Category Archives: recipes
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
1 to 2 lbs. fresh green beans
1 lb. mozzarella cheese
3 tablespoons of all purpose flour
oil for frying (I use Canola)
salt and pepper
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.)
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
1 small onion, diced
1 small Roma tomato, diced
a large handful frozen “mixed vegetables” (peas, corn, green beans, carrot)
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.
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
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
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.
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!)
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.
Combine all of the above in a bowl and serve!
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!
Ya casi fue dos años que fuimos a El Salvador y cada día lo siento más y más. Aunque tenemos la esperanza de ir otra vez en 2014, por el momento tengo que aceptar la realidad que voy a pasar otro verano sin viajar allá. Para sentirme mejor, voy a cocinar todas mis comidas favoritas de El Salvador – y cuál mejor por empezar el verano que el Raspado de Elote Loco?
Mi receta entonces, si ustedes quieren aprovechar de los ricos elotes frescos que ya están de temporada.
Raspado de Elote Loco
elotes (mazorcas) de maíz frescos, descascarillados y cocidos (uno por cada persona)
salsa de tomate (ketchup)
salsa inglesa (o “salsa Perrins”)
queso parmesano, fresco y rallado
1. Cortar los granos del maíz del elote con un cuchillo. Llenar vasos pequeños de plástico, 3/4 llenos del maíz fresco.
2. Encima del maíz, echa algunas sacudidas de salsa inglesa, una cucharada de mayonesa, un apretón de ketchup, un apretón de mostaza, y encima de todo, una gran pizca de queso parmesano.
3. Servir con un tenedor en cada vaso.
It’s been almost two years now that we went to El Salvador and every day I feel it more and more. Although we hope to go back again in 2014, at the moment I have to accept the reality that I’m facing another summer without traveling there. To make myself feel better, I’m going to cook all my favorite foods from El Salvador – and what better way to start the summer than with Raspado de Elote Loco?
Here’s me recipe then, in case you guys want to take advantage of the delicious fresh corn cobs that are now in season.
Raspado de Elote Loco
fresh corn cobs, husked and cooked (one per person)
Parmesan cheese, fresh and grated
1. Cut the corn from the cobs with a knife. Fill small plastic cups 3/4 full with the fresh corn.
2. On top of the corn, add a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce, a tablespoon or so of mayonnaise, a squeeze of ketchup, a squeeze of mustard, and on top of everything, a big pinch of Parmesan.
3. Serve with a fork in each cup.
Día de la Madre (Mother’s Day) – is fast approaching in the United States. (In Latin America, as many of you know. it’s on a different day.) Are you ready to show your love to your mami on Sunday, May 12th? If you need a little help brainstorming gift ideas, here are some great guides, crafts, and recipes other blogueras have put together.
Craftingeek has dozens of crafts you can make para tu mamá. My favorite is the album scrapbook pictured above.
Almuerzo con Mamá is a beautiful, bilingual collaboration of free recipes to make for Mother’s Day from several of my favorite foodie blogueras, like the Coffeecake con Frambuesas pictured above.
The “3 Amigas” strike again with another gift guide bien bella just in time for Día de la Madre. Check it out HERE.
These Tissue Paper Flowers by guest contributor Lisa Renata on ModernMami.com almost look like the real thing. So pretty!
Online photo/image editor, PicMonkey, has some really creative ideas for gifts you can make with the help of a good printer. Check those out here on the PicMonkey blog.
How are you remembering your mami this Mother’s Day?
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!
El año pasado, mientras buscaba la cantidad de calorías en pan dulce, (la ignorancia es felicidad), encontré un foro de internet donde alguien mencionaba una comida que nunca había oído. La mujer dijo, (parafraseando de inglés):
Hoy un compañero trajo algunas golosinas al trabajo de la panadería mexicana. Comí algo que era como un pan francés chiquito con queso crema y jalapeños adentro. ¿Cualquiera tiene idea de cuántas calorías tiene?
En ese momento perdí el interés en calorías. Yo quería saber el nombre del bolillo con queso crema y jalapeños!
Investigué más y descubrí que es un tema popular en las panaderías mexicanas en Texas y California. Tal vez son populares en otros estados también, pero nunca los han visto en la costa este. Me decidí por hacer mi propio pan con queso y jalapeños. Aquí hay un par de metodos.
Metodo #1: En pan francés o en un bolillo que ha sido cortado a la mitad, untar queso crema. Cubra con chile jalapeño encurtido picado. Comer frío o calentarlo, si lo deseas.
Metodo #2: Compra un rollo de masa media luna. En cada triángulo de masa, untar una cucharada de queso crema y una cucharada de chile jalapeño encurtido picado. Enrolle y hornear en 375 F unos minutos hasta que quedan dorados.
Nota: Philadelphia Cream Cheese recientemente salió con un nuevo sabor, “Spicy Jalapeño.” Lo he probado y el sabor es muy bueno, pero creo que necesitaría más trozos de jalapeño antes de que yo consideraría usarlo en esta receta.
Last year, while looking for calorie estimates of Mexican sweet breads (ignorance is bliss), I found an internet forum where someone mentioned a food that I had never heard of. The woman said, (paraphrasing):
Today a co-worker brought some goodies to work from the Mexican bakery. I ate something that was like a tiny French bread with cream cheese and jalapeños inside. Does anybody have any idea how many calories would be in it?
At that point I lost interest in calories. I wanted to know the name of the roll with cream cheese and jalapeños was called!
I researched and found that these rolls are a popular item in Mexican bakeries in Texas and California. Maybe they are popular in other states as well, but I’ve never seen them on the east coast. I decided to make my own bread with cheese and jalapeños. Here are a couple of methods.
Method #1: On a slice of French bread or in a bolillo that has been cut open, spread cream cheese. Top with chopped pickled jalapeño. Eat cold or warm up if you wish.
Method #2: Buy a roll of crescent dough. In each triangle of dough, spread a tablespoon of cream cheese and a tablespoon of chopped pickled jalapeno. Roll and bake at 375 F a few minutes until they are golden brown.
Note: Philadelphia Cream Cheese recently came out with a new flavor, “Spicy Jalapeño.” I tried it and it’s really good, but I think it needs more jalapeño pieces in it before I would use it in this recipe.
As the name suggests, Ensalada Rusa, (Russian Salad), really does have roots in Russia. The popular potato salad is made with varying ingredients in countries across Latin America – this one is my own version of El Salvador’s Ensalada Rusa which features the bright color of beets. My suegra used to make a simpler version of the recipe below, (I added green onions and cilantro for flavor and color – I also leave the skin on the potatoes and use light instead of full fat mayonnaise to make it healthier.)
Serve this alongside carne asada or grilled hamburgers and you’ve got yourself a tasty summer side dish. Going to a potluck? Bring along a pretty pink batch of Ensalada Rusa and watch it stand out from all the white and yellow potato salads on the table!
4 large potatoes – washed, boiled until tender, cooled and diced
3 large eggs – boiled, cooled, shelled, and diced
1 can of beets, diced
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
small handful green onions, washed and diced
small handful of cilantro, washed and chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1. For a more authentic version of Ensalada Rusa, you can remove the potato skin, I leave it on because it’s healthy and you won’t really notice it once mixed into the salad. Some people will also say you should boil your own beets instead of using canned but Carlos and I love canned beets and that’s what my suegra used to use when preparing Ensalada Rusa in the United States.
2. In a large bowl, add the mayonnaise. (You can substitute Salvadoran crema if you wish.)
3. Add the potatoes, eggs, beets, green onions and cilantro and toss gently until combined.
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Refrigerate covered for an hour until chilled.
6. Serves 6.
Some of you reading this are probably very excited and some of you a probably very confused – so let’s make sure we’re on the same page. Chow Mein, (also sometimes spelled Chao Mein, and often pronounced by some native Spanish speakers as “Chow Ming”), is best known as a noodle dish from China. Many people don’t realize that just as we have our Americanized versions of Chow Mein in the United States, there are well-loved versions of the dish all around the world, including in Central America.
Guatemala in particular has a great love of Chow Mein. This do-it-yourself box of “Chao Mein” (pictured below) is a brand commonly found in Latino Markets here in the U.S., and it’s made in Guatemala.
Chow Mein is also a favorite in neighboring El Salvador, and ever since I’ve known Carlos, he has loved Chow Mein, and Chinese food in general.
On our first date we spent the entire day together. For lunch we ate at a hamburger place but for dinner, (yes two meals together in one day!) Carlos wanted to go out for Chinese food. As we were waiting to be served at the Chinese restaurant, two waiters were standing nearby having a conversation in Chinese. Carlos jutted his chin in their direction, “Entiendes lo que dicen?” [Do you know what they're saying?] he asked me.
“No, no hablo Chino,” I responded perplexed.
“Yo sí,” he said, smiling, and then he proceeded to invent a translation of the waiters’ conversation.
I wasn’t convinced, but as you know, we soon married anyway. Years later Suegra moved in. When Suegra lived with us and we would go out to eat, we often ended up at Chinese buffets because it was the one cuisine she wouldn’t complain about. I never ate so much Chinese food in my life until I married a Salvadoran!
So, with that being said, here is my version of Salvadoran Chow Mein, which is basically the same as Guatemalan Chow Mein, although families each have their own unique way of making it.
Chow Mein (Central American style!)
1 package of “Chao Mein” noodles, or any brand Chow Mein Stir Fry Noodles
1 cup raw mushrooms, sliced
1 cup chayote (also known as güisquil), julienned
1 cup carrot, julienned
1 cup celery, julienned
1/2 cup green onion, (sliced lengthwise and then cut in 1 inch pieces)
5 chicken thighs, cooked and shredded (see notes below)
oil for frying (sesame oil and/or canola oil)
1/3 cup soy sauce (low sodium soy sauce can be used)
Notes Before We Get Started:
• It’s not necessary to buy the box of “Chao Mein” noodles pictured above. The box contains the noodles, a little packet of soy sauce (not nearly enough for my recipe), and 2 seasoning packets which I discarded because they contain MSG which I avoid. You can buy any Chow Mein Stir Fry Noodles. You may need to buy 2 packets of Chow Mein noodles depending on the size of the packages. You’ll want about 12 ounces to feed a hungry family of six people.
• This recipe is very flexible, feel free to try different vegetables and to increase the vegetables to make it healthier. You can also replace the dark meat chicken with chicken breast meat, steak or shrimp. I used green onions because that’s what I had on hand, but any type of onion you like can be used.
• If using chicken, you can cook it however you like. I cook it like this: Boil the chicken thighs in water with a little annatto (also known as “achiote”), a little salt, a little pepper, 1/2 an onion and a tablespoon of minced fresh garlic. After the chicken has cooked through, remove to cool. Once cool, discard the skin and bones. Shred the meat by hand and set aside. (The leftover broth can be used in another recipe.)
• For those who aren’t familiar, chayote (“güisquil” to Central Americans), is a type of squash, usually light green in color and about the size of a fist with one puckered side. The flavor is very mild and pleasant. To use chayote in this recipe, wash it and then julienne it, (i.e. cut it approximately into the size and shape of matchsticks or shoestring-style french fries.) You do not need to peel it but there is a small white seed in the middle you should discard.
• You can use sesame oil or canola oil for frying. I like to use equal amounts of both. The sesame oil gives it a nice flavor which helps make up for the fact that I discard the “condiment/flavoring” packets.
1. Prepare all vegetables while the chicken cooks. Put the vegetables in a large bowl together and set aside.
2. Prepare chicken (see notes above), and then set aside.
3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Put the noodles into the water and cook about 5 minutes until al dente, being careful not to overcook them.
4. Remove the noodles to a colander to drain. Set aside.
5. In a large skillet over high heat add a few tablespoons of oil. Use either canola oil or sesame oil, or use equal amounts of both, (which is what I do.)
6. When the oil is very hot, add the vegetables, and stir them continuously for one to two minutes.
7. Add the chicken and continue stirring for another minute.
8. Add the noodles and continue stirring for another minute.
9. Add 1/3 cup soy sauce, stir and remove from heat.
10. Serve and enjoy!