Slow Cooker Honey Pumpkin (Ayote en miel)

pumpkin-in-honeyIf you’re looking for a new, cozy, fall pumpkin recipe, this pumpkin in honey, ayote en miel, recipe is for you! Pumpkin gets steamed in a light, sweet syrup. This warm and sweet dish is perfect for this time of year when there is a chill in the air and pumpkins are aplenty. I used one of my pumpkins from my final CSA share and I also went to a pumpkin patch where I picked up more pumpkins, spaghetti squash, butternut squash and acorn squash. You can use any kind of pumpkin or squash for this recipe.

Sometimes when I make my mother’s recipes, I take shortcuts or modernize the recipes for convenience or health reasons (such as baking things instead of frying). Other times, it is because some ingredients are hard to find in this city. Such was the case last year when I first shared my ayote en miel recipe. I was missing panela for the syrup, which is an unrefined cane sugar in solid form. I ended up using a combination of honey and brown sugar and talked about the benefits of using 100% local honey (which I still stand by).

This time around, I picked up some panela at a Latin American store and made it the traditional way. Panela comes in a solid form either in pucks or in a larger piloncillo (loaf). I had fun using panela and when it was done, the ayote tasted just RIGHT. However, the honey substitute works just as well. Both give off an amazing aroma of pumpkin, cloves and cinnamon that pumpkin spice scented candles would envy. I took some to work and my coworkers all wondered where the pumpkin pie-in-the-oven smell was coming from.

This recipe is perfect for halloween parties! Just serve in small bowls with a spoon.

Start with washing your pumpkin. Scrub the outside well outside well as the pumpkin gets cooked, including the skin. Slice the top off, then cut the pumpkin in half.

mitad-de-ayote

Cut pumpkin in half, skin on.

Then cut each half of the pumpkin into smaller, two inch pieces. I like to have fun and do what my mo used to do – cut them into all kinds of shapes.

Cut pumpkin into 2 inch pieces.

Cut pumpkin into 2 inch pieces.

Panela is made of sugar cane juice. Sugar cane is popular in Central American countries so it is more commonly used in those countries.

pkg-of-panela

This is how the panela comes packaged.

The panela comes wrapped in a corn husk.

panela-en-cascara

And finally, after all those layers, the panela.

piloncillo-de-panela

Slice the panela. Throw it on the ground to break it if need be (while wrapped in the corn husk). You will need a cup’s worth for this recipe.

The combination of panela, cinnamon and cloves release a sweet and spicy aroma.

The combination of panela, cinnamon and cloves release a sweet and spicy aroma.

Combine everything in the slow cooker and cook for 4-5 hours, or until the pumpkin is tender and browned.

ayote-en-miel-_slowcooker
Eat while hot!ayote-en-miel

 Slow Cooker Honey Pumpkin

INGREDIENTS

  • One small pumpkin or squash (2-3 lbs), washed on the outside, chopped with the skin on
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of panela (or one puck)
  • 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!

Buen provecho!

slow-cooker-honey-pumpkin

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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!

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 mozzarella Note: shred your own, do not use pre-shredded mozzerela. Pizza mozzarella 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 mozzarella.
  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.

0001-144616440

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

Platanos Sancochado (boiled plantains)

platano sancochadoMy mother taught me not to waste food and watching fruits or veggies become go bad makes me cringe! I am always trying to find a way to use it all up. I recently found a good batch of plantains at the store (we don’t get the best quality plantains up here in Canada) so I snatched a bunch up and it resulted in a problem I’d never had before. I had too much and they were starting to get really ripe.

I was craving something warm and comforting so I made the easiest thing possible I could think of: platanos sancochado. Translation: boiled plantain. It is as easy as it sounds but not as boring as it sounds! I used my last two plantains and wish I’d had more. It hit the spot and makes a good breakfast or snack. Plantains are a good source of dietary fibre and a source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C.

I recommend a ripe plantain and you can use green ones too (they just take longer to cook) but since I used ones that were starting to over ripe and were very soft, they were even faster to cook.

Platanos Sancochado (boiled plantains)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 plantains
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon or cinnamon stick.

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Peel plantains and cut each one into four chunks. Place in pot.
  2. Add water to cover plantains.
  3. Bring to a boil; then simmer.
  4. Stir and add cinnamon or cinnamon stick.
  5. Stir a few times until mushy, about five to 10 minutes.
  6. Serve hot.
platano sancochado

Enjoy while still hot!

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.