Tartaletas

tartaleta salvadorena

There are precious few TV shows Carlos and I can agree on, but lately we’ve been able to add one more to our “watch together” list. I was the first to start watching The Great British Baking Show on PBS, but one day Carlos sat down next to me and started watching too. The Great British Baking Show is a reality show competition, but unlike similar American programs, the contestants are utterly charming and supportive of each other, which is something both Carlos and I love about it.

One episode we watched together involved the contestants making tarts. I don’t know much about tarts, British, or otherwise, but Carlos became nostalgic.

“I love tarts,” he said.
“When have you ever had a tart?” I asked, because I’d never seen him eat one our entire marriage.

That’s when he told me that in El Salvador, Pollo Campero, (the popular fried chicken restaurant), had “tartaletas” – specifically, tartaletas de fresa, or strawberry tarts. I asked him as many questions as I could about what they were like and decided to try to make them. After some trial and error, I ended up with the recipe below.

Since I’ve never had a tartaleta from Pollo Campero, I can’t tell you if these taste the same, and Carlos hasn’t had one for over 20 years, so all he could tell me was that he loved how these turned out. That’s good enough for me. If you want to give them a try, let me know what you think!

Vanilla Custard (for tartaleta filling)

Ingredients:

6 rounded tablespoons cornstarch
4 cups 2% milk
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1. In a blender add milk, sugar, egg yolks and cornstarch. Blend for 15 to 30 seconds until well combined.

2. Pour the mixture into a large pot over medium heat. Add vanilla extract.

3. Stir regularly until the mixture thickens. Don’t be too quick to remove it from the stove. You want it to be the texture of pudding. After 5 minutes, if it isn’t thickening, turn the heat up a little and stir a little less regularly, but be careful not to let it cook to the bottom of the pot or you’ll have lumps in the custard.

4. Remove from heat. Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to assemble the tarts.

Note: This recipe makes far more custard than you’ll need for the tarts. Feel free to eat the leftovers served up in bowls plain or with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Alternatively, you could halve the custard recipe so you don’t have so much left over.

Dessert Tart Crust

Ingredients:

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar, (plus a few pinches)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups pre-sifted all purpose flour

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350 F.

2. Mix butter, 3 tablespoons sugar, salt, and vanilla extract until well combined.

3. Mix in flour just until dough comes together.

4. Divide dough into four equal portions. Place each portion in a 4-inch round tart pan. Use fingers dipped in flour to press the dough evenly onto bottom and up sides of the tart pans. Don’t handle the dough any more than necessary.

Tip: I purchased Wilson Advance 4-inch tart and quiche pans and really love them. If you don’t own a set, I highly recommend these.

5. Place each tart pan in its own sandwich-size plastic zipper bag, and place them into the freezer for 10 minutes to chill.

6. Remove each tart from the plastic bags. Place the tarts on a baking sheet and then place them in the oven on the middle rack. Bake for 10 minutes.

Tip: Use the back of a spoon to carefully deflate any bubbles that pop up during baking.

7. Sprinkle a pinch of sugar on each tart crust and bake for another 5-7 minutes, or until edges start to turn golden brown.

8. Remove from oven and cool completely.

9. Don’t assemble the tartaletas until ready to serve, (or if you assemble them and put them in the fridge, plan to serve them soon.) When ready to serve the tartaletas, assemble like so:

Carefully remove each tart crust from its pan, and place onto a small plate. Spoon an even layer of custard filling onto each tart crust. Top with sliced strawberries, or other fruit of your choosing. (Other suggestions: raspberries, blackberries, peaches, blueberries, and/or kiwi.)

Makes four 4-inch round tarts.

Tart crust recipe adapted from Chowhound.com.

tartaleta de fresa

Hispanic Heritage Month 2015 Round-up

Photographer: Jorge Quinteros

Photographer: Jorge Quinteros

As most of you are aware, September 15th to October 15th is Hispanic Heritage Month, and that means plenty of great new content to check out around the internet related to latinidad, Latin American culture, Latino history and heroes, and the Latino experience here in the United States. Here I’m going to share links to some of my favorite Hispanic Heritage Month content. Feel free to check back as I may update it within the next week or two.

● The “Our Latino Heritage” series on NBC News Latino.

● The “Habla” series on HBO. (Some of the videos available on YouTube too.)

● “The Latino Americans” series (as well as other great documentaries) on PBS.

● Instagram And Voto Latino’s #HispanicHeritageHero Celebrates Latino Leaders on BuzzFeed.

● Multicultural Kid Blogs Hispanic Heritage Month series and giveaway – (Tons of great links there.)

● Test Yourself! Take Our First 2015 Hispanic Heritage Month Quiz via NBC Latino.

When Hispanic Heritage Month Is a Time to Grieve via HuffPost Latino Voices.

Kids activities, printables, and links for Hispanic Heritage Month from Modern Mami.

Archive of Hispanic literature on tape via The Library of Congress.

Hispanic Heritage virtual tour via The Smithsonian.

How do you feel about Hispanic Heritage Month? on NPR’s Latino USA.

● Hispanic News Online’s Hispanic Heritage Month podcast series featuring a different Latino/a each day.

How to Celebrate Hispandering Heritage Month via Latino Rebels.

5 Must-Listen Podcasts for Latinos via latinamom.me.

Donate to an organization that benefits Latinos and/or Latin Americans.

Hispanic Heritage Month 2015 Photo Challenge: Day #14 and 15

I’ll be participating in the “15 Days of Hispanic Heritage” photo challenge over on Instagram hosted by ¿Qué Means What? and The Nueva Latina. If you want to participate, just use the hashtag #HHM15Foto and take a photo for the given theme on each day! Here’s my photo and caption from Instagram for the final days of the challenge, #14 and 15.

hhm-day-14-latinaish

Challenge day 14, theme: #hoy / today (Posting a day late, ironically) … This photo of an #accionpoetica quote in #México by Flickr user esperales says “Somos instantes.” Translation: We are instants. It’s a simple reminder of the fragility, uncertainty, and brevity of life. All you have is today, this moment. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. I try to always remember it and act accordingly. #HispanicHeritageMonth

hhm-day-15-latinaish

Challenge day 15, theme: mañana / tomorrow … This #dicho in #Spanish, (“Hoy por ti, mañana por mí”) means, “Today for you, tomorrow for me.” …When was the last time you did something special for somebody? When was the last time somebody did something special for you? #HispanicHeritageMonth

A Trip to: Panama

atriptologo

Editor’s note: Welcome to the Hispanic Heritage Month “A Trip to” series here on Latinaish. Join us as we virtually visit different Latin American countries through the photos and words of people who live there, have lived there, or have visited and have a lot of love for that particular place. Today Scott of Everything Learning Spanish shows us around Panama!

The beach on Taboga Island, a half hour boatride from Panama City

The beach on Taboga Island, a half hour boatride from Panama City

Panama is a beautiful country in Central America that has been influenced culturally by both South America and the Caribbean. It is a rather small country, but (at least in the city) it doesn’t feel small, and it’s growing rapidly. Throughout the economic crisis, Panama’s economy has been growing. Immigration to Panama comes from neighbors such as Colombia, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua, and from faraway places such as Nigeria, Pakistan, and Nepal. The Panama Canal is one reason for this booming economy, and right now the canal is being expanded to accommodate the largest ships in the world. Other important sectors in Panama’s economy are banking, ship registration, tourism, real estate, and construction.

Bay of Panama and the city skyline

Bay of Panama and the city skyline

Food is excellent in Panama, as many great ingredients are local and fresh. Fruit of all types grow on the isthmus including: mangoes, plantains, papaya, oranges, limes, avocados, cashews, and much more. With access to two oceans and freshwater lakes and rivers, seafood is also abundant and common in Panamanian cuisine. Ceviche, fried fish with patacones (twice fried plantains), and sopa de mariscos (seafood soup) are all delicious and fresh. Food is also relatively cheap compared to the United States. Panama’s currency is the dollar, which makes travel for Americans easy. Excellent restaurants are everywhere! One can easily find restaurants serving Panamanian, Colombian, French, Greek, Middle Eastern, and many other cuisines. Eating is one great pastime in Panama, but it’s certainly not the only thing!

Filete de corvina con patacones, Seabass filet with twice fried plantains and slaw

Filete de corvina con patacones, Seabass filet with twice fried plantains and slaw

Panama city has a great variety of things to do. The causeway is a man-made bridge that connects three islands in the Bay of Panama. It is loaded with restaurants, souvenir shops, ice cream stands, bicycle rental places, and all with great views of the sea, the bridge of the Americas, and the city skyline. Another great thing to do in the city, at least in the morning before it gets too hot, is to visit the Cinta Costera, an enormous park that stretches along the coast in Panama city. Cinta Costera includes walking/biking trails, playgrounds, basketball courts, skate parks, food stands, and more! You can find lots of vendors of raspao, or shaved ice topped with sweetened condensed milk, which is very delicious and refreshing on a hot day! Another great thing to do in the city is to disappear into nature, right in the middle of the city. Parque Metropolitano Natural is a great big park that is basically a forest right in the middle of the city. Complete with trees, wildlife, and trails, this is a wild adventure that is super convenient from anywhere in Panama city.

View of Panama City skyline from the hotel Torres de Alba

View of Panama City skyline from the hotel Torres de Alba

The city also has many kid-friendly activities. There are two Smithsonian museums (biodiversity and tropical research), both located on the Causeway of Amador with excellent educational activities for children. Another one of the city’s great green-spaces is Parque Omar, a very large park scattered about with playgrounds, the national library, tennis courts, workout areas, street vendors, and much more! All of the malls have ample indoor playgrounds, some have carousels and other rides. Panama city certainly offers enough experiences to keep the whole family busy for the whole vacation, but that’s not all there is in this Central American jewel.

Starfish at the Smithsonian tropical research institute museum

Starfish at the Smithsonian tropical research institute museum

Entrance sign at Punta Culebra - The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Museum

Entrance sign at Punta Culebra – The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Museum

There is a lot more to Panama than just the city! If you’re seeking an escape from the tropical heat, El Valle de Anton, about an hour and a half away from Panama city is usually about 10-15 degrees cooler. El Valle is a volcanic valley. There are hot springs, a zoo, restaurants, and an artisan market. A nice, quaint village surrounded by natural beauty. Panama also has many beautiful beaches on both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. There are lots of all inclusive resorts, the beaches are excellent and surrounded by great tropical foliage, and the ocean water is invitingly warm. Eco-tourism also abounds, with eco-hotels ranging from bed and breakfast all the way to complete luxury experiences. There are great accommodations and exciting activities to be found in the entire country!

Church in El Valle de Anton, a quaint tourist town, and cool retreat from the searing hot temperatures of the city, a little more than an hour away

Church in El Valle de Anton, a quaint tourist town, and cool retreat from the searing hot temperatures of the city, a little more than an hour away

A beach resort on the Pacific coast, about an hour away from Panama city

A beach resort on the Pacific coast, about an hour away from Panama city

But all of what I’ve written so far neglects the best part of Panama, its people. Panamanians are so friendly and welcoming! I am very fortunate to have married a Panamanian, and to have been welcomed into her family. We are doing everything we can to celebrate our children’s Panamanian heritage, including letting them stay with my in-laws in Panama for two extra weeks after we’ve left. We most certainly want such a rich culture to be an important part of their upbringing.

Panamanian culture is rich with heritage from Europe, Africa, the Caribbean (specifically Jamaica and Barbados), South America, North America, and Native American peoples that still live their life according to their customs and traditions. The culture is still evolving and changing through new immigrants that go to Panama for economic opportunity and security. All of this combined makes for one incredibly vibrant, exciting and diverse place. You can see this diversity in everything Panamanian: The music, the dance, the food, the art, and much more. Panama, like all of Latin America has vast cultural riches and beauty. All I can close with is, go there and experience it for yourself!

The author of this guest post  with Panamanian boxing legend Roberto ‘mano de piedra’ Duran

The author of this guest post with Panamanian boxing legend Roberto ‘mano de piedra’ Duran

Editor’s note: Did you enjoy this guest post? If you have some nice photos of a Latin American country you’d like to share as we did here with some short descriptions, please email me to be a part of this special travel series!

Hispanic Heritage Month 2015 Photo Challenge: Day #12 and 13

I’ll be participating in the “15 Days of Hispanic Heritage” photo challenge over on Instagram hosted by ¿Qué Means What? and The Nueva Latina. If you want to participate, just use the hashtag #HHM15Foto and take a photo for the given theme on each day! Here’s my photo and caption from Instagram for Days #12 and 13.

hhm-day-12-latinaish

Challenge day 12, theme: tu ciudad / your city

I was born and raised in Maryland, about 30 minutes from DC and we now live about 90 minutes from DC in an area that strikes a perfect balance between city and country as there is plenty of both. One of my very favorite things about parts of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, are the mountains. I never get tired of seeing them, especially on days like this when they’re green, and the sky is blue and full of perfect white clouds. They remind both me and Carlos of the montañas and volcanos of El Salvador.

hhm-day-13-latinaish

Challenge day 13, theme: #amor / #love

Like millions of other people out there, Catholic or otherwise, I’ve been really touched by Pope Francis’s message of love this past week as he has visited cities in the United States. I have to say, his sense of humor is pretty great too. Here is some of what he had to say on the topic of families yesterday: “Families have difficulties. Families, we quarrel, and sometimes plates can fly. And children bring headaches. I won’t speak about mother-in-laws…In the family, indeed, there are difficulties. But those difficulties are overcome with love. Hatred is not capable of dealing with any difficulty [or] overcoming any difficulty. Division of hearts cannot overcome any difficulty. Only love. Only love is able to overcome. Love is about celebration, love is joy, love is moving forward.”

#popefrancis #HispanicHeritageMonth #family #familia #papafrancisco

Hispanic Heritage Month 2015 Photo Challenge: Day #11

I’ll be participating in the “15 Days of Hispanic Heritage” photo challenge over on Instagram hosted by ¿Qué Means What? and The Nueva Latina. If you want to participate, just use the hashtag #HHM15Foto and take a photo for the given theme on each day! Here’s my photo and caption from Instagram for Day #11: Inspiración / Inspiration

hhm-day-11-latinaish

This photo belongs to Denisse over at @the_orphaned_earring … People like her, ordinary people who do extraordinary things, are so inspiring because they manage to do so much with so little. The impact she has on the lives of orphaned children in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Colombia, and Mexico, may seem like a drop in the bucket, but it means the world to those kids. If you feel inspired to help her, you can send:

*Kids vitamins
*Kids toothbrushes
*Toothpaste
*Medication to remove lice, and
*Donations to buy local grains

To:

The Orphaned Earring
P.O. Box 1565
Hawthorne, CA 90251

You can also donate your orphaned earrings to be made into bracelets or buy handmade bracelets from her online shop. All proceeds go to the cause.

#HispanicHeritageMonth

Hispanic Heritage Month 2015 Photo Challenge: Day #10

I’ll be participating in the “15 Days of Hispanic Heritage” photo challenge over on Instagram hosted by ¿Qué Means What? and The Nueva Latina. If you want to participate, just use the hashtag #HHM15Foto and take a photo for the given theme on each day! Here’s my photo and caption from Instagram for Day #10: Aventura / Adventure

hhm-day-10-latinaish

As much as I love to travel the world, circumstances ($) have prevented me from doing that as much as I would like. I’ve found the only other way to quell my wanderlust is by making my own adventures close to home, even if it’s just a trip to the international market to try something new. #HispanicHeritageMonth