Mote Pata: Ecuadorian Pork, Hominy and Peanut Soup

By |February 22nd, 2012|

Mote pata: I call this the Ecuadorian pozole – without the peppers.  And thicker.  Mote pata is a soup traditionally served during Carnaval in Cuenca, the third largest city in Ecuador.  Now, Carnaval in Ecuador is quite different from Carnaval in Brazil.  Different regions in Ecuador have different ways of celebrating it.  For instance, in Guayaquil (where I’m from) we have the tradition of throwing balloons full of water at people.  When you’re a kid, this is tons of fun.  You can get together with your friends and have an awesome water balloon fight.  When you’re a professional adult, walking down the street trying to get to work and suddenly you get whacked by a water balloon – notsomuch.  Not to mention that many times, the water balloon throwing was done several stories ABOVE the sidewalks.  Yeah, that hurts.  If balloons are not available, not to worry!  Just get a bucket, fill it with water and dump it on the innocent bystander.  ¡Carnavalazo!   That’s what it’s called…

The good thing is that, it is not like this all over the country.  For instance, in Ambato, a beautiful city located in the Ecuadorian Andes region, people celebrate Carnaval through a festival dedicated to celebrate the flowers and the fruits of the region.  This celebration is known as La Fiesta de las Flores y Las Frutas.  Think of it as the Ecuadorian Rose Parade for Carnaval.  People dress up in festive and colorful costumes, and ride floats decorated with beautiful and bright flowers and fruits.  It is typical that during Carnaval in Ambato, people feast on some delicious Llapingacho, probably one of my favorite Ecuadorian meals.

Now, back to the Mote Pata.  Although the name would suggest that there are feet or hocks involved (pata), this is not true.  This soup is made of hominy and pork, with a hint of peanuts for creaminess.  As with many Ecuadorian soups, mote pata contains milk.  After experimenting, I am going to tell you that milk is optional.  While milk helps the soup thicken, if it gets too hot, it curdles and I am not a fan.  Instead, we will puree some of the hominy with the peanut (I used peanut butter), which will then add the thickness and creaminess this soup calls for.  Should you wish to add the milk, add it right before serving and cook in low heat for 5 minutes.


Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Pork Meatballs, Kale and Brown Butter Sauce

By |January 17th, 2012|

So last time, we stopped here:

It is time we finish what we started.  And when we’re done, we’ll have this:

As I had mentioned in my previous post, this dish was inspired by the butternut squash gnocchi I had for dinner at Parish Foods and Goods.  Since we have our butternut squash gnocchi ready, now we can start on the next part of our dish: the pork meatballs and the brown butter sauce.  Along with the meatballs, this dish had shreds of kale.  For garnish, we will use the seeds we scooped from the squashes – toasted and seasoned with some heat.


How to Make Butternut Squash Gnocchi

By |January 13th, 2012|

One of the things I love doing, which inevitably involves eating, is recreating a meal that knocked my socks off at a restaurant.  My most recent foray happened after visiting Parish Foods and Goods in Atlanta.  That night, I decided to go for the butternut squash gnocchi.  I love butternut squash, but I never had it in the form of gnocchi.  The butternut squash gnocchi was served with pork meatballs, kale and brown butter sauce, garnished with toasted butternut squash seeds.  What was not to like about that whole combination?!

The last time I made gnocchi, I was 10 and I made potato gnocchi.  I had just watched and jotted down the recipe I had seen on my favorite TV cooking show “Día a Día con María Rosa”.  Let’s say we ended up eating mashed potatoes for dinner that evening.  But this mushy experience was not going to intimidate me this time around.  I am older and wiser after all.  And I also have more patience, which I think is key.  Gnocchi is an art, and as with everything practice makes perfect.

This recipe makes A LOT of gnocchi; this is what happens when you are creating as you go.  I had 4 pounds of butternut squash.  Yeah…  So, get a friend or more and making the gnocchi will take no time.  The great thing about this is that you can freeze these little guys for up to a month.  All you do when you’re ready to use is drop them in boiling water – just like pasta – and cook for a few minutes until done.  How do you know if they’re done?  The gnocchis will float to the top.

This posting will focus on the gnocchi making process.  The second posting will be the recreation of this delicious meal, so stay tuned.  Now let’s get the dough rollin’…


Tigrillo: Ecuadorian Green Plantain Mash

By |January 5th, 2012|

While moving is always exciting, it is also hectic.  Finding a bit of comfort in an easy breakfast that reminds me of home was key in keeping the sanity.  Wine also helped.  But not for breakfast.

This mash allows me to unleash my love for green plantains in full force.  Plantains never cease to amaze me.  What is not to love about empanadas de verde, sango de verde, bolón de verde, and caldo de albóndigas de verde?  And now we have tigrillo.

So, our Dominican Republic friends call it mangú; we call it tigrillo.  What is tigrillo?  This is a tigrillo (source):


Quinoa, Brussels Sprouts and Chickpeas Stuffed Butternut Squash

By |November 21st, 2011|

Recently I went to lunch with a dear friend of mine to one of our favorite spots in our neighborhood, Marco & Pepe.  This cozy, little restaurant has some fantastic seasonal fare, and I have never had one bad meal.  On that particular day, I ordered a BLT sandwich, which actually ended up being more like a pulled pork sandwich.  OH, I was so disappointed.  NOT!   My friend was feeling the need to eat some veggies, so she went for this butternut squash stuffed with quinoa, and all sorts of vegetables.  I tried some of her meal, and as much as I love me some pork, I wished I had gotten her meal instead.

I decided to recreate this meal for El Señor Hubs and I, and I think it came pretty close.  Naming this meal was a mouthful, not to mention the meal itself:  it is SO MUCH FOOD!  I could not eat the whole butternut squash, so I had lunch the following day.  The quinoa stuffing I made, easily stuffs four butternut squash halves, or you can eat it as a salad on its own the next day.