Recipe: Locro (Peruvian pumpkin stew)

I’m sure there are a million locro recipes out there because it’s fair to say this is an everyday staple in almost every Peruvian household. The way I make it is not the way my mum makes it, nor the way my aunties make it, nor the way my mother-in-law makes it. This is one of the few dishes Alvaro insists on keeping meat-free, with a fried egg (or three) on top. Works for me.

Locro (Peruvian pumpkin stew)
Yield: 4 servings

Locro

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp ghee or oil
  • 500-600g pumpkin, peeled and cubed
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 – 1.25 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 0.5 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 tsp ají amarillo (Peruvian yellow chilli) paste
  • 0.5 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 200g goat feta cheeese
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

To serve

  • white rice
  • 4 olives
  • 4 fried eggs
  • coriander leaves

Directions

  1. Peel and cube pumpkin and potatoes.
  2. Heat the ghee or oil in a saucepan at medium-low temperature.
  3. Add onion, garlic and ají amarillo. Cook for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
  4. Add pumpkin and potatoes. Cook for another 4-5 minutes, then add stock and bring to a boil.
  5. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, until pumpkin and potatoes are falling apart. Feel free to mash them up as much as you want.
  6. Add corn and peas, cook for another couple of minutes.
  7. Turn off heat, add cheese, season with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve with white rice, topped by a fried egg and garnish with an olive and coriander leaves.

Recipe: Chapana (Peruvian cassava dessert)

This is not a super well-know Peruvian dessert but is as authentic as it can get. In fact, apparently it’s been around for way longer than the popular desserts that appeared when we were a Spanish colony.

I’m usually biased toward chocolate when it comes to sweets, but this is an exception. I think this is in part because there are childhood memories attached to chapana. I recently learned this is one of my father-in-law’s favourite desserts, too. I guess we have more in common that what I thought :)

Frozen grated cassava

Chapana is made with grated yuca (cassava), chancaca (basically cane sugar that has been boiled and solidified in a block) and aniseed. It’s wrapped in banana leaves and after cooking it acquires a chewy consistency. Grating cassava is a pain in the ass, so when I found frozen cassava in an ethnic shop (can’t remember which) I bought it immediately with cassava in mind. I used coconut sugar instead of chancaca for a hipster version (and also because I don’t know where to buy chancaca in Sydney!), adjusted the ratio (usually 1:1) to make it less sweet and did my best in wrapping the parcels (I’m very sloppy with that kind of things).

Chapana

Chapana
Yield: 4 servings

Chapana

Ingredients

  • 450g frozen grated cassava
  • 200-225g coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp aniseed
  • banana leaves
  • kitchen twine

Directions

  1. Thaw cassava in the fridge overnight.
  2. Wipe the banana leaves clean.
  3. In a bowl, mix cassava, coconut sugar and aniseed.
  4. Divide mix in 4 parts and wrap each in banana leaves in a rectangular pillow-like parcels, wrapping the leaf over itself in 2-3 layers without breaking it if possible.
  5. Tie the parcels with kitchen twine.
  6. Fill a pot with enough water to cover the parcels and bring to a boil.
  7. Pop the parcels in the pot and boil for 30 minutes.
  8. Fish the parcels out of the water and let cool down enough to unwrap and enjoy.
  9. Chapana is usually eaten warm, although some people enjoy it cold or at room temperature.

Recipe: Pimiento relleno (Peruvian-style stuffed capsicum)

Full disclaimer: this in not an authentic Peruvian recipe. The traditional dish is called rocoto relleno, rocoto being a special type of Peruvian really really REALLY hot chilli that I haven’t been able to find fresh in Australia. You can find them jarred but IMO it’s not the same. They jarred version is wet and soggy, characteristics that are particularly unappealing when talking about vegetables you’re about to stuff.

*Real* Peruvians (i.e. not my husband) like their food spicy, so they don’t mind their rocoto relleno to have a bit of a kick. Wimps and kids might prefer to have their rocoto boiled multiple times in water, vinegar and sugar to minimise the heat or have pimiento (capsicum) instead of rocoto.

Rocoto relleno is a dish typical to Arequipa, the white city. The filling is the almighty Peruvian filling based on beef mince, onion, garlic and chilli. The cheese in traditional recipes is paria, a salty fresh cheese. The closest substitution I’ve found here in Australia is sheep and/or goat haloumi. Rocoto relleno is commonly served with a side of pastel de papa, basically a potato bake. I recommend serving it with a leafy green salad instead.

Pimiento relleno (Peruvian-style stuffed capsicum)
Yield: 4 servings

Pimiento relleno

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp ghee or oil
  • 250g beef mince
  • 250g pork mince
  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 2 tbsp ají panca (Peruvian red chilli paste – you can sub any chilli paste)
  • 4 large capsicums
  • 4 olives, pitted
  • 2 boiled eggs, halved
  • 8 slices (about 240g) sheep and/or goat haloumi cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to a moderate-high temperature (180-200°C)
  2. Heat the ghee or oil in a saucepan. Add meat and brown.
  3. Add onion, garlic and ají panca. Cook until meat is fully cooked and onions are soft.
  4. Cut the top off each capsicum and carefully remove the internal membranes and seeds.
  5. Fill each capsicum halfway with meat, add 1 olive, 1/2 boiled egg and cover with more meat.
  6. Top filling with 2 slices of cheese and cover with the capsicum “lid”.
  7. Pop in the oven until the capsicum is soft but not soggy and the cheese has started melting. Serve with a green salad.
Estofado de pollo

Recipe: Estofado de pollo (Peruvian chicken stew)

This is one of those dishes that I used to hate as a kid and now I crave when homesickness kicks in. I think the main reason I dreaded it was that my mum or aunties cooked it too often.

I think mum has forgotten my aversion to estofado because she didn’t tease me when I asked for her recipe last time I spoke to her. Turns out that her recipe is simpler than what I imagined, and I managed to make it taste virtually the same. Except that now I like it :)

Estofado de pollo (Peruvian chicken stew)
Yield: 6-7 servings

Estofado de pollo

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp ghee or oil
  • 1.85kg chicken drumsticks
  • 1 red onion, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1.25 cups chicken broth
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes, diced
  • 0.5 cup frozen peas
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Heat the ghee or oil in a pot. Season the chicken drumsticks with salt and pepper and brown. Reserve.
  2. Lower the heat, add more ghee or oil if needed and cook the onion and garlic for 5-10 minutes until very soft and translucent.
  3. Add the tomato paste, chicken, chicken broth, carrot and potatoes. Stir, cover and cook until the chicken is done, about 20-30 minutes.
  4. Add the peas and check the seasoning.
  5. Serve with white rice and/or vegetables.
Anzac biscuits

Recipe: Better (gluten-free) Anzac biscuits

It’s been ages since I’ve eaten Anzac biscuits because they are definitely not gluten-free and. I know there are several paleo versions floating around in the interwebs but oats are such an important ingredient in this particular cookie that IMO they don’t deserve to be called Anzac biscuits at all.

Back when I reintroduced oats in my diet to follow the Chinese doctor’s nagging recommendations, I tried a few brands of gluten-free (by US standards, which are less strict than Australian) and uncontaminated oats. I didn’t have any issues with any of those so I use them regularly. For this recipe I used this brand of Australian uncontaminated oats. To learn more about oats, gluten and contamination click here.

I also bumped up the protein content by adding some whey protein powder and used a relatively low amount of unrefined sweeteners (coconut sugar and maple syrup), hence the name “better Anzacs”. Don’t be fooled though, these are still treats!
Hope you’re having a great Anzac Day!

Better (gluten-free) Anzac biscuits
Yield: about 14 medium chunky cookies

Better Anzac biscuits

Ingredients

Dry ingredients

  • 1 cup uncontaminated oats
  • 1/2 cup plain whey protein isolate
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Wet ingredients

  • 75g butter
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C (fan-forced works best).
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Mix wet ingredients in a saucepan and melt on the stove (or place them in a bowl and melt in the microwave).
  4. Pour wet ingredients over dry and mix well with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
  5. With your hands, make golf-sized balls with the batter, pressing firmly to make sure everything sticks together. Place on a tray lined with wax paper and flatten with your hand.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes depending on your taste (20 minutes will yield darker and crunchier cookies).
  7. Let cool down and enjoy.

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: Jugo surtido (“assorted” juice)

The funny thing about this juice is that the name tells you nothing, however everyone in Lima (possibly in Perú) knows exactly what to expect. The taste of a classic jugo surtido is, I’m sure, ingrained in the memories of millions of limeños who have ever set foot in a juguería (juice bars). When I was growing up, the best juguerías could be found in mercados (markets). Popular flavours were papaya, lúcuma con leche (lúcuma and milk), fresa con leche (strawberries and milk), plátano con leche (banana and milk), surtido and especial (surtido plus algarrobina and egg). I hated lúcuma until my mid-20s, the other single-fruit ones were common at home and especial was too intense for me. Therefore, surtido was my go-to choice.

Jugo surtido
Yield: 2-3 servings

Jugo surtido

Ingredients

  • 1/4 papaya
  • 2 slices cooked beetroot
  • 1 banana (fresh or frozen)
  • 6-8 strawberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 2-2.5 cups water

Directions

  1. Blend all ingredients, pretend you are in a Peruvian mercado and enjoy.

Product review: Chrissy’s Cuts sausages (plus recipe inside)

These paleo-friendly sausages are made with quality cuts of meat that come from ethically farmed free-range and grass-fed animals. In addition, they do not contain any fillers, flours, nitrates or additives. I love her tagline “because meat shouldn’t be a mystery”.

Pork shoulder sausages with bacon and maple syrup

The current varieties on offer are beef brisket with smuggled greens and pork shoulder with bacon and maple syrup (killer combo!). I got a pack of the latter to sample. As you can see from the photo below, the ingredients list is super clean.

Pork shoulder sausages with bacon and maple syrup

Instead of just cooking the sausages and throwing them on a pile of coleslaw (my default modus operandi), I decided to use them to make a version of a breakfast that I’ve been digging lately: Scotch eggs. I normally use pork mince and season it with herbs and spices, but these sausages made everything so much easier. This can literally be a 2-ingredient recipe (if you serve it sans dipping sauce), and works beautifully for breakfast, as party/picnic food or as a snack on the go.

Bacon & maple Scotch eggs with chipotle mayonnaise
Yield: 2-4 servings

Scotch eggs

Ingredients

To serve

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, homemade if possible
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp chipotle powder

Directions

  1. Hard-boil the eggs to your liking. Here’s my method: put in a pot, cover with cold water, bring to a boil and wait 2 minutes. Turn heat off, leave eggs in the pot for 20 minutes. Drain water off the pot, leave eggs to cool down for approximately 50 minutes.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
  3. Squeeze sausage contents from the casings. Divide in 4 even portions.
  4. Extend a portion flat in the palm of your hand, forming a circle. Place an egg on top and wrap it with the meat. Make sure the coating is even and there are no gaps.
  5. Put wrapped eggs on a tray and bake for 20-25 minutes or until browned.
  6. Mix mayonnaise and chipotle powder.
  7. Dip eggs in chipotle mayonnaise and enjoy.

Chrissy’s Cuts
www.chrissyscuts.com.au
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Recipe: Egg & olive salad

More egg salad madness! This variation includes olive oil mayonnaise and olives, a combo that is very familiar for Peruvians. If this variation doesn’t appeal to you, try the egg & cucumber or egg pesto recipes.

Egg & olive salad
Yield: 1 serving

Egg & olive salad

Ingredients

Salad

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs + 3 hard-boiled yolks (or 3 hard-boiled eggs)
  • 6 pitted black olives (I used kalamata)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil mayonnaise (I used this recipe)
  • pepper
  • parsley to garnish

Directions

  1. Chop the eggs and olives.
  2. Mix all the ingredients, season with pepper.
  3. Garnish with parsley.

Recipe: Egg pesto salad

Another egg salad recipe. I told you there were more variations coming! (see the egg & cucumber variation here). This version includes two of my favourite sauces (pesto and mayo), which for some reason I never thought about mixing together.

Egg pesto salad
Yield: 1 serving

Egg pesto salad

Ingredients

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs + 3 hard-boiled yolks (or 3 hard-boiled eggs)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons pesto
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cherry tomatoes and extra basil leaves to garnish

Pesto

  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup nuts (pine nuts, macadamias, pecans, walnuts, etc.)
  • 2 roasted garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • pepper

Mayonnaise

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 250ml avocado or macadamia oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pepper

Directions

Pesto

  1. To roast garlic cloves: wrap unpeeled cloves with foil and pop in the oven at 170-180°C for ~30 minutes or until very soft. Then squeeze the garlic out of its skin. You can do this while baking something else. Roasted garlic will keep for a few days in the fridge.
  2. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. This recipe will make plenty of leftover sauce.

Mayonnaise

  1. If you have never made mayonnaise before, check out some YouTube videos before proceeding.
  2. Put the egg yolks, lemon juice and mustard in a food processor or blender.
  3. Start the motor and slowly pour the oil in a thin stream.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. This recipe will make plenty of leftover sauce.

To assemble

  1. Chop the eggs.
  2. Mix all the ingredients, season with salt and pepper.
  3. Garnish with halved cherry tomatoes and basil leaves.