What is your signature salsa? Sara Kate brought us the deliciously smoky Lizano-style salsa yesterday, inspired by Costa Rica. Nealey turned to Georgia fruit for her saucy sweet and spicy peach salsa. Me, I try to keep salsa as simple as possible. Mostly because I am lazy in the sauce department, but also because I need something fast and easy in the moments just before the guests show up. What do I put out with chips? Something hot, something smoky, something that take 5 minutes to make, like this poblano salsa.
I traveled to Quito, Ecuador a few years ago as a stopover on my way to the Galapagos islands. I knew nothing about Quito, and while many things were new and unfamiliar, I had a good feeling after my very first afternoon there. I'd strolled into a cafe for a cup of coffee and noticed a towering display of cake slices. The woman at the register confirmed what I thought: tres leches cake, my very favorite. Things were looking up.
There is a particular bottled salsa on every table in Costa Rica. It's called Lizano and the first time you taste it you have to stop and think a minute. Do I like it or not? Sure, it tastes like a mass-produced bottled sauce but somehow it's also really pleasant in a sweet, smoky, tangy way — like A1 meets tamarind paste — and then you're addicted and you look at the label, and if you understand Spanish, as I do, you find that it's loaded with fun stuff like like sodium benzoate and MSG.
You're already hooked, so you continue eating it on your vacation knowing that soon you'll be home and can swear off the stuff, conveniently no longer within arms' reach of a bottle. You eat it because it's perpetually in front of you and is a perfect match for the day-in-day-out Gallo Pinto, literally "spotted rooster" or rice and beans in Costa Rica.
You hate Lizano and love it all at once, and when you get back home you can think of little else.
Latin American cuisine is complex and varied, covering a vast region and, like all great cuisines, influenced by invasions, migrations, immigration and ancient traditions. It's impossible to pick just one cookbook to cover everything. Even so, there must be a few that you find yourself going to again and again. What are your favorite Latin American cookbooks?
When I moved from Los Angeles back to the South, I begrudgingly left behind a handful favorite restaurants. Not that there isn't amazing food in Atlanta, but some of these places just can't be replicated. Whenever I return to California, I have to check each one off my list so that I can stay fully satisfied until my next visit. Many times friends ask if I want to try somewhere new, and I just look at them like they're crazy. Why would I ever want to do a thing like that?
Tender flaky pastry pockets filled with everything from fresh corn to spicy beef? Yes, please. Empanadas are always welcome in my kitchen and on my plate. With a busy few months ahead, I'm planning on making a big batch and freezing them for quick meals when I need them.
Creamy, sweet dulce de leche might be a favorite in countries like Argentina, where it's spread on toast for breakfast or sandwiched between shortbread cookies, but this caramel has been embraced by cooks everywhere in recent years. From dulce de leche cheesecake bars to four-ingredient salted coconut dulce de leche ice cream, here are 10 recipes to try, along with instructions for making your own dulce de leche from scratch. (It's easy!)
Horchata, the creamy refreshing rice drink of Latin America, has its roots in medieval Spain but today the creamy, cool beverage can be found all over Central and South America, reflecting the different ingredients and flavors of each country. Here in the US we're generally accustomed to Mexican-style horchata made with rice and cinnamon. From a classic recipe to a couple of newer inventions, here are three favorite versions of this refreshing drink.
My friend Aura is a very good cook. She lives in Florida with her husband, Leo, and two adorable (I do not use that word glibly) children. When I think of Aura's cooking, I think of fruit salads, smoothies, and the freshest dishes from her native Guatemala — light, healthy, and driven by Florida's tropical fruits and vegetables. So I was surprised, one winter evening a few years ago, to sit down at her table and find a big, bubbling casserole of chicken wrapped in bacon. "It's Leo's favorite," she said, with a grin.
More than a decade after experiencing my first pupusa, I can still remember my wide-eyed joy as I bit into the thick, stuffed tortilla. Why had I never eaten one before, and how soon could I have another?! As I learned, the best part about El Salvador's national dish isn't just the warm, savory masa filled with melty cheese (or meat or beans), but its brilliant accompaniment called curtido. Like a sauerkraut or kimchi, this zippy cabbage relish balances the heaviness of the pupusa and makes it a simple yet satisfying meal for any time of day.