Appetizers

||Appetizers

Empanadas Estilo Chileno: Chilean-style Empanadas

By |September 14th, 2011|

About a month ago, one of T’s Tasty Bits awesome twitter followers had a request for an empanada recipe, al estilo Chileno, or Chilean style (by the way, why aren’t we tweeting?).  Then, a very dear reader was wondering how to make a type of empanada that had a sweet filling inside.  And yet another wondered about the empanadas that have a simple cheese filling commonly sold by street vendors in Ecuador.  So I said to myself, “SELF!  It is time for some Empanada Epicureanism!”  Is that a real word?  In Ecuador, you can find all sorts of types of empanadas – fried or baked, and with different types of fillings.  We will explore the most popular ones here on T’s Tasty Bits.  AREN’T YOU EXCITED???

First up, empanadas estilo Chileno.  So what makes an empanada Chilean?  For one, the filling, known as pino.  Pino is a filling that consists of ground beef, raisins and olives, among other seasonings.  From my understanding: no ground beef, NOT pino.  While this is the traditional filling of the Chilean empanada, it doesn’t mean you can’t substitute for other meat if beef isn’t your thing.  Of course, the dough wrapper is equally important – you need a crusty on the outside, yet soft upon biting wrap for this kind of empanada.  After several trials and errors, this dough I share with you is a keeper.  For full disclosure, I made this dough on a very humid day, as in the day before Hurricane Irene.  I figured, if we were going to be flooded and without the ability to go anywhere, we might as well have something good to eat.  Sometimes, air conditions have an impact on preparation and baking, but let me tell you, rolling out this dough on this day was a cinch.

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Humitas – Ecuadorian Tamales

By |August 25th, 2011|

Ahhh. Humitas.  Such a wonderful Ecuadorian comfort food.  I am using the term tamales loosely because it is something a lot of people know and have eaten before.  The concept is similar: a corn batter wrapped in a corn husk.  However, Ecuadorians will tell you flat out:  Humitas ARE NOT tamales!  While a Mexican tamal consists of masa, a corn-based flour, Ecuadorian humitas are made with fresh, ground corn.  Humitas can be sweet or savory.  Here I present you the savory version that has cheese.  The sweet version has sugar and vanilla extract incorporated in the filling.  Another savory version has chicken, and its filling is similar to the ayacas de pollo I posted a while back.

Humitas can be eaten for breakfast, dinner or as an afternoon snack.  My favorite way of eating humitas was for breakfast.  I had the cheese-filled humitas, accompanied by a cafecito caliente.  I have been drinking coffee since I was 8 – don’t judge.  Mind you that said coffee was VERY diluted and with a taste of sugar and cinnamon, which was DELICIOUS.

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How to make Patacones

By |May 19th, 2011|

Raise your hand if you LOVE patacones (I have both of them up)!  Patacones are fried, smashed green plantains.  Patacones are a very popular side dish in Ecuadorean cuisine, and they are also served throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.  In Ecuador, we say patacones.  Living in New York where there is a large population of Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, I’ve learned to say tostones.  They are one and the same, and they are muy ricos.

Patacones are quite easy to make, although in the beginning I had a tough time figuring out how to shape them.  Patacones sort of look like a flat flower.  Years ago when I made them for the first time, I tried to smash them first and then fry them.  Don’t do that; it doesn’t work.  Then, I tried to smash them AFTER frying them completely, but they all fell apart.  It wasn’t until my younger brother came to visit me recently, that I figured out the patacón process.

I think the coolest thing of the learning how to make patacones was that my baby brother taught me how to properly make patacones.  I am supposed to be the one teaching him stuff, not the other way around!  Needless to say, I am so happy and proud of him, and so impressed with his patacones-making abilities.  And now, here I am to share our pearls of patacones wisdom with you.

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Pan de Yuca – Ecuadorian Yuca Bites

By |May 11th, 2011|

One of my favorite treats when I was a little girl was pan de yuca.  And the reason it was one of my favorites was because every time my Abuelita came to visit (bonus #1), she would bring me a baggie with 5-6 pancitos and a frozen yogurt from this local snack place in Guayaquil called Yogurt Persa (bonus #2).  Ay Dios Mio!  It was the most delicious treat EVER!

Pan de Yuca are little breads made with tapioca starch and cheese – like little yuca bites.  The cheesier the better. My abuelita would ensure to stop by Yogurt Persa at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, when a freshly baked batch of pan de yuca came out of the oven.  Pan de yuca are best when eaten warm/hot.  They are somewhat crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside…  In the words of Rachel Zöe if she spoke Spanish:  Me muero.  And yes, that is how much my abuelita loved me – only a piping-hot, fresh batch of pan de yuca for su nieta! Now, how did my grandma accomplished such successful feat, you may ask.  Well, at the time, Yogurt Persa was only a few blocks away from our apartment in El Centro, or downtown Guayaquil, and I think it was the only location in the city.  Fast forward to today, and I came to find out that Yogurt Persa offers franchising opportunities.  If you are living in Ecuador and sounds something it would be of interest to you, you might want to check them out.

**  Please note, I am not affiliated to Yogurt Persa whatsoever.  As a matter of fact, Yogurt Persa doesn’t even know I exist.  Furthermore, if I were to drop dead right now, they would not shed a tear, nor would they send El Señor Hubs their condolences.  Or flowers.   Having said that, Yogurt Persa can rest assure their frozen yogurt and pan de yuca have a very special place in my heart forever…  Amen.

On to the pan de yuca.  I don’t claim to have the specific recipe for their pan de yuca, but this recipe that my aunt (Hello again Tia Lorena!) gave me is perfect.  I also tested the recipe that is on the back of Goya’s tapioca starch bag, and it is pretty rad as well.  Upon further investigation, I realized the recipes were exactly the same.  The conclusion is: pan the yuca is pretty straightforward, and it is not a ground-breaking culinary creation.  Delicious – THAT, it is.

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Ayacas de Papa: Potato Dough Stuffed in Banana Leaves

By |December 23rd, 2009|

This version of the ayaca uses potatoes instead of corn flour, or Maseca, for the version I made here.  The filling is basically the same: chicken, raisins, olives.  The recipe my mom gave me called for longanizas (lohn-gah-NEE-sahs), a.k.a., pork sausage for the protein portion of the filling, as well as chickpeas.  Since […]