Fresco de Tamarindo Recipe (Tamarind Drink)

By Alicia Maher

Fresco de tamarindo is a refreshing and simple beverage. Is one of many fruits drinks common in El Salvador. In Mexico is called aguas frescas de tamarindo. I like to make it a least once a week, especially in the summer time in Los Angeles. Last week was especially hot and humid. This delicious drink will quelch your thirst. Is also full of minerals and vitamins.

I am picky when it comes to my food ingredients. I was elated when I discovered that Melissa’s Produce carries the most perfect, unchipped tamarindo pods. Quality is a priority in my kitchen. Here is the recipe for this popular and traditional Salvadoran drink.

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Serves 6

1 pound tamarind fruit in pods or ¼ pound tamarind paste

7 cups water

1 cup granulated white sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

Ice to taste

If using fresh tamarind fruit, crack the pod and pull out the pulpy seeds.  Make sure all the shell and remnants have been removed, leaving only the fresh pulpy seeds.

In a bowl, combine the fresh tamarind or paste with 2 cups of warm water. Cover and let it rest for at least 1 hour. It does not need to be refrigerated. Stir and strain the liquid and discard any seeds.

In a large pitcher, combine the tamarind liquid with the remaining 5 cups of water, granulated white sugar, and salt. Stir well and serve over ice. Enjoy.

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Summer Squash Pupusas

By Alicia Maher

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The following is an excerpt from my introduction to the Pupusa recipe in my cookbook, Delicious El Salvador.

The word “pupusa” derives from the Nahuat language and it has two possible meanings, either “stuffed” or “puffy,” perhaps in reference to the fillings and how pupusas puff up after cooked.

In 2005, the Salvadoran government issued legislation designating the Pupusa the national dish of El Salvador. They are simply delicious and showcase the artisan quality of our culinary traditions.

Serves 6 (2 per person)

 

1 1/2 cups finely shredded Mozarella cheese

½ cup finely shredded Monterry Jack cheese

Squash filling for Pupusas (See recipe below)

4 cups instant corn flour masa flour

3½ to 4 cups water

½ cup water to wet hands

 

Combine the shredded cheeses and prepare the squash filling.

Before starting the masa for the Pupusas, bring out the prepared fillings and let them stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes, the fillings should be soft for use.

Preparing the Corn Masa Dough:

Place the corn masa flour in a shallow bowl. Mix in the water, 1 cup at a time, kneading by hand for about 10 minutes until the dough is moist and fluffy. If needed, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time. The dough can be prepared the day before, if covered and refrigerated.

Making the Pupusas – Method 1:

Divide the dough into 12 equal small balls. Divide the fillings equally for the 12 pupusas.

Take the dough ball in the palm of your hand, pushing the center of the ball with your fingers to make a well. Fill each pupusa with the squash and cheese fillings. When done, close the top by pushing and pinching the open space together, so that the end result will be a completely filled and sealed dough ball.

Wet your hands, press and pat each ball between your palms and flatten into a thin dough round that is about 4 inches in diameter and ¼-inch thick. Make sure the edges are nice and thin, but be careful not to press too hard so that the filling does not spill out of the sides.

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Making the Pupusas – Method 2:

Divide the dough into 24 equal small balls. Divide the fillings equally for the 12 pupusas.

With wet hands, press and pat each ball between your palms and flatten into thin dough rounds that are about 4 inches in diameter and ⅛-inch thick. 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.

With your fingers or the back of a tablespoon spread the squash and cheese fillings evenly on the 12 flattened rounds. Cover these with the other 12 flattened rounds and seal the edges with your fingertips taking care that the edges are nice and thin.

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Cooking the Pupusas:

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

Typically, once the pupusas are formed by hand, using either method, they are placed straight onto the skillet or griddle. If you set them aside before cooking, make sure to wet your hands and gently pick up each pupusa, and pat lightly between the palms of your hands.

Gently place the pupusas on the hot surface and cook for about 5 minutes on each side, frequently turning them over to ensure even cooking. The pupusas are ready when they puff up and turn slightly golden. Serve with Pickled Cabbage, Onions, and Carrots

Squash filling for Pupusas

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The key to the preparation of the squash is making sure that it is completely drained of all liquid; otherwise the filling will be watery and mushy.

 2 cups shredded  squash

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons minced onion

2 tablespoons chopped tomatoes

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Take the shredded  squash and place it in a sieve, strainer, or colander over a bowl. Press down on the squash to squeeze the liquid out. You can also use your hands to do get the excess water out.

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium to high heat. Add the onion and tomato, stir and cook for about 1 minute. Add and combine the squash, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir for about 1 minute, remove from the stove, and let it cool completely before using as filling for pupusas. Enjoy!

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FELIZ DIA DE LA CRUZ!

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By Alicia Maher

In El Salvador we celebrate “Dia de la Cruz” or Day of the Holy Cross, on May 3rd. This ritual of worshiping the cross is a tradition that combines ancient Christian, indigenous rites, the Spanish celebration of the Holy Cross and the ancestral tribute to Mother Earth and the god Xipe Totec.

It celebrates the arrival of the rainy season and the birth of the new agricultural cycle. The cross is made from the native Jicote tree and is decorated with colorful papel picado banner, seasonal fruits like, pineapples, coconuts, oranges, mangoes, cashews, avocados and jocotes. The neighbors visit each other to honor and pray to the cross, and to eat a piece of fruit, or two! 

I live in Los Angeles. Every year I try to re-create this tradition for my American-born children. This is the first time I took a photo. I assembled the cross from branches from our avocado tree.

To continue the celebrations, tonight we are are having fruit salad with vanilla and chocolate ice cream. New traditions being born! Feliz Dia De La Cruz!

 

 

Torrejas Salvadoreñas

By Alicia Maher

It’s Holy Week! This is a holiday steeped in centuries-old traditions, is celebrated in every corner in El Salvador. It is also a time to prepare and share with family and friends traditional dishes like Torrejas.

Torrejas is a  sweet and aromatic dish, is not only delectable, but is also a favorite during the Easter season. Torrejas are similar to American-style French toast but there are basic differences that make this dish unique. We always use egg bread, omit the vanilla from the batter, and always fry the torrejas in oil, not butter. But perhaps the biggest difference is the special syrup which is vital to the dish, as the golden fried bread slices are plated and soaked in the syrup before serving. You will enjoy and savor each bite.

 Serves 6

1 1/2 lbs Dulce de Panela (Piloncillo)

4 cups water

Small cinnamon stick

6 large eggs

1 cup milk

⅛ teaspoon salt

6 slices of egg bread (cut off a loaf, each slice 1-inch-thick)

1 cup vegetable oil

 In a medium saucepan over a high flame, combine the dulce de panela (piloncillo), water, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently, for about 1 hour. The syrup is ready when the liquid has been reduced by half. Set aside.

When ready to cook the torrejas, break the eggs into a mixing bowl, add the milk and salt, and combine with a whisk or fork. Dip the slices of bread into this batter, taking care not to let any slice soak for too long before frying.

In a large deep skillet over a medium to high flame, heat the oil until very hot. Add the battered slices of bread, two at a time, and leave plenty of room for each slice to fry. Cook on both sides until golden, remove from the skillet, and place on a serving dish or tray. Pour the dulce de panela syrup on top of the torrejas and let them soak for about 1 hour, or longer, before serving at room temperature. FELIZ SEMANA SANTA!!!

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Learn how to make Pupusas and more at my Salvadoran Cooking Class at the Latin Food Fest!

By Alicia Maher

Starting to prepare for the Latin Food Fest this weekend in Los Angeles. I am honored to be one of the featured chefs! My cooking demo is on Sunday, March 20th, at 1: pm. Come hungry. I’m going to teach how to make a few wonderful recipes from my book, Delicious El Salvador. Pupusas, Curtido, and White Bean Soup. From my event booth, I will be serving Leche Poleada/Manjar Blanco and Butternut Squash in Panela syrup. Melissa’s Produce has supplied me with the most wonderful fruits and vegetables for this event.  Here are a few pictures of the produce I will be using.  Check out their absolutely gorgeous edible flowers. With Melissa’s Produce the taste is always perfect because they only supply the best  produce in the world.

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Pupusas de Pescado/Fish Pupusas and Curtido

By Alicia Maher

Lent season has arrived, and Holy Week is around the corner. This recipe is perfect for those that observe Fish Friday. Also for anyone who just wants to enjoy a delicious fish pupusa, and curtido anytime  of the year.

Serves 6 (2 per person)

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

2 tablespoons finely chopped tomato

2 tablespoons finely chopped green bell pepper

1 pound Tilapia fillet

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

Salt and black pepper to taste

4 cups instant corn masa flour

3½ to 4 cups water

½ cup water to wet hands

2 cups Pickled Cabbage, Onions, and Carrots

Heat the oil in a large skillet over a medium flame. Add the onion, tomato and green pepper. Stir and sauté these ingredient s  for 2 minutes. Add the fish fillet and cilantro, stir everything well.  Cover and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes.  Uncover, and with a fork, combine everything together, add salt and ground black pepper to taste. Remove from stove and let it cool.  Use for the  Pupusa filling.

Preparing the Corn Masa Dough:

Place the corn masa flour in a shallow bowl. Mix in the water, 1 cup at a time, kneading by hand for about 10 minutes until the dough is moist and fluffy. If needed, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time. The dough can be prepared the day before, if covered and refrigerated.

Making the Pupusas – Method 1:

Divide the dough into 12 equal small balls. Divide the fillings equally for the 12 pupusas.

Take the dough ball in the palm of your hand, pushing the center of the ball with your fingers to make a well. Fill each pupusa with the fish filling. When done, close the top by pushing and pinching the open space together, so that the end result will be a completely filled and sealed dough ball.

Wet your hands, press and pat each ball between your palms and flatten into a thin dough round that is about 4 inches in diameter and ¼-inch thick. Make sure the edges are nice and thin, but be careful not to press too hard so that the filling does not spill out of the sides.

Making the Pupusas – Method 2:

Divide the dough into 24 equal small balls. Divide the fillings equally for the 12 pupusas.

With wet hands, press and pat each ball between your palms and flatten into thin dough rounds that are about 4 inches in diameter and ⅛-inch thick. 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.

With your fingers or the back of a tablespoon spread the fish filling evenly on the 12 flattened rounds. Cover these with the other 12 flattened rounds and seal the edges with your fingertips taking care that the edges are nice and thin.

Cooking the Pupusas:

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

Typically, once the pupusas are formed by hand, using either method, they are placed straight onto the skillet or griddle. If you set them aside before cooking, make sure to wet your hands and gently pick up each pupusa, and pat lightly between the palms of your hands.

Gently place the pupusas on the hot surface and cook for about 5 minutes on each side, frequently turning them over to ensure even cooking. The pupusas are ready when they puff up and turn slightly golden. Serve with Curtido, Pickled Cabbage, Onions, and Carrots.

© Curtido/Pickled Cabbage, Onions, and Carrots By Alicia Maher

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)

Using a large ceramic bowl or glass jar with a lid, combine and stir all the ingredients. Cover tightly with lid or plastic cling wrap; marinate overnight before serving. The Pickled Cabbage, Onions, and Carrots can last up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

 

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Chiles Rellenos Salvadoreños/Stuffed Green Bell Peppers

Por Alicia Maher

 Sirve 6 

 6 chiles verdes asados (morrón verde, pimiento verde)

3 tazas de picadillo con cerdo y verduras (receta abajo)

Aceite vegetal para freir

4 huevos grandes

1/2 taza de harina (dividida) 

2 cucharadas de cebolla picada

1/2 taza de tomate picado sin semillas (jitomates)

2 tazas de agua

½ de cilantro picado

½ cucharadita de achiote molido

1 cucharada de polvo de caldo de pollo

Sal y pimienta al gusto

Quitele la cascara a los chiles asados, remueva las semillas y membranas, enjuagelos en agua fría y séquelos bien con toallas de papel. Rellene cada chile con aproximadamente ½ taza de picadillo de carne y verduras, envuélvalos ligeramente en la mitad de la harina y póngalos en un plato.

En una cacerola grande y sobre fuego medio comience a calentar el aceite; esto es importante para que el aceite esté listo una vez ya esten los huevos batidos. Mientras se calienta el aceite, bata las claras de huevo, ya sea con un batidor de mano o con una mezcladora eléctrica, hasta punto de nieve. Agregue las yemas, y continue batiendo por 30 segundos.

Envuelva los chiles en los huevos batidos y colóquelos cuidadosamente en el aceite caliente. Fría los rellenos hasta que estén dorados, dándoles vuelta con una espátula Retire inmediatamente de la cacerola y colóquelos sobre toallas de papel para que absorban el aceite. Descarte la mayoría del aceite de la cacerola, dejando sólo dos cucharadas.

En la misma cacerola, sobre fuego bajo-medio, agregue la cebolla y sofria por 30 segundos. Añada el tomate y cocine por 1 minuto. Agregue el resto de la harina, revuelva bien y cocine por 30 segundos. Lentamente añada el agua y siga revolviendo. Mezcle el cilantro picado, el achiote molido, y el polvo de caldo de pollo. Agregue la sal y pimienta al gusto. Regrese los rellenos a la salsa de tomate y suba el fuego a alto, cuando empiecen a hervir de nuevo reduzca la llama a medio-bajo. Cocine destapado por 5 minutos. Sirva con arroz y tortillas.

 

Picadillo de Cerdo con Verduras

Por Alicia Maher

Sirve 4-6

 2 libras de lomo de cerdo cortado en cubos de 3 a 4 cms

6 tazas de agua

1 hoja de laurel

2 cucharaditas de sal

2 cucharadas de aceite vegetal

2 cucharadas de cebolla picada

2 dientes de ajo picados

½ taza de tomate picado sin semillas (jitomates)

½ taza de papas picada en cubitos finos

½ taza de zanahorias picadas en cubitos finos

½ taza de guisquil, pelado, sin semilla y picado en cubitos finos (chayote)

½ taza de ejotes finamente picados (habichuelas, judías, vainas)

1 taza de caldo

Pimienta al gusto

 Lave el cerdo en agua helada.

En una olla grande, y sobre fuego alto, combine el cerdo, el agua, la hoja de laurel y la sal. Lleve todo a ebullición, con una cuchara grande quite la espuma de encima, según sea necesario. Reduzca el fuego a medio, cubra con una tapadera y cocine por 1 hora y 15 minutos, o hasta que la carne este blandita. Destape y cocine por 10 minutos más. Deseche la hoja de laurel y reserve 1 taza de caldo Retire la carne de la olla y déjela reposar sobre una table de cortar por 15 minutos. Pique el cerdo muy finamente, póngalo en un plato aparte y cubra.

En una cacerola grande, y sobre fuego medio-alto, caliente el aceite, Agregue la cebolla, el ajo, el tomate y saltee por 1 minuto, agregue las papas, zanahorias, guisquil, ejotes y la taza de caldo, combine bien y lléve a ebullicion. Cubra, reduzca el fuego a medio y cocine entre 10 a 15 minutos o hasta que las verduras estén blanditas. Agregue la carne y la pimienta y revuelva bien. Corrija la sal y retire de la estufa, déje enfriar antes de usar como relleno, o sírva caliente si es plato principal.

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Salvadoran Chiles Rellenos

By Alicia Maher

Serves 6

 6 green bell peppers

3 cups minced meat and vegetables filling (recipe below)

Vegetable oil for frying

4 large eggs

1/2 cup all purpose flour (divided)

2 tablespoons chopped onion

½ cup minced tomato

2 cups water

½ cup chopped cilantro

½ teaspoon ground annatto seeds

1 tablespoon chicken bouillon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the peppers on a baking sheet and put under a pre-heated broiler or roast on a open flame. Turn them often until the skin is bubbly and charred. Let them cool and remove the skin.

To open the peppers, make a slit  lengthwise, carefully remove all the seeds and membrane, gently rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towel.  Place about 1/2 cup of filling in each pepper, bring the edges together and close to cover the filling. Sprinkle 1/2 of the flour on the peppers and set aside. Do not over-stuff the peppers or the filling will fall out during frying.

In a large saucepan, start heating the oil over a medium flame. Start this now, so the oil can be quickly ready for frying once the batter is set for the stuffed peppers. While the oil is heating, whip the egg whites, either by hand or with an electric mixer, until stiff but not dry. Add the yolks to the whites and beat for 30 more seconds.

Hold the pepper with your hand, dip it all the way into the whipped egg batter, and then place gingerly in the hot oil. Fry the peppers until golden on both sides, carefully turning them over with a fry spatula . Remove immediately from the saucepan and set them aside on paper towels to absorb any extra oil. Discard most of the oil from the pan, leaving about 2 tablespoons.

In the same saucepan reduce the flame to medium low, sauté the onions for about 30 seconds, then stir in the tomato and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the remaining flour, cook for 30 seconds, then slowly add the water and continue stirring. Mix in the cilantro, annatto and chicken bouillon, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Return the chiles rellenos to the tomato gravy in the pan. Increase the heat to high and bring everything to a boil. Reduce heat immediately to medium low, cover, and cook for 5 more minutes before serving. Enjoy.

Picadillo de cerdo con verduras

Vegetable and Pork Picadillo

By Alicia Maher

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

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Rinse the pork in cold water.

In a large pot, and over high heat, combine the pork, water, bay leaf, and salt. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce the flame 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 full 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 chiles, or serve hot as a side dish.

 

Delicious El Salvador wins First Cookbook “Best In The World” 20 years of Gourmand Awards in Germany

By Alicia Maher

On October 15th, at the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany, my cookbook “Delicious El Salvador” won First Cookbook “Best In The World” in 20 years of Gourmand Awards! In the world of cookbooks, the Gourmand Awards, founded by Edouard Cointreau, are considered the highest international recognition for chefs, authors and publishers. This is a historical event for El Salvador, I am the first Salvadoran to bring  “two gold medals” to El Salvador’s traditional homecooking, my first victory was last year in Beijing. I have always said that Salvadoran food is delicious, complex in flavors and aromas. Now the world is paying attention. I am proud to be the Culinary Ambassador for El Salvador. Long live Pupusas!

Gourmand BOB

15http://www.cookbookfair.com/

http://deliciouselsalvador.com/

Delicious El Salvador Gano Premio Mundial Gourmand en Fráncfort, Alemania

Por Alicia Maher

Mis Estimado lectores:

He ganado otro gran premio para El Salvador. En la feria de libros en Fráncfort, Alemania, el 15 de Octubre, mi libro “Delicious El Salvador” gano Mejor Primer Libro Del Mundo en los últimos veinte años de los Premios Gourmand. Yo siempre he dicho que nuestra comida tiene la calidad, gama de sabores e historia para trascender fronteras. Me enorgullece ser la embajadora culinaria de mi pais. Estoy muy feliz por El Salvador, y contenta que mi trabajo como autora y editorial es reconocido por los expertos internacionales mas importantes de la gastronomía, en el ámbito de la comida y libros de cocina este es el premio mas grande del mundo. Un evento historico para El Salvador!!! Que Vivan las Pupusas!

Gourmand BOB

Un fuerte abrazo, Alicia Maher

http://www.cookbookfair.com/

http://deliciouselsalvador.com/

Ayote En Miel/Salvadoran Candied Butternut Squash By Alicia Maher

By Alicia Maher

Fall has arrived in the U.S., and to celebrate I am making one of my grandmother’s favorite desserts. Ayote En Miel/Salvadoran Candied Butternut Squash is a rich, aromatic and delicious authentic Salvadoran recipe. The allspice berries, cinnamon and panela infuse the squash with just the perfect aroma and sweet flavor, you will want to get seconds.

 

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This is one of the sweet dishes that is also eaten with Chilate, a rich savory white corn atol beverage infused with ginger and allspice.

After the butternut squash is prepared, make sure you keep it covered and refrigerated. It tastes divine with a big scoop of ice cream, my American husband likes it that way, I do too.

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 Panela (atado)  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. Remove from the stove, and serve cold.

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