Category Archives: recipes
We gather in the small apartment kitchen, myself, Carlos, our friend Mando and his very pregnant wife, Naji. They have invited us over for dinner again and this time they welcome us behind the curtain that separates the kitchen from the living room, to watch them prepare the meal together.
They work in perfect rhythm, this young couple from Veracruz, never fighting for space at the stove. She drops a handful of chiles into a sizzling pot of oil and while she’s turned to the counter to chop tomato, Mando reaches over to add seasoning to the diced lengua and stir it with a wooden spoon.
“Cocina usted, Don?” Mando asks Carlos, using the nickname his Mexican co-workers had given him his first day on the job.
Carlos laughs, “Honestamente, ella cocina casi todo,” he responds.
“Tiene que aprender, Don, para que usted le ayude a ella,” Mando says, surprising me with his lack of machismo. He tells us how he diced the lengua the night before, that it took him two hours, and I can see why. The meat is in perfect, uniform cubes, each one smaller than a sweet pea.
I ask Naji if she’d mind me writing down the recipe for the salsa she’s making. This, I realize, is the bright orange salsa I love – the one Carlos often brings home from work in a twisted plastic bag, a gift from Mando’s lunchbox. Naji smiles and tells me to go ahead. I pull out a little notebook and pen from my bag, I start scribbling down the ingredients and the generous extra tips she gives me.
Soon the kitchen fills with all the delicious scents of tacos de lengua. The meat is seasoned and cooked, the salsa prepared, the cabbage finely chopped with a large, sharp knife. Naji warms corn tortillas and cuts limes into wedges while Mando pours glasses of agua de uva. Now it is time to sit together at the table and eat this meal made with love.
Mexican Salsa Roja
• 2 generous handfuls of chiles guajillos secos – stems removed
(use chiles japones secos for spicier salsa)
• 2 large tomatoes chopped (or 1 can diced tomates, 14.5 oz, no salt added, undrained)
• 1/2 a medium onion
• 1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
• 3 tbs. canola oil
• 2 cups water
• 1 1/4 tsp. salt
• 1 can chiles in adobo, 7 oz. (optional)
1. In a medium-sized pot over medium heat, add oil, dried chiles, onion and garlic. Chiles should have stems removed. When you remove stems, seeds will fall out. Include the seeds in the pot.
2. Stir continuously taking care not to let it burn. After a minute or two, add tomato. Stir over medium heat another 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. In a blender combine 2 cups water, salt and contents of pot.
4. Blend 1 minute until mostly smooth. (If you prefer a thinner salsa, add more salted water and blend.)
5. This step is optional: To make the salsa spicier and add a lot of flavor, add 1 can chiles in adobo. Blend for another 30 seconds.
6. Return contents to pot. Stir salsa over medium heat for 2 minutes.
7. Allow to cool.
8. Keep refrigerated in jar or container for 1 week. (You could also can or freeze it.) Use on tacos or anything you like.
I gave you my recipe for Salvadoran Escabeche already, but do you ever buy the Mexican Escabeche in a can? (Pickled jalapeños and carrots?) Carlos and I love those so one day when I was faced with a nearly empty jar of pickled jalapeños, I decided to make good use of it by “recycling” it into “homemade” Mexican Escabeche. Chécalo!
In just a day or two those carrots soaked up plenty of flavor!
It all started the other night when I made Chinese egg rolls for dinner. Carlos wandered into the kitchen and observed me for a moment before joking, “Those are egg rolls? … They’re not even round. They look like tamales.”
I kicked Carlos out of the kitchen for that, although I had to admit, these look more like “tamales chinos” than egg rolls. The important thing is they tasted good, and thinking about Latin American food while making Chinese food sparked an idea.
I watched how the egg rolls puffed a little and became crispy as they fried in the oil and I thought, “I wonder if these egg roll wrappers would work for sopapillas?”
There was only one way to find out, so I gave it a try and success! Here’s how you make sopapillas [pronounced so-pah-pee-yas] from egg roll wrappers. (Step-by-step photos below!)
Easy Egg roll Wrapper Sopapillas
Egg roll wrappers
Cinnamon and sugar
1. Take a few egg roll wrappers and cut into quarters.
2. Separate the layers into individual squares.
3. Heat enough canola oil to cover the bottom of a frying pan or large pot.
4. Place a few squares into the oil so that they’re not touching, (you will have to cook them in batches.)
5. Flip squares over so they brown on each side.
6. Remove to paper towels to drain but sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar right away, before they cool.
7. Repeat until you have fried all the squares.
Now you can serve these drizzled in honey, or with vanilla ice cream topped with whatever you like – Some suggestions: chocolate syrup, cajeta (dulce de leche), whipped cream, cherries. (When served with vanilla ice cream, it tastes like fried ice cream.)
Note: There are many types of sopapillas (also spelled: sopaipilla, sopaipa, and supaipa) found in Latin America and they go by other names such as torta frita, cachanga, Kreppel and chipá cuerito. This version most closely resembles the American Southwest dessert version which you find in Mexican restaurants in the United States.
It all started with a comment. D.Y.H said on a recent post:
“Tracy, I just thought of something! Have you ever tried leche poleada? … Preguntale a Carlos si comía eso de niño. Cuando vivía con mi mamá ella lo hacía en tiempo de frío. It’s so good. I wouldn’t be able to tell you how to start or what to put in it aside from sprinkle ground cinnamon before you eat it…”
I had never heard of leche poleada but I asked Carlos and his eyes lit up.
“I love leche poleada!” he said, then he told me about how his mother used to make it for him when he was little. He hadn’t eaten it for at least twenty years.
“Why didn’t you tell me?!” I asked. We’ve been married for fourteen years and I never knew what leche poleada was, let alone that he loves it. Of course I wanted to make it for him right away, and that’s just what I did after a little research on the internet to find a recipe.
Below is my recipe which I adapted from one I found online. This leche poleada is about the same consistency as pudding. Carlos says some people prefer it thicker, so if you want it thicker, I would add another tablespoon of cornstarch and use whole milk instead of 1% – that should do the trick. Also, Carlos likes his cold, but you can eat this warm. (I should know, I licked the pot clean.)
4 rounded tablespoons corn starch
4 1/4 cups 1% milk
3 egg yolks
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
In a blender add milk, sugar, egg yolks and cornstarch. Blend for 30 seconds until well combined.
Pour mixture into a pot over low heat. Add cinnamon stick and vanilla extract.
Stir constantly until the mixture boils and thickens.
Remove from heat and let cool. (You can serve warm if you like. If you want to serve cold, continue.)
Remove cinnamon stick. Pour into single serving cups and place in refrigerator 1 to 2 hours.
Sprinkle ground cinnamon on poleada before serving. Makes 8 servings.
Adapted from this recipe at Cipotes.net
Awhile back a friend of mine asked what we eat at our house. Do we eat mostly Salvadoran or mostly American, she wanted to know. I told her it’s probably about 50/50 depending on my mood. One week I might make all Salvadoran food or a mix of Latin American foods and then the next, I’ll make “American” food, (which is actually more likely to be Americanized Chinese, Mexican or Italian food.)
However, since being asked how we eat, I’ve been a bit more conscious of it and holy cow – we eat some strange things – the best example of the “fusion” cooking that happens organically in my kitchen would be “Fried Chicken & Mashed Potato Tacos.”
How did this happen? It’s the necessity of combining the tastes of everyone in the family with the ingredients I have on hand. I looked into my fridge and saw leftover mashed potatoes and the ever present stack of corn tortillas. I decided to make “Tacos de Papa” – something I first learned about from Graceelena of Sunshine and Potatoes, but I actually got to try them last year when one of Carlos’s Mexican co-workers gifted us some.
The problem with making Tacos de Papa is that Carlos insists on having meat at every meal, and that’s when I spotted the lonely pieces of leftover fried chicken. With a little green onion and salsa to give it some sabor, I had created something that wasn’t quite Mexican or even Tex-Mex, but definitely wasn’t my grandmother’s comfort food either.
Here’s the recipe if you’re crazy enough to try it.
Fried Chicken & Mashed Potato Tacos
2-3 pieces of fried chicken, shredded by hand
1 cup mashed potatoes
1 green onion, chopped
salsa or hot sauce of your choice
corn or flour tortillas
1. Add the green onion to the chicken. Keep all other ingredients separate.
2. Warm tortillas on the comal [griddle] or in a large frying pan, so that they’re pliable. Flip them over.
3. In the center of each tortilla, place a spoonful of mashed potato, a few pieces of chicken & green onion, and top with a spoonful of salsa or hot sauce.
4. Use a spatula to fold each tortilla closed. The mashed potatoes will help keep them from opening. Brown on each side, flipping as needed. If you like, spray each side with cooking spray for better browning.
5. Remove from comal and serve.
My first taste of Semita, (a Salvadoran jam or marmalade filled pastry) was many years ago. Suegra had brought it back in her “encargos” from El Salvador and this one, although I didn’t know it at the time, was of great quality and very fresh. Suegra brought many Semitas with her and to keep from eating them I put them in the freezer – I soon found that they taste just as good frozen, (though that’s probably a very gringa thing to do.)
Once my stash of Semita ran out I was forced to buy some at the local Salvadoran-owned Latino market. I then discovered one more thing – Not all Semita are created equal. The Semitas bought locally were low quality – either because they were made to have a longer shelf life or because they weren’t and had gone stale. I vowed that one day I would bake my own Semita but I didn’t get around to it until a few weeks ago. The results were so fantastic that I would say this is one of the best things I’m able to make, (and Carlos fell in love with me all over again.)
Here is my recipe – I read a dozen Semita recipes and created my own. Sometimes straying from already established recipes while baking is asking for disaster, but in this case, it was sweet success. By the way, this recipe can also be used to make Empanadas de Piña, Pasteles de Piña or Pineapple Hand Pies.
If you mention Semita to a Mexican, they might think you’re talking about Cemita – a type of sandwich from Puebla.
Semita (Salvadoran Pineapple Jam-Filled Pastries)
4 cups of flour
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature and chopped in pieces
2 tablespoons yeast
1 cup sugar
2 pinches of salt
1 jar pineapple jelly, jam or marmalade (if you can’t find at the regular grocery store, check the Latino market)
1/2 cup water
1. In a very large mixing bowl, add the flour. Create a volcano with a hole in the center for the rest of the ingredients.
2. Into the volcano, add butter, yeast, eggs, sugar, salt and water. Mix all the ingredients by hand, kneading them together. (These measurements worked perfectly – I double checked by making the recipe a second time, but if for some reason the dough doesn’t come together after a couple minutes, you can add a little more water – If too sticky after a few minutes, you can add a little flour.)
3. The original recipes call for rising time – I skipped this completely. Don’t be afraid – keep going!
4. Remove a baseball-sized amount of dough and set aside, then break the remaining dough into 4 equal balls.
5. On a lightly-floured surface, roll a ball of dough out until it’s as thick as pie crust, (not too thin or you won’t be able to pick it up.) Use a knife to cut the dough into a rectangle shape. (It doesn’t have to be perfect but you can use a ruler if you want.)
6. Place the rectangle on a greased baking sheet. Top with a nice layer of pineapple jam, (a little thicker than you’d put on a peanut butter & jelly sandwich.)
7. Create another rectangle with the second ball of dough. Place this one on top of the jam.
8. Repeat with the 2 other dough balls. You should now have 2 rectangular Semitas on separate baking sheets, 1 ball of dough and dough scraps from when you cut out the rectangles.
9. Take your dough scraps and create a ball. Roll out on a lightly floured surface and cut into long strips as you see in the photos. Place on top of the 2 Semitas in a criss-cross pattern. Sprinkle each Semita with a tablespoon or two of sugar.
10. Pasteles de Piña: With remaining dough you could make another rectangular Semita or try your hand at Pasteles de Piña. Roll the dough out on a floured surface and then cut out circles using a large drinking glass. Roll out each circle a little more, trying to give it a more oval shape. Put a spoonful of pineapple jam in the middle. With a finger dipped in water, wet the edge of one side before folding over and sealing by pressing the tines of a fork against the edges. (Don’t worry if the dough breaks open a little or doesn’t totally seal. The jam actually tastes really good when it seeps out.)
11. Put the Pasteles on a greased baking sheet, sprinkle with sugar.
12. Baking Time & Temp: Both the Semitas and the Pasteles should be baked on the middle rack of a 350 F oven until golden brown. (You probably won’t be able to bake them all at the same time.) The rectangular Semitas need 30 to 40 minutes in the oven and the Pasteles might be done after 15 to 20 minutes – check them and decide based on color.
Makes: 2 normal-sized Semitas and 12 individual half moon pies/pasteles/empanadas.
Or: 3 normal-sized Semitas, or 36 half moon pies/pasteles/empanadas.
Note: A “normal-sized” Semita serves about 9 people.
When I saw this recipe, I knew right away that I wanted to share it here on Latinaish. Of course the name of the recipe caught my eye – I love Javier Hernández, the Mexican footballer better known by the nickname “Chicharito” – but “Chicharito” or “Chícharo” is simply the word for peas. (Javier’s father was given the nickname “Chícharo” for his green eyes, and that’s how Javier became “Chicharito” – the little pea.)
Anyway, for once, my mind wasn’t in the wrong place because this recipe does seem to be a play on words. Look at the little soccer ball-like “bolitas”!
Notice the red, white and green plastic food picks! (Colors of the Mexican flag) … Clearly Chef Maggie Jiménez is not only a creative genius, but a fan of Chicharito.
I haven’t had a chance to try this recipe out but it looks almost as good as Javier Hernández on the pitch – chécalo!
Chicharitos de Sabor
4 Tazas MASECA®
2 ½ Tazas Agua
½ Cdta. Sal
½ Taza Aceite para freír
1 Taza chícharos congelados
½ Taza Queso manchego cortado en cubos pequeños
½ Taza carne molida
½ Taza Chicharrón
½ Taza Chorizo
Mezclar la MASECA® con el agua y la sal durante 5 minutos hasta que la masa ya no se pegue en las manos. Dividir en 20 porciones iguales y hacer 5 bolitas rellenas de queso, 5 de carne, 5 de chicharrón y 5 de chorizo. Integrar las bolitas con chícharos. Calentar el aceite y freír las bolitas.
Disclosure: This is not a paid or sponsored post. MASECA® granted permission for this recipe and photo to be reproduced from their website, MiMaseca.com.
I’m not usually one to deprive Carlos of a food he is craving if it’s in my abilities to make it. As old-fashioned as it may seem, making food for Carlos and the boys and watching them enjoy it is one of my favorite things. That being said, when Carlos requested Sopa de Res the other day, (something I make for the family often in the winter) I found it strange enough that I didn’t want to make it.
“Sopa de res?” I said, “But it’s summertime! It’s hot out!”
“What’s wrong with that?” Carlos said.
“You don’t eat stew in the summer – that’s just weird. Soups and stews are for fall and winter. They warm you up and comfort you when you’re cold.”
“Well, I don’t think like that,” Carlos reminded me. “In El Salvador the weather is always hot so when are we supposed to eat soup?”
I realized he had a point and bought what I needed to make Sopa de Res on Friday. As I make it right now, the weather seems to have obliged with my “soup eating rules.” It has been cold and rainy all weekend.
SOPA DE RES
1 to 2 lbs. stew meat
2 tablespoons Canola oil
salt, pepper to taste
1 onion, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
14 oz. chunky salsa (whichever kind you like)
1 to 2 cups baby carrots
2 cups chopped potatoes (whichever kind you like)
2 to 3 corn cobs broken in thirds, (1 cup frozen/canned corn can be substituted)
1/2 small cabbage chopped in wedges
sliced pickled jalapeños
handful fresh cilantro, washed and chopped
fresh lime wedges
Brown meat and onion in oil in a large soup pot. Season with salt and pepper.
Add broth and salsa. Meat should be slightly covered, if not, add water until it is.
Bring to a boil then lower heat. Simmer, loosely covered until meat is cooked and tender.
Add carrots and potatoes – Continue simmering until these are tender.
Add corn cobs. Simmer until corn is cooked.
Add cabbage and cook until tender, (not soggy!)
Ladle into bowls. Add cilantro to each bowl. Serve with a wedge of lime to squeeze on top and warm homemade tortillas. If you like it spicy, add some pickled jalapeños.
Recipe adapted from: Caldo de Res
While we were in El Salvador we ate breakfast a couple times at a restaurant in Metrocentro called San Martin’s. One day I ordered something called “El Desayuno Universitario” (The University Student Breakfast). It was made of humble ingredients – french bread, cheese, beans, and a fresh salsa. I loved it.
Since coming back to the United States, I make this often – though usually for lunch or dinner. The entire family loves it, it’s affordable, healthy and easy to make. Here’s my version!
El Desayuno Universitario (The University Student Breakfast)
French bread or bolillos sliced in half
Frijoles Molidos (refried beans)
Mozzarella cheese cut in slices or shredded
1. Place bread slices on an ungreased baking sheet.
2. Spoon frijoles molidos onto the bread and spread to the edges with the back of the spoon.
3. Top each piece of bread with cheese.
4. Bake in the oven at 350 F until cheese is melted and bread is slightly toasted.
Optional: Put under a broiler to brown the cheese.
Serve with chunky-style salsa to spoon on top. I like to dice tomatoes with fresh basil and then add a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, so it’s kind of like a Salvadoran version of bruschetta.
Summer is on its way and so that means it’s time to break out the pasta salad recipes for picnics and barbeques. Here is a recipe for what is called “Ensalada de Conchitas” (little shell salad), because of the shape of the pasta used. (I have no idea if this is an “authentic” Salvadoran recipe but it’s something Suegra used to make which I’ve changed a little.)
ENSALADA DE CONCHITAS (LITTLE SHELL SALAD)
• One 7 oz. package of “conchitas” pasta (the brand I use is La Moderna but any small shell-shaped pasta is fine)
• Mayonnaise (whichever brand you like)
• A handful of fresh cilantro, washed and chopped (best if you avoid the stems & use only leaves)
• Juice of 1/2 a lime
• 1 tablespoon of ketchup (brand not important)
• Salt & Pepper to taste
1. Boil water with a few dashes of salt. Add the pasta and cook until tender. Pour pasta into a colander and run cold water over them until they’re no longer hot.
2. In a large bowl, combine pasta with mayonnaise. The amount of mayonnaise will depend on your personal preference, so just add it slowly and mix it in until your preferred level creaminess is achieved.
3. Add cilantro, the juice of 1/2 a lime, and a tablespoon of ketchup. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to your personal tastes and then refrigerate for at least an hour or two so it’s nice and cold before serving.