Carne Guisada

Salvadoran-style Carne Guisada

Carne Guisada (stewed beef) is the ultimate comfort food for chilly weather. Versions of this dish can be found in countries throughout Latin America, but if you really think about it, most countries throughout the world will have a similar dish. There’s just something about tender pieces of meat and large chunks of vegetables in a brown sauce that has wide appeal. Served with salad and beans, plus rice and tortillas to soak up every last bite, this meal will leave everyone at the table completely satisfied.

Carne Guisada – Salvadoran-style

You need:

2 lbs. beef (chuck roast)
salt
pepper
2 tablespoons Canola oil
¼ cup red cooking wine
¾ cup water, plus water to cover
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon achiote

1 cup canned tomato sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
¼ cup diced onion
1 teaspoon basil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

6 large carrots, cut in large chunks
1 to 1.5 lbs. potatoes (or yucca), cut in large chunks

Optional: a few tablespoons of flour

Method:

1. Pat the chuck roast with a clean, dry paper towel to remove any excess moisture. In a stainless steel pan, heat 2 tablespoons Canola oil over high heat. Season the chuck roast with salt and pepper. When the oil is very hot and begins to smoke a little, carefully place the chuck roast in the pot. Do not move or attempt to lift the chuck roast while it’s searing. Shake the pan a little once in awhile to see if it’ll come loose on its own. When it easily comes loose on its own, that means it’s finished searing, (about 1 to 2 minutes.) There should be a nice crust on the meat. Carefully flip it over and sear the other side.

2. Remove the chuck roast to a plate while you deglaze the pan. How to deglaze the pan: Add ¾ cup water and ¼ cup red cooking wine to the pan immediately after you remove the meat. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to remove any bits that are stuck to it. Stir boiling 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat. This “base” liquid will add a lot of flavor and we’re going to add it to the pot where we cook the meat the rest of the way.

3. Cut the meat into large chunks and put into a large pot with the “base” liquid. Add enough water to cover (for me it was 4 cups.) Add the bay leaves and achiote. Bring to a slow simmer and cover. Cook slowly on low heat for tender meat. If you cook it faster on higher heat the dish won’t be completely ruined or anything, but the meat will be much less tender, so avoid boiling. If the liquid comes to a boil, lower the heat. I cooked mine for about 2 hours and the burner was around the “2” setting on my stove. After 30 minutes to an hour, you may see that the meat is already cooked through but if you try to pull it apart with a fork, you won’t be able to – This means the meat has not cooked long enough. Trust me, cook it to around 2 hours and you will see how tender it becomes.

4. In a blender, combine tomato sauce, garlic, onion, basil, and Worcestershire sauce. Blend until combined. Add to the pot. (Don’t do this until the meat is done cooking or nearly done cooking.) Also add the carrots and potatoes to the pot. Simmer covered until vegetables are fork tender. Remove from heat. Do not cook too long after adding the vegetables as you don’t want them to get mushy. Add salt to taste.

Optional: If you prefer to thicken the sauce (I do), you can remove one cup of the liquid and whisk in a few tablespoons of flour, then add the thickened liquid back to the pot. Tip: Do not add flour directly to the pot. It must be whisked to combine properly and you can’t do that with the meat and vegetables in the way.

5. Serve with rice, beans, salad and tortillas. Serves 4.

Not Your Abuela’s Pozole Verde

easy-pozole-verde

Sometimes I cook from scratch, trying to make the most authentic version of a recipe that I can, and sometimes I try to find every shortcut possible to use the least amount of time and the fewest number of ingredients – This pozole recipe is one of those times I decided to sacrifice authenticity for a fast, easy meal.

It all came together kind of on accident. I had planned to make the pozole recipe over on Sweet Life, but it’s a slow cooker recipe and it was already fast approaching dinnertime as I walked around the grocery store. So then I decided I would follow her recipe but make it in a pot on the stove, but then I couldn’t find tomatillos (neither fresh nor canned.) Now what?

I stared at the shelves in the “Hispanic Food” section until I came up with an idea. Why not just buy the salsa verde already prepared? … And so I hatched my plan to create my own recipe for the fastest pozole ever.

The "secret" ingredient. Shhh! Don't tell your abuela.

The “secret” ingredient. Shhh! Don’t tell your abuela.

With just 4 ingredients, I was able to make a delicious pozole in less than 30 minutes once we got home.

Carlos and I both loved it, but we’re definitely not pozole experts. I needed someone more experienced to tell me what they thought before I shared the recipe here. Carlos texted a Mexican friend/co-worker and asked if he’d like some pozole. His friend enthusiastically texted back that he would, and that he wouldn’t be bringing a lunch tomorrow because he planned to eat it right then and there. The pressure was on! What if he didn’t like it? The guy would starve all day thanks to me!

Last night I nervously packed a big container full of the pozole along with some tortillas and baggies of lime wedges, diced onion and cilantro. Then today I waited all day until just about an hour ago for the lunch break verdict. Gracias a Dios he said it was “riquísimo” and he ate all of it! (Whew!)

So, if you have the time and want to go the authentic route, check out the posole recipe on Sweet Life – I’m keeping it bookmarked and want to try it one of these days because Vianney’s recipes are always amazing, plus I love to use my slow cooker when I actually plan ahead.

However, if you’re having a crazy day and need to throw together a warm, comforting dinner on a chilly evening in less than 30 minutes, this quick pozole does the trick!

Not Your Abuela’s Pozole Verde

You need:

1 can white hominy/Maiz Estilo Mexicano (29 oz.), drained
4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders (the thinner the cut, the faster it cooks)
4 cups (32 oz.) chicken broth
3/4 of a 16 oz. jar HERDEZ Salsa Verde (about 12 oz.)

Optional (for topping individual servings):
chopped cilantro
radish slices
avocado slices
lime wedges
diced onion

Method:

1. Combine the hominy, chicken breast tenders, chicken broth and salsa verde in a large pot over medium-high heat. Stir and allow to come to a boil.

2. When the liquid comes to a boil, reduce heat and cover, simmering until chicken is cooked completely through. Remove from heat.

3. Remove chicken to a plate using a slotted spoon. Allow to cool slightly so you can shred with your fingers. Put chicken back in the pot.

4. Serve with whichever toppings you like. Carlos ate his with some cilantro but I didn’t feel it needed anything at all. Serves 4.

Tip: Need a meatless Monday meal? You can make this totally vegetarian by omitting the chicken and subbing vegetable broth for the chicken broth. The hominy is really delicious and filling on its own.

Pay de Guayaba y Queso

pay de guayaba y queso

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

Pay de Guayaba y Queso

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

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

Pay de Guayaba y Queso

You need:

1 batch of Laylita’s Sweet Empanada Dough

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

14 ounces guava paste (not jelly!)

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

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

Directions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

criss-cross-pie

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

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

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

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

Budín de Plátano

Budin de Platano

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

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

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

Budín de Plátano

Ingredients:

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

ground cinnamon

Optional: a handful of raisins

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

Directions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Budin de Platano, Salvadoran Plantain Bread Pudding

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!

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!