Recipe: Puré de espinaca (spinach mash)

This is such an easy and middle-class recipe that I’m almost ashamed of posting it. But it brings warm memories of my childhood and of food from home. Eat with roast chicken, burger patties, fried eggs… whatever you fancy!

Puré de espinaca
Yield: 4-5 servings

Puré de espinaca

Ingredients

  • 0.5 kg potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 0.5 cup chicken broth or milk
  • 1-1.5 cups spinach
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Peel, cube and cook potatoes.
  2. Mash potatoes while hot, add butter and mix.
  3. Heat up broth/milk, pour over spinach in a blender and blend until puréed.
  4. Add spinach mix to potatoes, mix well and season.

Recipe: Vegan causa

Yes, vegan. Before you think I’m crazy for bastardising one of my national dishes, let me explain. I made this version for an assignment for which I had to modify a recipe for social (i.e. religious, ethical, etc.) reasons. I thought of causa because I know people make vegetarian versions all the time (not me, I love it with seafood) but I have never seen a vegan version out there. Not only I had to ditch the main protein, but also the eggs used as garnish and in the mayo. I combined a few vegan soy-free mayonnaise recipes I found online and the result was awesome! Also so much easier to make than regular mayo. I served this vegan causa to a bunch of friends and everyone (including Alvaro) liked it.

Vegan causa
Yield: 8 servings

Vegan causa

Ingredients

  • 8 (1500g) floury potatoes
  • 4 Tbsp (60ml) ají amarillo (Peruvian yellow chilli) paste
  • juice of 4 limes
  • 4 Tbsp (60ml) macadamia oil
  • 1/2 cup (80g) finely chopped red onion
  • 500g white mushrooms
  • 1 Tbsp (15ml) olive oil
  • vegan mayonnaise (see below)
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 4g salt
  • 8 (20g) black (preferably botija) olives
  • 1 (65g) heart of palm

Vegan mayonnaise

  • 3/8 cup (50g) raw cashews
  • 2 Tbsp (30ml) avocado oil
  • 2 Tbsp (30ml) water
  • juice of 1/4 lemon
  • 1 tsp (4ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp (1g) salt
  • 1/4 tsp (1g) mustard powder

To serve

  • cherry tomatoes
  • lettuce

Directions

  1. Blend the mayonnaise ingredients.
  2. Place the chopped onion in a small bowl with the juice of 1 lime and season lightly with salt. Set aside to marinate while the potatoes cook.
  3. Cook and mash the potatoes, let cool down. Mix with chilli paste, juice of 3 limes, macadamia oil and salt.
  4. Slice mushrooms and sautée in olive oil. Let cool down, mix with mayonnaise (method below).
  5. Oil a ring mold. Press half of the mashed potato mixture into the bottom of the pan. Cover with the mushroom mixture in a smooth layer. Top with slices of avocado. Layer the other half of the potato mixture on top and smooth the potatoes with the back of a spoon. Top with slices of hard-boiled eggs and olives.
  6. Serve chilled with lettuce leaves and cherry tomatoes.

Recipe: Carapulcra (Peruvian pork and potato stew)

This is very weird. I have hated this dish for most of my life. My mum and aunties are so nice that they actually cooked a different dish for me whenever they made carapulcra. When I went to cooking school my friends really trusted my palate and made me test their version before presenting them to the instructor for marking. I knew they were really well made but I still hated them. Last year Alvaro, Gladys, Vicky and I went to a Peruvian festival and I tried their carapulcra. I liked it. A lot. I liked it so much that I bought a bag of papa seca (dried potatoes, the main ingredient in carapulcra) online.

Carapulcra is a dish that hails from Chincha, a town South of Lima that received a big African migration. In Chincha they make it with fresh potatoes but somehow when the dish arrived Lima (and became extremely popular) the dried potatoes took over. I guess it was someone from the highlands who adapted it, since drying potatoes is a common preservation method in the Andes.

Anyway, apart from the potatoes, the other main ingredients in this stew are pork and peanuts. It also has a couple of flavour enhancers added at the end of the cooking process: chocolate and port. I’ve heard some people in Chincha add in a Sublime (milk chocolate with peanuts) but I prefer using dark chocolate and ground cashews instead of peanuts (what is wrong with peanuts? apart from being highly allergenic, they contain high amounts of phytates and are often contaminated with aflatoxins.)

Carapulcra
Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients

  • 500g papa seca (dried potatoes) or regular potatoes (Tasmanian pink eye recommended)
  • 1 tablespoon lard or ghee
  • 1 kg pork belly
  • 1 large red onion
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 100g ají panca (Peruvian red chilli) or other red chilli paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 litres chicken or pork broth
  • salt and pepper
  • 100g cashews
  • 20g dark chocolate (85% or higher recommended)
  • 1/4 cup port

Directions

  1. The night before: toast the papa seca in a dry pan for a few minutes until fragrant. Rinse and soak in a container with twice its volume of water overnight. Skip this step if you’re using regular potatoes.
  2. If you’re using regular potatoes, cut them in 1-cm cubes. Reserve in a bowl, covered with cold water.
  3. Cut the pork belly in bite-size pieces. Chop onion and mince garlic.
  4. Melt lard/ghee in a heavy-bottomed pot at high heat and sear the pork (be careful, it spits). Reserve.
  5. Lower the heat, let pot cool down a bit and add the onion, garlic and chilli paste. Cook for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Add cumin, cloves and cinnamon stick, stir. Add pork and drained potatoes, add 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper, mix well.
  7. Add broth, cover and cook for 1 hour.
  8. Grind cashews in a food processor, blender or mortar and pestle. Grate chocolate. Add both to the pot.
  9. Add port, turn heat off, discard cinnamon stick and adjust seasoning.
  10. Serve with cauliflower rice.

Recipe: Papa a la huancaína

Ok, this is kind of a cheat post. I’ve given this recipe before, but in a different context. I posted the recipe of the sauce and its multiple uses, but this time I wanted to show the basic use of the sauce, the entrée that started it all: papa a la huancaína (potato with huancaína sauce). The origin of the dish and some other miscellaneous information can be found in that previous post, so I’ll go (almost) straight to the point.

The classic combo is to eat papa a la huancaína as an entrée for arroz con pollo. However, Alvaro has fond memories of him and his dad eating it paired up with tallarines verdes, so that’s how we ate it this time (well, not quite, they used to eat both in the same plate). The recipe for the main will be posted tomorrow.

Papa a la huancaína

Yield: 6 servings

Papa a la huancaína

3 medium-big potatoes (any kind that’s good for boiling)
1 large or 2 medium chillies (preferably yellow), plus 1 tablespoon powdered Peruvian yellow chilli, or 3 – 4 jarred Peruvian yellow chillies or whatever chillies you want *
1 small red onion
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil
2/3 cup evaporated milk
4 soda or water crackers
200 gr queso fresco, haloumi or Australian feta
6 lettuce leaves
1 egg
6 black olives

Wash potatoes (use a brush to remove dirt), place them in a pot and cover with cold water and salt. Bring to a boil, set heat to medium and cook until tender. Peel potatoes and slice (1-1.5cm thick).

Hard-boil egg and slice.

Coarsely chop the chillies and onion. Smash the garlic with the blade of your knife. Heat the oil over low heat, add chillies (including the powdered), onion, and garlic and cook for at least 10 minutes.

Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender or food processor, add milk, crackers and cheese. Blend until smooth. Alternatively, don’t process the cheese, but crumble it with a fork or grate it finely and add to the rest of the ingredients by hand.

Adjust the seasoning (if using Australian feta you won’t need any salt), if you find the sauce it’s too salty add a bit of milk accordingly. If the sauce ends up being too thin, add more crackers.

Once the potatoes and sauce are cold (the sauce can be eaten chilled or at room temperature), serve potato slices on top of the lettuce leaves. Top with sauce, a slice of egg and an olive.