Curtido, Salvadoran slaw

Salvadoran curtidoI’m really, really excited about curtido. Curtido, a Salvadoran coleslaw-like cabbage side dish, is having it’s time in the limelight. It’s now wonder it’s the most viewed recipe right here on Eat, Sip, Slurp.

Just under a year ago, I saw it listed on the menu at a local restaurant. At the time I had mixed feelings about it. I was excited to see the humble Salvadoran side on a menu, but as it is rarely paired with anything other than pupusas or yuca, it almost seemed like a tease to eat it served with anything else (in this case I believe it was a sandwich if I recall correctly). Of course, if you’ve never had curtido before, you are none the wiser.

I recently saw curtido on the menu at another local restaurant, Clementine. The very talented and popular chef has done his research well for the Spanish, Mexican and Japanse influenced, all-day brunch restaurant (source: CBC Manitoba). This time the curtido came on a tostada, which also included chorizo, avocado crema and topped with a fried egg. It was DIVINE and the tartiness of the curtido was just right, making it the perfect accompaniment to the chorizo. I use leftover curtido on tostadas, tacos nd huevos rancheros all the time, so I was pleased to see it used so well in a dish.

The little humble Salvadoran side is taking centre stage solo and I love it! So do a lot of other people it seems. This recipe is the most viewed post on my blog and my most pinned recipe on Pinterest. See my original post here or scroll down for the recipe.

And if you’re interested in eating in the traditional way alongside pupusas or yuca, click here and here for those recipes.

Salvadoran Curtido 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 head of a large cabbage, shredded
  • 3 medium sized carrots, cut into thin matchsticks,
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 cups boiling water
  • 8 cups cold water
  • 1 cup of apple cider vinegar OR 1 cup of distilled vinegar plus 1 tsp of sugar
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Place cabbage and onion in a large bowl.
  2. Pour boiling water over cabbage and onion mixture (enough to cover). Let sit for ONE minute.
  3. Drain. Add the cold water (to stop mixture from cooking and getting too soggy). Let sit for five minutes.
  4. Drain the cold water. Add carrots and toss. Add the vinegar, oregano and salt. Toss again.

Refrigerate in bowl or in a sealable glass container. Let sit for a few hours or overnight before serving. Do not drain the vinegar before refrigerating.

It is ready to serve when cool. Keeps in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container or glass jar for a week.

¡Salud!

Pickerel Ceviche

pickerel ceviche

Pickerel ceviche with a Manitoba twist.

If you liked my previous recipe for  Shrimp Cocktail Tostadas, my pickerel ceviche is like it’s cool older sister. I’ve been making this recipe for ceviche (with a North American twist) for a while now and am happy to finally share it.

I’m even more happy to have this post sponsored by Uncommon Goods because it’s a  company with a mission that I can feel good about supporting for various reasons. They provided me with this stunning reclaimed wood cookbook stand. It is made of salvaged timber from old buildings in Europe. In fact, one third of their products are made using recycled or upcycled materials. Who doesn’t love beautifully crafted goods with a good story (and conscience) behind them?

Cookbook stand from Uncommon Goods

Cookbook (or iPad) stand made using reclaimed wood from old European buildings.

cookbook stand made from reclaimed wood

The detail on the back of the stand. Looks good from every angle on my counter top.

This recipe requires your pickerel to marinate in the lime juice for a few hours, so while you do that, you have to see UnCommon Goods’ kitchen and bar collection – it is the kind of stuff foodies dream of. You can view the collection here. With Mother’s Day on the horizon, this is a fabulous place to find a gift.

I read that the lowest paid employees at the company start at above 50% the minimum wage (company CEO is passionate about fair minimum wage).  They also support organizations for causes in the environment, women, sexual violence and hunger. You know that feeling you get when you’ve done something good? That feeling comes with every purchase at Uncommon Goods.

As for the goods in this recipe, the star of the dish is pickerel. Pickerel (also known as walleye) is a small pike found abundantly in North America.

First, you’ll need to chop all your ingredients. I used to be content with my cutting boards until now. I absolutely love this cutting board which is perfect for chopping up all the ingredients for your this recipe.FullSizeRender

I adapted this recipe from here. I made it a lot in the winter so grilled worn was out of the question. Canned corn did the trick and because it’s softer, goes well in the ceviche. I also used pickerel cheeks which are the perfect size and thickness but you can use regular pickerel if cut into small chunks.

My favourite way to eat it is on its own or with tostadas. What would you eat them with?

Salud!

Pickerel Ceviche

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb pickerel cheeks or regular pickerel, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • fresh juice squeezed from 3-4 limes
  • 1 cup canned corn
  • 2/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • dash of salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the pickerel cheeks and lime juice.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, mix well.
  3. Refrigerate for one to two hours.
  4. Serve fresh while still cool with tortilla chips, on tostadas or on its own.

 

Pickerel_Ceviche

 

 

 

Jalapeño Beer

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El Heffe from Banger Brewing

Today is National Beer Day making it the perfect day to tell you about an exotic little Hefeweizen I tried a while back.

A couple of months ago I visited my sister in Las Vegas. We went to Freemont specifically to check out Banger Brewing; and even more specifically because I was on a mission to try their infamous Jalapeño Hefeweizen aptly called El Heffe (which is Spanish means the boss). It did not disappoint.

El Heffe is infused with jalapeño and serrano peppers. It has a strong spicy aroma, but don’t let it that fool you. It is bold and flavourful, yet not spicy. It does have a subtle kick to it but it can easily be enjoyed by bohth chili beer lovers and non-chili beer fans alike.

The brewery offers 10 of their brews on tap and has some great specials. They also offer free tours. Like most good taprooms, it is quiant with a handful of tables and board games at your disposal. The bar is fun to sit at if you feel like chatting to others or the bartenders. Being on Freemont (450 Freemont Street), makes it a fun place to sit and people watch out on the patio. Speaking of the patio, they offer a small snack menu which includes perogies! Coming from Winnipeg, that certainly caught my eye.

El Heffe is a well-blanced beer that has me craving it this National Beer Day.

What are you drinking to celebrate? Cheers!

 

 

Cheese Pupusas

cheese pupusasLike a true Salvadoran, I love pupusas. Pupusa is a funny word but these round, stuffed tortillas are El Salvador’s national dish and probably it’s biggest claim to fame. They are traditionally stuffed with chicharron, cheese and beans. They are served with salsa and curtido, a coleslaw-like side.

To make them as authentic as can be, the chicharron, frijoles and queso (cheese) must all be prepared from scratch. I watched my mother make them numerous times over the years and she made it look so simple. As I grew up I realized how long of a process it really is.

That’s why I always  round up a group of friends and have a pupusa party. We’re getting better, but I’ve really wanted to make them on my own. So, I decided to play my first solo pupusa-making experience safe and start with only one ingredient – cheese!

If you’re looking for an authentic meatless dish, cheese pupusas are a good option for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. The same goes for cheese and bean pupusas.

These are easy to make, no wonder my mom made it look so easy! I remembered the ingredients she used and my Salvadoran instincts helped me come up with the perfect measurements.

BONUS: the bonus to this recipe is that you get to practice your tortilla making skills, since essentially, pupusas are stuffed tortillas.

maseca

Harina, (corn flour) is the corn flour masa is made of.

masa for tortillas

Roll masa into two (roughly) inch balls.

pupusas de queso 2

Cheese filling: feta, mozzarella, pepper and parsley.

 

cheese for pupusas

Combine ingredients.

 

pupusas de queso

Mix by hand until it is the consistency of play dough.

Cheese Pupusas

Yields 12 pupusas

Ingredients:

For the masa

  • 1 1/2 cups of Maseca
  • 1 cup of water

Cheese filling

  • 1/2 crumbled feta
  • 1 cup of shredded mozzerela Note: shred your own, do not use pre-shredded mozzerela. Pizza mozzerela is best.
  • 1/4 cup very finely chopped green pepper
  • 1 TBSP finely chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil

Directions:

For the masa

  1. Pour masa into a a bowl.
  2. Add half of the water. Mix to combine with your hands.
  3. Slowly pour the rest of the water in.
  4. Knead dough until it is the consistency of play dough. If it is too dry, add 1 tbsp of water. If it is too moist and sticks to your hands, add more maseca, 1 tbsp at a time.
  5. Let dough sit for 10 minutes.

Cheese filling

  1. Shred the mozzerela.
  2. Drain the feta cheese and crumble it into the smallest crumbs possible.
  3. In a bowl, combine both cheeses together.
  4. Add finely chopped pepper and parsley.
  5. Combine everything together using your hands. Squeeze the mixture together until you can roll it all into a ball.
  6. Add 1 tbsp of canola oil to pan or griddle and preheat over medium-high heat.
  7. Prepare your pupusas following the instructions below.
  8. Add pupuasas to grill, cooking for about 5 minutes or until browned. The cheese might start oozing out in some spots – that’s ok.
  9. Flip and finish cooking on the other side.
  10. Serve hot with salsa and curtido.

 

HOW TO MAKE A PUPUSA 

how to make a pupusa

how to make pupusas 2

Follow steps below for shaping your dough into pupusas.

  1. Take one of the balls and lightly flaten it onto your palm, but not completely flat. You want some thickness in it.
  2. Take two or three fingers and press into the dough, making a little “pocket.”
  3. Take 1 TBSP of the filling and place it into the “pocket.”
  4. Using your fingertips, bring the outer edges of the pupusa and fold over the filling. You don’t want to mess this up because at this stage (once the filling has been placed) it is too late to start over.
  5. Using your thumb and index finger, lightly round out the edge of the pupusas, all the way around until you have a nice round shape.
  6. Once rounded out to your liking, flaten the pupusas pressing them back and forth between your two palms.
  7. Add pupusas to a hot grill greased with canola oil. A griddle works best but a frying pan also works. Let cook until edges start getting crispy and the pupusa is lightly browned. Cheese might start oozing out – that’s good! The oozed out cheese is the BEST part!
  8. Serve warm with a side of salsa and curtido.

 

cheese_pupusas

In El Salvador, pupusas are usually served on bamboo plates such as the ones pictured above.

cheese pupusas facebook.jpg

 

 

Abuela’s albondigas (meatballs)

cilantro meatballs

Cilalntro and mint packed albondigas.

They say “love” is the secret ingredient. That’s essentially what this blog is all about. The recipes I share may be simple but are always -just like my mother taught me- filled with lots of love. Today marks 10 years since she’s been gone and these recipes are all I have left of her and there is nothing that fills my heart more than seeing the reaction on my husband and children’s faces when they try and like a recipe for the first time.

This recipe for albondigas, (meatballs) is the perfect example.

My babies are now at an age where they almost always eat what the adults are eating at the table. This got me thinking about the foods and recipes that were my favourites as a child that I can pass on to them. Instantly my mom’s albondigas came to mind.

I have fed my babies food flavoured with herbs and spices since they began eating solids. After all, cinnamon, cumin, cilantro, parsley and mint are staples in mi casa. Fortunately, they seem to enjoy everything so far. These albondigas contain fresh cilantro and mint, which is what makes them so irresistible. In my family, they will be known as abuela’s (grandma’s) albondigas from now.

These are so easy to make, you’ll wonder why you don’t make meatballs more often. They’re simple, yet oh-so-flavourful! I changed one thing in the recipe and that was that I used ground turkey instead of beef, but you can use either (just make sure you adjust the cooking time). I’ve also omitted the sauce because I bake them in the oven instead of cooking them in a pan like my mother used to. Albondigas are usually served over rice, but you can eat them alone or with pasta.

With Valentine’s Day this weekend, it’s a good time to make these for a loved one. Also, check out these 10 Aphrodisiac Foods.

Abuela’s Albondigas

Ingredients

  • 1 TBSP Canola Oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 TBSP fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 TBSP fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 lb ground turkey

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a large baking sheet with some canola oil.
  2. Heat oil in pan. Add onion, garlic, salt pepper and red pepper flakes.
  3. Saute until onion is transluscent (about 5-6 minutes).
  4. Add the cilantro and mint. Stir until herbs are soft but not soggy (about one minute only). Allow onion mixture to cool.
  5. In a large bowl, place the ground turkey. Add the cooled onion mixture.
  6. Stir until cilantro and mint are evenly distributed in the turkey.
  7. With your hands, shape meat into 1 inch balls and place on baking sheet. Be sure to leave about an inch in between each ball on the sheet. You should have about 20-24 balls.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes, or until they have an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.
  9. Serve on their own, with rice, or with your favourite pasta sauce.

 

 

valentine's day meatballs

Serve with your favourite sauce over rice or pasta.

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Cilantro Margarita

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I’ve always said combat the winter blahs with a festive spirit. Bring the tropics to yourself for a little motivation if only for a moment.

Try cooking up your favourite summer meal. Have a BBQ (or faux BBQ), or make a summery cocktail.

We all know the margarita is one of my favourites. I’m fortunate enough to spend some time in paradise this winter where I discovered this year’s margarita gem. The only catch is you must like cilantro!

Cilantro is one of the most used herbs in Latin American cooking. I am borderline obsessed with it and add it to EVERYTHING, especially this month where I have the fresh, fresh stuff at my disposal. You can make –chimol (chirmol?) and this year’s anti-January blahs remedy – a Cilantro Margarita!

I ordered it at a place called Si Senor in Punta Mita, Nayarit and fell in love!

So if you’re feeling cold and perhaps blue and you can’t get away to a tropical location, let it come to you in the form a of a delicious, foamy beverage.

Cilantro Margarita

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces of fresh lime juice
  • 2 ounces of agave or simple syrup
  • 2 ounces of tequila
  • Ice
  • Bunch of cilantro (about 20 sprigs)
  • Course salt
  • Lime wedges

Directions

  1. Squeeze lime onto lid of glass. Dip in the course salt for rimmer.
  2. Divide cilantro into two glasses. Press with a muddler.
  3. Fill shaker with lime juice, syrup and tequila. Add ice. Shake.
  4. Pour into two glasses and garnish with a wedge of lime.

Salud!

Brown Sugar Holiday Cut Outs

brow sugar cookies

My new favourite recipe for sugar cookies made with brown sugar.

In my last post, I shared my Christmas bucket list. Not long after, I was able to cross #7 off my list: attend a cookie swap party.

It was more than a swap party as we learned to make eight different kinds of cookies. It was a baking party with the team from Canola Eat Well. They hosted a holiday baking party at Benjamin’s Gourmet Foods with award-winning Chef MJ Feeke. I never pass up the opportunity to learn from her and especially on this occasion where we were able to make, bake and take EIGHT dozen cookies home with us.

I’ve gushed about Benjamin’s and Chef MJ before. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend it!

Back to the baking party. Chef MJ welcomed about 16 of us into her kitchen, which in itself was exciting for me. We broke down into groups of four and each made four dozen of eight different holiday cookies. After a few mistakes, some laughs and helping each other out, the cookies were baked and we each took a dozen of each cookie home. We even picked up a few baking tips along the way. It turns out, most people were there because we aren’t great bakers and we wanted to improve our skills.

All the cookies were delicious but I would have to say the Mint Chocolate Crinkle Cookies were my favourite. I’m a sucker for sugar cookies so I also really enjoyed the Brown Sugar Cut Outs (recipe below). They are basically sugar cookies made with brown sugar. Sweet and simple!

Speaking of tips, here are three I picked up from Chef MJ specifically for this recipe:

Tip #1

Using parchment paper (instead of greasing your cookie sheets) saves time AND did you know you can reuse your parchment paper? You can, and you might want to if you’re making a few batches of cookies. If using a convection oven, place the cookie sheet in the corner so the paper doesn’t blow.

Tip #2

Roll dough out in sections; this makes it easier to work. Save a piece of previously rolled out dough and add it to the next batch.

Tip #3

Once you have your shapes cut out and just before they are ready to go in the oven, spray them lightly with water before sprinkling on the sugar. Bake and the sugar sticks to the dough making it glisten.

I loved being in a professional baking kitchen so I snapped a few pics.

silicone bakeware

Silicone bakeware.

 

Every single one of these baking sheets was used.

Every single one of these baking sheets was used.

 

Whisks

Whisks in every size.

 

shaping shortbread

Chef MJ shows us how to roll out and cut out shortbread.

holiday baking

Here are some of the cookies we made.

Brown sugar cookies

Cutting out cookies in fun holiday shapes.

 

brown sugar cut outs

Cookies finished with coloured sugar

BROWN SUGAR HOLIDAY CUT OUTS

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup canola margarine
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • coloured sugar for sprinkling if desired

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350° F.
  2. Add parchment paper to cookie sheet. (See tip #1 above).
  3. Combine flour and baking soda. Set aside.
  4. Cream the margarine and brown sugar together. Add egg and vanilla.
  5. Add creamy mixture to the flour and combine.
  6. Roll dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator overnight (or for at least two hours — the longer the better).
  7. Roll dough out to about 3 mm thick. (See tip #2 for rolling out dough above).
  8. Cut into shapes using cookie cutters.
  9. If topping cookies with sugar, lightly mist with cut outs with a little water. Sprinkle with sugar on top just before baking(see tip #3 above). If not adding sugar, skip this step.
  10. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  11. Let cool.

Brown sugar cut outs 2

Brown Sugar Cookies.jpg

Christmas Bucket List

I know, I know, it’s still November but Christmas is my favourite time of year and I am especially looking forward to making my babies’ first Christmas a memorable one.

Every year, I come up with an unofficial Christmas bucket list and this year I’ve decided to share it. Turns out, quite a few items happen to be food-related so it will give me a chance to share some recipes.

1. Skate on the river. 

Here in Winnipeg, the Red River Mutual Trail is a ice rink on the frozen Red and Assiniboine River, located in the heart of the city. It is packed with skaters on any given Winnipeg winter weekend (say that fast three times) and I have to make up for last year when I was pregnant and had to pass up on it.

2. Give back by donating time or money. 

My mom got my sisters and I into packaging Christmas boxes for Operation Christmas Child. We’d have so much fun buying things to pack into shoe boxes for children in developing countries. I’ve continued the tradition every Christmas. On occasions where I haven’t been able to fill shoe boxes, I’ve donated to Operation Christmas Child. It’s a reminder of how much we have to be thankful for.

During the holidays I also like to give back in time. I’ve wrapped presents at those booths in the mall. Usually a different organizes volunteers to wrap presents for donations going towards their cause.

Another favourite is volunteering at Winnipeg Harvest.

I also usually organize putting a hamper together for a family in need through the Christmas Cheer Board at work.

Not sure what I’m doing this year, but I will find a way to give back to my community.

Homemade sweet and spicy popcorn

Fancy homemade popcorn is a must to go with Christmas movie binge-watching. Photo source: canolaeatwell.com

3. Have a Christmas movie marathon complete with homemade popcorn.

I LOVE Christmas movies and nothing screams Christmas like a snowy day spent indoors, cuddled in a blanket drinking hot chocolate and eating cookies while watching Christmas classics. I have my favourites (The Holiday, Love Actually, The Family Stone, Home Alone) but this year I want to watch some classics. I have a confession…I have never seen A Christmas Story in full! I have seen parts here and there but never from start to finish, to this is the year. I’m also adding It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street to the list.

Popcorn and binge-movie-watching go together and I’ve been looking for an excuse to try some popcorn recipes on a Whirley Popper I got for Christmas last year. I’ve got this recipe, this one and this one  in mind.

Making mulled wine is on my Christmas to-do list.

Making mulled wine is on my Christmas to-do list.

4. Make mulled wine. 

I associate mulled with Christmas cheer but I’ve never made it, so this is

Fancy homemade popcorn is a must to go with Christmas movie binge-watching.

the year. I’m still looking for a recipe is anyone has one they’d like to share!

5. See a lights or Christmas tree display. 

Lights, trees, wreaths, snow flakes, holly, mistletoe, nativity scenes, I love all Christmas decor. I know there are plenty of Christmas tree and light displays so I think it’ll be nice to make an afternoon of it with my family and immerse ourselves in the non-commercial joys of Christmas.

6. DIY gift giving. 

Speaking of non-commercial, I plan to purchase gifts at craft shows with local fares and/or at Ten Thousand Villages because who doesn’t love a socially conscious gift?

I do plan to make a couple of gifts of my own. I’m thinking the popcorn above would make a yummy gift for a host.

7. Attend a cookie swap.

I love the idea of a cookie swap: you bake one kind of cookie (1 dozen per attendee) and then you just swap so that each person goes home with various kinds of baked goods!

This year especially, I don’t have a lot of time so anything that saves me time sounds good to me.

One of the cute nativity scene decorations from Ten Thousand Villages I have my eye on.

One of the cute nativity scene decorations from Ten Thousand Villages I have my eye on.

8. Start my nativity scene collection.

In El Salvador and other Central American countries, nativity scenes, nacimientos are THE Christmas icon. In fact, in my parents’ hometown, they would turn it into a friendly competition. People go all out creating whole villages with the nativity scene at the centre of course. There is a panel of judges and a winner is crowned, usually purely for bragging rights. They are set up near the doorway, making it easy to see for neighbours and others passing by. My grandma won the competition in her neighbourhood one year. I wish I had pictures!

My parents carried the tradition on when we moved to Canada. Every time they went back to El Salvador for a visit, they’d bring back a new piece. Baby Jesus is not placed in the manger until midnight on December 24th, representing his birth.

I don’t have the room to go all out but I have wanted to start a small collection for years now so what better time than the present to get started.

9. Start a new family tradition.

This Christmas is extra special for my husband and I because of the two new little ones in our family (read about it here). I have nothing but the fondest memories of my childhood Christmases and I only hope to be able to provide memories as warm and loving to our kids. So I’ve decided to start a tradition unique to our family this year. I’m not sure what it is yet so I’m curious — what are your holiday family traditions?

10. Get my music fix.

B.A. (before babies) my husband and I used to go out to live shows and concerts all the time. While we’ve managed to get out for dinner a few times, none of those outings have involved live music and I miss it. There is no shortage of shows here so my goal is to get out and get my music fix at some point this holiday season.

What are your Christmas/holiday must-dos this year? I’d love to hear them!

Ayote con miel (pumpkin in honey)

calabaza con miel

Last week my sisters asked me about a pumpkin dish our mother used to make. They recalled her making it this time of year when pumpkins are in season, even though they didn’t actually like or eat it. I smiled because once again I was reminded how much food plays a role in the memory of our mother. And how awesome is it my sisters look to me for her recipes?

The dish they were talking about it ayote en miel, or pumpkin in honey. is a sweet pumpkin dish cooked in a syrup and is served warm. Depending on the country, pumpkins are called ayotes or calabazas so this dish is also referred to as calabazas en miel. It is perfect to enjoy for halloween or Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations.

I decided to make this recipe last minute and this presented me with a problem. One of the ingredients in this recipe is panela which is a round, solid that is made of cane sugar. Sugarcane is an El Salvador crop so panela is easily found there but in Winnipeg, not so much. I’m sure I could have found it at one of the local specialty food shops but I decided to make do with what I had at home and came up with an Canadian alternative.

At first I debated using agave syrup, but since it is a little less sweet, I opted for a combination of brown sugar and local honey instead. Taking a traditional latin recipe and putting my own local and/or North American twist is what I do best.

Why honey?

The Canadian prairies are a large producer of honey which is recognized for its quality around the world. According to Bee Maid Honey, “the sunny and long summers in western Canada provide the clover, alfalfa and canola crops for bees to forage and produce the mild, white Canadian honey prized for its taste.” My father-in-law farms near Dauphin and his canola fields provide the ideal habitat for bees to polinate. Canola flowers produce nectar with a light colour and mild flavour that we, as consumers enjoy. Pollination also benefits the crops (learn more about this mutually beneficial relationship at Bees Matter). In return for allowing the beekeeper’s bees to pollinate in his fields, my father-in-law receives some of the delicious honey in return and since he is so generous he shares with us, leaving me with plenty of honey to enjoy.

So back to the ayote recipe. I decided on a combination of brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla to substitute for the panela.

My other North American twist to this very traditional Latin American recipe is the use of the slow cooker. That is an appliance unheard of in most Latin American homes, but its convenience makes it the perfect addition to this recipe.

Bonus: the aroma of the cloves and cinnamon will make your house smell delicious all day!

Chop pumpkin (leave the skin on) into two inch pieces. My mom used to cut them up into funky shapes so I did the same.

The pumpkin ic cooked with the skin on and chopped into two inch pieces.

Add to slow cooker with water, brown sugar, vanilla, cloves and cinnamon sticks.

ayote in slow cooker

Cook on low for five hours, or until tender.

calabaza en miel

Enjoy warm!
ayote con miel dish

Ayote en Miel

INGREDIENTS

  • One small pumpkin (2-3 lbs), washed on the outside, chopped (with skin on) on into 2 inch pieces (see note below)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 3 cinnamon sticks

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine water, brown sugar and honey in slow cooker. Mix to combine.
  2. Add the vanilla, cloves and cinnamon sticks.
  3. Add the pieces of pumpkin so that water covers most of the pieces.
  4. Cook on low for 5 hours or until tender.
  5. Remove the cloves and cinnamon sticks and enjoy while hot!

Note: This recipe is made with the skin on the pumpkin. Therefore, it is a good idea to wash the pumpkin on the outside before chopping it up. Wash as you could any other fruit or vegetable and dry before chopping up.

calabaza con miel

Cafe con leche

Cafe con leche, with an horchata twist.

Cafe con leche, with an horchata twist.

Like in many other cultures and countries, in Latin America, we take our coffee seriously. It’s no wonder as it produces some of the world’s best coffee, but I may be biased. Unlike in North America, coffee is often not forbidden to children.

Such was the case in my childhood. My dad would often tell us about his coffee picking days (read about how that led to my preference for fair and direct trade coffee here) and would give us sips of his coffee. When we were young and we visited our homeland, El Salvador, our grandma would give us freshly made cafe con leche (coffee with milk).

A steaming hot cup of cafe con leche is much more than a cup of coffee. To me, it represents slowing down to savour the moment and sharing it with loved ones. It carries with it a very different aura that the rushed, daily cup of before-work coffee does. While I usually prefer my coffee black, once in a while (usually on chilly fall or winter weekends) I prefer to slow down and savour a cafe con leche. It always brings me back to my days spent with my grandmothers in El Salvador.

It’s now officially fall and with it comes the annual plethora of pumpkin spice everything. I’m no against a good pumpkin spiced latte, but this year I am starting a new trend. I am making horchata the new taste of fall!

How am I doing this? With my new delicious obsession – RumChata! A few weeks ago I made a Horchata Tres Leches and I’ve been looking for new ways to use it since. Lucky for me, the RumChata website offers plenty of recipes, including a Cafe con Chata recipe. It’s basically a cafe con leche with RumChata; almost like a pumpkin spiced latte.

I used my own cafe con leche recipe and just added the RumChata. Cafe con leche is usually on the sweet side and the coffee to milk ratio is 1:1 but feel free to adjust according to your taste (I use 2:1 coffee to milk ratio). The Cafe con Chata recipe on the RumChata website calls for 2 parts of cafe con leche and one part RumChata (don’t forget it is a liqueur).

It is perfection on fall weekend mornings. Just add the weekend paper, a good book or netflix and enjoy life!

Cafe con Leche (Cafe con Chata*)

Makes 4 cups 

*Follow directions for cafe con leche and add the 5th step in the directions to make it a Cafe con Chata.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups of freshly prepared, strong coffee (or espresso) made preferably in a french press
  • 2 cups of milk
  • sugar to taste
  • ground cinnamon or 4 cinnamon sticks

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place milk in a saucepan bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to just simmering and let simmer for about 3 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Meanwhile, divide coffee between four cups.
  4. Sweeten with sugar to taste (if adding RumChata, add only a little first as the RumChata is also sweet).
  5. Add 1 oz of RumChata*.
  6. Add milk to each cup. The ratio for cafe con leche is 1:1 BUT you can adjust according to your preference.
  7. Garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon or a cinnamon stick.
Cafe con leche + RumChata

Cafe con leche + RumChata

Horchata Tres Leches

Horchata tres leches cake made with RumChata

Horchata tres leches cake made with RumChata.

This summer I’ve been experimenting with RumChata, an horchata-flavoured liquor. I’m not usually a fan of liquors but this one takes the cake (see what I did there?) It is just the right mix of alcohol and flavour and best of all tastes like real horchata – cinnamon-y and smooth.

Tres leches cake is one of my favourite things to make and the idea to use the RumChata came to me at the last minute. I “remixed” my go-to tres leches recipe. I omitted the vanilla and used RumChata instead of regular rum and the result was genius!

Stay tuned for more RumChata recipes!

HORCHATA TRES LECHES CAKE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups of white flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder

Tres Leches:

  • 1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
  • 1 can (14 oz.) condensed milk
  • 1 cup fresh milk
  • 1 oz RumChata

Topping

  • Whipping cream, meringue or your favourite icing.
  • Fruit (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease your baking pan (10″ to 12″ inches is ideal).
  2. In a bowl, mix flour and baking soda.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat or whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  4. Add the sugar.
  5. Add the egg yolks, one at a time.
  6. Add the flour to the wet mixture.
  7. Pour into prepared cake pan and bake 20-25 minutes. Let cool.
  8. Once cake has cooled poke holes into cake with a toothpick.

Tres Leches

  1. Mix together all three milks.
  2. Add the RumChata. Stir.
  3. Pour the tres leches evenly over the cake.
  4. Place in refrigerator overnight or for a few hours until the cake has soaked up all the tres leches.
  5. Top with whipping cream (or other icing) and fruit.

Your cake is ready when it has a golden, crusty top.

IMG_8632

Cake right out of the oven.

Pierce holes all over the cake using a toothpick.

The holes in the cake soak up the tres leeches blend.

The holes in the cake soak up the tres leches blend.

Pour the tres leches, including the RumChata over the cake. It will soak into the cake immediately.

Pour the tres leeches over the cake.

Pour the tres leeches over the cake.

Top with your favourite icing and fresh fruit.

Top with your favourite icing and fresh fruit.

Horchata tres leches cake.

National Tequila Day Luxury Margarita

The Don Julio Blanco Luxury Tequila

The Don Julio Blanco Luxury Tequila.

Tequila. Oh, how I love it so. One of my most memorable tequila experiences was visiting the town of Tequila, Mexico.

I never get sick of tequila because the cocktail possibilities are endless but when in doubt a classic margarita is the way to go. I usually find drink and food inspirations on Instagram and the Don Julio Instagram account is one of my favourites. It never disappoints. Last weekend they posted a recipe for the Don Julio Blanco Luxury Margarita. Don Julio tequila is one of my favourites; it is smooth for sipping and this recipe is refreshing on a hot summer.

Today is #NationalTequilaDay and it’s Friday. Need I say more? Give it a whirl and start your weekend out right. Before you head out to buy tequila, make sure you check out my top 5 things to know when choosing a tequila.

Get the recipe for the Don Julio Blanco Luxury Margarita from their instagram account.

Cheers! Salud!

Salud!

Salud!

Coffee Paletas

paletas de cafe

Coffee paletas, a cool treat.

Paletas (popsicles) were a regular treat in my childhood days. Last summer I shared an easy recipe for Coconut-Mint Paletas and this year I’ve been playing around with some more recipes. My mom used to make all kinds of flavours; I remember watching her make them and feeling tormented while I waited for them to freeze. My FAVOURITE were her coffee paletas. Since I was a child and didn’t drink coffee they seemed like such a treat at the time. She made them sweet enough so that it was friendly on the kid palette.

I actually don’t have her recipe for this one so I created my own and I love how they turned out. As usual, I wanted to keep it simple so the best part is there are only two ingredients!

It’s been so hot these days, these have been serving a dual purpose — I’ve been snacking on them to keep cool and as an afternoon pick-me-up. I make them using leftover fair trade coffee from Ten Thousand Villages so not a drop goes to waste!

COFFEE PALETAS

Makes 5 – 100 ml popsicles

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups of cold coffee (from coffee brewed that day)
  • 1/3 cup of sweetened condensed milk

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pour coffee into a glass bowl.
  2. Add condensed milk and stir until well blended.
  3. Pour into popsicle molds.
  4. Freeze until solid.

coffee paleta

Patios for the picking downtown

finditdowntown

Winnipeg is known for it’s long, cold winters and because of this Winnipeggers really know how to make every ounce of summer count. Sitting on a patio on a warm day is a summer ritual we take seriously. The only downside can be that our favourite patio is full. But have no fear, more patios are popping up in prime downtown Winnipeg spots. Whether you’re looking for a place to have your coffee, lunch or after work drinks, you are sure to find it downtown (#finditdowntown). Thanks to the Downtown Winnipeg  Biz, downtown restaurants are getting some help in clearing the obstacles they must go through to set up their patios. They also lend out patio chairs and tables and aid in the design of the patio space and fencing so that they meet regulations.

Their Patio Program has been such a success they’ve seen a jump from 22 patios in 2006 to 36 this year. I joined the Downtown Biz on a patio crawl last week to learn about the program and check out some of the newest to take advantage of what the program offers.

Casa Burrito

The first stop was Casa Burrito. Its location across the University of Winnipeg makes it a hot spot for students. It is the ideal location because of Portage Avenue’s wide sidewalks. Its view is picture perfect — students lounging on the beautifully landscaped grounds, a man playing catch with his dog. The food is worth a visit too of course. We sampled burritos filled with frijoles (my favourite), rice and pico de gallo, chorizo and frijoles quesadillas and curried lentil quesadillas accompanied by three sauces: a hot verde sauce made with jalapeños and cilantro, a smoky chipotle sauce and a mango sauce which is their most popular.

Casa Burrito

Portage Avenue is ideal for patios because of its wide sidewalks.

Fools and Horses Coffee

The next stop was Fools and Horses Coffee on Broadway. If you’re part of the bustling office life in downtown Winnipeg, this little patio offers some respite. It features Manitoba’s only Modbar coffee machine, an espresso system located below the counter which enhances customer interaction. Coffee isn’t the only thing on tap; at 11 am they open up their taps for beer from Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan as well as wine through their FreshTAP pouring system. This makes Fools and Horses Coffee the perfect place for a coffee meeting, lunch or after work drinks, a unique characteristic not many other places downtown offer. Besides their excellent coffee and other beverages on tap, their menu consists of locally produced products (see their menu here).  Their charcuterie board won me over —  it’s the best one I’ve had in a long time (and I always order the charcuterie at restaurants).

Patio view at Fools and Horse Coffee Company.

Patio view at Fools and Horse Coffee Company.

Patio view and charcuterie at Fools and Horses.

Patio view and charcuterie at Fools and Horses.

Bar Red Sea

The third stop was Bar Red Sea also located on Portage Avenue. It occupies the former Chocolate Shoppe and later Arkadash. Their patio was an example of the red tape that restaurants sometimes have to deal with; on this particular day they were waiting for a liquor license to serve which is separate from the patio licence. This is the type of issue the Downtown Biz can help restaurants out with. We sampled some of the authentic Ethiopian food the Red Sea Bar offers and that alone should be enough to lure any Ethiopian food lover.

Bar Red Sea

Ethiopian Food at Bar Red Sea

Clay Oven

Our last stop was at Clay Oven whose patio over looks the Manitoba Hydro Place Plaza, where on this particular day, Thursday, the Downtown Farmer’s Market takes places (also a Downtown Winnipeg Biz initiative). Following the success of its other locations throughout the city, Clay Oven recently opened downtown and has become a very popular spot for lunch and it’s no wonder. They’re open until 8 PM, which is longer than other downtown restaurants. Their menu offers chicken, lamb and seafood but does not contain any beef or pork products; it also offers an array of Gluten Free, Vegetarian, Halal and Vegan friendly dishes. It’s truly Indian food at its best and the patio’s prime location in the middle of the busy plaza cannot be beat.

Veggie pakoras

Veggie pakoras from Clay Oven.

Patio view from Clay Oven Express.

Patio view from Clay Oven Express.

Next time you’re looking for a patio, don’t think twice about heading downtown where the wide range of options are sure to please your palette! See what places others enjoy and join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #FindItDowntown

Agua fresca de melon

Agua fresca The summer solstice occurred this past week and days are getting hot. If you’re in need of a super refreshing drink, agua fresca is a good way to go. Made up of mainly fruit and water, it’s fruity, frothy and a good way to cool down on a hot summer day. In Latin American countries, agua fresca is sold mainly by street vendors or corner store (bodegas). Luckily for you, it’s super simple to make. This recipe came to me as mostly all recipes on this blog do – reminiscing about the food and drinks my mom used to make when she was alive. My mom always used cantaloupe, I usually make it with cantaloupe or watermelon. Grab some fruit, ice and water and make a batch to enjoy on the deck or balcony with a good book!

Turn this bowl of cantaloupe into a refreshing glass of agua fresca.

Turn this bowl of cantaloupe into a refreshing glass of agua fresca.

Agua fresca de melon

(makes 8 cups)

  • 8 cups of diced cantaloupe (approximately two medium-sized cantaloupes)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 TBSP fresh lime juice
  • 2 TBSP of honey OR agave syrup OR simple syrup (or other liquid sweetener of choice)
  • handful of fresh mint leaves
  • ice

Directions

  1. Place the fruit and water in the blender. Blend for one minute or your desired consistency as it will be pulpy. (If using any kind of melon it will be frothy).
  2. Add the lime juice, liquid sweetener and mint leaves. Blend for another 30 seconds.
  3. Refrigerate and serve over ice.
Agua fresca de melon, popular in Latin American streets.

Agua fresca de melon, popular in Latin American streets.

Shrimp cocktail tostadas

The craziness that is Sabado Gigante.

The craziness that is Sabado Gigante. Image source: Sabdodo Gigante Facebook page.

It was recently announced that after 53 years on air, Sabado Gigante, the popular Spanish language variety show, will be no more. This made me a little sad. When my sisters and I were young, our Saturday nights were spent with my parents watching Sabado Gigante. It was a weekly ritual. I suspect it was one of the ways my parents got a taste of home from the otherwise all-English television programming in our house.

This ritual was accompanied with yummy snacks of course. Mainly always a shrimp cocktail (also known as Salvadoran ceviche), guacamole or sometimes just chips and salsa or with leftover chimol from that evening’s bbq.

When I heard Sabado Gigante was ending its run on air, I automatically thought back to that shrimp cocktail that I haven’t had or made in years (mainly because my husband has a shellfish allergy so I try not to bring any shellfish in the house). But this weekend, I made these shrimp cocktail tostadas and tuned in to Sabado Gigante for old time’s sake. It’s amazing how much our senses can bring back a flood of memories. Something as simple as the sounds of  Don Francisco’s (the host) unique voice or the taste of a simple snack brought my comforts of my childhood.

This cocktail is good on its own, with tortilla chips, or on tostadas as shown here.

Shrimp cocktail (Salvadoran ceviche) tostadas.

Shrimp cocktail (Salvadoran ceviche) tostadas.

Shrimp Cocktail Tostadas (ceviche de camaron)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 50-60 cook, peeled and deveined shrimp (the shrimp from a shrimp cocktail ring works just fine)
  • 2 ripe avocados, chopped
  • 1 medium sized tomato, diced
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 TBSP ketchup
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • juice of 1/2 of a lime
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • chopped cilantro
  • salsa picante (hot sauce) of your choice (my sauce of choice is Cholula)
  • 6-8 Charra tostadas (in Winnipeg, these are available at Mercadito Latin, Marvin’s, El Izalco, and even Superstore).

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Chop shrimp pieces into halves
  2. In a bowl, combine shrimp, avocados and tomatoes.
  3. In a small separate bowl, combine ketchup and worcestershire sauce. Mix well.
  4. Pour ketchup mixture over shrimp mix.
  5. Add cumin, salt and pepper. Squeeze the lime juice over and mix.
  6. Add the red onion last so as not to overpower the other ingredients.
  7. Top with cilantro and salsa picanta of your choice.
  8. Spoon onto tostadas.

Enjoy with a little Sabado Gigante on the side!

Shrimp cocktail (otherwise known as ceviche) tostadas.

Shrimp cocktail (otherwise known as ceviche) tostadas.

Cilantro Margarita

Eat Sip Slurp

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I’ve always said combat the winter blahs with a festive spirit. Bring the tropics to yourself for a little motivation if only for a moment.

Try cooking up your favourite summer meal. Have a BBQ (or faux BBQ), or make a summery cocktail.

We all know the margarita is one of my favourites. I’m fortunate enough to spend some time in paradise this winter where I discovered this year’s margarita gem. The only catch is you must like cilantro!

Cilantro is one of the most used herbs in Latin American cooking. I am borderline obsessed with it and add it to EVERYTHING, especially this month where I have the fresh, fresh stuff at my disposal. You can make –chimol (chirmol?) and this year’s anti-January blahs remedy – a Cilantro Margarita!

I ordered it at a place called Si Senor in Punta Mita, Nayarit and fell in love!

So if you’re…

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