Ecuadorian Global Table. I looked at the clock – the baby sitter would be here any minute. Stacks of dishes covered the counters and crumbs littered the floor. Flour dusted my face. I pushed up my sleeves and …

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Ecuadorian Potato & Cheese soup with Avocado | Locro de papa con queso

Makes a gallon (4 quarts) If you’ve never had locro de papas, you’re in for a surprise. The fine people of Ecuador love this comforting and healthy soup, especially on a chilly day. And why not? Tinged orange from ground annato, most of the flavors remain familiar – potato, cheese, avocado, and cilantro. Feel free to substitute parsley if you hate cilantro. Just so long as you try this soup. You’ll love it. Ingredients: 1 onion, chopped 3 garlic cloves, crushed 1/2 tsp cumin 1 tsp ground annato/achiote 3 giant baking potatoes, peeled and cubed (each about 6″ long) 2 cups of milk enough water to cover the potatoes 1-3 cups extra milk for thinning to desired consistency salt & pepper 1 cup shredded cheese – cheddar or Monterey jack a palmful of chopped cilantro For the Garnish: chopped cilantro crumbled queso blanco 1-2 avocados, cubed green onion, sliced Method: Prepare yourself for an assault of deliciousness. First, cook the chopped onions in a large pot until softened. While they’re cooking, add in the crushed garlic… … …

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Ecuadorian Open-Faced Cornmeal Omelet with Cheese

I’m not sure what Saturday morning breakfast looks like at your house but make me one promise… some Saturday soon… whip up one of these crazy open-faced cornmeal omelets.  Tip: make life easier on yourself and cook up the cornmeal with dinner, the night before. Happiness is just two eggs away! Serves 1 For the omelet: 1 tablespoon butter 1/8 cup green onion 2 eggs 1/2 cup cooked cornmeal 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro 1/4 cup shredded cheese (monterey jack and cheddar blend) Garnishes: Shredded cheese Cilantro Green onion Method: Whisk eggs together with cooked cornmeal. Add in the cheese, cilantro, green onions, salt, and pepper. Melt butter in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Trust me on the non-stick part. I tried to make this in a regular pan and it stuck like crazy. When the butter is sizzling, pour in the egg mixture. Cover and cook gently. The goal is for the top to be cooked before the bottom burns. Gentle heat is your answer. Sprinkle with cheese and let melt. Cover again if …

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Chunky Warm Peanut & Achiote Salsa from Ecuador | Salsa de Maní

Warm salsa is a novelty to me, but not to lovely Ecuador. They love spooning this nutty, oniony mixture over potatoes, but it is also enjoyed with anything from chicken to guinea pig. For a more fluid salsa, add extra milk and puree to desired consistency. Adapted from Latin & Caribbean Grocery Stores Demystified by Linda Bladholm. Makes 2 cups Ingredients: Oil 1 Tbsp whole Achiote/annato (available whole or ground) 1/2 tsp cumin 1 small onion, chopped 1 cup unsalted peanuts 3/4 cup milk palmful of coarsely chopped cilantro salt & pepper to taste Method: Have you ever had a warm salsa? No? Let’s remedy that. Heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a medium skillet. Add annato and cook until the oil is stained red. Now.. this is very important… REMOVE the annato from the oil. I forgot and, let me tell you, these puppies stay very crunchy. Fry your onions in the stained oil until soft and caramelized. Add the cumin… Unsalted peanuts and milk. Bring to a simmer and cook for …

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Ecuador’s Crowning Glory (w/ poll)

Ava didn’t like bananas at first. Mashed, pureed with yogurt, cut into chunks… the best reaction I could from her was a giant baby-frown. She just wasn’t a fan. Then one day I spotted mini bananas at the store. They were the cutest thing I’d ever seen. About 4″long, they were sweeter than regular bananas (more floral, too) and just the right size for Ava to eat out of hand, like she’d seen me do a hundred times before. Incredibly, this new, miniature format was an instant success. She’s been eating bananas with gusto ever since. Ava’s not the only one who loves them – bananas are Ecuador’s crowning glory. Literally. According to Lonely Planet, bananas and related plantains are so popular in Ecuador, they’ve made their way into regional (and world) festivals. But it’s not the bananas being voted on… oh no. Instead, each year the best looking gal in Machala (a coastal city famous for banana exports) is crowned the “Banana Queen.” She then can move on to compete to be the banana queen of …

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Apple Empanadas

Sweet, cinnamon-loaded apple empanadas are perfect for popping at parties. Popular throughout south and central america, these tidbits will be gone before you can put the tray down. Try serving warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of dulce de leche. Makes 4 dozen 3 1/2″ empanadas Ingredients: 2 batches of empanada dough For the filling: 4 cups peeled, chopped apples (about 3 medium apples) 1/2 cup sugar 1/8-1/4 cup raisins 1 tsp ground cinnamon 4 Tbsp butter 1 Tbsp cornstarch 1 egg to brush on the pastries before baking 3 1/2″ cutter Method: First, prepare the empanada dough. Next, put on a happy song while you peel and chop the apples. Preferably this one from Ecuador. When you’re chopping go a little smaller than I did (it will make it easier to fill such the empanadas). Gather the rest of your ingredients… in a moment the sweet apples, cinnamon, sugar, and raisins will make your entire house smell like “good.” Melt butter in a pan with sugar and cinnamon. Add apples and …

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