Appetizers

||Appetizers

Pasteles de Pollo (Hojaldre Criollo)

By |February 15th, 2013|

Goodness!  We’re half-way through February already!  I have to say, I’ve had a pretty busy beginning of the year thus far.  El Señor Hubs and I bought a house in early December, and we’ve been thinking and dreaming of our renovation/decor plans for our new home.  We’re in the midst of choosing paint and fabrics for our bedroom, and getting ideas about tiles for our bathroom.  Our minds change every day.  One day we wake up love a zen-inspired bathroom, the next day we’re into super-modern-all-white spaces…  and the same goes for the kitchen, which is another room we’ll renovate in the future.  I can’t wait to share with you the befores and afters.  But we’ll still in the befores…  In addition, I’ve been flexing my web content strategy/design/management muscles, and building community with some really wonderful people.

All this to say – I am happy to report that true, human interaction is alive and well in me.  I encourage you to do the same!

And how about doing so with some really awesome and super easy pasteles de pollo?

I think all of us at some point have had eaten a variation of these in our lives.  Although these chicken ones are very popular in Ecuador, I also love, LOVE the beef version, pasteles de carne.  Back in Guayaquil, there is this cafe/bakery called La Palma.  On special occasions my mom used to take me there for Sunday breakfast, and we will order pasteles de carne and some coffee and juice.  She had the coffee, I had the juice.  We ate there, and then we would go to the park.  One that was near our home was El Parque Seminario, or El Parque de las Iguanas, a.k.a the iguana park.  As you can image, this park was full of iguanas, which were so used to human interaction they were not scared of people at all.  So much so, they’d come close to you in hopes of scoring some food.  The late Steve Irwin, a.k.a The Crocodile Hunter paid a visit to El Parque de las Iguanas.  Do you remember him?

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Rosquitas de Mantequilla: Butter Wreath Tea Biscuits

By |March 21st, 2012|

I made these little rosquitas de mantequilla last week because I had a hankering for a snack and wanted something crumbly, something relatively crispy.  I could’ve eaten crackers, but it really wasn’t what I was looking for.  And for some reason, I recalled a type of rosquitas I used to eat back in Ecuador – a kind you could buy on the streets.  Those rosquitas were quite crispy and on the salty/savory side, and street vendors used to sell them in these little plastic baggies which held about ten little rosquitas.  I can’t remember how much they were, but I remember paying Sucres for them.  For those who don’t know or are too young to remember, Ecuador used to have their own currency back in the day, and it was called Sucre.  Oh boy, am I dating myself…

Although these rosquitas weren’t like the ones I used to buy on the street, they will satisfy that 4 o’clock nibble time – just in time for tea.  These rosquitas reminded me more of a cross between an empanada dough and a pie crust – the best of both worlds!

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Empanadas de Viento: Ecuadorian Cheese Empanadas

By |March 1st, 2012|

Empanadas de viento are one of my favorite Ecuadorian street foods.  It is common to see ladies on the streets selling baskets full of empanadas de viento.  Viento means “wind” or “air” in Spanish, and these empanadas are soft, doughy and delicious.  The airyness of the empanadas is courtesy of the […]

Tamales de Col y Espinacas: Cabbage and Spinach Tamales

By |February 16th, 2012|

In Ecuador, some of our tamales are made using banana leaves instead of corn husks, similar to what our fellow Puerto Ricans call pastelitos.  I love cooking with banana leaves because they infuse a sweet flavor into whatever you fill them with.  Banana leaves also make a great container – no need for a plate with this one.   Although my favorite banana leaf-contained food is ayacas de papa, this tamal de col y espinacas is a close second.  I warn you that when you go back to see the ayaca recipe, the pictures may scare you, but the recipe is awesome!

This tamal is more like a souffle because we separate the eggs, and beat the whites into a meringue, which are folded into the rest of our mixture towards the end of the preparation.  You can serve this tamal with some aji criollo, some encurtido, or both.  And if you are looking for something without any meat involved, I got your tamal right here!

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Niños Envueltos: Meat and Rice in Cabbage Rollups

By |February 10th, 2012|

Niños Envueltos – now THAT is a name for a dish.  Niños Envueltos  literally means “Wrapped Children”.  Why?  I don’t know.  It is one of those things I have no reasonable explanation for.  The one thing I do know is that these cabbage rollups are delicious.  It is like the Ecuadorian version of a spring roll.  And it goes really good dipped in sambal olek.  ¡Olé-k!

When I was little and my nana used to make niños envueltos, I wasn’t fond of the cabbage leaf of course.  I mean, are you surprised?  You already know how much I hated vegetables growing up.  I used to open up the cabbage roll, eat all the contents and leave the cabbage leaf on the plate.  I don’t do that now.  I love food in edible containers.

Making the niños envueltos is very easy.  The one thing we really need to focus here is on getting some good, large and whole cabbage leaves.  My cabbage, unfortunately was rather on the small side, so I had quite a bit of filling leftover.  To prep the leaves, remove the hardest part of the vein in the leaves by making an inverted “V” incision at the bottom of each leaf.  To make them pliable, blanche them in hot water for a couple of minutes.  The filling is really easy and it is made from a combination of ground beef and pork (but you are more than welcome to use ground turkey or veal, or any other ground meat of your choice), cooked in a mirepoix mixture (celery, carrots and onions), plus some green onions and some cilantro.  I like serving it with some Sriracha or some sambal olek, just like I do with my spring rolls.  Let’s channel our inner Hansel and Gretel witch character, and prep the children so we can wrap ’em and eat ’em.

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