Our South American feast continued with an Entrada (First Course) of Ceviche. The Incas preserved their fish with fruit juice, salt and chilli peppers. Later, the Spanish Conquistadors introduced lime juice and salt. This recipe from Ecuador is made with tomato sauce and I served it with home-made plantain chips in colorful champagne glasses.
- 2-3 cups small to medium shrimp
- 1/2 red onion
- Juice of 1 regular lime (or 4 small key limes)
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1 Tbsp. vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 c. choclo or fresh corn kernels (I left these out...did not like the sound of it.)
- 1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves
Cut the onion into the thinnest possible slices, slicing it with the cut side facing down so that the pieces are semicircular in shape.
Place the onion slices in a bowl of cold, salted water, and let soak for 20 minutes.
Cook the corn kernels in a pot of boiling salted water until just tender. Drain. Rinse with cold water.
If the shrimp is not cooked, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add the juice of 1 lime to the pot. Boil the shrimp for 1-2 minutes until just cooked. Drain and rinse with cold water. De-vein the shrimp. Remove the tails and place shrimp in a bowl.
Drain onions and rinse with cold water. Add onions and corn to bowl with the shrimp.
Whisk together lime juice, orange juice, ketchup, sugar and vinegar. Toss with shrimp, corn and onions. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Chill shrimp until ready to serve. Toss shrimp with cilantro before serving and drizzle decorativley with ketchup if desired.
With no hot sauce or peppers, this ceviche is a bit sweet which makes a gentle way to start the main meal. And as with many dishes in this meal, gets better after it sits awile.
- 2 green-yellow plantains
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Salt to taste
Cut off both ends of the plantains and remove peel/skin. You may need to slice the peel open lengthwise with a knife. Work carefully because plantains can stain skin and clothes.
Slice plantains crosswise into very thin slices. It is fun to use a mandoline for this (thank you Robb!) but a sharp knife works, too.
Heat 1-2 inches of oil in a saucepan on medium-high heat.
When the oil is hot (about 360 degrees), fry several slices of plantain at a time until golden; 2-3 minutes.
Remove and drain on paper towels. Season with salt to taste.
Do you belive we are FINALLY ready for the PLATAS PRINCIPALES! This was the simplest to prepare of the entire South American feast!
CHICKEN BREAST IN CREAMY COCONUT SAUCE FROM COLUMBIA
- 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
- 1 tsp. garlic salt
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 4 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- 1 Tsp. vinegar
- 3/4 cup finely chopped white onion
- 1 red bell peprper, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Ground black pepper
- 1 Package Sazon Goya seasoning (This ingredient is essential; found in most Latin sections of your super market.)
- 1 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
- 1 Tbsp. flour
Slice the chicken breasts in half horizontally to make thinner pieces.
Toss the chicken with the oil and vinegar. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with the garlic salt, cumin and ground black pepper. Let them marinate for about an hour; overnight if possible (making for another easy do-ahead!).
Heat a large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Working in batches, saute the chicken breasts for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Do not overcook. Remove chicken to a plate and set aside.
Add chopped onion, red pepper and garlic to the skillet. Stir in Sazon Goya seasoning and saute veg until soft and fragrant.
Whisk flour into coconut milk, then add coconut milk to the skillet. Add the chicken breasts. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and tender.
Serve warm over rice.
ARROZ CON COCO-COLUMBIAN COCONUT RICE
- 1 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
- 2 cups rice
- 1/4 cup raisons
- 3 cups water
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1-2 tsp. sugar
Place coconut milk in a heavy pot and bring to a boil.
Simmer coconut milk until the liquid has evaporation and the coconut solids separate from the oil. Continue to cook, stirring constantly until coconut solids are dark golden brown.
Stir in the rice and raisons. Stir in the water, salt and sugar.
Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer rice covered for about 20-30 minutes or until rice is done. Turn off heat and let rice remain on stove for another 5-10 minutes covered.
Fluff rice and serve.
I molded the rice in custard cups and then unmolded on the plates.
GARLICKY COLLARD GREENS FROM BRAZIL
- 2 lbs. collard greens (2-3 big bunches)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- Salt/Pepper to taste
Roll collard green leaves and slice them into thin strips (This technique is called chiffonade. It is easy and is often done when slicing basil or other leafy herbs or greens. Just roll up the leaf the long way as tight as you can and then slice across the leaf in thin strips.)
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add collard greens and cook for 5 minutes until bright green. (Salting the water helps retain the bright green color.)
Remove from heat and drain. Set aside.
Heat Olive Oil and butter in a skillet. Add onion and garlic and cook until the onion is soft and translucent.
Add the greens and saute 3-4 minutes.
Season with salt/pepper to taste.
Optional: Saute some chopped bacon with the onion and garlic. (I did not use this option as I did not think bacon flavor would blend with the coconut. I did add some chopped tomato for both color and flavor. It worked well.)
As I mentioned before this dinner rolled out over several hours and several bottles of very fine wine. With the Bocaditos I served a red wine from Argentina and a red wine from Chile. The Argentinian wine is from the Argie Andes Vineyard made from the Bonarda grape which is a grape popular in Italy, but has become a favorite in Argentina for its full bodies, rich and complex flavors. The Chilean wine is from the Chocolan Vineyard made from the Carmenere grape. This was everyone's favorite of the evening! Chile is known for producing wine from this grape. It was very popular in Europe until the late 1800's when a bug (phylloxera) hit Bordeaux and completely wiped out this line. Carmenere resurfaced in Chile about 12 years ago after believing it was extinct because of the phylloxera epidemic. Chile had been growing it for years calling it a merlot grape. After extensive testing it was determined that it was not merlot, but carmenere. It is now known as the "Jurassic Park" grape, returned from extinction. Chile has not replanted this splendid vine in Europe and it is once again being produced in France.
Accompanying the Platas Principales we had a wine from Argentina. Torrontes is a grape native to Argentina and this one comes from the Cristobal Vineyard.
Postres was served with an Italian Moscato D'Asti from the Saracco Vineyard. Europe and South America share so much history, food, culture and wine that this Moscato was a fitting ending to our feast.
We also sipped Fress Cafe Molido Tipo Espresso from Venezuela with dessert.
PASTEL DE TRES LECHES
This version serves 10 generous portions.
For the cake:
- 1 cup sugar
- 5 large eggs, separated
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose white flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
- 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup heavy (or whipping) cream
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp. dark Cuban rum
Fresh whipped dream, cocoa powder, sliced fruit like mango or berries.
For the cake: Preheat oven to 350. Generously butter a 9x13" baking dish. Beat 3/4 cup sugar and the egg yolks until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Fold in the milk, vanilla, flour and baking powder. Clean beaters thoroughly. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks, adding the cream of tartar after 20 or so seconds. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until the whites are glossing, but not dry. Gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture. Pour this batter into the buttered baking dish. Bake the cake until it feels firm and an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 30-45 minutes. Let the cake cool completely in baking dish. Pierce the cake all over with a fork. Take care as the cake is tender and can tear quite easily.
Milk syrup: Combine the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, cream, vanilla and rum ina mixing bowl. Whisk until well blended. Pour the syrup over the cake, spooning the overflow back on top until it is all absorbed. Let cake set for several hours or overnight. It gets more moist the longer it sets up. (I made this cake for my sons birthday one year and tried to travel with it right after baking and milking. What a dissaster....creamy cake all over the car!)
When ready to serve, cut and plate. Top with a big dollup of freshly whipped cream and any garnish you choose. I like it plain with just the whipped cream so as not to interfere with the totally creamy flavor of this most delicious Postres!
I hope you've enjoyed this meal as much as we all did. I am full just thinking about it all over again! Next week I'm going to tell you about my dear friend Aggie's favorite food-TERIYAKI CHICKEN WINGS!!!