Category Archives: recipes
When I say “chuletas” you may think of lamb chops or pork chops and their distinctive shape, but Carlos asked me to make Salvadoran Chuletas which are something entirely different.
At first I thought Carlos was playing a trick on me because the food he described sounded really strange. He said Salvadoran Chuletas look like a meatball wrapped around a strip of tortilla. I questioned him further. “Are you sure this isn’t something your mother invented? Is this really a Salvadoran dish that other people will recognize?” – He assured me this is a real Salvadoran dish. I asked if the meatball part goes on the end of the tortilla strip so that at least it’ll look more like a lamb chop, but he insisted it goes in the middle.
With Carlos’s descriptions and encouragement, I gave it a try, and he says I hit the jackpot – so I present to you Salvadoran Chuletas, (or “Chuletas de Carne Molida.”) I have no idea how this dish came to exist in El Salvador but I imagine a hungry husband telling his wife that he wants chuletas for dinner. The wife goes to the kitchen, knowing full well that they don’t have such an expensive cut of meat, and she creates these fake “chuletas” out of day old tortillas and carne molida in the hopes of tricking her husband.
If you know the real story or anything else about Salvadoran Chuletas de Carne Molida, be sure to leave a comment! For now, here is my recipe.
2 lbs. ground meat (beef, turkey or chicken)
1 handful fresh cilantro, washed and chopped
1/2 a medium onion, chopped fine
1/2 a medium green pepper, chopped fine
1 cup bread crumbs
1 heaping tablespoon fresh minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
canola oil (for frying)
5 thick corn tortillas
1. Fry the cooked tortillas in a little oil until slightly crunchy. Remove and cool. Cut into thick strips. Set aside. (Leftover handmade tortillas work best for this.)
2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the tortilla strips and oil. Mix by hand.
3. Take a small handful of the meat mixture, (a little larger than a golf ball), and a strip of tortilla. (Choose the longest strips of tortilla. The short strips can be discarded or reserved for a different recipe.)
4. Mold the meat mixture around the strip of tortilla so that you have tortilla poking out at each end with a meatball-like shape in the middle. Make sure you don’t make the meatball too rounded or big or they won’t cook through when frying.
5. Fry in oil over medium heat, turning to brown on each side. Do this in batches, removing to drain on paper towels when finished.
6. Serve with rice and fresh salsa. Makes approx. 15 to 20 chuletas.
Carlos says that this recipe is for a hangover but we usually eat this with sandwiches for an easy Sunday afternoon lunch. I often use Maggi brand soup packets but if you want to avoid MSG by making this from scratch, check out the variation below!
Sopa de Fideos con Huevo
1 packet Maggi brand “Pollo con Fideos” soup mix
4 cups water
1. Follow directions on the Maggi packet to make the soup as usual.
2. During the last minute of the soup’s simmering time, remove the pot’s lid and crack 2 eggs into the broth. Immediately stir with a fork to break up the yolk.
3. Place the lid back on the pot. Simmer an additional 2 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and ladle into bowls. Serve. (Optional: We like this with Ritz crackers crushed on top.)
1. Bring 4 cups of chicken stock to a boil. Drop in 1/2 to 1 cup small “fideo” noodles. (If you can’t find the little “fideo” noodles pictured above, any tiny noodle is fine, or use angel hair spaghetti broken in 1/2 inch pieces.)
2. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer until noodles are tender. Crack 2 eggs into the broth. Immediately stir with a fork to break up the yolk.
3. Place the lid back on the pot. Simmer an additional 2 minutes. To add a little more flavor to the soup consider any combination of salt, pepper, dried thyme, dried parsley, and/or dried basil.
4. Remove from heat and ladle into bowls. Serve. (Optional: We like this with Ritz crackers crushed on top.)
When I say “enchiladas” – what do you imagine? A burrito-like dish covered in spicy red sauce and melted cheese? Well, for El Salvador and some other Central American countries, enchiladas are a different dish entirely. While each person has their preferences, here is my version: A fried tortilla colored with achiote (annatto) forms the foundation, then in layers, mayonnaise, seasoned ground beef, curtido (Salvadoran cabbage salad), sliced hard boiled eggs, a heavy sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a few squirts of ketchup! Pick up your enchilada and eat it with your hands. Here’s the recipe, (and some notes on other variations you can try!)
Ingredients for the ground beef:
1 lb. ground beef
a few generous dashes Salsa Perrins (also known as “Worcestershire sauce”)
1 teaspoon achiote powder
salt to taste
Ingredients for the tortillas:
3 cups corn flour (MASECA is the brand I use)
a little less than 4 cups water
1 tablespoon achiote powder
a pinch of salt
oil for frying (I use Canola)
6 eggs – hard boiled, peeled and sliced
Curtido (recipe here)
1. In a pan, fry the ground beef seasoned with Worcestershire sauce, achiote powder and salt. (If using lean ground beef, add a little oil to fry.) Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine corn flour with achiote powder and salt. Stir dry ingredients with a fork to combine before adding water. Add water a little at a time, combining with your hands as you go. You will use almost 4 cups of water, but 4 cups is too much, so don’t add it all. You want the masa (dough) to be very moist but not so wet that you can’t shape it with your hands.
3. Heat oil in a large pan. Shape masa into tortillas, (If you don’t know how to do this with your hands, some people cheat by smashing a ball of dough between the bottoms of two plates covered in plastic wrap.)
4. Fry the tortillas a few at a time without crowding them in the pan. Flip to brown on both sides. Remove to paper towels to drain off some of the oil.
5. Time to assemble your enchiladas! Slather mayonnaise on each tortilla. Top with the following in this order: ground beef, curtido, sliced egg, Parmesan, ketchup. This recipe makes approximately 12 enchiladas.
6. Variations: Enchiladas can be made different ways – just like a hamburger. You can use whatever toppings appeal to you. Some people top their enchiladas with tomato slices, radish slices, and fresh avocado; other people use refried beans instead of mayonnaise, tomato sauce instead of ketchup, and grilled chicken in place of ground beef.
What do you put on your enchiladas?
Being married to Carlos over these past 15 years, one thing I’ve learned is that American birthday cake and Salvadoran birthday cake are very different.
Carlos will eat American birthday cake, but he doesn’t really like it.
Today was Carlos’s birthday and for the past few weeks, all he’s been talking about is Salvadoran birthday cake. I got the hint and asked him plenty of questions about it so I could make him one. Carlos says that growing up in El Salvador he always got a cake from a bakery called Flor de Trigo on his birthday. The cake part was moist but didn’t have a strong flavor, the frosting was only very slightly sweet. The cakes were usually layer cakes with fruit decorating the top.
I did some research, (even found the Flor de Trigo website!) and this is what I came up with.
The cake is a white cake (from a box mix just to save some time), and the “frosting” is a homemade whipped cream. Sliced almonds decorate the sides, and the fruits I chose were strawberries and apricot. Carlos gave me muchos besos and said it’s just like a Salvadoran birthday cake. Here’s the recipe if you want to give it a try!
Salvadoran-style Birthday Cake
1 box white cake mix (I used Duncan Hines Classic White)
1 quart heavy whipping cream
1/2 to 3/4 cup white sugar (more if you prefer sweeter)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 cups sliced almonds
1 pint fresh strawberries, washed and sliced
1 can apricot halves, drained and sliced
1 can (12 oz.) “apricot cake & pastry filling” (I used “Solo” brand)
1. Make cake according to package directions. If you have two round pans, use those. If not, you can do what I did – Put it all in a well greased 13 x 9 glass baking dish. Once baked and cooled, carefully turn onto a clean surface and slice in half to create 2 square layers. (Since the edges get browned while baking, slice those off so it’s uniform on all sides.)
2. This is how you make homemade whipped cream. (I recommend making this and assembling the cake the same day you plan to eat it.) First, it’s best if you have a large stainless steel bowl, but a plastic mixing bowl will work. Metal is better because you can get it nice and cold. Cold is your friend when making whipped cream! … Whichever bowl you’re using, stick it in the freezer along with the metal beater(s) from your electric mixer. The heavy whipping cream should be kept in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. To make the whipped cream – pour the quart of whipping cream into the bowl. Turn your mixer on high and beat until stiff peaks form. Add a 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and sugar according to your tastes, (1/2 cup to 3/4 cups makes it just barely sweet by American standards.)
3. Put one cake layer on a base – this will be the bottom layer. (Ideally your base would be the bottom of a cake container which you can cover with a dome lid.) Spread the can of “apricot cake & pastry filling” on the top of the bottom cake layer. On top of the “apricot cake & pastry filling”, spread a layer of whipped cream. Top with the top cake layer.
4. Frost the entire outside of the cake with the whipped cream. Carefully toss the sliced almonds onto the sides of the cake.
5. Decorate the top of the cake with the sliced apricots and strawberries. (This recipe will work great if you decide to use different fruits or a different “cake & pastry filling” – so get creative! Other options include fresh or canned pineapple, fresh kiwi, canned fruit cocktail, and other kinds of berries.)
6. Cover cake and refrigerate for a couple hours then serve!
¡Feliz Cumpleaños! (or as I like to say, “Sapo Verde!“)
Actually, despite the title, this turkey is for tomorrow, Christmas Day. Tonight (Noche Buena), we’re going to have tamales, Mexican queso fundido, and Cuban tostones with mojo. (Not a traditional Salvadoran spread, but somehow, those are the diverse recipes I ended up choosing – and that’s after Carlos discouraged me from making a Venezuelan Pan de Jamón on top of it all.)
I don’t cook poultry that looks like poultry very often. It kind of grosses me out and I prefer to buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts. (Suegra always told me I’d have never survived in El Salvador since she had to wring the chicken’s neck and then pluck it.)
Anyway, when making Panes con Pavo I end up having to handle a whole turkey, which happens maybe once a year. Right now I was just putting the “Salsa Perrins” and mustard on the pavo to marinate and my 11 year old came into the kitchen. He looked at the turkey for a minute, checking it out from both ends and all directions. Then he asked, “Which side is the culito?”
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 below!
“Tenemos Atol de Elote!” dijo el cajero salvadoreño en el mercado latino. Él sonrió y tocó un gran recipiente de metal que parecía un pequeño barril.
“Atol de Elote?” dije, tratando de ganar tiempo.
“Sí, bien rico!” dijo el cajero.
Yo no quería ser desagradable pero Atol de Elote nunca me tentó. Que quiero decir, es una bebida hecha de maíz. Si tú dices “bebida de maíz” a la mayoría de los gringos, se sentirán disgustados.
De todos modos, acepté una taza de Atol de Elote y tomé un sorbo. Yo estaba dispuesta a regalar una sonrisa y decir que estaba delicioso sólo para estar agradable pero me sorprendió. Realmente era delicioso! Atol de Elote es perfecto para el clima frío, también – mejor que el Chocolate Caliente porque te llena.
Decidí tratar de hacer mi propio Atol de Elote pero en los Estados Unidos no podemos comprar mazorcas de maíz en el invierno. Esta receta utiliza maíz congelado. También usé leche de 1% por lo que es un poco más delgado que lo que traté en el mercado latino. Si quieres tu Atol de Elote más espesado, creo que usando leche entera iba a funcionar. Dale una prueba la receta y déjeme saber lo que piensas! … Acabo de hacer una olla y Carlos bebió una taza grande. Cálido y lleno, se quedó dormido en el sofá.
Atol de Elote
5 tazas granos de maíz amarillo enteros congelados
6 tazas de leche
6 tazas de agua
1 1/4 tazas de azúcar
1/2 cucharadita de sal
3 rajas de canela
1 cucharadita de extracto de vainilla
1. Deja una taza de maíz a un lado.
2. En una licuadora, agregue 4 tazas de maíz y 4 tazas de agua. Mezcle 1 minuto.
3. Vierta el líquido de maíz en una olla grande con 2 tazas más de agua, la taza de maíz, palitos de canela y azúcar.
4. Revuelva constantemente a fuego medio por 5 a 10 minutos.
5. Agregue la leche. Revuelva constantemente por 15 minutos.
6. Retire del fuego. Añade la sal y el extracto de vainilla. Mezcle para combinar.
7. Sirva caliente en tazas.
“We have Atol de Elote!” the Salvadoran cashier said at the Latino market. He smiled and touched a large metal container that looked like a small barrel.
“Atol de Elote?” I said, trying to buy time.
“Yeah, it’s good!” said the cashier.
I didn’t want to be rude but Atol de Elote has never tempted me. I mean, it’s a drink made from corn. If you say “corn drink” to most Americans, they will feel disgusted.
Regardless, I accepted a cup of Atol de Elote and took a sip. I was prepared to give a polite smile and say it was delicious but I was surprised. It really was delicious! Atol de Elote is perfect for cold weather, too – better than hot chocolate because it fills you up.
I decided to try to make my own Atol de Elote but in the United States we can’t buy corn on the cob in the winter. This recipe uses frozen corn. I also used 1% milk so it is a bit thinner than what I tried at the Latino market. If you want your Atol de Elote thicker, I think using whole milk would work. Give the recipe a try and let me know what you think! … I just made a pot of it and Carlos drank a large cup. Warm and full he fell asleep on the sofa.
Atol de Elote
5 cups frozen whole kernels of yellow corn
6 cups milk
6 cups water
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Set a cup of corn aside.
2. In a blender, add 4 cups of corn and 4 cups water. Blend 1 minute.
3. Pour the liquid corn mixture into a large pot with 2 cups of water, the cup of corn, sugar and cinnamon sticks.
4. Stir constantly over medium heat for 5-10 minutes.
5. Add the milk. Stir constantly for 15 minutes.
6. Remove from heat. Add the salt and vanilla extract. Stir to combine.
7. Serve hot in mugs.
I don’t usually share my gringo traditions here but I realize that just as I’m fascinated by and curious about Latin American traditions, maybe there are people from other parts of the world reading this who might be just as fascinated by and curious about the traditions we have here in the United States. As I mentioned before, carving a jack-o-lantern and roasting pumpkin seeds were two of the very first traditions I shared with Carlos, so now I’m going to share it with you. (Besides, roasted pumpkin seeds are popular in parts of Latin America too!)
Directions and step-by-step photos below!
How to Make: Jack-o-Lanterns & Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
1. Choose a side of your pumpkin to work on. I always choose the side that has the least amount of blemishes or scratches, but if you’re going for a different look, maybe that would add some character. Once you’ve decided which side you like best, use a marker to draw a face. Remember that you’ll be carving these shapes out with a knife, so the more complicated the shapes, (especially round shapes or tiny details), the more difficult it will be. (Note: Don’t carve your pumpkin more than a few days before Halloween or it will start to rot.)
2. Draw a circle at least an inch out from the stem around the top of the pumpkin. Cut along the line at the top and then gently pull the stem to open the pumpkin. Use a knife to cut the gunk and strings hanging off the top so it’s clean and flat.
3. Reach inside the pumpkin and pull out the “guts.” (Most little kids find this disgusting but fun.)
4. The gooey, stringy stuff can be discarded, but separate the seeds out into a bowl as you go. At some point you will need to use a spoon to scrape the inside nice and clean.
5. Use a sharp knife to carefully carve out the face you drew on the outside of the pumpkin. Little kids will need lots of help and should be supervised at all times.
6. Admire what a good job you’ve done. Your jack-o-lantern is finished and ready for the final touch, but first, let’s roast pumpkin seeds.
7. Put the pumpkin seeds in a colander and rinse with water for a couple minutes, using your hands to mix them around. Leave in the colander to drip dry about 20 minutes.
8. Cover a baking sheet in aluminum foil. Spread the pumpkin seeds out on the ungreased baking sheet. Put into the oven at no more than 200 F. Right now we’re not roasting the pumpkin seeds, just drying them out. Check the pumpkin seeds every 10 minutes. They should be dry in 20 – 30 minutes or less. Pumpkin seeds should still be white when you remove them from the oven. Allow to cool for a couple minutes until they’re safe to handle with your hands.
9. Use your hands to mix the pumpkin seeds around and get them unstuck from the aluminum foil. Dribble a little oil on the seeds, (some people use butter – I spray them generously with cooking spray), and then sprinkle with salt. Mix around with your hands, making sure all seeds are covered in oil and salt. Bake in oven at 350 F until slightly browned. Allow to cool and then serve or store for eating.
10. Back to your jack-o-lantern! On Halloween night, place a lit candle inside your jack-o-lantern (battery operated “candles” are best so you don’t have to worry about a fire hazard), and then put the top back on. Set on your doorstep out of the way of trick-or-treaters. Happy Halloween!
I shared this recipe before here, but I make it so often that I’ve made a few changes. For one thing, Carlos prefers toasted bread, and for another, he prefers Parmesan cheese over Mozzarella because it doesn’t upset his stomach the way heavier cheese does.
So, here is another way to make it! (By the way, I learned recently from my friend Maura over at The Other Side of the Tortilla, that Mexicans eat the same dish. In Mexico it’s called “molletes” – Check out some interesting history and Maura’s recipe, which was also featured on NBC Latino.)
El Desayuno Universitario II
1 loaf French bread
Parmesan cheese, grated (preferably fresh, not powdered)
Refried Beans/Frijoles Molidos
1 large Roma tomato, diced
1 handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
2. Cut the French bread loaf in half lengthwise. Spread each inner half with butter. Place on a hot comal (griddle) to toast for one to two minutes. (You can also use slices of French bread.)
3. Place toasted French bread halves on a baking sheet. Spread each half with refried beans and then top with as much Parmesan cheese as you like.
4. Put into oven at 350 F for 5 to 10 minutes or until bread is warm to the touch on all sides. (You can also do this under the broiler if you like.)
5. In a small bowl, combine diced tomato and chopped cilantro to make a quick fresh salsa. You can also add diced fresh onion, green bell pepper or your favorite fresh chile pepper, such as jalapeño or poblano.
6. Cut French bread loaves into serving sizes and top with fresh salsa.
Nope, I’m not talking about getting married – I’m talking about Salvadoran Casamiento.
“Casamiento” means “wedding” and it’s the name of a bean and rice dish in El Salvador. Although Casamiento is usually made from leftover beans and rice which are mixed together, it can also be made from scratch. I made a video showing all the steps – from making a simple pot of plain, white rice, to making a pot of Salvadoran beans, to then combining them along with some other ingredients to create Casamiento.
Because Casamiento is usually eaten with Platanos Fritos and Crema, I decided to throw that recipe in the video as well… So here’s the video, and the recipes are typed up below, too.
Plain, White Rice
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup rice (Salvadorans traditionally use white rice. I use Jasmine.)
1 3/4 cups water
a little less than 1 teaspoon salt
Directions: Heat oil in a medium pot. Add rice and stir around for a minute or two. (Do not brown the rice.) Add the water and salt. Stir just to distribute the salt and then no more stirring after that! Bring to a boil. Cover and lower heat to low. After 12 minutes your pot of rice should be ready. Uncover and fluff with a fork. If using for Casamiento, set aside or refrigerate when cooled.
1 lb. beans (these can be black beans or Salvadoran red beans/frijoles rojos de seda.)
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in quarters
a few cloves of garlic, peeled
Directions: Pour beans into a large pot. Cover with water to rinse. Remove any debris or shriveled beans. (I don’t usually find anything to remove but it’s just a precaution.) Drain water and add fresh water to cover.
Now you have a choice – If you want to cook the beans as soon as possible, you can do a “quick soak.” Bring the beans and water to a boil, then cover and remove from heat. Let beans sit for one hour. This is a quick soak and your beans are now ready to cook.
If you aren’t in a hurry, you can simply cover the beans (without heating the water), and let them sit overnight. The beans will be ready to cook in the morning.
Once your beans have either been through the “quick soak” process, or have sat overnight, you’re ready to cook them. Drain the water and add fresh water again. Make sure the water covers the beans by about a half inch. Add the onion and garlic to the pot. Simmer the beans covered until tender. This can take up to five hours and you must frequently check the beans to make sure they have enough water. Add water when needed and do not let the beans cook dry or they will burn. NOTE: Do not add salt until the beans are completely done cooking. If you add salt while the beans are hard, they will not soften. When the beans are tender, add salt to taste.
3/4 cups green pepper, diced
1 large roma tomato, diced
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup cooked beans
1/2 cup bean broth (the liquid from cooking the beans)
salt, to taste
Directions: Add the green pepper, tomato and onion to oil in a medium pot. Cook over medium heat until onion and green pepper become tender. Add in the rice, beans and bean broth. (If you prefer a drier Casamiento, use a little less bean broth.) Mix until combined. Remove from heat. Add salt to taste.
Note: The green pepper, tomato and onion are all optional.
1 platano, (should be yellow with many black markings)
oil for cooking
Use a sharp knife to cut off the ends of the platano. Slice through the peel length-wise to remove. Slice the platano in circles or quarters length-wise. Fry in a tablespoon or two of oil, flipping to brown both sides. Remove to a plate covered in a paper towel to drain. Serve with crema. (If you don’t have Salvadoran crema available near you, sour cream will do.)
I’ve got a backpack full of links for you to check out for Día de Los Muertos (also known as “Day of the Dead” or “Día de los Difuntos”.)
SpanglishBaby.com had the genius idea of creating this collection of Day of the Dead links which includes everything from altars/ofrendas, crafts for adults and kids alike, themed products available for purchase from around the internet, recipes, history, culture, photos, videos, and personal stories. The collection of links includes all my Día de los Muertos posts too in case you missed them in previous years.
Click the image below to go to the SpanglishBaby post which includes not only all their awesome links within their own site, but links to all our fellow amigas’ great content which continues to be added!