Sunday, February 26, 2012

Roasted Chicken-Parisian style!

I am not sure what about this roast chicken is Parisian, except when I roast a whole chicken, I hear Julia Child's voice in my head. I think she loved roasting chickens as much as I do...maybe more?!?  I like to use lots of herbs, butter, olive oil, garlic, onions, other veggies for the roasting pan...and of course, LOVE!

First, select a nice, big bird around 6 to 6 1/2 lbs. Remove the bag of giblets, heart, neck, etc. (Save for soup stock). This is an important step. I forgot to do this once, which did not hurt the end result, but was a little embarasing when I served it with its innards-in-a-bag still inside. Sprinkle the entire bird liberally, inside and out (my Mom taught me this) with salt. Don't use expensive sea salt, just plain old table salt is OK as you're going to wash it all away anyway. Rub the bird vigorously inside and out and pluck any stray feathers especially from the legs and thighs where they tend to stick. Once you have scrubbed your bird well, put her under running water and rinse thoroughly inside and out. Run your finger along either side of the bottom rib bone to remove any old blood and flush thoroughly with water. Pull out any gunky stuff and remove some of the excess fat around the neck (or where the neck used to be). Pat dry with a paper towel. Now on to the recipe...

 6-6 1/2 lb. whole chicken
6 Tbsp. butter, softened (I know this sounds like a lot of butter, but it's what makes this bird great!)
Boquet Garni*
4 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
1 large onion, peeled, cut into wedges
Olive oil for drizzling over top
Optional veggies for the roasting pan: peeled and cubed butternut squash; thick cut sliced carrots or parsnips; peeled, diced celeriac**, fennel or new potatoes-whole with skins.
The vegetable choices are nearly limitless if you stick to root-type veg they all will be delicious.

*Bouquet Garni, which literally means Garnished Bouquet in French (maybe this is also why I call this Parisian Chicken) is just a bunch of fresh herbs tied together with string. I like to grow herbs so pull together whatever I have handy. My Boquet Garni usually consists of Thyme, Parsley, Sage, Chives, Rosemary, but can include whatever herb you like. If you research Bouquet Garni, most recipes are very precise and call for 3 sprigs of this and 2 sprigs of that. Really not necessary; just grab whatever flavors you like and tie together with kitchen string. This is where I get into a little trouble as I cook by gut and instinct, not necessarily by exact measurement. I can assure you, the FUN of cooking is experimenting and you don't really have to be that precise.

** Celeriac. I confess, I have a love affair with this root vegetable. Maybe because it is so hard to find it seems exotic; maybe because it is so ugly you have to love it, but the flavor is celery on steroids, but soft and round at the same time. It is a wonderful addition to roast chicken, peeled and cubed.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Now that your chicken is scrubbed and dry you are ready to begin.
Place your bird on a rack (or if you don't have a rack, lay a few whole carrot sticks in the bottom of the pan and set the chicken on top) in a roasting pan deep enough to hold as many veggies as you plan to roast with the chicken. Sprinkle sea salt and pepper inside and out of your bird. Tuck the wings under the bird so the tips don't burn. Bend them backwards until they stay under the carcass.
Make the Bouquet Garni and put it inside the cavity of your bird. Also add 2 of the smashed and chopped cloves of garlic, and about 1/3 of the sliced onion inside the bird.

Mash the remaining 2 cloves of garlic with 4 Tbsp. of butter.

Carefully insert your index and middle finger under the skin of the bird at the top of the breast and separate the skin from the bird creating an envelope to place the garlic butter under the skin so it is held between the skin and the meat; half on each side. Be sure to spread it completely (top to bottom) under the skin and be gentle so as not to tear the skin.

Tie the legs with kitchen string to help close the opening of the bird. You don't have to be fancy about this, just make sure the legs are held together. As you may see in the picture above, I was out of kitchen string, so used chives to tie the legs; a little tricky as they break fairly easily, but braid a few strands together to make them stronger and it makes a chive rope that you can use to tie the legs.

Slather the last 2 Tbsp. of softened butter over the bird and sprinkle liberally with salt (this time use a good, course ground sea salt) and pepper. Drizzle with a little olive oil.

Add to the roasting pan, surrounding the chicken, whatever chopped vegetables you choose and the rest of the onion (carrots, potatoes, and the onion are a nice simple choice and my favorite) and put into the hot oven uncovered and roast for 1 hour.

Baste very 20 minutes or so. If the skin of the bird is getting too well done, make a foil tent and continue roasting at 425 for another 20 minutes.

One way to tell if your bird is done is to move the legs. If they move freely and smoothly, you're probably done. Another way to tell is to run a knife between the leg and thigh. If the juices run clear (opposed to bloody), you're done.

Let rest for 20 minutes before carving, otherwise you will lose the juices of the bird as they won't have time to reabsorb and the chicken will be dry.


Once you've feasted on your Roast Chicken Parisian style, possibly with new potatoes, baby carrots and steamed peas you are ready to tear apart what's left of the bird and make chicken stock.

I invite you to contact me if you have questions about roasting your own bird or if you want more details or suggestions on making your own beautiful roast chicken. Please contact me at: I would love to hear from you!

First, cut off whatever is left of good meat on the chicken, both breast and thighs, for another meal or use for chicken salad or chicken croquettes. Save some chicken pieces if you are making chicken soup. Once the carcass is fairly clean of meat, pull the bones apart and put in a large saucepan. Crack the whole bird in half so legs, ribs and all other bones fit in pot and can easily be covered with water.


Most stocks start with a mirepoix (pronounced meer pwah) which is a traditional French mix of carrots, onions and celery. This is the back bone of most stocks, chicken included. I generally use 1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped; 3 large carrots, peeled and roughly sliced; and 3 stalks of celery, sliced in chunks.  That is where the mirepoix ends.

I also add 2 smashed garlic cloves, 1 bay leaf, about 1 Tbsp. of salt; 1 tsp. of black pepper and 2 qts.of water to your chicken bones. Bring to boil and then turn heat way down and slow simmer for about 2 hours. Turn off heat and let sit covered for another hour. Strain through collander into a big bowl. I set the collander with bones and veg aside and when cool my husband likes to dive into it and eat whatever is left on the bones along with the carrots and celery.

You may have heard of Double Chicken Stock. That is when you make a chicken stock (as above) and then re-do the whole thing, but instead of using water to boil the bones, use the chicken stock you have just made. It makes the stock super-rich. Get creative and add whatever herbs and spices appeal to you. There are no mistakes in the kitchen!

Having home-made chicken stock in the freezer makes me feel secure, happy, and well-balanced. I know that may sound weird, but you can do so much with stock that it is nice to have around at all times.

I think I would be remiss if I didn't give you at least one suggestion for using your new beautiful chicken stock so here is a hearty robust soup I like to make any time of the year, but especially good on a cool fall night, served with garlic bread and a simple green salad. This is another recipe I created that can be changed in so many ways...add roasted red pepper, mushrooms, artichoke hearts...whatever Tuscan treasure comes to mind!

2 qts. chicken stock (which you just made!)
3 leeks***, white only, about 1 1/2 cups sliced thin
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
4 potatoes, peeled, sliced thin
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
5 sweet Italian sausage, out of casing
1 big bunch Kale-chopped with biggest spines removed
Salt/Pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese for garnish

***To clean leeks, wash, wash, wash. Leeks collect dirt in between their many layers so sometimes you have to almost pull them apart to clean them.

In a heavy saute or fry pan saute leeks in 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil on low heat until soft, but not brown.

Add freshly ground sea salt and pepper.

Add minced garlic and cook for another 4-5 minutes, but don't let garlic brown.

Remove leeks and garlic, set aside, but leave oil in pan.

Turn heat to medium-high and add sausauge removed from skin (to remove sausage from skin, hold one end of sausage and press or squeeze out like a tube of tooth paste until all the filling is removed--sometimes it is easier to start in the middle, screw up the whole sausage and work both ways to get out the filling), to the pan. Crumble with a wooden spoon or my favorite utensil, a heat-proof rubber spatula so sausage is in bite-sized chunks. Cook until it is browned.

Add leeks/garlics back into sausage mixture and turn off heat.

Bring 2 qts. chicken stock to slow boil in a large stock pot and add sliced potatoes. Let cook for about 10 minutes.

Add leeks, garlic, sausage and cook for another 15 minutes.

Add chopped kale and cook until wilted--about another 15 minutes if you are serving right away. Otherwise, add Kale and turn off heat. Cool and re-heat for next day serving.

I like to serve this soup with freshly grated parmesan on the side. You can also offer hot dried pepper, fresh basil or whatever comes to your mind.

This soup is delicious served second day. It also freezes well.

Next time I want to talk about LAMB! to prepare a rolled, boneless of my all-time favorites, especially as Easter is approaching! Until then, happy cooking and hope you are enjoying my food-talk.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Aggie's Teriyaki Chicken Wings

Next to scotch, my dear friend Aggie loved nothing better than Teriyaki Chicken Wings! We were friends for over 25 years and over those years ate a lot of chicken wings. Every Thursday night we would meet at her apartment in Jamaica Plain and start with a little taste of scotch. Aggie loved her scotch! Sometimes we would have Chex-Mix with our cocktail and then roll into the chicken wings. Occasionally shrimp cocktail or deviled eggs would be added to the menu, and in the early days Aggie would make English Muffin Crab Cakes-easy to make and very yummy!

Aggie passed away on October 21, 2011, one month to the day after her 91st birthday.

Here she is on her 89th birthday!

About 16 chicken wings
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. hot pepper flake
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder (not garlic salt)
3 Tbsp. agave nectar or honey
1/4 cup olive oil

Mix the marinade together in a large bowl until well blended. Add the chicken wings (pluck any stray feathers off the wings before you drop them in). Thoroughly coat the wings and let sit for 1 hour in the marinade at room temperature. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put marinated chicken wings in a large baking dish in one layer, so the wings do not overlap. Cover with foil, bake for 15 minutes. Turn heat down to 350 degrees and bake for another hour. Stir carefully so as not to break the skin every 20 minutes to ensure that wings are coated evenly with the marinade. Remove foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes until sauce becomes mahogany colored and somewhat sticky. Take out of oven and drizzle with a little more agave nectar or honey. These wings are best warm, but can also be served at room temp. If you are making them a day ahead, reheat on low oven for about 30 minutes before serving.
Aggie's 3 favorite foods: shrimp cocktail, deviled eggs and teriyaki chicken wings.

The only thing missing here is the scotch!

Deviled Eggs
Many of you may not use a recipe to devil eggs, but here are a couple of tips:
To hard boil eggs, place eggs in one layer in saucepan. Cover with cool water to just about 1 inch over eggs. Do not cover saucepan. Slowly bring to a boil. When the water begins to boil, remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 15 minutes. Pour off into a collander and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking. If you over-cook or over-boil the eggs they get very hard and the yolks can turn greenish...not very appetizing! Eggs can be peeled and eaten right away or you can turn them into egg-salad, deviled eggs, or chop to add to salads. For deviled eggs I like to add a little salt/pepper, and curry powder; not too much seasoning as I love the eggy flavor. Mixing a tablespoon of sour cream (or nonfat greek-style yogurt) with the mayo also gives a nice tang. Decorate the eggs with various toppings: small pieces of roasted red pepper, chopped chives or tarragon, black or green olive slices, pickled asparagus, or a twist on the old stand-by, sprinkle with smoked paprika. I am so happy that eggs are back on the "healthy" to eat list of foods.

Aggie's recipe for English Muffin Crab Cakes
aka Crabby Bites
6 English muffins, split
Small jar (5 oz.) Old English Cheese spread (Once the cheese is gone, these make great glasses, especially for a sip of Ginger Brandy!)
3 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder (not garlic salt)
1 can crabmeat, drained, flaked
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange split muffines, cut side up, on a baking pan lined with foil.
In a medium bowl, mash cheese spread with butter, mayo, onion powder, and garlic powder. Stir in the crabmeat. Spread evenly over the split muffins. Bake for 10 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Cut into quarters and serve warm.

These are so easy to make and also freeze well so can be made ahead of time. To freeze, cool thorougly and then wrap in plastic wrap. Reheat either in microwave (that was Aggie's method) or once thawed warm in low oven until bubbly again.

This is the cake we served on Aggie's 89th birthday. Everything does not always have to be home-made or made from scratch. This cake was made at the local Stop and Shop decorated with a picture of Aggie enjoying the last drops of a Guinness when we were together in Ireland.

Slainte! (pronounced slancha, which in Gaelic means Cheers!)

In keeping with the chicken theme, next I will share with you my recipe for Roasted Chicken Parisian-style. Roasting a chicken makes me feel good and I love the side-benefit of bones to make stock.  Hope it makes you feel good, too!

Stay tuned...

Friday, February 10, 2012

South American Fiesta Continues!

First, a note of apology regarding some technical errors in my last post. Apparently when converting from the actual blog ( to the email some of my copy ran together. As I said before, I AM LEARNING!

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.

Ceviche Ingredients:
  • 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.

Chifles Ingredients:
  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.


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

Milk syrup:
  • 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!!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

More bocaditos!

I don't want you to think that every dinner I make is this complicated or takes 6 hours to eat, as this one did, but it sure was one of the most fun dinners I have ever researched, cooked and/or eaten! When we leave South America I will share some of my own simple creations with you, but for now on to the Little Bites!

Quinoa croquettes
Quinoa is a high protein grain that has been cultivated for centuries in the Andes mountain regions of South America.

  • 1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
  • 2 cups chicken stock or water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter or oil
  • 1 tablespoon Aji Amarillo Paste* or minced hot chile pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup finely diced ham or crumbled bacon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
* I bought the Aji Amarillo (Yellow Pepper Paste) online at Just Google it; there are several sources. It has a unique flavor and is fairly spicey, but delicious!
Place quinoa in a saucepan and cover with the chicken broth. I like to keep my own home-made chicken broth in the freezer at all times. Later we'll talk about how easy and simple it is to make chicken broth.

Add bay leaf and bring to a boil.

Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer quinoa until the liquid is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes. Turn off heat and leave pot covered and undisturbed for 10 minutes more. Remove bay leaf.

Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat, and cook the onions and garlic with the Aji Amarillo until soft, about 8 minutes.

Stir the onions and garlic into the quinoa, along with the parmesan cheese, ham, parsley, bread crumbs and cream cheese. Stir in two eggs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Chill quinoa mixture for at least an hour, or overnight. I am a big fan, especially when making a complicated dinner, to do as many things a day or more ahead...makes the final preparation much easier and less stressful!

Break two remaining eggs into a shallow bowl and whisk in a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar. Place the bread crumbs into another shallow bowl or dish.

Shape the quinoa mixture into small balls or oval croquettes. Dip each croquette into the egg mixture, and then into the bread crumb mixture to coat. Set aside on a plate until all the croquettes are breaded.

Heat 2 inches of oil to 350 degrees. Fry croquettes in batches until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm.

Croquettes can be kept warm (or reheated) in a 200 degree oven for up to an hour.

Makes about 15 golf-ball size croquettes.

Serve with Ranchero Dressing*:
  • One cup ranch dressing, already made
  • 1/4 teaspoon chile powder (any flavor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
Home-made Ranch dressing is so easy to make and much better than the bottled stuff. Mix 1 cup mayo with 1/2 cup sour cream (or fat free plain yogurt-I use the Greek style), 1/2 tsp. dried chives, parsley, dill, 1/4 tsp. garlic powder, onion powder, salt/pepper to taste. Let the flavors blend for at least 1/2 hour. If you are making Ranch as a salad dressing rather than dipping sauce, add a little buttermilk to thin it out.

Manchego Cheese and Quince Paste
In Argentina and Uruguay this treat is known as a "Martín Fierro", after the gaucho in the epic Argentine poem by José Hernández. This doesn't get easier. I ordered Bolivian wheat crackers online and simply sliced the cheese and quince paste and placed on the crackers.

Papas a la Huancaina-Baby Potatoes with Creamy Aji Amarillo Sauce-from Peru and Beef Bruschetta from Argentine

Peru has an amazing cuisine, one that has evolved from both local and immigrant traditions. Foods that were prepared by ancient civilizations are still enjoyed today, while typical Peruvian dishes also benefit from European, African and Asian influences. Peru's geography yields diverse ingredients: abundant seafood from the coast, tropical fruits from the jungle, and unusual varieties of grains and potatoes from the Andes.

Peruvian cuisine is recognized around the world as one of the best in South America - try it and see what everyone is raving about.
  • 2 pounds baby potatoes
  • 1-2 tablespoons Aji Amarillo paste*
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 2 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup queso fresco cheese (or other firm, salted white cheese)
  • Juice of 1-2 limes (to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
* Some Latin markets carry Aji Amarilla Paste, but as I said before, I bought mine online at

Boil the potatoes in salted water until just tender. Drain and sprinkle with kosher salt.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the sauce: Coarsely chop the white parts of the green onions.

Add the chopped onions with all the rest of the ingredients (except the salt and pepper) to the bowl of a food processor or blender.

Process until mixture is smooth and creamy.

Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste, and chill until ready to serve.

Serve potatoes warm, with huancaina (wan-kay-enna)sauce for dipping.

Serves 5-8 as appetizer.

About Huancaina: This versatile, spicy yellow sauce is the perfect accompaniment to almost anything: roasted chicken, vegetables, french fries, or fried yuca. The star ingredient is the aji amarillo chile pepper, a staple in Peruvian cooking. The sauce seems to taste even better after 24 hours in the refrigerator. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Beef Bruschetta from Argentina
Here's another easy addition to our Bocaditos.
2 lbs. either sirloin or filet, sliced thin
1 loaf Italian bread, sliced 1/2" thick
EVOO-Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Huancaina Sauce (see recipe above)
1/2 cup grated provolone cheese

Rub each slice of bread with EVOO. Toast lightly under broiler, set aside to cool. Spread a thin layer of Huancaina sauce on each slice. Toss beef with salt/pepper. Add 1 Tablespoon of EVOO to a heavy (cast iron-type) frying pan. Get it hot. Very quickly (1-2 minutes)fry beef tossing as it cooks. Put about 1 Tbsp. of beef per slice and top with grated provolone. This can be done ahead of time. Put under the broiler to melt cheese when ready to serve. Makes about 16 slices depending on how generous you are with the beef!

Are you full yet?? Hope not, we have just begun our fiesta.

Next we will have our Entrada (first course) which is a delicious Ecuadorian Ceviche and then on to the Platas Principales, otherwise known as main course-Chicken Breast in Creamy Coconut Sauce and Coconut Rice from Columbia and easy to prepare and yummy Garlicky Collard Greens from room for Postres(dessert)!...It's a surprise!