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

Elena Ruz Sandwich

Elena Ruz Sandwich

Quite a few years ago I went to Miami and had my first Cuban Sandwich which I fell in love with. Upon arriving home eventually a craving hit but Cuban Sandwiches are hard to come by this far north. I researched recipes and while doing so, I stumbled upon a different kind of Cuban sandwich called the “Elena Ruz” and an interesting story about how it came to be.

According to Wikipedia, Elena Ruz was a young society debutante in 1930’s Cuba who would stop at a popular Havana restaurant called El Carmelo. Each time Elena visited the restaurant she requested they make her something that they didn’t have on the menu – a sandwich to her specifications prepared on medianoche bread with cream cheese, strawberry jam, and thin slices of turkey breast. Eventually El Carmelo put the sandwich on the menu, calling it, por supuesto, the Elena Ruz.

For some reason the odd combination seemed appealing to me, so I tried the sandwich, using King’s Hawaiian Rolls as a substitute for medianoche bread, (which I’ve never seen sold around here.) This Cuban sandwich also became a favorite of mine. If you want to give it a try, here’s how I make it.

Elena Ruz Sandwich

You need:

sliced turkey
cream cheese
strawberry jelly
King’s Hawaiian Rolls
butter

Directions:

1. Slice Hawaiian rolls open. Spread cream cheese on the bottom half and strawberry jelly on the top half.
2. Put a few slices of turkey on top of the cream cheese and close the sandwich.
3. Grease a non-stick skillet or griddle with a little butter over medium heat. Toast the sandwich on one side, applying gentle pressure with a spatula. Flip and do the same to the other side.
4. Serve warm!

Better Together (Mejor Juntos)

nescafe-coffeemate

This post is sponsored by Nescafé. Product for review has been received as well as compensation for my time. As always, all opinions are my own.

Some things are just better together – pupusas and curtido, churros and chocolate, arroz con pollo – and Carlos feels the same way about creamer and coffee.

Carlos wakes up before the sun rises to go to work each morning and he doesn’t always have time to make his coffee the way he likes it, with plenty of vanilla creamer and a few spoons of sugar. Problem solved with Nescafé’s new 2-in-1 product which combines their instant coffee with Nestlé Coffee-mate!

You just mix 2 tablespoons of the powder with hot water and ¡Ya está! – Carlos’s perfect cup of coffee.

I used to drink my coffee like Carlos but over a year or two ago I made the transition to black coffee. Nevertheless I gave the Nescafé with Coffee-mate a try and it was really creamy with the perfect amount of sweetness. The French Vanilla is the favorite at our house – Carlos, our teenage boys and I all unanimously agreed it’s the best, but the Hazelnut is a close second. If you prefer unflavored creamer there’s a third option called “Original.”

Want to give it a try? Check out the giveaway below!

—-Giveaway closed. Congratulations, Angela.—-

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Prize description: One lucky winner will receive a two week supply of the new Nescafé & Coffee-mate products.

How to enter: Just head over to Twitter and tweet about other foods that go “better together” (peanut butter and jelly, for example!) using the #NescaféCoffeemate hashtag. Once you have tweeted, come back here and leave the direct URL link to your tweet in comments below. (Please read official rules below before entering.)

Official Rules: No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. You must be able to provide a U.S. address for prize shipment. Your name and address will only be shared with the PR agency responsible for prize fulfillment for that purpose. Please no P.O. Boxes. One entry per household. Make sure that you enter a valid email address in the email address field so you can be contacted if you win. Winner will be selected at random. Winner has 24 hours to respond. If winner does not respond within 24 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between September 29th, 2014 through October 1st, 2014. Entries received after October 1st, 2014 at 11:59 pm EST, will not be considered. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. If you win, by accepting the prize, you are agreeing that Latinaish.com assumes no liability for damages of any kind. By entering your name below you are agreeing to these Official Rules. Void where prohibited by law.

Buena suerte / Good luck!

Recipe: Batido de Leche con Guineo (Banana Smoothie) + Giveaway!

Batido de Guineo

This post is sponsored by Nestlé Nido. Product for review and recipe development have been received as well as compensation for my time. As always, all opinions are my own.

Carlos doesn’t cook much at all, but the thing he feels most comfortable making is his Batido de Leche con Guineo. Over the years he has made banana smoothies for himself and our boys many times, so much so that when the boys want one, they ask him instead of me. While he makes them year round, he tends to make the batidos during the summer as a refreshing treat. Our family depends on simple everyday things like that because most years we can’t afford to travel or vacation like we want to. Summer memories for my sons are things like lying in the hammock and watching puffy, white clouds sail by; running barefoot through cool grass in our yard to catch lightening bugs, and sipping batidos de guineo that their father made for them.

So, when given the opportunity to develop a recipe with the Nestlé Nido Kinder 1+ (a vitamin-fortified powdered milk), I knew immediately I’d be using Carlos’s smoothie recipe and changing it up a little. What I love about Nestlé Nido is that it adds over a dozen vitamins and minerals, but it also adds a really good flavor.

(Even our dog Chico wants a sip.)

(Even our dog Chico wants a sip.)

(On a hilarious side note, Carlos eats the powder straight. He says one of his cousins in El Salvador used to have a powder like this in their kitchen growing up and he used to steal spoonfuls of it as a kid and eat it. I tasted it straight to see if he was being crazy and strangely enough, it really is good like that.)

Anyhow, when the boys saw me experimenting with the Nestlé Nido in the kitchen they were reluctant to try what I was making because it’s “baby formula for babies” according to them, but they ended up loving it and begging me to make more. Smoothies made with Nestlé Nido are perfect for back-to-school, either for breakfast when your child claims they “aren’t that hungry” or for an after school snack before they get down to doing homework.

nestle-nido-batido

Try the recipe below and then enter the giveaway to win your own Nestlé Nido products plus a $50 gift card!

Batido de Leche con Guineo (Banana Smoothie)

You need:
8 oz. cold water
4 scoops Nestlé Nido Kinder 1+
1 ripe banana
1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla extract
4 ice cubes

Directions: Place all ingredients in the blender. Blend for 30 seconds to one minute. Pour into glasses and serve. Serves about 2. (Optional: You can add sugar, which is what Carlos does, but the boys and I prefer it without added sugar.)

========GIVEAWAY CLOSED=======

Congratulations, Cerrie!

=============================

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Prize description: One lucky winner will receive 4 trial size cans of Nestlé Nido Kinder 1+ and a $50 gift card.

How to enter: Just leave a comment below telling me the flavor of your favorite smoothie/batido. (Please read official rules below before entering.)

Official Rules: No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. You must be able to provide a U.S. address for prize shipment. Your name and address will only be shared with the PR agency responsible for prize fulfillment for that purpose. Please no P.O. Boxes. One entry per household. Make sure that you enter a valid email address in the email address field so you can be contacted if you win. Winner will be selected at random. Winner has 24 hours to respond. If winner does not respond within 24 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between August 26th, 2014 through August 31st, 2014. Entries received after August 31st, 2014 at 11:59 pm EST, will not be considered. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. If you win, by accepting the prize, you are agreeing that Latinaish.com assumes no liability for damages of any kind. By entering your name below you are agreeing to these Official Rules. Void where prohibited by law.

Buena suerte / Good luck!

Sopa de Pollo Salvadoreña

Sopa de Pollo Salvadoreña

Carlos has been sick for a week, and on Friday he was so sick that he even took off work. I’ve been doing every home remedy I know of to make him better – Vicks Vaporub on the feet before bed, honey lemon tea, vaporizers, vitamin C, and just plain old bed rest, but nothing seemed to help very much. (I did all these remedios caseros on myself too for prevention and so far, so good.)

On Saturday Carlos asked me to make him Sopa de Pollo, but he didn’t want the Bolivian Chicken Soup recipe I always use. He asked if I’d try to make Salvadoran Chicken Soup “with lots of vegetables” this time. Obviously he was needing a little extra apapachamiento! Of course I always love making a new Salvadoran dish and seeing the way his eyes light up when it’s a success, so I did some research, looked at a handful of recipes, and then headed to the grocery store to get what I needed.

Before the soup was even ready, Carlos was getting excited. He kept calling out to me from the living room where he was on the sofa covered in a blanket, “It smells so good. It smells like I remember…” Then when it was ready, I put the bowl before him at the table and he smiled, “It looks like how I remember!” … Then he tasted it, and I’m not exaggerating, he stood up, kissed me (on the neck so I wouldn’t get his germs) and told me he loved me. Jajaja.

Here’s my recipe in case you know a sick salvadoreño or salvadoreña who could use a little “TLC”, (Cuidado amoroso y tierno.)

Sopa de Pollo Salvadoreño

You need:

10 chicken thighs (boneless, skinless)
2 medium tomatoes, quartered
3 corn cobs, broken in half
1/2 1 small cabbage, cut in chunks
cilantro
basil, (fresh, not dry)
2 to 3 celery stalks with leaves
2 cups baby carrots, (or cut up carrots)
3 green onions, (roots cut off)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 small potatoes, cut into bite-size chunks
1 small zucchini, skin removed and chopped in bite-size pieces
1/2 cup uncooked rice or small pasta like “conchitas” (little shells)
1 tsp. salt, plus to taste
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. achiote (ground annatto)

Directions:

1. Assemble and prepare all your ingredients, (wash and chop vegetables, etc.)

Note: I used all boneless, skinless chicken thighs because Carlos prefers dark meat and it gives the stock a better flavor, but you can use a whole chicken cut in pieces (remove skin – bones optional as some people like to “chupar el hueso”), or substitute some chicken breasts. As for the vegetables, feel free to experiment. For example, some people use yucca instead of potatoes, and some add chayote/güisquil, broccoli, cauliflower, and/or green pepper.

2. In a large stock pot over medium high heat, add the chicken plus enough water to cover by about 2 inches.

3. Add to the pot: a handful of cilantro, a handful of basil, celery stalks with leaves, garlic, tomatoes, green onions, 1 tsp. salt, cumin, pepper, and achiote.

4. Simmer for 20 minutes or until chicken is completely cooked. Use a slotted spoon to remove and then discard the cilantro, basil, celery, tomatoes and green onions. Use a small sieve to skim off any foam.

5. Add the rice (or pasta), corn cobs, potatoes, and carrots. Cook covered until rice is cooked and vegetables are tender.

6. Remove cover. Add cabbage and zucchini. Simmer for a minute or two and then remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly and then taste. Add additional salt as desired. (I prefer to let each person add more salt to their own individual portion.)

7. Ladle into bowls and top with cilantro if desired. (I like to eat all the meat and vegetables out of it and then eat the broth with crushed Ritz crackers.)

Buen provecho!

Quesadillas

quesadillas

I’m hesitant to even publish this as a “recipe” because it’s just basically melted cheese inside a tortilla, but I’m doing this as a service to those who may be totally unfamiliar with the process and have yet to experience the happiness that is a simple homemade Mexican quesadilla. (Salvadoran quesadillas are equally wonderful, but an entirely different food and a bit more complicated to make. My recipe for those can be found here.)

Quesadillas

What you need:

Tortillas (I prefer white corn)
Cheese (Oaxaca cheese is authentic, but a pre-shredded “Mexican” blend is what I use)
A comal/griddle or large non-stick frying pan
Cholula hot sauce (optional)

Note: This recipe is for the most basic of quesadillas and I love them like this, but feel free to add in whatever you have on hand – some leftover shredded chicken, beans, slices of pickled jalapeño, etc. The possible combinations are only limited by your imagination.

Directions:

1. Heat up the comal, griddle or non-stick frying pan. Do not add oil or butter – It should be nice and dry.

2. Place two tortillas on the comal. Allow to slightly “toast” on one side. Flip both tortillas over.

3. Place a handful of cheese on one of the tortillas. Put the tortilla without any cheese on top. Allow the cheese to melt and remove from heat. Cut in half with a pizza cutter. Repeat as necessary. Optional: Serve with Cholula hot sauce.

Note: Another method (and the more authentic way) is to put cheese on each tortilla and fold in half. I find that doing it this way makes some of the shredded cheese fall out onto my comal and burn, so that’s why I use the other method.

Cabalito: An interview with aspiring Salvadoran restaurant owner, Randy Rodriguez

Randy-Rodriguez

I receive at least one request per week from random strangers to support their Kickstarter campaigns but recently I was contacted by a guy named Randy Rodriguez who said he wanted to open a Salvadoran restaurant. For obvious reasons this interested me much more than any other Kickstarter campaign sent to me before, so I got to chatting with Randy, and I ended up deciding to not only give his Kickstarter a shoutout, but because I found his personal story interesting as a Salvadoran American born in L.A., raised in Vermont, and now living in New York, I interviewed him as well. Meet Randy, and his project – a Salvadoran restaurant in Lower Manhattan called “Cabalito.”

Interview with Randy Rodriguez of “Cabalito”

Latinaish: Tell us a bit about your family. Your parents were born and raised in El Salvador, right? Did your mother and tías cook much Salvadoran food when you were growing up?

Randy: Yes, both my parents were born and raised in El Salvador. I am 100% My mom came in her late teenage years and my dad when he was around 13 years old. My parents both have very interesting stories coming to the U.S., (which is a whole other story!) Neither my mom or dad know how to make pupusas but a few of my tías know how to do it up. My grandma makes a mean panes con pavo (which will be on the menu.) My mom can also make the plato típico, but for the most part, I ate most Salvadorian food at the best restaurants in L.A.

Latinaish: You mentioned to me that when you were about 10 years old, your family picked up and moved to Vermont. Why did your parents move there? Was it difficult to adjust? Were there unique challenges as a Salvadoran American growing up in an area of the country that doesn’t have a strong Salvadoran or Latino community?

Randy: Yes, I was around 10 years old when my parents moved to Vermont. They wanted us to have a better childhood. Living in a peaceful countryside was the plan. The L.A. neighborhood I was living in was getting dangerous. They did research and heard that Vermont was one of the best places to raise a family. My dad told us that if he was going to move he would do a big move. So we went for a big change, west coast to east coast.

I think it was a very difficult adjustment. I have an older brother and a younger sister. We had to make new friends and start over which can be hard at that age. I look back now and I don’t know how we did it! I went from being just another latino to the only kid in my school with color! I stood out like a sore thumb. I was different. The kids in my school were nice. I didn’t have any problems which I am thankful for. It was more about how uneducated they were about my culture. They didn’t know anything about Latin American food, dance, culture, or language. They thought I was Mexican! Not because they were mean but because they didn’t know better.

Latinaish: Now this question is definitely out of personal curiosity as a mother raising 2 Salvadoran American sons who are bilingual, but not quite as fluently bilingual as I had hoped. You learned Spanish as an adult – Did your parents attempt to raise you bilingually or did they speak to you in English? Did you grow up with Spanish around you (when your parents spoke to each other or on the phone, or the TV programs they watched)?

Randy: I heard the language a lot when I was young in California. Once I moved to Vermont I stopped hearing it. There was no Spanish television shows, music, or anything around like that. My parents did not make the effort to make us learn. I think it was mainly because my brother and sister didn’t really want to learn. They tried but never fully committed. I think it was hard for my parents because they came to the USA very young. My dad has told me he feels more comfortable in English. They told us that if we wanted to learn it we would have to take the initiative. That’s exactly what I did. Obviously my Spanish is not perfect and I am still learning but I am doing the best I can because I realize it’s important as an adult to be bilingual.

Latinaish: At some point you moved to NYC and began working at Mexican restaurants, right? What was that like? Was a career in the restaurant business something you’d always wanted or something you fell into?

Randy: I moved to NYC in 2010 and I simply needed to find a job. The only job I could find was at an Indian restaurant. It was terrible – it didn’t pay well – but I needed the money. The restaurant was next door to a Mexican place. I met the manager and he eventually called me in to start working. I was happy to be working there. It paid well and I needed to make friends. I worked my way up to be the general manager. That’s when I really grew to love the industry. I started to work a lot and I felt I was running the place myself. I eventually told the staff to stop speaking to me in English. I learned a lot of Spanish from my friends there. I believed in the place and put my time and energy into it. They eventually opened a new location and they wanted to hire someone else with more experience to take my job. I realize now that I was young and someone with more experience could run the place better. I left and started to work at a wine bar and the owner there inspired me to open my own place. That’s when I wrote my business plan.

To answer the question simply. I fell into the business with no regrets.

Latinaish: When was it that you decided you wanted to have your own restaurant? Why a Salvadoran restaurant?

Randy: At the Mexican restaurant my co-workers would tell me that I should open up my own taqueria since I know how to run one. I felt that there is a lot more competition in Mexican food. People have a strong opinion about Mexican food. So many types from tex mex, taco trucks, west coast Mexican, Chipotle, and the list goes on. I did not want to get involved. When I left and started working for a wine bar, the owner motivated me to do something big. A lot of self reflection and thought went into the idea for my own place. The fact that almost no one in NYC has had pupusas made all the pieces come together.

cabalito

Latinaish: How did you come up with the name “Cabalito”? Who designed that awesome bird logo? (I love it! It’s very Fernando Llort-esque.)

Randy: The original name was “El Colón” after the currency of El Salvador from 1892 to 2001. I wanted “El Colón” because it would represent how El Salvador is becoming more and more Americanized. I wanted people to know and remember how El Salvador use to be when it had it’s own currency and to embrace that. However, I did not want to glorify Cristóbal Colón. I also considered that people might mispronounce it and call it colon from human anatomy or colon from punctuation.

After days of brainstorming I was looking over all the slangs from El Salvador. I was also hanging about with a friend born in El Salvador and she was using the word “Cabal” a lot. I liked it. I felt that you could use it for many things. However, I did not click with it because cabal in English is a secret political clique or faction. I read an article with someone using “Cabalito.” That was it! It sounded more Spanish, more official, more on point. “Cabalito!”

My logo was designed by my roommate who is a very talented graphic designer. I showed him art work by Fernando Llort and told him how much I liked his birds. I obviously wanted the logo to be very clear on representing art work in El Salvador. He did some sketches and surprisingly that was the first one he drew of many. We didn’t need to play around with it. That was it! Cabal!

Latinaish: Are you hiring Salvadoran chefs or did you learn to make the food? What’s going to be on the menu?

Randy: I want to hire authentic chefs I can work with to create traditional dishes with a twist. I care a lot about being authentic, however, I want to evolve the traditional recipes to the New York tongue. I am very aware of people being more careful of what they put into their bodies. I want to adapt to the new way of eating without damaging the original recipes.

I have a lot of traditional dishes that I would like to put on the menu but for now I’ve limited it to a few that I think would be diverse enough and affordable. The menu I have ready for Kickstarter is not going to be exactly the same as the menu that will be used for the restaurant. I made a mock up menu to give people an idea of my vision and to understand the brand I want to create. I will later work with a chef to discuss my menu and his/her recipes that will work for the official menu.

Randy-Rodriguez-pupusas

Latinaish: Okay – the big moment! Sell us on contributing to your Kickstarter campaign. Why should we support this project?

Randy: I want people to know that this is my dream. I hope this becomes a story that people will read and feel inspired. I believe that if you can shape it in your mind you will find it in your life. The restaurant represents so much to me. It’s a reflection of myself. It’s more than amazing food. It’s culture, it’s music, it’s art, it’s style, it’s social, it’s Latin American, it’s flavor, it’s affordable, it’s friendship, it’s different, it’s – more importantly – for everyone to enjoy. I hope anyone who comes from little corners of the world will have the courage to share their culture if they want to. This restaurant is for all the hidden recipes all over the world that are not exposed to us because the people who open restaurants don’t typically know how to. The people who should open restaurants don’t have the money to. Unfortunately money is the only thing holding me back from sharing this cuisine with New York City. So anything helps or share this info with everyone! This restaurant is also for El Salvador – a small country with a big heart.

(Visit the Kickstarter campaign here!)

Latinaish: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions. Wishing you suerte!

Randy: Special thanks to you, Tracy. I wish you and your family the best. May you continue to give El Salvador a good name. It would be an honor to someday see you in NYC with your family at Cabalito.

You can follow Randy and his restaurant, Cabalito, on: Twitter, Facebook, and at CabalitoNYC.com.