First thing I want to state, is that I am no authority on Latin American foods. Although I grew up in a very Mexican household and learned some of the basic homestyle recipes from Mexico from my parents, Mexico is big and there are many regions that I still have not explored. I also know that I really enjoy the foods from other parts of Latin America and I am eager to learn and to try recipes from all over the globe. The inspiration for this blog post came from the wonderful connections I have made in the past two years with many Latina Bloggers from many regions of Latin America. They inspire me on a daily basis with their delicious food pictures and stories. On today’s blog post I have included some of the most popular dishes I have read about. I start in Costa Rica where Sasla Lizano and Gallo Pinto are a staple to the daily menu. A fresh salsa, Chimol, form El Salvador. Hearty Arepas from Venezuela filled with Reina Pepiada and ending on a sweet note, Quesitos from Puerto Rico. A pastry filled with guava and sweetened cream cheese. There are many, many recipes with as many variations, but I tried to keep it simple , adding some ingredients that I like and with the ingredients that were available to me. These dishes will be on the menu at an upcoming cooking class that I will be teaching. It’s wonderful to be able to share the foods and recipes that I enjoy with others. Of course the next best thing would be to be able to visit these colorful places and enjoy the foods straight from the people of the those regions. Aprender de las madres y las abuelas. Buen Provecho!! I would love to hear back from anyone who grew up with these delicious foods!
Gallo Pinto (Black Beans & Rice)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup rice
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon pepper
salt to taste
You will also need
More olive oil
3 /4 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
3 1/2 cups rice
2 cups black beans with broth
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon coriander
3 tablespoon Lizano sauce or Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat. Add 1 cup long grain rice. Saute and toast for 5 to 7 minutes or until rice become aromatic and beings to toast in some spots. Add the 2 cups of broth and all of the spices. Bring to a boil, reduce to low, cover and cook for 14 to 18 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand.
2. In a another, large skillet, add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil and heat to medium. Add the onion, garlic and bell pepper, season lightly with salt and pepper and saute for 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Fluff the reserved rice with a fork then add the rice to the skillet with onion mixture. Stir well to combine. Fold in the beans with bean broth and all of the remaining ingredients. Taste for salt and cook just until warmed through. Garnish with cilantro. Yields 6 servings.
Lizano~ Costa Rican Salsa/Seasoning
2 chile guajillo, stems and seeds removed
3 chile de arbol, remove stems, but not seeds
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
1 small carrot, diced
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 tablespoon molasses
2 teaspoons vegetable or chicken bouillon, in a powder
1. In a medium skillet at medium heat, toast the dried chiles for 3 minutes, turning a few times, so chiles don’t burn. To the peppers, add water, carrots and onions and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Transfer to the blender.
2. Add all of the remaining ingredients and blend on high until smooth. Taste for salt. If you are going to prepare the Lizano style sauce, I suggest you prepare it 2 days ahead. Store in refrigerator for a couple of weeks.
Chimol~ Pico de Gallo ~ El Salvador
1 cup radishes, diced or sliced small
1 cup roma tomatoes, diced (I like to deseed the tomatoes)
1/2 cup red onion, diced or sliced thin
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
1 red fresno chile pepper, seeded and diced
1 habanero pepper, seeded and minced
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Combine all of the ingredients. Taste for salt. Cover and let set for 30 minutes. The longer it sits, the more red it will become from the radishes.
Reina Pepiada~Venezuelan Chicken Avocado Salad
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
salt and pepper
1 large avocado, mashed
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped fine
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 full tablespoons mayo
1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1. In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and jalapeño. Season lightly with salt and pepper and saute for 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
2. In a bowl, add the avocado and mash until smooth. Add the cilantro, lemon juice, mayo, cooked chicken breast and cooled onion mixture. Stir well to combine and taste for salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to use. Serve as a filling for arepas with extra avocado slices.
Arepas~ Precooked Corn Flour Cakes
1 1/2 cups hot water
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of fresh cracked pepper
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter
1 1/2 cups corn,instant dough PAN brand
1/3 cup cotija or parmesan cheese, grated
**You will need more oil or butter for cooking arepas
1. In a medium bowl, combine the warm water with salt, pepper and olive oil. Gradually add in the instant corn dough and mix with your hand until dough forms . Finally, mix in the cheese. Dip you fingers in some water and roll 4 equal dough balls, flattening them slightly. Transfer them to a plate and cover with plastic wrap.
2. Preheat a large skillet or griddle pan to medium/high heat for 5 minutes. With some water near, wet your hands and gently flatten the arepa dough balls and shape. They should be about 4 inches in diameter. Add the 1 to 2 tablespoons oil or butter to the pan and cook the arepas for about 4 to 5 minutes per side or until you get some nice browned spots. If you cook them in a large skillet, cover them with lid during cooking time and the steam with help them cook through and puff out slightly.
3. As arepas come off the heat, grab one using a paper towel, Using a sharp serrated knife, slice open 2 /3 of the way, making sure knife opens up the center to make a pocket. It easier to slice them when they are still warm. Fill with Reina Pepiada or your favorite fillings. Yields 4 servings.
Quesitos~ Guava and Sweet Cream Cheese Pastries
1 puff pastry sheet
8 oz. cream cheese
8 tablespoons powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
1 cup guava paste
*eggwash for sealing pastries
1. In a bowl, mix the powdered sugar and cream cheese until smooth, set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. On lightly floured surface, roll out dough and cut 2X2 squares. Fill diagonally down the center with 1 tablespoon sweet cream cheese and 1 tablespoon guava paste. Seal with eggwash. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool and dust with powdered sugar
* You can cut the squares bigger if you like a 4X4 size would make a nice individual dessert.