Archive for the ‘Latin’ Category
It’s not unusual for me to read a cookbook cover to cover. I’m the guy on public transportation flipping through some dense Jaime Oliver book making notes and earmarking pages. But I’ve started to realize that my favorite recipes to cook, the ones that really challenge and intrigue me, are the recipes passed on from generation to generation.
Those are the dishes that invoke that nostalgic silence when someone just closes their eyes and remembers something. Being able to recreate that kind of familiarity for someone has to be one to the best parts of tinkering around in the kitchen.
So when my buddy Leandro, laments about his childhood in Argentina and all the food his parents would make from scratch when he was a child, I never miss a chance to ask him to dig up an old family recipe. He’s an allusive bastard about it. He’ll dodge me with, “It’s just this and that. There’s nothing special about it.” But we both know better. His folks can make magic in the kitchen.
There’s a lot of dishes out there, and it’s hard for your average home cook to become familiar with the basic or master recipe of such a wide variety of cuisine. So I try to make a point of learning at least one basic recipe for as many different dishes as possible, just to familiarize myself with the process and technique. Hence the realization that I really had no idea how to make guacamole. Sure you peel the avocado and add some lime juice and salt/pepper, but it’s just not something that really attracted my attention. Maybe it’s because I grew up loving cheesy nachos with only salsa or maybe it’s because [gasp] I’m not that huge of a fan of avocado. So once I got a few requests to do a good guacamole recipe I figured it was time to get this dip down pat.
Starting with a little research, I settled on an America’s Test Kitchen recipe that included some bacon, spices, and a few veggies. Nothing fancy, but definitely worth a try. What I was really intrigued by was not so much how the various ingredients worked together, but how important the seasoning and lime juice played in making the guac really tasty. I think I get it now, guacamole really is kinda brilliant in it’s simplicity. And with a few little techniques on how to remove the avocado flesh, it was an easy and enjoyable little dip to throw together.
The first time I ever tried papas rellenas I was on a first date at a Cuban restaurant. The date started well when we agreed to share appetizers; she ordered the ceviche, I spotted the papas. After we tried each other’s dishes I exclaimed, “This must be what an orgasm wrapped in bacon tastes like!” once I tried the papas. She was not amused. I became more interested in the food. The crispy,breaded crust, soft mashed potato casing, and savory/spicy beef in the center was really blowing my hair back, while my date picked at her squid ceviche suspiciously. There was never a second date. Turns out making quasi-inappropriate food comments is a great way of screening women for me. Lesson learned.
So that’s where the inspiration for today’s post originated from. I haven’t had papas rellenas since that date so I figured I try putting the dish together myself using a few ingredients I had on hand and glancing over a few recipes online. It’s a solid dish that can be served just was an appetizer/snack or if you want to make the balls bigger and include a sauce it makes for a nice main coarse. I’m just going to cover the basic method of putting this dish together as a snack today.