All posts filed under: South America


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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Dough for Empanadas & Pies

Borrow your mother, grandmother, brother, sister, father, grandfather. All of them! This recipe is best made with a gaggle of family, all chitter chattering and covered in flour. Perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon. You can use this soft, pliable dough for any empanada (or pie, for the matter) – sweet or savory. We like it with our beef and apple fillings. Makes 2 dozen 3 1/2 inch empanadas Ingredients: 2 cups  flour 1 Tbsp sugar 1 tsp salt 8 Tbsp  cold butter 2/3- 3/4 cup ice water Method: If you do make this recipe with family, have everyone take turns telling stories from their childhood. Get ready to laugh and, possibly, cry. Whisk sugar and salt into the flour. Using a pastry cutter (or two knives), cut the butter into the flour until it is pea-sized. Add in water – a little at a time… … until a shaggy mass forms. This is perfect: Press together with your hands. It will be a little dry to the touch. Shape into 2 flatted disks, wrap in …

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Menu: Ecuador

When did a running, giggling, dancing toddler possess my sweet baby? When did she learn how to say “Hi baby”? How does she know to brush her teeth after eating? And, most importantly, when will the word “yes” cross her lips? Even if I can’t get Ava to say it, as far as Ecuador is concerned, this menu is a “yes.” Each dish is made up of regionally loved ingredients, such as potatoes, corn, and peanuts. Enjoy this small window into the world of Ecuador. What sounds good to you? Ecuadorian Potato & Cheese soup with Avocado (Locro de papa con queso) [Recipe] Creamy, cheesy, potato goodness topped with queso fresco, avocado chunks, and green onion. Seasoned with hints of ground annato/achiote and cumin. Open-Faced Cornmeal Omelet with Cheese [Recipe] Wake up to Ecuador- this simple recipe requires no special ingredients, just a healthy mix of cooked cornmeal, eggs, green onion, and shredded cheese. A distant cousin to Mote Pillo, which is hominy tossed with scrambled eggs. Warm Peanut & Achiote Salsa from Ecuador [Recipe] …

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About the Food of Ecuador

Until about five minutes ago I was sitting in bed, bundled up in a wool sweater, under a down comforter, eating a candy cane, and freezing my fingers off.  Now I’m packing for Ecuador. What’s so alluring about Ecuador? They have it all. The Pacific Ocean. Staggering mountains (complete with active volcanoes disguised as pristine mountain-top lakes) and the Galapagos Islands, themselves made up of volcanoes. There are rain forests, bursting at the seams with wildlife and there are dusty villages filled with tradition. With something for everyone, choosing between bustling city action and rumbling, bumbling country life is just the beginning. Convinced? Let’s have dinner. Pull up a chair to the Ecuadorian table and you’ll be met with a carb-heavy spread loaded with potato, avocado, corn, and/or rice – balanced by a fresh salad and tropical fruit. You’ll about pass out when you try Locro [Recipe], their answer to our creamy potato/cheese soup. The South American spin? Locro is seasoned with a tantalizing combination of earthy annato, creamy avocado chunks, and crumbles of queso …

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Monday Meal Review: Costa Rica

We had killer-good food and one epic fail this week. Considering we’ve been living in “renovation-land,” things could be a lot worse. For example, I almost lost my measuring cups, spoons, and chef’s knife. Turns out they were just hiding in the living room, under the contents of three other drawers. And, while we’re talking about renovations… Did you know there are about 100 million kinds of white paint in the world? I assure you that, if you ever decide to paint your cabinets white, you’ll quickly become acquainted with all of them. White whites, creamy whites, green whites, blue whites. Pretty soon, you’ll be begging for a white padded room. Just keep breathing. Here’s my kitchen, now in the middle of the renovation. Please ignore the mess, but note several key things. 1.  The cabinets in front of me are antique white. As pretty as it sounds, antique white isn’t pretty under fluorescents. The color is sad, sallow, and dingy under my flickering lights, especially once the overhead diffusers are in place. I’m actually afraid of …

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Heart of Palm Salad

Serves 4 This beautiful arranged salad is perfect for a family-style dinner party. You could also make individual portions. However, if all this seems like too much muss and fuss, feel free to chop and toss, without taking time to do the careful arrangement. Everything will still taste wonderful. Promise. Ingredients: 1 head romaine, sliced 1 tomato, sliced into wedges 1 orange pepper, sliced thinly 1 jar heart of palm, each one sliced in half lenthwise 1/2-1 lime, juiced olive oil, to taste Method: Get yourself a beautiful platter. Pile it high with crunchy, crispy, lovely romaine. Add tomatoes in a circle, around the outside. Sprinkle the peppers over the top, towards the center. We’re making a masterpiece here. Slice up your heart of palm. Not your heart. Here’s what they look like… they come whole, as you see on the left. I sliced them lengthwise, as you see on the right. They taste vaguely like artichoke hearts, but crunchier. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the whole salad. And anoint with a happy drizzle of olive oil. …

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Black Beans and Rice | Gallo Pinto

Gallo Pinto is enjoyed by Costa Ricans year-round, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The beans and rice are mildly seasoned, however the Worcestershire sauce gives the dish an unusual kick. Ingredients: 2 1/2 cups leftover, cooked white rice 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed 1 onion, chopped 4 cloves of garlic, crushed oil 1/2 tsp paprika 1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce 1 cup broth or water salt and pepper Method: Heat oil over medium heat. Add onion. After just a moment, the entire house will smell like “good.” Now we’re cookin’! Add the garlic… … and cook until onion is soft and turning slightly golden – or however you like to eat it. I prefer not to have any crunch in mine. Then, add in the paprika. And leftover rice. I love re-purposing food… making my dollar stretch over several meals. Pile on the beans. I used canned beans for simplicity and speed. Next, a little Costa Rican flavor – sprinkle in the Worcestershire sauce. (And don’t forget the salt and pepper) Add in water to help mix everything …

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Costa Rican Potatoes | Gallitos de Papa

Serves 2-4 Gallitos de Papa uses simple seasonings for big flavor. The smoky paprika and garlic go a long way to wake the humble potato up. An especially great breakfast/brunch dish, this Costa Rican favorite is perfect for serving with eggs.  Traditionally served in corn tortillas – feel free to moisten with fresh salsa or sour cream. Ingredients: 4 small potatoes, cubed 1/8 cup olive oil 4 cloves garlic, crushed 1 tsp paprika 1 tsp sugar 1 tsp salt water (optional) chopped cilantro, for garnish Serve with Corn Tortillas Method: Add the oil to a wide skillet and heat over medium. The entire 1/8 cup is necessary to keep the potatoes from sticking. Sometimes our waists have to sacrifice for the good of mankind. Or for functionality and flavor. You’ll thank me later. When hot, add garlic and cook for a minute. And, when I say a minute, I really mean until fragrant. This could take as little as ten seconds. Yikes. I almost cooked mine too long.  See? Garlic cooks very fast – you …

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Trick or Treating in Costa Rica

Feel like trick or treating in Costa Rica? You wouldn’t be alone.  Although a relatively new holiday to the country, Halloween is growing in popularity with the locals – and why not? Kids get to dress up (and parents brim over with pride). Then everyone eats candy until their tummies hurt. Awesome fun for everyone! (NOTE: Watch out for the rain. October is the rainiest month of the year. Not great for polyester and fluffy bunny costumes). If Halloween isn’t your thing, you can just eat the candy! Or ice cream. Rumor has it that, in Costa Rica, you can get ice cream in “sour cream” flavor. Do you think it would be good on baked potatoes? Or a milkshake..? The entire concept is fascinating to me. Perhaps making it would be easier than yesterday’s epic fail.

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Caramel Milk Candies | Dulce de Leche Candy

Makes about 36 candies Behold my epic fail – homemade “Caramel Milk Candies.” I planned to make these typical South American candies for Halloween. Little did I know, I was in for a real mystery even Sherlock Holmes couldn’t solve. You see, metal cans are not transparent. I was literally cooking blind. As I learned, this is a tragic prospect when it comes to candy making. Despite my diligent efforts (nerdy, even) to make and remake these candies, I failed.  I’d keep going, except I’m terrified of my next gas bill. Ingredients: 1 can sweetened condensed milk parchment paper Method: 1. Bring water to boil. Choose a pot an inch or two taller than the can of sweetened condensed milk. Meanwhile, remove the label from the can. You’ll thank me later, when you don’t have to clean paper shreds out of your pan. 2. Make two holes in your can. This is a safety measure. Not everyone does this. I do because I’m not that into exploding cans. 3. Place can in boiling water. Cover …

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Menu: Costa Rica

Costa Rican food is warm, comforting and upbeat (yes, food can be upbeat – just ask a juicy, lime-green lime). Thank goodness, because I need some happy comfort! You see, I’m nervous – since we won’t be moving into a shiny new-to-us home, we’re polishing up our current residence (and cooking around the mess). First step? Painting my dark wood cabinets (in my dungeon kitchen) a pretty white color. I’m hoping “pretty” and “white” will erase the “dark” and “dungeon” effect. I will also have you know I am not painting them myself. In all honesty, I’m not allowed to do projects that involve “coloring within the lines.” I’m too messy. I think it’s because my mom forbid coloring books when I was little (she said the lines wreck kids’ creativity). Let’s just say I’m really “creative.” Have you ever done a kitchen remodel of any sort? Was it worth it? Or would you rather just eat Costa Rican food? Heart of Palm Salad (Palmitos) [Recipe] Heart of Palm tossed with romaine lettuce, sweet peppers, …

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