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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Tres Leches Cake

Are you a big fan of dessert? How about cake? How about cake infused with a delicious three-milk mixture? I don't know about you but I am a big dessert fan and while I was in Peru Tres Leches was one such dessert that rocked my world! As you read through and try out this recipe I hope you too enjoy the savory taste of Tres Leches!

In order to make this delicious dessert you will need a mixer, measuring cups, mixing bowl, a round 8 inch baking pan, a deep-dish round pan (larger than 8 inches), and a sifter for the flour. Along with the above materials you will also need the following ingredients:

Cake Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour 
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Three Milk Mixture

  • 1 cup condensed milk
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

1. Start off by combining the flour and baking powder and sift the two together 3 times. 
2. Next separate your eggs and whip the whites together with a pinch of salt. Gradually add the sugar once eggs are well whipped. Follow the sugar with the egg yokes, adding them in one at a time with sufficient mixing between the two. 

3. Continue by mixing 1/3 of a cup of flour into the mixture followed by the milk and vanilla and beat the mixture while gradually adding the remaining flour. 

4. Pour mixture into a greased round cake pan and bake for about 30 minutes or until lightly brown at 325 degrees fahrenheit. 
5. While your cake is baking mix together the three milks and then let them chill in the refrigerator until your cake is done and cooled. 

6. Once your cake is done and out of the oven let it cool before removing the cake from the pan and place the cake in a deep dish pan that is larger than the cake. Proceed to poke holes all throughout the top of the cake with a toothpick or fork. 
7. Next spoon the milk mixture onto the cake and let it soak in until you have poured the whole mixture on the cake. Once all the milk has been poured on the cake put it into the refrigerator and let it chill.
8. If you would like you can top your cake off with a fresh whipping cream and cinnamon. (pictured above)

After your cake has chilled and soaked up the milk mixture go ahead and serve this delicious dessert to all your friends and family and watch their faces light up with satisfaction! Also if you enjoyed this recipe please comment below and share this link with your friends and family! If you do make this recipe please share a photo of your cake on the Culinary Arts Abroad Facebook page as well! Happy baking to you all! 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Alfajores: Traditional Peruvian Dessert

Finished and ready to serve!
I don't know about you but I am a big fan of trying new foods, especially those in the dessert category. Since I love trying new foods and I like to bake I recently had a get together with some of my Peruvian friends and they taught me how to bake some traditional Peruvian desserts. Today I am going to share with you how to make Alfajores which is two cookies sandwiched together with manjar blanco, a type of carmel sauce. If you are anything like me you prefer making everything from scratch so in this recipe I will provide two methods to make the manjar blanco, also known as dulce de leche, so that you too can prepare this dessert from scratch from start to finish.

In order to complete this recipe you will need a mixer, mixing bowl, cookie sheets, rolling pin, cooling racks, a round 2-inch cookie cutter, and the following ingredients: 

  • 1 stick of butter or margarine 
  • 1/2 sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder 
  • 1 tsp baking soda 
  • 2 cups manjar blanco
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
First off mix together the butter and sugar into a mixing bowl until well mixed. While mixing these ingredients go ahead and turn the oven on to 350 degrees F (180 C) so that the oven can heat up. 
Next add in the egg and vanilla and mix till it is nice and smooth.
Continue by adding in the flour, baking powder, and baking soda and mix until the dough is nice and firm. Next form a ball with dough and roll it out with a rolling pin until it is about 1/4 of an inch thick. To do this it is helpful to sprinkle flour on your surface you are rolling the dough on so that it does not get stuck. 
Use your cookie cutter to make your cookie cut outs and put them on your cookie sheets. Depending on whether your pan is non-stick or not you may need to spray it so that your cookies do not stick to the pan. Put the cookies in the oven and let them cook for about 12 minutes until they are nice and golden. Let the cookies sit for about two minutes after taking them out of the oven and then put them on cooling racks. 
Finally once the cookies have cooled apply a generous amount of manjar blanco to half of the cookies and sandwich them with another cookie. If you prefer you can wipe the edges of the cookies when they are done so they do not have any oozing carmel on the sides. To top off the cookie sprinkle powdered sugar over them and serve to your guests!

Manjar Blanco Recipe

There are three ways you can come about getting your manjar blanco for your alfajores: buy prepared manjar blanco (dulce de leche) at the store, prepare it in the oven with sweetened condensed milk, or prepare it on the stove with whole milk. Feel free to use whichever method you like depending on your time availability and your cooking skills. 

In order to prepare the manjar blanco with sweetened condensed milk take a look at this recipe and it gives the step by step process. All you will need is a can of sweetened condensed milk, a pie pan, tin foil, a larger pan that the pie pan will fit into, water, and the oven. 

To prepare the manjar blanco with whole milk on the stove follow this recipe and it will set you up to have a delicious carmel sauce! For this recipe you will need 1 liter of whole milk, 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1 shredded vanilla bean (or 1 tsp of vanilla), and 1 tbsp glucose. 

Overall I hope you enjoy this recipe and share it with your friends and family. If you have Facebook please join our page and share your experiences of preparing this recipe as well as others on this website. Please take photos of your cooking/baking experiences as well and share them on the Facebook page! Enjoy your baking! 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pollo al Maní: Peanut Chicken

Ready to dig in!

If you are anything like me you absolutely love peanuts and anything with a peanut flavor. If you feel the same about peanuts then you will definitely enjoy this recipe for Pollo al Maní which is a traditional Peruvian peanut sauce chicken dish. Since peruvians are not big peanut butter eaters, like many people are in the United States, this dish was one of my first tastes of peanuts in Peru and I was pleasantly surprised by the rich taste of the peanut sauce! Also if you are looking for other peanut recipes you can check out my previous blog Peanut Passions!

In order to prepare this delicious dish you will need a large cooking pot to prepare the main dish, a medium pot to prepare potatoes, a rice cooker for the rice, a blender to prepare the peanuts and the following ingredients:

  • 3 or 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 tsp of garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups of roasted peanuts
  • 5 potatoes (served in halves)
  • 10 portions of chicken 
  • 10 portions of rice 
  • Water
First off turn your burner onto high and add the oil and minced onion into your large pot. As the oil begins to boil stir the onions and add in the garlic and pepper. Let these ingredients cook for 2-3 minutes while stirring and then add in 1 liter of water (about 4 1/4 cups). Once the liquid comes to a boil add in your chicken and salt and let the chicken cook for the amount of time necessary based on what type of chicken you are using. 
Chicken cooking before adding in peanut sauce.
While waiting for the chicken to cook go ahead and prepare your potatoes and rice. Typically Peruvians use a yellow variety of potato but any kind will do. 

Also while waiting for the chicken to cook prepare the peanuts by putting the contents into a blender on high until they are well chopped. Once your peanuts are chopped to the point where the blender just keeps spinning and the peanuts do not move around go ahead and add 1 1/4 cups of water in order to turn the peanuts into a smooth and liquid consistency. 
Preparing the peanut sauce.
Once your chicken is cooked add in the peanut sauce and continue to cook for about 15 minutes until more of the water has evaporated out of the pot to leave a delicious peanut chicken dish! 
Adding the peanut sauce to the chicken.
This is about the consistency when the dish is finished.
Finally serve the dish with a portion or rice for each person with the chicken and peanut sauce dished over top and half a potato on the side. If you like you can also serve up your favorite salad to add in some vegetables to your meal. 

As always I hope you thoroughly enjoy your time preparing this dish and I hope your friends and family love the taste of this traditional peruvian meal! If you do prepare this dish please share your experience with everyone by writing a comment below and/or writing a comment on the Facebook group where you can also post a picture of your final plate! Thanks for reading this post and enjoy your culinary adventures!  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ají de Gallina

I am beginning to wrap up my time in Peru but that means it is time to ramp up my cooking adventures! Today was my host dad's birthday and so we had the extended family over to the house for lunch. Since there were lots of people coming over to the house Lucy and I cooked all throughout the morning in order to prepare a delicious lunch for the family! Today we prepared Ají de Gallina which is a very common Peruvian dish. Besides the Ají de Gallina we also prepared a vegetable soup, rice, potatoes, hard boiled eggs, pudding, and a emolliente beverage. Since I am a big ají lover, and I always eat chicken, this was a great dish for me to learn! 

I did some quick research about the origins of Ají de Gallina and it looks as though it comes from a mixture of Peruvian and French influence. The roots are said to come from after the French Revolution when many chefs were trying to find work and some ended up in Peru working for wealthy Criollo families. Since the French did not have the same spices and ingredients they used their knowledge to fix up meals using traditional Peruvian ingredients. One thing that emerged from these chefs was Ají de Gallina, a meal mixing the popular ají pepper from Peru and the French influence of garlic, cheese, and olives. 

In this blog entry I am going to share with you how to prepare the main course of the meal which was the Ají de Gallina. First of all you will need a blender, rice cooker (or a large pot to cook rice), a large cooking pot, a medium/large cooking pot, and a crock pot if you have one. Also you will need the following ingredients:

  • 4/5 chicken breasts (about 1.5-1.75 lbs.)
  • 6 ají peppers
  • 3 potatoes (often times Peruvians use yellow potatoes but use what you enjoy)
  • 3 eggs
  • Rice for 6
  • 1/2 loaf of wonder bread (or 6 unsweetened rolls)
  • 1 tbsp. garlic paste
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 4 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 can of evaporated milk (this is about 400 grams or 1 cup)
  • 4 tbsp. grated parmesan 
  • 1/3 cup pecans
  • Olives
First off if you have a crock pot I would suggest putting the chicken breasts in the crock pot in the morning and leave them there till you are ready for dinner. Overall you want your chicken cooked so that it can be shredded so for me this would be the easiest way. If you don't have time to wait for you chicken to cook in the crock pot then you can boil the chicken until it is cooked to the point that you can shred it with your fingers. Then once the chicken is ready you will put it to the side and prepare the rest of the dish. 
Boiled chicken
Next you will want to start preparing 3 potatoes in a medium sized cooking pot. Depending on how long your potatoes normally take to cook you can also put 3 eggs in the pot to prepare boiled eggs at the same time in order to reduce the number of pots and pans needed. Generally when eating this dish each person gets a half of a potato and half of a boiled egg so for this reason I am saying three of each because this recipe should cook for about six. If you like your eggs and potatoes than go ahead and prepare one for each person. At the same time as the potatoes and eggs are cooking you should start cooking rice for 6 people as well. 
Boiling the yellow potatoes 
As your rice, potatoes and eggs are cooking start to prepare your sauce by turning your burner on high and mixing the oil, garlic paste, and pepper. Let these ingredients cook for a minute or two while preparing your ají. You will need to wash, slice, and deseed your ají and put them in the blender with about 1/4 a cup of water. Rather then using fresh water use some of the broth from the chicken in order to enhance the taste. Once your broth and ají are in the blender mix well for about 30 seconds and then add the mixture in with the oil, garlic, and pepper. Continue to mix these ingredients until most of the water has evaporated and then you will add the next ingredients. 
Ají peppers
Most of the moisture is gone so time to add the bread mixture.
Once most of the water has evaporated you will need to add your bread mixture. Since you will need to blend your bread it is better if you soak the bread in water first and then wring out the water before adding the bread into the blender. Once you have done so put the bread in the blender and add 1 to 2 cups of chicken broth, from the pot with your chicken, into the blender and mix well. You may need to do this in two batches, thus use up to one cup of broth per time. Once your mixture is well blended add it to the ají sauce. 
Bread dipped in water and wrung out and ready to go in the blender.
Continue to stir the ají and bread mixture for 15-20 minutes and then add your salt and evaporated milk. Again you will stir the mixture for about 5 minutes and then take the pot off the heat and add in the parmesan cheese. 
Adding evaporated milk.
Adding parmesan cheese.
Next you will need to chop up your pecans and add them into the sauce as well. 
Mixing in the chopped pecans.
Finally shred your chicken and add it into the mixture and stir everything together. 
Stirring in the shredded chicken. 
To serve give each person a portion of rice, half or whole egg and potato, and then put your ají sauce over top of your rice. If you like olives you can also add an olive to each place. 

When you are all done serve to your family, friends, or whoever is nearby and watch as their faces light up as they eat your delicious Ají de Gallina! 

Well I hope you enjoyed this recipe and I hope you will share it with your friends and family through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and any other social media sites you use. If you do make this dish please put a photo of your final plate on the Facebook page for everyone to see! Also if you are currently abroad studying in another country and would like to submit a blog entry please leave a comment below or on the Facebook page so I can get in contact with you! Thanks again and enjoy your culinary adventures! 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Arroz con Pollo: Chicken with Rice

Arroz con Pollo or Chicken with Rice is a traditional spanish dish that is eaten in many Latin American countries. While there is a dispute on where the recipe came from Puerto Rico or Spain, there is a pretty strong feeling that the history goes back to the Moorish times in Spain in the 8th century. Since this time Arroz con Pollo has become a popular dish in countries such as Puerto Rico, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Cuba, Costa Rica, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic. To look more into the history of the dish check out this page

To prepare Arroz con Pollo you will need a large stew pot, a blender, a rice cooker, and the following ingredients:

  • 2 tbs. vegetable oil 
  • 1 medium red onion minced 
  • 1 tbs. garlic paste or one garlic clove minced 
  • 1/2 tsp. pepepr
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. oregano 
  • 1 1/2 tbs. salt
  • 2 bundles of cilantro (when mixed with half a cup of water and blended it came out to be about 3-3 1/2 cups of liquid)
  • 1 tbs. ají amarillo sauce 
  • 10 portions of chicken 
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1/2 lbs. peas
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 husks choclo (you can also use about 2/3 cups of frozen white corn if you need, you may be able to find choclo at a local mexican grocery store)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 3 cups rice 
First make mince your onion and fry it in a large pot with 2-3 tbs. of oil for about 4 minutes on a medium to high heat. Next add in the cumin, oregano, pepper, and garlic and fry for another 2 minutes.  

 You will then need to blend the cilantro and half a cup of water together in a blender.

Once mixed add this mixture and a table spoon of ají amarillo sauce to the pot with the other ingredients and stir everything together until the liquid evaporates and you are left with something looking like the picture below.

Next you will add your chicken and mix it around for a minute or two, making sure the chicken gets well coated in the sauce. 

Then add 4 cups of water and the salt, mix, and let it cook for about 8 minutes. 

Next you will need to add your peas, carrots, and corn. Before adding the corn you will want to cut it off the husk and cut the carrots into small pieces. The type of corn we use is called choclo and it can often be found in Mexican food stores or you can use white corn as a substitute. 

After adding in the vegetables again put on the top of your pot and let it cook for another 6-8 minutes. 

Then you will need to drain the water from the chicken and vegetables to use for preparing the rice. Set the vegetables and chicken aside while you prepare the rice. 

If you have a rice cooker that is the best way to prepare the rice but if not use a pot on the stove. To prepare the rice first put 3 cups of rice in the rice cooker and then add the chicken broth liquid from the chicken mixture into the rice cooker as well. Ideally 1 cup of the 4 cups of the water added before will have now evaporated and you will have three cups of chicken broth liquid to add to the rice. With the rice and broth also dice the red pepper and add it into the rice cooker. 

Let the rice cook for the allotted time needed and once it is done add the vegetables that you had set aside, mix everything together, and let sit for about 5 minutes to warm everything up again. 

Finally serve a healthy portion of rice and a portion of chicken on each plate and enjoy! 

Overall I hope you enjoyed this post and I hope you try this recipe out yourself! If you do enjoy what you see please help by sharing it with other people. There is a Facebook page where you can follow along by clicking on the Facebook button on the righthand side of this page and you can also follow this blog as well. Also if you are an avid Pinterest user than please "Pin It" and share this recipe with other food lovers! And if anyone does prepare this dish readers love to read comments about how it went so please leave a comment here on the blog and post a picture of your final dish on the Facebook page. Happy Cooking! 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Papa a la Huancaina: Spicy Cheese Sauce with Potatoes

Yesterday I spent my day off of school preparing more delicious Peruvian food with Lucy! We made Arroz con Pollo and Papa a la Huancaina. In this post I am going to highlight the recipe for Papa a la Huancaina. 

If you are a lover of spice, cheese, and potatoes this is a very great recipe for you. Not to mention the preparation is very simple and doesn't take much time outside of preparing potatoes.

The origin of this dish comes from back in 1870 when they were building the railroad between Huancayo and Lima. A number of people say that there was a woman that would bring food to the workers and she would prepare a dish similar to the one below but made with rocoto, a spicy ají pepper. After a while the men began to call out, "A que hora llega la papa de la Huancaina?" which can be translated as, "At what time does the lady with the potatoes from Hauancayo arrive?" After a number of years the dish evolved into the recipe that we are preparing today that revolves around the yellow ají pepper. 

First off you will need the following ingredients:

  • 400 grams evaporated milk (A normal can of evaporated milk is what we used, it is about 1 1/3 cup I believe)
  • 400 grams queso fresco (farmer's cheese) or substitute fetta cheese (this is about 1 2/3 cups)
  • 4 yellow ají peppers (common substitutes are soprano peppers, a mixture of habanero pepper and soprano, or others have used jalapeno peppers or sweet red peppers)
  • 2 tbs. vegetable oil 
  • 2 dinner rolls
  • salt to taste (we used about 1/2 to 1 tbs. but if your cheese is already salted then you will need a different amount accordingly)  
  • 5 yellow or white potatoes (for the traditional Peruvian dish they use yellow potatoes)
  • 5 hardboiled eggs 
First add evaporated milk, cheese, peppers, and oil into the blender. Before putting the peppers in the blender be sure to deseed them. Mix these four ingredients until they are fairly liquidy and then tear apart the rolls and add them to the mixture. Again mix until the sauce is nice and mixed with a somewhat thick consistency. The overal dish should be a thick sauce. Before finishing your sauce make sure to taste it and add salt to taste. If you are using peppers besides yellow ají peppers you may need to adjust the amount of peppers you use as well. You will also need to prepare your potatoes and hard boiled eggs as well. I suggest boiling your potatoes in a big pot and adding your eggs as well in order to cut back on the number of pots you need to clean. When the potatoes and hard boiled eggs are ready serve on a plate with half of a potato and half a boiled egg. If you have a bigger appetite go ahead and have a whole egg and potato but this is traditionally a side-dish so you don't need to stuff yourself with this dish, although it will be tempting to do so because of the great taste! 

I hope you love this dish as much as I do! This is definitely a favorite of many foreigners who visit Peru! If you do end up making this dish please post a comment below and add a picture on the Facebook page. To follow this page you can do so on the righthand side where you will find a follow butter for blogger along with a Facebook tab which will lead you to the Facebook page where you can post photos of the foods you are making from this blog! I greatly appreciate comments and seeing pictures of the delicious foods you all are making!

Happy cooking to you all! 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Peanut Passions

I don't know about you but when I travel for any long extents of time I start to miss some things from back home. For many people who travel they might miss their family, friends, pets, activities, or a variety of other things, I however miss all those and I have really missed PEANUT BUTTER! Based off of my extreme desire to have peanut butter this last week I decided I needed to head to the market and see what I could find. I guess I should clarify really quick, yes in Peru you can buy peanut butter in the stores but it costs about 25-30 soles for a super small jar, that translates into about $10 for a weeks worth of peanut butter. Anyways, I went to the market this past week and bought half a kilo of skinned peanuts for 4.5 soles which is less than $2. At that point I was super excited and couldn't wait to cook with them. Then I realized they didn't have the right taste that I was hoping for and so I needed to doctor them up a bit to make them taste good by roasting them. Below you will find the process I used to transform the peanuts from a skinned and tasteless version into a delicious roasted treat! Unfortunately after roasting my peanuts and finally getting to the point of making peanut butter I had eaten too many and didn't have more than a cup of peanuts to use. So this past Friday while walking home from class I bought a whole kilo of salted peanuts for 12 soles, just about $4. Again I was super excited so I went home and not only found a peanut butter recipe, but I also found a recipe for Maní Confitado which is a typical Peruvian snack sold on street corners which is like a candied/caramelized peanut. Below I have included the recipes for all three of these adventures: roasting peanuts, making maní confitado, and preparing peanut butter

Roasted Peanuts

When I prepared my roasted peanuts it was late at night and I didn't really want to mess with the oven so I made them in the microwave, and they turned out super delicious! For this recipe all you will need is:
  • 2 cups of shelled peanuts
  • A little bit of butter
  • 10x16 glass pan (or really any microwave safe dish)
First put all the peanuts in the pan and spread them out evenly. Next put about 2 teaspoons of butter on top and put them in the microwave for 2 minutes. Take them out of the microwave, stir them, and again microwave them for 2 minutes. You will continue this process until your peanuts have cooked for 10-12, depending on how roasted you want them. Then let them cool for 10 minutes before eating. If you have peanuts with skin on them that doesn't come off easily, like I did, then skip the butter at first and cook them for two rounds of 2 minutes and then the skin should be easy to remove. Go ahead and remove the skins by rubbing the peanuts through your hands or in a towel and then add the butter and finish the process. Be aware that the peanuts will be hot so they may need to sit before rubbing them through your hands. 

Raw peanuts with skin.
Skin peeled after 4 minutes, butter added.
Finished product after about 11 minutes.

Maní Confitado: Candied Peanuts

  • 2 cups raw peanuts
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/8 tsp kosher or sea salt (if you are using salted peanuts than don't add salt)
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon (this is optional for added taste)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (this is optional for added taste) 
First off put the water and sugar into a saucepan on medium heat and stir continuously till the liquid turns into a syrupy consistency. Once you have reached the syrupy consistency add in the peanuts and continue to stir. After about ten minutes the peanuts should be well covered in sugar and there will be extra granulated sugar in the bottom of your pan. Continue stirring until the sugar again begins to turn into syrup and then your peanuts should begin to turn darker and darker. Once the peanuts have a deep golden brown color take them off the heat and spread them evenly into a large sheet pan with tinfoil while the peanuts cool. To help clean the pan you will want to immediately put water in the saucepan and put it back on the heat till it boils so the sugar can breakdown into the water and thus clean the hard and crusty sugar off the pan. 

Simple ingredients: water, sugar, peanuts 
Syrupy substance after sugar dissolved and water evaporated.
Granulated sugar turning back into syrup.
Finished product! 

Peanut Butter

  • 2 cups peanuts (salted or unsalted, if using unsalted add 1-2 teaspoons of salt) 
  • 1-2 tablespoons oil (vegetable or peanut but no olive oil)
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey to taste (sugar can be used as well)
For this recipe you will need a food processors or blender, however food processors are better for this because they are normally more powerful. I used a blender and it turned out delicious, but some are stronger than others. First off put your peanuts in the food processor/blender and mix until they are well ground. Next slowly add oil until desired consistency. You will most likely need to stir your peanut butter frequently at the beginning to help mix in the oil. Once you are getting to a desired consistency add the honey and that should help make it sweeter and make the peanut butter nice and smooth. Make sure to taste the peanut butter to see if you need to add more honey or possibly salt. For best use store in the refrigerator to keep it fresh.
2 cups of peanuts added into blender
Ready to add oil.
After adding oil, ready for honey.
Adding in honey.
Finished product!