Pon el huevo en el agua

huevo-agua

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!

Tenemos varias tradiciones por comenzar el año nuevo pero este año Carlos me presentó a una nueva. Después de hablar por telefono con su hermana, Carlos me dijo que quería enseñarme algo que algunas personas hacen en El Salvador. Sacó un huevo del refrigerador, llenó un vaso con agua, y los dejó en la mesa para que pudieran llegar a temperatura ambiente.

“¿Pero qué es eso?” le pregunté.
“Es una manera en que uno puede predecir que viene en el año nuevo. Después de romper el huevo en el agua, la parte blanca del huevo hace formas.”

Le pregunté a Carlos, “¿Cómo se llama esta tradición?”
“Espera”, me dijo y mandó un mensaje de texto a su hermana para preguntar.
Un minuto más tarde, su teléfono sonó.
“¿Qué dijo?” le pregunté. “¿Cómo se llama la tradición?”
“Simplemente se llama ‘Pon el huevo en el agua’”, respondió Carlos. (Lo cual me hizo reír por unos minutos).

Cuando estaban a temperatura ambiente, Carlos rompió el huevo en el agua.

cracking-huevo

Y esperamos.

Y esperamos.

egg-in-water

Hasta que por fin…

volcano-egg

Pienso que parece al volcán de San Salvador. Ojalá significa que vamos a visitarlo este año.

Image source: Wikipedia author, Xtremesv

Image source: Wikipedia author, Xtremesv

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

We have several traditions to start the new year but this year Carlos introduced me to a new one. After talking on the phone with his sister, Carlos told me he wanted to show me something that some people do in El Salvador. He took an egg from the fridge, filled a glass with water, and then left them on the table to come to room temperature.

“But what is that?” I asked.
“It’s a way to predict what will come in the new year. After breaking the egg into the water, the white of the egg makes shapes.”

“What is the tradition called?” I asked.
“Hold on,” he said and sent a text message to his sister to ask.
A minute later, his phone rang.
“What did she say?” I asked. “What’s the tradition called?”
“It’s just called ‘Put the egg in the water,’” Carlos said, (Which made ​​me laugh for a few minutes.)

When they were at room temperature, Carlos broke the egg into the water.

Then we waited.

And waited.

Until finally…

I think it looks like the San Salvador volcano. Hopefully this means we’ll visit this year.

Días Importantes for Latinos in 2014

important holidays latin america

Feliz Año Nuevo! If you’re anything like Carlos, then you already have your 2014 calendar on display – If you’re anything like me, then you’re still waiting for Amazon to deliver your 2014 agenda which you ordered at the last minute. Either way, here are some dates to make note of which may not already be marked in your calendar or agenda. You don’t want to miss National Taco Day, now do you?

Latin American and Latino-American Holidays 2014

January

New Year’s Day/ Año Nuevo – 1st
Desfile de las Rosas – 1st
Independence Day, Cuba – 1st
Día de los Reyes – 6th

February

Día de la Candelaria – 2nd
Día de San Valentín/ Día del Amor y la Amistad, USA – 14th
National Margarita Day, USA – 22nd
Independence Day, Dominican Republic – 27th

March

Ash Wednesday/ El Miércoles de Ceniza – 5th

April

April Fools’ Day, USA – 1st
National Empanada Day, USA – 8th
Domingo de Ramos – 13th
Jueves Santo – 17th
Viernes Santo – 18th
Domingo de Resurrección – 20th
Día de los Niños, US and Mexico – 30th

May

Cinco de Mayo, USA and part of Mexico – 5th
Mother’s Day – 11th for US and most of Latin America, 10th for El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico
Independence Day, Paraguay – 15th

June

The beginning of FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil – 13th
Father’s Day – 15th for US and most of Latin America, 17th for El Salvador and Guatemala
El Día E (Spanish language appreciation day) – 22nd

July

Independence Day, USA and Puerto Rico – 4th
Independence Day, Venezuela – 5th
Independence Day, Argentina – 9th
Independence Day, Colombia – 20th
Día del Amigo, Argentina – 20th
Día Internacional del Perro Callejero – 27th
Independence Day, Peru -28th

August

Fiestas Agostinas, El Salvador – 5th to 11th
Salvadoran American Day, USA – 6th
Independence Day, Bolivia – 6th
Independence Day, Ecuador – 10th
Independence Day, Uruguay – 25th

September

Independence Day, Brazil – 7th
Independence Day, El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua – 15th
Hispanic Heritage Month – 15th (to October 15th)
Independence Day, Mexico – 15th & 16th
Independence Day, Chile – 18th

October

National Taco Day, USA – 4th
Halloween, USA – 31st

November

Día de Todos los Santos – 1st
Día de los Muertos/Difuntos – 2nd
Independence Day, Panama – 3rd
National Pupusa Day, El Salvador – 9th
Universal Children’s Day – 20th (Countries throughout Latin America celebrate it different days)
Thanksgiving, USA – 27th

December

Giving Tuesday (donate to charity) – 2nd
Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe – 12th
Las Posadas (to Nochebuenda) – 16th
Nochebuena – 24th
Navidad – 25th
Día de los Inocentes, Latin America – 28th

Did I miss an awesome holiday celebrated in Latin America or by Latinos in other parts of the world? Leave a comment so we can celebrate, too!

Organízate!

get-organized

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

Carlos wouldn’t describe me as an organized person but it seems to me I’m always organizing something, and this past month I tackled an area of our casita we were both unhappy with – the laundry room.

laundry-room-before

First let me explain, our house is small – So small in fact that we don’t have a basement, garage, attic or extra bedroom, (also known as the places most people stash all kinds of random, little-used and seasonal things.) Because of this lack of storage space, the laundry room has become our “catch all” area – specifically, the shelf hidden behind the blue curtain.

The level of disorganization behind that curtain was so horrible that I was too ashamed to even take a photo of it. Something had to be done.

We took down the curtain (which is on an adjustable rod), and then sorted everything into categories. Some of the things we kept, some we donated and some went into the trash.

Next we removed the wire shelving so we could give the scratched up wall a much needed coat of paint after first repairing emergency “access doors” that had been haphazardly cut into the drywall to fix leaks years ago.

Taping off the trim with painter’s tape made the job easier. I let my younger son choose the paint color and he chose “Green Supreme” by Valspar.

Once the paint had dried, we had a decision to make. We could install cabinets which is more difficult and much more expensive, or we could put the wire shelving back and organize our things into baskets. I chose the basket route which I think was the right choice since a lot of important pipes are inside that wall and putting up cabinets would make it difficult to access them in an emergency.

I also decided not to get rid of the curtain entirely as I had originally planned – reinstalling it under the shelf meant I could hide the unsightly washer hoses, (and this also helps prevent the loss of runaway calcetines that somehow get flung back there.)

laundry-room-after

We’re much happier with the way it looks and being organized is a great way to start the new year.

¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

Want more creative ideas?

Winter Badge '13 280x200

 

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

Arroz con Leche

arroz con leche - latinaish.com

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!

A pesar de nuestras diferentes crianzas, Carlos y yo tenemos algunas cosas sorprendentes en común – arroz con leche (o “rice pudding” en inglés) es uno de ellos. Al crecer casi nunca comimos arroz en mi casa para cenar, pero de vez en cuando mi madre calentaba arroz blanco en un recipiente con leche, luego añadió la canela y el azúcar para un deleite especial. Esta es una receta antigua de mi familia, pero es algo que Carlos comió en su casa en El Salvador, también.

Arroz con Leche

1 taza de arroz cocido
3/4 taza de leche (1%)
2 1/2 cucharaditas de azúcar
canela molida
una pizca de sal

En una olla mediana, combine el arroz y la leche. Revuelva hasta que esté caliente. Agregue la sal y el azúcar. Retire del fuego. Sazone con canela al gusto y servir. Rinde 2 porciones.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Despite our different upbringings, Carlos and I have some surprising things in common – rice pudding (arroz con leche) is one of them. Growing up we almost never ate rice at my house for dinner, but occasionally my mother warmed white rice in a bowl with milk, then added cinnamon and sugar for a special treat. This is an old recipe from my family, but it’s something that Carlos ate at his home in El Salvador, too.

Arroz con Leche

(Rice Pudding)

1 cup cooked rice
3/4 cup milk (1%)
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
ground cinnamon
a pinch of salt

In a medium pot, combine rice and milk. Stir until warm. Add salt and sugar. Remove from heat. Season with a sprinkling of cinnamon and serve. Makes 2 servings.

arroz con leche - latinaish.com

Biscochitos

biscochitos

Today we’re getting ready for the annual “galletada” with my mother, sisters and all the kids (my sons, my nephew and my niece.) We always make decorated sugar cookies but sometimes we each bring already prepared cookies of other varieties to share. This morning I decided to make biscochitos.

Biscochitos (often misspelled “bizcochitos”) are a holiday tradition passed generation to generation for many families in New Mexico where my older sister lived for a few years. One of the souvenirs she sent me back while living there were these anise seed cookies with a unique licorice-like flavor I really liked, so I looked up recipes and made them myself many times over the years even though Carlos isn’t that fond of them. (He says that anise is used as a home remedy in El Salvador so they taste medicinal to him.)

Anyway, if you want to give them a try, my recipe is below. Unlike traditional biscochitos, I use butter, even though New Mexicans will insist that to be authentic, you must use lard. My older sister is vegetarian which is why I usually use butter, but please feel free to sub lard for butter in the recipe. It will give it a slightly different texture, (which many much prefer!)

biscochitos3

Biscochitos (New Mexican Anise Seed Cookies

You need:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened (you can use lard)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons anise seed
2 tablespoons vanilla extract (you can use rum)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

For topping:

1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Method:

1. Cream together the butter and 1 cup sugar in a large bowl. Next beat in the egg, anise seed and vanilla extract.

2. In a separate medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix the dry mixture into the wet mixture little by little until combined. Do not over mix.

3. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Once chilled, roll out on a floured surface. The thinner you make them, the crunchier they’ll be, so if you’d like them to be a little softer, roll them out thicker. Use a drinking glass dusted with flour or a cookie cutter to cut the dough into circles or desired shape. Carefully move the cookies to a foil-lined greased cookie sheet.

4. In a small bowl, mix the remaining ½ cup sugar with 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Set aside.

5. Bake the cookies at 350 F until they’re starting to brown at the edges. Sprinkle the cookies with the cinnamon sugar mixture while still hot. Allow to cool and serve.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

biscochitos2

Palabras que no me gustan

pantoufles

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. English translation in italics!

Soy una amante de los idiomas. Puedo hablar con mucho cariño sobre las palabras que me encantan tanto en inglés como en español… Pero, igual que tengo palabras favoritas, tengo palabras que me molestan (a veces sin ninguna buena razón) – Aquí hay unas de ellas:

I’m a language lover. I can talk with a lot of affection for the words I love in both English and Spanish… But, just as I have favorite words, I have words that annoy me (sometimes without good reason) – Here are a few of them:

Pantuflas – Slippers
Jaiba – Crab
Mondongo – Tripe
Pompis – Butt
Barbaridad – Barbarity

¿Qué palabras no te gustan en español o inglés?

What words do you dislike in English or Spanish?

¡Viva la Nieve!

worx-snowthrower-assembly1

Disclosure: This is not a paid or sponsored post. A WORX 13-Amp 18-in Electric Snow Blower was provided for review purposes. No other compensation was or will be received. All opinions are my own.

The day after we had already shoveled out of our first snow of the season, the new snow blower arrived at our door, (Carlos didn’t find that as amusing as I did.) Nevertheless, he got to work assembling the snow blower right away to prepare for the storm forecast for the next day.

worx-snowthrower-directions-spanish

The assembly instructions that come with it are in both English and Spanish. In our experience, Spanish instructions often aren’t as good as the English, but these seemed to be equally accurate and included the same illustrations for each. That being said, despite Spanish being his first language, Carlos used the English version as he almost always does to assemble things. My theory as to why he does this? He learned vocabulary for tools, hardware and the verbs associated with those words in English through various labor jobs he’s had over the years in the United States, not in Spanish while growing up in El Salvador. Interesting, isn’t it? Are there any situations in which you prefer to use your second language rather than your native language?

It took no more than 30 minutes for Carlos to put the snow blower together and then we waited for the flakes to fall. We didn’t have to wait long as several inches of heavy, wet snow piled up the next day.

The snow blower instructions encourage you to set it outside for a few minutes so it can adjust to the temperature, so once the snow stopped, we did that and later brought it out to our driveway where we plugged the extension cord into it. (We purchased a blue-colored outdoor extension cord especially designed for cold weather at Lowe’s.)

Carlos used it first before showing me how. I liked how easy it was to start. You push the button and squeeze the handles to start it. To stop it, you just let the handles go, (which is an excellent safety feature in case you slip on the icy pavement.)

worx-snowthrower-handle

I found the snow thrower to be really lightweight and easy to handle. We were impressed with how far it threw the snow and how simple it was to turn the little crank and change the direction in which it throws the snow. As far as noise level – it wasn’t whisper quiet, but it wasn’t louder than expected either. You can see and hear it in action for yourself in the video below.

As for the actual job it did of clearing the snow – we were satisfied given the fact that our driveway is over a decade old and has never been properly sealed or re-paved. In other words, the texture of our driveway is really rough, so it’s difficult to get it perfectly clean regardless of what we use.

worx-snowthrower-clear-path-1

We used a snow shovel in one section to compare and the shovel didn’t do any better than the snow blower, at least with this particular type and amount of snow.

shovel-snow

A week later it snowed again, another few inches of the same type of snow, and the snow blower worked again without any problems whatsoever. While we didn’t feel the snow blower sped up the process of removing the snow, and may actually have taken a little longer than a shovel due to setting it up, the benefit of not waking up the next morning with back pain made it worth it. Using the snow blower also means we have energy left after we clear our own driveway and so we’re better able to help our elderly neighbors. (Which is not a totally unselfish act. Sometimes they give us cookies to thank us. I find cookies motivating.)

Interested in learning more? Check out information and reviews of this snow blower at Lowes.com, or on the the WORX website. You can follow WORX tools on social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Salvadoran Tamales de Gallina

tamales salvadoreños de gallina / Salvadoran chicken tamales - Latinaish.com

My first attempt at tamales salvadoreños de gallina (pollo) was a delicious success! (For that I am very thankful, because it would have been a huge disappointment after all that work to have them not turn out.) I kept detailed notes during the entire process and documented everything I did so that I could share it here with you. I hope this recipe and the instructions below help you make perfect tamales this holiday season. You’ll need an entire day to make these from start to finish, so plan accordingly. Buena suerte!

Salvadoran Tamales de Gallina

The filling

5 lbs. chicken pieces (I used 12 chicken thighs)
2 small tomatoes, quartered
1 small onion, quartered
1/2 small green pepper
1 large carrot, peeled
1 stalk celery
1 handful cilantro
4 cloves garlic, slightly crushed
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon salt, plus salt to taste
1 tablespoon achiote (ground annatto)
1 tablespoon dry oregano
1/4 teaspoon turmeric

3 large Russet potatoes, cut into sticks, raw
2 cups garbanzo beans, already cooked

1. Simmer the chicken with all ingredients listed (besides the potatoes and garbanzo beans) with enough water to cover well. All of these vegetables and herbs are to flavor the broth which you’ll later use in the recaudo and the masa. This broth/chicken stock needs to be really flavorful. Some people use chicken bouillon to achieve this, and you can feel free to add some, but I avoid using bouillon.

2. Simmer the chicken until it is cooked through. Remove the chicken to a large dish to cool.

3. Remove the vegetables from the chicken stock and discard them. When cool enough, taste the chicken stock and determine whether you’d like to add a little additional salt. (I added a little more at this point.) Set this aside. You will be using it soon for the racaudo and masa!

4. When the chicken is cool, discard the skin and bone. Shred the meat into large pieces by hand and season with a little more salt if needed. (I added a little salt at this point.) Set aside.

5. If you haven’t already, wash and peel 3 large potatoes. Cut each potato into french fry-sized “sticks.”

6. If cooking your own garbanzo beans, you should have done this a day before. If using canned, just have them ready to open and drain when you assemble the tamales. I like the tamales with minimal filling ingredients but other people may put any of the following in their tamales: slices of hard-boiled egg, capers, green olives, green beans, sliced green and red bell pepper. Use any of these if you wish!

7. Set all these ingredients aside. These will be used, along with the recaudo, as the filling for your tamales. Next, we make the racaudo.

The recaudo (sauce)

8 small tomatoes
1 small green pepper
1/2 medium white onion
3 cloves garlic
1 dried guajillo chile, stem removed

1/8 cup pumpkin seeds, roasted
4 bay leaves
1/4 cup sesame seeds, roasted
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon dry oregano
1 teaspoon achiote (ground annatto)

2 pieces French bread, each about the size of a small fist
1 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt

1. Roast the tomatoes, green pepper, onion, garlic and guajillo chile on a comal/griddle (or large frying pan) over medium heat. (Be careful not to burn the guajillo chile – it doesn’t need much time on there.) Once slightly roasted on each side, put everything into a blender. You can use a large wooden spoon to smash the tomatoes inside the blender to make room if it gets too full. Don’t run the blender just yet.

2. Some use a pre-made “relajo” spice packet for the recaudo, but I wanted to create my own homemade “relajo” spice mixture with measurements of each spice for those who don’t have these packets locally available. (This also gives you greater control over the flavor and gives the recipe better accuracy since relajo spice mixtures vary by brand.) The spices you need to make your own relajo are: pumpkin seeds, bay leaves, sesame seeds, whole cloves, whole cumin seeds, black peppercorns, dry oregano and achoite (ground annatto.) If your pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds aren’t already roasted, slightly dry roast them (no oil) in a small pan or on the comal, stirring and being careful not to burn them.

relajo salvadoreño - Latinaish.com

3. Add all the “relajo” spices on top of the vegetables in the blender. Add the chicken stock, french bread and salt. If your blender is a standard size, it’s a very tight fit! Be careful and make sure your lid is secure! Blend until smooth. (Your blender might not blend all the spices perfectly smooth – that’s okay!)

4. Pour the recaudo into a medium pot and heat to simmering, stirring occasionally for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

recaudo - Latinaish.com

The masa

8 cups instant corn masa flour (I used MASECA. There’s no need to buy the one that is especially for tamales.)
9 cups chicken stock
8 cups warm water
1 lb. lard
1 cup recaudo

1. In a very large bowl or large stock pot, mix the chicken stock little by little into the corn masa flour by hand. (If you run out of the homemade chicken stock, you can use store bought in its place, but I had enough.) Make sure there isn’t any dry flour in the bowl and that it’s all been worked in.

2. Add the lard and work into the masa by hand. Make sure it’s completely distributed throughout – this will take a few minutes and you will notice the masa get fluffier.

3. Add the recaudo and work in by hand.

4. If you’re working with the masa in a bowl, transfer it now to the stock pot. Add the water, little by little, and work it in by hand. Make sure there are no lumps.

5. This is the most difficult part of this process. Make sure you have at least one other person with you in the kitchen who is willing to switch off with you. You’re going to cook the masa in the pot over medium heat, but YOU MUST STIR CONTINUOUSLY! Do not stop stirring for more than a second or two or the masa will stick/cook to the bottom of the pot and it will be ruined. Before you start, make sure you’re using a very strong, sturdy wooden spoon. Make sure you have oven mitts (especially if the handles of your pot are metal and get hot.) Make sure you have a timer you can set to keep track of the time. You will need to cook and stir the masa for at least 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove from heat and stir for another minute before allowing to cool.

One thing to note: I prefer my tamales on the firmer side so I’m really happy with how they turned out, but Salvadoran tamales are famously gelatinous. I think that if you wanted to achieve that “squishier” texture, you could add more chicken stock before cooking the masa, and possibly sub cooking oil for lard.

The wrapping

2 packs plantain/banana leaves
Aluminum foil (1 roll of 75 feet is plenty)

1. Plantain/banana leaves come frozen in the United States. About 1 hour before you’re ready to assemble tamales, disinfect your kitchen sink then fill it with warm water. Submerge the packets of plantain/banana leaves in the water, (placing a pot on top if they float too much.) This will defrost them and make them more pliable. Some people later warm the plantain/banana leaves over heat but I didn’t find it necessary at all.

2. After 1 hour, remove the packets from the water, cut open and drain. Rinse the leaves in warm, clean running water and shake dry before transferring to a large clean counter surface.

3. Cut the plantain leaves to about 12 inches x 7 inches, (rectangles.) They won’t be exactly the same measurements – that’s okay. Set aside any pieces that are too small or ripped or oddly shaped, (don’t discard them – you will use them later.)

4. Cut pieces of aluminum foil to about 18 inches x 12 inches.

5. Put down a piece of foil, and on top, a plantain/banana leaf, (lighter side of the leaf facing up.) Repeat the process so you have an alternating stack of foil and plantain/banana leaves. (This makes the tamal-making process easier later.)

6. Assemble all your ingredients. You’re ready to start making the tamales!

7. Place a large spoonful of the masa as shown in the video, in the middle of the plantain/banana leaf. In the middle of the massa place a spoonful of the racuado. Add chicken, a few pieces of potato, a few garbanzos and/or whichever other fillings you prefer.

8. Fold closed as shown in the video, rolling and folding tightly to seal. Repeat process for each tamal.

9. Put the tamales in a steamer pot with slightly salted water in the bottom. (Some people cover the tamales with water but I always make sure the water doesn’t touch the tamales so they can properly steam.)

10. Cover the tamales with the leftover plantain/banana leaf scraps and then the lid. Simmer on low heat, adding salted water if necessary to the bottom of the pot until cooked through, making sure you don’t allow the pot to cook dry/burn.

11. It can be difficult to tell when the tamal is ready because while hot, the masa will be very soft. You must remove a tamal and allow it to cool a little while the other tamales continue to cook. Once it’s cooled, you can open it and check for doneness. It’s a good sign if the potato inside is cooked. Mine took about 2 hours.

12. Allow tamales to cool before refrigerating. They will taste better re-heated the next day. Whatever isn’t eaten within a few days should be frozen.

Makes 30 to 40 large tamales.

tamal salvadoreño de gallina - Latinaish.com

Desafío aceptado: Tamales Salvadoreños

Image source: Flickr user Doran

Image source: Flickr user Doran

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. English translation in italics!

La primera vez que comí un tamal salvadoreño de gallina, te digo la verdad, no me gustó. Si uno está acostombrado a los tamales mexicanos, los tamales salvadoreños se sienten muy ligosos y mojados en comparación. Con masa que tiene una textura que me recuerda a gelatina, y un olor único gracias a las hojas de plátano en que están doblados, nunca me enamoré de los tamales salvadoreños y entonces, tampoco traté de hacerlos… hasta ahora.

No sé por qué pero por unas semanas he tenido un antojo por los tamales salvadoreños de gallina que hace mi suegra, llenos de pollo, papas, y garbanzos. Ya que mi suegra no está aquí con nosotros, tengo que tratar de hacerlos solita. Entre las memorias de Carlos y yo, más unas recetas para guiarnos, vamos a hacer tamales este fin de semana. ¡Deséenos suerte!

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Challenge Accepted: Salvadoran Tamales

The first time I ate a Salvadoran chicken tamal, I’ll tell you the truth, I didn’t like it. If one is accustomed to Mexican tamales, the Salvadoran tamales feel slimy and wet in comparison. With a texture that reminds me of Jell-O, and a unique smell thanks to the plantain leaves they’re folded into, I never fell in love with Salvadoran tamales, and so I never tried to make them… until now.

I don’t know why but for the past few weeks I’ve had a craving for the Salvadoran chicken tamales my mother-in-law used to make, full of chicken, potato and garbanzo beans. Since my mother-in-law isn’t here with us, I have to try to make them myself. Between Carlos and my memories, plus some recipes to guide us, we will try to make tamales this weekend. Wish us luck!

Quesadilla Salvadoreña

Salvadoran Quesadilla / Latinaish.com

Ask an American what a “quesadilla” is and most likely they’ll tell you it’s thin flour tortillas with cheese melted in between – but that’s a Mexican quesadilla, and not the one I’m talking about today. Salvadoran quesadilla is a rich cheese-flavored pound-cake-like sweet bread which is perfect with a cup of coffee. You can buy them at some bakeries and Latino markets in the United States but often times, you’ll find they aren’t fresh and have gotten a bit dry. The good news is, you can make your own “quesadilla salvadoreña” at home, and believe me, it’s even more amazing than the store bought ones.

I’ve actually been meaning to share a quesadilla recipe here for years, but the first one I tried was given to me by a friend who generously emailed me her family’s recipe, and thus it wasn’t mine to give away. Over the years I tried other quesadilla recipes, and eventually, tweaking here and there as I do, I ended up with a recipe all my own, but it still wasn’t perfect. I continued baking and changing things, and the quesadillas were usually good, but I definitely had some complete failures along the way, too. Last week I decided to make another attempt and, (bendito sea!) success! Finally! Delicious success!

We ate every last crumb of the one in the photos, and days later, I made another just to double check my recipe, (and because we wanted more quesadilla!)

So here it is, just in time for making as a holiday gift for family, friends and neighbors, (if you can stand the idea of parting with it.)

quesadilla-salvadorena-1

Salvadoran Quesadilla

Ingredients:

1 stick (8 tbs.) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated
3 eggs, separated
1 (slightly rounded) cup sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup 1% milk, room temperature
1 tsp. baking powder
sesame seeds

Directions:

1. Combine sugar, flour and baking powder in a medium bowl. Set aside. Note: The cup of sugar should be rounded, so it’s slightly more than 1 cup.

2. In a medium bowl mix the cheese and butter and then add the milk. Set aside. Note: The cheese can be cheap non-brand name Parmesan. Grated “queso duro blando” or “queso duro viejo” can probably be substituted for Parmesan but I haven’t tried it yet. You could also use 2% or whole milk in place of the 1% milk, but I do not advise skim milk.

3. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Beat in the yolks, then add the cheese mixture. Beat at medium speed, slowly adding in the bowl of dry ingredients, mixing just until combined.

4. Pour into a greased 9 inch springform pan or round pie pan. You can also use a 7×11 rectangular pan, which is what I used the second time. Sprinkle lightly with sesame seeds. Note: Springform pans tend to leak a little until the batter has set up, so put a baking sheet on the lowest rack of the oven to catch any drips.

5. Bake on the middle rack of your oven at 300 to 325 F for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. (Actual cooking time will vary slightly depending on the size and type of pan. My oven runs a little hot, so I baked mine at 300 F.) Keep an eye on it starting at 30 minutes as it continues to bake to make sure you remove it before it begins to burn. It goes from yellow/unbaked to golden brown to burnt pretty quickly.

6. Allow to cool slightly before removing from pan. (It tastes better the next day, actually.) Cut into slices and serve with coffee.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 565 other followers