Category Archives: recipes
It all started with a comment. D.Y.H said on a recent post:
“Tracy, I just thought of something! Have you ever tried leche poleada? … Preguntale a Carlos si comía eso de niño. Cuando vivía con mi mamá ella lo hacía en tiempo de frío. It’s so good. I wouldn’t be able to tell you how to start or what to put in it aside from sprinkle ground cinnamon before you eat it…”
I had never heard of leche poleada but I asked Carlos and his eyes lit up.
“I love leche poleada!” he said, then he told me about how his mother used to make it for him when he was little. He hadn’t eaten it for at least twenty years.
“Why didn’t you tell me?!” I asked. We’ve been married for fourteen years and I never knew what leche poleada was, let alone that he loves it. Of course I wanted to make it for him right away, and that’s just what I did after a little research on the internet to find a recipe.
Below is my recipe which I adapted from one I found online. This leche poleada is about the same consistency as pudding. Carlos says some people prefer it thicker, so if you want it thicker, I would add another tablespoon of cornstarch and use whole milk instead of 1% – that should do the trick. Also, Carlos likes his cold, but you can eat this warm. (I should know, I licked the pot clean.)
4 rounded tablespoons corn starch
4 1/4 cups 1% milk
3 egg yolks
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
In a blender add milk, sugar, egg yolks and cornstarch. Blend for 30 seconds until well combined.
Pour mixture into a pot over low heat. Add cinnamon stick and vanilla extract.
Stir constantly until the mixture boils and thickens.
Remove from heat and let cool. (You can serve warm if you like. If you want to serve cold, continue.)
Remove cinnamon stick. Pour into single serving cups and place in refrigerator 1 to 2 hours.
Sprinkle ground cinnamon on poleada before serving. Makes 8 servings.
Adapted from this recipe at Cipotes.net
Awhile back a friend of mine asked what we eat at our house. Do we eat mostly Salvadoran or mostly American, she wanted to know. I told her it’s probably about 50/50 depending on my mood. One week I might make all Salvadoran food or a mix of Latin American foods and then the next, I’ll make “American” food, (which is actually more likely to be Americanized Chinese, Mexican or Italian food.)
However, since being asked how we eat, I’ve been a bit more conscious of it and holy cow – we eat some strange things – the best example of the “fusion” cooking that happens organically in my kitchen would be “Fried Chicken & Mashed Potato Tacos.”
How did this happen? It’s the necessity of combining the tastes of everyone in the family with the ingredients I have on hand. I looked into my fridge and saw leftover mashed potatoes and the ever present stack of corn tortillas. I decided to make “Tacos de Papa” – something I first learned about from Graceelena of Sunshine and Potatoes, but I actually got to try them last year when one of Carlos’s Mexican co-workers gifted us some.
The problem with making Tacos de Papa is that Carlos insists on having meat at every meal, and that’s when I spotted the lonely pieces of leftover fried chicken. With a little green onion and salsa to give it some sabor, I had created something that wasn’t quite Mexican or even Tex-Mex, but definitely wasn’t my grandmother’s comfort food either.
Here’s the recipe if you’re crazy enough to try it.
Fried Chicken & Mashed Potato Tacos
2-3 pieces of fried chicken, shredded by hand
1 cup mashed potatoes
1 green onion, chopped
salsa or hot sauce of your choice
corn or flour tortillas
1. Add the green onion to the chicken. Keep all other ingredients separate.
2. Warm tortillas on the comal [griddle] or in a large frying pan, so that they’re pliable. Flip them over.
3. In the center of each tortilla, place a spoonful of mashed potato, a few pieces of chicken & green onion, and top with a spoonful of salsa or hot sauce.
4. Use a spatula to fold each tortilla closed. The mashed potatoes will help keep them from opening. Brown on each side, flipping as needed. If you like, spray each side with cooking spray for better browning.
5. Remove from comal and serve.
My first taste of Semita, (a Salvadoran jam or marmalade filled pastry) was many years ago. Suegra had brought it back in her “encargos” from El Salvador and this one, although I didn’t know it at the time, was of great quality and very fresh. Suegra brought many Semitas with her and to keep from eating them I put them in the freezer – I soon found that they taste just as good frozen, (though that’s probably a very gringa thing to do.)
Once my stash of Semita ran out I was forced to buy some at the local Salvadoran-owned Latino market. I then discovered one more thing – Not all Semita are created equal. The Semitas bought locally were low quality – either because they were made to have a longer shelf life or because they weren’t and had gone stale. I vowed that one day I would bake my own Semita but I didn’t get around to it until a few weeks ago. The results were so fantastic that I would say this is one of the best things I’m able to make, (and Carlos fell in love with me all over again.)
Here is my recipe – I read a dozen Semita recipes and created my own. Sometimes straying from already established recipes while baking is asking for disaster, but in this case, it was sweet success. By the way, this recipe can also be used to make Empanadas de Piña, Pasteles de Piña or Pineapple Hand Pies.
If you mention Semita to a Mexican, they might think you’re talking about Cemita – a type of sandwich from Puebla.
Semita (Salvadoran Pineapple Jam-Filled Pastries)
4 cups of flour
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature and chopped in pieces
2 tablespoons yeast
1 cup sugar
2 pinches of salt
1 jar pineapple jelly, jam or marmalade (if you can’t find at the regular grocery store, check the Latino market)
1/2 cup water
1. In a very large mixing bowl, add the flour. Create a volcano with a hole in the center for the rest of the ingredients.
2. Into the volcano, add butter, yeast, eggs, sugar, salt and water. Mix all the ingredients by hand, kneading them together. (These measurements worked perfectly – I double checked by making the recipe a second time, but if for some reason the dough doesn’t come together after a couple minutes, you can add a little more water – If too sticky after a few minutes, you can add a little flour.)
3. The original recipes call for rising time – I skipped this completely. Don’t be afraid – keep going!
4. Remove a baseball-sized amount of dough and set aside, then break the remaining dough into 4 equal balls.
5. On a lightly-floured surface, roll a ball of dough out until it’s as thick as pie crust, (not too thin or you won’t be able to pick it up.) Use a knife to cut the dough into a rectangle shape. (It doesn’t have to be perfect but you can use a ruler if you want.)
6. Place the rectangle on a greased baking sheet. Top with a nice layer of pineapple jam, (a little thicker than you’d put on a peanut butter & jelly sandwich.)
7. Create another rectangle with the second ball of dough. Place this one on top of the jam.
8. Repeat with the 2 other dough balls. You should now have 2 rectangular Semitas on separate baking sheets, 1 ball of dough and dough scraps from when you cut out the rectangles.
9. Take your dough scraps and create a ball. Roll out on a lightly floured surface and cut into long strips as you see in the photos. Place on top of the 2 Semitas in a criss-cross pattern. Sprinkle each Semita with a tablespoon or two of sugar.
10. Pasteles de Piña: With remaining dough you could make another rectangular Semita or try your hand at Pasteles de Piña. Roll the dough out on a floured surface and then cut out circles using a large drinking glass. Roll out each circle a little more, trying to give it a more oval shape. Put a spoonful of pineapple jam in the middle. With a finger dipped in water, wet the edge of one side before folding over and sealing by pressing the tines of a fork against the edges. (Don’t worry if the dough breaks open a little or doesn’t totally seal. The jam actually tastes really good when it seeps out.)
11. Put the Pasteles on a greased baking sheet, sprinkle with sugar.
12. Baking Time & Temp: Both the Semitas and the Pasteles should be baked on the middle rack of a 350 F oven until golden brown. (You probably won’t be able to bake them all at the same time.) The rectangular Semitas need 30 to 40 minutes in the oven and the Pasteles might be done after 15 to 20 minutes – check them and decide based on color.
Makes: 2 normal-sized Semitas and 12 individual half moon pies/pasteles/empanadas.
Or: 3 normal-sized Semitas, or 36 half moon pies/pasteles/empanadas.
Note: A “normal-sized” Semita serves about 9 people.
When I saw this recipe, I knew right away that I wanted to share it here on Latinaish. Of course the name of the recipe caught my eye – I love Javier Hernández, the Mexican footballer better known by the nickname “Chicharito” – but “Chicharito” or “Chícharo” is simply the word for peas. (Javier’s father was given the nickname “Chícharo” for his green eyes, and that’s how Javier became “Chicharito” – the little pea.)
Anyway, for once, my mind wasn’t in the wrong place because this recipe does seem to be a play on words. Look at the little soccer ball-like “bolitas”!
Notice the red, white and green plastic food picks! (Colors of the Mexican flag) … Clearly Chef Maggie Jiménez is not only a creative genius, but a fan of Chicharito.
I haven’t had a chance to try this recipe out but it looks almost as good as Javier Hernández on the pitch – chécalo!
Chicharitos de Sabor
4 Tazas MASECA®
2 ½ Tazas Agua
½ Cdta. Sal
½ Taza Aceite para freír
1 Taza chícharos congelados
½ Taza Queso manchego cortado en cubos pequeños
½ Taza carne molida
½ Taza Chicharrón
½ Taza Chorizo
Mezclar la MASECA® con el agua y la sal durante 5 minutos hasta que la masa ya no se pegue en las manos. Dividir en 20 porciones iguales y hacer 5 bolitas rellenas de queso, 5 de carne, 5 de chicharrón y 5 de chorizo. Integrar las bolitas con chícharos. Calentar el aceite y freír las bolitas.
Disclosure: This is not a paid or sponsored post. MASECA® granted permission for this recipe and photo to be reproduced from their website, MiMaseca.com.
I’m not usually one to deprive Carlos of a food he is craving if it’s in my abilities to make it. As old-fashioned as it may seem, making food for Carlos and the boys and watching them enjoy it is one of my favorite things. That being said, when Carlos requested Sopa de Res the other day, (something I make for the family often in the winter) I found it strange enough that I didn’t want to make it.
“Sopa de res?” I said, “But it’s summertime! It’s hot out!”
“What’s wrong with that?” Carlos said.
“You don’t eat stew in the summer – that’s just weird. Soups and stews are for fall and winter. They warm you up and comfort you when you’re cold.”
“Well, I don’t think like that,” Carlos reminded me. “In El Salvador the weather is always hot so when are we supposed to eat soup?”
I realized he had a point and bought what I needed to make Sopa de Res on Friday. As I make it right now, the weather seems to have obliged with my “soup eating rules.” It has been cold and rainy all weekend.
SOPA DE RES
1 to 2 lbs. stew meat
2 tablespoons Canola oil
salt, pepper to taste
1 onion, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
14 oz. chunky salsa (whichever kind you like)
1 to 2 cups baby carrots
2 cups chopped potatoes (whichever kind you like)
2 to 3 corn cobs broken in thirds, (1 cup frozen/canned corn can be substituted)
1/2 small cabbage chopped in wedges
sliced pickled jalapeños
handful fresh cilantro, washed and chopped
fresh lime wedges
Brown meat and onion in oil in a large soup pot. Season with salt and pepper.
Add broth and salsa. Meat should be slightly covered, if not, add water until it is.
Bring to a boil then lower heat. Simmer, loosely covered until meat is cooked and tender.
Add carrots and potatoes – Continue simmering until these are tender.
Add corn cobs. Simmer until corn is cooked.
Add cabbage and cook until tender, (not soggy!)
Ladle into bowls. Add cilantro to each bowl. Serve with a wedge of lime to squeeze on top and warm homemade tortillas. If you like it spicy, add some pickled jalapeños.
Recipe adapted from: Caldo de Res
While we were in El Salvador we ate breakfast a couple times at a restaurant in Metrocentro called San Martin’s. One day I ordered something called “El Desayuno Universitario” (The University Student Breakfast). It was made of humble ingredients – french bread, cheese, beans, and a fresh salsa. I loved it.
Since coming back to the United States, I make this often – though usually for lunch or dinner. The entire family loves it, it’s affordable, healthy and easy to make. Here’s my version!
El Desayuno Universitario (The University Student Breakfast)
French bread or bolillos sliced in half
Frijoles Molidos (refried beans)
Mozzarella cheese cut in slices or shredded
1. Place bread slices on an ungreased baking sheet.
2. Spoon frijoles molidos onto the bread and spread to the edges with the back of the spoon.
3. Top each piece of bread with cheese.
4. Bake in the oven at 350 F until cheese is melted and bread is slightly toasted.
Optional: Put under a broiler to brown the cheese.
Serve with chunky-style salsa to spoon on top. I like to dice tomatoes with fresh basil and then add a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, so it’s kind of like a Salvadoran version of bruschetta.
Summer is on its way and so that means it’s time to break out the pasta salad recipes for picnics and barbeques. Here is a recipe for what is called “Ensalada de Conchitas” (little shell salad), because of the shape of the pasta used. (I have no idea if this is an “authentic” Salvadoran recipe but it’s something Suegra used to make which I’ve changed a little.)
ENSALADA DE CONCHITAS (LITTLE SHELL SALAD)
• One 7 oz. package of “conchitas” pasta (the brand I use is La Moderna but any small shell-shaped pasta is fine)
• Mayonnaise (whichever brand you like)
• A handful of fresh cilantro, washed and chopped (best if you avoid the stems & use only leaves)
• Juice of 1/2 a lime
• 1 tablespoon of ketchup (brand not important)
• Salt & Pepper to taste
1. Boil water with a few dashes of salt. Add the pasta and cook until tender. Pour pasta into a colander and run cold water over them until they’re no longer hot.
2. In a large bowl, combine pasta with mayonnaise. The amount of mayonnaise will depend on your personal preference, so just add it slowly and mix it in until your preferred level creaminess is achieved.
3. Add cilantro, the juice of 1/2 a lime, and a tablespoon of ketchup. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to your personal tastes and then refrigerate for at least an hour or two so it’s nice and cold before serving.
If you didn’t grow up cooking your own frijoles, (or eating them for that matter), the process can seem intimidating. The closest I came to frijoles growing up was baked beans with hot dogs, or beans from a can for bean salad – an experience far different from Carlos’s, which was eating home-simmered frijoles in some form almost daily.
Beans are a big part of most Latin American culture and cuisine – so much so that there are many Spanish “dichos” (proverbs) that mention them.
Dichos about Frijoles (Beans)
• “Estás como los frijoles: al primer hervor se arrugan”. (“You’re like beans: From the first boil, wrinkled.” Said of those who are easily intimidated.)
• “Comes frijoles y eructas jamón”. (“You eat beans and burp ham.” Refers to people who are of humble origin, but presumed to be rich by others.)
• “Prefiero frijoles con amor que gallina con dolor.” (“I prefer beans with love than chicken with sorrow.”)
• “En política hay que ser como frijoles de olla, a veces abajo, a veces arriba…pero siempre dentro.” (“In politics you have to be like a pot of beans, sometimes down, sometimes up … but always inside.”)
• “A la mejor cocinera se le queman los frijoles.” (“Even the best cook burns the beans” – meaning we all make mistakes.)
• “Con esa carne ni frijoles pido.” (“With this meat, I don’t even ask for beans.” – This is a “piropo” or flirtatious saying a man might say to a woman.)
Learning to Cook Beans
All those beans may have put Carlos off because he isn’t crazy about them – and so, for the first few years of our marriage, I got away with canned beans. Eventually, with Suegra always telling me the canned beans were a “pecado” (sin), I knew I had to learn to cook them.
It took awhile for me to get the hang of it. There were pots of beans that burned, pots of beans that never softened, pots of beans that were tasteless, and even one I forgot I had left soaking that ended up fermenting. While this doesn’t sound encouraging to bean amateurs, it really isn’t that difficult if you know what you’re doing.
While I still keep the “sinful” latas de frijoles in my pantry, I make a pot of beans about once a month and they last as a compliment to several meals. We usually eat them as frijoles molidos or mixed with rice in a Salvadoran dish called “casamiento” (“marriage” in English. Cute name, right?) Sometimes I make black beans but more commonly it’s frijoles de seda – the small red beans loved by Salvadorans. Here are a few Salvadoran dishes that require beans:
Other Salvadoran dishes that use frijoles:
• Frijoles Molidos
• Sopa de Frijoles
• Platanos con Frijoles y Crema
Ready to make your own pot of beans? Here’s my method.
RECIPE: Frijoles Salvadoreños (Salvadoran Beans)
• 1 lb. frijoles de seda (it will say on the packaging. These can be found at Latino markets and look like small kidney beans.)
• 2 green onions, (roots chopped off)
• a few cloves of garlic
1. Pour beans into a large heavy bottomed pot. Sift through and remove any tiny pebbles or shriveled looking beans. Heat beans on stove with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, remove from heat. This is known as a “quick soak.” Leave the beans in the hot water for 1 hour. After the beans have finished soaking, drain the water.
2. Add fresh water that comes an inch above the beans. Return pot to medium heat. Add the green onion ripped into large piece and garlic cloves, (these give the beans flavor.) DO NOT ADD SALT. Adding salt before beans have cooked will keep them hard.
3. Bring to a boil then cover and lower heat so beans simmer. It may take 3-4 hours before beans become sufficiently tender and you must make sure to add water when needed so pot doesn’t cook dry. Remembering to check on the beans is the hardest part for me. If you’re afraid you’ll forget, (and believe me, you don’t want your house to smell like burnt beans), consider setting a kitchen timer for 30 minutes each time you check them. When they’re tender you can add salt to your taste.
If you want to try some variations, know that every family cooks beans differently. People add all kinds of things to the water while the beans simmer: green pepper, chiles, onions, ham, bacon, sausage, tomatoes, garlic, and cilantro seem to be the most popular ingredients in various combinations. Here are a few of the variations my friends use:
“My grandpa used to add patitas de puerco and lots and lots of garlic!”
- Leslie / Cocina de Leslie
“After they are done, I re-fry them with chorizo. Well soyrizo now but the flavor is still there.”
- Ericka / Nibbles and Feasts
“We usually just throw in garlic and maybe a piece of pork.”
- Monique / Blogs By Latinas
Once the beans are cooked you can eat them as is or you can make a lot of other dishes. Here is my recipe for Frijoles Molidos and in time, I’ll be adding more!
How do you make beans?
I have made conchas a few times, making adjustments each time to this recipe by Melissa Amador. This past weekend I think I finally got them just the way I like. Don’t be intimidated – try the original or my variation below. You’ll be surprised how easy it is and your house will smell like a panadería all day.
Conchas (Mexican-style Pan Dulce)
5 teaspoons yeast
1 cup warm water
1 cup evaporated milk
3/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup butter, melted
8 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
2/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
a few drops red food coloring
In a large bowl stir yeast and water. Add evaporated milk, sugar, butter, lemon extract, salt, eggs and half the flour. Gradually add the rest of the flour.
Knead on a floured surface. Work in an additional 1/4 to 1/2 of flour if the dough is too sticky. Knead for 6-8 minutes until smooth and elastic. Form into a large ball. Put in a large greased bowl. Cover in a warm area. Let rise until doubled (1 hour)
In a medium bowl beat sugar and butter. Stir in flour until it is like a paste. Mix in vanilla and red food coloring until desired pink color is achieved. (The food coloring is optional, but I think it’s pretty.) Set aside.
Back to the dough:
Cut dough into 24 equal pieces. Form into balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. (Twelve per cookie sheet works for me.) Divide the pink topping into 24 balls. Cover each dough ball with a thin layer of topping by pressing the pink topping flat into a disc-shape on top of the dough ball. You do not want the topping to be thick or it will fall off after baking. (See image)
Use a knife to cut grooves into the top of each concha. You can also use a drinking glass to make a pattern with curved lines.
Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes.
Bake in 375 F oven on middle rack for a little less than 20 minutes.
Yield: 24 conchas
Tamales de elote (corn tamales) are often eaten for breakfast, (or any time really), in El Salvador, as well as in other countries in Central America. They are especially good if you re-heat them the next day by frying them, (which turns them into “tamales fritos” or fried tamales.)
Here is the recipe I use, adapted from the one found at Whats4Eats.com. If you want it completely authentic – (i.e. you want to use lard and fresh corn) – go check out their recipe. My recipe is easier and can be made year round because it uses canned corn – but I changed a few other things as well, and they’re delicious like this.
TAMALES DE ELOTE
Makes 1 dozen
What you need:
Corn husks (for wrapping) – 12
Butter, unsalted, softened – 1/2 cup
Baking powder – 2 teaspoons
Masa harina (MASECA) – 2 cups
Salt – 1 and 1/2 teaspoons
Whole milk or cream – 1 cup (warm)
Corn (whole kernel, sweet, no salt added) – 1 and 3/4 cups (drained) = about one 15.25 oz. can
Sugar – 3 tablespoons
1. Put corn husks in a large bowl of warm water to soak.
2. Put butter, baking powder, corn and sugar in a blender or food processor and mix until combined. (Add a couple tablespoons of milk if blender blades won’t turn. This can be any kind of milk, including skim.)
3. In a large bowl, mix together (with your hands), the masa harina (MASECA), salt and warm milk. Knead until completely combined.
4. Mix the masa little by little into the blender mixture, using the blender to combine it. If the mixture is now too thick for your blender to handle, mix all into a bowl by hand. Squeeze the mixture through your hands until completely combined.
5. Drain the corn husks and shake dry, (it’s fine if they’re still moist.) You will either need to work fast so the husks don’t dry out again, or you can leave them in water and shake dry one-by-one as you use them.
6. Lay out a husk and add about 1/4 cup dough to the center. Fold in each side to cover the dough. Then fold up the bottom of the husk. Finally fold down the pointed part of the husk and insert it into the bottom. Repeat with the rest of the dough. (I go the extra step of wrapping my tamales in aluminum foil to prevent them from opening, which is easier than tying with string, which some people do.)
7. Steam the tamales in a steamer pot for 30-45 minutes. (If you don’t have a steamer pot, you can places balls of foil on the bottom of the pot and then put a metal pie plate on top of the foil. Make sure water doesn’t come above the plate. Over low heat, stack tamales on top of the plate and cover the pot. You may need to add water halfway through the cooking time if your pot cooks dry.)
8. Remove tamales and let cool. Serve warm, or refrigerate. To re-heat, unwrap tamal from corn husk and place on a comal or in a frying pan with a little oil. Cook on both sides until browned – now you have a tamal frito!