Category Archives: Salvadoreños

Rellenos de Ejotes

rellenosdeejotes_latinaish3

Combine the words “melted” and “cheese” and you’ve got my attention – mozzarella sticks, Chicken Parmesan, pupusas, pizza, macaroni and cheese, chiles rellenos – They’re all firmly in my favorite foods category. So it should come as no surprise that when I found out about Salvadoran Rellenos de Ejotes, you didn’t have to tell me twice to grab a fork.

Fresh green beans are pressed by hand into softened mozzarella cheese, dipped in batter and fried until golden brown, then topped with homemade salsa. Carlos likes this served with rice, but I’m happy to eat them all on their own.

Rellenos de Ejotes

Ingredients:

1 to 2 lbs. fresh green beans
1 lb. mozzarella cheese
6 eggs
3 tablespoons of all purpose flour
oil for frying (I use Canola)
salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Pull the stems off green beans and separate out any that are shriveled or too small. Discard the stems and shriveled green beans. Small green beans can be used in another recipe but for this one, you want big, strong green beans that are all around the same size.

2. Boil the green beans in slightly salted water for about 10 minutes or until when tasted they are tender and cooked but not soft. Drain and then set aside to cool to the point that they’re safe to handle by hand.

3. To soften mozzarella cheese, immerse the cheese (still in its packaging), in a bowl of warm water. After 5 to 10 minutes, remove the package of cheese from the water, remove the cheese from the packaging, and then knead it by hand in a medium-sized bowl until it’s soft and easy to mold with your hands. Set aside.

4. To make the batter, separate the eggs – placing the whites in a medium-sized bowl and the yolks in a small bowl. (I find the easiest way to do this is to carefully crack the egg and then pass the yolk back and forth between the two shells. The whites will fall into the bowl below and then when you’re left with only the yolk, you can put it in the other bowl.)

5. Beat the whites (an electric mixer comes in handy here), until stiff, then carefully mix in the yolks and then the flour.

6. To form the Rellenos de Ejotes, lay about 5 green beans in your palm, side by side. On top of this, add a small handful of cheese, and on top of that, repeat a layer of green beans like you have on the bottom. Cup your hands together and apply gentle pressure so that the green beans stick to the cheese.

7. Repeat this process until all the beans and cheese have been used. Season each Relleno de Ejotes with a little salt and pepper, then dip each one in the batter.

8. Fry the Rellenos de Ejotes in a few tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan, flipping once until golden brown on each side.

9. Remove to paper towels or place directly into salsa. (I prefer to keep the Rellenos out of the salsa until ready to eat to avoid any sogginess or falling apart.)

10. Serve topped with salsa. (My fresh salsa recipe is below.)

rellenosdeejotes_latinaish2

Señora López’s Fresh Salsa

3 to 4 fresh Roma tomatoes or a 32 ounce can of whole tomatoes
1 handful fresh cilantro
1/2 of a medium-sized onion
1/4 of a medium Poblano or green bell pepper
1 tablespoon raw, minced garlic
a few rings of pickled jalapeño (Optional. Add more or less to taste.)
salt to taste
a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce (also known as “Salsa Perrins.”)

Combine in a blender. Serve immediately or put in a jar and keep refrigerated for a few days. Use in almost any recipe calling for salsa, or as a side with Latin American dishes.

Chocobananos

chocobananos2

After Carlos’s accident I was really shaken up and dealing with some post traumatic stress. As is my habit, I researched to see how I could “fix” things and get back to normal, (or as normal as I get, anyway.) One piece of advice I read: If the event keeps replaying in the mind, do something to distract yourself — My something to distract myself all last week became cooking Salvadoran food and practicing my food photography skills. It served the dual purpose of showing my love for Carlos while taking care of him, as well as keeping my mind busy. I’m happy to say that this week Carlos is back to work, and I’m feeling better, too.

The reason I mention any of this is to prepare you for the onslaught of recipes I’ll be sharing. First up we have chocobananos, which are basically frozen bananas on a stick dipped in chocolate.

The first chocobanano I had was in El Salvador. It was my first day there on my first trip, and our one year old son had cried on and off the entire flight. (Apologies to our fellow passengers.) Carlos and I took a walk around Soyapango, leaving our colicky baby with suegra. As we walked around the neighborhood we passed all the little stores people had on their enclosed porches. Carlos bought a chocobanano for me from a neighbor and I fell instantly in love, (with the chocobanano, not with Carlos, because Carlos and I were already well-acquainted.)

Back in the United States it isn’t always as easy to find fresh chocobananos. Some Latino markets have them in the ice cream case but there’s no guarantee they were made the same day, or even the same week. Making your own chocobananos is easy, ensures freshness and also allows you to add whatever toppings you so desire.

Chocobananos

What you need:

• 6 ripe bananas (I prefer them yellow with no spots)
• melting chocolate (I use the Chocomelher brand which you can find at Latino markets)
• popsicle sticks (I prefer the bag of “Palillo Para Chocobanano” made by Melher because they have a square shape that works well for this, but any type will do)

Optional topping ideas:
• crushed nuts (I used a mix of peanuts, pistachios & other nuts)
• shredded coconut
• sprinkles

Chocomelher brand melting chocolate for making chocobananos on the shelf at a mercado latino 2013

Chocomelher brand melting chocolate for making chocobananos on the shelf at a mercado latino 2013

Sticks or "palillos" for making chocobananos on the shelf (lower right) at a mercado latino 2013

Sticks or “palillos” for making chocobananos on the shelf (lower right) at a mercado latino 2013

Directions:

1. Peel bananas and cut in half width-wise. Insert sticks into banana halves, about halfway through.

2. Place bananas in the freezer for about 1 hour. I put mine in a metal baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper so they don’t stick.

3. Melt chocolate as directions indicate for whichever brand you’re using. For the Chocomleher, I cut open the package and break the chocolate into large pieces. Put the chocolate into a medium-sized pot over medium heat and stir until melted. (This will provide more than enough for a dozen chocobananos.) Remove from heat.

4. Dip the frozen bananas into chocolate, trying to cover them as much as possible. You can use a spoon to spoon the chocolate onto spots you missed.

5. If adding a topping, immediately roll the chocobanano in the topping or spoon the topping over the chocobanano. You must move quickly because the chocolate hardens within seconds.

6. Your chocobananos are now ready to eat, or you can place them back in the freezer. If everyone doesn’t eat them within the first day or two (not likely!) you can put each chocobanano into an individual plastic sandwich bag twisted closed around the stick to keep them fresh.

chocobananos3

Arroz con Pollo Estilo Suegra

salvadoranarrozconpollo_latinaish

This is one of those recipes for which I don’t have exact measurements. I learned it by watching my suegra and she made this almost once a week so I got plenty of watching practice over the years. The chicken is first boiled until cooked and then browned in the pan with plenty of seasonings. Sliced onions and chunks of potato soak up some of the delicious flavor and are served alongside the chicken with colorful mixed veggie rice and thick handmade tortillas. When I think of Salvadoran home cooking, this is usually the meal that comes to mind.

Arroz con Pollo Estilo Suegra

Ingredients for the chicken:

1 chicken, washed and cut in pieces (I use 8 chicken thighs)
1 medium onion, sliced
3 to 4 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
2 cups cooked potato, cut into chunks or wedges
yellow mustard
Worcestershire sauce
salt
pepper
achiote powder
oregano
canola oil
water

Directions:

1. In a large pot, boil the chicken pieces until cooked through. Remove the chicken pieces to a plate to cool slightly, reserving the chicken stock to use on the rice.

2. You can leave the skin on or remove it – whatever your preference, but this is when we’re going to season the chicken before browning and this is when the measurements aren’t going to be exact. On each piece of chicken, give a good squeeze of mustard, a few good shakes of salt, pepper, achiote powder and oregano. Use your hand to make sure the chicken is coated. You can repeat the spices on the flip side as well.

3. In a large deep frying pan over medium-high heat, add a few tablespoons of canola oil so that the bottom of the pan is coated. Add the chicken pieces and try not to turn them over until you’re sure they’re browned, (or they get stuck to the pan.) Flip the chicken pieces over and add a few good shakes of Worcestershire sauce over each piece. Add the garlic, onion and potatoes. Once the chicken is browned on the bottom, move them aside within the pan so the onions can caramelize and the potatoes can soak up some of the flavor.

4. Remove from heat and set aside. Time to make the rice.

Ingredients for the rice:

1 cup white rice (although I use Jasmine, personal preference)
about 2 tablespoons canola oil
salt
oregano
chicken stock
1 small onion, diced
1 small Roma tomato, diced
a large handful frozen “mixed vegetables” (peas, corn, green beans, carrot)

Directions:

1. Put the canola oil in a medium pot over high heat. Add the rice and onion. Stir for a minute or two.
2. Add the tomato and frozen mixed vegetables. Add chicken stock until the rice is covered about 1/2 inch, (or about 1 1/2 cups chicken stock.)
3. Add a large pinch of salt and a few shakes of oregano. Bring to a boil. Cover and lower heat so that the chicken stock is at a steady simmer. Do not open the pot. Allow the liquid to simmer away, (about 10 to 15 minutes.)
4. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork.

Serve chicken, rice, potatoes and grilled onion together with fresh handmade tortillas.

Niños de la Memoria

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!

Image source: JP-Flanigan

Image source: JP-Flanigan

Recientemente fui contactada por una mujer llamada Jamie. Jamie nació en El Salvador, pero debido a la guerra civil y circunstancias desconocidas, Jamie fue adoptada cuando era una bebé, y ha vivido su vida en los Estados Unidos. Ahora, igual que muchas personas adoptadas, Jamie, con la ayuda de la organización Pro-Búsqueda, está buscando a su familia salvadoreña, pero esto es difícil en muchos aspectos. Parte de su historia y las historias de los demás se les dice en el documental emotivo, “Niños de la Memoria”, que les animo a ver.

El documental me hizo llorar, recordar que todos estos años después, la guerra en El Salvador sigue afectando a tantas vidas. Hay personas que viven con agujeros en sus corazones, en busca de la verdad de lo que pasó a ellos y sus familias. Esperemos que aquellos en el poder en El Salvador hacen todo lo que pueden para ayudar a proporcionar la información que tengan para poder ayudar en la búsqueda.

Puedes ver el documental completo en línea en World Channel y leer más sobre el documental en NiñosDeLaMemoria.com.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Recently I was contacted by a woman named Jamie. Jamie was born in El Salvador, but due to the civil war and unknown circumstances, Jamie was adopted as an infant, and has lived her life in the United States. Now, like many adoptees, Jamie, with the help of the organization Pro-Busqueda, is looking for her Salvadoran family, but this is difficult in many respects. Part of her story and the stories of others are told in the emotional documentary, “Niños de la Memoria” (Children of Memory), which I encourage you to see.

The documentary made ​​me cry, remembering that all these years later, the war in El Salvador continues to affect so many lives. People are living with holes in their hearts, looking for the truth of what happened to them and their families. Hopefully those in power in El Salvador do everything they can to help provide the information they have that can help in the search.

You can watch the full documentary online at World Channel and read more about the documentary at NiñosDeLaMemoria.com.

How to Make a Backyard Ceramic Tile Mosaic

mosaictitlefinal

As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s in order to purchase supplies to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

The Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network challenge for July is “outdoor art.” I decided to pay tribute to one of my favorite artists, Fernando Llort. When we went to El Salvador in 2011, we visited The Catedral Metropolitana in San Salvador – a cathedral full of history and which featured a colorful tile mosaic façade by Llort. Months after we returned to the United States, that façade was thoughtlessly torn down. It’s difficult to say how sad and angry this made me – it still upsets me to this day. Making a replica of part of Llort’s mosaic felt like the right thing to do.

The cathedral before its destruction, and the section of the mosaic I decided to replicate.

A photo I took of the cathedral before the mosaic’s destruction, and the section of the mosaic I decided to replicate.

This project is time-consuming but worth it. Here’s how to make your own Backyard Ceramic Tile Mosaic.

How to Make a Backyard Ceramic Tile Mosaic

Materials:

square white ceramic tiles (amount depends on desired size of mosaic)
glass paint (gloss opaque in desired colors)
fine tip paint brush
ruler
rubbing alcohol
cotton balls
1/2 inch deep wood board cut to desired size (depends on desired size of mosaic)
screwdriver
2 screws
hanging wire
Gorilla Glue
needle-nose pliers
scissors
pencil
colored pencils
permanent marker
plastic gloves

Instructions:

1. Choose a design for your mosaic. This can be an existing design you want to re-create or one you created yourself. Decide how many tiles wide and high you want your mosaic to be and using a ruler and pencil, divide your image into a grid with an equal number of blocks. If your image is small, you may have to re-draw it larger. I recommend doing this the old-fashioned way instead of blowing the image up and applying a grid through computerized image editing, since the old-fashioned way gives you practice drawing the design. Use colored pencils to lightly color in the image if desired.

mosaicgridsketchFINAL

2. Number the blocks on the grid and the backs of the corresponding tiles to keep things organized in case you don’t finish in one sitting. (If your tiles come attached to each other, separate them and remove as much of the glue as possible using pliers.)

3. Screw the screws into the top edge of the board. Later you’ll tie the wire on but do this part now. You don’t want to do this after the tiles are attached and have the board crack.

4. Clean the surface of each tile with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol and then allow each to dry before applying paint. You can use a pencil and/or permanent marker to draw the outline of your design before you paint it.

5. Paint each tile, referring to your grid as a guide. Allow to dry.

6. To cure the paint on the tiles, place tiles in a cold oven on a foil-lined baking sheet. Set oven to 350 F, bake for 30 minutes. The foil is especially important if there is still glue on the backs of your tiles. This glue will melt in the oven and the tiles will attach themselves to your baking sheet! Turn oven off, allowing tiles to cool completely inside the oven before removing. Note that your tiles go into the oven when it’s cold and come out when it’s cold. They must be allowed to heat up and cool down properly. If you have a lot of tiles, you may have to do this in batches. Note: When moving tiles be careful not to chip the paint. The paint is not permanent until tiles are cured. If you do chip the paint, touch it up and wait for it to dry again. The tiles, (I believe because of the glue), smell strongly while being baked. I recommend having a few windows open while baking.

MosaicCollage2

7. Now you’re ready to assemble the mosaic and attach it to the wood. Put on some plastic gloves to avoid getting Gorilla Glue on your skin. Lightly moisten the back side of each tile with a damp paper towel and apply a very small amount of Gorilla Glue. Place tiles on your piece of wood in order using your grid as a reference. (Remember to check that the screws are at the top before attaching tiles!) Carefully place a flat heavy object, such as books, on top of the glued tiles to apply pressure. Wait 30 minutes until dry. If your mosaic is large, I recommend doing this step one section at a time. Note: You may want to test this process with extra tiles and a scrap piece of wood. Gorilla Glue expands and what you may think is a small amount, will be too much if you aren’t experienced in using it.

8. Wait 72 hours to be sure that paint and glue are fully cured before tying the hanging wire to the screws and hanging outside.

9. Optional: For a more finished look, you can glue thin pieces of wood molding around the outside of your mosaic. To make the mosaic more weather-proof, you could apply a ceramic tile surface sealer but I did not attempt this and can’t tell you whether it would affect the appearance of the painted tiles.

Note: Although the paint and glue are permanent, harsh weather will take a toll on your mosaic. Consider bringing your mosaic indoors during cold or rainy months, or display it in a sheltered area, such as a patio under an awning.

finalmosaicgrass

What will your mosaic design be?

Check out more from Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network by subscribing to their Creative Ideas Magazine and E-Newsletter, following them on Pinterest, and by seeing what the other Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network members are up to.

A Quince Party… (for my boy)

Image source: Flickr user Kaptain Kobold

Image source: Flickr user Kaptain Kobold

I briefly mentioned in a previous post that I’m planning a quinceañero party for my son, and I promised to give details at a later date – so today I’ll tell you how this all came about. Below is an excerpt of the story as I wrote it for latinamom.me, with a link to read the rest over there.

When I first suggested the possibility of a quince to my husband, whispered one night in the dark as we fell asleep, Carlos waved me off like a lost and confused moth that had mistaken a porch light for the moon. I wasn’t surprised that it took awhile for Carlos to open his mind and warm up to the idea—after all, quinceañeras are traditionally coming-of-age celebrations only for girls and Carlos is a very traditional-minded person. However, over time I explained my intentions and little by little, Carlos came to support the idea of throwing a quince for his son.

[Read the rest on latinamom.me HERE]

Would you ever consider a quince party for your son?

Domingo Para Todos

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!

domingoparatodos

A veces Carlos mira programas en la tele que son extraños para mi y los niños – Uno de ellos es Domingo Para Todos. Domingo Para Todos es como una version salvadoreña de Sabado Gigante. La idea principal es tener gente de la audiencia participando en juegos chistosos, patrocinados por marcas para ganar dinero.

Tengo sentimientos contradictorios sobre el show. A ver la gente haciendo juegos en que tienen que vestirse como un rollo de papel higiénico o un gran pollo, me da algo de pena ajena. A veces parece que la gente se siente con vergüenza pero lo hacen porque necesitan el dinero – y por eso a veces pienso, “¿No es explotación?”

Por otra parte, hay gente que parece que están gozando estar en el show y me dan risa. También me gusta que hay un segmento de promover músicos salvadoreños. Entonces, cada domingo, miramos Domigo Para Todos en familia y los niños aprenden más español, además de observar la moda en El Salvador, (parece que pantalones apretados y fauxhawks todavia son populares con los muchachos.)

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Sometimes Carlos watches TV shows which are weird to me and the kids – One of them is Domingo Para Todos. Domingo Para Todos, (Sunday For Everyone) – is kind of like a Salvadoran version of Sabado Gigante. The main idea is to have audience members participate in funny games which are sponsored by brands so they can win money.

I have mixed feelings about the show. Seeing the people playing games which involve dressing like a roll of toilet paper or a big chicken, makes me feel a little embarrassed for them. Sometimes the people seem to feel ashamed and like they’re only doing it because they need the money – and for that reason, sometimes I think, “Is this not exploitation?”

On the other hand, there are people who seem to be having fun on the show, and they make me laugh. I also like that there’s a segment which promotes Salvadoran musicians. And so, every Sunday, we watch Domingo Para Todos as a family and the kids learn more Spanish, in addition to observing the latest fashions in El Salvador, (it seems that tight pants and fauxhawks are still popular with the young men.)

Verano de Español: Chucho

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!

veranodeespanol1

Hoy tenemos una semana haciendo el “Verano de Español” en nuestra casa y va bien. Mis hijos tienen 14 y 11 años y este es el cuarto año de “Verano de Español” – (por no hablar de que hemos estado hablando más español en general desde el primer año, no sólo durante el verano.) O sea, todos sabemos qué esperar y no es tan difícil este año.

Mi hijo mayor es más reacio a responder en español espontánea pero cuando lo hace, su vocabulario siempre me sorprende. Un día quería hablar conmigo sobre la bolsa de valores y le instruí intentar lo en español. Él puso los ojos y suspiró, pero luego lo hizo excelente.

Mi hijo menor me habla en español espontánea pero todavia está aprendiendo vocabulario. Me pregunta muchas veces al día qué significa una palabra, o cómo decir algo en español. Ojalá está absorbiendo todo como una esponja.

Anoche, jugamos un juego que es casi una versión de Scrabble en español. Mi hijo menor quería jugar y dijo: “Vamos a jugar en español” – a pesar de que se puede jugar en inglés. Sonreí cuando se deletreó la palabra “vos” – pero me reí cuando en su siguiente turno se deletreó “chucho.”

Parece que su vocabulario salvadoreño está bien establecido.

chucho

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Today we’re a week into doing “Spanish Summer” at our house and it’s going well. My sons are 14 and 11 years old and this is our fourth year doing “Spanish Summer”- (not to mention that we’ve been speaking more Spanish in general since the first year, not only during the summer.) In other words, we all know what to expect and it’s not as difficult this year.

My older son is more reluctant to speak Spanish without prompting, but when he does, his vocabulary blows me away. One day he wanted to talk to me about the stock market and I instructed him to do it in Spanish. He rolled his eyes and sighed, but he did an excellent job.

My younger son speaks Spanish without prompting but is still learning vocabulary. He asks me many times each day what a word means or how to say something in Spanish. Hopefully he’s absorbing everything like a sponge.

Last night, we played a game which is pretty much a Spanish version of Scrabble. My younger son wanted to play and said, “Let’s play in Spanish” – even though it’s possible to play it in English. I smiled when he spelled the word “vos” (a word commonly used in El Salvador to mean “you”), but I laughed when on his next turn he spelled the word “chucho.” (“Chucho” is slang for “dog” in El Salvador.)

It looks like his Salvadoran vocabulary is well established.

Cóctel de Camarones en Salsa Rosada

coctelFINAL

Warm weather reminds me of the beach, and when I think of the beach, I think of La Libertad and the last time I was there, and of course, of seafood. One of my favorite Salvadoran seafood dishes is Cóctel de Camarones en Salsa Rosada, (Shrimp Cocktail in Pink Sauce), and so I’ve learned how to make it for myself at home since I can’t take a trip to El Salvador’s coast whenever the mood strikes. While Carlos prefers Cóctel de Conchas, somehow I have to end up sharing my Cóctel de Camarones every time I make it.

Cóctel de Camarones en Salsa Rosada

Ingredients:

12 ounces shrimp – cooked, peeled and de-veined, tail-off
1/3 cup mayonnaise (you can use light mayonnaise!)
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 a small red onion minced
handful of cilantro chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Optional: diced Roma tomatoes and/or diced avocado

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients and serve chilled in cocktail/martini glasses, (or any wine or margarita glasses you might have on hand), along with wedges of lime to squeeze onto the cóctel and Saltine crackers to eat the cóctel on. This recipe serves two people as a main dish or four as an appetizer.

Chirmol

chirmol

The more I look through the index of Salvadoran recipes I’ve shared here on Latinaish, the more I’m overwhelmed by the dishes I still have yet to share, make, or even try! I’m especially surprised to see that I haven’t shared a recipe for chirmol since this is something we make fairly often during summer months. Similar to the more famous Mexican “pico de gallo” – versions of chirmol are made in various Latin American countries. Recipes vary by family but all are based on diced tomato and onion. Chirmol can be used as a fresh, colorful and flavorful accompaniment to many dishes such as steak or grilled chicken. (Last night I made a batch which we used to top hot dogs!)

Salvadoran Chirmol

4 large Roma tomatoes, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 small handful cilantro, chopped
a good squeeze of lime or lemon
a few shakes Worcestershire sauce
salt to taste

Optional: A few radishes diced fine, and/or 1/2 a green pepper diced. Like it spicy? Add diced or minced jalapeño.

Note: If you want to keep it really traditional, you should use only tomatoes, onion, cilantro, lemon and salt.

Directions:

Combine all of the above in a bowl and serve!

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