I hope I never lose my sense of wonder. If that makes me naive, then so be it.

Monday, 14 March 2011

daring cooks, march

Another month, another chance to make food I had never heard of - and introduce a few new favourites to our family! We got to sample Peruvian food this month and were joined by B, E and family. 

Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenges us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra.

The names and ingredients had me looking a few things up beforehand (and that research made me very happy that cuy, another Peruvian dish that is basically cooked whole guinea pig, was not on the list!). Ceviche is basically fish or seafood that is cooked chemically rather than with heat. Papas rellanas con carne, meat-stuffed potatoes, had a filling with all sorts of ingredients, wrapped in a mashed potato 'dough', then crumbed and deep-fried to crisp it up. Finally, salsa criolla as a side and topping to the rest brought it all together.

Ceviche: chemical cooking. So, in a way, it's raw fish. Lime juice with hot chilies, garlic and coriander was poured over the cut fish (we used tilapia, it being the freshest white fish our local store had) and left to sit with red onions in the fridge for half an hour or so. It's really very simple to make. While the rawness had some skeptical, it was a big hit. 

The texture is not what one might expect, as the acid from the lime juice made it buttery-soft rather than tough or flaky. For taste I was cautious with the chilies; E and I were thinking more could have gone in but others thinking it was just right. The girls, sushi lovers all, dove in and liked this dish. On a side note, I had leftovers the next day and the texture had not become rubbery at all, a nice surprise.

Papas rellanas con carne
Papas rellanas: many steps, but wow, what a finish! A filling made of ground beef, garlic, onion, hot chilies, raisins (yes, really), olives, and hard boiled eggs (yes, really) and spices was put into a dough made from mashed potatoes. The dough was stickier than some I saw in the videos, but was manageable. The deep frying went smoothly (felt a bit like a pro after last month's tempura) and didn't make them at all greasy, just crisped up the outside to a nice crunch. 

They look, once crumbed and cooked, like little potatoes which seemed fitting in a meta-potato sort of way. The combination of flavours in the filling had people guessing just what it was, and all worked together to create a whole that was delicious.

Salsa criolla: this was a surprise star of the show. Made as an accompaniment, E loved this and it's so simple! Thinly sliced red onions and diced hot chilies with lime juice and vinegar. And, some time in the fridge. Yeah, that's it. The combination of sweet onion, sour lime and hot chili was amazing. I just kept going back for more.
Supper that had us wanting summer! Ceviche (front left), salsa criolla (back left), and papas rellanas (right) with corn.

While the recipe for pisco sours looked interesting, there was not a bottle of pisco puro to be found in the city. So, we went with premade mojitos, and the lime and mint in that made a nice addition to the rest.

The dinner received rave reviews from adults and kids who had it (it being a culinary adventure, we had hot dogs for the kids who were wary of the strange food). Our three girls have asked for repeats of all three dishes. Bee declared it delicious and we had some awesome cupcakes for dessert that she'd brought along.

All three dishes I will definitely make again - in fact, as I munched on the leftover ceviche yesterday, I started mentally planning a summer party by the pool with ceviche, salsa criolla, and other tapas dishes. Maybe some sangria.  Now if only I could get the snow to leave so that can become a reality...


Anonymous said...

Great job! I am glad the girls like the food. I was worry by husband wouldn't eat the ceviche but the best part is that he was willing to try it. Your Papas Rellanas look wonderful!

shelley c. said...

I agree - very good that there was no mention of guinea pigs in this challenge! :) You did a great job and everything looks wonderful. And even better that the girls liked it!! That is always the best part!