Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pastelitos de Espinaca (Crisp Spinach Cakes)

I'm not a big fan of Spinach, but these cakes are so yummy that you will lick your fingers. Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.

Makes about 12

  • 1 Package fresh Spinach about 300 gr, coarsely chopped.
  • 1/4 cup minced scallion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 spring of Cilantro, minced (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • a pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil to fry


Heat the oil over medium temperature in a big frying pan. Sauté the garlic, cilantro and the scallion for 2 minutes. Add the Spinach and the salt and cook until completely wilted. About 8 minutes. 

Transfer to a colander and drain, pressing with a spoon to remove all the excess liquid.

In a bowl, mix the Panko, flour, Parmesan cheese, egg and milk. Add the cooked spinach and combine until well mixed. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan at medium heat and drop by spoonfuls, flatten with the back of a spoon and fry until golden brown on both sides.

Drain over kitchen towels and serve hot.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Donats rellenas de Arequipe (Dulce de leche filled Doughnuts)

Makes about 2 dozens

  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour (a little bit more to flour the surface)
  • 1 pack of dry yeast (8 g or 2 1/4 tsps)
  • 1/3 cup sugar 
  • 1 1/2 cups warmed milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • Orange zest (optional)
  • 1 container of Arequipe or Dulce de Leche (500 g) at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar to dust the doughnuts
  • vegetable oil to fry


Place the yeast in a bowl with a tablespoon of the sugar and a tablespoon of the flour and add the warm milk and mix well. Let sit in a warm place for 15 minutes until it becomes frothy.

In a separate bowl put the rest of the sugar, flour, orange zest and butter. Add the yeast mix and bring together with the help of a spoon. Work the dough with your hands until forming a ball. If it is to sticky add more flour. Knead  the dough on a clean and floured surface until smooth about 5-8 minutes. Place the ball in a bowl sprayed with oil and cover with a clean cloth or kitchen towel and leave to rise in a warm place (oven with the light on) for about one hour.

When the dough has doubled in size, place it on a floured surface and give it a bit of a punch to knock out some of the air. Cut the dough into 4 pieces and roll it to a 1/4 inch thickness.

Place a tablespoon of Arequipe on the lower half of the flatten dough leaving enough space among each other and fold carefully the upper part. Using a 2 inches diameter cookie cutter or small glass cut about 24 circles making sure the Arequipe is in the center. Repeat the process with the other 3 pieces of dough.

Place them in a greased baking sheet to rise again, make sure you leave enough room between each one to allow to rise. Cover with a cloth or towel and let rise for 45 minutes, this way your doughnuts will be fluffy and light.
Heat the oil in a large deep sauce pan or a fryer to 350 F.

 Fry in batches placing them carefully in the hot oil for about 2 minutes or until golden brown. 

Drain them in paper towel and while still hot dust them with icing sugar using a strainer. 

Serve warm.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Crema de Camarones (Creamy Shrimp Soup)

This a delicious creamy soup very popular in the coastal cuisine of Colombia. This version is from the port city of Buenaventura in the Pacific Coast and was introduced to me by a native of this city that taught me not to discard the shrimp shells when making Ceviche. Normally I use the shrimp meat to prepare another dish, but you can also incorporate it to the soup as well.

  • 1 pound Shrimp with heads and shell
  • 2 Celery stalks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Pepper corn
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce or fish bouillon
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 can Coconut milk (reserve 4 tablespoons to garnish)
  • 1 tablespoon Tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons cold milk
  • Salt & pepper
  • Chopped parsley to serve


Wash,  peel and clean the shrimp and set a side in the fridge. 

Place the shells and heads in a large pot with 6 cups of water, celery stalks, peppercorn, bay leaves and fish sauce. Simmer for 20 minutes. Discard the celery, pepper corn and bay leaves.

Set aside to cool for 15 minutes. Puree in a blender for 4 minutes. 

Pass through a fine strainer, discard the shells and set the stock aside.

In a soup pot, heat the olive oil at medium heat and sauté the garlic and onion for 3 minutes  Add the shrimp chopped (optional, you can use the shrimp for a salad or any other recipe).

Add the stock and bring to boil, add the tomato paste.

Incorporate the coconut milk.

Dissolve the cornstarch in the milk and add to the soup. Simmer for 5 minutes and season with salt & pepper.

Serve pouring a tablespoon of the reserved coconut milk and garnish with minced fresh parsley.