Crema de Aguacate: Ecuadorian Creamy Avocado Soup

By |September 16th, 2011|

Since I don’t want to give up on Summer just yet, but it is now a chillier as we get deep into September, I figured out a way to come to terms with both.  The easiest way to do it is by making this Crema de Aguacate from Michelle O. Fried’s book “Comidas del Ecuador”.  Remember my new (old) Ecuadorian cookbooks?

You may or may not know that Ecuadorians’ diet relies heavily on soups.  Normally each big meal, whether it is almuerzo (lunch) or merienda (dinner), consists of a soup, an entree, which is normally a protein of some sort with rice, and then a dessert which normally is in the form of some fruit.  Eating soups is always comforting, although I must tell you that when I was little, I hated soup.   With a passion.  I think every Ecuadorian child  most likely feel this way about soup.  To me, soup as a child was the equivalent of El Señor Hub’s “Eat your peas!!” scoldings.  ACK.  Those days are long gone and I now I love soup.  He, however, still hates peas.

So all you need for this soup are three ingredients: chicken stock, avocados and lemon juice.  To make things easier, I used store-bought chicken stock.  I normally use either low sodium, or no salt because I can then control the amount of salt needed.  Sprinkle some chopped cilantro on top and serve with some bread or blue corn chips and you are good to go.

Now that I think of it, this kinda looks like pea soup!  Or like guacamole soup!  I suppose if you have leftover guacamole, you can transform it into a delicious crema de aguacate.  Provided no one double dipped in your guac.  Ick.


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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.


Turkey Chorizo Chilaquiles… Of Sorts.

By |August 30th, 2011|

Do you ever cook for one?  It sucks.  Well, the concept of being by yourself  doesn’t necessarily suck; I actually enjoy the me time. What sucks is going through all the trouble of dicing and mincing vegetables and fruits, prepping meats, dirtying pots and pans and spoons and dishes…  And JUST FOR ME?  Ugh, no thank you.  So, during those times when I don’t feel like takeout, and don’t have the energy to prepare an elaborate meal for one, I make this: my version of turkey chorizo chilaquiles.

The turkey chorizo recipe is adapted from a Pepsico recipe book I have (I’ve used it before here).  This recipe is perfect for turkey; the slew of spices and flavors that go into it combines perfectly with turkey, a pretty bland meat.  The chilaquiles part of it comes from not knowing what else to call it.  Chilaquiles is a traditional Mexican dish that consists of lightly fried corn tortillas which are the base of the dish, which is then topped with some type of salsa, followed by chicken or some other meat, and an egg either fried or scrambled.  Pretty close, don’t you think?  Chilaquiles are usually eaten for breakfast or brunch, and who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner?


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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.


Ají con Chochos y Queso – Ecuadorian Spicy Sauce with Lupini beans and cheese

By |August 15th, 2011|

For the love of all things spicy, here is another variation on ají, the Ecuadorian spicy condiment that is good on just about everything.  In addition to ají preparado and ají criollo, ají con chochos y queso is another favorite on mine.  Although my love for all things spicy developed at a latter stage of my life, my love for chochos runs deep.  You’re probably asking, what in the world are chochos (choh-chohs)?  We’ll get there; just be patient.

On occasions, my abuelita used to do the grocery shopping for us – mostly because she felt that sometimes her granddaughter wasn’t eating properly.  See, the thing is I am a small person.  When I was a kid, I was tiny, short and skinny – and not much has changed since.  However, it had nothing to do with how I ate.  That’s just how I was.  My grandma vehemently disagreed.  So she introduced me to chochos at the tender age of 6, as a way to get the proper nutrition I “so desperately needed”.  Abuelita, I think I turned out just fine.