Pastelitos de Carne for the Dia de Los Difuntos in El Salvador

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Pastelitos de Carne for the Dia de Los Difuntos in El Salvador By Alicia Maher

Today is Dia de Los Difuntos in El Salvador. Is a day to remember our dead ancestors. Millions of people across the country flock to the cemeteries, with flowers in hand, to visit the tomb of their dear ones. Food vendors set up booths outside the cemeteries to sell all sorts of traditional fare to feed the hungry and tired visitors. This recipe is one of the dishes you find at these booths. These pastelitos or Salvadoran empanadas taste so good, they are hot and crunchy and perfect to hold with your hands. Enjoy

Recipes below are from my cookbook Delicious El Salvador.

Salvadoran Empanadas

Pastelitos de Carne

These crispy and delectable Salvadoran empanadas are filled with minced meat and vegetables. In El Salvador they are served as an afternoon snack, but they also make great appetizers for parties. To save time, cook the fillings and assemble the empanadas the day before. You can refrigerate them overnight in a covered container before frying them.

Serves 4-6 (2-3 per person)

1 cup instant corn masa flour
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons water (7 ounces)
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
1 teaspoon ground annatto seeds
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup cooled Minced Pork and Vegetables (Recipe below)
1½ cups vegetable oil
1 cup Pickled Cabbage, Onions, and Carrots (Recipe below)

Place the corn masa flour in a shallow bowl. Mix in the water, chicken bouillon, ground annatto, and salt. Knead by hand for about 5 minutes until the dough is moist and fluffy. If needed, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time. Divide the dough into 12 equal small balls. The dough can be prepared the day before, if covered and refrigerated.

With wet hands, press and pat each ball between your palms and flatten into thin dough rounds that are about 3 inches in diameter. Place the flattened rounds on top of plastic wrap, waxed paper, or a damp kitchen towel to prevent them from sticking to any solid surface.

In the center of each dough round, place about ½ to 1 tablespoon of the Minced Pork and Vegetable filling, then fold the dough over the fillings into a crescent. Seal the edges with your fingertips or the tines of a fork.

In a medium saucepan heat the oil over a medium to high flame until very hot or 360ºF if using a frying thermometer. Fry the empanadas until golden brown. Serve with a side of Pickled Cabbage and Carrots.


Minced Pork and Vegetables
Picadillo de Cerdo con Verduras

This is a very tasty and versatile dish. The finely diced meat and vegetables provide a wonderful texture and are very pleasing to the palate. This is the recipe for the filling used in Salvadoran Empanadas. The pork can be substituted with boneless chicken thighs. This recipe can also be served as a side dish.

Use as filling for Salvadoran Empanadas
or Serves 4-6

2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, fat trimmed, cut into 2- to 3-inch chunks
6 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup minced tomato, seeds removed
½ cup finely diced potatoes
½ cup finely diced carrots
½ cup peeled, pitted, and finely diced chayote
½ cup thinly sliced fresh green beans
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Rinse the pork in cold water.

In a deep pot, combine the pork, water, bay leaf, and salt over high heat. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce heat to medium. Skim the foam from the top; repeat as necessary. Cover the pot and cook for about 2 hours or until the meat is very tender. Uncover and cook for 10 more minutes. Remove the meat from the pot and let it rest on a chopping board for 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaf, and reserve 1 cup of broth. Finely dice the pork and set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and tomato, and sauté for 1 minute; then add the potatoes, carrots, chayote, green beans, and broth. Combine and bring to a quick boil, reduce the flame to low, cover, and cook all the vegetables for about 10 minutes or until tender. Add the meat and pepper and stir together. Correct the salt.

Remove from heat and let it cool before using as a filling for the empanadas, or serve hot as a side dish.


Pickled Cabbage, Onions, and Carrots

This recipe is a must when serving Pupusas, Crispy Fried Yuca and Pork, or Empanadas. The sour-pickled flavor of the cabbage, onions, and carrots is a perfect complement to savory foods.

Serves 6

2 cups shredded green cabbage
½ cup shredded carrots
½ cup thinly sliced onion
4 cups white vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns (optional)
1 teaspoon dried chili flakes or 1 Serrano pepper, finely chopped (optional)



Ayote en Miel de Panela/Salvadoran Candied Butternut Squash

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Ayote en Miel de Panela/Salvadoran Candied Butternut Squash by Alicia Maher

It’s the day after Halloween and before you throw away the pumpkins and other hard winter squash that you bought for decorations try this sweet, aromatic and authentic Salvadoran dessert.  In El Salvador, this traditional recipe  is one of the sweet dishes that are part of Chilate, a rich savory white corn atol beverage infused with ginger and allspice.  it is served in the mid-afternoon to carry you over until dinner time.  Ayote con Miel de Panela/Salvadoran Candied Butternut squash tastes even better a few days after you make it. Make sure you keep it covered and refrigerated. You can make it ahead of time and enjoy it with a big scoop of ice cream, my American husband likes it that way, and so do I. This dish is going to make you go for seconds.

Serves 6-8

1 butternut, green winter squash or pumpkin(2-3 lbs), with skin on, seeds removed and cut into 2 x 2 inch chunks

3 cups of water

1 1/2 lbs Dulce de Panela or Piloncillo   or 3 1/2 cups dark brown sugar

10 allspice berries

1 big cinnamon stick.

In a large pot, over medium to high fire, add the 3 cups of water, the dulce de panela, or brown sugar, allspice and cinnamon. Mix everything well and bring to a boil. Make sure the panela or sugar has been dissolved. Add the clean and cut squash, cover and reduce heat to medium, cook for about 2 hours, stir a few times. Uncover, and reduce heat to medium-low,  continue cooking for about  45 – 60 minutes, or until the consistency is kind of syrupy. Serve cold.


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Ute Jokisch Gaede         Dora Maria Santana de Deneke   Jose Arturo Molina   Marta Eugenia Moisa de Orozco


I found Komunicare, a translation and interpreting agency in El Salvador since 1984, by serendipity. I was looking at the Unites States embassy in El Salvador and their list of local independent translation services.  After visiting their website I liked what I saw and felt. Being an old-fashioned kind of gal, I called them up and asked to talk to the owner about using their services for the Spanish edition of Delicious El Salvador. I told her all about the book, how I took it personally to rescue, preserve and protect El Salvador’s culinary traditions for the next generations, it was the first cookbook in English dedicated to only Salvadoran cooking, the Gourmand award for Best First Cookbook of the World and the critical acclaim from the press and experts. I wanted to convince her to help me bring Delicious El Salvador into Spanish. She did not need much convincing, she told me right there ” Yes, you can count on me” That is my kind of people. If someone truly wants to help they are never equivocal. You just do it.

Ute Jokisch Gaede is the president, founder and owner of Komunicare. She is also an interpreter and translator. She speaks English, Spanish and German. She was born in El Salvador and is from German descendants. The company employs a group of dedicated and talented team of professionals who are passionate about the craft, art and science of interpreting and translating different topics and disciplines. There is Dora María Santana de Deneke, she is an intrepreter and translator. She speaks four languages: English, Spanish, German and French. Jose Arturo Molina is the company’s technical translator. He speaks Spanish and English. Marta Eugenia Moisa de Orozco is an interpreter and translator, she specializes in financial topics. Komunicare employs more than 27 employees! In addition to English, Spanish, German and French, they are also experts in Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Italian, Russian and Arabic.

Komunicare is a world-class agency, and the leader in interpreting and translating in El Salvador. They have done an outstanding job translating Delicious El Salvador. It was a thing of beauty to read it in Spanish. The translation flows with ease but command. I want my Spanish readers to enjoy the cooking and not guess about the meaning of something in the recipe. I hope to have a long working relationship with Komunicare and Ute. I am planning to continue writing, producing and publishing more Salvadoran cookbooks. I found someone who appreciates and knows food as well. Her other business is called “El Jardin de Dona Ute” she produces 100% organic, fruits, vegetables, tilapia and cereals. She is so cool.

I am extremely grateful and thankful for Ute’s unconditional support for my project. I dove into the business of publishing without knowing the rough waters of producing cookbooks. Along the way people have helped me weather many storms. I have been able to stay afloat and continue swimming toward the land of publishing and authoring books because of sheer perseverance, tenacity, good honest people like Ute and the best professional services by my side.  Delicious El Salvador in Spanish will be released in March 2015 at the embassy of El Salvador in Washington, D.C. Thank you Ute, Komunicare and your wonderful and dedicated team. Salud!!!!!



















Recently one of my readers was in El Salvador and saw this dish being prepared by street vendors, he asked for the recipe.  It got me all inspired, so I ran to the market and bought some late summer fresh corn on the cob and got cooking. This authentic Salvadoran dish is easy to prepare and totally delicious. Serve with a dollop of Salvadoran cream, or sour cream and a piece of queso fresco.


Serves 4

1 large banana leaf cut into 8 pieces, each about 8-inches wide

2 cups fresh corn kernels

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup shredded Monterrey cheese


Clean and cut the banana leaf and set aside.

Place the corn kernels in a blender or food processor;  blend until smooth. Add the sugar and cheese and mix.

Place a few spoons of this mix into four banana leaf pieces and cover with the other half.

Heat a non-stick griddle or a large heavy skillet over medium to high flame.

Gently place the riguas on the hot surface and cook on each side for about 15 to 20 minutes. When they have hardened remove from the leaves and place directly on the griddle, brown on both sides. Serve with Salvadoran cream, or sour cream and a piece of queso fresco. Enjoy.


A Day Off!


One of the fountains in Century City.

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Getting ready to bake and drink!


Saturday September 13th, at the Latin Food Fest in San Diego with Chef Mario Medina.

A Day Off! By Alicia Maher


It has been a long time since I had a Saturday off. September was a busy month with a flurry of weekend events. Yesterday, the first Saturday in October, I decided not to book anything and just relax, well, it turned out to be a precious day and joyful day.

I got up and made fresh pineapple cookies, the leftover fruit got blended with a little bit of sugar and water, and mixed with a cold California sparkling wine. I call this drink my Pineosa, get it, instead of Mimosa, ha,ha,ha,ha, is a good concoction.

One of my friends called me. We chatted for a long time about everything and then I told her about all the exciting moments I had lived in the last month. The first weekend in September was all about getting ready for the following Saturday and the Latin Food Fest in San Diego.  Thank you to Melissa’s Produce for your sponsorship, could not have done it without you! It was a first-class event. There were a few glitches getting there, will tell you more about in another blog called trials and tribulations, just kidding. It was an enlightening food and drink experience. The world is alive with fine taste buds! That Saturday morning I was out of bed at 3:30 am. From Los Angeles, is a 3 hour drive to beautiful San Diego, exhibitors had to be there by 9:am. The hard-working, talented, and pregnant, make-up artist, Melissa D’Angelo showed up at my house at 4:30 am to give me the glamour look. You know, hair, faux eye lashes and the whole enchilada. Boy, it takes a long time to look that good. I like to wear make up. Always have. Melissa gave birth to a baby boy the following Friday.

The third weekend, the 20th and 21st, were all about family and community. One of my sons had a birthday, the house was full of friends and family. It was lots of work to cook and prepare for everybody, this crowd likes to eat, and lots of it.  On Saturday night, September 20th, my husband and I had the privilege to attend a Salvadoran musical and dance event called Las Placitas de Nuestros Pueblos, at the glorious, French Baroque style, theater of Los Angeles. This is how the foundation that produced the show describes it “

“Las Placitas De Nuestros Pueblos” is a musical play that reflects the Salvadoran culture. It focuses on identifying diverse regions throughout the country with different types of folk music and dances. Throughout the play, our performers portray the lifestyle of Salvadoran peasants, their mannerisms and customs in order to help the audience understand the diversity of the Salvadoran heritage.”

All in all, it was a busy but special weekend. I treasure every one of my sons birthdays. Seeing the cousins, aunts and friends was wonderful!

Last weekend, I spent both days getting ready for my Reynolds Products recipe development assignment. I am also doing a video in my kitchen, it was fun shopping for a few extra props for the background. It was pretty much all about testing, cooking, testing, more cooking and retesting. The dish turned out delicious and easy to make. The photos took a long a time, but worth all the effort. The company that gave me this job was truly impressed with my depiction of the yummy dish.  My photography skills are getting better.

It was nice to take a break from this full schedule My day off was amazing. After eating too many pineapple cookies and drinking a few Pineosas, I felt guilty, blotted and sleepy. My husband and I live in Cheviot Hills, when he suggested we do something,  I said, “let’s walk to Century City” hopping he would say no, but to my surprise he said “yes”. I have no idea how I walked the 2 1/2 mile each way, but it was worth it. We left around 6:15 p.m. the  twilight sky, dressed in pink pale shades of blue was magical. Los Angeles is a beautiful place

Walking to Century City brought back many good memories. In 1993 my husband, Joseph, was fresh out of law school, his first job was on 2000 Avenue of the Stars, we used to meet at the mall for lunch. Our three sons grew up in the Cheviot Hills area, and the Century City Mall became their hangout. I am sure, in their teenage years, they took a date or two to the movies at the old mall before all the renovation. Time off gives you the ability to get away from the routine and see things and life with a new perspective.



In front of one of our favorite hotels in the city.



Post remodel.  2000 Avenue of the Stars. The Address where my husband first worked as an attorney in 1993.


Produce guru Robert Schueller co-chairs the James Beard Foundation Taste America Los Angeles

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Produce guru Robert Schueller co-chairs the James Beard Foundation Taste America Los Angeles by Alicia Maher

For those who know Robert Schueller, is not surprising to learn that produce guru, and Melissa’s/World Variety Produce public relations director,  is co-chair of the James Beard Foundation Taste America Los Angeles.  This incredible event is taking place Friday, October 10, 2014 6:30 pm at Vibiana 214 South Main Street Los Angeles 20012.  Robert Schueller is a star in the world of produce,  a person loved and respected by the foodie community for his knowledge and commitment to quality. Reading about James Beard life I thought, if Robert and James have been contemporaries they most likely would be good friends. To me, they share many similarities,  a genuine love for people and life, work ethics, and a passion for excellent food. At the JBF Taste America Robert will be shining among other great culinary stars like Aaron Sanchez, Nancy Silverton, Matt Molina, Dahlia Narvaez, Neil Fraser, Ari Taymor, Vinny Dotolo, Walter Manzke, Ori Menashe and guest emcee, the beautiful chef, Aida Mollenkamp.

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James Beard wore many hats, he was a celebrated chef, cookbook author, a teacher who nurtured the careers of many of his students,  one of the of the first advocates to support educating women to become chefs, and a supporter of consumption of local produce…  He died in 1984, to continue his work and legacy, the foundation was started in 1986, their work and mission is honest and simple; they raise money to support all kinds of educational programs, including cooking scholarships. Culinary students are invited to apply here,

For countless food writers, photographers and experts, Robert Schueller is the person they turn for knowledge for just about the whole spectrum of produce in the market. He adheres, celebrates and promotes the principles of Melissa’s produce mission to provide the best in world variety produce, serve and educate the customer, community involvement, sponsoring and nurturing a diverse group of foodies.

The JBF Taste America is an event not to be missed, a once in a lifetime experience to enjoy and  savour dishes created by the top chefs in America, these are the rock stars of the cooking world my dear readers.  Vibiana was the home of Los Angeles’s first Archdiocese Catholic cathedral, and has been converted into one of the most beautiful and distinguished full service facilities anywhere, the perfect backdrop for this amazing and special occasion. Here is the link to buy your tickets. /collections/los-angeles




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San Diego and the Latin Food Fest Welcomes Delicious El Salvador

Originally posted on Delicious El Salvador the blog by Alicia Maher:

This is blog is from last November. I am re-posting  it again to celebrate this year’s second Latin Food Fest in  San Diego and my participation in this wonderful event that starts today through Sunday.  I will be there tomorrow, selling and signing my cookbook Delicious El Salvador, Saturday from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm. Later I will share with you more about this year’s festival and all the handsome chefs attending!!!!!

San Diego and the Latin Food Fest Welcomes Delicious El Salvador

     By Alicia Maher    Delicious El

       The Latin Food Fest (LFF) was a sizzling late summer event, right on the Broadway Pier in the San Diego Harbor. I can’t believe it’s been just over 2 months since Saturday, September 14th. Crisp powder-blue sunny skies over deep-blue water dotted with sail boats; and downtown vistas of beautiful towering glass. The weather was Southern…

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Green beans and eggs recipe by Alicia Maher

Green beans and eggs recipe by Alicia Maher from Delicious El Salvador



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Green beans and eggs recipe from Delicious El Salvador by Alicia Maher

Green Beans and Eggs

Ejotes con Huevo

Past and present generations of Salvadoran have enjoyed this dish at the family table. Although it is light and simple, it is a complete meal by itself. I would venture to say that it is one of the few recipes in this book that is prepared the same way in every region of the country. Eat it with Salvadoran corn tortillas for a gluten free meal!

Serves 4-6


4 cups green beans (about 1 pound), tips off, cut in ½-inch pieces

4 cups of water

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

½ cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped ripe Roma tomatoes

½ cup chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon chicken bouillon

4 eggs

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a medium pot over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook uncovered for 8 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse in cold water and set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over a medium flame. Add the onion, sauté for 30 seconds, then add the tomato and cilantro; cook and stir together for 1 minute. Add and combine the cooked green beans, salt, and bouillon and sauté for about 1 minute. Crack all four eggs on top and gently stir everything for 2 to 3 minutes until the eggs are cooked. Sprinkle the pepper, stir, and remove from the stove.




Is a good day for some delicious Sangria!


Here is a delicious and refreshing sangria recipe. In El Salvador this Spanish drink is enjoyed by many. This is my version and uses some juicy and sweet California peaches. You can substitute the peaches with pineapple. Enjoy!!!

1 botle CA merlot,

1 cup pomegranate juice

2 cups orange juice (preferably fresh)

4 peaches finely chopped

2 tablespoons honey

orange slices


Mix everything and serve

Pupusas, videos and new friends!





L-R Amanda Cargill, Marie Elena Martinez, Alicia Maher, Patricia Chica, Eric Benton

Hello dear readers, I wanted to share this video and photos from this past Saturday. Thanks again for visiting!

Thank you to my friends and actor Eric Benton and filmmaker Patricia Chica for recording this video. Everyone loved pupusas con curtido y salsa, bistec encebollado, pure de papas, arroz con pollo…

It was a fun day. I also had the fortune to meet and cook for the founding editor of The Latin Kitchen, Marie Elena Martinez and director of food content for Latina Magazine, Amanda Cargill. This is one of the benefits of my work, meeting and befriending the most wonderful people in the world!!!!!



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