Salsa de Ciruelas: Prune Sauce

By |November 20th, 2012|

And you thought prunes are only for us old people… HA!

A lovely reader had asked me about this sauce, salsa de ciruelas.  She lived in Quito for a few years and her mother in law makes a ciruela gravy she loves serving with turkey instead of the traditional American gravy.  I think I had this sauce once, so I had to call mami to get the lowdown on it.  In typical Ecuadorian fashion, it is a little bit of this and a tad of that.  So I played around with it and I came up with a sauce that reminds me a bit of a cranberry sauce.

Now, one thing we use prunes for is in traditional Ecuadorian stuffing, which I will be making and posting over the next few weeks.  This relleno (stuffing) is sweet and savory, and traditionally consumed during Christmas.  Oh my, I can’t wait!

This salsa de ciruelas goes great over pork or turkey.  Although I haven’t experimented with it, I bet it would be great to glaze a holiday ham with.  Enjoy!


Hominy Hummus-like Dip

By |April 23rd, 2012|

I love hummus as a quick snack.  Sometimes it’s all I eat for lunch – hummus with some chips and baby carrots.  It usually happens after realizing I punished a whole 8-ounce beef burger and fries plus two beers the night before.  Back in Jersey, this would happen at The Lighthorse Tavern.  These days, it happens either at The Porter or at The Vortex.

Last week, I wanted to make a hummus-like dip that would incorporate something traditional of Ecuador.  Mote, AKA hominy came to mind.  Once I made it, I called it Mote Hummus.  Then, I realized that it cannot be hummus, because hummus is garbanzo-based, and in this dip, I replaced the garbanzo beans for the hominy.  Calling it hummus is just plain wrong, I realized.  I realize a lot of things these days.  Like how I just realized I used the word “realize” too often.
Things I’ve Realized

Pineapple and Cranberry Chutney

By |February 1st, 2012|

We’ve made Colada Quaker and Colada Morada using the rinds and the hearts of pineapples, but what do you do with the actual pineapple?!  I suppose you can eat it plain, as it is – something I can’t do because I can’t stomach pineapple by itself.  So, instead of letting that pineapple left over from the Colada Quaker go to waste, I decided to make a chutney.  Having the pineapple drowned in other flavors and fruits makes it easier to eat.  Not to mention, delicious!

Chances are you have some frozen cranberries left over from the holidays; I normally buy a few bags when they go on sale once Christmas is over.  The rest of the ingredients are ones you most likely already have in your pantry.  To add a bit of interest to this chutney, I threw in a green chili, halved – seeds and all.  This will give this chutney a bit of a kick.


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Ají de Tomate de Arbol: Tamarillo and Ají Sauce

By |October 5th, 2011|

Here is another traditional spicy sauce from Ecuador: ají de tomate de árbol.  Literal translation of this fruit is tree tomato, and it is known as such in other countries like Australia and New Zealand.  Tomate de árbol, also known as tamarillo is native to the Andes region of Latin America, so you will not only find this fruit in Ecuador, but in Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and Chile.  Some varieties of the tamarillo are sweet, but generally speaking tomates de árbol are quite tart.  Back home, our preferred use of tomates de árbol was in juices, which are so delicious and refreshing.  Soups and juices – a staple in Ecuadorian cuisine.

I have not seen tree tomatoes sold at regular grocery stores around here, but the pasteurized pulp is available at my local Hispanic grocery store.  Of course, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I found tomate de árbol pulp and was tempted to buy the whole frozen foods case.  This seems to happen quite often.  Soon I will be broke.  But I will have cases of tomate de árbol pulp, which seems to be a fair trade-off.


How to make Encurtido

By |October 3rd, 2011|

So guess what?  There is a better way of making encurtido.  Previously, I was cutting the onions and marinating in lemon juice for 20+ minutes and that was that.  It was good, no qualms about it.  However, I followed Michelle O. Fried’s recipe and…  Well…  I had a moment.  And it was magic.

As you recall, encurtido is nothing more than pickled onions.  Fried’s recipe makes sense: salt, lemon juice, sugar.  SALT!  SUGAR!  That was my epiphany.  I will therefore pass on my epiphany to you.