Pay de Guayaba y Queso

pay de guayaba y queso

A couple weeks ago we made a visit to the international market to stock up on a few things that aren’t available at the regular grocery store. Somehow a packet of guava paste made it into the cart, (okay, I put it there), and it’s been sitting on my kitchen counter ever since. I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to make with it but I decided to get creative and see what happened when I combined American pie and Salvadoran semita with Cuban pastelitos de guayaba y queso. Hilariously, I ended up using my Ecuadorian friend, Laylita’s recipe for sweet empanada dough for the crust, so this recipe is authentically Ecua-Cuba-Ameri-doran… or something like that.

Pay de Guayaba y Queso

If the photos haven’t already tempted you to give it a try, let me tell you, it’s everything I hoped it would be. The look of a traditional American pie with the criss-cross technique I use on Salvadoran semita, a crust that is crisp on top but crumbly and tender inside, and a filling that is sweet, rich, and full of close-your-eyes-when-you-take-a-bite-Cuban-goodness.

Before I give you the recipe down below, I just want to say that I’m not fond of the word “pay” in Spanish. Maybe because it reminds me of “payasos” (which scare me), or because it looks like how I would have spelled “pie” in Kindergarten. Anyway, I’ve spelled it “pay” because the rest of the recipe name is in Spanish. Also, if I spelled it “pie” in English then some of the native Spanish speakers might think about feet, which is just ever so slightly unappetizing. So, call it whichever you want – “Pay de Guayaba y Queso” or “Guava and Cheese Pie” … it will taste the same either way.

Pay de Guayaba y Queso

You need:

1 batch of Laylita’s Sweet Empanada Dough

8 ounces real cream cheese (not cream cheese “spread”)

14 ounces guava paste (not jelly!)

1 egg whisked (for brushing on top of the pie)

1 small handful white sugar (to sprinkle on top of the pie)

Directions:

1. Follow Laylita’s direction to create the dough first. I followed the directions exactly, using 4 tablespoons of water where it says “2 to 4″ and 1/4 cup of sugar where it says “1/4 to 1/2.” Separate the dough into 2 balls, flatten into large discs and refrigerate for 30 minutes as instructed.

2. On a lightly floured surface (lightly floured parchment paper works best for me), roll out one of the balls to fit in and up the sides of a 9 inch pie plate. Leave the other ball of dough refrigerated while you work.

3. Pick up the parchment paper and gently turn it over onto the pie plate. Press the dough against the sides and trim off any excess.

4. Cut the guava paste into slices about as thick as a pencil and layer them on top of the dough, overlapping when it becomes necessary.

5. Spread the cream cheese on top of the guava in an even layer.

6. Roll out the other dough ball the same as the first one and gently put it on top. Trim off the excess.

7. Use a pastry brush (or a clean, dry paper towel balled up if you don’t have a pastry brush), to gently brush the whisked egg onto the crust.

8. Take the dough scraps and form a ball. Roll the ball out and use a pizza cutter to cut strips to decorate the top in a crisscross pattern or however you like.

criss-cross-pie

9. Gently brush egg on the crust again, being careful not to disturb the crisscross design.

10. Sprinkle a small handful of sugar evenly onto the crust.

11. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375 F until golden brown. (Mine took about 35 minutes.)

12. Remove from oven and allow to cool before slicing and serving.

La alegría y la angustia del cambio

hojas

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Me di cuenta de algo. Me di cuenta que cuando veo las hojas de colores en otoño siento dos cosas. Primero me siento llena de felicidad porque es una de las cosas más bellísimas en este mundo y soy bendecida por verlo suceder. Todo el año espero este momento breve por ver el cambio en los árboles. Pero bajo de la alegría es una fuerte tristeza saber que los días son cortos y pronto se caerán las hojas, desapareciendo en el viento. Me siento feliz por el momento que está frente de mi, pero angustia porque yo sé que no puede durar para siempre.

Y igual me siento al ver a mis hijos creciendo a hombres.

carlos-boys-pumpkin-patch-collage

No importa lo fuerte que te aferras a esas hermosas hojas o esos hermosos hijos. Ellos cambian. Las hojas se secan y pierden su color. Tus hijos crecen. Es natural que esa realidad debe hacerte sentir triste, pero también recuerdate hay que disfrutar el momento. Tal vez sea un cliché, pero a veces existen los clichés porque no hay verdad más grande. La vida es efímera. Ama lo que tú amas con todo tu corazón.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Title: The Happiness and Anguish of Change

I realized something. I realized when I see the colored leaves of autumn I feel two things. First I feel full of happiness because it’s one of the most beautiful things in the world and I feel blessed to see it happen. All year I await this brief moment to see the change in the trees. But beneath that happiness is a strong sadness to know that the days are short and soon the leaves will fall, disappearing in the wind. I feel happy for the moment in front of me, but anguish because I know it won’t last forever.

And I feel the same to see my sons growing into men.

It doesn’t matter how tightly you hold onto those beautiful leaves or those beautiful children. They change. The leaves dry out and lose their color. Your children grow up. It’s natural that this realization should make one feel sadness, but let it also remind you to enjoy the moment. Maybe it’s cliche, but sometimes cliches exist because there is no greater truth. Life is fleeting. Love what you love with all your heart.

Budín de Plátano

Budin de Platano

“Budín” or “bread pudding” in English, is a dessert that makes use of stale bread, although fresh bread works just as well. Variations of the dish can be found around the world.

When my suegra lived with us she often made “budín de guineo” or “banana bread pudding.” I decided to try my hand at making a traditional Salvadoran budín today, but instead of bananas, I made use of 2 ripe plantains I had on hand in a “budín de plátano.”

As usual, I consulted several authentic recipes before developing my own version and Carlos loves it. I hope you give it a try!

Budín de Plátano

Ingredients:

2 large ripe plantains
2 eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
(plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter for greasing the Pyrex)
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup 1% milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 pieces of white sandwich bread cut into cubes

ground cinnamon

Optional: a handful of raisins

Note: Although I haven’t tried it yet, I imagine 3-4 large bananas can be substituted for the plantains without any problem.

Directions:

1. Cut the ends off each plantain and then cut into the peel lengthwise to remove the peel. Place the peeled plantains in an ungreased Pyrex at 350 F for 25 to 30 minutes until you can squish them with a fork. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.

2. In a food processor set to “mince”, process the plantains. Next add the eggs and process until combined.

3. Combine the following ingredients one-by-one, into the food processor. Each time you add a new ingredient, process until combined for a few seconds: 2 tablespoons melted butter, flour, milk, salt, sugar, vanilla extract. [If using raisins, you can now stir them in with a spoon.]

4. In a greased 7×11 Pyrex, place the cubes of bread in an even layer. Pour the plantain mixture evenly over top of the bread cubes. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and bake at 350 F for 30 minutes. The budín is finished when it’s firm, sides are lightly browned, and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

5. Allow to cool. You can cut and serve from the pan as is or try the alternate method below.

Optional alternate method: To make the budín especially pretty, use a third cooked plantain or banana cut into circles. Lay the circles on the bottom of the greased Pyrex before adding the bread cubes and batter. When the budín is done baking and has cooled, you can invert it (flip it over) into a larger 9×13 Pyrex. The plantain or banana circles will make for a very pretty presentation.

Budin de Platano, Salvadoran Plantain Bread Pudding

Damas

Damas, Checkers, photo by David Mejia

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Primero quiero saber, ¿por qué le llaman a este juego “damas” en español? Tiene que existir una historia interesante sobre eso. ¿Tal vez sólo las mujeres jugaban? ¿Tal vez es porque lo que llamamos “reyes” en el juego de damas en inglés son “reinas” en español? Ni modo, hoy estoy hablando del juego damas porque me di cuenta que Carlos tiene reglas por el juego muy diferentes que las reglas que tenemos en los Estados Unidos y quiero saber si es cosa de Carlos y sus amigos de la niñez, algo de El Salvador, o algo de América Latina. (O tal vez yo he estado jugando mal!)

El otro día Carlos y nuestro hijo menor estaban jugando damas y mi hijo se quejó de que su padre estaba tratando de engañar. Llegué a la mesa donde estaban jugando y le pregunté qué estaba pasando. Carlos dijo que sólo estaba tratando de mover su pieza, pero nuestro hijo dijo que no la estaba moviendo bien. Le dije a Carlos que me mostrara lo que quería hacer, ¡y él procedió a recoger a su pieza y volar al otro lado del tablero!

Cuando le dije que no podía hacer eso, dijo que él y sus amigos hacían eso cuando jugaban a las damas. (También me dijo que su tablero era dibujado a mano sobre cartón. Sus piezas eran tapas de botellas, casi igual que el juego de damas en la foto.)

Otra regla extraña que Carlos trató de aplicar al juego: Si nuestro hijo no aprovechó la oportunidad para saltar una de las piezas de Carlos cuando era posible, Carlos quería llevar la pieza de nuestro hijo como castigo.

Entonces, ¿estas son reglas que Carlos inventó o simplemente otra variación del juego?

Image source: David Mejia

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

First of all, I want to know why checkers is called “damas” in Spanish. There must be an interesting story about how that came about. Maybe only women played? Maybe it’s because what we call “kings” in the game of checkers in English are “reinas” (queens) in Spanish? Anyway, today I’m talking about the game of checkers because I noticed Carlos has rules for the game that are different from the rules we have in the United States and I want to know if it’s a Carlos thing he made up with his childhood friends, an El Salvador thing, or a Latin American thing. (Or maybe I’m the one whose been playing wrong!)

The other day Carlos and our youngest son were playing checkers and my son complained that his father was trying to cheat. I came to the table where they were playing and asked Carlos what was going on. Carlos said he was just trying to move his piece, but our son said he wasn’t moving it right. I asked Carlos to show me what he wanted to do and he proceeded to pick up his piece and fly all the way to the other side of the board!

When I said you can’t do that, he said that he and his friends used to do that when they played checkers. (He also told me that his checkerboard was hand drawn on cardboard. The pieces were bottle caps, almost the same as in the photo at the top of the post.)

Another strange rule Carlos tried to apply to the game: If our son didn’t take advantage of an opportunity to jump one of Carlos’s pieces when it was possible, Carlos wanted to take our son’s piece as punishment.

So, are these rules Carlos invented or simply a variation of the game?

Más y Menos – Guatemalan Cartoon Characters!

masymenos

Last night my 12 year old begged me to watch a cartoon called Teen Titans Go! with him. Honestly, I’m not at all into super hero stuff so this show didn’t appeal to me at all, but he promised me this particular episode had two characters who only speak Spanish. (He knows how to get my attention!)

I ended up really enjoying the episode and the characters named Más y Menos. The episode had an impressive amount of Spanish in it and some good lessons for kids built in. Here’s a clip of the twins Más y Menos making and serving tamales to their friends.

I later looked up more information online, and as suggested by the mention of “tamales de Guatemala” in the episode, the twins are in fact supposed to be Guatemalan. (Although they’re voiced by Chicago-born Freddy Rodriguez whose parents are Puerto Rican.)

Anyway, I thought it was really awesome to have some Central American representation in a popular cartoon and I hope the creators make Más y Menos regular characters.

My only suggestion to the creators: When the characters say “¡Los Tamales de Guatemala!” you see and hear mariachi. While mariachi can be found in Guatemala, that’s obviously more of a Mexican thing. It would have been awesome if instead you had used some traditional Guatemalan marimba music like this:

The use of Mexican culture subbed in for other Latin American culture is something you see often in television and movies. Mexican culture is more familiar to audiences in the United States so I think that is part of why it happens, but when characters are not Mexican then you’re doing a disservice to both the Mexican culture and the true culture of the character. I’d like to see Hollywood break away from that so audiences can have a more diverse experience and expand their knowledge of cultures throughout the world. Subbing in Mexican culture for every Latin American culture only feeds into the wrong belief that “All Latinos are the same.”

As Más y Menos say, “Para crecer como una persona, necesitas que abrirte a nuevas experiencias.”

You can watch the full episode of Teen Titans Go! featuring the characters Más y Menos here and on Cartoon Network.

5 Minute Microwave Tamal de Elote “Mug Cake”

Tamal de Elote Sweet Corn "Mug Cake"

The other night, right before bedtime, Carlos got a craving for something sweet. After opening and closing the kitchen cabinets multiple times, he finally came to me with desperation in his eyes, “Isn’t there anything you can make me?”

I ended up making him a banana bread mug cake recipe I found on the internet. I personally love mug cakes but Carlos wasn’t impressed. When I served it to him he complained that it was more like a banana tamal than banana bread because of the texture. Inspiration struck and I vowed that I would see if I could make a tamal de elote in the microwave using this popular “mug cake” method.

This morning I finally had a chance to experiment. I nervously put the batter into the coffee mug, set the microwave to 3 minutes on high, crossed my fingers and hit “START.” After the microwave beeped, I pulled the mug out, inverted it onto a little plate and was super excited to see the texture was what I had hoped for. But how would it taste? I took a tentative bite and celebrated. Tamal de elote! From a microwave!

I let my older son try it and he declared it “really good.” When I made a second one just to double check my recipe, he ended up eating that one too. If you’re not familiar with tamles de elote (corn tamales), this “mug cake” tastes exactly like Chi-Chi’s sweet corn cake to me. Give it a try and tell me what you think!

Easy Microwave Tamal de Elote

5 Minute Microwave Tamal de Elote “Mug Cake”

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons Maseca instant corn masa flour
2 tablespoons sugar
a pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup canned cream style sweet corn (I used Green Giant brand)
1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
1 tablespoon 1% milk
cooking spray

Directions:

1. Mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl with a fork. Make sure the measurements are exact and not rounded.

2. Mix the corn and melted butter. Add the milk and stir to combine.

3. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Mix until combined.

4. Spray the inside of a regular sized micowave safe coffee mug with cooking spray. (You don’t need a tall coffee mug like you do for some “mug cake” recipes as the tamal doesn’t rise very much.)

5. Pour the batter into the mug. Micowave on high for 3 minutes. (Micowave time may vary depending on the type of microwave you have.)

6. Carefully remove the mug from the microwave and put a small plate on top. Flip upside down to invert the “tamal” (or corn cake) onto the plate. Serve and enjoy!

Serving suggestions: While great as is for a treat or dessert, you can serve with a little Salvadoran crema at breakfast or alongside a dinner as a side dish.

Sweet Corn Microwave Mug Cake

13 Gifs Only Latinos Married to Gringas Will Understand

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. English translation is in italics!

Aunque estos gifs estan basados en la experiencia personal de Carlos, si eres un Latino/a casado con una gringa/o, tal vez identificas con algunos de ellos. (Y si eres una gringa/o casado con Latino/a, chequea este post: 20 Gifs Only Gringas Married to Latinos Can Understand.)

Although these are based on Carlos’s personal experience, if you’re a Latino/a married to a gringa/o, you may identify with some of these. (And if you’re a gringa/o married with a Latino/a, check out this post: 20 Gifs Only Gringas Married to Latinos Can Understand.)

#1. borednow

Cuando vas a una “fiesta” de tus suegros gringos y no hay música o baile.

When you go to your gringo in-laws “parties” and there’s no music or dancing.

#2. nothing-can-do

Cuando estás tratando de ver las noticias en español y tu esposa quiere saber por qué hay mujeres semidesnudas en la pantalla.

When you’re just trying to watch the Spanish-language news and your wife wants to know why there’s half-naked women on the screen.

#3. shock

Cuando tu esposa usa palabras en español que aprendió de la música de Pitbull en compañía educada o delante de tu abuela.

When your spouse uses Spanish words she learned from Pitbull’s music in polite company or in front of your abuela.

#4. does-not-get-it

La reacción de tu esposa cuando explicas algo cultural que ella simplemente parece que no puede aceptar, como la necesidad de dar rosas a tu madre en el Día de San Valentín.

Your spouse’s reaction when you explain something cultural to her that she just can’t seem to accept, like the necessity of giving your mother roses on Valentine’s Day.

#5. fight-for-me

Las consecuencias de no defender a tu esposa cuando tu madre criticó a ella.

The aftermath of not defending your spouse when your mother criticized him/her.

#6. naah

La reacción de tu madre cuando le dices que te vas a casar con la gringa.

Your mother’s reaction when you tell her you’re marrying the gringa.

#7. no-michael-scott

Cuando preguntas qué hay de comer y ella dice peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

When you ask what’s for lunch and she says peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

#8. Huh_wtf_uhm

Tu reacción cuando tu esposa o suegros gringos permiten que el perro lame la cara.

Your reaction when your spouse or gringo in-laws let their pet dog lick them all over the face.

#9. sad-cold

En Nochebuena, cuando hace frío, tranquilo y solitario y comienzas a sentirte nostálgico por tu país de origen.

On Nochebuena when it’s cold, quiet and lonely and you start feeling nostalgic for home.

#10. who-am-i

Cuando por fin regresas a visitar tu país natal y todos tus familiares te dicen que hablas divertido porque has perdido el acento local y no conoces las últimas palabras coloquiales.

When you finally go back to visit your native country and all your relatives tell you that you speak funny because you’ve lost the local accent and aren’t up on the latest slang.

#11. cool

Cuando la gente se entera de dónde eres y empieza a nombrar todas sus comidas favoritas de tu país.

When people find out where you’re from and start naming all their favorite foods from your country.

#12. calm-down-children

Cuando tu esposa no cree en disciplina corporal y no puedes utilizar la chancla.

When your spouse doesn’t believe in physical discipline so you can’t use the chancla.

#13. imfine

Cuando tienes una discusión con tu esposa y te acusa de gritar.

When you’re having a discussion with your spouse and they accuse you of yelling.