Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A few recipes from Latin America

empanada inside

Latin American food has been experiencing a resurgence in popularity. At best is can be colourful, spicy and tweaked for those who want a vegetarian diet. It’s such a big area, so many different cultures, ingredients and cuisines, all reflecting their indigenous roots and the influence of their migrant populations.

Here are some of my recipes we made in this week’s class.



A typical snack from Argentina, pastry with a creamy corn filling.

Serves: 10 as part of a meal

Preparation: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes


Chopping board, large knife, bowl, large pot, wooden spoon, 2 x greased baking trays, small plate or bowl, pastry brush, glass of water.

Oven at 200C


4 cobs of corn

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

½ small red capsicum, finely diced

1 small red chilli (optional), finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

½ cup polenta or cornmeal

½ cup milk

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

½ teaspoon smoked sweet paprika

1 teaspoon dried thyme

¼ cup basil, finely chopped

¼ cup spring onion, sliced

½ teaspoon salt

1 packet frozen short crust pastry, rolled to about 2mm thickness

1 egg, lightly beaten


1.Cut the base of each corn cob, remove all the husks and silk.

2.Carefully cut the cobs in half and then cut all the kernels off, set aside.

3.In a heavy based pan fry the onion, garlic, capsicum and chilli till softened (3 mins)

4.Add the corn (reserving the cobs) and salt and cook gently for 2 further minutes.

5.Pour in polenta and milk, stir continuously till well mixed.

6.Stir in the cheese, paprika and thyme. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

7.Mixture should be slightly thick and not runny. Stir through the basil and spring onions.

8.Using a small plate or bowl cut 4 discs from each pastry sheet.

9.Lay them out on a clean, dry surface and lightly brush around half the edge with water.

10. Place 2 tablespoons of mix in the middle of each pastry disc and crimp the edges to seal.

11. Place on a greased baking tray and brush the tops with egg.

12. Bake until golden.

13. Allow to cool slightly before serving as the filling is very hot.

Moros y Cristianos


A variation of the popular Cuban dish based on black beans and rice.

Serves: 8 as part of a meal

Preparation: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes


Chopping board, large knife, small bowl, large heavy based pot with a lid, wooden spoon


1 large onion, chopped

1 large green capsicum, chopped

1 large red chilli, sliced (optional)

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 ½ teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup white rice

1 tomatoes, diced

1 ½ cups cooked black (turtle) beans, rinsed

2 cups vegetable stock

Salt and pepper to taste

Handful basil leaves, shredded

Handful spring onions, finely sliced


1.Heat olive oil in the pot and sauté onion, green capsicum, garlic, cumin, thyme & chilli flakes

2.Stir in the bay leaf, rice, tomatoes, beans, vegetable stock and salt and pepper

3.Heat till boiling then reduce to a simmer and cover

4.Cook gently till rice is cooked, around 20 minutes

5.Stir through basil and spring onions before serving

6.Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving

Mole Poblano with Queso Fresco


Mexican Mole Poblano de Queso Blanco

Yields 1.5 litres sauce; Start recipe at least one day ahead. Best 2 days later.

30 grams dried ancho chillies

30 grams dried hot chillies

100 grams dried mild chillies

- Cut, deseed and remove membranes and save 1 teaspoon of the chilli seeds.

1. Turn on the exhaust fan, then in 2 tablespoons of oil, fry each type of chilli separately until it changes colour and is slightly toasted. Remove them to a large bowl, cover the chillies with boiling water, weigh with a plate to keep them submerged, soak at least 1 hour, then drain and discard the chilli water.

2. In a spice grinder or mortar and pestle pound:
5 black peppercorns
2 cloves (or about 1/8 teaspoon ground)
1/4 teaspoon aniseed
1/2 inch cinnamon stick

- Set aside

3. In a medium size fry pan set over medium heat, dry toast

1 teaspoon reserved chilli seeds (1 tsp)
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds

- Set aside

4. The nuts, flavourings and thickeners:

Add 1/4 cup oil to the pan and fry

1 ounce unskinned almonds (for 3-4 minutes)).

1 ounce raisins (until puffed up)

- remove from the pan and set aside

5. Add a little more oil to the pan and caramelise
1/2 cup onion, sliced
1 clove peeled and chopped garlic

- Set aside

6. Get out your food processor and add:

½ tin tomatoes

50 grams dark chocolate

½ cup vegetable stock

- blend until smooth and then add the soaked and drained chillies, all the spices, fruit, nuts and onion.

Scrape down the sides to ensure mix is very smooth.

At this point you can bottle the mixture into sterile jars in the fridge or freeze for later use.

Mole sauce

To Prepare Mole Poblano with Queso Fresco

In 2 tablespoons of oil fry 2 cups of the paste for 4-5 minutes.
Mix in 5 cups of vegetable stock, and 1 teaspoon of salt, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer gently for c.45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Finally, season with 2 tablespoons maple syrup, jaggery, panela or Demerara sugar- Taste and add another tablespoon of sugar if you think it needs it.The sauce sould be the same consistency as heavy cream, and you should taste the spices, the chocolate with a little sweetness.

Queso Fresco is available in delis in vaccum sealed 1 kg rounds, it is made from cows milk and has a very light texture and taste but isn’t as crumbly as ricotta. It can be grated but also melts well, I usually only serve one small wedge or slice per person. For this recipe you can grill the entire round of Queso Blanco for many serves or the individual slices until golden on the edges. Hard boiled eggs, tofu, compressed ricotta and paneer also work well with this recipe. Haloumi and fetta would be too salty.

Pour hot sauce on a warmed serving dish and top with the Queso Blanco, garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

brigadeiro in paper cups


Very popular chocolate caramel truffles from Brazil

Serves: 20 little truffles

Preparation: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes


A medium sized heavy based pot, wooden spoon


1 tin sweetened condensed milk

4 tablespoons cocoa, unsweetened

¼ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate sprinkles or grated coconut to garnish


1. Pour the sweetened condensed milk into the heavy based pot

2. Stir in the cocoa and salt

3. Cook over a slow heat, stirring continuously so it doesn’t burn

4. Cook for 10-15 minutes till mixture comes away from the sides and is heavy and thick

5. Remove from the heat and stir in butter and vanilla

6. Cool till you can just roll little balls of the mix in your hands

7. Toss through chocolate sprinkles or coconut whilst still warm

8. Place in paper cases and chill till ready to serve

1 comment:

  1. Wow, seems delicious, I wish to have enough time for cooking but my job doesn't allow me to. I get most of my meals from, they have some nice tasty recipes to get you going.